Monday, March 26, 2012

Giveaway 9: Connor Boyack's Latter-day Liberty



Connor Boyack is a web developer, political economist, social media consultant and author of the popular book Latter-day Liberty. The book provides an analysis of what liberty is and how it applies to government and politics, using logic, reason, and secular sources of information, in addition to the abundant scriptures and statements from prophets and apostles which relate to these issues.

For this giveaway, Connor is generously providing one reader with a copy of his book. Connor also provides some answers to our questions below the giveaway guidelines.

Giveaway Guidelines:
• You have 5 days to enter (closes Friday, March 30th at midnight).
• Winner chosen via random.org and announced April 2nd.
• Winner needs to respond via email with their address by April 6th to claim the book.
• You have THREE chances to enter. Each option requires a separate comment.
   - Leave a comment (anonymous comments ignored).
   - Like our facebook page.
   - Share the giveaway via Facebook or Twitter.

Q: Can you give us a few sentences on what Latter-day Liberty is about?

My book looks at scriptures and statements from leaders of Church to analyze what our faith says about government and politics. It explores the topic of individual liberty in depth and provides members of the Church with a guide to understand what laws they should support, and what criteria should be used to judge candidates for political office.

Q: Why did you write the book?

I believe that a fundamental aspect of the gospel is the message of agency and liberty, which prophets have spoken about repeatedly. Unfortunately, I also believe that their collective counsel has gone mostly unheeded. My purpose in writing Latter-day Liberty was to provide an analysis that exists in bits and pieces in various scriptures, talks, books, and other resources, compiling it all into one resource for those interested in learning more on the topic.

As I've followed my own educational path over the years, I had to rely on these fragments and independently arrive at the conclusions and opinions I now hold. I wanted to provide for others a more comprehensive resource that gathers those fragments and makes a case for liberty in an easily digestible format.

Q: Can you name two or three political events in church history that every member should be aware of?

It's fairly common, in my experience, to hear Latter-day Saints reflexively point to the 12th Article of Faith whenever discussing opposition to a given law. The argument effectively declares that we should be subject to political rulers, and, well, that's that. I think that's a misreading of the Article, which I expound on in my book. So one example stands out in my mind that stands at complete odds with this misreading: Helmuth Hübener.

Helmuth, a German teen and Latter-day Saint, defied Nazi "law" and disseminated information that conflicted with the government's propaganda. For his "crime" he was beheaded, yet Latter-day Saints the world over recognize and praise his defiance of unjust law. Helmuth saw and objected to tyranny, and decided to do something about it. While this form of disobedience should be encouraged only with a number of qualifiers and restraints, I believe that Helmuth's example makes clear that Latter-day Saints should not be (and are not) bound to comply with any government edict. To the extent that a law unjustly violates a person's liberty, that person has the moral authority to appropriately resist. After all, that's what the Declaration of Independence is really all about, and several other scriptures support the idea.

Another example (one of many I list in the book) is Alexander Doniphan, a Missouri lawyer, state representative, and member of the militia. Though not a member of the Church, Doniphan repeatedly defended the Saints against punitive legislation and frivolous lawsuits. When anti-Mormon troops surrounded Far West and ultimately forced its surrender, General Samuel D. Lucas ordered Doniphan to summarily execute Joseph Smith, along with six other leaders who were being held in custody. To this objectionable order, he responded: “It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order.... If you execute these men I will hold you personally responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.” Speaking of this act of defiance, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland offered praise:

To his eternal credit, Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan, an officer in the Missouri forces, boldly and courageously refused to carry out the inhumane, unjustifiable order. In a daring stand that could have brought him his own court-martial, he cried out against the commanding officer....

In showing such courage and integrity, Doniphan not only saved the lives of these seven men but endeared himself forever to Latter-day Saints in every generation.

I'm not highlighting these acts of defiance to suggest we all resist and thumb our noses at the government. Rather, I like them (and many more such stories like them) because they show an adherence to a higher law--one that is being violated by a conflicting man-made edict.

I think another historical example that shows this desire is the one mentioned a few years ago by Pres. Boyd K. Packer in general conference. After fleeing westward to escape persecution, and despite having had to deal with a government that failed to protect them and uphold their constitutionally-guaranteed rights, the Saints held a large parade two years after their arrival in the valley. The theme of that parade was patriotism and loyalty to that same government which had been, at best, a passive accessory to the crimes committed against them. More specifically, they celebrated the founding documents of that government, and the principles they codified and were based upon.

In my book I document many other examples where the Saints either defied an unjust law or were denied their rights, all while upholding the Constitution and individual liberty as their natural right and divinely-given blessing. I think in our day there is plenty of potential application for these historical examples.

Q: Where can we buy Latter-day Liberty and what’s next for Connor Boyack?

The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, and a variety of other bookstores and online outlets. It's also on Kindle and Nook.

As for what's next, I'm currently working on the book's "sequel," Latter-day Responsibility. It'll be out in November. I'm also working, as is common for me, on a variety of political projects. One worthy of mention to this audience is a pro-peace/anti-war billboard we'll soon be putting up in Utah County that uses Pres. Kimball's "we are a warlike people" line to grab people's attention.

Q: Finally, will Democratic mormons be shut out of the Celestial Kingdom?

Well, many Republicans support a foreign policy with unjustly kills innocents around the world, while many Democrats support a domestic policy with unjustly permits the termination of life in the womb. So on the single issue of wrongly killing God's children, both major parties have their faults. I think members of both parties (as well as those of no party, of course) support policies which are repugnant to God and violate his commandments. Republican Mormons may like to think of themselves as being in God's party, but that's flat out wrong. And as I discuss in the introduction of my book, Mormons were once largely Democrats. We shouldn't be so much concerned with political parties as we should the underlying principles and policies being advocated and enforced.

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