Mormons want a theocracy about as bad as a cantankerous pirate wants a colonoscopy. There’s a lot of overblown rhetoric online about the so-called “white horse” prophecy (links intentionally withheld) and the Mormon’s wish to establish a theocracy. It is an intentional misrepresentation of Mormon theology that serves as a useful bludgeon to damage Mormon politicians. No one seems to care if Mormons serve in the military, or as the Senate Majority leader, or teach at the Harvard School of Business. It only seems to matter when it makes a useful caricature. All this talk about white horses is a classic misdirect that is simultaneously untrue and mischaracterizing. It’s not enough just to be wrong in this case. No, the commentators have to declare Mormon folklore to be doctrine and then go on to misinterpret the folklore.
First off, is it really a shocker that Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States is in peril? Thomas Sowell doesn’t think it’s outrageous. The only surprising thing is that we’ve believed it for a long time. We have fresh scars from wounds received when we found no redress from appeals to its pages.
Secondly, the authoritative, canonical doctrine about government is far from theocratic. It is affirmed in our own scripture that governments are ordained of God for the benefit of man (Doctrine and Covenants 134), that we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying honoring and sustaining the law (Articles of Faith 12) and that God is the author of the US Constitution (D&C 101:80) at least in the same way He “authored” scripture. After being driven out of the United States because of religious intolerance and establishing a city in the Utah desert, Governor and Prophet Brigham Young had a parade in which the youth marched holding copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 95-107).
We revere the Constitution because it is meant to guarantee the free exercise of religion, a freedom we would desperately love to enjoy. “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow ALL men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 11, emphasis mine). If we seek office it is not to establish a theocracy, it is to make sure that the freedoms defined in the pages of the Constitution can be enjoyed by all.
Yari Rosenburg had an excellent article at the Tablet. He discusses religious persecution in general, something Jews know a little about, and some of the recurring attacks in particular on Mormons in the spotlight.