How would things be different if we pledged allegiance to the Title of Liberty? Other than what’s already been written about our current practice of pledging allegiance to the US flag, I have some thoughts that I hope will cause productive discussion in the LDS Community.
As people, citizens and especially Latter-day Saints, we make all sorts of promises, contracts and covenants. We make service agreements with utility providers, transactional agreements to get business done and we hopefully make and keep covenants with the Lord via baptism and temple endowments. Have you ever stopped to wonder why we make an oath to a piece of cloth with national colors on it?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
An oath of allegiance was historically made to a ‘liege’. Do you remember watching a medieval themed movie or cartoon in which someone bowed and said “my liege”. A serf had this relationship to a feudal lord and the feudal lord to his King. That relationship is one in which the liege is obeyed or else.
But, what does it mean when the person one is swearing an oath to is supplanted by a flag of all things? How does one obey a flag? Do I smell nefarious activity here? To the naysayer who says “You’re swearing to support the constitution you imbecile!”, I ask: Why don’t we simply pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States? One may also say, “You should say the pledge of allegiance to uphold the government and uphold America”. In response I would remind all that the idea of America is that there is NO liege to whom we should swear ourselves because we are ALL sovereign. The people in government only represent us, the sovereign people of the US. Consequentially, there is nobody to swear allegiance to. So what have we done by swearing to a banner?
My opinion is that when we place our hands over our hearts and promise to obey a piece of cloth with no writing on it, we are in-effect submitting ourselves to the commands of whomever is waving the flag and telling us to follow it. I guess that sounds okay as long as the person waving flag fulfills his oath to defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic right? Oh, elected and non-elected officials don’t always do that do they? Do you see my point? Why do Americans defend to the hilt a practice that is useless at best and at worst, misleading?
I would like to suggest that we pledge allegiance to a much better banner, The Title of Liberty.
The birth of this banner and the oath that people swore to it is a much different story than the one related to our flag or any flag currently used for any other country in the world.
This very land was home to the Nephites who were a branch of the house of Israel. A little before 70 B.C., the servants of the Lord were busy re-establishing the church after a destructive war had wrought havoc upon the people for a time.
We don’t know exactly what problems the prophet named Helaman and his brethren were responding to when they set out to put things back into order, but their efforts caused dissension amongst those who had some political power in the land and those who also wanted more of it. One among them, Amalickiah, wanted to be king. He and his supporters were prepared to use warfare to overthrow the the revealed form of government meant to preserve the liberty of the Nephites.
Captain Moroni, commander of all the armies of the Nephites then enters the story with the knowledge of something that many people in these days forget. The prophet Mormon is writing to us about Captain Moroni about 500 years after these events took place. Alma 46:10 gives us his assessment of the problem that he gives us:
“Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake.”
Both Captain Moroni and Mormon understood the true foundation of Liberty. It is a gift of God to the righteous who keep the commandments. The church headed by prophets who receive revelation and teach the people through love and persuasion is a vital part of helping the people to seek for righteousness. How would OUR country and world be different if all of us and our leaders knew that one cannot better the world by breaking commandments in an effort to correct other problems? Is it not even more ironic to note that the problems used to justify sinful government action are themselves the result of broken commandments? How long can any nation survive whilst laboring under the lie that broken commandments can be cleaned up by breaking even MORE commandments? I pose that the answer is about 150 to 200 years or so if the book of Mormon is to be any guide for how we conduct our affairs as a nation.
It is out of this understanding of Liberty and a belief in Christ that the next part of the story unfolded in the Book of Alma chapter 46:
12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—(…)
17 And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty.
18 And he said: Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions.
Here is the difference between this Title of Liberty and any other banner that people pledge their allegiance to: Covenanting to act in harmony with THIS banner signifies loyalty to a specific list of righteous entities and concepts before the symbols of state or political power. We promise to take upon ourselves the name of Christ knowing that the blessing of liberty will follow. I would add that since the state is used to perpetrate so much wickedness in today’s society which is contrary to God and his commandments, then the Title of Liberty stands in complete opposition to the spirit of pledging allegiance to any National Flag.
When we pledge allegiance to the Title of Liberty, we are promising to uphold these principles even if we lose our lives in the process:
GOD: God is our perfect and loving father in heaven. All light, truth and joy emanate from him. We individually pledge to keep the commandments of God and not transgress them. We, in the tradition of Israel make God our one and only king, giving heed to His wisdom whilst holding in suspicion the vain imaginations of men and the arm of flesh, not the other way around as is common today.
RELIGION: ‘Re-ligare’ means to reconnect. Our religion directed toward our true creator helps us to repent or bring ourselves into harmony with reality. Religion is the conduit through which we learn of this reality through revelation and which provides personal guidance, prophetic words and scripture. It is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ who through his merits and our repentance, we can be eternally reconnected to Heavenly Father. Although it may be desirable to separate the bodies of church and state, religion (i.e. truths revealed from God) should pervade every aspect of personal and public life. We pledge to uphold this principle.
FREEDOM: The constant chore of righteous Nephites was to keep themselves from being placed into bondage either by invaders or even other Nephites seeking for power. We also know that it is possible to bring ourselves into bondage. Freedom is a key aspect of the plan of salvation that makes it so we can be accountable for our actions. As free people, we are given the opportunity to individually choose between liberty and eternal life through the Messiah or captivity and death through the devil (2Nephi 2:27). Pledging allegiance to the Title of Liberty means that we shall do nothing to bring our neighbor into captivity in any way whatsoever save it be by his own choice.
PEACE: One can cause death and suffering by not committing oneself to the principle of peace. Peace walks together with joy when we’ve repented of our sins and taken upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Walking in the ways of peace means that we don’t incite hatred, bigotry or fan the destructive flames of rumor and gossip. We don’t seek to find ways to control or coerce our neighbor personally or through government, but to live the precepts taught in Doctrine and Covenants section 121 and rely on the following attributes to turn the hearts of men to Christ: Persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge. Pledging ourselves to peace means that we do not advocate or participate in warfare unless we aren’t guilty of the first nor second offense and unless we are strictly defending our families from aggression (Alma 43:46–47).
WIVES: As priesthood holders we honor and revere our eternal companion and her sacred role as life-giver and of nurturer to our children who are the future of the Lord’s people and our own legacy. We support and facilitate her righteous desires whenever possible, use our strength and industry to provide her with the material support for nurturing and live in perfect fidelity to the covenants we’ve made with her before God. We pledge to use all righteous means to prevent the erosion of the family unit and infidelity which both lead to even greater forms of wickedness and the downfall of a righteous society.
CHILDREN: King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon gave strict counsel as to our duties towards our children when he said in Mosiah Chapter 4:
“14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
When we pledge our allegiance to the Title of Liberty, we understand that much of it is because of our children who are our sacred stewardship to protect. We also do so knowing that our own mortality makes it so that unless we bring up our children in the ways of righteousness our own oath to preserve these principles is vain.
Who is willing to take upon himself this sacred covenant?
The prophet Mormon shows us the enthusiasm and seriousness with which the people pledged their allegiance with the message of this Title of Liberty in Alma Chapter 46:
19 (…) Moroni (…) went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying:
20 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a (specific) covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.
21 And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
22 Now this was the covenant which they made, and they cast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.
Knowing that the cause of Christ brings liberty and that transgression brings captivity and death, these men pledged their very lives to uphold this standard. This is a much more specific pledge of allegiance. It’s a sacred covenant with God. It takes dedication and even difficult sacrifice to make and keep specific covenants. It is safe to say that many of those who made this covenant and sought to keep it, paid with their lives. Nevertheless they made it knowing the promises of the Lord upon them and this land given through their fathers beginning with the prophet Lehi in 2 Nephi 1:9:
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”
Since the children of Lehi eventually lost the blessing of this covenant through transgression, this promise is extended to us upon this very land if we will make and keep this same covenant today. The prophet Mormon took a pause in his narrative concerning the Nephites to speak directly to us, the Gentiles upon this land. It is apparent that Mormon had been shown who we are by the power of God. He tells us exactly what we are doing wrong and tells us what promise we have from God if we repent and uphold the same covenant as the Nephites when they were righteous in 3 Nephi 30:
1 Hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying:
2 Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel (and receive the same blessings upon this land promised to all those who would come here from Jerusalem and keep the same covenant).
We at LDS Liberty join our voices with Mormon, Moroni and all the other prophets both ancient and modern that this gentile nation and even all people must be baptized in the name of Christ and take upon his name. We invite all who have entered the path toward eternal life to affirm their faithfulness to the covenant of liberty upon this land by pledging allegiance to the Title of Liberty that the blessings of liberty may rest upon our nation. We know that as we make only God our king take upon ourselves the name of Christ in all things both public and private and live his commandments in faith, that he will protect us, prosper us and number us among his covenant people. We proclaim that the understanding and performance of the very substance of this Title of Liberty will save this nation.
The following is an example of a covenant that we can make to affirm our allegiance to this standard:
“I covenant to sustain and establish the Title of Liberty and that I will not forsake God or be ashamed to take upon myself the name of Christ. And if I fall into transgression may the Lord rend me as I rend my garment.
[Tear article of clothing and hold it aloft for all to see]
Let us as children of Israel preserve our Liberty that the blessings of God through our religion may secure freedom and peace for our wives and children forever upon this land, Amen. ”