Category Archives: secret combinations

“That Evil May Be Done Away”

The most recent issue of BYU Political Review is well worth reading. In particular, I suggest that you read Why Europe is Losing the Fight Against Trafficking, Technology and the Rise of Modern Slavery, and Adoption and Corruption in Guatemala.

Against Secret Combinations

“Secret combinations” is a term used by the Book of Mormon to describe conspiratorial organizations that seek to exploit human beings. These three articles in the Political Review seem to me to be describing an increase in activity that would fall under the “secret combination” categorization. This is quite significant, given this scriptural warning:

Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you…. For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies…. Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved (Ether 8:24-26).

To accompany those readings, why don’t we look at the 18th Chapter of the Revelation of John, with slight modifications:

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven…. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon/Los Angeles/Denver/Chicago/New York/Las Vegas/Miami the great is fallen…. And the politicians and consumers of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

And the salesmen and retailers of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The dollars and Euros, and blood diamonds, and of fancy wristwatches, and fine denim, and corduroy, and silk, and polyester, and all plastics, and all manner devices of silicon, and all manner devices of most precious memory chips, and of processors, and huge hard drives, and wireless capabilities; and perfumes, and colognes, and hand lotions, and bath beads; and soft drinks, and oil, and chocolate chip cookies, and Nutella, and beef, and chicken; and SUVs, and hybrid cars, and sweatshop laborers, and souls of men. And the foods that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were sugary and fattening are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

The manufacturers and salesmen of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, “Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine denim, and corduroy, and polyester, and decked with credit cards, and precious cell phones, and jewelry! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.”

And every truck driver, and all the UPS fleet, and pilots, and as many as trade by interstate or by air, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, “What city is like unto this great city!” And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, “Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had trucks on the highway and planes in the air by reason of her high cost of living! for in one hour is she made desolate.”

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her…. And the voice of pop artists, and rappers, and the music of guitarists, and drummers, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no employee, of whatsoever work he does, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a lawnmower shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a street lamp shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the boyfriend and of the girlfriend shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy CEO’s and senators, gang leaders and governors were the great men of the earth; for by their advertisements and propaganda were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

An Introduction to Secret Combinations

Thousands of years ago somewhere in Central America thrived two opposing civilizations, the Nephites and the Lamanites. Throughout their history, political intrigues plagued the Nephite civilization while the Lamanites sought to gain military mastery over them. About 50 B.C., the leader of the Nephites, named Pahoran, died. One of his sons—also named Pahoran—succeeded him, and was soon murdered. Significantly, his murder was not carried out by the Lamanite people who were his natural enemies, but by people from his own civilization.

An Unusual Succession

[In about 50 B.C. there] began to be a serious difficulty among the people of the Nephites. For behold, Pahoran [the Elder] had died…. But behold, Paanchi [one of the elder Pahoran’s sons], and that part of the people that were desirous that he should be their governor, … was about to flatter away those people to rise up in rebellion against their brethren [the rest of the Nephites].

And it came to pass as he was about to do this, behold, he was taken, and was tried according to the voice of the people, and condemned unto death; for he had raised up in rebellion and sought to destroy the liberty of the people. Now when those people who were desirous that he should be their governor saw that he was condemned unto death, therefore they were angry, and behold, they sent forth one Kishkumen, even to the judgment-seat of Pahoran [the Younger], and murdered Pahoran as he sat upon the judgment-seat.

And he was pursued by the servants of Pahoran; but behold, so speedy was the flight of Kishkumen that no man could overtake him. And he went unto those that sent him, and they all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man that Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran.

Therefore, Kishkumen was not known among the people of Nephi, for he was in disguise at the time that he murdered Pahoran. And Kishkumen and his band, who had covenanted with him, did mingle themselves among the people, in a manner that they all could not be found; but as many as were found were condemned unto death (From Helaman Chapter 1 in The Book of Mormon).

Thus began a secret organization within the Nephite society designed to destabilize the government, to provide protection from punishment for crimes to those who sought to gain positions of power through deception and/or violence, and overall to make it easier for people to get away with being bad.

From Bad to Worse

The next year after the murder of Pahoran the Younger, this group began to organize itself more formally:

And it came to pass in the forty and second year of the reign of the judges [that because there] was no one to fill the judgment-seat … there began to be a contention again among the people concerning who should fill [it]. And it came to pass that Helaman…was appointed to fill the judgment-seat….

But behold, Kishkumen, who had murdered Pahoran, did lay wait to destroy Helaman also; and he was upheld by his band, who had entered into a covenant that no one should know his wickedness. For there was one Gadianton, who was exceedingly expert in many words, andthe secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen.

Therefore he did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people; therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman (From Helaman Chapter 2 in The Book of Mormon).

And it came to pass as [Kishkumen] went forth towards the judgment-seat to destroy Helaman, behold one of the servants of Helaman (having been out by night, and having obtained, through disguise, a knowledge of those plans which had been laid by this band to destroy Helaman) … met Kishkumen, and … Kishkumen made known unto him … his desire… that he would conduct him to the judgment-seat that he might murder Helaman.

And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen, and how that it was his object to murder, and also that it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power, (and this was their secret plan, and their combination) the servant of Helaman said unto Kishkumen, “Let us go forth unto the judgment-seat.”

Now this did please Kishkumen exceedingly, for he did suppose that he should accomplish his design [to murder Helaman]; but behold, the servant of Helaman, as they were going forth unto the judgment-seat, did stab Kishkumen even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan. And he ran and told Helaman all the things which he had seen, and heard, and done.

And it came to pass that Helaman did send [men] to take this band of robbers and secret murderers, that they might be executed according to the law. But behold, when Gadianton had found that Kishkumen did not return he feared lest that he should be destroyed; therefore he caused that his band should follow him. And they took their flight out of the land, by a secret way, into the wilderness; and thus when Helaman sent forth to take them they could nowhere be found.

And more of this Gadianton shall be spoken hereafter…. And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi… (from Helaman Chapter 2 in The Book of Mormon).

The prophet-historians who compiled the Book of Mormon thousands of years ago laid out the pattern of secret combinations in an attempt to warn modern readers that such organizations would be found threatening civilization in our time. I believe that they were inspired by God as they did so, that good people in these days might stand firm in opposition to evil. I hope to provide examples of secret combinations in our day to bring attention to the accuracy of the Book of Mormon in its description of such activities, as well as to help people willing to oppose these evil groups and individuals to understand better the nature of the fight. All of this, I believe, can help point people towards the ultimate solutions presented in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon: that by coming to Christ in our own lives, we can find peace in our hearts that will strengthen us even in moments when we are surrounded by evil.