after a year a procrastination, i have finally finished my paper for my independent study on mormonism and war that i took over a year ago. it's more of a history/research paper than my normal argumentative philosophical paper. enjoy(?)
The events of September 11th and the ensuing war in
In the hours, days, and weeks following the worst terrorist attack to hit the United States, LDS Church President and Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley and other LDS leaders responded through statements, memorial services, and other means to answer to the devastating event. Like the thoughts and feelings of many during that time, the messages given by the LDS leaders reflected a deep sense of patriotic American loyalty, repeatedly referred to the
Two days following the attack,
The next day later on September 14th,
We are profoundly grateful for this good
That same evening,
I thought it was beautiful. I thought it was very expressive. I think the President has done the right thing. I think that his words will bring reassurance to the people of
Finally, a few weeks later during the October 2001 Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
Great are the promises concerning this
A year later, the LDS church issued a statement and held a memorial service in remembrance of the attack. Once again, they invoked American patriotic language and sentiments. The brief statement begins with dismay at the “infamy of those cowardly attacks,” offers condolences and sorrow for those who died as victims or sacrificed their lives to save others, and praises the “greater sense of unity and purpose in ridding the earth of evil and providing for the freedom and security of all people.” The statement closes with a brief prayer for comfort for the victims and guidance for “the leaders of nations in the quest for justice and liberty.” That same day a brief memorial service was held by
The response to the events of September 11th from the smaller Community of Christ in
[W]e must recognize that our affirmation of community moves us to be a global family. National pride is very high in the
While Grant also supported retributive justice, he did not offer any clear support of the Bush administration, nor their policies. Rather he urged restraint and Christian love in responding to the attacks.
This is a time when people of faith must be among those voices which are measured and restrained, and speak of acts of love. Clearly, justice demands finding those responsible, punishing them for their deeds, and doing everything possible to insure that such things never happen again. But, as hard as it may be at a time like this, we must remember that for the Christian justice is an act of love, not vengeance. It would be so easy for us to respond to these despicable acts by behaving in a manner not unlike those who perpetrated them. If our response to the death of thousands of innocent persons in this land is to bring death to thousands of innocent persons in another land, we will have been destroyed by the very hate that attacked the human family. As Christians, our voices must be reasoned, compassionate, forgiving, and unfailingly loving.
Along these lines, Grant writes in his letter that he signed and supported a statement by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the
In the months preceding and following the beginnings of the United States’ military effort in Iraq, leaders from both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ commented and responded to the divisive war, both in sermons, letters, and various media outlets. However, unlike the responses to September 11th, the Community of Christ promoted much more discussion concerning the issue, while
In the October 2002 Semi-Annual General Conference of the
Wherever it is found and however it is expressed, the Golden Rule encompasses the moral code of the
This concept of treating others as one would like to be treated is easy to understand. And it acknowledges the precious nature of each of God’s sons and daughters. Scripture asks parents to teach children not to “fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin.” Instead, we “teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”
Though Nelson briefly mentions that at times war may seem necessary to defend families and freedoms, he still affirms that “Peace is possible.” Because of the common goal for peace ultimately held by the human family, he believes we “can learn to love our fellow human beings throughout the world.” However it is not easy. “Resolution of present political problems will require much patience and negotiation.”
Looking forward to the prophesied days of peace, Nelson sees the true patriots as those who use Christian love to avoid aggression and create peace.
These prophecies of hope could materialize if leaders and citizens of nations would apply the teachings of Jesus Christ. Ours could then be an age of unparalleled peace and progress. Barbarism of the past would be buried. War with its horrors would be relegated to the realm of maudlin memory. Aims of nations would be mutually supportive. Peacemakers could lead in the art of arbitration, give relief to the needy, and bring hope to those who fear. Of such patriots, future generations would shout praises, and our Eternal God would pass judgments of glory.
Nelson finishes with what appeared to be an official pacifist stance for the church, “Now, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what does the Lord expect of us? As a Church, we must ‘renounce war and proclaim peace.’”
That evening several news outlets reported on Nelson’s talk, referring to it as an anti-war statement. For example CNN reported that “The Mormon church issued a strong anti-war message at its semiannual General Conference, clearly referring to current hostilities in the
In response to this and other reports, the
Six months later, a few weeks after the Iraqi invasion had begun, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley offered what appeared to be a very different position on the war in
Though Hinckley still affirms Nelson’s claim that Latter-day Saints should denounce war and proclaim peace, Hinckley who is sustained as a prophet of God for the LDS Church, in answering the question, “Where does the Church stand in all of this?” answers:
But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally. . . . One of our Articles of Faith, which represent an expression of our doctrine, states, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."
In the fall of 2002, as the Bush administration was preparing to invade
Members of the Community of Christ have sincere but different convictions about the use of military force. Unlike the Quakers, the Mennonites, and other historic peace churches, the Community of Christ has not had a single and united ethic about war. Nevertheless, because we are an international church dedicated to the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit, we must seek the most ethical ways to bring this about.
The letter then follows with five various theories concerning war, each of which is provided with historical background, scriptures that are typically used to back up such positions, and implications of the theory when applied to the war in
Furthermore, dialogue and discussion outside and inside the church was encouraged by the Community leadership with information on how to contact governmental and church leaders with opinions and thought on the imminent war. A few letters that had been written by local congregations had also been circulated by the Community of Christ leadership. Each of the letters advocated support for non-violent measures and plead for the
That until clear evidence exists that Saddam Hussein has the capability and intent of using weapons of mass destruction, the BC District encourage its members to support efforts (a) that oppose any non-UN backed war on Iraq, and (b) that present viable alternatives to such a war and that will hopefully free the Iraqi people from such tyrannical rule.
The British Isles Region added,
In terms of Christian teachings on war, those of us who are pacifists and feel commanded by Jesus to always love our enemies, and those of us who hold to the Just War tradition, are together united against British support for or involvement in a pre-emptive attack against Iraq. . . . In terms of last resort we are not satisfied that all diplomatic attempts have been exhausted.
A couple days after the
While acknowledging that Saddam Hussein was a tyrannical threat to his own people, it is their “belief that peaceful means were still available to resolve the conflict.” It is their hope in Christ that leads them to believe that peaceful resolutions are possible.
Our church has dedicated itself to the pursuit of peace. That is not a statement of political philosophy or even social conscience. It is a divine call to us as a people, inspiring us to erect a temple as a symbol of our commitment to peace. Our voices must be those of a people who see in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ the call to love one another and to discover pathways of understanding among all of God’s children. . . . It is our faith that God is the creator of all people and loves each person and each nation without qualification. May we see the face of Jesus Christ in all of God’s children, including those defined as enemies.
Some time after the war began, both the
Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, released over two years into the war, is a DVD geared directly and solely for Latter-day Saints serving in the military, specifically those serving in
The bulk of the DVD consists of LDS Seventies Robert C. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman speaking to the LDS military persons, both of whom served in the military during the Vietnam War. In his presentation, Oaks makes no distinction between the war in
Though Wickman begins his portion by claiming that he will make no judgments on the validity of the policies of the
Military Service, Pacifism, and Discipleship: a diversity of callings? is a ninety page workbook published by the Community of Christ in the fall of 2003. Written for those both inside and outside of the military, it is in many ways an expansion of the First Presidency letter issued earlier that year. Like the letter, it looks at issues concerning the war from multiple perspectives, while making no concrete claims and leaving judgment up to the reader.
The Community of Christ’s First Presidency, in the preface to the book, writes, “We cannot neglect thinking through this question [of war and violence] if we are to be serious about being a worldwide movement dedicated to the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.” After giving a very brief history of the church’s experiences with war, they close the preface with a hope that the members will use the contents of the book to open further discussion and awareness of the issues.
We recommend this text to members and friends of the church to foster continuing discussion in good fellowship of the issues of discipleship and the use of violent force. . . . We are on a journey with the Prince of Peace. The challenge to look “beyond the horizon” beckons us to be open to new possibilities and yet calls us to be gentle with each other as we travel.
The first chapter of the book contains eight different testimonies from members of the Community of Christ sharing their perspectives of being Christians in a war-laden world. These testimonies range from Scott Jobe, a captain in the United States Air Force who believes that sometimes Christian love requires us “to hurt or kill offenders or combatants through the legitimate use of force to protect the innocent;” to Ron Romig, the Community of Christ’s archivist who shares his story about his conversion to passivism and decision to be a conscientious objector. Through each of these testimonies, a wide spectrum of responses to violence and war are given, each from a perspective of Christian love.
The rest of the book expands on the various Christian views of war given by the leaders of the Community of Christ prior to the war in
In conclusion, while both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ responded to the events of September 11th and the Iraq War in some similar fashions, there were some substantial differences as well. While the Community of Christ was tentative on making any strong claims supporting the
Much could be said concerning the reasons behind this difference of emphasis and should be the topic of another paper. The
 Gordon B.
 “President Gordon B. Hinckley's Visit to the White House,” Meridian Magazine,
 Gordon B.
 Gordon B.
 LDS Newsroom, “President Hinckley September 11 Remembre
 LDS Newsroom, “‘In God We Trust’ Church Leader Emphasizes on Sept.11,” retrieved from lds.org at
 W. Grant McMurray, “Faith Overcoming Fear: Pastoral Reflections on the Events of September 11,” retrieved from http://www.faithandvalues.com/tx/00/00/03/37/3733/index.html on
 “Deny Them Their Victory: A Religious Response to Terrorism,” retrieved from SojoNet, the online Sojourners magazine at http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_archives&mode=current_opinion&article=CO_091201 on
 However, as will be seen. For the most part, official comments and messages from the LDS church tended to highly favor the military effort.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” Ensign, Oct 2002, 39.
 CNN.com, “Mormon church makes anti-war statement,” retrieved from the CNN.com website at http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/West/10/06/mormon.conference.ap/ on
 “Message of Peace Misinterpreted,” retrieved from the official LDS website at http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/West/10/06/mormon.conference.ap/ on
 Gordon B. Hinckley, “War and Peace,” Ensign, April 2003, 78.
 “Letter to Tony Blair,” Ibid.
 W. Grant McMurray, “Proclaiming Peace in a Time of War,” retrieved from the Community of Christ website at http://www.cofchrist.org/iraq/default.asp on April 28, 2007.
 Boyd K. Packer, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled-a Message of Peace for Latter-day Saints in Military Service, DVD, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2005.
 Robert C. Oaks, ibid.
 Lance B. Wickman, ibid.
 The First Presidency of the Community of Christ, “Preface,” in Military Service, Pacifism, and Discipleship: a diversity of callings? ed. David Anderson and Andrew Bolton (
 Scott Jobe, “What Does It Mean to Pursue Peace in a World of Violence?” in ibid.