Secret combination (Latter Day Saints)

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In the Latter Day Saint movement, a secret combination is a secret society of "people bound together by oaths to carry out the evil purposes of the group."[1] Secret combinations were first discussed in the Book of Mormon, published in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr. The most notable example of a secret combination is the Gadianton robbers, a conspiracy throughout much of the Book of Mormon narrative. According to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, Cain also entered a secret combination with Satan and became Master Mahan.[2]

Secret combinations in the Book of Mormon[edit]

The Book of Mormon is a religious text held by the Latter Day Saints to be record of several groups of people who inhabited ancient America. The movement holds that prophets of these people proclaimed principles and warnings for latter-day believers. Moroni, a Nephite prophet, addresses his words to later generations and speaks of secret combinations in the Book of Ether: "When ye shall see these things [secret combinations] come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation."[3]

The Book of Mormon denounces secret combinations as "most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God."[4] They are also considered to be one of the signs that a people is ripe for the Lord's vengeance, and according to the Book of Mormon, in the last days will be prevalent on the earth.[5]

Moroni also warns that the Gentiles of the latter day should repent of their sins and not allow that "murderous combinations get above you, which are built up to get power and gain."[6] Moroni goes on to warn that anyone who builds up a secret combination "seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies."[7]

Moroni tells an example of a secret combination in the story of a son named Jared who rebels against his father Omer, who is Jaredite king of the land. Trying once and not succeeding to overthrow his father, Jared's daughter tells him of the power of conspiracy and refers to ancient writings of "secret plans to obtain kingdoms and great glory".[8] She devises a plan to establish her father as ruler of the land. She tells him she can dance for Akish, a man of authority, and entice him. If he is pleased with her and desires to wed her he would have to agree to deliver the head of Jared's father, King Omer. To fulfill Jared's wish, Akish formed a circle of men who swore upon their lives that they would never divulge the secret, their plot, or their brethren. To join this secret group one had to perform a series of oaths administered by Akish. Moroni explains that these promises or covenants were "kept up by the power of the devil" through the ages.[9] After finishing the account, Moroni tells of the effect the secret combination had upon the nation saying, "They have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi."[10]

Another group of people that practiced secret combinations in the Book of Mormon are the Gadianton robbers.

Alleged secret combinations in the modern world[edit]

During the Cold War, LDS Apostle Ezra Taft Benson repeatedly described communism as a secret combination.[11] As church president, Benson stated that "a secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world."[12] Church leader Bruce R. McConkie claimed that "[r]eliable modern reports describe their existence among gangsters, as part of the governments of communist countries, in some labor organizations, and even in some religious groups."[13] Apostle M. Russell Ballard described secret combinations as including "gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. ... They have secret signs and code words. They participate in secret rites and initiation ceremonies. Among their purposes are to 'murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God.'"[14] LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley compared modern terrorists to the "Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction."[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LDS Church, Guide to the Scriptures: Secret Combinations.
  2. ^ Moses 5:31
  3. ^ Ether 824.
  4. ^ Ether 8:18
  5. ^ Ether 8:16-25
  6. ^ Ether 8-22.
  7. ^ Ether 8-23, 24, 25.
  8. ^ Ether 8-9.
  9. ^ Ether 8-15, 16.
  10. ^ Ether 8-21.
  11. ^ Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, Oct. 1961; Ezra Taft Benson, “A Witness and a Warning,” Ensign, November 1979, p. 31.
  12. ^ Ezra Taft Benson, "I Testify", Ensign, November 1988.
  13. ^ Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Secret Combination".
  14. ^ M. Russell Ballard, “Standing for Truth and Right,” Ensign, November 1997, p. 37, quoting Helaman 6:23.
  15. ^ Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Times in Which We Live", Ensign, November 2001.