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I second the desire for some LDS leadership on this issue, but I think the Church has made a strategic decision (for now) that while we remain a small and insignificant player on the world stage it would be better for the Church to concentrate on the inner lives of its own members. Trouble is, many members then think that this is all that matters. President Hinckley's prayer for peace show that the Brethren worry about this issue.

There may be something else too: the Church, via BYU, has made some real effort with Islam in recent years and doesn't want to spoil it. They also have an eye on a (distant) future mission to the Middle East and need to keep governments happy to do this.

None of these things encumber the Catholic Church.

Good point Ronan.

There is certainly a place for religions to tackle the issue of dysfunction in a neighboring religious culture head-on. But I think there is also a place for other religions to position themselves in a place where they can act as a bridge as well.

Think this one through. What would most likely happen if the LDS Church did come out against Islam with a similar message? A number of things:
1) The Church would no longer be able to maintain it's political neutrality, thus destabilizing it's ability to preach the gospel in many countries.
2) LDS members in the world living in areas near radical groups could become targets of attacks.
3) LDS members with history, family or strong ties to the middle east could suffer because of it.
4) Misguided LDS members would follow these "teachings" from the Church's leaders but take it to extremes. Thus causing further distancing between the two groups.

I personally believe the leaders of our Church to be doing what is right, as always, right now. The "institutional imperatives" are extremely important and must be regurgitated until the members of the Church begin to live them more fully than they do now.

At least that's my 2c.

Whilst I agree that those are the reasons, it does show that the CC has shown quite a bit of backbone on this one. After all, a nun in Sudan was gunned down because of it. They clearly want to offer Christian leadership on the issue, and seem willing to pay the price. They are probably the only ones who can.

I think the Catholics are stepping up because they have all but lost Europe and are the only Church left in europe with any significant sort of worldwide cohesiveness (sorry Ronan, the Anglicans are a mess). Who else do we expect to make a stand? The Missouri Synod?

Could it be as simple as this? When it's the Lord's time, he'll have his Prophet speak his will.


James, the Church doesn't have to "come out against Islam" in order to show (1) some recognition of the crisis of confidence that is becoming critical in Europe and the United States; and (2) a sense of urgency in helping "the West" rekindle faith in Western institutions and culture.

Phrased in such general terms, it must be admitted that LDS leaders do address such themes regularly, but more in the context of patriotism and Americanism. I'm thinking more in terms of "the West" and its heritage of free expression, political liberty, and a sense of human worth and dignity. Christianity was the foundation from which these civil virtues arose, and the decline of Christianity in Europe (so argue the recent Catholic speakers) has undermined its faith and confidence in those seemingly secular civil virtues.

Or maybe I'm just irritated that the Catholic speakers are making sophisticated arguments while LDS speakers make simple ones.

Why is it that only Catholics are making the case for defending Western culture (including Western religion, the ethical core of that culture for two millennia) against Islamic threats and violence? Is it because they are rising to defend the Pope, or are they the only ones who think there's something to defend?

The exceptional thing about the recent statements is that they are unexceptional. B16's Regensberg speech is a piece with what he's been writing for 50 years and with JPII's writings on the "Gospel of Truth" and "Faith and Reason." The Archbishop's essay is in line with the Church's stand against Communism and Modernism.

In other words, the Church's recent history has trained it to defend historic Christian values against the "inexorable tides of history" and this is just the next stage in that defense.

There is also something about the Catholic approach to rationality, incorporating as it does, as Benedict pointed out, the Hellenistic intellectual traditions, that retains the ancient notion of human virtues or excellences, which in turn requires that attention be paid to human nature as it is, rather than as we want to find it. I think this leads to a philosophy that can find a wider audience than one which asserts a particular textual interpretation (and note that Catholicism has been least successful pace the Reformation where it has staked a stronger position on the particular interpretation of particular texts.)

I think this means that there is a remnant but intellectually confident Catholic counter-culture, which may explain the unprecedented Catholic majority on the Supreme Court, which is largely a product of conservative Presidents who are attempting to select intellectually vetted conservative justices (and we are still waiting to see how that turns out.)

Um, Dave, what would want someone at General Conference to say? "Dont convert to Islam, it is Satan's response to Christianity"? That isnt the purpose of General Conference, and there is no point in the LDS Church taking a position on this matter at all. The LDS Church is the true one, all the rest arent. End of story. Why cause contention by explicitly stating what is otherwise obviously implicit?

"Any chance the Vatican could lend us an Archbishop or two to speak at the next Conference? They'd be a real hit. I'm serious."

Careful what you ask for, Dave. You might get Cardinal Mahoney. ;)

Seriously, to comment on something Ronan said:
"None of these things encumber the Catholic Church."

I think you've greatly misjudged the Catholic Church. The CC has been bending over backwards to promote goodwill with Muslims, and they have no desire to through those new inroads away. And throughout the Near, Middle, and Far East, there are outposts of missions and small Catholic communities which are dwarfed by the Muslim population, and in some cases trying to sustain themselves under Sharia law, which is often a slow death to Christianity. They applied that Sharia tourniquet to Egypt in the 8th century, and now the once all Christian nation is now less than 10% Christian. And slowly dwindling.

I think Stapley had a very interesting point, and the one that I think is the greatest driver for the recent candor by Catholic leaders. Islam is aggressively assuming Christian lands through demographic shifts. Where Islam is the preeminent religion, laws are always imposed to inhibit any non-Islamic growth. Along with secularism, the growth of Islam is Christianity’s most pressing challenge.

The Church wants a peaceful battle. So we see a two-fold approach. Evangelization/Ecumenization of the Church and more high-profile straight-talk on Islam (which seems poised to take full advantage of the world’s trend towards diversity, where Islam successfully demands tolerance while offering little tolerance in return). The straight-talk is necessary today. As we have seen by their reaction to the Pope’s remarks (fueled by a Western and Eastern media only concerned with creating a controversy), there needs to be more of it to deaden their hypersensitivity to it.

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