America is special.  I believe this.  I have a spritual conviction that our founders were inspired by God, and that documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution embody and resolve to protect inherent, God-given rights.  The liberty and prosperity that flourished in our country as a result of such a foundation are evident.  Blessings flowed to overflowing.  God restored His church.  And latter-day revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants explicitly states that the Lord raised up the founders for that very purpose.

Our system of government and freedom shone like a beacon across a dark world.  What a wonderful thing to export such liberty and prosperity to other nations, even all nations.  This I also believe.

But I feel many may be decieved.

Many members of the church think this is precisely what America is justifiably and currently doing – spreading American exceptionalism – democracy – freedom.  A conversation I had with a very intelligent member highlights my piont.  When we came across the idea of how exceptional America is with its inherent goodness, he asked me (in reference to my missionary service) “didn’t you once go out to a foreign land to share with others what you knew to be right and true?”  My response: “Yes, but I didn’t carry a gun.  And I didn’t make anyone else pay for it.”

I’ve personally engaged in both types of missions – church missionary, and armed military in a warzone.  So I’ve felt what both feel like.  And I’m driven back to D&C 121:41 which states: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;”  Persuasion, gentleness, meekness, and love; weapons and force by redistribution of wealth doesn’t appear to fit into the Lord’s program.

Current American Exceptionalism usually proceeds as follows: Our armed forces attack and occupy another country, and if anyone resists, they are either slain or interned as detainees, and labelled “terrorists.”  We are at war after all – the war on terror.  We treat our cause and method as just and righeous.  I see a terrorist in here somewhere with our current method, but I’m not so sure the label landed on the right party.  In this manner, we spread “democracy,” a word misused nowadays anyway – the Founders were quite hostile to the word.  We were given a representative republic, with rights that should not be able to be contracted away as part of the “social contract.”  That is why they’re listed in the Bill of Rights.

Such American Exceptionalism at the point of a gun is nothing other than the wrong side of the War in Heaven, fighting against the liberty to choose (agency) – here in the flesh down on Earth.  I feel scriptural doctrine supports and encourages American exceptionalism, accomplished through persuasion, gentlness, and love.  Diplomacy, trade, exchange, education, and collaboration all fit into that plan.  Sanctions, no-fly zones, bombs, and bullets – don’t.  Weapons and compulsion cannot be used to preach the gospel, spiritual OR political.

This particular issue is alive and well in this year of 2012.  Let us study dilligently, and not forget the revealed doctrines of God.  And as we do our part to “recieve the Holy Ghost,” we can avoid being decieved as those mentioned in Matthew 24:24, “insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

Image: Dave HosfordCC BY 2.0