Templates for Responding to Tyranny

A friend of mine, fed up with the constant, gradual abandonment of freedom by American society and the encroachment of the Federal government on basic human rights, asked, “At what point is violent resistance to government ” Many people have commented something to the extent of, “Past that point already,” or “Getting there soon,” or “Can’t wait for this to happen.” It seems that many people are itching to get into a physical fight against our government in the name of preserving liberty.

I believe that armed resistance will eventually happen, and I believe that we would do best to steer clear of it. Based historical precedence, I suspect that in the event of armed resistance, the Lord’s spokesmen (the prophets and apostles) will ask us to decline to participate.

As I’ve read the Book of Mormon, I’ve noticed that many, many times, righteous people have found themselves oppressed by a tyrannical regime. Limhi’s people by the Lamanites, Alma the Elder’s people by Amulon, etc., are examples of this. But whenever any group tries to throw off their oppressors by force of arms (for example, Limhi’s people), they inevitably fail. Each and every time an oppressed people are delivered in the Book of Mormon, it was God who delivered them—often by miraculous intervention, and almost always without requiring the oppressed to raise arms against the oppressors. Moses and Egypt is another example.

There are certainly examples of wars in which righteous people repelled foreign invaders—but I can’t find an example where a rebellion against an oppressive government was successful or done righteously in the Book of Mormon.

We often look to the Founding Fathers and the revolutionary war as a template for righteous rebellion against tyranny. I have no doubt that God fought their battles. But when you dig into the history of the revolutionary war, the “tyranny” they were overthrowing was actually the gentlest government to probably have ever existed. Many of the accusations against the King in the Declaration of Independence are fabricated or exaggerated. There isn’t much evidence that the revolution made Americans much freer. More independent, yes, but not a whole lot freer.

I’m not convinced that we should necessarily follow their footsteps. I believe that a revolutionary war today would resemble the French revolution much more than an American revolution. There wouldn’t be the same reasoned, measured response that there was back then. Our population isn’t as schooled in basic matters of respect, chivalry, and restraint.

I’m not saying that the revolutionaries weren’t justified in fighting. I think that God fought the revolutionaries’ battles for purposes of his own, to create an America that would be fertile for the Restoration. I’m just saying that it isn’t the *only* template by which we can evaluate and plan a response to tyranny. The Book of Mormon presents multiple examples of populations who has to simply endure, obey, pray, and wait for divine deliverance. I suspect—and I feel like I have good reason to—that this is the template that our modern prophets and apostles will ask us to follow.

If the federal government were to try and collect people’s firearms and abolish the 2nd amendment, the nation will likely erupt into violence (it’s virtually unavoidable). I know plenty of people who would eagerly fight back against such an action. When that happens, I suspect that the church leadership will release a well-worded statement that says something like, “While we maintain the importance of liberty and recognize that many have concerns about the actions of their government, the church is officially neutral on the issue of gun control. However, we do not support or condone violence as a means to political ends, and we believe in honoring the laws of our nation, whether we agree with them or not. Members of the church who do not comply with federal law and who advocate for violence or political insurrection are not considered members of the church in good standing.”

If and when they do, there will be many in the church—libertarian minded individuals—who will balk at being asked by prophets to willingly lay down their arms and their freedoms for the time being. They will cry out that the church has apostatized from its love of freedom and the doctrines of agency. I think there will be some splintering and a lot of disappointments. They will be unwilling to see and acknowledge the scriptural precedents for *other* templates for responding to tyranny, like Alma the Elder’s against Amulon, or Moses and Egypt. They will be unwilling to wait upon the Lord, and insist instead on relying on the arms of the flesh to fight their battles. And like Limhi’s people, their families will likely find themselves widows and fatherless.

I think we need to prepare now for all contingencies. We need to school our hearts to prepare for submission—humiliating though it may be—if such is asked of us by the Lord’s spokesmen. We need to be constantly vigilant against the encroaches of tyranny, but we need to simultaneously be willing to douse the fires of rebellion in our hearts if we are instructed to set aside our arms (and perhaps even deliver them up to our enemies) and wait upon the Lord. We need to be willing to incline our hearts towards peace (rather than war) should that be the path we are asked to follow.

So this is my invitation to my friends and colleagues: do not be too quick to support or engender a spirit of violent rebellion against the government. You may be absolutely right that the government is in the wrong. But we need to be cautious against cultivating in our hearts the spirit of war and rebellion—even if such rebellion might be justified by all the principles we adhere to.  I know that this is entirely a hypothetical scenario, but we have to be prepared and decide ahead of time where our loyalties lie, should such a scenario occur. Otherwise, we risk getting caught up in the heat of the moment and potentially missing or ignoring the gentle promptings of the Spirit or the meek pleadings of church leadership, should such promptings and pleadings contradict the initial inclinations of our righteous indignation.

31 thoughts on “Templates for Responding to Tyranny

  1. You are forgetting the example of Gideon and King Noah in the Book of Mormon. But I like your post, and not just because I’m a socialist, and believe in a moderate amount of government control. During the Revolutionary War I probably would have been a royalist. After all, other European colonies like Canada and Australia became thriving democracies without engaging in a bloody war. Imperialism was running it’s course, and England would soon have discovered that the cost of retaining the American colonies was not worth the trouble.

    “Servants obey your masters,” “he who takes the sword shall perish by the sword” and “my kingdom is not of this world” is the message of the New Testament. The Revolutionaries did not fight for Biblical reasons. The whole philosophy of “rights” was a enlightenment humanist concept, not a Biblical one. I like humanism, but let’s not confuse it with Biblical Christianity.

  2. LDSP, a good reminder. I truly do believe that God fights our battles for us. We should be prepared to defend ourselves, but we should also realize that there are many future scenarios where the best decision will be to withdraw from the fighting entirely.

  3. Nice sentiments, Nate, except you are forgetting that the Lord wanted America to rebel. Hence, the Founders were inspired to rise up against mother country. You know, that whole thing about America being the only place where God could restore the fulness of the Gospel and all that jazz. Sorry to burst your Royalist bubble.

    At any rate, I am curious what the Church’s response to civil disobedience would be, a la Hobby Lobby. They are standing up for their religious rights in the face of weltering government force. There is a long, sacred tradition of civil disobedience in the face of tyranny in these United States, as recent as the 60’s and 70’s. Would be nice to reclaim some of that fire, instead we sheepishly march through the security lines and let thugs touch our genitals without so much as a shrug.

    I do agree that the cracks in our society are getting larger, and civil unrest is going to increase. Especially when the food stamps stop flowing.

  4. “While we maintain the importance of liberty and recognize that many have concerns about the actions of their government, the church is officially neutral on the issue of gun control. However, we do not support or condone violence as a means to political ends, and we believe in honoring the laws of our nation, whether we agree with them or not. Members of the church who do not comply with federal law and who advocate for violence or political insurrection are not considered members of the church in good standing.” — The Church would never, never put out this statement, for the reasons outlined below.

    The 2nd Amendment itself IS a law of our nation, whether we like it or not. (Supreme Court rulings in 2005 and 2008 are recent validations). Any attempt by the Federal government to take guns away from the people is a violation of the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson and his friends would say that there is no compulsion to obey any “law” that violates natural law or the Constitution.

    In other words, Jefferson would essentially ignore any Federal law that tried to trump the Constitution. In his view, that law would be null and void. So you can’t break a law that is null and void. Hence, there would be no “lawlessness” on the part of Church members who rebelled against violations of the Bill of Rights.

    The Church has a long, long, long history of filing amicus curiae briefs at the Supreme Court, particularly in support of the First Amendment. We also have a long tradition of fervent support of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in particular. In other words, the Church has a vested interest in the Constitution.

    Many folks, myself included, have actually raised our hands to the square and sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That’s a powerful oath. We don’t swear oaths to people or to the “Federal government”. We swear our oaths to a parchment that has sacred words written on it.

    I’m sorry, ldsphilosopher, but you haven’t thought these issues through completely. You really believe that if and when things get so bad in the country that armed Federal agents forcibly enter peoples’ homes (violation of the 4th amendment) and take away their guns (violation of the 2nd amendment) and reduce the citizenry to serfhood (violation of Declaration of Independence and the spirit of the American experiment), that the Church will tell people to sit quiet and “don’t get involved” like Uncle Owen on Tatooine? (I’m not suggesting they will tell people to fight, but I do not believe they will tell people to quietly submit to a wholesale dismantling of the Constitution).

    If serfdom is what we deserve, so be it, but I will resist such tyranny with my last ounce of strength, and any freedom-loving soul ought to do the same.

  5. Consider this quote from President Hinckley:

    “Through the years of the history of this work, there have been occasions when the Church and its members have come up against the law of the land. In such times, we have taken a stand in the courts. In those instances where the courts have ruled against us, although the ruling was difficult to bear, we have accepted it and conformed to it. Obedience to law, when that law has been declared constitutional, is incumbent upon the Latter-day Saints and therefore becomes a standard of eligibility to enter the temples of the Church.”

    The church has a much larger agenda than we sometimes imagine. There are international populations of church members in tyrannous nations, and the church is constantly telling them to be meticulous in obeying the laws of the land, even when they are arbitrary and demand personal sacrifice. Some of these nations are already ‘disarmed’, have no bill of rights to speak of, and the church expects members in those countries to abide by those laws. If a rebellion occurs here in the USA, foreign governments will be observing church members responses here, and using that as a template for what to expect from church members in their own country in the event of civil unrest.

    Right now it is illegal for our missionaries to preach in China. Rumors are going about that we’re soon sending missionaries there. Elder Nelson just spoke at the MTC, asking missionaries to immediately put a stop to those rumors, because they don’t want the Chinese government to feel as if we have ANY inclination to break those laws. And religious freedom is a much more basic and fundamental right that the right to bear arms.

    The church eventually abandoned a treasured religious right and practice–polygamy–in the name of obeying the law.

    Maybe the church will. Maybe the church won’t. All I’m saying is that we need to decide now where our loyalties lie in such a scenario. I know too many of my friends who hearts are too inclined towards rebellion to even listen if such a thing were to even occur. I fear that freedom lovers among us, like yourself, will remove themselves from the church on such an occasion and taint libertarians as apostates.

    Your response, “it will never happen, and I will fight no matter what!” betrays just the attitude I fear. I very well might happen, and it seems that it wouldn’t stop you.

  6. “The church eventually abandoned a treasured religious right and practice–polygamy–in the name of obeying the law.”

    I disagree. They abandoned polygamy because God told them to. Quoth Wilford Woodruff, “I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me.” (OD 1)

    If the Church was interested in abandoning polygamy in the name of compliance with the law, they would have done so in 1862 when Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which was a direct measure to stamp out Mormon plural marriage. Or they would have done it in 1882 when the Edmunds Act was passed, or again in 1887 when the Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed. Yet the Mormons persisted in civil disobedience until President Woodruff was directly commanded by God to stop the practice, lest the Church be obliterated by the federal government. But, as he said, he would have been happy to see just that happen, since he felt his obligation to live “the principle” was higher than any obligation to the federal government.

    I’m not saying one thing or another on the rightness or wrongness of civil disobedience, but merely that this is, I believe, a poor example to use to argue against it.

  7. For context, most here can attest that I’m a libertarian, borderline anarchist. I’ve just observed that, historically, church leaders have cautioned against civil disobedience in all nations, including our own. I believe that the constitution is sacred and the bill of rights inviolable. I just think at if the 2nd amendment is dismantled, and that action smiled on by the supreme court, the church will likely have different priorities than many of us might expect. And that I’m a latter-day saint first and a libertarian second. And that my loyalties to Christ’s spokesmen transcend my loyalties to the Constitution or any libertarian belief system.

  8. ” And religious freedom is a much more basic and fundamental right that the right to bear arms.”

    Problem is, history shows that when the guns are taken away, soon you don’t have religious rights either.

    ” I fear that freedom lovers among us, like yourself, will remove themselves from the church on such an occasion and taint libertarians as apostates.”

    I actually find this statement personally insulting. You have every right to fashion these hypotheticals, but please don’t call into question my devotion to God’s kingdom on the earth. Don’t take guidance from your fears. If President Monson issued an edict from the pulpit tomorrow that all Mormons were to lay down their arms and submit to Federal predations, I would do so. My point is that such an edict is not very likely to ever issue forth.

    “The church eventually abandoned a treasured religious right and practice–polygamy–in the name of obeying the law.”

    They didn’t abandon it in the name of obeying the law. They abandoned it because the Federal government was going to literally take away the Church’s property by armed forces. All the temples and the churches and assets. The Church literally had nowhere else to go. Now we can revise our conception of history and say that the church did it in the name of “obedience to law”, but that is an insult to Lorenzo Snow and Rudger Clawson, and others, who actually spent years in jail via civil disobedience over the issue. ( I am not an advocate for polygamy, just for the record, nor do I have polygamous ancestors).

    I get what you’re saying, and the Hinckley quote is nice. However, these issues are more nuanced than what you’re suggesting, and the Church’s own history is far more messy than you are intimating in your statements.

  9. There are so many areas that seem small where Americans are willing to put up with things that take away guaranteed rights, because we are always at war, that it seems the only place people will draw the line is at the thing they love, as much if not more than money, is guns. Whatever rights we deny ourselves and others leads us down a long slow path to something different than we think we have. How many guns is a person entitled to have? How many kinds of guns is one person encouraged to own?

    President Spencer W. Kimball spoke clearly about the war like character of the American people and he warned against it. We have been told since that time and probably longer that we are to be a peaceful people. If we lose all of our rights it will be because we refused to learn that lesson.

  10. Having lived in three Latin American countries and visited several others during times when individual liberties were suspended and repression against those wanting to gain power were put down by violent government actions often supported by US agencies such as the CIA. The so-called rebels were eliminated one at a time or in mass killings by the military and police units. In some countries the rebels were well armed with weapons obtained from the USSR (Rebels in Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba and Brazil are known to have obtained and used such weapons). The response of the US government was to support the established governments in each country.

    US Liberals in the US, however, including the weft-wing media, supported the rebels and the most egregious example were the major efforts of the New York Times to support the rebels in Cuba and Central America. NPR also did all they could to make the rebels into heros fighting against government tyranny. However, and in spite of leftist noise, it was generally recognized by the majority of US people that the Latin American rebels were Communists and needed to be destroyed or contained. In most cases, efforts were successful, except in Cuba which is still a Commie country controlled by their military.

    I have no idea what Church officials may say if there is a rebellion in the US, but our Constitution is regarded by the Church leaders since the beginning as a sacred, God-inspired document that is meant to protect the Nation
    and its people. If the liberties we are guaranteed are suppressed, our Church leaders would surely speak out against any attempt to change or eliminate our personal liberties.

    I have thought about these examples and have conjectured as to what the US government would do against any uprising against government efforts to eliminate our liberties. They might use the military, the National Guard, armed government agencies, and local police to suppress any such rebellion. Obama said that he needed a large additional paramilitary force armed and equipped like the Army to help put down any potential “local” threats the peace of the Nation. One cannot help but think that Obama may believe that the US military could not be trusted and would not fire upon US citizens and wanted his own, loyal troops to make sure his government is protected against rebels.

    If the present government continues to increase taxes to unbearable levels, suppresses liberties such as those enumerated in the Constitution, and increases government’s power and size, then citizens may begin to respond against the government. We went to war against England based partly upon “taxation without representation.” Now we are faced with a US government where we suffer from “taxation due to inept, evil and corrupt representation.”

    As an “old patriot” and veteran, I worry every day about the Nation and its future and pray that the Lord will help us resolve the problems we face.

  11. “How many guns is a person entitled to have? How many kinds of guns is one person encouraged to own?”

    If you start with the premise that each person is *intrinsically free*, and that we only give consent to be governed (and that by enumerated powers, with specific enumerated rights guaranteed by nature’s God), then you cannot help but admit that the above question is moot. A person can own as many guns and he or she pleases if they don’t hurt other people. Basic common sense of a freedom-loving person.

    We are free people, not serfs. When you ponder what it means to be “free”, you see right away that it means independent. I cannot give to the government powers that I do not possess myself. It is wrong for me to go over to my neighbor’s house and take away his property or money, it is thereby intrinsically wrong for governments to do the same.

    I realize that what I just typed is a real mind blower for some people, but those were doctrines that folks like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others of their ilk believed in. Liberty means what it means. We either cherish it and practice it, or we bow our heads, lie down, and throw these freedoms down the toilet. It’s really up to us.

    Contemporary American society has strayed so far from first principles that folks like me who really believe that peoples’ liberties are more important than government power are starting to feel like strangers in a strange land. Americans these days are too busy watching American Idol and downloading porn to really care about how the Bill of Rights is literally hanging by a thread in the best case scenario. We don’t even talk about the 9th and 10th (completely swept under the rug), the 1st is under assault by Obamacare and Kathleen Sebelius, the 2nd is under assault by preening elites (who can afford personal security details), the 4th was trashed by Bush over 10 years ago. Go right down the line, and you’ll see how dangerous it is right now.

    Obama can send troops without Congressional approval, even past the 90 day limit set by the War Powers Act. And nobody bats an eye.

    I’m telling you, if you really stop and pay attention, you can see the mercury rising.

  12. 100 million people who opposed totalitarianism were murdered during the past century by Marxist dictators (Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc.). I cannot fathom why 51 percent of the U.S. electorate supports Socialism/Marxism, which is systematically attacking our Bill of Rights. Would Utah (with the smallest percentage vote for “Progressives”) and members of the Church be prime targets for a violent Marxist dictatorship in this country?

  13. There are some clear signs that the government has expanded power in areas it shouldn’t. The ones that really bother (and potentially worry me) are generally advocated by both parties. While some republicans made a stink about Obama’s expanded military powers, I don’t recall anyone talking seriously about impeaching him, which should have been the appropriate response to the way he handled Libya.

    Few from either major party have ever questioned the Patriot Act. And I still honestly can’t understand how the NDAA law allows American citizens to be indefinitely detained and why more people aren’t outraged over it. But both republicans and democrats passed it through without any major fuss.

    In any case, these are the issues that I worry about. But let’s not say this is all a marxist shift. The republicans are just as culpable as the democrats.

  14. Bot makes the prescient point: “51 percent of the U.S. electorate supports Socialism/Marxism.” The majority uses their freedom and liberty to demand socialism. We are still free, it’s just that we collectively lay down some of our rights, because it is the will of the people.

    As for the constitution, any time Obama acts against the constitution, Congress is free challenge him, impeach him, take him to court. America is not sitting helpless, while dictators shred the constitution. They are free to challenge anything and take it to court. There is a process for these things. Libertarian “original intent” interpretations are not the only ways the judiciary has of interpreting the constitution. The majority of the judiciary considers the constitution a “living document,” subject to reinterpretation and change. The founders set up the judiciary to be the judge on that, so we are stuck with living judges interpreting the constitution. The founders set it up that way. Crying foul against the judiciary is betraying the very system our founders created. Judges interpret the constitution, they are appointed by the president, approved by Congress, and the president and the congress are appointed by the people. That’s what’s happening folks! No one is going against the constitution! They are only going against a MINORITY judicial interpretation of the constitution.

  15. Nate,

    Here is a great summary of how and where the judiciary in America has gone wrong:


    Some relevant excerpts:

    “They argue that the Founders would never have desired or created a rigid, inflexible document wedded to a late-eighteenth century understanding of its provisions and the societal norms undergirding them. However, that argument ignores both the general purpose of the Constitution as a foundational governing document as well as the vehicle for change contained in the document. Justice Scalia is fond of saying that the Constitution is not a living, breathing organism, but rather a legal document that says some things and doesn’t say other things.

    The answer to the question of adaptability of our Constitution is found in the amendment process, an intentionally difficult procedure that requires wide public support and approval for such a change. That built-in difficulty is meant to keep the Constitution’s foundational principles from being changed at the whim of a minority, yet responsive to the will of the majority.

    For judges to effectively bypass that procedure by creating new constitutional “rights” out of whole cloth is at once unconstitutional and anti-democratic. A “living Constitution” philosophy is nothing less than an excuse for activist judges to impose their personal preferences upon an unwilling citizenry in the name of “evolving standards,” which they alone are entitled to discern. ”

    In short, everything in America is corrupt, from Congress, to the Executive (now killing American citizens with no oversight), to the judiciary, which has been systematically tearing down Constitutional safeguards against centralized power for decades.

    “As for the constitution, any time Obama acts against the constitution, Congress is free challenge him, impeach him, take him to court.”

    Riiiiiight. They are complicit with him. They are part of the abuse of power as much as Obama is. To quote my favorite Old Testament prophet:

    5 ¶Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

    6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. — Isaiah 1: 5-6

    The whole head is sick. Corruption absolutely pervades Washington D.C. and our erstwhile cherished institutions. Yes, it really is that bad.

  16. Michael, you are a real firebrand! I know I should stop wasting mine and all your time here at Millennial Star, but all this libertarian angst is just so amusing.

    One thing Focus on the Family is wrong about: “activist judges impose their personal preferences upon an unwilling citizenry.”

    Actually, the citizenry is very willing. The majority of the citizenry is activist, and elects activist politicians, who appoint activist judges who interpret the constitution actively. Just look at popular support for gay marriage climbing, which will undoubtedly be reflected in the activist position of the court in the coming months. Democracy in action!

    If you find yourself in a minority point of view, maybe that’s depressing. Maybe that makes you think everyone else is wrong, corrupt, or evil. But can’t you just resign yourself, like LDSP, saying: “Woe be unto them, when the majority shall choose evil!” Just be a prophet of doom. But don’t deny the people their freedom to elect the government they want! Even the prophets gave the people a king when that is what they elected to do. Warn the people! But don’t blame the government! Blame the people! We have the government we deserve, what we voted for, what we want. Even the founders would respect the will of the people.

  17. Are you saying Helmuth Hubner was wrong?

    A study of pre-1904 Church History shows that the Church will often make politically expedient proclamations that on the surface are appear to be contrary to the will of the prophets for the saints.

  18. It seems there is fear mongering under the surface. The Patriot Act has done more to undermine our freedoms, especially pertaining to the First and Fourth Amendments.
    All branches and all parties of government are corrupt. But no one cares until someone says this country needs to do something about gun violence then all of a sudden everyone screams about their Second Amendment rights, when in reality our rights pertaining to other issues are the ones being violated. Stop the fear mongering, please.

  19. I don’t know what rights are being taken away. Frankly, I see our citizenry having more rights today than ever before. In any case, our Founders have given us the best possible way of correcting things we do not like. It’s called the ballot.

  20. Don, the rights that are being assaulted have been detailed above. You can refuse to read the comments, or you can refuse to believe that the government is trying to undermine the Bill of Rights using a variety of means. But there are a lot of worried folks who watch the news carefully.

    Between warrantless wiretapping, unlimited detention (NDAA), extra-judicial killings over Americans overseas, no privacy our personal electronic communications (even the CIA director wasn’t immune!!), Obamacare’s mandates of employers providing day-after pills in violation of their religious beliefs, etc., etc., etc., there is plenty to be concerned about.

    You seem to have unbridled faith in the wisdom of the electorate. I don’t share your faith, since the electorate continues to send the same criminals to DC every two years like clockwork.

  21. Michael, nice to see you put the blame where it truly lies: “the electorate continues to send the same criminals to DC every two years like clockwork.” Please don’t blame the criminals in Washington, since we were the ones who elected and reelected them, and said over and over in opinion poles that we approve of what you call “crimes.” The electorate deserves 100% of the blame.

  22. A scriptural approach might be to consider Pahoran’s letter to Moroni, which dealswith unrighteous influences ingovernment:
    “We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us. … whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom”

    This is not saying we ought to take up arms against our neighbors if we potentially give up our freedom through democratic process (as happens today), but only if arms are taken up against us first. Earlier in ch61 of Alma he also states that if its Gods will they should be in bondage, they would nit even fight. So I even have a hard time thinking that its not God’s will that the people of this nation (and others in the world) will need to be compelled to be humble before we can be delivered from God.

  23. Of course I’m not making an argument that we should continue to give up our freedoms in the first place….

  24. There are scriptural and theoretical models for responding to tyranny (Amaleckiah et al., who to the Nephite mind weren’t ‘foreign’ lamanites but were domestic enemies), the American Revolution (which wasn’t as ill-informed and unnecessary and modern revisionism would have it) and so on. I suspect that in an actual such situation, the Church would probably not take sides, instead issuing a statement of principles that could be applied to both sides depending on judgment.

    But any talk of applying the template of resistance to tyranny to contemporary America is silly.

  25. LDSPhilosopher makes a unique point, and a presents a interesting perspective. However, this perspective has left out many, crucial points as to why armed rebellion is justifiable. In the American Revolution, the British were demanding more than Americans could bear, not only in taxation, but in mandatory room and board for those soldiers sent to enforce laws the American colonists had no say in following, it was forced upon them. Other examples in the Book of Mormon are of Moroni’s example. Moroni was an exemplary leader, as told by Mormon in Alma 48. In Alma chapters 54 and 59-60 show how passionately Moroni felt about defense of the people’s liberties. If an offense was made, we fix the problem spiritually first, then defend with force. However, if defense does not work, and verbal warnings and pleas are of no effect, it is our duty todo what is required to maintain liberties, so long as covenants are maintained as well.

  26. I think many people have missed the fact that I’m not arguing that rebellion is not justified. As a libertarian, I think it is well past justified. What I’m arguing is that being justified is not the same as being wise or being right.

  27. Interesting, LDSPh. I would say that whether resistance to authority is wise is part of the moral calculus. If unwise, then immoral.

  28. Contemporary American society has strayed so far from first principles that folks like me who really believe that peoples’ liberties are more important than government power are starting to feel like strangers in a strange land.

    Contemporary American society? I don’t believe that any point in our history would satisfy your fantasy of the ideal Constitutional Republic that in reality never existed. *Starting* to feel like strangers in a strange land? When were you born? Before or after the creation of our National Parks? Before or after the Japanese-American internment camps and the New Deal? Before or after Reagan’s shadow government? I’m so tired of hearing about how we should *now* be fearful of the feds – as if the person has no clue how messy our history has *always* been and how we’ve *never* lived up to the Constitution – not even the founders.

    LDSPh, I actually agree with your hypothetical, but I would wager big that its never going to come to that. If you think otherwise, I suggest you look at the expansion of of gun rights under our so-called liberal president and the tremendous power that the NRA has in Washington. Are you aware that the ATF has essentially ceased to exist over the last 6 years?

  29. “I don’t believe that any point in our history would satisfy your fantasy of the ideal Constitutional Republic that in reality never existed.”

    My “fantasy”, as you put it, is safely grounded in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and their gallant cohorts, including many of the Anti-Federalists of the 1790s. There was, indeed, a time when a citizen of the United States could safely breathe, eat, live, procreate, and (gasp!) earn income that was tax-free, all without the Federal government’s cognizance.

    To drudge up an accusation that, since the past was far from perfect, we should cease knitting our brows *now*, is the height of silliness. I already consider FDR a renegade President, so it mattereth not whether I was born prior or post his reprehensible internment of Japanese Americans. Nice red herring though.

    In all seriousness, if you think it’s ok that our government is approaching 17T in debt, runs regular trillion dollar deficits, kills Americans overseas with no due process, spies on our emails, passes atrocious bills like the NDAA, launches wars that violate the War Powers Act (and nobody seems to care), etc., etc. etc. (and I could go on, and on, and on), then you and I can’t have a real conversation anyway.

    I am not an Oliver Stone fan, but he sure sums it up here: http://rt.com/news/oliver-stone-us-orwellian-022/

    I guess since George Washington made some sailors buy insurance, I should just stop complaining <——- This is the essence of your argument. And it's a truly ridiculous argument, at that. Our liberties are truly under increasing assault, and it's time for folks that love liberty to muster up and be counted. If you want to stay a serf, that is your business. I'm a free man, and want to stay that way. My kids too.

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