By 1963 there wasn’t a mainstream corporate sponsor or conservative organization that would have anything to do with Willard Cleon Skousen. The American Security Council kicked his arse out saying he’d gone off the deep end. William C. Mott, judge advocate general of the US Navy and ASC member said Skousen was “money mad…totally unqualified and interested solely in furthering his own personal ends.”
That year, Robert Welch, John Birch Society founder, claimed that president Dwight Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” and Skousen jumped on it with both feet. Skousen’s clients threw him to the curb. The National Association of Manufacturers, formely gracious anti-Communist sponsors of Skousen’s speaking tours, released an official condemnation of both Skousen and the John Birch Society, expressing its intent to disassociate itself from any individual or party who subscribed to their views. Skousen just wrapped his critics into the conspiracy and authored a pamphlet titled “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society,”
Except for every High Priest Group in Mormondom, Klingon Skousen laid low for a lot of the ’60s. When he resurfaced at the end of the decade he was promulgating a new family of conspiracies that bundled all the world’s problems into the doings of the capitalist “dynastic rich,” as he called them. Specifically, Families like the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. These culprits Skousen now claimed, were using communist and leftist agents like Ho Chi Minh and the American civil rights movement to accomplish their evil goals.
In 1969, a 1,300-page book started appearing in faculty mailboxes at Brigham Young, where Skousen was back teaching part-time. The book, written by a Georgetown University historian named Carroll Quigley, was called “Tragedy and Hope.” Inside each copy, Skousen inserted handwritten notes urging his colleagues to read the book and embrace its truth. “Tragedy and Hope,” Skousen believed, exposed the details of what would come to be known as the New World Order (NWO). Quigley’s book so moved Skousen that in 1970 he self-published a breathless 144-page review essay called “The Naked Capitalist.” Nearly 40 years later, it remains a foundational document of America’s NWO conspiracy and survivalist scene (which includes Skousen’s nephew Joel).
Skousen claimed in The Naked Communist that Commies were out to take over the world because they were evil dominators of the human soul.
In “The Naked Communist,” a lengthy primer published in 1958, he enlivened a survey of the worldwide leftist threat with outlandish claims, writing that F.D.R.’s adviser Harry Hopkins had treasonously delivered to the Soviets a large supply of uranium, and that the Russians built the first Sputnik with plans stolen from the United States. A year before Richard Condon’s novel “The Manchurian Candidate” appeared, Skousen announced that the Communists were creating “a regimented breed of Pavlovian men whose minds could be triggered into immediate action by signals from their masters.”
…Among the theories Skousen charged a healthy fee to discuss was the alleged treason of FDR advisor Harry Hopkins. According to Skousen, Hopkins gave the Soviets “50 suitcases” worth of info on the Manhattan Project, along with nearly half of the nation’s supply of enriched uranium.
Skousen warns readers to be on the alert against a worldwide Marxist revolution dedicated to:
. . . “the total annihilation of all opposition, the downfall of all existing governments, all economies and all societies,” through the creation of “a regimented breed of Pavlovian men whose minds could be triggered into immediate action by signals from their masters.”
To fight the international Red menace, Skousen extolled Brigham Young University as a pre-eminent religious training ground in the “war of ideologies” and urged concerned parents:
“We should not sit back and wait for our boys and girls to be indoctrinated with materialistic dogma and thereby make themselves vulnerable to a Communist conversion when they are approached by the agents of force and fear who come from across the sea.”
(W. Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist [Salt Lake City, Utah: Ensign Publishing Company, 1958], pp. 2, 377-378)
Richard Dudam, author of the book, Men of the Far Right, wrote:
“Skousen’s book, The Naked Communist, is a Bible of the right-wing movement and is promoted heavily by many of the extremist groups. In it, he asserts that the first Russian sputnik was built with plans stolen from the United States after World War II and that President Batista, the former Cuban dictator, was really a sincere, pro-labor, popular ruler.
“Skousen advises legislators to overthrow Supreme Court restrictions on actions against persons suspected of being communists. He urges businessmen . . . to seek help from the American Security Council [a Chicago-based group of ‘right-wing military men and businessmen’ that operated ‘a private loyalty-security blacklist where employers could check their employees and job applicants for indications of left-wing connections.’]”
The Naked Capitalist on the other hand, now claimed that Communists were only puppets of the dynastic rich. The Council of Foreign Relations and other Liberal internationalist groups were really the minions of these ultra-rich, who wanted to manipulate world events and nations into a single One World Government, or a New World Order.
Skousen claimed the Anglo-American banking establishment had a long history of such activity going back to the Bolshevik Revolution. He substantiated this claim by citing the work of a former Czarist army officer named Arsene de Goulevitch. Among Goulevitch’s own sources is Boris Brasol, a pro-Nazi Russian émigré who provided Henry Ford with the first English translation of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
…”The Naked Capitalist,” decried the Ivy League Establishment, who, through the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rockefeller Foundation, formed “the world’s secret power structure.” The conspiracy had begun, Skousen wrote, when reformers like the wealthy banker Edward M. (Colonel) House, a close adviser to President Woodrow Wilson, helped put into place the Federal Reserve and the graduated income tax.
At this point Skousen became the Godfather of countless offshoots and Skousen cells in every conspiratorially oriented organization on the face of the planet. He boasted before he was done, of authoring 44 books and pamphlets, but in my father’s words, he actually just wrote the same book 44 times. His diatribes, particularly corrupted every priesthood quorum in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You could also say he infiltrated the Boy Scouts as well, because in the LDS church they are one and the same. The LDS church is the single largest affiliate of Scouting USA. Entering the 1970’s Skousen led the charge against the American Civil Rights Movement. ET Benson’s grandson Steve writes:
Skousen published a tabloid featuring the screaming headline, “The Communist Attack on the Mormons.” The article asserted that:
” . . . [Professional] Communist-oriented revolutionary groups have been spearheading the wave of protests and violence directed toward Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church,” [employing] “Marxism and Maoism as their ideological base and terror tactics as their method . . .”
Skousen warned that Communists were plotting to manipulate press reports into depicting the Mormon Church as being “rich, priest-ridden, racist, super-authoritarian and conservative to the point of being archaically reactionary.”
He claimed that, in fact, the Mormon Church was one of the Communists’ “prime TARGETS FOR ATTACK” because it is “STRONGLY PRO-AMERICAN” and that the ‘Negro-priesthood issue” was being used as a “SMOKESREEN” to “further their ulterior motives.”
Citing Ezra Taft Benson’s speech, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception,” he warned that Communist-inspired assaults on the Mormon Church were designed to:
” . . . create resentment and hatred between the races by distorting the religious tenet of the Church regarding the Negro and blowing it up to ridiculous proportions.”
In a letter sent to my grandfather (which, despite its form fundraising format, my grandfather marked in red pen with a handwritten notation, “Confidential”), Skousen warned:
“. . . [The] so-called ‘Council on Foreign Relations’ [has been] “set up . . . to groom ambitious one-world political personalities for leadership in all major departments of the American government from the President on down. . . . Their latest triumph was the election of Jimmy Carter. . . .” 
Skousen ominously claimed that “members of the Establishment have directed foreign policy from Wall Street in the past.” He told my grandfather that because of President Gerald R. Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and other “master-planners,” the “foreign-policy establishment of Wall Street bankers and lawyers . . . moved into the very heart of the Establishment and took over.”
Skousen further declared:
He also forewarned Ezra Taft Benson that the one-world planners intended to celebrate the upcoming “200 anniversary of the United States Constitution by scrapping it.” 
[Skousen had also previously claimed that the US would fall to Communism by 1973.]
In an apocalyptic conclusion to his letter, Skousen, under the sub-heading “We Need Millions of Freeman,” told my grandfather:
“I don’t know how all this affects you, but it puts a fire in my veins. I hope that in this coming year we can double or triple the number of Freeman and eventually we can challenge these advocates of world serfdom and drive them out of power. . . . I pray it will happen soon. And we must do everything we can to help make it happen. That’s what you are helping to accomplish, and I am grateful to you for your support.
(W. Cleon Skousen, letter to “Elder Benson,” January 1977, copy in my possession)
Unable to content himself with any single paranoid theory, Skousen moved from frantic brainfart of idiocy to frantic brainfart of idiocy, as one world-ending conspiracy and one set of heinous traitors after another failed to bring America down into Satanic bondage. In 1971, Skousen founded The Freeman Institute, which claimed it intended to provide BYU students a place to read both sides of any political issue from original sources. The truth is, it got weirder and weirder until was thrown off campus In 1982. It was probably no coincidence that church president Spencer W Kimball was announcing the construction of a temple behind the Iron Curtain in Freiberg Germany, and BYU president Dallin Oaks was battling with world academia to maintain the university’s scholarly credibility in light of Skousen’s wild-arsed political and “historical” hackings, and the spawn of similarly eccentric BYU “scholars” like Hugh Nibley and others, who were inventing the pretend science of “Book of Mormon Archeology,” linking Joseph Smith to ancient Egyptian texts, and delving into Masonic, folk-magic and mystical connections to all of the above.
By 1983, Skousen’s Freeman Institute had re-branded itself the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), and headquartered itself in a survivalist compound in Malta, Idaho. Most importantly, it would be dead as a doornail right now if not for Glenn frigging Beck…
In 1981, the first year of Ronald Reagan‘s presidency, Skousen was asked to be a charter member of the conservative think tank the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series of books. Other early participants included Paul Weyrich; Phyllis Schlafly; Robert Grant; Howard Phillips, a former Republican affiliated with theConstitution Party; Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail specialist; and Morton Blackwell, a Louisiana and Virginia activist who is considered a specialist on the rules of the Republican Party. Skousen’s proposals with the group included a plan to convert the Social Security system to private retirement accounts, as well as a plan that he claimed would completely wipe out the national debt.
Although Skousen was not a tax protester, he did campaign for several proposals to eliminate the federal income tax. One proposal, the Liberty Amendment, precluded the federal government from involvement in any activities that competed with private enterprise and returned federally-owned land to the states.
In 1987, controversy erupted in California when the state briefly considered using Skousen’s book, The Making of America, as a textbook for California schools. Statements in the book regarding slavery, and its use of the term “pickaninny” as a label for slave children engendered a heated debate as to whether the book was appropriate.
…In one instance, the constitutional scholar Jack Rakove, of Stanford University, inspected Skousen’s books and seminars and pronounced them “a joke that no self-respecting scholar would think is worth a warm pitcher of spit.”
Now, some of Skousen’s political proposals admittedly sound fine to me. His history however, is rubbish. His obsession with finding a Commie or “Insider” under every bed is embarassingly naïve. In fairness, scholars would likely say the same thing about my scribblings. But I don’t care what “scholars” think any more than Cleon Skousen did, so here’s my main point for you Glenn Beck: Skousen’s fairly rapid demise had been set in motion in his affiliation particularly with Tim LaHaye and their Born Again, evangelical dynasty. What had begun to happen was a homogenization of Mormon loony conspiracy freaks with more mainstream Christian Republican Conservative political organizations. That’s a lot like your ministry Glenn. And by no accident I’m sure, as a Skousen acolyte. The Christian Right however, is Christian. Even if they liked Skousen’s patriotic, conspiratorial lippping-off to the Powers-That-Be, Klingon Skousen and his Mormon zealots already figured into the very center of most of the era’s expanding Apocalyptic Christian conspiracy theories. The more Mormon folklore Skousen worked into the conversations in his primarily Christian Conservative think-tanks, the more his Christian “friends” began to think that they didn’t want Mormons coming to the rescue of the Constitution.
There is no “Nephite Cycle” in the Bible. There is no “White Horse Prophecy” in Christendom. Skousen was just too weird, too insanely desperate to save America, too embarrassingly obvious in his belief that Mormons were Christians, too clearly earnest in his professions that Mormons are going to save the world for Christ, and that Mormonism would be the Constitutional Army of Liberation in America, not the Christian Right.
The bottom line is, Christians have no respect whatsoever for the Constitution. The Constitution is an enlightened document. It arose out of Deism, Masonry, and the European Enlightenment, not the Bible. For God’s sake, for the sake of all mankind, for the benefit of all that is holy, you cannot look at the concepts in the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution itself, and connect them with the oppressive tenets of “Historic Christianity.”
Even ignoring all his other lunacy, Skousen was fundamentally suicidal in falling into lock-step with Christian Nation theories. Declaring America a Christian Nation leads to Carthage Jail, Liberty Jail, the Haun’s Mill Massacre, Johnson’s Army and an American Geneva based upon Calvin’s oppressive “Christian” model.
That’s Satan’s Plan.
Which brings me again brother Beck, to your personal political pornography, throughwhich you must enjoy yourself immensely and repeatedly if your gushing commentaries are any indication: The Five Thousand Year Leap. This is Klingon Skousen’s “inspired” masterpiece:
Since this book was all over the New York Times bestseller list in 2009, and generated an unprecedented interest in this until-now obscure author, it deserves an extended discussion. The book is an analysis of the Founding Fathers of the United States and their political and economic beliefs, written from a decidedly conservative (in the modern American sense) point of view, but the content is not particularly explicitly Mormon to the degree that would alienate readers of other faiths. The title of the book refers to both the author’s belief that the earth was about 5000 years old at the time of the founding of the United States, and also that social and economic progress took a great 5000 year leap forward nearly instantaneously upon the founding of the United States after centuries of slow progress and stagnation. The book was originally published in the wake of a conservative shift in American politics around the time of the election of Ronald Reagan, and more specifically in the context of a western U.S. protest movement against federal land policies circa 1981 known as the “Sagebrush Rebellion” which was especially strong in the “Mormon belt” of Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and Wyoming.
The book begins with a discussion of the political spectrum. Skousen asserts that the view of the “far right” as Fascism and the “far left” as Communism is erroneous and that Fascism and Communism are really the same thing: “ruler’s law” (or, law dictated by a single ruler or party). He proposes that a more accurate political spectrum would be: “far right” is anarchy or no government, “far left” is any form of “ruler’s law” or totalitarianism, and the political center is a limited representative government of, by and for the people. The first section moves on to a discussion of the Founding Fathers and places both the Jeffersonian Democrats and the Hamiltonian Federalists in the political center of their day. He draws parallels between the laws and government of the ancient Israelites and Anglo-Saxon common law (and, although Skousen shows no sign of believing in British Israelism himself, cites a British Israelist writer – Howard B. Rand – as his source on this) and asserts that both were the basis of the U.S. Constitution. He believes the first attempt at forming a United States government in the Articles of Confederation failed because they erred too far toward his definition of the right (anarchy), while the strong-central-government faction of the Federalists and most European monarchieserred too far to the left (ruler’s law). The United States Constitution, on the other hand, was right in the center where it should have been. He attributes this to “28 principles” which he believes the Founders held to, and make up the second portion of the book:
- Natural law as the legitimate basis of government (he defines natural law here as divine law derived from God)
- A virtuous and moral people
- Virtuous and moral leaders
- Without religion a government of free people cannot be maintained
- All things were created by God
- All men are created equal
- Equal rights, not equal things
- Unalienable rights
- To protect man’s rights, God has revealed divine law
- Sovereignty of the people
- The majority of the people may alter or abolish a tyrannical government
- Republican form of government (“a republic, not a democracy”)
- Protection of the people against the human frailty of their rulers
- Property rights
- Free-market economics
- Separation of powers
- Checks and balances
- Importance of a written Constitution
- Limited powers of government
- Majority rule, minority rights
- Strong local self-government
- Government by law, not by men
- An educated electorate
- Peace through strength
- Avoid entangling alliances
- Protecting the role of the family
- Avoiding the burden of debt
- The United States has a “manifest destiny” to be a blessing to the entire human race
A fascinating mix, that. Many of these principles nobody would argue with; they are foundational to liberal democracy and representative government. Many of them however try to make the case that liberal democracy (Skousen prefers them term “republic” over “democracy”) and representative government can only exist when they are rooted in religion, specificallyChristianity; and that the Founders were God-fearing Christians and this (rather than, say, the values of the European Enlightenment, freethought, and liberal views on religion such asDeism) were what guided the Founders. This attempt at shoehorning liberal representative government together with essentially theocratic views makes this book an early example of a genre of historical revisionism that has since become a staple within the religious right, such as the books by David Barton. Glenn Beck is a Mormon convert and it is likely that this is the reason that out of all the thousands of possible books he could have picked, he chose to bring Skousen’s book out of obscurity as a sort of manifesto; much of the religious right has instead been promoting the more recent books by David Barton. Beck seems to have picked up on the cue and now frequently has Barton on his television and radio shows to promote his
nonsenseviews. Beck’s promotion of Skousen’s work has led many ultraright conservatives to embrace Skousen’s distortion of the political spectrum, mainly for the purposes of blaming both Communism and Nazism on the left.
For you Gentiles out there, I’m not going to beat this White Horse to death. I’ll just summarize my thoughts by saying The 5000 Year Creep doesn’t give me either religious or political orgasms in the way Glenn Beck seems to experience the book. I’d simply say it’s his least asinine work.
Highlighted by Skousen’s self-damning ignorance of basic Christian theology, there are a number of elements in Glenn Beck’s confused potpourri of populist paranoia that are simply suicidal to Mormonism or any other non-Christian belief system. The first of these is buying into any suggestion that the Constitution of the United States of America is born of “Christian” roots. Anyone who knows anything about Christian history would not find that very enticing, even if he were a Christian.
Christians simply don’t know what’s good for them, and a Christian Nation isn’t good for anyone, not even them. If the nation is Christian, the State defines Christianity and stifles any competing theology. That’s not a good thing. To the average Christian idiot, it sounds great. The Founding Fathers weren’t however, the average Christian idiots.
Make the State Christian, and there’s always the chance you wouldn’t be the right sort of Christian, and end up on the rack or being publicly roasted. Facts are facts, and that’s exactly what every “Christian” society has done—when it was not engaged in the wholesale extermination of non-Christians or “heretical” Christians as it re-defined itself from time to time or its subjects found inspiration in other ideas. And Mormons are not Christians. Mormons would not only be seriously screwed-over in a “Christian Nation,” they already have been. Constantly and repeatedly from day-one. To believe otherwise makes you a lackey pawn, a dupe of what Christian Nation Crusader James Kennedy called “The Holy Conpiracy.”
And how did the Holy Conspiracy work its way around the Contitutional protection of Mormonism Glenn? Do you remember? Do you even know?
In a letter to William Short Thomas Jefferson wrote:
The Presbyterian clergy are loudest, the most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical, and ambitious; ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be now obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one, and one is three, nor subscribe to that of Calvin that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to Calvinistic creed. [13 April, 1820.]
Perhaps it’s Thomas Jefferson who should be called a prophet here? What else was going on in April of 1820 or thereabouts by the way…say in rural New York? And does this quote from Finis Ewing, pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, the most famous Presbyterian in the history of Mormonism ring a bell?
The Mormons are the common enemy of mankind and ought to be destroyed.
Well Glenn, at first Christianity tried to just charge Joseph Smith with plain old heresy—again and again, from New York to Missouri, and when the charges never stuck they tried wrapping heresy around fraud or some other actual legal claim and they still never got Joseph nailed properly after scores of hearings and trials. Then the good Christian ministers of Daviess County Missouri held a little meeting of all the prominent clergy, civil officials, and leading citizens in the fellowship hall. Over coffee and treats they agreed that the Constitution didn’t offer sufficient protection from Mormonism, and if they didn’t do something about it they’d be overrun with Mormon and quickly be the minority vote in the region. So they penned out their own “Secret Constitution,” which the Mormons called the “Mob Manifesto,” in which the swore their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to eradicate Mormonism through any means necessary.
The Holy Conspiracy initially discovered that if you bully Mormons away from a public polling place during an election, they beat the crap out of you. They next discovered that if you shoot at Mormons trying to vote they shoot back. Then they learned that if they shot back they could call the governor, who was part of the conspiracy to negate the Mormon vote in the first place, and he’ll gratefully issue an order of extermination for you on the grounds of treason and insurrection. Only the fact that Mormons are pretty damned good with a rifle slowed this genocidal effort down enough that God eventually reached enough still-functionally “Christian” hearts that the regional population, the national population in general, began to ask, hey, isn’t burning, beating, raping, pillaging, slaughtering and tormenting plain dumb white men women and children sort of er, evil or something? (Injins, niggers—yeah. No problem. But white folks?)
When the local Christian clergy tried to get the Mormons eradicated again in Illinois, the Holy Conspiracy had learned its lesson well from Missouri. You didn’t need secret meetings and blood oaths. You didn’t need to try to construct a treatise of your legal or moral apologetics to justify your actions. All you had to do was publish abroad Christ’s permission to exterminate the Mormon heretics and take anything you want of them for plunder, and either just out of greed, bloodlust or even missplaced “Christian” zeal, via the “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” principle, a mob will cheerfully arise to oblige. You don’t need to control the whole state militia, all you need is a key officer or two, a mob-friendly detatchment or so, and once they start hollering and shooting and point at the “enemy,” the rest of the regiment will just join in out of reflex. Once you have the Mormons shooting back to defend themselves, well, the game is on, no more explanations necessary. Look at the Mormons. They’re shooting at us. Better kill them all before they do the same to us.
But even the Illinois tactics were transparent enough that “Christians” throughout the nation looked at the “mob” violence of Nauvoo and Carthage, and while nobody could directly claim this time that actual ministers of God were leading the charge under the Christian flag, it was still condemned as inexcusably uncivilized, whether Joe Smith and the Mormons had it coming or not. Sure, in Missouri they tried to trans-substantiate “heresy” into “insurrection” or “treason” but never got it to stick. So again, after a lot of manoevering and legal bullshite, Joseph Smith’s critics in Nauvoo managed to hang “treason” on his “heresy” for acting as chair of the city council and condemning an anti-Mormon printing press. That’s what actually got him killed mind you. But like Missouri, Smith never ended up in court. In Missouri he was allowed to escape to save the state the embarassment of trying to explain their extermination order and resulting attempted genocide. In Carthage Illinois, the militia “guards” protecting Smith just parted one night and let a barely disguised mob of their fellows up the stairs to shoot the hell out of him. Again, it saved the Holy Conspiracy from all the Constitutional bickering and Christianity as usual got what it wanted without the incumberance of due process.
In Utah, the Holy Conspiracy first denied Mormonism admittance to the union as its own State of Deseret, despite more than meeting all requirements. As a state Mormons would be free to be the majority, grow, populate, civilize, and vote their own conscience and cultural or regional interests like any other citizen other of the United States. Congress however, amid much debate, admitted Utah only as a territory, where it could be administered directly by the Christian Congress.
When Brigham Young got tired of the cronies, whores, and carpetbaggers Washington kept sending out to profiteer off the blood and sweat of the Saints, as Governor, he fired an apparently unreliable guy named Magraw from the mail service, because Mormons had long been maintaining supply trails and outposts from coast-to-coast and simply tagging mail service onto the regular Mormon cargo contracts was faster and cheaper. Magraw turned out not surprizingly to have been awarded his mail contract via his well-placed Washington cronies, and like a good little Holy Conspirator, once again cried that the whole territory was in bondage of Brigham Young and disloyal to the United States. This resulted in Congress appointing a Christian governor, and sending him to usurp Brigham Young with an army of occupation.
After a little drama, the Mormons let the new governor come right on in. The army, well, just so they got the message, that they starved out for a year, cut off and surrounded, vulnerable in the canyon. Cummings, the new guy, negotiated entry of the army, and basically nothing much happened. He reported back that nothing much seemed to be going on in the territory worth mentioning and wondered what all the fuss was about. But, the Christian camel having poked its nose into the Mormon tent, eventually the whole beast forced its way inside. And again, Christianity found it could do nothing much about Mormonism. Until it discovered polygamy.
And here’s where the Holy Conspiracy learned it could do with a stroke of the pen what it had been trying to do for decades through all the combined violence of modern warfare: they made polygamy illegal. No, it wasn’t already illegal. Nobody had thought to make it illegal. But this was Calvin’s America, and The Holy Conspiracy forged the polygamy issue into a sword it then aimed at the heart of Mormonism:
Reynolds v. United States (1878)
This was the first of the Mormon cases. Congress had passed a law making it a criminal offense to commit bigamy in any of the territories under control of the Federal government. The defendant, charged with violating this law, asserted as a defense that he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, and that its doctrines required him to practice polygamy or plural marriage. He claimed further that enforcement of the law against him would violate his religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court rejected this contention and affirmed the conviction….
Marriage, the Court held, is a relationship created, regulated, and protected by civil authority. The monogamous family is the basis of Western societal life, and it was never doubted that government had the power to preserve it by prohibiting polygamy. The fact that the defendant’s religious convictions require him to practice polygamy no more immunizes him from the operation of the law than would a person’s religious belief in human sacrifice immunize him from the operation of the laws against homicide. To permit religious beliefs to justify polygamy would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land and would in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself….
Page 109, Church and State in the United States , Anson Phelps Stokes and Leo Pfeffer, 1964, Harper & Row Publishers, New York.
The Court’s reasoning isn’t even out of the Bible. It just pays lip-service to Christian tradition using the code-word “Western societal life” without any Biblical or Constitutional justification at all. Ignoring the spurious human sacrifice analogy, what this ruling actually does it wrest from the hands of God, the formerly Holy Bonds of Matrimony, and surrendered the institution of marriage to the authority of civil officers, who are now, by this precedent, free to administer it according to any currently popular social conventions. Like Gay marriage. Or at this point, polygamy.
Well Christianity, be careful what you wish for—you might get it. You put marriage under civil jurisdiction to feck over the Mormons, and now it’s your turn. You made marriage a strictly social and political issue, and now you’re on the losing side of the social argument, aren’t you? Payback’s a bitch isn’t she? And she doesn’t even make you breakfast in the morning.
Here, anyone wondering why Harry Reid might be a Democrat and a Mormon too ought to have a little look at this:
It’s a historical overview explaining how Joseph Smith voted Democrat as well, and more importantly why. As a matter of fact Glenn, in spite of self-righteous Far-Right elitists like yourself and Skousen, rather a helluva lot of Mormons are Democrats. A bunch of them are actually socialists. Probably a lot of actual Communist Party members of the church by now. It’s a big wide world.. It’s not all about Chief Skousen brown-nosing General Authorities and scaring the hell out of them with tales of world-shaking evil headed their way: Howdy brethren–what’s shakin’ on temple square today brother this and elder that. Have you heard the one about the Commie who snuck the tape recorder into the Endowment session and played it all on CCCP1?
OK, I’ll condense it: Joseph Smith was a Democrat because the Democrats like president James Buchannan initially argued that Mormons should be able to have their own state and make their own laws as they saw fit. Because the Democrats, not the Republicans, argued that the Consitution protected religious practices like plural marriages. Because the Democrats argued that specifically in polygamy there is no crime or peril to the greater good from what consenting adults want to get up to in the private sovereignty of their own homes and their own beds. Democrats argued that the citizens of a state or territory ought to be able to rule on the matter themselves according to their own social norms.
The Republicans, like party founder Justin Smith Morrill on the other hand, were arguing that Mormons were heretics and polygamy was as barbarous as slavery, and Mormons had no right to self-government in a “civilized” read: Christian, society:
Under the guise of religion, this people has established, and seek to maintain and perpetuate, a Mohammedan barbarism revolting to the civilized world…. As well might religion be invoked to protect cannibalism or infanticide. Yet we are told, because our Constitution declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ that we must tamely submit to any burlesque, outrage, or indecency that artful men may seek to hide, under the name of religion! However, it is impossible to twist the Constitution into the service of polygamy by any fair construction…. Could a man, charged with burglary or rape, find privilege and excuse before any of our courts on a plea that it was an act in accordance with the religion of the prophet Mercury or the prophet Priapus, and that our Constitution permits the free exercise of religion?
Sounds a bit like the Glenn Beck show. Or old recordings of Cleon Skousen.
Once Christianity finally had something with which to “legally” skewer the Mormons, once they’d essentially made at least one purely Biblical doctrine unique to Mormonism illegal on purely “Christian” grounds, they sharpened their anti-polygamy blades keener with every passing year. They wrote into laws test oaths that denied Mormons the right to vote. They defined as “treason,” not the practice of, but the mere belief in polygamy as a Biblically correct principle. Then they made even being a member of an organization that believed plural marriage to be Biblically correct, a confession of “treason.” Then they declared all the lands, funds and properties of any “treasonous” organization should be forfeit to the territorial civil authorities. They banned Mormons from running for office, so soon all civil officers in the territory were appointed by Christians in Congress, or were fellow Christians elected by a tiny Christian minority who ruled the vast Mormon majority of the region.
I want to make this clear, and not just for you Glenn Beckers, neo-Skousenites, or other religious types reading this: The Holy Conspiracy, the “Christian Nation” and its “Christian” Supreme Court, ruled in 1878, that it was perfectly legal and Constitutional to deny anyone who disagrees with “Historic Christianity’s” system of beliefs the right to participate in American politics as either voter or candidate, to own land, property, or associate with like-minded Americans. Mormons were the first official victims of actual “thought crime” legislation. Christians used this one doctrinal tool, this one almost universally agreed-to but utterly harmless Mormon Biblical oddity, to systematically strip the Mormons of every scrap of property they had. They literally stole all Mormon edifices and meetinghouses and rented them back to the church under State supervision at great profit. They made every wife a Mormon husband could be proved to have cohabitated with, a crime punishable by five years in prison. They broke up families, threw old men in jail to rot and die and left the destitute, breadwinnerless wives and children to fend for themselves.
(And of course, they carefully wrote their anti-polygamy laws so the Army and teams of Washington carpetbaggers infesting the state could continue to hump and whore around as much as they liked, as long as they didn’t set up housekeeping or make their multiple-partnered sex a legitimate, permanent arrangement.)
Glenn. That’s how a “Christan Nation” works bub. Sorry. Just is. I’m not guessing here. You’re the guy who keeps telling us to learn from history before it’s too late.
Physician heal thyself.
Christians own their own damned label. I don’t want to fight over it. In any case, Mormons can’t simply steal it and redefine the word as they see fit. That may play well in Provo, but one Mormon backwater town in the desert doesn’t amount to diddly squat in the world of politics and religion—or even the world of dictionaries. The last thing in the universe a Mormon would want to do is hand over Constitutional sovereignty to a bunch of hard-core, Bible-thumping Christians. The Founding Fathers defeated these “Historical” Christians in writing the Constitution. They pulled one over on them–Joke’s on you Calvin, Wesley, Arminius, Augustine, Luther, Pope One and Pope Two. The Great Architect of the Universe faked-out all of history’s so-called “Christians” who had been thus far perpetually claiming to worship Him via beating the hell out of anyone who disagreed with them. The religious and intellectual rebels on the Constitutional panel with free and truly inspired hearts and minds wrote God’s true will into the Constitution instead.
That’s the Mormon position Glenn. That’s Joseph Smith’s “Original Argument.” If you believe Joseph Smith that is, rather than Klingon Skousen. I know who I’ll go with. How about you?
America is not a Christian Nation and I and grateful for that. America is a pluralistic, free republic, and open religious society. We should all thank God, or the Deity of choice for it. Or no Deity at all. Thank the Founding Fathers. You may think me a weird-arse bigot and pinhead for believing anything in Mormonism, but the Constitution allows me to be a pinhead and bigot, and believe anything I want. I just don’t get to exercise my bigotry. That would infringe upon the rights of other citizens who are mutually protected by the Constitution. I can talk about it all I want though. And Glenn, one more time: That sort of religious liberty is not a Christian concept. Period.
Everybody gets their say, and nobody gets to hurt the other guy for saying it. God Bless America. Nature’s God.
Glenn Beck, you and your new “ghost” writing partner, the specter of Klingon Skousen, want to destroy America. You want to destroy the Constitution in order to save the Constitution. You want to put sinners who play cards or curse or skip church in stocks. You want to imprison or drive out homosexuals and free thinkers and scholars and anyone who would care to argue with the clergy to die alone in the wilderness. You want to burn witches and heretics–you just call them Communists and Progressives and Liberals. Glenn, you and no doubt Wee Willy Skousen would contend: that’s not what we want at all. But that’s certainly the way Police Chief Willard Cleon Skousen ran Salt Lake City when he had his crack at a theocracy. Of course you don’t want a Christian Police State Glenn. You preach about the dangers of incrementalism but you and Skousen’s ghost are both apparently too stupid to realize that’s what every single Christian Nation in the history of the world has led to.
The US Constitution is not the product of a Right Wing think tank. It’s the result of hard-fighting, enlightened, classical Liberals. Skousen’s analysis of the world’s political spectrum is the infantile, ethnocentric groaning of a myopic, egocentric, provincial paranoid who’s only ever looked as far as the next church spaghetti dinner for his understanding of either politics or religion. Right, Left, Conservative, Liberal, these are entirely subjective and conditional terms. A Conservative Russian is a flaming Marxist. This terminology has never been either precise or absolute. Without a context and a comprehensive, overlooking frame of reference they are as useless as anything else Cleon Skousen doesn’t quite get. Which is rather a lot. Really Glenn, don’t you have an inkling of discernment in you? What’s “Liberal” in Provo is “Conservative” in Minneapolis. What’s “Conservative” in Austin Texas is Leftist Propaganda in Orem Utah.
I’ve got news for you Glenn Beck, the louts who looted and trashed the 1999 WTO convention in Seattle weren’t from the Right. They were raving Lefties. They were self-professed Anarchists. Anarchy does not come from the Right by any known definition of Right. Police Chief Cleon Skousen was a Right Wing Zealot and he did not represent the face of Anarchy. It’s inane. Skousen argues in effect, that since the Right is always for law and order, as he clearly is, that at some point the absolute most law and order you can have is Anarchy.
Because he’s an ass.
More blatantly Glenn, you and Skousen argue that all the violence today, all the totalitarian, Nanny-State, repressive governmental stifling of basic human rights, religious and intellectual freedom, comes from the Left. In quaint, Hannity or Limbaugh-era terms: The Problem is Liberals you say. You point out example after example and grin smugly, laughing at anyone who doesn’t catch your brilliance—daring the world to challenge your empirical masterwork. But you’ve missed a pretty obvious point Glenn.
Those officious shitebites you keep indicting aren’t Liberals. There aren’t any Liberals any more. Chairman Mao said: sooner or later every revolution goes conservative. Well, it has. They fought the Establishment, they beat the Establishment, and now they ARE the Establishment. They rocked the vote, and now they’re not going to rock the boat, and they won’t let you rock it either. What was radical, revolutionary, and represented the product of allowing period “Liberals” to think freely and explore alternatives to the existing political and social structure, has now been codified, canonized, carved in stone and will be just as vigorously beaten into the captive citizenry as any other retrograde, reactionary, Conservative movement. Opposing ideologies will be eliminated with extreme prejudice.
The guys who politically rescued Mormonism in spite of itself in the early days were Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Whigs and Republicans just wanted to wipe Mormons out. The only totalitarian regime ever to infiltrate and rule in this great land was the Puritan government at Plymouth Colony. America’s Children of the archetypal ruling Christian bastard, John Calvin, made the Taliban look like amateurs.
Willard Cleon Skousen had it all arse-backwards. Don’t follow this buffoon’s intellectual dyslexia ‘round and ‘round until your powers of reason disappear into your own arsehole as well.
If you won’t believe me, if you won’t believe Joseph Smith, perhaps you’ll believe James Madison:
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. [James Madison, 1803 Letter objecting to use of state land for churches.]
Now, I led with that statement because it sums up my point so well. However, it’s become fashionable these days by “Christian Nation” zealots to claim this quote is not actually one of Madison’s. It has been long attributed to him but its provenance is a bit murky or so they now claim. Whoever said it, it is perfectly phrased to express what Madison would no doubt have said himself. I imagine that because it so perfectly also discredits the Holy Conspiracy’s claim that the Founding Fathers never really meant to build what Jefferson called a wall of separation between Church and State, it would be handy for them if he hadn’t said it. I wonder however, why the Holy Conspiracy is so exercised to disprove the validity of this sentiment, when Madison clearly says essentially the same thing repeatedly in a host of other absolutely unquestionable documents:
During almost fifteen centuries, has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution….
–Page 106, Christianity and the Constitution.
Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov’ & Religion neither can be duly supported…. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov’ will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]
The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity. [James Madison, Letter to F.L. Schaeffer, Dec 3, 1821]
We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion, then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and that it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. [James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance to the Assemby of Virginia]
The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state. [James Madison, 1819, in Boston, Why The Religious Right is Wrong about the Separation of Church and State]
Or as George Washington said in 1796 in signing the Treaty of Tripoli:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” [Emphasis mine.]
Every single Christian Nation eventually rises from it’s own repeatedly brutal self-extermination attempts saying, well, that’s all behind us now, we’ve finally fixed the religion—and then evolves into the same violently repressive culture yet again. Over and over. That is not Our Father in Heaven’s plan for America.
What Cleon Skousen missed, what you’re missing now Glenn Beck, is that the 5000 Year Leap made by the Founding Fathers in 1776, was deliberately and carefully aimed as far from the direction of a Christian Nation as they could launch themselves. Now you and your Holy Conspirators want to jump back into the Christian historical pit of darkness. Enlightenment came to America in spite of Christianity, not because of it.
That’s the great Bait-and-Switch ploy you aren’t seeing Brother Beck.
That’s the Christian Cycle Glenn.
That’s Satan’s Plan.