Immigration and LDS Proselytizing

A major player in the new controversial Arizona immigration law is Senator Russell Pearce. Sen. Pearce, a Mormon, sponsored the new law, which has caused Hispanic LDS conversions in Arizona to suffer. The Arizona Republic reports,

“The law, which makes it a state crime to be in the country without proper immigration papers, has tarnished the Mormon Church’s image among many Latinos, a huge group the church is aggressively trying to attract.”

LDS missionaries report that people are less receptive to them than before the law was signed, evidenced by the young missionaries having to endure doors slammed in their faces as people ask, “Why would we want to hear anything from a religion that would do this to the Hispanic community?” Previously scheduled convert baptisms have been cancelled as well.

Though the LDS Church does not have an official position on immigration, converting Latinos to Mormonism is a booming business in the LDS Church. According to Joanna Brooks at Religion Dispatches online magazine,

“It is estimated that of the Church’s 13 million members worldwide, more than 4.5 million members are Spanish-speaking. Spanish-speaking LDS congregations in the US have grown by an estimated 90 percent in the last decade. The majority of Mormon converts in the US now come from Latino communities. And there are just about as many Mormons who live in Mexico and Central America as there are in the state of Utah.”

Utah is on record as being illegal-immigrant friendly, so it surprises some people that a Mormon would sponsor such a law. The Arizona Republic explains,

“Pearce has repeatedly said his efforts to drive illegal immigrants out of Arizona and keep them from coming here is based on the Mormon Church’s 13 Articles of Faith, which includes obeying the law. “

The Arizona Republic also talked to Nora Castañeda, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Hermosillo, Mexico. Ms. Castañeda has been LDS for 35 years and is now being confronted by people who are not happy about the immigration law.

“[Ms. Castañeda] does not believe…that Pearce’s anti-illegal-immigrant stance is in line with the Mormon faith, which, in addition to teaching obedience to the law, teaches compassion.

“‘It is embarrassing to have to defend the church for the thoughts of one man,’ said Castañeda.”

Ms. Castañeda told the Arizona Republic that the new law is not only making proselytizing more difficult, it is causing some new converts to leave the Church.

All of this makes me wonder what these new and prospective converts were being taught about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If the political actions of one Church member so deeply shook their faith that they want nothing more to do with the LDS Church, what sort of church did they think they were joining? What sort of faith had they been nurturing as they approached conversion to Mormonism? What sort of impression of the Church, its purposes, and its power, caused one Mormon Latino woman to say about Sen. Pearce, “I want the church to put a stop to him”?

It seems to me that if these new and prospective converts had been taught to make Jesus Christ the center of their faith and worship, the actions of one Latter-day Saint would not cause such a pervasive black mark on the entire LDS organization. But, if these investigators had been taught (as is typical in LDS proselytizing) to place their faith in Mormonism, if they had been led to believe that the LDS Church is God’s true kingdom on earth, the only church that really understands God and is led by God, the only church that is not beset by doctrinal and social confusion, the one church whose members are the most righteous of all people, then the actions of one Latter-day Saint who told the Salt Lake Tribune “that LDS scripture buttresses his push for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants” could well cause these people to stop and rethink their decisions.

And this is good. Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows.” So whether one becomes aware of challenging doctrines, or perceived contradictions, or observed inconsistencies, it is wise to take a step back and reflect before making any vows.

In my opinion, this unintended consequence of the Arizona immigration law–causing people to reconsider their connection with Mormonism–is a very good thing.


The Arizona Republic first posted the article “Arizona immigration law fallout harms LDS Church outreach” on May 18, 2010. The Salt Lake Tribune reposted the article on May 21, 2010 with some revisions under the title “Arizona immigration law thwarting LDS missionaries.” The above article utilizes both versions.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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33 Responses to Immigration and LDS Proselytizing

  1. falcon says:

    Well Sharon,
    It’s a good thing that the Mormons have a living prophet that’s hearing directly from the Mormon god because I’m sure there will be a revelation forth-coming that will explain it all, right? When’s general conference? It will all get straightened-out there.
    The LDS church is in a bit of a sticky wicket here with this controversy. What are they to do? Encourage law breaking? But the bottom line with the LDS church is the bottom line. How’s this controversy going to hurt the numbers?
    The Latino converts obviously haven’t gotten the memo about “outer darkness” because that’s where they’re heading (according to Mormonism) if they don’t turn it around and head back into the fold real soon.
    Then there’s the little problem about the two kinds of Mormonism. The first kind is the one that people join, thinking Mormonism is just another branch of the Christian family. And then there’s the Mormonism that they learn about latter when they have been sucked-in, love bombed and seduced. That’s the one with the god that used to be a man who’s living somewhere out by Kolob with his multiple wives, procreating spirit children into eternity.
    I wonder if the Mormon church is losing money on this deal. That’s the true test and the real bottom-line!

  2. jackg says:

    This is an excellent post, Sharon. I just love how God works through humanity. I had to chuckle at Ms. Castaneda’s comment: ““‘It is embarrassing to have to defend the church for the thoughts of one man,’ said Castañeda.” This seems to be par for the course when you’re a Mormon: defending the church for the thoughts of guys like BY. Maybe she thinks the rug really covers the dust.


  3. falcon says:

    I’m sure other religions, like the Catholics are facing this same type of problem but in a different sense. The Catholic faith has been the Latino choice for centuries. I know there’s at least one Catholic church in Chicago that’s declaring itself a sanctuary. I don’t know what the stand on illegal immigration within the Catholic church hierarchy is.
    I know this is going beyond the scope of the discussion here, but there is such a thing as misguided or misplaced compassion.
    I’m kind of wondering what the religion of the Arizona governor is? Why is the Mormon church taking a hit for the fact that the guy who sponsored the bill is a member of the Mormon church? I know the answer should be obvious but what if he was a Lutheran? Is there something in Mormonism that gets folks to react this way? Remember the reaction regarding the gay marriage issue in California and the Mormon fight to establish a ban on the practice?
    This illegal immigration issue, Arizona and the Mormon church isn’t going away soon. Time for damage control for the Mormons. They’re usually ham-handed when it comes to this sort of thing.
    Any predictions?

  4. grindael says:

    I have a different take on this, so here goes:

    “Federal border officials arrested nearly 500,000 people trying to enter the state between last October and July. In April, the “Minuteman Project,” a self-appointed militia, began patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border. And in mid-August, Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) took the unusual step of declaring a state of emergency. The move frees up government money to boost law enforcement along the border.”

    “It brings out the worst in a lot of us,” said state Rep. Steve Gallardo (D).

    According to the Pew Hispanic Center, which like is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona has more than quadrupled since 1996 — from 115,000 then to about 500,000 now. By comparison, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States roughly doubled, jumping from about 5 million in 1996 to about 11 million today.

    The upsurge of illegal immigrants in Arizona — on top of an economic boom that caused the state’s population to increase more than 12 percent to almost 6 million since 2000 — is severely straining prisons, schools, hospitals and law enforcement.

    Although undocumented workers help provide labor for Arizona’s booming construction business, they also impose costs. Jim Dickson, who runs a hospital five miles from the Mexican border, says emergency room care for illegal immigrants has risen from $30,000 to more than $350,000 in only four years.

    “(Illegal immigrants) can’t come to America and get free stuff. It’s just wrong. You’ve got to take their benefits away,” said Rep. Russell Pearce (R), who led the Prop 200 drive.

    This is all about money. Some want to use the Illegals for cheap labor, but don’t want to give them benefits. I find this wrong on many levels, but the bottom line is they are here illegally, and we need to address the problem.

  5. grindael says:

    Mr. Pearce’s comments seem harsh, but it is a question that will continue to plague us until we come to some kind of understanding about just who is more to blame, those that come here to seek a new life, or those who use them for cheap labor.

    I’m an American who has lived here and payed taxes his whole life and I have no health care because I lost my job due to a work accident – and now cannot afford it. I have had knee replacement surgery and had two consequential injuries because the insurance company – ordered by a judge – did not provide me with a knee brace (before I got the surgery) and I fell down some stairs and broke my tailbone and ankle – then they gave me the brace.

    I am now suffering the consequences of a system that is set up and motivated by greed, and I see this current situation as an extension of that.

    I feel it should have no bearing on the Mormon Church – when we start condemning people who make political choices and then hold them to their religious standards – the water gets murky.

    There are two sides to this, and no simple solutions. BUT – if Mr. Pearce is using the Church & his Mormon beliefs – to foster and promote his views, that would be wrong – like trying to justify his actions based on the Articles of Faith – especially when Mormons in the past have ignored that and broke the laws of the land.

    It seems Mr. Pearce has opened his own can of worms here – but there is a REAL problem here with illegals – and he should stick to economical and financial justifications – not religious ones- to explain his motivations. What he said about the 8th Article of Faith just seems to be a cop out to me.

    Since the illegals are here, and many employed, they must be treated with respect and given the benefits other Americans have – or those who hire them need to be held accountable. We simply can’t have it both ways. This is my OPINION only, and I find it a hard thing to reconcile no matter how one looks at it.

  6. falcon says:

    I figure we should just open the borders, give them our jobs, and we’ll all go on welfare paid by their taxes!
    If Utah has been harboring illegals as part of the over-reach of the Mormon church in the affairs of the state, there’s a mix of church and state that shouldn’t exist.

  7. jackg says:


    I think Pearse put himself in the hot seat by using the AOF as a basis for his political stand. Why would this anger Hispanic LDS? We need to understand that within the context of the BOM, these Hispanics are taught that they are a chosen people, a people that Jesus Christ Himself visited–the BOM is a record of their people. The Church has a long history of reaching out to the Hispanic people; it would be easy for them to see an LDS politician making comments that are incongruent with the tenor of the LDS message to the Hispanic people as turning his back on them. Naturally, he is a representative of the LDS Church, and they will see this as representative of the Church’s view on Hispanics. So, this doesn’t quite jive, and maybe they are seeing the reality of the racial-leanings the Mormon Church has historically expressed.

    Just my two cents on the matter.


  8. I’m not a US citizen, and I don’t wish to get embroiled in US politics.

    I’m only vaguely aware of what the Arizona Law is all about, but I must say that I agree fully with grindael’s sentiments

    Since the illegals are here, and many employed, they must be treated with respect and given the benefits other Americans have – or those who hire them need to be held accountable. We simply can’t have it both ways.

    Any attempt to get cheap labor out of these people, whilst denying them basic privileges and protections as they live within your borders, is a stain on your national character.

    Have the ghosts of black chattel slavery resurrected in a different form? I hope not.

    Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

    James 5:1-4 (emphasis mine)

  9. Olsen Jim says:

    I have watched this issue for years. I find it interesting that the BOM contains a warning to the “gentiles” of this land who are to eventually be “lifted up above all nations”- if they do not repent of their evil doings, the descendants of Lehi and the remnant of the House of Israel will go through among them like a “lion among lambs.”

    It is a major message of the BOM that is repeated many times. So all these events and issues catch my attention.

  10. falcon says:

    grindael & Martin,
    Here’s the problem with your perspective, the tax payers of Arizona and the other border states and the rest of us for that matter have to foot the bill for all of the social services including schools that are providing for the illegals. I’ll risk sounding uncompassionate but the fact of the matter is, we can’t afford to be subsidizing cheap labor for those who hire illegals. The people who hire them should be heavily fined and get tossed into jail.
    These folks broke into our house and now we’re suppose to clothe, feed, provide medical care and educated their children? This is fool-hearty.
    I’ve got my great-grandfather’s naturalization papers framed. When he and the rest of my relatives came to this country they came here legally. I’ve known others who have done the same thing including a high school friend and a couple of wives of friends. The bottom-line is that there is a process in place for those who want to become part of our country.

    Olson, Jim
    The BoM is a false book containing false prophesies. Lehi and whoever never existed in time or space, just in the mind of the false prophet Joseph Smith.
    I suggest you stick to the Bible for your spiritual guidance.

  11. Olsen Jim wrote

    I find it interesting that the BOM contains a warning to the “gentiles” of this land who are to eventually be “lifted up above all nations”- if they do not repent of their evil doings, the descendants of Lehi and the remnant of the House of Israel will go through among them like a “lion among lambs.”


    You’re going to have to give me a commentary (explanation) here, because I have no clue about which of these parties relates to what.

    Who are the “gentiles” of “this land”? Are you talking about the European settlers of North America? The Indigenous peoples of North America? I can’t figure it out because, in the Biblical context, Jews and Gentiles are both Caucasian and they have no ancestral links to the Indigenous peoples of North America. Also North America never appears as an identifiable geo-political entity in the Bible, so how can you apply Biblical idioms to it?

    Furthermore, the actual “remnant of the House of Israel” is actually settled in Israel (with a sizable population in New York). However, I’ll accept that the “remnant” might not relate to physical ancestry, but rather those who subscribe to the Faith of Abraham and his “household”.

    And what are the “evil things” that will bring judgement on them? Is this related to the current treatment of illegal immigrants by US culture and law?

    On a broader scale, I’m not objecting to a person interpreting the current circumstances according to a narrative, even if the narrative is fictional. The bigger question is where that narrative leads.

  12. Falcon,

    I was agreeing with grindael’s observation that there is an obvious double-standard at play with the immigrants. It needs to be put right.

    You likened it to burglar breaking into your house. If that’s all there was to it, fair enough, the burglar should be jailed.

    But it’s not. It’s as if a burglar broke into my house because I left the door open for him. Then instead of burgling my house, I got him to do all the chores for me. Maybe we should both go to jail.

    I really hope the US authorities come up with a just and equitable strategy. It seems to me that such a solution will be a combination of mending fences, pursuing those who abuse the system (on both sides) AND extending privileges and protections to those “illegals” who would prefer not to work illegally within your borders.

    Taking a step back, this issue really draws out the insular and xenophobic side of US culture. You’d think that the Christian Gospel should have penetrated further.

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.

    “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”…

    (Luke 10:25-29, NIV) Perhaps the answer, in this case, is a Mexican.

  13. falcon says:

    I really can’t buy your expansion of my analogy and I certainly don’t buy your application of the Biblical text. It’s not the Mexican I have a problem with. It’s the illegal aliens. I think your point-of-view is misguided and Polyanish. Just the crime factor alone in Arizona re. illegals is pushing citizens over the edge. You need to take a look at how Mexico deals with illegals in their own country.
    I’ve seen pictures of a school in California where the Latino students pulled down the American flag on the flag pole, flipped it upside down and put the Mexican flag above the American. It’s this demanding, disrespectful attitude that has folks riled-up.
    Ronald Regan tried to fix the illegal problem back during his administration. It was an amnesty deal and all it got us was more illegals. A very large portion of the population of our country have had it with the drain on the “system” and the crime.

  14. Okie says:

    Falcon, AMEN!

  15. Neil Winchell says:


    So if I break into your house, and upon discovery you don’t immediately bestow on me all the rights and privileges of family (room, food, key, etc), then would you admit that you are failing to love as Christ commands us to?

    The argument that God commands us to ‘love’ is completely and utterly useless until we first lay out what is meant by love. Is it love to enable a drug addict, supplying them with what they need and protect them from the consequences of their addiction? Does ‘love’ mean that we should endorse and bless same-sex unions? Adulterous relationships? Just because we can do something and label it ‘love’ does not make it so.

    I’m sure history is full of atrocities committed in the name of love.

  16. It seems I prodded a snake here.

    Falcon, Neil and co.

    If you want to stop these illegals from squatting in your back yard, fair enough. Mend the fences and find a way to send them back home. It’s your back yard, not mine. I actually respect that.

    Only, don’t expect to exploit these same people for cheap labor.

  17. grindael says:

    Actually Martin,

    This was my direction on the thread, I apologize for you taking the heat of my initial argument, but you summed it up nicely.

    I quoted:

    “It brings out the worst in a lot of us,” said state Rep. Steve Gallardo (D).

    because this sums it up nicely. It is all about spirit vs. letter of the law, and that is different in the eyes of all Americans…but, what would Jesus do? may be a question that we all must ponder in very hard circumstances like the above dilemma finds the Americans (us) in.

  18. Martin,

    Awe, American politics. As strange and colloquial as any. I would chastise Americans for being myopic, but most people around the world see things through their own political and theological lens.

    Let me take a stab at what OJ may have been getting at. I think the white, American citizens are supposed to be the gentiles and the Latino immigrants from parts south are the descendants of Lehi that are supposedly rising up. There are so many problems with this comparison even if one does believe in the BoM.

    First, not all illegal immigrants are Latino. There is nothing in the Arizona law about race or ethnicity.

    Second, not all U.S. citizens are “gentiles” by any use of the word. Some are Jewish, some are Native American, some (many/most) are part Native American . . . And some (many) are Latino and are against human trafficking.

    Third – Mexicans, and other Latinos, are not Native Americans. They speak a European language, have European surnames, and do not identify themselves as Native Americans (unless trying to gain an advantage over gringos/whites). At most one could say that they are part Native American, but the same is true of most black and whites in America. Spain and Mexico took land from the Native American tribes in much the same way that America and European powers took land from Native American tribes. There are still real Indians in Mexico, and many of them resent Mexico in much the same way that some of our Indians resent America.

    Fourth . . . Native Americans and their descendants are not descendants of Lehi, or so we are told by Mormon, internet apologists. It was those [insert Mormon “N word” here] that made up that despicable lie that the BoM says that Native Americans actually came from Israel (that is unless they are trying to make a point with some gringos.) The events contained in the BoM all took place on a narrow strip of land in Meso-America; the Nephites, Lamanites, and Jaredites made up a very small portion

  19. of the ancient American population.

    Seriously, it is still common within the Mormon subculture for Mormons to refer to Native Americans as Lamanites. When Gordon B. Hinckley, and other Mormon leaders made similar, references (even in passing) in pre-internet days they were just doing what they normally do at religious functions.

    The law mentioned here is not even really a law. It is already illegal (Federal Law) for someone to come to America without the proper paperwork. This “law” just makes the crime a state crime and allows state and local cops to investigate regarding the issue.

    So, our politics are heated and weird but that is true of most places around the world. I would say the difference is many of our political happenings make international news stories.

  20. falcon says:

    Here’s the problem with the “what would Jesus do” (WWJD) scenario. People ask the question and then fill-it-up with their own meaning. That is, “what would Jesus do” becomes “what do I want done”. The “social” gospel becomes someone’s political agenda with Jesus attached to it for credibility or purposes of justification of a proposed solution/social welfare program.
    This is not a question of law vs. grace or the spirit vs. the letter. People use this type of manipulation to justify everything from people of the same gender marrying each other, compassionate abortion, medicinal marijuana or even confiscating fire arms. The whole idea is to label someone who doesn’t agree as a mean, nasty person who doesn’t love people and certainly can’t be a follower of Jesus. I refuse to allow anyone to manipulate me in that way.
    Jesus would tell the illegals to go back to their own countries and follow the immigration laws to reenter.

  21. David,

    Many thanks for attempting to explain OJ’s interpretation from his perspective.

    I fully appreciate the issue of ethnic mixing, and of sub-cultures within cultures.

    …so, was OJ saying that it is the Latinos (descendants of Lehi) who will be executing judgement on the US citizens of European descent (the “gentiles”)?

    But, what did the latter group do to warrant judgement?

    Maybe its the other way round?

    Without knowing the vernacular of the BoM, I find it really confusing.

    Is OJ taking a harder or softer approach to illegal immigrants?

    (It would be nice for OJ to explain his position himself on this)

    On a side-issue about ethnicity and ancestry, one of the great messages of hope to come from the Christian Gospel is that you can actually change your ancestors. Think about it; because we have been born again into a new life, we are no longer bound to the legacy of wrath forced on us by our ancestors. Prime examples of this are Rahab (in Jericho) and Ruth.

    It’s not a topic commonly preached today because of our focus on rights and justice for the individual (collective justice being a modern anathema). However, I’m pretty sure it was a major issue in the ancient world, where everyone in the House was subject to the same sentence.

  22. grindael says:


    Not to rain on your parade, but I’m aware that Jesus said ‘Render unto Caesar”. He also said if someone steals your coat, give him your shirt too.

    It is a tough situation, and that is the bottom line. I’m not saying we can’t deport these people if it is the law. What I am saying, is if someone in the U.S. HIRES that person, and they work for him and live here, should they not be entitled to benefits? Should we not try and take care of these people?

    It is the greed that has jurisdiction here. These policies are motivated totally by money. I do not agree that it seeps into the other areas you mentioned.

    I do agree with (your point) about the name-calling, and that was the point of my original post:

    “but there is a REAL problem here with illegals – and he should stick to economical and financial justifications – not religious ones- to explain his motivations. What he said about the 8th Article of Faith just seems to be a cop out to me.

    The reverse is also true, that politicians are name-called for hard line stances.

    Perhaps we should have thought more of border control, and how we could spend all the money we wasted on the war in Iraq. Oh yeah, that was about greed too, the pesky oil thing.

  23. falcon says:

    Do you want to leap from illegal immigration to the war in Iraq? You’re going to have to identify which war in Iraq; the first one which was about the free flow of oil at market prices, recognizing that Iraq invaded another country or the second one that followed 9/11.
    Remember that the illegals that sneak into the country are greedy too. Some people want to assign all kinds of virtue to these folks. The illegals are used by people for their own political goals which is to expand their own power base. There are a lot of potential voters in these illegals. If a political party can garner their loyalty, the (politicians) can secure their own future.
    One thing I’ve learned in life is that it’s all about the money especially if someone says it “isn’t” about the money. I’ll repeat, we need to go after the employers and at the same time shut down the borders. I know we aren’t going to be able to deport all of the illegals but we can remove the primary reinforcer which is $$$$$$.

  24. falcon says:

    And here’s the deal about the oil, we can get it without going to war. The U.S. is a huge market and those who have the oil want to sell it. We didn’t get free oil as a result of any of these conflicts. Besides, we get most of our oil from Canada. Our own reserves in the ground are huge but we aren’t tapping them. That’s why there are oil companies like BP drilling mile deep wells because of restrictions on shallow water drilling or land based drilling for that matter.
    These are all very complicated inter-related problems that include moral and spiritual values. The situation is such that solving these problems comes down to people vs. people and their particular ideologies rather than people against the problem searching for the best solution.
    Look what our country did in WWII by locking up Americans of Japanese descent and fighting the Nazi’s with our own segregated arm forces and bombing entire cities? History is a mixed-bag but one of the things I’ve learned is that context and perspective is needed to try and understand motives.

  25. grindael says:


    I agree with you on this: It’s a tough problem. I see it how I see it. God bless.

  26. Olsen Jim says:


    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you- I have been camping in the mountains with the family- good times!

    I will explain my comments and how I interpret the BOM as it relates to this issue if you are interested.

    First a point about demographics: It is my belief (and many others) that the BOM narrative took place in MesoAmerica. Lehi and his party established their community about 2600 years ago. Since then, there has been, to some degree, intermixing and spreading of Lehi’s “blood” from that location, both north and south.

    According to that narrative, the white or “fair” portion of that community was destroyed around 400 A.D., with the darker-skinned Lamanites surviving. The extent to which those Lamanites and other Lehites have intermixed with other populations is not known, of course. But I consider Southern Mexico/Guatemala ground Zero for “Lehi’s seed” or the “remnant of Joseph or Israel” starting 2000 years ago.

    Next point- published in 1829, the BOM prophesies that the gentiles and Jews would be “lifted up above all other nations” in the Americas. At that time, there was no reason to believe that would ever be the case- the Jewish immigration to America didn’t start in full until the persecutions in the 1850s and 1860s, with large numbers coming also in the early 1900s. Also, the U.S. was a fledgling republic in 1829- far from being “lifted up above all other nations.”

    Today, it is estimated there are 13 million Jews world-wide (of course this depends on how you define “Jew). The nation of Israel has the most, barely beating America. No other nation even come close as far as Jewish populations.

    America has the largest, most robust economy the world has ever seen. Her standard of living is unprecedented. Her military prowess and dominance is greater than any nation in history. Americas influence in fashion, style, movies, music, and culture in general is clearly extends further and greater than any other nation.

  27. Olsen Jim says:

    Understand- the BOM predicts the above as accurately as possible. But, it very clearly states that if the gentiles of this land do not repent of their evil, after all their blessings, that the “seed of Lehi” or the remnant of Israel would go through among the gentiles like a lion among lambs.

    You ask “what evil?” I don’t think this necessarily relates to the immigration issue specifically, rather the evil that exists in America in general. I think this means the sexual immorality above anything- abortion, extra-marital sex, pornography, etc. It certainly could relate to greed, lying, and expecting stuff for nothing- laziness as well. (not that I think this is exclusive to America or that these evils define America).

    According to the BOM, the “seed of Lehi” will go through the gentiles in America- I don’t think this is super-specific to whites from European descent, although that would be the general implication- my interpretation. This may refer to people in America not from the lineage of Israel/Lehi.

    How this will happen I simply do not know. But I think it will likely be in a manner we would not imagine today. When I see Latin America in general becoming more aggressive toward the United States, I take notice. People like Hugo Chavez are calling for a general uprising in the western hemisphere against America. And the number of heads of states in this hemisphere who side with the likes of Chavez rather than America is increasing.

    Seeing some within America of Latin American descent organize and seek to overthrow the rule of law in America is sobering. I think most people in that community are law-abiding citizens who love America. But there is definitely unrest stirring in that community, and the illegal immigration issue does have a significant place in that unrest.

    By the way, I don’t think the church has an official position specifically about the immigration issue. The general teaching is to obey the law of the land.

  28. OJ,

    Thanks for your response (and I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip to the mountains).

    In my original query, I said I wasn’t concerned about the historicity of the BoM at this point, and I’ll stick to it for now – this particular query isn’t about the issue of fact or fiction with the BoM accounts (I’m repeating it before someone else jumps up and down on the historicity issue).

    If I understand you correctly, you identify the “seed of Lehi” with (some of?) the indigenous population of meso-America. What you’re saying in this scenario, is that unless those of you who live north of the border clean house, these guys will invade your land and put you to the sword.

    OK, there are Biblical precedents for one nation executing judgement on another. The most notable is the Assyrian/Babylonian conquests of Israel/Judah in the 6th and 5th Centuries BC, as described by the OT prophets.

    Interesting to note that the chief accusation against Israel/Judah was their abandonment of the covenant with God, which formed and framed their national identity. If we are to apply this same scenario to the US, it begs the question which covenant and which God frames the national identity of the US. I don’t see the same circumstances apply in the formation of the US, and if you opt for the Christian God, it won’t work out well for Mormonism.

    Also, it’s odd that you identify the “remnant of Israel” with meso-Americans, when there are better qualified candidates living in New York.

    It seems to me that the application of these “prophecies” to geo-political entities is fraught with problems, not the least of which is the issue of how I (we) need to respond to them.

    Finally, I understand the sentiment behind “abiding by the law of the land” (13AoF), which forms the basis of Pearce’s appeal. That’s OK until, like Pearce and your other politicians, you’re responsible for making the law under which the people are expected to live. What do you do then? (see 1 Cor 6:2

  29. Olsen Jim says:


    Thanks for the response.

    As I said above, I don’t claim to understand how it will actually play out, but you are getting the basic interpretation I get from the BOM prophecies.

    It is very appropriate for you to bring up the Assyrian/Babylonian destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. The Isaiah prophecies of those events are repeated in the BOM in the same places one finds the prophecies regarding the remnant of Lehi and America in the last days.

    Christ says in the BOM that these events spoken of by Isaiah “have been and shall be.” In other words, Isaiah had two historical times in mind. He saw what would happen to Israel/Judah in ancient times, and he also saw the events of the modern day. The ancient fulfillment was a type or model for the modern fulfillment.

    “All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.” Isaiah 18:3

    “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” Isaiah 49:22

    Nephi explains: “Nevertheless, after they [remnant of Israel] shall be nursed by the Gentiles, and the Lord has lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children have been carried in their arms, and their daughters have been carried upon their shoulders, behold these things of which are spoken are temporal; for thus are the covenants of the Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.”
    And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered.” 1 Ne 22:6-7

  30. Olsen Jim says:

    After the gentiles scatter the Lehites in America and are favored and lifted up, then they will be punished for turning to wickedness by the remnant of Israel. This reversal is exactly like the ancient model.

    I know that you do not believe the BOM or the other things I am speaking of, but most people have no idea about this element in the BOM- which is a huge message of the BOM.

    To understand why America is being warned, one has to understand the history of this continent and the United States. The BOM states that a free people would be “set up” in “this land” as a standard to the world. It is in this context of freedom as established in the U.S. constitution that the Lord restores His church, priesthood, and earthly kingdom. Such a restoration required the political and religious environment only found in America after the constitution was ratified.

    America would be the Lord’s “base of operations” in His great latter-day work before the second coming of Christ. From America, the gospel would be taught to the world. The Lord would save scattered Israel through the tribe of Joseph based in America. Hence the symbol of the House of Israel being saved by Joseph as in ancient times.

    Side note- yes there are a lot of Jews in New York. But understand that the blood of Israel, or the genetically inherited genes of Jacob have been mixed through the majority of people in the world. I have read from non-LDS demographic experts that upwards of 85% of the worlds population have some genetic input from Israel (Jacob). This is where Jacob 5 and the allegory of the olive tree is so appropriate and beautiful- by redeeming Israel in the latter days, the Lord actually is extending His arm to a great many people throughout the world.

  31. Olsen Jim says:

    Nephi spoke of the gentiles and Jews of this land being lifted up in wickedness above all other nations. That is interesting considering the demographics of those who create and shape political and cultural trends in this country. The reference to the remnant of Israel, or the “seed of Lehi” who would rise up really seems to be referring to another group- not the Jews centered in New York. In other words, both groups (Jews in New York and MesoAmerican folks) are descendents of Israel.

    So America is to be a very favored nation, politically, economically, spiritually. And it is the betrayal of that favor which ultimately warrants their punishment. And it is stunning to me that as we now see America losing its dominance and position in the world, we also see a groundswell of negative sentiment toward America from those in Latin America and those of Latin descent within America.

    By the way, the BOM says that all the nations of the gentiles that are lifted up are to fall a great fall- America still has great virtues as the defenders of the nation of Israel (at least prior to Obama) and as a reservoir of great Christian faith among many of its citizens. America is still largely more religious than almost any other western country.

    This is the tip of the ice-berg- there is so much in the BOM that most people will never ever know about, and I am talking about those who criticize it and even many who read it. Bruce R. McConkie once said in essence that very few people, in or out of the church, truly understand what the Book of Mormon is. I totally agree with him. It brings so many pieces of the puzzle together from ancient prophecies regarding our day.

    Anyway, this very brief explanation will hopefully give you a little more background for my prior comments.

  32. OJ,

    Thanks for your lengthy response.

    I can fully understand the attraction of interpreting prophecies in terms of the rising and falling of empires, not least because it follows the pattern of the OT prophets. It would be so nice to say such-and-such a vision refers to, for example, or My Home Town, or events in My Lifetime, or the formation of the UN (I think the JWs interpret parts of Revelation in this way), or some other geo-political object in my own back yard.

    But, that’s the problem. Most often, these “dispensationalist” (if that is the right word) interpretations bring the meaning of the vision into My Back Yard. It seems to stem from a desire to believe that the Bible was written for Me.

    That’s not to say that it doesn’t have anything to say to me, rather, as Rick Warren put it in the opening line of his book “The Purpose Driven Life”; it’s NOT about me.

    Me, my life, my century, my country are peripheral parts of a bigger picture. Would it really bother us if we found that we’re not the center of attention?

    Another aspect of your view is the implication of collective judgment. How does this fit with the totality of your world-view, in particular 2AoF?

    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins…

    Also, is your portrayal of the Latinos as the enemy justified? I understand your concern with the likes of Chavez, but the tendency to draw lines between “us” and “them” typically intensifies conflict, rather than fostering peace. Will your perspective turn a bad neighbor into an enemy? What of the Latinos who think Chavez is an idiot?

    With respect to the “remnant of Israel”, if 85% of us do share a Jewish genome, how can you possible identify the “remnant”?

    Finally, your dispensationalist views are not unique. They are particularly rife in North American religion in general.

    Query, I wonder how much the thought that the Bible is about me drove the founding of the US nation, and what is it’s legacy today?

  33. Olsen Jim says:


    Please understand I make nobody “the enemy” in my comments. I am simply interpreting what I see in the BOM.

    Bottom line- the BOM claims that the remnant of Lehi specifically will rise up against the gentiles of this land in the last days. And that it will come after those gentiles have played a dominant role in the world and have been lifted up above all others.

    I agree with you that people seem to want to apply Biblical prophecies to their time and place. But as a believer in the BOM, it is difficult not to see the correlations.

    As far as collective judgement- it certainly has a precendent in the history of Israel. And to clarify- the BOM says that the gentiles who repent and accept Jesus Christ and His gospel will be included with the remnant of Lehi.

    As far as the 85%- that is, I suppose, a major point to the significance in the gathering of Israel- it will invovle far more people than many realize.

    But as far as these specific BOM prophecies about the conflict between gentiles and the remnant of Lehi- it is the remnant of Lehi that will rise up, not all descendents of Israel.


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