We Latter-day Saints — what are we? Professors of religion. Are we? Yes. There are laws being enacted in order to deprive us of our religious rights, whereas the Constitution of the United States says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [US Const. Amend. I]. Is that true? Read it for yourselves in the Constitution. This is what we profess as Americans. We have men in our midst who have introduced test oaths, whereas the Constitution says, that “no religious test shall ever be required” [US Const. Art. VI]; yet they have introduced test-oaths, and people are obliged to swear certain things that the Constitution says shall not be permitted. Are we American citizens here? I think so. Have we any rights? I think we ought to have. Are they being trampled upon? Yes, they are; and these things are being done with impunity. How is it? Why, the Constitution is treated by the politicians of to-day as the Bible is treated by professors of religion. . . . As I have said, the Constitution provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .

. . . At the time when the Edmunds law was passed I was living in what is known as the Gardo House. I had most of my wives living with me there, and after looking carefully over the Edmunds law I thought to myself, why Congress is growing very wild; this Government is getting very, very foolish; they are trampling upon Constitutional rights. No matter, I said, I will obey this law. . . . “[W]e shall stand up for our rights and protect ourselves in every proper way, legally and constitutionally, and dispute inch by inch every step that is taken to deprive us of our rights and liberties.” And we will do this in the way that I speak of. We are doing it to-day; and as you have heard it expressed on other occasions, it looks very much like as though the time was drawing near when this country will tumble to pieces; for if the people of this nation are so blind and infatuated as to trample under foot the Constitution and other safeguards provided for the liberties of man, we do not propose to assist them in their suicidal and traitorous enterprises; for we have been told by Joseph Smith that when the people of this nation would trample upon the Constitution, the Elders of this Church would rally round the flag and defend it. And it may come to that; we may be nearer to it than some of us think, for the people are not very zealous in the protection of human rights. And when legislators, governors and judges unite in seeking to tear down the temple of liberty and destroy the bulwarks of human freedom, it will be seen by all lovers of liberty, that they are playing a hazardous game and endangering the perpetuity of human rights. For it will not take long for the unthinking to follow their lead, and they may let loose an element that they never can bind again.

( Source: Journal of Discourses 25:348-50 )