The Twelfth Article of Faith and Obedience to the Law

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

The Twelfth Article of Faith is a standard of religious compliance and belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically regarding every member’s obligation to be subject to the laws of their country and to their leaders. Many interpret this Article of Faith to mean absolute compliance to all laws enacted within a political mechanism, while others have used this article to justify a higher principle of natural rights, justice, and morality.

Grammar of the Twelfth Article of Faith

This particular Article of Faith is commonly misread to include a coordinating conjunction that is not actually found and which dramatically changes its meaning when added. Most quote theTwelfth Article of Faith to read, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents rulers, and magistrates, [and] in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” The coordinating conjunction “and,” however, does not exist in the actual text. This is important because, grammatically, the coordinating conjunction changes the meaning of this passage.

In the English language there are seven coordinating conjunctions: “and,” “but”, “or,” “nor,” “for,” “so,” “yet.” These coordinating conjunctions are used to join two separate complete sentences into one. For example, “Jack went to a baseball game, and Jill practiced piano.” Independently, “Jack went to a baseball game” is a complete sentence – as is, “Jill practiced piano.” However, by using the coordinating conjunction “and,” we are allowed to splice these two complete clauses together into one sentence.

The Twelfth Article of Faith has no coordinating conjunction. This means that there is only one complete sentence, and not two clauses. By adding a coordinating conjunction we change the meaning of the Twelfth Article of Faith to have two separate clauses: (1) “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates,” and (2) “We believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” This, however, is not the way this Article is written.

Instead, the Twelfth Article of Faith reads: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Without the coordinating conjunction the belief of being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, is qualified in this single clause by their obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. Our belief in being subject to these leaders only goes so far as they obey, honor, and sustain the law. Without the coordinating conjunction, the qualifying “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” is applied to the leaders, and not to the people themselves.

Does this mean that the Latter-day Saints do not believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”? No, it does not, for Section 98:5 of the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) tells us that the Lord wants us to befriend that Constitutional law of the land that promotes the liberty and freedom of all mankind, and Section 134:5 tells us that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming any citizen protected in their inherent and inalienable rights.

Questions, however, arise concerning whether the Twelfth Article of Faith gives any room for a lex injusta non est lex (an unjust law is no law at all) philosophy or for civil disobedience. What if the citizen is not “thus protected” (D&C 134:5) by their government in his inherent and inalienable rights? If the Twelfth Article of Faith offers room for the non-est-lex philosophy and civil disobedience, how so and what are their limits? These are not simple questions, and the answers are generally divided into two competing philosophical theories: (1) legal positivism, and (2) natural law. Each philosophical theory answers these questions differently.

Legal Positivist Interpretation

The legal positivist’s claim on the Twelfth Article of Faith calls for absolute obedience to all laws enacted by the political leadership. Disobedience to enacted laws is a strict violation of this Article of Faith according to this view. Unjust laws are legally repealed by the legislature and not merely dismissed by an individual who disagrees with the enacted law. This interpretation is justified in light of D&C 58:21-22: “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be. . .” This appears to contradict the natural law theorist’s slogan that an unjust law is not law at all (lex injusta non est lex). Legal positivists believe that members of the Church are commanded to obey the laws enacted by their government (laws of the land), and that in obeying the law of the land (even an unjust law) they will not break the laws of God – or a higher moral law.

An analogy used by legal positivists to interpret D&C 58:21-22 is that of a soldier who obeys an unjust order to kill in a time of war. Leaders of the Church have declared that soldiers are not morally accountable for following orders to kill their enemies in a time of war, but that the accountability of an unjust command falls on the leader(s) who gave the order. As President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do” (Hinckley 80). Legal positivists argue that the citizen – like the active soldier – has immunity for following an unjust order (law) legislated by his government. The individual’s responsibility is to obey the scripted law, and it is the legislator’s responsibility to enact just laws. The important thing is for the citizen to be honest and obedient to all established laws – good and bad – until the time comes when an unjust law can be changed legitimately through the political mechanism of government. At this time, the citizen becomes responsible for acting in such a way as to change the unjust law. Until then, the individual is justified in obeying an unjust law. In this strict obedience to the law, even to an unjust law, the legal positivist finds himself obedient to the Twelfth Article of Faith and the laws of God.

Natural Rights and Law Interpretation

Natural law holds a different view of the Twelfth Article of Faith. To the natural law understanding, D&C 58:21-22 is qualified in D&C 134:5: “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected. . .” (emphasis added). While the natural law thinker recognizes the need to obey the law of the land and to be subject to the powers that be, he still recognizes that sedition and rebellion have their place when a government no longer protects the inherent and inalienable rights of the people. Furthermore, the person who recognizes natural law must qualify and differentiate between a just and an unjust law as he differentiates between the two forms of law that represent just and unjust laws in D&C 98: the law of the land and the law of man.

And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. . .

And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. . .

And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God (D&C 98:4-7, 10-11).

In acknowledging natural law, a man further recognizes that the law of the land is conditionally limited to that which promotes the rights and privileges of all mankind. Anything more or less than that which promotes the rights and privileges of all mankind is the “law of man” and is “evil.” It is within the law of man that the naturalist finds unjust law. Furthermore, the command given by God, the ultimate principle giver, is to forsake all evil – even the law of man! This reading of D&C 98 is in line with Aquinas’ first principle of natural law: good is to be done and pursued, and evil avoided (Aquinas q94, a2, p. 47). In this sense, every individual is obligated to avoid all evil – even if it is scripted law – if the enacted law violates the rights and privileges of all mankind. President Joseph F. Smith clarified this concept when he said,

It seems to me that [D&C 98:4–7, 10–11] makes this matter so clear that it is not possible for any man who professes to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make any mistake, or to be in doubt as to the course he should pursue under the command of God in relation to the observance of the laws of the land. [God] will hold [lawmakers] responsible if they will pass unconstitutional measures and frame unjust and proscriptive laws. . . If lawmakers have a mind to violate their oath, break their covenants and their faith with the people, and depart from the provisions of the constitution, where is the law, human or divine, which binds me, as an individual, to outwardly and openly proclaim my acceptance of their acts? (Gospel 406).

Both natural law and legal positivism argue that lawmakers are accountable for passing unjust and proscriptive laws; however, these competing theories vary according to the level of accountability ascribed to the individual when confronted with an unjust law. The legal positivist must maintain strict adherence to the law (leaving sole accountability to the lawmaker for passing unjust legislation, until the time comes when the individual may affect legislative change), but the man who acknowledges natural law takes upon himself a portion of accountability in how he responds to an unjust law. The natural law thinker will remain subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and he will obey, honor, and sustain the law by only adhering to just laws that promote the freedom and liberty of all people. This appears to be in line with President John Taylor’s interpretation of D&C 98:4-6.

Taking this nation as an example, all laws that are proper and correct, and all obligations entered into which are not violative of the Constitution should be kept inviolate. But if they are violative of the Constitution, then the compact between the rulers and the ruled is broken and the obligation ceases to be binding. Just as a person agreeing to purchase anything and to pay a certain amount for it, if he receives the article bargained for, and does not pay its price, he violates his contract; but if he does not receive the article he is not required to pay for it (Taylor).

This reading of President John Taylor carries the natural law slogan: an unjust law is not a law. If a codified law violates the purpose and principle of the Constitution, then there is no obligation to obey it – for the obligation ceases to be binding. However, President Taylor, in keeping true with natural law principles, explains that all laws that do maintain the rights and privileges of all mankind must be followed. This reading is consistent with every passage of the Doctrine and Covenants presented in this paper.

Conclusion

The grammatical punctuation of the Twelfth Article of Faith is not intended as an argument in itself, but when applied to the natural interpretation of scripture it offers a consistent interpretation. For as Ezra Taft Benson said concerning this Article of Faith,

In it is a declaration requiring obedience, loyalty to, and respect for duly constituted laws and the officials administering those laws. In justifying such loyal compliance, however, the Lord also promulgated certain safeguards and conditions which must be observed if freedom and liberty are to be preserved and enjoyed. These are emphasized in primarily in the 98th and 134th sections of the Doctrine and Covenants (Benson 277).

It is necessary to comply with laws that support “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges” of “all mankind” (D&C 98:5), for these are the “laws of the land” that we are commanded to keep in Section 58:21-23. Through using our reason, our inner moral compass, and the guidelines as laid out in scripture and prophetic utterance we are able to support a true principle in establishing the law of the land, and, by so doing, we will never be found in contradiction to the law of God. However, once true principle is violated, we are left unto the tempest and onslaught of the law of man – a law that we are commanded to forsake (D&C 98:7, 11). Let us be “subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates,” as they “obey, honor, and sustain” the true Constitutional law of this land, and may we never be found guilty in rising against our representatives while “thus protected” in our inherent and “inalienable rights.”

Works Cited

Aquinas, Saint Thomas. On law, morality, and politics. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1988. Print.

Benson, Ezra Taft. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974. Print.

Gospel Doctrine Sermons & Writings of Joseph F. Smith. New York: Deseret Books, 1999. Print.

Hinckley, Gordon B. “War and Peace.” Ensign May 2003: 78-81. Print.

Taylor, John. Journal of Discourse. Vol. 26. 1884: 350. Print.

Image: Chris PotterCC BY 2.0

30 comments

  1. Great post, Shiloh!

    I thought that I’d add this related tidbit from the Deseret News:

    “The Prophet did not say that any law passed by Congress is the supreme law of the land. He knew better. He knew that Congress would pass laws that would be invalid. What he said was this – ‘When a people or a church have received a divine command and a law is enacted against it, do they not know whether the law is constitutional or not, seeing that Congress is prohibited by that sacred instrument from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion? And if the Supreme Court, yielding to popular clamor against an unorthodox body rules that the unconstitutional law is constitutional, does that alter the stubborn, patient, invincible fact that the law is in violation of the great guarantee of religious freedom? Any man who says that he really and firmly believes a certain law of God binding on him, and who will not obey it in preference to a conflicting law of man or a decision of a court, has either an unsound mind or a cowardly soul, or is a most contemptible hypocrite.’ A law has been specially framed against the establishment of their religion.

    The issue is obedience to God or submission to man; choice between a divine decree about which they have no doubt, and a human enactment that they firmly believe to be unconstitutional and void. It is a matter of conscience” (Deseret News, July 6th, 1886)

    Section 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants is clear. Un-Constitutional laws cometh of evil, and we are commanded in verse 11 to forsake all evil. However, that’s easier said than done. Look at what happened to the early Saints, when they practiced their religion in defiance of the laws, which were specifically written to prohibit the free exercise of the restored gospel. There are consequences for forsaking evil. It’s much easier to forsake all good, and cleave unto all evil.

    As Christ said, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

    In order to find peace with the world, you must do as the Church did, and embrace the laws enacted against your religious beliefs. If you don’t, the government will make war with you. The government will confiscate your property, they will imprison you, and if you still haven’t been broken, they will take you life. It’s your choice. Will you forsake evil, or cleave unto it for protection?

    “Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.” (D&C 98:14–15)

    1. Excellent summation. Would a LDS turn in his Jewish friends to the gestapo in Nazi Germany simply because it was the law to do so? Sadly, I know plenty who would, including my son-in-law. They are not celestial material.

      1. What is sad is that even LDS people hate other peoples. It was a commandment given by Jesus Christ to love one another as I have loved you this is why we are to love our enemies. God is our ultimate judge, not man and that is the final law…

  2. Great article! The same idea applies to us in regards to obeying church leaders. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that you should do whatever your leaders tell you, even if you feel it is wrong. Many people seem to think that this is where the true test of obedience lies.

    However, the scriptures make it clear that we will be held accountable for any evil acts we commit in this life.

  3. One quarrel I’ve encountered when sharing and discussing this article with others is what the theories of Natural Law and Legal Positivism say about whether or not we “should” disobey an unjust law. I think that’s something this article could have addressed in order to avoid confusion. I would say the question of “should we disobey an unjust law?” is outside the scope of these theories. A clarification that should be made. It comes down to the exercise of both wisdom and pragmatism, in my opinion.

    1. Good point, Skyler. These discussions always stop short of where the line can affirmatively be drawn where one crosses from passive disapproval to active resistance. The track record the saints in all generations have had is outlasting dictatorships, not overthrowing them.

    2. Good points, Skyler.

      I did, actually, consider these things when writing this, but no prophet — at least that I’ve ever read — has ever completely defined what specific positive laws we “should” disobey; therefore, as I believe, the issue is left between the individual and the Lord whether they should or not. The purpose here is to show the difference of interpretation that various members use, and not to answer exactly when and under what specific positive conditions we should apply the non-est-lex philosophy to an unjust law. Section 98 is clear concerning the difference between the “constitutional law of the land” and the “law of man,” and I hesitate to venture beyond what the prophets have said concerning Section 98 into the absolute application of the non-est-lex philosophy because it takes a morally alert individual or people to recognize when a rule is just or unjust. I personally believe that Section 98 and Section 134 do an adequate enough job to show where that line is “where one crosses from passive disapproval to active resistance.”

      I believe the best we can do — or at least the best I can do — is offer and define a principle between one interpretation and another and then leave it to the individual to figure out for themselves exactly how to apply a non-est-lex philosophy (if at all) in their own life.

  4. The Legal Positivist Interpretation can not claim the verse in D&C 58:21–22 as supporting this view. In our day we think the phrase “law of the land” mean the laws of your country. It does not. Those who force us to obey unconstitutional laws know this very clearly. The law of the land is one group of rights and the “law of the sea” or admiralty law is a whole other group. When at sea on a ship captains have authority over their passengers which the congress and the president never have. All power over the passengers is given to the captain since he is responsible for the lives of everyone on board. The God given rights enumerated by the constitution and its bill of rights are not available to passengers on a ship. Whatever the captain says goes. He can marry you and hang you.
    Many court actions against people are under admiralty law. So you can talk to the judge about your constitutional rights and he can say truthfully, “You don’t have any here.” The constitution is the supreme law of the land, not of the nation.
    The Lord knew this and He speaks exactly. So when He speaks in D&C 98 and says: And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. ” In order for Him to justify it it has to be more than just constitutional it has to comport with that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, [which] belongs to all mankind. Otherwise He does not justify it.
    So do we disobey it. I believe the Lord does justify us in disobeying it. I believe he justified and blessed George Washington and tens of thousands of others for raising up and army and leading them to battle against their own government. I believe Gandhi was justified and blessed of God for disobeying evil “laws” in India. I believe people that do such thing secure themselves a place with God the Eternal Father forever. To disobey an evil law is to risk death. The more evil it is the greater the risk. But such that do lay down their lives in order that others might live free.
    If you are still wondering whether “good members of the church” should ever disobey a “law” I suggest you stop reading such articles go watch TV and continue your daily indoctrination on how to enjoy being a slave. All the major networks are filled with great self helps on this subject.

  5. Believing that carnal kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates’ codes, rules, statutes, etc. are law, with obedience thereto being a measure of righteousness, is in fact idolatry’s worship of a carnally demonic hegemony – a false god. Such focus, genuflecting and giving reverent credence to the carnal hegemony’s status of being, ability to make law and, an unwavering obedience thereto (instead of worshiping the one true Lawgiver – abiding His law(s)) gives notice of such patron’s supreme belief that there is no Sovereign but carnal man. The obedient patron of such statist theology, claiming the following of evil is the same as following God’s Word, is an iniquitous double minded sinner, and transgressor. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8 ) “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt 6:24) “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4: 4) “For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.” (Alma 30:8) “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil;” (Exodus 23:2) To translate Caesar in to an organic hegemony capable of making law, being by self description aloof from the individual sovereign, the you and me (Warren Court’s declaration that governments now have inherent right, ability to issue licenses, commit larceny with impunity, etc.) all out side the de jure representative republic, is to “make us a king ⋯ like all the nations. And the LORD said ⋯ they have not rejected thee [the prophets], but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:5, 7) The new despotic and separate Caesar, the superior potentate (NOT ! the you and me sovereign, possessor of all authority, power, and unalienable rights as a faculty of birty – the de jure kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates), being the ascendant master (government) becomes the statist theocracy with its patrons’ god(s), evidenced by worshiping in obedience the carnal law giver’s commands, by way of example “⋯ Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)
    Such Article of faith is consistent with the first of the ten commandments, namely: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3) The word ‘gods’ here is translated from the Hebrew, ‘Elohiym’; by subject matter definition meaning: my immediate rulers or judges; (In context it would read: Thou shalt have no other rulers or judges before me – to follow a rule or judgement contrary to humanity’s Father and King, would be to place a carnal god before Him). “I am grateful for the Constitution of this land. I am grateful that the Founding Fathers made it clear that our allegiance runs to that Constitution and the glorious, eternal principles embodied therein. Our allegiance does not run to any man, to a king, or a dictator or a president,” (The Red Carpet p. 100, Under Prophetic commission, Elder Ezra Taft Benson)

  6. “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” There is additional meaning in this Article of Faith beyond being subject to “‘kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates,’ as they ‘obey, honor, and sustain’ the true Constitutional law of this land.” The additional meaning comes not in our belief regarding the responsibilities of government officials, but in our responsibility in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. Another way of saying the Twelfth Article of Faith is, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents rulers, and magistrates, [so long as doing so does not conflict with our commitment of] obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” In other words, we hold ourselves to the same level of Constitutional accountability as our leaders.

    1. I agree…. We are all bound, but as citizens when our reps do not honor oathe of office, what then is a citizen duty, to say it is their fault, or to exercise citizenship, and honorably petition for restoration of constitutional representation in both money and men… or recall reps… so the integrity is not compromised…

      to sustain the law is to seek to understand , befriend and defend it against encroachment.. when it is established in righteousness as to protect our liberty

  7. This was one of the very first LDS Liberty podcasts that I listened to…great thoughts, and always worth re-reading (or re-listening).

  8. I tend to take the ‘natural law view’ generally, but I quite honestly don’t know where to draw the line.

    As we can see by the two major points of view illustrated here, there really is no ironclad way to fall down completely in the one or the other camp. With abortion, gay marriage, campaign speech restrictions, Obamacare, and a host of other unjust and unwise policies and their attendant unjust laws, I’m pedal-to-the-metal for civil disobedience.

    When it comes to illegal aliens, I’m very much in favor of enforcement of the laws. I recognize this puts me at odds with church practice, but this is an area where for now we’ll have to agree to disagree. If this were the America of 100 years ago, where anybody who came here had to pull his weight without those around him being forced to support him, I’d say, “let ’em come! They’re in search of a better life, and if they’re criminals we can deport them, if they don’t work they’ll starve, and if they do hold up their end, we’ll reward them with citizenship. Welcome mat out.” Of course today this is not what happens in all too many cases. Today it’s about getting every welfare benefit and free medical at the emergency room, while engaging in identity theft in order to take jobs that American citizens would most definitely do in these hard times. I can’t support that in any way, and I’m sure many of you are with me in several of my positions, some falling more on the “natural law” side, some on the “enforce the damn law” side.

    SO HERE’S THE PROBLEM:

    This seems a bit convenient for me. If some laws are unjust can I use the ‘natural law’ argument to disobey them? I sure don’t like driving 55 while everybody else on the highway is whizzing past me at over 60. Haven’t we all voted with our lead feet? Natural law rules! We don’t have to live under the tyranny of too-low speed limits.

    Yet, if we don’t like smoking and smokers, we feel free as can be to limit their activities even in their own homes, on “public health” grounds that are the flimsiest imaginable. If you don’t think so, just wait for the salt, sugar and cholesterol/fatty acid regulations that are on their way to you and me as part of Obamacare’s massive rulemaking process that has yet to get underway.

    When you see some of the rules that come out of these new bureaucracies, you’ll wonder what happened to the United States of America, the land of the free. And when you point at the tyranny of the food Nazis, you’ll have three fingers pointing back at you, because you opened the door for all those regulations with your “public health” backing of repressive anti-smoking laws.

    What are you going to do–take the absolutist view on the smoking laws, with which you agree, and then claim a “natural law” exemption to the anti-salt, anti-sugar, anti-fat laws whenever they cramp your style?

    Selective obedience to law sets a bad precedent, especially for children who cannot as yet perceive the moral structure you may use to determine which laws are “just” and which are “unjust and unconstitutional,” and therefore justifiably ignored.

    Selective obedience also sets up a glide path to disobedience in spheres where it is not justified. We’ve already seen a comment from a poster who likens local church leaders’ “less inspired” instructions to the tyranny of unconstitutional laws.

    In the case of church leaders urging actions you disagree with, you face no legal sanction for disregarding their instructions. You have the (usually advisable) option to discuss the policy in private with that leader, put forward your misgivings and the moral reasons that underlie them, and work out an understanding together with that leader that preserves your conscience and his/her understanding of your motives, testimony and desire to do right.

    Who knows? Such a meeting might change your own mind somewhat, allowing a compromise position. Depends on the case. There have been times when I’ve disagreed outright with positions taken by my direct priesthood superiors. If they didn’t affect me personally but might have resulted in some pernicious consequences, I might bring up the possibility of those consequences in the right setting. But if the policy in question has a direct bearing on me or a family member, with consequences that are unjust, I’ll set up a private meeting with that priesthood leader to explain my misgivings.

    There is no requirement that we all see things exactly the same, or that we all have exactly the same priorities in life. Our diverging opinions cause us to clash constantly with regards to this policy or that . The bishop can hardly say “good morning brothers and sisters,” without getting somebody to grumble that no, it’s not.

    Selective obedience in church has arguably more serious effects to the mind of its practitioner than selective obedience to the laws of the land. It places the individual as the arbiter of all that is right and all that is wrong–and what do we have then?

    “What is truth?”

    I find, after careful consideration of this dilemma, that whether one takes the one approach or the other to any particular issue, doing it individually is conducive to the problem of “private morality” and making up one’s own rules and disregarding society’s. Chaos unleashed. I’ve had people not of my faith tell me, “What is true for you isn’t necessarily true for me.” That mindset is a denial of objective truth. So a position of civil disobedience to immoral commands needs to be backed up with something more than just my own personal opinion, or I am effectively lawless.

    Ever wonder why Jesus so often prefaced his arguments with the lawyers of his day with “It is written”? Jesus, the origin of all law, needed no appeal to authority on his own merits. Perhaps he was mindful of the hundreds of millions who would subsequently read of his defiance of these men, and made sure to cite his authority so that his imperfect children will not attempt the practice willy-nilly.

    “Don’t try this at home!”

  9. Excellent synopsis. It sickens me to death to listen to spineless, lazy LDS who licken questioning the authority of the secret combination running our government to apostasy from the Church. In the D&C, the Lord tells us that he hand picked the Founding Fathers from the billions of His children to establish this nation. President Benson said their writings are therefore like scripture to us because they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Being the prescient inspired men that they were, they knew the day would come when evil men would get themselves elected to the legislative bodies of our nation and pass unconstitutional laws giving them huge advantage at our expense. If our only recourse in such events was to either obey the unjust law, or attempt to have it overturned through the legislative process, we would be in total subjection to evil men either way. The Founders provided a failsafe as it were which allows us to retain 100% of our God-given rights continually, regardless of unjust laws to the contrary. That failsafe is known as the principle of “jury nullification”, whereby the defendant is not the only entity on trial in a court of law, but so is the law itself. Earlier supreme Court justices stated very clearly that juries were the judge of both law and fact(evidence). So, if a defendant clearly violated some law according to the evidence or his own admission, the jury was still obligated or at least strongly encouraged to return a verdict of not guilty if the law in question was a bad law. But starting in about 1965, judges began to delete the explanation of this principle from their final instructions to the jury after closing arguments, and nowadays actually tell the jury that while their prerogative is the facts, his prerogative is the law. In other words, it’s bass ackwards now. Now the jury is forbidden from being concerned about the constitutionality of the law in question. They are only allowed to determine whether the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendent did what he is accused of doing. The impact of this change in judicial procedure and recognition is impossible to overestimate, and is chiefly responsible for the fact that America, the “land of the free”, now has more people incarcerated than does Russia and China combined, and I’m speaking of total numbers, not per capita. About 75% of our inmates have committed no crime, i.e., they did not injure anyone’s person or property. They only violated unconstitutional public policy, such as by smoking marijuana.
    By hiding and not recognizing the principle of jury nullification in their courtrooms, judges do at least half of the prosecution’s work for them before the trial has started. So trial courts are now heavily weighted toward a verdict of guilty, whereas in years past they were weighted toward not guilty. The principle of jury nullification is the absolute cornerstone, bedrock foundation of our liberty. Without it, politicians are having their way with us, and locking us up in record numbers. However, as more and more Americans become reaquainted with this principle, invariably one or two are winding up on juries. It only takes one dissenting vote to deadlock a jury in a criminal trial, and very often only one to educate the other 11 resulting in a not guilty verdict. Unbelievably, some judges are now threatening jury members with contempt of court if they attempt to practise this principle, or teach it to the rest of the jury, even though jury nullification was commonly known and practiced across America for over 200 years prior. The destruction of this principle is one of the primary means whereby the secret combination accomplishes one of it’s goals, namely to “overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries”(Ether 8:25).
    By the way, this principle is codified in 16th American Jurisprudence, sec. 256, 2nd ed: “The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, whether federal or state, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose, since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it’s enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. NO ONE IS BOUND TO OBEY AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW, AND NO COURTS ARE BOUND TO ENFORCE IT”.

    1. I love this comment about jury nullification. The founders intended that we have three ways to vote and hold our government in check. 1. The voting booth 2. Serving on a grand jury 3. Jury Duty where not only the accused is on trial but also the law. If the Jury finds the law to be unconstitutional, no matter how many congressman voted for it, then the jury can vote not guilty. If they cannot get a conviction then the bad law is essentially useless. In Atlanta a lady was on trial for felony fraud because she drove her kids to a safer school and the jury found her not guilty although she clearly violated the stupid law of being forced to take your kids to the local government school, no matter how bad it is.

  10. All laws that operate in harmony with the US Constitution that do not undermine our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are good and should be upheld. Any law that operates outside of the limitations and spirit of the Constitution is null and void.

    However, if despotic laws are passed, which are supported by a wicked government, and we choose to disregard them (which is our right), we can safely assume that the diabolical police-state will happily persue us with a vengence, arrest us, drag us through the demonic just-us system, and put us in prison for a sufficient amount of time to virtually destroy us.

    And this is just the beginning of sorrows for those who ignore the law. The ramifications of opposing the system are extremely harsh. You may well be justified in taking your stand against an unconstitutional law or the incorrect enforcement thereof, but that will not stop the system from crushing you.

    And guess what, God will not come to your rescue; neither will Jesus or any of the Angels of Heaven. Nope, not going to happen. Whatever your choices are in this mortal probation, you are going to have to live with them, good or bad. Among other things, this probation is a test of character. It is easy to do what is right when we are hugged, kissed, and rewarded for it. But what if doing what is right gets you into serious trouble and/or costs you more than you have to give? Would you still have the strength of character to stand up for what is right?

    Paul

  11. You are correct Paul. There are cases when the Lord does protect those even in this mortal time who risk their freedom and lives for truth.
    I have no doubt that He will receive such freedom loving people with open arms after they die even or especially if it is at the hands of an evil government. I have received great evil for having done good. I still receive some to this day. And I still do the good and am still growing in my resolve to do even more good. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were in fact saved by the Son of God from the firey furnace. But just as Abinadi they were ready to die for the truth if God chose not to save them from temporal death. I am working to obtain that type ad degree of faith and courage. Even one person who makes such a stand inspires thousands and in many cases even provides liberty to millions.
    May I be so honored to be counted worthy to suffer for truth.
    Robert

  12. I hope that the 12th article of faith was intended to mean what is stated in this article. It’s an argument, or position, that I haven’t come across in my research of the teachings of modern prophets and apostles.

    I’ve found it much easier to discuss with people who bring up AoF 12 – the simple fact that D&C 134 is a much more detailed explanation of Latter-day Saint beliefs regarding law and government.

    It seems that D&C 134 is clear that “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments…”

    If we are to take the common interpretation of the 12th Article of Faith that we must obey ALL laws then any Latter-day Saint living in Missouri (until the law was finally repealed) who be subject to the Mormon extermination order, and would, using this logic, be required to exterminate themselves and other Latter-day Saints. That right there should be evidence enough that we’re bound only to just laws… though there is also an argument to be made for sometimes baring unjust laws patiently for a time, but certainly there is a line.

  13. How does one reconcile the apparent contradiction between the message of this article and that which is found in the current Church Handbook (Handbook 2) which says in 21.1.23:

    “Members should obey, honor, and sustain the laws in any country where they reside or travel (see D&C 58:21–22; Articles of Faith 1:12). This includes laws that prohibit proselyting.”

    It even references AF 12 with no evidence of the rationale above.

  14. Thank you for this insightful article. I was under the impression that the 12th article of faith did use the word “and.” It makes so much sense to understand what a difference in meaning just that one word can make, and it’s a relief to know we don’t have to blindly obey such destructive decrees. It further confirms that the Prophet Joseph Smith was truly inspired and guided by the Lord. How we need this today, when the Constitution is being so abused. Keep up the good work!

  15. lex injusta non est lex (an unjust law is no law at all)

    Thank you so much for placing the Latin and English close together! You have added value here, rather than simply appearing pretentious.

  16. I believe the sentence structure is a list of three things: we believe in x, y and z. It is obscured by x in this also being a list of three things. Ergo we believe in x (sub1, sub2, sub3), y and z.

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