Thursday, August 23, 2007

Amalickiah and Islamic Extremists

While Islamic extremists are the greatest threat in the world today, many people think it fashionable to argue that the U.S. is the real source of evil. Take for example a poll conducted in Europe in June 2006. More than one-third of respondents identified the US "as the greatest threat to global stability" (Financial Times, 18 June 2006).

These people are misguided. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to identify good from evil. The story of Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty lists the criteria by which we can tell who is on the Lord's side and who is not.

We read in Alma 46 about a wicked man named Amalickiah. Contrary to the law of the land, Amalickiah sought to become the king of the Nephites. He used flattering words to persuade people who wanted power to follow him and make him their king. Many members of the Church dissented because of his flattery.

Verse 10 describes his ultimate goal. He used cunning and flattery to lead "away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them."

In response to this threat, Moroni, the leader of the Nephite armies, rent his coat and wrote upon a piece of it, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children" (verse 12). Fastened upon a pole, this Title of Liberty became his motto and represents his ultimate goal in start contrast to that of Amalickiah. Moroni then "prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren" (verse 13).

While Amalickiah lead many away to do wickedly including some of the Church who dissented, many others flocked to the standard of Captain Moroni. Those who chose to stand for liberty entered into a covenant saying, "We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed ... if we shall fall into transgression" (verse 22).

How can we tell where the evil in the world truly lies today? All we must do is compare the situation today to that faced by the Nephites in the days of Moroni:

Amalickiah Islamic extremists (e.g., Ahmadinejad, bin Laden)
Wants power over Nephites Want power over free nations
Uses cunning words and flattery (dishonesty and vanity) to persuade Uses controlled state press, liberal media, and the Internet to persuade with no regard for the truth; also use lies and threats (e.g., beheadings) to achieve goals
Promises power to followers Promise virgins in the afterlife and other unrighteous desires to followers
Seeks to destroy the Church Seek to destroy religious freedom and tolerance
Seeks to destroy liberty Seek to take away all freedoms (e.g., free press, free speech, voting rights)

Moroni U.S. and its Allies
Focuses on God and religion Founded on principles of faith in God
Seeks freedom Ultimate goal of U.S. military is to maintain freedom from outside control
Desires peace The U.S. does not use war to force other nations to become Christian or to take away their freedom
Focuses on defending the family Many in the U.S. seek to protect marriage and the unborn; wives and daughters have equal opportunities under the law
Prays for liberty Many pray for freedom from terrorism
Followers covenant to keep God's commandments Many strive to follow the laws of God embodied in the 10 commandments

Note the warning of the prophet Isaiah: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness" (Isaiah 5:20). This prophecy certainly applies to the practice of labeling President Bush and the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace today. Satan wants to deceive us into thinking that if we do not fight terrorism, there will be peace in the world and we will be able to say "All is well in Zion." That belief will only allow Satan greater freedom to take away our freedom to worship God.