“Romney candidacy has resurrected last days prophecy of Mormon saving the Constitution,” reads a headline today in The Salt Lake Tribune. The article, written by journalist Thomas Burr, discusses the so-called White Horse Prophecy which was purportedly received by Joseph Smith in 1843. The article states,
It’s Mormon lore, a story passed along by some old-timers about the importance of their faith and their country.In the latter days, the story goes, the U.S. Constitution will hang by a thread and a Mormon will ride in on a metaphorical white horse to save it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it does not accept the legend — commonly referred to as the “White Horse Prophecy” — as doctrine. …
The disputed prophecy was recorded in a diary entry of a Mormon who had heard the tale from two men who were with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Ill. when he supposedly declared the prophecy.
“You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed,” the diary entry quotes Smith as saying. “It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.”
Not only will the Mormons save the Constitution, under the prediction, but the prophecy goes further, insinuating that Mormons will control the government.
“Power will be given to the White Horse to rebuke the nations afar off, and you obey it, for the laws go forth from Zion,” the prophecy says.
In 1918 sixth LDS President Joseph F. Smith made certain Latter-day Saints understood the White Horse Prophecy was bogus. In that October’s General Conference President Smith said the prophecy was “never spoken by the prophet” in the way people claim, and that, “It is simply false; that is all there is to it.”
The White Horse Prophecy is generally ignored or forgotten, but it seems to come to the forefront when a Mormon becomes a candidate for the U.S. presidency. It came up in 1968 when George Romney was running for president, in 2000 when Orin Hatch was running for president, and now, while Mitt Romney is campaigning. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Mr. Romney does not believe in the White Horse Prophecy.
In the article, Journalist Thomas Burr quotes George Cobabe, a man who researched the White Horse Prophecy for the LDS apologetics group FAIR. Mr. Cobabe said,
“I don’t think the White Horse Prophecy is fair to bring up at all. It’s been rejected by every church leader that has talked about it. It has nothing to do with anything.”
While I agree with Mr. Cobabe that the White Horse Prophecy is not germane to Mitt Romney’s white house bid, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the prophecy “has been rejected by every church leader that has talked about it.” Brigham Young seemed to believe the prophecy was true. In 1855 he said,
“…and when the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the ‘Mormon’ Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it.” (Journal of Discourses 2:182; also Discourses of Brigham Young, 361)
Thirteen years later, in 1868, Brigham Young again spoke in support of the White Horse Prophecy:
“How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass.” (Journal of Discourses 12:204; also Discourses of Brigham Young, 360)
Though the White Horse Prophecy has no place in modern-day Mormonism, there was a time when the prophet, seer and revelator of the LDS Church believed it — and preached it.
Speaking from my own experience of when I was TBM, I had never heard specifically about the “white horse prophecy” and wouldn’t have known what was implied if I had heard the term.
However, the idea that the “constitutional would be hanging by a thread” and that the US would be saved by the “elders of the church” was, in my experience, a generally accepted Mormon belief. I can’t substantiate this with any hard references, but as I recall, this concept was alive and well during the Ezra Taft Benson years and I, for one, believed it.
“Rejected by every church leader that has talked about it”
Apparently J. Reuben Clark (First Presidency) also didn’t get that memo. Speaking in conference in October 1942, Clark said:
“You and I have heard all our lives that the time may come when the Constitution may hang by a thread. I do not know whether it is a thread, or a small rope by which it now hangs, but I do know that whether it shall live or die is now in the balance” (Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, October 1942, p.58).
Near the end of this message he said,“If we shall stand together we shall save the Constitution, just as has been foreseen, and if we do not stand together, we cannot perform this great task.”
“Just as has been foreseen.” That’s a rejection?
The "White Horse Prophecy" in its entirety has been called bunk and declared bogus by the General Authorities but the Constitution hanging by a thread and that the Elders of the Church saving it has been deemed true. Basically some parts of it are true, or true parts were used in the bogus prophecy.