Our Imperiled National Promise
Stephen M. Studdert The relentless abundance and deepening gravity of horrendous news stories of the last week are almost unimaginable.
North Korea will test-fire its sixth short-range missile this week and is preparing to test-fire another long-range missile believed to be capable of striking American soil, all this while intelligence assets confirm a restarting of their nuclear development facilities. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking in Singapore last Saturday, strongly announced the U.S. “will not accept” a nuclear-armed North Korea. (Interesting, President Barrack Obama announced the closing of America ‘s space defense system the day after the North Koreans last intercontinental missile launch.)
Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation, is at battle with an advancing Taliban, now only sixty miles from the capital city Islamabad.
Nuclear-armed Israel, on edge because of Iran ‘s escalating rhetoric, nuclear development, and improving missile launch capability, conducts a week-long, country-wide war drill involving every citizen.
Our nation’s president incredibly, yet not surprisingly, announced “we’re out of money.” The Treasury announced it will need to issue a staggering $1.84 trillion in new Treasury debt this year – just to finance the expected federal deficit. And the Federal Reserve announced there are $14.5 trillion in U.S. government securities, agency securities and mortgage-backed securities outstanding in the world. Against this factual backdrop, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tells Chinese leaders in Beijing their investments in U.S. Treasury bonds “are very safe,” drawing laughter from the skeptical audience. China is the largest foreign owner of U.S. Treasury bonds.
General Motors, the company Congress long called “too big to fail,” did just that by filing bankruptcy, as the federal government becomes a sixty percent stock owner.
And of special alarm to Latter-day Saints, an apostle – Elder Russell M. Nelson – along with his wife and other Church leaders, was attacked, assaulted, and robbed in Mozambique.
Though these disturbing happenings of the last week are staggering in their mounting implications for you and me, and are surely enough to cause more than a few sleepless nights, there is far weightier danger in an insidious transformation quietly unfolding in the Washington corridors of power.
Not wishing to appear politically partisan, I have remained silent – until now – on the present conduct of American foreign policy, and what it potentially means to Latter-day Saints. Limited by space I offer just two of many worrisome examples.
First, the trip of President Barack Obama this week to the Middle East highlights the subtle yet dangerous changes underway. Much is being made by many about his not going to Israel ; I don’t accept those conclusions, at least on face value. Yes, it indeed may be a purposeful and message-filled snub, but when Presidents travel abroad a complex and complicated mosaic of bilateral and multilateral considerations coupled with time and logistics determine the schedule. To thus conclude his “skipping” Israel is an intentional affront may be overreaching.
What is shocking about this presidential trip, however, is the United States has agreed with demands of the Saudi monarchy to limit journalists accompanying the President to only covering formal meetings, and prohibiting visiting elsewhere in Saudi Arabia or reporting on anything else. Our capitulating State Department, in announcing this remarkable agreement, informed reporters that those in violation will be “subject to arrest.”
Over the years as a presidential advisor I accompanied U. S. Presidents to dozens of foreign lands. Customarily, coverage of official diplomatic discussions is necessarily and understandably limited, but never would the United States have agreed to such constitutionally abhorrent restrictions on American media. Such restraint on freedom of Americans would almost certainly have resulted in cancellation of the President’s trip, accompanied by a strong diplomatic protest.
We each should find wholly unacceptable this U.S. government acquiescence to foreign limitations on American press. If our federal government accepts such media limitations, what future foreign limitations may it accept for you and me?
Second, and even more deeply concerning to me, and should be to you, is the accelerating global abandonment of Jesus Christ by the President of the United States. President Obama has said to foreign nations: “We’re no longer a Christian nation” and we are “a secular nation.”
Such an historic presidential departure should be beyond comprehension. Since our national beginning, America ‘s leaders have boldly declared our dependence on our Lord.
The Mayflower Compact , authored by Governor William Bradford in 1620, declares “Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Chris tian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia …” Of the Pilgrims, Governor Bradford wrote their purpose was “… for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Chris t in those remote parts of the world” we now call the United States.
Patrick Henry, known by his contemporaries as the Orator of the Revolution , said : “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Chris tians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Chris t.”
Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said : “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Chris tianity?”
They’re not alone; every American president throughout our national history has thus proclaimed. Until now.
From the very advent of this dispensation, Prophets too have unequivocally declared America to be a nation of Christ. President Wilford Woodruff said, “Those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits [and] were inspired of the Lord.” President J. Reuben Clark declared of the United States : “the only government on the face of the earth, since the Master was here, that God has formally declared was set up at the hands of men whom He raised up for that very purpose.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him . He has declared, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord “.
Elder L. Tom Perry gave counsel during our American Bicentennial in 1976 which is prophetically applicable to the circumstances of today: “I want to again remind you of your responsibility to preserve the righteousness of America. I have reviewed 4,000 years of history, declaring this to be a land of promise, chosen of the Lord for his special purposes. Now we must deal with America ‘s future. The land must continue to remain strong and great and good. It is destined to be the major supplier of human and financial resources, to build the kingdom of God here in the whole world, and to prepare the world for the return of the Lord and Savior. The adversary knows all too well that a weak America will literally stop this building process and thwart the work of God.”
It is time you and I – as Americans and especially as Latter-day Saints –awake from our silent slumber and require our national leaders to return from crooked paths. Our personal, family, religious, and national promise depends on it.