for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. 2 Nephi 26:29Priestcraft is the idea that popular leaders ought not to labor with their hands, but should be given money by their followers so that they can simply be popular and do whatever it is they are advocating to do. In Alma's time this took the form of a religious leader who proclaimed a flattering doctrine, that man is not to be punished for sin, and then began to tell his followers that he ough to be free of the need to support himself so that he could preach this doctrine. These followers were named after Nehor, the leader who proclaimed it.
Do we have modern day equivalents who proclaim falsehoods "for the sake of "riches and honor"? Do we have any who seek to be supported by donations? We see this commonly in leaders of Protestant churches whose occupation is leading their churches. Many Protestants "shop around" for a church they like to attend. They look for doctrine that flatters them and makes them feel righteous. This is human nature. We all want to avoid being wrong. We all gravitate to doctrines that we agree with and away from those we disagree with. There are even LDS people who go to another ward to avoid an uncomfortable situation or disagreement with their leaders.
But is there another unrecognized type of priestcraft out there? I believe there is.
Let us look at our political election system. We have two parties that dominate the system. People donate to the party that they most identify with. Leaders of the parties go to fund raisers and some are leaders simply because they are good at raising funds. We see rallies where the crowds are cheering and clapping as the candidates speak flattering words. These are mostly the party faithful who love the candidates. Those who are looking for information are quickly converted by slogans and a brief look at a website or two. What is the most common doctrine that we hear from politicians? This last season we heard about how much the average person is struggling -ad nauseum. The government was portrayed as a Prince on a white horse riding to the aid of the distressed American princess. Is this flattery? I think so.
If we look back at our definition of priestcraft, we see that we have all its elements in our political system. 1. Donations to support leaders who preach flattery. 2. Votes to these same leaders puts them in power. They receive gain and power for their flattery. Have they set themselves up for a light to the world? Do we see citizens who believe that those leaders will make their lives all better? Yes we do. Do we see the whole world taking sides? Yes we do.
In the beginning of our Nation elections were much different. Presidents were voted on in Congress and candidates did not openly campaign or raise money. They ran solely on their reputations and record. There were no adoring crowds, fundraisers, and worldwide opinions and powers.
How similar we have become to these Nehors! Could Americans be called Nehors?