Received notice today of the following outstanding article written by Troy Williams that was published in the Salt Lake Tribune. Troy is a wonderful, gay, ex-Mormon who took some interest at one tme in producing a documentary about me and this work until I revealed some facts about this work that he took wrong and didn’t understand; therefore, he gave up his desire to pursue the documentary. Sheri sat with him outside the radio studio at RadioActive on KRCL 90.9 FM, while he allowed me to spend some time in an online interview a few years ago.
The article is profound and spot on:
BY TROY WILLIAMS
First published Feb 26 2011 12:15AM
Updated Feb 26, 2011 12:17AM
Whether one accepts the historical or theological claims of the Book of Mormon, one theme in it is obvious: At their most righteous, the Nephites presented in the book were benevolent socialists; at their most depraved, they were greedy free-market capitalists.
In the zenith of Nephite culture, “the Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind and they did have all things in common — and there were no poor among them.” Having “all things in common” suggests a society invested in public infrastructure and welfare for the whole.
Redistribution is not an anomaly in Mormon scriptures. Joseph Smith declared that “It is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:20).
For any conservative this is surely commie talk! Yet Smith persisted, “If you are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (D&C 78:5-6).
Early Mormon leaders advocated a United Order to redistribute wealth for the benefit of all Saints.
Though redistribution is the highest economic order in Mormon scripture, Sen. Chris Buttars vehemently denounced Alpine School District for allegedly advocating “democratic socialism.” He, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck and others seem to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a de facto 14th Article of Faith: We believe in the unquestioned virtue of unregulated capitalism.
But Mormon scripture makes such a belief indefensible. The notorious villains of Nephite civilization were the Gadianton Robbers, who perpetuated policies that exacerbated class inequality. They eventually “did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God” (Helaman 6:39).
Many politically powerful Latter-day Saints have also turned their back on the poor and working class in this country. The Patrick Henry Caucus, Eagle Forum and Romney are determined to eliminate the very social programs that have traditionally protected vulnerable populations. Conversely, they are equally invested in protecting the wealthy.
They demand fiscal austerity but are unwilling to fairly tax the super rich. They demand the poor make sacrifices, but are unwilling to end corporate welfare and tax loopholes that keep big business from sharing the burden. They want to cut public funding for education, arts and health care but remain unwilling to defund our military occupations abroad.
They denounce socialism but have no problem when the redistribution of public wealth goes upward into private hands. Gadianton himself would feel right at home amidst Utah’s GOP.
My reading of the Book of Mormon is not idiosyncratic. As a missionary in England I met many Mormon socialists with testimonies of the scriptural admonition for equality. They saw in their sacred texts a spiritual rationale to support their own government programs, including their prized National Health Service.
They actually believe the admonition of Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40.
Fair-minded Latter-day Saints must reclaim their sacred texts from free-market fundamentalists. Don’t be taken in by the right-wing performance art of a hysterical Glenn Beck. Americans can support both a robust market economy and sustainable safety nets for the meek and humble. But it will require that corporations and affluent citizens invest deeply in public infrastructure.
The Book of Mormon narrative, regardless of its historicity, admonishes contemporary Latter-day Saints to reject riches and to care for the poor and needy. Democratic socialism is the very essence of Mormon theology and scripture. It is our common quest for Zion.
Troy Williams is the executive producer of RadioActive on KRCL 90.9 FM.
Troy understands the Book of Mormon. He understands its overall message unlike mostLDS/Mormon people. What he doesn’t understand and accept is what advanced humans, who were responsible for the Book of Mormon, are doing to further encourage its readers to grasp its concepts. The Sealed Portion is what they are doing. What he writes will help some see the hypocrisy of the LDS Church, but will only cause them to leave the Church AND the Book of Mormon, instead of helping them change their hearts.
Anyone who has ever met Troy would agree that if we only had more people on earth like him, at least, attempting to make a difference by expressing his objection to hypocrisy, maybe some advancement of our humanity would happen. Unfortunately, once people find out Troy is gay and no longer an active member, they will consign him to being deceived, spouting 99% truth when the 1% that matters (believing that the LDS Church is the only true church) is his deception. Sigh … :-) But again, patience and understanding without rallying will always bring the greater amount of individual peace.
Good on you, Troy Williams! You will do well when you finally read Joseph Smith’s authorized and official biography.
Here’s a typical LDS response to William’s article:
- When one part of society gets something they don’t work for…something they don’t contribute to the society for…then there is true inequality. A large portion of our annual budget it devoted to taking care of people who are not encouraged to take care of themselves. If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.There is no work exchanged for the welfare benefits received in this country today. This is extremely demeaning and damaging to all of society. Workers paying taxes resent those who are living on the public dole….and those receiving benefits feel they are not getting ahead and there is no use in getting a job, because they will be worse off financially. In California, when all of the welfare benefits, housing allowances, utilities subsidies, free lunch, etc are added up, a family of 4 making minimum wage has more discretionary spending than a family making $60K (more money left to spend on what they want to after the bills are paid).All welfare recipients should be required to perform 40+ hours a week of community service, job training, or actively looking for employment to receive their benefits. We should have the cleanest streets, neatest libraries, and graffiti free buildings of the world.
The welfare beneficiaries need to be rewarded for being able to find ANY work…even part-time or temporary work. Perhaps there could either be a reduction of the hours of service required for benefits and/or an lessening of the benefits that encourages them to find any work they can (ie…make $200, benefits are only reduced $50…make $2000, benefits are reduced $1000) to encourage them to be as self-sufficient as possible.
At least some of their benefits should be tied to behaviors which are good for society….no drug use, children in school, etc.
And here’s the kind of work that is the result of this kind of LDS mentality:
“Awan may not reflect much on his importance in this vast logistical operation. He’s in it for the money — $112 a month to support a wife and five children in the distant northwest tribal region of Pakistan. He gets to visit them twice a year. For the rest of the time, he is mostly on the road.”
Look at Awan! What a good citizen. Doesn’t complain, just works and earns $112 per month to support a family who he can only visit twice a year. If Awan can do it without receiving welfare benefits, then so should everyone else. :-)
The LDS/Mormon/American attitude sickens me, as it always has and always will.
I’m getting tired, really fast, of rallying against this attitude. However, I am having better success at dealing with my role, more patience, less worry about whether or not I’m doing all that I can.
When this work is complete, I’ve done all that I can.