Sunday, September 22, 2013

On the LDS Role in the Health Care Debate

I don't know Sharia Law. I suspect this Islamic approach to law contains some valuable insights and ancient wisdom.

There are some in this world who believe US law should be revamped along the lines of Sharia Law. Despite the ancient wisdom in Sharia, I oppose such efforts as attempts to impose Sharia Law would create a system in which our laws were set by isolated clerics haggling over interpretation of scripture while the people would be cast out.

In Utah, many believe that our nation's health care laws should be derived from the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

My experience is that individual members of this church have a very keen sense of the roles that self-sufficiency and charity should play in health.

Terrible problems happen once one says we should base our health care on the fundamentals of the LDS Church.

At this moment, Glenn Beck is promoting "Covenant Theory" which teaches that the US Revolution was staged by the Heavenly Father and The Constitution revealed to the US Founders for the express purpose of creating the conditions necessary for the restoration of the church in the latter days.

This restoration came with the revelation of the Book of Mormon. The BoM was followed in 1833 by the revelation of the "Book of Commandments" in which the Heavenly Father revealed the details of the new Covenant..

In Glenn Beck's theory, The Constitution was revealed to bring forth the Book of Commandments, making the Book of Commandments the greater of the two documents. Please, read what the Book of Commandments says! You can find a photocopy of the plate on The Institution for Religious Research.

25 Thow knowest my laws, they are given in my scriptures, he that sinneth and repenth not, shall be cast out.

26 If thou lovest me, thou shat serve me and keep all of my commandments; and behold, thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto me, wih a covenant and deed which cannot be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church, and two of the elders, such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose.

27 And it shall come to pass, that the bishop of my church, after that he has received the properties of my church, that it can not be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, in as much as is sufficient for himself and family:

28 And the residue shall be kept to administer to him who has not, that every man may receive according as he stands in need:

29 And the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer the poor and needy, as shall be appointed to the elders of the church and the bishop; and for the purpose of purchasing lands, and the building up of the New Jerusalem, which is hereafter to be revealed; that my covenant people may be gathered in one, in the day that I shall come to my temple.

When you hear Glenn Beck talk about Covenant America ... well ... This document is The Covenant.

The revelation starts with the command that those not in the covenant need to be cast out. Notice the intensity in which Beck casts dispersions at liberals. This method of thinking divides people with an "us-v- them" mentality and a need to constant attack people outside one's group.

 I've been to local political meeting where I've been labeled a servant of Satan and shown the door.

In my opinion, the thinking behind Covenant America creates a closed society in which a small corruptible group is determining the allocation of resources of the group at large with most people cast out.

The Book of Commandment by Joseph Smith goes on to say that property should be taken by the church. Former property owners reduced to stewards over the property. The leaders of the Church would give people what the leaders of the church deem sufficient for one's family. The Church wuold keep all capital gains (residue) which it will use to build a huge city to the glory of The Church. To sound progressive, they would give poor members of the church according to their needs as deemed by The Church. (Those not in The Covenant are cast out).

40 years later, Karl Marx expressed this basic tenet as "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." A great irony of history is that Marx formulated many of his ideas by studying the Mormons.

The LDS Church is considered far right. Marx is far left. They are different sides of the same coin.

After publishing the Book of Commandments, Joseph Smith found himself facing a mob (primarily of his own followers). People were not keen on giving all their property to The Church. Joseph Smith quickly revised the Word of God from "consecrate all thy properties" to "consecrate of thy properties." The new revelation was called "The Doctine and Covenants."

There is value in a theological discussion about the difference between "consecrate all" and "consecrate of."

For that matter, this theological split touches on the same basic issues of the culture war that is tearing our country apart. A primary question of the culture war is:: "How much should the centralized authority take from the people for the glory of the state?"

I am also intrigued with the transition from "property owners" to stewardship that occurs in the Book of Commandments. 

I believe that the Founders of the United States were envisioning a society with widespread property ownership.Smith issued a direct attack on widespread personal ownership in favor of a society in which property was owned by a central authority and people reduced to stewardship.

If you look at the American economy, you will see that the United States is rapidly transitioning from a society of property owners to one in which all property is owned by collectives (corporations are collective ownership) and individuals are mere stewards.

The history of the revelation touches deeply on the interplay between the central authority and the people.

The wording of the revelation changed after a riot. This touches directly on the conflict between centralized authority and the people (the mob).

Mobs tend to scare political leaders. Joseph Smith claimed to speak the Word of God. It is scary to learn that an angry mob actually changed the Word of God!

I am pro-religion. I believe that theological inquiry provides valuable insight.

Despite the importance of theological inquiry, I think it imperative that law of the land should be based on a broader dialog and verified through analysis and a broader intellectual discussion.

Just as I wonder if theological disputes about Sharia Law should be the basis of our Health Care system, I question if the theological dispute about the LDS Covenant should be the foundation of the US Health Care System.

I worry about Glenn Beck's insistence that the US Revelation was staged by the Heavenly Father to bring rise to the LDS Church, because this ideology has the effect of reducing the importance of the Constitution and of cutting hundreds of millions of people out of the picture.

Joseph Smith's revelation included the statement that those not of the Covenant need to be cast out. I dislike systems that cast people out.

Don't you see the problem? If you hold Glenn Beck's view that the Revolution was staged to bring forth a new Covenant, then you need to hold the Book of Commandments in higher regards than the Constitution (which was simply created to bring forth the real deal ... the new covenant.)

Of course LDS Church history provides some valuable insights.

The Mormon Church began as a commune. The Fundamentalist LDS Sects still practice varying degrees of communalism such as polygamy and communally owned property.

The mainstream LDS Church saw the negative effects of these experiments and has since been a strong advocate for traditional American values and respect for property rights.

At the beginning of the Health Care Debate, I was hoping that the Mormon Church would play a strong role in the battle to defeat PPACA.

In a related culture war debate, the LDS Church experimented with the redefinition of marriage. The D&C not only permitted polygamy. The new covenant mandated polygamy. Currently the LDS Church is a strong defender of maintaining the traditional definition of marriage.  (Fundamentalist Mormons want the definition changed).

BTW: I defend the traditional definition of marriage based largely on the experience the LDS Church had when they tried changing it. Large polygamist cults create a clan mentality.

I support groups in my community when I see them doing good, and question them when I think they are running astray.

Beck to Health Care.

I support and applaud the activities of Senator Mike Lee and Representative Jason Chaffetz in working to defund ObamaCare.

The overall activity of the LDS Community in this health care debate been a mixed bag.

Obama's Health Care plan was based on the plan of Mitt Romney. Harry Reid was the primary architect of PPACA. I suspect that both Romney and Reid believe that their efforts match their understanding of the LDS Faith.

Governor Mike Leavitt owns an insurance company that provides infrastructure and is a primary benefactor of the Health Exchanges. Jon Huntsman campaigned on imposing the exchanges.

Utah was one of the first states to impose a Health Exchange. Utah imposed the exchanges and suppressed debate against the exchanges.

The Utah conservative community has held few public meetings about defeating PPACA. I've been labeled a servant of Satan and cast out of the few meetings that I've attended.

The Utah attendance at the 2012 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally was so pathetic I actually felt sick. From a metropolitan area pushing two million people, only about 200 attended the rally. Of that group half were members of the press, speakers or family members of speakers.

Karl Rove was the architect  behind The Bush Administration.  President Bush greatly expand the role of the Federal Government in health care as part of that strategy. Karl Rove was the architect behind Romney's presidential campaign.

If you compared the county by county electoral map of the 2012 Republican Primary, it appears that Mormons voted as a block for Romney. If you have a voting block and a half dozen or more candidates, the group will the voting block will win every time.

Mitt Romney's campaign created a disastrous 2012 election pitting the father of RomneyCare against the Father of ObamaCare (which was based on RomneyCare). It was impossible for the GOP to really differentiate itself from Obama. Mitt Romney would vow to repeal ObamaCare at one stop; then promise to keep the majority of the bill in the next.

Karl Rove is currently working to isolate and neuter the Tea Party candidates seeking to defund PPACA.

While I support Senator Lee and Representative Chaffetz and I appreciate the discussion by members of the LDS faith who realize the need for both self-sufficiency and charity, I feel that, on the whole, the efforts of the LDS Community is falling on the side of tyranny and not on the side of freedom.

Again Harry Reid, Mitt Romney, Mike Leavitt and Jon Huntsman played an active role in imposing the exchanges. Karl Rove is leading a charge against the Tea Party and the ideology of LDS Church advocates reducing property owners to stewards.

I look at Glenn Beck's Covenant America which seeks to base our health care on the Doctrines and Covenants of the LDS Church with the same suspicion as I look on claims that we need to impose Sharia Law. Quite frankly, I believe the American Constitution and the classical liberal tradition of the US Founders makes a much better basis for governance.

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