Far-right supporters of Donald Trump were seriously seen casually during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints General Conference this weekend, though President Dallin Oaks next in line to be the prophet of faith, did not do so specifically. name them or the candidate they supported.
Oaks’ speech was shocking, perhaps not so much in content as in context. Right from the start he had one of those things not like other sensibility about it. To begin with, it was a boldly political speech that took place on Easter Sunday, when other speakers focused on the risen Christ. Plus, it was a specifically US-focused post that followed a lovely morning session showcasing the international character of the 21st century church through global choirs singing in their own language (this adorable choir from children of Korea!) and speakers joining virtually several continents.
Latter-day Saints social media wonders if Oaks has sounded the alarm on recent actions by Trump supporters in the United States. I think there was no doubt that it was, although as you can see from my analysis of the quotes below, I don’t think the Liberals are completely off the hook either.
Oaks Sovereign power of the people does not mean that crowds and other groups of people can intervene to intimidate or force government action. The people exercise their power through their elected representatives.
It was for the Latter-day Saints on the right. Oaks was referring to the Jan. 6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol, in which Trump supporters sought to disrupt the legitimate functioning of government with violence.
This fits in with the October 2020 Apostles’ Conference, in which he appeared to respond to Donald Trump’s prior statements that he would not accept election results as legitimate unless he won. Latter-day Saints, Oaks said, peacefully accept the election results. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those who are disappointed with the outcome.
Sadly, some Latter-day Saints did participate in the ridiculous farce that was the stop-the-flight movement among disillusioned Trump voters, and a few even took part in the Jan.6 uprising.
Oaks We are to be governed by law, not by individuals, and our loyalty is to the Constitution and its principles and processes, not to a public servant. These principles block the autocratic ambitions that have corrupted democracy in some countries.
It was also for the members of the right. The background is that Trump tried to overthrow a legitimate and peaceful election, which is the foundation of good government. Because Trump seemed to view the government primarily as a tool to promote his own ambitions, he saw it as a personal betrayal when his vice president and attorney general did not overturn the Constitution and two centuries of political precedent just to keep him in power.
For someone like Oaks, this kind of behavior is extremely dangerous. Democracies are more fragile than you think. To survive, they must be more than one of the power-hungry rulers.
Oaks Despite the divinely inspired principles of the US Constitution, when exercised by imperfect mortals, the intended effects have not always been achieved. Important matters of law, such as certain laws governing family relations, have been taken from the states by the federal government.
It was for liberal and moderate Latter-day Saints. Oaks here reminded listeners of his view that individual states should never be forced to allow same-sex marriage if it is not the will of the people of those states. Again, however, he didn’t choose any band by name.
Oaks Being subject to presidents or rulers, of course, poses no obstacle to our opposing individual laws or policies. It requires that we exert our influence civilly and peacefully On contested issues we should seek to moderate and unify.
It was for everyone. Listening to the talk a second time on YouTube, I was struck by the irony of the divisive and angry comments from viewers below, shouting at each other about the policy. (Also see the church’s Facebook page!) Oaks suggests that while we may have strong opinions on politics, we are crossing a line when we assert that church members who voted differently are somehow deficient in faith. (Yes, I know I did that too. I’m trying.)
Oaks There are many political issues, and no party, platform, or individual candidate can satisfy all personal preferences. Each citizen must therefore decide which issues are most important to them at any given time. This process will not be easy. This may require changing party support or candidate choices, even from election to election.
It was for everyone. There has not been a more politically polarized period in modern American history, and this division is dangerous.
Let’s take a moment to assess where we are. Since the 1950s, the Gallup organization has tracked the public approval ratings of U.S. presidents by party. In the 1950s, a majority of Americans could rightfully say I love Ike and say it: Not only 88% of his own party members approved of him, but 49% of Democrats too. What we are seeing now, by contrast, is a country divided into several parties: on the eve of the 2020 presidential election, 95% of Republicans said they approved of the way Donald Trump was running the country. Only 3% of Democrats could say the same.
People are what civil wars are all about. One remedy is to bring back split ticket voting, remember when we were doing that? in which people actually have to use their brains and vote candidate by candidate, question by question. That’s what Oaks is advocating here, and I totally agree. Blind loyalty to any political party can have frightening consequences.
Oaks Independent’s actions will sometimes require voters to support candidates or political parties or platforms whose other positions they cannot endorse.
This was again for the Latter-day Saints on the right. What I hear him say is that on the right you will sometimes have to vote for a pro-choice candidate in order to avoid greater evil. Listening between the lines, I wouldn’t be surprised if Oaks himself voted for Joe Biden despite church leaders’ well-documented opposition to abortion.
Oaks We should never say that a loyal Latter-day Saint cannot belong to a particular party or vote for a particular candidate.
It was also mainly for the right wing. It was the silver quote, which the church immediately tweeted from its official account almost as soon as the words had left Oaks mouth. There have been far too many examples in the modern Church where Democratic members, who make up only a third of our American membership, have been challenged or ridiculed by the Conservative majority. (Is the family of Apostle Dieter Uchtdorfs unfaithful for generously supporting Bidens’ campaign? No? So stop judging the dignity of the family.)
Somehow I have a feeling that when these conferences are analyzed for Relief Society and priesthood lessons over the next six months, it will not be rotated. in most issues. As Oaks said, church meetings are not the place to talk about politics. But the speech was nonetheless historic.
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