Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the LDS Church

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I’ve caught a moderate degree of flak from a few Mormons who believe I’ve misrepresented the position of their church regarding social justice. To restate my argument, it was that 1) the Mosaic Law, as enunciated in the Holiness Code of Leviticus, holds that the poor are to be provided for as a matter of public law, not individual charity; and 2) that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which saw itself as restoring both ancient Israel and the early Church, incorporated this aspect of the Mosaic Law into its own public law in the nineteenth century.

The late Dean May, an eminent Mormon historian, laid out the course of Mormon social welfare policy 20 years ago in a fine article: “Body and Soul: The Record of Mormon Religious Philanthropy,” Church
, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 322-336. Beginning with the Book of Mormon (4 Nephi 3), the LDS Church was imbued with the teaching that care of the poor was a collective responsibility. As May makes clear, this was from the outset a teaching focused not on all the poor but on the Mormon community itself. To that extent, Mormons were under less of an obligation to care for the stranger among them than were the ancient Israelites. But it was equally the case that, as members of the Church, they were obligated to provide for the poor, whether enthusiastically or begrudgingly. By my lights, that’s a corporate commitment to social justice.




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  • I’ve actually heard that the early Mormons began practicing polygamy as a way to ensure all the women in the movement were cared for, since there were more women than men among Smith and Young’s followers.
    Obviously, it became a doctrinal issue, but I like the idea that it began as a means of social justice.

  • Confused

    Jessica: Why do you need to marry someone in order to be sure they are properly cared for? A strong, close network of friendships is what they need, not a husband.

  • Diane

    What Glenn Beck was talking about was denominations that support abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, racism, laws like healthcare that pay for abortions and sex change operations and other unAmerican values like redistribution of wealth all in the name of “social justice”. One example would be denominations like United Church of Christ that Obama belonged to:
    or pastors like Jeremiah Wright (he married the Obamas) at Obama’s old church Trinity United Chrurch of Christ, the same denomination above, who spew racism and curse America:

  • Spencer

    Ugh…people are so clueless about the history of this country. They needed to marry a man in order to gain full rights of property, etc. If a man died on their way to Utah while trekking across the country…the woman in the relationship would have no rights to own property or anything of the sort. Polygamy was not illegal and the woman could now have a place to live since she was widow. The early government of Deseret operated this same way. Since it was the philosophy of the time. A strong close group of friends would not allow them to live in that society at the time. I am not pro-polygamy, but this was why the doctrine was said to practiced.
    Once a woman lost her husband…she lost everything and would never be able to establish herself. Since there were more women then men that arrived in Utah with the pioneers they needed a way to allow women to have a home, etc.
    @Diane you’re just full of stupid and need to go away. If I was a blackman who served my country, but I still couldn’t hail a cap in NYC when I got back…ya I would curse this country…I bet you would too

  • Anonymous

    Because in 1835 America, woman and slaves could not own property….that’s why a woman needed to be married.

  • I find the talk about Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the LDS Church – Spiritual Politics all a bit meaningless. Political leaders and central bankers round the world have done everything they can to prop up failed banking institutions, and lending that was risky from the start. We will not have a real self sustaining recovery without an end to deficit spending and lots of banks going bust. I find discussion about mortgage finance and home loans a bit meaningless. I also think the house costs have to reduce a lot even now. I mean why would you want to own a home in Spain or the UK? Isn’t it much cheaper to rent? Regards, King Clontz