by Boyd K. Packer
Neither mobbings nor the army could turn the Saints aside from what they knew to be true.
President Packer shared a number of stories about the early members of the Church in his last talk at General Conference, one in particular regarding desired protection of the Saints. As commanded by the Lord, Joseph Smith first sought protection from the judges (but was summoned to court over 200 times yet never convicted), Governor Boggs (who issued an order that Mormons must be exterminated or driven from the state), and to President Van Buren (who said, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you").
The petition to Congress reads:
The afflictions of your memorialists have already been overwhelming, too much for humanity, too much for American citizens to endure without complaint. We have groaned under the iron hand of tyranny and oppression these many years. We have been robbed of our property to the amount of two millions of dollars, We have been hunted as the wild beasts of the forest. We have seen our aged fathers who fought in the Revolution, and our innocent children, alike slaughtered by our persecutors. We have seen the fair daughters of American citizens insulted and abused in the most inhuman manner, and finally, we have seen fifteen thousand soils, men, women, and children, driven by force of arms, during the severities of winter, from their sacred homes and firesides, to a land of strangers, penniless and unprotected. Under all these afflicting circumstances, we imploringly stretch forth our hands towards the highest councils of our nation, and humbly appeal to the illustrious Senators and Representatives of a great and free people for redress and protection.
Hear! O hear the petitioning voice of many thousands of American citizens who now groan in exile...! Hear! O hear the weeping and bitter lamentations of widows and orphans, whose husbands and fathers have been cruelly martyred in the land where the proud eagle...floats! Let it not be recorded in the archives of the nations, that...exiles sought protection and redress at your hands, but sought it in vain. It is in your power to save us, our wives, and our children, from a repetition of the bloodthirsty scenes of Missouri, and this greatly relieve the fears of a persecuted and injured people, and your petitioners will ever pray."
Par for the course, no protection was granted.
Studying this talk allowed me to draw parallels to current conditions. For a number of reasons, I have always felt very protected in my faith:
* My family supports my decision
* My friends respect and protect me from situations contrary to my lifestyle
* I grew up in Nevada where there is a relatively large population of church members
* I attended BYU
* I have not experienced many negative repercussions from church membership.
Despite these experiences, as the political scene continues to go through its own climate change, D&C 63:34 is at the forefront of my thoughts:
And the saints shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire. emphasis added
It will get worse. As I finally accept that I am indeed an adult, I am more aware of the last days. I will not enjoy the public sanctuary I have felt these past 12 years of Church membership.
Prop 8 obviously brought much positive and negative attention to the Church and to my personal beliefs. It is still a source of contention and persecution (and will remain so), as evidenced by the forced/pressured resignations of an artistic director, a festival director, and a restaurant manager, all for contributing relatively minimal amounts of money to Yes on 8.
The Catholic Church is currently fighting its own war against a small group of dissenters that want to change the way the Catholic Church is governed. Displeased with the Church's stance on gay marriage and its use of funds, this break-off group is seeking to change how the church is governed through means of legislation. While the bill is dead for now, this is most certainly ominous for all religious institutions. Religious freedom is nonexistent if the government usurps a church's right to run itself.
The latest controversy about the depiction of sacred temple ceremonies in Big Love is yet another attack on the Church. The Church's statement is, as always, beautifully bold, and perfect instruction of how to respond to such situations.
We are being tested. We shall hardly escape. And yet, we will escape. The example from our shared heritage is that we must not waver. The early Saints endured physical abuse but did not turn from the Lord. Likewise, we can fearlessly (and respectfully) defend Jesus Christ and rely on Him as the tempest closes in.
And in case you are curious about why the LDS Church builds temples, here is an explanation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.