Recent developments in rural Oregon have prompted Church leaders to respond to the claims of some Latter-day Saints who have taken up arms to protest the actions of the United States federal government.
For over one hundred years, Church presidents and apostles have warned against “religious hobbies” or “gospel hobbies,” which President Joseph F. Smith described as “dangerous because they give undue prominence to certain [gospel] principles or ideas to the detriment and dwarfing of others just as important, just as binding, just as saving” as the doctrines an individual may personally favor (Gospel Doctrine, p. 143).
In 2003 Elder Quentin L. Cook, then a member of the Seventy, explained:
The Lord said regarding important doctrine, “Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me” (D&C 10:68) and “That which is more or less than this cometh of evil” (D&C 124:120). We are looking beyond the mark when we elevate any one principle, no matter how worthwhile it may be, to a prominence that lessens our commitment to other equally important principles or when we take a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Brethren.
Warning specifically against the gospel hobby of “all-consuming patriotism,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught in 1992:
Love of country is surely a strength, but carried to excess it can become the cause of spiritual downfall. There are some citizens whose patriotism is so intense and so all-consuming that it seems to override every other responsibility, including family and Church. I caution those patriots who are participating in or provisioning private armies and making private preparations for armed conflict. Their excessive zeal for one aspect of patriotism is causing them to risk spiritual downfall as they withdraw from the society of the Church and from the governance of those civil authorities to whom our twelfth article of faith makes all of us subject.