There are many in this country and throughout the church that don’t believe religion and politics should ever intermingle. However, a cursory study of the scriptures proves that it is important that we make our thoughts, beliefs, morals, and principles known to our politicians.
In Doctrine and Covenants 134, we read:
1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man…
2 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.
3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws …
4 …we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience…
5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, …and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected…
6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station: rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent, and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws, all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror…
7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments, have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief…
8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to … the laws of that government in which the offense is committed…
9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered, and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members as citizens, denied.
These are prophetic words that apply to our time today. There are such things as “bad” laws. Can LDS Church members be involved in changing them and how should they do so? The answer is a resounding “yes.” President Grant said we merely need to “Uphold the right, though fierce the fight, [which] should be the motto of every Latter-day Saint.” Even so, it is generally our duty to obey the law, especially if that law has been through the courts.
Latter-days Saints are loyal Americans. Politically, they are republican, democratic, independent, libertarian, and a wide-variety of other parties. LDS soldiers have fought and died in all the major wars of the last century. We have fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We believe the U.S. Constitution to be an inspired document. We believe in being loyal citizens. We believe in solving problems through legal means. We uphold the law, but will work hard to correct bad or inadequate laws.
In Book of Mormon times, corrupt governments were overthrown and tossed out. In Alma, we read that Moroni’s army and people suffered greatly because of a wicked and slothful government. Story after story in that book tells of the downfall of the righteous because of the wickedness of an unchecked government.
In 1833, the government heavily persecuted members of the church. We are advised to be politically active. D&C 98:8–10 states
8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.
So, what can we do? President Ezra Taft Benson gave us an idea of at least where we can start.
1. Keep your own families strong. Part of the downfall of our society has been the increase in divorces and separations among married couples. A nation that values the institution of marriage and loyalty and dedication to one’s spouse at home is a nation that can handle the stresses of life outside the home.
2. Live by the fundamental principles of work, thrift, and self-reliance and to teach your children by your example. Our youth today are being raised to think that self-reliance is not an important trait. We are taught that there are no consequences to our actions—that the government will provide for us. While it is convenient that there is a government in place to assist in our times of need, our children should be brought up knowing that such reliance comes at a price. That price is liberty. When you rely on others for your comfort and wants, THEY set the rules by which you are required to live your life.
3. Learn about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other basic documents of our great country so that you can sustain it and the free institutions set up under it. The Constitution of the United States was inspired by God. D&C 101:80 tells us the Lord established the Constitution “by the hands of wise men whom [he] raised up unto this very purpose.” If you value your freedom, you must inform yourself about what this document means and the liberties it provides. You must defend those rights for yourself and others, whether you agree with them or not.
4. Seek out good, wise, and honest men for public office, and then support them with your vote. We are in the political, economic, and social situation we are in today because we have not voted for people that share our values. There is a prevailing wisdom that in most elections, we have only two choices. It is incumbent upon ourselves to look into the lives, beliefs, values, and opinions of the people we elect to any public office. We need to be active in our local elections just as much as our national elections. We must attend City Council meetings, if possible, and get involved in decisions being made on our behalf. Many of our national problems can easily be solved at the state or local level.
5. Strictly heed the commandments of God, particularly the Ten Commandments. We also need to keep before us the truth that people who do not master themselves and their appetites will soon be mastered by others.
If we as Latter-Day Saints wish to enjoy the liberties and freedoms we experience today, we have to make our collective voices known and stand up for our values. We must not neglect the responsibility of demanding accountability from our government and electing people of strong moral character that will vote for righteous laws. If our voices aren’t heard, you can be guaranteed that the voices of those desires and values contrary to ours will fill the vacuum. In order to continue to enjoy freedom, we must partake in it!
Image: Water of Mormon – LDS Media Library