15) CITIZENSHIP: Should leaders be sustained by the voice of the people they govern? What are the fundamental principles of citizenship? What is our responsibility to educate ourselves?

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

It is the duty of freedom loving people to oppose and resist this evil with all the strength God has given them. If we do not, we stand to lose all we and our forefathers have gained through the centuries. 1

With great regret we learn from credible sources, governmental and others, that a few Church members are joining directly or indirectly, the Communists and are taking part in their activities. . . . To support Communism is treasonable to our free institutions, and no patriotic American citizen may become either a Communist or supporter of Communism. . . . Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist. We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America. 2

We should, in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, learn the principles of the Constitution and abide by its precepts. We encourage Latter-day Saints throughout the nation to familiarize themselves with the Constitution. They should focus attention on it by reading it and studying it. They should recommit themselves to its principles and be prepared to defend it and the freedom it provides. Citizens of this nation are free to participate in efforts designed to warn of the threat of any force or power, theory or principle, that would deprive them of their freedom or the individual liberties vouchsafed by the Constitution. 3

We encourage all members, as citizens of the nation, to be actively involved in the political process, and support those measures which will strengthen the community, state, and nation–morally, economically, and culturally. 4

Spencer W. Kimball

The only way we can keep our freedom is to work at it. Not some of us. All of us. Not some of the time, but all of the time. So if you value your citizenship and you want to keep it for yourself and your children and their children, give it your faith, your belief, and give it your active support in civic affairs. 5

Ezra Taft Benson

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. 6

How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven? . . . We must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Have we read the Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it? . . .

We, the blessed beneficiaries of the Constitution, face difficult days in America, “a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10).

May God give us the faith and the courage exhibited by those patriots who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

May we be equally as valiant and as free.7

May we be worthy of the freedoms that have been provided us in our Constitution, and equal to the trials and tests that shall surely come. We truly have special and individual responsibilities to befriend and to defend that “glorious standard,” our Constitution. 8

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. 9

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. 10

It is now two hundred years since the Constitution was written. Have we been wise beneficiaries of the gift entrusted to us? Have we valued and protected the principles laid down by this great document?

At this bicentennial celebration we must, with sadness, say that we have not been wise in keeping the trust of our Founding Fathers. For the past two centuries, those who do not prize freedom have chipped away at every major clause of our Constitution until today we face a crisis of great dimensions. 11

We must study and learn for ourselves the principles laid down in the Constitution which have preserved our freedoms for the last two hundred years. If we do not understand the role of government and how our rights are protected by the Constitution, we may accept programs or organizations that help erode our freedoms. An informed citizenry is the first line of defense against anarchy and tyranny. 12

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. 13

If our blood-bought freedom is surrendered, it will be because of Americans. What is more, it will probably not be only the work of subversive Americans. The Benedict Arnolds will not be the only ones to forfeit our freedom. “At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?” asked Abraham Lincoln, and answered, “If it ever reaches us, it must spring up among us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher; as a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.” 14

If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers-normally “good” Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free, Americans who have been lulled away into a false security. Great nations are never conquered from outside unless they are rotten inside. Our greatest national problem today is erosion, not the erosion of the soil but erosion of the national morality-erosion of traditional enforcement of law and order. 15

We must teach our children about the spiritual roots of this great nation. We must become actively involved in supporting programs and textbooks in the public schools that teach the greatness of the early patriots who helped forge our liberties. We must teach our children that it is part of our faith that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God (see D&C 101:77, 80). We reverence it akin to the revelations that have come from His hand. 16

I sometimes think that one of the greatest sins at the door of American citizens is the sin of ingratitude. We are inclined to take so much for granted-the blessings which are ours as American citizens. Most of us have never seen anything else. I have often wished that it would be in some way required that every American live abroad for two or three years as the average people over there live-not as tourists live, but as people live over there. Often I have wished we might be required to live for a few months in a nation where people no longer have their freedom-these basic things that are so important to us-in order that we might come back to these shores with a deeper appreciation for what we have as American citizens. 17

We must be righteous, we must learn the principles of the Constitution, we must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented, and we must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice, and we must become accurately informed and then let others know how we feel. No American is worthy of citizenship in this great land who refuses to take an active interest in these matters. 18

No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist, or support programs leading in that direction. 19

Satan is anxious to neutralize the inspired counsel of the Prophet and keep the priesthood off balance, ineffective and inert, using perverse reasoning. For example, he will argue, “There is no need to get involved in the fight for freedom–all you need to do is live the gospel.” This is a contradiction, because we cannot fully live the gospel and not be involved in the fight for freedom. Our position on freedom helped get us to this earth and it will make the difference as to whether we get back home or not. The Book of Mormon also tells us of some of the perverse reasoning the devil will use in our day to keep the saints ignorant, complacent, and asleep. “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: “All is well in Zion: yea, Zion prosperity; all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” Some argue, “there is no need to learn about communism (socialism) in order to avoid it,” but this counsel can help keep our people in ignorance (priest-craft) and flies in the face of the inspired counsel of Pres. McKay who said: “I believe that only through a truly educated citizenry can the ideals that inspired the Founding Fathers of our nation be preserved and perpetuated. Teach the facts regarding communism as an enemy to God and to individual freedom.” 20


Mosiah 2: 11

But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.

Mosiah 7: 9

And he said unto them: Behold, I am Limhi, the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came up out of the bland of Zarahemla to inherit this land, which was the land of their fathers, who was made a king by the voice of the people.

Mosiah 29: 26-27

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

And 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 even as he has hitherto visited this land.

Mosiah 29: 33-34

And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and troubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them.

And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:5

We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

Supporting Statements

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they shall be. Under His plan the only allegiance we owe as citizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up.…This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom. 21

  1. First Presidency Home Teaching Message.
  2. First Presidency Statement, Improvement Era, vol. 39, August 1936, p. 488.
  3. First Presidency Message, January 1987.
  4. Spencer W. Kimball, A Letter from the First Presidency, June 29, 1979.
  5. Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 405.
  6. Ezra Taft Benson, “The LDS Church and Politics”, BYU Devotional, December 1, 1952
  7. Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Divine Constitution” 6-7
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 594; from an address given at the Bicentennial Ball, Salt Lake City, UT, 18 Sep 1987
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, “First Presidency Urges Observance of Bicentennial of the Constitution” 11
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, CHB 28-31
  11. Ezra Taft Benson, CHB 24-25; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 612
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 594; from an address given at the Provo Freedom Festival, Provo, UT, 29 Jun 1986
  13. Ezra Taft Benson, “A Witness and a Warning” 33
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, Springfield, Illinois, 27 January 1837; “Will America Be Destroyed by Americans?” Annual Boy Scouts Banquet, Commerce, Texas, 13 May 1968; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 573.
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, “The American Challenge,” in BYU Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1970], p. 6; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 573.
  16. Ezra Taft Benson, “Righteousness Exalteth a Nation,” Provo Utah Freedom Festival, 29 June 1986; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 570.
  17. “Free Agency,” Washington D.C. Stake Conference, 22 May 1960.
  18. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1987.
  19. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1961.
  20. Ezra Taft Benson, October 1966.
  21. J. Reuben Clark, Jr., The Improvement Era, 43, [July 1940] 444.
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