03) ACCOUNTABILITY: Will individuals be accountable to God for their acts in relation to government? What is the priority of loyalty to country?

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

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, as Latter-day Saints must be vigilant in doing our part to preserve the Constitution and safeguard the way of life it makes possible. Learn more about this divinely inspired charter of our liberty, speak in its defense, and preserve and protect it against evil or destruction. We Encourage your participation and involvement in this worthy endeavor. 1

John Taylor

Besides the preaching of the gospel, we have another mission, that is the perpetuation of the free agency, liberty, freedom and rights of man. 2

David O. McKay

No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States. 3

Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which the Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution. 4

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, 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. . . . No member of this Church can be true to his faith, nor can any American be loyal to his trust, while lending aid, encouragement or sympathy to any of these false philosophies, for if he does they will prove snares to his feet. 5

Men today are rapidly classifying themselves into two groups: believers and nonbelievers. J. Edgar Hoover, and I quote, says: “There is no place here in America for part-time patriots. This nation is face to face with the greatest danger ever to confront it, a sinister and deadly conspiracy which can be conquered only by an alert, informed citizenry. It is indeed appalling that some members of our society continue to deplore and criticize those who stress the communist danger. Public indifference to this threat is tantamount to national suicide. Lethargy leads only to disaster. Knowledge of the enemy, alertness to the danger, everyday patriotism are the brick and mortar with which we can build an impregnable fortress against communism.” 6

Above all else, strive 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 founding fathers. They should also pledge their sincere fealty to our way of liberty—a liberty which aims at the preservation of both personal and property rights. Study the issues, analyze the candidates on these grounds, and then exercise your franchise as free men and women. Never be found guilty of exchanging your birthright for a mess of pottage! 7

Ezra Taft Benson

Our Founding Fathers, with solemn and reverent expression, voiced their allegiance to the sovereignty of God, knowing that they were accountable to Him in the day of judgment. Are we less accountable today? I think not. I urge you to keep the commandments and to pray for our nation and its leaders. 8

The fight for freedom is God’s fight. Freedom is a law of God, a permanent law. Men cannot break it with impunity. They can only break themselves upon it. When a man stands for freedom, he stands for God. As long as he stands for freedom, he stands with God And were he to stand alone, he would still stand wit God. Any man will be eternally vindicated and rewarded for his stand for freedom. The Lord has so endowed this matter of freedom with such everlasting repercussions that it sifted the spirits of men before this world in the Great War in heaven, and it seems today to be the central issue that is sifting those who are left in the world. Life’s failures arise when men neither take the time nor find the season to perform their eternal duties. 9

He who fears criticism is hopeless. Only those who do things are criticized. To hesitate for fear of criticism is cowardly. To be ashamed of patriotism is to be ashamed of God. There is no excuse that can compensate for the loss of liberty. 10

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.” Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we teaching its principles to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it? Have we studied the Federalist papers? It is our sacred responsibility to see that the Constitution is perpetuated so that the Church may more easily flourish in the future. I reverence the Constitution as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God. I testify that God sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundations of the government, and he has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it! 11

There are two unrighteous ways to deal with prophetic warnings; you can fight them or you can ignore them. Either course will bring you disaster. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. 12

No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist, or support programs leading in that direction. 13

We had better take our small pain now than our greater loss later. There were souls who wished afterwards that they had stood and fought with Washington and the founding fathers, but they waited too long–they passed up eternal glory. There has never been a greater time than now to stand up against entrenched evil. And while the gentiles established the Constitution, we have a Divine mandate to preserve it! But, unfortunately, today in this freedom struggle, many gentiles are showing greater wisdom in their generation than the children of light. 14

The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, on neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants. His arguments are clever. Here are a few samples.

“We really haven’t received much instruction about freedom,” the devil says. This is a lie, for we have been warned time and again. No prophet of the Lord has ever issued more solemn warning than President David O. McKay.

“You want to be loved by everyone,” says the devil, “and this freedom battle is so controversial you might be accused of engaging in politics.” 15

As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue that determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the War in Heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The War in Heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare or will they heed the counsel of the prophets and preserve their freedom.

We believe that the gospel is the greatest thing in the world; why then do we not force people to join the Church if they are not smart enough to see it on their own? Because this is Satan’s way, not the Lord’s plan. The Lord uses persuasion and love. 16

We all have a special citizenship responsibility. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound.” We must elect men to public office with a mandate higher than the ballot box. Yes, read what the Lord has said on this important subject in the ninety-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants and then read what He has said regarding our inspired Constitution in the one hundred first section. The days ahead are sobering and challenging and will demand the best within each of us if we are to preserve our freedom. 17

Each priesthood holder should use his influence in the community to resist the erosion which is taking place in our political and economic life. He should use the political party of his choice to express his evaluation of important issues. He should see that his party is working to preserve freedom, not destroying it. He should join responsible local groups interested in promoting freedom and free competitive enterprise, studying political issues, appraising the voting records and proposed programs, writing to members of Congress, promoting good men in public office, and scrutinizing local, state, and federal agencies to see that the will of the people is carried out. He should not wait for the Lord’s servants to give instruction for every detail once they have announced the direction in which the priesthood should go. Each member should exercise prayerful judgment and then act. 18

History teaches that when individuals have given up looking after their own economic needs and transferred a large share of that responsibility to the government, both they and the government have failed. At least twenty great civilizations have disappeared. The pattern of their downfall is shockingly similar. All, before their collapse, showed a decline in spiritual values, in moral stamina, and in the freedom and responsibility of their citizens. They showed such symptoms as excessive taxation, bloated bureaucracy, government paternalism, and generally a rather elaborate set of supports, controls, and regulations affecting prices, wages, production, and consumption. 19

We must make our influence felt by our votes, 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. 20

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It is not enough that we wring our hands and moan about conditions in America. We must become responsible citizens and carry out our civic duty. We should be “anxiously engaged” in good causes and leave the world a better place for having lived in it (D&C 58:27). 21

Gordon B. Hinckley

Leadership in civic and social problems.–Oh, how we need in this day and time men and women who will stand up for decency and truth and honesty and virtue and law and order and all of the other good qualities on which our society is founded….

Now, I want to say to you, and I say it with a plea in my heart, get involved. Get involved on the side of righteousness and truth and decency and sobriety and virtue. You, and others like you, are the great hope of this world. God bless you to speak up for truth and decency. I love these marvelous words of Paul to Agrippa when he recounted his experience on the way to Damascus. The Lord spoke unto him and said, when he had fallen to the ground:

“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness….

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God….” (Acts 26:16, 18)

I wish every young man and woman in this church would read and reread those marvelous words from the 26th chapter of Acts–the words of the Lord to Paul who became probably the greatest missionary who ever walked the earth….

The problem with most of us is that we are afraid. We want to do the right thing, but we are troubled by fears and we sit back and the world drifts about us.

I confess to you that by nature I was a very timid boy. When I left to go on a mission my great father said, “I want to give you only one verse of scripture.” I think this has become, perhaps, the greatest help of my life, these words of the Lord to the ruler of the synagogue whose daughter was reported dead. And the Lord turned to the ruler of the synagogue and said: “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36.)

“Be not afraid, only believe.” I commend to you these wonderful words of the Lord as you think of your responsibilities and opportunities. 22

Founders Statements

The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way
to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to
regulate your life by its precepts.

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as
well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer
Christians for their rulers. 23


D&C 134:1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

Mosiah 29:38
Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

Alma 48:14-16
Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.

And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;

And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the bshedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.

Alma 53:17
And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.

Alma 2:16
Now Alma, being the chief judge and the governor of the people of Nephi, therefore he went up with his people, yea, with his captains, and chief captains, yea, at the head of his armies, against the Amlicites to battle.

Supporting Statements

Winston Churchill

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves. (Winston Churchill)

  1. First Presidency Message, January 1987.
  2. Pres. John Taylor JD 23:63.
  3. Pres. David O. McKay Conference Report Apr. 50.
  4. David O. McKay, Instructor 1956, p. 94.
  5. David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1966, pp. 109-110.
  6. David O. McKay, President of the Church, Conference Report, April 1962, p. 125.
  7. David O. McKay, in Conference Report, October 1962, p. 8.
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 602; from an address given at the Provo Freedom Festival, Provo, UT, 29 Jun 1986
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 54-55.
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, Preface.
  11. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1987.
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965.
  13. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1961.
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965.
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, “Not Commanded in All Things,” of the Council of the Twelve Apostles.
  16. God, Family, Country, page 384.
  17. “Be True to God, Country, and Self,” Young Adult Fireside, Logan, Utah, 11 February 1979.
  18. Title of Liberty, page 192.
  19. The Red Carpet, pages 168-69.
  20. The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner, page 30.
  21. Righteousness Exalteth a Nation,” Provo Utah Freedom Festival, 29 June 1986.
  22. “Prepare to Lead,” BYU Speeches of the Year, February 25, 1969, pp. 6-7.
  23. John Jay, [i]John Jay: The Winning of the Peace[/i]. Unpublished Papers 1780-1784, Richard B. Morris, editor (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980), Vol. II, p. 709, to Peter Augustus Jay on April 8, 1784.
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