The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the Mormon Church, was recently afforded a rare opportunity to weigh in on the issue of immigration with United States President Barack Obama, as he moves forward on his commitment to pass an immigration reform bill this year.

President Obama held an immigration meeting with 15 faith leaders from across the United States in the White House on March 8, 2013. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was one of the invited leaders.

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Most of the leaders in attendance at the meeting endorsed President Obama’s proposals. President Uchtdorf said the proposals were “in harmony ‘with the values of our church.’”

Mormon ImmigrationMembers of the Church of Jesus Christ, often mistakenly called Mormons, who are in favor of President Obama’s plans to reform immigration were pleased with President Uchtdorf’s statements. Those Mormons who oppose Obama’s plan were not, and many voiced their opinions through Internet blogs. “Some were respectful of President Uchtdorf’s views, even as they maintained a different position, but others expressed anger with his statement,” noted Robert Bennett, a former U.S. Senator from Utah who browed the blogosphere “to see how this statement was received.” One Mormon wrote, “We were taught to respect the law—to uphold and sustain it—but this shows that the church no longer believes in that.”

That writer was most likely referring to one of the Articles of Faith, written by first Church president, Joseph Smith: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

Bennett, who is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, said that President Uchtdorf’s comments “should be read in this context. When he said that Obama’s proposal was in harmony with LDS values he was not telling church members that it was all right to break current immigration laws. Instead, he was endorsing the idea of replacing them with something better, something tied to the realities of the situation. . . . Life goes better when laws that aren’t working are taken off the books.”

The White House issued a statement saying that “the President and the leaders agreed that the diversity of faith communities represented around the table was indicative of the growing consensus across America in support of fixing the broken immigration system.”1

President Uchtdorf said regarding President Obama’s proposal: “It has to be an enforceable law, but it has to have a lot of compassion, love for neighbor, family unification, and common sense.”2

The Church of Jesus Christ issued a statement regarding immigration in June 2011. In part, the statement reads:

“As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.

“What to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now residing in various states within the United States is the biggest challenge in the immigration debate.

“The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God. . . .

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its relevance for family, and its commitment to law.”3

President Uchtdorf, who went through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen himself, said, “Early in my life, I was twice a refugee. I can relate to what is happening.”4

Referring to the early Mormons, who were driven from Midwestern territories and settled in Utah because of religious beliefs, President Uchtdorf also noted that “Latter-day Saints, ‘of all people, should be cognizant of issues surrounding immigration. Look at our history; look at the pioneers who came here. It was not too long ago.’”

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Notes:

1. President. Uchtdorf, faith leaders meet with Obama to discuss immigration

2. President Uchtdorf Represents the Church in White House Meeting

3. Immigration: Church Issues New Statement

4. President Uchtdorf Represents the Church in White House Meeting

Reference:

Robert Bennett: Take ineffective laws off the books

This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Paula Hicken MormonPaula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.

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About paulah
Paula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.

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