See also: 3rd Nephi 7:2; D&C 101:80; 98:4-7
We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” — Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City, July 19, 1840; The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 623-24; Joseph Smith quoted in Journal of Discourses, 7:15
There were men whom the God of Heaven had raised up who saw with a greater vision and dreamed a better and more inspired dream. On May 14, 1787, fifty-five of them met in Philadelphia. . . . there were differences of opinion, sharp and deep, and bitter. But somehow, under the inspiration of the Almighty, there was forged the Constitution of the United States. . . . It is the keystone of our nation. It is my faith and my conviction that it came not alone of the brain and purpose of man, but of the inspiration of God. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 15) — Stephen E. Robinson & H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, Volume 3, p. 280
To me . . . that statement of the Lord, “I have established the Constitution of this land,” puts the Constitution of the United States in the position in which it would be if it were written in the book of Doctrine and Covenants itself. This makes the Constitution the word of the Lord to us. That it was given, not by oral utterance, but by the operation of his mind and spirit upon the minds of men, inspiring them to the working out of this great document of human government, does not alter its authority. — President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, p. 93; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 244
President Brigham Young spoke of some of these “wise men” raised up by God:
“We believe that the Lord has been preparing that when he should bring forth his work, that, when the set time should fully come, there might be a place upon his footstool where sufficient liberty of conscience should exist, that his Saints might dwell in peace under the broad panoply of constitutional law and equal rights. In this view we consider that the men in 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 thus 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 succeeding generations, the blessings of a free and independent government.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 359–60.) — Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 244
How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass. (12:204)
When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the “Mormon” Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it. (2:182)
The present Constitution, with a few alterations of a trifling nature, is just as good as we want; and if it is sustained on this land of Joseph, it will be done by us and our posterity. (8:324)
I expect to see the day when the Elders of Israel will protect and sustain civil and religious liberty and every Constitutional right bequeathed to us by our fathers, and spread these rights abroad in connection with the Gospel for the salvation of all nations. I shall see this whether I live or die. (11:262)
Will the Constitution be destroyed? No; it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At this critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.” It will be so. (7:15) — Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 360-361 and p. 469
Now, these are the commandments of God, the principles contained in these commandments of the great Eternal are the principles that underlie the Constitution of our country, and all just laws. Joseph Smith, the prophet, was inspired to affirm and ratify this truth, and he further predicted that the time would come, when the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread, and that the Latter-day Saints, above all other people in the world, would come to the rescue of that great and glorious palladium of our liberty. We cannot brook the thought of it being torn into shreds, or destroyed, or trampled under foot and ignored by men. We cannot tolerate the sentiment, at one time expressed, by a man high in authority in the nation. He said: “The constitution be damned; the popular sentiment of the people is the constitution!” That is the sentiment of anarchism, and has spread to a certain extent, and is spreading over “the land of liberty and the home of the brave.” We do not tolerate it. Latter-day Saints cannot tolerate such a spirit as this. It is anarchy. It means destruction. It is the spirit of mobocracy, and the Lord knows we have suffered enough from mobocracy, and we do not want any more of it. Our people from Mexico are suffering from the effects of that same spirit. We do not want any more of it, and we cannot afford to yield to that spirit or contribute to it in the least degree. We should stand with a front like flint against every spirit or species of contempt or disrespect for the constitution of our country and the constitutional laws of our land. (October Conference Report, 1912, pp. 8-11) — President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 403
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 of Discourses, 7:15). It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government. — Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 618-619
Saviors of the Nation. . . . If tradition can be relied upon, Joseph Smith prophesied that the Elders of Israel would save this Nation in the hour of its extremest peril. At a time when anarchy would threaten the life of the Government, and the Constitution be hanging as by a thread, the maligned and misunderstood “Mormons” – always patriotic, and necessarily so from the very genius of their religion – would stand firm upon Freedom’s rocky ramparts, and as champions of law and order, liberty and justice, call to their aid in the same grand cause kindred spirits from every part of the nation and from every corner of the world.
All this preparatory to a mighty movement that would sweep every form of evil from off the face of the land, and build the Zion of God upon the spot consecrated for its erection. This traditional utterance of their martyred Seer is deeply imbedded in the heart and hope of the “Mormon” people. — Apostle Orson F. Whitney, “Saturday Night Thoughts,” pp. 60-61
LDS attachment to the Constitution has been further encouraged by an important oral tradition deriving from a statement attributed to Joseph Smith, according to which the Constitution would “hang by a thread” and be rescued, if at all, only with the help of the Saints. Church President John Taylor seemed to go further when he prophesied, “When 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 the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men” (JD 21:8). To defend the principles of the Constitution under circumstances where the “iniquity,” or moral decay, of the people has torn it to shreds might well require wisdom at least equal to that of the men raised up to found it. In particular, it would require great insight into the relationship between freedom and virtue in a political embodiment of moral agency. — Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, 1992
President John Taylor, while in Logan, Utah spoke on Sunday afternoon, August 31, 1879 and said:
“The day is not far distant when this nation will be shaken from center to circumference. And now, you may write it down, any of you, and I will prophesy it in the name of God. And then will be fulfilled that prediction to be found in one of the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Those who will not take up their sword to fight against their neighbor must needs flee to Zion for safety. And they will come, saying, we do not know anything of the principles of your religion, but we perceive that you are an honest community; you administer justice and righteousness, and we want to live with you and receive the protection of your laws, but as for your religion we will talk about that some other time. Will we protect such people? Yes, all honorable men. When 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 the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations. This is part of the program, and as long as we do what is right and fear God, he will help us and stand by us under all circumstances.” — President John Taylor, “The Object of Gathering, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by George F. Gibbs 31 August 1879, Vol. 18, p. 8
Words of James Burgess: “In the month of May 1843, several miles east of Nauvoo, the Nauvoo Legion was on parade and review, at the close of which Joseph Smith made some remarks upon our condition as a people and upon our future prospects, contrasting our present condition with our past trials and persecutions by the hands of our enemies; also upon the Constitution and government of the United States, stating that the time would come when the Constitution and government would hang by a brittle thread and would be ready to fall into other hands, but this people, the Latter-day Saints, will step forth and save it. . . .I, James Burgess, was present and testify to the above” — The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 279
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 of Discourses, 7:15). It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government. — The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 618-19
President Harold B. Lee gave the following commentary on these verses:
“With the coming of the pioneers to establish the Church in the tops of the mountains, our early leaders declared this to be the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy that out of Zion should go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
“I have often wondered what that expression meant, that out of Zion should go forth the law. Years ago I went with the Brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of that term – ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law.’ Note what they said:
“‘We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document [as revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101]. . . . We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah and Micah that “. . . out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”’ (Improvement Era, Oct. 1945, p. 504)
“The history of nations records the efforts of statesmen to adopt these basic principles as the basis of sound fundamental structures. I have often speculated as to the meaning of the Lord’s injunction to our early leaders, not only to keep his commandments, but also to assist in bringing forth his work according to his commandments, with the promise that they would then be blessed. Also, they were to seek to bring forth and to establish Zion. All of this emphasized what the Church was told by the Lord in another revelation. He said, ‘For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.’ (D&C 78:7)
“You will note that it was not merely enough to be good; all must also be willing to bring forth his work and to bring forth and establish Zion. This meant to work and labor with all one’s might, mind, and strength if he would obtain a place in the celestial world.
“Many people, so these prophets said, would say, ‘Show me your path, that we may walk in your way.’” (In Conference Report, Manchester England Area Conference 1971, pp. 138–39) — Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings – Malachi, p. 121
“Governments are only good when the people are good. As founding father John Adams observed, ‘Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’” (John Adams, quoted in Federer, America’s God and Country, 10-11; cited in Bytheway, Righteous Warriors, 33-34.) Liberty demands responsibility. Democracy can function optimally only on a foundation of decency among the citizens.
Mosiah, the great prophet-king, made an additional urgent observation about the political and moral climate of every nation: “If the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction.” (Mosiah 29:27) As we follow the pressing political, social, and moral issues of our day, we note with concern, in these first years of the present millennium, that the views and votes of the people are hovering around fifty percent for, and fifty percent against any particular issue. On the most critical issues the nations of the world are facing (abortion, pornography, substance abuse, same-gender marriage, and so on), the proportion of the populace standing for righteous principles is often just barely over the fifty percent mark. The best armor the Latter-day Saints can use to counter the downward spiral of society is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The most important work being done on earth is the dissemination of the greatest power for lifting the souls of men – the eternal plan of salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ. — D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, Verse by Verse, The Book of Mormon, Vol. I, pp. 380-81
Brethren and sisters, let me say in closing that we have it of record, that the prophet Joseph Smith said the time would come when, through secret organizations taking the law into their own hands, not being governed by law or by due process of law, but becoming a law unto themselves, when, by those disintegrating activities, the Constitution of the United States would be so torn and rent asunder, and life and property and peace and security would he held of so little value, that the Constitution would, as it were, hang by a thread. But he never said, so far as I have heard, that that thread would be cut. I believe, with Elder Richards, that this Constitution will be preserved, but it will be preserved very largely in consequence of what the Lord has revealed and what this people, through listening to the Lord and being obedient, will help to bring about, to stabilize and give permanency and effect to the Constitution itself. That also is our mission. That also is what we are here for. I glory in it. I praise God with all my heart and soul that I am a member of it. — Elder Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, April 1933, p.127
Well, we were told by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that the United States Government and people would come to this: that they would undermine one principle of the Constitution after another, until its whole fabric would be torn away, and that it would become the duty of the Latter-day Saints and those in sympathy with them to rescue it from destruction, and to maintain and sustain the principles of human freedom for which our fathers fought and bled. We look for these things to come in quick succession. — Elder Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, 26:213
It was all part of God’s plan – the coming of Columbus, the colonization, wise men raised up to frame the Constitution, Joseph Smith prepared for his part in the restoration of the gospel, even the persecution which drove the Saints to the Rocky Mountains where the Church could continue to grow.
What does all this mean to you and me as individuals? It means that God, as our Father, made all these arrangements for you and me. We were part of his eternal scheme. And so it is not enough merely to observe these various anniversaries, but we must recommit and rededicate ourselves to uphold the convictions and the principles upon which the blessings we enjoy are predicated. We too must be prepared to sacrifice, where necessary, to keep our freedoms inviolate. My father used to say: “The true way to honor the past is to improve upon it.”
Therefore, we should love God more. We should serve our fellowmen better. We should keep all the commandments. We should be better prepared as parents to teach our children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord, and to assume their responsibilities. It would be tragic if for fear of the challenge involved the descendants of those who gave so liberally and sacrificed so much shrank from the duties of their day and time. — President N. Eldon Tanner, “Pioneers Are Still Needed,” Ensign, July 1976
President Ezra Taft Benson mentions that the Lord told Joseph Smith that there would be an attempt to overthrow the country by destroying the constitution. He did not quote it in this talk, but in several other talks including his general conference address in October 1987. He quotes the Prophet by saying, “We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: ‘Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction’ (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City; see also The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 416). — Jim Zimmerman, Sacrament Mtg. Talk, Laguna Niguel, CA, 7/31/11
. . . A crisis is precipitated by the populous demanding a change. This is typical evolution of events in a nation which is sick at heart and will not admit that it’s growing lethargy is the result of poison issuing from within its own members. . . .
Such a day would literally fulfill the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith when he said that the time would come when the constitution of the U.S. would hang by a thread. He also said that in that hour the elders of the church would labor . . . to save the vestiges of democracy. . . .
. . . if the constitution is saved at all, it will be by the elders of this church.
Brigham Young points out that the constitution will never be completely destroyed, however, because “it will be held inviolate by this people (the Latter-day saints.)” — Cleon Skousen, Prophecy in Modern Times, p. 43
Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. . . . America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church. — President Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Divine Constitution,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 4
Prophecy of Joseph Smith (according to Orson Hyde) was that the time would come when the Constitution and the country would be in danger of an overthrow; and . . . “if the Constitution be saved at all, it will be by the Elders of this Church.” — Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 152, January 3, 1850
Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world in which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States. — President David O. McKay, The Instructor, Feb. 1956, p. 34 also quoted in A Standard of Freedom for This Dispensation by Jay M. Todd
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared it will be the elders of Israel who will step forward to help save the Constitution, and not the church. Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and world-wide mission. The war in heaven is raging on earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle? — President Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 539
Will the Constitution be destroyed? No. It will be held inviolate by this people; and as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread, and at this critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.”
It will be so. I do not know when that day will come or how it will come to pass. I feel sure that when it does come to pass, among those who will step forward from among this people will be men who hold the Holy Priesthood and who carry as credentials a bachelor or doctor of law degree. And women also, of honor. And there will be judges as well.
Others from the world outside the Church will come, as Colonel Thomas Kane did, and bring with them their knowledge of the law to protect this people. We may one day stand alone, but we will not change or lower our standards, or change our course. — President Boyd K. Packer, “On the Shoulders of Giants”, Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law Society Devotional, Feb. 28, 2004[Latter-day Saints] devoutly believe that if [the Constitution] should be in danger of being overthrown, their lives, if need be, are to be offered in defense of its principles. — President Harold B. Lee, “True Patriotism – An Expression of Faith”, April 13, 1941
We were told by the prophet Joseph Smith, that the United States Government and people would undermine one principle of the Constitution after another, until its whole fabric would be torn away, and that it would become the duty of the Latter-day Saints and those in sympathy with them to rescue it from destruction, and to maintain and sustain the principles of human freedom for which our fathers fought and bled. We look for these things to come in quick succession. — Elder Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 26, p. 226, May 31, 1885
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? — Thomas Jefferson
Of course, the war in heaven over free agency is now being waged here on earth, and there are those today who are saying, “Look, don’t get involved in the fight for freedom. Just live the gospel.” That counsel is dangerous, self-contradictory, unsound. . . .
Now part of the reason we may not have sufficient priesthood bearers to save the constitution, let alone to shake the powers of hell is because unlike Moroni, I fear, 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 and the liberty of our country.
Moroni raised a title of liberty and wrote upon it these words: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” Why didn’t he write upon it “Just live your religion; there’s no need to concern yourselves about your freedom, your peace, your wives, or your children”?
The reason he didn’t do this was because all these things were a part of his religion, as they are of our religion today.
Should we counsel people, “Just live your religion. There’s no need to get involved in the fight for freedom”? No, we should not, because our stand for freedom is a most basic part of our religion; this stand helped get us to this earth, and our reaction to freedom in this life will have eternal consequences. Man has many duties, but he has no excuse that can compensate for his loss of liberty.
As members of the Church we have some close quarters to pass through if we are going to get home safely. We will be given a chance to choose between conflicting counsel given by some. That’s why we must learn – and the sooner we learn, the better – to keep our eye on the Prophet, the President of the Church. And that Prophet today is President David O. McKay. — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
. . . I take as my theme for these brief remarks the following words from the inspiring opening address by President David O. McKay at the Friday morning session of this great conference.
“Efforts are being made to deprive man of his free agency, to steal from the individual his liberty . . . There has been an alarming increase in the abandoning of the ideals that constitute the foundation of the Constitution of the United States.” . . .
Basic to [our Heavenly Father’s] all-important plan is our free agency, the right of choice. Free agency is an eternal principle. We enjoyed freedom of choice in the spirit world as spirit children. In fact, a counter-plan to the gospel of our Lord was presented by Lucifer, a plan of force that would have robbed man of his freedom of choice. Lucifer’s plan was rejected, and the scriptures tell us that he, with one-third of the hosts of heaven, was cast out; and they continue their opposition to God’s plan, which is based on the freedom of the individual.
History, both sacred and secular, clearly records that the struggle to preserve and safeguard freedom has been a continuous one. Prophets of God as watchmen on the towers, have proclaimed liberty. Holy men of God have led the fight against anarchy and tyranny. Moses was commanded to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10).
Why have prophets of God been commanded to proclaim liberty and lead the battle to preserve freedom? Because freedom is basic to the great plan of the Lord. The gospel can prosper only in an atmosphere of freedom. This fact is confirmed by history, as well as by sacred scriptures. The right of choice – free agency – runs like a golden thread throughout the gospel plan of the Lord for the blessing of his children.
To a modern-day prophet the Lord declared that “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” (D&C 101:79). In a revelation to the restored Church in 1833 the Lord declared:
“. . . that 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.
“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” (D&C 98:5,8-10).
A year ago in a great general conference address on freedom and how it is threatened today, our beloved President warned us, saying, “I do not know that there was ever a time in the history of mankind when the Evil One seemed so determined to take from man his freedom.” He went on to explain that “pernicious efforts and sinister schemes are cunningly and stealthily being fostered to deprive man of his individual freedom and have him revert to the life of the jungle.” (Pres. David O. McKay, “Man’s Free Agency,” The Improvement Era, Dec. 1965, pp. 1073, 1099) — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
Still earlier the First Presidency warned the Saints that “Satan is making war against all the wisdom that has come to men through their ages of experience. He is seeking to overturn and destroy the very foundations upon which society, government, and religion rest. He aims to have men adopt theories and practices which he induced their forefathers, over the ages, to adopt and try, only to be discarded by them when found unsound, impractical, and ruinous. He plans to destroy liberty and freedom – economic, political, and religious, and to set up in place thereof the greatest, most widespread, and most complete tyranny that has ever oppressed man. He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods . . . Without their knowing it, the people are being urged down paths that lead only to destruction. Satan never before had so firm a grip on this generation as he has now.” (“Message of the First Presidency,” The Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, p. 761) — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
All men are entitled to inspiration, especially men who bear the priesthood, but only one man is the Lord’s mouthpiece. Some lesser men have used in the past, and will use in the future, their offices unrighteously. Some will, ignorantly or otherwise, use their office to promote false counsel; some will use it to lead the unwary astray; some will use it to persuade us that all is well in Zion: some will use it to cover and excuse their ignorance. Keep your eye on the Prophet, for the Lord will never permit his Prophet to lead this Church astray. Let us live close to the Spirit, so we can test all counsel.
“In order that there may be no misunderstanding by bishops, stake presidents, and others regarding members of the Church participating in non-church meetings to study and become informed on the Constitution of the United States, Communism, etc., I wish,” said President McKay, “to make the following statements that I have been sending out from my office for some time and that have come under question by some stake authorities, bishoprics, and others.
“Church members are at perfect liberty to act according to their own consciences in the matter of safeguarding our way of life. They are, of course, encouraged to honor the highest standards of the gospel and to work to preserve their own freedoms. They are free to participate in non-church meetings that are held to warn people of the threat of Communism or any other theory or principle that will deprive us of our free agency or individual liberties vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States . . . .
“The position of this Church on the subject of Communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest satanical threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work among men that exists on the face of the earth.
“In this connection,” President McKay continues, “we are continually being asked to give our opinion concerning various patriotic groups or individuals who are fighting Communism and speaking up for freedom. Our immediate concern, however, is not with parties, groups, or persons, but with principles. We therefore commend and encourage every person and every group who are sincerely seeking to study Constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us. We wish all of our citizens throughout the land were participating in some type of organized self-education in order that they could better appreciate what is happening and know what they can do about it.
“Supporting the FBI, the police, the congressional committees investigating Communism, and various organizations that are attempting to awaken the people through educational means is a policy we warmly endorse for all our people.” (The Improvement Era, June 1966, p. 477)
Everyone should study the complete statement. This statement is timely and clear. The need for such a Church position has never been greater. I realize that it is sometimes unpopular to speak the solemn warning truth. As a people, we do not like to be disturbed from our comfortable complacency. But today we are face to face with an increasingly successful, ruthless conspiracy. Our remaining liberties are hanging in the balance. — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States. (Pres. David O. McKay, The Instructor, Feb. 1956, p. 34) — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
In a general conference, President J. Reuben Clark issued this sobering warning:
“. . . I say unto you with all the soberness I can, that we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known, heavy as our sacrifices and grievous as our persecutions of the past have been.
“We face a war to the death, a gigantic worldwide struggle. We must face it, enter it, take part in it. In fact, we are all taking part in the struggle, whether we will or not. Upon its final issue, liberty lives or dies.” (The Improvement Era, May 1944)
Yes, we all love the gospel – or should do. We should all strive to live according to its precepts. But the basic thread running through the gospel plan is the freedom, the right of choice, of the individual. The gospel can prosper only where there is freedom. — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
I have personally witnessed the heart-rending results of the loss of freedom. I have been close to the godless evil of the socialist-communist conspiracy on both sides of the iron curtain, especially during my service as European Mission president at the close of the war and today, and also during eight years in the Cabinet.
I stood in Czechoslovakia and witnessed the ebbing away of freedom, resulting in the total loss of liberty. I visited among the liberty-loving Polish people and talked with their leaders, as the insidious freedom-destroying philosophy moved in, imposing the chains of bondage on a Christian nation.
In both of these freedom-loving nations were members of the Church, striving, as we are, to live the gospel. But it was not enough. It did not stop the Communists. Our members were few in number, and the danger to freedom seemed far away. One trembles at the thought of members of the Church today in the Communist slave labor camps.
In fact, freedom-loving people have been brought under Communist bondage at the average rate of 6,000 per hour, 144,000 per day, 52 million per year since the end of World War II. — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
But here in America, the Lord’s base of operations – so designated by the Lord himself, through his holy prophets – we of the priesthood, members of his restored Church, might well provide the balance of power to save our freedom. Indeed we might, if we go forward as General Moroni of old and raise the standard of liberty throughout the land.
Today our Prophet and President has said: “No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this Republic and of neighboring Republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.” Is this plain enough? In view of this solemn warning, how can any member of the Church fail to act to help save our freedom? We must not be lulled away into a false security
We have a Prophet today. What we need is a listening ear. Let us live the gospel in its fullness, and by so doing we will work unceasingly to preserve and strengthen our God-given freedom. — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility,” Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 120-25
Now, in relation to the Constitution of the United States, I want to speak a few words. There is a great deal of sacredness attached to the Constitution of the United States by this people: that is all right and good. The Constitution is well enough, and so is anything that serves the purpose for which it was created, provided that purpose be a good one. It was designed and created with a good intention. If it serves the purpose and end of its creation, it is good; and when it has served the end of its creation, the purpose and design of the Almighty are accomplished, and I do not know that he has any more particular use for it. He may then lay it aside as a relic to be respected and honoured for the good it has done, for aught I know.
It is said that brother Joseph in his lifetime declared that the Elders of this Church should step forth at a particular time when the Constitution should be in danger, and rescue it, and save it. This may be so; but I do not recollect that he said exactly so. I believe he said something like this – that the time would come when the Constitution and the country would be in danger of an overthrow; and said he, If the Constitution be saved at all, it will be by the Elders of this Church. I believe this is about the language, as nearly as I can recollect it.
The question is whether it will be saved at all, or not. I do not know that it matters to us whether it is or not: the Lord will provide for and take care of his people, if we do every duty, and fear and honour him, and keep his commandments; and he will not leave us without a Constitution. There is none of you will dispute that the Temple of Solomon was built by the inspiration of the Almighty, and it was built to answer a certain purpose and design: it was built by the skill, wisdom, ingenuity, and strength of man, aided by the inspiration of the Almighty. It was a beautiful structure, and excited the admiration of all people. Even the Queen of the South came to behold the wondrous works of Solomon and his wisdom, and declared that the half had not been told her.
The edifice stood for centuries, though it had become somewhat like the boy’s jack-knife, which had had three new blades and two new handles. In the days of our Saviour, the disciples were very anxious to show him the magnificence of that building. “Master,” said they, “see what stones! Look at the grandeur, sublimity, strength, and skill displayed in the erection of this building!” I see it all; but I tell you one thing, and it is near at hand, when there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. “You come out against this temple!” The Jews thought the Saviour was a blasphemer when he said he would destroy this temple, and in three days he would raise it up again. “What! Are you going to destroy this sacred place that was built by the inspiration of the Almighty?” They supposed he referred to the temple built by Solomon; but instead of that, he referred to the temple of his own body.
This shows how the Jews viewed their temple, and the importance they attached to it. They considered it as a most sacred place, and this is why they misunderstood the Saviour and considered him a blasphemer for presuming to speak against the temple. You discover that the Saviour says, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.
Why must this temple be razed to the foundation? Because it has answered the purpose of its erection; and another thing it has been so grossly polluted that it has incurred the displeasure of the Almighty, and he will not see so noble a structure defiled and remain in the midst of the Jews to be used as a den of thieves, instead of a house of prayer. The Lord went to work to purify it, and took a whip of small cords, and went in and cast out them that bought and sold, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and made quite an uproar in the midst of the Jews. Still they would resort there. There was the place where they would buy and sell, despite the reproof the Saviour had given them. Then said he, There shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. It is useless to endeavour to purify and cleanse it, because it has been made the theatre of so much corruption and hypocrisy. I will sweep it out of existence, and utterly destroy it.
Just so with the Constitution of the United States. It was framed by the inspiration of the Almighty, we readily grant. It has served a certain purpose – been a partial shield to the Church in its infancy, or it has been a check upon mobocracy that otherwise would have risen against it. It has not been a protection exactly, but a check; and the Almighty saw fit to bring forth his work under this Constitution. It has served and fulfilled its purpose. Now, look at the disgraceful roguery practiced under that Constitution. There cannot be an election of a President without bribery, betraying, and buying and selling votes. Under the Constitution there are all kinds of trade, traffic, and commerce carried on in a political view. The Constitution now serves but little purpose other than a cloak for political gamblers, merchants, and hucksters.
The Almighty looks down from heaven and sees it impossible to save the Constitution, to perpetuate it, and cleanse and purify it; for the wickedness of the people is determined to sweep it out of the way. Although it was framed by his wisdom and skill, and his power and goodness, yet with as much cheerfulness will it be overthrown as it was ever erected or framed. I presume that Titus, the Roman Emperor, when he entered Jerusalem, when he overthrew the temple and the city, was inspired by the Devil as much to do it, as perhaps, Solomon was by the Lord to build it, or those that did build it, because it had fulfilled its day and its work, and had become corrupted and impure, and was the place in which corruption was practiced; and he would sweep it away. It is sometimes the case that in a city where a house of ill fame is kept, the people will turn out and demolish the house. It is not because they have an antipathy against the house, but because it was the cover in which abominations were practiced, and they will not bear it, and they turn out once in a while and tear down the house. We do not suppose the Almighty had anything against the temple; but it was a place of resort for corrupt characters, and he was determined to dispense with them by destroying their haunts of iniquity. We do not suppose the Almighty has anything against the Constitution; but it serves as a kind of cover under which corrupt characters hide themselves and attempt to carry on all kinds of barter and traffic in relation to politics; and the Almighty is determined to uncover and expose them.
What Constitution shall we be governed by, when unprincipled men have destroyed the Constitution of our Union? I will tell you what we shall have: while we walk in the favour of God, we shall have a Constitution. The Constitution written in the Bible? No. In the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, or Book of Mormon? No. What kind shall we have, then? The Constitution that God will give us. Do you suppose that Joseph Smith was permitted to be killed because the Almighty had anything against him? No. But he wanted the ungodly that rejected his testimony to fill up the cup of their iniquity; and hence they were permitted to take away his life, after he had accomplished the work he came to accomplish, and not before; they could not touch him before he had done the work he was sent to do – before he had laid the foundation of this kingdom. And when that was completed, he might be taken from the troubles of this world, that the ungodly might have the opportunity of filling up the cup of their iniquity. The blood of Joseph and Hyrum was shed – mingled too with the blood of brother Taylor, who survived, and who is here a living witness to the facts that occurred in connection with their death. Has the nation atoned for that blood? No. Have they offered to do it? They never have. But if one poor scamp should happen to be killed in this country, in this region, the whole of the United States are ready to fly to arms to avenge the blood of that individual, that never was worth the powder and lead to kill him. But the Prophets of God that are inspired of the Almighty to do a work for the benefit of the human family can be killed, and no man lay it to heart. Oh, it is all very well: to be sure, it was an outrageous deed to murder them when they were in the hands of the law – when they were held as prisoners; it was a horrid act: at the same time, we are glad it is done. That is the feeling, and the universal feeling almost throughout the United States. There was hardly a man, woman, or child that did not assent to the death of Joseph and Hyrum, but objected to the way in which it was done. “It is not exactly honourable or pleasing, but we are glad of it anyhow.” That is the sentiment of the nation, and by that very sentiment they have drawn upon themselves the anger of God; and that blood has to be atoned for, and it has to be atoned for upon all those that have said, We are glad of it! – that have secretly said so and cherished that idea. It will extend to them all who have consented to the death of the Prophet of God. — “Self-Government,” a sermon by Elder Orson Hyde, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 3, 1858; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, pp. 150-58
Now, we have the living law. The voice of brother Brigham is heard from day to day and from time to time, and also the voices of his Counselors, who are to him as Aaron and Hur were to Moses, lifting up his hands in the midst of the congregation, and sustaining and upholding him while his voice pours out the mind and will of God unto us. That is the law by which we are governed; and if we abide it, we have no need to transcend our Constitutional rights. In that we are safe, if we will honour and abide by it; and it is the only safe law and protecting power that will shield and screen us in the day of adversity and trial.
As Joseph stood to the people in his day, so do brother Brigham and his Counselors stand to the people in our day. Now, then, provided we can secure the favour, friendship, and goodwill of them that hold the keys of the kingdom in our day, it will be all right. . . .
It is for us, brethren and sisters, to secure the goodwill of those that hold the keys of the kingdom here. We do not care what they think outside of us. We ask no odds of them: they may think what they please. If we can only get the goodwill, faith, and love of our brethren that preside over us, we shall not need the encomiums of the ungodly. — “Self-Government,” a sermon by Elder Orson Hyde, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 3, 1858; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, pp. 150-58
We mean to sustain the Constitution of the United States and all righteous laws. . . .
We will cling to the Constitution of our country, and to the government that reveres that sacred charter of freemen’s rights; and, if necessary, pour out our best blood for the defense of every good and righteous principle. . . .
To accuse us of being unfriendly to the Government, is to accuse us of hostility to our religion, for no item of inspiration is held more sacred with us than the Constitution under which she acts. As a religious society, we, in common with all other denominations, claim its protection. — Discourses of Brigham Young, 358, 359
When the day comes in which the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flagstaff of liberty and equal rights, without a spot to sully its fair surface; the glorious flag our fathers have bequeathed to us will then be unfurled to the breeze by those who have power to hoist it aloft and defend its sanctity. — Discourses of Brigham Young, 360
When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the “Mormon” Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it. . . .
The present Constitution, with a few alterations of a trifling nature, is just as good as we want; and if it is sustained on this land of Joseph, it will be done by us and our posterity. — Discourses of Brigham Young, 361