Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Modern-Day Samuel The Lamanite? LDS Stake President Matthew DeVisser Under Fire From Progressive Mormons For Giving "Political" Speech At Stake Conference

Stake President Matthew DeVisser -- a modern-day Samuel the Lamanite?
On February 3rd, 2013, during a stake conference, a priesthood leader did something that was routinely done by many more priesthood leaders back in the old days when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was more concerned with being a light and life unto the world rather than getting the world to like us. He actually sounded a voice of warning to the membership, and some progressive Mormons have their panties in a twist as a result.

President Matthew DeVisser of the Hidden Valley Stake in Sandy, Utah delivered the keynote address during the stake conference. Part of his speech was an assessment of key events taking place during 2012, and he warned that evil is corrupting the world. A three-page transcript of the speech was posted on Scribd. The entire document is embedded at the end of this post.

Although President DeVisser did not refer to either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney by name, here are the events he cited as justification for his concern:

- Gaza fired missiles on Jerusalem causing heightened unrest in the Middle East
- The Director of the CIA, a man considered to be of the highest moral integrity, resigned due to improprieties and adultery
- The UN Ambassador was instructed by the White House to cover up what happened in Libya, attempting to minimize the deaths of four Americans who were murdered
- There was an attempt to raise taxes during the worst economic times since the great depression- Hurricane Sandy, called the “perfect storm” hit the east coast causing great devastation
- Iran became closer to a nuclear weapon
- The use of marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado
- Some states legalized same sex marriage
- 23 states began a petition to secede from the nation
- Russia strengthened its coalitions with North Korea and Iran
- Forces aligned to stop school prayer, but allowed the handing out of birth control
- The government used tax dollars to fund abortions
- Examples of violence, gambling, drug misuse, and infidelity were more prevalent than ever
- Hollywood promoted parenthood without marriage
- Education scores of our youth plummeted to their lowest levels ever
- And finally, we were brought to the edge of the fiscal cliff

President Visser also noted that in 2012, the voice of the people spoke loudly and clearly, choosing socialism over capitalism, entitlements over free enterprise, and redistribution and regulation over self-reliance. He then cited a Book of Mormon passage to describe the current moral condition of our world and country; Helaman 5:2 states “For their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening with destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.”

Immediately, progressive Mormons started sniping at President DeVisser. Crystal Young-Otterstrom, chairwoman of Utah’s LDS Dems Caucus, criticized DeVisser for using Republican Party buzzwords and denied that Obama and the Democratic Party are socialistic. Steve Olsen, vice chairman of the LDS Dems, said DeVisser’s speech was way out of line. And on Messenger and Advocate, Guy Murray accuses DeVisser of "going off the reservation" in a hyperbole-laced denunciation. Note that none of the critics could be bothered to rebut the substance of DeVisser's speech, however.

In contrast, the speech got vigorous approval on the LDS Freedom Forum in two separate threads. The primary discussion is contained in the thread entitled "Hidden Valley Stake Pres. De Visser talk". However, another thread entitled "LDSFF, BRIAN M. IN SL TRIBUNE STORY" discusses the Tribune's coverage of LDS Freedom Forum's primary discussion. Brian Mecham, LDS Freedom Forum administrator, said "It being a pro-freedom talk, with multiple statements in favor of free enterprise and self-reliance and against socialism, is something members of this forum are very interested in. They like to see that leaders of the church, at various levels, continue to sound the warning voice against those things that are destructive to freedom." Mildly disturbing was a report that DeVisser’s second counselor asked a member of the Freedom Forum to take down the speech, but to no avail since it had gone viral by that time.

Later, the LDS Church issued its official reaction. Church spokesman Scott Trotter issued a brief statement about DeVisser’s speech, saying: “Messages and statements from lay leaders are intended for the local congregations they oversee, and are not binding on the whole church.”

Analysis: President DeVisser's speech was in perfect keeping with the responsibility of a Priesthood leader to sound the voice of warning when society's going down the wrong track. He acted in the honorable tradition of Samuel the Lamanite. The LDS Church's policy on political neutrality simply states that the Church does not officially endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms or allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes. It does not prevent stake presidents or bishops from denouncing evil and calling people to repentance.

The full text of the speech appears after the jump:


Anonymous said...

The SP should have left some of his remarks out of his talk - especially the remarks that have no proof like a coverup of what happened in Libya and that people voted for socialism. Pres. N.Eldon Tanner was a socialist, in Canadian high government. There are Democrats in the church and I lean left. I was told that I and other Democrat church members needed to have our Temple recommends confiscated and that we were not good members! And we should not get our recommends back until we repented and changed party affiliation. A lot of what he condemned has been going on for years. Where is the condemnation when Republicans do this sort of stuff that was mentioned, because Republicans do it too. Conservatives don't have a patent on morality. What is wrong with handing out birth control? It may prevent an abortion. Morality can not be legislated. Not everyone has high moral Biblical standards, including the conservatives and the so called moral majority. I am not against the sounding voice of warning. I am suspicious that it has not happened until after Obama was elected. Like I said this sort of stuff has gone on for decades as both parties are guilty of these behaviors.

Mr. Obvious said...

Was anything he said false or misleading? I think he pointed out the obvious and for that he has become a target of praise and criticism. The sad part is the people who take offense to it should also remember that the wicked take offense to these topics because they are true. The world as we know if is changing so fast that it is almost a blur, if someone does not sound a voice of warning then we all become as a dumb animal and get lead to and fro wherever Satan would have us go and believe whatever he would have us believe. The movement of evil is running so rampant that spiritual leaders need to more vocal in their cries of warning and people need to be more willing to heed. I do not think he was trying to be politically persuasive I think he was stating the facts as they were made obvious to everyone who is paying attention to the what is going on around them. I loved the talk and think more people should pay attention to these kinds of warning.

Duwayne said...

Mr Obvious said: "Was anything he said false or misleading"?

I can think of two things he said that were false:

1) He said he spoke by the holy ghost. That was false.

2) He insinuated throughout his talk that Obama is a "Socialist." That’s also false.

Any intelligent, reasoned, informed person knows that Obama isn't a "Socialist." That's just an ignorant Republicon talking point. A person that makes that claim either doesn't know what socialism is, or is simply lying about Obama's policies.

Idiots like this Stake President are one reason I’m no longer Mormon. Even though I was willing to stomach the superstition and intellectual absurdity of Mormonism, in order to remain connected to my Mormon heritage, the weekly dose of political indoctrination and stupidity was the "straw that broke the camel's back." I just couldn't waste anymore weekends listening to right-wing morons dominate the Gospel Doctrine class. Sadly, Mormonism has morphed into an intolerant, radical right-wing political organization. As such, it will continue to drive out moderate members, in the process becoming even more extreme and virulently right-wing.