March 23rd, 2015

Mormons Making Friends with the Nazi Mammon of Unrighteousness

In June 1933, just a few months after Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, a convention of some seven thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses convened in Berlin. They unanimously adopted “A Declaration of Facts,” a document in which they established their opposition to the rising Nazi regime. Copies were sent to every government official they could identify; more than 2.5 million copies were disseminated.

The response was predictable—the German government criminalized their religious services and missionary work. Roughly half of their twenty thousand German members served terms in prison or a concentration camp. Several thousand died during incarceration due to hunger, exposure, or abuse. Over two hundred were tried in a Nazi court and executed.

As documented in Moroni and the Swastika, written by David Conley Nelson, this scenario stands at odds with how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acted towards and were treated by the same government. The book exhaustively documents the alarming degree to which church officials bent over backwards to appease, accommodate, and even proactively ingratiate themselves with Nazi leadership.

What becomes clear from the revealed history of interactions between Church officials and Nazi party leaders is the earnestness of the desire on the part of Mormon leaders to make friends with German rulers to ensure the safety of Church members and the ability of the Church’s missionary work to continue. The price was deemed worth it by leaders who—some reluctantly, and many cheerfully—modified church curriculum to remove any reference to Jews or Israel, including Sunday School lessons, hymns, and other material; included Nazi insignia, such as flags, and Hitler’s portrait, in Church meetings; played Hitler’s speeches during or after Church meetings, compelling congregants to listen; enthusiastically and reflexively repeating the “Heil Hitler” salute; expelling Jews from church services; excommunicating a rebel, Helmuth Hübener; denying legal assistance to Mormon Jews wishing to emigrate to America to escape the Hitler regime prior to the war; publishing op-eds and other material affirming that Nazis and Mormons shared several overlapping interests, and emphasizing that one could be a good Mormon and a good citizen of the Nazi state; and on and on.

Of course, this is alarming—but what I considered especially revealing, if unsurprising, was the revelation regarding how ingrained a misunderstanding of Church doctrine had become, leading to widespread submission to, if not active support of, the Nazi government. I refer specifically to the Twelfth Article of Faith, and section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants—two reference points that receive frequent mention in the book, as they were repeatedly cited by lay German Mormons and high-ranking American church leaders as the basis for appeasing the Nazis and standing idly by while tyranny increasingly entrenched itself.

In the mid 1920s, for example, mission president Hugh J. Cannon told Berlin police of “the church’s belief in subjugation to local police and noted that the well-being of the Imperial Government was the object of their daily prayers.” One of his successors, Oliver Budge, informed the Gestapo in a 1933 letter that church members “are taught, especially, to be able to class themselves with the best citizens of the country, and to support, in the full sense of the word, the ordinances and laws of the town, the state, and the country in which they live… [W]e teach that the present party in power, and the laws governing the country, be supported by the members of the church.”

Lay members understood and internalized the message; one Mormon soldier who fought for the Nazi regime, when interviewed by the book’s author, simply stated that “Latter-day Saints should support the government!” Included with his reply was a copy of a 2004 Sunday School lesson manual featuring a quote from Church president Heber J. Grant stressing compliance with the Twelfth Article of Faith and Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In that lesson, President Grant is quoted as saying, “It is one of the Articles of our Faith to obey and uphold the laws of the land.” Following references to D&C 134, he also stated, “The Saints on either side [of war] have no course open to them but to support that government to which they owe allegiance.”

Unfortunately, I believe that these references—including the many that permeate the book—are incorrect. They rely upon an interpretation of these two scriptural provisions that is certainly commonplace, but is one that requires overlooking the actual textual construction.

First, the context of these references should be offered, even if it is ultimately dismissed by some who resolutely consider them divinely sanctioned scripture. The Articles of Faith were written by Joseph Smith, founding prophet of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as part of an 1842 letter to the editor of the Chicago Democrat in response to questions regarding the founding and nature of this new religion. Claiming such a media response as tantamount to scripture is somewhat akin to attempting to canonize the transcript of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s interview on 60 minutes with Mike Wallace. Neither, of course, were claimed to be revelation. And as the Church’s own curriculum states, section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants is not revelation: “It should be noted that in the minutes, and also in the introduction to this article on government, the brethren were careful to state that this declaration was accepted as the belief, or ‘opinion’ of the officers of the Church, and not as a revelation, and therefore does not hold the same place in the doctrines of the Church as do the revelations.”

As such, it might be easy to dismiss adherence to these provisions since they may lack the divine weight that some seek to impregnate into the pages from which we read them. But let’s accept, for conversation sake, the position that the average Mormon takes—that they are in fact binding upon church members.

How, then, are we bound?

The Twelfth Article of Faith reads as follows:

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Most members of the Church focus only on the first part of this provision, asserting that we should subject ourselves to government, period, end of story. That position necessarily ignores the conjoining qualification wherein compliance is conditioned on the actions of those running the government. The correct reading of this Article stipulates that submission is predicated on these rulers obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. It therefore follows that when those in government are breaking the law, then our submission is not required. (Of course, this also requires understanding what law actually is, as it is not simply whatever mandates a group of government officials thinks up, however benevolent or barbaric.)

It becomes obvious, then, that pointing to this Article as the basis for unqualified allegiance to whatever government is in power is false. Exterminating Jews, for example, is not lawful, even if it is technically legal; God does not expect feckless submission to those who carry out such horrific acts.

But what of D&C 134, similarly referenced as a reason to play nice with those in power? The relevant passage of this “declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” reads:

We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

As with the Twelfth Article of Faith, many Church members simply internalize only the first few words of this verse, leading them to incorrectly believe that God binds them to “sustain and uphold the [government] in which they reside,” period, end of story. But again, the qualifying conditions that follow make clear that such allegiance is predicated on lawful activity. Such support is required, we further read, while we are “protected in [our] inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments.” Sedition and rebellion “are unbecoming every citizen thus protected.”

A fair and plain reading of this scripture results in the same conclusion: a government that violates a person’s rights is not deserving of support—and at a minimum, there is no divine obligation to simply submit to the mandates of those in power.

Unfortunately, the incorrect interpretation of these passages is offered to readers of Moroni and the Swastika—an otherwise outstanding book I heartily recommend reading—whose author at the very introduction tells us that the Twelfth Article of Faith and D&C 134 together comprise an “important religious tenet” and constitute “a charge to cooperate with civil government however onerous it may be.”

Clearly, having the Church sanction rebellion against an oppressive military machine would be unwise; organizational opposition to a ruthless political regime would bring swift and fatal retaliation. However, while institutional defiance is strategically foolhardy, the question of individual resistance should be treated separately—and in that realm we must address whether God actually intends for each of his followers to follow orders from repressive regimes and respectable Republics alike.

Helmuth Hübener’s story provides a case study against which we can analyze this question. While the Church had been strenuously attempting to be considered friendly—or at least non-threatening—toward the Nazi regime, one of its members, a young teenage boy, was authoring scathing rebukes excoriating Adolf Hitler and his minions. These documents were disseminated furtively throughout Hübener’s town of Hamburg, and when caught, his friends were imprisoned for several years, while the 17-year-old ringleader—and faithful Mormon—was beheaded by guillotine. He was subsequently excommunicated by his rabidly pro-Nazi ecclesiastical leader, and his story was suppressed by BYU officials and Church leaders for years, citing sensitivities of upsetting communist leadership in East Germany with whom the Church was trying to build a relationship in order to facilitate church business and missionary work.

Few will dispute the wisdom of strategy, and the importance of picking one’s battles. It does little good to one’s self, family, congregation, or others to put up a quick fight and be executed. It is perhaps for this reason that—unlike the non-revelatory scriptures referenced earlier—God actually has stated, “this is wisdom, make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you.” It follows the old adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer; there is logistical benefit in not incurring the wrath of a powerful foe.

But while strategy should be considered, that does not constitute a valid claim to argue that God absolutely forbids anything but servility to the state. To the extent that Helmuth’s story is known, he is praised as a freedom fighter—a brave and principled young man who stood up for his convictions, and who sought to popularize the truth. His excommunication—considered by many to never have been valid in the first place—was later rescinded. Books, plays, movies, and other media extol his heroism. It’s easy to recognize the virtue of his activism.

It’s also easy to cast aspersions on his contemporaries who courted favor with the very enemy Helmuth was fighting. How easy must it have been to follow the masses—to silently and idly accept the increasing levels of restrictions, first because they didn’t affect you, and later because circumstances were too severe to speak out?

The mind, in such circumstances, is desperate for self-soothing arguments that ameloriate one’s conscience. Thus did German Mormons embrace a number of myths regarding the Third Reich’s friendliness towards the faith: that Hitler had read the Book of Mormon; that he based his supposed health code on the Word of Wisdom; that his Winter Relief program—where Germans were told to eat a simple meal on the Second Sunday at donate saved funds to the war effort—was based on the church’s Fast Sunday program; that close parallels existed between the Nazi drive for racial purity and genealogical research, and the Church’s own quest for family history; and at worst, that Hitler himself was on a mission from God. Thus did Hübener’s pro-Nazi branch president tell his flock “about the importance of keeping the laws of the land and supporting and sustaining the Führer who was ordained of God.”

Sadly, sensitivities often trumped conscience, whether individually or institutionally. The Church’s effort to suppress Hübener’s story, detailed in length in this book, was spearheaded by Thomas S. Monson, who had been tasked with overseeing the Church’s efforts regarding East Germany. When approached by an Associated Press reporter inquiring as to why he had stopped BYU from continuing a very popular production of a play on Hübener’s life, and why research and publication of the story had been quashed, then-Elder Monson replied:

Who knows what was right or wrong then? I don’t know what we accomplish by dredging these things up and trying to sort them out.

It’s admittedly easy to play armchair quarterback and see the apparent misguidedness of censoring so important a story out of concerns that may have been unfounded. The motives of Elder Monson were, we must presume, sincere—he, like Church leaders for decades, had a fixed goal as the primary priority: keep missionary work going. These ends justified controversial means, whether ingratiating the Church with the Nazi regime from the highest levels, or controlling the flow of information in the decades that followed the war.

Helmuth’s story speaks to me. I believe he did what was right. And as the familiar primary tune counsels us, we are to “do what is right, let the consequence follow.” Put differently, ends don’t justify the means; does a crucial “end” such as perpetuating Church programs and allowing missionary work to continue allow us to support the problematic means listed above? It’s a pertinent question for the future, and one which deserves serious reflection—not to recommend institutional changes and counsel those in command of the Lord’s Church, but to ponder individual action and the degree to which one is willing or obligated to support an unsupportable government.

24 Responses to “Mormons Making Friends with the Nazi Mammon of Unrighteousness”

  1. aaron
    March 23, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    when I read this I think it makes a statement unsupported and begs the question why not? The catholic church played a huge role in ending communism in the eastern bloc and Poland. “Clearly, having the Church sanction rebellion against an oppressive military machine would be unwise; organizational opposition to a ruthless political regime would bring swift and fatal retaliation. However, while institutional defiance is strategically foolhardy, the question of individual resistance should be treated separately—and in that realm we must address whether God actually intends for each of his followers to follow orders from repressive regimes and respectable Republics alike. ” However, it only supports my theory that LDS members who worry about an oppressive government forming in the US can not look to the church for help and should expect hostility and threats against them from the church itself in their fight for freedom if the church feels its survival is depend on cooperation.

    March 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    The Articles of Faith was a tract written by Brother Joseph for GENTILES — the Doctrine and Covenants were written by GOD for the Faithful… thus any conflict is easily resolved by going to the scripture… as Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith instructed:

    “It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine” (Doctrines of Salvation,3:203).

    1 Samuel 8:4-24

    4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

    5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

    6 ¶But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.

    7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

    8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

    9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

    10 ¶And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.

    11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

    12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

    13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

    14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

    15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

    16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

    17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

    18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

    19 ¶Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

    20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

    21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.

    22 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

    D&C 98: 4-10

    4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

    5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

    6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

    7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

    8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

    9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

    10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.

    As for me and my House — I bend my knee to no one but my Heavenly Father. I am Free because My Father in Heaven made me Free… I will not sell my heritage for any illusion of security or platitude of Satan… I will live and die as a testament to the Freedom and Liberty that are my Divine Birthrights… to show my Heavenly Father my love for his gift and sacrifice.

  3. Mike
    March 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    Excellent post Connor. You’ve raised some very good thoughts and have made me aware of some history I did not know before. Thank you.

  4. Phil
    March 24, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Amen! Scott

    Connor the equivocation of President Monson you cite I find troubling as it smacks of Relativism which is completely at odds with the gospel. Do you know where and when he said it?

  5. Pierce
    March 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    I have also noticed that many of the LDS people I know are almost sycophantic in their approach to submission to the government. At the same time, they lament the progressive agenda and unjust laws–but any question of disobedience is rebutted with quotations of obeying the “laws of the land.” This was really made apparent during the Bundy ranch standoff.

    I believe that most LDS leave out a very important qualifier when quoting these scriptures in their support of submission. It comes from D&C 98:

    4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

    5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

    6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

    7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

    How often do you hear this qualifier? I don’t. Of course it begs the question: what does it mean for laws to be constitutional? This opens up into a variety of interpretations, but the point remains that those laws twhich eliminate the freedom granted by God are not justifiable.

  6. Sara
    March 24, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    While I love the Articles of Faith for making our beliefs clearer, I’ve long marvelled at the interpretation of the 12th article, not because I believe my understanding is correct but because of what others believe and have done in the name of it. Years ago now, I was the sole, even near Libertarian (and female and the youngest by far) in a meeting with the Church leadership of my country and with members who were of all the other political parties of my country, even two Members of Parliament. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the Church could influence political situations (we were about to head into the gay marriage debate nationally – this was a long time ago). I found a lovely spirit at the meeting, where even though we had quite different political beliefs we were united in increasing the Church’s influence. Well that was until I realised that no-one was speaking about freedom or choice – fundamentals of what I believed Heavenly Father was about. So I spoke up and pointed out that regardless of what our purpose was (ie to stop gay marriage) we always needed to be true to the principles of the Gospel so as to not bring the Church or Christ into disrepute and that should be our guiding principle (let’s face it, gay marriage was going to happen in my socially liberal nation anyway, no point in going down with the ship). What I learned mostly was that the Church can be as flexible as it wants to be when it wants to be and I’m not sure if I was comfortable with that or not. Now it’s like the people here have surged past the central Church leadership in our willingness to be like Christ. In a conversation with our current missionaries, one a white Australian and the other Samoan, was that we are no longer the church of Utah, we are a church of the world and most of the world are not white, not middle class and do not have the luxury of democracy (no matter how eroded that has become in the US) so obedience to government should be well thought out before any action.

  7. Charles Whicker
    March 24, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

    “Be subject unto the powers that be, until he comes whose right it is to rule.” But being “subject” does NOT mean being OBEDIENT. It just means, don’t get up a revolution. The apostle Paul was “subject” to the powers that be — not by obeying their mandates which would mean he would have to stop his preaching; but rather, he was “subject to the powers that be” by subjecting himself to their PUNISHMENTS. One is “subject” to his government whether he obeys or disobeys. Thus, that injunction of the Lord to “be subject” was NOT the equivalent of asking us to “obey” evil powers.

  8. Ron
    March 24, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    If the Lord — and his Gospel — are what the church teaches, then the church was teaching against the truths it claims to hold most dear. White lies, sins of omission, moral weakness, standing by while injustice or immorality prevails…these are all things strictly taught to be unbecoming of members of the Lord’s church. And the church still teaches, by example, these conflictingly poor lessons today (aka the most recent anti-discrimination push). They tell us to be honest. They tell us to be courageous. They tell us committing a little sin for the better good is ok.

    A conundrum, indeed.

  9. James
    March 24, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    Well written Connor. You nailed it by pointing out that a contingency clause to AOF 12 exists in D&C 134:5 and that the ends don’t justify the means. These principles need constant review by each and every one of us.

    I hope, at the end of times – when all things are made known – that we discover that the church’s decisions to succumb to all governments (oppressive or not) was inspired and wise. I’ll be very disappointed if I learn that they chose to fear man more than to stand for just and true principles. I’m choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I recently wrote an article about how John the Baptist wasn’t afraid to stand up for truth to the tyrant of his time; even though it cost him his head.

    Contrast John (and Christ) to the appeasers who water down the teachings of the gospel out of a fear of the reproach of men. They would exchange their honor for temporary appeasement. Because they fear man more than God their luke-warmness will cause God to spew them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). While John’s firmness caused him to temporarily lose his head, some people’s fear will cause them to eternally lose their souls.

  10. Denice
    March 25, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    I like your article Connor. In Revelations 20: 4-5

    “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

    But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”

    I pray that you may be able, on the morning of the first resurrection, rise with glory, power, immortality and eternal life and live forever under the auspice of our Heavenly Father for the good you do for our freedom! I hope that for myself as well! I do believe Hubener will also be one of those!

  11. iimx
    March 30, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    Your comparison of the articles of faith with statements by Gordon B. Hinckley don’t square easily with history or the LDS mindset concerning Prophets. JS was the first Mormon, he may have had a completely different relationship to the media of his day. The LDS movement was at its start, so that is very different.

    Although the articles of faith my not be completely comprehensive, it must be accurate enough to represent LDS belief, even to this day its held as being a good representation of LDS basics. Its also been used for most of LDS history as such.

    I think you know better as to why Gordon B. Hinkleys interview with Mike Wallace will never be canonized. Also why the articles of faith have withstood the test of time.

    There is something else which is very interesting. The US constitution is also held up as being something akin to scriptures by Mormons. However, not a single Mormon was involved with its drafting. Compare that to the articles of faith, which was written by the first Mormon. I have never heard of ANY Jehovah’s Witness claim that the constitution to be something like scripture, or even inspired. I could be completely wrong, but please, anyone show me that they support the US constitution in the way that LDS members do. Its a document written by man. Its original draft does not reference religion, except in exclusionary terms. The first amendment had to be drafted to fill this gap. Also the numerous other amendments followed.

    As a result the LDS ideal of’… honoring and sustaining the law…” appears to ultimately be a moving target. How do you know that current policies and doctrines of the LDS church aren’t doing the same as in other time periods. Perhaps its easier to see and criticize when you are looking backwards.

  12. Clumpy
    April 1, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    Interesting writeup, and I agree on pretty much everything. It’s a difficult tightrope sometimes to walk for believing members; supporting doctrine and the Church organization as a whole while also in accordance with conscience recognizing (and even having disagreements with) political aspects within the organization, or the decisions of individuals.

    It’s frustrating sometimes when it feels that certain topics are being outright blacklisted for discussion, particularly in an institution of higher learning (not that this happens as often in practice as critics of BYU often claim). More frustrating still when it feels that the reasons given for the effective blacklisting are thought-terminating cliches or diversions. It feels like a recipe sometimes for giving people who want to talk about this stuff almost exclusively as an attack on the church a monopoly over the discussion, and doesn’t really give conscientious people who learn about these things much of a recourse except to refine their understandings of concepts like Church leadership and revelation accordingly, or feel that they’re being driven away outright by verboten topics which often ought to be better dealt with directly.

  13. Gary Hunt
    April 2, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    I purchased “Moroni and the Swastika” in advance and received my copy when it first came out. I read it in about a week and found it to be an interesting and easy read. It provides a good deal of valuable information. However there are a few weaknesses in the book.

    First the author paints an incorrect, stereotypical view of Mormon doctrines and ecclesiastical structure. I understand that he was trying to simplify LDS belief systems for a non-LDS audience, but in my opinion he oversimplified these beliefs. Oversimplification of any issue leads to distorted understandings of that issue.

    The second weakness would be what I call a historian being the “Monday morning quarterback”, or how another saying puts it, “hindsight is 20/20”. Mr. Nelson did bring up some correct points about what was publicly known concerning, about some of the Nazi abuses, at the time LDS Church leaders were cooperating with Nazi leaders. However, these stories were not commonly know or believed. Let me illustrate my point with a couple of more current examples.

    Today we know, and it is general public knowledge, that the Tonkin Bay Resolution which was passed by Congress on August 7, 1964 was based upon a false (manufactured) story about the North Vietnamese carrying out an unprovoked attack against U.S. war ships in the Tonkin Gulf on August 4, 1964. In other words, Pres. Johnson lied to get us more heavily involved in the Vietnam War. It was publicly know by journalists at the time that the story of the attack was fabricated. This is documented in a book In fact in 1965, Lyndon Johnson said in reference to the Tonkin Bay incident: “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.” The reference for this is a book by Daniel Hallin entitled “The Uncensored War”.

    Another example is the lies told by George W. Bush and his top officials to get us into the war in Iraq on March 19, 2003. In fact there is a good book entitled “935 Lies” by Charles Lewis, who was formerly with 60 minutes. He also has a website which documents these lies. Here’s the link.

    Bush’s lies were publicly know yet most people were unaware of what was going on at the time. I was aware and wrote my congressman and senators but only got back a form (canned response) letter dismissing my concerns.

    Overall I think the book “Moroni and the Swastika” is a good book and recommend that everyone read it. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. If the author had more fully addressed the two issue I brought up I would have given it 4-5 stars.

  14. Kelly W.
    April 7, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    Connor, I thank you sincerely for this article. I found myself two days ago defending my stance on 9/11 being an inside job to a family member who believes political discussions on the state of the current USA in a church setting is inappropriate. I have proclaimed the complicity of rogue elements in our current administrations for more than a dozen years, and have likened my actions to Helmut Hübener’s many times. In fact, I myself served in the same Wartenau ward in Hamburg as Helmut did, and I had the honored privilege to talk personally with Karl Heinz Schnibbe. Even though the Church will not take a stand on 9/11 as Steven E. Jones did when he was released from BYU immediately after Bush met with Hinckley in SLC doesn’t mean that I must shut my mouth from standing for truth and righteousness.

  15. D.D.G.
    April 12, 2015 at 2:09 am #

    Connor, great post. I agree with pretty much everything in here and learned quite a bit reading it.

  16. D Smith
    April 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    Here is the Monson quote in the NY Times 2-15-1984:

  17. Carborendum
    May 3, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    The philosophy of the reed.
    Abraham was told by the Lord to lie about Sarai being his wife.

    When Monson says who knows? He really means it. Maybe the Lord directed them for a long trem strategic move. Maybe the Church leaders made a mistake. Maybe another explanation.

    Who knows?

  18. Lilli
    May 7, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Joseph didn’t even follow his own Articles of Faith that he quickly came up with for some news article back then. And he probably certainly didn’t intend for the AoF to be included in scriptures or ‘as’ scripture, for they are so incomplete and misleading as thoughts about LDS beliefs, for even Joseph didn’t believe in absolute loyalty and obedience to the government, but LDS leaders today of course do.

    And the Articles of Faith are not only in error but completely irrelevant anyway, for the teachings of Christ trump them, just as Christ’s teachings trump everything and anything said or written or done by any LDS leader past or present, just like Christ trumps any other religious leader in any other religion or any prophet, true or false, past or present.

    Why do we spend so much time on insignificant things like worrying about the Articles of Faith that Joseph didn’t even follow himself and that leaders today are wrong to follow, or give 2 cents about anything any leader says or does, religious or political, while we ignore & deny the pure teachings of Christ found in the 4 Gospels?

    If we are not going to follow Christ, which it seems no one does, not even any church leaders in the LDS or any other religion, then it doesn’t matter who we follow or believe in, for it will still get us no where.

  19. Carl Youngblood
    June 5, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Thanks for this, Connor. My understanding is that anything that is published in the D&C is canonical, and that stuff can’t be put in there unless it has been accepted by the general membership of the Church in general conference. This wasn’t the case in earlier editions, which included the Lectures on Faith, but my understanding is that is is present policy.

    That said, I believe that just because something is canonized doesn’t mean it is right. There are plenty of things in the scriptures that are incorrect or that could be improved upon. As Brigham Young said, “When God speaks to the people, he does it in a manner to suit their circumstances and capacities. He spoke to the children of Jacob through Moses, as a blind, stiffnecked people, and when Jesus and his Apostles came they talked with the Jews as a benighted, wicked, selfish people. They would not receive the Gospel, though presented to them by the Son of God in all its righteousness, beauty and glory. Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to rewrite the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be rewritten, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiffnecked, the Lord can tell them but little.” (JD 9:311)

    One thing I would add is that I don’t think you go far enough when you mention all the appeasement of the Nazi regime on the part of the Church, and the efforts to suppress Hubener’s story, but then side-step the question of what this implies for the Church leaders who took these measures. I think you did right in considering their perspective as well, but I feel we must also be courageous in standing up for right even when the cost is great, and I don’t feel that the Church’s leadership did this in this instance. I think it is appropriate to express this opinion clearly and unequivocally. It is totally possible (or at least it should be) to disagree with one’s leaders on this issue and still be a faithful Mormon. If it isn’t, then we don’t really believe in freedom of conscience. Or, to put it another way, we aren’t “true Mormons” according to Joseph Smith, who said it was “one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism … to receive truth, let it come from whence it may,” and that “we should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.”

  20. Steve
    August 5, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Carl: My understanding is that the 1835 D&C, which included the Lectures on Faith, were accepted by common vote. And the Lectures remained in it until they were withdraw in the early 1900’s upon the recommendation of a committee of men, and without a vote.

    Do you have a cite for your understanding of the matter?

    Thanks, Steve

  21. Scott Craig
    December 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    I found this article really interesting, and sadly, consistent. If you look at the Church’s treatment of black members I’ve heard a justification that perhaps the church would not have survived if they were allowed to hold the priesthood and go to the temple prior to the Civil War. But to hold onto that policy until 1978 (when the Carter administration threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status), then to finally admit a few years ago (after vehemently claiming for years that it was doctrine) that there was no doctrinal basis for the ban.

    Gee, what could that mean Wally??

  22. Greg
    February 1, 2022 at 1:13 pm #

    If the Communist Chinese invaded the USA, do you think the Church leaders would side with a resistance movement?

    I predict they’d ask the communist invaders, “how can we help?”

  23. Greg
    February 1, 2022 at 1:30 pm #

    “12th Article of Faith: Must Christians Obey Government?”


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