Throughout the history of the restored church, many prophets (over 20) have spoken to us about the importance of freedom and upholding the U.S. Constitution. Their words have been bold and very clear. Perhaps this is best shown by the charge given to the church by President McKay when he said, “Next to being one in worshiping God there is nothing in this world upon which the Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States” (CR, October 1939, p. 105. also Quoted by Elder L. Tom Perry BYU Sept. 1987) Why then do we talk so little about the constitution and the principles behind it? One explanation is because some feel the church has no business in politics and they take offense when the two are linked, and so we hesitate to discuss anything touching on politics together lest we offend someone. This is a lie, to which President Benson said, “Satan is anxious to neutralize the inspired counsel of the Prophet and keep the priesthood off balance, ineffective and inert, using perverse reasoning. For example, he will argue, ‘There is no need to get involved in the fight for freedom –all you need to do is live the gospel.’ This is a contradiction, because we cannot fully live the gospel and not be involved in the fight for freedom” (Ezra Taft Benson BYU speech Oct 25, 1966). We were recently reminded of this by Elder Costa in the October 2010 general conference where he said, “The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual.”
This is not the only excuse we must combat within ourselves. In his April 1965 Conference talk, President Benson outlines 7 common excuses church members use for not getting involved in the fight for freedom.
First: “We really haven’t received much instruction about freedom” the devil says.
Second: “You’re too involved in other church work,” says the devil.
Third: “You want to be loved by everyone,” says the devil, “and this freedom battle is so controversial you might be accused of engaging in politics.”
Fourth: “Wait until it becomes popular to do so,” says the devil, “or, at least until everybody in the Church agrees on what should be done.”
Fifth: “It might hurt your business or your family,” says the devil, “and besides why not let the Gentiles save the country? They aren’t as busy as you are.”
Sixth: “Don’t worry,” says the devil “the Lord will protect you, and besides the world is so corrupt and heading toward destruction at such a pace that you can’t stop it, so why try?”
Seventh: “Don’t do anything in the fight for freedom until the Church sets up its own specific program to save the Constitution.”
Because of these excuses and others, we are neglecting the commandments of our prophets on this issue, and many of us are completely unaware of the importance of freedom and the constitution. This is a serious oversight. We stood for freedom in the pre-mortal war in heaven, and we must continue to do so now. David O. McKay said, “There are two contending forces. Those forces are known and have been designated by different terms throughout the ages. In the Beginning they were known as Satan on the one hand, and Christ on the other… in these days, they are called domination by the state on one hand, personal liberty, on the other.” (“Two Contending Forces”, BYU speeches May 18, 1960) Please read on and let me share some of the reasons why freedom is so important and what we can do to start making a difference.
When Captain Moroni learned of a conspiracy to overthrow the government and establish a monarchy he was so angry that he rent his coat. He then took a piece of the coat and wrote, “In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children” upon it. These words are known as the Title of Liberty. He attached the banner to a pole and went out among the people waving it and crying out, “Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.” (Alma 46:20)
Captain Moroni was able to rally enough support to defeat the men who threatened their freedom and he gave them a choice. They could either covenant to support the cause of freedom or they would be executed. Moroni then caused the Title of Liberty to be hoisted upon every tower throughout the land of the Nephites. Captain Moroni was a man who knew freedom was absolutely critical and even inseparable from the gospel. He stood firmly in defense of freedom his entire life. The prophet Mormon said of Moroni, “And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery” (Alma 48:11). He also wrote, “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17). In fact, Mormon was so impressed with Moroni that he named his own son after him.
Later on, without enough men such as Captain Moroni to stand for freedom, the son of Mormon, the Prophet Moroni, last of the Nephites, would point out secret combinations as the biggest contributing factor in the destruction of the Nephites.
Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
Shortly before the wicked were destroyed at the time of the crucifixion, the Gadianton robbers obtained, ‘the sole management of the government’ among the Nephites, ‘insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God’ (Helaman 6:39). Their minions filled ‘the judgment seats’, they usurped ‘the ownership and authority of the land’, ‘condemned the righteous because of their righteousness’ and let ‘the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money’. ‘They sought to get gain and glory of the world’, that they might ‘more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills’ (Helaman 7:4–5). These Nephite descriptions of the secret combinations of their day give us an understanding of what their prophets meant when they spoke of like evil organizations in the last days . . . Moroni also said that these secret combinations caused the destruction of the Jaredite and Nephite nations and will cause our destruction if we permit them to control our government . . . Moroni here (Ether 8:23–35) speaks of one particular secret combination and prophesies that it will be among us in our day. Next, Moroni turns the key so that all who have ears to hear can understand what the secret combination is and can identify those who build it up. ‘For it cometh to pass’, he says, ‘that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries‘. This is a worldwide conspiracy. It is now entrenched in many nations, and it seeks dominion over all nations. It is godless, atheistic, and operates by compulsion. It is communism. (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millenial Messiah, p. 65-66)
Moroni says that we can recognize this great secret combination by its desire to overthrow the freedom of all lands. No wonder then, the quote ends by talking about communism. Many other modern prophets have spoken about communism. President McKay said, “The conflict between communism and freedom is the problem of our time. It overshadows all other problems.” (David O. McKay, CR, Oct. 1959) Again President McKay warned of this threat in 1965:
We call upon all church members completely to eschew communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America. . . I must say I do think the Communist conspiracy is one of the greatest menaces in history. (David O. McKay, First Presidency Message, Statements on Communism and the Constitution of the United States, 1964, p. 28)
What has happened since then? Today most Americans do not consider communism a threat, though it still very much is. It has only become more insidious. How about the term socialism? That’s a word we hear more often in our politics today. Though many politicians claim that Communism and Socialism are completely different, communism and socialism both result in loss of personal liberty. As was said so well by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “The two are as two peas in a pod in their ultimate effect upon our liberties.” Furthermore, in a talk given on April 12th, 1977, President Benson said “Communism in practice is socialism.” If Communism is the same thing as socialism, then not only is communism alive and well, but it is on the verge of victory throughout the world!
Even here in the United States, communism and socialism thrive. Over the course of the United States’ history, many socialistic laws and programs have slowly been put in place, and it has accelerated greatly in recent years. The scriptures are clear about the importance of maintaining our freedom. Doctrine and Covenants mentions the Constitution specifically:
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. (D&C 101:78–80)
Yet despite these examples and strong, clear language from many modern prophets, many LDS people seem confused and continue to support the socialist agenda that is being put forth by both major political parties. Remember, Moroni warned us about a great secret combination and said we could identify its members by their desire to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries (Ether 8:25). Sadly, most of our current elected leaders, both Democrat and Republican, stand guilty of this charge of seeking to overthrow our freedom. There can be no mistake. Moroni is very clear that the great secret combination is among us and that our loss of freedom is a sure sign they are controlling the government. Satan leads this conspiracy and its desire to institute socialism. Why then do any LDS people support it?
I believe much of the confusion among LDS people comes from what the philosopher Frederic Bastiat terms as false philanthropy or philanthropic tyranny. In his book, The Law, he said:
Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame, danger, and scruple which their acts would otherwise involve. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim — when he defends himself — as a criminal. In short, there is a legal plunder …. Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole — with their common aim of legal plunder — constitute socialism….. Socialists do not consider it sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation. This is the seductive lure of socialism. And I repeat again: These two uses of the law are in direct contradiction to each other. We must choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free.
God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! A way with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their false pious moralizations!
And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject these systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Socialism and Freedom cannot coexist. They are diametrically opposed to one another. As LDS church members we must be careful that we do not fall into the trap of supporting socialism by believing in the “good works” of a socialist program. These programs are false! They rob Peter to pay Paul, and are inherently unjust. LDS people know that in the war in heaven Satan’s plan was coercion and Christ’s plan was agency or freedom. Throughout the ages prophets have taught us to support freedom. With this greater knowledge comes greater accountability. If we support socialism, or fail to support freedom, we are not following God’s will. That is why it is imperative to learn about the Constitution and the principles of freedom it is based on. If we do not, we will find ourselves tricked into supporting the great secret combination in its plan to destroy our freedom and enslave the world.
About this battle for freedom, Ezra Taft Benson wrote:
There are people today all over the world who in their own courageous and sometimes quiet ways are working for freedom. In many cases we will never know until the next life all they sacrificed for liberty. These patriots are receiving heaven’s applause for the role they are playing, and in the long run that applause will be louder and longer than any they could receive in this world.
Which leads me to the second blind spot of those who hesitate to get into the fight. And that is their failure to realize that we will win in the long run, and for keeps, and that they pass up great blessings by not getting into the battle now when the odds are against us and the rewards are greatest.
The only questions, before the final victory, are, first, ‘What stand will each of us take in this struggle?’ and second, ‘How much tragedy can be avoided by doing something now?’
“Time is on the side of truth—and truth is eternal. Those who are fighting against freedom may feel confident now, but they are shortsighted.
This is still God’s world. The forces of evil, working through some mortals, have made a mess of a good part of it. But it is still God’s world. In due time, when each of us has had a chance to prove ourselves-including whether or not we are going to stand up for freedom—God will interject himself, and the final and eternal victory shall be for free agency. And then shall those complacent people on the sidelines, and those who took the wrong but temporarily popular course, lament their decisions. To the patriots I say this: Take that long eternal look. Stand up for freedom, no matter what the cost. Stand up and be counted. It can help to save your soul—and maybe your country. (Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 62)
I have written about a few of the critical reasons to support freedom. There are more, but the question now is, will we stand for freedom like Captain Moroni, or we will stand by and watch until our freedom is gone and we find ourselves in the shoes of the prophet Moroni, reflecting back sorrowfully on the destruction of our nation? There are no other possible outcomes. Prophecy has made it clear. Either we maintain a righteous, freedom-loving nation, or the Lord will rain destruction upon this people. We have been given a serious charge to defend freedom; it is up to us to decide what is to be done about it. Our liberties are under constant assault; it is imperative we all take action. In part two of this article I will go over some of the basic things we can all do to educate ourselves and start making a difference in the fight for freedom.
Image: Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty – LDS Media Library