NOTE: This item was originally posted at the "OUR ETERNAL STRUGGLE" web site on Tuesday 28 April 2009.
Further note the responses from my fellow members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, roundly condemning me for having written this opinion.
Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:
Earlier today (Tuesday 28 April 2009), I received an e-mail from another member of my church, an employee here at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, requesting my response on this subject.
MISSIONARY'S ARREST SPARKS DISCUSSION, FEAR
By Sheena McFarland
The arrest of an undocumented immigrant returning last week from his LDS mission has sparked discussion at the highest levels of the church about how to limit such exposure in the future.
"With the known realization that those risks exist, then we want to do better, or at least learn more," LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, said Friday during an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune . "We want to be more precise, if we can, about how to help, how to make [a mission] the calmest, most spiritually rewarding experience for everybody."
Early last week, a missionary was detained at the Cincinnati airport for "lacking necessary documentation to board his flight home," according to Michael Purdy, LDS Church spokesman.
That triggered fears in the undocumented LDS community in Utah, and already prompted a change in how one Utah missionary returned home. The young man, a Salt Lake Valley resident, completed a mission in Oklahoma and was scheduled to return home two days after church leaders heard of the unrelated arrest in Ohio. The mission president contacted local Utah church leaders, and it was decided the missionary's uncle would drive out to Oklahoma to bring the missionary home, which he did.
"The travel department of the church has to rethink everything.
Things have changed, and they need a whole new policy," said a local church official who was aware of the situation. "With ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] hitting them at the bus terminals and airports, this opens a whole new discussion. I don't know how many undocumented immigrants we have serving missions, but I'm sure this is going to repeat itself."
LDS Church leaders have had evolving policies on how to keep undocumented missionaries safe. But this is the first time Holland has heard of a missionary being arrested by immigration officials while serving.
"There's been an ongoing discussion of this for 15 years. These kind of incidents, or anything like it, would continue that discussion," said Holland, who is a member of the Missionary Executive Council. "We're always trying to do, always and forever, exactly what's legal, and in the spirit of that, be fair to everyone on the religious side, on the spiritual side, to have the spiritual benefits of [serving a mission]."
The reason, according to Holland, is simple.
"A mission is so fundamental to our blessings."
The LDS Church has changed its policies about mission calls for undocumented immigrants over time. Previously, they had to return to their country of origin for extended periods of time and then could serve. However, U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, inserted language into a 2005 agricultural bill that absolves religious organizations of criminal liability for allowing their undocumented members to perform volunteer service, including mission work.
Church leaders do make certain accommodations for undocumented missionaries, including calling them only to missions within the United States. But leaders acknowledge the missionaries' potential legal jeopardy.
"They go knowing themselves that they're at risk, and nothing in our mission call changes that," Holland said. "They know that, and we know that, and we work within those parameters to have them be constructive, honorable, faithful, spiritual, religious emissaries for that period of service."
Sending undocumented immigrants on a mission, though, sends a mixed message, with the potential for "tragic" results for missionaries and their families, said Ron Mortensen of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration.
"What the church has done is taken care of themselves and left the individual in a terrible position," Mortensen said. "They say 'We'll give you these benefits, but, oh by the way, if something happens to you, sorry.' "
Charles Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says this is one more example of why federal immigration reform is needed.
"You have kids who just have spent the two most important years in their lives now having to worry about being thrown in jail for not having proper documentation to get on a plane," said Kuck, a Brigham Young University graduate.
Holland says LDS leaders will continue to have discussions about making sure undocumented missionaries get home safely.
"Clearly we do take and always will take a great sense of responsibility for the safety of our missionaries in any part of the world."
Quote from the LDS Church:
"Clearly we do take and always will take a great sense of responsibility for the safety of our missionaries in any part of the world. - - - We're not agents of the immigration service and we don't pretend to be, and we also won't break the law. We didn't bring them here. We quite overtly discourage that."
Jeffrey R. Holland, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As a convert in The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, and a native born citizen of these United States of America, I am FURIOUS that the leaders of MY church are openly condoning and abetting this illegal and treasonous activity!
Yes, I have disagreed with previous statements by the leaders of our church, and in those occasions, I always found solace in referring to JOHN 6:66-69.
In my opinion, no one who is in this country illegally is, or should be, authorized to represent Jesus Christ as a full time ordained minister of the Gospel.
Further, for any member of our faith, and especially, an official spokesman for our Lord, to openly say we will avoid the issue of illegal immigration, is not only insulting and disrespectful towards native Americans and naturalized citizens, but aggravates an already tenuous national security problem, as the negative effects of our contemporary society's condoning of illegal immigration wreaks continued destruction upon our economy, ultimately leading to its total collapse.
What was wrong with the Church's previous policy of having illegal immigrants return to their native country before they could serve as missionaries?
It appears to me that our church has become increasingly political, playing the prostitute, as they fawningly seek favorable publicity and acceptance by a hedonistic society with no sense of eternal values.
So, what is going on?
Are our chapels and temples too crowded, so that policies need to be changed in order to drive some members away?
The church member who referred me to this news item has voiced an opposite opinion.
He sees nothing wrong with illegal aliens being baptized and going to the temple.
He thinks Latter-day Saints should not be enforcing immigration law.
He says that issues of church and state should remain separate.
That would be true if this were any other church, or any other country.
But, how do you separate The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints from the United States of America?
If you truly believe in the BOOK OF MORMON, then it can NOT be done, for the Church and our nation are inseparably linked.
Belief in the sacred inspired divinity of our CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is a basic tenet of our faith, not to be compromised, trifled with, or betrayed.
We believe the Garden of Eden was located here in the United States of America.
We believe the American Indians are direct descendants of ancient Israel.
We believe that Jesus, the Christ, walked upon this land, teaching His gospel.
We believe the lost ten tribes of Israel will gather here in America.
So, how do we separate our nation from our faith, when in every way, they are one and the same?
For any church member to knowingly aid and abet illegal immigration constitutes treason against our nation, and a disavowal of our faith.
Well, you see what I think.
So, what are your thoughts?
John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400
NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."