For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holidays like Independence Day have special significance. The freedoms available in the United States not only allow us to live and worship as we wish but also made possible the religious and political climate necessary for the restoration of Christ’s Church.
This weekend, take a look back at what leaders of the Church have said about the United States, liberty and the Constitution. Many of these comments were made in 1976, when the United States celebrated its 200th birthday, but the principles endure over time.
Dallin H. Oaks: “U.S. citizens should … be familiar with its great fundamentals”
“U.S. citizens have an inspired Constitution, and therefore, what? Does the belief that the U.S. Constitution is divinely inspired affect citizens’ behavior toward law and government? It should and it does.
“U.S. citizens should follow the First Presidency’s counsel to study the Constitution. They should be familiar with its great fundamentals: the separation of powers, the individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, the structure of federalism, the sovereignty of the people, and the principles of the rule of the law. They should oppose any infringement of these inspired fundamentals.”
Quentin L. Cook: “We must work together”
“Be an advocate for religious freedom and morality. This is a time when those who feel accountable to God for their conduct feel under siege by a secular world. You understand the moral principles that are under attack and the need to defend morality. Religious freedom all over the world is also under attack. It is important for your generation to become well educated on this issue and assume responsibility for ensuring that the religious freedom you have inherited is passed on to future generations. We must work together to both protect religious freedom and restore morality. Please understand this is not an effort to coerce religious belief. As John Locke asserted, religious worship does not have value unless it is voluntary.”
Ezra Taft Benson: “I reverence the Constitution”
“I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed his stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land. I testify that the God of heaven selected and sent some of his choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government as a prologue to the restoration of the gospel and the second coming of our Savior.
“May God bless us to protect this sacred instrument. In the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ‘May those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever'” (D&C 109:54).
N. Eldon Tanner: “It is important that all citizens be informed”
“It is most important that all citizens be informed in matters of government; that they know and understand the laws of the land; and that they take an active part wherever possible in choosing and electing honest and wise men to administer the affairs of government.”
Ezra Taft Benson: “America … was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations”
“Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: ‘For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth’ (3 Ne. 21:4). America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church.”
N. Eldon Tanner: “What of America’s future?”
“Now, what of America’s future? How can we best show our appreciation to God for these marvelous blessings of freedom, of a place where his true and everlasting gospel was restored, of the preparation and divine guidance in every event leading to that most significant event? We must remember what the Lord told the Jaredites when they were first brought to this land: ‘Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written'” (Ether 2:12).