Question: You are the president, prophet, seer, and revelator of the Mormon Church?
Pres. Hinckley: I am so sustained, yes.
Question: Now, how would that compare to the Catholic Church? Do you see yourself as Catholics would see the pope?
Pres. Hinckley: Oh, I think in that we're both seen as the head officer of the church, yes.
Question: And this belief in contemporary revelation and prophecy? As the prophet, tell us how that works. How do you receive divine revelation? What does it feel like?
Pres. Hinckley: Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith. We don't need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we've already received.
Now if a problem should arise on which we don't have an answer, we pray about it, we may fast about it, and it comes. Quietly. Usually no voice of any kind, but just a perception in the mind....
The process described in this exchange could be referred to as "seeking a prayerful hunch." It is vastly different from any of the spiritual manifestations described in the scriptures, including the "still, small voice" that greeted Elijah and that is frequently invoked by GBH and others among "The Brethren." GBH's "prayerful hunches" are the slender reed upon which rest his sweeping assurances that "[The] Church will not be misled. Never fear that. If there were any disposition on the part of its leaders to do so, He could remove them."1
The most recent General Conference offered numerous recitals of this utterly untenable -- and thoroughly unscriptural -- theme: namely, that the "only safe course is to follow the Brethren." For example, President James E. Faust declared that "The safe course is to sustain our priesthood leaders and let God judge their decisions." Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Twelve exerted himself mightily on this theme: "... authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety"; "Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense"; "With ... keys comes the power to give counsel that will show us the way to safety," etc.2
The essential problem with this formula -- "sustain and follow the Brethren, suppress your misgivings and questions, and you'll be safe" -- is that it is cognate with the proposal LDS doctrine associates with Lucifer's bid for power in the pre-mortal estate. We have always been taught that where Lucifer offered safety, Christ offered freedom -- and that we chose the latter alternative, even in the light of the knowledge that Man's Agency would lead inescapably to sin on the part of all of us, and condemnation for many.3
Since at least the end of World War II, in fact, the Church has taught an inverted doctrine of moral accountability, in which individual agency is depicted as a Luciferian snare, and bovine submission to the hierarchy is (to paraphrase Bruce R. McConkie) the ``first law of heaven.'' This was captured in the notorious spring 1945 Ward Teachers' Message (which can be found in the June 1945 Improvement Era) which included the following statements: ``Lucifer ... wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and `do their own thinking.'... When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan -- it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other that is safe.'' Ah, yes -- safety uber alles, even when it means complicity in the morally untenable decisions of leaders. Curiously, this was exactly the same moral foundation upon which Hitler's government was built -- with tragic consequences that should have been appreciated by everyone by 1945.
The Church's fatal shift from an emphasis upon freedom and moral agency to a doctrine of docile obedience is too large a subject to be covered in this letter. However, one aspect of that shift needs to be examined immediately: The Church's utterly shameful accommodation with the cluster of criminal elites usually referred to under the rubric of the New World Order.
During a weekly temple meeting in which he was criticized by the First Presidency for his political "apostasy" concerning the League of Nations, Smoot arose and declared: "I claim I have a right to vote on the League as my judgement dictates, and in conformity with my oath of office."
How would history have been different if Senator Smoot had tugged at his forelock and sought the "safety" found in "following the Brethren" -- when the consensus among the Brethren was leading both the Church and the nation astray?
While on a visit to Armenia, declared Elder Nelson, "I observed the high esteem held for Dr. Hammer by dignitaries of the USSR and the USA. Unitedly, they commended him for his life's single-minded purpose in alleviating acrimony or ill-will among people of these two important nations."7 Either Elder Nelson was culpably ignorant of Hammer's career -- which is scandalous but forgivable -- or he was consciously lying on Hammer's behalf. In either case, where was the discernment that supposedly betokens the mantle of Apostleship?
When Hammer died in late 1990, the First Presidency and the Twelve issued a formal statement of condolences which insisted -- contrary to the readily available facts -- that "Dr. Hammer lived a long life full of concern for others."8 It is probably safe to say that Armand Hammer's life was devoid of concern for anything more exalted than his illicit appetites and his bank account -- and yet the Brethren, who are entrusted to lead us to safety and who assure us they will never mislead us, chose to deceive the untutored among us by depicting that sub-telestial excrescence as a humanitarian. (For an honest treatment of Hammer's scabrous life, see Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer by Edward Jay Epstein.)
Why the servile flattery for a man unworthy of the company of decent people? One answer suggests itself: Mutual enrichment. Toward the end of his life, as Epstein documents, Hammer was frantically lobbying for a Nobel Peace Prize; he needed humanitarian credentials. The Church, on the other hand, was desperate for contacts in the Soviet Union. Enter a third party -- Utah industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr., a self-described protege of Hammer9; through Hammer, Huntsman was able to arrange both a high-profile Church relief mission to Armenia10 and lucrative commercial concessions for his own Huntsman Chemical Corporation and the Marriott Corporation.11
This is how business is transacted in the world of trans-national corporations; this is how the "Scarlet Whore of Babylon" conducted her affairs during the depth of the counter-reformation period; this is an arrangement which reeks of opportunism and the "art of the deal." Is it really possible that Jesus Christ would conduct the affairs of His Church in such fashion?
"[M]ore Christians have died in this century simply for being Christians than in the first nineteen centuries after the birth of Christ.... It is difficult for Westerners to imagine the savageries encountered by these Christians -- or the spiritual commitment necessary to endure persecution and death for the sake of faith."12
"In China today there are more Christians in prison because of religious activities than in any other nation in the world. Protestants are arrested and tortured for holding prayer meetings, preaching, and distributing Bibles without state approval. Roman Catholic priests and bishops are imprisoned for celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments without official authorization.... 1996 has been `the most repressive period' for Catholics and Protestants since the late 1970s.... Those with ultimate power for controlling religion in China are atheists -- they are required to be so by Communist Party regulations. State religious policy, as explained by Chinese president Jiang Zemin in the March 14, 1996 edition of the People's Daily, is to `actively guide religion so that it can be adapted to socialist society.'"13
"Bishop Su spent fifteen years in prison before is release in 1993, and was subjected to various forms of torture throughout his internment. During one particular beating, the board being used by the security police was reduced to splinters. Unrelenting, the police ripped apart a wooden door frame, and used it to continue the beating until it, too, disintegrated into splinters. The bishop was then hung by his wrists from a ceiling while being beaten around the head."14
"Using the slogan, `It is better to have more graves than more than one child,' [Chinese] authorities repeatedly raid the Catholic homes, confiscate their property, and indiscriminately beat those unable to escape into the surrounding fields. Forced abortions have been performed on women in the last weeks of pregnancy, and ... nonpregnant women have been sterilized against their will.... [t]he reported methods of torture include hanging men and women upside down, squeezing them under a chair, exposing them to extreme weather conditions for extended periods, and burning their tongues with electric batons to prevent them from invoking aloud God's help."15
Now, the version offered by The Brethren:
"`We have assurances from the highest levels of Chinese government that people are free to practice religious beliefs in China,' said Elder Nelson. "The Chinese Constitution provides equally for religious freedom, no matter how small the denomination.... Elder Nelson continued. `A lot of people have the idea that religions are forbidden in China, but that is not so.... We learned that government does not keep track in any way of a person's religious affiliation.... We were assured over and over again that there is no discrimination regarding job or educational opportunities if one chooses to join a religious denomination."16
And what about China's "one-child" policy, and other totalitarian laws? Elder Nelson appeared to address this matter by stating, "Our 12th Article of Faith requires us, as conscientious citizens in any country, to sustain and uphold the law of the land. We will teach our members to do that in China."17 When I asked him directly whether his statement applied to population control policy, Elder Nelson blithely responded that "your questions are mooted by the fact that religious opportunity and liberty are greatly restricted at the present time in China"18 -- a private statement impossible to reconcile with Nelson's public benediction upon China's religious policies. (See 1 Cor. 14:8)
The Church's contemptible liaison with China's anti-Christian rulers has continued in spite of the regime's escalating persecution of the Humble followers of Christ:
*In December 1993, President (then Elder) Faust played host to a Chinese delegation at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.19
*Approximately one year later, Elder Nelson played host at the same facility to Vice Premier Li Lanqing, whom Nelson described as a "distinguished gentleman."20 (In order to ascend to his position, Mr. Li must have distinguished himself by his ruthlessness; this hardly makes him a gentleman.)
*In early 1995, Elders Nelson and Maxwell visited Beijing, where they met with high officials in the regime. The Elders reminded the commissars about the favors the Church had done for the regime -- dispatching English teachers and doctors to help ease the regime's material burdens and help build its economy. Elder Nelson describes all of this as "one way of our implementing the teachings of Jesus Christ"21; a more honest description would be "one way of building up and sustaining a corrupt and evil regime in order to win concessions."
*On May 28, 1996, President Hinckley visited a Chinese "sister cultural center" to the Church's Polynesian Cultural Center; built with Church assistance, the facility in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (adjacent to Hong Kong) is a hard currency resource for the Beijing regime.
"A red carpet literally was unrolled at the entry of the Shenzhen Bay Hotel where President Hinckley and the others were greeted.... Glittering confetti shot from small cannons added sparkle to an already bright and magnificent reception that awaited [Hinckley's] group at each location."22
Question: Is this a reception one would expect for a prophet of God? "... if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him;.... But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say, Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer ... ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; ad because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him."23
*Elder Nelson has been appointed to an advisory committee to the State Department that will advise the Clinton Administration on matters of religious liberty abroad.24 Given Elder Nelson's standing as a "Friend Of China" (read: apologist for the regime), this position is doubly compromising: In order to advance the institutional interests of the Church, he must remain a F.O.C.; yet to defend the interests of Chinese Christians would require that he speak candidly about the incomprehensible persecution undertaken by the regime. Furthermore, the Clinton Administration's indifference -- if not outright hostility -- toward Christians abroad (and at home, for that matter) suggests that Russell Nelson is exactly the type of compromised cleric they were looking for to man the advisory panel.
While The Brethren are knitting themselves to political elites in the U.S. and Red China, and luxuriating in the hospitality of China's thugocracy, modest ministries like Brother Andrew's Open Doors and International Christian Concern are, at great expense and no small risk and with no conceivable material motivation, smuggling Bibles to China's persecuted Christians, ministering to their material needs, and bearing down in pure testimony against their tormentors. The Brethren seek to advance the cause of the Institutional LDS Church; these other ministries are feeding Christ's sheep. Which of these ventures represents the true Gospel?
The CFR's pedigree and purpose need not be described here. However, Mr. Staheli (he does not deserve the title "Elder" and I will never acknowledge him as a "Brother") is a certified leader of the Red China lobby in our country. The U.S.-China Business Council has but one purpose: To enrich Beijing's autocrats and the U.S. multinationals who network with them. The Council has lobbied long and hard on behalf of China's interests, whether the issue is MFN (which includes access to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank, which shovel taxpayer subsidies to China and its corporate allies), or arranging business deals that send "dual-use" technology to China, which is used to perfect their instruments of domestic suppression and foreign aggression. Such have been the labors of a man chosen by one of GBH's "prayerful hunches" to become a General Authority.
In a February 6th letter to Elder Nelson, which was composed long before I had ever heard of Donald Staheli, I wrote the following:
"As I inquire into the fabric of power relations that supports and sustains Communist China and its allies, it will be revealing to learn the extent to which Utah-based business interests ... are entangled in it -- and I would surprise me not at all to learn that some of the threads of that fabric might lead back to 47th East South Temple Street. Am I wrong? I certainly hope so. But the disgraceful behavior of Church representatives in their contacts with Chinese leaders leads me inescapably to believe that something other than principle often prevails at that address."
Needless to say, I was mortified -- but hardly surprised -- to learn that the head of the Red China lobby is now a General Authority. Staheli has blood on his hands, and the stench of treason on his soul.
But Staheli's connections are even deeper and more troubling. Continental Grain Company is an Insider-controlled multinational with deep roots in what some refer to as the "Master Conspiracy."
Continental Grain Co. is a $2.1 billion multinational agribusiness combine. Documents provided by the Company explain that Michel Fribourg, the firm's octogenarian chairman emeritus, is descended from "European grain traders [in the] early 1800s" and that "For almost 30 years [Michel] took [the] lead in selling grain to Soviet Union."
According to a specialized work on the agribusiness industry, Continental is one of the five huge grain conglomerates who essentially control the world grain trade. Making use of hybrids developed by Rockefeller interests and financial resources made available through Chase Manhattan and Chemical Banks, Continental and its four compatriot firms "wield enormous political and financial power because of their enormous cash flow, and because so many governments depend on their food supply to maintain political stability.... No state can stand once its food supply has been undermined. And many revolutions have been started due to an overabundance of hungry mouths to feed." Such amoral manipulation of human needs apparently comes naturally to the Fribourg family: "Continental Grain began operations during the Napoleonic Wars, supply grain to both sides...." (I seem to remember a phrase about "buy[ing] up armies and navies, Popes and Priests, and reign[ing] with blood and horror upon the earth....")
The Fribourg family's roots also run through the Communist upheavals of the mid-1800s. Simon Fribourg, Michel's great-grandfather, reportedly had a role in the creation of the Communist First International, which was led by Karl Marx until 1872. In an interview with the April 16, 1931 New York Times, Jules Fribourg, Simon's grandson, defended the Soviet Union's practice of "dumping" grain onto the American market; this was taking place while Stalin's regime was engineering a famine in the Ukraine that killed at least seven million people. When the first open sale of wheat to the Soviet Union was announced in 1964, Michel Fribourg secured a $.72-per-bushel subsidy from the Agriculture Department to export 10 million tons of grain to the Soviets (which was purchased with lines of credit ensured by the U.S. taxpayer, and distributed to Soviet satellite nations.
In 1966, Fribourg acquired a controlling interest in Allied Mills, Inc. of Chicago. Three years later, Donald Staheli joined Allied, eventually becoming president and CEO of that firm. In 1977 -- a few years after Fribourg brokered another taxpayer-subsidized deal with the Soviets -- Staheli was brought over to Continental.
Staheli is obviously comfortable in the company of secretive figures who use their resources to manipulate nations and rulers, who feel no compunctions about aiding mass murderers and tyrants, and who can foment revolutionary upheavals without suffering so much as a tremor of conscience. It's quite a career path that has taken Staheli from the Air Force to Fribourg's Combination to the Red China lobby -- and now to Church Headquarters. At some point he should have asked himself, "But what will become of me if I leave his employ?" He never had to make that choice; he was offered a celestial "golden parachute" by Salt Lake.
Question: Given the persecution the church went through in its early years, being called a cult, I'm wondering what your feeling is when you see groups today in a similar path. We're coming up on the third anniversary of Waco.
Pres. Hinckley: We believe in allowing men to worship how, where or what they will.... We want to extend to all others the same privilege that we expect.... Now we get these fringe groups, we know, Waco or the [Jim] Jones group in Guyana. We don't get involved with them. If the law chooses to take care of them, that's the law's basic right. We just plow our own furrow and go forward."
Martin Van Buren was more concise when he uttered the same contemptible sentiments: "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you."
Regrettably, there is much more to this story, and as the opportunity presents itself, I'll tell it. For now, I leave you with the following conclusions:
1) The LDS Church is not presently led by revelation; President Hinckley has, on several occasions (one of which is noted above) stated that we have plenty of revelation ("Woe be unto him that shall say: We have received he word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!" -- 2 Nephi 28:29). Apparently, GBH believes that the Church can coast on revelatory momentum.
2) The doctrine of unconditional submission to The Brethren, as applied to political affairs, might very well have led to the destruction of our nation during the League of Nations debate.
3) The Church's embrace of detestable figures such as Armand Hammer bespeaks a contemptible opportunism and an utter lack of moral discernment.
4) With respect to China, the Church has allied itself with the enemies of Christ and His children.
5) The appointment of Donald Staheli indicates that the Church has been penetrated by the Insiders at no lower a position than the Second Quorum of Seventy.
6) President Hinckley's outreach to the World Affairs Council and his reception in Communist China displayed a penchant for the praise of the powerful that is incompatible with the prophetic profile.
7) President Hinckley's utterly reprehensible remarks about Waco -- a government pogrom that nearly annihilated a peaceful (albeit eccentric) sect -- evince what could charitably be called a complete lack of understanding of the basic principles of religious freedom and constitutional government. At worst, they signalled his embrace of a Chinese-style perspective on religious freedom, i.e. that we are free to worship in any way that has not been outlawed by the government.
In a letter seeking to warn me off of my inquiry into Elder Nelson's activities, President Faust told me that "the sure, safe course for all of us is to follow the leadership of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve." So we come back to the "peace and safety" refrain. However, the scriptures teach unambiguously that "when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them...."
I'm not sure where all of this leads, or how you will respond to this. However, it's becoming increasingly obvious to me that I can't follow where The Brethren are leading us.
Gordon B. Hinckley, "Our Testimony to the World," Ensign, May 1997, pg. 83.
Henry B. Eyring, "Finding Safety in Counsel,"ibid, pp 24-26.
See James B. Allen, "Personal Faith and Public Policy: Some Timely Observations on the League of Nations Controversy in Utah," BYU Studies, Autumn 1973.
D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake: Signature Books, 1997), pg. 63.
Deseret News, April 19, 1990, pgs. A1, A2.
"Church leaders express condolences," Church News, December 15, 1990.
"Huntsman remembers Hammer as `a dear and valued friend,'" Deseret News, December 12-13, 1990, pg. D7.
Church News, August 19, 1989.
"2 LDS agree to supply food service to Aeroflot, world's largest airline," Deseret News, January 21, 1989.
Nina Shea, In the Lion's Den (New York: Broadman and Holman, 1997), pgs. 1,4.
Ibid, pp 58-59.
Paul Marshall (with Lela Gilbert) Their Blood Cries Out (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997), pg. 78.
Ibid, pp 81-82.
"China: Two apostles visit, assured that religious freedom exists and people are free to worship as they choose," Church News, January 28, 1989, pp 3-4.
Ibid, pg. 4.
Elder Russell M. Nelson, personal correspondence, April 14, 1995.
"Chinese official welcomed in Hawaii," Church News, December 4th, 1993.
"Chinese leader enjoys Hawaiian visit," Church News, November 26, 1994.
"Elders Maxwell, Nelson welcomed in China," Church News, April 29, 1995.
"President Hinckley Visits China," Deseret News, June 1, 1996.
Sunstone, April 1997 pg. 76.
Ensign, May 1997, pg. 107.
Continental Grain Co. prospectus.
John Coleman, Opioids In Common Food Products -- Addictive Peptides in Meat, Dairy, and Grains, op cit.
Intelligence memo, May 1972; supplemental sources under review.
Ensign, May 1997, pg. 107.
"Hinckley: Mormon Church has Come of Age, Prospers," Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1997.
"Leader of Mormon Church Looks to Future," Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1996.
Personal correspondence from President James E. Faust, March 10, 1995.
I Thess. 5:3.