29) CONTENTION: Should we defend freedom even if it may cause contention? What should be our focus when preserving our rights?

Prophetic Statements

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. 1

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. 2

Ezra Taft Benson

If American freedom is lost, if America is destroyed, it will be because of Americans. What is more, it will probably not be only the works of subversive and criminal Americans. 3

When this nation was established, the Church was restored and from here the message of the restored gospel has gone forth-all according to divine plan. This then becomes the Lord’s base of operations in these latter days. And this base-the land of America—will not be shifted out of its place. This nation will, in a measure at least, fulfill its mission even though it may face serious and troublesome days. The degree to which it achieves its full mission depends upon the righteousness of its people. God, through His power, has established a free people in this land as a means of helping to carry forward His purposes.

It was His latter-day purpose to bring forth His gospel in America, not in any other place. It was in America where the Book of Mormon plates were deposited.

That was no accident. It was His design. It was in this same America where they were brought to light by angelic ministry. 4. It was here where He organized His modern Church, where He, Himself, made a modern personal appearance 5.

It was here under a free government and a strong nation that protection was provided for His restored Church. Now God will not permit America, His base of operations, to be destroyed. He has promised protection to this land if we will but serve the God of the land 6. He has also promised protection to the righteous even, if necessary, to send fire from heaven to destroy their enemies 7.

No, God’s base of operations will not be destroyed. But it may be weakened and made less effective. One of the first rules of war strategy-and we are at war with the adversary and his agents-is to protect the base of operations. This we must do if we are to build up the kingdom throughout the world and safeguard our God-given freedom.

We must protect this base of operations from every threat-from sin, from unrighteousness, from immorality, from desecration of the Sabbath day, from lawlessness, from parental and juvenile delinquency.

We must protect it from dirty movies, from filthy advertising, from salacious and suggestive television programs, magazines, and books.

We must protect this base from idleness, subsidies, doles, and soft governmental paternalism which weakens initiative, discourages industry, destroys character, and demoralizes the people.

To protect this base we must protect the soul of America-we must return to a love and respect for the basic spiritual concepts upon which this nation has been established. We must study the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers.

If we are to protect this American base, we must realize that all things, including information disseminated by our schools, churches, and governments, should be judged according to the words of the prophets, especially the living prophet. This procedure, coupled with the understanding which will come through the Spirit of the Lord, if we are living in compliance with the scriptures, is the only sure foundation and basis of judgment. Any other course of action leaves us muddled, despondent, wandering in shades of gray, easy targets for Satan. If we fail in these pressing and important matters, we may well fall far short of the great mission the Lord has proffered and outlined for America and for His divinely restored Church. 8

Now is the time for us to nail our colors to the mast and to stand up for God and those unequivocal principles of freedom and morality-the very foundations of this blessed land of America! 9

Speaking out against immoral or unjust actions of political leaders has been the burden of prophets and disciples of God from time immemorial. The immoral and unjust try to silence any who carry the message–anyone who will stand up and be counted. No matter whether they label their bottle as liberalism, progressivism, or social reform, I know the contents of the bottle is poison to this Republic and I’m going to call it poison. Their strategy is to focus on just one organization and make it so detestable and ugly in the public mind that they can hold it up as sort of a tar baby and then use it to smear all other individuals or groups in the same category. One of our most serious problems is the inferiority complex which people feel when they are not informed and organized. They dare not make a decision on these vital issues. They let other people think for them. They stumble around in the middle of the road to avoid being “controversial” and get hit by the traffic going both ways. In this mighty struggle each of you has a part. Every person on the earth today chose the right side during the war in heaven. Be on the right side now. Stand up and be counted. 10

It is most unthinkable that any people would knowingly and willfully take on themselves the yoke of communist oppression. As a people who have known only liberty, we are inclined to feel, it cannot happen here. We have become lulled away into a false security. I say to you it can happen here. It is happening here. Our liberty is in danger. But we go blithely and gullibly on our way. Some of us fall for the Kremlin line as planned, and call patriots “extremists” and accuse courageous, liberty-loving citizens of “dividing our people.” We must be vigilant! Let us unite! Let us join in our fight against the forces of anti-Christ! 11

In times as serious as these, we must not permit fear of criticism to keep us from doing our duty, even at the risk of our counsel being tabbed as political, as government becomes more and more entwined in our daily lives. In the crisis through which we are now passing, we have been fully warned. There are some of us who do not want to hear the message. It embarrasses us. The things which are threatening our lives, our welfare, our freedoms are the very things some of us have been condoning. Many do not want to be disturbed as they continue to enjoy their comfortable complacency. There can be no neutrality! We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord! 12

In this great struggle for free agency, think what a power for good we could be in this world if we were united. God will hold us responsible. Let us not be deceived in the sifting days ahead. Let us rally together on freedom and against socialism and communism. We should continue to come to the aid of patriots, programs, and organizations that are trying to save our Constitution through every legal and moral means possible. God has not left us in darkness regarding these matters. We have the scriptures ancient and modern. We have a living prophet, and we may obtain the Spirit. The time is fast approaching when it will require great courage for Latter-Day Saints to stand up for their peculiar standards and doctrine, all their doctrine, including the more weighty principles such as the principle of freedom. Opposition to this weighty principle of freedom caused many of our brothers and sisters in the pre-existence to lose their first estate in the War in Heaven. 13

If we do our duty we can be preserved, and if not, then we shall be destroyed. This means that a good deal of the responsibility lies with the Priesthood of this Church as to what happens to America, and as to how much tragedy can be avoided if we do act now. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared it will be the elders of Israel who will step forward to help save the Constitution, 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. 14

The fight for freedom is God’s fight. Freedom is a law of God, a permanent law. Men cannot break it with impunity. They con 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. 15

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. 16

There was a time when the American people roared like lions for liberty, now we bleat like sheep for security. (Norman Vincent Peale) In this land, we have exalted security, comfort and ease above freedom, in the end we shall lose them all. 17

The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and worldwide mission. The war fought in heaven still rages on earth today. 18

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 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. If the conspiracy comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours. 19

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; “tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” 20. I intend to keep fighting. My personal attitude is one of resolution–not resignation. I urge all Americans to put their courage to the test. Be firm in our conviction that our cause is just. I urge all Americans to arouse themselves and stay aroused. We must not make any further concessions. There is much to be done. The time is short. Let us begin–in earnest–now! 21

An ounce of energy in the preservation of freedom is worth a ton of effort to get it back once it is lost. Today you cannot effectively fight for freedom and not be attacked, and those who think they can are deceiving themselves. While I do not believe in stepping out of the path of duty to pick up a cross I do not need, a man is a coward who refuses to pick up a cross that clearly lies within his path.

A man must not only stand for the right principles, but he must also fight for them. Those who fight for principle can be proud of the friends they’ve gained and the enemies they’ve earned. We face days ahead that will test the moral and physical sinews of all of us. Those who hesitate to get into this fight because it is controversial fail to realize that life’s decisions should be based on principles, not on polls. 22

And if the time should come when you are associated with groups that take delight in tearing down our American way of life, then they seem to enjoy pointing out the weaknesses of our free enterprise system – and it has weaknesses; it has weaknesses because it’s operated by men and women who are full of weaknesses – but when those times come, when our system is criticized, just keep in mind the fruits of the system, the great blessings that have come to us because of our American way of life. No group of people have ever attained the standard of living which is ours. And so let’s become acquainted with what has been accomplished. It’s all right to criticize; it’s alright to try and improve our American way of life; but in doing so, let’s not surrender, let’s not give up, let’s not jeopardize that system which has made America great. 23

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. 24

Supporting Statements

J. Reuben Clark

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 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. If the conspiracy comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours. 25

I say to you that the price of liberty is and always has been blood, human blood, and if our liberties are lost, we shall never regain them except at the price of blood. They must not be lost! 26

The great struggle which now rocks the whole earth more and more takes on the character of a struggle of the individual versus the state. This gigantic world-wide struggle takes on the form of a war to the death. We shall do well and wisely so to face and so to enter it. And we must all take part. Indeed, we all are taking part in that struggle, whether we will or not. Upon its final issue, liberty either lives or dies. The plain and simple issue now facing us in America is freedom or slavery. We have largely lost the conflict so far waged. But there is time to win the final victory, if we sense our danger, and FIGHT! 27

  1. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 23:63.
  2. Pres. David O. McKay Conference Report Apr 50.
  3. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1968.
  4. Book of Mormon Introduction.
  5. D&C 20:1; Joseph Smith—History 1:17
  6. Ether 2:12
  7. 1 Nephi 22:17
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, Title of Liberty, pp. 88-91; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 571
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, “Freedom-Our Priceless Heritage,” Sons of the American Revolution, Salt Lake City, Utah, 22 April 1978; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 574.
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 30-45
  11. Ezra T. Benson, Conference Report, October 1962.
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1973
  13. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1963
  14. Ezra Taft Benson – Conference Report Apr 65
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 54-55
  16. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This
  17. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1968
  18. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965
  19. J. Rueben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, April 1944 and 1952; quoted by Ezra Taft Benson in General Conference April 1972
  20. Thomas Paine
  21. Ezra Taft Benson, February 1968, The Proper Role of Government
  22. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1967
  23. Ezra Taft Benson, “The LDS Church and Politics”, BYU Devotional, December 1, 1952
  24. Ezra Taft Benson, “The LDS Church and Politics”, BYU Devotional, December 1, 1952
  25. J. Rueben Clark, Jr., Conference Report Apr 1944 and 1952; quoted by Ezra Taft Benson in General Conference April 1972
  26. J. Reuben Clark, Church News November 29, 1952; Prophets Principles and National Survival, p. 71
  27. Pres. J. Reuben Clark – Vital Speeches 1938 & Church News 1949; also Ezra Taft Benson Conference Report Apr 65.
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