LDS Church, through Church News, praised Hitler, Nazi Germany

(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here) History is blunt. Left to itself, it doesn’t spin or gloss over unpleasant facts. The positive side to unvarnished history is that it can prevent future mistakes. There are many examples in history of religions enabling evil. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not an exception to this rule. A glance at the Dec. 9, 1933, LDS “Church News,” published with “The Deseret News,” contains a particularly unpleasant “puff piece” on Nazi Germany, and its leaders, Adolf Hitler, as well as Joseph Goebbels.

It’s titled, “Mormonism” in the New Germany,” and penned by the unfortunately over-enthusiastic Dale Clark, is grotesque in its effusive praise for Hitler. Here is an example: “As a specimen of physical endurance Hitler can easily take his place along side the athletes who are usually taken as classic examples. His 14 year struggle which brought him to power in Germany put him to a terrific physical strain (sic). Besides the great responsibility there has been trials and conflicts, and campaigning so strenuous that it has required his attention night and day, many times making it necessary for him to travel great distances by auto or plane, catching up on his sleep underway to fit him for the multitudes who would gather to hear him wherever he had time to stop.”

It’s amazing today to read such a sidling, fawning account of the 20th century madman, and I wonder if the Nazis controlled or edited what Clark submitted from Germany. The alternative is even worse to comprehend. In other parts of the article, the author sycophantically points out similarities between LDS Doctrine and Nazi Germany. Readers learn that Hitler and Goebbels lead “Word of Wisdom”-type lifestyles and do not drink or smoke. Also, the German custom of “Fast Sunday,” where Germans fast and donate the cost of the missed meals to a winter charity fund, is extolled for its similarity to Mormonism. Clark writes, again in press-release style, “… it has the important purpose of developing that spirit of sacrifice that is so being stressed in the new Germany, and also of creating more of a feeling of unity and brotherhood through voluntary mutual help.”

Early in the article, Clark writes, ominously, that religious freedom flourishes in Nazi Germany, except for “a few sects (which) have been prohibited or restricted.” We can guess at least one people of faith persecuted in Hitler’s Germany at that time — the Jews. And this leads to the most disturbing part of Clark’s national hagiography: finding a missionary moment in Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews. After detailing previous difficulties to get access to Germany’s archives to do genealogy, Clark writes, “Now, due to the importance given to the racial question, and the almost necessity of proving that one’s grandmother was not a Jewess, the old record books have been dusted off and stand ready and waiting for use. No questions are asked. In fact some of the Saints instead of being refused by the pastors now have received letters of encouragement complimenting them for their patriotism.”

It is impossible to read that and not shiver with repulsion at why the “old record books” stood ready and waiting for use. Clark’s effusive cheerleading for Nazism is a dark moment in LDS history. But, as mentioned, it is history, delivered in a blunt, pure fashion. It underscores the enabling that many organizations, religious or otherwise, used to have a presence in the heart of evil. Church President Heber J. Grant, no doubt worried about persecution Mormons might receive, urged members in Germany in 1937 to get along and not cause problems. Another disturbing example — as late as 1939 — of Mormon enabling of Nazism was remarks in a Nazi media organ written by West German LDS mission president, Alfred C. Rees. Like Clark, Rees enthusiastically compared Nazism with Mormonism. (1)

There are more courageous exceptions, of course. One Latter-day Saint who stood up to Hitler’s rule was Helmuth Hubener, who died a martyr at 17, tortured and beheaded in 1942 for belonging to an anti-Nazi group and publishing anti-Nazi leaflets. Hubener, who is the subject of a Gunter Grass novel, was first repulsed by Nazism as a boy when he witnessed anti-Semitism in his local ward. Hubener was quickly excommunicated by local authorities. However, his excommunication was later reversed by LDS authorities, who said local German leaders had not followed proper procedures. According to historians Alan F. Keele and Douglas F. Tobler, Hubener’s leaflets show that the teenager regarded his opposition to Nazism as a component of his religion. Hubener’s final words to the judges who sentenced him to die, “Wait. Your turn will come,” underscore his courage and resolve.

Hubener’s branch president was a fervent Nazi, who played Hitler’s speeches at the branch. Another branch member, Heinrich Worbs, was tortured at a concentration camp for calling a state-honored Nazi a “butcher.” Worbs, according to Keele and Tobler, was so physically ruined after his detention that he died months after release.

Clark’s article from 1933 fascinates me as much for its style as its repulsive cheerleading. It contains several examples of modern totalitarian propaganda efforts, that were also used, and refined, by Soviet-led communism. There’s the effusive praise for the leaders, praise for the party (in one instance Clark uses the phrase “originality and political genius of the Hitler party” to tout relief efforts in Germany), and the use of the terms “voluntary” and “unity” as propaganda phrases. For an example, go back to the third paragraph of this piece, where Clark writes, “… it has the important purpose of developing that spirit of sacrifice that is so being stressed in the new Germany, and also of creating more of a feeling of unity and brotherhood through voluntary mutual help.” One more example of modern propaganda includes Clark’s description of posters from youth Nazi organizations against tobacco and women’s cosmetics.

As mentioned, blunt history can also be a teaching tool. It’s doubtful the ugliness of Clark’s Church News article would ever be repeated today. Unfortunately, when adverse history is not blunt but is instead de-emphasized, massaged, or rationalized, it can be repeated. To read the Dec. 9, 1933, Deseret News and Church News, go here.

(1) Keele and Tobler, Sunstone, November/December 1980.

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77 Responses to LDS Church, through Church News, praised Hitler, Nazi Germany

  1. rudizink says:

    Fantastic post, Doug!


  2. Leslie says:

    When did Hitler first come to power? It is my understanding that he was just getting started circa 1933 and putting on a good face to most of the world. He was charismatic and conniving and manipulative. It might have been difficult at that point to tell whether he was something good for Germany or something evil for the entire world. You may have made the same mistake if you had written about him at that time.

    • Doug Gibson says:

      I understand that, Leslie, but I’m sure that the 1933 piece was heavily edited by the Nazis and it bothers me that the LDS Church News would publish it. Also, as I mentioned in the post, the same kind of enabling, LDS-produced journalism occurred in 1939 as well.

      • Chico says:

        You’re sure? Really? Based on what? Just your gut feeling? It was 1933. There are murderers all around us right now on scales small and large. Tell me, which one of them might you have praised?

        I’m sure Joe Kennedy and Ghandi were “heavily edited,” too, Doug — as if that somehow matters. (It doesn’t, but you think it SOUNDS like it matters.) Were they therefore praising everything and anything Hitler ever did in the future?

        FDR and the American press praised Stalin all throughout the war when he was an ally. Does that mean FDR praised Stalin’s later gulags and pogroms against the Jews?

        This is ridiculous.

    • Viewer says:

      I second this. It’s kind of hypocritical to analyse in 2011 – with all we know now – what happened a few month after Hitler came to power in 1933 and before most of his terror regime had even been implemented.

      Germany has just come out (or rather was coming out) the worst economical crisis in history that led millions and millions of people without work and without anything more than what they were wearing on their bodies. Millions lived in unimaginable poverty brought to them by the depression and the results of the Treaty of Versailles. At that time Hitler and his movement looked like political saviors. Let’s not forget: Hitler’s party became the strongest party in the Reichstag – not by force but by free elections.

      So this news piece just mirrors the general feeling in Germany at that time – long before the horrible consequences of Hitler’s rise to power became evident.

      And than Hubener is mentioned. And the article suddenly jumps to 1942 – nine years later and after the Seond World War had already begun.

      Sorry to say this: but although this article is undeniably well written, it’s also full of hypocrisy of a retrospective observer.

      • Greg says:

        What is a free election? All elections condone and institute the use of force. Do you have the right to use force against your neighbor to make them act the way you think they should? If so where did you get that right? Where did you get the right to vote away your neighbors rights and property?
        That is the end result of all “free elections”.
        Believing in authority and using it to control, rob and exploit others isn’t Christlike or moral.

  3. Owain says:

    If you read Liberal Fascism by Johah Goldberg, there were many people who were taken in by Hitler during this period. The term ‘liberal fascism’ was coined by H.G. Wells, the author, and he was suggesting that liberals adopt fascism to reform and revitalize liberalism as a form of ‘enlightened Nazism’.

    It’s been a while since I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, but I don’t know if I would be too hard on the LDS Church for being mistaken about Hitler in 1933.

  4. Mahonri says:

    Why “The Lord’s Annointed” could not recognize the face of Pure EVIL is the real question here. Why did they(and do they continue to) encourage support of this type of Pure EVIL and even tell their members they will be blessed for doing so?

    What kind of God or self-professed spokesperson for God would fail to warn his people and the world of the horror about to be unleashed upon it? Would fail to protect the children and others about to be tortured and murdered? Would allow “His Priesthoold Leaders – holders of Truth” to support EVIL like this?

    Only those in league with the devil would have supported Adolf Hitler.

    • w carter says:

      Mahonri, it is worth noting that the only statement attributed to “the lords anointed” was to leave Germany. Then, as now, church members express a range of opinions, even in publications such as Deseret news. It dies not mean they are doctrine.

      • D. Michael Martindale says:

        That doesn’t explain why the authorized spokesperson for God didn’t prophesy and warn the world about one of the most evil developments of the 20th century. That doesn’t justify President Heber Grant’s admonition to go along with the Nazis.

        Seriously, if Mormon presidents really are prophets, seers, and revelators, why didn’t God inspire them to know? And if the prophet of God can’t warn the world about something this profound, what earthly good are prophets?

        • shawilli says:

          I would simply say that in no time in the history of this earth have the prophets of God ever given a date and time of looming disaster. The prophets only give general counsel and warn and wittness of impending danger, it is up to the people to heed the warnings and get themselves prepared for the events to come. The Savior has only said he will return, he has not given a date but we know it is coming, we need to live our lives so that we are ready when the great and dreadful day arrives.

          • Michael Trujillo says:

            Perhaps you’re right that “prophets” have never given a “time and date” for a looming disaster, but God has certainly been very precise about warning people about an impending catastrophy. He told Noah, “There’s going to be a flood,” and there was a flood. He instructed the Jews to paint their doorposts with the blood of a Spring Lamb in order that the Angel of Death would pass them over. And, he warned Lot, through the two angels, to flee Sodom.
            So, yes, God does warn people about impending danger and he is quite clear about it. Please don’t shrug off Martindale’s question with such haughty disregard for what the Bible acutally says.
            So, to repeat the question; why didn’t the Mormon prophet receive a warning about the rise of the Nazis?

        • Arm says:

          What and when Father in Heaven communicates to man, is his will, wisdom and purpose, all of the his Prophets and servants are subject to this, they aren’t clairvoyant. God the
          Father could have stopped the evil of Hitler, if it were his will, but remember that we are sent here to live in mortality and subject to it’s good and it evil, as even Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God submitted himself to.

        • Owain says:

          “That doesn’t explain why the authorized spokesperson for God didn’t prophesy and warn the world about one of the most evil developments of the 20th century. ”

          I wouldn’t read too much into that. God’s priorities are not man’s priorities. Even in Christ’s time, people were looking for a messiah to deliver them from the Roman occupation. The Roman occupation, as it turned out, was quite properly a matter of perhipheral importance at best, as far as Christ was concerned. “Render unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s…”.

          Assuming there is an afterlife, it may well be that once we shuffle off this mortal coil, we may all discover that all the calamaties we fret endlessly about now are a matter of supreme unimportance and indifference when weighed against our eternal existance.

          How many of us still agonize over the things we worried about when we were in kindergarten?

    • Lia Lee says:

      It seems to me that your point is to suggest that the Mormon leadership can’t be “true” if the Prophet didn’t foresee the disaster that Nazism would be to the world. Aside from the fact that no other religious leaders claimed to have been warned by God against Hitler either, it is a criticism that won’t resonate with actual Mormons. They have always lived under a blanket edict to be prepared physically and financially for unexpected disasters, because they believe explicitly that God will NOT necessarily warn them specifically. They are taught to make their own way in their own nations the best they can, and that is why you find such differences in opinion among church members historically.

      • Neal Cassidy says:

        Perhaps the e
        real message is ti live and practice your faith aand not trust temporary political figures to be the answer to your problems. believing that only certain types of political leaders have the right answers is wrong. Study your faith and live its tenants. Do not expect political figures to be the answer.

    • Fred Barrett says:

      The real question is what is your agenda. If one is familiar with the bible they could answer the question of Why “The Lord’s Annointed” could not recognize the face of Pure EVIL. Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:14 If Satan can be transformed in to an angel of light can he not give his mortal servants the same power to mislead the children of God on this earth? He did in the account of Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage in the land of Egypt.

      Again I would only wonder what kind of Evil the author of this joke and those who join him in his scheme are up to.

      It is sad that a person would go to these lengths to attempt to destroy such an outstanding organization as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would testify to you that, that is the face of EVIL. If you are a believer it would be wise for all to read Matthew 12:36-37 which is just two of many verses on the subject contained in them.

    • josh grant says:

      our prophets dont have any revalations from god.they just lye alot..they supported hitler the russians all of the communist leaders..there just about money any way they can get it

    • Dwight Rogers says:

      God reveals to the prophets what he will on his timetable. Clearly, he often does not reveal things that we wish he had.

  5. VirginiaGasGuy says:

    My father attended a Baptist college in Texas in the mid-1950s. One of his professors had gone to Germany to take stock of Adolph Hitler’s German in the mid-1930s. Much to her surprise, the professor told my dad and other students that she found herself swept up in the “Zieg Heil” chant and arm salute… even though she was there as an academic.

  6. Wayne Dequer says:

    Just a technical question to an otherwise thoughtful article. Was Hubener’s church leader a Bishop or Branch President? At the time was Germany organized into Wards and Stakes or Branches and Districts?

  7. Ron says:

    Hitler was a propagandist who rode to power on a Socialist agenda with flowery terms and by using slogans even Occupy people write on their protest placards, ideals that would appeal to any sane person, if not for it being all a lie — and this back when there was no easy way to ferret out the true intentions of political candidates; Hitler mesmerized a whole nation of people. Also, notice how early this article was written: 1933. Did Sunstone ever go back and and re-review how this writer of the Deseret News thought about Hitler a few years later? Probably not.

  8. Ron says:

    My bad : did the poster of this article (Not Sunstone– my bad, I guess I cannot read or I sometimes leave out important details [really, I did, honestly!]) ever double-check how brother Clark thought about Hitler a few years later, and not before entering into battle with Europe in the big ole World War II? Also, a group of Christians living among a malicious regime — whether it be the Christians among pagan Roman rulers, or Latter-day Saints among a warfaring political party — has a more important duty of preaching the gospel and saving souls, which has eternal implications, responsibilities that can be more difficult if persecuted by the powers that be. Christ never had the Christians rise up in revolt against the pbviously very evil Romans. Answer that question as to why He did not do so (the Jews were waiting for political liberation from the Romans).

    Just my little two-bit thoughts.

  9. Wayne Dequer says:

    Excellent point which brings us to the title: “LDS Church, through Church News, praised Hitler, Nazi Germany.” I understand that titles are to sell newspapers and that authors do not always choose them. However, the 1933 article, while certainly being a “puff piece,” was certainly NOT an endorsement by the LDS Church of Hitler. It was a small article buried deeply in the Church News written by Dale Clark not by the First Presidency. I wonder if this Dale Clark was Dale D. Clark, who was a young missionary at the time probably in Germany, who when on to become a Harvard Faculty member in 1945 and beyond to a fairly illustrious career?

    • Wayne Dequer says:

      Correction: Excellent point by w. carter which brings us to the title: “LDS Church, through Church News, praised Hitler, Nazi Germany.” I understand that titles are to sell newspapers and that authors do not always choose them. However, the 1933 article, while certainly being a “puff piece,” was certainly NOT an endorsement by the LDS Church of Hitler. It was a small article buried deeply in the Church News written by Dale Clark not by the First Presidency. I wonder if this Dale Clark was Dale D. Clark who was a young missionary at the time probably in Germany, who went on to become a Harvard Faculty member in 1945? If it was Dale D. Clark you can see an overview of his fairly illustrious career at,%20Dale%20D.toc.pdf.

  10. efialtis says:

    I know it has been mentioned by other here, but I must reiterate:
    In Dec of 1933, Hitler had just come to power and was in the process of taking over the state Governments in Germany.
    This was neither bad nor contemptible at the time, and the atrocities didn’t start until later.
    In the early Hitler Germany, he did much to assuage the people and created a sense of “nationalism” and “pride”.
    It wasn’t until some time in 1934 that Hitler started to show his true colors by consolidating “prison camps” and initiating the “cleansing”.
    This doesn’t make the LDS Church, or any of its members, or even any of its publications “supporters” of Hitler and Hitler’s regime or Hitler’s atrocities.
    In fact, Americans didn’t even really become aware of what Hitler was doing until some time in the early 1940s (1942?). It is also unknown how early the LDS Church might have know about what was going on, but I would guess it would have been some time in the late 1930s (1939?).

    Then again, there are those, as the Sunstone reference shows, who did support Nazism. However, individuals are not the “entire body of the Church”. While there are similarities between “socialism” and even “fascism” and the United Order or the Law of Consecration, there are some glaring differences as well, namely, “Charity”.

    My question, based on the tone and feel of this blog posting, would be… what was the point?
    If you are trying to show that the LDS Church supported Nazism, that would be a hard case to make off of 2 people, not even leaders of the Church proper, who wrote their opinions. 2 people out of an estimated church membership of just under 800,000. Hardly “wide spread” support, or even “support” of any kind.

  11. Wondering Jew says:

    Keep in mind that Hitler led a failed putsch in Munich in 1923. During his “imprisonment” (1925) for that botched effort he dictated “Mein Kampf” in which many of his future atrocities would find their foundation, including Germany’s need for “Lebensraum” (Living Space) and his eternal hatred of the Jews.

    It wouldn’t have been that hard to read the book and find out what kind of a leader he’d be one day, despite the fact that–in 1933–he hadn’t yet ordered the creation of the camps, etc. He had, though, begun the aryanization of Germany and the abolition of competing parties, labor unions, etc.

    The Church, at that time as is the case now, pandered to authoritarian regimes so its existence wouldn’t become endangered. It’s an understandable and not-very-admirable position. While the Jehova’s Witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals and others were beginning to be hounded and rounded up, the Church authorized articles like this.

    • Chico says:

      It would be hard if you lived in Utah, didn’t have a copy, and didn’t READ FREAKING GERMAN. This wasn’t the internet age, dummy. Nobody read that book outside a few fanatics. I’m sure at the time the endorsement of Ghandi and Joe Kennedy and the Walter Durantys of the world (he who later lied for Stalin in the pages of the New York Times) would have been enough for the German miracle to earn their respect.

      Socialism and its promises, with Hitler claiming to be a moderate and put the breaks on Capitalism, was very seductive. These people were in NO WAY condoning everything and anything Hitler would do in the decade to come, least of all a Holocaust that NOBODY could have imaged much less foresaw even if they did read his book.

      After all, we had an anti-Semite in the White House at the time. People were always bashing the Jews and, in the case of the Japanese, everyone NOT Japanese including Americans.

      Nobody could have looked at that and extrapolated factories of death. Hitler didn’t write that in his books, dumbass, and that would be easy for YOU to read today, hmm?

  12. scdaddyo says:

    The irony here is the author of this article wrote it to attack the LDS Church. Is the article objective – no. Is it factual – partially. Is it a representation of the church – no.

    The reality is much of history is tainted by good people making bad choices / mistakes. Even ones claiming to be Christian while behaving in un-Christlike ways.

    Take a moment and put yourself in 1933. Where radio had limited range, Newspapers were certainly no better than they are today, and TV was a dream for the masses.

    Now let’s also take into account the many significant people found Hitler to be charismatic with his pledges to provide order and care for the needy. Sounds like something we have today with President Obama.

    Note that Henry Ford, a significant person for that time, sponsored an anti-semetic publication called the Dearborn independent. Was Ford evil no…misguided absolutely.

    So now when I hear about an individual, who happens to be a church member in 1933, authoring praise with a pinhole perspective to the “good things” that Hitler did that is very different than what the author of this article wants you to think.

    They would have you believe that the LDS Church is praising the “evil things” that Hitler did. A pretty stupid notion given that the Church itself had been persecuted early on in its history in the United States by Gov Boggs of Illinois. He issued an extermination order against the Mormons.

    In summary, this article was written because of ignorance and intolerance towards other faiths. You’d think by now that after the holocaust that someone profession to be Christian would have a better understanding that this is wrong and completely un-Christlike.

    • Doug says:

      I’m tired of this petulant canard. I am not attacking my church. I’m an active Mormon with all the trimmings (temple marriage, mission, recommend, priesthood calling and activity) I love church history, warts and all, and that is why I post these blogs. If you can’t take grizzly bear truth with teddy bear truth, that’s your problem.

      • D. Michael Martindale says:

        You tell ‘em, Doug!

      • Di says:

        Glad you spoke up, Doug. It amuses me how people get their panties in a twist over the “wards and all” history and assume the person is a) not a member and b) anti-Mormon. When in reality, many just are history buffs and are fine being active members while acknowledging the iffy parts of church history.

      • Sheryl says:

        wadr, Doug: your church standing has absolutely nothing to do with the credibility of your commentary. I am a research writer that focuses upon history, and often have the duty/opportunity to practice historiography (the science of critiquing historical writing and analyzing their credibility). What many have said here is accurate: your essay is unbalanced and skewed to represent one person, a minor leader, who was simply sharing his own perspective at the time, not speaking on behalf of the LDS Church, as if speaking officially for the Church. To use one person’s view, which was not thoroughly researched in subsequent follow-up as a mark of “warts and all” would be more aptly demonstrated by noting your words as representing the Church’s position and calling them warts; because, if you have held any leadership capacity, and based upon your own admitted qualifications, you speak to represent the Church’s position also. That is neither rational nor Church policy except as you represent an example of “a” Latter-day Saint–for good or bad. (“Warts and all.”)

        No one has to point out warts. They are easily enough seen from day to day in EVERY person, including all here, and yourself. The question still remains, thus: what is your point? Focusing upon supposed warts is not the purpose of history, my friend. Learning from both our sucesses and our mistakes is its purpose. Of which, I am certain, had you continued to research about the embrionic commentary made in the Chuch News, you would have shown others representing a wholly different view down the road than this one man, and possibly even further commentary from this specific person who merely made a mistake–not a crime, support of evil, or any highly epic mark upon time.

        Should you endeavor to report research in the future, you would do well to complete it– fully to the end. The best way to do that is not to appear somehow objective about your own religion but to ask pertinent objective questions of your own research, such as: “I wonder what I can find out about what this brother thought of Hitler 3 or 4 years later?” Or, “How can we learn from his commentary in comparison to the scriptures, or the words of the Brethren?” Remember, Noah was indeed warned at a certain time to build a “boat.” But it took 60 years for the fruition of those warnings to be fulfilled. God never said–or at least he never told Noah to say–that it would be 60 years.

        It would be very wise for you to observe your own weaknesses (in reasoning) before reporting as well. I say this kindly, so you learn to write better. IE: You make many assumptions to support your criticism of “warts”. What makes you think that the Lord did not tell the Prophet about Hitler? And that he, like Alma and Amuleck, who saw a mass of women and children burned alive (and also Abinadi), was restrained from speaking at that time, as to be a witnesses againt their choice of evil?

        Furthermore, (and to “Dr. Michael Martindale” as well) what makes you believe God must reveal all things; or that because He doesnt, He can’t; I have a better question: Why would he, since that could stunt men’s ability to learn on their own? God could tell us everything all day long: “watch out for that rock…you’re going to stub your toe…duck, hailstones are coming…be wary of the ‘lady’ on the corner with her cleavage and legs showing….don’t vote for Andrew Johnson, or FDR, or Richard Nixon, or Bill Clinton…and don’t let so and so be part of the neighborhood carpool–she/he’s stealing from their employer. Really, sir, straining at a nat. Each is responsible for their own ability to discern. God will not rob mankind of his/her opportunity to learn.

        Doug, I did notice that reading and more importantly, studying the scriptures (research), praying, and so forth were not listed among your “trimmings.”

    • Szabo56 says:

      Scdaddyo says “The irony here is the author of this article wrote it to attack the LDS Church. In summary, this article was written because of ignorance and intolerance towards other faiths. You’d think by now that after the holocaust that someone profession to be Christian would have a better understanding that this is wrong and completely un-Christlike.”
      Lol! I like how you totally debunk the article just because it doesn’t paint your LDS religion in sugar coated powder, give me a break dude. You act like you know the author personally and are critisizing him for speaking the truth. Some people are not afraid to tell the truth as hard as it is sometimes to hear. I commend the author of the article for doing his research, and look forward to more articles in the future. In all fairness, I don’t think he was trying to paint your church in a bad light, but that’s just my opinion. Try to do your own unbiased research of mormonism, and you will see it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.

  13. D. Michael Martindale says:

    Predictably, the faithful Mormons come out of the woodwork to rationalize the way the church handled the Nazi situation, after perceiving that this article is somehow an attack on the church.

    Pansies! You think this was an attack? I’ll show you an attack!

    The Mormon Church claims it’s led by for-real prophets, seers, and revelators of God. These are men who allegedly are the official spokesmen for God, to whom the whole world is admonished to turn to for truth and guidance. They have the power and the duty to prophesy, see, and reveal things that humans on their own couldn’t know.

    Yet they had no more clue than the average schmuck what the impact of the rise of Hitler and the Nazis would mean to millions of people around the world.

    No, in 1933, it wasn’t especially apparent what evil was developing in Germany–to the typical citizen of the world. But the leaders of the Mormon Church are not supposed to be typical citizens of the world. They’re supposed to be the authorized spokesmen of God to warn the world of evil and how to avoid it.

    They can tell us that God is not pleased when we get body piercings and tattoos, but can’t warn us about the rise of one of the greatest evils of all time, until it’s so obvious the whole world sees it without their help?

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    (Now that’s an attack!)

    • Robbee24 says:

      Yea, your right, that’s a very hate filled attack. It fits perfectly in an article discussing the Nazi’s, some of the most hate filled attackers of all time.

    • Curtis says:

      This arguement is silly. Can you tell me when Jesus, the greatest prophet of all preached or prophesied of the evil of the Roman Empire? What, are you saying that the greatest prophet of all time, the Son of God… didn’t know that the Romans were bad? The chief role of a prophet is to call his people to repentance and prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven. Often times, politics doesn’t play a role in that. The prophets of the pre-WWII era were no different. It appears that for a man to pass your litmus test for a prophet, he needs to be preaching against Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu, Thein Sein, Bashad, Obama and the secret combinations that run the US and all the other bad leaders of the world. It is evident that prophets have a much more important job they need to be doing than rooting out political evil.

  14. Joel Dickson says:

    I enjoy reading your blogs. They’re very well written (I’m jealous) and thought provoking. I should comment on them more often. I didn’t view it as criticizing the LDS church. I’m a big reader of WWII history. You don’t get that much with an LDS twist and that adds extra interest. The article Dale Clark wrote is an embarrassment in the context of history as we understand it. I think it maybe got published as a result of a non-vigilant newspaper editor; oops no offense intended. Its publication was likley lack of foresight by Clark and his editors as the atrocities that were lurking in Hitler’s degenerate mind were as shockinly unimaginable to them back then as they are shockingly repulsive to us today.

  15. Wally says:

    Good post, but closer to home it’s instructive to read the more traditional Christian denominations’ yearbooks (General Assembly reports etc.) in the early forties and be amazed at all the nonsense they were arguing about while the world was exploding…

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  17. Patrick Gentry says:

    So you condemn the LDS Church for there support of Nazism but not Franklin D. Roosevelt who actively supported and lobbied for America to follow Hilter’s model for a “perfect” society?

    Can anyone say hypocrisy? The leaders of the Church will never support nor rebuke a national or local government. The Church has no political affiliations of any kind, they do not step into politics except when supporting single issues not policial movements.

    Also the Church has always required and told its membership to earnestly and humbly obey the law of there land. Our 11th Arrcle of Faith states “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

    The Church did te same thing with the USSR and it’s satellite state behind the Iron Curtian. While the members and even many of the hugest leadership of the Church disagreed with and taught against the policies of socialism and communism, they still honored and respected the legal governments of the soviet nations.

    Yes, if a member rises in open rebellion to the legal ad legitamate government of his nation he can be excommunicated but it would be a very complex matter, which is likely why the example of the member from Germany was later reversed by the Quorum of the Tweleve.

    • Owain says:

      Again, I think this is historically unfair. In hindsight, Hitler was a monster, but it is patently unfair to criticize anyone, including Roosevelt, for failing to realize Hitler was a monster before he had demonstrated he was a monster.

      Prior to plunging the world into a world war, Hitler did succeed in pulling German society up by its bootstraps economically. If he had stopped there, he would be remembered by history as a hero rather than as a villian.

      Unfortunately, as Paul Harvey used to say, the ‘rest of the story’ demonstrated that he did not stop there.

      It is human nature to hope for the best, and with respect to both Nazism and Communism, early on many believed what was promised by both movements, and only recoiled in horror afterwards, when difference between what was promised and what was actually committed was revealed.

  18. Matt says:


    Excellent piece! My undergraduate studies were in history, and for me your piece points to an important aspect of how we understand and sometimes misunderstand history. I agree that in hindsight Clark’s piece in the Church News is embarrassing. However, from the perspective of a Latter-day Saint in 1933, and really in the greater progressive zeitgeist of the time, there was indeed a lot to admire about the Nazis. Most of the world had little idea in 1933 of the evil that lurked at the core of that regime, and wouldn’t have a clear picture of that evil until the very end of World War II. Kristallnacht, for example, would not take place for another five years, and even then few had any idea where that anti-semitism would lead.

    The question your piece raises, is whether, setting aside the question of accuracy, it is helpful to hold historical figures to contemporary attitudes that are based on the benefit of hindsight. We tend to lionize some for having a more prescient perspective, Churchill for example. But often those expectations don’t stand up to scrutiny. Churchill’s prescience was facilitated by political convenience early on and a seige’s desperation later–much like current economists who claim their longstanding contrarianism should count as prescience even though it began decades before the current economic difficulties. I am not saying they deserve no credit–just maybe not as much as we attribute to them.

    Charges of enabling may indeed be accurate against some people and organizations of that era. But to use a modern analogy, very few are like the wife who stands by and refuses to acknowledge that her husband is a sexual predator. Indeed most, outside of Germany, were not even like the coach who received reports from a subordinate, passed them up the chain of command and then put them out of his mind. So recognizing the important question of degree is important.

    • Owain says:

      “Churchill’s prescience was facilitated by political convenience early on and a seige’s desperation later…”

      I’m not following this argument. Churchhill accurately warned his countrymen about the dangers posed by Hitler’s rise to power, to his political detriment initially. It was only when his opponents proved to be disasterously wrong that Churchill’s warnings were vindicated. Prior to that, his political career was widely regarded as being over.

      That doesn’t strike me as a very effective example of ‘political convenience’.

  19. Andrew Hill says:

    This is reaching. I’ve never read your blog before, but a non-member friend of mine emailed me this piece.

    If you want to pull skeletons from the closet of Church history, go ahead. But this one is simply not there. The Church has always had an extremely favorable view of the Jews. Indeed, Mormons (much to the annoyance of many Jews) often identify with the Jewish people and its history.

    You say you’re an active member of the Church. Do you enjoy creating false impressions? You really believe that that article is representative of a broader Church sympathy for Nazism? This is Church History through the lens of Noam Chomsky. The exception somehow becomes the rule.

    What, exactly, was the Church’s role in facilitating the rise of Nazism? We Mormons often have an inflated sense of our own importance in history. This cuts both ways. Whether some members were for or against Nazism, the Church was completely irrelevant to the catastrophe that overtook Europe. Membership in Germany was negligible. There is, amidst all of your claptrap, an interesting question. When is the 12th article of faith superseded by the 13th? Sometimes the law of land encourages people to harm others, promote injustice, or even kill. We say we believe in being subject to the law, and we say we believe in being good to all men. I’d like to think that when the law conflicts with being good to all men, we’d go with the latter at the expense of the former. But under such circumstances, it’s usually easier to stand by or–worse–participate in the injustice. Many Germans ended up as accessories to mass murder despite some misgivings regarding Nazi policy. This is the great insight of Hannah Arendt’s book on Adolf Eichman. Evil can be very banal, indeed.

    As for early attitudes to Nazism outside of Germany, many in the west saw Nazism as an effective response to a rising threat of communism. The depression stoked fears in the west that communism would take root and overthrow governments. Indeed, this hatred of the far left (epitomized by anti-Soviet propaganda) blinded many people to the evils of the far right. Winston Churchill was almost unique amongst prominent English Tories in recognizing Nazism’s threat. Most others on the right preferred Hitler’s corporate cruelty to Soviet class warfare.

    Furthermore, anti-semitism was widespread in the U.S. at the time of the article. Henry Ford’s virulent anti-Jewish newspaper enjoyed the second-highest circulation in America.
    (Click “the rising tide of American Anti-Semitism”.)

  20. Max Stanton says:

    As a practicing Latter-day Saint who has recently retired after thirty-seven years in a church-owned university, I have had difficulty reconciling my confidence in my basic faith in the doctrines of the church and the official “political and social” (non-religious, non-doctrinal) pronouncements of the leaders of the church.

    Having worked for the church for over a third of a century I can attest that there are many faithful members within the church who are equally as disturbed and distressed with the directions the church has gone in non-religious areas but who are reluctant to speak out publicly. And, those who have openly challenged the non-religious policies of the church (such as my close friend, Dr. David Knowlton), have paid a heavy price (dismissal from the anthropology faculty at BYU, internal church discipline, rejection by family members, and public vilification of his personal life and his credentials as a serious anthropologist). (NOTE: I mention David here by name because he has already “paid his dues” with the church and has no problem with further identification with church-related issues.)

    I am specifically distressed with the record of the church during the repressive years of the reign of terror during the Pinochet dictatorship of Chile in the 1970s and 1980s and the enthusiastic embrace of the the Peoples Republic of China in the 1990s when the blood stains were still being wiped clean from the 100,000 one meter square tiles at Tien An Men Square and other places in Beijing and throughout the whole nation.

    I worked as a professional socio-economic researcher in Easter Island in the early 1990s and still found considerable antagonism and resentment against me personally on the part of the people of the island because of my membership in a church that had so openly and favorably supported the Pinochet assassins.

    In 1992, David Knowlton and I were staying as guests in one of the LDS mission homes in Santiago when we heard the telephone ring at approximately 4:00 am. The next morning, at breakfest, we asked the mission president what was so important to warrant such an early telephone call. He said that an LDS chaple near-by had had its front door bloen away and that there was also considerable collateral damage to the building. He also went on to tell us that this is rather commonplace and that it stems back to the church support and approval of the Pinichet regime

    Also, I was informed in June 1989 by the administration of the university where I worked that wearing a black armband with the white Chinese characters for “shame” was a totally inappropriate way for a responsible faculty member to show sympathy for the Chinese people in the days in June 1989 immediately following the brutal and lethal suppression of human rights in Beijing. Interestingly, while the school administration was busily trying to keep a “positive pro-PC government face” during this period–a number of students from the PRC (we has ca. 50 PRC students on our campus at that time) approached me and thanked me personally that someone from our faculty actually cared enough to show his sympathy and support for the brutality causing the loss of freedom in their homeland. .

    A quick basic search on-line (e.g., Pinochet Mormons, Mormons Nazi Hitler) will open up some recent material that are less-than-flattering to the preferred “party line” that the LDS leaders in Salt Lake City feeds to the world via our “sacred tithing funds.”

    • Curtis says:

      The Church and it’s priesthood authority is perfect. Men who lead the Church are not. Get over it and speak up where you need to, without fear, and put your faith in Christ and in the Gospel restored through Joseph Smith.

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  22. Jared C. says:

    This is a stupid article. I’m Mormon, and hardly read the “Church News” or the Deseret News, and never read it for a church position. They are, like any newspaper, full of opinion and commentary and editorials. And never does the church use these outlets to make a position. The “Church News” also has cursory articles about mormon athletes, and local high schools.

    It would be very easy to find laudatory comments from just about every walk of life (including Jews) regarding Hitler at the time of his rise to power (and prior to his invasion of neighbors and execution of the Jews).

    This author of this article must have known the identity of the newspapers and the situations surrounding the authorship, but chose to write drivel instead. Seriously does this stuff sell?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in years to come, people look back on the anti-mormon bigotry and are embarrased by cultural stigma against mormons, such as I look back on american history and am embarrased by anti-black sentiment that once permeated society.

    This author will likely someday be quoted as being a bigot, just as how he is mis-quoting others for being on the wrong side of history.

  23. Trevor says:

    Another point to think about. The US press in general was pretty much in the pro-Hitler and pro-Mussolini camps. Joe Kennedy was very vocal about his support to Hitler. Heck, they made the trains run on time! They kept their people fed and built the autobahn. If you look at the US in the 30′s the German and Italian facism were being held up as the way to go and that the US should/could learn a few things. It wasn’t until the camps and land expansions that people started to wonder what really was going on. I have spoken to Germans alive at the time and most of them knew Jews were being removed but most did not know what was going on. Even a member who had access to secret communications did nont know or hear about the “Final Solution” until after the war. This was a Romanian living in Nazi Germany used by the Nazi’s to handle intelligence reports about their allies the Romanians. My grandfather served his mission in Germany in the early thirties and heard Hitler speak a few times and he fooled most of the people, even Neville Chamberlain the English MP. I appreciate the post but a dash of context is in order. The world was surprised by Hitler not just members of the LDS Church.

  24. PLM says:

    This is an absurd article. Your evidence for the LDS church abetting evil consists of an article written by a nobody journalist in 1933 (who cares what the Church News says?), and a vague injunction from Pres. Grant for members not to make waves in totalitarian, 1939 Germany.

    I’m all for pointing out poor judgment in organizations, but I don’t see it here. Halfway through the article I literally asked myself if this was satire. That is how illogical it is.

  25. Tom Walker says:

    My family comes from Germany, and my parents grew up in Germany during Hitler’s rise and World War II. As a result, I have been a student of German history and language my entire life. Upon seeing the year 1933 in the very first paragraph of the blog piece, I sat astounded (as opposed to standing all amazed?) that anyone knowledgeable about history would even remotely consider suggesting that a positive article written about Hitler during that time period would have anything to be ashamed of. As has been pointed out by others, few at that time would have had any concept for what the next dozen years would bring. One might even argue with audacity that he brought the struggling German people hope and change at a time of international economic chaos. If there is a lesson to be learned by the existence of the 1933 Church News article, it is that people should be wary of soaring political rhetoric where utopia is presented as achieveable on the backs of some targeted elite who are blamed for the shortcomings of others. We should always remember when judging the past with the benefit of hindsight that someday someone will do unto us as we have done unto others. Good luck with that.

    • Chico says:

      You’re exactly right. When the New London school exploded in 1937 (four years after this article for those who can’t do math), killing 300 students in Texas, Hitler sent a condolence letter and offered sympathy. Nobody recoiled and said, “What a monster!” They thought he was merely a head of state. Nobody had any idea he was anything other than a socialist offering hope and change and a path out of the Depression as had been paved by Mussolini.

      In fact at this time, Hitler was being called “The German Mussolini.”

  26. efialtis says:

    Michael Trujillo said:

    “So, to repeat the question; why didn’t the Mormon prophet receive a warning about the rise of the Nazis?”

    You used the examples:
    Noah and the Flood
    Moses and the blood on the Door Jams

    The easy explanation is, the Flood and the Deaths of the First Born were CAUSED BY GOD.
    Hitler was a man, he did his own thing. He made his own choices. The only warning we would get in that case is: “Be Prepared”… and we get that warning a lot.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      It was pretty much D.M. Martindale’s question. I was merely pointing out that the guy hadn’t answered it. I, personally, wouldn’t expect God to warn anyone about a foreign leader like Hitler anymore than I would expect a heavenly warning about the Khmer Rouge, Mohammar Khadaffi, the Military government of Myanmar, or a killer Grizzley loose in Yellowstone.

  27. Fred Barrett says:

    scdaddyo; I am sure it was a mistake or over site on your part but Gov Boggs was the governor of Missiouri, not Illinois. I would add though that Governor Ford was in the same category in Illinois and did wheter in ignorance or knowingly set up the murder of Joseph Smith JR and his brother Hyrum at Carthage jail which is and was then the county seat of Hancock County, Illinois I do believe your post is right on and I appreciate your input.

  28. Straight Talker says:

    Nonsense! Millions of people rounded up, robbed and carted off on the basis of religion and ethnicity, and some claim they didn’t know what was happening! Anyone who claimed not to know is an utter liar.

    • Chico says:

      It’s 1933, you dimwit. Nothing of the sort was happening, had happened, or could have been KNOWN to happen in what was then the future at the time. No less than GHANDI was praising Hitler as “my friend” in letters, so was he suborning mass murder? Joseph P. Kennedy praised and admired Hitler far later in the war when word of the atrocities was known and they’d started to happen.

      I’m sorry, rip them if you want, but the timeline of your outrageous comments doesn’t fit.

      • Straight Talker says:

        Hey, I’m not talking about 1933 you dimwit! Read the comments before ripping me! There are moronic comments above claiming Germans, Austrians, Poles, etc didn’t know what was happening to the Jews. That is a bold face lie!

        • Jack Mormon says:

          Unless you were there, you don’t know what they knew. It is because of this self-righteous, sanctimonious attitude on your part that you progressives are so universally reviled by real Americans.

  29. Straight Talker says:

    Good post. Not really a surprise. Unfortunately this kind of thinking runs strong in Mormondom even today. The BYU law school is named after a loathsome mid twentieth century segregationist. Then there’s living senior Mormon leader Boyd K Packer and his repulsive anti-miscegenation statements (never repudiated or defrocked). How can anyone believe these evil deceivers are God’s anointed?

  30. Chico says:

    Hitler was just another good socialist on the left fighting against the capitalists and putting jobs in the hands of the workers at the period this article is from. It’s simply unfair to expect people to have known what Hitler was doing. People thought the reports of atrocities were yet more lies and exaggerations as the UK had perpetrated in WWI.

    No less a public figure than the US ambassador to the Court of St. James, Joseph P. Kennedy, praised and admired and defended Hitler calling him a great man. Everybody loved what he was doing except the very few who saw beyond the rhetoric of him being a “moderate,” as he called himself.

  31. Sam. E'momoh says:

    We usually make a very dangerous mistake to think that all evils are
    from the devil and proceed to audit the restored gospel of Jesus Christ
    with historical intellectualism. Foul! Remember those who perished at the Red Sea chasing the Israelite? Remember those who perished during the flood? Remember those who perished in Sodom and Gomorah? Remember those who were burnt by fire on Elisah’s order
    against Baal prophets? If we believe that there is a God in charge of
    the Universe, why should we think because we have freedom of speech in our country, that qualify us to audit God’s past activities for
    His purpose only? Can any human being guess the blessings that came to mankind through what we condemn about Hitler? How do we know that Hitler was not permitted by God since “His ways are not our ways neither His thoughts our thoughts”. Man is always looking for scape goats to blame or criticize for one mystery or another and
    the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints readily handy. We do not know when to draw a line between what information God wants the world to know through His living prophets and the opinions of
    members of the Church. I definitely appreciate this honest ignorance
    because of the intellect of the “natural man”. Professional critics of the Church do not remember all the teachings of LDS Church in words and in deeds,in theory and in practice. No doubt, these critics need the services of mystical historians like us to help them off load their concerns if they have opened their minds.
    Sam. E’momoh

  32. hosea says:

    lds prophets are not in touch with god

  33. Mark Saal says:

    Wait. What? The LDS prophets should be concerning themselves with prophesying on worldly matters? Oh, great. Don’t you think that little bit of information would have come in handy BEFORE before I decided to drop a wad o’ cash on that BYU basketball game? Or the stock market?

  34. Fred says:

    Just as an aside. The first English translation of Mein Kampf appeared in a heavily edited form in 1933. The full translation was not published until 1939.

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  36. Bonnie says:

    There were already plenty of horrors taking place in 1933. My relatives live/lived in Eastern Germany and could detail the actions of the “raving wolf” then but this BBC timeline is helpful.

    This Standard article is not an attack on the Mormon church or any others. All churches are run by imperfect, flawed men. This article is simply a plea for people to think for themselves and not be lulled into complicity by another’s “authority” or position of power.

    It is our responsibility to question.

  37. Paul Toscano says:

    I concur with Bonnie.
    In my view, the indispensable attribute of a true believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an unswerving determination to subordinate one’s personal judgment to the judgment of Church leaders and to the policies and practices of the corporate Church.
    Latter-day Saints are relentlessly admonished to follow the prophet and to avoid criticizing or questioning leaders even when they are wrong. This admonition is predicated on the claim that LDS Church leaders are divinely called and appointed to the true priesthood and to Church offices to serve as the spokesmen of the Lord on earth; thus, members may with confidence trust those leaders not to lead them astray. For this reason, true believing Latter-day Saints do not engage in works that are not Church-leader-endorsed.
    For this reasons, it should surprise no one that Mormons were not among the first to denounce the tyranny of the Third Reich. It is no surprise, but it is depressing because LDS Church leaders claim to hold the exclusive authorized and reliable link between humanity and divinity, and one would have hoped they might therefore have been inspired to raised a timely prophetic warning against the fascisms of the 20th century.
    But there is a deeper issues here: Despite their claim to the divine prophetic mantle, LDS Church leaders have been on the wrong side of nearly every social justice issue of the 20th century: the civil rights movement, the Equal Rights [for women] Amendment, the anti-war movements that opposed the Vietnam War and the Gulf Wars, and the opposition to dictatorships particularly in Mexico, Central, and South America.
    LDS leaders condemn tatoos but not torture; masturbation, but not genocide; intellectualism, feminism, and homosexuality, but not ignorance, misogyny, or homophobia. LDS Church leaders appear more concerned with individual sins of passion than with systemic sins of calculation. When was the last conference talk denouncing greed, or wealth, or power, or privilege.
    It is within the context of the LDS Church’s promotion of patriarchy and petty virtue that its failure to denounce Nazism must be seen. This failure is not an exception, but the rule. Spiritual elitism, which afflicts not only the leaders and members of the LDS Church but of nearly every other organized religion, is an illusion that promotes and encourages the illusion of secular elitism. Total authority in an ecclesiastical realm justifies total authority in a political one. The iconization of leadership in either arena encourages the demonization of demands for equal justice. For this reason not many true believing Latter-day Saints can be found among those people now part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
    We must ask: Why were LDS Church leaders in 1933 blind to the evils of fascism, but alert to the evils of communism? Why would LDS Church leaders prefer the sins of management over the sins of labor? Is it for the same reason the LDS Church prefers depictions of the resurrection over depictions of the crucifixion? Is it because we prefer a god of power and retribution, who will forgive us but not our enemies. The idea that God disempowered himself to empower others does not jibe well with our inflated expectations, with our lust for control and privilege.
    What we want, what we long for, what we seek apparently is exactly what all totalitarians promise–triumph, success, and the eradication of our enemies. Jesus did not call us to these, but to the cross–with the teaching that we receive no blessing we deny others and inflict no burden we refuse to bear.
    As you can tell, I see the Mormon failure to recognize the evil of Hitler as a symptom of a much larger and far more disturbing failure; it is a failure to understand and live the gospel of Jesus, who made himself equal to us so that we could be made equal to him.

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  39. Miri says:

    I don’t think I understand the line the comments have taken here. The message of this article as I understood it was not that the LDS church is obviously false because they didn’t know Hitler was going to be a monster. The point was clearly that people should educate themselves and form their own opinions, not take the beliefs of others–even authoritative sources–as their own without question. Can that really be criticized?

    The comments by Bonnie and Paul Toscano (among several others) are excellent. Hitler had been in office an entire year by the time this article was published, and there was plenty of reason to be suspicious–the Nazi party’s boycott and attack of Jewish businesses two months after his appointment, for example; Jewish Polish immigrants being stripped of their citizenship; the law allowing forced sterilization of those found to have genetic defects; the dismissal of Jews from the civil service and prohibition of Jews from owning land or working in the press, broadcasting, theater, music, etc.; the outlawing of kosher slaughter of animals; the restricting of the number of Jews allowed in schools; the law allowing beggars, the homeless, alcoholics, and the unemployed to be arrested. These are things that could have sparked some questions.

    There are some surprisingly childish comments here. I don’t often see so much name-calling in what claims to be an intelligent discussion.

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