How the prophets define patriotism

“Patriotism should be sought for and will be found in right living, not in high sounding phrases or words. True patriotism is part of the solemn obligation that belongs both to the nation and to the individual and to the home.

“Our nation's reputation should be guarded as sacredly as our family's good name. That reputation should be defended by every citizen, and our children should be taught to defend their country's honor under all circumstances.

“Loyal citizens will probably be the last to complain of the faults and failures of our national administrators. They would rather conceal those evils which exist, and try to persuade themselves that they are only temporary and may and will be in time be corrected."

Source: First Presidency statement on military relations

I don't know what the tradition is in your ward or stake, but here in Camarillo we gathered for a flag raising ceremony early in the morning. Hundreds of members from the three wards that meet in our building united to sing and hear patriotic music sung and to listen to short speeches.

The feeling was one of gratitude as we heard the singing of The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The short talks were moving and inspiring, reminding us of the great sacrifices of those who founded this nation so many years ago.

On the program were these words: "This land shall be a land of liberty...and there shall be no kings upon [it]...For I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words...For it is a choice land, saith God...wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me (2 Nephi 10:11,14,19)

True patriots build up their nation

Just as the key to a successful marriage is for both spouses to be first committed to the Lord, the great secret to the successful founding of our nation was faith in Jesus Christ of those who first came here and of those who framed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Besides the flag raising ceremony with the accompanying pancake breakfast and a barbecue with family and friends later in the day, one of the traditions in our family is to watch the production of 1776 the movie. It is always a good reminder to observe the odds they had to overcome.

I know it's a bit of a fictionalized and romanticized account but it helps to get to know the character of men like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. These men put their all on the line and were considered guilty of treason by the ruling powers of England.

God raised up wise men

President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord.”

As expressed so eloquently by John Adams before the signing of the Declaration, “There’s a Divinity which shapes our ends.” Though mortal eyes and minds cannot fathom the end from the beginning, God does. This nation was founded by men who acknowledged God's hand in it.

In a previous essay, I wrote that we believe in government. In it I quoted section 134 where it is written that we believe that governments were instituted of God. I wonder if we are the only church that feels this way. We feel the same way about marriage - it was instituted by God.

Summary and Conclusion

Patriotism can be expressed in many ways. For some, it is simply a feeling of enthusiasm and excitement associated with national pride. For others, it involves action - participating in politics and government. But according to modern prophets, the best expression is in right living.

Right living for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of obeying the laws of the land. We believe in "obeying, honoring and sustaining the law." I interpret this to mean that we believe in the rule of law. Most Mormons are model citizens of their nations.

I love this nation. I am so grateful to live in the United States of America. There is a lot wrong with our nation today, but we still enjoy freedoms that were inspired of God by those who wrote our nation's guiding documents. God bless us as a nation to remember his hand in our founding.

For more information

The Constitution, a Glorious Standard

The Constitution and the Restoration


Crusty said…
"These men put their all on the line and were considered guilty of treason by the ruling powers of England." and "I interpret this to mean that we believe in the rule of law. Most Mormons are model citizens of their nations."

You knew I would jump all over this. Which one is it? Obey the laws of the land and be a good citizen, or be like our great founding fathers and break all the laws for what is right?

Even though governments may be considered good, and marriage is ordained of God, it doesn't mean they should be combined. Government has no place in marriage.
Tim Malone said…
Yep. You're right. John Adams was not a good British subject, was he? But we are not subjects. We are citizens. Our way of government was established "of the people, by the people and for the people." (quoting Lincoln). In other words, we are the government. We have a right to make the laws. And although it may not be what some want, it is fair. The majority rules. Make your case. See how many are convinced. Let's vote!
Crusty said…
I don't see a difference between the tyranny of a majority and the tyranny of monarch. Both rob me of my life, liberty and property; and we should not be loyal subjects to either of them. How it is "fair" that 51% of the population can decide that they should be able to take my property/money, and use it for purposes with which I don't agree?

What about people who DO live as subjects of a ruler (AKA...citizens of most other countries of the world)? Are the prophets telling those people that those governments are ordained of God, and they should not be subversive, like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were subversive? Why was it OK for T.J. and B.F. to revolt, but it's not OK for me or a current citizen of the UK to revolt?

What about the right of sucession? Would a righteous person support or oppose a state's right to sucede? If a righteous person would support a state's right to sucede, then which side of the civil war should righteous people have supported? North or South? The union (the forefather of our current government) or the rebels?

What if the tyrannical majority decided to "fairly" vote that Mormons can no longer have temples? Would I be more righteous if I revolted and fought for the freedoms of Mormons, or would I be more righteous if I acted like a good little subject (model citizen)?

At what point do you think it would be appropriate (righteous) to revolt against our tyrannical government, which has already robbed us of nearly all our freedoms (to some degree)? Have you read the Declaration of Independence lately? We would have just as much reason to write a Declaration of Independence today. If I and a few friends got together and wrote a Declaration of Independence against the U.S. government today, would that be righteous or evil?

As you can see, I've really enjoyed your blog posts over the past few days. I appreciate you writing about these things, allowing people to comment (even though you don't agree), and responding to comments.
Tim Malone said…
You know Crusty, you actually make sense. Not that you didn't before, it's just that the your passion was driving the rhetoric overboard. No, I'm serious. I think I get your point. I suppose there comes a time where we must stand up against tyranny. Or you can work with the powers that be. Your example of government (the people) passing a law to outlaw our temples actually happened.

In March of 1887, the Edmunds-Tucker Act became effective. Church properties, including the Salt Lake Temple, were escheated to the government. The unfinished temple stood firmly on a foundation of stone; the work of construction went forward on a foundation of faith. For eight years the Church would pay rent on the temple block.

Finally, President Woodruff issued the manifesto, Utah gained statehood and we received our own property back. So, in effect, we worked with the government. We did not rise up in rebellion even though we felt we were wronged. The prophet petitioned the Lord, presented the evidence as to what had happened and we were relieved of the responsibility to obey the commandment of plural marriage.

So we Latter-day Saints do indeed believe in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law. Well...except when it conflicts with the law that we received from the Lord - plural marriage. Our early history was tough. I'm not sure I would have done so well back then. But more to your point...Yes, I believe there is a time when a people must stand up and throw off oppression and tyranny. I just don't think that we have arrived at that point here in the United States.

We believe that the Lord inspired the founding fathers to declare independence from England in order to bring about a nation where the gospel and church could be restored through Joseph Smith. It could not have happened without religious freedom. Will our nation arrive at the point where our own government becomes an oppressive and tyrannical force? Some think it already has. I do not yet feel that way.

Good stuff, Crusty. Thanks.

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