CHUBBUCK — At the close of a Wednesday meeting of the Freedom First Society, dedicated to “restoring” America by electing leaders who strictly follow the U.S. Constitution, event organizer Dennis Howell of Chubbuck suggested Society recruitment meetings could be held in LDS churches throughout Southeast Idaho.

    “This isn’t politics, it’s principles,” Howell said.

    Public relations spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this region, Larry Fisher, said the church has a long standing policy of not allowing the use of its facilities for any political activities.

    Fisher provided the Journal with this official LDS Church policy: “The church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. The church does not endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms; allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes; attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to.”

    Howell told the 15 people attending the meeting held in Chubbuck City Hall, including Republican District 28 legislative candidate Lance Earl, that he had shared a DVD provided by the Freedom First Society with his LDS bishop and received permission to hold “fireside” like meetings in his ward to share the message.

    Howell’s proposal to use LDS churches in Southeast Idaho to help bolster Society membership followed a 90-minute slideshow presentation by G. Vance Smith, a Freedom First Society leader from Colorado. Smith is a member of the LDS Church and a former leader of the John Birch Society.

    A slide in Smith’s presentation held a quote that Smith said came from “a great leader.”

    The quote on the slide was: “We teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” The exact quote was changed slightly from LDS Church founder Joseph Smith: “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

    The Freedom First Society website pays homage to Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society in 1958. The thrust of Smith’s presentation was that this nation is under attack from “insiders” with power and influence who are trying to destroy our democratic republic. He spent a lot of time attacking the Council on Foreign Relations or CFR which was founded in 1921 and Smith called the group “the masters of deception.”

    Smith pointed out that former presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both members of the CFR as was vice president Dick Chaney and former Secretary of Defense  Robert Gates. He said many members of U.S. Congress and corporate leaders in America also belong to this organization.

    “These insiders have taken over the senate,” Smith said. “We’ve been moved very gently and very carefully leftward.”

    Early in the meeting, Smith said the nation and its leaders must adhere to a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and that all elected leaders should be judged by their allegiance to the founding document. He said Republicans and Democrats alike have been controlled by the CFR.

    Smith said other organizations that rate politicians for their conservative or liberal votes do not give people an accurate picture. Using the Freedom First Society’s website, Smith showed rankings it had given to Republican congressmen like Steve Simpson of Idaho, Steve King of Iowa, Eric Cantor of Virginia, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona and they all had low scores. High scores went to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Texas, both Tea Party candidates elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

    Specific actions by Congress that have run afoul of the Society’s beliefs include this week’s Congressional action to raise of the U.S. debt ceiling and the U.S. Senate support of the Employment Non-discrimination Act to protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    “This is an absolute attack on morality and the family and a huge attack on American free enterprise,” Smith said about the proposed non-discrimination legislation.

    As far as spending limits, Smith said the House of Representatives has the constitutional authority to cut spending and quoted James Madison’s use of the term, “power of the purse.”

    The Society leader also condemned the media at all levels in this country and said it cannot be trusted to provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions.

    To get more representatives in Washington, D.C., who will follow the constitution, Smith said chapters of the Freedom First Society have been forming in the Gem State with eight in Southeast Idaho. Smith said it takes about 1,000 activists in each U.S. Congressional District to change the outcome of elections.

    “It’s always that small dedicated group that has changed the course of history,” Smith said.