Throughout my many travels I'm frequently asked by persons who don't know much about Mormons, Are Mormons Christians? With a smile I always give the same answer, "Yes we are, very much so."

Mormons quite often are referred to as Latter-Day Saint Christians due to the official name of the church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But it's more than just a name, Latter-Day Saints strive daily to live the life of Christ and abide by his teachings and those of his apostles.

The Bible tells us the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26) The word Christian means “a follower of Christ" but the word disciple means “student” or “pupil.” Hence a true Christian is not someone who simply says they believe in Christ but rather someone who ardently follows and studies the Savior their entire lives. Mormons do exactly that, therefore we are very much Christian in the truest sense of the word.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Meet Greg Trimble, the California man behind the viral Mormon blog

(by Trent Toone deseretnews.com 4-24-17)

In recent years, Greg Trimble's blog posts in defense of the LDS Church have been read by millions.
But at age 21, Greg Trimble wasn't an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A spiritual awakening the night before his sophomore season of college baseball changed the course of his life, he told the Deseret News.

"God had had it up to here with me. He was done 'nudging' me. That night … I had what I would consider a Godly beat down. It was almost as if the next day held some sort of cosmic significance in my life," Trimble said. "It was as strong of a spiritual experience as I have ever had in my life up to that point and even until now. The message? Quit baseball. Drop your scholarship. Enlist in God’s army."
Who is Greg Trimble? The blogger's bio on his website is pretty disarming.

"I’m supposed to jot down a bunch of important credentials here that will convince you that I’m some kind of great writer, but really, I’m just a normal guy, leading a very normal life," Trimble writes.

"Above all, I love God and my family. I love to write and hope that something I say helps someone have a better day. I just want to do some good in this crazy world."

It’s a simple yet straightforward introduction to a man whose blog has received approximately 7 million page views and attracted tens of thousands of social media followers in just a few years. In truth, Trimble has been told his blog has more digital reach than some news outlets. Not bad for a guy who once got a "D" in high school language arts.

Trimble, 36, husband and father of two, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and resides in Riverside, California. By day he runs two companies: a digital marketing agency that helps businesses do better online, Lemonade Stand, and Yalla, a platform for team, task and collaboration management.

By night he writes primarily about his faith and religious topics, although he reserves the right to share his thoughts on business, sports, life and anything else he finds interesting. It’s why he titled his blog, "Life Through My Eyes" (GregTrimble.com).

"If you don’t like what I write … I hope we can still be friends!" Trimble writes.

Trimble’s motivation to be a digital missionary can be traced back to that life-changing decision that led to a mission, a foundational experience that continues to bless his life. While sending his testimony into cyberspace has resulted in some joining the church, a host of negative comments almost overwhelmed him to the point of quitting. Yet the man behind the blog has continued to write, even recently publishing his first book, with two more in the works.

It’s his "authentic voice" that attracts an audience, his wife, Kristyn Trimble said.

"I get why people love reading his stuff," she said. "He has a great testimony. He speaks from the heart, he’s real. He says things in a way that people can relate."

God's Army

At the time of Trimble's religious awakening in 2001, he was preparing to start his sophomore season as a team captain for the Orange Coast College baseball team. He had just accepted a scholarship to transfer and play baseball at Hawaii Pacific University and was even talking to some major league scouts. When he wasn't playing baseball, he was surfing.

Trimble hadn't been active in the LDS faith for a few years and had no interest in serving a mission.
"Life was shaping up the way I'd planned," he said. "I couldn't have dreamed up a better situation at age 21."

Then came the sleepless night that changed his life. What actually happened is hard for Trimble to describe. It was like a spiritual operation on his soul, and what he learned was unmistakable. And had he not walked away right then, he might not have had the fortitude to do so later, Trimble said.

"I learned that 'God will feel after you and he will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings,'" Trimble said, quoting the Prophet Joseph Smith. "No, the angel Moroni didn't appear to me in my room, but the visions of my responsibilities and foreordination were clear and as tangible as if that angel were standing above me in the air."

As painful as it was, Trimble obeyed. He handed in his uniform on opening day. His coaches told him he was crazy.

When he called the coach in Hawaii, he was essentially told in colorful and angry terms, "thanks for nothing," Trimble said.

Trimble moved home and began preparing for a mission. Within a few weeks he met Kristyn and they promptly fell in love. The soon-to-be older missionary was tempted stay home and marry her, but knew he needed to serve. In time he was assigned to labor in Michigan.

Ready to serve

People who think Trimble is a great writer laugh when he tells them about his struggles with English in school. He didn’t even like reading or writing until he became interested in the gospel. Before reading the Book of Mormon, he would only "skim stuff and try to get by," he said.

As he prepared for his mission, Trimble read the standard works and as many gospel-related books as he could find before writing a book report on each one. The purpose was to better retain information and create notes he could carry into the mission field, he said.

"I wanted to show the Lord I was sorry for being a bum. From the day I committed to him, I wanted to go full throttle. If I was going to give up my dream of playing baseball and leave Kristyn, I wanted to make sure those two years were meaningful," Trimble said. "Now I see the role that a mission has played in everything that I’ve done and am currently doing. The contents of those book reports became the inspiration behind the content of my blogs."
 
 
Another future blogging lesson came to Trimble as a missionary in Michigan. A turning point came when he realized people don’t respond positively to confrontational Bible-bashing or doctrinal arguments. A more effective method is to listen, love and share truth, he said.

"The first half of my mission I thought I had to win with the gospel," Trimble said. "I learned to stand for truth, make your point heard, and leave it at that. Don’t argue if someone has a difference of opinion. I’ve tried to carry that over to the blog."

Going viral

Trimble started blogging in 2014 with zero online presence and fully aware of his writing woes. But he was determined to share what he knew to be true. Within a few months, his blogs were going viral. He remembers taking a phone call from a man at a news website who wanted to know his "strategy."

What strategy?

"I don’t know. I was surprised as anything. I just wrote a few not-well-written blogs about gospel stuff and people liked them for some reason. They got shared a bunch, and that energized me to write more," said Trimble, who serves as the high councilor over missionary work in his California LDS stake. "He was telling me you get more traffic than a lot of news stations get."

Trimble wrote about his "10 Most Read Blog Posts" on his website, displaying page views and shares to date.

As he continued to post his thoughts, opinions and impressions related to gospel topics and current events, Trimble began receiving messages from people around the world who had read his words and felt guided to meet with missionaries, to get baptized or return to activity. This both fascinated and fueled him to keep writing.

"I looked at the blog as an opportunity to be a missionary," Trimble said.

But along with the golden experiences came tremendous opposition in the form of brutal, mean-spirited comments. His most viewed post, "Quit Acting Like Christ Was Accepting of Everyone and Everything," drew more than 500 comments, some of which were especially vicious. His wife told him not to read the comments, but he couldn’t resist. It got so bad that Trimble almost gave up blogging, he said.

"You think you can block it out, but it was depressing and affected me in all walks of life. I had experienced opposition on my mission, but never how vocal and mean people can be on the Internet," Trimble said. "My wife told me to 'Man up' and deal with it, that I was doing a lot of good. So I started writing again."

Part of Trimble’s success might be attributed to how he tackles tough topics and fearlessness in sharing his opinions, Kristyn Trimble said.

"Come what may, I guess. I think so many people get sick of hearing from entities. But to hear a personal opinion from a real person can sometimes be more meaningful and touching,” she said.

Lesson and tips

What Trimble likes most about blogging is making friends with people who are critical of the LDS Church.

"My goal has been to reach out, be kind and try to make friends with them. I like getting to know them, hearing their thoughts," Trimble said. "It’s actually helped to strengthen my testimony."

His three-step approach is to first, recognize he doesn’t know everything, so be open to what others are sharing and listen. Second, don’t lose your cool; maintain an open dialogue. Third, show love and find common ground, regardless of differences or disputes.

"What it boils down to for me is I haven’t found anything that can give me a brighter hope than Mormonism," Trimble said.

When it comes to writing a good blog, Trimble has shared these five tips.

First, ignore what others say about your writing; Second, don’t be so technical, write as if you are having a conversation; third, record thoughts and impressions using available technology; Fourth, don’t give up so fast and write consistently; Fifth, be passionate about your topic.

It’s been exciting for Trimble family to see its husband and father be a pioneer in digital missionary work, Kristyn Trimble said.

"I wish so many people would pick up what he is doing, because of the success and people he has helped," she said. "How many more could be reached?"

Champion of fatherhood

Trimble recently released his first book, "For Dads Who Stay and Fight: How to be a Hero in Your Family." It was published by Cedar Fort and comes with a foreword by Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad. Trimble hopes to publish two more books with Cedar Fort in the coming year.

The idea for this book came to Trimble as he and his family were driving across the South Dakota plains on a vacation. He realized it was their first real family outing in nearly eight years. This turned his thoughts to the importance of fatherhood and the millions of American children who grow up without fathers. It also reminded him of several general conference talks on the topic by LDS Church leaders.
 
 
Trimble’s book offers information, inspiring stories, insights and ideas for seasoned fathers, future fathers and women who are looking for the right man to marry.
 
"The reason I wrote this book was so men, women, boys and girls would read it and that it might inspire a dad movement across the globe," Trimble said.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865678458/Meet-Greg-Trimble-the-California-man-behind-the-viral-Mormon-blog.html

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The unexpected Book of Mormon

(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 4-20-17)

So you’ve decided to declare yourself a prophet and to establish a new religion! In order to accomplish that, you obviously need to produce one or more revelations and to persuade others to believe in them.

Historically, the typical route is to announce you’ve received at least one message from God. The procedure is straightforward: Simply say that you did — which may perhaps even be true. No corroborating witnesses are required, nor need you supply any confirming material objects or evidences. Your prophetic experience can be entirely personal to you — usually such experiences are. It can be totally subjective and, thus, largely beyond proof or disproof.
 
 
Nobody else shared Isaiah’s vision of God enthroned in the temple (Isaiah 6). Apparently, none of Ezekiel’s fellow Israelite captives saw “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” with him during their exile by the river of Chebar (Ezekiel 1). The Lord called the boy Samuel while Eli the priest slept soundly nearby (1 Samuel 3). The word of the Lord came privately to Micah and, although he was “among the herdmen of Tekoa,” it came to Amos alone. Abraham’s revelations were never shared with others. When these prophets announced their messages, they supplied no chorus of supporting witnesses. They offered no physical evidence to fortify their claims.

Likewise, Joseph Smith, the founder and first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, could have been an entirely plausible prophet on the basis of just his personal revelations. Instead, his public ministry begins with a very different kind of revelation: the Book of Mormon.

He could have produced a series of short revelatory documents and teachings over an extended length of time — just like the Doctrine and Covenants, in fact. But what happened at first, rather, was the dictation of a lengthy, complex book within the stunningly short period of just two or three months. The Book of Mormon recounts a thousand years of history for a people of whom none of his contemporaries had ever heard. (And throwing in the Jaredites just makes the story longer and more complex.) Joseph Smith's neighbors expected no such thing. They wouldn’t have missed it had it not been provided.

In offering such a history, with its multitudes of interacting characters, scores of place names and geographical descriptions, and complicated story and chronology, a fraud would have exposed himself to a host of risks and possible pitfalls. But to what end? It seems, superficially at least, quite unnecessary.

Ellen G. White, at the foundation of Seventh-day Adventism, claimed approximately 2,000 visions and prophetic dreams over seven decades but produced nothing like the Book of Mormon. Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” — fundamental to Christian Science — isn’t remotely comparable.

What’s more, Joseph provides corroborating witnesses who also claim to have encountered divine beings and to have seen and hefted substantial material objects. (In fact, a remarkably large number of his subsequent revelations are received in company with others — see this previous column "Many of Prophet's revelations were shared experiences," Feb. 24, 2011).

By contrast, the remarkable Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (d. 1772) had no associates with him in his dreams and visions. He took nobody with him on his visits to heaven and hell.

Similarly, during Muhammad’s 22 years as a prophet, his seventh-century Arabian neighbors shared none of his visions or revelations, and the origins of the Quran involved no tangible objects. (For a relatively adequate biography, see Daniel Peterson, “Muhammad: Prophet of God.” ) But Islam quickly became one of the world’s great religions.

None of this is to argue that Swedenborg, White, Eddy or Muhammad — let alone Isaiah, Ezekiel, Samuel, Micah, Amos and Abraham — were frauds. (I don’t believe they were.) It does suggest the claims of Joseph Smith represent a rather unusual challenge to those who would like to dismiss them. In my judgment, it is an unusually formidable one.

Of course, there’s also the question of what price a person setting out on a career as prophet and religion-builder would be willing to pay. In Joseph’s case, the price entailed seemingly endless lawsuits, mockery and persecution, tarring and feathering, substantial periods of imprisonment, being driven from state to state, watching friends and family suffer on account of his claims and, in the end, going — apparently quite consciously — to violent death at the hands of a mob.

There are, a good job counselor might have suggested, better and less demanding career choices.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865678219/The-unexpected-Book-of-Mormon.html

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Paul and the nature of the Resurrection

(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 4-6-17)

One of the most sophisticated arguments against the traditional belief that Jesus rose bodily from the dead and that the tomb was empty on Easter morning, centers on a reading of 1 Corinthians 15:42-45. It contends that the apostle Paul, who apparently never met the mortal Jesus and who wasn’t present for the resurrected Savior’s pre-ascension visits with his surviving original apostles, understood the risen body of Jesus Christ to be an immaterial one, not the physical body that Jesus had during his earthly ministry.

If this claim were true, it would be of enormous importance. For Paul, as for the other apostles and for the Savior himself, the Resurrection of Jesus is the miracle the confirms the claims of Christ (see, for example, Matthew 12:38-40; 16:1-4; John 2:18-21; Acts 2:23-32; 10:39-43; 13:28-39; 17:2-3, 30-32; Romans 1:4). But almost all scholars believe Paul’s letters to have been written before the writing of the four New Testament Gospels — which, if true, makes him the earliest known author to refer to the Resurrection of Jesus.
 
 
Did he, though, understand that event in a fundamentally different way from the writers of the four Gospels? Strikingly, although the Gospels are very clear that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter Sunday, and although they are replete with accounts of disciples seeing the risen Lord, hearing him, walking with him, even touching him and seeing him eat, Paul wasn’t even a Christian at the time, and he never mentions an empty tomb.

Had he not heard about an empty tomb? Arguments from silence are notoriously weak, of course, and it’s easy to think of other reasonable explanations for his silence on the matter.

Usually, for instance, he was writing to local Christian congregations about pressing issues that didn’t revolve around the precise nature of the Resurrection. And anyway, the people to whom he was writing were typically those whom he himself had already taught and converted, and it’s entirely possible that he had told them the story of the empty tomb and that his letters presumed it.

But, argues the evangelical New Testament historian Michael Licona, the claim that Paul believed Christ’s Resurrection to have been immaterial rather than physical seems unsustainable on other grounds. For one thing, as the great British New Testament scholar N.T. Wright argues in his impressive 2003 book “The Resurrection of the Son of God,” Jewish understanding of the concept of resurrection during the time just before and after Jesus always connected it with the return to life of dead physical bodies, the revivification of — to put it starkly — of corpses. Conceivably, Paul could have rejected that doctrine. But there’s no obvious evidence of such rejection.

In passages such as Romans 8:11 and Philippians 3:21, Paul plainly regards the resurrection of Jesus as a model for the future resurrection of all humankind. Accordingly, we can reason back from his comment about general resurrection at 1 Corinthians 15:42-54 to his understanding of the resurrection of Jesus.

Significantly, a careful reading of 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 shows that what is “sown” and what is “raised” is the same thing, just as the “seed” of 15:36-38, to which Paul compares our bodies, is the same thing that “dies” and then is “quickened,” or “made alive.” Likewise, in 15:53-54, it is “this corruptible” that “must put on incorruption,” and “this mortal” that “must put on incorruption.” This strongly implies the resurrection of the dead body, not merely an incorporeal existence after death.

Perhaps the most important verse to be considered is 1 Corinthians 15:44, which distinguishes the “natural body” of mortality from the “spiritual body” of the resurrection. Some argue that these terms contrast a material body from an immaterial one. But a survey of 11 centuries of Greek usage fails to find a single instance where the word “psychikon” (translated as “natural” in the King James Bible) means “physical” or “material,” nor even one case where the word “pneumatikon” (King James “spiritual”) means “immaterial.” Rather, it refers to a state of being connected with and reflecting the Spirit of God.

In other words, Paul cannot be recruited as a witness against Easter’s glorious news that the tomb of Jesus was empty.

The argument in this column is substantially drawn from Michael Licona’s fuller and more detailed discussion, “Paul on the Nature of the Resurrection Body,” in “Buried Hope or Risen Savior? The Search for the Jesus Tomb” (B&H Academic, Nashville, 2008), edited by Charles L. Quarles, which I recommend.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865677222/Paul-and-the-nature-of-the-Resurrection.html

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Take the Benedict Option. Please.

(by Mark Silk religionnews.com 3-31-17)

It’s a little curious that the hot religious title of the moment should be The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher’s prescription for living the Christian life in the wake of liberals winning the culture war.

Because the war doesn’t actually seem to be over, what with states now empowered to lift federal funding of Planned Parenthood, North Carolina just pretending to roll back its transgender bathroom prohibition, and the likely appointment of a Supreme Court judge who strongly supports the social conservative understanding of religious liberty.

Nevertheless, Dreher believes that Obergefell, the Supreme Court’s 2015 same-sex marriage decision, signified the decisive defeat of traditional values and the beginning of a new age of darkness. And so he proposes a strategic retreat into morally gated communities of faith.

I say fine. Send your kids to religious schools. Restrict access to TV and the Internet. Make your church your life.

This has been an American way at least since Mother Ann Lee began establishing Shaker villages in the early days of the republic.

These days there’s no shortage of Amish and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Fundamentalist Mormons and home-schoolers of various stripes who, finding themselves at odds with mainstream values, keep themselves apart. Let there now be Ben-Opticians.

But as a sometime medieval historian, I wish Dreher had found another way to pitch his plea than monasticism in the so-called Dark Ages.

After the collapse of Roman authority in the late 5th century the real Christian heroes, for my money, were the bishops of Gaul, many of them married men, who kept their communities together, cared for the poor, and negotiated with the Germanic tribes who had seized power in their neighborhoods.

As for the monks, they were about the business of securing their own salvation. A monastery or convent was where you retreated, often as an older person, when you began thinking of the life to come.

Inside, they lived a well ordered existence — or were supposed to — under the Benedictine Rule. For those who could write, this meant going to the scriptorium and copying not only biblical and Christian texts but also Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Ovid, and other ancient Latin authors about as antagonistic to Christian values as one could imagine.

Far from being separated from the existing social order, the monks were deeply embedded in it. Rich people endowed them with lands and workers, and received in return the prayers that would, they hoped, ease their way into heaven.

Within their prosperous walls, the Benedictines came to serve as religious surrogates for the rest of medieval society. They were “those who prayed.” Rarely did anyone else make confession or take Communion.

What the original Benedict Option brought about, then, was a spiritual regime notably different from the way faithful Christians understand their religion today. I don’t think Dreher would have wanted any part of it.

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http://religionnews.com/2017/03/31/take-the-benedict-option-please/

A closer look at ‘The Benedict Option’ yields suggestions worth considering

(by Jacob Lupfer religionnews.com 3-31-17)

Last week I wrote about the imperative to keep the culture war’s losers engaged in public life.

The issue has renewed salience because Rod Dreher wrote a best-selling book about how traditionalist Christians should respond to their loss of cultural influence.

I used Dreher’s book as a jumping-off point for my argument that government, media, business and the arts should be hospitable to the untold millions who will continue to hold traditional beliefs about sex and God.

And while Dreher appreciated my broad-minded tolerance, he challenged me to actually read his book, “The Benedict Option.”

Happily, I did.

Dreher simply argues for cultivating a worldview, spiritual practices and habits of mind drawn from historic Christianity rather than from atomized, relativist and religiously individualist post-modern values.

“If Christians today do not stand firm on the rock of sacred order as revealed in our holy tradition, we will have nothing to stand on at all,” he warns.

Dreher takes readers on a brief tour of Western intellectual history from the smoldering ruins of the Roman Empire to the cultural rot of our own time. Predictably, things keep getting worse, and in his telling we stand on the precipice of a very dark age.

Biblical, revealed religion is just not going to withstand the scientific, philosophical and ethical attacks against it. Post-Christian ways of thinking took root so many centuries ago that by now, even most church people in the West accept them without even realizing it.

The unfortunate result of decayed religion in a secular age is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), a term coined by sociologists but which proves the fiercest enemy in Dreher’s analysis.

Indeed, readers who expect Dreher to lay the blame with same-sex marriage or gender-neutral bathrooms will be disappointed. He is more distraught about how MTD has replaced religion in our society, even infecting most churches.

“Though superficially Christian,” Dreher writes, “MTD is the natural religion of a culture that worships the self and material comfort.”

Those who think Dreher will defend right-wing politics and conspicuous consumption will also be surprised. He takes aim, perhaps more timidly than some would like, at conservative Christians’ uncritical enthusiasm for capitalism.

In telling the stories of communities that are living out forms of the Benedict Option, Dreher invites readers to think about whether and how they might incorporate some of these principles into their own lives.

The book ends with a stinging critique of the soul-numbing effects of our technology and devices. Here, Dreher channels C.S. Lewis’ critique of scientism in a way that is accessible and compelling.

I came to “The Benedict Option” as a writer engaged in debates about religion in public life. But I could not help reading the book as a man approaching middle age with three young children.

While I spend little time worrying about whether Rod Dreher’s prognosis for American civilization is too dark, I actually worry a great deal about my children’s future and what my wife and I should be doing to prepare them for it.

In vivid ways, my entire intellectual and religious life has been forged in the increasingly irreconcilable conflict between the Christian past and what Dreher sees as an anti-Christian future.

My formation in mainline Protestantism approximated Moralistic Therapeutic Deism more than I would like to admit. And though I feel mostly at home in modern culture, my emphatic opinion that Christianity has self-evidently been more of a boon than a bane to civilization puts me at odds with many secular progressives.

Dostoyevsky said, “The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” “The Benedict Option” got me thinking critically about how I might inculcate better habits in my children.

Dreher has plenty of critics, and many of them have thoughtful objections to his analysis. He generally overlooks nonwhite Christian voices, and his defensiveness and dismissiveness toward concerns about his racial blinders are unbecoming.

I still find Dreher’s assessment of the present situation in “The Benedict Option” too gloomy. But his analysis is provocative and his suggestions merit serious consideration, regardless of how dismal things actually are.

He makes a fairly strong, if unfashionable, case for medieval ways of thinking that are arguably at least as enlightened as our own.

I am not sure whether the Christian past holds the keys to human flourishing in our time. But Dreher gives me reasonable doubt that the future we are embracing will be much better.

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http://religionnews.com/2017/03/31/a-closer-look-at-the-benedict-option-yields-suggestions-worth-considering/

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Events surrounding world wars had significant impact on LDS Church and general conference

(by Trent Toone deseretnews.com 4-3-17)

This spring marks two lesser-known anniversaries in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and both involve wars and general conference.

On April 6, 1917 — 100 years ago — the United States declared war on Germany and entered World War I. The LDS Church opened its 87th annual general conference on the same day.

In 1942 — 75 years ago — events related to World War II disrupted a special Relief Society celebration and Mormon missionary work, closed the doors of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, limited conference attendance to church leaders and led the First Presidency to release a historic statement.

Christine Marin, an archivist and general conference specialist in the Church History Department, said these conflicts affected everyone.

"There was such a significant impact across the United States and the world, specifically for members of the church around the world," said Marin, whose parents served in the military during World War II. "It was a different time, a time of fuel rations and limited food. .… So many Americans had the gold stars in their windows. … We are still feeling the ramifications of World War II today."

Marin recently reviewed with the Deseret News many of the significant events from World Wars I and II that intersected with general conference.

World War I

About three months after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, LDS Church President Joseph F. Smith spoke in the Sunday morning session of the October 1914 general conference. He said missionaries serving in Germany, France, Austria and parts of other involved countries had been safely evacuated. The prophet also offered a "prayer of peace" for the world.

"We wish this morning to remember the admonition of the president of the United States, to offer prayer for peace to come upon the distracted nations of the world, for peace to abide upon those who are at peace, and to abound more abundantly," President Smith said. "I pray God that this spirit may especially enter into the hearts of this people … and that from them this spirit of peace and love for God and for our fellow man may go out into the world."

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson stood before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war on Germany. That declaration was formally accepted on April 6, the same day Latter-day Saints opened their 87th annual general conference. By June, Gen. John J. Pershing arrived in France with the first American forces, Marin said.

On Oct. 7, 1917, in general conference, President Smith asked members to vote on if the church should buy liberty bonds. The vote was unanimously in favor of buying the bonds, Marin said.

Latter-day Saints contributed to the war effort in other ways. In the October 1918 conference, President Smith said the Relief Society sold years of stored wheat to the government, Marin said.

The Great War Armistice took place on Nov. 11, 1918. President Smith died eight days later, on Nov. 19.

World War II

In April 1941 general conference, President J. Reuben Clark, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave a talk titled "To Be Peacemakers, the Destiny of America." In his remarks, President Clark said entering World War II was inevitable for the U.S.

"It does look as if only divine intervention of some kind can keep our sons on our own soil, fighting for our own cause, in defense of our own freedom and liberties," the church leader said.

Eight months later, on Dec. 7, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and in the process killed President Clark's son-in-law, Capt. Mervyn S. Bennion, who was aboard the battleship USS West Virginia. The Hawaii bombing brought the U.S. into the global conflict and changed America's way of life.

On Jan. 4, 1942, church members observed a special fast Sunday in conjunction with a national day of prayer called by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Marin said.
 
 
Because of the war, the Relief Society was asked to curtail a celebration commemorating the centennial anniversary of its founding. Instead of a large event, smaller celebrations took place on ward and branch levels, Marin said.

In March, the First Presidency announced that for the duration of World War II it would call only older men who had been ordained high priests or Seventies on full-time missions, Marin said.

A state of wartime emergency was declared from March 1942 to August 1945. The Salt Lake Tabernacle was closed to the public, although radio broadcasts were allowed to continue. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's program "Music and the Spoken Word" continued in the Tabernacle. No one was invited except on the Sunday of general conference weekend, Marin said.

Because of fuel rations and limited travel, the April 1942 general conference was closed to general church membership. Only general authorities and presidencies of local stakes were permitted to attend. Conference sessions were moved to the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and the assembly room of the Salt Lake Temple. Some sessions of conference were broadcast on the radio, Marin said.

All radio stations were reduced in power, and KSL was cut back to 39,000 watts. KSL was later increased to 50,000 watts in October 1945, Marin said.

On April 6, 1942, President Clark delivered a landmark statement on war from the First Presidency. The message, later distributed as a pamphlet, gave direction and comfort to thousands of Latter-day Saints and their families who were serving in the military, Marin said.

"The church is and must be against war. … It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled — the nations agreeing — by peaceful negotiation and adjustment," said President Clark, citing Doctrine and Covenants 98:16, which admonishes members to "renounce war and proclaim peace."

"The church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. … But the church membership are citizens or subjects of sovereignties over which the church has no control."
Therefore, when Mormons are called "into the armed service of any country to which they owe allegiance, their highest civic duty requires that they meet that call. If, harkening to that call and obeying those in command over them, they shall take the lives of those who fight against them, that will not make of them murderers, nor subject them to the penalty that God has prescribed for those who kill, beyond the principle to be mentioned shortly," President Clark said. "For it would be a cruel God that would punish his children as moral sinners for acts done by them as the innocent
instrumentalities of a sovereign whom he had told them to obey and whose will they were powerless to resist."

LDS servicemen were promised the Lord would be with them if they prayed and kept the commandments, and regardless of what country they fought for, according to the Lord's will, they could return home and live happy lives, according to the book "What You Don't Know About the 100 Most Important Events in Church History."

Several future apostles and one church president served in World War II, including Elder David B. Haight, Elder Neal A. Maxwell and Elder L. Tom Perry and President Boyd K. Packer and President Thomas S. Monson.

The First Presidency's position on war has not changed during subsequent conflicts.
In July 1942, church welfare leaders urged members to plant gardens, bottle fruit and vegetables, and store coal, Marin said.

The following month, the USS Brigham Young, a Liberty=class ship was christened, Marin said.
German forces surrendered in Italy on April 29, 1945, and a total and unconditional surrender was signed the first week of May. About a week later, LDS Church President Heber J. Grant died. A few months later, in August of that year, the Tabernacle was reopened to the public. The war in the Pacific ended in September. The first unrestricted conference in the Tabernacle since the start of the war opened on Oct. 5 of that year, Marin said.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865677017/Events-surrounding-world-wars-had-significant-impact-on-LDS-Church-and-general-conference.html