“The founders who established this nation believed in God and in the existence of moral absolutes—right and wrong—established by this Ultimate Law-giver. The Constitution they established assumed and relied on morality in the actions of its citizens. Where did that morality come from and how was it to be retained? Belief in God and the consequent reality of right and wrong was taught by religious leaders in churches and synagogues, and the founders gave us the First Amendment to preserve that foundation for the Constitution.”
– Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, February 2011 An address given at Chapman University School of Law.
I often think about my ancestors when I listen to the song “Faith of Our Fathers.” I think about the struggles that my pioneer ancestors went through in order to have religious liberty, at a time when it was not protected in the United States. I also contemplate the founding of this nation, and the many different Christian sects to which my ancestors belonged, and came here from across the sea to be able to freely practice. I also find that my mind wanders to the faith of our Heavenly Father, when He sent His son, that we may be able to return to Him someday, and the principles that He has taught us through prophets throughout the World’s history. Is the faith of our fathers living still? I say it is, however, it is under attack.
Many in the United States have turned their backs on the very faith that was the main motivator at the founding of our nation and have embraced the idea that there is no place for God in the public square, only the thoughts and philosophies of learned men. They deny the source of all intelligence, and want to silence anyone who would speak on the basis of religious or moral law. They claim that faith has no place in politics, society, or in legislation. They demand that those who are religious remain silent and keep their conversation in the church, behind the pulpit, and not on the public street. Those who seek to do this trample on the God-given rights that have been granted to every single human being. They have ignored the rights of religious liberty, free speech and peaceful assembly. They deny the faith of their fathers.
Many people will say that the Founders were Deists which did not believe in Jesus Christ, however, the very establishment of this nation is founded upon those who believed in the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. It was common knowledge at the time, that everything came from our Creator, and that all needed the blessings of Providence.
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever…”- Thomas Jefferson
Maryland, by its very name reveals that those who established it were Catholics. Connecticut was founded by the Puritans and the Anglican, Lutheran and the Reformed Dutch also gathered there. Pennsylvania had the Amish, Mennonite, Moravian, Quaker and Lutheran Christian sects. Many of the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies came for religious freedom and no other reason.
Removing the faith of our fathers will bring about the very destruction of our nation. The principles of Jesus Christ and moral standards are what made America prosperous, powerful and peaceful.
”And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.” -Ether 2 11-12
Will we be true to the faith of our fathers? Will we protect the right of religious freedom? Will we be a free people? When Christ returns, will He find a people that know Him, who He is, and have fulfilled His desires when it comes to The U.S. Constitution and laws that are in alignment with it?
The answers to those questions are within you and you alone. It is a choice that each and every one of us will have to make. In this case, as mentioned in D&C 38:22 we are promised that if we follow Christ, we will be a free people. He tells us that we shall have no laws but His laws when He comes. Can we deny the faith of our fathers and still be prepared to accept the Lord when He comes? We cannot. Without the foundation of moral and religious standards, we will lose our liberty. Without liberty, we cannot practice our religion. If we cannot practice it, then we lose the blessings that come from doing so.
“Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver, and what can stay my hand?” -D&C 38:22
We must stand up not only for ourselves and our posterity, but also for our neighbors. We must defend the freedom of religious choice for every individual regardless of whether they are Christian or not. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the Gospel and religious liberty is mentioned in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights for a reason. Without it, we will not prosper.
“Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.” –D8C 109:54