Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism from The Book of Mormon

Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism Index

Chapter One - The Doctrines of Freedom

Chapter Two - God's Hand in the Founding of America

Chapter Three – Threats to Freedom

Chapter Four – In Defense of Freedom

Dear Friends,

The Book of Mormon is the most important book on earth - The Prophet Joseph Smith said, it was the “most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”  If it brings us nearer to God than any other book then it the most important of any book on earth. 

 “The greatest handbook for freedom in this fight against evil is the Book of Mormon” - This is how President Benson described the Book of Mormon.  (See God, Family, Country, p. 321).  President Benson further explained that as we study the Book of Mormon we should ask “what lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?  And there is example after example of how that question will be answered.  For example, in the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming.  A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christ’s coming to America.  By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet.  From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war” (A Witness and a Warning, p. 20-21).

The Nephites adopted a new constitution and system of government which replaced the rule of kings with a democracy.  (See Mosiah 29)  This took place 135 years before Christ’s coming to America.  The pages covering these 135 years constitute 42% of the Book of Mormon.  Satan tried to destroy this new democracy many times.  Moroni was appointed chief captain of the Nephite armies and the war chapters (Alma 43-62) began.  These 20 chapters cover only 14 years but constitute 10% of the Book of Mormon.  Because of their importance to our freedom the Lord inspired Mormon to emphasize them.  We must understand and apply them. 

I will primarily use the Book of Mormon, supplemented by latter day prophets, scriptures, and my own experience to teach important principles concerning freedom.

True freedom is a change of heart and a disposition to do good – “I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed” (D&C 98:8).  This is the most important message of this booklet. The process by which the Lord makes us free is simple and powerful and beautifully described in the Book of Mormon:  As we keep our covenants we become the children of Christ and our hearts are changed through faith on his name, and we have no disposition to do evil, but rather to do good continually. (See Mosiah 5:2-8)  In this way we become free indeed.

Without a disposition to do good men are inclined to sin and follow the ways of the world,  “then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction” (Alma 12:11).

Our prophets are true patriots who have defended freedom  –  Three examples follow:

  1. The Prophet Joseph Smith -  Joseph inherited a strong sense of personal liberty and patriotism. "'Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers while they dandled me on their knees,' said Joseph.  On one occasion the Prophet proclaimed, 'It is one of the first principles of my life, and one that I have cultivated from childhood, having been taught it by my father, to allow everyone the liberty of conscience.  I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth.  In my feelings I am always ready to die for the protection of the weak and oppressed in their just rights'” (Matthew B. Brown, Joseph Smith - The Man - The Mission - The Message, pp. 5-7)
  2. President Spencer W. Kimball and God's hand in the founding of America –July 4, 1976 was the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence.  President Kimball, as part of this celebration, gave a timeless sermon entitled “The False Gods We Worship” which was featured in the June 1976 Ensign.  This sermon should be studied.  As part of this celebration the Church produced seven illustrations, shown in this book, which present our perspective concerning the founding of our nation.  Our founding, by the hand of God, established the freedom necessary for the gospel to be restored.  The events, depicted in these pictures and referred to in 1 Nephi 12-14, are the most important events since the resurrection of the Savior. 
  3. President Benson’s testimony of the Book of Mormon to a Presidential candidate - In the fall of 1986 the First Presidency, consisting of President Ezra Taft Benson and his councilors Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson, invited Jack Kemp for a visit.  Kemp had been a well-known professional quarter back, a member of Congress, part of the Reagan administration, and now a candidate for President of the U.S.  As chairman of the Utah Republican Party I accompanied him.  As the visit was winding down President Benson gave him a Book of Mormon and said, “Congressman Kemp this book is true, and if you want to be President of the United States you need to know what it teaches.”  I was amazed!!

As we were leaving I remembered a sermon President Benson had given a few weeks before entitled The Constitution a Heavenly Banner.  I mentioned I thought Congressman Kemp would like to read that wonderful sermon.  President Benson asked his secretary to make a copy.  I then mentioned that I had hoped to get a copy myself.  After Kemp left and while another copy was being made President Benson invited me along with his councilors into his office as he had something he wanted to show us.  He went to his desk and picked up an autographed baseball he had just received from Dale Murphy, a well-known LDS baseball star.  He said, “Look at this!!”  I thought, “How extraordinary!  I have just heard the Prophet of God testify of the truthfulness and importance of the Book of Mormon to a candidate for President of the United States, and in the next moment to have a child-like delight in an autographed baseball.”

Testimony – Living the gospel makes us free in the most important way.  We learn the gospel in the Book of Mormon.  We learn to live the gospel in a righteous family.  Therefore, it follows that the best way to protect our freedom is to strengthen the family.  President Boyd K. Packer said it well in April 2010 General Conference:  “If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must needs perish.”

I agree with President Ronald Reagan who said in his first inaugural speech as Governor of California: "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction."  The best way to defend our freedom is to learn, live and teach the gospel to our family.  I am so grateful that our children are teaching our grandchildren to live the gospel.