Stacy Smith wrote:
If one is not economically or politically free can they really decide 
what they should or should not do?  Not really, in my opinion.  This is 
where I may draw the line with some conservatives.  Give me liberty or 
give me death:!

Interestingly, we are able to enjoy economic and political freedom in 
part to the extent that laws and governments protect human rights and 
the exercise thereof.  Religious freedom cannot seem to sustain itself 
in an anarchistic environment.  Our propensity for tyranny and 
oppression always seems to overcome natural rights when unprotected by 
the rule of law.  Church doctrine and policy support the ideal of laws 
which promote freedom and righteousness. 

"I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." (Joseph 
Smith quoted by John Taylor, _JD_ 10:57-58.)

While this idea suggests the informed exercise of agency leading to 
righteous living, this obviously does not happen in a vacuum.  Being 
taught "correct principles" implies a common understanding of the laws 
which govern.  Without these laws, there is no freedom.

"The individual has as full a measure of capability to violate the laws 
of health, the requirements of nature, and the commandments of God in 
matters both temporal and spiritual, as he has to obey all such; in the 
one case he brings upon himself the penalties that belong to the broken 
law; as in the other he inherits the specific blessings and the added 
freedom that attend a law-abiding life. Obedience to law is the habit of 
the free man; the transgressor fears the law, for he brings upon himself 
deprivation and restraint, not because of the law, which would have 
protected him in his freedom, but because of his antagonism to law."  
(Talmage, _Articles of Faith_ p46.)

"At a clear and extreme level, violations of inalienable rights by a 
government might excuse citizens from the performance of some 
obligations of citizenship. But the history of Latter-day Saints' 
relations to their governments shows that any such exceptions would have 
to be far more extreme than anything we have experienced in this 

"Even when victimized by what they must surely have seen as very 
severe government oppressions and abridgments of freedom, the Mormon
people and their leaders have remained loyal to their government and its 
laws. Think of the persecutions in Missouri, the expulsion from Nauvoo, 
and the repressions suffered in the Utah Territory. As long as a 
government provides aggrieved persons an opportunity to work to enlarge 
their freedoms and relieve their oppressions by legal and peaceful 
means, a Latter-day Saint citizen's duty is to forego revolution and 
disobedience of law. Our doctrine commits us to work from within. Even 
an oppressive government is preferable to a state of lawlessness and 
anarchy in which the only ruling principle is force and every individual 
has a thousand oppressors. (See D&C 134:6.)

"Church members who seek to use LDS doctrine as a basis for concluding 
that government infringements on inalienable rights have excused them 
from obeying the law seem to have forgotten the principle of following 
the prophets. Until the prophets invoke this principle, faithful members 
will also refrain from doing so. We remain committed to uphold our 
governments and to obey their laws." (Dallin H. Oaks, “Some 
Responsibilities of Citizenship”, BYU Marriott Center, July 3, 1994)

Elder Oaks' speech is one of the finest discussions available on this 
topic of doctrinal support for honoring the law.  It is worth studying.  
Here's a link to the full text--


Mij Ebaboc

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