November 30th, 2011

Is Libertarianism Compatible With Mormonism?


photo credit: Altus Photo Design

Earlier this year, Lawrence Vance gave a speech at the Mises Institute‘s 2011 Austrian Scholars Conference titled “Is Libertarianism Compatible With Religion?” Narrowing his question to Christianity specifically, Vance used select Biblical passages to conclude in the affirmative, asserting the following:

Not only is libertarianism compatible with the most strict, most biblically literal form of Christianity, it is demanded by it.

It is my intention in this article to demonstrate that if select passages from the Bible offer a stream of support for libertarianism (something with which I agree), then the additional scripture and teachings found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offer a tidal wave of supporting statements in comparison.

I won’t be addressing here the question that has been circulating in the media lately regarding whether Mormons are Christians. (All Mormons would say yes; most would say “duh…”) For this article, I will simply assume that the reader will concede that Mormons are Christians in that they worship Jesus Christ and consider Him their savior.

A brief description of Mormonism will prove helpful for those currently unfamiliar with its basic structure and tenets; understanding Mormonism’s support for libertarianism necessarily requires first understanding Mormonism. “Mormons” are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was officially organized in 1830. The nickname “Mormon” is derived from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ which is a record of prophetic counsel and history considered as scripture; Mormons also believe in the authenticity and revelatory history of the Bible.

Just as Christians embrace the New Testament in addition to the Old Testament—the sacred text of the Jewish faith—Mormons embrace the Old and New Testament, as well as the Book of Mormon (a prophetic record of people which anciently inhabited the Americas), the Doctrine and Covenants (a prophetic record in modern times), and the Pearl of Great Price (a selection of writings of and revelations received through the Prophet Joseph Smith). Modern prophets and apostles lead the Church today and provide continuing revelation, just as in times of old. Thus, we believe in and adhere to further revelatory texts and instruction that provide additional context and guidance. These are replete with counsel and principles that harmonize very well with libertarianism.

These additional scriptures are in fact so permeated with principles common to the political philosophy of libertarianism that I decided to write a book to highlight them in greater detail. Latter-day Liberty: A Gospel Approach to Government and Politics is a lengthy response to the question asked in this article’s title. Like Mr. Vance, I answer in the affirmative—with a few figurative exclamation points added on to the end.

While the Bible does indeed contain scriptures that affirm the non-aggression principle or some related aspect of libertarianism, the other sacred texts and statements from leaders of the LDS Church have them in abundance. A few examples should suffice to demonstrate direct support of libertarianism; I offer far more examples, and expound in greater detail, in my book.

  • Perhaps the best example comes from Joseph Smith, the first prophet in the restored Church. When asked by a visitor how he was able to govern so many people (then in Nauvoo, Illinois) so well, he replied: “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”
  • Doctrine and Covenants 134, a chapter in scripture prefaced as “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general,” contains several verses which uphold the explicit right to private property. For example: “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”
  • David O. McKay, a prophet during the 1950s and 60s, once said that “A man may act as his conscience dictates so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others.” Thomas Jefferson couldn’t have said it better.
  • Captain Moroni, a military general leading the Lord’s chosen people around 100 B.C. as told in the Book of Mormonwrote to the government he fought to defend that “I seek not for power, but to pull it down.” A prophet years later wrote of Moroni that “if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” This serves as a clear endorsement of his efforts to decentralize power and uphold individual liberty. Moroni further created a “Title of Liberty” to rally his people to freedom’s cause.
  • During a righteous period of time as documented in the Book of Mormon, two previously warring civilizations lived in harmony. The fruits of this relationship, praised as a positive result of that righteousness, included free trade and open migration, with individuals enjoying great prosperity where continual destruction once existed.
  • Towards the latter end of the Book of Mormon, the prophet who later compiled the record of scripture offers a stark warning to future readers. He documented how secretive groups of conspiring individuals brought down two separate and previously strong civilizations by infiltrating their respective governments and imposing their statist wills on the masses. We are counseled to “suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain” and commanded by God to “awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you.” Studious Mormons thus are sensitive observers and opposers of corruption and conspiracy— especially within government, since scripture also documents that such groups usurp political authority in an attempt to further their nefarious ends.
  • In the Book of Moses, a war among God’s children during their pre-mortal existence is revealed. Satan’s initial plot is documented, wherein he “rebelled against [God], and sought to destroy the agency of man.” This agency, elsewhere stated by God to be a gift given to each of his children, is a close cousin of liberty. It is the ability to choose between opposites while possessing a knowledge of good and evil. The scriptures are replete with examples of God using persuasion alone to encourage his children to use their agency (voluntarily) to follow him and keep his commandments. “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh,” says one Book of Mormon scripture, “and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”
  • In the Book of Mormon, taxation is inseparably linked with slavery and bondage. One king was described as wicked for, among other reasons,imposing a single 20% income tax on his people, while another king is praised for his righteousness for levying no taxes whatsoever.
  • There are clear examples in The Book of Mormon showing the Lord’s disapproval of preventive war. Upholding the Just War Theory (and non-aggression axiom), one ancient prophet rebuked his people for their desire to wage an offensive assault on their enemies. He said: “The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.”

Countless other examples exist (including one where the Prophet Joseph Smith advocated for nullification!). With the brief descriptions provided for the above examples, I have absolutely done them an injustice. I elaborate in far more detail, and offer hundreds of other scriptures and quotes, in my book.

Christianity is a message of peace and liberty. It is morally propagated only through persuasion. It demands that its adherents apply its principles not only in their private lives, but in the public sphere.

A modern day prophet once emphasized that those principles are inseparably infused with liberty. Joseph F. Smith declared: “The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of freedom; the gospel of the Son of God is the gospel of liberty.” Numerous scriptures and statements affirm this very point; as with Christianity in general, Mormonism’s basic tenets uphold the importance of individual liberty.

The rest of Vance’s article has equal application to Mormonism, including pondering why so many Mormons reject libertarianism. Despite the poor track record of Latter-day Saints to be defenders of individual liberty, the duty remains. As one Church leader declared: “Our most important need as defenders of liberty is to know what true liberty is, to teach it, to profess it, and to testify of it.”

My book — Latter-day Liberty: A Gospel Approach to Government and Politics — is one Mormon’s attempt to teach, profess, and testify of individual liberty, specifically within the context of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Still, its message is important for Christians in general, as well as atheists, agnostics, and anybody seeking to learn how they can persuade more of their Mormon colleagues and friends to adopt a libertarian framework. That others not of the Mormon faith can enjoy and value the book is evidenced by the fact that it has been endorsed by Ron Paul, Tom Woods, Doug French, Lawrence Reed, Michael Boldin, and others.

Is libertarianism compatible with Mormonism? The few offerings provided above, along with a long list of others, assert that it is.

47 Responses to “Is Libertarianism Compatible With Mormonism?”

  1. TRON
    November 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    More questions to Connor about capitalism.

    How do you explain Acts 4:32

    32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that bought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

    4 Nephi 3

    3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

    Moses 7:18

    18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

    God says in D&C 49:20: But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.

    And again in Luke 18:

    24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

    25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    And how about the Old Testament law that all debts should be forgiven every seven years?
    Deuteronomy 15:1-2

    So when I, voting in free elections, vote for someone who leans more socialist, I’m in the wrong? I think not.

  2. elijah
    November 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    To the person who previously commented. These scriptures you have given are great, but non of them introduce the idea that violence and force should be used to accomplish this righteous commandment. This is the difference between satans plan and Gods.

  3. Clumpy
    December 1, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    Congrats on the release of the book, Connor. I hope it sells well.

    To my colleagues in this thread, I doubt that any concrete mapping of modern political principles onto scriptural passages will ever really work. Still, we do the best we can to do the right thing in ambiguous circumstances, and we can find relevance through Prophetic counsel as long as we don’t get too sure of our interpretations.

    I happen to feel that a righteous “Zion” society (not one governed directly by God but one we’re trying to manage on our own) would abstain from governmental force to make people do the right thing, but also wouldn’t have class distinctions or inequality. But that would come as a consequence of mutual charity and individual commitment to avoid exploiting one’s brothers and sisters, not external force. Unfortunately, in an imperfect society private property is the best solution mankind has come up with to protect individual agency and allow people their own autonomy and space for themselves and their families. And while I believe in a safety net, any top-down attempt to impose the type of society that can only exist as a consequence of individual commitment and righteousness represents what LDS folk might call people exercising “unjust dominion” over one another, and has very real negative consequences besides.

    So I think Connor (and others) make a pretty convincing case for a libertarian state. While obviously very different from the system the Israelites and other “Church” communities lived under, I think it’s the best we can do without direct divine governance.

  4. Brint Baggaley
    December 1, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    @TRON,

    You bring up some great questions and things which I have searched for some time, so I’ll chip in my perspective on these things, hope it’s worth something.

    Acts 4: 32, I don’t believe contradicts anything Connor has posted. It refers to the church and not the state. It says, “…the multitude of them that believed…” I hope that we all choose to live this standard in our own lives.

    4 Nephi 3 is better understood if we also read 2: “…the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” So once again it refers to members of the church. I also believe when it talks about them dealing justly, this would suggest that it was by their personal conscience that there were no rich or poor, not by government force. Reading on to verse 24-26 it explains that when some began to be lifted up in pride they could no longer have their substance in common. It seems there couldn’t be a law to force redistribution, but it required willing sacrifice which was now not possible. V. 24 suggests that pride is the real problem. Pres. Benson gave an oft repeated talk on pride where he explains that pride comes both from the top down and the bottom up. This covers how socialist leaning politicians gain their power. D&C 121 explains how the church is governed. I believe these principles can be applied to all of your given scriptures, so I won’t go on.

    When you vote, I would think that it is up to your personal conscience, which you must follow. I would simply ask you to consider these principles and seek knowledge from the Holy Ghost for guidance. I agree fully with Clumpy that we simply can’t get too sure of our own perceptions. The spirit is the best guide, but can only speak if we are humbly seeking the truth.

  5. Brint Baggaley
    December 1, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    @Clumpy,

    I really liked your comment on this post. I’m just stuck with one question and would like your perspective. You mentioned that you believe in a ‘safety net’. I’m just wondering how you feel that works with Libertarianism? I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong, but I generally conclude that a safety net takes the consequence away from the choice and therefore defeats the idea of natural consequences being the teacher. If I make drugs legal, but also give someone a place to stay and food to eat by government mandate, am I not enabling evil? If I am handing out money at my door, do I not need to control the crowd that will inevitably come? On the flip side, if there is no safety net, will people not think before making poor choices? If I’m not handing stuff out at my door, I can open my boarders and receive those who want the opportunities I offer. If someone has need, if charity (the pure love of Christ) is what must take care of that person, will we not grow in love and charity instead of outsourcing our charity to the government?

    I guess I see the safety net as the item that makes the crucial difference in Libertarianism. I fear that with the safety net, we will create Amsterdam. Without it, I believe we will move toward Zion. This is an honest question and I am open to perspective.

  6. Clumpy
    December 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    @Brint

    Some personal background first :). Libertarianism casts a pretty wide net, from everything to libertarian socialism (which actually sees private property as inexcusable because it brings a person into a position of economic coercion over another) to the type of society Rothbard would have advocated where even law enforcement and the legal system are incorporated into the free market. Geolibertarians, as a somewhat fringe example, are close to the former in feeling that somebody who “owns” land deprives others of the right to use that land, since man has a right only to the fruits of their labor and land was not created through labor. Some libertarians support intellectual property, others (Von Mises notably) reject it as an arbitrary limitation on the actions and speech of others.

    The unifying theme in my opinion is a belief in liberty and a rejection of coercion, with the pretty crucial caveat that people are free to interpret those concepts in different ways. The current stripe of rising libertarianism I would say has quite a bit to do with minarchism and beliefs a state necessary, but only to prevent the use of force or aggression against others. Both aisles of Washington would reject this use of the state as they both believe in exercising state power proactively for various goals and interests, and anarchists see even a minimal state as disgusting in justifying the existence of government at all.

    I personally feel that a minimal state provides the best insurance we can give against some of the worst governmental excesses, but (at least in this point in my life) see some small governmental influence as a good way of achieving consistency and preventing things like fraud, destruction of property and physical coercion or violence of one individual against another. And, pragmatically, I feel that a government who can provide law enforcement and defensive forces to protect citizens from violence within and without can also protect families from starvation. This is not so odd – after all, buying and selling weapons and protection on the free market might allow property owners to care for their own property – many libertarians reject public law enforcement entirely. Libertarianism is a continuum rather than a black-and-white set of beliefs, and I take a similar approach in assigning one practice to part of government’s minimal function that others are free to accept or reject.

    Practical evidence has shown that most people on governmental assistance are in fact between periods of work, and that a safety net generally benefits those either absolutely unable to provide for themselves or people in unique situations (such as single mothers caring for children following the loss/divorce of their spouse, or people going through sudden medical or other emergencies). Few people are unemployed for extended periods out of choice, so I’m more concerned about helping those legitimately in need than in fraud (I find the “culture of poverty” argument to be fallacious and feel that poverty perpetuates itself mainly due to its association with greatly decreased access to resources). Poverty is not, ar any rate, inherently a consequence of sin, nor wealth evidence of one’s contribution to society, so I reject any arguments which seem to invoke natural selection (“Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”).

    At any rate, we have plenty of wiggle room in the budget even while cutting it immensely and changes take time – as Dr. Paul says it may be necessary to address core entitlements when we reach that point (if we ever do).

    I still believe that true equality and charity in a society will only come from within. It also may be possible that allowing government to provide a safety net will make it seem that this is an inherent role of government, minimizing individual responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters. On the other hand, while it may be a Band-Aid solution charity’s only function is not to serve as a mechanism for individual moral improvement; it also exists to help the destitute, and if government can use some small measure of “force” to protect people from fraud and violence, my model of government is willing to give it some leeway to protect against some equally-devastating things. Feel free to disagree, if you can reach the end of what I’m sure is a very long diatribe by now on my part :).

  7. Carpenter
    December 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Satan was the very first Libertarian and the very first Politician. His first Political speech was in the Garden of Eden where he convinced Eve that she could disobey GOD. Freedom and Liberty from GOD is what Satan preached.

    But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
    For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
    and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    And I know what your gonna say. That Satan was a Liberal.
    But if that was the case Satan would have told Eve to abort her children and to have sex with the apple. He didn’t. He offered her FREEDOM from the Law of God.

    I think the more important question is:
    Is Libertarianism Compatible With CHRISTIANITY?

    most…
    Libertarians believe in Drug Legalization (Ron Paul is Pro-Heroin)
    Libertarians believe in Freedom of Pornography (its your choice)
    Libertarians believe in Freedom of Abortion (again its your choice)
    Libertarians believe in Freedom of Immoral Perverse acts (if it don’t hurt anyone than so what)

    and most Libertarians literally worship the US Constitution as if it is a Holy Document. The make a Golden Calf out of the Economy and they seem to dance around their Economic Gurus praising and worshipping them as if they are Divine.

    I find Libertarianism to be extremely IDOLATROUS and very little different than Baal Worship. Now does that make Libertarianism compatible with Mormonism? I’m not a Mormon so I don’t know but anything that makes Ayn Randianism an ultimate thing can’t be good.

    The Liberals are even worse! They are much much worse. Liberalism is a 1000x worse! But the Lesser of two Evils is still Ayn Rand… oooops I mean Evil and I just can’t support Evil even if its a little bit less Evil.

  8. Clumpy
    December 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    @Carpenter You might be more at home in Saudi Arabia. They aren’t Christian but I think their rhetoric and governmental policy would be right up your alley.

  9. Carpenter
    December 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    whats wrong Clumpy?
    Is that the best you can do?

    Ayn Rand is in HELL. She litertally was an Anti-Christian who wanted to DESTROY Christianity. And she said so on live TV.

    Libertarianism is Ayn Randianism.
    Ron Paul and most liberatarians seem to worship Ayn Rand.

    Have you ever seen a Libertarian quote Jesus Christ?
    Have you ever seen a Ron Paul accuratly quote the Holy Bible?
    I haven’t but you see them quoting Libertarian scripture from the Ayn Rand BIble ever single day. Libertarianism is Ayn Randianism.

    Ayn Rands philosphy was used by Anton Levay to author the Satanic Bible.

  10. JJL9
    December 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    TRON,

    Why don’t those scriptures mention that the government should force people to live that way? Why don’t they mention that those people only lived that way because of the threat of force, imprisonment and even death?

    Oh, probably because that’s not what they are advocating at all?

    Probably because those people were righteous people choosing to live that way, and not being forced by government?

  11. JJL9
    December 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Carpenter,

    You are using quite a number of logical fallacies here. I’m not sure if you know what I mean. Do you?

    Also, based on your tone (at least the tone that seems to come through in your posts) I don’t think you are interested in logic to begin with. Are you?

  12. TRON
    December 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    @JJL9

    Keeping extra for yourself did seem to be a death sentence.

    Acts 5

    1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

    2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

    3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

    4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

    5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

    6 And the young men rose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

    7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

    8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

    9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

    10 Then fell she down astraightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

    11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

  13. Carpenter
    December 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    logical fallacies?
    Are you kidding me?

    OK lets start over. The Post Topic
    Is Libertarianism Compatible With Mormonism?

    and so I ask
    Is Libertarianism Compatible With Christianity?

    the answer is NO!
    Libertarianism IS NOT Compatible With Christianity. PERIOD!
    End of story. LIbertarianism is NOT an option for Christians.
    If you are a Christian you cannot be a Libertarian. If you are
    a Libertarian you are NOT a Christian (your’e a Libertarian).
    Libertarianism IS NOT Compatible With Christianity.

    So once again is Libertarianism Compatible With Mormonism?

  14. TRON
    December 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    @Carpenter

    Wow as a liberal Democrat I’m 1000 times more evil than Satan?

    Which thing that I do is so evil?

    Let’s see you did have a list.
    Drugs: I just took some Ibuprofen.
    Porn: I stared at the Venus de Milo in Paris for about two minutes.
    Abortion: My wife had to have a D&C because of a molar pregnancy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D_and_C
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molar_pregnancy

    Immoral and Perverse acts: My wife and I french kiss.

    @everyone else

    Great discussion.

  15. Carpenter
    December 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    just search for RON+PAUL+Child Pornography at You Tube and you will see RON PAUL objecting to prosecuting Child Pornographers in his own words! Right from his own mouth.

    just search for RON+PAUL+HEROIN at You Tube and you will see RON PAUL promoting the Legalization of HEROIN. He is nuts.

    He is Pro-Abortion, Pro-Prostitution, Pro-Heroin and Pro-Marijuana.
    About the only thing he opposes is going after Child Porngraphers with Gov funds because Child Pornography is not in the Constitution.

    Ron Paul (the Libertarian) is a KOOK! And he was the only person in US Congress to vote against and openly oppose prosecuting Child Porngraphers.

  16. JJL9
    December 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Such compelling arguments.

  17. Lizzy
    December 1, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    I always thought libertarians were somewhat godless, because they equate prostitution with attending church. They have a moral relativism of sorts. They want to structure society so that there are the same incentives to smoke dope as there are to marry and have children. Might work in the next life, canNOT work in this one. Add religion to libertarianism and you get conservatism.

  18. Lizzy
    December 1, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    I guess I should read your article now. :)

  19. Lizzy
    December 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    OK I read it. Here is the little secret about “libertarianism”. If everyone were like Moroni, it would work. If everyone is a dope smoking jobless Ron Paul supporter (and there are a few), it would not work. So the secret is this: In any society, when vice becomes the norm for a MAJORITY of the people and their leadership, freedom goes bye bye. There can be a certain amount of vice in a society as long as the majority of the citizenry and the leadership are conservative and live the Judeo Christian moral code. So the idea of libertarianism where there are no laws and everyone does what’s right and decent…..won’t happen in this life. Let’s not set ourselves up for failure. It’s a war, people.

  20. Trevor
    December 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    @Carpenter You are astonishing! Thanks for the laughs.

  21. JJL9
    December 2, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Lizzy,

    You suggest that libertarians “want to structure society so that there are the same incentives to smoke dope as there are to marry and have children.”

    Actually, libertarians don’t want government in the business of “incenting” anything.

    Do you need the government to give you an incentive not to smoke dope? I don’t. The natural laws of the universe and the eternal laws of God provide that.

    Do you need the government to give you an incentive to marry and have children? I don’t. Again, the natural laws of the universe and the eternal laws of God provide that.

    I understand the pain and anguish that drug use causes. Whatever penalty the government might add to that would make no difference whatsoever. I have never even considered using drugs and never will. It has nothing to do with government incentives.

    I also have seen and personally experienced the joy and happiness that comes from marriage and having children and raising a family. Nothing the government could do would change my desire to do that. In fact, if government provided a disincentive it wouldn’t stop me.

    Consider this. If you authorize the government to provide incentives for people to do “good things” and disincentives to do “bad things”, then who gets to choose which things are good and which things are bad?

    I suppose as long as they let you choose, then everything will be just fine. But, they won’t. Do you really want Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi (or their next replacements) do decide what you should and should not be doing, and to punish you for doing things they don’t want you to do, and to reward you for doing things they want you to do?

    Can you think of any examples of things that you think are good things to do that they might disagree with? Do they view population growth, in general, as a good thing? They don’t. Do they view the idea of having a large family, in general, as a good thing? They don’t. Do you? I do.

    Can you think of any examples of things that you think are bad things that they might think are good things? Do you think abortion is a good thing? I don’t. But guess what? Some people do. Would like government providing rewards for people that have abortions?

    These are just a couple of examples. I bet you can think of many more. You see, it’s not a question of what is good and what is bad. It is the principle of who should be in charge of deciding what is good and what is bad. Should the government decide that for us?

    I don’t know if you are LDS, but if you are, you can read these and many, many more similar declarations by modern prophets.

    http://lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/to-act-for-ourselves-the-gift-and-blessings-of-agency?lang=eng&query=agency

    http://lds.org/ensign/1975/05/using-our-free-agency?lang=eng&query=agency

    http://mormonchannel.org/programs/stories-from-general-conference-episode-43?lang=eng

    http://lds.org/new-era/1976/11/moral-free-agency?lang=eng&query=agency

    http://lds.org/ensign/2006/03/the-fulness-of-the-gospel-agency?lang=eng&query=agency

    Try counting how many times they use the word agency, and in what context.

    Do you really believe that having the government essentially make your moral decisions for you is consistent with any kind of liberty or consistent with the teachings of modern day prophets?

  22. Jeff T.
    December 2, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Carpenter, wanting to stop caging people for using drugs is not the same things as being “pro-drugs.” It just means that they support our right to make the decisions for ourselves.

  23. Jack W. Scott
    December 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    I am a fundementalist Christian and have noticed the recent heating up of debating Libertarianism. It’s interesting to note that the top Libertarians in the world are Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone. They own FOX and CBS. Interesting that TV and Libertarianism get along so well, when the FLDS teaches against TV-watching. Well, I don’t watch any television either. And, sure enough, just as the television Empire punished Warren Jeffs, they punish me by broadcasting dirt on me on “Jack” FM radio (authorized by Sumner Redstone). This, among other things leads me to question the morals of the television makers, do they sell their soul for their part in show-business? Are these top Libertarians merely Satanic, ruthless selfists? But, it gets worse, not only is Hollywood Libertarian, immoral, and Satanic, they quash anything that would save the world’s environment! Yup, we could all be driving Solar Electric Cars, but for the top Libertarians suppressing the information, hiding it from the public. I say that once you’re in the company of Libertarians, you’re in a ruthless pack of selfists who seem to want to kill the world for their kicks.

  24. Steve
    December 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Carpenter – You are confusing de-criminalising something with legalizing it. Big difference.

  25. TRON
    December 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    @JJL9

    So do you believe child protective services ever has the right to take a child from there parents?
    Should child protective services even exist?
    I immediatly see government making decisions of right and wrong in these cases.
    How about making a Diet drink with sugar and saying it has no sugar should the government check?
    When I was a pool operator the government checked our pool every month. Should they check? Once cause of there test we found out that my test kit was bad. We didn’t get fined we just got a new test kit.
    Should businesses be required to have enough doors to escape a fire?
    Should employers be allowed to lock there employees up?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire
    Or how about this?
    From the song 16 tons.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16_tons

    According to Travis, the line from the chorus “another day older and deeper in debt” was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself. This and the line “I owe my soul to the company store” is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged for only goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices.
    Should we go back to this?
    Government has to make moral judgments and if we don’t support the judgments we can vote them out and change the laws.

  26. Clumpy
    December 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Man, this thread is really bringing out the Froot Loops.

  27. PIerzstyx
    December 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    Tron

    Your last quote from Acts is misleading, or rather your conclusions about it is. The key is in verse 4:

    Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

    Both Annais and his wife were not struck down for not giving all to the Church. In fact Peter affirms that everything they had was theirs that while they had it and after they sold it the money was “thine own”. The reason they were struck dead is because they entered into and carried out a conspiracy, “agreed together”, to lie to God and deceive Him and His representatives. They were struck down for lying to God.

  28. Pierzstyx
    December 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Also Carpenter, you are wrong. Paul is not pro-heroin. He is against the War on Drugs because the government uses it as another tool to violate its constitutional boundaries and invades your privacy and restricts your civil liberties and extends their policing powers. He has stated he would support state laws regulating drugs because that is constitutionally where such power is invested. This makes sense as it is easier to restrain your state government as opposed to the federal government. Like Dr. Paul asked the voters in S.C. without federal force being used against you would the voters of your state legalize heroin? Then he said “No! Of course not!” He is right. No state would. Same with prostitution. Not even Nevada has been able to expand its prostitution business despite it being legal there. The people don’t want more of it.

    He is not “pro-pot” as you’ve put it. He does support medical studies into proper uses for marijuana medically but that is understandable. After all medicinal heroin is legal, given as a painkiller in hospitals. No one throws a fit about that. Why not marijuana, or a marijuana extract? It makes a lot of sense.

    And he is NOT pro-abortion. In fact he has an official political ad talking about his pro-life views. In Congress he is the only Congressmen who has introduced a official bill, “The Sanctity of Life Bill” that would define human life legally as beginning at conception and protect children in utero against abortionists. That makes him more pro-life than just about anyone else in Congress.

    Dr. Paul makes the point that you can not force people to be good by the force of law. People have to choose to be moral. That is what free agency is about. And if that free agency is so important God lost 1/3 of all His children before violating it, I think its just as important to protect here and now. Dr. Paul is about keeping to the bounds of the Constitution and allowing men and women the right of free agency to live their own lives. That seems godly to me.

  29. teelea
    December 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    So, I suppose a corollary question could be, can you be a truly faithful Latter-day Saint and not be a Libertarian? Given the teachings of our modern-day scriptures and prophets, and the corruption in both major parties, it seems to be increasingly doubtful.

  30. Jennifer
    December 4, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    @TRON
    In reference to Acts 5, the problem was not in keeping something back, it was in lying about having given all. V. 4 spells this out.
    All giving should be voluntary.
    2 Corinthians 9:7
    Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

  31. M
    December 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Carpenter,

    Satan was the very first libertarian? A fundamental principle guiding libertarianism is the diffusion of power so that one part of society cannot enforce a tyranny over the other part of society. God has given us the gift of free will or agency. He has allowed us to come to this earth where there is opposition in all things (good and evil). And he has given us laws (His commandments). On this earth, we are in a place where some will use their free will improperly. But tell me, when was the last time God has come down and forcefully stopped you from committing a sin? I would guess never. The truth is that all of us except Jesus have sinned. Therefore agency is so important to God’s plan for us that He will allow us to exercise it even if it means that we at times misuse it. How we overcome the effects of sin is another topic and it is the primary reason Jesus came to Earth, to redeem us from sin.

    Additionally, God has asked us to seek the truth — the truth will make us free. Agency or free will is a gift from God and He asks us to turn it voluntarily back over to Him. Satan on the other hand wants to steal it from us and is willing to use the institutions of society to forcefully take it. This would make Satan more of a socialist or communist in my opinion (I’m not trying to label people evil, just speaking out about the philosophies). This is why the concentration of power is bad because the axiom is true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. History teaches us that very few men have been able to hold a position of great power in righteousness.

    Any Rand may have been sadly mistaken about religion and the existence of God, but she did not create libertarianism. So, it seems to me that the only thing you know about libertarianism is that Any Rand was one and that she was also an atheist and you have jumped to the conclusion that all libertarians are atheist. That’s a mighty big jump friend. Diffusion of power is a correct principle and God wants us to be able to make our own choices even if they are wrong ones. I don’t think that’s arguable, but I suppose you will attempt it anyway.

    TRON,

    Find for me the remarks of a church leader (apostle past or present) where they have spoken favorably about socialism, communism, etc. I would like documented references. Here’s a good starting point. http://www.latterdayconservative.com/articles/is-socialism-the-united-order/ . Please don’t assume that I am trying to attack you or your beliefs. You and I both know that the church does not tell it members how they should vote or what parties they ought to align with. Connor’s point, I believe, is that it is not wrong for a mormon to be Libertarian and then he is sharing his opinion that more if not all mormon’s should be libertarian. Nothing wrong with sharing his beliefs and trying to sell/promote his book.

  32. Brint Baggaley
    December 5, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    @Clumpy,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I always appreciate a better understanding of all views. If anyone wants to pursue this further I am open to questions/comments.

    I would like to add one more perspective into the discussion as to Libertarianism being compatable with Mormonism. The following is from Bruce R. McConkie (The Millenial Messiah, p. 667):

    “Lucifer sought to dethrone God, to sit himself on the devine throne, and to save all men without reference to their works. He sought to deny men their agency so they could not sin. He offered a mortal life of carnality and sensuality, of evil and crime and murder, following which all men would be saved.”

    To me, brother McConkie seems to be suggesting that Satan’s plan was not merely to take away choice, but to take the consequences away from choices that could be made. I believe that Agency or freedom or Liberty or any other of these things requires 3 basic parts:
    1. The ability to choose.
    2. Some amount of knowledge as to the expected results of the decision.
    3. Ownership of the results of the decision.

    If Satan can remove any one of these things, he can accomplish taking away agency. By this standard, I would say that God was the first Libertarian, as he gave Adam a choice, some knowledge of the consequences of his possible decision and accountability for his decision. Satan was the first politician in that he tried to persuade Adam and Eve that they wouldn’t surely die. There would be no adverse consequence to their decision.

    At this point, I would conclude that Libertarianism (at least those forms of it which allow for complete natural consequences to actions) are not only compatible with Mormonism, but more compatible than any other political philosophy.

  33. Clumpy
    December 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    @Brint Other than perhaps a society directly run by God, yes. Principles designed to limit the unjust power of people over other people (like habeas corpus) don’t really apply when the only Judge over the people is deity.

    The fallacy that some of the more fringe posters in this thread are making is equating the will of God with the will of government. Government legislation against something does not bring a country more into line with good principles; it merely removes the freedom to make the decision from your hands to the government’s (and it’s debatable whether legislation even prevents people from doing the things the legislation intends to forbid). Yes, people should still make the right decision, but that’s up to agents of MORAL authority (parents, religious beliefs, conscience) to determine; it isn’t government’s responsibility or right to legislate any particular brand of morality.

    So, as a direct response to Jack and Carpenter, freedom from government is NOT the same thing as freedom from God. Freedom from government is the freedom to FOLLOW God, of your own volition and without having somebody else’s understanding of what God wants for you enforced upon you. I fully expect to see more diatribes about the Antichrist and the vast global conspiracy to enable him by letting people make moral decisions on their own, but wanted to have my say.

  34. Brint Baggaley
    December 6, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    @Clumpy,

    Well said.

    General question: what will the millenial society be like? The more I think on this, the more it seems to me to be a society run on the principles laid out in D&C 121, which I believe would make it very much a Libertarian society. Often, I believe, we make a general mistake of assuming that because Christ will return in power and glory and the Telestial beings will not be able to abide the day, that he will rule with an iron fist. On the contrary, we have been taught that the Priesthood will be a major power in governing, which would mean that the methods used will be more like persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, pure knowledge, etc. (121:41-43). Further, V. 46 teaches us how we will grow our ‘dominion’ forever, which would be the same principle on which God grows his: “…and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and WITHOUT COMPULSORY MEANS it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (emphasis mine).

  35. Jim Davis
    December 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Wow! Froot loops indeed!!! I want to clear up a few points.

    1) Liberty (aka non-aggression/libertarianism) is just a principle of the gopel of Christ. People who view libertarians as selfish followers of Satan are assuming (falsely in most cases) that liberty IS their gospel. Most people who assume this will also believe in using government (force) to coerce others to live their moral code. This is incompatible with the Gospel.

    2) Ayn Rand was not a libertarian. In fact she despised libertarians. To assume that all free market capitalists are therefore libertarians and are therefore selfish objectivists is ridiculous. Those who oversimplify their world view by painting others with broad strokes make themselves look very silly.

    3) Ron Paul is not an Ayn Rand disciple. While he does encourage others to read her books for an economic perspective he still disagrees with her definition of altruism and her views on religion.

    4) Ron Paul is pro-life. He always has been. You can always tell when a critic of Ron Paul is being ignorant when they accuse him of being pro-choice.

    5) Socialism completely contradicts the Gospel. The links provided by M and the advice to read Marion G Romney’s general conference talk “Socialism and the United Order” are more than sufficient evidence to prove it’s falsehoods.

    6) Connor’s book is amazing and he’s right. The few examples he listed (and even included in his book) hardly even scratches the surface of proof that Mormonism and Libertarianism are compatible.

  36. Malachi
    December 8, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    Great article. The ideals of liberty should be compatible with every religion, so far as they embrace choice, non violence, and agency.

  37. Jim
    December 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Malachi,
    I agree that liberty should be compatible with every religion, its just that most very religious people are afraid of what choices people might make if they follow another religion, or don’t have one at all. Or if they do have a religion but choose to do something prohibited. I am always a bit confused about the appeal to ‘free agency’ and liberty by LDS church members, but then take actions to limit someone elses freedom, if it violates their sense of proper conduct. I suppose that is a function of how a particular person understands those terms.

    I personally have come to disbelieve that there is anything such as ‘free will’. Not in a legal sense, but in a philosophical sense. Every single occurance in the universe is intimately connected to everything else. I have recently observed just how my own actions are just so innerconnected to everyone elses, and everything else. I am sure its not easily understood by an LDS church member.

    The other thing I noticed in reading the article is that LDS scriptures are used to support a certain sense of ‘libetarianism’ that doesn’t seem to fit other peoples understanding. “Freedom” is following LDS rules, breaking LDS rules is to go into slavery and bondage. Nonlds don’t seem to use that definition of ‘freedom’.

  38. Clifton Brown
    January 9, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Certainly there I some basic ideas of Libertarianism that I can enthusiastically support.

    I mean, really, who doesn’t want to be free? Yes, there are certainly those who would deny freedom to others, but individually, nearly everyone desires freedom.

    But what is freedom? What does it mean to be free. Libertarians confuse anarchy with freedom. Anarchy is not freedom. Under such a system, the strong and powerful prey upon the weak. I could cite you a few scriptures about how the Lord feels about that as well.

    There can be no freedom without law and government. I have seen places in this world where you don’t have to concern yourself too much with taxes or bureaucrats. I prefer living here, thank you very much.

    I really don’t have the time to type out an entire essay on this subject. To keep it brief, I will simply say this…Libertarians that I have known seem to be far more concerned with how the world SHOULD work than how it actually DOES work. They live in a theoretical world rather than the real one.

    The scriptures that attest to God’s desire that his children be free are indeed numerous. However, there is danger in selectively reading the scriptures. I could cite a thousand scriptures that speak about the justice of God and never cite a single one that speaks about the mercy of God – and I would be giving a skewed and inaccurate portrayal of the mind of God.

    Often we have to deal with two competing ideals and use wisdom to strike some sort of a balance – not practice one ideal completely to the exclusion of the other.

  39. Brint Baggaley
    January 9, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Clifton,

    I enjoyed your comments here. There are brought up some points and questions that I think we all ask ourselves. I’ll chip in some of my ideas as food for thought.

    What is freedom? I believe freedom is the right to spend your day how you choose and the acceptance of the results of your choice. I don’t believe most Libertarians confuse anarchy with freedom. It seems there are some who don’t want the responsibility that accompanies choice, but most accept the need of some governance. My view of Libertarianism is compatable with what was called 19th century Liberalism. This is the basic idea that ruled our country from its founding until the Progressive era. The government had power to protect people from physical oppression, but kept its hand out of economic or moral issues. The world did function quite well under this system. In fact, the foundations of most of the progress of mankind came during this time. It does, admittedly, require a people with basic charity or it cannot properly function.

    The big issue I look at is how far we have moved from our founding. Quigley, in his book Tragedy & Hope states it this way: “These characteristics of the ninteenth century have been so largely modified in the twentieth century that it might appear, at first glance, as if the latter were nothing more than the opposite of the former. This is not completely accurate, but there can be no doubt that most of these characteristics have been drastically modified in the twentieth century.” He goes on: “The community of interestests which would appear if men were merely left to pursue their own desires has been replaced by the idea of the welfare community, which must be created by conscious organizing action. …The old march of democracy now yields to the insidious advance of authoritarianism, and the individual capitalism of the profit motive seems about to be replaced by the state capitalism of the welfare economy.”

    I believe that history, as well as scripture supports the freedom which we had in the 19th century, not its near opposite that we now have. I think the direction we are headed is very troublesome indeed. The changes have been slow, and will probably continue to be slow, so we still call it freedom because our understanding of freedom evolves with the changes. I believe we have gotten ourselves in unsustainable debt by intervening inn the economy and embracing materialism over freedom. This could well end (as historically it does) in a huge crash. Why not move toward our older understanding of freedom instead?

  40. JJL9
    January 9, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Clifton, most libertarians do not seek or promote anarchy. They don’t “confuse” freedom with anarchy. They accept the proper role of government as being the arbiter of justice to prevent one individual from infringing on the rights of another individual. This is not anarchy.

    an·ar·chy/?an?rk?/

    Noun:

    1.A state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.
    2.Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.

    Can you show me a single quote from Connor or another like-minded libertarian that promotes that. You can’t.

  41. Kelly Gneiting
    January 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Answer: NO

  42. Jim
    January 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I would think that there is a foundational discord between libetarian philosophy and the LDS faith, and perahaps a lot of other faiths.

    In judaism, there is the sense that people are ‘owned’ by god. In the libetarian view people are ‘self owned’. In the LDS view, it appears that mormons are in a sense also ‘owned’ by god.

  43. Chris
    January 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Mormonism, is not compatible with Libertarianism. Whatever text that could be cited with regards to liberty in the Book of Mormon, no amount of scripture can refute the ultimate laws and ordinances that Mormons take upon themselves in their temples. For example when a Mormon makes a covenant of Chastity they do it under judgement of god and angels that sexual relations be done only with whom “you are legally and lawfully married”. Mormons have always upheld the statist insitution of marriage. Even the 12th article of faith claims that they believe in being subject to kings, magistrates etc etc. Mormonsim claims that governments are instituted of God as well. Which is a belief perpetuated by the doctrine and covenants/joseph smith. Not the New Testament. Mormonsim in both its teachings and its modern institution are not compatible with Libertarianism. Mormons may want to try to be libertarians. But when it comes to Marriage and families, the Mormon church will be and has been the first to use the law to coercively legislate. Just look up prop 8.

  44. AV
    January 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Actually, the wording in the ‘Proclamation on the Family’ on marriage, is that a man & woman must be ‘lawfully’ (meaning according to God’s laws) wedded, the word ‘legally’ was left out. I believe because the Church understands that there are many legal kinds of marriages today that are not recognized or sanctioned by God.

    Just because a man & woman may be ‘legally’ wedded doesn’t mean the marriage is righteous & not adultery. For example, the Church teaches that most cases of remarriage after divorce are adultery, even if the people get into the temple for the remarriage.

    Thus the Church only sanctions ‘lawfully’ wedded couples as ok to have relations, those marriages which are according to the laws of Christ.

  45. Jim
    January 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Av,
    Are you basically in agreement with Chris in a round about way?

    Chris,
    Thats interesting, the NT does not believe that governments are divine in origin? I suppose not, a government can be corrupt. In theory even the LDS people should not believe this, as there can be a socialist government. I think some tribes on earth don’t even run by an official government, but rather by traditions and internal construction of laws based on various ethical codes determined by tribal stories. In some cases I actually believe this can function better than those that rely on extermal means of enforcement.

  46. AV
    January 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Jim,

    I don’t think I agree totally with Chris, unless I misunderstood him. Because I believe that the Church (our scriptures) teaches we are only bound by government, laws & leaders who are good, constitutional & who truly protect our rights.

    I do not believe we are ever obligated by God to follow unrighteous laws or leaders.

    God’s laws always trump man’s laws. In fact, unless a law is according to God’s law, it is not even valid or Constitutional. God does not recognize it & he doesn’t ask us to either.

    I believe Joseph Smith mean’t that we only believe in being subject to righteous leaders, Presidents, kings, magistrates, etc. He just didn’t put the whole explanation in that one little statement of the Articles of Faith.

    No one on earth is, or has ever been, obligated to do anything an unrighteous person, President, Prophet or King, says or decrees. A person may decide to follow anyway for awhile, for their safety’s sake, but God never obligates them.

    It is never a sin to disobey an unconstitutional law or unrighteous leader.

    And we ourselves are the one’s who must have the knowledge & the Spirit to discern what is Constitutional & right or not. No one on earth, not even the Prophet, can make that call for us.

  47. Jim
    January 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    AV,
    Wow, that is an explanation which was kind of unexpected, but sort of makes sense from an LDS perspective. I don’t quite understand or agree with that however. For example ‘idol worship’ and use of images for religious purposes is largely prohibited in the monotheistic faiths. However it is totally allowable in the constitution.

    It would be unconstitutional if it was a requirement by law. So its not allowed by ‘god’s law’ by many peoples interpretation, yet its allowed by the us constitution. To take it further, the torah specifies worship only of YHWH, as ‘god’s law’ this does NOT trump the constitution as a law. (in the ’10 commandments’)

    Another example would be the sabbath, yet the law of the land allows people to work on that day, again does not trump the law of the land. In that I am not required to observe this day by secular law. The only things secular law might observe or agree is on stealing, murder and in some contexts false witnesss. Adultery can be recognized legally, if you believe in government sanctioned marriages, otherwise this might be out of the picture if you do not support that.

    The list of examples could be quite lengthy depending on what you consider to be ‘god’s law’. Judaism may attempt to observe 613 laws! I like to know how many people could even name them all.

    I am aware of a neopagan sect that considers it ‘gods law’ to avoid wearing blue. I don’t expect that to become the law of the land ever….

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