|Stake President Matthew DeVisser -- a modern-day Samuel the Lamanite?|
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: