Since United States Senator Orrin Hatch, a faithful Mormon, announced his candidacy in 1999 for the office of President of the United States, there has been growing interest in how he views the U.S. Constitution and one of Joseph Smith’s little known prophecies. In the Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 11, 1999, there was an article titled, “Did Hatch Allude To LDS Prophecy?” The article stated:
Sen. Orrin Hatch has denied his Republican presidential campaign is motivated by a longing to fulfill an obscure Mormon myth. But during an interview with a Mormon Church-owned radio station this week he borrowed the exact phrasing of the apocalyptic belief.
According to the so-called “White Horse Prophecy,” the U.S. Constitution will be hanging by a thread and a church elder from Zion will ride in on a metaphorical white horse and save it.
Utah’s senior senator . . . complained that Democrats’ political correctness will be the ruin of the country.
“They tolerate everything that’s bad, and they’re intolerant of everything that’s good. Religious freedom is going to go down the drain, too,” Hatch said. “I’ve never seen it worse than this, where the Constitution literally is hanging by a thread.”
. . . Wright [the radio interviewer], also a Mormon said Hatch clearly was “talking to his folks” in the church audience and his use of the phrase was the buzz of the station afterward.
“It just caught me by surprise. It was worded carefully,” Wright said Wednesday. “I’m not sure he saw himself as the one who would fulfill the prophecy, but I thought it walked a fine line. It’s such a well-recognized phrase.”
. . .
In July, Hatch called The Tribune to deny talk among GOP political insiders that he may have felt divinely inspired to seek the presidency. (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 11, 1999, pp. C1 & C4, )
This popular prophecy of Smith’s is explained in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:
LDS attachment to the Constitution has been further encouraged by an important oral tradition deriving from a statement attributed to Joseph Smith, according to which the Constitution would “hang by a thread” and be rescued, if at all, only with the help of the Saints. Church President John Taylor seemed to go further when he prophesied, “When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men” (JD 21:8). To defend the principles of the Constitution under circumstances where the “iniquity,” or moral decay, of the people has torn it to shreds might well require wisdom at least equal to that of the men raised up to found it. In particular, it would require great insight into the relationship between freedom and virtue in a political embodiment of moral agency. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, 1992)