Part 2: What we can do
If you haven’t read part one of this article, I suggest you read it first. It contains the inspired words of our prophets on the importance of maintaining our freedom; I hope it conveys to you that each one of us can, and must, take a stand for freedom. Our capacities may differ, but there are some basic things all of us have been commanded to do. This follow up is intended to provide a starting place for those who are ready to get started. If you have other recommendations to share, please leave them in the comments.
1) Be active in politics and support good leaders.
We have been counseled all throughout the history of the church to seek out good leaders. We should look for good leaders among ourselves and encourage and support them in obtaining public office. In addition, we need to keep abreast of current news and the doings of our leaders. We must be vigilant in monitoring our leaders and ensuring they are representing us the way we would like. To that end, we should go beyond the evening news. The coverage does not go into enough depth and often skips important political issues in favor of the latest celebrity scandal or whatever else is deemed entertaining. According to several polls, the internet is the best source for news coverage. Citizens who get their news on the internet routinely demonstrate greater and more accurate knowledge when tested. But regardless of where you choose to get information, it is a critical part of our responsibility to become informed, active citizens. Ezra Taft Benson in particular reminded us of this charge. Here are two examples:
If we keep the commandments we’ll be good citizens. We’ll exercise our right to vote. We’ll follow the counsel which the Lord has given in the revelations regarding our obligation to seek out “honest men and wise men” (D&C 98:8–10) who will stand for principle, men who will put principle ahead of political expediency. We will seek men of faith who believe the Constitution was inspired and that this nation has a spiritual foundation. If we are living the gospel, we will feel in our hearts that the First Presidency of the Church not only have the right, but are also duty bound under heaven to give counsel on any subject which affects the temporal or spiritual welfare of the Latter-day Saints, regardless of whether or not some men may think such counsel may have political implications (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1950, p.148).
May we be wise – prayerfully wise – in the electing of those who would lead us. May we select only those who understand and will adhere to Constitutional principles. To do so, we need to understand those principles ourselves…We should understand the Constitution as the founders meant that it should be understood. We can do this by reading their words about it, such as those contained in the Federalist Papers. Such understanding is essential if we are to preserve what God has given us. (Ezra Taft Benson, April 1976 General Conference).
2) Educate ourselves about the Constitution and its principles.
The Constitution was divinely inspired and we must study it and the principles it is based on. This is becoming critical. The Constitution is under heavy assault. Today, hardly a bill is passed that doesn’t encroach upon the Constitution in some way. If we do not thoroughly understand the Constitution, we leave ourselves open to be misled and may inadvertently lend our assistance to those trying to destroy it. Joseph smith said, “I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth.” (History of the Church, 6:56-57.)
“Next to being one in worshiping God there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States” (David O. McKay, Conference Report, Oct. 1939, p. 105).
“Knowing as we do that God set up this Constitution of ours and that He has declared it “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles,” (D&C 101:77) it is the duty of every member of the Church to protect and defend the Constitution against any and all attack. In this country our lawful political allegiance runs not to any man, not to any party, not to any ‘ism,’ but to the Constitution of the United States and to the free institutions set up under it. There can be no tampering with the ‘just and holy principles’ of the Constitution. No true Latter-day Saint can or will do other than reverence the Constitution; each will do all in his power to save it from pollution or destruction” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, April 1941, p.19).
How else can we be prepared to fulfill the responsibility Joseph Smith talked about?
The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith there would be an attempt to overthrow the country by destroying the Constitution. Joseph Smith predicted that the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time “this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction” (Journal History, Brigham Young’s Speech, July 4, 1854).
3) Reject socialist programs
The prophets have made it clear that we are not to partake in socialist government programs except as a last resort. We would be hypocritical to espouse freedom on the one hand while accepting socialist handouts on the other. Instead we must become self-sufficient and debt free if possible.
“The price you pay for ‘something for nothing’ may be more than you can afford. Do not rationalize your acceptance of government gratuities by saying, ‘I am a contributing taxpayer too.’ By doing this you contribute to the problem which is leading this nation to financial insolvency” (Ezra Taft Benson BYU April 1977).
4) Study the scriptures regarding these matters
The greatest threat to our freedom stems from the great secret combination we were warned about by Moroni. By studying the relevant scriptures and learning about how these secret combinations function and what their goals are, we can be better prepared to recognize them and stand against them.
For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it— Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven— These should then be attended to with great earnestness (D&C 123:12–14).
During his tenure as a General Authority Ezra Taft Benson quoted from Ether 8:23–25 more often than any other scripture.
The importance of the Book of Ether is highlighted by the following verses:
Mosiah 8:9, 12, 19; 21:27; 28:11,12,17,19
Ether 1:2; 3:22; 15:33
Insight into the aims, methods, strategy, etc. of secret combinations is illustrated by numerous verses among which are these:
Alma 8:16,17; 10:27; 30:6-53; 43:29,45; 46:4-7, 10; 47:4,8,18,24,30,35; 48:1,7; 51:2,5-8, 13; 61:4; 62:9-10
Helaman 1:7–12; 2:1-14; 3:23; 4:22; 6:17-41; 7:4-5, 25; 8:1-4,7; 10:6,11; 11:10,26
3 Nephi 1:27; 2:11-12, 17-19; 3:1-26; 6:21-30; 7:1-2; 9:9
Ether 8:9–26; 9:5-6
Insight can be gained by studying the Lamanites’ claim to legitimate power and authority:
Other good, non-scriptural references include:
1. Awakening to Our Awful Situation, by Jack Monnett
2. None Dare Call It Conspiracy, by Gary Allen
3. The Five Thousand Year Leap, by Cleon Skousen
4. The Majesty of God’s Law, by Cleon Skousen
5. The National Center for Constitutional Studies (http://nccs.net)
5) Share the message
We are required to warn our neighbors; please do so. We can make a difference. We must not let ourselves get discouraged or rationalize our inaction by telling ourselves that there is nothing we can do. There are things we can do, and we know that righteousness will win out in the end.
Even if it seems hopeless or we feel ineffective, we must make a stand. Follow Captain Moroni’s example. And if you feel discouraged or find yourself rationalizing inaction, remember the words of President Benson: “Let us suppose that it is too late to save freedom. It is still accounted unto us for righteousness’ sake to stand and fight” (The teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg 660). It is clear that no excuses can be made. There is no middle ground. This is part of the same war that started before the earth was made. If we fail to take a stand we will be held accountable to God and men like Samuel Adams, who said, “If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
I would also like to add one final quote for your consideration from the First Presidency given October 11, 1941:
[T]his much we feel we can definitely say, that unless the people of America forsake the sins and the errors, political and otherwise, of which they are now guilty and return to the practice of the great fundamental principles of Christianity, and of Constitutional government, there will be no exaltation for them spiritually, and politically we shall lose our liberty and free institutions. (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay).
Let us take up Captain Moroni’s legacy and raise the Title of Liberty once again in America. It is my prayer, as it was that ancient commander’s, “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.”
“In memory of our God, our faith, and freedom,
and of our spouses, our children, and our peace.”
Image: Captain Morning and the Title of Liberty – LDS Media Library