The scriptures tell us about the war in heaven over free agency – similar to the war we are going through now, where the devil’s program was guaranteed security as opposed to the Lord’s program of letting each choose for himself even if he makes the wrong choice. Once you understand these scriptures you will understand why the Presidents of the Church have opposed Communism, Socialism, and the Welfare State and you will see why you must oppose them, too, if you are in harmony with the word of the Lord.
We must be devoted to sound principles in word and deed: principle above party, principle above pocketbook, principle above popularity.
Ezra Taft Benson was the formost spokesman against the dangers that threaten freedom today. Not only in the United States but also in other countries. Many believe that he was wrong. But whether or not we sympathize with his political opinions, we should consider some of the things he said and then ask ourselves the following question:
Would the Lord call a man proclaiming false teachings to be a Prophet and President of the Church, or would he call a man defending true principles? You can call this a leading question, because there is only one answer to it.
When he became President of the church, he stopped lifting his voice of warning against the welfare state, socialism and communism. But none of his warnings have ever been withdrawn. This was confirmed by W. Cleon Skousen, at that time professor at BYU. He said:
Ezra Taft Benson is the foremost spokesman against Communism among all the leaders of the Church. When he became President of the Church (in 1985) it was immediately expected that he would really unload on them. He didn’t say a word. So finally somebody went up to him and said, “President Benson, aren’t you going to say anything about Communism?” “No,” he said, “the Saints have been warned long enough and now the Lord has something more important for us to do.” It wasn’t long before we heard it. He stood up in Conference and said, “I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon. Indeed I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon just like Enoch saw in his vision in Moses 7:62.”
H. Verlan Andersen said the following about Ezra Taft Benson:
As a true spokesman for liberty, he believes that “when a man stands for freedom he stands for God. And as long as he stands for freedom he stands with God. And were he to stand alone he would still stand with God.” He is a man who has never feared being controversial in defense of freedom and liberty. He believes – with Jefferson – that “He who fears criticism is hopeless. Only those who do things are critizied. To hesitate for fear of criticism is cowardly.”
Gordon B. Hinckley said this about Ezra Taft Benson at his funeral:
I am confident that it was out of what he saw, the bitter fruit of dictatorship that he developed his strong feelings, almost hatred for communism and socialism. That distaste grew through the years as he witnessed the heavy handed oppression and suffering of the peoples of eastern europe under what he repeatedly described as godless communism. These experiences further strengthened his love for the land of his birth .. He never got over his boyhood love for freedom. Rather, it grew within him. Nurtured by what he saw of oppression in other lands, and by what he observed first hand of a growing dominance of government in this land over the lives of the people.
After Ezra Taft Benson, through his many years of service as an apostle, had warned against the dangers of communism, socialism and the welfare state, the Lord in 1985 called him to be a Prophet and President of the Church. Ezra Taft Benson was a great instrument in the hands of the Lord, a watchman upon the tower (See Ezekiel 3:17 | Isaiah 21:6 | D&C 101:45 | D&C 124:61). He spoke against the secret combination that “seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries .. for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies.” (Ether 8:25).
Quotes by Ezra Taft Benson:
Of course the government has penetrated so much of our lives that one can hardly speak for freedom without being accused of being political. Some might even call the war in heaven a political struggle—certainly it was controversial. Yet the valiant entered it with Michael. Those who support only the popular principles of the gospel have their reward.
Our stand for freedom is a most basic part of our religion; this stand helped get us to this earth, and our reaction to freedom in this life will have eternal consequences. Man has many duties, but he has no excuse that can compensate for his loss of liberty.
There are some among us who would confuse the united order with socialism. That is a serious misunderstanding. It is significant to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith, after attending lectures on socialism in his day, made this official entry in the Church history: “I said I did not believe the doctrine”
The history of nations shows that the cycle of the body politic slowly but surely undergoes change. It progresses from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to courage, from courage to freedom, from freedom to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to fear, from fear to dependency, from dependency to bondage. Every nation yearns for liberty, but too frequently its own self-indulgence precludes the possibility of freedom.
Our Creator endowed each one of us with certain rights at birth, among which are the rights to life, liberty, speech, and conscience, to name a few. These are not just human rights they are divine rights. When these rights are not permitted expression by a nation, that nation becomes inhibited in its progress and development, and its leaders are responsible before God for suffocating sacred rights. This native endowment is what separates man from the animals. It causes men to want to be good and to seek higher aspirations. It creates in man a desire to better his life and his station in life.
I testify that wickedness is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world.
History teaches that when individuals have given up looking after their own economic needs and transferred a large share of that responsibility to the government, both they and the government have failed. At least twenty great civilizations have disappeared. The pattern is shockingly similar. All, before their collapse, showed a decline in spiritual values, in moral stamina, and in the freedom and responsibility of their citizens. They showed such symptoms as deficit spending, excessive taxation, bloated bureaucracy, government paternalism, and generally a rather elaborate set of supports, controls, and regulations, affecting prices, wages, production, and consumption.
In a democracy the real danger is that we may slowly slide into a condition of slavery of the individual to the state rather than entering this condition by a sudden revolution. The loss of our liberties may easily come about, not through the ballot box, but through the death of incentive to work, to earn, and save. Such a condition is usually brought about by a series of little steps which, at the time, seem justified by a variety of reasons and which may on the surface appear to be laudable as to intent. It has been pointed out that the more basic reasons offered by the would be planned economy advocates are:
- The desire to change and control others.
- The search for security, and
- The desire of individuals or groups to improve their own economic status or that of others by means of direct governmental intervention.
As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue that determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the War in Heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The War in Heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare or will they heed the counsel of the prophets and their freedom? We believe that the gospel is the greatest thing in the world why then do we not force people to join the Church if they are not smart enough to see it on their own? Because this is Satan’s way, the Lord uses persuasion and love.
The central issue in that pre-mortal 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.
Satan argued that men given their freedom would not choose correctly therefore he would compel them to do right and save us all. Today Satan argues that men given their freedom do not choose wisely therefore a so-called brilliant, benevolent few must establish the welfare government and force us into a greater socialist society.
In times as serious as these, we must not permit fear of criticism to keep us from doing our duty, even at the risk of our counsel being tabbed as political, as government becomes more and more entwined in our daily lives. In the crisis through which we are now passing, we have been fully warned. This has brought forth some criticism. There are some of us who do not want to hear the message. It embarrasses us. The things which are threatening our lives, our welfare, our freedoms are the very things some of us have been condoning. Many do not want to be disturbed as they continue to enjoy their comfortable complacency. The Church is founded on eternal truth. We do not compromise principle. We do not surrender our standards regardless of current trends or pressures. Our allegiance to truth as a church is unwavering. Speaking out against immoral or unjust actions has been the burden of prophets and disciples of God from time immemorial. It was for this very reason that many of them were persecuted. Nevertheless, it was their God-given task, as watchmen on the tower, to warn the people. We live in an age of appeasement – the sacrificing of principle. Appeasement is not the answer. It is never the right answer.
It is my conviction .. that when the Lord comes, the Stars and Stripes will be floating on the breeze over this people.
The history of all mankind shows very clearly that if we would be free –
and if we would stay free – we must stand eternal watch against the accumulation of too much power in government. There is hardly a single instance in all of history where the dictatorial centralization of power has been compatible with individual freedom – where it has not reduced the citizenry to the status of pawns and mere creatures of the state.
Government 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 profit motive diminishes as government controls, regulations, and taxes increase to deny the fruits of success to those who produce. Therefore, any attempt through government intervention to redistribute the material rewards of labor can only result in the eventual destruction of the productive base of society, without which real abundance and security for more than the ruling elite is quite impossible.
Basic to our understanding of the Constitution is that governments should have only limited powers .. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will.