Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our Constitution may be Threatened

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke, Richard L. Evans Quotebook, p.88)

Latter-day Saints have long loved and cherished the United States Constitution. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner.” (TPJS, 147) The Lord declared that He “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.” (D&C 101:80) Did you catch that? The Lord established the Constitution, therefore, although not perfect, it is an inspired document.

Quite similar to how mainstream Christianity treats the scriptures, of late, in my opinion, we have been departing more and more from the Constitutional principles that have made this country so great. Unfortunately, our country is accepting the principles of socialism, our Constitution’s arch enemy, at an alarming rate. America has truly entered the “me-generation,” and has forgotten the 1960’s mantra “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Indeed, as a result of our current nanny-state, we have bred a sense of entitlement among people that are unwilling to work for even the necessities of life.

The problem is socialism doesn’t work. It’s been tried over and over again, and has never been successful. If you’re hoping for more fairness under a socialist platform here in America, take a look at the suffering and misery in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia and Cuba over the years . . . just to name a few. Not to mention the number of their own people each of these regimes killed; somewhere between 60 & 100 million!

Interestingly, the onslaught of socialism was seen decades ago by Elder Ezra Taft Benson:

Under policies (not just socialist) that tend to steer away from the Constitution, our freedoms may likely be at risk. For example, the Fairness Doctrine seems to be just the start of restricting our freedom of speech. [Interestingly, Elder Benson also addressed the Fairness Doctrine issue decades ago:] Next to go, our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. All it will take is some lunatic to open fire in a school and the people will tend to see that gun restrictions may be the only way to prevent that event from repeating itself.

In sum, we may be on the verge of witnessing the fulfillment of one of Joseph Smith’s prophecies:

“Even this nation will be on the verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the Constitution is on 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.” (Dated July 19, 1840, Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Historical Archives, Box 1, March 10, 1844.)

In an Independence Day celebration speech in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on July 4, 1854, Brigham Young commented on Joseph’s prophecy:

“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.” (Journal of Discourses 7:15 (1854)) (emphasis added)

President John Taylor also commented and declared that the Elders of Israel should “begin to understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious, and to seek to know and comprehend the social and political interests of man, and to learn and to be able to teach that which would be best calculated to promote the interests of the world.” (Journal of Discourses 9:340 (1862))

Will the members of the Church be the only ones that will eventually uphold the Constitution? I lean towards Pres. Benson’s interpretation that all “righteous citizens” will be the saviors of Constitutional values:

“I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. It will be saved by the righteous citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—among others—men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 7) (emphasis added)

What is clear, however, are two things. First, our Constitutional values are in peril. We should be ever-vigilant of the changes witnessed in Washington. Second, righteous citizens clearly have responsibilities and obligations regarding these matters. Indeed, “[n]ext 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!” (President David O. McKay, 1956, Instructor Magazine 91:34)


Anthony Larson said...

How can a people who do not understand the Constitution or seem willing to stand up for its principles ever save it? We've watched the politicos trammel its sacred precepts for generations, and we've done precious little to oppose them. In fact, we've indulged them, participating in their perfidy rather than standing up to them. In my view, you're coming very late to the party. Our Constitution is in shreds. It wasn't changed; it was ignored. Of course, the opportunity still exists for us set this right, if we will make a stand. But, sadly, I look around me and see few who even understand what's happened, let alone willing to do something about it. I appreciate your comments, but I fear they fall on deaf ears.

Jeremy said...


Sadly, you may be right. I have been politically active for a while now, but have never truly feared for our Constitution until this election when I saw the collective ignorance of the American people voice their opinion for a socialistic government.

However, I do believe that there is time. It doesn't start with Washington, but in the home. We need to be reading our children the Constitution, and teaching them to be vigilant of anything that goes against its principles. Most conservatives are sitting back and "waiting" for the person that will change everything. News Flash! He's not coming. We, the people, are the change that America needs.

Thanks for visiting.

Nate said...

Save the constitution? Should we steal the phrase...Yes we can!

Good post. I think Jeremy has the right point. Our children are not taught the founding principles of our government in school. Founding principles that were "inspired" (i.e. worth learning).

I took my 7 year old out of school last year and took him to a courthouse where he met a judge, heard a good little lecture about the constitution, etc. His time was much better spent with me that day. The sad part is that state laws and school administrators really frown on the action I took. It went down as an "unexcused" absence (parents can't excuse absences anymore, only doctors). Too many of these would get him and me in trouble.

I was lucky enough to learn these things from my father. Hopefully more will do the same.

Hans said...

I know I mentioned this during Con Law when we took it three years ago but I think that the Constitution started to lose some of its luster in Marbury v. Madison. It's considered a foundational opinion for judicial review that currently exists but I don't think that the Founding Fathers intended for a court to wield such control.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hans - Thanks for a great commentary. When I read your post today, it inspired me to go back and find the only contemporary account of the discourse in which Joseph Smith prophesied that the United States' constitution would hang by a thread".

Jeremy said...

Greg, I actually posted this commentary. Nonetheless, thanks for your thoughts.

Indeed, the discourse you cited is where the Prophet's "hanging by a thread" doctrine stems from. There are some, however, that believe that the prophecy may be false since it was allegedly incorporated in the text of the White Horse Prophecy, which has been vehemently declared false by several GA's. The trouble is that the White Horse Prophecy was given in 1843 . . . almost 3 years after the Prophet originally taught the concept. Thus, although a part of the White Horse Prophecy, we cannot discount the numerous citations of later GA's to the "hanging by a thread" statement (as you thoroughly showed in your post you cited).

Thanks for your thoughts.

BHodges said...

I voted for President-elect Barack Obama. The United States has been a socialist nation for decades- even before Ezra Taft Benson began his somewhat historically lamentable talks on socialism, communism, etc. I haven't seen a sermon by ETB given after he became the president of the Church discussing socialism as he had in earlier times, though I could be missing something. I'm not willing to engage in an all-out discussion on why I find many of ETB's former statements unfortunate, nor need I discuss the details of our "socialist nation" in which we have lived our entire lives. I simply wanted to add a faithful LDS voice to the mix to let anyone else know that not all Mormons subscribe to this type of thing currently, which I view as largely ethnocentric in terms of the gospel.

If anyone wants to know what's most necessary, I suggest checking the current LDS conference report, which didn't mention socialism, rather than digging up these particular antiquated sermons by these past leaders. Though the sermons were all delivered in an already-socialist nation, to many many members over the world who belong to officially socialistic political parties.

In interest of full disclosure, I do not consider myself a Democrat nor have I ever.

Jeremy said...

I agree that we have been living in a society that condones socialism to a small extent ever since the days of FDR, when we started social security and then eventually left the gold standard. But not until recently has the government stepped forward and literally taken control of privately-held institutions "for the good of the country." Freddie and Fannie were just the beginning. Then we see bailouts for multiple lending institutions, the big 3 automakers, and there is even talks about bailing out CA and MI!!

The U.S. government has on average $850billion in printed paper money circulating throughout the world. Just in the last few months our government has pledged well over $2trillion to bail out failing institutions. Where is this coming from? They are printing it like mad. The result is staggering inflation of our dollar and the people wondering where relief will be found. That is where the government steps in and begins to control the lives of the individual citizens as they are required to appeal to the government for aid. What is more terrifying, is that the Fed refuses to disclose where it is placing the more than $2trillion of our money.

The signs are clear, and as a result of the decisions we have been making in the last few years are America is being prepared for one of two things: Revolution or Socialism - and it's my guess that most Americans will opt for a socialist program.

I have not singled out Mr. Obama as the source to this phenomenon. Indeed, socialism has been ramping up for years. Clinton's housing policies were an accelarant, then Bush continued them. However, Obama's plan to redistribute the wealth of Americans is without argument socialistic. I can only speak for myself, but “spreading the wealth” as Obama put it, with the government in charge of the spreading, is socialism. I’m opposed to socialism in America. His policies will create disincentives to entrepreneurship, capitalism, small business, and free enterprise. The fundamentals of the free enterprise system is that less government is the best government.

In short, none of us have ever been employed by a poor person. If the government penalizes the rich people who provide the jobs to the rest of us, they will go elsewhere. Trickle-down economics is how a capitalist society works, but our future seems to point in the opposite direction, where wealth is given to the lower classes and expected to create jobs and more wealth.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeremy - sorry for the mistake. I didn't read the bottom line of your post. I realize that the "constitution to hang by a thread" prophecy is often confused with the so-called White Horse Prophecy since the Prophet discussed similar concepts in both discourses.

However, I also included the James Burgess account of May 1843 for that very reason. In The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat and Cook noted that James Burgess' statement was made some time after the May 1843 discourse.

As you noted in your comments, I've had similar comments and questions on my blog and in emails that question the veracity of the Prophet's teachings on this important topic. Taken as a whole and in context of the Prophet's private and public teachings in Nauvoo, the statement about the "constitution to hang by a thread" is representative.

Jeremy said...

Right you are, Greg. Thanks for your insights.

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