Political Responsibilities of Latter-day Saints

Henry D. Moyle

Quorum of the Twelve

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April 1952 General Conference

I am very grateful unto my Heavenly Father for the opportunity which is mine to meet with you, my brethren and sisters, in this great conference and to partake of the Spirit of the Lord that is here with us in such rich abundance.

I feel indebted to the Lord for the health and strength which is mine, and I am certain that he has blessed me with this health and strength in answer not only to my own prayers but also to the prayers of my brethren and sisters in the Church.

I have had a great affection for the leaders of the Church as far back as I can remember. I have always desired of the Lord that he would give me the strength to honor and to sustain those who presided over me in the priesthood with all my heart and soul, and I do that today. I am grateful for the leadership of President David O. McKay and of President Stephen L. Richards and President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. I know these men receive from our Father in heaven his inspiration and direction in the work which they are called upon to perform for you and for me. I have this great affection and love not alone for the Presidency of the Church but for President Joseph Fielding Smith as President of the Council of the Twelve and all my associates in that Council, and all of the General Authorities. In fact my affection extends to all of my brethren and sisters. No man could have a richer heritage on the face of this earth than to be really worthy to be numbered among the Latter-day Saints.

The statistics that we heard read this morning demonstrate the results of great inspiration and leadership. I say that my affection for my brethren in the Church creates within me a further and similar desire that we might have governmental leaders in our nation and in our state and in our counties and in our cities of the same caliber.

I am always impressed when I read the 134th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man, and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign…

We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied  D&C 134:1-3,9

But that does not mean, because we have within our hearts a deep-seated religious conviction, that we are at the same time not qualified to participate in government. Unless we have faith in God and fear him and keep his commandments, we can hardly be worthy to hold high positions in government. The Prophet Joseph has told us in this statement through the inspiration of the Lord that we must have righteous men in order to have righteous government. If we are to be a God-fearing nation and enjoy the blessings of peace, then each one of us who has a faith in God must do our duty, take our part to accomplish our purpose in government. We should become intimately familiar with those who are active politically; we ought to be part and parcel of them. They should not be strangers to us. We should see to it that those men who have true qualities of leadership are placed in positions of trust and responsibility in the government; these fundamental principles of truth apply to every political party alike. There is no hope and can be no hope for our government, or any government, to which this principle does not apply.

I think a good place to start is always at home. Each one of us should resolve that we in and of ourselves will develop qualities of leadership and of honesty and of integrity and of justice and equity. We should be willing to take these principles, these characteristics, the ability which we thus create within ourselves, and give ourselves to the benefit of our city and of our county and of our state and of our nation.

This year there will probably be no more than fifty percent of the qualified voters in this great nation who will exercise their franchise. The officers who may be elected in the great elections to be held this year will be elected by minorities and will not represent the vote or the will of the majority. You know there are two kinds of offenses in the world—offenses of commission and offenses of omission. We sometimes do things that we should not do, and then again, we do not do some things that we should. I hope that Latter-day Saints will not permit themselves, political-wise, to fall into this latter category and be classed among those who give offense because they fail to do that which they should do. I would like to know if a reason exists that would justify a Latter-day Saint in not exercising his franchise for the party and the man of his own choice.

No political party is justified to continue in existence unless it clearly states the principles which it advocates, the platform upon which its candidates stand, and then with integrity, when and if elected, carry out those principles and live up to that platform. Except that be the case, we as Latter-day Saints should not align ourselves to any party, because we do not have the basis upon which we can make an intelligent decision. We must know what they stand for before we can favor them with our vote. I do not ask you, my brethren and sisters, to go to the polls and just vote, important as that is; but that when you vote, you vote intelligently for those principles and those things and those men which will give to you the kind of government you want, the kind of environment that you desire for yourself and for your posterity.

We have received a great deal of light concerning the things of life from our Heavenly Father through the revelations which he has given us. We are told once again in the Doctrine and Covenants in the 101st section:

According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

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  D&C 101:77-80

Can we accept that as one of the sacred tenets of our faith and be derelict in our duties toward our nation? The answer to me seems to be self-evident. The Apostle Paul of old said,

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?  1 Cor. 14:8

We must have leadership in this nation whose voice will be clear; whose virtue, clarity, and certainty will give us the assurance that the course the government pursued under their leadership is right. Then we can put our whole heart and soul back of our government and sustain those who preside in government and feel toward them even as we do toward those who have been divinely chosen to guide and direct the affairs of the Church.

I hope and pray, my brethren and sisters, that we will not feel that politics has become so degraded that we are too good to participate. If any of us believe politics to be in that kind of state, we need only to enter into politics, go into it with our honesty and our integrity and our devotion to truth and to righteousness, and the standards will be raised. We cannot expect in this country a better government than the leaders are good, and so if we want a good government we must have good leaders. Let us participate in our mass meetings, in our party organization meetings, in our conventions; then when we go to the polls, we may have somebody worthy of our vote on our tickets.

May the Lord bless us to uphold and sustain the great Constitution of this nation and to maintain ourselves pure and unspotted from the sins of the world in all of our undertakings, and call down the blessings of our Heavenly Father upon us and upon our neighbors.

This should be a challenge to us as members in the Church of Jesus Christ and to all our friends and our neighbors and all people throughout the earth who stand in favor of good government, for righteousness in government; who have and foster the same ideals that are so close to our hearts. I hope and pray that the Lord will thus bless us all that we may fully accomplish the purposes of our creation, and be grateful to him day by day for the blessings he bestows upon us, and this I ask humbly in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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