Constitution of the United States

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The Constitution of the United States of America is considered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be an inspired document. The Founding Fathers are considered men foreordained, or raised up by God, to establish the constitution and a free nation wherein the Gospel could be restored.

The constitution has the following essential characteristics:
  1. The whole philosophy of constitutional government is that all sovereign power rests with the...people.
  2. It is capable of specific interpretation and encourages a course of stability and uniformity of action where governmental affairs are concerned.
  3. It creates an ideal system of checks and balances where the possible exercise of autocratic powers is concerned.
  4. The government has no rights; it has duties only. It is ordained to serve the people.
  5. It preserves the natural rights of man.
  6. Means are provided for the constitution's own change and amendment. [1]

In the Book of Mormon, prophets predicted that America would be a nation wherein no kings would rule (2 Nephi 10:11-14). The people who would possess the land would be "free from bondage and from captivity, and from all other nations (Ether 2:12). The Gentiles were to be "established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father" (3 Nephi 21:4). This, so that the Book of Mormon could come forth and the Lord's church be established. "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" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80; 109:54). [2]

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "The constitution of the United States is a glorious standard. It is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun. We say that God is true; that the constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true; that the Book of Mormon is true; that the Book of Covenants is true; that Christ is true; that the ministering angels sent forth from God are true, and that we know that we have an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God." [3]

Said the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson:

...we honor more than those who brought forth the Constitution. We honor the Lord who revealed it. God Himself has borne witness to the fact that He is pleased with the final product of the work of these great patriots.
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on August 6, 1833, the Savior admonished: “I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:6).
I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land. I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has sent other choice spirits—even you who read my words—to preserve it. [4]

Said the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:

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. [5]

And from Apostle Dallin H. Oaks:

The United States Constitution was the first written constitution in the world. It has served Americans well, enhancing freedom and prosperity during the changed conditions of more than two hundred years. Frequently copied, it has become the United States’ most important export. After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions, and the U.S. Constitution was a model for all of them. No wonder modern revelation says that God established the U.S. Constitution and that it “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77).
George Washington was perhaps the first to use the word miracle in describing the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. In a 1788 letter to Lafayette, he said:
It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well-founded objections.” [6]
The success of the convention was attributable in large part to the remarkable intelligence, wisdom, and unselfishness of the delegates. As James Madison wrote in the preface to his notes on the Constitutional Convention:
There never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.” [7]
Reverence for the United States Constitution is so great that sometimes individuals speak as if its every word and phrase had the same standing as scripture. Personally, I have never considered it necessary to defend every line of the Constitution as scriptural. For example, I find nothing scriptural in the compromise on slavery or the minimum age or years of citizenship for congressmen, senators, or the president. As President J. Reuben Clark said, we believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world.
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention achieved the required balance between popular sovereignty and stability through a power of amendment that was ultimately available but deliberately slow. Only in this way could the government have the certainty of stability, the protection of minority rights, and the potential of change, all at the same time. [8]

Latter-day Prophecies Concerning the Constitution

First from Brigham Young, second president of the Church: “Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, ‘The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.’ It will be so” (Journal of Discourses, 7:15).
Now another witness, John Taylor, third president of the Church: “When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States, the elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth, and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations” (The Gospel Kingdom, Deseret Book Co., 1943, p. 219). This is part of the program.
A final witness is from George Q. Cannon, former member of the First Presidency, who said that “the day will come when the Constitution and free government under it will be sustained and preserved by this people” (Journal of Discourses, 23:104.)
Now, I declare to you that if we are not in the beginning stages of the fulfillment of this prophecy, we are at least in the stages where we are preparing for its fulfillment. [9]
Late prophet Ezra Taft Benson quoted Joseph Smith thus: "Even this Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff up[on] which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear the constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution—A Heavenly Banner,” September 16, 1986, Brigham Young University.)

Quotes from Mormon Leaders on the Constitution and Founding of the U.S.

“The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun.”
“The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were inspired from on high to do that work.”
“It was by and through the power of God, that the fathers of this country framed the Declaration of Independence, and also that great palladium of human rights, the Constitution of the United States.”
“Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.”
“We trace the hand of the Almighty in framing the constitution of our land, and believe that the Lord raised up men purposely for the accomplishment of this object, raised them up and inspired them to frame the Constitution of the United States.”
“I hope with all my soul that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be loyal in their very hearts and souls, to the principles of the Constitution of our country. From them we have derived the liberty that we enjoy. They have been the means of guaranteeing to the foreigner that has come within our gates, and to the native born, and to all the citizens of this country, the freedom and liberty that we possess. We cannot go back upon such principles as these.”
“From my childhood days I have understood that we believe absolutely that the Constitution of our country was an inspired instrument, and that God directed those who created it and those who defended the independence of this nation. In other words, that He fought with Washington and others in the Revolutionary War.”
“The Lord himself said that he raised up the very men who framed the Constitution of the United States and directed that membership of this Church should pray for and sustain those who represented the Constitution of this land.
“[. . .] You know, and I know, that the Ten Commandments contain the will of our Heavenly Father, and I am grateful, not only for the civil laws but also for the laws God has given us. I feel bound to conform my life to the teachings of the Ten Commandments. I feel equally bound to sustain the Constitution of the United States which came from the same source as the Ten Commandments. Unless the people of this great nation can realize these things and repent, they may forfeit the liberty that they now enjoy, and the blessings that are so multiplied among us.”
“Next to being one in worshiping God there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States.”
”Our government came into existence through divine guidance. The inspiration of the Lord rested upon the patriots who established it, and inspired them through the dark days of their struggle for independence and through the critical period which followed that struggle when they framed our glorious Constitution which guarantees to all the self-evident truth proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“It was to accomplish this lofty purpose basic to all liberty that God “established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom (he) raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:77–80). Contained within the principles of that great heaven-inspired document is the message of this Church to the world in this fateful hour. Except the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and principles contained within the Constitution of the United States are inherent in world plans now being formulated, they are but building on sand and the Lord is not in that building.”
“This restoration was preceded by a long period of preparation. The Pilgrims and other Europeans were inspired to find this American haven of refuge and thus people this land with honest and God-fearing citizens. Washington and his fellows were inspired to revolt from England and bring political liberty to this land, along with the more valuable treasure of religious liberty so that the soil might be prepared for the seed of the truth when it should again be sown”
“Yes, the early leaders and the people generally of this great nation recognized the necessity for spiritual support if the nation was to endure. They gave humble expression to this conviction in the inscription, ‘In God We Trust’ found on the coins of the land. The holy Sabbath was a day of rest and worship. Religious devotion in the home was a common practice. Family prayer, reading of the holy scriptures, and the singing of hymns were an everyday occurrence. There is every evidence that ‘our fathers looked to God for their direction.’
“In framing that great document which Gladstone declared ‘the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man,’ our early leaders our early leaders called upon a kind Providence. Later the product of the constitutional convention was referred to as our God-inspired Constitution. They had incorporated within its sacred paragraphs eternal principles supported by the holy scriptures with which they were familiar. It was established ‘for the rights and protection of all flesh according to just and holy principles.’
“Christianity in its fullness and truth has been restored to the earth by direct revelation. The restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most significant fact since the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What was restored? In a very real sense, the true Law of the Harvest was restored – the law of justice, the law of mercy, the law of love. It was restored in a free country under the influence of a God-inspired Constitution which created a climate of freedom, opportunity and prosperity. The basic virtues of thrift, self-reliance, independence, enterprise, diligence, integrity, morality, faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, were the principles upon which this, the greatest nation in the world, has been built. We must not sell this priceless, divine heritage which was largely paid for by the blood of patriots and prophets for a mess of pottage, for a counterfeit, a false doctrine parading under the cloak of love and compassion, of humanitarianism, even of Christianity.”
“Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were brought forth under the inspiration of God to establish and maintain the freedom of the people of this nation. I said it, and I believe it to be true. There is a miracle in its establishment that cannot be explained in any other way.”
“Let us pause and reflect upon the many blessings we as Americans have received from our Constitution and the debt of gratitude we owe those heroic signers. As we do so, we might also recognize that freedom is not free. Sacrifice has been required to protect and to preserve the very freedoms we cherish.”

References

  1. Bruce R. McConkie, Gospel Doctrine, Second Edition, pp. 159-160.
  2. McConkie, p. 160
  3. Teachings of Joseph Smith, pp. 147-148
  4. Ezra Taft Benson, “The Miraculous Constitution,” Friend, Sep 1987, inside front cover.
  5. Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Times in Which We Live,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 83–86.
  6. Letter from Washington to Lafayette, 7 Feb. 1788, quoted in Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1966, p. xvii.
  7. Quoted in William O. Nelson, The Charter of Liberty, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987, p. 44.
  8. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Divinely Inspired Constitution,” Ensign, Feb 1992, 68. [1]
  9. L. Tom Perry, “God’s Hand in the Founding of America,” New Era, Jul 1976, 45. [2]