Quote Category: ‘Liberty’
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.
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.
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).
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.
[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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This restoration was preceded by a long period of preparation. The Pilgrims and other Europeans were inspired to find this American haven of refuge and thus people this land with honest and God-fearing citizens. Washington and his fellows were inspired to revolt from England and bring political liberty to this land, along with the more valuable treasure of religious liberty so that the soil might be prepared for the seed of the truth when it should again be sown.
In such a system, the individual is told in effect, “You are free to make your life what you will, and we will try to see that you are rewarded for worthwhile service.” These lofty concepts did not spring from governments, but from the Creator Himself, penned into tenets for a stabilized government by men whom God raised up for this very purpose. The basic principles underlying these concepts of human government are contained in that great state paper, the Constitution of the United States of America. Written into the Constitution as we have it today are three prime safeguards:
1. There are unique restraints on power that governmental authority may exercise upon citizens, embodied in what is known as the Bill of Rights.
2. There is outlined a division of power between the federal and state governments.
3. There is defined a distinct separation of power among three branches of government—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial—in such a way as to provide checks and balances to control the exercise of governmental power.
In the wisdom of the Almighty, this ensign of liberty was raised to the nations to fulfill an ancient prophecy that “out of Zion [should] go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa 2:3). How could this be? The answer is clear: through the Constitution, kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be informed of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land of Zion by reason of their freedom under Divine guidance, and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems and thus fulfill the ancient law to which I have already referred.
My visits to underprivileged countries and among subjugated peoples who have placed their trust in governments of dominating men, rather than in governments of constitutional law, have shown me the importance and the great blessed privilege that is ours to live in this country where the basic law of the Constitution safeguards us in our God-given rights.
To the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Constitution of the United States is as a tree of liberty under whose cooling branches one might find a haven from the scorching sun of turmoil and oppression and have his rights protected according to just and holy principles. To them, the Constitution was established by the hands of wise men whom God raised up for this very purpose, and they devoutly believe that if it should be in danger of being overthrown, their lives, if need be, are to be offered in defense of its principles. (See D&C 101:77–80.)
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.
We should feel grateful that we are not hampered nor hindered in any way by a government that would presume to tell us how to worship, what to worship, or how to build. I wonder how many of us kneel down and thank the Lord for that freedom vouch-safed to us by the Constitution of the United States, a step towards the liberty, the freedom mentioned by the Savior when he said, “If ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32].
Very seldom do we think of our God-given privileges to exercise the freedom which dates back to the Constitution, even to the Declaration of Independence.
William E. Gladstone, having read the Constitution one hundred years after it had been in force, said:
The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of men. It has had a century of trial, under the pressure of exigencies caused by an expansion unexampled in point of rapidity and range; and its exemption from formal change, though not entire, has certainly proved the sagacity of the constructors and the stubborn strength of the fabric…
Do we feel to thank God for the freedom we have here in this country?
The First Presidency has previously issued a statement urging you as citizens to participate in the great democratic processes of our national election in accordance with your honest political convictions.
We have urged you, above all, to try to support good and conscientious candidates of either party who are aware of the great dangers inherent in communism and who are truly dedicated to the constitution in the tradition of our fathers. We have suggested also that you should support candidates who pledge their sincere fidelity to our liberty – a liberty which aims at the preservation of both personal and property rights.
By inheritance we enjoy liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution to speak, to work, to study, to pray as we wish, so long as we do not deprive others of the same privileges.
Another fundamental for which we should be grateful is the free agency which God has given us – freedom and liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
I wonder if we appreciate this great gift. That free agency, the right to exercise that free agency, and the right of trial by your equals is vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States. Let us have a spirit of gratitude in our hearts for the free exercise of our agency and the rights of liberty.
I should like to express gratitude this Thanksgiving season for this great country, for the Constitution of the United States which grants to each individual liberty, freedom to think and to speak and to act as he pleases, just so long as each gives to the other man that same privilege. I am thankful for this country which has given more persons opportunity to raise themselves under an individualistic, capitalistic, free enterprise system from menial to commanding positions than any other nation in the world, past or present.
We pray, O Lord, that thou wilt inspire men to desire to make equal advancement in preserving and making applicable to society the principles of individual liberty and freedom of worship brought by the pioneers and vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.
I appreciate the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights that grant unto each man individual liberty… I have nothing but contempt in my heart for men who would disgrace that flag or would mar the standards of freedom and individual liberty.
Throughout the ages advanced souls have yearned for a society in which liberty and justice prevail. Men have sought for it, fought for it, have died for it. Ancient freemen prized it; slaves longed for it; the Magna Carta demanded it; the Constitution of the United States declared it.
During the great struggle for independence in the country under the leadership of George Washington, our Heavenly Father was preparing the way for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity.
He gave to certain individuals the inspiration to frame the Constitution of the United States that has been referred to in this conference, the greatest palladium of human rights that we know anything about. Under such a Constitution the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth one hundred nineteen years ago. . . .
Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and his brother Hyrum (the great-great-grandfather of the man who sits at my left here on the stand and grandfather of the man who sits behind me in this congregation) died as martyrs at the hands of a wicked mob. They were sacrificed not for any wrong they had done but because they had sought to teach the truth and call the people of the world to repent before it was too late. The work has gone on and under the Constitution of the United States we have been permitted to carry on in this great land. We have been permitted to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our missionaries of course have gone all over the world, but I am speaking now of the United States of America. However, there are many people, many men and women in this land, some of whom may be friends or relatives who are misguided by the idea that the Constitution of the United States isn’t as fine a system of government as they have in Russia or Germany or Italy or some other part of the world, notwithstanding the fact that the Lord himself said that he raised up the very men who framed the Constitution of the United States and directed that the membership of this Church should pray for and sustain those who represented the Constitution of this land. I hold in my hand the Bible and can read the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses for the guidance of the people wherein the Lord told Moses what the people should live for and do. If those Ten Commandments had been lived up to by the people of the world down to the present time, this earth could long ago have been celestialized. But the people refused.
You know, and I know, that the Ten Commandments contain the will of our Heavenly Father, and I am grateful, not only for the civil laws but also for the laws God has given to us. I feel bound to conform my life to the teachings of the Ten Commandments. I feel equally bound to sustain the Constitution of the United States which came from the same source as the Ten Commandments. Unless the people of this great nation can realize these things and repent, they may forfeit the liberty that they now enjoy, and the blessings that are so multiplied among us. I do hope and pray that they will discover before it is too late that God has spoken again. Your responsibility and mine is to let our light so shine that others seeing our good works will be constrained to glorify him who is the Author of our being.
Our feet have been planted upon this sacred soil for a wise purpose. This land has been dedicated for the blessing of mankind. The Constitution and the laws that have been enacted under its provisions are calculated to insure liberty, not license, to all who dwell here. . . .
Upon you men of Israel — to whom the Priesthood of the Holy One has been given — there rests an obligation. You must serve the Lord and keep his commandments. It matters not what others may do, but for you there is only one course, and that is to be obedient to law, and to sustain the Constitution of this great land, and to sustain those influences and powers wherever they may be, that are calculated to uplift the human family.
I feel that, as long as the people of this land obey, or strive to keep the commandments of God, this liberty will continue to flow unto us. . . . I say to you that our only hope, and the hope of the sons and daughters that God may bless us with, to enjoy peace and liberty in this land, is in standing by the Constitution that God has inspired to direct this government. . . . Let us stand by the law-makers, and encourage them in the making of just laws, and stand by the executive departments, and the judiciary in the administration of those laws.
The Constitutional Convention met and out from it came our God-inspired Constitution — ”the most wonderful work,” said Gladstone, “ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
The Lord Himself has declared as to this great document of human liberty, “I established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose,” and He added, referring to the war it cost to gain us our liberties: “and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (D&C 101:80.) . . .
Thus we had set up, under the guidance of God Himself, a government that made of this land the kind of land Lehi and Jacob had foreseen and prophesied — ”a land of liberty.”
Every Latter-day Saint believes that Abraham Lincoln was raised up and inspired of God, and that he reached the Presidency of the United States under the favor of our Heavenly Father. . . .
The following quotation from Lincoln with respect to the observance of law is . . . worth repeating often:
“Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the revolution never to violate, in the least particular, the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor. Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in primers, in spelling books, and almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. In short, let it become the Political Religion of the Nation.” . . .
From my childhood days I have understood that we believe absolutely that the Constitution of our country is an inspired instrument, and that God directed those who created it and those who defended the independence of this nation. Concerning this matter it is my frequent pleasure to quote the statement by Joseph Smith, regarding the Constitution:
“The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is, to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a weary and thirsty land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun” [TPJS 147].
And such the Constitution of the United States must be to every faithful Latter-day Saint who lives under its protection.
We honor the man that God honors. We honor Abraham Lincoln because we believe absolutely that God honored him and raised him up to be the instrument in His hands of saving the Constitution and the Union.
The Lord Almighty has prepared the way for the coming forth of the kingdom of God in this dispensation by establishing the republican government of the United States; a government affording the widest liberty and the greatest freedom to man that has ever been known to exist among men, outside of those governed by the direct communication of heaven. It was part of the design of the Almighty when He influenced our fathers to leave the old world and come to this continent; He had a hand in the establishment of this government; He inspired the framers of the Constitution and the fathers of this nation to contend for their liberties; and he did this upon natural principles, that the way might be prepared, and that it might be possible for Him to establish His kingdom upon the earth, no more to be thrown down.
We thank thee, O God of Israel, that thou didst raise up patriotic men to lay the foundation of this great American government. Thou didst inspire them to frame a good constitution and laws which guarantee to all of the inhabitants of the land equal rights and privileges to worship thee according to the dictates of their own consciences. Bless the officers, both judicial and executive. Confer abundant favors upon the President, his Cabinet, and Congress. Enlightened and guided by thy Spirit may they maintain and uphold the glorious principles of human liberty. . . .
Show unto them that we are their friends, that we love liberty, that we will join with them in upholding the rights of the people, the Constitution and laws of our country; and give unto us and our children an increased disposition to always be loyal, and to do everything in our power to maintain Constitutional rights and the freedom of all within the confines of this great Republic.
As far as constitutional liberty is concerned, I will say, the God of heaven has raised up our nation, as foretold by His Prophets generations ago. . . . It is also well known how our forefathers found a home and an asylum in this land from the hand of persecution, and how they planted here the tree of liberty and jealously guarded it from the attempt of the mother country to uproot and destroy it. The hand of God was in this; and it is through the intervention of His providence that we enjoy to-day the freest and most independent government the world ever saw. And what was the object of this? It was to prepare the way for the building up of the kingdom of God in this the last dispensation of the fullness of times; and as long as the principles of constitutional liberty shall be maintained upon this land, blessings will attend the nation.
A great deal has been said about the form of government, and the constitution under which we live. They have been the praise of all Americans, and perhaps of people living in other portions of the earth. We consider that we have been blessed as a nation in possessing the freedom and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. They have been a rich legacy from our fathers. We consider our form of government superior to any other on the earth. It guarantees to us “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And while the inhabitants of many other governments have been tyrannically bound up, and their minds controlled in certain channels, and they have been deprived of the right of liberty of speech and of many other rights valued by freemen, ours has guaranteed unto us all the liberty that can be enjoyed by man. Still, I have many times thought that we, as American Citizens, have not prized the gifts and blessings guaranteed to us by the Constitution of our country. For the last few years, especially, the Constitution at times, has been looked upon as a matter of the smallest consequence. In some respects, however, it has been a blessing to us as a people, and it is to the whole nation, as far as it is carried out. But in order to fully receive its blessings we have to honor its precepts.
If the rulers of this nation can afford to tamper with the sacred rights of the people guaranteed by the constitution of this great nation, and ruthlessly tear down the temple of freedom erected at the cost of so much blood and treasure, instead of anticipated glory, they will bring destruction upon the nation and ruin and infamy upon themselves. The sacred bulwarks of freedom once tampered with, the floodgates of anarchy and confusion will be thrown open and dissolution and ruin will follow in their train in rapid succession. It is for us to sustain and maintain the principles guaranteed in that sacred palladium of human rights—the Constitution of the United States, and to contend inch by inch in every legal and constitutional manner for our own rights and human freedom, leaving misrule, anarchy, violations of law and the trampling under foot of the rights of man and constitutional guarantees to religious fanatics and clamoring demagogues; and if they can afford to tamper with those sacred guarantees, we certainly can afford to have them do it. It is for us to seek more exalted ideas, to abide by constitutional law, to maintain inviolate the principles of human freedom, and to contend with unwavering firmness for those inalienable rights of all men—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and to seek continually to our God for wisdom to accomplish so great, noble and patriotic a purpose.
Will we oppose the principles of this government? No. We will sustain them. But if people will act foolishly we cannot help it. If this nation can stand the results of the violation of constitutional principles, we can. If they tear down the bulwarks of freedom and with impunity trample underfoot the rights of men we cannot help it. If it is our turn, to-day, to suffer wrong, it will be somebody else’s to-morrow, national retrogressions are not often arrested. It behooves statesmen to pause in their career. The floodgates once opened who shall stay the torrent? We of all men would save the ship of state and would say to these national patricides avaunt [go away]! But if they will act foolishly and continue to do so until they subvert the principles of liberty, and thus destroy one of the best governments ever instituted on earth, then if forsaken by all else, the elders of this Church will rally round the Constitution, lift up the standard of freedom, which is being trodden under foot and bedrabbled by demagogues, and proclaim liberty to the world; equal rights, liberty and equality; freedom of conscience and of worship to all men everywhere. That is not a prophecy of mine; it is a prophecy of Joseph Smith’s, and I believe it very strongly.
We will sustain the government in its administration, and be true to it, and maintain this position right along. And when division, strife, trouble and contention arise, we will try to still the troubled waters, and act in all honesty as true friends to the government; and when war shall exist among them, and there is no one found to sustain the remnants of liberty that may be left, the Elders of Israel will rally round the standard of freedom and proclaim liberty to all the world.
And they will tear away one plank of liberty after another, until the whole fabric will totter and fall; and many other nations will be cast down and empires destroyed; and this nation will have to suffer as others will. And it will be as Joseph Smith once said, “When all others forsake the Constitution, the Elders of this Church will rally around the standard and save its tattered shreds.” We will come to its rescue and proclaim liberty to all men.
Again in regard to political matters, where is there a nation to-day, under the face of the whole heavens that is under the guidance and direction of the Lord in the management of their public affairs? You cannot find one. It is true that the founders of this nation, as a preliminary step for the introduction of more correct principles and that liberty and the rights of man might be recognized, and that all men might become equal before the law of the land, had that great palladium of liberty, the Constitution of the United States, framed. This was the entering wedge for the introduction of a new era, and in it were introduced principles for the birth and organization of a new world. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “The Constitution of the United States was given by the inspiration of God.” But good, virtuous and holy principles may be perverted by corrupt and wicked men. The Lord was opposed by Satan, Jesus had his Judas, and this nation abounds with traitors who ignore that sacred palladium of liberty and seek to trample it under foot. Joseph Smith said they would do so, and that when deserted by all, the elders of Israel would rally around its shattered fragments and save and preserve it inviolate. But even this, good as it was, was not a perfect instrument; it was one of those stepping stones to a future development in the progress of a man to the intelligence and light, the power and union that God alone can impart to the human family. And while we acknowledge, as citizens of the United States, the laws and institutions thereof (which by the way are very easily complied with), we have a higher law, more noble principles, ideas that are more elevated and expansive; principles that reach to the whole human family, and which he will continue to reveal to us. Does that prevent us from obeying the laws of the land? Certainly not. But then, is that a perfect system? I do not think that many of you will say it is, nor do I think that the people of the United States of any political party will tell you it is. . . . We are united, then, as a body politic, as an integral part of this Government, and it becomes our duty to submit to the laws and institutions of that Government — to all that are constitutional, framed and based upon correct principles, and not in violation of what the fathers of the country instituted.
We are told, however, that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty;” and as we possess the best Constitution and the best government in the world, let us preserve it, and transmit it intact, pure and unadulterated to our children.
It is incumbent upon us to use our influence for the preservation of ourselves, our wives, our children, our brethren, our sisters, and all of our society from the contaminating influence of vice, sin, immorality, and iniquity, let it emanate from where it will. If it exists in high places, so much the more need of rebuking it, for from thence it will do the most harm.
I claim this as a right, as a Constitutional right; I believe it is legal to exercise all the power and influence which God has given me for the preservation of virtue, truth, and holiness; and because we feel sensitive upon points such as these, should it be construed that we are enemies to the Federal Government? . . . In this view of the case the Government should also be our friends. . . .
This then is our position towards the Government of the United States, and towards the world, to put down iniquity, and exalt virtue; to declare the word of God which He revealed unto us, and build up His Kingdom upon the earth. . . . To serve God, and keep His commandments are first and foremost with me. If this is higher law, so be it. As it is with me, so should it be with every department of the Government; for this doctrine is based upon the principles of virtue, and integrity; with it the Government, her Constitution, and free institutions are safe; without it no power can avert their speedy destruction. It is the life giving power to the government; it is the vital element on which she exists and prospers; in its absence she sinks to rise no more.
We now proceed to discuss the question, does our faith and practice,—our holy religion, as we hold and believe it, come within the purview of the Constitution; or in other words, is it a religious question over which the Constitution throws its protecting shield?
In this view we consider that the men of the Revolution were inspired by the Almighty, to throw off the shackles of the mother government, with her established religion. For this cause were Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and a host of others inspired to deeds of resistance to the acts of the King of Great Britain, who might also have been led to those aggressive acts, for aught we know, to bring to pass the purposes of God in this establishing a new government upon a principle of greater freedom, a basis of self-government allowing the free exercise of religious worship.
It was the voice of the Lord inspiring all those worthy men who bore influence in those trying times, not only to go forth in battle, but to exercise wisdom in council, fortitude, courage, and endurance in the tented field, as well as subsequently to form and adopt those wise and efficient measures which secured to themselves, and suceeding [sic] generations, the blessing of a free, and independent government. This government, so formed, has been blessed by the Almighty until she spreads her sails in every sea, and her power is felt in every land.
The American Government is second to none in the world in influence, and power, and far before all others in liberal, and free institutions. Under its benign influence the poor, down trodden masses of the old world can find an asylum where they can enjoy the blessings of peace, and freedom, no matter to what caste or religious sect they belong, or are disposed to favor, or whether they are disposed to favor any, or none at all. It was in this government, formed by men inspired of God, although at the time they knew it not, after it was firmly established in the seat of power and influence, where liberty of conscience, and the free exercise of religious worship were a fundamental principle guaranteed in the Constitution, and interwoven with all the feelings, traditions, and sympathies of the people, that the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days. This should have been hailed as the greatest blessing which could have been bestowed upon any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. It should have been received with hearts of gratitude and gladness, praise and thanksgiving. . . .
. . . No! Whenever the iron hand of oppression, and persecution has fallen upon this people, our opposers have broken their own laws, set at defiance, and trampled under foot every principle of equal rights, justice, and liberty found written in that rich legacy of our fathers, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. . . .
. . . And should it not be the duty, as well as the pride, of every American citizen to extend that provision of the CONSTITUTION to us which he claims for himself? And is not that sacred instrument invaded, and broken as much in debarring, and excluding this people from its privileges, rights, and blessings, as it would be if your rights, and privileges were thus invaded? No, gentlemen, we have broken no laws, our Glorious CONSTITUTION guarantees unto us, all that we claim. Under its broad folds, in its obvious meaning, and intents, we are safe, and can always rejoice in peace. All that we have ever claimed, or wish to, on the part of the government, is the just administration of the powers, and privileges of the National Compact.
Your constitution guarantees to every citizen, even the humblest, the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. It promises to all, religious freedom, the right to all to worship God beneath their own vine and fig tree, according to the dictates of their conscience. It guarantees to all the citizens of the several states the right to become citizens of any one of the states, and to enjoy all the rights and immunities of the citizens of the state of his adoption.
Hence we say, that the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun…
We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true.