Liberty and Government Principles Taught in the Book of Mormon: An Extensive List

The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture comparable to the Bible and was written by prophets who lived in the ancient Americas. Its primary purpose is to bring people to Christ. Our God-given right to liberty is an essential part of the Gospel of Christ. Several liberty principles that are taught in the Book of Mormon, according to my understanding, along with an extensive list of scriptures quoted are listed below. For an abbreviated list of highlights and a brief explanation of the Book of Mormon, click here. At the end is the list of 190 scriptures in the order they appear in the Book of Mormon.

Life, Liberty, Property: Our rights can be summed up with these three rights, and often they are mentioned together. The righteous people defended these by force.

  1. After the Lamanites had initiated a war, the Nephites prepared to battle because it was it was their design “to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies, and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires” [Alma 43:9].
  2. Captian Moroni “caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties” [Alma 43:26].
  3. “It was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church” [Alma 43:30].
  4. “Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause” than the Lamanites, “for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yeah, for their rites of worship and their church” [Alma 43:45].
  5. “And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.” [Alma 43:47].
  6. “Moroni… sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yeah, their freedom from bondage… and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage” [Alma 43:48–49].
  7. Moroni created the “Title of Liberty” when 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” [Alma 46:12–13]. Later, “he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites” [Alma 46:36].
  8. Moroni “was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace” [Alma 48:10].
  9. “All the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty” [3 Nephi 2:12].
  10. “Lachoneus, most noble and chief governor of the land, behold, I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto exceedingly great praise because of your firmness and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of God, in the defense of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call” [3 Nephi 3:2]. This is a quote from the leader of a band of terrorists (Gadianton Robbers) writing to Lachoneus, the Nephite leader; but he does highlight what the Nephites protected.
  11. The Nephite government punished for murder, theft, and enslavement:
    1. “Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal.” [Mosiah 2:13]
    2. “There should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity; And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers” [Mosiah 29:14–15]
    3. “And they durst not steal, for fear of the law, for such were punished; neither durst they rob, nor murder, for he that murdered was punished unto death” [Alma 1:18].
    4. “It is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should be any slaves among them” [Alma 27:9].
    5. “But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished” [Alma 30:10].
  12. Life (further support):
    1. “Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives” [Alma 48:14].
    2. See also 2 Nephi 9:35, Alma 1:13–14,18, Alma 34:11–12, Alma 42:19.
  13. Liberty (further support):
    1. “Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves” [2 Nephi 10:23].
    2. “I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike” [Mosiah 29:32].
    3. The Nephites “were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them” [Mosiah 29:39].
    4. After a people had be freed from the wicked King Noah, a priest Alma told them, “I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you” [Mosiah 23:13].
    5. Captain Moroni proclaims “that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country” [Alma 44:5].
    6. Captain Moroni “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 posses the Land” [Alma 46:13].
    7. Moroni proclaims, “let us preserve our liberty” [Alma 46:24]. He then “gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah” [Alma 46:28].
    8.  “Moroni was a strong and mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yeah, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery” {Alma 48:11].
    9. Nephihah, who becomes a judge, took an oath to “keep the peace and the freedom of the people” [Alma 50:39].
    10. “Therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites. And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.” [Alma 53:16–17].
    11. An army of two thousand young men “never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” [Alma 56:47].
    12. “I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for the honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country” [Alma 60:36].
    13. “The Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom” [Alma 61:15].
    14. Teancum “had fought valiantly for his country, yea, a true friend to liberty” [Alma 62:37].
    15. “Ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free” [Helaman 14:30].
    16. In contrast, Amalickiah, a wicked leader of the Lamanites “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” [Alma 46:10]
    17. The wicked Paanchi was “condemned unto death; for he had raised up in rebellion and sought to destroy the liberty of the people” [Helaman 1:7–8].
  14. Property (further support)
    1. Ammon, a Christian missionary, went amongst the Lamanites, and he defended their property (sheep) by force. He willingly became a servant of the king Lamoni and was set to watch the king’s flock. Some wicked men came to scatter the sheep (most likely to steal them). “But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yeah, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them… therefore [the men], seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him. But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword… Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few” [see Alma 17:25,33,36–39].
    2. Nephi, who later became a prophet, was commanded to obtain the brass plates (which was their equivalent to the scriptures) from the wicked man Laban [1 Nephi 2:2–4]. He tried to trade for the plates in exchange for gold, silver, and precious things, but Laban stole the goods without trading the plates: “he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property… and it fell into the hands of Laban” [1 Nephi 3:22–26]. To finally obtain the brass plates, Nephi later writes, “I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him. And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property… And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments. Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword” [1 Nephi 4:10–18]. The Lord didn’t command Nephi to slay Laban until after theft had occurred, and one of Nephi’s key justifications for killing Laban was that he “had taken away our property.”

 Freedom of Religion: Under Nephite law, all were free to preach and believe according to their desires:

  1. “Now the law could have no power on any man for his belief.” [Alma 1:17].
  2. The Lamanite King Lamoni, after converting to Christianity, declared unto his subjects “that they might have the liberty of worshiping the Lord their God according to their desires, in whatsoever place they were” [Alma 21:22].
  3. Nephihah, who becomes a judge, took an oath to “keep the peace and the freedom of the people, and to grant unto them their sacred privileges to worship the Lord their God” [Alma 50:39].
  4. “The freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government” [Alma 51:6].
  5. “Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him… There was no law against a man’s belief…” [Alma 30:9,11].
  6. See also Alma 43:9,30,45,47; 3 Nephi 2:12

Right to Bear Arms

  1. To preserve a set of scriptures (the Brass Plates) from a thief named Laban, Nephi says, “I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword” [1 Nephi 4:18].
  2. “The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the sword of Laban in their defence, and having labored in all his days for their welfare” [Jacob 1:10].
  3. The Nephites “multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land… making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war” [Jarom 1:8].
  4. Zeniff, a Nephite leader, writes: “Lamanites came upon them and began to slay them, and to take off their flocks, and the corn of their fields… And it came to pass that I did arm [the Nephites] with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent, and I and my people did go forth against the Lamanites to battle” [Mosiah 9:14–16].
  5. “Therefore the people of the Nephites were aware of the intent of the Amlicites, and therefore they did prepare to meet them; yea, they did arm themselves with swords, and with cimeters, and with bows, and with arrows, and with stones, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons of war, of every kind” [Alma 2:12].
  6. Ammon, a man of God, defends a flock of sheep with weapons: “Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him. But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm” [Alma 17:36–37].
  7. “And it came to pass that [Moroni, captain of the Nephite army] met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon, and his people were armed with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war” [Alma 43:18].
  8. “Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives” [Alma 48:14].
  9. “Therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites. And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage. Now behold, there were two thousand of those young men, who entered into this covenant and took their weapons of war to defend their country.” [Alma 53:16–18].
  10. Captain Moroni writes: “Ye have been appointed to gather together men, and arm them with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war of every kind, and send forth against the Lamanites, in whatsoever parts they should come into our land” [Alma 60:2].
  11. The Jaredites, a people of God who came to the Americas thousands of years before the Nephites “did make all manner of weapons of war” [Ether 10:27].

 Free Market System

  1. When the Nephites and Lamanites had established a free market system and free trade, their economies both prospered exceedingly:
    1. “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” [Helaman 6:8–9].
    2. Part of protecting a free market system is enforcing contracts, which was done among the Nephites:
      1. “Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished” [Alma 1:17].
      2. “Now if a man owed another, and he would not pay that which he did owe, he was complained of to the judge; and the judge executed authority, and sent forth officers that the man should be brought before him; and he judged the man according to the law and the evidences which were brought against him, and thus the man was compelled to pay that which he owed, or be stripped, or be cast out from among the people as a thief and a robber” [Alma 11:2].

 Freedom of Immigration: when the Nephites and Lamanites had an open immigration policy, allowing people to move and work where there were jobs and where they desired, both nations’ economies prospered exceedingly:

  1. “And behold, there was peace in all the land, insomuch that the Nephites did go into whatsoever part of the land they would, whether among the Nephites or the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” [Helaman 6:7–9].

 Right of Due Process

  1. The Nephites established a system to judge against crimes: “Let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God” [Mosiah 29:11].
  2. The judges were accountable to judge according to the constitutional laws established: “And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge. If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people” [Mosiah 29:28–29].
  3. “For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes” [Alma 30:11].
  4. Paanchi, who tried to overthrow a government that protected liberty, “was taken, and was tried according to the voice of the people, and condemned unto death; for he had raised up in rebellion and sought to destroy the liberty of the people” [Helaman 1:7–8].
  5. See also Alma 11:2, Alma 62:9.

 Punishable Crimes were those in which there was a Victim:

  1. Crimes punished include murder, theft, lying, and enslavement
    1. King Benjamin (righteous Nephite king): “Neither have I suffered that you be confined to dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that you commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you.” [Mosiah 2:13].
    2. King Mosiah (righteous Nephite King): “And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity” [Mosiah 29:14].
    3. Under the reign of the judges: “Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished… And they durst not steal, for fear of the law, for such were punished; neither durst they rob, nor murder, for he that murdered was punished unto death.” [Alma 1:17–18].
    4. Under the reign of the judges: “But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished” [Alma 30:10].
    5. Some of these verses refer to “wickedness” and “iniquity” as crimes.
      1. Alma 30:10 (quoted above) provides light on this, saying murder, stealing, robbing, and adultery (all which have victims) where the types of wickedness punished by the law.
      2. Another clarification can be found in Mosiah 26:1–12. Alma, who was the head of the Christian Church, brought forth some men who had committed “divers iniquities” (based on context, sounds like sins in which there was no direct victim) to King Mosiah to be judged by the Nephite government. King Mosiah indicated it wasn’t his place (under the government) to punish them, and indicated that only the Church could judge them which would only affect their standing with the Church:
        1. “And [Alma] said unto the king: Behold, here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren; yea, and they have been taken in divers iniquities. And they do not repent of their iniquities; therefore we have brought them before thee, that thou mayest judge them according to their crimes. But king Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged” [Mosiah 26:11–12].

 Capital Punishment: The death penalty was used to punish at least two types of crime–murder and attempting to overthrow liberty.

  1. Murder:
    1. “Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die” [2 Nephi 9:35].
    2. Nehor “shed the blood of a righteous man” (Gideon), so he was “condemned to die, according to the law” [Alma 1:9,13–14].
    3. “For he that murdered was punished unto death” [Alma 1:18].
    4. Under the Nephite government, “if he murdered he was punished unto death” [Alma 30:10].
    5. “Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay. But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered” [Alma 34:11–12].
    6. “Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder?” [Alma 42:19].
    7. Attempting to overthrow liberty:
      1. Paanchi, who tried to overthrow a liberty-based government “was taken, and was tried according to the voice of the people, and condemned unto death; for he had raised up in rebellion and sought to destroy the liberty of the people” [Helaman 1:7–8].
      2. During the reign of the judges, a group of men tried to overthrow a liberty-based government by getting rid of the chief judge, Pahoran. Captain Moroni gave them a choice, to either help restore the damage they had done by fighting for liberty, or they were to be put to death if they continued to support overthrowing liberty:
        1. “And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land” [Alma 51:5]…
        2. “And it came to pass that [Moroni] sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.
        3. “For it was his first care to put an end to such contentions and dissensions among the people; for behold, this had been hitherto a cause of all their destruction. And it came to pass that it was granted according to the voice of the people.
        4. “And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.
        5. “And it came to pass that the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth.
        6. “And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period” [Alma 51:15–19].
        7. Later on, more Nephites that also tried to overthrow their free government were put to death: “The men of Pachus, who was the king of those dissenters who had driven the freemen out of the land of Zarahemla and had taken possession of the land… And the men of Pachus received their trial, according to the law, and also those king-men who had been taken and cast into prison; and they were executed according to the law; yea, those men of Pachus and those king-men, whosoever would not take up arms in the defence of their country, but would fight against it, were put to death” [Alma 62:6,9].

Money System Based on Precious Metals: The Nephite money system consisted of various quantities of gold and silver. The values are explained in detail in Alma 11:4–19. Here’s a portion:

  1. “Now these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value… Now the reckoning is thus—a senine of gold, a seon of gold, a shum of gold, and a limnah of gold. A senum of silver, an amnor of silver, an ezrom of silver, and an onti of silver. A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain…”

Taxation should be Very Little or None: When the Nephites came to the America, they first had kings before establishing a constitutional representative democracy (more on this in a later section). The wicked kings laid large taxes, such as 20%, while the righteous kings had little or no tax:

  1. The wicked king Noah:
    1. “He did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart…[he did] that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord… He laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain” [Mosiah 11:2–3].
    2. Some of the things Noah did with the taxes was “support himself, and his wives and his concubines” [Mosiah 11:4] and support his false priests “in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredomes, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity” [Mosiah 11:6]. He also “built many elegant and spacious buildings… and he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof” [Mosiah 11:8–9]. “He caused many buildings to be built in the land of Shilom… and thus he did do with the riches which he obtained by the taxation of his people” [Mosiah 11:13].
    3. The wicked Lamanites forced a captured group of Nephites that were lead by Limhi to pay a big tax
      1. Limhi “made oath unto the king of the Lamanites that his people should pay tribute unto him, even one half of all they possessed [Mosiah 19:26].
      2. “And the king of the Lamanites set guards round about the land, that he might keep the people of Limhi in the land, that they might not depart into the wilderness; and he did support his guards out of the tribute which he did receive from the Nephites” [Mosiah 19:28].
      3. Limhi described this as, “we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne” [Mosiah 7:15].
      4. The wicked king Riplakish of the Jaredites (another group of inhabitants of the ancient Americas):
        1. “And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did tax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings. And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne; and he did build many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he did cast into prison; and whoso was not able to pay taxes he did cast into prison; and he did cause that they should labor continually for their support; and whoso refused to labor he did cause to be put to death.” [Ether 10:5–6].
        2. Here was the tax policy of righteous kings. This provides a true definition of a “public servant”, for they provided for themselves by laboring with their own hands to rather than living off taxes.:
          1. King Benjamin: “[I] have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you… And even I, myself,  have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne” [Mosiah 2:12–14].
          2. King Mosiah: “And king Mosiah did cause that they should till the earth. And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people, that he might do according to that which his father [King Benjamin] had done in all things” [Mosiah 6:7]. The Nephites “did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yeah, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood” [Mosiah 29:40].
          3. The Book of Mormon doesn’t clarify whether taxes were very little or non-existent when the government was lead by the righteous, such as Benjamin and Mosiah. There were some government expenses mentioned, such as judge salaries and provisions for the army. However it isn’t clarified whether these were paid by taxes, donations, or money raised from crime punishments. Here are some examples:
            1. Judges: “Now it was in the law of Mosiah that every man who was a judge of the law, or those who were appointed to be judges, should receive wages according to the time which they labored to judge those who were brought before them to be judged” [Alma 11:1]. “And the judge received for his wages according to his time—a senine of gold for a day, or a senum of silver, which is equal to a senine of gold; and this is according to the law which was given” [Alma 11:3].
            2. Several scriptures about Nephite troops receiving provisions: “We received a supply of provisions, and also an addition to our army… we were strong, yea, and we had also plenty of provisions brought unto us” [Alma 57:6]. See also Alma 56:27–29, Alma 57:15, Alma 58:3, Alma 60:34, Alma 61:16, Alma 62:12.

 Wars Only in Defense

  1. During the times that the Nephites were generally righteous, they only fought defensive wars in which they were protecting life, liberty, and property:
    1. After the Lamanites  had initiated a war, the Nephites prepared for battle because it was it was their design “to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies, and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires” [Alma 43:9].
    2. “Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church” [Alma 43:45].
    3. “And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion” [Alma 43:47].
    4. “Therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites. And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.” [Alma 53:16–17].
    5. A defensive war principle is not to be the first aggressor, but only fighting after someone else has initiated force first:
      1. “And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies” [Alma 43:46]
      2. “Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives” [Alma 48:14].
      3. Another defensive war principle is to focus your efforts on building up your homeland defenses:
        1. Captian Moroni “caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties; therefore they were prepared against the time the coming of the Lamanites” [Alma 43:26].
        2. “Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah [Lamanite leader] had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni [Nephite leader], on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God. Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land. And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites. And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians” [Alma 48:7–10].
        3. “But behold, to their astonishment, the city of Noah, which had hitherto been a weak place, had now, by the means of Moroni, become strong, yea, even to exceed the strength of the city Ammonihah” [Alma 49:14].
        4. “Now behold, the Lamanites could not get into [the Nephites] forts of security by any other way save by the entrance, because of the highness of the bank which had been thrown up, and the depth of the ditch which had been dug round about, save it were by the entrance.” [Alma 49:18].
        5. “Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites [prisoners of war] to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height.” [Alma 53:3–4].
        6. “And it came to pass that after Moroni had fortified those parts of the land which were most exposed to the Lamanites, until they were sufficiently strong, he returned to the city of Zarahemla” [Alma 62:42].
        7. On at least one occasion, the Lord commanded the Nephites to stay home and defend on their own lands rather than enter and fight in enemy territory: “Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni [a prophet]: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands. But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands” [3 Nephi 3:20–21].
        8. After the war, the Nephites immediately returned home after the fight was over and the dead taken care of: ”And it came to pass that they did cast their dead into the waters of Sidon, and they have gone forth and are buried in the depths of the sea. And the armies of the Nephites, or of Moroni, returned and came to their houses and their lands” [Alma 44:22–23].

Kings are Frowned Upon, A Constitutional Representative Democracy is Established: When the Nephites first arrived to America, they established kings (probably because that is what they were used to in Israel, from whence they came). However, eventually kings were eradicated and a Constitutional Representative Democracy was established by righteous Nephite leaders, which the Book of Mormon calls “The Reign of the judges”.

  1. When the Nephites were still recently arrived to America, the prophet Nephi discouraged them from having a king, but upon the people’s insistence, he became the first king: “And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king; nevertheless I did for them according to that which was in my power” [2 Nephi 5:18].
  2. After a group had been freed from the wicked King Noah, the priest Alma told them, “Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king… I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you” [Mosiah 23:7,13].
  3. When the righteous King Mosiah was nearing the end of his life, he eradicated kings and established a Constitutional Representative Democracy (the reign of the judges), a system in which judges were elected by the people to judge according to a constitutional law was established:
    1. “And now let us be wise and look forward to these things, and do that which will make for the peace of this people.
    2. “Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.
    3. “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just…
    4. “Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
    5. “For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! …
    6.  “And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood…
    7. “Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the claws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord…
    8. “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people…
    9. “And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge.
    10. “If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.
    11. “And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.
    12. “For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.
    13. “And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.
    14. “And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them…
    15. “And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous king to rule over them;
    16. “Yea, all his iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated—telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God
    17. “And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were convinced of the truth of his words.
  4. “Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king…
  5. “Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the claw which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them…
  6. “And thus commenced the reign of the judges throughout all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who were called the Nephites; and Alma was the first and chief judge…
  7. “And thus ended the reign of the kings over the people of Nephi” [Mosiah 29:10–47].
  8. The Nephite government was constitutional in that the major points of law were already established based on rights—elected leaders judged people according to the laws that existed:
    1. “In the first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi… [Mosiah] had established laws, and they were acknowledged by the people; therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made” [Alma 1:1].
    2. “The law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law” [Alma 1:14].
    3. Mosiah didn’t create the law himself, it had been passed down from previous righteous kings. Mosiah said, “And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers” [Mosiah 29:15].
    4. Later on there’s further clarification that the laws Mosiah gave were from God: “The laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people” [Helaman 4:22].
    5. There was a system of checks and balances in that elected leaders, the judges, were kept in check by other judges:
      1. “And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge. If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people” [Mosiah 29:28–29].
      2. Righteous Nephites continued to frown upon kings throughout the Reign of the Judges:
        1. Captain “Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land” [Alma 43:29].
        2. “Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause” than the Lamanites, “for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yeah, for their rites of worship and their church” [Alma 43:45].
        3. Capital Punishment was used against those who tried to establish kings: “The men of Pachus, who was the king of those dissenters who had driven the freemen out of the land of Zarahemla and had taken possession of the land… And the men of Pachus received their trial, according to the law, and also those king-men who had been taken and cast into prison; and they were executed according to the law; yea, those men of Pachus and those king-men, whosoever would not take up arms in the defence of their country, but would fight against it, were put to death” [Alma 62:6,9].
        4. One of the main causes that ultimately lead to the destruction of the Nephites was that in the end, some government leaders started conspiring with special interest groups (secret combinations) and developed policies which violated rights and started overthrowing liberty:
          1. “Now it came to pass that those judges had many friends and kindreds; and the remainder, yea, even almost all the lawyers and the high priests, did gather themselves together, and unite with the kindreds of those judges who were to be tried according to the law.
          2. “And they did enter into a covenant one with another, yea, even into that covenant which was given by them of old, which covenant was given and administered by the devil, to combine against all righteousness.
          3. “Therefore they did combine against the people of the Lord, and enter into a covenant to destroy them, and to deliver those who were guilty of murder from the grasp of justice, which was about to be administered according to the law.
          4. “And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country; and they did covenant one with another to destroy the governor, and to establish a king over the land, that the land should no more be at liberty but should be subject unto kings” [3 Nephi 6:27–30].

America should be a Land of Liberty: Several times America is prophesied as a land of liberty, as long as people will obey the commandments of God:

  1. “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” [2 Nephi 1:7].
  2. “And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles” [2 Nephi 10:11].
  3. “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 bDesolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty” [Alma 46:17].
  4. “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.” [Ether 2:12].

Free Nephites still Willingly Helped the Poor: Although righteous government leaders defended the people’s rights to their own property, and had little or no tax, they still encouraged people to willingly donate to and help out those less fortunate. The poor were still taken care of by people (not the government):

  1. King Benjamin said: “And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish” [Mosiah 4:16].
  2. The Nephites “did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely” [Alma 1:27].

 Liberty Scriptures: Listed in order of appearance in the Book of Mormon

  1. 1 Nephi 4:10–18
  2. 2 Nephi 1:7, 5:18; 9:35; 10:11,23
  3. Jacob 1:10
  4. Jarom 1:8
  5. Mosiah 2:2–14; 4:16; 6:7; 7:15; 9:14-16; 11:2-3; 23:7,13; 19:26,28; 29:10-47
  6. Alma 1:1,9,13–14,17–18,27; 2:12; 11:1-19; 17:25,33,36-39; 21:22; 26:11-12; 27:9; 29:15; 30:9-11; 34:11-12; 42:19; 43:9,18,26,29-30,45-49; 44:5,22-23; 46:10,12-13,17,24,28,36; 48:7-11,14; 49:14,18; 50:39; 51:5-6,15-19; 53:3-4,16-17; 56:47; 57:6; 60:2,36; 61:15; 62:6,9,37,42
  7. Helaman 1:7–8; 4:22; 6:7-9; 14:30
  8. Nephi 2:12; 3:2,20-21; 6:27-30
  9. Ether 2:12; 10:5-6,27

About Johnny Hardy

Johnny Hardy is passionate about Christianity, science, and politics, and especially the areas that they overlap, which has caused some friends to call him "Johnny Liberty". He has a wonderful wife and so far is the father of one amazing son. He earned a PhD in engineering and currently works in the medical field.
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2 Responses to Liberty and Government Principles Taught in the Book of Mormon: An Extensive List

  1. Pingback: Why Liberty Lovers would Love the Book of Mormon | LDS Liberty

  2. Jeremy says:

    I’ve been looking for a list like this, thanks for putting one together. Good work, very extensive, thanks.

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