Monday, April 06, 2009

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks Praises Prop 8 Supporters, Castigates Greedy Corporate CEOs At The 179th Annual LDS General Conference In Salt Lake City

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has just concluded its 179th Annual LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City. The Church holds an annual conference twice yearly in order to recharge the membership's spiritual batteries and inspire them to magnify their callings.

During this conference, nearly every speaker inside the 20,000+ seat Conference Center in Salt Lake emphasized the conviction that Jesus Christ is at the center of Mormon faith, theologically, personally and intimately. They also spoke of the Easter season, of Christ's sacrifice for humanity, crucifixion and resurrection, his call to discipleship and his message of unconditional love. The General Authorities also spoke out on temple work, following the prophet's instructions, the importance of missionary work, and avoiding pornography. Millions more watched the proceedings via satellite in LDS chapels across the world, as well as on satellite and cable. KSL Channel 5 news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

The usual complement of callings to new positions was announced, and can be read HERE. In addition, the latest demographic statistics on the Church was announced:

-- Members: 13,508,509
-- Missions: 348
-- Full-time Missionaries: 52,494
-- Districts: 622
-- Stakes: 2,818
-- Wards and Branches: 28,189
-- Temples: 128

But the Salt Lake Tribune, a more secular-oriented newspaper than its LDS-owned rival Deseret News, chose to highlight a speech by Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Church's governing Quorum of the Twelve. In this speech delivered during the Sunday afternoon session, Elder Oaks praised Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage and chastised greedy corporate executives.

"In recent elections, Latter-day Saints have united with other like-minded persons in defense of marriage efforts", Oaks said. "For some, that service has involved great sacrifice and continuing personal pain".

Oaks also condemned excess in today's economic downturn. "The effects of greed and entitlement are evident in the multimillion dollar bonuses of some corporate executives", he said. "But the effects are more widespread than that. Greed and ideas of entitlement have also fueled the widespread careless borrowing and excessive consumerism behind the financial crises that threaten to engulf the world".

Another apostle also addressed social issues. During the Saturday evening priesthood session, Elder Boyd K. Packer, directing his remarks primarily towards Aaronic Priesthood holders aged 12-18, reminded them that they are to take care of the mortal tabernacle given to them. He counseled them to treasure and protect the masculine part of their nature, and to have respectful, protective regard for all women and girls. He also urged them to avoid pornography and narcotics, and not to decorate their bodies with tattoos or by piercing it to add jewels. He also affirmed that gender identity was assigned during the pre-mortal existence. This, of course, differs significantly from the conclusion reached by the Fairbanks School Board in February when they voted in favor of making transgendered students a "protected class" without addressing bathroom issues. One of the board members voting in favor was Sue Hull, a Republican.

But most of the speeches focused on LDS views of Jesus. "It is fitting that during this week, from Palm Sunday to Easter morning, we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life and love", said Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the governing First Presidency, in the day's first sermon. "He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. ... He lived a perfect life and atoned for our sins. He will ever be at our side. He will fight our battles. He is our hope; he is our salvation; he is the way".

Another highlight of the conference was the calling of Elder Neil L. Andersen to become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Andersen replaces Joseph Wirthlin, who passed on in December 2008. In his first address as an LDS apostle, Elder Andersen spoke respectfully of other faiths. "We are not alone in our desire to do good. We are not alone in praying and receiving answers. We are not alone in sacrificing for a greater cause. There are loyal and decent mothers and fathers in every land. We have much to learn from the good people all around us". Nonetheless, Elder Andersen also said that Mormons should not be timid in declaring the LDS Church's unique beliefs -- the Book of Mormon, prophets and priesthood of all worthy males.

More Utah media stories on the conference can be found on the KSL Conference Page and the Deseret News Conference Page. Until the LDS Church makes full transcripts of the conference speeches available on the LDS website, here are links to several summaries:

Saturday morning session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Saturday afternoon session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Saturday evening priesthood session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Sunday morning session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Sunday afternoon session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

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