RE: Iraq and war

-John-
> I felt that it should throw a bucket of cold water on some of those
> saints who are in favor of a war with Iraq. He said that as a Church
> we have to remain neutral and our members have to obey the laws of
> the land even if that means fighting in a war.  But as individuals
> we don't have to be so circumspect.  On a personal level we are to
> oppose war and be peacemakers.
>
> I thought Elder Nelson's remarks would put to rest the recent thread
> on war vs. peace with Iraq.  We'll see if anyone was listening.

-Marc-
> I don't mean to belabour the point, but I'm sometimes amazed at the
> things you and I agree on.

Is it possible for antiwar sentiments to become a gospel hobby? I 
believe it is, when those sentiments lead us to distort or misapprehend 
the words of our leaders. I think that's what is being done here.

Elder Nelson quoted Section 135 and a WWII FP statement to this effect:

     [The scriptures] strongly condemn wars of aggression, but sustain
     obligations of citizens to defend their families and freedoms.
     Because "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents,
     rulers, and magistrates in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the
     law", members of this Church will be called into military service
     of many nations. "We believe that governments were instituted of
     God for the benefit of man, and that he holds men accountable for
     their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and in
     administering them for the good and safety of society." During
     the second world war, when members of the Church were forced to
     fight on opposing sides, the First presidency affirmed that "the
     state is responsible for the civil control of its citizens or
     subjects; for their political welfare; and for the carrying
     forward of political policies, domestic and foreign. But the
     Church itself, as such, has no responsibility for these policies,
     other than urging its members fully to render loyalty to their
     country." [...]
     Peace is a prime priority that pleads for our pursuit.

He then made the following comments:

     Now, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
     Saints, what does the Lord expect of us? As a Church, we must
     renounce war and proclaim peace. As individuals, we should follow
     after the things which make for peace. We should be personal
     peacemakers. We should live peacefully as couples, families, and
     neighbors. We should live by the Golden Rule. We have writings of
     the descendents of Judah, as now merged with writings of the
     descendents of Ephraim. We should employ them, and expand our
     circle of love to embrace the whole human family. We should bring
     divine love and revealed doctrines of restored religion to our
     neighbors and friends. We should serve them according to our
     abilities and opportunities. We should keep our principles on a
     high level, and stand for the right. We should continue to gather
     scattered Israel from the four corners of the earth and offer the
     ordinances and covenants that seal families together forever.
     These blessings we are to bring to people of all nations. By so
     living, our Master will bless us.

My analysis:

Nowhere in here is found an explicit or implicit condemnation of the US 
actions against Iraq. The US maintains that the actions against Iraq do 
not constitute a war of aggression, but are a defense of family and 
freedoms. Obviously, the Church renounces war and proclaims peace. That 
does not mean the Church refuses to acknowledge that war is sometimes 
inevitable, even justifiable. The Church also refuses to endorse 
political candidates, but that does not mean that individual members 
ought not do so. Nowhere did Elder Nelson suggest that we are 
individually under obligation to denounce the actions against Iraq. In 
fact, he stated more than once that citizens must be subject to kings, 
presidents, rulers, and magistrates. As for our personal 
responsibilities for peacemaking, his comments quoted above make it 
clear that he was talking about what we commonly call missionary work; 
that only through embracing the principles of the gospel will the world 
find peace.

John is convinced that a secret combination involving the Trilateral 
Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations has taken over the US 
government and coopted its power for their own purposes. Marc is equally 
convinced that the US government is corrupt and seeks only for its own 
good, regardless of the needs of the rest of the world. Both of these 
brothers are looking at Elder Nelson's words through their own distorted 
lenses -- as indeed do we all. But an impartial analysis of Elder 
Nelson's talk will, I think, illustrate that he was not in fact 
endorsing either of their particular prejudices, nor condemning the US 
actions against Iraq.

I am neither defending nor condemning the US actions against Iraq. 
Rather, I am defending Elder Nelson's comments against being co-opted by 
others as an endorsement of their political opinions. For what it's 
worth, I'm very fond of both John and Marc. I respect their viewpoints 
and opinions. They are simply dead wrong in supposing that Elder Nelson 
is preaching their opinions, and imo they would do well not to suggest 
that is the case.

Stephen

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