Monday, October 01, 2007

The LDS Church and Immigration

In 2006 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints issued a Press Release in response to comments by Lou Dobbs on CNN:

Excerpt:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has over a million members in Mexico. It does not encourage them to move to Utah or anywhere else.

The Church, in fact, has made no comment so far on the immigration debate, recognizing that this complex question is now before Congress and is already being thoroughly aired in the public square."


The LDS Church has had a long standing commitment encouraging members to build the Church within their native lands. For example:

1 Elder Dieter Uchtdorf in Nov 2005 Ensign Christlike Attributes-- the Wind beneath Our Wings :

"As the members will stay in their countries and build the Church, despite economic challenges and hardships, future generations will be grateful to those courageous modern-day pioneers. They abide by the loving invitation of the First Presidency given in 1999:

"In our day, the Lord has seen fit to provide the blessings of the gospel, including an increased number of temples, in many parts of the world. Therefore, we wish to reiterate the long-standing counsel to members of the Church to remain in their homelands rather than immigrate to the United States.

"As members throughout the world remain in their homelands, working to build the Church in their native countries, great blessings will come to them personally and to the Church collectively" (First Presidency letter, Dec. 1, 1999).

2 James B. Allen, "Line upon Line," Ensign, July 1979, 32 and Tambuli, Sept. 1979, 10

"After this concept of the gathering had been taught so strongly for two generations or more it became almost second nature—especially to the Saints in Europe. But in the late 1890s certain circumstances were changing. American public policy toward immigration began to change. Economically, the Mormon communities in the Great Basin were filling up. New immigrants would find it more difficult to find employment. More important, the Church was more secure in its western setting. The kingdom had been strengthened in its new location, the days of pioneering were over, and the challenge now was to build up Zion—the "pure in heart"—throughout the world. This, after all, was clearly the larger mission of the Church all along.

"These and other considerations undoubtedly led Church leaders to consider prayerfully what should be done. In 1898 George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, announced that the Saints in various lands were being counseled to "remain quiet for a while; to not be anxious to leave their homes to gather to Zion." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1898, p. 4.) By the following year it was concluded that it was no longer advisable for them to gather, even if they did so at their own expense.

The change in policy was implemented rapidly. The Church undertook to furnish more permanent headquarters in the missions and to build more chapels as a way of encouraging converts to remain in homelands. "We do not advise you to emigrate," President Joseph F. Smith told the Swedish Saints in 1910. "We would rather that you remain until you have been well established in the faith in the Gospel." . . .

And in 1958 three mission presidents in Europe issued a strongly worded editorial in Der Stern which epitomized the necessity to build Zion abroad:

"We have not discontinued to preach the Gathering of the House of Israel. We still call all people to come out of the spiritual Babylon, which means to come out of spiritual darkness. We are still gathering the children of light. We are still gathering scattered Israel. But we no longer urge them to emigrate to America. On the contrary, we tell the Saints exactly what the Lord required, namely to build up the stakes of Zion and to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom

"We believe that God directs His Church through the words of His prophets. The world conditions have undergone a complete change and we must adapt to the new situation."

2 comments:

Gary Sorrells said...

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karateka said...

You are in complete denial. The church opposes harsh anti-immigrant laws on moral grounds, as well they should. They should also oppose it on grounds that it negatively impacts missionary work and the hurts the church.

However, you should oppose it on the grounds of conservative principles. Talk about bigger, more intrusive government - that totally defines immigration laws.

You should remember that the Communists built huge, well-armed fences across Easter Europe with the stated intention of "keeping immigrants out." Persecuting illegal immigrants seems to be the "foot in the door" to get conservatives to give up liberty.