Our Immediate Responsibility
by Ezra Taft Benson. Our Immediate Responsibility. BYU Devotional, October 25, 1966.
President Wilkinson, distinguished members of the faculty, members and friends of this great student body, my brothers and sisters. This is a signal honor, a very great pleasure and a challenging responsibility. Humbly and gratefully I stand before you this morning.
Because of the nature of the message I bring to you, I have committed most of it to writing. I shall speak to you frankly and honestly. What I shall say are my personal convictions born out of an active life which has taken me into some forty-five nations and brought me close to the insidious forces that would destroy our way of life in this choice land. I express these convictions and warnings today because of my love for you and our beloved country.
A Message of Warning
The message I bring is not a happy one, but it is the truth – and time is always on the side of truth. I take as my theme the words of President David O. McKay, God’s mouthpiece on the earth today, a Prophet of God,
“The position of this church on the subject of communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest satanical threat to peace, prosperity and the spread of God’s work among men that exists on the face of this earth.” (Conference Report, April, 1966, p. 109.)
“No greater immediate responsibility rests upon the members of the church, upon all citizens of this republic and of neighboring republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.” (The Instructor, August, 1953)
In the days of the Prophet Noah, men had no greater immediate responsibility than to repent and board the Ark. Now in our day, the day of the Prophet David O. McKay, he has said that we have no greater immediate responsibility than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
At the last general conference of the church (October 1966), President McKay, in his opening address, said,
“Efforts are being made to deprive man of his free agency – to steal from the individual his liberty…. There has been an alarming increase in the abandoning of the ideals that constitute the foundation of the Constitution of the United States.”
Toward the close of his talk, our Prophet, quoting Paul’s letter to Timothy regarding the preaching of the word, said,
“There should be no question in the mind of any true latter day saint as to what we shall preach… the gospel plan of salvation.”
Then President McKay lists the areas our preaching should cover and admonishes us to include in our preaching what governments should or should not do in the interests of the preservation of our freedom.
Discourses on Freedom
Do we preach what governments should or should not do as a part of the gospel plan, as President McKay has urged or do we refuse to follow the Prophet by preaching a limited gospel plan of salvation? The fight for freedom cannot be divorced from the gospel – the plan of salvation.
We sing that we are thankful to “God for a Prophet to guide us in these latter days.” By commandment of the Lord we assemble in general conference twice a year to get that guidance from the Lord’s representative. Do we realize that in the last five years prior to October Conference, the Prophet has key noted three of these conferences with an opening discourse on freedom and given nine other addresses in the conferences that touched on freedom?
Do we see any pattern here? Can we name any other gospel theme that has received as much emphases from the man who holds the keys as has the theme of freedom?
We do not need a prophet – we have one. What we need is a listening ear, a humble heart, and a soul that is pure enough to follow his inspired guidance.
Now why this consistent voice of warning from the Prophet?
Statistics on Communism
Consider the following: Since World War II the Communists have brought under bondage – enslaved – on the average approximately 6,000 persons per hour, 144,000 per day, 52,000,000 per year – every hour of every day of every year since 1945.
Since 1945 the Communists have murdered in one country alone enough people to wipe out the entire population of over fifteen of our states.
The Enemy Within
The communist threat from without may be serious, but it is the enemy within, warns President McKay, that is most menacing. (Jerreld L. Newquist, Prophets, principles, and National Survival (Salt Lake City, Utah, Publishers Press, 1964), p. 229.)
President McKay has said that he would not deal with a nation that treats another as Russia has treated America. (Newquist, op. cit.) Yet, the tragedy is, that one of the major reasons for the rapid growth of communism is because of the help – yes, the increasing help – which they are receiving from right within our own government.
Today our boys are dying in a war with the Communists, a war which our government has not declared – the largest undeclared war in the history of the world – and one which it is alleged our government has no intention of winning. Yet our government encourages us to buy communist goods and our government continues to give aid to the enemy.
One of the tragic results of prolonging the war in Vietnam in that it weakens our economy and gives excuses for more socialistic controls over our people. Of course within the next few days there may be some dramatic moves made in order to placate and deceive the electorate as there was during the so called Cuban missile crisis. But do not be misled.
President McKay has said that the Supreme Court is leading this nation down the road to atheism. (Newquist, op. cit., p. 187) Not only is the court leading this nation down the road to atheism, but in one tragic decision after another they are leading us down the road to communism. One such decision caused Dorthy Healey, Communist spokesman for the West Coast, to rejoice in these words, quote, “This is the greatest victory the Communist party ever had,” unquote. The communists have held victory rallies to honor the Supreme Court and its decisions. The Book of Mormon tells us what corrupt judges can do to freedom.
Communists dedicated to the destruction of our government are allowed to teach at our schools, to hold offices in labor unions, to run for public office. Recently an open and avowed leader of the Communist party in one of our states ran for a county office and received over 87,000 votes.
J. Edgar Hoover Statement
J. Edgar Hoover, the best informed man in government on the Socialist-Communist conspiracy stated:
“We must now face the harsh truth that the objectives of communism are being steadily advanced because many of us do not readily recognize the means used to advance them…. No one who truly understands what it really is can be taken in by it. Yet the individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst.” (J. Edgar Hoover, The Elks Magazine, August 1956; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 273.)
President McKay has said that this nation has “traveled far into the soul-destroying land of socialism.” (Deseret News, “Church News,” October 18, 1952, p. 2.) Now if we understand what socialism embraces, then we will realize that this present Congress has passed more socialistic legislation, recommended by a president than probably any other Congress in the history of our Republic.
At this particular moment in history the United States is definitely threatened and every citizen should know about it. The warning of this hour should resound through the corridors of every American institution – schools, churches, the halls of Congress, press, radio and television, and so far as I am concerned, it will resound – with God’s help.
Ten Aids to Enemies of Freedom
Our Republic and Constitution are being destroyed while the enemies of freedom are being aided. How? In at least ten ways:
1. By diplomatic recognition and aid, trade and negotiations with the Communists.
2. By disarmament of our military defenses.
3. By destruction of our security laws and the promotion of atheism by decisions of the Supreme Court.
4. By loss of sovereignty and solvency through international commitments and membership in world organizations.
5. By undermining of local law enforcement agencies and Congressional investigating committees.
6. By usurpations by the executive and judicial branches of our Federal Government.
7. By lawlessness in the name of civil rights.
8. By a staggering national debt with inflation and a corruption of the currency.
9. By a multiplicity of executive orders and federal programs which greatly weaken local and state governments.
10. By the sacrifice of American manhood by engaging in wars we apparently have no intention of winning.
We should all be grateful for the patriots of both parties who are trying to withstand this tidal wave of collectivism led by “masters of deceit.”
One regrettable development is the increasing number of government programs embracing our youth. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., former under-secretary of state, former ambassador, a great constitutional statesman, and counselor to three presidents of the church put it well when he said,
“Our government with its liberty and free institutions will not long survive a government trained and supervised youth…. Such a youth can be a revolutionary machine.” (Deseret News, “Church News, “ June 15, 1940; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 367.)
And let me warn you, if these programs are fully introduced here in our midst, we will suffer the tragic consequences.
Evidences to Alarm Us
Some of these things strike pretty close to home. Communists or communist-fronters have appeared on our three major university campuses in this state. An identified Communist performed in our Mormon tabernacle. Some of our newspapers have carried columnists with communist-front records or who parrot the communist line, and there are many other evidences both in this state and in our country that should alarm us.
So-called Civil Rights Movement
One of the main thrusts of the Communist drive in America today is through the so-called civil rights movement. Now there is nothing wrong with civil rights – it’s what is being done in the name of civil rights that is shocking.
The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communist training school, who has solicited funds through communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the braking of the law and has been described by J. Edgar Hoover as “the most notorious liar in the country.” (U.S. News and World Report, November 30, 1964.)
I warn you, unless we wake up soon and do something about the Conspiracy the Communist-inspired civil rights riots of the past will pale into insignificance compared to the bloodshed and destruction that lie ahead in the near future.
Church Members Not to Escape Danger
Do not think the members of the church shall escape. The Lord has assured us that the church will still be here when he comes again. But has the Lord assured us that we can avoid fighting for freedom and still escape unscathed both temporally and spiritually? We could not escape the eternal consequences of our pre-existent position on freedom. What makes us think we can escape it here?
Listen to President Clark’s grave warning:
“I say to you with all the soberness I can, that we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known, heavy as our sacrifices and grievous as our persecutions have been.” (J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report, April 1944, pp. 115-116; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 89.)
Now that is the price we are going to have to pay unless we can help to reverse the course our country is taking. The Lord does not want us to pay that price, but we will pay it in full if we fail to fight to preserve our freedom. Often the Lord has to send persecutions in order to rebuke and try to purge the unfaithful. He has done it in the past, and He can do it again. If we deserve it – we will get it.
“Next to being one in worshiping God,” says President McKay, “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!.” (President David O. McKay, 1956, The Instructor 91:34; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 101.)
There are some who would have us believe that the final test of the rightness of a course is whether everyone is united on it. But the church does not seek unity, simply for unities sake. The unity for which the Lord prayed and which President McKay speaks is the only unity which God honors – that is, “unity in righteousness,” unity in principle.
We cannot compromise good and evil in an attempt to have peace and unity in the Church, any more than the Lord could have compromised with Satan in order to avoid the War in Heaven.
Think of the impact for good we could have if we all united behind the prophets in preserving our Constitution. Yet witness the sorry spectacle of those presently of our number who have repudiated the inspired counsel of our prophet when he has opposed federal aid to education (Newquist, op. cit., p. 192) and asked support to the right to work laws. (Newquist, op. cit., p. 415, and “Church News,” June 26, 1965.)
It is too much to suppose that all the Priesthood at this juncture will unite behind the Prophet in the fight for freedom. Yet we can pray for that day and in the meantime the faithful should strive to be in harmony with the inspired counsel given by His mouthpiece – the prophet – and thus in unity with the Lord – and hence receive peace to their souls.
The more who are united with the Lord and His prophets the greater will be our chances to preserve our families and to live in freedom.
President Clark knew how righteous unity could stop the Communists when he said:
“Now, what has business and industry done about all this revolutionary activity?… Business and industry neither planned nor did anything effective. There was no concerted effort….
A common cause with a united front would have worked salvation for us. But business officials were afraid of their stock-holders and their outcry against loss of dividends; the lawyers were afraid of getting whipped in the courts, businessmen felt strong vigorous action might further disturb business; bankers (I am a bank director) shivered at their own shadows.
So one constitutional right after another yielded without any real contest, our backs getting nearer to the wall with each retreat. It is now purposed that we retreat still further. Is not this suicide? Is there any one so naive as to think that things will right themselves without a fight? There has been no more fight in us than there is in a bunch of sheep, and we have been much like sheep. Freedom was never brought to a people on a silver platter, nor maintained with whisk brooms and lavender sprays.
And do not think that all these usurpations, intimidations, and impositions are being done to us through inadvertence or mistake; The whole course is deliberately planned and carried out; Its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our constitutional government; then to bring chaos, out of which the new Statism with its slavery, is to arise, with a cruel, relentless, selfish, ambitious crew in the saddle, riding hard with whip and spur, a red-shrouded band of nightriders for despotism….
If we do not vigorously fight for our liberties, we shall go clear through to the end of the road and become another Russia or worse….” (J. Reuben Clark, “Church News,” September 25, 1959; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., pp. 327s328.)
According to Norman Vincent Peale, “Their was a time when the American people roared like lions for liberty; now they bleat like sheep for security.”
“But,” some say, “Shouldn’t we have confidence in our government officials – don’t we owe them allegiance?” To which we respond in the words of President Clark,
“God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials… the only allegiant we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God Himself set up.” (J. Reuben Clark, The Improvement Era, 1940, 43:444; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 198.)
Jefferson warned that we should not talk about confidence in men but that we should inhibit their power through the Constitution. In the meantime, we pray for our leaders as we have always been counseled to do.
It is the devils desire that the Lord’s priesthood stay asleep while the strings of tyranny gradually and quietly entangle us until, like Gulliver, we awake too late and find that while we could have broken each string separately as it was put upon us, our sleepiness permitted enough strings to bind us to make a rope that enslaves us.
The Role of the Elders
For years we have heard of the role the elders could play in saving the Constitution from total destruction. But how can the elders be expected to save it if they have not studied it and are not sure if it is being destroyed or what is destroying it.
An informed patriotic gentile was dumbfounded when he heard of Joseph Smith’s reported prophecy regarding the mission our elders could perform in saving the Constitution. He lived in a Mormon community with nice people who were busily engaged in other activities but had little concern in preserving their freedom. He wondered if maybe a letter should not be sent to President McKay, urging him to release some of the elders from their present Church activities so their would be a few who could help step forward to save the Constitution.
Now it is not so much a case of a man giving up all his other duties to fight for freedom, as it is a case of a man getting his life in balance so he can discharge all of his God-given responsibilities. And of all these responsibilities President McKay has said that we have “no greater immediate responsibility” than “to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.”
There is no excuse that can compensate for the loss of liberty.
Satan’s Perverse Reasoning
Now Satan is anxious to neutralize the inspired counsel of the Prophet and hence keep the priesthood off-balance, ineffective and inert in the fight for freedom. He does this through diverse means including the use of 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.” Of course this is a contradiction, because we cannot fully live the gospel and not be involved in the fight for freedom.
We would not say to someone, “There is no need to be baptized – all you need to do is live the gospel.” That would be ridiculous because baptism is a part of the gospel.
How would you have reacted if during the War in Heaven someone had said to you, “Look, just do what’s right, there is no need to get involved in the fight for free agency.” Now it is obvious what the devil is trying to do, but it is sad to see many of us fall for his destructive line.
The cause of freedom is the most basic part of our religion.
Our position on freedom helped get us to this earth, and it can make the difference as to whether we get back home or not.
The “Title of Liberty”
General Moroni, one of the great men of the Book of Mormon, raised the “title of liberty” and on it he inscribed these words:
“In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” (Alma 46:12.)
Why didn’t he write upon it “just live your religion, there is no need to concern yourselves about your freedom, your peace, your wives or your children.”? The reason he didn’t was because all these things were a part of his religion as they are of ours.
Listen to what The Book of Mormon had to say about the man who raised the “title of liberty”:
“And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of 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;
“Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion even to the loss of his blood.” (Alma 48:11,13.)
And then Moroni is paid this high tribute:
“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.)
Now part of the reason why we don’t have sufficient Priesthood bearers to save the Constitution, let alone to shake the powers of hell, is, I fear, because unlike Moroni, our souls do not joy in keeping our country free and we are not firm in the faith of Christ, nor have we sworn with an oath to defend our rights.
The Book of Mormon also tells us of some of the perverse reasoning the devil would use in our day to keep the Saints ignorant, complacent and asleep.
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well – and thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21.)
Now this reasoning takes several forms. For instance, “Don’t worry,” say some, “the Lord will take care of us.” This is the usual theme of those who believe in faith without works.
Brigham Young said:
“Some may say, “I have faith the Lord will turn them away.” What ground have we to hope this? Have I any good reason to say to my Father in heaven, “fight my battles,” when he has given me the sword to wield, the arm and the brain that I can fight for myself? Can I ask Him to fight my battles and sit quietly down waiting for Him to do so? I cannot. I can pray the people to harken to wisdom, to listen to counsel; but to ask God to do for me that which I can do for myself is preposterous to my mind.” (Journal of Discourses 12:241.)
“Don’t you have faith in America?” say others. But America is made up of people – and only righteous patriotic people work to preserve their freedom. The American people’s blessings are conditioned on righteousness and nothing else. We have faith in a faithful citizenry.
Need for an Educated Citizenry
“There is no need to learn about communism in order to avoid it,” Some argue. But this counsel can help keep our people in ignorance and apparently flies in the face of the inspired counsel of President McKay who said,
“I believe that only through a truly educated citizenry can the ideals that inspired the Founding Fathers of our nation be preserved and perpetuated.” (“Church News,” March 13, 1954; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 178.)
And then President McKay said that one of the “four fundamental elements in such an education” was the “open and forcible teaching of the facts regarding communism as an enemy to God and to individual freedom.” (“Church News,” March 13, 1954; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 181.)
Do we teach people to avoid alcohol and tobacco by pointing out its evil effects? Of course we do. Should we then avoid telling people about the evil nature and devious designs of communism – the greatest satanical threat to the spread of God’s work?
“Just preach the gospel – that will stop communism,” is another neutralizing argument by some. Did teaching the truth stop the War in Heaven or convert Satan and his hosts? Satan himself through his earthly followers is directing the Communist conspiracy and as President Clark said, “You cannot mollify an unconvertible.” (J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report, October 1959, p. 46; quoted in Newquist, op. cit., p. 232.)
As members of the Church we have some close quarters to pass through if we are to save our souls. As the Church gets larger some men have increasing responsibility and more and more duties must be delegated. We all have stewardships for which we must account to the Lord.
Unfortunately some men who do not honor their stewardships may have an adverse affect on many people. Often the greater the man’s responsibility the more good or evil he can accomplish. The Lord usually gives a man a long enough rope and sufficient time to determine whether that man wants to pull himself into the presence of God or drop off somewhere below.
There are some regrettable things being said and done by some people in the Church today. As President Clark so well warned, “The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood…. We should be careful of them.”
Sometimes from behind the pulpit, in our classrooms, in our Council meetings and in our church publications we hear, read or witness things that do not square with the truth. This is especially true where freedom is involved. Now do not let this serve as an excuse for your own wrong-doing. The Lord is letting the wheat and the tares mature before he fully purges the Church. He is also testing you to see if you will be misled. The devil is trying to deceive the very elect.
Keep Your Eye on the Prophet
Let me give you a crucial key to help you avoid being deceived. It is this – learn to keep your eye on the Prophet. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece and the only man who can speak for the Lord today. Let his inspired counsel take precedence. Let his inspired words be a basis for evaluating the counsel of all lesser authorities. Then live close to the spirit so you may know the truth of all things.
All men are entitled to inspiration, but only one man is the Lords mouthpiece. Some lesser men have in the past, and will in the future, use their offices unrighteously. Some will, ignorantly or otherwise, use it to promote false counsel; some will use it to lead the unwary astray; some will use it to persuade us that all is well in Zion; some will use it to cover and excuse their ignorance. Keep your eye on the Prophet – for the Lord will never permit his Prophet to lead this Church astray.
This is the word of the Lord to us today regarding the President of the Church:
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his words ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith,” (D&C 21:4–5.)
A Statement from the Prophet
Now at our last annual conference in April, President McKay issued a statement on communism. It was printed on the editorial page of the June improvement Era and has recently been reprinted by the Deseret Book Company in an attractive folder entitled “Communism: A Statement of the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Every student and every family in America should have a copy. The cost is five cents each in lots of 100, or three for 25 cents.
Let me quote a few excerpts from that inspired statement and ye who have been misled into believing that you can somehow righteously avoid standing up for freedom – heed his counsel:
“In order that there may be no misunderstanding by bishops, stake presidents, and others regarding members of the Church participating in nonchurch meetings to study and become informed on the Constitution of the United States, Communism, etc., I wish,” said President McKay, “to make the following statements that I have been sending out of my office for some time and that have come under question by some stake authorities, bishoprics, and others.
Church members are at perfect liberty to act according to their own conscience in matters of safeguarding our way of life. They are, of course, encouraged to honor the highest standards of the gospel and to work to preserve their own freedoms. They are free to participate in nonchurch meetings that are held to warn people of the threat of Communism or any other theory or principle that will deprive us of our free agency or individual liberties vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
The position of this church on the subject of Communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest satanical threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work among men that exists on the face of the earth.
In this connection,” President McKay continues, “we are constantly being asked to give our opinion concerning various patriotic groups or individuals who are fighting Communism and speaking up for freedom. Our immediate concern, however, is not what parties, groups, or persons, but with principles. We therefore commend and encourage every person and every group who is sincerely seeking to study constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us. We wish all of our citizens throughout the land were participating in some type of organized self-education in order that they could better appreciate what is happening and know what they can do about it.
Supporting the FBI, the police, the congressional committees investigating Communism, and various organizations that are attempting to awaken the people through educational means is a policy we warmly endorse for all our people….” (President David O. McKay, The Improvement Era, June 1966, p. 477; Conference Report, April 1966, p. 109,)
I bear witness that this Church position given by our inspired leader – our Prophet-leader – is sound, timely and clear. The need for such counsel has never been greater.
Brethren and sisters, I have talked straight to you today. I know I will be abused by some for what I have said, but I want my skirts to be clean.
Watchman, what of the night?” (Isaiah 21:11) is the cry of the faithful. I have tried to warn you of the darkness that is moving over us and what we can do about it if we will only follow the Prophet.
Have you counted the cost if our countrymen and especially the body of the Priesthood continue to remain complacent, misled through some of our news media, deceived by some of our officials, and perverted by some of our educators?
Are you prepared to see some of your loved ones murdered, your remaining liberties abridged, the Church persecuted, and your eternal reward jeopardized?
I have personally witnessed the heart-rending results of the loss of freedom. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have been close to the godless evil of the socialist-communist conspiracy on both sides of the iron curtain, particularly during my years as European Mission President at the close of the war, and today and also during my eight years in the Cabinet.
It may shock you to learn that the first communist cell in government, so far as we know, was organized in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1930’s, John Abt was there. It was John Abt whom Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kennedy, requested for his attorney. Harry Dexter White was there. Lee Pressman was there. And communist Alger Hiss, who was the principle architect and first secretary of the United Nations organizing committee, was there also.
I have talked face-to-face with the godless Communist leaders. It may surprise you to learn that I was host to Mr. Khrushchev for a half day, when he visited the United States. Not that I’m proud of it – I opposed his coming then and I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor. But according to President Eisenhower, Khrushchev had expressed a desire to learn something of American agriculture, and after seeing Russian agriculture I can understand why.
As we talked face-to-face, he indicated that my grandchildren would live under Communism. After assuring him that I expected to do all in my power to assure that his, and all other grandchildren, would live under freedom, he arrogantly declared, in substance:
You Americans are so gullible. No you won’t accept Communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and you find you already have Communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you fall like over-ripe fruit into our hands.
And they are ahead of schedule in their devilish scheme.
I stood in Czechoslovakia in 1946 – two citizens of that country came up to me before this meeting – I stood in Czechoslovakia in 1946 and witnessed the ebbing away of freedom resulting in the total loss of liberty to a wonderful people. I visited among the liberty-loving Polish people and talked with their leaders as the insidious freedom-destroying conspiracy moved in, imposing the chains of bondage on a Christian nation.
In both of these freedom-loving nations were members of the Church, striving, as we are, to live the gospel. But did they stop the Communists? Although their numbers were relatively few, the danger to freedom seemed to be far away. Now there are, no doubt, Mormons in Communist slave labor camps.
The Power of the Priesthood
But here in America, the Lord’s base of operations – so designated by the Lord himself, though his holy prophets – we of the priesthood – members of his restored Church might well provide the balance of power to save our freedom. Indeed we might, if we go forward as General Moroni of old, and raise the standard of liberty throughout the land.
My brethren, we CAN do the job that must be done. We can, as a Priesthood, provide the balance of power to preserve our freedom and save this nation from bondage.
The Prophet Joseph Smith is reported to have prophesied the role the Priesthood might play to save our inspired Constitution. Now is the time to move forward courageously – to become alerted, informed and active. We are not just ordinary men. We bear the priesthood and authority of God. We understand the world and God’s divine purpose as no other men.
The Gospel and Freedom
The gospel and its preaching can prosper only in an atmosphere of freedom. And now in this critical period, when many pulpits are being turned into pipelines of collectivist propaganda – preaching the social gospel and denying basic principles of salvation – is the time for action.
We know, as do no other people, that the Constitution of the United States is inspired – established by men whom the Lord raised up for that very purpose. We cannot – we must not – shirk our sacred responsibility to rise up in defense of our God-given freedom.
In our day the Lord has declared to his church:
“Verily I say unto you all: arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard to the nations;
“And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.” (D&C 115:5–6.)
Will we of the priesthood “arise and shine”? Will we provide the “defense” and “refuge”? Now is our time and season for corrective and courageous action.
We Have Been Warned
We have been warned again and again and again. The Lords spokesman has consistently raised his voice of warning about the loss of our freedom. Now he that has ears, let him hear, and ye who praise the Lord, learn to also follow His spokesman.
I know not what course others may take, but as for me and my house, we will strive to walk with the Prophet. And the Prophet has said that:
“No greater immediate responsibility rests upon the members of the church, upon all citizens of this republic and of neighboring republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafe by the Constitution of the United States.” (The Instructor, August 1953.)
In this mighty struggle each of you has a part. Be on the right side. Stand up and be counted. If you get discouraged, remember the words of Edward Everett Hale, when he said:
“I am only one, but I am one.
I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, that I ought to do,
And what I ought to do,
By the grace of God, I shall do!”
God bless us to heed the oft-repeated counsel of our Prophet-leader, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Ezra Taft Benson. Our Immediate Responsibility. BYU University. October 25, 1966.)