New video leaks of private meetings with the Quorum of the Twelve reveal a troubling relationship between an Oregon U.S. Senator and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Gordon Smith served as a U.S. Senator for 12 years in the state of Oregon. In 2009, then-Senator Smith had a private meeting with members of the Twelve and discussed issues including his vote for the war in Iraq, gay marriage, environmental groups, and socialist countries.
Senator Smith, who is introduced at the meeting as “church-broke”, brings up his vote for the Iraq War, stating that although he is a critic of of the conflict, he voted for it because he “saw the Lord’s hand in it”. He then goes on to say that the LDS Church “will never send missionaries to the Arab Street until the rule of law is in Arabia, and it has taken root in Iraq. And ultimately I think that, if that succeeds, there will be an opportunity to begin building the Church in the Middle East”.
He then shares the story of meeting an army captain during the war, who had baptized Kurds while stationed in Iraq. Apparently the captain had asked Senator Smith to relay their missionary work to the brethren. When President Hinckley heard the story he began to cry, and told the Senator that “our missionaries always follow in the footsteps of American soldiers”.
When the issue of gay rights is raised, the Senator apologizes to the brethren, knowing how “tiresome the issue is” to them. He shares a story from early in his Senate career, in which he had an interview with Presidents Hinckley, Monson, and Faust, who served in the First Presidency at the time. During that interview, the Senator “wanted to know where the boundaries are” with the gay community. He says he told the then-First Presidency, “If you want to know my position on issues, in relationship to culture, [you] could find them in my bishop’s handbook. And [that’s] how I voted.”
He went on to say that he “didn’t understand why” he “couldn’t be helpful to them on issues like housing and healthcare and employment and public safety.” He then says the negative side of working with the gay community is that “you will never please them” and that you “can’t win the argument with them” because their end goal is the “secular sanctification of their relationship in law”.
Following the Senator’s report, Elder Cook asks him what is happening in Washington that the Church should be concerned about. Senator Smith’s first concern is “Secularism fueled by socialism” which creates environments unfriendly to missionaries.
The second issue the Church should apparently be aware of is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of radical terrorists. He reports how many centrifuges Iran has developed and shares what he says “may still be classified material” regarding their nuclear development and military plans against Israel. He then shares that this all could be part of the formula for Armageddon.
The Senator then fields a question regarding the future of the Republican party (at the time, President Obama had just won the presidential election) and asks what it would take for the party to make a comeback. (Remember, this is all taking place in a meeting with the allegedly politically-neutral Quorum of the Twelve!) The Senator criticizes the then-proposed economic bill and labels Democrats as a party of “assorted miscreants”, which the whole room laughs at.
Miscreant: A person who behaves badly or in a way that breaks the law
Synonyms: villain, wrongdoer, hoodlum
Elder Ralph W. Hardy at the conclusion of the meeting, addresses the room to express his gratitude for LDS officials in government and states “I can’t stress what it means to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have five temple recommend-carrying high priests in the US Senate and a large number in the House of Representatives. What it means for the transaction of business, to have access, to be able influence decisions, to reach beyond our shores… it is of inestimable value to this Church.”
To illustrate this, Senator Smith shares a story of meeting with the Indian Ambassador to the United States. Senator Smith shares that he began the meeting representing the United States, reminding the Ambassador that freedom of conscience and freedom of religion was important to the growing relationship between India and the United States. He then says he “represented that the Church was not being treated fairly in India.”
The Ambassador then offers to provide visas to whatever missionaries the Church wants to send, overriding Indian bureaucracy to establish precedent for missionaries to teach in the country. The Senator uses this story to illustrate how Church leadership should “use Mike Crapo, this is the way you ought to use Harry Reid, this is the way you ought to use Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett”.
This relationship between the Church and government deserves more scrutiny. If classified information was shared, this is at the very least unethical. We hope that the Church will be more transparent regarding its relationship with government officials and that the separation between Church and state will be recognized.