"John W. Redelfs" wrote:

> Marc A. Schindler favored us with:
> >There's an interesting matter of interpretation here. Is "while" a conditional
> >term here, or is it merely setting up the other party's side of the
> >covenant? And
> >if one party breaks the covenant, is the other party free to break it as well?
> Obviously yes because we know from the Doctrine and Covenants that the
> Founding Fathers of the United States were inspired men raised up by God to
> rebel against Britain.

It actually doesn't say this. See below.

> How do we reconcile that fact with the Twelfth
> Article of faith?  This is how I make the reconciliation.  Rebel against
> constituted authority but only when commanded by God to do so.

I know this is a common belief amongst US LDS, but I don't think it's the only one
possible. The D&C does not mention the American Revolution, it says the founding
fathers were inspired, but wrt the principles of the Constitution (see in
particular D&C 101:80; the interpretation regarding the Revolution is the reference
to having redeemed the land by blood, but that's in a separate, independent clause.
Here's the whole verse: "And for this purpose have I established the Constitution
of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and
redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.."

I certainly believe the US is the "cradle of the restoration" and that the
*principles* of the US constitution are inspired (in other words, democratic
government and protection of civil rights, but not necessarily the exact form of
the US republic per se). I think that's pretty solid. What might be a cultural
addition is the assumption that everything in US history is therefore inspired. I
think there's been a bit of mythologization going on, which isn't unique to LDS in
the US -- think of the term "manifest destiny," which alludes to a divine mission.
I think the Lord uses what happens to His own ends but He has lots of options and
uses whatever situation presents itself. It's not that big of a difference,
actually, as I see it -- we agree in the end result, we might just differ in how it
came about. After all, Canada didn't have a revolution, but that's almost certainly
because Britain learned a lesson from the US situation, and allowed its other
colonies to evolve independence and democracy as they were ready. I know you think
we don't have the same freedoms you do, but in all fairness, I think that boils
down to just one particular issue, which I'd rather not get into. Despite the
differences in the outward forms, Canada (and many other countries -- most
industrialized countries) have taken the principles of the US Bill of Rights and
applied them in their own democratization.

In fact, D&C 134:5 specifically prohibits rebellion and sedition. Whether that's
unconditional or conditional depends on what you think the word "while" means. I
understand from my brother, who served his mission in French Polynesia, that
members of an independence movement there, a movement which advocated the use of
force, were threatened with excommunication. In contrast, you can be a member of
the Parti Quebecois, which is separatist, without being in danger of losing your
Church membership because the PQ does not promote violence to attain its ends.

If one feels the specific events of the American Revolution were inspired, one
would also have to believe that the French Revolution was inspired, since it laid
the groundwork for the American Revolution, and the intellectuals behind the
liberalism (in the traditional sense of the term) that arose in the Age of
Enlightenment, who set up the ideological structure for modern democracy, were all
inspired by the French Revolution, imo. But I think that's history, not religious
doctrine. IOW, I don't think it's an important distinction.

Here's the entry from the EoM on "civil rights" [warning: it briefly mentions a
topic against the List Charter; I've indicated this by "[deleted]"]

Civil Rights

Civil rights are legal guarantees designed to protect persons from arbitrary or
discriminatory treatment. Common examples are those protecting freedom of speech,
freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, the right to due process of law, the right
to vote, the right to equal protection of the law, and safeguards for persons
accused of crime, such as the right against self-incrimination, the right to
confront one's accuser, the right to a jury trial, the right to counsel, and the
right to a speedy trial. These and other rights are declared in the Constitution of
the United States of America and in the constitutions of many other countries (see
-->Constitutional Law).

Civil rights are found in statutes as well as in constitutions and may provide, for
example, detailed guarantees against public and private discrimination on the basis
of such characteristics as race, gender, age, and religion. Civil rights issues
arise when people disagree about the rights that are, or ought to be, guaranteed by
law.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members have an obvious
interest in securing their own rights.

Beyond this, several strands of doctrine and belief-sometimes competing-shape the
views of members and leaders regarding civil rights in general. The principle of
free agency seems most compatible with a legal system guaranteeing wide latitude
for individual choice and decision. With respect to religious liberties, agency is
reinforced by individual and institutional interests in freedom from governmental
restraint. In the United States of America, commitment to individual rights is
further reinforced by allegiance to the personal liberties guaranteed by the U.S.
Constitution, which Latter-day Saints regard as an inspired document.

On the other hand, the Church teaches its members to obey properly constituted
governmental authority (D&C 134:5; 98:6; A of F 12), which may lead to
accommodation and submission when core religious interests are not threatened. In
addition, Church teachings on moral questions sometimes predispose members, as well
as the institutional Church, to take positions on political issues ([deleted], for
example) that run counter to the rights claimed by others. As a result, the
position of the Church and its members toward current civil rights issues is

A Church statement of belief regarding government, adopted in 1835, singled out
"free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection
of life" as rights essential to the peace of society (D&C 134:2; see -->Politics:
Political Teachings). This 1835 statement repeatedly stressed the importance of
religious freedom, and the Church and its members have sometimes found it necessary
to take legal action to vindicate free exercise rights. In Corporation of the
Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints et al. v. Amos
et al. (483 U.S. 327 [1987]), for example, the Church successfully defended its
right to impose a religious test for employment in certain Church-owned
establishments. The Church as an institution has avoided legal action where
possible, but has been willing to defend its rights in court when necessary.

Apart from its special legal interests, the Church is publicly committed to a broad
range of civil rights for all. An oft-cited 1963 statement by a member of the
Church First Presidency, Hugh B. Brown, called for "full civil equality for all of
God's children," saying "it is a moral evil…to deny any human being the right to
gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of
citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship" (p.

In the political arena, where competing claims to civil rights are frequently
debated, the Church participates indirectly by encouraging members to vote and to
foster a society congenial to Christian teaching and righteous living.
Occasionally, when public issues implicate important matters of doctrine and
morals, the Church publishes recommended positions on disputed issues and
encourages members and others to follow their counsel. Thus, the Church has urged
restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages, opposed the legalization of
gambling and lotteries, favored right-to-work legislation (no closed or union
shop), advocated the defeat of the equal rights amendment (ERA), and spoken out
against pornography, [deleted], and child abuse.Within the Church, individual
rights play a muted role as compared with secular society. Love and duty are
stressed far more than individual claims of right. Moreover, the Church is a
voluntary organization whose sanctions extend only to rights of membership and
participation within the group, so fewer safeguards are necessary. Thus, Church
disciplinary proceedings do not provide the full set of procedural protections the
accused would receive in secular courts. Although due process notices and appeal
rights are given, service of process is not strictly enforced and there is no right
to confront one's accuser, no jury trial, and no right to counsel. Indeed,
confession of sin by the repentant sinner may be at odds with the right against
self-incrimination (see -->Disciplinary Procedures).

Free speech is another illustration of the contrast with secular society. Members
are free to say or publish what they wish. Yet, Church etiquette and policies,
obligations of confidentiality, respect for divine and holy things, and the need to
avoid offending others impose restraints upon freedom of expression. Likewise,
voting within the Church involves the concept of common consent, but has none of
the trappings of democratic elections and in most instances amounts to ratification
of leadership callings and decisions. As for gender equality and children's rights,
the relationships of men, women, and children are governed by religious principles,
freely adopted by members, which teach equality but emphasize differences in roles.
These principles are taught as eternal patterns, not derived from prevailing
attitudes toward civil rights in any secular society, past or present.

Allen, James B., and Glen M. Leonard. The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake
City, 1976.
Brown, Hugh B. IE 66 (Dec. 1963):1058.
Cowan, Richard O. The Church in the Twentieth Century. Salt Lake City, 1985
.Firmage, Edwin Brown, and Richard Collin Mangrum. Zion in the Courts: A Legal
History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900. Urbana,
Ill., 1988.
Mangrum, R. Collin. "Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution."
BYU Studies 27 (Summer 1987):119-37.
McAffee, Thomas B. "Constitutional Interpretation and the American Tradition of
Individual Rights." BYU Studies 27 (Summer 1987):139-69.
Melville, J. Keith. "Joseph Smith, the Constitution, and Individual Liberties." BYU
Studies 28 (Spring 1988):65-74.

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick
himself up and continue on” – Winston Churchill

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer, nor
those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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