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Everard
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http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2006/12/31/imperfect_fit/

Big article in the boston globe's sunday Ideas section, on Romney, the LDS church, and politics. Basically wondering how much of this our LDS members think is wrong, or spun.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Smith was an abolitionist
True, but he advocated a compromise whereby the feds would pay slaveowners in compensation for their emancipated slaves. While the proposition was expensive, it was considerably less expensive than the civil war.


quote:
he argued for the communal ownership of property.
Not in a sense relevant to the article. Communal ownership of property was a practice he advocated for the most dedicated members of the church, those that really wanted to take the next step, so to speak. To my knowledge, Joseph Smith never advocated that a system of communal property ownership be forced on anyone.

quote:
Today many Americans remain deeply skeptical about the LDS church. Recent polls have found that around 40 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon for president
True except for the word "found" which suggests an objective survey. Typical practice is to accompany the "polls" with language that helps to create these doubts. People are being told what to believe; the press is creating the issue and then pretending to just report on it.

quote:
According to Joseph Quin Monson, a political scientist at LDS-owned Brigham Young University, they are "almost as monolithically Republican as African-Americans are Democratic." They
True, with emphasis on the word "almost." The Republican party in Utah often gets pretty frustrated when the they find that there are some issues where even the conservative mormons will swing Democrat, if the Republicans won't bend on their local platform.


quote:
He has emphasized his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research
If that's true then he's distanced himself from the LDS church on that issue, since the church supports embryonic stem-cell research. (Note that there are very few political issues where the church takes an official position).

quote:
Romney himself has been quick to point out that he is not running as a representative of his religion. And like John F. Kennedy, he has demonstrated over the years a certain independence from his church. And yet, lost in the discussion of Romney and Mormonism is that, unlike Kennedy, Romney's stances on key issues dear to the religious right may actually make him more conservative than his own church.
On stem cell research, yes. OTOH, Romney supports same-sex unions, which is considerably more liberal than the body of LDS church members.


quote:
But the official Mormon position on abortion differs in one key respect from that of the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations: to the LDS church, abortion is not murder. The reason for this is that (again, unlike many Christian denominations) Mormon theology has no clear position on when a body acquires a soul -- when, in effect, earthly life begins. "Since they don't define when the soul enters the body, they can't call abortion murder, they simply say it's 'like unto it,'" says Richard Sherlock, a professor of philosophy and expert on Mormon ethics at Utah State University
Correct. And I've repeatedly seen "pro-life" protests outside the Salt Lake City temple because of this statement that "abortion is not murder." Surprised that there are actually experts on Mormon ethics [Big Grin]

quote:
As with white evangelicals, the galvanizing issues were the Equal Rights Amendment and Roe v. Wade, both of which the church saw as a threat to the nuclear family.
Two problems here:

I don't recall anyone in the church saying specifically that Roe v. Wade was a threat to the nuclear family; the argument there is purely about protecting innocent life.

More importantly, while the church vigorously opposed the ERA, our focus was different. The church argued all the way back in the 1970s that the ERA would lead to the neutering of marriage through ssm. To my knowledge, we were the only group back then with this concern, since no one else other than a pair of Village Voice wackos were talking about ssm at the time.

I only got as far as page 2 and then it started asking for logins.

So far the article looks honest and non-malicious.

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Everard
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Thanks, Pete.

Couple points back...


"True except for the word "found" which suggests an objective survey. Typical practice is to accompany the "polls" with language that helps to create these doubts. People are being told what to believe; the press is creating the issue and then pretending to just report on it."

Absent the poll questions, I'm not sure this is a truly valid criticism yet. It IS possible to poll accurately, and many pollsters do.

"True, with emphasis on the word "almost." The Republican party in Utah often gets pretty frustrated when the they find that there are some issues where even the conservative mormons will swing Democrat, if the Republicans won't bend on their local platform."

Same thing with black people, on some issues. Democrats have lost a few percent of the black vote over the last few election cycles.

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
If that's true then he's distanced himself from the LDS church on that issue, since the church supports embryonic stem-cell research. (Note that there are very few political issues where the church takes an official position).
I was unaware that the church had taken an official position on this. I don't remember any message from the First Presidency on it, anyway. I'm not surprised that most mormons support embryonic stem-cell research, though. I'd bet we're (we as in church members as a whole) much more divided on whether it should be federally funded, though.
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Pete at Home
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[i}Same thing with black people, on some issues. Democrats have lost a few percent of the black vote over the last few election cycles. [/i]

Well, that's where the almost comes in. In Utah, Republicans lose more than a few percent; they've often lost the *majority* of the LDS vote. Occasionally the Eagle's forum president gets out and makes this angry get-back-on-the-plantation speech. [Mad]

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Jesse
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It's a question people are going to ask...so why shouldn't a reporter try to provide them with the information to find their own answer?

No offense, Pete, but you know darn well how many insane things people think about LDS beliefs. I've heard everything from gang-banging brides in the Temple before handing them over to the groom to digging up bodies and baptizing the bones.

I've also heard that Mormons celebrate "smithmas" instead of christmas, that ya'll think Smith was the second comming of Christ, that the mainstream Church still endorses plural marriage, and even that Mormon mothers abort male babies.

This is a discussion that needs to happen, and it can only benefit Romney (who I have no respect for and will never vote for).

Most American voters know next to nothing about your faith, and don't have the information to decide if it's a danger to their values.

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LoverOfJoy
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A couple other points.

This is minor but the wording just annoys me and may paint the wrong picture in some people's minds.

quote:
that people can evolve toward godhood
but it's more a matter of how loaded a word evolve has become.

Here's another that I think paints a bit of an incorrect picture:

quote:
That is not to say that the church refrains from telling its members what sort of life to lead (devout Mormons cannot drink alcohol, smoke, or have caffeine)...
While many if not most mormons don't drink caffeine it is not really held in the same category as alcohol and smoking. You can't get a temple recommend if you are still smoking or drinking but last I heard mormons who drink colas can still go to the temple.

We are taught to care for our bodies and some things have been spelled out quite clearly but mostly it's pretty vague. Most mormons avoid caffeine because of its addictive properties...maybe a comment was made by a church leader that got it started. I know as recently as 10 years ago a bishop told me (and others with me) that the church hadn't made an official stand on caffeinated drinks but that we should avoid unhealthy or addictive substances. You can't find caffeinated sodas at BYU and even mormons who do drink pepsi themselves know not to bring it to church pot luck dinners.

I personally don't drink caffeinated sodas but I have met at least two "devout mormons" who are practically pepsi addicts and yet go to the temple and are active in church last I heard.

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Pete at Home
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Jesse: It's a question people are going to ask...so why shouldn't a reporter try to provide them with the information to find their own answer?

What is a question that people are going to ask?

Like I said, the first two pages of the article seemed honest and non-malicious. This one doesn't look like a rabble-rouser, i.e. an article that answers "questions" that people generally weren't going to ask.

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LoverOfJoy
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I agree. I decided to fill out the free registration form to read the rest of the article and didn't find anything malicious or dishonest in it.

edited to add: I think Jesse may have intended his post for that other thread about mormons. It would make more sense there.

[ December 31, 2006, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: LoverOfJoy ]

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Pete at Home
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The church has never told members not to drink caffeine. It does tell us not to drink tea or cofee. But that's a reasonable mistake, and I would not dream of thinking that it was calculated to arouse suspicion against us. This seems to be a reasonable reporter doing his job competently, and making a few honest and reasonable mistakes along the way. Off hand I don't even see anything worth writing in and asking them to issue a correction. (reserving the right to change my mind when I see the last two pages of the article), I'd say it's one of the more accurate articles that I've seen.
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Jesse
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Ooops.

Crossed threads.

Sorry 'bout that.

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Pete at Home
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Oh, LoJ, I made up a really funny dirty joke, but the sad thing is that only people who are pretty familliar with the mormon church would get it.

"What's the polygamous term for foreplay?"

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LoverOfJoy
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Umm...don't know...Family Home Evening?
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Pete at Home
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Opening Exercises.
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LoverOfJoy
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Heh. Clever. I don't even want to know what blessing the refreshments would refer to, though. [Wink]
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ngthagg
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I don't have the article open anymore (and I don't feel like registering) but if I recall correctly the article implied that Joseph Smith was murdered partly for practicing polygamy, but I don't think polygamy in the Church was common knowledge at that point.

ngthagg

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Pete at Home
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The accusation was fresh news. Joseph Smith was actually being held on a federal charge of "Treason" (no one ever explained what the basis of the charge was) but they'd duped him to the courthouse in the first place to answer charges related to the court-ordered destruction of the Expositor Newspaper in Nauvoo.

The Nauvoo Expositor had published accusations that Joseph Smith was engaged in polygamy (such accusations were not a crime), and also called for the city charter to be repealed and for the city and inhabitants to be wiped out by "powder and ball." Calling for mass murder and mayhem was called "sedition" at the time, and the authorities still frown on that sort of thing. A (non-LDS) judge ordered the press destroyed as a "nuisance," and unfortunately, Joseph Smith was one of the authorities who actually carried out the destruction.

Smith answered the charges for destroying the Expositor, but paid the bail. In order to hold him there to murder him, the prosecutor raised a federal charge of treason, without specifying facts, so that Joseph Smith could not pay bail since there was no federal judge present. A mob of about 200 people, apparently the state guard that had been appointed to protect the jail, murdered him and his brother as they awaited a federal judge that never came.

The state dismissed the prosecution of the state troopers that had openly murdered Joseph Smith when the prosecutor did not bother to show up. (Not surprisingly, since he'd played a key part in the murder by levying the treason charge).

Apparently when the mob warned the jailor of the plot, a short period ahead of the attack, the jailor was so disgusted by the whole matter that he gave Joseph Smith his weapon before he left the premises. For that reason, apologists for the murder (I've run into a few of these, atheists, fundies, and one horrid Catholic named Mike C.) blow the whole thing off as "Joseph Smith died in a gunfight," like it's not an assassination if you try to fend off your murderers.

[ January 01, 2007, 01:54 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Jesse
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Worth noting, while I'm not disagreeing with Pete, there are many different versions of his death.

In some accounts, the Militia stood aside, in others only some of them joined in. In some, Smith wounded some of his attackers, in others not.

Everyone who was there had an agenda in their account, and so do most of the people who have bothered to try to write the history of the event.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
Worth noting, while I'm not disagreeing with Pete, there are many different versions of his death.

In some accounts, the Militia stood aside, in others only some of them joined in. In some, Smith wounded some of his attackers, in others not.

Everyone who was there had an agenda in their account, and so do most of the people who have bothered to try to write the history of the event.

Those are trivial details, Jesse. The key facts are not in dispute: his enemies used the legal process to trap him there and murder him, and that he was killed by a very large mob of people, with the collaboration of the state militia that had been assigned to protect him. That some persons were charged with the murder but that charges were dropped when the prosecutor did not show up. And that he was a presidential candidate at the time of the assassination.

The legal charge of treason that they used to trap him there is a matter of public record.

I said that the state guard were "apparently" part of the mob, since some folks dispute the blooming obvious. When a large group of armed state guards stand aside and let a mob massacre a prisoner, they have collaborated. Willard Richards and John Taylor were presend during the assassination, and that's two eyewitnesses saying that the state guard were among their attackers, and that they'd painted their faces black.

[ January 01, 2007, 09:08 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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thekidyoupickedon
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fascinating. never read much LDS history. Reminding me a little of "Stranger in a Strange Land"
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Pete at Home
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How could any reasonable person possibly see it as affecting the justice aspect of the story if Joseph Smith successfully wounded any attackers or didn't, or whether the Carthage Greys were part of the mob, or merely stood aside for the mob?

I'm not sure how those details bear out any different agendas.

Does anyone other than a couple psychotic dimwits on CARM seriously disagree that this was planned assassination?

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by thekidyoupickedon:
fascinating. never read much LDS history. Reminding me a little of "Stranger in a Strange Land"

Yeah, we don't exactly make it into the high school history books.
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Jesse
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Pete, I think it's mostly a matter of trying to discredit Smith as a Christian, by claiming he wasn't really a "Man of Peace". That, somehow, if he really had been divinely inspired he would have died as a classic martyr without raising a hand in his own defense.

You'll note that I said I wasn't contesting the story as you told it, just pointing out that there are so darn many versions of exactly what happened that we can never be certain of every detail.

edited to add

Well, a paragraph about hand-carts ussualy makes it into the high school texts.

[ January 02, 2007, 03:23 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Pete at Home
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Ah! Thank you for clarifying. You are absolutely correct -- that sick Mike C. guy's I mentioned is one of the SoBs that argued that defending himself, his brother, and his two friends from an angry mob of 200 gun-toting killers, makes Joseph less than Christian.

But the other sickos (two atheists and three fundies) actually went further and somehow argued that JS' fighting back made it moral for the mob to kill him.

Since I find both arguments absurd, that's why I argued that the material facts are not in dispute. I don't see any difference in Joseph Smith's Christianity, martyrdom, etc. if he shot that gun above the mob's heads to scare them, or whether he shot right at them. I hope he shot at them. Jesus told his apostles not to fight because Jesus' death was necessary for mankind's salvation. Joseph Smith did not die for our sins. His death was unnecessary; he was murdered in the prime of his life, with his work unfinished, and the world is a worse place for it.

If he'd even been able to just run for president, even though defeated some of his political ideas would have gotten out, and we wouldn't be overrun with prisons like we are today, just for starters. We might have ended slavery without a civil war. If he'd lived, I think that mormons would have been a better people. I think he could have made his communist experiments work. Brigham Young was a great man, one of the greatest in the history of our country, but he was no Joseph Smith, and he knew it.

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Pete at Home
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You'll note that I said I wasn't contesting the story as you told it, just pointing out that there are so darn many versions of exactly what happened that we can never be certain of every detail.

Oh, I did note that. I just wanted to see if you knew of some contested details that I would regard as material. From my perspective the detail differences are really very slight, and don't affect the legal or moral outcome. Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one can reasonably deny that the court system collaborated in JS' assassination, nor in the terrible persecutions against the saints in the 1880s.

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drewmie
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quote:
The church remains pro-life.
Wrong, assuming "pro-life" is defined as a position about the law. However, the rest of the explanation is just fine:
quote:
...to the LDS church, abortion is not murder. The reason for this is that (again, unlike many Christian denominations) Mormon theology has no clear position on when a body acquires a soul -- when, in effect, earthly life begins.
Here's the official LDS Church position on abortion.
quote:
That is not to say that the church refrains from telling its members what sort of life to lead (devout Mormons cannot drink alcohol, smoke, or have caffeine),...
Well, two out of three ain't bad. The church has no ban on "caffeine," a common misconception, even among some Mormons. So-called "devout" Mormons are prohibited from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and harmful or illicit drugs. Here's the official LDS Church position, the law of health often referred to as the "Word of Wisdom."

As a Latter-Day Saint (an Illinois Republican and a Utah Democrat), I think it's an excellent article. It's very fair, full of a lot of info, and poses some very interesting questions regarding the growing public awareness of Mormons in politics.

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Pete at Home
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Well that's three of us. LoJ and I were picky over details, but overall it's a good article.

That TNR article I spoke of on the other thread is horrible, but it's on a pay site and I only got access through Lexis. That TNR son of a bitch paints us like a bunch of sleeper agents ready to go off, says that people would kill for the prophet if he asked, based on some undetailed survey he gave out while a visiting professor at BYU.

www.tnr.com

I have to wonder -- does this chump go around the other professors where he works, asking 18 and 19 year old boys if there is anyone in their life that they'd kill for if that person would ask? Or is that the sort of question you only ask mormons teens? Did he ever try his "survey" with 30-year old mormons?

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canadian
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Doubtless some would.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:


If he'd even been able to just run for president, even though defeated some of his political ideas would have gotten out, and we wouldn't be overrun with prisons like we are today, just for starters.

Thats interesting. My teacher once pointed out to his American students that Tibetan society had no prisons. Also, it is said that Ashoka Maharaja, the Buddhist emperor of India (possbily the most benevolent ruler in history) also eliminated prisons in his empire. I should read up on the Prophet's philosophy; do you recommend a good source?

Adam

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Pete at Home
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Not yet. I've only seen spotty info here and there. Wonder if there's a book on his political philosophy. His support AFAIK included and ran beyond the bounds of the church and the freemasons (which initially supported him but later turned on him). Anyone else know of a book on this?

(I'm very much against the prison system, Adam; we've got a number of my rants on file. I was actually surprised and delighted to find out a couple years ago that JS shared my views, and wish I knew his thoughts on alternatives.)

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Kent
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Here you go Pete:

A Book (though I'm not able to recommend it as I haven't read it)

An article on Joseph Smith's political views

And to read Joseph Smith's views from his own pen. You have to zoom on the document titled "Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States", but you can read the whole 7 page thing. Have you ever read it before?

[ January 04, 2007, 07:42 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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Adam Masterman
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In Tibet, they used caning, and sometimes manacles for life for serious offenses. Suprisingly, these manacled felons, usually murderers, were not socially stigmatized. It was accepted that the manacles were their punishment, and otherwise they were treated as normal members of society. It would not work at all in America, but it its context it was a suprisingly humane alternative. Heinrich Harrer, writing as a modern western observer, declared their penal system too merciful and compassionate. Considering that this was a feudal state at the time, that is astonishing. How many centuries did european peasantry serve as human guinea pigs for creative torture devices?

Adam

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Pete at Home
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Thank you, Kent! I took some time to go through and print that whole article. Wish I could find JS' views in text form somewhere.

Adam, that's really ahead of its time, and even ahead of ours. Trouble is, most Americans think that putting even a slight restriction on a person outside prison violates their "civil liberties," but keeping them in a hole for life does not. There was one disgusting court decision we study in civil procedure that held that it wasn't OK to give someone parole on condition that they consent to be searched periodically while on parole. OK to take away all liberty, but not OK to give them some liberty and try to give them as much of a chance as we can trust them with.

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Jesse
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quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one can reasonably deny that the court system collaborated in JS' assassination, nor in the terrible persecutions against the saints in the 1880s.
No correction, and you're not wrong.
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