Mormons are known to be an exceptionally patriotic people. We hold a special belief about the founding of the United States and how it fits in with the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) was established upon the principle of Religious Freedom and each person’s God-given right to exercise it. We believe this country was prepared to be a unique land, even a promised land, which would enable it to be a place where the truth could be re-established in the last days and from here flourish throughout the world – and we still believe that!
In The Book of Mormon Lehi declared:
“But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:5)
Mormons love the principle of agency. The ability to choose according to one’s own conscience is vital to understanding what and how Mormons think. We genuinely revere the United States Constitution and believe it to be an inspired document.
“While LDS scripture reinforces the traditional Christian duty of “respect and deference” to civil laws and governments in general as “instituted of God for the benefit of man” (D&C 134:1, 6), Latter-day Saints attach special significance to the Constitution of the United States of America. They believe that the Lord “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80). The Prophet Joseph Smith once described himself as “the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth” (Hc 6:56-57). All of his successors as President of the Church have reaffirmed the doctrine of an inspired Constitution. This consistent endorsement is notable, for basic LDS teachings are far removed from the premises of American liberalism, and largely as a result of these differences, Latter-day Saints suffered considerable persecution before achieving an accommodation with mainstream America” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Ralph C. Hancock, Constitution of the United States of America (1992) Macmillan Publishing Company, quoted on LightPlanet.com).
It would be difficult to argue that there is any other place in the entire world, where the principle of freedom has been fought for, protected and maintained with such passion by its own – many of which have given their lives!
Said Ezra T. Benson, former President of the LDS Church:
“Look back in retrospect on almost six thousand years of human history! Freedom’s moments have been infrequent and exceptional. We must appreciate that we live in one of history’s most exceptional moments–in a nation and a time of unprecedented freedom. Freedom as we know it has been experienced by perhaps less than one percent of the human family” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign (Sept. 1987), The Constitution–A Glorious Standard).
Few are able to gaze upon an American flag, proudly waving in the breeze, and not be moved by its symbolism. Or stand, with right hand over heart, to sing our National anthem, and not be stirred with deep emotion. No, for the majority of Americans, these patriotic symbols unite us beyond political parties, to a deeper sense of gratitude for that which is greater — liberty!
Most of us live profoundly privileged lives here in the United States and carry with us a significant feeling of gratitude for such. We are grateful for the men and women of our military who serve this country with such dedication to preserve our freedom considered sacred. We maintain in remembrance, those who have given their lives in our defense.
Along with other Christians, we are deeply thankful to live in a country where we can worship God, according to our beliefs. Presently, we are experiencing an opposing sentiment from the liberal side of society who believe that our opinions, when founded on religious beliefs, are not valid in the public square — but we know better. Preserving freedom of religion can only happen if we continue to be firm in our understanding that this truly is One Nation, Under God. It is this faith that will cause us to stand against that which is immoral and fight for that which is right!
The Mormon Newsroom Blog posted these comments in regard to Freedom of Religion:
“Freedom of religion has been, and still is, an essential moving force in the grand experiment of American democracy. Planting that principle of religious freedom in early America brought about two profound results—the rejection of a “divine right of kings” doctrine, and breaking the 1,500-year European tradition of upholding a state-established church. And with that, a heritage of self government, not to mention distinctly different congregations, sprang up.
Yet no one could take freedom of religion for granted. Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons and others have all faced, at one time or another, overt prejudice and serious attempts to curtail their liberties (sometimes coming from fellow religionists). Yet looking back over the long narrative of American religious history and the experience gained, the principle of religious freedom is prevailing.
Respecting freedom of religion has brought about the remarkable plurality and autonomy of religious thought in America. Among the various religious traditions in the United States today, the Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey identified over 100 different denominations. Intense religious experience is found alongside religious apathy and nonaffiliation. Long established faith traditions exist with the new and emerging. Moreover, a sizeable portion of parishioners is migratory. The Pew study found that more than one quarter of American adults have “left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all.”
Yet we get along relatively well and manage to live with our differences. In fact, living peacefully with our deepest differences is necessary in our pluralistic society, and religious freedom is an example of how to do it. It’s a lesson we really can’t live without and still be true to our national ideals” (LDS Newsroom Blog, Val Edwards, Religion and Freedom, 1 July 2011).
As we celebrate the birth of our nation this Independence Day, may each of us take the time to remember the blessing it is to live in this great land. May we better understand the responsibility that comes with such privilege to reach out and lift others, voice our opinions with respect, and continue to stand for that which we hold most sacred – our family, our faith — and above all our God!
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