Quote Category: ‘Laws of the Land’

We are charged with the duty of sustaining and upholding the laws of the land. It is dishonest to intentionally violate the law. It doesn’t make any difference how one may feel personally about the fairness or justness of the rules which have been established by society, one’s duty is to respect and sustain the law. The commission of major crimes is condemned by nearly all such persons, yet some will intentionally violate lesser laws, such as traffic ordinances, without any sense of guilt.

Is it because of fear of the penalties of law that men observe statutes and ordinances? Is it only because of the great commandments “Thou shalt not!” that he keeps the moral code? I am of the opinion that there are higher motives – that most persons have a real sense of moral responsibility and duty. . . .

It is not fear of the law, it is not what others may think, but rather the sense of responsibility which causes man to live the higher moral law. He has his free agency, and most men know the difference between right and wrong and are willing to follow that which is right.

( Source: “Intelligence Quickens Knowledge”, Baccalaureate Address, University of California, Berkley, California, 7 June 1963 )

As Latter-Day Saints we are supposed to honor, uphold and sustain the law. That is one of our Articles of Faith. We can hardly say that we will be Latter-Day Saints when we are out of a car and forget the rule of our religion when we are in a car.

If we are Latter-Day Saints, we should be Latter-Day Saints all the time, whether in a car, or on the football field, on the basketball floor, in the classroom, or in our own homes. Our religion is for all the time.

( Source: “Our Automobile Manners”, Youth Fireside Series, 10 April 1962 )

Early in this dispensation the Lord made clear the position his restored church should take with respect to civil government. In the revelation he gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith, he said: “And now, verily I say unto you concerning the . . . law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, [that it] belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you . . . in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land.” (D&C 98:4–6.)

Every Latter-day Saint should sustain, honor, and obey the constitutional law of the land in which he lives.

( Source: “Guidelines to Carry Forth the Work of God in Holiness” 4-5 )

They were also advised that they were to uphold the constitutional law of the land, for it has been established by the will of God, therefore we are justified “in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; and as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil” [D&C 98:6–7].

When we abide in the law which the Lord has approved, then we are free. It was his mighty hand which directed the founders of the government of the United States and gave this nation the constitution in the beginning. . . . The constitutional law was given by inspiration for the purpose of protecting the rights of the citizens of the country. The Lord delights in freedom.

( Source: Church History and Modern Revelation 1:433 )

No Latter-day Saint can be true to his country, true to his Church, true to his God, who will violate the laws which relate to the moral welfare and the spiritual advancement of mankind. The Latter-day Saints should uphold the law everywhere. And it is time that all of us – the leaders of this country, the politicians, the statesmen, the leaders in civic affairs in the state and in the cities, as well as parents and private citizens should so speak of and so uphold the constitutional law of the land that there will everywhere be a renewal of respect for it and a revival of the virtues of honor, honesty, and integrity.

( Source: “Honor, Honesty, Integrity” 566 )

Our twelfth Article of Faith says:

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. . . .

. . . The three significant words used in the 12th Article of Faith express the proper attitude of the membership of the Church toward law. These words are obey, honor and sustain. . . .

We obey law from a sense of right.

We honor law because of its necessity and strength to society.

We sustain law by keeping it in good repute.

( Source: Conference Report, Apr 1937, 27-28 )

When the Constitution of our country is assailed, openly or subtly, by those who have no understanding of the purpose of God regarding this great country, it behooves those who do understand to consider seriously and faithfully the benefits that will flow to us by honoring and sustaining the principles of government that were divinely established. . . .

There is only one way whereby we may enjoy peace and happiness, and that is by observing the law of our land, and by sustaining the principles embodied in the Constitution which was inspired by our Heavenly Father at the inception of this great government. So, as Latter-day Saints, we may know that no man is a faithful member of this Church who lends himself in any way to break down that organized system of laws that has been prepared for the good of all mankind. . . .

I say to you: Sustain the Constitution of the United States, and let not our voices be heard among those that deride or would violate the Constitution that is so important for us and for all men.

I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for his advice to us that we support the Constitution of the United States and maintain the liberty that we enjoy under it.

( Source: “Perpetuating Liberty” 93-94 )

I felt that on this occasion, and at this time, when there is so much unrest in our land, that I would like to read to you what our people conceived to be their duty to the government under which they lived. We still believe that there is only one way whereby we may enjoy peace and happiness, and that is by observing the constitutional law of our land, and by sustaining that constitutional law that was inspired by our heavenly Father at the inception of this great government. There are those who are misguided in the belief that they may organize groups and take into their own hands the punishment of those who have differed from them in their ideas of religion or government. We may well understand that men who do that come in conflict with the orderly system that our heavenly Father has decreed should govern the children of men. . . . I am grateful that I belong to a Church that has been directed by our heavenly Father to observe the constitutional law of the land.

( Source: Conference Report, Oct 1924, 47-48 )

It is the duty of every man and every woman who is worthy of the name, Latter-day Saint, to give such information to the officers of the land as will enable them to enforce the law and put aside the wickedness that has developed so rapidly since the great World War [WWI]. We not only believe in honoring the law, we not only believe in obeying the law, but we believe in sustaining the law, and that can only [be] obtain[ed] by individual service. . . . This is our country, our heavenly Father gave it to us, and he expects each of us to show our appreciation of our birthright by helping in every possible way to purify society, and to develop those traits of character, and those virtues, that will enrich the community and prepare an environment for those who are now growing up and those who are yet unborn. . . .

. . . I do beg of you, my brethren and sisters, that you will appreciate, and sense fully the wonderful gifts of our heavenly Father, your mountain homes, your valley homes, your plain homes, your heritage, and the grand flag that represents the liberty of the greatest Nation upon the earth, and represents the combined wisdom of the very men whom our Father says he raised up to give to us the Constitution of this favored land. When we see that starry flag, men should uncover their heads in reverence, and our sisters should evidence their appreciation of it. Wherever we go, let us keep in our hearts this thought: this is the land of Zion, dedicated for the blessing and the uplift of mankind.

( Source: “Progress of the M.I.A. – Their Slogans” 902-04 )

That was the voice of him now stilled in death [Abraham Lincoln], who gave his life because of his desire for the perpetuation of the liberty that was guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. He was unafraid. When the duty was placed upon him to battle for the liberties of mankind, he dedicated his life to that purpose, and in due time, our Father in heaven accepted his offering, and his name is emblazoned upon the pages of history as a great and noble man who dared to do right, and his praises will be sung and his virtues extolled throughout all time.

I am grateful that there is inherent in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a determination to sustain the laws of the land. I am grateful for the government that our Heavenly Father gave to us, for he has said that he raised up wise men to prepare for us the Constitution of this great nation.

( Source: “Lincoln… and This Land” 77 )

It is pleasing indeed, to me, that the Lord not only inspired men to prepare the Constitution but that he made record of the fact that he did raise them up for that purpose. In that particular we are peculiar as a people, for we believe that the Constitution was inspired by our heavenly Father. It is marvelous to contemplate what has occurred since that day . . . when wise men and great men gathered together and counseled with each other to bring about the document that is said to be the greatest palladium of human rights that the world has ever seen. . . . The Lord referred here [D&C 101] to the Constitution of the United States, and it is evident that he was looking down into the future; for he was preparing the way for the bringing forth of his own Church, and he called attention to the fact that in the preparation of the Constitution it was to be such an instrument that men would be required to observe it, if they observed his laws for he said, [D&C] Sec. 58, par. 21: “He that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.” . . . We are loyal to this country and to its institutions—and have evidenced that by sending more than thirteen thousand of our sons to assist in this great conflict: and mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who remain at home are giving of their substance. . . .

. . . The Constitution was so framed that every one might worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, and we see the result of it in the wonderful blessing that has been poured out upon this most favored of all lands.

. . . When our Father in heaven inspired men to write the Constitution, and give unto us the great charter that vouchsafed to us the liberty we enjoy, he did it in order that men might develop and be free, as the gospel of Jesus Christ intends that all men shall be. . . . They did not understand that underlying this apparent peacefulness, in this great land, there was a fixed determination that men should be free; that God himself had written it, as it were by his own finger, in the Constitution of our great government, . . . and then, when the time came, he inspired his sons to rally around Old Glory and, if need be, give their lives that liberty might be perpetuated in the earth.

. . . On this day, so near the anniversary of the birth of that great document, the Constitution of the United States, it is fitting that we should assemble ourselves together in commemoration of it. It is proper that the governors of the several states of this nation, and the mayors of cities, should call attention to it. On next Tuesday, in the city of Salt Lake, here in the valleys of the mountains, and I presume in other cities, but in this city in our public schools and high schools there will be delivered addresses to the children explaining to them the birth of the Constitution, and it will be brought to their attention in a more forceful way, perhaps, than it has ever been before.

These things are fundamental. The real purpose is that the children of men may learn to observe the laws of man, and observing those laws fulfill the requirement of our Heavenly Father to obey him and keep his commandments. So the government of the United States was begun under the direction of our Father in heaven, as declared by his own word of mouth to be an example unto the nations of the earth, and the liberties that we enjoy are pointed out in a most forceful way to the children of men. . . .

Today this wonderful land is not only a land of liberty and hope to us, but there goes out from these shores across the mighty ocean to other peoples encouragement in the struggle that they are making, that they may have something to do with the government that directs their destinies.

( Source: Journal History of the Church, 15 Sep 1918, 4 )

Perhaps there is nothing of greater importance, next to our spiritual growth, than a determination on the part of the Latter-day Saints to observe the laws of our country. . . .

One of the Articles of our Faith [no. 12] declares that we believe in sustaining the law and supporting the rulers.

( Source: “President Heber J. Grant’s Conference Message” 677-78 )

I pray for the people of the world; not only for the Latter-day Saints, but I pray God’s blessings upon every loyal, patriotic man and woman that is endeavoring to do right, and to uphold the laws of the countries where they reside. I pray God’s blessings upon the President of these United States of America. I thank God for the loyalty and the patriotism of the Latter-day Saints. I thank God that we believe that the constitution of our country was given to us under the inspiration of the Living God, and that the Lord supported George Washington and the patriot fathers of this country. I pray that God will inspire us to continue loyal and true to him, to our country, and to its institutions; and that we may in very deed preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by our acts; that, as we grow in years and increase in understanding, we may grow in the power and ability to live the Gospel, that our example of integrity, of honesty, of loyalty to God and country may inspire others to investigate the message of life and salvation.

( Source: Conference Report, October 1924, p. 10 )

We are told . . . that no man need break the laws of the land who will keep the laws of God. . . . The law of the land, which all have no need to break, is that law which is the Constitutional law of the land, and that is as God himself has defined it. And whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil. Now it seems to me that this makes this matter so clear that it is not possible for any man who professes to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make any mistake, or to be in doubt as to the course he should pursue under the command of God in relation to the observance of the laws of the land. I maintain that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ever been faithful to the constitutional laws of our country. . . .

I ask myself, What law have you broken? What constitutional law have you not observed? I am bound not only by allegiance to the government of the United States, but by the actual command of God Almighty, to observe and obey every constitutional law of the land, and without hesitancy I declare to this congregation that I have never violated, nor transgressed any law, I am not amenable to any penalties of the law, because I have endeavored from my youth up to be a law-abiding citizen, and not only so, but to be a peacemaker, a preacher of righteousness, and not only to preach righteousness by word, but by example. . . . If lawmakers have a mind to violate their oath, break their covenants and their faith with the people, and depart from the provisions of the Constitution where is the law human or divine, which binds me, as an individual, to outwardly and openly proclaim my acceptance of their acts?

( Source: Journal of Discourses 23:70-71 )

Well, Governor, so far as I am concerned personally, I am not in conflict with any of the laws of the country. I have obeyed the laws as faithfully and conscientiously as I can thus far, and I am not here [Utah State Penitentiary] because of disobedience of any law. I am here wrongfully convicted and wrongfully sentenced.

. . . We honor the law administered rightfully.

( Source: “Gov. West Is Baffled” 4 )

The Lord . . . has spoken concerning our Government and Constitution, and he has said — “Ye are justified in maintaining the Constitution and laws of the land, for they make you free, and the Gospel maketh you free; and you shall seek to sustain good and wise men for rulers, and whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil.” . . . The laws of Heaven command us not to uphold and sustain men, except they are good men, who will sustain the Constitution of our country; and we are fulfilling the revelations in this respect as in many others, and we are carrying out the requirements of the Constitution of the United States.

( Source: Journal of Discourses 7:104 )

I am glad and my soul rejoices in these things, and I believe that the people are ready to shoulder their guns and walk into these canyons and line them from here to Fort Bridger in defence of the Constitution of the United States and the rights which both the laws of God and man guarentee [sic] to us.

( Source: Journal History of the Church, 27 Sep 1857, 4 )

Do not permit any of these abuses with which we have to cope, to tempt you to retaliate in kind, or to violate any Constitutional law of the land. You will remember that Joseph Smith has said that that sacred instrument was given by inspiration of God, and it becomes our bounden duty to sustain it in all its provisions. . . .

During the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith he predicted that the time would come when it would devolve upon the Latter-day Saints to uplift, defend and maintain the Constitution of the United States. Recent events in our Territory have given great significance to this prediction, and have brought it forcibly to the minds of all who have heard concerning it. These events appear to be forcing us into the exact position so plainly described by the Prophet through the spirit of prophecy. Attempts are now being made to destroy our rights under the Constitution, and to effect this, that instrument — which the Prophet Joseph Smith said was given by inspiration of God — is being trampled upon by those who should be its administrators and guardians. This compels us to contend for constitutional principles. We must uphold them to the best of our ability. An attack has been made upon our religion, and it appears to be determined that we shall either abandon it or be visited with the most severe pains and penalties. Under the cover of this attack upon the principle of patriarchal marriage, we are denied the most of the rights which belong to freemen, and which our ancestors enjoyed for ages before even they were enunciated in writing in the Constitution of the United States. For proof of this we need but refer to our right to be tried only by a jury of our peers — a right which men of our race have enjoyed from the most remote times. Our religion is made the pretext for this deprivation of rights, and for bitter threats against the few remaining liberties which we possess. To preserve these liberties, and to regain the rights of which we are already unjustly deprived, we must contend earnestly, manfully, legally and constitutionally.

. . . We have rights under the Constitution, and however much these may be denied to us, it is still our bounden duty to contend for them, not only in behalf of ourselves, but for all our fellow citizens and for our posterity, and for humanity generally throughout the world. Were we to do less than this, we would fail in performing the mission assigned to us, and be recreant to the high trust which God has reposed in us. . . .

. . . And while we at present are in circumstances that are painful, and that have been brought about by the action of inconsiderate, unreflecting and, in many instances, wicked and unscrupulous men, some of whom are officials, yet we have never felt like wavering in our fidelity to our government, nor like ignoring the principles of equal rights guaranteed by that sacred palladium of human liberty—the Constitution of the United States. . . .

We repeat, that we desire that all men should be aware of the fact that we have been the upholders of the Constitution and laws enacted in pursuance of that sacred instrument. We still entertain the same patriotic disposition, and propose to continue acting in conformity with it to the last. Neither have we any desire to come in active conflict even with statutes that we deem opposed to the Constitution both in letter and spirit. . . . Were we to make such a surrender, our conduct in that respect would not be in harmony with the guaranties [sic] of the Constitution, which we are in duty bound to uphold.

( Source: Messages of the First Presidency 3:12-14, 16, 19, 30 )

It is said in the Doctrine and Covenants, that he that keepeth the laws of God, hath no need to break the laws of the land [D&C 58:21]. It is further explained in section 98 [D&C 98], what is meant in relation to this. That all laws which are constitutional must be obeyed, as follows:

“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

“And that the law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me;

“Therefore I the Lord justify you and your brethren of the Church in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land. And as pertaining to laws of man, whatsoever is more or less than these cometh of evil” [D&C 98:4–7].

That is taking this nation as an example, all laws that are proper and correct, and all obligations entered into which are not violative of the constitution should be kept inviolate. But if they are violative of the constitution, then the compact between the rulers and the ruled is broken and the obligation ceases to be binding. Just as a person agreeing to purchase anything and to pay a certain amount for it, if he receives the article bargained for, and does not pay its price, he violates his contract; but if he does not receive the article he is not required to pay for it.

( Source: Journal of Discourses 26:350 )

Then do you profess to ignore the laws of the land? No; not unless they are unconstitutional, then I would do it all the time. Whenever the Congress of the United States, for instance, pass[es] a law interfering with my religion, or with my religious rights, I will read a small portion of that instrument called the Constitution of the United States, now almost obsolete, which says “Congress shall pass no law interfering with religion or the free exercise thereof” [US Const. Amend. I]; and I would say, gentlemen, you may go to Gibraltar with your law, and I will live my religion. When you become violators of the Constitution you have sworn before high heaven to uphold, and perjure yourselves before God, then I will maintain the right, and leave you to take the wrong just as you please.

( Source: Journal of Discourses 11:343; John Taylor Papers 1:232 )