Helaman 6 and Ether 8 provide some of the most important insights into secret combinations, including how they worked, what motivated them, and how they came to power. Moroni prophetically warned his latter-day readers that secret combinations were the source of the destruction of both the Jaredite and Nephite societies (see Ether 8:18–21). Moroni then warned us in terms of utmost gravity of the dangers such secret combinations hold for our own day (see vv. 22–26). From this chapter and other places in the Book of Mormon we learn the following important characteristics of secret combinations:
1. The devil is the inspiration and source of all such organizations (see Helaman 6:26–30). Mormon clearly pointed to Satan as the grand conspirator, the real organizer of all such organizations.
2. Such organizations are viewed by the Lord as constituting a wickedness “above all the wickedness of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 9:9; see also Ether 8:18). While individuals may rob, steal, plunder, and murder, how much more wickedness occurs when men plunder and kill on a national or an international scale involving millions of lives?
3. Such organizations flourish and thrive when the “more part” (Helaman 6:21) of the people are wicked and seek to benefit from the spoils of such wickedness (see v. 38).
4. Secrecy is one of the basic operating tenets of such organizations (see vv. 22, 25–26).
5. Joined with the idea of secrecy is the idea of making covenants (see vv. 22, 25–26). An oath of loyalty to the organization is made which involves a vow to maintain the secret of the conspiracy. After the murder of the chief judge, Kishkumen “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” (Helaman 1:11). Helaman 6:21 refers to “their covenants and their oaths.” Moroni described this same covenant making among the Jaredites (see Ether 8:13–14). Ironically, the oaths were sometimes made in the name of God (see Helaman 1:11, Ether 8:14).
6. The objectives of such secret combinations are power or gain, or both (see Helaman 6:38, Ether 8:22, Moses 5:31–33). Since the government is a source of great power, it is not surprising that often the target of action is to take over the reins of government (see Helaman 1:1–4, 2:4–5, 3 Nephi 3:6, 6:30, 7:12, Ether 9:1–6, 13:18).
7. These organizations use immorality, money, and violence to achieve their ends (see Helaman 6:15, 17, Ether 8:10). Assassinating government leaders to bring their own people to power is a common tale found in the Book of Mormon.
8. The only way to lastingly curtail these organizations once they are established and begin to flourish is through conversion of the people to righteousness (see Helaman 6:37, 3 Nephi 5:4–6).