elder oaks politics remarks





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Published on Sep 16, 2012

At a regional stake conference on Sunday, September 16th 2012 broadcast from the Marriot Center at Brigham Young University, Elder Dallin H.Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the concluding speaker. Towards the end of his remarks, he began speaking about this election year. As a Political Science major, I was immediately interested and pulled out my phone to record these remarks. A transcript can be found below:

"We do not direct our members on which candidates or parties they should support. We encourage our members to be responsible citizens in their communities, to participate in the political process in an informed manner, and by all means to vote. We also encourage our members to conduct their political discussions and advocacy in a civil manner. Whatever our party affiliation, whatever our position on the political spectrum, we are first and foremost brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us always follow his teachings to love one another, turn the other cheek, and not revile against revilers. All men and women on this earth are the children of God, spirit brothers and sisters - whatever their ancestry or citizenship. No wonder God's only begotten son commanded us to love one another! What a different world this would be if brotherly and sisterly love and unselfish concern could extend across all boundaries of political party, tribe, nation, and creed.

A current presidential candidate has brought enormous attention to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its doctrine, and the lives of its members. This news coverage, much of it very accurate, has had the positive effect of bringing the church out of obscurity, but some of it has misrepresented our doctrine and our history. Some of this has been innocent misunderstanding, but some of it has perhaps been a deliberate effort to secure political or other advantage.

When church leaders learn of inaccurate representations in a political campaign, we often decide not to respond officially, even when these inaccuracies reach millions of people. Why? If we initiate a response to an inaccurate statement about our doctrine in a political campaign, it may give the impression that we are promoting or opposing one or another candidate. We must avoid this, and we hope the public and our members will understand our efforts to maintain our independence and neutrality.

Of course we will answer media questions to facilitate understanding. Sometimes misrepresentations or misuses of our doctrine come from our own members. The Book of Mormon warns of this when it condemns priestcraft, which is for men to preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise, but not for the welfare of Zion.

Another example that I understand to be current among some members in this part of this church is the influence of right-wing groups who mistakenly apply prophecies about the last days to promote efforts to form paramilitary or other organizations. Such groups might undermine the authority of public officials in the event of extraordinary emergencies or even in cases of simple disagreement with government policy. The leaders of the church have always taught that we should observe the law and we should not try to substitute our own organizations for the political and military authorities put in place by Constitutional government and processes. We counsel against joining or supporting paramilitary organizations.

I have sometimes taught this principle by reminding that the church has counseled the storage of food and water, not the storage of arms and ammunition. On that same subject, we are told that some of our members are currently involved in unprofessional therapy practices on marriage and family concerns that seek to substitute for church teachings and counsel on these eternally important subjects. We accept professional counseling because it is subject to legal regulation, stands or falls on the principles of science, peer review, and competition. Professional counseling can be helpful, especially when it is consistent with eternal gospel principles and wisely coordinated with inspired priesthood leader counsel, which always teach that the healing power of the Atonement provides the surest relief for emotional suffering. We therefore caution against those who substitute other therapies that are not based on true doctrine and wise practice, especially when they promote them among church members.

Our fourth article of faith confirms that the first principle of the Gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust: Trust in God's will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. In all the important decisions in our lives, what is most important is to do the right thing. Almost equally important is to do the right thing at the right time."


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