Book presents case that libertarianism, Mormon doctrine, are compatible

The book, “Latter-day Liberty,” by Utah County political activist Connor Boyack, is extremely provocative. If sales gain steam, it could provoke a political debate within Mormonism. I say that as someone who disagrees with Boyack’s conclusions at times. Yet, his arguments and conclusions are persuasive and painstakingly researched.

Boyack believes that doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints parallels most closely with libertarianism, or what he describes as classical liberalism. He’s not pitching the Libertarian Party to Mormons, but he does argue that libertarian ideals, such as freedom of personal choices that do not harm others, or a foreign policy that avoids proactive conflict, are elements of the U.S. Constitution and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He opposes Alexander Hamilton’s idea of implied powers or rationales, such as “general welfare” or “commerce” clauses, used to enforce federal taxes or universal health care. His narrow view of federal powers puts him, as he admits, in conflict with a majority of current Latter-day Saints on federal intervention in the War on Terror, immigration reform, public education, welfare, and health care reform, among other issues.

The book’s arguments are heavily infused with Latter-day Saint scriptures and quotes from past Latter-day Saint leaders. Some of the quotes might surprise many active Mormons. A Mormon apostle sharply criticizes the use of atomic weapons on Japan; another decries the slavery of welfare dependence in the 1960s; the LDS Church urges no military action from the U.S as World War II looms.

The war between liberty and enslavement began in the pre-existence, argues Boyack, when Lucifer pitched a salvation plan alternative to God’s plan. Jehovah’s plan of agency was a defense of God’s plan, which is liberty. Lucifer’s failed plan of compulsory obedience is government controlling its subjects’ freedom, or slavery. Within that context flows the interpretation of what government’s role in our lives should be.

That people should be allowed freedom so long as it does not harm others is the core of Boyak’s argument. Government should do nothing to restrict that freedom. Within foreign policy, peace should be the primary goal. A nation should only fight if attacked. And, like the Nephites during times of righteousness, Boyack argues that once an enemy is expelled from invasion, war should end. Preemptive attack, such as the Iraq War, is outlawed.

On immigration, Boyack argues that no limits should be placed on foreigners who wish to move to the U.S. He argues rather persuasively that immigration control has its roots in 19th century bigotry against Chines immigrants. Welfare, civil rights, zoning laws, anti-discrimination laws, Social Security, Medicare … all to Boyack are perversions of the Constitution, and Latter-day Saint doctrine.

The author’s arguments are not as Scrooge-like as they might seem. He argues that communities, families and organizations, such as churches, can do what government has taken via taxes. He argues that the takeover of assistance by the government has moved with a consistent increase in poverty and societal dysfunctions. A key reason for this, Boyack argues, is because government charity, as opposed to family or church charity, comes with no motivation or conditions toward improved behavior. The same rule applies to welfare payments, which rather than move recipients toward employment, more often results in generations of subsidized families, with the resulting dysfunctions.

Agency, liberty, as defined by Boyack, conflict with most Latter-day Saints on how many issues are handled, notably the War on Terror and immigration, but also on drug control, prostitution, business-code enforcement and gay marriage. To Boyack, though, these differences are not a matter of differing opinions that can be tolerated. He makes it clear that belief in the ideals he argues is not enough. They must also be argued, defended and lived. There are no Caspar Milquetoasts in Boyack’s world.

The atrocious legacy of federal spending, a $15 trillion deficit, trillions in taxes that fail to eradicate poverty, all lend support to Boyack’s arguments. The terror war has pleased few, with foreign policy decisions of past generations contributing to a more dangerous world. Nevertheless, there’s a utopianism to Latter-day Liberty’s solutions that clashes with reality. It’s easy to say that the feds have screwed up a lot of issues; no arguments there. But trillions of dollars in commitments can’t be wiped away by returning to 19th century governance. We can’t withdraw from a world we have committed ourselves to and retreat from a war against terrorism.

Yet immediate action is what Boyack wants; and he attaches LDS doctrine to his argument, which is one way of seeking finality to an argument. I’m impressed by Boyack’s command of LDS doctrine. It’s better than mine, but I suspect other general authorities’ quotes could be found to counter some of the quotes he gathers from Ezra Taft Benson, David O. McKay, J. Reuben Clark and other LDS icons.

Boyack is a Ron Paul supporter, and the GOP candidate has endorsed “Latter Day Liberty.” The book is a fascinating, well-researched, in-your-face libertarian manifesto from an LDS perspective. The author was recently a guest on libertarian commentator Andrew Napolitano’s national TV show. More proof of its provocativeness: the book has been rejected for review by the Pabulum pub “The Mormon Times.”

I hope the book sells well and starts a serious debate among Latter-day Saints, as well as conservatives. With the depressing state of our nation today, Boyack’s book is needed. (To see a review of “Latter Day Responsibility,” a sequel, click here.)

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62 Responses to Book presents case that libertarianism, Mormon doctrine, are compatible

  1. D. Michael Martindale says:

    I haven’t read his book, so I don’t know what logic he uses to aarrive at his conclusion. But I feel the same way: there’s no question that libertarianism is most closely aligned to LDS theology among the major political philosophies.

  2. Brian says:

    Yes. Mostly. I haven’t read it either. 2 questions for libertarian mormons: what do you do when you know your neighboor is molesting his children? And how do you defend Alma 54:12-13 and 55:3 where Captain Moroni says he will seek death among the Lamanites until they sue for peace?

    • dkm1469 says:

      “what do you do when you know your neighboor is molesting his children?”

      You beat the $h1t out of him and call the cops. An obvious breach of “freedom of personal choices that do not harm others.”

  3. Michael Trujillo says:

    “He argues that the takeover of assistance by the government has moved with a consistent increase in poverty and societal dysfunctions. A key reason for this, Boyack argues, is because government charity, as opposed to family or church charity, comes with no motivation or conditions toward improved behavior.”

    Question: If a citizen has no family and doesn’t belong to a church, nor even wants to be a member of a church, and he/she falls on hard times and needs help, they get charity from the church? An institution to which they have done nothing to contribute? It seems to me THAT would result in no improved behavior. The citizen would just say “thanks” and carry on. Unless the implication is that the citizen should be so grateful to the church that he/she swears fealty to it and becomes born again. Quite the recruiting tool.

    Second question: Who said, “with foreign policy decisions of past generations contributing to a more dangerous world.”? Boyack? Or are you giving your own opinion? Whichever it is, the world is NOT more dangerous than it was in the past. We’re actually living in the safest time period of our human history. Yes, I know, there are wars and atrocities in many places, but overall, each of us is less likely to die violently than at any time in the past.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      Meanwhile, my questions go unanswered.

      • Owain says:

        “Meanwhile, my questions go unanswered.”

        Is this something we should suddenly care about? Michael, I think that is unintentionally the funniest thing you’ve ever posted. ;)

        • Michael Trujillo says:

          Just about anything you write is funny for its inane pretentiousness. My post is to Doug. You know, the guy who wrote the blog? The guy I asked for clarification on a point? Keep sticking your beak into other people’s conversations and you’re going to get it smacked.

    • Doug64 says:

      I haven’t read the book, but I can say that as a lifelong Mormon made it easy for me to become a hardcore Libertarian when I was introduced to the philosophy (though I’ve softened around the edges quite a bit since, mainly in foreign policy).

      But to answer your first question, yes, the Church should give what aid it can to those in need, regardless of why they are in n. From the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:

      16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

      17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

      18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

      19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

    • annilita says:

      It is already church policy that the bishop is not just over the members of the ward, but the geographical area over which he presides. Growing up in MA, there were several times when families would show up on a Sunday and go straight to the branch president, who would write them out a food order. It got to be problematic over time, because it was an economically depressed area and word got out, so the BP was told by the Stake President to give one food order, and then after that to direct them to a privately run food pantry down the street. If the other charities disappeared, though, I don’t think that would remain the policy.
      Growing up, my family received food assistance more than once from the bishop’s storehouse. When I was very young, we would go down and clean the church or do lawn maintenance to earn it, because we were willing and able to work. My mom just didn’t have a job that paid enough for 4 kids. Then the government got involved and changed the law so that you couldn’t ask people to work, even in a token way, in exchange for help. My mother was PISSED OFF, to say the least. It was an insult to her to accept help without earning it, and she couldn’t find a second job to fill the gap.
      So, thanks, government, for “helping” my mom by destroying her pride!

    • Gregg Weber says:

      If a person or family isn’t a member of a religion or church then, instead of asking the government with gov strings and gov tyranny, they ask the members of their “church” meaning Atheism. Is there not a group of atheist who would help a brother, sister, or family in need? If there isn’t one then there should be or they are purposely refraigning in order to “force” GovCon to take over the “need”. Charity should be learned by everyone but GovCon wants to control things their way so the people are dependent on them (as expressed in the last sentence of the 4th chapter of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”).

    • Gregg Weber says:

      If we are living in a safer place then in the past, why is this list so long?

      To quote the ficticious gunfighter in the movie The Magnificant Seven “at each floor of the ten story building the people heard him say ‘so far, so good’”(not an exact quote).
      Actually I am probably more likely to die of Obama health care rationing then crime if he doesn’t get us into a war.

  4. LibIntOrg says:

    Thanks for the article.

    Libertarianism is strictly secular and as such benefits all beliefs. 13th LDS president Ezra Taft Benson was an Observer-Fellow of the Libertarian International Organization (then the Libertarian-Liberal League), commented in several of his works that he was a civic libertarian, and felt that the spread of Libertarian tolerance was the best friend of all groups and would come with time. He was approving of the Libertarian program that presently guides our efforts, and his kind manner and perceptive help will be long remembered. He helped develop the appropriate method of defense in “people powered” citizen communication across borders, led by the Sister City program he helped develop and so praised by Eisenhower, which led to the peaceful fall of Communism and current changes in the Mid-East. Today Libertarians work in concert in every country for peace confounding the forces that would divide us.

    For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues, please see http://​www.Libertarian-Internation​ , the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization We respectfully welcome all LDS supporters interested in voluntary and participative alternatives in all areas of life, and are delighted to learn of the efforts underway by such writers.

  5. Dave says:

    Libertarianism is a serious issue that could destroy the United States. We as citizens are not islands unto ourselves. King Benjamen’s address clearly defines what a nations’ people should do – take care of each other. He asked that the poor give what they could, if they could and the rich give more. He was the king, he was stating the law, how the people did this was determined later. Libertarians would rather see someone die in the streets than let their fellow citizens step in and help with public funds. They reject the Constitution and distort history to make their point look good. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to look at all the parties and all the candidates before making a decision. Only fools align themselves with just one party, unless that party is a Church run party as the People’s Party in Utah was.

    • Oak says:

      Dave, King Benjamin’s address was to the people. If it was the law to give to others and he was the king, he would have just imposed higher taxes on them to accomplish this end. But in fact, he specifically told them he had kept their taxes low and even worked for himself to not live off the people’s production, so that they would have more abundantly, so they could provide more for the poor.

      Principles of libertarianism are not a party, they are principles. Connor Boyack is advocating that those principles highly correlate with LDS doctrines of agency.

    • Jason Smith says:

      Lets keep it simple in pointing out the mistakes in your response:

      1. Libertarianism “destroying the United States” – well since “Libertarianism” has never been an influnece in the political structure of the powers that are in control for at least the last 200 years in America – I ask you which school of thought is currently destroying our nation?

      Hint: It ain’t Libertarianism-

      2. King Benjamin- You just proved how Libertarianism works- he asked the people to give, and they FREELY gave. Notice the next time you read KB’s address that he didn’t levy a tax for the poor, and send his agents to collect those taxes

      King Benjamin- Libertarian leader

      3. Libertarians rejecting the Constitution? No need for any thinking person to even respond to that Dave. That’s just a weak attempt at a smear.

      4. “Only fools align themselves with only one party” – I guess that 80% of Mormons in Utah are fools then Dave, because they are aligned with the Republican party (that is the only part of your comments that I slightly agree with in this case)

      If you don’t like Liberatarians that your deal, but making up a bunch of nonsense just makes you look silly.

  6. RW says:

    Are you saying that King Benjamin advocated theft (taxation) in order to relieve the poor? And I’m interested in your assertion that libertarians “reject the Constitution”, could you elaborate for me?

    • Statism is a form of idolatry. Creating a fictional entity called government, applying that label to the actions what are just people so that we can apply a different moral standard to their actions and the proper limits of aggressive force is a religious exercise and (because it is belief in falsehood) also an exercise in delusion.

      As for welfare and Kings in the Book of Mormon, it is a HUGE mistake to look at the sort of state apparatus we have now and project that back into ancient times. They knew no such thing, and such exercises of power (even the idea of ongoing “legislation”) would have been totally foreign to their minds and probably blasphemous.

      • RW says:

        Agreed and agreed. My beef with Dave’s comments about the Constitution is that he’s taking the term “libertarian” and applying his narrow definition of it (which seems to be off anyways) very broadly. There are many forms of libertarianism and most libertarians I know (especially LDS) still revere and uphold the Constitution and its values, even though you may not (I assume you would identify more with anarcho-capitalism or strict voluntaryism).

  7. Charity says:

    I have been reading Connor’s book. And if others had read it too, they would not make some of the negative comments that are here. Connor is not saying that Latter-day Saints should join ANY political party. He is saying that they should look for good and wise people that believe in libertarian principles where ever they can find them, and support them. A libertarian with a small ‘l’ is not the Libertarian Party, which has a large ‘L’. There is this distinction, because there are some aspects within the party that would not be in alignment with true liberty principles.

    As I have studied the Book of Mormon, and read everything I could get my hands on to understand what good government is, I have to say that Connor is right. I still have more of the book to read, but there is nothing that I disagree with. The scriptures are very clear on war when you read all the verses and footnotes about when it is just and when it is not.

    Liberty principles will not destroy the United States, it would save it. Yes we should help the poor and lift all around us, but not through theft through government, but through the people giving. The United States remains one of the most charitable nations on the earth, through individuals and private organizations. Money and material goods that are given freely for the poor are good. When ‘charity’ is forced through taxation, inflation, and other means, then it is not charity at all, but theft.

    There is no need to use public funds, when there are people who will give, churches, communities and private organizations. Ezra Taft Benson taught that the more local the help, the more efficient it is. The last place we should go is the government, and if we must, make it a local program, never a federal one.

    Captain Moroni was at war in his own land with a very wicked people. They were not righteous. However, even then, they fought in their own lands. And in the case of invasion, I agree, they must fight off the invaders until they can reach peace. When they decided to invade the Lamanites territory, God was not with them, and they lost. It led to the eventual destruction of the entire society of the Nephites. I see that as a warning of what NOT to do, not how you maintain liberty within a nation.

  8. Darren says:

    Dave, I must address your post.

    Of course we should choose to care for others – that’s why we need a government that allows us the freedom to do so. The libertarian view is, of all political creeds, most compatible with liberty. Under a government founded upon such ideals (as I believe the Constitution most closely approaches of all constitutions ever implemented), we are free to choose. We may even choose to implement “higher laws” at local or a private level of government (by mutual agreement). Libertarians are proponents of classical liberalism, the same philosophical stance as the Founders and of the English libertarians such as John Locke. It is the tradition of the Anglo-Saxon Common Law upon which western justice and government is based upon, ultimately finding its source in the government of ancient Israel and the Ten Commandments. No, my friend, libertarians are friends of the Constitution and of liberty. Libertarianism is not a party. It is the philosophy of temporal liberty and, as such, enables us to the environment to maximize our progress and growth, both physically and spiritually.

  9. Rotpada says:

    I have not, and will not, read Connor’s book. I heard Connor on a radio interview and Connor is a typical mormon statist. He believes that the State is ultimately the solution, that through unending efforts, we can keep the state in check. If the State needs so much vigilence in protecting us from it, maybe we just don’t need the State.

    Connor thinks there is a proper role of government. Libertarians are simply trying to swing the power of government in their favor, to impose libertarian principles on others, just like Dems and Repubs impose their principles on others.

    2 Nephi 4:34
    34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

    2 Nephi 28:31
    31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Doctrine and Covenants 1:19
    19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—

    Jeremiah 17:5
    5 ¶Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.

    Psalms 146:3
    3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

    2 Nephi 5:18
    18 And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king; nevertheless, I did for them according to that which was in my power.

    Samuel Chapter 8

    • efialtis says:

      You simply don’t understand libertarian ideals.
      Libertarians want government out of the way so you are free to practice your religion, or not… you are free to act, or not… you are free to choose, or not…
      There is no “forcing anything on anyone”, with the exception that violations of the law (violating another person’s rights) will not be tolerated and will be punished.
      If you want to smoke drugs, go ahead…
      If you want to have a prostitute, go ahead…
      If you want to rape your daughter, nope, sorry…

      The whole idea behind libertarianism is more “personal responsibility” and less “the government is here to protect you”.

      • Owain says:

        Well, according to an example I offer here, it would seem that if something is against the law, libertarians would want to eliminate the law, even if it means very much violating another person’s rights.

        If that’s an example of libertarian ideals, maybe I’m better off not understanding them.

        • efialtis says:

          Don’t confuse the “Utopian” aspect of the Libertarian philosophy (which, in all good faith, isn’t that far from any of the political “Utopian” philosophies)…
          In a “perfect world”, we wouldn’t need laws governing the hiring and firing of individuals to protect their “civil rights”. We would all understand “civil rights” and we would have no desire to violate them.
          In the real world philosophy of libertarianism, however, the only laws that would exist would be to defend rights. Laws against murder (violating the right to life), laws against discrimination (violating the right to pursue happiness), etc.
          We would not, however, see laws dictating what people can eat, which lightbulbs to buy and use, wearing seatbelts or helmets, etc. And one would naturally expect “natural consequences” to follow for doing stupid things.
          So, while Ron Paul might adhere to the “Utopian” aspects of Libertarianism, wanting to do away with all laws… that only falls into the category that I warned about below, Anarchy. Even in a “real” libertarian society, relying upon “natural law” for the most part, we would have a series of laws protecting the rights of people.

          Maybe that is just my interpretation, but I cannot see it working any other way.

          • Owain says:

            There is very little Utopian about Paul’s evident desire to allow people to continue to discriminate against others in all the ways that prohibited by the Civil Rights Act. Paul is arguing to allow people to discriminate in housing, hiring, etc, I suppose is great for landlords and business owners if that is their idea of freedom, but really sucks if you are the person being discriminated against. That’s a distopian vision if there ever was one.

            What were you saying about libertarians drawing the line at not violating someone elses rights? It would seem that Ron Paul is all for drawing that line, and jumping over it with both feet right on the backs of those who would be discriminated against.

        • Owain says:

          Further, if Paul only objects to the civil rights act out of a Utopian objection, there is really nothing he should object to then, is there? Since no one in your Utopia would actually discriminate against anyone, why should it be necessary to complain about the Civil Rights Act.

          I submit that for his objection to make any sense at all, he really IS fighting for people to have the freedom to discriminate against others. When he says, “The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property …. The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please…”

          What “rights” with respect to civil rights can he be talking about other than his perceived “right” to be able to discriminate against others?

          It’s not like you, Ef, to try to defend the indefensible, but it would seem that is exactly what you are doing.

          • efialtis says:

            Yes, he would want people to be free to discriminate, free to act in whatever way they choose… however, the premise is, people would choose to NOT violate someone’s rights…
            As i said, the difference between the “Utopian” ideal and the “Realistic” one.
            Don’t mistake my defense of the Realistic Libertarian Ideals with Ron Paul’s Utopian ideals.
            I don’t agree with the Utopian ideals, they aren’t practical, and in fact (or so I believe) they approach Anarchy.
            The Government does serve purpose to protect rights, civil rights and all.

          • Owain says:

            Ef, Ron Paul is not arguing anything Utopian here. He is arguing that the civil rights act AS WRITTEN is infringing on the rights of property owners and business owners. What else in the civil rights act is there to interfere other than prohibiting discrimination based on race? If people choose not to discriminate, what is there left to complain about with respect to the civil rights act?

            No, Ron Paul is arguing to allow people to discriminate on the basis of race, which in my mind makes him a racist. How can one argue otherwise?

          • Doug64 says:

            Owain, you are right, under the libertarian vision business owners would be free to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or whatever other division he wishes. And just as much, people would be free to choose to take their business elsewhere to business owners that *don’t* discriminate. Tell me, do you believe that governments should have the right to force consumers to not discriminate on the basis of race? And if not, why should it have that same right when it comes to business owners?

            Freedom means the right to act as you choose even when you’re being an ass, not the right to act as society believes you should.

          • Owain says:

            Society has outlawed a great many things that people would like to do, but it is to the benefit of society as a whole not to permit those things. Theft is an obvious example. It is to my advantage if I had the freedom to take your goods from you without your permission, but that is not in the interest of society as a whole, so laws prevent me from doing that.

            The majority of people in the country have determined that it is in the interest of our society to forbid discrimination based on race, sex, age, sexual orientation, and so forth. I think that is a good practice, and yes, I think if falls within the role of government to enforce that limitation on our freedom.

            Even in other areas, our freedoms are justly limited. We have freedom of speech, but you are not free to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, and you are not free to slander someone, and you do not have freedom of speech of defraud someone, and so forth. Those are all freedoms that we have allowed our elected officials to limit for the sake of society as a whole.

            Libertarians are free to believe what they want, but if they believe that we should have freedom of racial discrimination, they will forever be a minority political force in this country, and I for one think that is a good thing.

            If Ron Paul believes the Civil Rights Act is wrong, I think the majority of voters of this nation will decide he is unqualified to be President, and again, I think that will be a correct decision as well.

          • Doug64 says:

            Owain, every one of your specific examples, theft, shouting “fire” in a theater, slander, and defrauding someone, are direct assaults on individuals that should be illegal whether there is a “benefit for society” or not. There is no such thing as a collective right, only individual ones. Nor do those rights change just because money is involves – an owner of a business should have the same right to offer service or not, as he chooses, as he has to offer entry into his home. In either case, the property is his, the services is his, and his right to deny access to either doesn’t change because one transaction is commercial and the other is not. To paraphrase Peter’s statement to Ananius in the book of Acts, doesn’t it belong to him before he sells it? The fact that someone is so bigoted that he would rather lose business than associate with some group of people does not change his right to use his property as he sees fit so long as he doesn’t impinge on others’ rights in the process.

          • Owain says:

            Even so, I think this is an example of why libertarians will never be more than a fringe element in American politics, and why Ron Paul will never be nominated, let alone elected, President. It’s a deal breaker as far as a majority of voters are concerned.

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  11. Chandler says:

    The BYU Political Review took a look at this book a couple months ago before it was published. It’s worth checking out and can be found here:

  12. ScottH says:

    I have not read Mr. Boyack’s book, but I have read many of his blog posts. He is a talented debater with a firm viewpoint. His writing style can be engaging. In reading Mr. Boyack’s blog, I have found many points with which I agree.

    However, in my opinion Mr. Boyack frequently presses his case too far. In his zeal to prove his viewpoint, he frequently disregards equally valid statements and scriptures that might lead one to a somewhat different understanding. Mr. Boyack is not above taking quotes out of context to prove his point.

    This does not mean that the book is not worth reading; only that it offers a viewpoint rather than incontrovertible conclusions.

    • Rotpada says:

      Everybody takes quotes and scriptures out of context to make their point. One of my favorite churchtime activities is pointing out that if the verse is taken in context with the surrounding scriptures, it has nothing to do with the lesson.

  13. Heath says:

    As a convert (while in the military) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am awestruck at how LDS members try to argue away what the Book of Mormon states, along with what the prophets have stated. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a religion of absolutes and not convoluted with relativism as many claim. With that stated, the Lord speaks of the Constitution in the scriptures. The Constitution of the United States was irrefutably ushered in by the Lord, and He admonished Joseph Smith to befriend it (D&C 98). He established it that we may be judge according to our individual actions and not as a collective.

    Now, the author of this article claims that, “We can’t withdraw from a world we have committed ourselves to and retreat from a war against terrorism;” however, I would beg to differ on this point having served in the so-called “War on Terror.” In late 2004, I served with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines as a Navy Corpsman (medic) during Operation Phantom Fury (Fallujah, Iraq). It was during this battle that my eyes were opened to the brutality of the United States government. We, in our ostentation, dropped White Phosphorous on enemy combatants and civilians, and I might add that the use of such a weapon is a war crime. We destroyed over 2,000 innocent lives and sent them beyond the veil, and I know that their blood cries for vengeance to fall upon this country. The reality of it all is that the “War on Terror” is a farce. We are not fighting terrorists, but rather we are fighting patriots to their families and country. The author has the audacity to reject withdrawing, when he, I presume, has no skin in the game. The only thing we are promoting is a mercantilist system where the Middle East, and its people, are subservient to the United States. As Ezra Taft Benson state at General Conference on April 6, 1972, “There is no Conspiracy Theory in the Book of Mormon, but conspiracy fact.”

  14. Dovie says:

    Frankly, I think I am more libertarian than most of my Mormon neighbors. There’s social libertarianism and economic libertarianism. Social libertarians do not petition the federal government for Defense of Marriage amendments. Social libertarians would have large families pay their own way. Social libertarians would deregulate drugs. Etc, etc.

    Mormons have alot of socialism/collectivism in their histories. I would think the author must present a very one-sided argument. “The devil can quote scripture for his purpose.” I feel quite sure that Karl Marx could find compatibilities with Mormonism, too.

    • annilita says:

      I think you should review the difference between socialism and people engaging in a mutually agreed-upon manner of caring for the poor.
      Also, as long as government insists upon legislating marriage, the LDS church will campaign to define it according to its view. I could totally get behind a campaign to get the government out of licensing marriages all together. And decriminalizing drugs. And the ability to pay minimal taxes so that I could have more money in my pocket to fund our homeschool and charitable efforts.

      • Dovie says:

        Why, people have compared Mormonism and socialism and made that argument, complete with scripture quotations….All Boyack did was take his two belief systems and look for evidence to support his pre-conceived idea. He also redefines “libertarianism” in his own way, according the BYU book review link somebody posted. Just one more example of Belief first, Evidence after. Like Alice In Wonderland.

        • efialtis says:

          Unfortunately, the author of the link you provided, a Mr. Troy Williams, starts out with a completely flawed premise:
          “At their most righteous, the Nephites presented in the book were benevolent socialists; at their most depraved, they were greedy free-market capitalists.”

          In Nephite Society, they achieve their height in society, not with socialism, but with work, self reliance, personal responsibility, faith in their God and His teachings, and righteousness (following those teachings)…
          When they become greedy (a sin) and start perusing their own best interest, not the interests of God, THEN their society fails.

          Mr. Williams either ignores this, or missed it… I can’t say which.

          • Dovie says:

            It’s a moot point that can be perfectly logically argued either way and I think you know that perfectly well. A majority of posters admit that the author has watered down the definition of libertarian until it’s meaningless – A huge majority in the US would be “libertarian” by his standard. I am.

            Why, if Mormons are the biggest libertarians, is the Tea Party so darn fundamentalist Christian? You both claim the libertarian title and neither of you deserve it. It simply does not fit.

            Dennis Potter is an associate professor of philosophy at Utah Valley University. His research has been in the philosophy of religion, philosophy of logic and mathematics, and the philosophy of the Vienna Circle. In the past, he has published articles on philosophical theology and on the nature of diagrammatic argument in mathematics. His current research focuses on the philosophies of logic, mathematics and religion in early analytic philosophy.


          • efialtis says:

            Dennis Potter also starts out with the same flawed premise.
            The issues isn’t “Nephites were socialist to achieve their height in society and capitalistic when they fell”
            The issue is “Nephiets were righteous and achieved their height in society and unrighteous when they fell”
            The difference being, “working toward the good of God” v. “working toward their own good”.

  15. efialtis says:

    Question: If a citizen has no family and doesn’t belong to a church, nor even wants to be a member of a church, and he/she falls on hard times and needs help, they get charity from the church?

    This question shows a lack of understanding how the LDS Church operates in this regard. I know each Religion is different, but this blog is talking about the LDS… so I will operate from that point of view.
    The LDS Church requires effort from each individual, member or not, to receive help. From knitting to quilt making, from cleaning to stocking shelves, from snow removal to gardening… there is something to do for everyone, and more than enough work to go around.
    If the person is disabled in some way, there are still jobs or things they can do. DI, for instance, works hard to accommodate those people with disabilities.
    In fine, all people can contribute something, and that is a requirement for receiving Church assistance.

    Doug will have to answer your second question. But if I may… our foreign policy is part of the over-all reason for the first world trade center bombing and 9/11.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      Doug merely says “family” and “church” charity. But we can use the LDS church, specifically, in the discussion. Your entire response talks about the person receiving “help” being “required” to do something for it. So, let’s take a non-denominational U.S. Citizen. Government has ceded all charity to family and church organizations. This hypothetical citizen-in-need does not care to participate in the LDS church or, even, any church that might exist in the community. Let’s say he has a job, however, that benefits society as a whole. (We can say he drives a garbage truck for the city.) For years, he has contributed to society by providing a much needed service to the community via his work. Suddenly, through no fault of his own, the job no longer exists. Where does he turn? Your contention is that he must do some service for the church in order to receive their help. Yet, he may disagree thoroughly with everything that that church stands for. But, in your hypothetical society, he can’t turn to the government that he’s supported for years. He must go kiss a churchman’s butt to get some help. (And don’t say anything about making a go of it on his own. This isn’t the 1800′s. He can’t go live off the land. Everything is too regulated to allow him to go set a tent up somewhere and hunt and fish to survive.)

      No. Leaving charity up to family and “church” is not a feasible option because too many Americans are too smart to be shackled by a particular religious belief.

      That leaves the Government. Afterall, it represents the people and works on their behalf when it’s running satisfactorily.

      p.s. I find it interesting that you automatically make this about the LDS church when the topic is reliance on the church.

      p.p.s. – I also find it interesting that, in your mind, charity is given with an expectation of something in return – like service. Jesus preached that service should be rendered with no expectation of return. That you offer help for the sake of helping someone else; not with an expectation of repayment.

      • Doug64 says:

        And why do you think that only churches will provide charity? Are there no secular private charities right now?

      • efialtis says:

        There are several problems with your argument.
        1) “This hypothetical citizen-in-need does not care to participate in the LDS church or, even, any church that might exist in the community.”
        That is certainly their right. This is about Charity, no one is going to force it upon someone else. If a person needs help, they must also agree to the conditions that the help comes with. Otherwise, we end up right where we are: a system broken because of the abuse, graft, and corruption that plagues it.
        2) “Your contention is that he must do some service for the church in order to receive their help. Yet, he may disagree thoroughly with everything that that church stands for.”
        Yet, if the Church stands for “charity” and s/he is looking for charity, then it would be impossible for the individual to “disagree thoroughly with everything that that church stands for.”
        3) “But, in your hypothetical society, he can’t turn to the government that he’s supported for years.”
        Ah, but he hasn’t supported the government any more than anyone else. We all pay taxes. He has, however, been paid by the Government (directly or indirectly) for his services. He has been fairly compensated for his labor… the relationship ends there. If I worked at the dog food factory, I couldn’t turn to my employer and demand “charity”, as in your hypothetical…
        4) “He must go kiss a churchman’s butt to get some help.”
        Interesting, since you and I both know that isn’t what would happen.
        5) “And don’t say anything about making a go of it on his own.”
        Yes, he can make a go of it on his own. That doesn’t even have to include planting a garden or setting up a tent… people create jobs every day. People find things that make them money, and they make it work. It happens every day by thousands of people.
        6) “Leaving charity up to family and “church” is not a feasible option because too many Americans are too smart to be shackled by a particular religious belief.”
        And no one is asking them to be “shackled by a particular religious belief”. They are only asking that, for the support they receive, they reciprocate. Nothing “religious” about it at all.
        7) “Afterall, it represents the people and works on their behalf when it’s running satisfactorily.”
        But it isn’t the function of the Government to TAKE CARE OF the people, only to REPRESENT them, protect the borders, and regulate interstate commerce.
        “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
        – Benjamin Franklin, “On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor”, November 1766
        8) “I find it interesting that you automatically make this about the LDS church when the topic is reliance on the church.”
        The LDS Church is one I am most familiar with, and therefore, easier to talk about. I am not aware of the requirements of, say, the Orthodox or Catholic churches in providing for the poor.
        9) “not with an expectation of repayment.”
        We aren’t talking about “repayment”, only that something is required. This helps prevent abuses of the system, and also provides for the people to do something useful. It falls back to a similar line of reasoning that Benjamin Franklin uses in the quote above. It isn’t the Church’s responsibility to feed and clothe the people, but to help them become self reliant. Church welfare is a short term solution, not a lifestyle.

        • Michael Trujillo says:

          I disagree. I’m not going to go point by point through your responses. All I can say is that we are a community and the Government is US. It’s all of us. So, yes, we take care of one another; and we do that via our Government. Because it’s us. Churches do not represent all of us. By design they represent a particular interpretation of a particular belief. Furthermore, I think that many churches would disagree with your particular expectation that someone owes service for a helping hand. Basically, you’re wrong. But that’s OK. You may or may not come around someday. Until then, I’ll continue helping people with no expectation that they do something in exchange and you can keep on expecting reciprocation for your charity. But as far as our Government goes, quit screwing around with social benefits. It only shows you to be selfish. As for me, I’ll continue to support helping other Americans out by asking my elected representatives to spend my taxes wisely.

          Be that as it may, I’m STILL waiting for Doug to answer the effing question. He’s the one who wrote it. I’m going to have to email him since he prefers to watch people arguing on the S.E. website. It’s an irritating habit of his.

          • efialtis says:

            “Basically, you’re wrong.”

            Well, you are perfectly capable of having your own opinion.

            “quit screwing around with social benefits. It only shows you to be selfish.”

            The more the Government takes, the less there is for people to give to those that have need. The Bureaucracy has to be fed, and that cuts into what’s available.

  16. efialtis says:

    I would offer some caution in this correlation of Libertarianism and Mormonism…
    Mormonism, while believing in the great freedoms given us by God, we also believe in a theocracy.
    Libertarianism may or may not be compatible with that aspect of Mormonism.
    One must be careful to not move beyond Libertarianism and into Anarchy, and in the context of the Mormons, to remember who is really in charge, the head of the Earthly and Heavenly “Kingdoms” (Governments)…

  17. Ken says:

    I haven’t read the book, but already I can see a major problem which is Libertarianism seems to be placed first and elevated as a STANDARD and TEMPLATE and then Mormonism is held up against it for evidences of compatibility. It’s like placing an Elvis impersonator as the blueprint then comparing the real Elvis to the imitator. Hence I have a problem with comparing and contrasting LDS Church doctrine and beliefs with something of lower and more secular repute. Consequently, church dogma is quickly undermined, compromised and demoted to inferior status in the process.

    It should certainly be the other way round. The LDS Church is unique and INDEPENDENT (re: D&C 78:14). The Church also – as some have noted – is a theocracy and its laws and principles are spiritually based. It is Truth.

    You’ll be surprised at how our mindset and perspective changes when the Church is placed – first and alone – on the pedestal of TRUTH and then everything else is held up against it. We will certainly know and feel that Church doctrine is not compromised and/or violated in the process.


  18. Kevin Kirkham says:

    libertarianism is the only political philosophy in complete harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All others believe in using government force to impose their subjective morals on others. The Democrats use force, or the threat of force, to force people to do good (take money from the people to help the poor). The GOP uses force, or the threat of force, to prevent people from sinning (gambling, prostitution, shopping on Sundays, etc…). Using force to get people to live Gospel principles was what Satan advocated.

    Libertarians believe that people should only be prohibited from doing things that objectively harm others. Murder, rape, robbery, fraud would be outlawed, but if I want to smoke pot, gamble, visit a hooker, etc… as long as that act doesn’t harm others, should be allowed. We LDS are encouraged in scripture to use kindness, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned to encourage people to live righteously. Using government is of Satan.

    Even the scriptures denounce using our moral beliefs as an excuse to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others (D&C 134:4, 1 Cor. 10:29). This is why the Church’s efforts in helping pass Prop.8 in California was wrong. The gays in CA HAD the right to marry and we let our religious opinions prompt us to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others (D&C 134:4). The Proclamation, not being sustained via Common Consent, is not scripture and can’t overrule scripture. The prophets have stated that if they say anything that violates scripture, that we are to ignore their words and obey scripture.

    I ask all people to follow the Gospel and eschew the use of force to promote our morality. Eschew political parties that do so as well.

  19. Thanks for the review, Doug!

    Reading the comments has been an interesting, if slightly humorous and unsurprising, endeavor. Those who criticize the underlying premise of my book acknowledge that they do so without having read it. They therefore allege that I say or believe things that I in fact do not, and set up straw men to knock down.

    Here’s a novel idea for those who think my book’s material is incorrect or misguided without having read it: get your own copy and rebut my assertions on their merits, rather than prancing around with generalizations and unfounded allegations. At the very least, please stop putting words in my mouth. Thanks!

    • efialtis says:

      I think I will pick up a copy and give it a read. I agree with the compatibility of Mormonism and Libertarianism, with the concerns that I have voiced above.
      It will be interesting to see your take on it.

  20. Ken says:

    I’m one of those who has not read your book. But I don’t have to read it to gain credibility to my premise. It’s an either/or one, hence I’m not interested in the details. My basic question is: Which one is given priority, or serve as your standard, Mormonism or Libertarianism? If it’s the former, then everything else is a “given”; if it’s the latter then there’s a danger in your compromising Mormonism to prove your point. You cannot effectively do an equi-level contrast/comparison.

  21. Kevin Kirkham says:

    There is no conflict between them. You don’t have to compromise in either. The only apparent conflict is when some LDS want to use force to get society to live the Gospel. Some LDS advocate Sunday closing laws and the outlawing of other activities that we LDS find sinful (gambling, homosexuality, etc…). Mormons need to remember that scripture prohibits us from using our morals as justification to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. We often forget that. We need to remember that Satan advocated using force to make people be righteous and too many LDS feel that that is a good idea at times.

  22. Doug says:


    In the book, it’s argued that private charities are better than government assistance for two key reasons. One, that the assistance is voluntarily given, rather than confiscated via taxes. The motivation, and results, are improved due to the results that can be expected when individuals either contribute to or receive help via non-taxed funds, or funds that are not impersonally taken. There is an expectation of real returns on the investment. Connor argues in the book that the welfare state has expended trillions of dollars, contributed to deficits, yet has not reduced poverty. A negative byproduct is the eradication of two-parent families because of the tax-funded paycheck and the lack of resolve to feel accountable for the tax funds expended.

    You should read the book; I’m recounting his assessments. I agree with many of the ideas but find them impractical in part due to the fiscal mess we have to deal with.

    As for the “dangerous world,” statistically, you may be right. I don’t know. I do know that in our generation Americans don’t feel safe taking a backpack and hiking through Iraq or some other countries without protection or strolling through some cities sans bodyguards. Those are due to foreign policy decisions and radical Islam.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      Thanks for responding publicly, Doug.

      Perhaps I will read the book. Based on the conversation you and I had some years ago about Libertarianism, I’m sceptical that it can be applied in the real world. Based simply on your response re: private charity vs. government assistance, I’d say I still don’t think it’ll work in the real world. Furthermore, I may not be as “Christian” as you are, but I admire what the wise man named Jesus said and he preached that we should give without expecting anything in return. So, that kind of shoots down the main premise of the blog, in my opinion.

      As far as the safety of the world, yes, of course there are still many unsafe places in the world. But there are less than there used to be. We’ve shrunk the world and made it more “civilized”, which is sad in my opinion. As far as U.S. cities goes (which have nothing to do with foreign policy or “radical” islam, so I’m unsure why you fear them) it’s all about our individual confort levels. I doubt there’s any section of any U.S. city that I wouldn’t venture into if I had a good reason. Yet, I know from experience that there are adults in Layton who wouldn’t venture into the 4-plex section of Camelot. Too dangerous. Sheesh.

  23. Bob Becker says:

    And then there’s the belief, held by others in the Church, that the god of Latter Day Saints is not a Republican, or even a Liberterian, but is in fact a Democrat:

    That latter argument [the Mormon god is a Democrat] I find as unacceptable and potentially dangerous as I find the other two arguments, or any argument that holds that god wants voters to vote for a particular party. Once someone is convinced that god wants him to vote the GOP or the Dem or the Ind ticket, he no longer takes part in any real discussion or debate about public policy on rational grounds. Tying faith to voting ends rational debate and discussion about the nation’s problems and their potential solutions and which candidate or party may have the answers most likely to succeed. That way lies, at the extreme, jihad or other religious repressions enforced through appeals to popular power… or the mob.

    It continually surprises me that so many Mormons fail to understand that, and fail to embrace separation of church and state as a core constitutional principle since they have in their own history a painful example [think the Missouri years] of what can, and often does, happen when government and majorities believe they have not only the power but the right to declare what religious are acceptable and what ones are not and so need not be afforded the protection of law.

  24. Gregg Weber says:

    If a person who falls on hard times isn’t a member of a “church” then what group can help him/her? Answer: Those others in the same group or “church”; meaning Atheism.
    They can help the downtrodden in their group just as well as any other group can help those in their group.
    Atheism has just as many rights, and responsibilities as any other religion or religious belief (including the one to defend it’s beliefs). Just as the number zero is a number, so to atheism in believing that there is zero God (or gods or however you might put it) has just as much value as another religion that believes in one or one-hundred.

  25. Pingback: ‘Latter Day Responsibility’ focuses on the obligations of agency | The Political Surf

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