U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Ezra Taft Benson
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Our forefathers left us a free government which is a miracle of faith Â— strong, durable, marvelously workable. Yet it can remain so only as long as we understand it, believe in it, devote ourselves to it, and, when necessary, fight for it.
The battles are not over yet, and there will yet be times when this great nation will need the overshadowing help of Deity. Will we as a nation be worthy to call upon Him for help?
The proud wish God would agree with them. They are not interested in changing their opinions to agree with God's.
Today, with the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read. Â… Feed only on the best. As John WesleyÂ’s mother counseled him: Â‘Avoid whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, Â… increases the authority of the body over the mind.
We once knew well our Elder Brother and our Father in Heaven. We rejoiced at the prospects of earth life that could make it possible for us to have a fullness of joy. We could hardly wait to demonstrate to our Father and our Brother, the Lord, how much we loved them and how we would be obedient to them in spite of the earthly opposition of the evil one. Now we are here. Our memories are veiled. We are showing God and ourselves what we can do. Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us.
Our Founding Fathers, with solemn and reverent expression, voiced their allegiance to the sovereignty of God, knowing that they were accountable to Him in the day of judgment. Are we less accountable today? I think not. I urge you to keep the commandments and to pray for our nation and its leaders.
The central issue in that pre-mortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former propositionÂ—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latterÂ—coercion and force. The war that began in heaven over this issue is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of LuciferÂ’s primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments. (BYU devotional held Tuesday, 16 September 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson)
The question as to whether we may save our constitutional republic is simply based on two factors: the number of patriots and the extent of their obedience. That the Lord desires to save this nation which he raised up there is no doubt. But that he leaves it up to us, with his help, is the awful reality.
Tonight I will speak to you about our beloved republic and the inspired agents whom God raised up to establish the foundation upon which our liberty rests. . . . I speak to you as members of the Â“household of faith,Â” the LordÂ’s true church, and remind you of your solemn charge to uphold, sustain, and defend the kingdom of God. The destiny of America was divinely decreed. The events that established our great nation were foreknown to God and revealed to prophets of old. As in an enacted drama, the players who came on the scene were rehearsed and selected for their parts. Their talent, abilities, capacities, and weaknesses were known before they were born.
We pay lip service to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution without realizing what they are and the danger of ignoring them.
Our Heavenly Father is always nearÂ… Thank God we can reach out and tap that
The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, in neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to Sleeping Giants.
The sad and shocking story of what has happened in America in recent years must be told. Our people must have the facts. There is safety in an informed public. There is real danger in a complacent, uninformed citizenry. This is our real danger today. Yes, the truth must be told even at the risk of destroying, in large measure, the influence of men who are widely respected and loved by the American people. The stakes are high. Freedom and survival is the issue.
Under our system there has been released great creative capacity, because we have been free, unrestricted. What have we achieved? A standard of living unequalled anywhere in the world. Not because we are smarter, not because we are more brilliant, not because we have greater capacity than people of other nations, but because we have had a system which is superior Â— a system which was wisely provided by the Founding Fathers. We must protect and safeguard that system. Sometimes we find people who almost apologize for it Â— the free enterprise system. Of course it is not perfect; it is operated by human beings, but it is the best system in operation in this world today. If we are wise, we will preserve it, we will strengthen it and we will safeguard it for our children and our childrenÂ’s children.
We urge you to do all within your talent and means to build the kingdom of God on Earth. Always strive to sustain, support and do what is best for the kingdom of God.
My young sisters, we have such hope for you. We have such great expectations for you. Don't settle for less than what the Lord wants you to be... Give me a young woman who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon... Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity.
Political and economic rights are the things we are inclined to take for granted as American citizens. The rights as listed included the right to worship God in oneÂ’s own way, rights to free speech and a free press, the right to assemble and freely to speak our own minds without any fear whatever. There are many countries of this world where you cannot do that today. The right to petition for grievances, the right to privacy in our homes, the right to trial by jury, and to know that we are innocent until we are proven guilty. The right to move freely at home and abroad, the right to own private property, the right to free elections and personal secret ballot. The right to work in callings and localities of our choice. The right to bargain with our employees and employers. The right to go into business, to compete, to make a profit. The right to bargain for goods and services in a free market. The right to contract about our affairs. These are an impressive list of rights which lay at the very foundation of the American way of life and preserve the dignity of the individual. Our constitutional government desires to serve the people, and basic in our beliefs is our fundamental belief in God and in the eternal principle of free agency, the right of choice.
The Founding Fathers did not invent this priceless boon of individual freedom and respect for the dignity of man. That great gift to mankind sprang from the Creator and not from government. But the Founding Fathers with superb genius, I believe, welded together certain safeguards which we must always protect to the very limit if we would preserve and strengthen the blessings of freedomÂ… They were guided by allegiance to basic principles. These principles must be kept in mind always by those who are here today and reaping the benefits and the blessings which they so wisely provided. We must be careful that we do not trade freedom for security. Whenever that is attempted, usually we lose both. There is always a tendency when nations become mature for the people to become more interested in preserving their luxuries and their comforts than in safeguarding the ideals and principles which made these comforts and luxuries possible.
The secret to missionary work is work. Work, work, work!
Unless we do his teachings, we do not demonstrate faith in him.
What about the lame, the sick and the destitute? Is an often-voiced question. Most other countries in the world have attempted to use the power of government to meet this need. Yet, in every case, the improvement has been marginal at best and has resulted in the long run creating more misery, more poverty, and certainly less freedom than when government first stepped in. Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their ownÂ… The harm dome by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional Â‘do-gooder,Â’ who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all othersÂ—with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.
Not cheap politicians but statesmen are needed today. Not opportunists but men and women of principle must be demanded by the people. In this time of great stress and danger we must place [in office] only those dedicated to the preservation of our Constitution, our American Republic, and responsible freedom under God. Â“Oh, God, give us men with a mandate higher than the ballot box.Â”
Prayer in the hour of need is a great boon. From simple trials to our Gethsemanes, prayer can put us in touch with God, our greatest source of comfort and counsel.
The Founding Fathers understood the principle that Â“righteousness exalteth a nationÂ”, and helped to bring about one of the greatest systems ever used to govern men. But unless we continue to seek righteousness and preserve the liberties entrusted to us, we shall lose the blessings of heaven. Thomas Jefferson said, Â“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.Â” The price of freedom is also to live in accordance with the commandments of God. The early Founding Fathers thanked the Lord for His intervention in their behalf. They saw His hand in their victories in battle and believed strongly that He watched over them.
The tenth plank in Karl Marx's Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated the establishment of free education for all children in public schools. There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools.Â…one of them [was that] Â‘It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be.Â’ It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.