Grant Hardy at Meridian

So I haven’t exactly been a fan of Meridian, but lately they have been running some very innovative stuff from Grant Hardy; see here and here. And I suppose you can discuss his essays in the comments here, if you play nice.

88 comments for “Grant Hardy at Meridian

  1. July 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Where innovative is defined as “preaching my political and religious ideas to people who are not yet enlightened enough to share them.”

    May innovation increase, he said drily.

  2. Sam Brunson
    July 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks Julie. Hardy does the best close reading of the BoM that I’ve seen; I look forward to reading his stuff, even if it is at Meridian.

  3. Steve
    July 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Meridian is like the LDS version of Fox News and Grant Hardy is its Shepard Smith. I like him. He has a really balanced and palatable view of the BoM.

  4. July 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Loved those articles.

  5. July 20, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out why Meridian ran an astrology article when it first started. Except for a handful of articles recommended to me, I haven’t read it since.

  6. Paul 2
    July 21, 2011 at 2:25 am

    I like Grant Hardy’s stuff. Thanks for the links.

  7. July 21, 2011 at 3:33 am

    All I care about is that they FINALLY upgraded the site! And that Marvin Payne is a “professional wordcrafter.” Haven’t been back much since I stopped writing for them in 2002. But as long as they’re writing about social justice — well, I’m SO all over that! Send a little my way.

  8. goosie
    July 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Just don’t bother looking at the reader responses; Meridian readers are to Grant Hardy as Deseret News readers are to Obama. (Probably the most frequently used word in response to Hardy’s writing is “socialist”.)

  9. Mark A. Clifford
    July 21, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I love Grant Hardy.
    His “Understanding the Book of Mormon” is at least one of the three best books about the Book of Mormon ever, the other two being “By the Hand of Mormon,” and “something else I am not sure what.”
    He shows that close reading of our scipture can yield great results.
    More Grant Hardy. Even at Meridian.

  10. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Justice is mercy. Judicial caprice in the guise of mercy is tyranny.

    We need fixes to our laws to prevent some of the abuses that are present today but we need enforcement of all our laws.

    We believe in honoring obeying and sustaining the law unless it happens to be an illegal immigrant who is here lying about his identity etc, ad infinitum. Oh and we believe in illegal aliens who work cheaper and help us get our work done at a lower cost because we can cheat on paying their social welfare costs.And we believe in a legal immigration system that demands years of indentured servitude so we can get “harder to hide” work done at a cheaper cost. I say deportation to illegals and jail for those that foster this. Oh and don’t think that it is all Republicans on the cynical side of this. Labor unions prefer illegal immigration to legal immigration. Legal immigrants are serious competition.

  11. Researcher
    July 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

    When I originally saw the immigration article in Keepa’s sidebar, it was a real surprise to see where the article was published. Good for Meridian, and good for Grant Hardy.

    Don’t look at the reader responses, goosie? But they’re so very entertaining. I’d personally rather discuss the comments to the articles than the articles themselves — the articles make a lot of sense but the comments seem to tend toward this sort of thing:

    Regardless of Mr. Hardy’s opinions as scripture. “Illegal” is still means illegal. I am against illegal immigration and I dont support amnesty as an answer to the application of federal and state laws. Neither do I agree with the official statement of the church. “We believe in . . . obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law,” (Joseph Smith)

    The quoting of the 12th Article of Faith seems to be the last word in argument for so many of these commenters — they do it again and again — and their use of this Article of Faith as a weapon in the fight for the preservation of their perception of their culture is undoubtedly worth a discussion of its own.

  12. Researcher
    July 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Two more quick notes.

    First, I didn’t see Al’s comment before I made mine, but there you go. Proof of what I said.

    And, second, Meridian seems to be moderating the comments. There were only four comments to the immigration article for quite a while, and now there have been 94 since yesterday.

  13. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Oh the horror of those stupid Mormon rubes who quote that old triviality the Twelfth Article of Faith.

  14. Meridian Commenter
    July 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I hope the comment thread over here reflects the one over there in that every comment indicates horror at the specter of Creeping Socialism! Because socialism IS creeping and is therefore the most serious threat facing America today. When I was a boy, Heber J. Grant told my Grandpa, he said, “Meridian Commenter’s Grandpa, I testify that Creeping Socialism is (cont.)

  15. Meridian Commenter
    July 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    (cont.) the greatest evil this great land has ever faced, and that will be just as true seventy-seven years from now as it is today.” And here we are, 77 years later, and people like you still want to take away our freedoms! If Creeping Socialism is so great, then why does it have to creep so much, instead of walking uprightly like normal people or social movements? You know what else creeps and shambles? Mummies and other threatening monsters, and Creeping Socialism is a greater threat to every man, woman, and child than even a re-animated cursed mummy, as Heber J. Grant once told my Grandpa.

  16. SLO Sapo
    July 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “Labor unions prefer illegal immigration to legal immigration. Legal immigrants are serious competition.”

    This is simply over-generalized BS. There is no consensus among the major unions about the advantages and disadvantages of legal immigration, amnesty, etc.

  17. Ray
    July 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I just had to laugh at someone quoting the Articles of Faith to say that they don’t accept a current official LDS Church statement. Doesn’t “yet reveal” mean anything? Sometimes, all one can do is shake their head and walk away.

    That’s all – other than to say that I agree we need badly to understand better what the Book of Mormon actually says. The commentary on these articles at Meridian only deepens my belief in that need.

  18. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Well wouldn’t you say the original post and every comment was simplified BS? Let’s all shut up because this cannot be talked about unless you plan on writing 300 pages or more. You must be a lawyer or recognized public intellectual. “do you have a degree?”

  19. Mark B.
    July 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I was thinking about pulling out the trusty old 12th Article of Faith and applying it to some of my favorite old laws:

    Missouri Executive Order No. 44 (aka the “Extermination Order”). That predated the 12th Article of Faith, so Joseph must have been thinking about that when he wrote to Mr. Wentworth.

    The Fugitive Slave Act. Again, Joseph must have known about that too–since it was a matter of public dispute during that period.

    The Nuremberg Laws. The Germans elected the National Socialists (sort of), and the Reichstag, duly elected (sort of), adopted laws to make life hellish awful for Jews, in hopes that they’d leave the Reich on their own (sounds a lot like that favorite idea of Russell Pearce and his tribe: “self deportation”). That didn’t work out as well as they’d hoped, so they came up with another solution to that problem.

    Jim Crow laws. What’s not to like? They were all adopted by duly elected legislatures in the Old South–and you can’t blame their election officials for the illiteracy of the “Negroes” who tried to register to vote but were denied because they couldn’t recite the Declaration of Independence from memory.

    Horrid laws all. But the 12th Article of Faith-ers would argue that the horridness of the laws isn’t any excuse–we still should honor, obey and sustain them.

    You’ve got to come up with a better argument than that–if it’s just obedience to the law that you want, then let’s change the law.

  20. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    And the current statement was definitive and prescriptive and withdrew the Twelfth Article of Faith?

  21. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    We usually consider the no. 12 in conjunction with Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants. So are you saying that our laws on immigration are the equivalent of the Nurenberg Laws? Or the extermination order? Don’t be silly! Our laws were made by constitutional government. Our Jim Crow laws were made and rescinded constitutionally.

  22. Mark B.
    July 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    No Al, but it did make clear that there are higher values than obedience to man-made laws and the men and women who enforce them.

  23. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Regarding The Fugitive Slave Law do you know of any instance where the church or prominent leaders violated this law? Are you saying that illegal immigrants are fugitive slaves? Are you aware that we have asylum laws?

  24. Mark B.
    July 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Actually, come to think of it, the church did obey the Extermination Order. I guess I owe you one there, Al.

    On the other hand, they could have stayed in Missouri and been exterminated, which probably would have counted as honoring and obeying too, since the “law” gave two options–get out or die.

  25. Stephen Hardy
    July 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Julie: You may not want to respond to this, but I wonder why you havent’ “exactly been a fan” of Meridian. I am relatively un-exposed to many Mormon-related websites. Was this an understatement? What are the problems you see in Meridian? How would you compare it to Times and Seasons?

  26. Steve
    July 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm


    It seems that Meridian has probably toned down a bit from they used to be. But they have long had a reputation of being reactionary (doctrinally and politically). They used to regularly feature articles by John Pratt, an astronomer who promoted the Bible Code (a code embedded in the Hebrew letter arrangements used to predict future events). They also regularly featured Gary Lawrence, a pollster with a deep dislike for things liberal. He compared liberals to king-men (from the Book of Mormon) once. He also compared Prop 8 to the war on heaven. Meridian also features articles from Steve Farrell, who argued that the increasing promotion of the term democracy is part of a socialist plot. Since, of course, we live in a republic and not a democracy. It regularly features nutty ultraconservative discourse. A magazine that makes me feel ashamed to Mormon sometimes.

  27. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Meridian is goody two shoes and its readers are unquestioning rubes while T&S is skeptical, sophisticated and wise.

  28. Julie M. Smith
    July 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Stephen, my dated and purely anecdotal impression of Meridian is as Steve describes.

  29. Admin
    July 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Al — Tone it down and please consult our comment policy.

  30. chris
    July 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    #8 – goosie, out of curiosity, I did a quick scan of those 93 comments on Meridian and I see socialist once and social justice once. Someone else commented about social security, but that was a real cost concern. So, I’ve either scanned wrong, or you judged poorly.

    In any case, Brother Hardy could have shortened his article by about 50% and done a much better job at making the case. The scriptures are the powerful points and nearly stand on their own, requiring a bit of exposition.

    I think it’s good in cases like this to simply point to the scriptures and say this is how I derived my position based on these principles as explained in such and such verses.

    I’m not the least bit interested in “winning” against those who are so sorely mislead on this issue, but persuading them to bring the truth they have to the table (be a law abiding citizen, honor the laws of the land, protect and secure our nation) and try to integrate them with the admonition to love our neighbor, take care of the stranger, make this nation a light of the world so others can be led here by the hand of God, etc. etc.

    I do not see any of these as mutually exclusive, but as long as the debate is framed in an us/them and win/lose we will just be battling over something that destroys unit. Certainly, one side is more grounded in truth as it’s founded on charity, but the other end of the spectrum has some important principles which need to be included as well.

  31. Tim
    July 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I actually agree with Al’s assessment (although he obviously doesn’t). However, while many Meridian readers are unquestioning, judging by the comments on the immigration article they are only unquestioning as to their politics. Plenty of them are questioning the prophet and the modern church.

  32. chris
    July 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I’m also I suppose of an old school mindset, where I’d one day love to see a prophet (well, probably after my lifetime) get up and invite all church members to flee the destruction of the world and come to Zion. The laws and attitudes prevailing prevent that. I can only think of how many Saints would have perished in the world wars of Europe had several generations not been led to the USA by the hand of God. I would like the preserve the possibility. If our legal system does not become more flexible, it can’t really happen.

    Of course, I also know the whole stakes of Zion bit, and I think it would be great to see freedom continuing to spread over the world. I just think of the calamities of the last days and I worry for so many brothers and sisters in far off lands where they will suffer greatly. If our prophets and apostles received a revelation tomorrow to invite many hundreds of thousands over the coming years to come to Zion, so to speak, it would not be possible.

    I understand my position probably sounds a little extreme, but I’m in favor of letting the hand of God and his servants move and scatter the branches of his vineyard as he may. It often seems, when the laws of nations are in the way and prevent this either the laws need to be changed or the nation needs to crumble.

  33. Sam Brunson
    July 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    In any case, Brother Hardy could have shortened his article by about 50% and done a much better job at making the case. The scriptures are the powerful points and nearly stand on their own, requiring a bit of exposition.

    The scriptures can absolutely stand on their own. However (invoking my Writing Center tutor hat from years ago), when you’re writing something expository, it’s not enough just to drop quotations (even scriptural ones) and believe that they make the point for you. You also need to explain how those quotations support your central thesis. That is, the meaning of scripture is not always self-evident, and trying to make a point purely by pointing to specific verses of scripture isn’t terribly persuasive.

  34. Researcher
    July 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Chris (30), the first article listed in the original post is to an older Hardy article about social justice. I haven’t looked at the comments on that post but I imagine they would discuss that topic in greater depth.

  35. Al
    July 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I actually do believe what I wrote.

  36. Steve
    July 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Amen, admin (29). I believe Al is what is referred to in the blogging world as a troll. A guy who makes incendiary comments, not because they believe them and want to make a case, but just to set people off.

  37. H.Bob
    July 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Somehow, “Jesus said unto him, We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Illegal is illegal. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” just doesn’t have the same ring as what Matthew 22:37-40 actually says. And, in point of fact, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” doesn’t have a footnote saying “(but only if your neighbor is a legal immigrant).”

    My next-door neighbor likes to break the law by lighting off illegal fireworks and letting his kids drive a go-cart up and down the street and sidewalks without helmets (and, I suspect, a little weed-smoking). I have to love him just as much as I do the tax cheat and Ponzi schemer, don’t I? Or is illegal illegal, and my duty to turn everybody in to the proper authorities?

  38. Jim Donaldson
    July 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I think the Article of Faith 12 and Section 134 were particularly of their time and were designed to reassure our occasionally mob-like neighbors, in a time when treason and disloyal were words that were thrown around at us, that we were good law-abiding and loyal folks. It is always instructive to look at what we do in contrast to what we say. We proceeded to engage in some sort of active civil disobedience to the anti-polygamy legislation for more than 30 years, until we were nearly crushed. And we’ve always manipulated the letter of the immigration laws to get our missionaries places and keep them there in ways that are at least contrary to the spirit of those (foreign) laws. We also send illegal/undocumented members on missions, we just send them by bus, not by airplane, so their identification is not scrutinized.

    Section 134 has an interesting history. It is essentially a press release and attached at the end of The Book of Commandments (I think it was still called that then) as an appendix (which is why it is out of the chronology) along with another press release reassuring our neighbors that whatever rumors they heard about odd marriage practices (‘marriages performed in secret’) were not to be believed. Polygamy was not mentioned, just the local furor. Good PR work. That stayed in the D & C until the mid-1850s if my memory serves, slightly incongruously. But we had no neighbors at that point, so it there was no point.

    It doesn’t much matter because Joseph Smith let them stand after he got back, but I recall that JS was in Michigan at the time those two sections were voted into the scriptures. They were written by others, maybe Oliver Cowdery and W.W. Phelps, but that could be wrong.

    If I’ve messed up the history here a bit, I apologize—it isn’t an attempt to mislead. I am just not in a position to look it all up and be sure. I do know that the marriage press release is in the History of the Church and is there for all to read. I recently re-read it.

  39. Al
    July 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Forget AoF 12 and Section 134. What about honesty? Who needs a Bible or a prophet to recognize this as an irrevocable law of heaven?

  40. July 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Honesty: where you have a law (a social contract with society), you are obliged to obey it and it should be enforced
    Love: show our illegal brothers and sisters the charity Christ would show them

    If the law requires uncharitable actions against our illegal siblings, then we should do what we can to change the law.
    In my book, charity is “the greatest of all.” I wouldn’t try to change that.

  41. BLJ
    July 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Right on H. Bob #37.

    I know this sounds harsh, but there’s a little part of me that hopes the latest flap over the church’s stance on immigration will lead the most angry, hardshell anti-immigrant Mormons to purge themselves from the church’s rolls. (The way some of the commenters on the Meridian website sound, an exodus may already be in the offing).

    I want my church back. We’re in danger of extreme nationalism becoming a major stumbling block to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

  42. chris
    July 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    41 –
    Out of curiosity, where do you stand on the various things spoken by prophets and apostles against socialist or communist policies? I don’t even want this to become “that” debate in the slightest. But don’t you see many many of the apostles who spoke rather forcefully against certain policies and politics as being mistaken on the issue?

    I’ll give you my position – I think they were inspired on the subjects and any errors they made were small ones, but the general theme of their speaking was the will of God. I’ll say this also, that I believe the immigration statement recently issued is inspired and represents the will of God, and it probably doesn’t even go far enough in conveying the will of God on this issue. But the basic principles are there for us/others to work that out.

    So while, I don’t want anyone to purge themselves from the rolls so to speak, I would agree with you there are all too many on the right, and also the left, who need to come back to the principles taught by so many of the apostles of the Lord.

  43. BLJ
    July 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm


    Three comments:

    1) Respectfully, the immigration issue has nothing to do with socialism or communism. You’re trying to set up a straw man here, and I’m not going to rise to the bait. I directed my comments to the issues of immigration and nationalism only.

    2) Progressive liberalism doesn’t equal socialism/communism. Lest anyone think that a good Mormon can’t be a progressive or Democrat, may I direct your attention to the following sentence from a statement issued by the First Presidency and dated March 23, 2010: “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of various political parties.” ‘Nuff said.

    3) Prophets and apostles are men and thus subject to error regardless of the subject. I listen to them and am happy to be guided by them, because I believe they are generally inspired. But they can be mistaken. Bruce R. McConkie, I think said it best when he declared that he had been “wrong” on the issue of race, and urged the Saints not to make the same mistake. Joseph Fielding Smith famously predicted that men would not go to the moon. Well, we know how that turned out. No need to turn the apostles and prophets into infallible beings; they’re under enough pressure as it is.

  44. July 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Al (39),

    That argument would be more convincing if the scriptures and church history weren’t chock-full of examples of dishonesty, often explicitly condoned.

  45. chris
    July 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I’m not making it an issue of those things (socialism,etc.) up for debate. I’m not seeking to setup and knock down a strawman I’m sorry that you feel it was framed that way. What I’m saying is, the methods you’ve used to disregard certain teachings (apparently?) as good, inspired men in error, seemingly could be the same method by those on the hard right.

    Do you not believe your #3 can be employed by those on the “right” just as deftly as you employed it just now? When BRM said he was judging with a lessor light, he was referring to his statements about the “whys” of the restriction. Unless you can point to evidence which I have not seen of him or anyone else in authority at the time (or presently) who is saying they were flat out wrong to have the restriction in place period.

    An analogous example would be for someone to come along and say the church was wrong in its explanation of why socialism was bad for America and the world, but not wrong in saying it is is wrong.

    I do not think in the slightest degree that principles compatible with the gospel being found in various platforms of the political parties embraces forced or coerced redistribution-ism in pursuit of socialist type policies — again, this is not a debate I am not trying to get into here, but if you think that quote is a trump card that applies to this subject, I think you are in error.

    I find myself in the position of affirming all the words of the prophets that I have received. I count it as a tremendous blessing, that in most cases, before I heard or read a word on it, I had already formulated similar conclusions based on what I consider personal revelation. So I suppose I could be accused of succumbing to confirmation bias, which is why I was wondering about the concept of what you might call dis-confirmation bias among some on the left.

  46. chris
    July 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Lest I be confused on the subject, I just want to state emphatically, there is a lot of truth, and some beautiful wonderful truths I hope all mankind would embrace as principles behind some of the Democratic policies. Unfortunately, there are very concerning principles being violated, in my opinion, as a result of the methods used in pursuit of those principles. There are also some very wrong and rotten principles at the core.

    And I think that same sentence could be said of Republicans. I’m not the one picking sides here other than trying to put myself in the Lord’s camp with his servants, I’m just wondering about those who seem to be trying to do both while staking out their political ground (and questioning that of their opponents) in the process.

    I’m not the least bit interested in politics, which is probably something I can be criticized for…

  47. July 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    To follow up on #44, the examples of dishonesty are often linked to laws or social customs which are viewed as unjust.


    -Abraham repeatedly lying about his marital status.
    -Nephi lying about Laban.
    -Joseph Smith repeatedly lying about polygamy.
    -Later efforts by church leaders to minimize perceptions of polygamy, again often by dishonest statements.

    This is not surprising, given that Joseph Smith said directly that

    “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.” He uses the example of murder in his own letter. The idea of contextual commandments is certainly consistent with LDS history, and there is no central overriding imperative of honesty. (For instance, Elder Packer discouraged the publication of true facts, stating that “some things which are true are not very useful.”)

    People who hide their immigration status are not being completely honest, absolutely. But then, that which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

    And some things which are true are just not very useful.

  48. Ray
    July 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Sometimes we forget how darkly we see through our glasses.

  49. Al
    July 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Does anyone think that lying was a good policy now or ever? It may prove our humanity but if it becomes justification for the next lie it is damnation. That old irrevocable law…

    But hey I am not a lawyer so what do I know?!

  50. July 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Thaddeus #40:

    If the law requires uncharitable actions against our illegal siblings, then we should do what we can to change the law.

    I’m wondering what you would consider “uncharitable” with regards to enforcing laws against illegal aliens? How does the same judgment of lack of charity fit in with consequences of breaking other laws?

    Al #49:
    When honesty is played up as being “the best policy,” the position hasn’t been analyzed well. Honesty — probably more than most things we value — often comes head to head with other things we value. Competing values are the real moral dilemmas.

    Lying is often a good policy. Easy scenario: an intruder comes to your house with a gun and asks where you children are. Do you tell them?

    I highly recommend a book we discussed in MM book club about four years ago: The Bottom Line on Integrity. Even better, IMO, is the predecessor to that book mentioned in the comments.

  51. Steve
    July 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Al (49),

    “But hey I am not a lawyer so what do I know?!”

    Yes, that may be. But you ARE a troll, so you live to incite, but not to truly reason. You’re not interested in having serious discussion as much as you are in making sarcastic jabs. Get lost.

  52. July 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    While sarcastic, I think Al’s being labeled a troll has at least as much to do with his position as his tone or content.

  53. Ben
    July 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    “-Nephi lying about Laban.”
    Impersonating him? Or is cutting his head off “lying”?

  54. Steve
    July 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Alison (52),

    No, someone can articulate an anti-illegal immigration position in a reasoned and mature fashion. But when it is done in a bunch of twitter-length snide remarks, I just can’t take it seriously. The guy is here for attention, not to make a serious case.

  55. Ray
    July 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    “Does anyone think that lying was a good policy now or ever?”

    Absolutely – in exceptional cases, not as a rule. Also, not sharing all relevant details is not lying – and silence is not lying.

  56. Al
    July 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Policy implies a continuing recurring system of actions and rules. So is lying really a good policy? I don’t even think that it is a good as a one-off but can hardly imagine the consequences of a sustained pattern and practice of lying. Oops, that’s illegal immigration isn’t it? And where has that gotten us? Sorry that I don’t have the intellectual equipment (seriously) to go on longer. I can’t help that.

  57. Ray
    July 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Suffice it to say that illegal immigration is not “a sustained practice and pattern of lying” – certainly no more so than someone who breaks the speed limit regularly without self-reporting each instance and paying the fine he would incur if caught each time.

    I repeat, silence and/or partial information are not the same as lying. If you can’t see that, there’s nothing I can add.

  58. Al
    July 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I guess I can’t see it. Every time an illegal goes to work etc. etc. he has to tell a lie. Illegality is one continuous non-stop lie. I live in the heart of it and I observe its effect on the illegals and the abusers of illegals.

  59. Tim
    July 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm


    I would recommend getting to know some of these good men and women. Most of them are just trying to survive and make a living for their families. I’ve gotten to know a few of them through my church callings–and I don’t think of them first as illegal immigrants. I think of them as my brothers and sisters. I believe that’s how God wants me to see them. And as brothers and sisters, our job is to love, and not to condemn.

  60. Jeremy
    July 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    If I found myself in a position where my moral obligation to feed my children came into conflict with my moral obligation to tell the truth about my immigration status, I would lie like a rug. Especially if the country I was working in illegally had beckoned me for decades with its demand for cheap produce and hotel rooms.

  61. Al
    July 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    59. What makes you think I don’t know any? I live in Texas. I find many to be caught in the tangled web that they have spun. They are tired and frightened and want to be cut loose from their self created trap. But almost no one wants to suffer the consequences of their deceit.

    60. So would I. But a just society can’t tolerate it any more it can tolerate dishonest tax paying, or credit fraud, academic cheating.

  62. Mark Brown
    July 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Al, if you think this is a just society, you are lying to yourself every day.

  63. Al
    July 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Most just on earth. If you think otherwise why would you stay?

  64. Al
    July 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    So just that people are knocking down the doors to get in by hook or by crook.

  65. Mark Brown
    July 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    There is a difference between _just_ and _most just_. Surely you are smart enough to recognize it.

    My overall point is that you undoubtedly tell yourself dozens of lies every day. Given that fact, your obsession with the dishonesties of others is puzzling.

  66. Al
    July 24, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I try not to lie at all. I pay my taxes. I have been a witness in court and I told the truth. I search my soul before my temple recommend interview and frequently in between. I fill out forms all the time and I try to be very accurate. I live in a world that can knock me down in a second if I lie. I want to be honest for my own sake but I have to be honest to avoid the consequences. I am not perfect but comparing me to an illegal alien or someone who exploits illegals is harsh.

    As to your _just_ versus _most just_ argument: Apparently there is no such thing as _just_ to you so obviously you could win any such argument on terms alone. We have to start where we are to make a just society. We need better laws on immigration but we need laws and we need obedience to them and we need enforcement of them or we will never have a just society. Can’t get there from here by lying and cheating.

  67. July 24, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Steve #54, it tends not to make too much difference.

    Ray #57

    Suffice it to say that illegal immigration is not “a sustained practice and pattern of lying” – certainly no more so than someone who breaks the speed limit regularly without self-reporting each instance and paying the fine he would incur if caught each time.

    First, “you break laws, too!” isn’t a sound argument.

    Second, living in a country illegally doesn’t carry the same consequence as speeding (in theory).

    Third, living in a country illegally isn’t a one-time act of crossing a border. It’s an ongoing, perpetuated fraud. There are always victims to that fraud that go unrecognized.

    I repeat, silence and/or partial information are not the same as lying. If you can’t see that, there’s nothing I can add.

    I disagree. I like McKay’s definition (from the book I linked to above). He defines lying as “giving a false impression.” This can, of course, come about in all sorts of ways. Frankly, I think it’s harmful to absolve ourselves of the impressions we give by not speaking up or by telling half of the story.

    Tim #59:

    I would recommend getting to know some of these good men and women.

    The assumption that those who are opposed to illegal immigration don’t know or care about the people who break our border laws is erroneous. The assumption they haven’t helped, supported, and assisted them is also erroneous.

    Most of them are just trying to survive and make a living for their families…And as brothers and sisters, our job is to love, and not to condemn.

    Agreed, but it misses the point. There are thousands of people in jail for breaking all sorts of laws “just trying to survive and make a living for their families.” Why don’t we “just love and not condemn” all of them?

    Jeremy #60:

    Especially if the country I was working in illegally had beckoned me for decades with its demand for cheap produce and hotel rooms.

    There are lots of things I’d do if my kids were starving. But this line, really?

    My neighbor has this AWESOME boat. I’ve looked at it for YEARS. He never even uses it. It’s so not fair. And there it sits, day after day, just TEMPTING me beyond my ability to resist. Call it an attractive nuisance. If I steal it and get caught, I’ll sue him for making it look so irresistible.

  68. Mark Brown
    July 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Allison, your comparison of coveting your neighbor’s boat to illegal aliens picking lettuce or working as hotel maids to provide for their families is obscene.

    The simple fact is that illegal immigration is down substantially over the past five years. People who pretend this is a growing crisis are liars and cheats.

  69. Al
    July 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

    You may not care for her analogy but isn’t calling it obscene over the top?

  70. Jeremy
    July 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Alison: we’ve sent a mixed message to potential immigrants for decades, holding them back with one hand while beckoning them with the other. Undocumented workers are a huge part of our economy, and they’ve known that. If you encourage undocumented immigrants with a wink and a nudge for decades, all because your economy has developed in such a way as to rely on cheap produce, cheap hotel rooms, cheap housecleaning, cheap childcare, etc. etc., it’s simply perverse to suddenly, in a time of economic downturn, allow our (historically quite predictable) xenophobia to get the best of us and start blaming our problems on the brown people who sneaked across the border.

    So I’m afraid I have to second Mark Brown’s comment. Comparing an immigrant’s desire to feed his family to a person coveting a neighbor’s boat is, in my mind, obscene.

  71. Al
    July 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Our problem isn’t illegals who have crossed the border looking for work, it is disrespect for the process by which we establish and enforce laws, it is dishonest compliance with laws that were constitutionally established. We are not a perfect society but this wholesale disregard of our laws by illegals and their exploiters and facilitators is a gross and malignant cancer on our society. I am very much in favor of liberal legal immigration. I work in an industry that seems to be dominated by legal immigrants. I have sponsored immigrants. I am not xenophobic, I just want a respect for our laws not a wink and a nod.

    The government is busy criminalizing everything the goody two shoes of the world don’t like (see the WSJ for 7/23/2011) but won’t enforce our immigration laws. That is what is OBSCENE.

  72. Left Field
    July 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    The problem with the “Law and Order,” “12th Article of Faith” argument is that by that line of reasoning, we are also showing disrespect for the process by which we establish and enforce laws when we break the speed limit, catch more fish than allowed by our license, spit on the sidewalk, or let our grass grow taller than allowed by local ordinance.

    So are jaywalking and kidnapping of equal seriousness? Of course not. Do they have equal penalties? Nope. But that’s exactly the point. What does the 12th article of faith say about those laws? It says we ought to obey all of them. If respect for the process by which we establish and enforce laws means that ought not enter foreign countries in violation of their immigration laws, then it also means that we ought not kidnap or jaywalk. The article of faith or the “law and order” argument don’t tell us a thing about where illegal immigration falls in seriousness compared with kidnapping or jaywalking. They just tell us that all those things are illegal and that we shouldn’t do them. They don’t tell us which laws cause a malignant cancer by their wholesale disregard, and which laws cause a mere hangnail by their disregard.

    So repeating endlessly, “But it’s ILLEGAL!” doesn’t cut it. Jaywalking is illegal too.

  73. Al
    July 24, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Good so no law needs to be obeyed and the only laws that are enforced are the laws that the elites say are now important? Sounds like chaos and tyranny to me.

  74. Tim
    July 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm


    I don’t think the leadership of the church likes to be referred to as “the elite.” In any case, they have made themselves clear on what laws are important (don’t kill, don’t kidnap, don’t evade your taxes, etc. or you’ll be disciplined by church authorities) and which aren’t (no problem with making illegal immigrants branch presidents, sending them to the temple and on missions, etc.) If this is your idea of chaos and tyranny, maybe you belong to the wrong church.

  75. Left Field
    July 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm



  76. Al
    July 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    The leaders asked us to be compassionate. I didn’t read that they want people to be dishonest. They would like to see some changes to the laws. So would I. I didn’t see anything that excused dishonesty and what if they did excuse it? It would still be dishonesty.

  77. Jeremy
    July 25, 2011 at 12:01 am

    AI: the leaders have done far more than simply ask us to be compassionate. They have vocalized their support for the Utah Compact and specific legislation, including HB 116, which offers a way to legitimize the status of people who are currently here illegally.

    (This, of course, is the same HB 166 that the Utah GOP voted to repeal in their last convention.)

  78. Al
    July 25, 2011 at 8:23 am
  79. Ray
    July 25, 2011 at 8:41 am

    “I like McKay’s definition (from the book I linked to above). He defines lying as “giving a false impression.” This can, of course, come about in all sorts of ways. Frankly, I think it’s harmful to absolve ourselves of the impressions we give by not speaking up or by telling half of the story.”

    I guess I’m just not ready to condemn Jesus in that manner, Alison – and, yes, I know that’s a big gun to be pulling out in this conversation, but so is equating lying with giving a false impression. Those who hid Jews in Nazi Germany were liars and condemnable law breakers? Sorry; I just don’t buy it – not one bit.

    I think equating lying with keeping silent or only sharing part of the whole is obscene and horribly blind to the consequences of answering every question fully and volunteering information that is not being requested.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, “School Ties”. If not, it’s about a Jewish kid who is recruited to play football at a Catholic school – who is told explicitly it would not be a good idea to let everyone know he is Jewish. He goes along with it (letting people assume he is Catholic), and when he is confronted by a teammate and charged with being a “lying Jew” (the stereotype of that time) he responds:

    “I never lied to you. You never asked.”

    Should I tell everyone I meet that I’m Mormon – even if I know the person is a bigot and will use my religion to torpedo whatever I am trying to do? If I am stopped by a police officer for speeding, should I recount every other time I have sped in the past and ask for a ticket for each and every instance? “Full disclosure” in all things is not the opposite of lying (and, sometimes, it is flat-out morally wrong) – and to claim so for one group and not for all is hypocritical.

    That doesn’t mean there are no illegal immigrants who lie regularly – but it is incredibly simplistic to claim that all illegal immigrants are habitual liars or are living a life built entirely on a lie. That is true, especially, when just about every legal resident who knows them understands they are here illegally – as is the case in many, many situations.

    Yes, we need to fix the system, but treating all illegal immigrants as damned liars just isn’t something I’m willing to do – since I think it is inaccurate, hyperbolic, uncharitable and other worse things.

  80. Al
    July 25, 2011 at 11:18 am

    All lies are justified because a) everyone does it all the time b) some people do it some of the time c) someone historically important did it d) etc. e) all of the above and then some. Nice logic. I hope I never do business with you.

    Illegal aliens are pursuing their dream through a lie (actually multiple and ongoing lies). . They may be justified in their minds but no sane illegal will say that it isn’t a lie to be here illegally.

  81. Ray
    July 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Al, that is a gross misrepresentation of what I actually said – and of me personally.


  82. Raymond Takashi Swenson
    July 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    There is a standard distinction in legal theory that categorizes laws into two groups, those that prohibit conduct because it is malum in se (wrong in itself, immoral, such as all the common law crimes), and malum prohibitum (wrong because it has been defined as wrong, as a matter of regulating society). (I apologize if this is atrocious Latin, but that’s what lawyers use among themselves.)

    US immigration laws limiting the number of immigrants are definitely in the malum prohibitum category. It was basically nonexistent during most of the 19th Century, when the concentration was on regulating entry of people with diseases. During the first half of the 20th Century they were frankly racist, and in 1923 banned immigration from Japan and other Asian countries. That ban continued until the early 1950s, when there was combined pressure to lift the ban because of the many US servicemen who married Asian wives and the need to have Japanese support in the war in Korea and the Cold War against Russia.

    FDR had a role in the enactment of the 1923 Japanese Exclusion law, and he was resistant to allowing in Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust, until he was pressured by people in his own party, such as Senator Elbert D. Thomas of Utah (who is honored at Yad Vashem for this).

    Even now, the quotas and many of the restrictions on immigration are capped by arbitrary numbers created by Congress, that do not have any relationship to current economic demand for labor in the US. The de facto compromise for the last 50 years has been to have tight immigration laws on the books, to satisfy nativism, but lax enforcement, to satisfy businesses’ demand for cheap labor. Basically the US abandoned real control of immigration.

    The fact is that the illegal immigrants who come to the US to work, and do not get involved in criminal enterprises, are no more to blame than the entire political regime of the US, that has recognized that full enforcement would have had negative economic consequences. The propaganda that some cities put out about being “sanctuary cities” out of compassion for poor Latinos masks the exploitation of labor by many of the richest citizens of those cities and counties. I lived in Marin County, north of San Francisco, for four years, and it was easy to see how little regard my neighbors had for immigration law when they needed landscaping done.

    Wanting to extract a pound of flesh from immigrants as a price for being transferred to legal status is sheer hypocrisy by the US government.

    At the same time, if the US does not control its border, it will continue to be controlled by criminals with automatic weapons who smuggle immigrants, drugs and guns. No change to the immigration laws will be effective until the US chokes off those criminal enterprises.

    The current immigration laws were NOT handed down from Mount Sinai. They need to be replaced by real border control, combined with an honorable and fair law that can be honestly and evenhandedly administered, and which recognizes that the otherwise law-abiding workers (like those who are members of the Church) had innumerable collaborators who are citizens, and who have benefited financially from their labor.

    One of the things that should be done is to provide real benefits and protection for agricultural workers, funded by a Federal excise tax on foods shipped in interstate commerce. The price of food would not increase noticeably, but we could promote better living conditions for the family that get down in the dirt to feed us. Perhaps we could even make those jobs attractive enough for Americans to get off their behinds and take them.

  83. Al
    July 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    A very reasonable post Raymond. Which category of laws does paying income taxes fall into? Is obeying the tax laws like obeying the immigration laws?

  84. Sam Brunson
    July 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I’m going to say Amem, RTS.

  85. Ray
    July 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Excellent comment, RTS. Thank you.

  86. Al
    July 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Believe it or not, I probably favor a much more liberal immigration policy viz a viz Mexico than the typical (presumed) T&S reader. But for any immigration policy short of a wide open border, which is unfeasible and unacceptable to a whole spectrum of political views, it must be first obeyed and second enforced.

  87. Grant Hardy
    July 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Well said, RTS. My original article was about the Book of Mormon, but had I been writing about politics, I would have tried to make the points that you make so cogently. Thanks.

  88. Nathaniel
    July 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Ralph Hancock responded to Hardy’s article here:

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