I was talking with a friend of mine today and the discussion turned toward the latest push by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to be considered just another mainstream Christian denomination or sect. My friend asked if I was aware of the "White Horse Prophecy." I was not, so he began to explain it to me. Apparently, this prophecy shared by the Mormon founder and prophet Joseph Smith has to do with the overthrow of the United States government and the Constitution.
Political reporter Dana Milbank of The Washington Post had an article featured on The Huffington Post in October 2010. He referenced one of Glenn Beck's first appearances on Fox News. Milbank says that in this appearance Beck sent a coded message to the nation's six million Mormons, or as the writer states "at least those Mormons who believe in wht the Latter-day Saints call 'the White Horse Prophecy.'"
On November 14, 2008, in an interview with Fox's Bill O'Reilly, Beck said "We are at the place where the Constitution hangs in the balance. I feel the Constitution is hanging in the balance right now, hanging by a thread unless the good Americans wake up."
This statement was made as a reaction to President Barack Obama's election. While most viewers would have chalked this up to another conservative analysis of the election, there seems to be more to it.
Those "in the know" saw this as a reference to the White Horse Prophecy.
So, what is the White Horse Prophecy?
Apparently, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1843, there would be an attempt to overthrow the American government and the process would result in the destruction of the Constitution. Joseph Smith predicted the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time "this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction" (Journal of Discourses, 7:15).
What about the white horse? According to the prophecy, the Saints would "go to the Rocky Mountains and. . .be a great and mighty people", identified figuratively with the white horse described in the book of Revelation. The Constitution will one day "hang by a thread" and will be saved "by the efforts of the white horse."
In other words, not only will the Mormons save the Constitution, under the prediction, but the prophecy goes further, insinuating that Mormons will control the government. Apparently, this was one of the reasons the Mormons were driven west.
According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:
LDS attachment to the Constitution has been further encouraged by an important oral tradition deriving from a statement attributed to Joseph Smith, according to which the Constitution would "hang by a thread" and be rescued, if at all, only with the help of the Saints. Church President John Taylor seemed to go further when he prophesied, "When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States, the Elders of Israel (LDS leaders) will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men." (JD 21:8) To defend the principles of the Constitution under circumstances where the "inquity," or moral decay, of the people has torn it to shreds might well require wisdom at least equal to that of the men raised up to found it. In particular, it would require great insight into the relationship between freedom and virtue in a political embodiment of moral agency. (Encyclopedia of Mormonsim, Vol. 1, 1992)
This phrase "hang by a thread" has been used by Mormon church leaders and prophets for decades. It's also been shared among some who feel the last days of America are upon us.
Back in 1999, after announcing his candidacy for the office of President, Republican Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch was featured in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune titled "Did Hatch Allude to LDS Prophecy?" The article stated:
Sen. Orrin Hatch has denied his Republican presidential campaign is motivated by a longing to fulfill and obscure Mormon myth. But during an interview with a Mormon Church-owned radio station this week he borrowed the exact phrasing of the apocalyptic belief.
Utah's senior senator. . .complained Democrats' political correctness will be the ruin of the country.
"They tolerate everything that's bad, and they're intolerant of everything that's good. Religious freedom is going to go down the drain, too." Hatch said, "I've never seen it worse than this, where the Constitution literally is hanging by a thread."
. . .Wright [the radio interviewer], also a Mormon said Hatch clearly was "talking to his folks" in the church audience and his use of the phrase was the buzz of the station afterward.
"It just caught me by surprise. It was worded carefully," Wright said Wednesday. "I'm not sure he saw himself as the one who would fulfill the prophecy, but I thought it walked a fine line. It's such a well-recognized phrase."
Do you remember "Deep Throat?" This was the name given by Woodward and Bernstein for the informant interviewed during the Watergate scandal. Felt was a career FBI agent, Mormon and apparently, a firm believer in the White Horse Prophecy.
Pat Shea, a former U.S. Senate staffer, recalled Felt's desire to get to the bottom of things during a congressional investigation of the U.S. intelligence community, including assassination plots against foreign leaders.
Shea, a longtime Democratic Party activist and Bureau of Land Management director during the Clinton administration, believes Felt was motivated by anger over not being named FBI director and by long-standing animosity betwen the FBI and CIA.
"But," added Shea, "he also was a kid from Idaho." Felt retained a lot of small-town idealism from the culture in which he had been raised, including the LDS notion that in the latter days the U.S. Constitution would be hanging by a thread.
"Mark Felt saw himself as that thread sometimes," says Shea. ("Deep Throat" Lived in SLC, Supervising 40 FBI Agents, by Lisa Rosetta, Salt Lake Tribune, June 2, 2005)
So, what does this prophecy have to do with Mitt Romney? While Romney has been up front and honest about his Mormon beliefs, he has avoided discussing the White Horse Prophecy. Perhaps he has learned from Hatch's mistake or he truly feels it's not relevant and that he is not the one to ride in on the white horse to save the day. However, that does not mean others aren't talking it up. Back in 2007, numerous articles hit the blogosphere speaking of "Mit to the rescue" and referencing Joseph's Smith's prophecy when he stated "Power will be given o the White Horse to rebuke the nations afar off, and you obey it, for the law go forth from Zion."
Whether it's Romney or another Mormon candidate in the future, the White Horse will be a point of discussion. When Mitt's father, George Romney ran in 1968, when Hatch ran in 2000 and when Mitt Romney ran in 2008, the topic was hot.
The "hanging by a thread" phrase is intentional and while maybe not a "code," it definitely speaks to the Mormon populace (and yes, I understand that not all Mormons believe the prophecy, but the vast majority know what it is.)
When you hear it said, whether by Glenn Beck, a political candidate or commentator, let that red flag come up in your mind. There is more than likely Mormon teachings and beliefs attached.
Now to make sure you understand that I don't hate Mormons.
Mormonism is the American-made religion and patriotic in many ways. Mormons are by and large very good people and citizens of our country. They are mostly very family oriented, patriotic and responsible. Of course, there are always some bad apples, but that's the case with all folks.
I have family and friends who are members of the LDS church and the Community of Christ church (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ o Latter Day Saints.) Hate is far from my heart for these people. In fact, there is nothing but love and concern.
Why am I concerned? Because I love these people and they are believing a lie. I'm not talking about the lie of the White Horse Prophecy, but the lie of the Mormon doctrine. (I'm sure this will get some comments.)
To be fair regarding the White Horse Prophecy, there are many Mormons who believe it holds no credence at all.
In 2006 Susan Easton Black, a BYU professor of church history and doctrine, reportedly said that "the prophecy as a whole is false" ("White Horse in the White House," www.opinionjournal.com, November 3, 2006). However, this blanket denial seems inconsistent in light of the many statements by LDS leaders over the years. If LDS leaders felt the prophecy "as a whole" was false, why refer to any of it?
On January 6, 2010 the LDS Church issued the following on its Newsroom blog: "The so-called 'White Horse Prophecy' is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine." The claim that it is not "embraced as Church doctrine" does not explain why so many LDS leaders have referred to it. Would these leaders even bother to speak of the prophecy if they really didn't believe at least portions were true? Words like "doctrine" or "official" have little meaning given the fact that many aspects of Mormonism are believed to be true by members even though a particular teaching may never be described as "binding" or "official."
Just to be fair, some LDS have stated the prophecy was false. In 1979, LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie dismissed the prophecy as a forgery. However, an article in the BYU Studies indicates that Smith did give such a discourse and that it was copied down by a faithful Mormon. (The Historians Corner, BYU Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 391-392)
If you're interested in reading a Mormon apologetic paper about the White Horse Prophecy, check out Mormon author George Cobabe's paper on the FAIRLDS site here.
Why is this even worth writing about? It's wise to understand the times and not walk blindly. We, as Christians, are to be like the sons of Issachar.
"Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ouught to do. . ." 1 Chronicles 12:32a