Ezra Taft Benson
Quotes on Freedom, America, Constitution, Liberty, Etc…
As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others.
Today there are much worse things that can happen to a child than not getting a full college education. In fact, some of the worst things have happened to our children while attending colleges led by administrators who wink at subversion and amorality.
Said Karl G. Maeser, “I would rather have my child exposed to smallpox, typhus fever, cholera, or other malignant and deadly diseases than to the degrading influence of a corrupt teacher. It is infinitely better to take chances with an ignorant, but pure-minded teacher than with the greatest philosopher who is impure.”
Vocational education, correspondence courses, establishment in a family business are being considered for their children by an increasing number of parents.
On what basis can we morally resist tyranny?
I say to you with all the fervor of my soul that God intended men to be free. Rebellion against tyranny is a righteous cause. It is an enormous evil for any man to be enslaved to any system contrary to his own will. For that reason men, 200 years ago, pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.
No nation which has kept the commandments of God has ever perished, but I say to you that once freedom is lost, only blood – human blood – will win it back.
If we do not accept the existence of a Supreme Being; that God is the source of moral law, what more do we have to offer than Marx?…
Freedom is an eternal, God-given principle. There is no genuine happiness without freedom, nor is there any security or peace without freedom. After traveling in practically all of the free countries of the world and several times behind the Iron Curtain, I say that Marxism is the greatest evil in this world and the greatest threat to all we hold dear.
Of all sad things in the world, the saddest is to see a people who have once known liberty and freedom and then lost it. I have seen the unquenchable yearning of the human heart for liberty on two unforgettable occasions. These experiences are indelibly etched on the memory of my soul.
And if the time should come when you are associated with groups that take delight in tearing down our American way of life, then they seem to enjoy pointing out the weaknesses of our free enterprise system – and it has weaknesses; it has weaknesses because it’s operated by men and women who are full of weaknesses – but when those times come, when our system is criticized, just keep in mind the fruits of the system, the great blessings that have come to us because of our American way of life. No group of people have ever attained the standard of living which is ours. And so let’s become acquainted with what has been accomplished. It’s all right to criticize; it’s all right to try and improve our American way of life; but in doing so, 1et’s not surrender, let’s not give up, let’s not jeopardize that system which has made America great.
It’s a great blessing to live in America. It’s a great blessing to have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms which are ours today. I have seen people, thousands of them, who have lost the freedom which is ours, where they can no longer meet, as we meet here this morning, and express themselves as they see fit, where they no longer have freedom of movement, freedom to select their own jobs, their own educational opportunities, freedom to speak their minds, to write what they wish – freedom of enterprise. In many parts of the world today these rich blessings of freedom no longer exist.
I don’t know how you feel, my brethren and sisters, but I’d rather be dead than to lose my liberty. I have no fear we’ll ever lose it because of invasion from the outside. But I do have fear that it may slip away from us because of our own indifference, our own negligence, as citizens of this land. And so I plead with you this morning that you take an active interest in matters pertaining to the future of this country.
Occasionally, we receive questions as to the propriety of Church members receiving government assistance instead of Church assistance. Let me restate what is a fundamental principle. Individuals, to the extent possible, should provide for their own needs. Where the individual is unable to care for himself, his family should assist. Where the family is not able to provide, the Church should render assistance, not the government.
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.
I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14–16; D&C 84:49–53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18–25.)
I testify that America is a choice land. (See 2 Nephi 1:5.) God raised up the founding fathers of the United States of America and established the inspired Constitution. (See D&C 101:77–80.) This was the required prologue for the restoration of the gospel. (See 3 Nephi 21:4.) America will be a blessed land unto the righteous forever, and is the base from which God will continue to direct the worldwide latter-day operations of His kingdom. (See 2 Nephi 1:7.)
On September 17, 1987, we commemorate the two-hundredth birthday of the signing of the United States Constitution. The group of inspired men assembled for that convention produced the document that the Prophet Joseph Smith referred to as “a glorious standard” and “a heavenly banner” [TPJS 147].
In commemoration of this important event, we are providing this booklet, which contains three family home evening lessons, activity ideas, and a copy of the Constitution. We encourage you to prepare and teach each lesson prayerfully so that family members may feel the divine significance of the Constitution in their minds and hearts. Faithfully, your brethren, The First Presidency.
How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven?
First and foremost, we must be righteous. . . .
Two great American Christian civilizations — the Jaredites and the Nephites — were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?
Second, We must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.
Have we read the Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it? . . .
We, the blessed beneficiaries of the Constitution, face difficult days in America, “a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10).
May God give us the faith and the courage exhibited by those patriots who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
May we be equally as valiant and as free.
The United States Constitution has been in existence longer than any written constitution in history. It has been a blessing, not only to our land, but to the world as well. Many nations have wisely adopted concepts and provisions of our Constitution, just as was prophesied (D&C 101:77).
The restoration of the gospel and the establishment of the Lord’s Church could not come to pass until the Founding Fathers were raised up and completed their foreordained missions. Those great souls who were responsible for the freedoms we enjoy acknowledged the guiding hand of Providence. For their efforts we are indebted, but we are even more indebted to our Father in Heaven and to His Son, Jesus Christ. How fortunate we are to live when the blessings of liberty and the gospel of Jesus Christ are both available to us.
May we be worthy of the freedoms that have been provided us in our Constitution, and equal to the trials and tests that shall surely come. We truly have special and individual responsibilities to befriend and to defend that “glorious standard,” our Constitution.
Our Heavenly Father raised up the men who founded this government (see D&C 101:80), thereby fulfilling the prophecy of His Beloved Son that the people “should be established in this land and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father” (3 Nephi 21:4).
We encourage Latter-day Saints throughout the nation to familiarize themselves with the Constitution. They should focus attention on it by reading and studying it. They should ponder the blessings that come through it. They should recommit themselves to its principles and be prepared to defend it and the freedom it provides. (D&C 109:54.) . . .
Because some Americans have not kept faith with our Founding Fathers, the Constitution faces severe challenges. Those who do not prize individual freedom are trying to erode its great principles. We believe the Constitution will stand, but it will take the efforts of patriotic and dedicated Americans to uphold it. . . . We, as Latter-day Saints, must be vigilant in doing our part to preserve the Constitution and safeguard the way of life it makes possible.
This bicentennial year affords us renewed opportunities to learn more about this divinely inspired charter of our liberty, to speak in its defense, and to preserve and protect it against evil or destruction.
I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land [D&C 101:76–80]. I testify that the God of Heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has sent other choice spirits — even you who read my words — to preserve it.
Will we be prepared? Will we be among those who will “bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction?” If we desire to be numbered among those who will, here are some things we must do:
1. We must be righteous and moral. We must live the gospel principles—all of them. We have no right to expect a higher degree of morality from those who represent us than what we ourselves are. In the final analysis, people generally get the kind of government they deserve. To live a higher law means we will not seek to receive what we have not earned by our own labor. It means we will remember that government owes us nothing. It means we will keep the laws of the land. It means we will look to God as our Lawgiver and the Source of our liberty.
2. We must learn the principles of the Constitution and then abide by its precepts. We have been instructed again and again to reflect more intently on the meaning and importance of the Constitution and to adhere to its principles. What have we done about this instruction? Have we read the Constitution and pondered it? Are we aware of its principles? Could we defend it? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? The Church will not tell us how to do this, but we are admonished to do it. I quote Abraham Lincoln: “Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges, let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs, let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.”
3. We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens of this republic, we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators. It is vital that we follow this counsel from the Lord: “I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God” (D&C 98:8–11).
Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and unvirtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities.
4. We must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, and our advice. We must be wisely informed and let others know how we feel. We must take part in local precinct meetings and select delegates who will truly represent our feelings.
I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church — men and women who will subscribe to and abide the principles of the Constitution.
To all who have discerning eyes, it is apparent that the republican form of government established by our noble forefathers cannot long endure once fundamental principles are abandoned. Momentum is gathering for another conflict — a repetition of the crisis of two hundred years ago. This collision of ideas is worldwide. Another monumental moment is soon to be born. The issue is the same that precipitated the great premortal conflict — will men be free to determine their own course of action or must they be coerced?
We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” (July 19, 1840, Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Historical Department.)
It is now two hundred years since the Constitution was written. Have we been wise beneficiaries of the gift entrusted to us? Have we valued and protected the principles laid down by this great document?
At this bicentennial celebration we must, with sadness, say that we have not been wise in keeping the trust of our Founding Fathers. For the past two centuries, those who do not prize freedom have chipped away at every major clause of our Constitution until today we face a crisis of great dimensions.
In recognizing God as the source of their rights, the Founding Fathers declared Him to be the ultimate authority for their basis of law. This led them to the conviction that people do not make law but merely acknowledge preexisting law, giving it specific application. The Constitution was conceived to be such an expression of higher law. And when their work was done, James Madison wrote: “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution” (The Federalist, no. 37).
The Founding Fathers well understood human nature and its tendency to exercise unrighteous dominion when given authority [D&C 121:39–40]. A Constitution was therefore designed to limit government to certain enumerated functions, beyond which was tyranny.
In order to avoid a concentration of power in any one branch, the Founding Fathers created a system of government that provided checks and balances. Congress could pass laws, but the president could check these laws with a veto. Congress, however, could override the veto and, by its means of initiative in taxation, could further restrain the executive department. The Supreme Court could nullify laws passed by the Congress and signed by the president, but Congress could limit the court’s appellate jurisdiction. The president could appoint judges for their lifetime with the consent of the Senate.
The use of checks and balances was deliberately designed, first, to make it difficult for a minority of the people to control the government, and, second, to place restraint on the government itself.
The coming forth of the Constitution is of such transcendent importance in the Lord’s plan that ancient prophets foresaw this event and prophesied of it. In the dedicatory prayer for the Idaho Falls Temple, President George Albert Smith indicated that the Constitution fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that “out of Zion shall go forth the law” (Isaiah 2:3).
George Washington referred to this document [the Constitution] as a miracle. This miracle could only have been performed by exceptional men.
History is not an accident. Events are foreknown to God. His superintending influence is behind the actions of his righteous children. Long before America was even discovered, the Lord was moving and shaping events that would lead to the coming forth of the remarkable form of government established by the Constitution. America had to be free and independent to fulfill this destiny.
The War that began in heaven is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of Lucifer’s primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments. . . .
. . . We must appreciate that we live in one of history’s most exceptional moments — in a nation and a time of unprecedented freedom. Freedom as we know it has been experienced by perhaps less than one percent of the human family.
On the 17th day of September 1987 we commemorate the two hundredth birthday of the Constitutional Convention which gave birth to the document that Gladstone said is “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
I heartily endorse this assessment. . . .
We pay honor — honor to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth. . . .
. . . God himself has borne witness to the fact that He is pleased with the final product of the work of these great patriots [our Founding Fathers].
Our Founding Fathers, with solemn and reverent expression, voiced their allegiance to the sovereignty of God, knowing that they were accountable to Him in the day of judgment. Are we less accountable today? I think not. I urge you to keep the commandments and to pray for our nation and its leaders.
The Founding Fathers understood the principle that “righteousness exalteth a nation” (Prov 14:34), and helped to bring about one of the greatest systems ever used to govern men. But unless we continue to seek righteousness and preserve the liberties entrusted to us, we shall lose the blessings of heaven. Thomas Jefferson said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” The price of freedom is also to live in accordance with the commandments of God. The early Founding Fathers thanked the Lord for His intervention in their behalf. They saw His hand in their victories in battle and believed strongly that He watched over them.
The battles are not over yet, and there will yet be times when this great nation will need the overshadowing help of Deity. Will we as a nation be worthy to call upon Him for help?
The Founding Fathers had no problems seeing the hand of the Lord in the birth of the nation. George Washington gave direct credit to God for the victory over the British in the Revolutionary War. But that did not end the need for inspiration and divine help.
A constitution was drafted. And thirty-nine of fifty delegates signed it. I would ask: Why is it that the references to God’s influence in the noble efforts of the founders of our republic are not mentioned by modern historians?
The fact that our Founding Fathers looked to God for help and inspiration should not surprise us, for they were men of great faith. These men had been raised up specifically by the Lord so they could participate in the great political drama unfolding in America.
We must study and learn for ourselves the principles laid down in the Constitution which have preserved our freedoms for the last two hundred years. If we do not understand the role of government and how our rights are protected by the Constitution, we may accept programs or organizations that help erode our freedoms. An informed citizenry is the first line of defense against anarchy and tyranny.
Our Creator endowed each one of us with certain rights at birth, among which are the rights to life, liberty, speech, and conscience, to name a few. These are not just human rights; they are divine rights. When these rights are not permitted expression by a nation, that nation becomes inhibited in its progress and development, and its leaders are responsible before God for suffocating sacred rights.
This native endowment is what separates man from the animals. It causes men to want to be good and to seek higher aspirations. It creates in man a desire to better his life and his station in life.
Before the gospel could again shine forth its resplendent light, religious and political freedom first had to be restored. This land had been preserved as a continent apart from the religious oppression, tyranny, and intolerance of Europe. In time, emigrants came to the new land and established colonies. By and large, they were a God-fearing people. A war was fought for their independence, and by God’s intervention, victory was achieved (see 1 Nephi 13:16–19). By that same omnipotent power the Constitution was born (see D&C 101:80), which guaranteed religious and political liberty (see D&C 98:5–8). Only then was the time propitious for the kingdom of God — that “stone cut out without hands” — to be restored (see Dan 2:34).
Men who are wise, good, and honest, who will uphold the Constitution of the United States in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, must be sought for diligently. This is our hope to restore government to its rightful role.
I fully believe that we can turn things around in America if we have the determination, the morality, the patriotism, and the spirituality to do so. . . .
. . . I further witness that this land — the Americas — must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church and bearers of His priesthood to do all we can to preserve our liberty.
To serve God’s eternal purposes and to prepare this land for Zion, God “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up . . . and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:80).
The Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1789. The priesthood of God was restored in 1829. Between those two dates is an interval of forty years. It is my conviction that God, who knows the end from the beginning, provided that period of time so the new nation could grow in strength to protect the land of Zion.
You must keep your honor. You cannot yet speak officially for the country, but you can become informed. You can speak your mind. You may think you can do little about the national economy or the actions of our government and the moral weakness all about us, but we must all remember that the Lord has placed great responsibilities upon the elders of Israel in the preservation of our Constitution.
The Constitution of this land, with which we should all be familiar, is the only constitution in the world bearing the stamp of approval of the Lord Jesus Christ (D&C 101:76–80).
When I became President of the Twelve and Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, we met, just the two of us, every week after our Thursday meetings in the temple, just to be sure that things were properly coordinated between the Twelve and the First Presidency. After one of those first meetings, we talked about the many sacred documents in some of the older temples. St. George was mentioned in particular because St. George is our oldest temple in Utah. I had a stake conference down there about that time, and it was agreed that I would go into the archives — the walk-in vault — of that great temple and review the sacred documents that were there. We were planning for the remodeling and renovating of the St. George Temple and thought that the records might possibly be moved to Salt Lake for safekeeping. And there in the St. George Temple I saw what I had always hoped and prayed that someday I would see. Ever since I returned as a humble missionary and first learned that the Founding Fathers had appeared in that temple, I wanted to see the record. And I saw the record. They did appear to Wilford Woodruff twice and asked why the work hadn’t been done for them. They had founded this country and the Constitution of this land, and they had been true to those principles. Later the work was done for them.
In the archives of the temple, I saw in a book, in bold handwriting, the names of the Founding Fathers and others, including Columbus and other great Americans, for whom the work had been done in the house of the Lord. This is all one great program on both sides of the veil. We are fortunate to be engaged in it on this side of the veil. I think the Lord expects us to take an active part in preserving the Constitution and our freedom.
Learn about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other basic documents of our great country so that you can sustain them and the free institutions set up under them. The greatest watchdog of our freedom is an informed electorate.
Our forefathers left us a free government which is a miracle of faith — strong, durable, marvelously workable. Yet it can remain so only as long as we understand it, believe in it, devote ourselves to it, and, when necessary, fight for it.
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 these 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. . . .
. . . I testify that the God of heaven selected and sent some of his choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government as prologue to the restoration of the gospel and the second coming of our Savior.
The temple work for the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln, I say: “To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.”
If ever this country needed the timeless wisdom of the father of our country, it is today. How much our country could benefit by following the wisdom of our country’s first president. Here are a few among many maxims:
“Let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence.” (To Henry Lee, October 31, 1786, Writings 29:34.)
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” (First Annual Address, January 8, 1790, Writings 12:8.)
“. . . the love of my country will be the ruling influence of my conduct.” (Answer to the New Hampshire Executive, November 3, 1789, Writings 12:175.)
“. . . a good moral character is the first essential in a man. . . . It is therefore highly important, that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.” (To George Steptoe Washington, December 5, 1790, Writings 10:123-24.)
“Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of nations, to spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the machinations of the wicked to confirming of our constitution; to enable us at all times to root out internal sedition, and put invasion to flight; to perpetuate to our country that prosperity, which his goodness has already conferred; and to verify the anticipation of this government being a safeguard to human rights.” (To the Senate and the House of Representatives, November 19, 1794, Writings 12:54.)
It would profit all of us as citizens to read again Washington’s Farewell Address to his countrymen. The address is prophetic. I believe it ranks alongside the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
My feelings about this tendency to discredit our Founding Fathers are well summarized by the late President J. Reuben Clark in these words: “These were the horse and buggy days as they have been called in derision; these were the men who traveled in the horsedrawn buggies and on horseback; but these were the men who carried under their hats, as they rode in the buggies and on their horses, a political wisdom garnered from the ages. As giants to pygmies are they when placed alongside our political emigres and their fellow travelers of today, who now traduce them with slighting word and contemptuous phrase.” (Stand Fast by Our Constitution, pp. 136-37.)
The charge [has been made] that the founders designed the Constitution primarily to benefit themselves and their class (property owners) financially, and that the economic motif was their dominant incentive. Such was the thesis of the American historian, Dr. Charles Beard. Yet Madison said: “There was never an assembly of men . . . who were more pure in their motives.” We must remember that these were men who had sacrificed in many cases their fortunes and their sacred honor.
Shortly after the turn of this century, Charles Beard published his work An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. This book marked the beginning of a trend to defame the motives and integrity of the founders of the Constitution. It also grossly distorted the real intent of the founders by suggesting their motivation was determined by economics—a thesis that had originated with Karl Marx. Beard himself was not a Marxist, but he was a socialist in his thinking, and he admitted there was much we could learn from Marx’s ideas. Before his death Beard recanted his own thesis, but the damage had been done. This began a new trend in educational and intellectual circles in the United States.
The Lord has also decreed that this land should be “the place of the new Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.” (Ether 13:3.) Here is our nation’s destiny! To serve God’s eternal purposes and to prepare this land and the people for America’s eventual destiny, He “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (D&C 101:80.)
Tonight I will speak to you about our beloved republic and the inspired agents whom God raised up to establish the foundation upon which our liberty rests. . . . I speak to you as members of the “household of faith,” the Lord’s true church, and remind you of your solemn charge to uphold, sustain, and defend the kingdom of God.
The destiny of America was divinely decreed. The events that established our great nation were foreknown to God and revealed to prophets of old. As in an enacted drama, the players who came on the scene were rehearsed and selected for their parts. Their talent, abilities, capacities, and weaknesses were known before they were born.
As a means of emphasizing this during this Bicentennial year, we have prepared four Bicentennial family home evening lessons, which will be distributed to all Church members in the United States of America. We are asking fathers and mothers to teach the story of America to their children, to tell of its spiritual foundation, and to emphasize how that freedom can be preserved.
We urge people to support the Constitution of the United States and our free institutions set up under it.
It is a part of our faith that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God. We reverence it akin to the revelations that have come from God. . . . 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 109:54).
It must be remembered that the founding fathers of this great nation were men imbued with these principles [the Ten Commandments]. There are those in the land whose faith it is that these were “wise men whom [God] raised up” for the purpose of establishing the Constitution of the United States. They recognized that there are two possible sources to the origin of our freedoms that we have come to know as human rights. Rights are either God-given as part of a divine plan or they are granted as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, and religious conviction and belief in the sovereignty of God led these men to accept the divine origin of these rights. To God’s glory and the credit of these men, our nation was uniquely born.
Before we go to our ailments and disorders, it is well to review the elements of our health and strength that we have acquired under our divinely inspired Constitution, the liberties it guarantees, and the free institution it sets up. . . .
No country has been more concerned with “due process” in its judicial system than ours. The protection of human rights, as granted by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, is not just theory. History will record that we bent over backward to protect the rights of the individual, sometimes even to a fault.
Thank God for the constitution. And may God bless the elders of Israel that when, as President John Taylor said, “The people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States, the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of earth and proclaiming liberty” (Journal of Discourses, 21:8).
It is good at all times to remember a few of the many gifts we have received from our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to think of what we in turn might give to him. . . .
. . . In addition to the gifts of the life of Christ, his prophet, his church, and the Book of Mormon is the gift of the Constitution. The Lord said, “I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up” (D&C 101:80). . . .
The elders of this church have a prophetic mission yet to perform so far as the Constitution is concerned. In a discourse by Joseph Smith on July 19, 1840, he said:
“Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” (Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Historical Department)
Now, how are the elders going to prepare for that mission? How are they going to know what the Constitution is so they will know when it is on the brink of ruin? . . .
To the Lord, his prophets, and the founding fathers we must go to learn of this divine document so our efforts will be to preserve and not destroy the Constitution.
May we pledge anew that the divine principles embodied in the divinely inspired documents that govern our country be written on the tablets of our own hearts. I pray that our eyes might be single to the will of God, that we might thereby bless our families and our country and that we shall, with increased devotion, work for less government, more individual responsibility, and, with God’s help, a better world.
It is a part of my religious belief that America is a land choice above all others, that we are not just another of the family of nations, but that we have been singled out to perform a divine mission for liberty-loving people everywhere. Those who founded this republic were wise men raised up by our Father in heaven to perform that very task, and the Constitution of this land was inspired by God. We have a divine duty — even a destiny — to preserve that Constitution from destruction and hold it aloft to the world.
We honor these partners [friends outside the Church] because their devotion to correct principles overshadowed their devotion to popularity, party, or personalities.
We honor our founding fathers of this republic for the same reason. God raised up these patriotic partners to perform their mission, and he called them “wise men.” (see D&C 101:80.) The First Presidency acknowledged that wisdom when they gave us the guideline a few years ago of supporting political candidates “who are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers.” (Deseret News, November 2, 1964.) . . .
Our wise founders seemed to understand, better than most of us, our own scripture, which states that “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority . . . they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39.)
To help prevent this, the founders knew that our elected leaders should be bound by certain fixed principles. Said Thomas Jefferson: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
These wise founders, our patriotic partners, seemed to appreciate more than most of us the blessings of the boundaries that the Lord set within the Constitution, for he said, “And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.” (D&C 98:7.)
In God the founders trusted, and in his Constitution — not in the arm of flesh. “O Lord,” said Nephi, “I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; . . . cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (2 Nephi 4:34.)
I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But this does not mean that we should divorce government from any formal recognition of God. To do so strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights, and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny. If Americans should ever come to believe that their rights and freedoms are instituted among men by politicians and bureaucrats, they will no longer carry the proud inheritance of their forefathers, but will grovel before their masters seeking favors and dispensations — a throwback to the feudal system of the Dark Ages.
With independence won, another body of men assembled; and under the inspiration of heaven, they too drafted a document, probably the greatest instrument ever struck off at a given time by the mind of man: the Constitution of the United States.
It is my conviction that the Constitution of the United States was established by the hands of wise men whom the Lord raised up unto this very purpose.
The Lord expects us to safeguard this sacred and inspired document for the blessing of all of us and our posterity. If we fail so to do we will not only lose our priceless freedom but jeopardize the cause of truth throughout the entire world.
Do we dare ask ourselves if the United States, though cast in the role of a leader to preserve and strengthen world civilization, isn’t itself tottering internally because too many of its citizens have abandoned the virtues that comprised the basic format of its own civilization? For instance, if spiritual faith, courage, and the willingness of our forbears to work hard were the sustaining virtues, and if, solely because of them, they were able to create our own civilization, can we now in the United States substitute for these virtues the human weaknesses of selfishness, complacency, apathy, and fear — and still hope to survive as a civilized nation?
I believe that God has endowed men with certain inalienable rights as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and that no legislature and no majority, however great, may morally limit or destroy these; that the sole function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property, and anything more than this is usurpation and oppression.
I believe that the Constitution of the United States was prepared and adopted by men acting under inspiration from Almighty God; that it is a solemn compact between the peoples of the states of this nation that all officers of government are under duty to obey; that the eternal moral laws expressed therein must be adhered to or individual liberty will perish. . . .
I am hereby resolved that under no circumstances shall the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights be infringed. In particular I am opposed to any attempt on the part of the federal government to deny the people their right to bear arms, to worship, and to pray when and where they choose, or to own and control private property.
Another standard I use in determining what law is good and what is bad is the Constitution of the United States. I regard this inspired document as a solemn agreement between the citizens of this nation which every officer of government is under a sacred duty to obey.
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 who 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 there 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 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. . . .
The cause of freedom is a 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. . . .
Now part of the reason why we do not 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.
Jefferson warned that we should not talk about confidence in men but that we should inhibit their power through the Constitution. [Thomas Jefferson, Draft of Kentucky Resolutions of 1798; Works 9:470-71.]
The question as to whether we may save our constitutional republic is simply based on two factors: the number of patriots and the extent of their obedience.
That the Lord desires to save this nation which he raised up there is no doubt. But that he leaves it up to us, with his help, is the awful reality.
About two hundred years ago some inspired men walked this land. Not perfect men, but men raised up by the Perfect Man to perform a great work. Foreordained were they to lay the foundation of this republic. Blessed by the Almighty in their struggle for liberty and independence, the power of heaven rested on these founders as they drafted that great document for governing men — the Constitution of the United States. Like the Ten Commandments, the truths on which the Constitution was based were timeless; and also as with the Decalogue — the hand of the Lord was in it. They filled their mission well. From them we were endowed with a legacy of liberty — a constitutional republic.
Leaders of youth, teach our young people to love freedom, to know that it is God-given. . . . Teach them to love their country, to know that it has a spiritual foundation, that it has a prophetic history, that it is the Lord’s base of operation.
Teach them that the Constitution of the United States was established by men whom God raised up for that very purpose, that it is not outmoded, that it is not an old-fashioned agrarian document, as some men in high places are calling it today.
The sad and shocking story of what has happened in America in recent years must be told. Our people must have the facts. There is safety in an informed public. There is real danger in a complacent, uninformed citizenry. This is our real danger today. Yes, the truth must be told even at the risk of destroying, in large measure, the influence of men who are widely respected and loved by the American people. The stakes are high. Freedom and survival is the issue.
The Lord raised up the Founding Fathers. He it was who established the Constitution of this land — the greatest document of freedom ever written. This God-inspired Constitution is not outmoded. It is not an outdated “agrarian document” as some of our would-be statesmen, socialists, and fellow travelers of the godless conspiracy would have us believe. It was the Lord God who established the foundation of this nation; and woe be unto those — members of the Supreme Court and others — who would weaken this foundation.
We had better take our small pain now than our greater loss later. There were souls who wished afterwards that they had stood and fought with Washington and the founding fathers, but they waited too long—they passed up eternal glory. There has never been a greater time than now to stand up against entrenched evil. And while the gentiles established the Constitution, we have a divine mandate to preserve it. But unfortunately today in this freedom struggle, many gentiles are showing greater wisdom in their generation than the children of light.
The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, in neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants. His arguments are clever.
Here are a few samples:
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,” 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.” . . .
And now as to the last neutralizer that the devil uses most effectively—it is simply this: “Don’t do anything in the fight for freedom until the Church sets up its own specific program to save the Constitution.” This brings us right back to the scripture I opened with today—to those slothful servants who will not do anything until they are “compelled in all things” [D&C 58:26]. Maybe the Lord will never set up a specific church program for the purpose of saving the Constitution. Perhaps if he set one up at this time it might split the Church asunder, and perhaps he does not want that to happen yet for not all the wheat and tares are fully ripe.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared it will be the elders of Israel who will step forward to help save the Constitution, not the Church. And have we elders been warned? Yes, we have. And have we elders been given the guidelines? Yes indeed, we have. And besides, if the Church should ever inaugurate a program, who do you think would be in the forefront to get it moving? It would not be those who were sitting on the sidelines prior to that time or those who were appeasing the enemy. It would be those choice spirits who, not waiting to be “commanded in all things” [D&C 58:26], used their own free will, the counsel of the prophets, and the Spirit of the Lord as guidelines and who entered the battle “in a good cause” [D&C 58:27] and brought to pass much righteousness in freedom’s cause. . . .
Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and worldwide mission. The war in heaven is raging on the earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle?
Now, the Lord knew that before the gospel could flourish there must first be an atmosphere of freedom. This is why he first established the Constitution of this land through gentiles whom he raised up before he restored the gospel.
The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of vital religion and morality in the affairs of individuals and governments, and they turned to religion in order to give their new experiment a sense of direction. They were well aware that the principles of moral, intellectual, and spiritual integrity taught and exemplified by the Savior are the perfect guide for the conduct of countries and of individuals. It is no accident that the principles of Christian religion are the foundation of the Constitution of the United States.
Students, study the writings of the prophets. Fortunately, the constistent position taken over the years by the prophets of the Church on vital issues facing this nation have recently been compiled in an excellent book entitled Prophets, Principles and National Survival [by Jerreld L. Newquist].
With all my heart I love our great nation. I have lived and traveled abroad just enough to make me appreciate rather fully what we have in America. To me the U. S. is not just another nation. It is not just one of a family of nations. The U. S. is a nation with a great mission to perform for the benefit and blessing of liberty-loving people everywhere.
I think it is time for every patriotic American to join with neighbors to study the Constitution and the conspiracy. Subscribe to several good patriotic magazines.
At this particular moment in history the United States Constitution 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 TV, and so far as I am concerned it will resound—with God’s help.
Wherever possible I have tried to speak out. It is for this very reason that certain people in Washington have bitterly criticized me. They don’t want people to hear the message. It embarrasses them. The things which are destroying the Constitution are the things they have been voting for.
I believe one of the most serious mistakes a President could make would be to weaken the Constitution.
From the time I was a small boy I was taught that the American Constitution is an inspired document. I was also taught that the day will come when the Constitution will be endangered and hang as it were by a single thread. I was taught that we should study the Constitution. . . . I expect to continue my efforts to help protect and safeguard our inspired Constitution.
I quote the great American, J. Edgar Hoover: “I confess to a real apprehension so long as communists are able to secure ministers of the gospel to promote their evil work and espouse a cause that is alien to the religion of Christ and Judaism. I do fear so long as school boards and parents tolerate conditions whereby communists and fellow travelers under the guise of academic freedom can teach our youth a way of life that eventually will destroy the sanctity of the home, that undermines faith in God, that causes them to scorn respect for constituted authority and sabotage our revered Constitution.” (Menace of Communism, p. 11.)
Not cheap politicians but statesmen are needed today. Not opportunists but men and women of principle must be demanded by the people. In this time of great stress and danger we must place [in office] only those dedicated to the preservation of our Constitution, our American Republic, and responsible freedom under God. “Oh, God, give us men with a mandate higher than the ballot box.”
It is not, however, enough to be acquainted with the grave dangers facing these United States. We must also instruct ourselves, and others, in the great spiritual values underlying our divinely inspired Constitution and our American free-enterprise system.
On this basis may I give to you my own personal recommendation of some reading which will help you in the fight to save our Constitution.
First, for a number of years President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., served on the board of trustees of the Foundation for Economic Education while he was a member of the First Presidency. President Clark, as you probably know, was an Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to Mexico. He wrote the famous memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine. In 1923 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle he warned us of the communist-socialist menace and what it was going to do—and he was right. No one in the Church has shown greater insight regarding our Constitution and the socialist-communist threat to it. The Foundation for Economic Education with which he served puts out some of the most enlightening freedom literature available. They also put out a free monthly magazine, entitled The Freeman, which is excellent. They will be happy to send you a free catalog of their literature. May I mention some of the books which they distribute: The Federalist, written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, three of our inspired founding fathers, explaining why the need of a constitution; The Constitution of the United States, by Mussatti; The Cliches of Socialism; The Mainspring of Human Progress, by Weaver; Economics in One Lesson, by Hazlitt; and The Admiral’s Log, by Admiral Ben Moreell, which book is also on the MIA reading list.
The scriptures also tell about our inspired Constitution. If you accept these scriptures, you will automatically reject the counsel of men who depreciate our Constitution. If you use the scriptures as a guide, you know what the Book of Mormon has to say regarding murderous conspiracies in the last day and how we are to awake to our awful situation today (see Ether 8:18–25). I find certain elements in the Church do not like to read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants so much — they have too much to say about freedom.
Today it is becoming an increasing handicap, it seems, to one’s career in government for a man or woman to take seriously his pledge of allegiance to our Constitution.
I urge all to read the solid volume, Stand Fast by Our Constitution [by J. Reuben Clark, Jr.].
They [our forefathers] believed that we must have some government, but it must be bound down by the chains of our Constitution so that it will not slip farther and farther over into the realm of governmentism.
That great and wise American, Thomas Jefferson, warned us of the danger of conferring unwarranted power upon our government administrators in these sobering words:
“. . . Our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go. . . . In questions of power, then, let not more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Let us not be deceived in the sifting days ahead. Let us rally together on principle behind the prophet as guided by the promptings of the Spirit. We should continue to speak out for freedom and against socialism and communism. We should continue to come to the aid of patriots, programs, and organizations that are trying to save our Constitution through every legal and moral means possible.
President McKay has said a lot about our tragic trends towards socialism and communism and the responsibilities liberty-loving people have in defending and preserving our Constitution. (see Conference Report, Apr 1963, pp. 112-13.) Have we read these words from God’s mouthpiece and pondered on them?
It is my firm conviction that the Constitution of this land was established by men whom the God of heaven raised up unto this very purpose. This is part of my religious faith.
I do not believe an American citizen can be patriotic and loyal to his own country and its God-inspired Constitution of freedom without being anti-communist—anti-socialist.
Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any earthly possession. As a United States citizen I believe it is guaranteed in our heaven-inspired Constitution.
Teach them to love their country, and here in America to love the Constitution and the founding fathers, and to know that this is the Lord’s base of operations in these last days, and that that operation will be world-wide.
Every Latter-day Saint has spiritual obligations in four basic areas: his home, his church, his job, and his citizenship responsibility. Each of these areas should receive consistent attention although not necessarily equal time. Are we doing our duty in these important fields? What about our citizenship responsibility — our obligation to safeguard our freedom and preserve the Constitution?
The Prophet Joseph Smith said the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread. Modern-day prophets for the past several decades have been warning us that we have been rapidly moving in that direction. Fortunately, the Prophet Joseph Smith saw the part the elders of Israel would play in this crisis. Will there be some of us who won’t care about saving the Constitution, others who will be blinded by the craftiness of men, and some who will knowingly be working to destroy it? He who has ears to hear and eyes to see can discern by the Spirit and through the words of God’s mouthpiece that our liberties are being taken.
“Our real enemies,” said President [J. Reuben] Clark, “are communism and its running mate, socialism. . . .”
“. . . Its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our Constitutional government.”
[Political and economic rights] are the things we are inclined to take for granted as American citizens.
The rights as listed included the right to worship God in one’s own way, rights to free speech and a free press, the right to assemble and freely to speak our own minds without any fear whatever. There are many countries of this world where you cannot do that today.
The right to petition for grievances, the right to privacy in our homes, the right to trial by jury, and to know that we are innocent until we are proven guilty. The right to move freely at home and abroad, the right to own private property, the right to free elections and personal secret ballot. The right to work in callings and localities of our choice. The right to bargain with our employees and employers. The right to go into business, to compete, to make a profit. The right to bargain for goods and services in a free market. The right to contract about our affairs.
These are an impressive list of rights which lay at the very foundation of the American way of life and preserve the dignity of the individual. Our constitutional government desires to serve the people, and basic in our beliefs is our fundamental belief in God and in the eternal principle of free agency, the right of choice.
We pay lip service to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution without realizing what they are and the danger of ignoring them.
Surely the preservation and enjoyment of the freedoms vouchsafed to us by the Constitution of the United States will require eternal vigilance even to the guarding of it with our lives.
. . . We must ever be on our guard against the unsound theories that would strike at our Constitutional freedoms.
We must ever keep faith with our founding fathers by keeping faith with our Constitution.
I trust that we all have faith in the Constitution of the United States, and that that faith is born of an assurance that this great document came into being through the inspiration of God to wise men, embodying as it does, eternal principles. This nation has a spiritual foundation which must be preserved at any cost of sweat and blood. May we recognize our debt and responsibility and be ever vigilant.
The need for this eternal and constant vigilance is seen in some prophetic words of Daniel Webster, given in 1802:
“Next to correct morals and watchful guardianship over the Constitution is the proper means for its support. No human advantage is indefensible. The fairest productions of man have in themselves or receive from accident a tendency to decay. Unless the Constitution be constantly fostered on the principles which created it, its excellency will fade; and it will feel, even in its infancy, the weakness and decrepitude of age.
“Our form of government is superior to all others, inasmuch as it provides, in a fair and honorable manner for its own amendment. But it requires no gift or prophecy to foresee that this privilege may be seized on by demagogues, to introduce wild and destructive innovations. Under the gentle name of amendments, changes may be proposed which, if unresisted, will undermine the national compact, mar its fairest features, and reduce it finally to a dead letter. It abates nothing of the danger to say that alterations may be trifling and inconsiderable. If the Constitution be picked away by piecemeal, it is gone — and gone as effectually as if some military despot had grasped it at once, trampled it beneath his feet, and scattered its loose leaves in the wild winds.”
If we are to keep faith with our Constitution, we must know it. Since it is the basis of our American way of life and our liberties every American should be familiar with it. We should read it periodically.
How can people who are ignorant of the principles and guarantees of American government stand up in defense of it and our rights under the Constitution? The fundamentals and processes of free government should be known to every school boy — and his parents. No free people can ever survive if they are ignorant of and fail to understand the principles of free government!
And so this great nation has come into being under the inspiration of the Almighty to accomplish his purposes. Through modern revelation we have had made very plain to us something of the mission of America and the establishment of our national Constitution.
The Founding Fathers, I repeat, in order that their new experiment — establishment of a new nation of freemen — make sense, had to turn to religion and to the scriptures. They turned to the prophecies, the Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount.
Then when time came for the establishment of the Constitution, and when the time came for them to issue their Declaration of Independence, a sacred document issued in white heat on the anvil of defiance, they appealed to the Almighty. Both at the opening of that document and at its closing they spoke of eternal truths. They spoke of the fact that men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. At the close they said:
“. . . with a firm reliance on Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
The Founding Fathers, it is true, with superb genius welded together the safeguards of our freedom. It was necessary, however, for them to turn to the scriptures, to religion, to prayer, in order to have this great experiment make sense to them. And so our freedom is God-given. It ante-dates the Founding Fathers.
It is my belief that ours is not just another nation, not just a member of a family of nations. It is a great and glorious nation with a divine mission and it has been brought into being under the inspiration of heaven. I thank God for the knowledge which I have regarding the prophetic history and the prophetic future of this land of America.
It is my firm belief that the Constitution of the land was established by men whom the God of Heaven raised up unto that very purpose. It is my firm belief, also, that the God of Heaven guided the Founding Fathers in establishing it for His particular purposes. But God’s purpose is to build people of character, not physical monuments to their material accumulations.
The founders of this republic had deeply spiritual beliefs. Their concept of man had a solidly religious foundation. They believed “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” [D&C 101:79]. They believed that men were capable of self-government and that it was the job of government to protect freedom and foster private initiative.
The men who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were under no illusion that their work was done. They had carried freedom up to a new high, but had no idea that a pinnacle had been reached, that having reached the summit there was no more to be done. They were confident that we of succeeding generations would carry on.
Along with the political freedom so dearly won came a climate which challenged man’s intellect and ingenuity. People began to move freedom forward along lines possibly not envisaged by the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Freedom from backbreaking toil came with the invention and development of labor-saving devices in factories and on farms.
In the providence of God, governments were intended to be the servants, not the masters of the people. This eternal truth needs to be emphasized and re-emphasized.
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights vouchsafe to all our people the greatest freedom ever enjoyed by the people of any great nation. This system safeguards freedom of individual enterprise, freedom to own property, freedom to start one’s own business and to operate it according to one’s own judgment so long as the enterprise is honorable.
We must return to a love and respect for the basic spiritual concepts upon which this nation has been established. We must study the Constitution and the writings of the founding fathers.
God, through his power has established a free people in this land as a means of helping to carry forward his purposes. . . .
It was here under a free government and a strong nation that protection was provided for his restored Church.
Now God will not permit America, his base of operations, to be destroyed. He has promised protection to this land if we will but serve the God of the land. He has also promised protection to the righteous even, if necessary, to send down fire from heaven to destroy their enemies. (1 Nephi 22.)
No, God’s base of operations will not be destroyed. But it may be weakened and made less effective.
To achieve his purposes the Lord had to have a base of operations. Later he revealed to a modern prophet that the Constitution of this land was established by “wise men” whom the Lord “raised up unto this very purpose.” (See D&C 101:80.) The Lord also directed that the constitutional laws of the land, supporting the principle of freedom, should be upheld and that honest and wise men should be sought for and upheld in public office [D&C 98:10].
I thank God for freedom — the right of choice. I am grateful for this great nation. Every true Latter-day Saint throughout the world loves the USA. The Constitution of this land is part of every Latter-day Saint’s religious faith.
This is not just another nation, not just a member of a family of nations. This is a great and glorious nation with a divine mission and a prophetic history and future. It has been brought into being under the inspiration of heaven.
It is our firm belief, as Latter-day Saints, that the Constitution of this land was established by men whom the God of heaven raised up unto that very purpose. It is our conviction also that the God of heaven guided the founding fathers in establishing it for his particular purpose.
The founders of this republic were deeply spiritual men. They believed men are capable of self-government and that it is the job of government to protect freedom and foster private initiative.
Our earliest American fathers came here with a common objective — freedom of worship and liberty of conscience.
They were familiar with the sacred scriptures, and they believed that liberty is a gift of heaven. To them, man as a child of God emphasized the sacredness of the individual and the interest of a kind Providence in the affairs of men and nations.
These leaders recognized the need for divine guidance and the importance of vital religion and morality in the affairs of men and nations.
We should pay no attention to the recommendations of men who call the Constitution an eighteenth-century agrarian document — who apologize for capitalism and free enterprise. We should refuse to follow their siren song of concentrating, increasingly, the powers of government in the Chief Executive, of delegating American sovereign authority to non-American institutions in the United Nations, and pretending that it will bring peace to the world by turning our armed forces over to a U.N. world-wide police force.
What are these fundamental principles which have allowed the United States to progress so rapidly and yet remain free?
First, a written Constitution clearly defining the limits of government so that government will not become more powerful than the people.
If the Gentiles on this land reject the word of God and conspire to overthrow the liberty and the Constitution, then their doom is fixed, and they “shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.” (3 Nephi 21:11, 14, 21; 1 Nephi 14:6; D&C 84:114, 115, 117.)
Every member of the priesthood should understand the divine plan designed by the Lord to raise up the first free people in modern times. Here is how scripture says it was achieved: . . .
Sixth: Having declared America to be a land of liberty, God undertook to raise up a band of inspired and intelligent leaders who could write a constitution of liberty and establish the first free people in modern times. The hand of God in this undertaking is clearly indicated by the Lord himself, in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in these words:
I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose. . . . (D&C 101:80.)
Seventh: God declared that the United States Constitution was divinely inspired for the specific purpose of eliminating bondage and the violation of the rights and protection which belong to “all flesh.” (D&C 101:77–80.)
Eighth: God placed a mandate upon his people to befriend and defend the constitutional laws of the land and see that the rights and privileges of all mankind are protected. He verified the declaration of the founding fathers, that God created all men free. He also warned against those who would enact laws encroaching upon the sacred rights and privileges of free men. He urged the election of honest and wise leaders and said that evil men and laws were of Satan. (D&C 98:5–10.) . . .
Eleventh: In connection with the attack on the United States, 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, Jul 4, 1854.)
It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will, at the crucial time, successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government.
One of the first considerations given after my appointment to serve as Secretary of Agriculture was to formulate with my close associates and other interested parties a basic statement on agricultural policy. Among the fundamental concepts stated were the following:
“Freedom is a God-given, eternal principle vouchsafed to us under the Constitution. It must be guarded continually as something more precious than life itself.” . . .
. . . How do we stand with reference to our belief in those freedoms safeguarded for us under the Constitution of the United States? What is our attitude toward our government—toward the free enterprise system and our American Way of Life?
. . . I trust you are leaving this institution [Brigham Young University] with faith in the Constitution of the United States.
No true Latter-day Saint can be a Communist or a Socialist because Communist principles run counter to the revealed word of God and to the Constitution of this land which was established by men whom the God of Heaven raised up unto that very purpose [D&C 101:80].
Under our system there has been released great creative capacity, because we have been free, unrestricted. What have we achieved? A standard of living unequalled anywhere in the world. Not because we are smarter, not because we are more brilliant, not because we have greater capacity than people of other nations, but because we have had a system which is superior — a system which was wisely provided by the Founding Fathers. We must protect and safeguard that system. Sometimes we find people who almost apologize for it — the free enterprise system. Of course it is not perfect; it is operated by human beings, but it is the best system in operation in this world today. If we are wise, we will preserve it, we will strengthen it and we will safeguard it for our children and our children’s children.
We have heard that the Prophet Joseph said something about the time when the Constitution would be in danger. We do not know just what turn that will take. He also said something about the Elders of Israel rising to the challenge and helping to save the Constitution of this land. It is entirely possible that that may come about in a rather natural way. Our young people — as they mature and develop and take their positions in industry, in the professions, and in agriculture clear across this land — might represent the balance of power in a time of crisis, when they will stand up and defend those eternal principles upon which this Constitution has been established.
I would to God that every citizen of this land might read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and learn something of the prophecies made regarding this land — the promises made and the conditions upon which they are made — that we might as an American people so live that these great promises could be fully realized; that we might come to know that the Constitution of this land has been established by men whom the God of heaven raised up unto that very purpose.
To every Latter-day Saint, we have a tremendous obligation to be good citizens, to uphold the Constitution of this land, to adhere to its basic concepts, to do all in our power to protect the freedoms and the liberties and the basic rights which are associated with citizenship. The Lord has said even in our day, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that we have an obligation. He has not only spoken about the Constitution being inspired, he has said that if we are to be good Latter-day Saints, we also have to take an interest in this country in which we live and we are to see to it that good men are upheld and sustained in public office.
Some day we may be called upon as a people to exert great influence in helping to preserve the liberties and freedoms and blessings vouchsafed to us as a people in the Constitution of this land. Some of our inspired leaders have had words to say on that subject. I hope and pray that we will be ready when the time comes — in fact, I am inclined to feel sometimes it is going to be a gradual process. Maybe it is underway now. We will not be able to discharge our obligations unless we adhere strictly to the standards and ideals of the church and kingdom of God.
Free agency is an eternal principle vouchsafed to us in the perfect law of liberty — the gospel of Jesus Christ. Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any earthly possession. It is guaranteed in our heaven-inspired Constitution. Yes, freedom is an inherited, inalienable, divine gift to men. . . .
The inspired founding fathers formulated a system of government with checks and balances protecting the freedom of the people. But even this was not enough. The first order of the new congress was to draw up a Bill of Rights — ten amendments guaranteeing for all time the fundamental freedoms that the American people insist are theirs by the will of God, not by the will of government.
Yes, the founders of this nation bequeathed to us a heritage of freedom and unity that is our most priceless political possession. . . .
. . . Under the constitutional concept, powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people [U.S. Const. Amend. X]. . . .
The founding fathers, inspired though they were, did not invent the priceless blessing of individual freedom and respect for the dignity of man. No, that priceless gift to mankind sprang from the God of heaven and not from government. Yes, the founding fathers welded together the safeguards as best they could, but freedom must be continually won to be enjoyed. Let us never forget these facts.
This is America — the land of opportunity! A land choice above all other lands. Let us keep it so! . . .
. . . It is my firm conviction that the Constitution of this land was established by men whom the God of heaven raised up unto this very purpose.
The days ahead are sobering and challenging and will demand the faith, prayers, and loyalty of every American. Our challenge is to keep America strong and free — strong socially, strong economically, and above all, strong spiritually, if our way of life is to endure. There is no other way. Only in this course is there safety for our nation.
Second to their duty to God, youth should realize their duty to our country. They should love and honor the Constitution of the United States, the basic concepts and principles upon which this nation has been established. Yes, they need to develop a love for our free institutions.
The Founding Fathers did not invent this priceless boon of individual freedom and respect for the dignity of man. That great gift to mankind sprang from the Creator and not from government. But the Founding Fathers with superb genius, I believe, welded together certain safeguards which we must always protect to the very limit if we would preserve and strengthen the blessings of freedom.
. . . They were guided by allegiance to basic principles. These principles must be kept in mind always by those who are here today and reaping the benefits and the blessings which they so wisely provided. We must be careful that we do not trade freedom for security. Whenever that is attempted, usually we lose both. There is always a tendency when nations become mature for the people to become more interested in preserving their luxuries and their comforts than in safeguarding the ideals and principles which made these comforts and luxuries possible.
Today I would like to propose four questions which every Latter-day Saint might well ask as he attempts to appraise any program, policy, or idea promoted by any would-be political leader. I mention these because I think they will provide a safeguard in electing to office men who will meet the requirements which the Lord has set forth in the revelations.
Firstly, is the proposal, the policy, or the idea being promoted right as measured by the gospel of Jesus Christ? I assure you it is much easier for one to measure a proposed policy by the gospel of Jesus Christ if he has accepted the gospel and is living it.
Secondly, is it right as measured by the Constitution of this land and the glorious principles embodied in that Constitution? Now that suggests that we must read and study the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, that we might know what principles are embodied therein.
Thirdly, we might well ask the question: Is it right as measured by the counsel of the living oracles of God? It is my conviction, my brethren and sisters, that these living oracles are not only authorized, but are obligated to give counsel to this people on any subject which is vital to the welfare of this people and the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. So, that measure should be applied. Is it right as measured by the counsel of the living oracles of God?
Fourthly, what will be the effect on the morale and the character of the people if this or that policy is adopted? After all, as a Church we are interested in building men and women, building character, because character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next. It must never be sacrificed for expediency.
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. (D&C 98:10.)
Now that is a commandment to his Church and to his Saints. To me it means that we have a responsibility as Latter-day Saints to use our influence so honest men and wise men and good men will be elected to public office in the community, in the county, in the state, and in the nation. To me this commandment of God is just as binding upon the Latter-day Saints as is the law of tithing, or the Word of Wisdom, or any other commandment which the God of heaven has given us.
As I read that for the first time some years ago I thought, “What an indictment of corrupt would-be political leaders in many parts of the world — demagogues who deal in half-truths, innuendos, and falsehoods! Here the God of heaven has pointed out the type of men he wants elected to public office among his people.” It is not enough, my brethren and sisters, just to stand on the sidelines and criticize what is taking place, and to point the finger of scorn at some political leader. It is our job, our duty, and our responsibility to take an active interest in these matters, and carry out the admonition and the commandment which God has given us to see to it that men of character — good men, as measured by the standards of the gospel — are elected to public office.
So, today, I would like to throw out a challenge to the elders of Israel, my brethren of the priesthood, that we put forth an effort to prepare ourselves for statesmanlike work. The Prophet Joseph, as you will recall, had something to say regarding the important part which the elders of Israel would play in the safeguarding, if not the saving, of the Constitution of this land.
It is my conviction that only in this land, under this God-inspired Constitution, under an environment of freedom, could it have been possible to have established the Church and kingdom of God and restored the gospel in its fulness. It is our responsibility, my brethren and sisters, to see that this freedom is maintained, so that the Church can flourish in the future.
I am grateful for the Constitution of this land. I am grateful that the Founding Fathers made it clear that our allegiance runs to that Constitution and the glorious eternal principles embodied therein. Our allegiance does not run to any man, to a king, or a dictator, or a president, although we revere and honor those whom we elect to high office. Our allegiance runs to the Constitution and to the principles embodied therein. The Founding Fathers made that clear and provided well for checks and balances and safeguards in an attempt to guarantee this freedom to those of us who live in this land.
I am grateful that the God of heaven saw fit to put his stamp of approval upon the Constitution and to indicate that it had come into being through wise men whom he raised up unto this very purpose. He asked the Saints, even in the dark days of their persecution and hardship to continue to seek for redress from their enemies “According,” he said, “to the laws and constitution . . . which I have suffered to be established and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh.” (D&C 101:77.) And then he made this most impressive declaration:
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 101:80.)
It is gratifying that the Constitutions in many of the other lands of our neighbors in the Americas are patterned very much after this divinely-appointed Constitution, which the God of heaven directed in the founding of this nation. It isn’t any wonder, therefore, that Joseph Smith, the Prophet—a truly great American—referring to the Constitution, said,
“[It] is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 147.)
My one fear, and my one anxiety is that I may inadvertently sometime do something or say something that will cast an unfavorable light or bring discredit upon the Church and kingdom of God and the people whom I love so dearly, and upon this great nation which we all love. I pray that this may never happen.
I love this nation of which we are a part. To me it is not just another nation, not just a member of a family of nations. It is a great and glorious nation with a divine mission and it has been brought into being under the inspiration of heaven. It is truly a land choice above all others. I thank God for the knowledge which we have regarding the prophetic history and the prophetic future of this great land of America. . . .
I am grateful for the Founding Fathers of this land and for the freedom they have vouchsafed to us. I am grateful that they recognized, as great leaders of this nation have always recognized, that the freedom which we enjoy did not originate with the Founding Fathers; that this glorious principle, this great boon of freedom and respect for the dignity of man, came as a gift from the Creator. The Founding Fathers, it is true, with superb genius welded together the safeguards of these freedoms. It was necessary, however, for them to turn to the scriptures, to religion, in order to have this great experiment make sense to them. And so our freedom is God-given. It antedates the Founding Fathers.
In concluding, I said: “I love this nation. It is my firm belief that the God of Heaven raised up the founding fathers and inspired them to establish the Constitution of this land. This is part of my religious faith.” To me this is not just another nation. It is a great and glorious nation with a divine mission to perform for liberty-loving people everywhere.
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee to all our people the greatest freedom ever enjoyed by the public of any great nation. This system guarantees freedom of individual enterprise, freedom to own property, freedom to start one’s own business and to operate it according to one’s own judgment so long as the enterprise is honorable. The individual has power to produce beyond his needs, to provide savings for the future protection of himself and family. He can live where he wishes and pick any job he wants and select any educational opportunity.
We stand firmly in support of the principles enunciated in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and every Latter-day Saint would defend to the last those eternal principles.
This same modern prophet [Joseph Smith] said—even though he knew he would suffer martyrdom in this land — ”The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner” [TPJS 147].
According to this prophet’s contemporaries, he foresaw the time when the destiny of the nation would be in danger and would hang as by a thread. Thank God he did not see the thread break. He also indicated the important part his people should yet play in standing for the principles embodied in these sacred documents — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
And so, every true Latter-day Saint has a deep love and respect for the Constitution of this land.
Twenty-five years later, another prophet [Jacob], son of the first one quoted [Lehi], was privileged to see into the future regarding this land and to proclaim that God would fortify the land against other nations; that he that fought against Zion would perish; that no king would ever be raised on these shores; that the Lord would be their king and be a light unto the people forever who accepted and listened to his words.
And so this great nation, has come into being under the inspiration of the Almighty to accomplish his purposes. Through modern revelation we have had made very plain to us something of the mission of America and the establishment of our national Constitution in this dispensation.
In framing that great document which Gladstone declared “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man,” our early leaders called upon a kind Providence. Later the product of the constitutional convention was referred to as our God-inspired Constitution. They had incorporated within its sacred paragraphs eternal principles supported by the holy scriptures with which they were familiar. It was established “for the rights and protection of all flesh according to just and holy principles” [D&C 101:77]. Later the Lord himself declared, “I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” [D&C 101:80].