Guest Post: Before We Make Up Our Minds

Charlie Fuller has a BS in Sociology and an MPA from BYU and works as a management analyst in the public sector. She and her husband live in Utah County.

Before we make up our minds about whether or not to allow Middle Eastern refugees into Utah, we need to take a long hard look at the blood-soaked history of these desert-dwelling religious extremists. In the past 50 years we’ve seen bombings (1), shooting sprees (2), radicalized insurgents (3), torture of political enemies (4), firing squad executions (5), the taking of child brides (6), the killing of innocent women and children (7), and the declaration of war in the name of spreading religious ideologies (8).

But what can you expect from a people whose Prophet married children (9), preached the killing of sinners (10), instituted blood oaths, and raised up armies (11)?

These are a people who have sworn vengeance on the United States and have fought a war against this country (12).

Their scriptures preach violence: “And the spirit said: slay him, for God has delivered [your enemy] into your hands… God slays the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes…Therefore I did obey and I cut off his head.” (13)

and oppression of women: “And let [the first wife] receive all those [plural wives] who have been given to my servant, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure and have said they were pure will be destroyed… And I command [the first wife] to abide and cleave unto my servant and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she will be destroyed; for I am your God and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.” (14)

Is it wise to let these Muslim refugees into Utah? I mean, they’ve already been through so much with civil wars, terrorist attacks, and drone strikes. Is it fair to bring them into a community full of members of such a violent religion? Will they be safe among the Mormons?

Oh…oh did you think I was talking about Muslim violence? No, no all of these examples are from Mormonism (see citations below).

“But Charlie,” you say, “that’s just silly. Mormons aren’t violent.”

To which I would reply, “But some are. I’ve listed examples right here in this post.”

“But,” you might retort, “most of your examples are from fundamentalists, extremists, or whackos. It’s not fair to judge a whole group of millions of people by their outliers.”

“Exactly. So maybe we shouldn’t fear all 1.6 BILLION Muslims based on the actions of their fundamental extremists when the vast majority of them are peaceful, lovely people like you.”

“But,” you splutter, “Islam is an inherently violent religion! They have sharia law and jihad in the Koran!”

“And Mormonism has preached blood oaths and blood atonement. Only 4 or so generations back, Mormons still swore vengeance on the US for the death of Joseph Smith as part of the temple ceremony – where our most sacred covenants are made. And don’t even get me started on the genocidal violence in the Old Testament or Pauline oppression of women in the New Testament. Those things you fear about Islam are also woven into the fabric of your religion. You can’t condemn one without indicting the other.”

End Scene

Look, Mormons of all people should understand that it is entirely possible for members of a seemingly radical religious group to live peaceful, productive lives within the US. Talk about not being the ones to cast the first stone! Sheesh!

There are plenty of reasons why it is the right decision to accept refugees into this country. They’ve been written about ad nauseam this weekend so I won’t rehash them all here. But I’ve gotten pretty sick and tired of watching a bunch of Mormon pots calling those Muslim kettles black.

1 Mark Hoffman
2 Ervil LeBaron
3 Ammon Bundy
4 Bruce Jessen
5 Ronnie Lee Gardner
6 Warren Jeffs

7 Lafferty Brothers
8 Sen. Gordon H. Smith: “Smith… said he voted for the Iraq War because he believed it would open the way to LDS Church missionary work there.”
9 Helen Mar Kimball
10 Blood Atonement
11 Nauvoo Legion
12 Mormon War
13 1 Nephi 4: 12, 13, 18
14 D&C 132: 52, 54

35 comments for “Guest Post: Before We Make Up Our Minds

  1. Immigration is a matter of public policy, not religion. Decisions must be made on public policy grounds, not religious grounds. Adherents of the same religion may hold differing public policy opinions — it is not necessary that they all agree. Religious sentiments might inform the public policy views of some adherents of a religion more so than those of other adherents of the same religion. Public policy decisions are best made in public policy forums, rather than religious forums. There is nothing in the scripture that establishes the “right” answer to the question of immigration. Latter-day Saints are free to disagree on this public policy matter.

  2. Ji, I totally agree. This post is not in response to public policy arguments made for or against immigration reform. It is in direct response to the hundreds of comments I’ve seen posted by Mormons saying we need to ban Muslims from entering the country because their religion is inherently violent. I’m arguing against those who would use religious arguments to inform public policy. If we want to have a public policy debate, I’m all for that. But that wasn’t the purpose of this post.

  3. I really enjoyed the post and generally agree with it. The overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful and there is no reason to fear entry of Muslim refugees into the US. However, you do engage in quite a bit of a false equivalence. Although most Muslims reject extremism, a small, yet still unsettling number, find acts such as suicide bombing in defense of Islam to be often or sometimes justified. According to 2013 Pew Poll data, this number was as high as 40% in the Palestinian Territories, 39% in Afghanistan, 29% in Egypt, and 26% in Bangladesh. It can be gleaned from the data that Muslims are more likely to interpret their religion as justifying acts of violence in defense of it than adherents of other religions around the world. By contrast, although there has been no poll conducted, it is highly reasonable to believe that virtually no one in Mormonism supports the acts of Mark Hoffman and the Lafferty Brothers as legitimate acts in defense of Mormonism. Plus, there is simply no trend of violence in the name of Mormonism. Those who have perpetrated violence defending Mormonism either lived more than 100 years ago under extremely different political circumstances, or they are crazy lone wolves who are not part of any movement within the Mormon community. A rather frightening current of violent religious extremism is sweeping the Muslim world to the extent that today there are no Muslim-populated countries exempted from it. From the Philippines to Morocco, from Tatarstan (part of Russia) to Tanzania, and across Muslim communities in the US and Western Europe, violent extremism is a growing trend about which we must exercise a good amount of caution, even if we should at the same time fully acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not pose a threat.

    Pew data can be found here:

  4. Just to second some of Dan’s comments, but if we were talking about post-Nauvoo 19th century Mormonism (especially as portrayed in the press) I’d think it’d be rational for people to not wanting them to immigrate. Of course then the Mormons were seeking to flee and it was the United States that kept coming in.

    The bigger issue is the numbers. In these areas we’re not just talking about a few exceptions. When people portray the level of violence that way they are being truly disingenuous and making discussion harder not easier.

    That said, most refugees are vetted very strongly. While nothing is perfect the level of ‘proof’ people are demanding of refugees seems extreme. I feel very bad at what conservatism has become. While the shift away from positive views of refugees under Ronald Reagan started in the 90’s what it has turned into makes me wonder what has happened to the GOP. That we as a country keep the number of admitted refugees at 50,000 since 1980 seems inexcusable. That said the other side hasn’t exactly left a good taste in my mouth either. Say what one will, but the sad reality is US refugee policy has been bad for decades and the radical thing Trump did wasn’t tightening it up but not respecting court orders when served.

  5. There are other historical examples of these same sentiments. In 1941 a man wrote this letter to Utah’s Governor Maw concerning another group he felt was dangerous to allow in his community:
    “Once a Jap, always a Jap. I suppose if my cat had kittens in a fish hatchery they would be fish?
    We will not tolerate Japanese here to sabotage and blast our industries, water systems, defense plants and beautiful cities.
    Governor, I hope you will keep these ruthless barbarians, these plague-dispensing savages far removed from our homes and farms and industries.” (

    Just sayin’.

  6. “Conveniently ignoring (or forgetting) history is not likely to help us make logical decisions.”

    Agree. It’s convienient to apply this logic to Mormons and ignores history. I’m not opposed to helping people fleeing war zones or even seeking a better economic life.

    But Utah and Mormons never ever ever ever approached the scale of the Middle East, especially these failed states.

    To the degree this is about Muslims is it’s because in these states it’s the Muslims doing the violence. If it was Zoroastrians, the minority oppression would likely be against them. Everyone knows it doesn’t mean all Muslims, but the fact remains Muslims have serious problems in that area of the world, those problems are being exported and we shouldn’t become conveniently confused about the scale and scope of the problem.

    It’s also not humanitarian to help 100 fleeing refugees who made it out while leaving the remaining 100,000 to suffer when we have the capability to help.

    If the situation is really bad as it seems to be, we need to bring the military back into the Middle East with the full support of the nation and our allies behind them. Only united action that brings force bare against the terrorists and oppressive governments will solve this Problem.

    The only reason not to send in force would be if we can’t trust the people there and will get entangled in petty murderous tribalism. But if that’s the case, better double and triple check everyone trying to come here.

    There are people stuck in that warzone. We aren’t helping them by fighting about who is worthy of our help that make it here.

    It is not moral to turn a blind eye to the real problem while assuming we’re good people for voting to have someone else help the lucky few that escape their situation.

  7. Charlie, it is okay for one to allow his or her religious opinions to inform his or her public policy opinions.

  8. I guess the “alternative” “logic” is that immigrants or refugees from the 7 named countries, where terrorists are more prevalent, are more likely to commit such acts here.

    Is there any proof of that hypothesis? Have any terrorists here been from those countries?

    Without any evidence, it is simply bigotry.

  9. fbisti (12) Obama made the list of those 7 nations. While Obama’s list doesn’t justify what Trump does with that list, ultimately your argument is with Obama not Trump in terms of the claims about the nations.

  10. Mary Ann (9) we have to distinguish between what’s rational to fear a community might do given publicly available knowledge and then more irrational fears. Now this is blurry since of course our media has problems. I’d argue for instance that much of the fear of say blacks in inner cities arises due to distorting media presentations. However with regards to many of these nations polls and studies constantly show fairly widespread support for violence and misogyny.

    Now contra some, I don’t think that justifies blocking refugees or immigrants. However we also should recognize the people with fears aren’t necessarily being irrational. It seems to me people are conflating those issues.

  11. Mary Ann (9). I wouldn’t be so hard on the racist guy from 1941 if I were you. Just 3-4 years before, and in a single city/province, the Japanese army raped 20,000 girls and women, tortured, and killed many of them, leaving their bodies mutilated in the street. Then added to it killing 50,000-200,000 civilians over a one year period including bayonetting toddlers and babies, and displaced and prevented escape for at least that many as they tried to escape the carnage. They beheaded or set on fire POWs, and civilians who dared to try and fight back. None of this was directed by their top brass who took a year to stop it when they found out. (Have a look, but some of the pictures are not for the faint of heart: This is even before the Japanese army’s official directive/policy “Three Alls” policy of “Kill all. Burn all. Loot all.” was issued in 1940.

    You see, 1937-1945 were not years of shining enlightenment for Japan’s foreign policy, and there’s a little bit of nuance and context to that racist man’s fears that can’t be so blithely brushed away as hyperbolic stereotyping by “just sayin”.

  12. N the problem was that most of those persecuted were not 1st generation immigrants nor new immigrants. That’s the constant problem in all this. Being unable to distinguish people from the culture far away from those not of the culture. As I said the people might not be irrational, but that doesn’t mean they are correct.

  13. James (19) No relation to any Eds that I’m aware of. Although I recently signed up for that forum I don’t go there often.

  14. Thank you for this post. This isn’t the first time you’ve come through for me when I’ve been down about my fellow co-religionists.

  15. Question: when Muslims move to the US do their attitudes toward jihad change? As in, does the exposure to a secular society undermine the acceptance of jihad as an acceptable response?

  16. I feel that if we are to evaluate what will happen here, we need to look at what has happened in Europe, in places like Germany and Sweden. Take a look at Paris and London where large Muslim communities exist. Why do police, firefighters, and others fear going into those communities? It’s not that the individual Muslim, or his family members are to be feared, but what happens when they form a community and the Imams run the show. That needs to be examined.

  17. Do people even read through a post before commenting? A couple recent comments seemed to miss the point of the post…

    “It’s not that the individual (Mormon), or his family members are to be feared, but what happens when they form a community and the (prophet) runs the show. That needs to be examined.” That kind of thinking is exactly why the Mormon pioneers were forced out of their homes and cities.

  18. Tim,

    If the rising Muslim populations are causing social problems in the UK, France, etc., why do you think it won’t happen here?
    And if you accept that these social problems will happen here, why is Larry a bad person for not being on board with that? The people who will ultimately suffer, or benefit, from these immigration decisions aren’t even alive right now. . Shouldn’t we be a bit more serious when we make these decisions?

  19. The sizes of the community and the difference in the safety net here in the US which forces faster assimilation. Regardless of ones fears for the future the existing communities are just quite different than Europe. Also Europe just has never had a multicultural model like Canada or the melting pot model of the US. Dealing with immigration of this sort the past few decades is new for them (and arguably they’ve not done a good job with it) The US for good or ill has a very dynamic economy which just doesn’t allow things like France to happen.

  20. Clark is correct. I’ve lived in Europe, and worked with the Muslim communities in Europe. I’ve also worked with Muslim communities in the U.S. The differences between these communities are vast, and include: levels of employment, levels of social integration, levels of religious freedom, percentage of legal Muslim immigrants versus undocumented, difficulty in gaining citizenship, and vetting processes. On all counts, the U.S. does better at avoiding the kind of social problems that exist with Muslim populations in Europe. Unfortunately, Trump’s presidency may make us more like Europe on this front and may worsen the social issues.

  21. Muslim immigration to the US has typically been driven by recruitment for jobs. If we change that, then we Europe’s problem.
    And I’m not entirely sold on the ability of the US to avoid Europe’s problem of later generation of Muslims dis-integration from productive society. Later generations of Muslims in Europe are more hostile to their home country. Why can’t that happen in the US?

  22. Again, differences. Refugees in the U.S. are quickly forced into the job field–and there are currently plenty of jobs for them. Refugees to the U.S. are very carefully vetted. In Europe, typically not so much. Apples and oranges.

  23. Half Canadian, I’d certainly favor a more Canadian like immigration system which goes after high productivity workers and especially more educated ones. One could debate that this results in a brain drain in the native countries of course. Canada’s definitely been criticized for that. However by and large educated immigrants start businesses and employ the less educated in the US.

    I don’t think anyone is advocating a huge welfare system and then importing immigrants to put on that welfare system.

  24. I think one also has to factor in current levels of societal coherence. Assuming things should be purely rational is, itself, not rational. For instance one likely factor in avoiding another civil war in the 1890’s and 1920’s was popularist control of the “immigration” question. Any major change, especially during times of major moral awakenings (near total moral resets) is very hard on a society and it’s level of coherence and asabiyah (societal coherence capital).

    So if the dynamics are not rational (in the homo economicus way of thinkin), you’re left with a functionalistic paradigm. It matters less what is right or wrong in the idealistic sense and matters more what outcomes are produced. In this light, trolley problem research is very informative. Some people worry about net outcomes. Some people worry about intentions and acts of commission rather than omission. Neither trolley solution is arbitrarily “good” or “evil”. At the societal level balance between both approaches is needed. I wonder if perhaps it’s too easy to forget the societal dimension of righteousness, assuming it is entirely an individualistic thing…

  25. Let me drive the logical stake through the example given. In the first 7 highlighted cases of law-breakers, most of them were brought to justice primarily by Mormons. The legal system in Utah did not shy away from several of these individuals, in fact it elevated their prominence as the case against them was being built. The bottom line is that for most of these crimes Mormons will bring the criminal to justice.
    Both Trump and Obama allege that the legal system in the 7 Muslim countries involved in the immigration ban is incapable of justice and that, therefore, the individual immigrants cannot be distinguished from criminals. Also, Muslim immigrant communities in other western countries are notorious for law breaking. In some cases, they are bringing the wars, battles, and disrespect for law with them.

  26. False equivalency. Nice try though. For added guilting and virtue signaling you could add the Crusades and sins of all Christians like the left already does. Boohoo. We’re talking the here and now. Show me the Mormons that currently do ANY of those things: the child brides, blood oaths, the violence and armies, etc.

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