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.
photo credit: FrogMiller
Imagine, if you will, a nice Sabbath morning where you attend your three hours of church meetings ready to feel the spirit and be taught the gospel. You arrive, eager to feast upon the words of Christ.
As you sit through your meetings, you feel that something is amiss. Trying to pinpoint the problem, you realize that not one of the speakers or teachers have used the scriptures in their talks or lessons. Not a single one.
Baffled, you wonder why this is. You realize that these instructors have spent the entire time preaching their own wisdom. They introduce personal opinions, errant doctrines, and all manner of falsehoods.
Months pass, and the years go by. Week after week, the same thing occurs. Nobody uses the scriptures anymore. Looking back, you notice that it has torn the church apart. Apostasy reigns, and members no longer understand the true doctrine of Christ. Factions within the faith vigorously debate their interpretations of the gospel, yet nobody appeals to the scriptures. It’s as if they don’t exist.
Ultimately, the church is destroyed, as the members rely on the wisdom of men to guide them.
Sadly, this is exactly what has happened with our government.
The Constitution is, in essence, the scripture off of which our government should be based.
And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. (D&C 98:5-7)
Just as the church would not survive intact without constant appeal to and teaching from the scriptures, so too would the government crumble if we ignored the Constitution.
Now here is an exercise for each of you: next time you hear a politician speak, take notice of any references (or lack thereof) to the Constitution. Just as we would not want a church leader that ignored his scriptures, so too we should shun any politician that makes no reference to the Constitution.
Without the Constitution as its foundation and guide, government essentially becomes the tyranny of the majority that the founding fathers warned us of:
If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates, but let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. (George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796)
Very infrequently in modern political debate (with the shining exception of Ron Paul) will you hear of appeals to the Constitution. This was not always so, for as Thomas Paine describes, this document was widely used and referenced in early political discourse:
Here we see a regular process — a government issuing out of a constitution, formed by the people in their original character; and that constitution serving, not only as an authority, but as a law of control to the government. It was the political bible of the state. Scarcely a family was without it. Every member of the government had a copy; and nothing was more common, when any debate arose on the principle of a bill, or on the extent of any species of authority, than for the members to take the printed constitution out of their pocket, and read the chapter with which such matter in debate was connected. (Thomas Paine, via Quoty)
Compared to Paine’s times, one can easily see how far we have strayed from our Constitutional heritage.
Just as we cannot understand the gospel without consuming scripture, so too we cannot understand the proper role of government without reading and understanding the Constitution:
You must learn the principles of the Constitution to abide by its precepts. You were instructed by the First Presidency in 1973 “to begin now to reflect more intently on the meanings and importance of the Constitution, and of adherence to its principles.” What have you done about this instruction? Have you read the Constitution, pondered it? Are you aware of its principles? Could you defend it? Can you recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? As a Church, we will no tell you how to do this, but we admonish you to do it. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)
These are questions we must each ponder. We must, in addition to personal study of this document, hold our representatives accountable and dropkick the ones who show no understanding of or respect for this document to which they profess allegiance.