Several weeks ago my wife and I watched the new Tom Clancy movie on Amazon Prime called “Without Remorse.” The storyline is loosely based on Clancy’s book, but modernized/updated to reflect current geopolitical situations, even hinting at the current political divide the US finds itself in. Toward the end, when the viewer discovers who the bad guys really are, and that they are trying to start a war, the bad guy has a small speech. And in the speech he says “The Soviets were the greatest enemy we ever had. Because they united us. Now, we fight against each other. But then, the country was united against a common foe. We need that again.”
I have no doubt this is true. If China where to attack Hawaii, the political partisanship would quickly disappear as we unified behind a common enemy. We see current dictators, when domestics problems threaten them, reach out and start conflict with another country, to unite their people against this enemy.
I seems throughout history, from the very beginning, we needed a “common enemy” to help unit us. If we take the Temple Endowment as doctrine, then even Elohim saw that need to “allow Lucifer, our common enemy…. to tempt them, and to try them”.
The Mormon church has at times been united in its fight of a common enemy. The “gentiles” in the early church created an enemy, and united the Saints in the exodus to the west. The US Government’s anti-polygamy laws also provided a common enemy to keep the members unified. While these enemies where not created by the church for the sole purpose of uniting the members, they did in the end provide a unifying influence.
I’d like to explore modern enemies of the church that bring the members together for a common cause. The first one that jumps to my mind, I being a California resident, is Proposition 8 (law banning gay marriage, it passed but was overturned in court). The church said gay marriage was a threat to all families, and was a common enemy of God fearing people everywhere. The members came together with money and time, standing on street corners with signs, manning phone banks, and going door to to door. My take of gay marriage is if you don’t approve of it, and somebody of the same sex ask you to marry them, just say no.
More recently, the evil politicians that seek to take away our religious freedom seems to be the newest common enemy of the church. Elder Oaks and Bednar are the champions of this cause.
Another question is do you think church leaders purposely come up with a common enemy when it looks like the members are scattering? While it is easy to believe that a great famine in North Korea, with a popular uprising of the people could compel Kim Jong-un to sit in a meeting and say “we need to provoke the USA to get the people’s efforts united against an enemy”, I don’t see the Q15 sitting around in a meeting and deciding what “bogeyman” the church needs to unit the members. I think the Q15 genuinely believe the so called enemies are really a threat to the church members, and that they are obligated by their divine calling to warn the people. Any unification of the members that come from the warning is a nice benefit, but not the original purpose.
In fact I believe that calling out a “common enemy” of the church in today’s environment can actually have the opposite effect of unification. Making LGBTQ people an enemy is actually dividing the church today, as evidenced by what happened with the exclusion policy of 2015-2019. Also the Church is still dealing with the bad outcome of Prop 8.
So the questions for you who have lasted to the end of this rambling post:
- What are some of the “common” enemies” that the church leaders have put forth in the past? What are some of the current ones?
- Do you think any of the enemies have a unifying affect on the general membership, or the opposite?
- Do you think the Q15, when deciding what to warn the people about, even discuss whether it will bring the people together, or divide them? Should that even factor into the decision?
Now as Hawkgrrl would say: Discuss.