Gordon B. Hinckley
Quotes on Freedom, America, Constitution, Liberty, Etc…
As government increasingly assumes the burden of caring for all human needs, the independence of our social services and the doctrine which lies behind that position will become more and more important.
The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems.
I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras.
No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death. The Book of Mormon is an affirmation of the Old Testament proverb: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
The God of heaven spoke to these people of the Americas through prophets, telling them where true security could be found: “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12).
We must never give up. We must not become discouraged. We must never surrender to the forces of evil. We can and must maintain the standards for which this Church has stood since it was organized. There is a better way than the way of the world. If it means standing alone, we must do it. But we shall not be alone. I am confident that there are millions of people throughout the world who grieve over the evil they see about them. They love the virtuous, the good, and the uplifting. They too will raise their voices and give of their strength to the preservation of those values which are worthy of maintenance and cultivation.
The Constitution under which we live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law.
I do not know what the future holds. I do not wish to sound negative, but I wish to remind you of the warnings of scripture and the teachings of the prophets which we have had constantly before us.
I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn.
I cannot dismiss from my mind the grim warnings of the Lord as set forth in the 24th chapter of Matthew.
I am familiar, as are you, with the declarations of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping and mourning and lamentation (see D&C 112:24).
Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it.
We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish.
Reformers worked to change the church, notably such men as Luther, Melanchthon, Hus, Zwingli, and Tyndale. These were men of great courage, some of whom suffered cruel deaths because of their beliefs. Protestantism was born with its cry for reformation. When that reformation was not realized, the reformers organized churches of their own. They did so without priesthood authority. Their one desire was to find a niche in which they might worship God as they felt He should be worshiped.
While this great ferment was stirring across the Christian world, political forces were also at work. Then came the American Revolutionary War, resulting in the birth of a nation whose constitution declared that government should not reach its grasping hand into matters of religion. A new day had dawned, a glorious day. Here there was no longer a state church. No one faith was favored above another.
After centuries of darkness and pain and struggle, the time was ripe for the restoration of the gospel. Ancient prophets had spoken of this long-awaited day.
What a singular and remarkable group they were. As I look across the world today, I search in vain for such a group as walked together across the stage of history when this nation was born. It is my conviction that while we have had a few great leaders since then, there has not been before or since so large a group of talented, able, dedicated, and inherently wise and good men as those whom we call the Founding Fathers of this nation.
[The Constitution] is the keystone of our nation. It is the guarantee of our liberty. That original document, with the Bill of Rights, constitutes the charter of our freedom. Through all of the years that have followed we have had some ambitious men who have sought to subvert the great principles of the Constitution, but somehow we have endured one crisis after another. We have been involved in terrible wars during this, the bloodiest of all centuries in the history of man. All of this is part of the miracle that is America, the struggle, the travail, the bitterness, the jealousies, the cynicism, and the criticism. But beyond and above it all is the wonder of a nation that for more than two centuries has remained free and independent and strong, the envy of the world, the hope of the world, the protection of free men everywhere, the manifestation of the power of the Almighty.
On one occasion a journalist asked me about my belief regarding the Constitution. I replied that I felt it was inspired, that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were brought forth under the inspiration of God to establish and maintain the freedom of the people of this nation. I said it and I believe it to be true. There is a miracle in its establishment that cannot be explained in any other way.”
Evoking images of the Mayflower pilgrims and of George Washington at Valley Forge, Hinckley said the United States was founded on “an unequivocal trust in the power of the Almighty to guide and defend us.”
Revered as a prophet by members of the Mormon Church, Hinckley decried the disappearance of family prayer and attempts to remove reference to deity from society.
At times seeming to suppress tears, Hinckley recalled his visits to the American military cemetery in France, where his brother is buried.
“As I have stood before the cross that marks his grave, I have thanked God for the cause for which he died, for the great and eternal concepts” of human dignity, liberty and freedom to worship, speak and assemble.
Those concepts were handed down by God to the framers of the U.S. Constitution, Hinckley said.
“I pray that America may always be worthy of [God’s] blessing. There is no place for arrogance among us. There is no place for conceit or egotism. As we look to God, we will grow in strength.”
There are many little things that test our willingness to accept the word of the prophets. Jesus said, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37.)
So it has been through the history of mankind, and so it is today. In our own communities, even here in Utah, we have experienced some of this. President Grant carried to his grave a deep sense of sorrow that, contrary to his counsel, the people of Utah cast the final vote, in 1934, that repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
I believe in America. I am grateful for the Constitution under which this nation lives and moves and has its being. I am profoundly grateful that somehow for more than two centuries of time we have existed as a nation and grown to become the strongest and most free in the entire world. I am grateful for those men whom the God in Heaven raised up and inspired and who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to establish this nation and its government. I believe in America — one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We are, of course, not without fault. We have more than our share of crime and of every other evil to be found on the earth. I fear that we have become an arrogant people, but when all is said and done, there is no other nation quite like this one.
I should like to say a few words about America…. No land is without its beauty, no people without their virtues, and I hope that you who come from elsewhere will pardon my saying a few words concerning my own native land, America. I know that she has problems. We have heard so much of them for so long. But surely this is a good land, a choice land, a chosen land. To me it is a miracle, a creation of the Almighty….
I was stirred in my heart by the words of our late, great President Harold B. Lee, who, speaking to a group such as this, said:
‘This nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail…. I have faith in America. You and I must have faith in America if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (Deseret News, 27 October 1973.)
I doubt not that we shall have days of trial…. But I am certain that if we will emphasize the greater good and turn our time and talents from vituperative criticism, from constantly looking for evil, and lift our sights to what may be done to build strength and goodness in our nation, America will continue to go forward with the blessing of the Almighty and stand as an ensign of strength and peace and generosity to all the world.