I've heard the radio and cable TV pundits batting this question around routinely. Controversy sells. The latest round features a one-word description of a young lady uttered by a professional talk radio professional who should have known better. However, he took the bait and now all his commercial sponsors have abandoned him.
He's concerned (as we all must be) about the loss of freedom in this country when taxpayers are required under the provisions of Obamacare to fund promiscuity through the distribution of birth control devices. When that didn't play so well with the Catholic Church, the president and his administration switched course and demanded that insurance companies provide contraceptives freely to their insureds. All of it makes for great fodder on Twitter, but deflects the conversation from the other abysmal policy failures of this administration.
Controversy drives ratings, calls attention to the combatants, and the question remains in the minds of many, "Can America be saved from such tyrannical acts as we have seen in steady procession over the last seventy or eighty years, and particularly the acceleration of tyranny we have witnessed in the last three years?" Personal righteousness and obdience are key elements. Here's what anchors my faith in my answer:
|Samuel F. Smith|
My country! ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble, free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills.
My heart with rapture thrills
Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Our fathers’ God to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!
This poem was first put to the tune of Great Britain's national anthem in 1832 at a Fourth of July celebration. God had finally replaced the King of England as the Supreme Ruler, God and King in the hearts of our forefathers, the founders we celebrate! The words indicate that Samuel F. Smith had also gleaned some insight about this land of America — truths which, he no doubt was unaware, had been revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Joseph learned by divine revelation between 1827 and 1829, while he translated The Book of Mormon, that God is the author of our liberty and that to retain it, the inhabitants of the land must be protected by His mighty hand. While we are sometimes tempted to believe we can protect liberty by elections or legislative decree, there really is no other power that can protect our God-given liberty.
Joseph Smith received revelation that went even further. These truths identified the “Great God” implored by Samuel F. Smith as Jesus Christ. The truths revealed in The Book of Mormon declare if we are to enjoy the protection of His might, we must accept Him as our God and keep His commandments. When I ask myself how we are doing as a nation today, it gives me pause. To save the nation, we must save the home with priesthood power.
“Behold,” says one revelation, “this [America] 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.” (Ether 2:12).
Samuel F. Smith's words, “Protect us by thy might, Great God, our King” imply that the God of the land is also King of the land. And this is also true.
The Book of Mormon, quoting Jesus as he spoke here in America, reads:
This land shall be a land of liberty. . . and there shall be no kings upon [it]. . .
For I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words. . .
For it is a choice land, saith God. . . wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me.” (2 Nephi 10:11–19).
The history of the people described by The Book of Mormon makes clear that enjoying this God-given liberty while we inhabit the "choice land" depends upon acceptance of and obedience to Jesus Christ.
We learn from the record that more than two thousand years before His birth in the flesh, Jesus Christ led a small colony of people from Asia to America. When they first set foot on the land, He put before their prophet leaders a two-way test, “that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off. . . when they. . . are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:8–9).
It was the test of the two ways, stated elsewhere as "We have beheld that the great question which is in your minds is whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ." (Alma 34:5).
The descendants of this people who first came to America, known as the Jaredites, became a mighty nation. They flourished on this continent for two thousand years. When they obeyed Christ in righteousness, their civilization prospered. When they rejected Him, they eventually annihilated themselves in civil wars. Mormon's abridgment of their history can be found in the Book of Ether. Having read it again recently, it gives light to our present circumstances in America.
In 600 B.C., about the time the Jaredites were destroying themselves, Jesus Christ made provision for another small colony to come to this choice land. He revealed to them, as He had to the Jaredites, that He is the God and King of the land. If they accepted and obeyed Him, they could always remain a free, prosperous, and happy people. However, if they chose to reject Him they would invite certain destruction.
The Jaredite record was made available to their prophets so they could be made aware of the consequences of the two ways. As always, He has left the choice to obey or reject His words in our hands.
The thousand-year history of these people subsequent to the Jaredites records their division into two factions — Nephites and Lamanites. It seems they alternated roles at times. Sometimes the Nephites were righteous and prospered, and other times the Lamanites repented, were righteous and prospered. The key provision associated with prospering was remaining humble and repenting, so counter-intuitive to today's standards where we seem all too quick to arm ourselves and think our safety comes from being weighed down with nuclear arms. The fact we accumulate this weaponry is always couched politically as "defensive measures" to deter others from attacking us. However, recent history will show we have been quick to pull the trigger in the offensive use of our weaponry when we presume to police the hot spots in the world.
After Christ's post-resurrection visit to the land of America, when He ministered personally among them, all who survived the destruction accompanying His crucifixion — both Nephites and Lamanites — were “converted unto the Lord.” United as one in Christ, they built a society described this way:
There were no contentions and disputations among them [for about two hundred years!], and every man did deal justly one with another. . . There were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and. . . the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land.
Surely [concluded Mormon who abridged the record] there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. (4 Nephi 1:2–7, 16).
However, after that happy interlude things began to change. Pride, and every accompaniment of evil that ensued, found place in the hearts of people. They turned away from the God of the land. They rejected Him. By the end of the fourth century A.D., as a result of contention, crime, and carnage, their civilization had disintegrated into chaos.
They had proven themselves unworthy of protection by the “might” of the God of the land, and the scattered remnants of these people dwindled in unbelief until they had reached the state of degradation in which Columbus found them when he landed on this continent.
Lehi, the first prophet who led his family and a few others to America in 600 B.C., prophesied “there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:6).
No one who came here has escaped this everlasting decree “that whoso should possess [it] should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off. . . when they. . . are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:8–9). The truth of the two ways is inescapable.
We who live in America today cannot escape this everlasting decree. And the Lord has said, “My word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified.” (D&C 5:20).
Jesus Christ, the God and the King of this land, led Columbus to it.
He led the Pilgrims to Plymouth.
He sustained and gave victory to the colonists in their Revolutionary War against Great Britain and the tyrannical reign of King George.
He established the Constitution of the United States (see D&C 101:80).
Over a period of some twenty-six centuries He gave the revelation to scores of prophet leaders who authored of The Book of Mormon, detailing the lives of the former inhabitants of this land.
Moroni, at the direction of Jesus Christ, finished the record and hid it up in the Hill Cumorah, where, under His surveillance, it was safely preserved for some fourteen hundred years.
By the power of Jesus Christ, the God and the King of this land of America, the record was brought forth, translated, and published in 1830. Joseph Smith said he did it "by the gift and power of God." For over 180 years it has stood as a tireless message of the divinity of Jesus Christ to all who will receive it.
And so you ask, what does all of this mean to me today? Whether one accepts The Book of Mormon as scripture or not, Moroni provided an editorial comment after he had abridged and assembled all the records associated with the destruction of two vast civilizations that had inhabited the American continent. His sober reflections and warnings to us in the latter days provide the answer:
And this cometh unto you. . . 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. (Ether 2:11).
I highlight these inescapable truths today as a warning against the ongoing anti-Christ trend in America today. The assaults against our liberty and our freedom continue unabated and they are accelerating at a pace I never imagined possible a few years ago. When government becomes the solution to every detail of our lives, we lose the freedoms God gave us. It is little wonder Connor Boyack was inspired to produce a masterful book, Latter-day Liberty. I commend its contents to you.
A backward glance helps put things into perspective. There is a useful list of atheists that may surprise you with some of the names. Others are more familiar. It should not be surprising they outnumber the true and living prophets by a wide margin, and their writings and teachings have gained significant traction in recent years.
My Dad has been routinely cleaning out his files, and he simply cannot throw any of it away so he gives most of it to me. It's really a scrap from his most recent pile that prompted today's blog post. Some years ago reference was made in a Deseret News editorial to “a super-duper, eager-beaver atheist” who “does not like Christianity” at all, “and is out to destroy it. . . In a national magazine [this atheist] is quoted as thundering from her ‘pulpit’ ‘Churches are leeches. . .’ Now that she has moved on prayer and Bible reading in U.S. public schools,” the editorial continues, “her next targets, it appears, are tax-exemptions for churches, ousting chaplains from the armed services and omission of ‘God’ in courtroom oaths, on money and in the pledge of allegiance.” (Norman Vincent Peale, Deseret News and Telegram, 3 July 1964). No one would doubt the anti-Christ agenda in America has accelerated since then.
There was another scrap in Dad's pile from an undated and unattributed magazine that advanced and argued the thesis that America is no longer “the Christian land of the Pilgrims.” It's probably something of the same vintage, so the arguments against Christianity in this country have abounded for many years, for the most part unchallenged.
Then my eye settled on another scrap, this one a Pew Research Center poll dated July 16, 2010. "By the year 2050, 41% of American believe that Jesus Christ definitely (23%) or probably (18%) will have returned to earth. However, a 46% plurality of the public does not believe Christ will return during the next 40 years. Fully 58% of white evangelical Christians say Christ will return to earth in this period, by far the highest percentage in any religious group. Only about a third of Catholics (32%) and even fewer white mainline Protestants (27%) predict Christ's return to earth by 2050. Among religiously unaffiliated Americans, 20% also see Christ returning during the next four decades."
Now don't misunderstand, I do not believe a public poll will either hasten or delay Christ's return. What this does demonstrate, however, is that a significant block of the inhabitants of America are either indifferent or openly hostile to the reality of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, and are ignoring His words as revealed in the scriptures and through living prophets. At the very least religious bigotry is certainly in evidence in this current presidential campaign.
|President Marion G. Romney|
Much earlier, President Romney cited a quote from President McKay with another sober warning: "Relying on that part of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' the United States Supreme Court has ruled against Bible reading and prayer in public schools. By so doing, said President David O. McKay, 'the Supreme Court of the United States severs the connecting cord between the public schools of the United States and the source of divine intelligence, the Creator himself,' who, of course, is the God of this land." (Relief Society Magazine, December 1962, 878).
The inroads that creeping socialism have made in America need no further explanation. I have written previously about the reality we have all observed that we are in large measure a socialist government now. We say, I don't want socialism, but don't take away my Social Security benefits, my Medicare for my knee replacements, my Medicaid for my family members who can't afford coverage, and don't touch my food stamps. And how is such an attitude NOT socialism?
What I am advocating is that we no longer wrest meanings that aren't there from the First Amendment. Communism, socialism, atheism, secular humanism, or any other anti-Christ influence, must never be allowed to weaken our conviction further that Jesus Christ is the God and the King of this land. May nothing discourage our determination to obey His laws, so we may merit His divine protection as a free nation!
On such conviction and such obedience hang all our hopes so well expressed in Samuel F. Smith’s patriotic hymn:
Our fathers’ God to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!
The acid test of our convictions can easily be judged by our eagerness or our indifference about a simple exercise in freedom. I speak of the caucus/nomination process. A poll released today said more than half of the residents of Utah have no intention of attending. 72% reported they didn't know where to attend. It's not that hard - go to utgop.org. It's another test of the two ways:
Either we engage in freedom's liberties, or we ignore our God-given privileges.