As a former member of the Utah National Guard, I count it as one of the greatest honors of my life to have stood shoulder to shoulder with selfless and honorable Utah natives who volunteered to wear their country’s uniform in a time of war. As a Returned Missionary and life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can also tell you that some of the most spiritual experiences of my life came while in uniform.
I’ve experienced the spirit of Zion as young, scared, and uncertain recruits took turns laying hands upon each other and offering priesthood blessings as we endured the trials and tribulations of basic training. I’ve participated and witnessed countless creations of very real titles of liberty, made from camouflage cloth and carried in pockets of fatigues, scrawled on helmet covers, or pinned on walls. I’ve participated in soldier’s sacrament meetings, wiping Dugway dust off our uniforms before bowing our heads and discussing what it means to be both warriors and saints.
I have known and counted as my most sacred friendships and acquaintances modern-day Ammons, modern-day Stripling Warriors, and modern-day Captain Moroni’s. And let me tell you, they are rarely found in the dysfunctional halls of government in today’s America. They are your next-door neighbor, your child’s teacher, your cashier at the supermarket, police officers, firefighters, and, all too often, the homeless guy begging for a buck on West Temple.
They are those who stepped forward when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. They are those who held the line at KapYong and didn’t lose a man. They are those who answered the call and shipped out to a God-forsaken jungle only to be spit on and hated when they got back home. They are those who stepped forward when the towers fell.
These are the men and women who deserve to be compared to Captain Moroni. It shocks my conscience and grieves my soul that you would instead compare perhaps the most selfless, freedom-loving, and self-sacrificing figure from the Book of Mormon short of Jesus Christ himself to our current President.
There are many arguments to be made in favor of political support for Donald Trump. I don’t presume to judge anyone for making difficult decisions in difficult political times. This open letter isn’t about who’s voting for who or who anyone should support in this pending presidential election. This open letter is about honesty and integrity. It’s about being honest about political decisions and not shamelessly projecting qualities and virtues on those who do not possess them in order to justify those decisions. It’s about having the integrity to own your own compromises and not besmirch the honor of bygone heroes by dragging them into the morass of a political moment we should all be embarrassed of.
Many will take the final words of this open letter as offering judgment, as uttering condemnation, as an “un-Christlike” passage as I speak plainly and do not flinch or mince words in my estimation of Donald J. Trump. But thanks to your comparison, we’re no longer talking about a politician or a secular leader. You have compared our current President to Captain Moroni, who I esteem as the greatest man in the Book of Mormon and the ensample I and many others have sought to emulate in our lives and our service to our communities, our state, and our nation. My conscience does not permit me to hold my tongue.
A man who is unsure if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness is no Captain Moroni. A man who requested and received five draft deferments and lied about a medical condition to avoid serving his country is no Captain Moroni. A man who belittles the sacrifice of Prisoners of War, those who’ve gone farther into the depths of hell than anyone in service to their country, is no Captain Moroni. A man who mocks the mother of a slain American soldier is no Captain Moroni. A man who paid a porn star hush money to keep their adulterous affair out of the news during a political campaign is no Captain Moroni. A man who calls our honored dead “losers” and “suckers” for their sacrifice is no Captain Moroni. A man who has uttered, and refused to apologize for, the most demeaning and disgusting language possible directed at a daughter of God (which led you yourself at the time to demand he step down as the Republican Candidate for President) is no Captain Moroni.
I’m well aware of what will be offered in response to this open letter. The “What abouts” and the “Yeah, buts” and the fingers pointed in all other directions are pretty well baked into the conversations at this point. But while excuses for Donald Trump can be offered in a myriad of ways when comparing him to past, present, or future electoral alternatives, no excuse can be offered for comparing Donald J. Trump to Captain Moroni.
The undeniable facts of our current President’s lack of moral character, selfish and self-serving attitudes, and especially his continuous and documented slander of those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom and liberty should preclude any comparison to any great figure from the Holy Scriptures, let alone the righteous warrior of the following passages in Alma Chapter 48:
11 And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood….
17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.