There seems to be a common thread running through the fringe theorists that I’ve talked to, and that is the idea of “secret societies.” Illuminati, the Freemasons, Skull and Bones. It’s the stuff of great novels, like The Da Vinci Code, and I’ve been surprised lately by those who even put secret societies behind recent events such as the election of Obama and the crash of the Stock Market. I’ve found that generally the idea is scoffed at by most “rational” thinkers.
However, the themes of secret societies run through Mormon canon in a very real and concrete way. This year I considered Secret Combinations as I taught my Gospel Doctrine class. We’re taught that what is included in the Book of Mormon is information that Mormon included because he knew we’d need it. It pertains to us, they say. I’ve always been one of the more skeptical people I know, only believing things after I’ve studied it out or seen it with my own eyes. I’ve always considered the idea of Secret Combinations to be enough to roll my eyes at, but this year’s study of the Book of Mormon made me reconsider the role of Secret Combinations in our society. At the risk of men in sunglasses and trenchcoats appearing on my doorstep tomorrow, what do you think Secret Combinations are nowadays? Is the concept of Secret Combinations irrelevant today?
A quick study online has shown that there have been attempts to identify Secret Combinations before. Even Wikipedia has an entry for Secret Combinations. Here is an excerpt:
During the Cold War, LDS Apostle Ezra Taft Benson repeatedly described Communism as a secret combination. Apostle 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.” LDS 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.'” LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley compared modern terrorists to the “Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction.”
So is Communism, which now causes much less of a stir in this world nowadays, what Mormon warned us against in the Book of Mormon? Gang warfare? Or is it modern-day terrorism or Al-Qaeda? Is it some organization that we don’t know about? To make things even creepier, have we yet to see the Gadianton Robbers of today?