Overview of America

Lesson 4

Topics: America, The U.S. Constitution, Sovereignty, Liberty

In this lesson we will review some aspects of America that made it great, its inspired founding, as well as some of the troubles we face as a nation today. Unfortunately today America, as a people, has allowed themselves to become complacent and ignorant and have adopted many principles that are anti-Liberty and opposite of God’s Law and the principles of righteousness. In our cities, states and national government the majority of the people are voting for corrupt leaders instead of liberty-minded statesmen. Let us be reminded of what is required for America, or any nation, to remain free.

Ezra Taft Benson said:

To us, this is not just another nation not just a member of the 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. Familiar with the sacred scriptures, 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.

To the peoples who should inhabit this blessed land of the Americas, the Western Hemisphere, an ancient prophet uttered this significant promise and solemn warning: “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, . . .

“For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands, wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God….” (See Ether 2:12, 10.)

The establishment of this great Christian nation, with a spiritual foundation, was all in preparation for the restoration of the gospel, following the long night of apostasy. Then in 1820 the time had arrived. God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ made their glorious appearance. I give you a few words from the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was the instrument in God’s hands in restoring the gospel and establishing the true Church of Christ again upon the earth.

(Ezra Taft Benson, America, A Choice Land)

Again from Ezra Taft Benson:

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. (Ezra Taft Benson, Title of Liberty 176; from an address given at Los Angeles, CA, 11 Dec 1961)

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. (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 602)

No doubt America has been blessed with many years of freedom, in comparison to other nations in the history of this world, but that freedom can only last as long as the people are moral and righteous.

W. Cleon Skousen wrote about what he called the “100 Things Destroying America“:

The average citizen finds his orderly world eroding or even crumbling beneath his feet. His savings have recently become a very slippery kind of security. Taxes, inflation, and high interest rates are ravenously gnawing away at his dwindling standard of living. His hopes of a pleasant and safe retirement are proving illusionary. He has a feeling that he is being propagandized. programmed and over-governed to the point where his personal freedom seems to be shrinking on all fronts.

Who has been tampering with the soul of America? We are all of us responsible. If Washington has been making us more socialist, it’s because we, as citizens, have been asking Washington to do so.

Skousen suggested that some of the things destroying America include: A deteriorating money system, a rapidly national debt, policy of deficit spending, overwhelming burden of stifling taxation, the strangulation of the free-enterprise system with over-regulation and over-taxation, a highly discriminatory welfare program now on the verge of bankruptcy, billions in foreign aid, corporate bail outs, and many more issues which he puts into multiple classifications:

  • Unconstitutional Expenditure of Federal Funds
  • Unconstitutional Expansion of Presidential Powers
  • Unconstitutional Expansion of Judicial Power
  • Unconstitutional Withholding of Land From the States
  • Forces Wrecking World Stability and Fostering Predatory War
  • Impact of Many Supreme Court Cases on the Security of the United States
  • Unconstitutional Regulatory Agencies

Skousen also suggests a remedy for the problems facing America:

The remedy requires that Americans rediscover the genius of the founders’ original success formula and then elect the kind of men and women who will restore the formula. This can happen the moment the majority of the men and women in Congress realize that the original Constitutional and a free-market economy are the only way to go.

Part of the remedy could be adopted immediately, part of it set up on a long-range basis. Stabilizing the dollar with precious metal backing and deregulating business should be undertaken immediately. Then the phasing out of unconstitutional programs could follow just as soon as the private sector is able to begin absorbing the two or three million people who will be coming off the Federal and State payrolls.

In his talk entitled “America at the Crossroads“, Ezra Taft Benson suggested five things we can do to make America great again (this would also apply to other nations):

I wonder if we in America are rearing a generation that seemingly does not understand the fundamentals of God’s commandments or the principles upon which our country was founded. These principles are the secret to America’s greatness! The central issue before the people today is the same issue that inflamed the hearts of our Founding Father patriots in 1776 to strike out for independence. That issue is whether the individual exists for the state or whether the state exists for the individual.

Now you ask what you can do as one individual or family to influence your community and thereby contribute to a cure of the ailments that afflict our body politic today? I know of no better question a citizen could ask himself than that. May I suggest a few things which I believe would be beneficial.

1. May I urge you to keep your own families strong. A nation is no stronger than the sum total of its families. If you accept the truth of that statement, then you must conclude that the American family has serious problems… The answer is for both [the father and the mother] to teach their children fundamental spiritual principles that will instill faith in God, faith in one’s country, and faith in one’s family.

2. I would respectfully urge you to live by the fundamental principles of work, thrift, and self-reliance and to teach your children by your example. It was never intended in God’s divine plan that man should live off the labor of someone else. Live within your own earnings. Put a portion of those earnings regularly into savings. Avoid unnecessary debt… You can ask God’s blessings and his protecting care on you and your family. You are contributing to the solution of our country’s ills, rather than contributing to its problems.

3. May I humbly urge you to learn about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other basic documents of our great country so that you can sustain it and the free institutions set up under it. It is a part of my faith that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God. I reverence it akin to the revelations that have come from God. The Lord declared he established it “by the hands of wise men whom [he] raised up unto this very purpose.” (D&C 101:80.) Referring to the principles thereof, the Prophet Joseph Smith, dedicating the Kirtland Temple, prayed it should be “established forever.” (D&C 109:54.)

4. May I urge you to seek out good, wise, and honest men for public office, and then support them with your vote. You will note the conditions wherein the Lord counseled that we should support men in political office. They ought to be “good,” “wise,” and “honest.” Some men are good and honest, but not wise. These qualities combined provide statesmanship. I’ve said it many times: what we need today are men with a mandate higher than the ballot box!

5. I would urge you to heed strictly the commandments of God, particularly the Ten Commandments. As long as we regard God as our Sovereign and uphold his laws, we shall be free from bondage and be protected from external danger.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, fellow citizens of this great nation, there are sovereign remedies for the debilitating diseases that are eating away the vitals of our political, social, economic, and religious lives. Those remedies are: keep the commandments of God and uphold the basic principles upon which this country was founded.

America has a spiritual foundation. But today she stands at the crossroads, The crisis before her is a crisis of faith; the need is for greater spirituality and a return to the basic principles upon which this nation was founded.

The days ahead are sobering and challenging and will require the faith, prayers, loyalty, and courage of every citizen.

May God’s blessings be upon us that your generation will be equal to the task.

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Lessons on Liberty – Table of Contents