Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Model for Mormon Military Service

The news recently has brought up the idea that, despite the large number of Mormons that support the Iraq War, the members and LDS Church itself are skipping out on serving in the military. The implication is that Mormon are cowards, or worse. With so many of the recent commentaries on war and the military, the subject starts with Vietnam and ignores all other wars. To be fair, the history of Mormons and the military is a complicated subject that can’t, like so many other things, be examined in a sound bite. There are religious and cultural reasons for the diverse approach to military involvement.

Much of the attention on Mormonism these days comes from the media, hyped by Mitt Romney’s entrance into the presidential race. The subject of Mormons and the military is no different. The focus started with Mitt Romney who is often portrayed as a Vietnam draft dodger. This would be a simple political attack if it weren’t for the way Mormons have been used to create this image. He, like so many Mormons before and after him, passed on the draft for religious reasons. He served a mission in France and later drew a high number when he returned. Others have picked up on this and pointed to the whole idea of missions replacing military services as a way to get out of harms way.

It hasn’t ended with him, but has continued unabashedly by attacking his mission serving sons who they believe at least one of them should have gone to Iraq. Yes, that is the focal point like so many other discussions these days. The contention is that if you support Iraq than you or your children should join the military. That is, to the critics, the only recognized way to support the Iraq war. Despite the rather badly worded way Romney explained it, apparently by saying his children are supporting the war by participating in his presidential run, he has expanded support to include serving your country at home or another capacity abroad. Many, including some Conservatives, have rejected this idea believing that if you support the war you fight and you do something else if you don’t.

It appears that to a large degree Mormons reject the idea that you have to serve in the military to support war efforts. As one person put it:

I would like to make a few observations about Mitt Romney’s sons: (1)- They are married and have kids of their own. Should they just leave their families and go join the military? Is taking care of their wives and kids an important obligation? I think most of them if not all were married before this big deal with Iraq ever started. (2)- Each of Romney’s sons have served a mission for their Church ( two years).
I’m sure that Mitt Romney and his sons support our troops 100%. Let’s not be too quick to judge

In other words, to live a good life and serve in other less dangerous capacities is equal to serving in the military in times of war. Without going into philosophical discussions of how right or wrong that might be, it is interesting to see where that has come from. It isn’t a spur of the moment defense. There is precedence for such an attitude because of the ambiguous nature of Mormon beliefs about war.

The basic template is the Book of Mormon. It is an interesting exploration of both the necessity and the horrors of participating in war. The editor is said to be the military hero Mormon, where the book gets its name, who was trained as a young boy to battle the Lamanites out to destroy his people. It is natural that such a person would focus so much on the wars and contentions of history. However, there is an undercurrent that can be hard to miss if reading carefully that war is not a glorious heroic struggle. It can make heroes, but only at a high cost of human lives and even civilization. Usually the end result of war is destruction as the major theme throughout the Book of Mormon shows.

The greatest military hero is Moroni, who rent his coat and wrote on it, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” He fought against both Lamanite and unrighteous Nephite in defense of freedoms. What made him famous according to a reading of the Book of Mormon was not any particular battles, but his belief in pacifism in the face of war. He continually sought to end the conflict by ending a battle early and asking his enemies to go home. They rejected the offer every time and he fought them until they gave up. In the end he went off back to his land and retired in peace.

The idea that a Mission is equal to service in the military can also be found in the Book of Mormon when a small group decided peace was better achieved by missionary service than fighting:

1 Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—

2. That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.

It is this example that more than anything explains the Mormon attitude that a mission is equal to military service when it comes to defending the country. To get to know others and preach the gospel is considered, regardless what those not of the faith believe, a better military strategy than the outright destruction of life and property.

The history of Mormon involvement in the military outside of Scripture is equally as varied in approach. Support since the founding of the LDS Church has been mixed. Joseph Smith created “The Nauvoo Legion,” a para-military organization similar to many of the time. It was perhaps larger than any the United States had during the 1840s. It was primarily to protect the Latter-day Saints, to the fear of outsiders, instead of any national interest. On the way to Utah after having been forced out of the United States, there was a futile show of patriotic support by answering the call of enlistment during the War with Mexico. The famous Mormon Battalion was formed to march to California. The group never saw actual combat, but was still praised:

The 339 survivors who at last struggled into San Diego that lovely midwinter day in January 1847 each bore a wild but strangely holy countenance. They had made it. They had come through for their country and for Zion. On the morning after their arrival, Colonel Cooke wrote: “The Lieutenant-Colonel commanding congratulates the Battalion on their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and the conclusion of their march of over two thousand miles. History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry.”6

World War I and II were perhaps the Mormon highlight of traditional ideals for serving the country in times of war. Even during these conflicts there were some leaders of the LDS Church who were skeptical of getting involved. Many Mormons returned from missions and were sent into combat. The most memorable stories of these conflicts are actually the complete opposite of the Son’s of Mosiah example. Those who were at first teaching people in the “enemy territory” were now fighting them. In other words, yet another example of the Mormon ideal that participating in battle does not make for a better support of war efforts.

It is during the Korean and Vietnam War era that missions and military service were in open conflict. The LDS Church wanted to increase its missionary service in order to follow the religious mandate to preach the Gospel to all the world. The United States government had other plans and often interfered in the number of missionaries that could be sent. It was the Vietnam War that caused a compromise where a certain number of men had to go to Vietnam from each Ward (Congregation), leaving a select few to go on missions. In some ways, the compromise has its continued relevance to more recent conflicts. On the other hand, there has always been an uneasy alliance between Mormon attitudes about serving in the military and religious devotion. Feelings about War can be highly patriotic and supportive, but at the same time it doesn’t always equate with serving in the military during those same conflicts. It is not something easy to explain, and can be seen by those not familiar with Mormon religion and history as hypocrisy. However, it is not a defensive attitude trying to stay safe at home. It is a worldview that others reject or don’t understand. Even Mormons probably are not aware of it because the ingrained cultural ideals go so far back. There is no positive term for a hometown warrior or peace soldier.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your comments and agree with much of what you said. I am LDS, I served a mission and I am in the military. I have also served in Iraq.

I do find it a bit hypocritical to say, "I support the Iraq war," if you are a male, capable of serving in the military, but choose to refrain from military service. I heard the excuse about Mitt Romney's boys, " Should they just leave their families and go join the military? Is taking care of their wives and kids an important obligation? I think most of them if not all were married before this big deal with Iraq ever started."

That is a weak excuse for their lack of service. I was married and had children when I decided to join the military. It is absolutely possible to join the military and take care of your family.

Sadly, this war is a sham which was based on half-truths and lies. If you really support the war, fine, but walk the walk, it is way too easy to simply verbalize it. I've been there, I've seen the devastation, my very life was in danger. Don't tell me you support this war unless you are going to show that support by your actions.

Mitt Romney's boys are perfectly capable of joining the military right this instant and serving in Iraq. In fact, they could probably be there in a few months if everything worked out just right.

Otherwise, please keep your thoughts to yourself. If you, on the other hand, don't believe in this war, than you are perfectly justified in not serving and I support that decision 100%. At least your actions will be consistent with your words.

My advice to Romney's boys would be to refrain from any discussion about their support for this war. They choose not to serve and that is fine, but I don't want to hear about how much they support somebody else going to fight and die for a cause they believe in.

Jettboy said...

". . . and agree with much of what you said."

Forgive me, but it sounds like you don't agree with what I am saying. That is unless you are making a comment by "going into philosophical discussions of how right or wrong that might be" in how Mormons approach war. In that case, forgive my response.

My argument is that some?many? Mormons find it perfectly acceptable to support a war, but not pick up a gun to show that support. They seem to believe that going on missions, raising children, and doing an honest day's work is just as much "support by your actions" than going into combat. The whole point is to show HOW they have come to that conclusion.

Again, if you are just stating your position relative to this, then I am sorry for my reaction. To be perfectly honest, I disagree with you and believe along with my post there is more than one way to show support for a war than going into combat. Although, I have the greatest respect for those who do. On the other hand, I don't think stumping for your father shows a support for the war (although I don't think that is what Romney meant). Teaching your kids to be good citizens (regardless of combat experience) is one of the ways I see as supporting the war.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, to live a good life and serve in other less dangerous capacities is equal to serving in the military in times of war."

This is unbelievably ignorant, ugly, and unfair to those of us who are veterans and/or have loved ones serving in Iraq at this time. Are you seriously going to claim that in "living a good life" one is sacrificing as much as those of us who have family members serving on the front lines, at risk every day? (My brother is an MP, and he never knows whether he will be shot by the Iraqi police he is assigned to train, not to mention the explosive devices.)

If your way is "equal," do you go into a cold sweat and feel like puking when one of your siblings phones, for fear that it is bad news about our beloved brother?

My brother and I both opposed this war from the beginning. It was planned by neocons who were mostly draft-dodgers during Vietnam. They clearly considered the lives of other people's children as not mattering much when they decided on their adventuresome plans.

"some?many? Mormons find it perfectly acceptable to support a war, but not pick up a gun to show that support."

I don't think there are "many" Mormons who are that stupid. A few, maybe. But integrity and truthfulness also matters to most Mormons, and most are going to see through the lie you have proposed.

If you want to go to war, send your own family, not mine.

Jettboy said...

"If your way is "equal," do you go into a cold sweat and feel like puking when one of your siblings phones, for fear that it is bad news about our beloved brother?"

Equal from an emotional and safety standpoint? I will concede it isn't. Equal for perserving the freedoms we now have as American citizens? I believe that completely. Just because we support tha War doesn't mean we or our families feel called to physical combat. There are other ways to serve and keep America alive and free. Just like not everyone will be a fireman, police officer, etc. That doesn't mean those who aren't should be labeled unAmerican or not supportive.

Anonymous said...


I feel I just need to clarify what I said before. I particularly agree with your statement about Moroni and why he was the greatest military hero of the Book of Mormon. He fought in the wars, and he was most adamant about stopping them.

I have fought in a war. For those who have not fought in war, it is impossible to understand that sacrifice. I am against this war. My soul suffers in ways that words are not capable of describing each day that this war continues.

I will say again, if you support this war, then leave your family, your friends, and your comfortable life and go and fight in it. Then and only then, will you understand that sacrifice. Until then, please do not offend veterans and those with family members whose lives are in mortal danger by giving lip service to something that you cannot understand.

Read the words of Moroni and understand why he wanted to end war. He knew first hand the horrors of war. That is why he was a warrior for peace. Satan is the reason we fight and he is the source of all hatred and conflict. Let us follow Christ and keep within our hearts the Holy Spirit, which is the spirit of peace, the spirit of love, the spirit of Christ.

Anonymous said...


Before I fought in war, I did not fully understand the words of Book of Mormon prophets who wrote about their military service. I did not fully understand the sacrifice of Mormon, Moroni or the sons of Helaman. In fact, I know that I have not faced many of the trials that they endured in battle.

We fight in wars because Satan is doing his best to stir up the hearts of men to hatred. We as LDS should support peace.

The war on terror is a lie. A lie that was conceived by Satan. Please read Helaman 6:39, as it is very applicable to what we see today.

I pray that we will all be blessed with the Spirit, that we may recognize good from evil. Many have been fooled, but it is not too late. We are all imperfect and are susceptible to the lies of Satan. We can change and we can follow Christ. Every LDS member should support the cause of peace. War is antithetical to peace in every way, shape or form.

I appreciate your patriotism. Let that patriotism go to supporting the Constitution, and let us not be fooled into thinking we can sacrifice the Constitution for security.

I pray that we can come to a mutual understanding. Thank you again, and I pray that we will all have the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us.

No-one-12345 said...

Great post Jettboy, this is something that I've been thinking about as well as I am a supporter of the Iraq War but do not feel inclined to join the Military. I would however feel honored if one of my children chose to join, but that is a long way off since they are still in diapers.

I think the important thing to note today is that we have a volunteer military. No one is being forced to join, it is available as an opportunity and I think it is a great and honorable career to choose.

But the idea that the only way to support the Iraq War is by being a soldier is a faulty one. Consider the hypothetical about an engineer with advanced knowledge of robotics. Would he serve his country better by being an infantryman or by working for a defense contractor and building better weapons for soldiers?

It does not have to be so obvious a comparison either, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and has a unique way to contribute to our society. There are far too many different career options within our society that involve sacrifice on behalf of others for us to fulfill them all.

Regarding other posts. The War on Terror is reality. There are people in this world who are organized and want to kill us. Feel free to stick your head in the sand but do not complain when those of us that are willing to confront the ugly reality want something to be done about it.

And I see no virtue in peace at the expense of the freedom and liberty of others. Keep in mind that the Iraq War was won years ago. At this point our primary mission is a stabilizing one. Our presence is supporting a democratic government.

Perhaps the range of opinions here reflects a modern day split similar to the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's and the rest of the Nephites? But bear in mind that both groups were considered righteous.

Unknown said...

Hello Jettboy, I am Sergeant Bell. I am in A-troop 5-7 Cav out of Ft. Stewart and part of 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. I have been serving here in Iraq since January 07 on my second tour. I have just read alot of the comments that people mostly anonymous have left, concerning hypocrisy and Mitt Romney's son's joining to fight in this war.

First I would like to say that it saddens me that Anonymous #1 feels so strongly about his veiwpoint. First I would like to ask him what exactly his job is. Second, how much he really knows about the Book of Mormon (he says he went on a mission, but am I missing something? Does he not know that there are many in the Book of Mormon who did not fight but supported the fighting, namely the Anti-Lehi Nephites who buried their swords never to pick them up again. They did not fight many whom were married. They did however support their children and rejoice in the choices they made.

Next, I would ask him and anyone else who claims to be a Latter Day Saint, why they think the war is a "Sham which was based on half-truths and lies" Come on know. Let's investigate this further, are we to not belive that the war in Iraq is a divine influence from our Father in Heaven. He may have not started the war. But I do believe in order for us to spread the gospel by sending in missionaries we need to ensure that Iraq is a secure nation and that they have religious freedom. Lets look at the American Revolution. Joseph Smith said that The leaders that created the constitution were all divinely given these idea's by the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. Go ahead look it up. You'll find it in the teachings of Joseph Smith. What they did caused many people their lives. Some of them didn't even fight in the war, namely Benjamin Franklin who supported the war and signed the Decleration of Independence.

TO close this out. It saddens me to see a man tell another that he is not allowed to support the war because he has not fought in it. Or because he has not donated his family members. That is foolish. Anyone who says something like that didn't actually fight the ground portion of the war, and in actualality is probally a finance clerk. I have fought on the ground in OIF 2 and now 5, As a 19k Tanker and now as a 19D Cavalry Scout.

I pray for all your safety. I bid thee farewell. I know that Jesus Christ came to this Earth and presented unto a boy who has more faith than anyone who ever has or ever will walk the earth, besides Jesus Christ, the plan of truth and I know that This boy Joseph Smith is a true prophet. I know that Gordon B. Hinkley is a true prophet today! I know that the Book of Mormon is true and the church of Jesus Christ is restored on the Earth today! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Oh and anyone who wants to support the war. Write me a letter. send it to
SGT Jason Bell
A-troop 5-7 Cav
APO AE 09387


Tigersue said...

Some times I am amazed that the comments people make! I have a nephew, and brother-in-law and good friends, all in the military, all joined up before the war, all that feel we need to be there! My nephew and others that have served there all talk about the good going on there! How can we turn a blind eye to that. Since when does everyone have to join the military. Frankly I would rather have people that want to be there be there. I know I am not made for it, neither is my husband. If he had to serve he would but his temperment is not suitable for military service. That does not mean that you have to be mean, or violent, it is something else deep down inside I think. I admire any person that joins and I am not going to sit here and throw statements that someone should join the armed services! It is flat out wrong. I get tired of the left side of the isle thinking it is okay for people like our former president to not only not serve in the war they love to complain about the right candidates not serving in, but he also protested the military in every chance he got! They can not and should not throw daggers at others when they have their own example of "draft dodging." I have never thought of missions as a means to avoid the draft, as far as I am concerned and what I understand, if you are drafted you are drafted. You never know if your service in the military will be one of those things that will help spread the gospel to others.

How can they also ignore the fact that Utah has had the highest percentage of National Guards Men called to duty! That is not a sign of cowardice in my mind. To join the military should take just as much prayer, thought, and care as the choice to serve a mission!

I support the war, I support the troops. It does not mean I LOVE WAR, I Hate it. I also recognize that in this age somethings need to happen. If the left wants to say it was a sham they need to look at the things their own leaders said Long before President Bush took office!

Anonymous said...

Mormons do not have to serve in the event of a draft.

I do not want a President that makes choices FOR war, that the children of others have to fight.

Romney supports the status quo. The American people do not.

Grammy num nums said...

I don't know if any of you are old enough to remember Vietnam, but I do. I had friends die there, and friends that returned. I believe that those who died are a lot closer to the celestial kingdom then most of us. To give up your life to ensure continued freedom to worship the way you believe is pretty big. With out it, the Gospel would flounder. I'm sure you all believe that.
My grandson will turn 18 in August. For as long as he can remember, he has wanted to serve in the military. He will leave for basic training 3 days after his 18th birthday. At church, he has been given a bad time. This is hard for me to understand. In the 60's and 70's the ward had a farewell for both military and missionary service.
I had a brother in law that was in the Navy during vietnam. He was babtized Christmas Eve 1966. When he returned to the ship, he asked around about an LDS Service but found there wasn't one. However, he found other LDS Sailors and soon there was a meeting every Sunday. My Dad was the Bishop at the time and almost every month, this sailor wrote my Dad for more literature and Book of Momon's. He was responsible for 12 of the other Sailors getting babtized. Now, I feel he did complete a mission.
I support President Bush and I feel that the far left has done a good job of bad mouthing him. In a few years, President Bush will be remembered as a great President. You know, mobs wanted to hang President Lincoln. Now, he is considered one of the best. Also, We all need to pray that good men will continue to want to join the service and fight the terrorists over there instead of in our own country. Let's just all try to get along. I just want the say that maybe those that have a negative outlook about Iraq should be watching Fox News, it's fair and balanced!

Unknown said...

the inherent hypocrisy Mormons show toward patriotism and military service is rampant. I was mobilized and left six children at home. Fellow ward members were too busy paying for their boats and McMansions that their righteousness had earned them to lift a finger to help my wife. Mormons regularly deem a youth a "failure" if he chooses the marines over a mission. Yes, the book of Mormon speaks of such evil people--the fat ones who do little to help the troops. Like King Noah. We need a Teancum to prick some folks once in a while. To remind them that without our troops every temple in the land would burn, and garments would be ripped off our bodies, and mittster might see his daughters in law raped before his horrified eyes. Wake up and smell the cordite, jettboy. And if you don't know what cordite is, then shut the hell up.

Jettboy said...

Phil, you have my sympathy. Your words show anger at me, but what you say I can agree with in regards to supporting our troops by supporting those left behind. What happened with you and your wife is a tragedy and there should be a reconing.

On the other hand, I really think my words were misunderstood. I think freedom is a two way road. What good is it to fight for freedom and democracy if joining the military is forced or living your life as a citizen is un-patriotic? On the other hand, what good is freedom and democracy if you are not willing to fight for it with your life against its enemies?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone point me to anything from the Church that discusses the option of military service over a mission? In the above posts I saw a few references to negativity in that regard. And I know CULTURALLY, TODAY such a choice might be frowned on by MEMBERS, but I'm interested in official policy from the Church itself on this. The website doesn't go into it much at all. Magazine articles? Speeches to LDS military? Anything?

What brought me here is that my sister is frantic and depressed over her son's choice to enter the air force rather than serve a mission (mormon culture in action). I'm actually THRILLED at his choice and my respect for him has skyrocketed for being bold and smart and different in this way. That's not to say I don't respect the choice to serve a mission; I served one myself and support others who serve as well. But I want to comfort my sister by dispelling the idea that this is somehow an inferior choice. I do have a vague memory of hearing that the church considers military service a valid and honorable choice, but am I thinking of WWII?

Anything you could provide that would help my sister know it's not the end of the world, would be very much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I think it is ridiculous to say that you have to fight in the war to support it. I supported the war because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat to our country's security and it is as simple as that. I continue to support the war because I think there is a good chance it can be successful and that the Iraqi people can have a better life which would in turn have benefits for the stability of the region and thus for our country. I have not joined the military but that does not mean that I have to think we should ignore threat's to our nation. At the same time I think it is wrong to equate a mission with military service. First of all military service is much more dangerous. Missionaries are only sent to relatively peaceful and safe countries where Americans are at least tolerated. Second of all missionary service does not directly help the United States. While people who are converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be peaceloving that does not mean that they necessarily support the United States. In the foreign country where I served I met members who ranged from right wingers who loved America to anti-American communists and I think that is just fine. Being a church member does not mean you have to agree with everything the American government does. Lastly I think it is absurd to argue that going on a mission in any way helps the war in Iraq unless you are going on a mission to Iraq. The analogy to the sons of Mosiah just doesn't work. They went on a mission to the Lamanites who their people were fighting against, not to some other people who they weren't fighting.

Anonymous said...

I think too many old men are commenting on this blog. You need to take a look at current laws of the draft and obligated service agreements and stop going off of rumor, presumption, and Vietnam War era anecdotes. Mormons/Mormon missionaries are NOT exempt from military service. Those who have enlisted prior to missions can actually be called home form their missions to deploy.
I was married with a newborn when I was deployed. I joined the Army by choice. Therefore - it's hypocritical for anyone else who is or is claiming to be a service member to be angry with others (Mormon & Non-Mormon) who don't 'sign on the dotted line.' My commitment to my country was a personal decision and one that only an individual can make. You know the potential risks involved in joining any military. The United States does NOT have an active draft right now. So for everyone on here who has stated that this war is 'a sham,' and that the president is 'sending other people's friends off to die,' you obviously are in some kind of fantasy world. We have an ALL VOLUNTEER military - everyone who has joined wants to be there. If they don't like the way their employer does things - that's too bad. It was their choice and now they have to live with it. If I had my way, I would not have deployed, but in order to keep nations safe, militaries do not go around asking each individual solider if they 'feel' like going to war today. Part of being a Latter-Day Saint is that you obey the rulers over you and obey the laws of the land. If there's a draft - you go. If you're in the military and the president says you deploy...guess what, you deploy. I would never expect anyone else to do what I do, but it's sure as hell a lot nicer to come home and get a handshake or a pat on the back from someone who says "Thank you for your service to our country," than it is to come back & hear "This war is a sham." If you don't like it fine, I hope you're the first to die in the next terrorist attack. If you support the war and/or the troops - thank you, it means a lot. And for the writer of this blog – why don’t you back up your claims of Mormons not joining the military. Where’s your evidence? Where’s your proof? Show me an actual study performed by a respectable group. You won’t find the ‘proof’ you’re looking for because it doesn’t exist. You are either making false claims based on your own assumptions or, you’re just a liar – what do you think about that??????????

Jettboy said...

"And for the writer of this blog – why don’t you back up your claims of Mormons not joining the military. Where’s your evidence? Where’s your proof?"

I am not making that claim personally. Read my blog post more carefully. It is what the newspapers reported in relation to Romney and his family. Before you go nuts, I don't exactly trust reporters. However, I was using them as a way to discuss Mormons and the Military. Not sure why so many people have misread this article other than we all bring in our own biases toward what we read.

To those who have served, I salute you and all the good you have done. Just don't forget it is for us non-military (I couldn't join even if drafted) that you serve so that we can make choices you didn't. Not every civilian who doesn't serve is a liberal hippie.

Anonymous said...

The bishopric came to my house to talk me out of enlisting in the active duty Marines after high school. The Guard and Reserve will cut you loose for 2 years to do your mission but the regulars (at least in my day) did not. Utah has a higher than usual percentage of men in the Guard and Reserve and a lower than usual percentage of guys in the regulars. Does this really surprise anyone? The church sees post-high school active duty military service as a threat to the missionary program and has seen it as such for decades. SW Kimball made the comment about military service and missionary service to throw a bone to the guys who werent amongst the lucky 2 per ward who got to go on missions. No mission, no college - hello South Vietnam! Now there is no draft and every good mormon kid is expected to don the white shirt and tie first and foremost. So yeah, Mormons go in for active duty military service less than other groups. I think some Utah folks wince when they hear that because they thing it is some sort of attack on their "rah rah Republican red-state" persona. Utah ranks about 46th in the percentage of its population who are veterans. I'm a second generation Marine and frankly, I've told my kids to stay out of the service.

Anonymous said...

My father died in Vietnam while Mitt Romney was playing gmaes and stealing other people's money. I name him coward, and traitor, and evildoer.

Anonymous said...

wow! what a moral dilema. it must have been nice back in the 60's to have a choice not to go. what were those guy's thinking that fled to canada, all they had to do was join the LDS. Not a mention of "class" in any of your post. lets face it guy's, people with money dont risk thier blood or treasure as the founders did because these wars you speak of were not real wars they were physical manifestations of cold like johnson and dick cheney sending people to thier demise for the financial elite class of folks who run this country.

Anonymous said...

I was educated in a Quaker College and learned about their objection to war. Young men are given an opportunity to alternative service which I support. However, I have always had a problem with individuals who want to lead America and have never served. 14 members of my family have served. While it is difficult to write those letters to families, one can NEVER understand what is to serve if you have not been there. This applies particularlly to Bush, Clinton and Obama.

Anonymous said...

I have opinions (:-O) but I like to let people see what made me arrive at them.
War sure ain't what it use to be.

1.) Good intentions is how to sell a war.

Senator Harry Truman denounced war profiteering as "treason."

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

I believe money now trumps morals and life.

Larry said...

I served in Vietnam. When I returned, I went to college and law school with the help of my veteran's benefits (OMG, an entitlement program).

While in law school I commuted with several classmates. One was a rabid conservative who had never served in the military. During an international crisis, he was spouting to the rest of us how we should send in the military. On the way home, I spotted a recruitment office. I pulled in and asked this rabid war hawk to get out. He was stunned. I told him that until he was ready to serve, he should not pontificate about sending others off to war.

Mitt is a few months younger then me. Personally, I feel that the guys who ran off to Canada and did not hide behind their church and religion to avoid military service deserve more respect. A mission to Paris...what a joke.

Anonymous said...

Vietnam Veteran here from MN - i don't personnally know any Mormons and haven't studied the history of Mormans and military service. The facts that I do know are George Rommey didn't serve in WWII, Mitt didn't serve in Vietnam and none of his sons have joined the military yet Mitt is a hawk on the military intervention in Iran. Just whose sons and daughters will fight the next war the republicans get us into - certainly not his.

Jettboy said...

First and foremost, this is or was a free country. No one has to serve in the military. Back then Romney went on a Mormon mission as was his right (dodging the draft in that way was totally legal). Those who say he got out of service by doing that are showing offense toward Mormonism, and that is your right. But, don't expect us Mormons who see military service and mission service as of equal importance to agree with your arguments. Preaching the Peace of God is in fact more noble for you aren't taking away the life of others.

Sending people off to war, while you don't fight, has a long and honorable history. Its even more important now that there is no draft.

Anonymous said...

if your lds missions are were to be equal to military service, than your missionaries would be serving in afghanistan and iraq or other muslim regions. i say this not to be hatefull. i think it is a passive type of cowerdism. i think you beleive in what is easy to believe. the same goes for all of are liberal "heroes" who march the streets of san fransico in the name of gay rights or womens liberation. how noble. what risks you take. jesus spoke in the heart of intolerance. he didn't travel to france to preach his ministry.

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