When Harry Reid spoke at BYU last week, he brought up a topic he was uniquely suited to address. To paraphrase, how can you be a Mormon and a Democrat? Reid’s response was, well, deeply predictable in the outset but wildly unpredictable after that. If someone asks you about the intersection of your religious beliefs and your political ones, there is only one politically correct way for that causality to flow. Harry responded that he was “a Democrat because [he was] a Mormon”. What followed was then a longish discussion of just how cool FDR was, what great programs he started, and how Harry Reid grew up in a completely non-religious home that practically worshiped FDR. Only later did he manage to make a passing reference to King Benjamin (in itself a deeply troubling text for a statist, given that speech’s exceptional reliance on the sanctifying nature of free will offerings.)
Now I realize that many Mormons loved FDR, so perhaps Harry’s argument was based on some sort of transitivity (Mormons loved FDR, I loved FDR, my love for FDR was because of my as yet undiscovered Mormon-ness). But surely he could do better than that.
So lend Harry a helping hand; find examples in the scriptures or Church history where the government or king has mandated some level of income redistribution, preferably on pain of imprisonment. I pick that topic because it is a fun one and because it was one of Reid’s focal points in discussing FDR.
It would be better if the actor was not also the head of the religion, as this confuses the issue as to the capacity they were acting under when they spoke. For example, if Alma the Younger decreed required aid to the poor as the Chief Judge, that would be a great example. If he called upon the people to help the poor after leaving that office, then that would not be an example, as there was no state compulsion.
So here’s one I know of, although it is not the greatest. After tons of men die in battles, Limhi orders men to care for the widows and their children. It has the requisite characteristics, but occurs in the direst of straits when the purpose is to stop starvation. Not really a full on poverty stopper, but perhaps a a good start for WIC or Medicaid (or certainly some Veteran’s benefits).
Here’s one that doesn’t work. Alma Senior sets up a welfare program but then the next verse explicitly notes that offerings were given of their own free will.
Perhaps I am too narrow in what I am asking for, so please feel free to point out what you think the relevant kind of scriptures would be to highlight differences between political philosophies of appropriate income redistribution. Take as given that all Mormons, regardless of politics, agree we have a personal responsibility to help the poor. Those few that don’t have their own problems to work out.