Mormons and the Cause of Freedom
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints love their country and cherish the freedoms that they have been proffered. They know that the soils upon which they dwell and traverse are part of a blest nation, a nation that was made by, and has been preserved by, the omnipotent hand of Almighty God.
Having endured their own battles for freedom in the early history of the Church, Latter-day Saints (or Mormons as they are often referred) know and understand all too well that freedom is not free. The freedoms that they, as well as their fellow Americans hold dear, are often wrought through the precious spilt blood of many comrades-in-arms who championed together for the cause of freedom and liberty. Some gave more, some gave less, but many gave the last full measure of their devotion, their lives, in defense of their country, in order that it would always be the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
There have been in the past, and there continues to be at this hour, valiant men and women who have raised their right hands to take an oath of enlistment into the United States Armed Forces. Part of that oath is indeed a covenant of honor to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
The Constitution of the United States has stood the test of time. It is the oldest constitution in use today and has served as a model for many nations. It is not a document that was established to protect the rights of only one or a few, but rather it was established to protect the rights of all mankind – epluribus unum.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ revere the document as being crafted by the Lord Himself as evidenced by the teachings found in modern day revelation, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), which reveal valuable principles concerning this divine document. The Lord declared in D&C 98:5:
And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
And in D&C 101:76-80 the Lord said:
And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you. According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
Perilous times exist throughout the land, and there are many people who take for granted and abuse the rights that they have been blessed with. There are even those who would rather curse the names of the Founding Fathers and trample upon, and make a mockery of the Constitution of the United States, than abide by the principles, laws, and precepts embedded therein.
President George Albert Smith, the eighth President of the LDS Church stated that the Constitution is “the greatest palladium of human rights that any people have ever known” ( Source: “For Law and Liberty – and Salvation” 869-70.) He further stated:
No nation in the world has a constitution that was given to it by our Heavenly Father except the United States of America. I wonder if we appreciate that. The Lord gave us a rule of life for this great nation, and as far as we have lived up to it and taken advantage of it, the nation has grown, and the people have been blessed. But there are many people who prefer, or at least they seem to prefer, something else ( Source: “Liberty Under the Constitution” 964.)
The troubles that are evidenced in the world today are in direct correlation with the ways of evil and wicked men who, rather than obey the laws of the land, have turned to their own ways of cunning and craftiness, deceiving others to believe that even the Constitution is to be regarded as frivolity, and that men should devise and follow their own laws according to the dictates of their own conscience. This attitude of some is described in The Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ) in the words found in 2 Nephi 28:8:
And there shall also be many which shall say: eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
This thought process is in direct opposition to other teachings found in the scriptures. The Psalmist declared in Psalm 32:12:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
And, the Lord Himself declared in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
President George Albert Smith also stated:
When the Constitution of our country is assailed, openly or subtly, by those who have no understanding of the purpose of God regarding this great country, it behooves those who do understand to consider seriously and faithfully the benefits that will flow to us by honoring and sustaining the principles of government that were divinely established. . . . (Source: “Perpetuating Liberty” 93-94.)
The Lord raised up men to frame a Constitution for this nation because it was his nation. It was his desire that the people here would be blessed and there have been no people in all the world who have been more blessed than those who live in the United States of America ( Source: “Welfare Program, A Wonderful Thing” 699)
We believe that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by our Heavenly Father, and he has told us that he raised up the very men who should frame the Constitution of the United States. Knowing that, we should not be led astray by the fallacies of individuals whose selfishness inclines them to attack that which our Heavenly Father has prepared for the people of this land ( Source: “Obedience to Law” 429.)
Latter-day Saints are law abiding citizens and give great adherence to the laws of the land in which they live. The 12th Article of Faith of the Church states:
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
Mormons also believe in religious freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution. The 11th Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ states:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
In just a few short days Americans will be celebrating Independence Day. Included among those who will be flying their flags, attending parades, and other events to celebrate the day, will be faithful Latter-day Saints. Some Latter-day Saint congregations will gather for a flag raising ceremony at their perspective Church building, followed by breakfast, and a small program to commemorate the day, and to give thanks to God for blessing the nation, and for the freedoms and liberty that all are afforded – those freedoms and liberties which are granted by the Declaration of Independence and even more specifically the divine Constitution of the United States of America.
Concerning the Declaration of Independence, President Ezra Taft Benson, the thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in his General Conference address titled “Our Divine Constitution” given during the Saturday morning session on 3 October 1987 stated:
The Declaration of Independence affirmed the Founding Fathers’ belief and trust in God in these words: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, they wrote, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This Declaration was a promise that would demand terrible sacrifice on the part of its signers. Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured. Nine died from wounds or from the hardships of the war. The Lord said He “redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:80). Nephi recorded that the Founders “were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Ne. 13:19).
Modern day revelation as recorded in D&C 134:1-2 provides an excellent summary on the subject at hand:
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.