What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
Almost any Sunday School class covering the topic of faith will make reference to a teaching authored by James, Jesus Christ’s brother, regarding faith being dead without corresponding works. The pertinent verses read:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
We Latter-day Saints use such scriptures to highlight the importance of religious worship, ordinances, and service. We contrast ourselves from other religions whose adherents feel, in many cases, that mere faith is sufficient to be saved. We note that the gospel of Jesus Christ is, as Spencer W. Kimball said, a “gospel of work.”
As with many other things, however, too many Saints have a myopic view of this scripture’s application. They narrowly define the parameters to which topics this counsel applies, and therefore remain only superficially compliant.
Most members of the LDS Church believe, as they have long been taught, that the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired. In part to create a political environment in which God’s restored Church could thrive (just barely, at first), the Lord cultivated men and circumstances to foster enough freedom to bring about His great and marvelous work.
Unfortunately, millions of members of the Church placing faith in the Constitution’s inspired origin and nature has not produced any substantial degree of “work” associated with it. Latter-day Saints generally vote for and support politicians, policies, and government programs that violate even the most basic and easily understood constitutional provisions. This alleged faith in the Constitution’s importance and necessity, then, is dead—meaningless, void, and perhaps even hypocritical.
Whether we’re talking about the NSA, war, social welfare, subsidies, government funded research, torture, assassinations, marriage, gun control, or a number of other longstanding and consistent constitutional violations, Latter-day Saints have collectively failed in every case to be at the forefront of any movement to uphold the document they claim to revere.
The purpose of this is not to make Mormons (of which I am one—ardently so) into the worst offenders in this regard. Americans at large are in the same boat, but those not of our faith are not held to the same standard. Those who have been given more knowledge of the Constitution’s origins and intent are accountable to a greater degree; to whom much is given, much is required. Latter-day Saints should therefore be different—peculiarly so—and if we have faith in the importance of any political principle, then our actions should be in line with that claim.
As of now, the political faith of most Latter-day Saints is dead—briefly resuscitated every few years when there’s an interesting election worth voting in. The path forward requires sincere repentance, bringing one’s actions into line with one’s stated beliefs. Because of the counsel, commandments, and revelatory insights given, we Latter-day Saints have the opportunity to be among the world’s leading advocates of liberty. We’ve fallen far too short for far too long.