A Good Mormon Is a Good Socialist


check out this terrific SL Tribune op-ed by my friend Troy. Entitled The Case for Book of Mormon Socialism, it argues cogently that LDS scripture clearly roots ethics and righteousness in socialism, and that the apparent "de facto 14th Article of Faith" so many members believe in--namely, "the unquestioned virtue of unregulated capitalism"--is actually antithetical to what LDS scripture really teaches.

Very good stuff. Let's hope it actually sinks in.


I've never had any different understanding of LDS scripture (or of the New Testament for that matter). Other non-Mormon historians also agree. Take, for instance, Nathan O. Hatch's reading of the Book of Mormon in THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY.

Jim Wallis is right when he says "God Is Not a Republican or a Democrat." But God is almost certainly a Socialist.

As a teenager, I had a few disconcerting talks with my dad on this subject. The thrust of Book of Mormon teaching (not to mention the D&C and early Church history) on the matter of wealth and economic distribution seemed so self-evident to me... I suspect my dad had been influenced by the extreme anti-socialist rants of Ezra Taft Benson, who made a career as an apostle of identifying Christianity with extreme right-wing capitalist ideology.

Most Mormons don't even know what I'm talking about when I point out that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were essentially Christian communists... But "United Order" doesn't sound like anything you'd call a free-market capitalist system...

Hi JGW--thanks for these insights. I'll look for Hatch's book.

I've been involved in some not-so-pleasant conversations about this on Facebook. People keep stressing that the United Order has to be "voluntary" that socialism is not "voluntary." Here's a comment I wrote in response to all that--I like it well enough that I want to keep a copy myself:

The idea that the "our current government is imposing socialism by degree without the consent of the people governed" is a fabrication and fear-mongering among people who know nothing about socialism except that they should fear it, as evidenced by statements like "don't impose socialized medicine, but keep your hands off my medicare!"

The most successful socialist countries are social democracies. You can look at almost any social democracy and find a country that has

A) better healthcare for less money providing greater satisfaction to citizens
B) lower infant mortality rate
C) longer life spans beyond infancy
D) higher test scores in math and science
E) less disparity between rich and poor
F) less violent crime
G) etc
than the US.

The real kicker is: the US doesn't even have as high a level of democracy as some social democracies. The Scandinavian countries kick our ass when it comes to democracy. http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/02/19/opinion/19blowch.html?ref=opinion

If we were both more educated and more righteous, our own adoption of social democracy would be not only voluntary, but immediate.


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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on February 26, 2011 9:38 AM.

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