J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Former Senator Gordon Smith Speaks to Students and Attorneys in New York City

On Thursday, December 9, 2010, former Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon addressed the New York City chapters of the J. Reuben Clark Society at a fireside in Manhattan. He discussed his career as an LDS politician and the role of religion in the public square. Former Senator Smith knew he loved politics growing up, but never thought he could succeed in politics because he was LDS. He eventually won a seat in the Oregon State Senate and later became President of the State Senate. He then ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate and won.

As a U.S. Senator, Smith had the opportunity to assist leaders of the LDS Church. On one occasion, he was able to help President Uchtdorf arrange a meeting with Secretary of the Interior in Italy. During this meeting, the Secretary's assistant recalled meeting Italian-speaking missionaries on Temple Square. This experience with the missionaries, combined with the opportunity for President Uchtdorf to meet with Italy's Secretary of the Interior, led to approval for the Church to build a temple in Italy.

Former Senator Smith also discussed the role of government and how government is discussed in the scriptures. He cited Doctrine and Covenants Section 134 to support that God cares about three main things concerning earthly governments: the preservation of agency (including the rights of freedom of religion, the press, and association), the right to property and the importance of stewardship, and the protection of life. He distinguished between secularism in government and a secularist state. Secularism in government merely indicates that the government is not a theocracy, while a secularist state bars religious ideas from the public square and is very dangerous. He said, "The intersection between earthly law and heavenly law is necessary to make earthly law efficacious. . . . The laws of New York should be more meaningful because we have the laws of God. And you should be able to live New York's laws if you live the laws of God."

By Megan Woodhouse

Posted: 2011-03-31