William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mormons And The Constitution

The comment was made:

"We seem to be at a crossroads in this country. No one political party seems to be dedicated to the constitutional precepts upon which this country was founded and many LDS in Utah and elsewhere are supporting people and political parties dedicated to socialism, no-fly lists, the suspension of habeas corpus, wars without declaration by Congress and huge bailouts.

The Lord referred to the Constitution "of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles" (D&C 101:77). The Lord then said that He established the Constitution because it is "not right that any man should be in bondage one to another." This is, one assumes, not only physical bondage, but financial bondage as well. And President Hinckley noted: "The Constitution under which we live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law."

Now headlines all over the nation are questioning whether the Constitution as we know it has any place in the new century and some of our elected leaders, and some of our non-elected leaders among the multinational corporations, are openly talking about world government and a "new world order." Many of these people in both political parties enjoy great support among the Latter-day Saints. (I deduce that if they're putting bumper stickers on their cars that they're actively supporting these people.)

President Hinckley wondered why the people in the church didn't show more passion for the things they should be supporting and more opposition to the things they should oppose:

There are many little things that test our willingness to accept the word of the prophets. Jesus said, â??How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!â? (Matt. 23:37.) So it has been through the history of mankind, and so it is today. In our own communities, even here in Utah, we have experienced some of this. President Grant carried to his grave a deep sense of sorrow that, contrary to his counsel, the people of Utah cast the final vote, in 1934, that repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. (â??Believe His Prophetsâ?, Ensign (CR), May 1992, p.50)
This was a case where the church actually asked for support and it was denied by the saints. What is it that keeps us from seeing the red flags when our national leaders use every opportunity to bypass or completely ignore the constitutional precepts of states' rights and increasing federal controls over every aspect of our lives? The Constitution (10th Amendment) stipulates that the federal government is limited only to the enumerated powers granted by the Constitution, yet unscrupulous politicians and courts have virtually negated that portion of the document.

Without the influence of the church, I most likely would have voted to end Prohibition myself; however, had the church taken the position that it did, I would have voted as the church had wished me to vote.

The members who defy these principles and who vote for men and women who run on platforms of changing the Constitution and strengthening the interdependent role of nations geared towards a world government appear to be good, honest people. They pay their tithing, try to live the commandments, yet they support the very people who would shackle us with chains.

I'm still wondering why."

To which I responded:

A few points are in order:

1) If you are trying to say that the constitution is an unambiguous document, you are simply wrong. It necessarily requires interpretation, which is drawn from many sources, including legislative history, changed conditions in the world, scientific and social awareness, experience, and underlying principles of equality, fairness, justice, and common welfare. If it were an unambiguous document, there would hardly have been the need for the 200+ years of jurisprudence we have developed in our common law system.

2) In ascertaining the type of laws and governance which we should have, and particularly with an eye towards what would please God, we need to bear in mind a few important principles, chief of which is agency. We must start from a premise of personal freedom, i.e., everything is permitted unless and until there is a sufficient justification for prohibitting it. In the case of alcohol consumption being legal or illegal, the mere fact that we consider it to be immoral does not end the discussion on determining whether it should be legal. We must also consider, at a minimum: (1) the extent to which a prohibition would restrict individual choice; (2) any benefits, even if nominal, to individuals and/or society in permitting the practice; (3) the harm to individuals and society in permitting the practice; (4) the degree to which permitting the practice has a tendency to cause infringements on the rights of those who choose not to use alcohol; (5) the availability of regulations or other alternatives short of outright prohibition for lessening or eliminating the harm which the practice causes to others; (6) feasibility of enforcement of prohibition, including financial resources to enforce laws, to run the justice system, and to punish offenders; (7) the degree to which the practice is widespread among the population; ( the potential negative effects of prohibition through criminalization (i.e., fostering worse illegal activity such as mafias, violence, etc.); etc. Under all of the circumstances, it would have been quite reasonable for anyone in the 1930s, including a believing LDS member, to conclude that continued prohibition was not the best way to go, and that alcohol use is here to stay, at least in the near term until individuals have the education and willpower to voluntarily abstain from it.

3) We should be extremely careful not to mingle religious influence with politics. When the two mix, it is nearly inevitable that individual consciences will be coerced by the political might of those with popular support. Joseph Smith seems to have understood that principle well, I think, as evidenced by Section 134 of the D&C. Our political positions should be guided primarily by the parts of our beliefs which can reasonably be defended with resort to secular moral philosophy and science. There is a place for religion- a very important place- but it is generally not in politics.

*And in response to someone's comments that:

"I really do find it odd that someone of your obvious intelligence and wit can appear so terribly facile when dealing with subjects such as this.

1. Socialism (communism) was, and has always been understood to be, the attempt to make a heaven on earth through ideological/political means independent of God or without reference to him.

2. Socialism is inextricably linked to atheism and unrestrained human hubris and pride.

3. The equalization of wealth requires, not only the denial of free agency across a number of areas (all those mentioned in the constitution and the Bill of Rights, if one desires to push this idea to its full conclusions), but, again, if one desires to see this concept through to its logical outcome, ruthlessly and relentlessly so.

4. The core elements of Satan's alternative plan were the denial of agency and elevating himself to the position of God - pride and hubris. These are also the salient and perennial elements of all leftist/socialist systems of thought and practice as they have existed throughout the last century and into the present one.

5. For Satan to have saved all, and to have left "no child behind", his plan of salvation would have had to be, for want of a better term of recent coinage, "outcome based"

In other words, socialistic. If one child of God returns to his presence, then all must. Either all are saved, or none are. To do this, of course, the removal of agency and freedom would be fundamental."

I responded:

You have your terms seriously mixed up. Socialism and communism are not the same. It seems to me that, while capitalistic principles are often true and there is a lot we can and should take from them, socialism is often attacked by people who are simply greedy, selfish, and who feel threatened by anyone who wants to keep a bright separation between church and state. I think the ideal government given the world's limitations and imperfections is a mix of socialism and capitalism. Too much of either encourages either laziness or greed.

No comments:

Post a Comment