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Gun-Free Mormons

Bob Rogers

Leaving one’s fate to God has been the mantra of religious theologies nearly the world over. But is that the safe way to profess one’s dedication to Jesus Christ in today’s uncertain world beset by political uprisings, violent protests, desperate populations – think Hong Kong, Venezuela of the moment – and the growing scourge of unbalanced individuals desperately seeking public recognition by mass shootings in schools, workplaces, night life establishments, sporting events, and churches?

While Mormons don’t have the market cornered on religious persecution, their history is one filled with historic resentment by some detractors who view freedom of religion as one of the unintended consequences of the First Amendment. It is surprising, then, that Mormons lean politically conservative and often publicly display their political polarities in unabashed fashion for all to see. We know Mormons who had a great partisan dislike for former Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid and publicly said so in no uncertain terms. Yet they are strong supporters of moderate Mitt Romney, a Republican seen as more a RINO per party designation than, say, former Senator Orrin Hatch, a strongly avowed conservative.  Both Romney and Hatch are dedicated to their LDS precepts. And Mormons are famously pro-gun.

So why the sudden turnabout regarding an unarmed LDS faithful attending not just Sunday services but at a plethora of other religious-tinged events with family and friends all through each week? We admire the LDS dedication to worship Jesus, and in that setting they are as firm in their allegiance as any other denomination, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and other followers of Christ. But taking their chances as they did historically being run out of not just New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri by armed detractors before finally settling in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley is, while historical, not perceptively immune from further attacks such as happened in Nevada in 2018 when a deranged shooter attacked an LDS church and killed one worshipper.

The 1A protects freedom of speech, the expression of religion, of the press, and the right to peacefully assemble, yet all are attacked in one way or other in our contemporary world. The 2A provides a measure whereby anyone forcefully and egregiously attacking others can rise to their own defense and to the defense of others. The hierarchy of the Church of Latter Day Saints has decided to allow armed police while “stripping” congregants of their self-protection but, in today’s world of far too many gun-free zones, we can only hope that the LDS church hasn’t erred beyond their means of self-defense.

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