32) AGENCY: Is freedom an essential element of God’s plan? Does our ability to have freedom and agency with our time, talents and money, matter to God?

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

First Presidency 1941 (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay):

We believe that our real threat comes from within and not from without, and it comes from that underlying spirit common to Nazism, Fascism, and Communism, namely, the spirit which would array class against class, which would set up a socialistic state of some sort, which would rob the people of the liberties which we possess under the Constitution . . .

As we see it, there is no way in which we can, to use your own words, “preserve and perpetuate our freedom—freedom to govern ourselves, freedom of speech, and freedom to worship God according to our own light,” except we shall turn away from our present course and resume the normal course along which this great country traveled to its present high eminence of prosperity, of culture, of universal education, and of the peace and contentment which we enjoyed prior to the inauguration of the “New Deal.” [1]

These things are not matters of partisan politics with us. We care nothing as Church leaders about partisan politics as such, nor about the dominance of one party or the other. We grant to every man the right to vote as he wishes, and we would not control his vote even if we could. But we do reserve to ourselves the right to tell our people what we think is right regarding politics as affecting the fundamentals of our government system, to warn them of the dangers that lie under the present course, and to try to persuade them that their peace, their happiness, and their security do not lie along the path of the present trends of government.

Truly, we do not believe that—again to quote your own words—we can “preserve and perpetuate our freedom—freedom to govern ourselves, freedom of speech, and freedom to worship God according to our own light” unless we turn squarely about and return to the old-time virtues, and re-enthrone our liberties and free institutions. [2]

David O. McKay

The scriptures make clear that there was a great war in heaven, a struggle over the principle of freedom, the right choice. Prophets of God, as watchmen on towers, have proclaimed liberty. Holy me of God have led the fight against anarchy and tyranny. 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. 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. 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. [3]

Ezra Taft Benson

On what basis can we morally resist tyranny?

I say to you with all the fervor of my soul that God intended men to be free. Rebellion against tyranny is a righteous cause. It is an enormous evil for any man to be enslaved to any system contrary to his own will. For that reason men, 200 years ago, pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.

No nation which has kept the commandments of God has ever perished, but I say to you that once freedom is lost, only blood – human blood – will win it back. 1

Freedom is an eternal, God-given principle. There is no genuine happiness without freedom, nor is there any security or peace without freedom. 2

The War that began in heaven is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of Lucifer’s primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments. . . .

. . . We must appreciate that we live in one of history’s most exceptional moments — in a nation and a time of unprecedented freedom. Freedom as we know it has been experienced by perhaps less than one percent of the human family. 3

America needs greater spirituality. You can help provide it. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” [4]. Freedom is an inherited, God-given principle. It has always been planned that God should have in His plan that men should be free. Our great system in the United States is based on the freedom of choice. [5]

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. [6]

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 (priestcraft) 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.” [7]

In due time, when each of us has had a chance to prove himself, including whether or not we are going to stand up for freedom, God will interject himself, and the final and eternal victory shall be for free agency. And then shall those weak-willed souls on the sidelines and those who took the popular course lament their decisions. [Anyone] who retreats from this battle jeopardizes his life here and hereafter. Seldom has so much responsibility hung on so few, so heavily; but our number are increasing, and we who have been warned have a responsibility to warn our neighbor. The fight for freedom cannot be divorced from the gospel. [8]

Freedom is easily replaced by benevolent social programs designed to take care of everyone. [9]

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. [10]

Founders Statements

Patrick Henry

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death !   (Patrick Henry)

Supporting Statements

J. Reuben Clark

The Constitution will never reach its destiny through force. God’s principles are taken by men because they are eternal and true and touch the divine spirit in men. This is the only true way to permanent world peace, the aspiration of men since the beginning. God never planted his Spirit, his truth, in the hearts of men from the point of a bayonet. 4

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! [11]

Marion G. Romney

We who hold the priesthood must beware concerning ourselves, that we do not fall into the traps that Satan lays to rob us of our freedom. We must be careful we are not led to accept or support in any way, any organization or cause which would jeopardize free agency, whether it be in politics, government, religion, employment, education, or any other field. It is not enough for us to be sincere in what we support. We must be RIGHT. [12]

Hugh B. Brown

The threat of communism is sinister, and its dangers are imminent. Hundreds of millions of our fellow beings are being relentlessly imbued with the satanic ideology that religion is nothing but a tranquilizing opiate. They seek to deprive men of physical, mental, and spiritual freedom while endowing the state with monstrous supremacy. This relentless indoctrination is but a continuation of the war that began when Satan’s plan of force was rejected by the Father. We live in the most dangerous period of history. The Church is the main bulwark against communism (socialism). The entire concept and philosophy of (socialism) is diametrically opposed to everything for which the Church stands. It destroys man’s God-given free agency. 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. [13]

  1. 1932-3
  2. A Letter to the Treasury from the LDS First Presidency in 1941
  3. David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1965
  4. John 8:32
  5. Ezra Taft Benson, Munich, Germany High School Graduates, April 1964; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 573
  6. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 54-55
  7. Ezra Taft Benson, October 1966
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1967
  9. Ezra Taft Benson
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1968
  11. J. Reuben Clark, Vital Speeches 1938 and Church News 1949
  12. Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1960
  13. Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, April 1963 & Improvement Era, June 1966
  1. Ezra Taft Benson, Delivered to the International Freedoms Conference. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October 26, 1979
  2. Ezra Taft Benson, Delivered to the International Freedoms Conference. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October 26, 1979
  3. Ezra Taft Benson, CHB 3-4
  4. J. Reuben Clark, The Constitution, Conference Report, April 6, 1957
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