Thursday, May 17, 2012

Over-Ruling Jesus

It was never my intention to use this blog as a forum for ragging on my fellow latter-day Saints. I prefer shining love and light around as much as the next person, over seeking out things to be critical about. But back in February I felt compelled to call out Mitt Romney as a disgrace to his religion, and now I'm about to pick on some poor guy in Oregon.

I shouldn't have to do this. The religion restored through Joseph Smith allows every one of us freedom of thought, so I ought to be the last person to call out others for erring in doctrine.  One of the things Joseph Smith found most appealing about the restored gospel was that when converts accepted it, they were not required to abandon other convictions they might already hold.  Within the inchoate Church of Christ, converts were allowed to believe pretty much whatever they wanted, as long as those beliefs did not contradict the teachings of Christ, or impose restrictions on the liberty of others.

Strict religious dogmatism smacked "too much like the Methodists, and not like the Latter-day Saints," the Prophet insisted.  "Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine." (Lyndon Cook,editor, The Words of Joseph Smith, pg 184)

Whether we are likely to admit it even to ourselves, most of us have our own personal religions nestled snugly inside the larger religion we call Mormonism. And we have a right to hold those dissimilar beliefs so long as they don't contradict Mormonism's core tenets.  Unlike other faiths, our religion allows us to speculate to our heart's content on all manner of things that have not actually been declared official doctrine.  So whether you believe that Jesus was married (as I do), or that God drives a flying saucer (I don't), you are entitled to your opinion, no matter how "out there" it may appear to others.  Your religion is your religion. Help yourself to as much as you want.

We Mormons are all over the map, for instance, when it comes to the Word of Wisdom.  And that's fine.  What foods you care to put into your body, and how much, is your choice, and since section 89 was offered to us "not by way of commandment or constraint," how far you care to interpret the dietary laws for your own use is a matter of your own free agency. Are you convinced that Coke and Pepsi are bad for you? Fine. I won't make you drink either one.  Do you believe colas are okay and you like guzzling down a daily Big Gulp? It's your body, man. Not for me to say.  I am fully aware that my addiction to root beer is not doing me any good, but I keep drinking the stuff anyway. To each his own.

Do you believe the eating of ham and bacon is an abomination?  You're entitled to that belief too, which happens to have been shared by many of the early Saints, including Presidents George Q. Cannon and Wilford Woodruff. Woodruff felt the eating of pork was a greater breach than having a morning cup of coffee.  Is it your position that we should abstain from all other meat except in in dire emergencies? Again, that was the belief held by Cannon, Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow, along with many others. President Woodruff felt so strongly against the eating of meat that he believed it was the only part of the Word of Wisdom the Saints should be encouraged to obey. (See Mormonism In Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints 1890-1930) .

My own personal religious practices may be a bit stricter than yours.  Along with abstaining from pork, I no longer eat shrimp, crab, clams, oysters, lobster, or catfish. I adopted this creed after a study of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, which prohibit eating these creatures for the same reason we are warned against eating vultures: these animals get their food from ingesting the filth of other animals.

As a descendant of the House of Israel (through both Judah and Ephraim), I made a personal decision twelve years ago that those dietary laws were still binding after I was unable to find any place in scripture or the teachings of the prophets where God had repealed them.  Modern science (as well as plain common sense) appears to agree with God that when you take into your body these sea insects that subsist on filth, you are effectively eating that filth yourself.  I can see why God considers the eating of such things to be an abomination.

But here is the point I wish to emphasize: my decision to live by these dietary laws is my personal religion.  It does not have to be yours, and I wouldn't think to push it on you.  If you like eating catfish, I don't think that means you're going to hell.  All it means is you like to eat a fish that likes to eat other fish's feces.  You and I can still be friends. Just don't ask me to kiss you on the lips.

Taking It Too Far
There are instances where it is best to keep your private religion to yourself. On my mission I knew a couple whose interpretation of the Word of Wisdom led them to conclude that processed flour and sugar are not for the body. (I tend to agree with them, although I have never put that belief into practice due to my inveterate appetite for flummery.)

My companion and I began teaching some neighbors of this couple, and they started coming to church with us.  But we almost lost these investigators when our zealous members took their neighbors aside one day and told them that Mormons don't believe in eating white flour or sugar, and if they joined the church they would have to give those foods up.  My companion and I had to go into damage control mode to convince our investigators that what they were told was not strictly doctrinal.  They could be Mormons and still eat donuts, we insisted, and we even ate some glazed donuts in front of them to prove it. (To this day I stand ready to prove that point anytime and anywhere to anyone who cares to furnish the donuts.)

But think of the difficulty the church would have if such dietary restrictions were promulgated not by mere rank and file members like that couple in Nebraska, but by someone in a leadership position.  What if a bishop or stake president had told these people they could not be baptized unless they conformed to his personal beliefs?  What if missionaries imposed their personal beliefs onto their investigators?  How about if a mission president did?

Which brings us to my current candidate for Worst Mormon In the World: Brother C. Jeffery Morby, currently serving as president of the Oregon-Portland Mission.  His crime: instructing the missionaries under his charge that "no individual who smokes marijuana for 'medicinal' purposes can be baptized a member of the Church in this mission."

Now please note that in 1998, the people of Oregon passed the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, allowing patients with certain medical conditions access to marijuana with a doctor's prescription.  This act has never been repealed or superseded, despite what President Morby might personally believe. That he has misinterpreted the legal controversy surrounding the act there can be no doubt, and I will address that momentarily.  What should be of immediate concern to us as Latter-day Saints is Brother Morby's use of his office and calling to over-rule an imperative of Jesus Christ.

I have no doubt that Brother Morby considers himself a devout disciple of Christ.  Yet here he is, having accepted a call from the Lord to leave his home in Bloomington, Utah to labor for the Lord in Oregon, the specific purpose of which is to bring people to Christ and see them baptized.  And almost immediately upon his arrival, rather than fulfill the mission the Lord called him to perform, Morby has chosen to implement his own personal religion and impose that religion upon every single missionary under his charge.

I don't think the importance of baptism in this church can be overstated.  It is a fundamental tenet of our faith that Jesus Christ desires everyone to be baptized.  That was the prime directive he gave to his apostles prior to his ascension. Our founding prophet considered baptism a "holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost" and that "there was no other ordinance admitted whereby men could be saved."  We Mormons consider baptism of such importance that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on temples and untold thousands of man hours in an attempt to make sure everyone who has ever lived on the earth gets the chance to have this ordinance performed for them, by proxy if necessary.

The LDS Church recently received some unwanted publicity when it was discovered that Adolph Hitler was not only baptized posthumously, but also sealed to his mistress, Eva Braun, for time and all eternity.  Good thing Hitler didn't have a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana, or he might have been given the thumbs down.

Misconstruing The Mission
President Morby has made a mistake many of us do, in forgetting the true purpose and importance of baptism. We have come to think of it as a rite that initiates a person for membership into our Church.  It is no such thing.  Gaining membership in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ancillary to baptism at best, but the ordinance of baptism has little to do with "joining the Church" as we often erroneously conflate it.

"Always keep in mind," Joseph Smith preached, "that it is one of the only methods by which we can obtain a remission of sins in this world, and be prepared to enter into the joys of our Lord in the world to come." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 262)   "It is a sign," the prophet taught, "for the believer in Christ to take upon himself in order to enter the Kingdom of God." (ibid, 198)

And in case you need reminding, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the Kingdom of God.  One of the primary purposes of the Church is to provide saving ordinances such as baptism, in order to prepare us for the coming Kingdom; it is not the Kingdom itself. As Brigham Young pointed out, a person need not even be a member of our church to have a place in the future Kingdom of God. (Journal of Discourses 2: 310)

We make a grave mistake in placing baptism for the remission of sins on par with entrance into our particular denomination, for such assumptions inevitably lead to tests regarding whether we think certain persons are good enough to join our little club.  John the Baptist did not conduct interviews to determine the worthiness of those who entered the water.  Neither did Alma, who performed hundreds of baptisms quickly and in secret to keep knowledge of those baptisms from the unapproving eyes of governmental authorities. The only actual requirement for baptism is repentance, and a desire to be baptized.

We deserve to change our thinking on this.  As Charles Harrell writes in This Is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology, "Scholars note that baptism was initially performed by John the Baptist and Jesus's disciples as a cleansing rite to prepare them for the coming kingdom of God, which was perceptually distinct from the Church."

It appears that equating baptism with joining our particular denomination is something we picked up in the 19th century from the protestants, as it was not an issue in the early church of Christ. As LDS religion scholar Kevin L. Barney explains, "[Baptism's] full significance as a rite marking formal initiation into the church is a later Christian innovation." (Quoted in Harrell, ibid.)

In other words, if a person was "saved" through the efforts of Methodists, he tended to be baptized by Methodists and naturally joined with the Methodists after being baptized.  If he was converted and baptized by Presbyterians, he tended to become a Presbyterian.  Thus, when candidates are converted by Latter-day Saints and baptized by Latter-day Saints, they usually end up joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But the ordinance of baptism is a separate thing from membership in the Church, as evidenced by the confirmation process which is a separate ordinance that often isn't even performed until the following Sunday.

If, as Joseph Smith taught, "there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to him and be saved, and enter into the Kingdom of God" (TPJS 198), what then are we to make of a mission president who orders the missionaries under his control to deny this sacred ordinance to those who might desire it?

If you see baptism primarily as a means of initiation into a particular church denomination, and yourself as the gatekeeper to prevent the riff-raff from getting in, the next step is believing you have a sacred charge as to who you'll accept and who you won't.

Well, that's fine. After all, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the trademarked name of a private religious association. It has the right to refuse membership to anyone it pleases.

But what we are not permitted is to deny baptism to someone who desires it. Baptism is an ordinance we are commanded to extend to all mankind, living and dead. I would not want to find myself at the judgment bar attempting to explain to the Lord why I refused to allow some of his children the privilege of baptism, especially on the flimsy excuse that I disapproved of the medication their doctors had prescribed for them.

How Many Masters Can One Man Serve?
President Morby has an odd justification for his stance against baptizing those who number among the sick and afflicted. Instead of hearkening to the commandments of the Lord, who he has ostensibly accepted a call to serve, he appears to take his marching orders from the U.S. government.  Here is the full text of Brother Morby's instructions as codified in the Oregon-Portland Missionary Handbook:
"The fact that Oregon state law allows doctors to prescribe the smoking of marijuana for 'medicinal' purposes does not change the fact that marijuana remains an illegal drug according to the federal laws of the United States, and the Supreme Court of the United States specifically ruled in 2005 that federal law takes precedence over state legislation in this matter. Therefore, the Church Handbook statement quoted above (“members should not use any substance that contains illegal drugs”) applies in this situation. Unless we receive different instructions from the Brethren, no individual who smokes marijuana for 'medicinal purposes' can be baptized a member of the Church in this mission. The prescription drug Marinol (synthetic THC), a capsule approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, provides legal relief to those who take it. Its use under competent medical supervision is not a violation of the Word of Wisdom and therefore does not prevent a person from being baptized.”
We might never have learned of these strange orders had it not been for a returned sister missionary who happened to mention it to her mother, who broke the story at in a piece entitled Heavenly Father's Favorite Drugs.  That mother, writing under the byline "Living In Zion," commented on the above rule:
"This statement brings all kinds of interesting questions into my mind. I think it is fascinating that taking a synthetic drug, a profit-generating substance created by a drug company, is fine but the natural occurring substance is against God’s will. The argument presented in the last sentence, that the prescription drug is okay because it is recommended under medical supervision, also makes me take pause. In Oregon naturally occurring marijuana is legal under medical supervision, so what is the difference? Heavenly Father wants to protect profit margins?"   
In his zeal to promote a synthetic imitation of God's natural medicine as "not a violation of the Word of Wisdom," Morby seems to have overlooked the fact that use of a medicinal plant placed on earth by the creator doesn't violate the Word of Wisdom either. "All wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man," the Lord tells us right there in verse 9.

Ah, but Brother Morby might argue, Marijuana is not a wholesome herb, it is a drug! The federal government has classified it as such, so that settles the matter.

No, marijuana is not a drug. Marinol is a drug. Marijuana is a wholesome herb placed on the earth by our creator for the purpose of alleviating suffering. It has a purpose, as do all the other wholesome herbs He has provided for us.

A typical marijuana smoking Beatnik.
The fact that many people choose to misuse God's medicine for purposes other than palliating illness does not change the fact that God did place it here to be used for medicine.  I find it quite telling that Morby puts the words "medical purposes" in quotes.  I'm guessing he's not buying the idea that marijuana can actually have a legitimate use.  In his opinion, anyone claiming to use marijuana for "medical purposes" is pulling a fast one, because marijuana is a drug people use to get high, and that's all it is.

I wonder what Brother Morby would think about President George Albert Smith taking brandy every evening for medicinal purposes. He was certainly not alone among the Saints in his day.  Just as Joseph Smith had, a great many Utah Mormons ended their day with a glass of  beer until prohibition forced all the Mormon-owned breweries in Utah to shut down in 1920.  Prohibition was the only reason Mormons stopped drinking beer, as in those days the Saints were well aware of the Lord's approval of that traditional beverage, since he told them in verse 17 that that was what he gave them barley for.

Like many of his generation, Morby's prejudices against marijuana seem to be informed by those who have traditionally misused it.  This is unfortunate, because long before the dreaded Mexican migrant workers introduced smoking the leaves of this plant to the scary negro jazz musicians, who in turn introduced it to the unsavory beatniks, who in turn introduced it to the hordes of pinko-commie-hippie scum, this plant was a common medicine that might very well have been in the home of Brother Morby's own grandparents. The only difference is, they never thought to smoke it.

The Big Scary Lie
When William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger began their propaganda campaign against marijuana in the 1930's, they were careful to never call it by the name most Americans were familiar with.  The tincture known as "Cannabis Indica" or "Cannabis Americana"  was a common medicine extracted from the whole plant, and a helpful remedy many Americans already kept in their medicine chests.  If anyone had proposed banning this product, there would have been a huge public outcry.  Two or three drops of this tincture placed under the tongue was known to instantly calm hysteria, relieve pain, cure insomnia, and increase the appetite in those who suffered from wasting disease.  It was a near-perfect panacea for a variety of complaints.

To disguise their intentions, Anslinger and Hearst railed against those on society's fringes who smoked what they dubbed "the devil's weed," referring to the plant only by it's Spanish name, "Marijuana," a name which was unfamiliar to most Americans.  Had Americans understood that marijuana was the same thing as Cannabis Indica, the propaganda would never have worked, and congress would not have been fooled into legislating against it.  Anslinger successfully induced fear in the population by creating visions of "crazed Negroes hopped up on the devil's weed" raiding white neighborhoods and raping white women.

Fear tactics such as those used by Hearst and Anslinger are still effective today, convincing credulous souls like Jeff Morby that a medicine God ordained for our use is in reality a substance so evil that anyone found using it in the manner God intended it for should be locked out of the Kingdom forever.

The very reason the Lord tells us he gave us the Word of Wisdom was "in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days."  Almost weekly we hear of government SWAT teams descending on small organic farms and Amish dairies which provide some of the healthiest food on the planet. Why? because the profits of "evil and designing men" are threatened by a population that is largely waking up to the idea that much of what they have been putting into their bodies is soft killing them.

Likewise, the rediscovery of the ability of Cannabis to alleviate a long list of maladies is a threat to those evil and designing men whose profits are threatened by a vastly superior medicine anyone can grow in their own backyard for free.  An increasing number of people choosing a diet of healthier food and using wholesome herbs as medicine, are finding their dependence on expensive drugs suddenly obviated.  In spite of anything you might have been conditioned to believe, Cannabis is medicine, and many who use it have found it to be far superior to their former prescription drugs.  It doesn't matter that the plant has gotten a bad rep because of slackers and dead-heads.  It is still real medicine. Merely calling it a "devil weed" does not prove it was planted here by the devil. It was put here by God.

Supporting That Which Comes of Evil
I wonder if Brother Morby has even read the federal ruling he depends upon which to justify denying baptisms.  For those not familiar with the 2005 Supreme Court case he refers to in the instructions to his missionaries above, you can read it here, but it may leave you scratching your head in bewilderment over the convoluted bibble-babble contained therein.  Be assured, however, that the ruling was carefully reasoned. You just have to understand the politics behind it, which I will explain in a moment.  Here is Thomas Wood's short summary of the case from his excellent book, Nullification: How To Resist Federal Tyranny In The 21st Century:

 "California's Angel Raich suffers from an astonishing range of afflictions, including fibromyalgia, seizures, nausea, and an inoperable brain tumor. Scoliosis, endometriosis, and temporal-mandibular joint dysfunction put her in constant pain. She loses a pound a day as the result of a mysterious wasting syndrome.
"Cannabis alone has granted her any relief worth speaking of, without burdening her with intolerable side effects, and has arrested her weight loss. Her physician testified in court that she would die without it.
"California's Compassionate Use Act of 1996, passed into law in the wake of a popular referendum in defiance of federal prohibition, allowed her to have recourse to the one treatment that could help her. When a series of raids by federal agents in 2002 led to a wave of arrests, Angel Raich and fellow sufferer Diane Monson sought an injunction against further raids by the federal government. Although they lost in district court, a panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came down in their favor and forbade federal agents from seizing the women's marijuana.  The Justice Department, in turn, appealed the case, which would go before the Supreme Court as Gonzalez v. Raich.
"The Justice Department pointed to the Constitution's commerce clause to justify the federal prohibition on the use of marijuana even for medical purposes. The presence of medical marijuana in one state, it was argued, could have spillover effects on other states.  Even though the marijuana was grown in one state, was never transported out of that state, was never sold at all, and was immediately consumed in that state, the Justice Department wanted it to be treated as interstate commerce and therefore subject to federal regulation.  It was the typical absurdity for which the commerce-clause jurisprudence has become notorious.  As usual, the court's liberals, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, took the nationalist position against the states. It was the much maligned conservative, Clarence Thomas, who composed the most withering critique of the Court's decision and the inane jurisprudence that informed it.  "One searches the Court's opinion in vain for any hint of what aspect of American life is reserved to the States," Thomas wrote.  The Court ruled against Angel Raich, and declared that medical marijuana suppliers and users could be prosecuted even when the states had legislated to the contrary.
"Had the Supreme Court been correct about the alleged spillover effects of medical marijuana from one state into another, we should expect some of those state governments to have filed amicus briefs in support of the federal government's position.  To the the contrary, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, three southern states known for their conservatism, filed amicus briefs in support of Angel Raich. They opposed California's policy on medical marijuana, they said, but they were much more strongly opposed to a federal government so oblivious to restraints on its power that it would actually disallow California's policy.
"Now consider: the federal government defied the state's resistance efforts, launching a series of raids on medical marijuana patients and dispensaries.  The Supreme Court ruled against the states.  And yet the use of medical marijuana goes on as if none of this ever occurred. There are as many as one thousand functioning dispensaries in Los Angeles County alone, each of which operates in direct defiance of the federal will."
What concerns me about a member of my own church relying on a dubiously reasoned Supreme Court ruling to justify his personal prejudices, is that our scriptures require us to be vigilant in standing firm against this very thing. The Lord tells us in D&C 98: 7 that "pertaining to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than [the Constitution] cometh of evil."

In case you need that spelled out for you, the Lord is telling us in that chapter that any government entity that takes more power unto itself than is granted to it in the Constitution, or allows less power to remain with the people in whom all power is supposed to reside, is involved in evil works. God takes his children's freedom very seriously.

Doubtless Brother Morby holds the opinion that the Supreme Court of the United States is the final arbiter of legal questions regarding the rights of individuals, but this is a view that was certainly not shared by the founders who created and outlined the duties of that branch of government.  Would it not have been smarter for the mission president to have consulted the constitution itself before enthusiastically agreeing with a line of reasoning that an untold number of constitutional scholars have decried for decades as untenable legal acrobatics?

One has only to consult the tenth amendment to our Constitution to suspect something is screwy about the High Court's recent ruling. That amendment, which the people at the time insisted must be included in the Constitution before they would allow it to be ratified, reads very simply:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
You can search in vain for any clause or section of the Constitution which delegates power to the federal government allowing it to make blanket prohibitions against the people's ownership of private property for private use.  The only time that occurred was when prohibition was enshrined in the Constitution itself by way of the 18th amendment, which was ultimately repealed via the 21st when it proved unworkable.
As James Madison, the acknowledged Father of the Constitution commented on the tenth amendment, "the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."  in spite of what you might have been taught in school, the federal government is not the boss of the states that created it. It's the other way around. The individual states have jurisdiction regarding what goes on within their borders.

Wicked And Designing Men
A good deal of the the history of Mormonism is a history of a people ever faithful to the constitution in the face of government officials who were constantly dumping on it.  Joseph Smith lamented this growing penchant when he wrote his political tract, Views on the Powers and Policies of the Government of the United States.  "Wicked and designing men have unrobed the Government of its glory," the prophet wrote, "and the people...have to lament in poverty her departed greatness."

The prophet was not the first one to notice the Republic was headed for the rocks. Thomas Jefferson was already sounding the warning about the danger of reliance on the Supreme Court a full seven years before Joseph Smith was even born:
"To consider the Judges of the Superior Court as the ultimate Arbiters of Constitutional questions would be a dangerous doctrine which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.  They have with others, the same passion for party, for power, and for the privileges of their corps -and their power is the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the Elective control.  The Constitution has elected no single Tribunal.  I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves."
Most of us are familiar with Joseph Smith's prediction that the day would come when "the Constitution would hang as if by a thread." That's why I find it unsettling when a member of my own church does not see it as his duty to resist that unraveling, but instead vocally supports it. Thomas Jefferson foresaw that the Constitution would be chipped away bit by bit at the hands of the very men charged with upholding it:
"It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression,... that the germ of dissolution of our Federal Government is in the constitution of the Federal Judiciary--an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow), working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction until all shall be usurped from the States and the government be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed."
Another reason I doubt President Morby has read the the ruling is his apparent confidence that it settled the question on federal jurisdiction over the states, since it does no such thing. In actuality the court avoided that question, and they avoided it on purpose.

How Did Things Get So Upside Down?
Whenever the Supreme Court issues a ruling that tightens the noose around the American people while expanding the power of the federal police state, you can almost count on that ruling having been justified by the Commerce Clause.  This has become our Republic's Achilles heel; the method by which those who seek to conquer the nation from the inside long ago found their toehold.

Originally intended to facilitate commerce between states that had been taxing each other silly every time a wagon load of merchandise entered and left various state borders, the true purpose of the commerce clause has been eroded bit by bit until it has lost all its original meaning.  The term "regulate commerce," which once meant to assist in seeing that the traffic of commerce flowed freely and unrestricted between the states, gradually came to mean "restrain commerce," until today we have a court that relies on the most absurd and convoluted reasoning by which it clamps down on the rights of the people.  Over time the commerce clause has come to justify the federal government's restrictions on the type of goods -and how many- a business could produce, and the amount of crops a farmer was allowed to grow, until now it is used to restrict a person's right to control his own health. This absurdity reached its apex under Wickard v. Filburn, a ruling so ridiculous I can't begin to explain it to you.  I defer again to Professor Woods:

"In Wickard v. Filburn (1942), the Court ruled that the federal government could regulate the amount of wheat grown on an individual's farm even though the wheat never left the state, and the farmer and his livestock consumed it themselves.  Had they not grown and consumed that wheat, the argument went, they might have purchased it from another state, and hence their abstention from this purchase indirectly affected interstate commerce." (Nullification, ibid.)
Pretty laughable, huh?  Well, it would be funny if such rulings didn't lead inexorably to a police state mentality where federal SWAT teams often end up killing people while enforcing this nonsense.  You will note from a reading of Gonzalez v. Raich that the Supreme Court relied heavily on the precedent created in Wickard, for even though Angel Raisch and Diane Monson used Cannabis that did not enter or leave the state, and even though they never sold it, and even if they were to grow their own plants inside their own homes and consume it themselves in their homes, then...ah, hell. You try and make sense of it. I can't, and I'm a trained legal analyst.

Most people think the justices of the Supreme Court exist to settle Constitutional questions. Not if they can help it, they don't.

In a case entitled Ashwander v. Tenessee Valley Authority, Justice Brandeis let leak the way things really work in those hallowed chambers.  Operating under the theory that one branch of government must not "encroach upon the domain of another," Brandeis formulated the Avoidance Doctrine, which states that if the court can find any other way of disposing of a case other than ruling on the constitutionality of an issue, the Court will always strive to avoid the constitutional question and instead rule on a lesser technicality.  Thus in Gonzalez, the High Court wiggled out of its duty by relying on a narrow precedent under the Commerce Clause, thereby avoiding answering the major federal question: whether or not state governments are subservient to the federal government. (Hint: they most decidedly are not.)

The incessant reliance of the Supreme Court in recent years on the Avoidance Doctrine in order to avoid "embarrassing another branch of government" demonstrates Jefferson's prescience in recognizing that the federal justices would eventually become just another chummy part of the federal oligarchy, arrogating more and more power to itself at the expense of the citizenry.

The Avoidance Doctrine might as well be called "The Weasel Doctrine," as it allows the Court to weasel out of its responsibility of protecting your rights from encroachment by the Executive and Legislative branches, at the same time leaving the uninformed masses with the impression that the question that was never asked has somehow been settled and put to rest.

It is evident from the instructions published in the Oregon-Portland Missionary Handbook that this trick worked like a charm on President Morby.  It worked so well that even in questions where the government has no say, such as ecclesiastical matters of who should or should not be baptized, the president of one of our own LDS missions rolled over like a compliant dog and eagerly licked the boots of his oppressors.

If you happen to live in Oregon and are a marijuana user -medical or otherwise- and you have a hankering to be baptized for the remission of your sins, I have an open invitation for you.  My home near Sacramento is about 400 miles from the Oregon border.  If you can make it down this way, come see me.  I'll baptize you myself.

 Related Posts:
Too Bad I Don't Like Beer.
What Is The Law Of The Land?


Anonymous said...

Marinol made me so sick to my stomach, that it was after giving it a try for one week, becoming even more nauseous and throwing up, I was forced to give it up. I had a Doctor that was dead set against marijuana.

When I finally worked up the courage to try it, I did not get "high" at all. The person who bought it for me and did not "need" it, smoked some of it...basically to prove to me that it was real. (My friend just seemed a lot calmer.) My stomach settled down and I was able to enjoy a decent meal for the first time in a very long time.

I have a dear friend who WAS asked if they drank Coke or Pepsi for their Temple recommend, already giving up coffee, because it is a "Hot drink". This was an abuse of power by one man, who had decided on his own that he was going to run a "tight ship". It was a shock, as I had shared the gospel with this fine soul. This was a convert who had already given up much! My friend has since developed MS. Marijuana means survival. Marinol just does not work for any of the people I know.

This is simply appalling.

Thomas said...

Hi Rock

What is the difference between the philosophies of men mingled with scripture and personal religion?

Does the philosophies of men mingled with scripture only concern the core aspects of the Gospel?


Alan Rock Waterman said...

An interesting question, Thomas.

I would think there's nothing wrong with many of the philosophies of men; a good number of the classic philosophers' thoughts are consistent with scripture. So the danger would be in interwtining non-scriptural philosophies into one's religion that contradict the teachings of Christ, yet might seem on the surface to be consistent with the gospel.

An example that comes to mind is the belief of many latter-day Saints that because America is blessed above all other lands, we therefore have the right and duty to be the policeman of the world. The scriptures tell us that if we extend our military into the borders of another people, we actually cease to be blessed, but that reality seems to escape those who believe in the man-made doctrine of "American Exceptionalism."

Applying the question to my essay above, that part of my religion that dictates my dietary laws is based on the revealed word of God, so it is not a philosophy of man mingled with scripture; it is one attempt to bring myself into alignment with scripture.

Joseph Smith's comments regarding liberty of thought were prompted by the Nauvoo High Council's excommunication of one Pelatiah Brown, who held some rather wacky ideas regarding the interpretation of the book of Revelations. Joseph Smith said, in effect, "So what?" What is the harm of an individual expounding his own theories, no matter how odd? "it does not prove a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine."

The danger comes when someone in a position of authority or leadership demands others comply with his non-scriptural beliefs or blocks them from obtaining the blessings of the gospel because he does not think they are up to speed. Thus the example given by Anonymous above of the bishop who denied a temple recommend to a member who drank cola, or a mission president denying baptism to those whose lifestyles do not comport with his own.

Until the mid twentieth century, neither baptism nor temple entrance ever required a candidate to answer a series of questions to determine worthiness. Before that, a bishop relied on his own spiritual discernment and the knowledge of the character of the person in his ward.

Now that gifts of the spirit are no longer as evident in the Church today as they used to be, Church headquarters compensates by issuing bishops a series of questions to ask the candidate to determine worthiness.

The flaw in this method is evident when you consider the number of good, righteous people who are denied entrance into the temple, while someone inclined to steal wallets from the dressing room is somehow able to slip through the interview process and get in. It is no coincidence to me that our temples were forced to install keyed lockers at about the same time as bishops were instructed to go by outward appearances and verbal testing in temple interviews.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

No more neuroscience journal references from me :P -- I don't know that they don't do more harm than good anyways, in that they're too easily distorted to justify the actions of the powers that be. For example, even if we assume for the sake of argument that there are some horrible side effects to marijuana (and my opinion is that there are indeed side effects, but they can easily go unnoticed since they're much more mild than those of just about any drug), it's still nonsensical for the federal government to prohibit it entirely, with or without a prescription. Yeah, I know, follow the money...

Anyway, working with this assumption of (grossly overstated) side effects, here's how our logic works: Abortion is legal because we have a right to own/control our own bodies, but marijuana must be kept illegal because we might cause harm to our own bodies. And we're expected to respect our rulers when we can't even get consistency from them? Ah well, judging by our exploits at home and abroad, we don't care too much if people suffer at our hands in any case.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, Rock. I agree 100% with you on the oppressive behaviors of many LDS ecclesiastical leaders, taking upon themselves the role of judge, jury and God. I've seen it happen in my own family, which has caused many tears and heartache! Isn't there a scripture somewhere (I should look it up)that talks about people in the last days saying good is evil and evil is good! That certainly seems to be the case today, if not always. Blessings to you and yours.

Benjamin Waterman said...

You know what this blog needs? A facebook "like" or "share" button. Yep.

John and Jennifer said...

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21

John and Jennifer said...

Hi Rock,

This reminds me a what's happening to my friends at Polar Pure. Their whole company is being shut down, and they aren't allowed to supply iodine crystals to purify water (backpackers love it - small, light, inexpensive, kills bacteria and viruses in water). Because a few people use iodine to create Meth, no one can buy the product for legitimate purposes.

Many government and religious leaders just like to control, control, control. Most men can't handle authority.

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." D&C 121:39

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Boy, I agree, Ben. Many's the time someone comments and I just wish I could "like" it. Sadly, Blogspot does not provide any such thing.

I do believe you can share it down at the bottom of the piece, but I'll have to check to see for sure. I think there is a method provided for emailing it.

Anyway, you can always copy and paste it into your Facebook update. I'd like it very much if you shared this piece, Ben.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's very sad about Polar Pure, Jennifer. Just a few years back some government agency declared natural ephedra illegal because it too could be used for meth. Ironic, too, because the alternate names for this herb are Brigham Tea and Mormon tea.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Apropo of what we are discussing here, I have just been informed of a fascinating piece followed by a vigorous discussion going on at "Wheat and Tares" entitled "If I Were In Charge: Revisit the Word of Wisdom (Including Obedience and Obesity)"

You can find it here:

Toni said...

Thanks for the article, Rock.

Unfortunately, our society is a convoluted mess. Right is wrong except when we say so, but we don't say so there except sometimes or may not, you have to check with us on Tuesdays, unless we change the day without telling you. etc. And the members of the church grew up and are living in this mess. We often have no clue how insane our thinking really is.

Michael said...


Great post! You hit the nail on the head - I learn more here than I do attending church.

In any case, you do realize that there are a great number of statists and control freaks in the church, correct? I seem to run into a lot of otherwise good people who operate under the mentality of "The government should..." or worse, "The government must do something..." about perceived "problem" x or y. I got so tired of that mentality, and the endless "we live in the freest country on earth" that I finally replaced the U.S. flag on my suit lapel with a Soviet flag, which seems more appropriate for the direction we are headed. It probably goes without saying I am not the most popular individual at church, although there are a few brave souls who will come up and ask me about it.

Best wishes and I'm glad to see another post!

Jon said...

Before we criticize others too much for not understanding liberty, remember that most have been put in government indoctrination camps which makes it difficult to see the "light."

Michael said...

Jon -

I think that's a great point. Most American's are not taught about "liberty" in the, ahem, public schools. Instead, they're taught to "sit down, shut up, and do as you're told".

I wish I could say that my wife and I home school our children. We do not. However, I do attempt to instill in their minds the ideas of freedom that they are not taught at school. That, and I try to teach them that it is OK to think outside of the box.

Jon said...

Michael S. Keeney,

Yeah, not only do they not teach liberty, they teach people they if they have a problem they should seek out government first, and that government (or rather, the state) can solve all problems. Pretty much putting the state up as a god.

Yeah, I don't judge others on what they choose to do in the fight for freedom and liberty. There are people out there doing way more than I am willing to do (like the free state project people). But I figure my small contribution is not sending my kids to government schools.

My mother-in-law sent all 8 of her kids to government schooling, they all came out pretty good but most of them don't understand liberty and freedom very well - even though they are into politics - (at least not as I understand it), but I think it can be done. Also, they do have fairly open and critical minds, which is probably even more important.

I figure we will be on track as a society once we recognize the simple fact that taxation is theft and then start treating it that way. That thought seems to offend most people now days.

It is difficult to compete against the "free" government schools since it raises the cost of all education, even private schools. In the 1800s you could educate your child for $40/year in 1999 inflation adjusted dollars, so that would be what, $100 or so today? Not too much money. Even if you spent more to educate the children it wouldn't really be all that much.

Anyways, I think raising our children in loving homes without violence or coercion but with persuasion and long suffering is the true solution to fixing all that is wrong today, not looking to fix the politics, we're not really going to get there when our own local governments are fascistic/socialistic themselves:

All the world is filled with love,
When there’s love at home.

Sweeter sings the brooklet by,
Brighter beams the azure sky;
Oh, there’s One who smiles on high,
When there’s love at home.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ha ha, I'll bet you get some looks with that flag. Some patriots have taken to flying the US flag upside down, as that is the international sign of distress. You might consider wearing an upside down lapel flag, at least it would be a good conversation starter as you explain why you feel the country is in distress.

Thomas said...

Hi Rock,

Thanks for the reply. Just out curiosity I thought eating unclean animals was part of Mosaic law that was fulfilled in Christ?

I'm trying to work towards a vegan diet based on compassion for how animals are treated in the mass produced food industry.

Still I respect anyone's choice to eat what they wish as long as they allow me the same right I was just curious :-)

As far as personal religion goes for me, I have been involed with Zen Bhuddism at first to learn about meditation as a way to calm my aspie mind down a bit. I still practice aware meditation and I see great value in the teachings of Bhudda and I try to follow the eightfold path.

I see none of this in contradiction with the LDS Church.

The LDS Church has a thing against crosses now saying they are all about the dead Christ and we worship the living Christ. Personally I find a tactile reminder around me of the amount of love Christ showed for me and all mankind through the atonement and his crucifixion to be very helpful in focusing me on what I'm doing.

Personally I would like to see some depiction of the Saviour behind the pulpit in our chapels rather than these designer wood panels they put in now. Doesn't have to be about the crucifixion necessarily can be resurrection or part of his life anything really, even the last supper. Just something to draw peoples minds to why they are really there.

My personal view is that leaders today have become far too reliant on the handbook of instructions and have forgotten how to work things out for themselves. I've lost count of the amount of time I have heard a Bishop say I'll have to check the handbook, or I'll have to ask the Stake President...

Very rarely have I heard a Bishop say I'll go and enquire of the Lord... Prayer contemplation and making decisions by the spirit rather than the policy manual seems to be sadly lacking in our Church.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thomas, I was surprised to learn from LDS historian Michael Reed that until the mid twentieth century, the cross was very much a part of our religion. It's use has been nearly completely eliminated. I think Reed has published, or is about to publish a book entitled "Mormons and the Cross." Here's the Trib writing about it:

As for the dietary laws being done away with, that is a popular belief among the protestants, that the food laws, as with all old testament law, had been "nailed to the cross with Jesus" and are no longer valid. My understanding of the laws that were done away with at that time were the laws of sacrifice.

It does not compute with me that an animal that disease carrying animals that were unclean 4,000 years ago have somehow become clean and pure today. I can find no evidence that trichinosis was nailed to the cross.

Anonymous said...

Morby is just another tin god that is trying to stand between people and salvation because of a misguided and arbitrary perception of his. Since when do mission presidents make church policy?

Joseph McKnight said...

Dear God in Heaven, what has happened to the Mormon Church? Obedience is the first law of Heaven? No, it's not. Gag a maggot in a gut wagon! And what's with the mission president adding his own rules the old "white bible" (which was bad enough). Yes, I realize taking care of a bunch of rowdy 19 year old boys is like a 3-year camping trip with deacons, but so what. How will our young men (and young women, Kudos to the Mormon Matters sister missionary for extending to 20 months, good job!) ever learn to think on their feet or even think! How very, very sad. Makes me wanna cry.

Roy said...

My Stake President decided a few years ago that anyone who drank high-caffeine drinks (Red Bull, Mother, etc) would not qualify for a temple recommend. At the time it struck me that he did not have the authority to add to the revelation. But it adds to this concept that church leaders feel that they have the right to add to doctrine independent of the formal revelation process. Except, of course, when they were wrong and then they were just "speaking as a man". But we're not allowed to decide for ourselves when they're speaking as men. We have to assume it is all inspired. How silly is that!

Anonymous said...

An invitation to be baptized by you in light of this mission presidents policy, classic! Very well done rock, i am sickened both by the government serving itself at the expense of the citizenry and by this mission president. And its the complicty of the people that allow for both abuses of power.

LJn said...

I read Isaiah chapter 1 today. Verse 25 says this: "And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin."

Until I read your comment just now, I didn't understand what "take away all thy tin" meant. Not sure whether Isaiah had this in mind or not, but it makes sense: "take away all thy tin gods."

Thomas said...

Interesting read Rock, I had a vague idea they were done away with because David O Mackay didn't like them but that was very informative.

Kinda brings you back to your original point it would seem like a lot of what our Church is today is because of the opinions of men. Men that happen to be in charge or in very high positions of influence within the Church.

I just think its sad a lot of members cant see through this and think this is how the Church has always been and always will be. What's even worse is when people are hurt as a result of policy.

I've said it before but I'll say it again I believe the policy handbook does a lot more harm than good in my opinion.

ke da wei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

I've met very few mission presidents that I've liked. Most of them are stuffed-shirt corporate executives and that's how they run their missions: comply or else.
I think a lot of them get off on having a bunch of 19-21 year-olds' noses buried you-know-where. These kids, who are at an age of coming into their own ways of thinking and becoming men, are reduced to acting like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber siting whenever the "prez" is around. It's a sad sight.
They (the mission presidents) treat their missions like a sales district: sell the church - feature, function, benefit; overcome objections with scripted responses; don't take no for an answer. That's the top-down corporate sales model.
That's why I don't go out with them on "splits" anymore. When the investigator is not home (more often than not), it's: Brother, who do you know that we can teach tonight? Reminds me of the vacuum cleaner salesman who won't leave your house until you give them a list of 10 or so names that they can call and tell them that you gave them their name.
Don't get me wrong. I love the missionaries. They're good kids and most of them are out there for the right reasons. We feed them and help them when needed. I just can no longer stomach the sales calls and presentations.
I really enjoyed your article entitled "Why don't they like us?" That tells a lot.

Anonymous said...

Lack of professional training (and I don't mean a short training session at SLC)is really starting to take it's toll on church leadership at all levels. You have Real estate salesmen like Morby who think they are amateur lawyers, Apostles like Boyd K. who couldn't employ diplomacy if his life depended on it, and (insurance salesmen) Bishops that are giving broken people live altering council from an extremely uninformed position. All other churches require their leaders to attend extensive seminaries and hone their skills as councilors before unleashing them on unsuspecting congregations. Mormon leaders rely on "might makes right" and stumble through their supervisory duties in a very ham-fisted manner. Occasionally of course the higher ups screw up and actually call someone to a position of authority who possesses tack, humility and compassion.

Michael said...

Rock -

Actually, I did try that for several months. Unfortunately, most people who noticed it simply came up to me and tried to turn the flag right side up. When I'd try to explain my reasons for keeping it upside down, most people just looked at me as though I'd lost my mind. That's when I switched to the Soviet flag - I was tired of people messing with my "jewelry" and I figured that maybe I could get the message across more precisely that way.

Keep up the great work.

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Alan Rock Waterman said...

This is spam, but it's Mormon-themed spam, so what the hell. I'm leaving it up.

LJn said...

Are they going to pay you for your affiliation, I wonder? You know, like ad space in a magazine or newspaper?

Anna said...

Hi Rock,

I really enjoyed reading through this post. You made some very interesting points. Being a non-LdS, I am left with a few questions though. I hope you can help to clear them up :)

You said:

"Whether we are likely to admit it even to ourselves, most of us have our own personal religions nestled snugly inside the larger religion we call Mormonism. And we have a right to hold those dissimilar beliefs so long as they don't contradict Mormonism's core tenets. Unlike other faiths, our religion allows us to speculate to our heart's content on all manner of things that have not actually been declared official doctrine."

I can see your point here. And it makes alot of sense. We should all have a personal relationship with God, what you have termed personal religion (I have always refered to it as Spirituality myself). However, you point out (quite logically) that an LdS's personal religion should not contradict Mormonism's core tenets or official doctrines. The thing that confuses me about this statement is that the LdS church does not have "official doctrines" or even core tenets that are in any way clearly laid out as such. So it seems to be left up to the individual member to determine for him or herself what are official docrtrines and core tenets, and what are not. I have been told by various members that these can include everything from Ensign publications and what is spoken in GC (though they are always hazy how old the GC can be before they fall under the category of "dead prophets" and so are no longer necessarily relevant) along with all scripture and church publications, to others who claim only scripture and those revelations which have been properly "voted in" according to D&C. There seems to be no consensus of any kind within the church about what are core tenets and official doctrines, or even how to figure out how to determine what are. So confusing!!

Anyway, with official doctrines and core tenets being so broadly interpreted by LdS church members and left so ambiguous by the church leadership, how can anyone be judged for holding beliefs that do not align? If the church is not willing to clearly say "These are the required doctrines of our faith", then it does not seem right, honest, or logical for them to judge the beliefs of anyone, let alone their own members.

Another interesting point you made was concerning baptism. You point out that LdS should be viewing baptism for the purpose of remission of sins, not as their annointing into the church (if I understand you correctly). My question about this concerns the LdS belief arround the age of accountability. From what I have been able to learn from LdS publications and scripture readings, the age of accountability according to Mormonism is eight. LdS teach that prior to the age of eight, children are not capable of sinning (even to the extent that Satan is not able to tempt them...though this last seems a direct contradiction to Mosiah 4:14-15 wherein parents are admonished not to allow their children to serve the devil; it seems contradictory to me to claim children can't sin or be tempted by the devil but then claim they would be able to serve the devil which is a HUGE sin...however, I digress here:). If all this is true, what would eight year old children need to repent of prior to their baptisms? If they were unable to sin prior to the age of eight, then there would be nothing to repent of. And from what I have read, it is very clear in all LdS literature that prior to baptism one must repent, and that baptism is the final cleansing of sins after repentance. Repentance seems to be extremely important to the LdS church prior to baptism, you even mentioned it yourself a couple times:) So if repentance is such an important part of baptism, then how does that work with the age of accountability?


Steven Lester said...

Here is the official LDS doctrine concerning Baptism from their site:

"One of the purposes of baptism is to symbolically wash away our sins, but even Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, was baptized. Jesus was baptized because it is a commandment and he wanted to provide a perfect example of obedience to Heavenly Father’s divine guidance."

"The ordinances of baptism and confirmation are a way for us to show that we are willing to take the name of Jesus Christ upon us, which means to become Christians and do our best to always live accordingly. First, we are baptized by being lowered under water and raised back up by a person who has authority from God to do so. This action symbolizes Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and it also represents the end of our old lives and beginning a new life as His disciples. After we are baptized, a person with authority puts his hands on our heads, gives us the right to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirms us members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

You are right, officially a child who is 7 years and 355 days old is as sinless as the Savior was, but at 12 midnight and one second on the anniversary of his or her eighth birthday he achieves the age of accountability and must be take responsibility for every imperfection that he might have thought or did from that moment until the washing away is completed. Even Jesus, however, needed to be baptized, sinless though He was, to fulfill the commandment.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful information on this subject. I totally agree with you.

It's ridiculous & even laughable if it wasn't so serious, and really shows the Church's true colors, that the Church allows so many members to be on serious destructive addictive mind altering drugs, even many of the very leaders making such judgments, yet they declare members can't use a common and natural drug that is probably far less dangerous, such as medical marijuana.

But my question is, 'why do we even care' or 'why are we so surprised' that the Church & it's leaders make such ridiculous decisions or hold such opinions?

For we know, or should know, that the Church is in a deep apostasy & has been since Joseph Smith's death when Brigham Young took over and started the whoredoms of polygamy among many other false & devilish doctrines.

These current leaders do not hold any right or authority to make such judgment calls for the members, let alone non-members. These men have long lost their Priesthood, if they ever held any, for preaching & practicing so many vile whoredoms in the Church today and yesterday. Those who listen to such leaders only deserve the consequences they have to deal with.

We need not bother ourselves with what the Church is saying or doing, anymore than any other church out there. We only need to be worthy & able to receive our own revelation and guidance directly from Heavenly Father and live our lives as we know & believe we should. We are free do act righteously ourselves and support such causes as you suggest above. We certainly don't need anyone's permission, especially from an apostate church.

Some may choose to continue to go to the LDS Church because of all the good things we think it does teach and do for us and our families, especially since there is no true church on the earth at this time and we may feel it's the best there is for now.

But we should also realize that the Church still teaches & practices many very destructive abominations too, which may be hard to unteach out of your children or your spouse. Things like divorce & breaking marriage covenants is ok, abusing your wife by living serial polygamy (getting sealed to a 2nd wife) after she dies or looking forward to living polygamy in the next life or millennium, or supporting it when it is brought back once legal again, which it will be eventually.

Or believing the abusive & controlling doctrine that men are the 'head' of the home and 'preside' over their wife, which is utterly false, for God has made the wife just as much one of the 'heads or leaders' of the home as the husband is, and she presides over and with him equally as he does.

But who are your children going to listen to, you or such church leaders who teach such abusive falsehoods? Are your daughters really going realize their true divine worth, power & position & that they hold the Priesthood just as much as men, if not more so because of their usually greater love & sacrifice, if they are constantly taught they don't possess such, by prideful and abusive leaders? Women have been abused by men & leaders & false churches for 6000 years, we have to finally stand up to it today and not let it happen to our precious daughters & even sons too, who are depending on us for the truth & the protection of their divine rights.

We must go back to the religion that Joseph Smith established with the Book of Mormon and the original D&C (no false D&C 132) and not teach or tempt our children with the devilish destructive doctrines of false prophets that we ourselves can barely shake off and wake up from.

Anonymous said...

So true Roy, it's all so ridiculous. What used to be considered a commandment - to question & prove all things that anyone, even church leaders, said or did, is now considered a huge sin & apostate behavior.

The true apostates are those who preach such nonsense, saying that we can't question or disagree or judge the righteousness or
inspiration of leaders anymore.

Anonymous said...


Isn't it amazingly to know that you seem to have greater wisdom and knowledge about things that Joseph Smith taught, for example, regarding 'member's freedom of thought & belief', then even the President and Apostles of the Church?

It seems as though the leadership of the Church is becoming more & more scared of member's intelligence, influence and uncovering of the real truth, & thus increasingly trying to threaten them all into being silent blind little lemmings, saying they have no right or ability to judge, question, or disagree with anything said or done by a church leader, as if they are all perfect men who could do not wrong. Amazing.

Leaders only reveal what they really are the more they act like that.

Anonymous said...

What a joke.

The Church allows people to dump & divorce their spouse & children for any reason & run off with some new romance & easily slip into the temple & be remarried forever, while leaving that 1st spouse to raise & take care of all the kids, bills & burdens themselves.

BUT, if you drink a 'can of coke' or even a little cup of 'coffee', then you are committing some horrid sin! And you better not even think about getting in the temple.

I don't know, what do you think is worse? What would you rather have your spouse do? Dump you & run off carefree with some new romance & force you to work & provide for & raise all the kids yourself? While they 'visit' the kids once a week?

Or would you rather your spouse do the unthinkable - have a daily cup of coffee or can of beer or heaven forbid, a can of coke?!

What has the Church come to. This is all beyond evil.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

As both you and Stephen point out, simply because children turn eight, they are not always ready for baptism. My personal opinion is that though most children are not accountable for sin prior to age eight, that doesn't necessarily mean they should automatically be baptized just because they turn eight, either.

But D&C 68: 25 and 27 seems to say different. In it the Lord instructs the Saints to baptize their children at age eight; but I see the main point of that section as an instruction that parents are to teach their children the doctrines of Christ and make sure they have an understanding of repentance by that age.

On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with performing the ordinance at that age so long as we were to continue the practice that the early Saints did: permit and encourage re-baptism a second time. that would give our children the opportunity to take advantage of baptism again once they are old enough to really appreciate what it's all about. When the Church officially dispensed with the practice of multiple baptisms for repentance and healing, I think we did away with something valuable and important.

Regarding what is and is not official doctrine or "core tenets" of Mormonism, the quick answer is the one given by Joseph Smith when he wrote, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."

In my view then, those "appendages" are what make up the basic tenets of our faith, and they include the instructions from Christ which we receive through his prophets in the Book of Mormon, and also through revelations given to Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants, and in those teachings of Joseph Smith which can be reasonably construed to have been given to him from the Lord.

I become a bit more wary when our doctrines begin to show up third hand, and not directly from Christ, particularly when they contradict the teachings we received first hand through Joseph Smith. Therefore, although I find much wisdom in many of the statements of Brigham Young, I don't automatically accept everything he taught as a "core teaching."

For example, Brigham claims he got the doctrine of plural marriage from Joseph Smith, yet Joseph spent the last weeks of his life denouncing plural marriage as a damnable heresy. That counts as a contradiction in my view. And though Brigham Young claims he got the temple endowment ceremony word for word from Brother Joseph, about half of that ceremony resembles masonic ritual more than it does anything that took place in the Kirtland temple under Joseph Smith's tenure.

So, others may embrace their particular brand of "Mormonism," but I try to stay as close to the words of the Savior as I can find, and that always seems to come back primarily to holding an attitude of charity and kindness toward others.

All the extra stuff in our religion that doesn't support the principles contained in the Golden Rule may be of value, but it is the Golden Rule, and everything that radiates outward from that, which makes up the core tenets of Mormonism. The Restoration was intended to restore primitive Christianity, and Christianity doesn't get any more basic than "love one another." As Joseph Smith put it, "Friendship is the grand fundamental of Mormonism."

That's why I get so worked up over so-called "Mormons" like Mitt Romney and his ilk, who have no qualms about sending government troops (some of whom are themselves Mormons) into other people's lands and killing them in the name of vengeance. Whatever you want to call that, it isn't friendship.

zo-ma-rah said...

I had a brief discussion with someone online about how in the early 1900s there were predictions that eventually there would be no more need to cut down trees for paper as all paper would be produced from hemp. The Marijuana plant has thousands of uses. It's ban by the government is clearly because businesses make more money without it than they would with it. These are exactly the secret combinations we are warned about in the Book of Mormon.

My dad used to tell stories of my uncle growing marijuana in their attic when they were younger. The idea doesn't sound so crazy these days.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for such a great blog and sharing your insights with us.

When you mentioned Romney and then somebody in Oregon, I automatically assumed you were referring to Sen. Gordon Smith! (another starched, company man).

Back to the matter at hand, medical marijuana in Oregon. What makes the situation even more bizarre is that simple possession of less than one ounce (personal use amounts) of Marijuana by ANY adults in Oregon was effectively decriminalized at the state level years ago, the penalty for mere possession being a Civil (not Criminal) Violation citation, much like a minor traffic offense.

Mission Presidents are given a huge amount of latitude and discretion to run "their mission" as they see fit. Their personality will color much of what goes on unless they are actually humble and meek. So we probably shouldn't be surprised that a luxury home developer (with lots to lose and invested in this world) will always play it safe when dealing with questions of obedience to government regulations and dictates.

Seriously, who at HQ in SLC would advise him differently? (Why take the time to come up with an "official policy" to begin with? I will leave it for others to speculate on that).

For some reason, this reminds me of the time a few years ago when the Church nomenklatura mysteriously commanded that LDS meeting houses would be the(then) only church facilities of any denomination in the State of Utah to utilize the official process of banning the membership from possessing their lawfully carried and concealed CCW firearms on church properties. Not much respect or support for the ninth and tenth amendments then, either! (Not to mention the second!) I went and asked my Stake President whether or not I could ignore the edict if I could prove that the career Church bureaucrat that pushed it through was only speaking as a man when he did it! :-)) (That part was a joke)

Take Care,

A Concerned Citizen

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Hemp's use as paper was, in fact the very impetus for getting marijuana banned in the United States in the first place.

Yellow Journalism magnate William Randolph Hearst was behind it all. He was heavily invested in Northern California forests for use in the wood pulp for making paper. As hemp, which can be made into newsprint easier and cheaper than trees, began to threaten Hearst's investments in wood, he published an endless number of lurid stories about the dangers of the Devil Weed from which his friend Harry Anslinger in the Justice Department quoted liberally on the senate floor.

Hearst then published Anslinger's scary "facts" (which Anslinger got from Hearst's newspapers) to prove the need for criminalizing hemp farms. Hence this incestuous duo relied on each other's back-and-forth fabrications to eventually get a valuable natural medicine outlawed.

It's always about the money, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I don't mind your argument for marijuana. In fact, I agree with much of it. But I don't think you should pick on the poor guy in Oregon You and other readers have assumed a lot about him which may or may not be true. The argument still holds regardless of whether you blame the bureaucrat, no?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

What assumptions are you referring to, Anonymous? I quoted in full President Morby's instructions to the missionaries, and called the mission office to confirm the information and that it was indeed President Morby who promulgated that rule.

The argument is that no mere mortal, regardless of office, title, or station, has the authority to over-rule Jesus's commandment that all should be baptized. The argument does indeed hold, but if we don't "blame the bureaucrat" for overstepping his authority, who is held accountable?

One clear reason we are slipping into apostasy is our penchant for believing those holding positions of authority in the Church are beyond reproach. God will hold the members of His body accountable if we continue to ignore such breaches.

Unknown said...

After about over week reading this Pure Mormonism, my view of the Church has been totally blown. And yet somehow, my feelings isn't of shock or horror, and nor am I surprise due to the patterns comes about in human history. Deep reflection of who I am and how I can change to bring Christ-like love in the part of the world I live in. Thanks Alan, your writings has brought much needed perception into my way of thinking.

C nior said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Matthew 23:13
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Rock--

After witnessing the meltdown on DP this past week I decided to come back and look at "Mormon blogs"--

this is a very well done blog article, and I thank you.

Has everyone on here seen the youtube of Romney's treatment of a medical marijuana patient?

I knew only a very little about the propaganda campaign to rid the country of cannibas; it certainly did much to help the pharmaceutical companies, who so quietly make money off others' pain--
I hope you don't mind if I link that youtube--

Sadly, that man in Oregon (and I don't mean to persecute him either; I won't even use his name) has MUCH support from within the church; he won't be affected by this article--

here's the youtube:

LDS DPer (before and during its meltdown)

Romney's "I'm sorry" sounds so robotic; it's really frightening--

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks, DP'er. I enjoyed the title card on that second video, "How To Silence A Room Full of Clapping College Students."

I did include that clip of Romney turning his back on a cripple in my piece about Romney, but thanks for suggesting it again. In my opinion, that clip cannot be seen too often; it demonstrates Romney at his most glad-handing and least compassionate. It's interesting to recall that the patient's question is not "will you allow the government to supply me with marijuana?" All he wants to know is will Romney have him arrested for using his medicine.

Toni said...

What does DP mean?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's an abbreviation for "The Daily Paul" which is a sort of clearinghouse for all news, videos, discussion, etc about the good doctor.

Several new readers have arrived here after comments I made there on Mitt Romney. The DP is always my first stop of the day, before checking email or anything else:

Anonymous said...

To me, you sound like a pure Mormon-Hater.

Steven Lester said...

And with your self-righteous attitude, weston, you sound like a Mormon who hates, but doesn't know it because you think of yourself as so pure.

Anonymous said...

How long have you been home, Elder?

zo-ma-rah said...

Care to actually make a point? Or do you just prefer one liner spam?

Anonymous said...

Both at the same time if possible.

As I understand the meaning of spam, I am not promoting anything in the form of a one liner. Like, I don't know, the name of my own blog.

Btw, I love the way you think and write, Z.

Bruc said...

Let's all go back to primary and remember that we are all on "different rungs of the ladder".

Steven Lester said...

Don't call me a child, Bruc. How old are you?

Bruce in Montana said...

I'm only 56 Steven. My apologies for my condescending statement. I'm just saying that when the old "I'm right and you are wrong" attitude comes into play over spiritual matters....the spirit is gone and it's childish and ugly.

Anonymous said...

One of the more oppressive yet inventive pronouncements from LDS hierarchy is their insistence that Elohim and Jesus Christ must and should be bribed for blessings [a.k.a. TITHING]. "Pay your tithing first," they said, "and the blessings shall follow". But they don't do they?
Church leaders have built the City Creek Mall while washing their hands off of the accusation that it was done on the backs of the poor here and overseas. They've literally ground the faces of the poor and extracted the smallest farthing from them regardless of their being unemployed, with insurmountable debts, living paycheck to paycheck. For every faith promoting story in Ensign and Era magazines about the "blessings of tithing", there are a dozen REAL life stories of members who are struggling to put kids through school while paying off their own student loans.

Anonymous said...

I know this article was written way back in May, but I have only just read it. I have to say I believe you are wrong, very wrong, in your criticism of this mission president. The smoking of pot to relieve pain is not the only way of relieving pain. It is probably the cheapest though.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I believe you have missed the larger point. The question is whether any mere mortal has the authority to deny the sacred ordinance of baptism to someone who desires it because he believes they are not in compliance with his personal interpretation of the law. If so, then Alma was wrong, very wrong to defy the authorities and baptize people at the waters of Mormon.

If you believe the smoking of pot is not the only way of relieving pain, how do you feel about administering the medication sublingually via tincture? How does that differ from other approved medications?

And what's wrong with people choosing to use the cheapest medication available? Is there some reason those suffering afflictions should be forced to purchase their drugs only from Big Pharma?

Marc Stacy said...

Anonymous of January 5, 2013 at 4:39 AM...seems to being missing a lot of what is to be discovered by taking the advice of Ether 4:15. Alan...I truly congratulate you on your strength and integrity. With all the ill winds blowing opinions around like "vote for me" signs at a campaign rally after everyone has gone is really difficult for most people today to speak out against the precepts of man. You really have to have a certain "arrogance" about you. I...have it to a fault. I...absolutely and positively desire truth. Truth usually doesn't hurt long. Lies can hurt for a lifetime. And sometimes even longer! There is no doubt...this Mission President is WRONG! Toeing the company! Being a company weasel...well don't get me started.

I've often wonder about the hypocrisy of the church wherein the word of wisdom is concerned. A word...given for the concern for "our health". Yet...the food the church gives out to the poor and needy is wise. There are ingredients included that are proven to be cancerous and toxic to the human. The very thing that the WOW seems to be trying to steer us from. I know this for a fact...if the Lord appeared out of the blue and said to the brethern "Ill be here for about 6 to 8 months and I need a place to stay and some food to eat." There is NO WAY...NO WAY AT ALL...they'd bring him what the church delivers to my family twice a month. ~~I was totally disabled from an on the job injury many years ago. I also take pain medication...which I could go on about for the benefit of anonymous of January 5, 2013 at 4:39 AM...but won' there is not enough space or time available in this part of the universe. Suffice it to say...the side effects of the pharmacueticals (prescribed by an LDS doctor) will one day soon KILL ME! I will not die from the injuries. But the side effects of this profit driven crap will be my end! MARK MY WORDS! Also...if I wanted to get off of it...I'd have to detox at about $16,000 to $20,000. A cursery glance at my check book...just causes a semi-serious laughing attack. So...that won't be happeneing. Death will be my detox.

People put way too much faith in modern medicine and hardly any in God. Heavenly Father is quite capable of getting it right. Satan said he'd rule...and by golly..he is! I have LOTS more I could tell...but will allow the readers to discover these truths on their own. After 52 years in this'd think you'd seen it all. LOL! (Being located so far out on the vineyard here in the south...we didn't know nearly 1/4 what you people out west know about the church. If someone did learn something...they'd keep it to themselves either by way of disbelief or afraid to be mocked. Thank goodness for the internet) These last 8 years has felt like being in a dog fight with 25 enemy planes...while taking flak from 10 different ground based gunnery positions...and my guns are jammed. BUT I'M STILL FLYIN'!

Lastly Alan...I'd like to thank you for the wonderful article. The time you must have spent in the writing of this info must by something. Also...if I may...thank you for telling us all that you are a trained legal analyst. Since this fine article uncovered so much of this "poop" that we Americans are seeing more and more about us each and every day...I was beginning to think you might be an experienced plumber! Xc D

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Toni said...

Rock, you must be quite popular. More and more spammers are getting in past the filters. I wonder if they know how idiotic they sound, in light of the posts and comments they drop their spam into.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I hear you about the storehouse food. At the risk of sounding like an ingrate, my family depended on that food for a spell, and a lot of it was under par. I once helped bag potatoes at the storehouse that were to be distributed to the needy in the stake. They were clearly rotting, but the director of the storehouse insisted I keep bagging them. Apparently he felt that beggars can't be choosers.

We really should help the sick and needy with food that will "nourish and strengthen their bodies" in my opinion. But, that's corporate think for you. Do it all as cheaply as possible.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yeah, it's really starting to get out of control lately. The Blogger filter is catching up to a dozen or more a day, but some still get through.

I hesitate to add further controls requiring readers to type in those fuzzly words, adding roadblocks like that tends to discourage people from commenting.

Ever spam that gets caught by the system still lands in my email box just like every legitimate comment, which isn't really a problem for me, but a reader recently notified me that as a follower of this blog, he is getting them in his email box too. I apologize to you readers who are getting this stuff. Perhaps in the future I may have no choice but to add controls.

Jen said...

I'll second this!

Anonymous said...

I have chronic pain. My former doctor who treated me for this pain became meaner and meaner to certain patients and I was one of them. The DEA has been overstepping their bounds and authority by going after legitimate doctors who treat chronic pain and destroying their career. This former doctor of mine who happens to be LDS told me one day that he , quote, "had a good mind to quit giving me pain pills, as well as his other patients who are in chronic pain" unquote. He then asked me if he had given me his LDS talk. I said no, what is the LDS talk. He said that if I don't get off pain medicine while mortal, then when I die I will be in more pain and torture because I will be addicted and there won't be anything I can do about it because I will be a Spirit. He said it would be better to be in pain while alive than to go through addiction cravings in the Spirit World. If I go off pain medicine I will be bed ridden and will have horrible pain - what a life to consider. I have tried ALL prescription and non prescription medicine to help with the fibromyalgia. Narcotics are the only thing that help. I could tell more of the story but it is too long. His comment has bothered me because we are told we take cravings and addictions to the Spirit World when we die. I would like to think that Heavenly Father has prepared a way for those who can't help their condition while mortal and have to take addicting medicines, versus those who use addicting drugs or other substances for recreation and abuse.
I had a mission president who made his own rules. I am female, and when I put my papers in for a mission I was called as a welfare missionary (this was 1982). Welfare missionaries were to serve anyone, LDS and non LDS. My mission pres. said welfare work was a waste of time and we were not to do service of any kind and he wanted to see baptisms from the welfare missionaries. When I was fortunate enough to get a companion who was also called as a welfare missionary (only twice during mission) we did welfare work without the mission pres. knowing. We did more good for people and I felt good about what I was doing. It goes without saying the good it did for the image of the church. That mission pres. went against Pres. Kimball and the program Pres. Kimball implemented. We served people with no strings attached, which is what the true church of Jesus Christ should be, in my opinion. I understand what you are saying about the mission pres. in Oregon. There is a lot of abuse of authority in the church. On my mission I clashed with almost everyone because I tried to live by the Spirit of the law versus the letter of the law and the other missionaries thought I was an apostate. No kidding.

Anonymous said...

Great job Anon.! It would be wonderful if all missionaries (& members) would be independent thinkers like you & follow the Spirit instead of church leaders.

I agree that there is rampant abuse of authority in the Church and abuse in general. I don't think I have ever had a righteous bishop or stake president or I don't believe any of the leaders of the Church are righteous, even at the top. They all appear to allow, support, encourage, & often reward, some of the vilest of evils.

I don't know one leader who is doing his duty in his calling, they seem to be supporting the destruction of members, marriages & families far more than helping them to be righteous & eternal.

The Church preached & practices so anti to Christ, that it appears to be one of the most unChristian Churches in the world today. The Catholics, Baptists & so many other Christian Churches stand by & teach so much more of Christ's doctrines than the LDS Church ever has since Brigham Young took over.

Joseph Smith started things out right but after he died the Church went into apostasy from there and was overtaken by false prophets who taught opposite to Christ & Joseph Smith.

As the prophets warned would happen in these last days, the righteous in the Church today appear apostate and the wicked appear like wonderful members & leaders in good standing.

Rock Waterman said...

This idea that we take our physical addictions into the next life with us is one I do not find supported in scripture. If it were true, then the pain your body experiences here would continue after you left your body. Does your doctor presume that the dependency your body has on Big Pharma's synthetic drugs will somehow magically dissipate while your dependency on a plant would continue? He is spreading Mormon urban legends.

This is why I advocate looking only to actual scripture and revelation for our doctrine, and not to cultural myth.

Some medical marijuana patients here in California have found that it is best not to share with their general practitioner the fact that they use medical marijuana, since many mainstream doctors are motivated by fear of federal persecution, while others simply don't believe anyone really needs more than mild pain relief for even the most intense pain. Many here who find medical marijuana beneficial get their prescription from a doctor who is more concerned about the patient's wellbeing, while keeping mum about it to their GP. Utah doctors are notoriously unsympathetic to their patients who experience pain, and are very stingy with any pain medications. I wish you well.

I don't know how it is today, but during the era of Baseball Baptisms, mission presidents were under intense pressure to compete with one another in numbers of baptisms. It's no surprise that your mission president considered welfare work unproductive since it didn't help him achieve his personal goals.

We would all do well to stop looking to Church "leaders" to lead us (and that would include any LDS authority figures such as doctors), but to instead follow the spirit and live the religion of Christ from within.

Maunderer said...

Hey there, I just read this all including all the comments and I have to say that it is a little disheartening. There are so many comments that come from a non-scientific, illogical statements that just point to authority and scripture. Between pathos, ethos, and logos - logos is the most reliable form of argument and most scarce form of argument you ever hear in the church.
There are two great dangers to independent thought and sound judgement that come out of pan-Mormonism with some frequency. On the one hand, there is a huge do as I say culture within the church - no matter what I say. On the other hand, there are some who take things in the direction of guys in the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" of if Joseph Smith could go into the woods and get direct revelation, then so can I. This door opens to a lot potential problems as well and both ends of these sentiments are well reflected in the comments here.
Leave religion out of it and there is very wide scientific consensus as to the benefits of coffee (even if you choose decaf)
The benefits of green tea are so well documented that it doesn't even merit a source. While it is true that there are a lot of problems associated with alcohol, there are benefits to drinking a glass of wine or a beer. A shot of aged whiskey is loaded with antioxidants and has many health benefits. Honest and objective appraisal of marijuana - not the criminal culture of prohibition - is that it is a literal miracle drug. We need to quit going to poppy based pain killers that so many people in the church are totally okay with and start going toward cannabis based pain killers.
Within the church, there is so much propaganda and fear mongering with respect to even having a single drink of alcohol, a cup of tea, or a cup of coffee. The thought that one glass of wine will leave a person no longer in control of himself is a widely held belief at BYU and among many Mormons but the only people who think that way are raging alcoholics and people who have never had a drink because of the hell-fire-and-brimstone attitudes of members of the church with regards to alcohol consumption.
I am not saying that people, governments, or even churches should take no stance whatsoever on any of these things, but the bible already cautions against drunkenness and alcohol addiction and society has many laws in place against drunkenness. What I am saying is that there are other much healthier options than excess and abstinence and if the Word of Wisdom had anything to do with health, it would look much different than it does.
It is time that people start looking at evidence and evaluating it rather than just finding the facts that support their already formed conclusions about the things prohibited in the WoW.

R. Metz said...

Over here in the Netherlands marihuana is legalized and for sale in certain shops for everyone older than 18 years. But I find that too much freedom. But spoken of this drug, is there not a kind of medical marihuana, available on prescription? I remember my grandfather, who was devout mormon, coming back from SLC to visit us after he had emigrated, smoking the stuff for his astma, and that was back in the 1950's. Everytime I smell the stuff on the street, I have to remember my dear old grandpa.
About this mission president; next Worst Mormon In The World? He is just misled, like most of us were at some point in time. That's just tragic. Good post though, making clear how both LDS church and US are going down together.

R. Metz said...

Something else; the Law of Moses is fulfilled but not done away. In fact for the Jews it is still very much in effect, that is, until they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And they live it!
There is too much hypocricy among the LDS concerning this "Word of Wisdom" as they call it. They feel guilty for a cup of tea, but have their steak everyday. LDS who eat meat on a daily basis are not living according to their religion, esp. D&C 89: 13. Meat is dangerous food, certainly pork and beef, it causes heart problems and overweight. You don't have to be a complete vegetarian but there are enough alternatives, like fish,milk products etc. Eat some chicken meat if you can't do without.