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Alleged Immorality of G.A.s


Mordecai

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An offshoot of another thread, I thought we might discuss whether the Church's stance on social issues are immoral or moral and why or why not. I think the Church doesn't take a stance on our military supposedly torturing people, because it's actually a complex issue. On the extreme end of the anti-waterboarding claims is that it is a war crime, a low brow claim, considering they don't even bother to define torture at any point with any precision.

If knowingly causing someone severe pain, as a means to an end, is torture, the doctor who removed my tonsils tortured me. I don't plan on pressing charges. Since waterboarding doesn't even cause physical pain but mere panic, perhaps one defines torture as purposely causing discomfort, including fear. I guess the Scared Straight program is a form of torture, torturing people to prevent them from becoming career criminals.

So this is just for starters. We can discuss whether the Church is immoral on other social issues like immigration reform, legislation involving homosexuals and spending money on temples instead of giving it to the poor and the like.

Goals in this thread should initially include defining what morality is, of course, because you can't have a debate unless disagreeing parties know what they are debating!

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My definition of morality basically centers around a good will for mankind and all the rational rules that facilitate the best good (the best good being all of mankind thriving happily in the long run). My definition is rather more nuanced than that, but that is for starters.

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Wow, grammar fail in the title. ha ha Sad. Can an admin change the title to read "Alleged Immorality of G.A.s?"

Remember that mods and admins don't always read threads so it is easiest just to report a request like this, don't even have to post just use 'report' in the OP....which I did for you, but that is all I am going to contribute to an intense subject like this tonight since I managed to misspell two out of three words in that request....time for my evening nap. I'll come back later and see if it's progressed.

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How does the Church's stance on any issue connect with the immorality of any General Authority???? Now if GA X came out with a statement about "torture" ,then one might be able to comment on that particular GA's morality. I would definitely need a CFR .

When compared with known torture methods from the inquisition to the Maya to the Native Americans to the Nazis,the practice of waterboarding is monumentally humane.

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When compared with known torture methods from the inquisition to the Maya to the Native Americans to the Nazis,the practice of waterboarding is monumentally humane.

I'd have to disagree here unless humane means 'no long-term physical damage'.

Then again, I don't think punishment has to be 'humane'.

I'm also opposed to prison in most cases and think the lash and public humiliation would work better.

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...I'm also opposed to prison in most cases and think the lash and public humiliation would work better.

I'm inclined to agree that the lash may be a better approach than prison in some cases, at least.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm inclined to agree that the lash may be a better approach than prison in some cases, at least.

I might agree with you, in priniciple but not necessarily in practice, but I am curious as to which crimes you think might merit the lash.

Keeping in mind that in the US flogging is now considered "cruel and unusual" and thus fails Constitutional muster.

One of the problems associated with this is the simple fact that sometimes innocents are convicted of crimes they didn't commit. While a fine may be refunded, and though time spent in prison is not recoverable it is at least not something that is evident externally, the lash leaves marks, probably indelible ones, marking one as a criminal, even though one has been acquitted in the end. Thus I don't think it is a very practical matter, not that its use is going to be resumed.

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..."cruel and unusual"....
Going to prison and being treated like garbage by fellow inmates and guards sounds cruel and unusual. How about the rape that regularly occurs in prison? The hardening of criminals in prison? Certainly, I would take the lash over prison. Doesn't seem cruel and unusual to me at all, compared to how miserable I'd be locked up, even more so in solitary or with a psychotic cell-mate. The lash would be merciful by comparison, in my view. Even better would be to get water boarded. Of course, criminals wouldn't be deterred in the slightest by that so-called "torture."
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Well, the Church was on the wrong side of the debate when it came to civil rights for blacks, and again in the debate about gay marriage. IMO. I don't know that that translates into the GAs being "immoral," but I do think they were wrong/mistaken.

I have no problem with building temples--it is possible to do that and help the poor--but do have a problem with that monstrously expensive mall in SLC.

The GAs are humans. They make mistakes, and may occasionally do things that are immoral, just like the rest of us, but I think they are pretty decent people overall. It's not an either/or thing. As a friend of mine likes to say, people are "bundles of contradictions," capable of both good and bad. If one expects Church leaders to be perfect in every way, they are setting themselves up for disappointment, and possibly apostasy. IMO. Even if they're not perfect, we certainly do want good and wise people leading the Church, though!

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As far as torture goes, yes, it should be defined so soldiers and police know what not to do. However, once defined, it's not a complicated issue--just don't do it! The Church leaders could easily (and possibly should) make a statement saying that torture is immoral, and even give a general statement on what constitutes torture. They don't have to write a legal definition--leave that to the ethicists and lawyers. We all know that using thumbscrews is torture. Waterboarding, there is debate about. The GAs don't have an obligation to spell everything out, but they can say torture is wrong.

It's kind of like extramarital sex. The GAs make it very clear that extramarital sex is immoral. They don't define sex, and they don't list every possible immoral sexual act. Nor do they say that kissing is either right or wrong, or holding hands. They just make general statements about extramarital sex, and leave it to others to figure out the details.

Frankly, it puzzles me that the Church leaders are so emphatic about how immoral looking at pornography is, but say little or nothing about torture. Which is really the greater evil?

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Well, the Church was on the wrong side of the debate when it came to civil rights for blacks, and again in the debate about gay marriage. IMO. I don't know that that translates into the GAs being "immoral," but I do think they were wrong/mistaken.

I am not sure what you mean by civil rights. The Church was very much in favor of the civil rights acts. If you are asking whether or not giving the priesthood to African Americans. I do not see that as a "civil right" since it has no real place in civilian government, not theology. I see it as two separate issues.

The debate on gay marriage is not the church's stance so much as Heavenly Father's, which is reflective in both scriptures and modern revelation. Both are very clear on the issue.

I appreciate the fact that you believe them to be mistaken in some instances, there is nothing that says a General Authority is "not" mistaken about an opinion.

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Frankly, it puzzles me that the Church leaders are so emphatic about how immoral looking at pornography is, but say little or nothing about torture. Which is really the greater evil?

Let us assume they are equally bad. Do you believe torture or pornography has the greatest impact on society? Which is a more immediate concern? Which destroys more families? Which should the general authorities focus upon for their members?

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I am not sure what you mean by civil rights. The Church was very much in favor of the civil rights acts.

I suppose I'm thinking of Elder Benson's paranoid theories about the Communists being behind the Civil Rights movement. But yeah, many members were indeed in favor of civil rights. I also remember how relieved my parents were in 1978 when the change in policy regarding blacks and the priesthood was announced.

The debate on gay marriage is not the church's stance so much as Heavenly Father's, which is reflective in both scriptures and modern revelation. Both are very clear on the issue.

My issue here is not about whether nor not homosexual behavior is immoral, but about the separation of church and state. Is imposing our religious standards on the population at large the right thing to do? I think not. Imagine the uproar if they tried imposing sharia law in the U.S.!

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Let us assume they are equally bad. Do you believe torture or pornography has the greatest impact on society? Which is a more immediate concern? Which destroys more families? Which should the general authorities focus upon for their members?

You've got a point--more people in the United States are exposed to pornography than to torture. However, if you cross the ocean and visit some of the violence-torn countries over there, you will find that torture is of far greater concern, and violence in general.

I realize that the General Authorities lead only members of the Church, but they have no qualms about making proclamations to the entire world about moral issues. Torture may not be an everyday occurence in Utah, but it is important, and it is not uncommon in other parts of the world.

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Jeff K., on 02 April 2011 - 10:50 AM, said:

I am not sure what you mean by civil rights. The Church was very much in favor of the civil rights acts.

I suppose I'm thinking of Elder Benson's paranoid theories about the Communists being behind the Civil Rights movement. But yeah, many members were indeed in favor of civil rights. I also remember how relieved my parents were in 1978 when the change in policy regarding blacks and the priesthood was announced.

Actually much organization was driven by the communist part (including vying for union leadership), the Popular Front for instance, as well as some early unions that focused on African American membership, but that is irrelevant to the discussion.

And I remember being relieved that we could allow African Americans to have the priesthood. Mostly because I wanted them to and I was happy the Lord issued such a declaration through his prophet.

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The debate on gay marriage is not the church's stance so much as Heavenly Father's, which is reflective in both scriptures and modern revelation. Both are very clear on the issue.

My issue here is not about whether nor not homosexual behavior is immoral, but about the separation of church and state. Is imposing our religious standards on the population at large the right thing to do? I think not. Imagine the uproar if they tried imposing sharia law in the U.S.!

All laws have some sort of belief system behind them, some moral code that comes from a source, religious or otherwise. You cannot separate the laws in a democracy from the moral fiber of the nation. So I believe the separation of church and state is a strawman in that the implication is that you are not allowed to express your view that something is wrong, which may be based upon any number views that are religion. Prostitution for instance is a law whose basis is one of a moral code. So is public nudity or exposure of one's self to the public. ie decency laws.

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Jeff K., on 02 April 2011 - 10:52 AM, said:

Let us assume they are equally bad. Do you believe torture or pornography has the greatest impact on society? Which is a more immediate concern? Which destroys more families? Which should the general authorities focus upon for their members?

You've got a point--more people in the United States are exposed to pornography than to torture. However, if you cross the ocean and visit some of the violence-torn countries over there, you will find that torture is of far greater concern, and violence in general.

I realize that the General Authorities lead only members of the Church, but they have no qualms about making proclamations to the entire world about moral issues. Torture may not be an everyday occurence in Utah, but it is important, and it is not uncommon in other parts of the world.

I have crossed the ocean and visited some violence torn countries, its still pornography by a long shot and often with a much stronger influence than in the US. Pornography is much more common and insidious than torture.

Torture is, when compared to other immoral issues in the world, truthfully rather minor in size and impact relative to other things, including avarice. I would not even consider torture the smallest fraction relative to the whole.

Finally, if people followed the prophets advice, if they follow the advice of the General Authorities, then torture as an issue would cease to exist, which in effect means that it would go away in either case.

Follow the prophet and his admonishments and this thread on torture would have no reason to exist. Isn't that what you really want?

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I might agree with you, in priniciple but not necessarily in practice, but I am curious as to which crimes you think might merit the lash.

Petty theft, assault (in cases where the altercation was not too serious), minor drug crimes, other things.

Keeping in mind that in the US flogging is now considered "cruel and unusual" and thus fails Constitutional muster.

I think prison is crueler though it is more usual.

One of the problems associated with this is the simple fact that sometimes innocents are convicted of crimes they didn't commit. While a fine may be refunded, and though time spent in prison is not recoverable it is at least not something that is evident externally, the lash leaves marks, probably indelible ones, marking one as a criminal, even though one has been acquitted in the end. Thus I don't think it is a very practical matter, not that its use is going to be resumed.

I'm sure we can come up with a lash that only leaves minor or no marks.

I also think stocks should make a comeback. Less permanent marks.

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Frankly, it puzzles me that the Church leaders are so emphatic about how immoral looking at pornography is, but say little or nothing about torture. Which is really the greater evil?

Torture, but torture is not something done often outside governmental mandate. I think it's assumed that torture by individuals is wrong. If it were to become an epidemic across the nation I expect the General Authorities would counsel about it (like President Hinckley did with the resurgence of gambling a while back).

The Church tries to avoid giving counsel to government leaders. We take a stance on a few moral issues and so far torture is not one of them.

I find it to be wrong. Pain can function as a just sentence for a criminal but torture is not an attempt to punish. It is an attempt to coerce cooperation. Coercion is usually the adversary's tactic.

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Petty theft, assault (in cases where the altercation was not too serious), minor drug crimes, other things.

I think prison is crueler though it is more usual.

I'm sure we can come up with a lash that only leaves minor or no marks.

I also think stocks should make a comeback. Less permanent marks.

How do you feel about limiting the franchise to veterans?

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What franchise?

Guess I misread you, thought you might be a Heinlein fan. In Starship Troopers, (not the totally messed up movie), one only has the franchise, or the right to vote, if they are military veterans.

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Water-boarding has been considered TORTURE since the Spanish Inquisition.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/645201900/Torture-wont-lead-to-victory.html

I guess our gov't is comprised of monsters, because we've been water-boarding our own troops for decades, as part of their training. Regardless of whether it was considered torture or not isn't the point. The question is, how do we form a coherent legal definition now, because things like water boarding do help with interrogation. If it falls outside of the definition of torture, as Bush's lawyers told him it did, then it was legal and saved a lot of lives.

Their attempt to define torture, I thought, was reasonable. For example, they suggested it wasn't torture if it didn't cause long term traumatization. How bad could it be, if, after a short time, you feel fine? Our soldiers who suffered through it in training didn't sue the gov't afterward for PTSD. I suspect if it caused things like that, we wouldn't have been using it. I always thought torture involved excruciating pain and/or bodily harm. Water boarding causes neither of those things. It is extremely uncomfortable and causes a panic response, as the target (I hesitate to call top-level Al Qaida murderers "victims") believes he is drowning.

It's a trick, really. A very nasty, terrifying and extremely difficult to endure trick, but I don't think it's torture. Do I think it's moral? If it's legal and used only for top-level Al Qaida (which is all they used it for), I'm okay with it. Respect for the law was there. The targets of the water boarding recovered emotionally in a short time. The good intention to save lives was there. The targets of the enhanced interrogation essentially had it coming, as they forfeited their right to kind treatment when they conspired to commit mass murder and had information that we had a right to take from them. There were doctors present during the water boarding and a limit on how much they could do it to prevent excessive emotional distress, and they succeeded in saving American lives.

I'm sorry, but it was technically legal, represented good intentions, was okay'd by the highest elected official whom I think had authority to make that call and resulted in good in the end. The only evil so far has been the demonizing of the practice without analysis. If you've ever debated things like this in an ethics class, completely informed by the great moral philosophers, you can't simply say, "Torture is evil, so what they did was wrong!" without sounding philosophically challenged. This is not a simple situation; it's quite complex. I think perhaps, if we were George Bush, and we were the ones who put troops in harms way, we might feel differently about who the bad guys are.

I think the real bad guys are the murderers and barbarians who target innocent civilians. I think we have right to put them to death. By extension, it stands to reason we have a right to make them extremely uncomfortable and terrorize them, if it is a means to protect our citizens and troops from them.

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