The Constitution – A Heavenly Banner

satan restricts our agency through governmentThe Constitution – A Heavenly Banner is a talk that President Ezra Taft Benson gave at BYU on September 16, 1986. Though the audience was the university staff and students, Jeffrey R. Holland said the message was directed to all members of the Church. I recently re-read the talk and was impressed with what he said. The concerns he addressed had clearly been on his mind for some time. And if his imploring to return to Constitutional principles was that urgent and important in 1986, oh how important it is for us today!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the talk:

“The central issue in the premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force. The war that began in heaven over this issue is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of Lucifer’s primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments.”

governments should have only limited powers

“Basic to our understanding of the Constitution is that governments should have only limited powers. government cannot claim the power to redistribute moneyThe important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place.”

“By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by the people. No individual possesses the power to take another’s wealth or to force others to do good, so no government has the right to do such things either. The creature cannot exceed the creator.”

“The most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.”constitution designed to limit government

“The powers the people granted to the three branches of government were specifically limited. The Founding Fathers well understood human nature and its tendency to exercise unrighteous dominion when given authority. A constitution was therefore designed to limit government to certain enumerated functions, beyond which was tyranny.”

“At this bicentennial celebration we must, with sadness, say that we have not been wise in keeping the trust of our Founding Fathers. For the past two centuries, those who do not prize freedom have chipped away at every major clause of our Constitution until today we face a crisis of great dimensions.”

chipped away at our Constitution“We must be righteous and moral. We must live the gospel principles—all of them. We have no right to expect a higher degree of morality from those who represent us than what we ourselves are. To live a higher law means we will not seek to receive what we have not earned by our own labor. It means we will remember that government owes us nothing. It means we will keep the laws of the land. It means we will look to God as our Lawgiver and the source of our liberty.”

Americans Are Destroying America

In the LDS Church General Conference of April 1968, Ezra Taft Benson, a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and former Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, gave a talk called Americans Are Destroying America.  The full text of the talk can be found in a couple of places online,, and

My friend Greg McMurdie shared the article with me recently, and I found it to be a fascinating read.  I guess what amazes me most is that if the situation was bad when President Benson gave this speech 40 years ago, how bad must the situation be now!

The first source mentioned above even says that the talk was entered in the Congressional Record by Senator John McClellan of Arkansas with the following  introduction on the Senate floor:

“Mr. Benson’s speech . . . should be read by every American citizen, and I hope the central truth it conveys that Americans, by their lack of self-discipline, by their apathy and indifference, and by their lack of will and resolve, can succeed in destroying America.”
(See Congressional Record, April 22, 1968)

President Benson’s main point is that no outside force can or will destroy America.  The United States of America was conceived and built by men that God raised up for this very purpose.  And it is only by Americans turning their back on God and the founding principles of the US Constitution that America can be destroyed.  Unfortunately that is happening; the moral fabric of America is eroding at an alarming rate, and the Constitution is being trampled by scheming politicians.  All the while, average everyday Americans are frequently blind to these changes, being lulled to sleep by a culture of entertainment and entitlement.

All Is Not Lost: A Plan of Action

Though America is in dire straights, all is not lost.  As President Benson points out in his talk, there are things we can do to save America and preserve it as a great nation.  Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Stand up now for freedom. It is a celestial gift bestowed by the God of Heaven. Don’t allow yourself to be an idle onlooker while our freedom and nation are destroyed.
  • Return to a nation of morals. Honesty and integrity.  Law and order.  Allow police and law enforcement to do their jobs.
  • Educate yourself on the Constitution. Acquaint yourself with our nation’s history and founding principles. And do not support the world’s greatest evil: the Godless, Socialist-Communist conspiracy.
  • Reign in an out of control Federal government. Return power to the people and their communities. Reduce taxes and dependency on government.
  • Elect good leaders. Put politicians in office who will abandon the self-destructing course, and return to the Constitutional, founding principles of this country: life, liberty and property.

The bullet points above are my summary of President Benson’s main points.  Here are just some of the many highlights from the talk, in his own words:

  • “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.”
  • “No people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded upon faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law.”
  • “The function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property, and anything more or less than this is usurpation and oppression.”

Breakdown of Law and Order

  • “Through the exercise of political expediency, the government is condoning the breakdown of law and order.”

Qualifications for Liberty

  • From Edmund Burke: “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.”

Greatest Threat

  • “I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles…I think it will die when we no longer care, when the spiritual forces that make us wish to be right and noble die in the hearts of men.”
  • Abraham Lincoln said: “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.”
  • “If America is destroyed [it will be by] Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free—Americans who have been lulled away into a false security.”

Erosion of National Morality

  • “Great nations are never conquered from outside unless they are rotten inside. Our greatest national problem today is erosion, not the erosion of the soil, but erosion of the national morality.”
  • Teddy Roosevelt said: “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first.”
  • “I mention only a few of the reported startling evidences of our national illness, our moral erosion…We continue to move in the direction of more federal intervention, more concentration of power, more spending, more taxing, more paternalism, more state-ism.”

Our Responsibility

  • Babson’s Washington Forecast Letter said: “Unless those in authority in the United States can be influenced to abandon the suicidal course on which they have embarked—or unless they can be replaced by men who will—we cannot hope to restore in our nation the kind of domestic peace and order which has made our many generations proud to be Americans . . . living in a land of freedom, security, opportunity, and justice under law.”

Gradual Encroachments

  • James Madison said: “There are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
  • “If America is to withstand these influences and trends, there must be a renewal of the spirit of our forefathers.”
  • “National character is the core of national defense.”

Appreciation for the American System

  • Americans have “grown up to believe in politics without principle, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without effort, wealth without work, business without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice.”
  • “We can never survive unless our young people understand and appreciate our American system.”

Heritage Threatened

  • “Those of us conscious of the seriousness of the situation must act, and act now.”
  • Alexander Hamilton warned that “nothing is more common than for a free people, in times of heat and violence, to gratify momentary passions, by letting into the government, principles and precedents which afterwards prove fatal to themselves.”

The Way to Safety

  • “Can we cope with these threatening realities? Yes, we can; if we would allow the local police to do their job… if we have the courage and wisdom to return to basic concepts, to recall the spirit of the founding fathers.”
  • “With an aroused citizenry and the help of Almighty God it can be accomplished.”

Obama Talks About “Fundamental Flaws” of the US Constitution

This is no surprise to anyone who has studied Obama’s record, but there have been two audio clips revealed recently that show Barack Obama’s disdain for the US Constitution. Yet it still amazes me that this candidate for President makes such a blatant attack on our God-inspired Constitution.

Here’s the audio (about 30 seconds):

Here’s the transcript: “the Constitution reflected a enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day and uh that the framers uh had that same blind spot. I don’t think the two views are contradictory to say that it was a remarkable political document uh that paved the way for where we are now and to say that uh it also uh reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”

And here’s another, more lengthy (about 4 minutes), clip from a 2001 Chicago Public Radio interview with Barack Obama on WBEZ FM. As you listen (or read the transcript) notice how it is not a discussion about whether or not redistribution of wealth (“spreading the wealth around” as Obama calls it) is right or wrong, constitutional or unconstitutional. It is a discussion about the best way to do it.

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the transcript: “But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth uh and sort of more basic issues of political and uh economic justice in this society. And uh As radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed uh by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it has been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you. It says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. Uh and that hasn’t shifted, and one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive uh change. And, uh, in some ways we still suffer from that.”

Continuing, he states that “Although you can craft theoretical justifications for it (redistribution of wealth) legally…any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing economic change through the courts.”

Sounds like this man is willing to do whatever it takes, through legislative action or through the courts, to bring about his world view…taking from the rich and giving to the poor. But Obama is no Robin Hood, as Jonathan Morris points out on “Robin Hood is a legitimate hero, not because he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, but rather because he returned to the poor what lawfully belonged to them.” Obama wants to take what lawfully belongs to one person and give it to another. This “spreading the wealth around” that Obama seeks is nothing more than legalized theft and an affront to the Constitution.

After what he has said about the Constitution, how can Obama honestly take the oath of office which says, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.