November 4, 2008

Beck, Hatch: Constitution Hanging By a Thread

The ever-voluble news commentator Glenn Beck (who happens to be LDS) interviewed Senator Orrin Hatch (R, UT, also LDS) today. Both made pretty explicit references to an aspect of the so-called "white horse prophecy" (WHP) by declaring that the constitution of the United States of America is now "hanging by a thread."1

This isn't the first time Sen. Hatch has used the prophecy in connection with a presidential election. In 1999 when he was making an early bid to run for the Republican nominee for President, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Hatch's reference during a 45-minute interview on KSL Radio's "The Doug Wright Show":

"[Democrats] tolerate everything that's bad, and they're intolerant of everything that's good. Religious freedom is going to go down the drain, too," Hatch said. "I've never seen it worse than this, where the Constitution literally is hanging by a thread."2
Sen. Hatch quickly denied his use of the phrase referred to the WHP.

More recently, Mitt Romney's candidacy brought the WHP back into the news, including a Wall Street Journal opinion article.3

Republicans haven't been the only ones to reference the WHP. According to the above mentioned Wall Street Journal piece:
Steve Olsen, the Democratic candidate for Utah's First Congressional District, told me that Smith's vision inspired him to run. According to Mr. Olsen, a party official persuaded him to throw his hat into the ring by alluding to the prophecy. "You owe it to the Lord and the people to run," Mr. Olsen was told by Larry Daniel, chairman of the Iron County (Utah) Democrats. When Mr. Daniel noted that "our Constitution is more under attack by the Republicans than by outside forces and you are one of the elders of Israel who can help save it," Mr. Olsen says he was moved.4
Interestingly enough, Google searches for "white horse prophecy" bring people to this blog almost every other day (this site is the 14th result).

Overall, I am disappointed to see these references especially given the non-canonical, unofficial, and somewhat questionable and tenuous nature of the WHP, which I believe, were it to be considered a fundamental aspect of the gospel, would have been included in a more formal source for the perusal of church members. I would have also expected more notice of this impending danger during the LDS General Conference which took place just one month ago.

In short, I oppose the blatant reference of the WHP by Beck, Hatch, and others in attempts to score political points, especially on the day of a presidential election. Unfortunately for Mr. Beck and Sen. Hatch, Mitt Romney isn't on the ticket this year. Perhaps they are holding out for a McCain victory and subsequent cabinet position for Romney? Oddly enough, there is already a Mormon in the upper echelons of the US Government; the current Senate majority leader is Harry Reid (D, Nevada). Reid is a Mormon.

I do not believe Hatch, Beck, or any others who have cited the prophecy in their own behalf, have a current or comprehensive understanding of the historical background of the WHP. For more on this, see George Cobabe's FAIR article here: [.pdf]. Cobabe argues that the "thread" aspect of the WHP should be considered as seperate and more reliable than the actual WHP. See also my notes from the 2008 FAIR conference presentation by Craig Foster and Newell Bringhurst: "The White Horse Prophecy."



FOOTNOTES
[1]
See GlennBeck.com, "Glenn Beck With Sen. Hatch: 'Constitution is Hanging By a Thread,'" Nov. 4, 2008. I should note there is a possibility that the phrase is simply used incidentally in this interview. I do not believe such is the case, however. From the transcript:
GLENN: Senator, do you believe -- I mean, when I heard Barack Obama talk about the Constitution and I thought, we are at the point or we are very near the point where our Constitution is hanging by a thread.

SENATOR HATCH: You got that right...

GLENN: The next generation our children will look to us and say, "You sold my freedom for what?" 
SENATOR HATCH: Well, let me tell you something. I believe the Constitution is hanging by a thread. I've been fighting the save it for all 32 years I've been in the Senate and I think anybody who looks at it knows I've been in almost every fight that's been saving the Constitution.

[2]
John Heilprin, "Did Hatch Allude to LDS Prophecy?" The Salt Lake Tribune, November 11, 1999.

[3]
Carrie Sheffield, "White Horse in the White House: Will a Mormon candidate fulfill Joseph Smith's prophecy?" Wall Street Journal, Friday, November 3, 2006.

[4]
ibid. 

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

dog-whistle politics:
n. a concealed, coded, or unstated idea, usually divisive or politically dangerous, nevertheless understood by the intended voters.

Steve Smoot said...

Obama!!

Sorry, but MADB got shut down so I have to say it here!

Obama!!

BHodges said...

I'm super stoked, brother.

Steve Smoot said...

"I'm super stoked, brother."

Me too! Huzzah!

Zen said...

To be honest, I could not even tell you the exact contents of the White Horse Prophecy, but the part about the Constitution is well verified doctrine. It has been referred to by many apostles and prophets.

BHodges said...

I believe, were the prophecy so vital, we would see it canonized, we would hear it emphasized, we would know much more about it than through extra-hand sources. The "hanging by a thread" concept is quite simply not official LDS doctrine. As the LDS Newsroom recently noted: "Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine." Further, "Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines." I don't see the "thread" issue as critical right now. Why? "Because different times present different challenges, modern-day prophets receive revelation relevant to the circumstances of their day." Read the recent conference addresses and see how many times the thread prophecy is mentioned. The entire statement on "Approaching Mormon Doctrine" is here:

http://tinyurl.com/ldsdoctrine

Lastly, LDS Prophets and Church leaders are not perfect, their statements are not always correct. See the following:

http://tinyurl.com/ldsprophet

Thanks for stopping by, zen!

rameumptom said...

Reality is, several GAs have quoted from the WPH, including Ezra Taft Benson, Joseph F. Smith, and others. While I don't necessarily agree with the entire prophecy, since its accuracy is questioned, it seems that at least this one statement from it is accepted by many General Authorities.

Pres Benson said,
'Joseph Smith predicted that the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time 'this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction'(Ezra Taft Benson, LDS president). Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 619. Benson quoted the White Horse prophecy in numerous lectures and publications.

Now, whether Barak Obama will destroy it, or George W Bush has already destroyed it for us, only time will tell.

BHodges said...

Reality is, were the prophecy so vital, we would most likely see it canonized, we would hear it emphasized (especially in the most recent General Conference), we would know much more about it than through extra-hand sources. I'm aware of then-Elder Benson's views on the matter. Nevertheless, the "hanging by a thread" concept is simply not official LDS doctrine. And ultimately, LDS Prophets and Church leaders are not perfect; their statements are not always correct.

Jeremy said...

I don't think "canonizing" something makes it more or less true or important to the Church, or its members. Right now, in view of all the moral decline in the world, the Lord is likely not interested in emphasizing Constitutional issues that have no bearing on our spiritual salvation. Instead, our Gen. Conferences are full of counsel warning us of the dangers of pornography and debt, and urging us to repent and be more charitable.

This doesn't mean those political issues are not true; as you well stated, "Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines."

I tend to agree with Zen and Rameumptum, however, in that several GA's have discussed the "hanging by a thread" statement. This does lend credence to the verity of such a statement. Then again, if you pay attention to the modern-day parallels apparent in the BofM, it is not that much of a stretch to say the Constitution will eventually be disregarded completely.

BHodges said...

I think canonization is very important. While I don't believe even the scriptures are inerrant or infallible, I believe the Lord has set up a certain standard of truth to which we can appeal.

Instead, our Gen. Conferences are full of counsel warning us of the dangers of pornography and debt, and urging us to repent and be more charitable.

Agreed. I think this is also illustrative of an expanding Church that is growing out of being a simply American institution. There is plenty "evil" in both political parties, and to use the "hanging by a thread" quote as a partisan tool to imply that one political party is better than another is, in my estimation, a drastic misuse of the prophecy, if we even have an accurate take of the prophecy at this point.

I tend to agree with Zen and Rameumptum, however, in that several GA's have discussed the "hanging by a thread" statement. This does lend credence to the verity of such a statement.

Several GA's discussing a statement does not a truth make. Several GA's talked about blood atonement, for example. Do you hear it discussed in conference any time recently? What I am saying is that Hatch and Beck are using the quote as a tool to imply Democrats are causing the constitution to hang by a thread. In reality, all political parties have participated in hacking at the constitution. Further, I believe the Constitution is a living document. I should note I am neither Republican or Democrat.

Then again, if you pay attention to the modern-day parallels apparent in the BofM, it is not that much of a stretch to say the Constitution will eventually be disregarded completely.

It very well could, but the odd thing is how many LDS actually believe there is a closely comparable "Republic" government set up in the Book of Mormon, which, to be frank, is not the case. The world right now already "lieth in sin," as the D&C says, and it's not simply because of one political party over another.

Anyway, Jeremy, thanks for adding your thoughts to the pot in a very agreeable fashion.

Jeremy said...

The fact that Joseph Smith Sr.'s alcohol problem isn't "canonized," doesn't make it any less true. It's just not something that is emphasized.

I agree with you that the WHP cannot be relied upon as credible, but I think the GA's have had it right consistently that direction of this governemnt is continually going downhill. Some define this as the Constitution "hanging by a thread."

I think our political views are quite the same, I also can't claim allegiance to either major party. But, I also believe that our country is slipping away from the Constitutional ideals that made this country so great. In particular, we are transforming into a socialist nanny-state that will inevitably breed a generalized sense of entitlement and laziness. We have dramatically veered from the ideals of "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do your your country."

To me, that attitude flies directly in the face of the Constitution which does not say what the government must do for the public, but instead what they shall NOT be allowed to do. Because the Constituion is consistently being twisted around, I agree that it may soon "hang by a thread."

BHodges said...

In particular, we are transforming into a socialist nanny-state that will inevitably breed a generalized sense of entitlement and laziness.

I hear a lot of generalities about this, but never really many specifics. I think it is great if the US has the recourses to lift those who will be lifted. Of course some people can exploit it. Still, does that mean we should eliminate the help? The war in Iraq, some pretty serious exploitation there. Maybe cut military off? I'd rather not, despite the possible problems.

Humans First said...

I've got to say, I disagree with this blog. When our government is writing bills that attempt to limit our freedom of religion, the constitution DOES hang by a thread. I'm sorry you think that Glenn Beck is trying to gain political favor by standing up for what's right. If he really wanted to just gain political favor, he would insult the mormon church, because that would gain him more political favor than standing up for the church. Most people ignorantly hate mormons. Think about it.

BHodges said...

I've thought a good deal about it. Beck's comment wasn't made in order to impress Mormons. There are many things about which I disagree with Beck. Fortunately for us both, I don't have time right now to get into a small controversy over it.

God bless.

K Knight said...

In his first few days in office, President Obama set the stage for the Constitution to hang by a thread, brittle or otherwise, when he signed executive order after executive order. That we are arguing over something that may or may not have been said is ridiculous in light of the fact that whatever the case, it is now a reality. That is where our focus should be, not on the past, but the present state of the Constitution, which is dismal at best.

A forum has been established to study the Constitution at www.knoyd.com/usconstitution for those interested.

BHodges said...

Thanks for the opinion, K Knight.

Anonymous said...

I remember a statement issued by the First Presidency in the late 1960's or early 1970's (perhaps during the administration of Joseph Fielding Smith) saying that the White Horse Prophecy was not true.

But you can find the Constitution-hanging-by-a-thread reference in a number of more reliable places:

http://www.ldslastdays.com/default.aspx?page=pscthread.htm

One last thing: don't trust everything you read. Any good historian uses a scientific, objective means of evaluating the source of a quotation. Is it a primary or secondary source (recorded close to the even by a reliable recorder or later when memories fade or motives could be questioned)?

Dane Bounds
Hammond, Louisiana
danebounds@yahoo.com

BHodges said...

Thanks for the comments, Dane. I add that I hesitate to use words like "scientific" and "objective" in the area of historical inquiry. You rightfully urge caution in the use of historical sources, but I think "objectivity" and "science" don't apply as well to historiography.

Russell Ricks said...

Whether you believe the WHP or not, isn't it a coincidence that this 19th century "Prophecy" and what is going on in the march to socialism government especially today is parellel with what Smith said? It's more than coincidence!

How about the prophecy of the Civil War or the health warning in the word of wisdom? Were those coincidental too?

What about Ezra Taft Benson's warning of Socialism and Communism in an LDS General Conference in the 1950-1960's? Find it on U TUBE. Even JFK tried to warn us of men working in the government in darkness, before he was assassinated. Coincidence? Ha!

The Constitution IS HANGING BY A THREAD. The so called Progressives think our sacred constitution is too old fashioned to even give it time of day. Wake Up America!

BHodges said...

Russell,

Thanks for stopping by. I do not have time at the present to engage in an interesting discussion with you on these issues, so this will be my only response. I doubt completely that this will change your opinions, but for onlookers I will give it a go.

Whether you believe the WHP or not, isn't it a coincidence that this 19th century "Prophecy" and what is going on in the march to socialism government especially today is parellel with what Smith said? It's more than coincidence!

Personally, I think people are currently jumping to desperate and wild conclusions currently due to the recent presidential election and the shift of power from Republican to Democrat. The trouble I see is the careful selection of evidence, and the interpretation of that evidence, that really constructs the story to make it look plausible. I think there are different ways to read the "signs of the times," however. Where were all of the people 5 years ago or over the entire last administration, harping about the "socialist" things they were doing? These charges of socialism are political word-games built on revised and inaccurate history. America has had "socialist" aspects for decades. "Socialism" itself is treated as an entire entity, fully evil, without recognizing the faulty nature of such quick judgment. It's the school of Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh who are crying out as loud as they can, and frankly, I do not trust any of those men in terms of politics.

How about the prophecy of the Civil War or the health warning in the word of wisdom? Were those coincidental too?

First, that's not really a fair comparison as I have argued, regarding the canonization and tracing of those two things versus the more speculative WHP. Further, if God was so concerned about it, I think we'd have such a prophecy in our canon, or we'd have a modern prophet declaring it to all. So I think the foundation is sandy there. Frankly, I see those grasping this prophecy as political gospel hobbyists who may be neglecting the weightier matters. Granted it is not my job to judge, but I admit my personal thoughts anyway.

What about Ezra Taft Benson's warning of Socialism and Communism in an LDS General Conference in the 1950-1960's? Find it on U TUBE. Even JFK tried to warn us of men working in the government in darkness, before he was assassinated. Coincidence? Ha!

Not everyone was pleased with (then_Elder Benson's remarks then, and not everyone is pleased with them now. Interestingly, that sort of rhetoric quickly faded when he became "President" Benson, ie under the mantle of the prophet. Frankly, some of the things Elder Benson said are kind of embarrassing now, time has certainly not vindicated him on some of the things he said.

The Constitution IS HANGING BY A THREAD. The so called Progressives think our sacred constitution is too old fashioned to even give it time of day. Wake Up America!

I presume you would label me as a "progressive," but really this boils down to your accusing me of not agreeing with your current interpretation of history. That's fine, as long as I can point out what it is you are really doing. Your cry for America to "wake up" is self-serving and self-congratulatory. You've stacked the deck. There are different and important perspectives to consider, and I hope that isn't too "progressive" for you.

Thanks again.

Greg said...

Here is the "only known contemporary account" in which Joseph Smith mentioned that the Constitution to Hang by a Thread.

BHodges said...

Thanks for the link, Greg.

Chris Kite said...

I thought you might be interested in my article on "The Constitution Hanging By a Thread" that ties together Mormon themes with Dred Scott, Antietam, and the purpose of the Constitution per the D&C.

http://lifegoesonconsulting.blogspot.com/

BraveBell said...

BHodges: I would be interested to understand how a belief in a "living constitution" can secure to the people their liberties. The Declaration of Independence was written with the direct and clear statement that as human beings, we have certain inaleinable rights which are derived NOT from any man-made form of government or piece of paper, but are divinely bestowed by the Creator. A "living constitution" creates the problematic scenario where these inalienable rights are derived NOT from God, but from this document that can take away those rights - in order to be more "progressive" and "modern" and "up-to-date" with the times. I believe the Constitution was based upon eternal principles which are unchangeable - just as the gospel is based on unchangeable principles. . .

A living consitution to me means that the rules can be changed by the will of those in power. Furthermore, the Constitution is a document outlining the LIMITS of government, and makes it clear that any rights or liberties not enumerated in that (sacred - in my view) document, are retained by the states, and by the individual. We have gone very far astray from that foundational footing . . .

BHodges said...

I believe the Constitution was based upon eternal principles which are unchangeable - just as the gospel is based on unchangeable principles. . .

Thanks for stopping by, BraveBell. I believe such eternal principles involve change. Eternal progression, adjustment, improvement, repentance, etc.

Obat Aborsi Cytotec said...

i like post

Obat Perangsang Wanita said...

nice info

herbal isme said...


cara menghilangkan kutil pada kemaluan pria
CARA MENGOBATI KUTIL KELAMIN INTERNAL
cara menghilangkan kutil pada kemaluan secara alami
obat tradisional kutil kelamin
obat tradisional buat kutil kelamin
Mengobati kutil kelamin dengan obat tradisional
obat tradisional menyembuhkan kutil kelamin
obat tradisional untuk kutil kelamin
cara menyembuhkan kutil pada kemaluan
obat alami menghilangkan kutil kelamin
mengobati kutil kelamin dengan obat tradisional
obat alami menyembuhkan kutil kelamin
KUTIL KELAMIN AKIBAT VIRUS HPV
obat kutil kelamin tanpa operasi
Cara mengobati kutil secara alami
OBAT HERBAL KUTIL DI KEMALUAN ATAU JENGGER AYAM
cara mengobati kutil di kemaluan wanita
obat paling ampuh untuk menghilangkan kutil
BAGAIMANA MENGENAI GEJALA KUTIL PADA KELAMIN

OBAT HERBAL DE NATURE said...

cara menghilangkan kutil pada kemaluan pria
CARA MENGOBATI KUTIL KELAMIN INTERNAL
cara menghilangkan kutil pada kemaluan secara alami
obat tradisional kutil kelamin
obat tradisional buat kutil kelamin
Mengobati kutil kelamin dengan obat tradisional
obat tradisional menyembuhkan kutil kelamin
obat tradisional untuk kutil kelamin
cara menyembuhkan kutil pada kemaluan
obat alami menghilangkan kutil kelamin
mengobati kutil kelamin dengan obat tradisional
obat alami menyembuhkan kutil kelamin
KUTIL KELAMIN AKIBAT VIRUS HPV
obat kutil kelamin tanpa operasi
Cara mengobati kutil secara alami
OBAT HERBAL KUTIL DI KEMALUAN ATAU JENGGER AYAM
cara mengobati kutil di kemaluan wanita
obat paling ampuh untuk menghilangkan kutil
BAGAIMANA MENGENAI GEJALA KUTIL PADA KELAMIN

Obat Aborsi said...

I believe the Constitution was based upon eternal principles which are unchangeable - just as the gospel is based on unchangeable principles. . .

Thanks for stopping by, BraveBell. I believe such eternal principles involve change. Eternal progression, adjustment, improvement, repentance.

Cytotec said...

tanks more info

Obat Telat Bulan said...

I believe the Constitution was based upon eternal principles which are unchangeable - just as the gospel is based on unchange

jual Kondom Online said...

Thank you for the information
jual kondom

tubidy.net.co said...

nice site

obatherbal said...

jual Obat Aborsi paling ampuh harga termurah untuk kota Jakarta, bekasi,bandung, surabaya, medan dan cara menggunakan obat aman ini Pemesanan Hub : 081223195599

艾丰 said...

jianbin0816
jianbin0816
lululemon outlet online
true religion jeans
hollister shirts
tiffany and co jewelry
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet online
nike roshe run
omega watches
fitflops uk
true religion jeans sale
ralph lauren femme
michael kors outlet online
iphone case
michael kors outlet store
tiffany jewellery
converse shoes
adidas nmd runner
ray ban sunglasses
snapbacks wholesale
swarovski outlet
christian louboutin outlet
ralph lauren outlet
beats by dr dre
swarovski crystal
moncler jackets
coach outlet clearance
coach outlet store
mulberry handbags
michael kors outlet store
michael kors outlet
polo ralph lauren
coach outlet online

dong dong23 said...

nike air max 90
louis vuitton outlet
burberry handbags
jordan retro 3
beats headphones wireless
polo shirts
gucci outlet
kevin durant shoes 8
juicy couture
coach outlet online
nike roshe flyknit
asics running shoes
gucci handbags
polo ralph lauren outlet
michael kors handbags
true religion jeans
ugg boots
cheap uggs
ray ban sunglasses
tory burch outlet
uggs outlet
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
cheap jordans
ghd hair straighteners
jordan concords
christian louboutin paris
uggs on sale
louis vuitton outlet
adidas yeezy
coach outlet
louis vuitton
washington wizards jerseys
longchamp outlet
uggs sale
canada goose coats
christian louboutin sale
toms shoes
20168.18wengdongdong

Post a Comment

All views are welcome when shared respectfully. Use a name or consistent pseudonym rather than "anonymous." Deletions of inflammatory posts will be noted. Thanks for joining the conversation.