David O. McKay
Quotes on Freedom, America, Constitution, Liberty, Etc…
It is a part of our “Mormon” theology that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired; that our Republic came into existence through wise men raised up for that very purpose. We believe it is the duty of the members of the Church to see that this Republic is not subverted either by any sudden or constant erosion of those principles which gave this Nation its birth.
In these days when there is a special trend among certain groups, including members of faculties of universities, to challenge the principles upon which our country has been founded and the philosophy of our Founding Fathers, I hope that Brigham Young University will stand as a bulwark in support of the principles of government as vouchsafed to us by our Constitutional Fathers.
We should love the stars and stripes, and accept the constitution of these United States as divine. Don’t hesitate to stand on the right side.
Be true to the Constitution of the United States, to the Bill of Rights. Do not let any theories of immigrants or misguided politicians induce you to do anything that will deprive us of our liberties as vouchsafed by that immortal document.
The Magna Carta… was an expression of freedom-loving men against an usurping king. It was a guarantee of civil and personal liberty. These guarantees later found fuller and complete expression in the Constitution of the United States.
In the United States of America, the Constitution vouchsafes individual freedom, and let us pray also that the Lord will frustrate the plans of the Communists who would deprive us of freedom.
There are some fundamental principles of this Republic which, like eternal truths, never get out of date, and which are applicable at all times to liberty-loving peoples. Such are the underlying principles of the Constitution, a document framed by patriotic, freedom-loving men…
True Americans should have nothing to do with secret combinations and groups antagonistic to the Constitutional law of the land.
We should feel grateful that we are not hampered nor hindered in any way by a government that would presume to tell us how to worship, what to worship, or how to build. I wonder how many of us kneel down and thank the Lord for that freedom vouch-safed to us by the Constitution of the United States, a step towards the liberty, the freedom mentioned by the Savior when he said, “If ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32].
Very seldom do we think of our God-given privileges to exercise the freedom which dates back to the Constitution, even to the Declaration of Independence.
William E. Gladstone, having read the Constitution one hundred years after it had been in force, said:
The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of men. It has had a century of trial, under the pressure of exigencies caused by an expansion unexampled in point of rapidity and range; and its exemption from formal change, though not entire, has certainly proved the sagacity of the constructors and the stubborn strength of the fabric…
Do we feel to thank God for the freedom we have here in this country?
We should be grateful for our Founding Fathers, for Washington and Lincoln, and for our boys and other great men who have fought and died for our freedom.
We must not pick out that which will tear down a brother’s character, nor the character of our Founding Fathers, nor the works of those great men who founded the Constitution of the United States. Let us be true to our nation! There is every reason to be true to it.
In order that there may be no misunderstandings 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 to make the following statements that I have been sending out from 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 consciences in the matter 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 Church, out of respect for the rights of all its members to have their political views and loyalties, must maintain the strictest possible neutrality. We have no intention of trying to interfere with the fullest and freest exercise of the political franchise of our members under and within our Constitution, which the Lord declared he established “by the hands of wise men whom [he] raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80) and which, as to the principles thereof, the Prophet Joseph Smith, dedicating the Kirtland Temple, prayed should be “established forever.” (D&C 109:54.) The Church does not yield any of its devotion to or convictions about safeguarding the American principles and the establishments of government under federal and state constitutions and the civil rights of men safeguarded by these.
. . . 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.
The Constitution of the United States, as given to us by our fathers, is the real government under which individuals may exercise free agency and individual initiative.
The First Presidency has previously issued a statement urging you as citizens to participate in the great democratic processes of our national election in accordance with your honest political convictions.
We have urged you, above all, to try to support good and conscientious candidates of either party who are aware of the great dangers inherent in communism and who are truly dedicated to the constitution in the tradition of our fathers. We have suggested also that you should support candidates who pledge their sincere fidelity to our liberty – a liberty which aims at the preservation of both personal and property rights.
As we celebrate the birthday of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, one hundred and eighty-eight years ago, let us catch the spirit of that morning and awaken appreciation for the blessings and privileges that are ours if we but remain loyal and true to the Constitution of the United States as established by our Founding Fathers. . . .
After the Revolutionary War was over and nine years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Founding Fathers met in that same Old State Hall to frame the Constitution of the United States.
The French historian, Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot, while visiting in the United States, asked James Russell Lowell, “How long will the American Republic endure?” Lowell’s answer was: “As long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant.”
And what were those ideas? Two fundamental principles were: Freedom from Dictatorship and Freedom of the Individual! This goes right back to our free agency, which is as precious as life itself. . . .
. . . Do we realize what it means to have a knock come at our door at night, and to have fear because it is the police, then to hear a voice commanding: “Open the Door!”? One woman who was alone got just such a command, and, scantily dressed, was taken, not down in the elevator, but rushed down four flights of stairs, put in a black wagon with guards on each side and carried off to prison. She was innocent, but the door closed behind her and that was the beginning of a nine-year prison sentence. This is a frequent happening in dictator countries in this the twentieth century!
That is the kind of treatment the spirit of man rebels against; that is why we had the Declaration of Independence; that is why we had the Constitution of the United States drawn up by men who were inspired; and that is why we have the Bill of Rights, granting protection to each individual. The government was established to protect the individual; the individual is not a part of the State, nor should he be used as part of the State. The government is set up to protect him in his rights.
What other fundamental prompted these men when they framed the Constitution – “the greatest instrument,” said one man, “ever written by the hands of man”? I name it as Faith in God, next to free agency, or correlative with free agency. As an illustration, during the critical time when the representatives of the colonies were trying to frame the Constitution in that Old State Hall, Benjamin Franklin, the oldest man present, arose and stated his faith in an overruling Providence and in the power of prayer, and then said:
I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. . . .
I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.
. . . However, the point I wish to make is that Benjamin Franklin emphasized that faith in God is a fundamental principle of the Constitution of the United States. I should also like to refer to a remark made by George Washington, who, following the establishment of the Constitution, and the acceptance of it by the thirteen Colonies, wrote this:
Of all the dispositions of habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . .
Actuated by these two fundamental and eternal principles – the free agency of the individual and faith in an overruling Providence – those 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, those who drew up the Constitution of the United States nine years later, gave to the world a concept of government which, if applied, will strike from the arms of downtrodden humanity the shackles of tyranny, and give hope, ambition, and freedom to the teeming millions throughout the world.
By inheritance we enjoy liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution to speak, to work, to study, to pray as we wish, so long as we do not deprive others of the same privileges.
Another fundamental for which we should be grateful is the free agency which God has given us – freedom and liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
I wonder if we appreciate this great gift. That free agency, the right to exercise that free agency, and the right of trial by your equals is vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States. Let us have a spirit of gratitude in our hearts for the free exercise of our agency and the rights of liberty.
[One] principle that actuated the lives of the fathers who founded our Constitution was faith in God.
Above all else, strive to support good and conscientious candidates of either party who are aware of the great dangers inherent in communism, and who are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our founding fathers.
Our founding fathers, despite some natural fears, clearly regarded the promulgation of the Constitution of the United States as their greatest triumph.
The Church does not interfere, and has no intention of trying to interfere, with the fullest and freest exercise of the political franchise of its members, under and within our Constitution.
But Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government, and it would be necessary to destroy our government before Communism could be set up in the United States. . . .
. . .[Communism] even reaches its hand into the sanctity of the family circle itself, disrupting the normal relationship of parent and child, all in a manner unknown and unsanctioned under the Constitutional guarantees under which we in America live.
I should like to express gratitude this Thanksgiving season for this great country, for the Constitution of the United States which grants to each individual liberty, freedom to think and to speak and to act as he pleases, just so long as each gives to the other man that same privilege. I am thankful for this country which has given more persons opportunity to raise themselves under an individualistic, capitalistic, free enterprise system from menial to commanding positions than any other nation in the world, past or present.
So the perpetuity of this land and nation depends upon faith. Any power or any influence that will destroy directly or indirectly this principle of faith in God is an enemy to the Constitution of the United States.
We are grateful for this land of America, “choice above all other lands” [2 Nephi 1:5]. The freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees to every man the right to worship Thee in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience, made possible the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. O Father, may the American people not forget thee! Help us to see the greatness of this country and to minimize its weaknesses. . . . Government exists for the protection of the individual – not the individual for the government. Bless, we beseech Thee, the President of the United States, his Cabinet, the Houses of Congress and the Judiciary. Give the President health and wisdom needful for the world leadership now placed upon him.
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!
May the appeal of our Lord in His intercessory prayer for unity be realized in our homes, our wards, and stakes, and in our support of the basic principles of our Republic.
We are grateful for the Constitution of the United States of America which permitted the Church of Jesus Christ to be established through heavenly messengers, and which grants to every man the right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.
I think we owe at least the consideration to be loyal to this country and to spurn with all the soul that is within us the scheming disloyal citizens who would undermine our Constitution, or who would deprive the individual of his liberty vouchsafed by that great document, and some of our men who have come up through the public schools are doing just that. Let every loyal member of the Church look down with scorn upon any man or woman who would undermine that Constitution.
In education for citizenship, therefore, why should we not see to it that every child in America is taught the superiority of our Constitution and the sacredness of the freedom of the individual? Such definite instruction is not in violation of either the Federal or the State Constitution. . . .
Education for citizenship demands more emphasis upon moral and spiritual values. Our government was founded on faith in a Supreme Being as evidenced by the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, by George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin in the Constitutional Convention, and by a hundred other incidents prior to, during, and following the birth of this Republic. Said the Father of our Country: “We have raised a standard to which the good and wise can repair; the event is in the hands of God.” . . .
I love the Stars and Stripes, and the American Way of Life. I have faith in the Constitution of the United States. I believe that only through a truly educated citizenry can the ideals that inspired the Founding Fathers of our Nation be preserved and perpetuated.
By law, the public schools of this nation must be nondenominational. They can have no part in securing acceptance of any one of the numerous systems of belief regarding a supernatural power and the relation of mankind thereto. That restriction applies to the atheist as well as to the believer in God. The scientist who tells young people that religious faith is to be condemned because it is “unscientific” is violating the Constitution of the state and of the nation as much as he who would take advantage of his position to advocate the superiority of any religion.
Next to the divine authority of the Priesthood I believe that no principle of the Gospel is more endangered today than is that principle which gives us individual freedom…
It was that very principle that induced our Founding Fathers to declare their independence from the countries in Europe and to establish the Constitution, giving to each individual the right to worship, the right to build, the right to work, the right to think, to speak, to preach, so long as each gave to other individuals that same privilege.
We pray, O Lord, that thou wilt inspire men to desire to make equal advancement in preserving and making applicable to society the principles of individual liberty and freedom of worship brought by the pioneers and vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
I appreciate the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights that grant unto each man individual liberty… I have nothing but contempt in my heart for men who would disgrace that flag or would mar the standards of freedom and individual liberty.
We advocate the necessity of all members of the Church showing appreciation of your franchise, your citizenship, by voting, exercising your right to say who shall be your leaders. They become our servants. That is the spirit of the Constitution.
Teachings and ideologies subversive to the fundamental principles of this great Republic, which are contrary to the Constitution of the United States, or which are detrimental to the progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be condemned, whether advocated by Republicans or Democrats.
I am but repeating what we all know and feel when I say that our country’s greatest asset is its manhood. Upon that depends not only the survival of the individual freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and all other ideals for which the founders of the Republic fought and died, but the survival of the best that we cherish in present-day civilization throughout the world. . . .
. . . Our educational system will radiate such principles just to the extent that we employ in our public schools, high schools, colleges, and universities men and women who are not only eminent in their particular professions, but loyal to the Constitution of our land, influential as leaders, noble in character.
No Latter-day Saint can be true to his country, true to his Church, true to his God, who will violate the laws which relate to the moral welfare and the spiritual advancement of mankind. The Latter-day Saints should uphold the law everywhere. And it is time that all of us – the leaders of this country, the politicians, the statesmen, the leaders in civic affairs in the state and in the cities, as well as parents and private citizens should so speak of and so uphold the constitutional law of the land that there will everywhere be a renewal of respect for it and a revival of the virtues of honor, honesty, and integrity.
The two most important documents affecting the destiny of America are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Both these immortal papers relate primarily to the freedom of the individual.
A few hundred years afterward, came the Declaration of Independence, and then the Constitution of the United States, fundamental in which is the right of the individual to worship God, to speak as he feels, own his property, to take care of his family – his home, his castle.
Governments are the servants, not the masters of the people. All who love the Constitution of the United States can vow with Thomas Jefferson, who, when he was president, said,
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
He later said:
To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must take our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labors and in our amusements.
If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under pretense of caring for them, they will be happy. The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the disposition of public money. We are endeavoring to reduce the government to the practice of rigid economy to avoid burdening the people and arming the magistrate with a patronage of money which might be used to corrupt the principles of our government. . . .
In conclusion, I repeat that no greater immediate responsibility rests upon 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.
Let us, by exercising our privileges under the Constitution:
(1) Preserve our right to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience,
(2) Preserve the right to work when and where we choose. . . .
(3) Feel free to plan and to reap without the handicap of bureaucratic interference.
(4) Devote our time, means, and life if necessary, to hold inviolate those laws which will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
Men and women who live in America, “the land of Zion,” have a responsibility greater than that yet borne by any other people. Theirs the duty, the obligation to preserve not only the Constitution of the land but the Christian principles from which sprang that immortal document.
The Constitution of this government was written by men who accepted Jesus Christ as the Saviour of mankind. Let men and women in these United States then continue to keep their eyes centered upon Him who ever shines as a Light to all the world.
Therefore, as against the tyranny and despotism of Totalitarianism and Dictatorships, let us willingly and heroically, defend the Constitution of this land that guarantees to every citizen of the republic, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and favors the divine pronouncement that the souls of men are precious in the sight of God.
We… warn our people in America of the constantly increasing threat against our inspired Constitution…. The proponents thereof are seeking to undermine our own form of government and to set up instead one of the forms of dictatorships [which] is now flourishing in other lands. These revolutionists are using a technique that is as old as the human race, a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery, and then enslave them.
Throughout the ages advanced souls have yearned for a society in which liberty and justice prevail. Men have sought for it, fought for it, have died for it. Ancient freemen prized it; slaves longed for it; the Magna Carta demanded it; the Constitution of the United States declared it.
If we would make the world better, let us foster a keener appreciation of the freedom and liberty guaranteed by the government of the United States as framed by the founders of this nation. Here again self-proclaimed progressives cry that such old-time adherence is out of date. But there are some fundamental principles of this Republic which, like eternal truths, never get out of date, and which are applicable at all times to liberty-loving peoples. Such are the underlying principles of the Constitution, a document framed by patriotic, freedom-loving men, who Latter-day Saints declare were inspired by the Lord.
This date, October 6, has been set apart by churches as “Loyalty Day.” It is highly fitting, therefore, as a means of making the world better, not only to urge loyalty to the Constitution and to threatened fundamentals of the United States government, but to warn the people that there is evidence in the United States of disloyalty to tried and true fundamentals in government. There are unsound economic theories; there are European “isms,” which, termite-like, secretly and, recently, quite openly and defiantly, are threatening to undermine our democratic institutions.
Today, as never before, the issue is clearly defined – liberty and freedom of choice, or oppression and subjugation for the individual and for nations.
As we contemplate the deplorable fact that within the brief space of one year, ten European nations have lost their independence, that over two hundred and fifty million people have surrendered all guarantees of personal liberty, deeper should be our gratitude, more intense our appreciation of the Constitution, and more strengthened our determination to resist at all costs any and all attempts to curtail our liberties, or to change the underlying system of our government.
What really prompted me to emphasize this principle is the presence in our own United States of influences the avowed object of which is to sow discord and contention among men with the view of undermining, weakening, if not entirely destroying our constitutional form of government. If I speak plainly, and in condemnation lay bare reprehensible practices and aims of certain organizations, please do not think that I harbor ill-will or enmity in my heart towards other United States citizens whose views on political policies do not coincide with mine. But when acts and schemes are manifestly contrary to the revealed word of the Lord, we feel justified in warning people against them. We may be charitable and forbearing to the sinner, but must condemn the sin. . . .
. . . There is another danger even more menacing than the threat of invasion of a foreign foe. It is the unpatriotic activities and underhanded scheming of disloyal groups and organizations within our own borders. . . .
Latter-day Saints should have nothing to do with secret combinations and groups antagonistic to the Constitutional law of the land, which the Lord “suffered to be established,” and which “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
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 101:77–80)
Of course there are errors in government which some would correct, certainly there are manifest injustices and inequalities, and there will always be such in any government in the management of which enter the frailties of human nature. If you want changes go to the polls on election day, express yourself as an American citizen, and thank the Lord for the privilege that is yours to have a say as to who shall serve you in public office.
Our twelfth Article of Faith says:
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. . . .
. . . The three significant words used in the 12th Article of Faith express the proper attitude of the membership of the Church toward law. These words are obey, honor and sustain. . . .
We obey law from a sense of right.
We honor law because of its necessity and strength to society.
We sustain law by keeping it in good repute.
I desire to call attention to the fact that the united, well ordered American home is one of the greatest contributing factors to the preservation of the Constitution of the United States. It has been aptly said that “Out of the homes of America will come the future citizens of America, and only as those homes are what they should be will this nation be what it should be.”