Mormon apostles have long rattled off warnings about the dangers and evils lurking in the world (violence, immorality, pornography, to name a few), but Dallin H. Oaks recently listed some newer "big worries" — climate change and the Trump administration.
No, the 84-year-old LDS Church leader didn't weigh in on what role humans play in climate change. And, no, he didn't denounce any policies streaming from the new White House. But he did point to the pressures mounting on the environmental and political fronts.
In a Feb. 25 commencement address to graduates of LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Oaks discussed the "challenging times" and fears facing humankind.
"Seacoast cities are concerned with the rising level of the ocean, which will bring ocean tides to their doorsteps or over their thresholds," said Oaks, second in line to lead The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Global warming is also affecting agriculture and wildlife."
Read the text of his speech here.
The LDS apostle noted that nations worry about threats to world peace and free trade — even as President Donald Trump re-examines longtime alliances and landmark trade pacts.
Oaks never mentioned Trump by name, but he did specify that the new president's brash tone is causing anxieties around the globe.
"We are even challenged by the politics of conflict," he said, "and the uncertainties sponsored by the aggressive new presidential administration in the world's most powerful nation."
When Trump captured the presidency, the LDS Church congratulated him and called on all Americans to pray for his success.
The Utah-based faith maintains a neutral stance in partisan matters, saying it "does not endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms" while adding that Mormons "may have differences of opinion" in such matters.
During the 2016 campaign, however, the LDS Church did issue a statement decrying Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
In the rest of his BYU-Hawaii speech, Oaks urged the graduates to "push back against the world" by avoiding the vice of hate and enhancing the virtue of love. For instance, he counseled Latter-day Saints to steer clear of "contentious communications" so prevalent on social media.
"Careless charges, false representations and ugly innuendos are instantly flashed around the world, widening and intensifying the distance between different parties and different positions," he said. "I am not referring to differences in policies, which need to be debated publicly, but to the current ugliness and personal meanness of the communications."
While Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, advised members to stand down from such cruel exchanges, he also encouraged them to stand up for right and "be examples of civility" when taking "adversarial positions."
"We should take a position, make it known, and in a respectful way attempt to persuade others of its merit, at least for us," he said. "Positive action is essential to our responsibility to push back against the world."