Monday, May 6, 2019

Freedom and Religion Are Connected

We worked an election on Saturday. The only thing on our ballot was a school district bond election (an astounding $1.76 billion). It won, of course, with 70% of the votes. But only 4.6% of registered voters voted (10,499 for and 4,544 against). So I could talk about education, or property taxes, but I think I'll forego.

This was our first countywide election on a voting day (early voting has always been countywide). Several voting places were combined, and our alternate judge was an experienced judge and very good to work with. He was an older black man, a retired police officer, and a faithful Catholic. We had pleasant conversations with him.

It’s not surprising that a he’s part of the 90% of blacks who vote Democrat. But, getting to know him, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be happy voting for any of the pro-socialism candidates for President in their primary.

We have so much in common with other religious people. I hope at some point that translates into voting to protect our Constitution. The Blexit movement is underway, but so far aiming mostly at younger voters.

Neal A. Maxwell
image from here
Anyway, I’m thinking about religion and freedom, and how they interrelate, as I share some nuggets from my quote file today. This first one is from Neal A. Maxwell, whose language is something I have always admired. I’m currently reading his biography. Anyway, this is from a talk in 1978.

We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.
Brothers and sisters, irreligion as the state religion would be the worst of all combinations. Its orthodoxy would be insistent and its inquisitors inevitable. Its paid ministry would be numerous beyond belief. Its Caesars would be insufferably condescending. Its majorities—when faced with clear alternatives—would make the Barabbas choice, as did a mob centuries ago when Pilate confronted them with the need to decide.
Your discipleship may see the time come when religious convictions are heavily discounted. M. J. Sobran also observed, “A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus, and not to get uppity about it” (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, p. 58). This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people’s opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.—Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” October 1978 

Religion and Liberty are the two great objects of defensive war. Conjoined, they unite all the feelings, and call forth all the energies, of man…. Religion and liberty are the meat and the drink of the body politic. Withdraw one of them, and it languishes, consumes, and dies. If indifference to either at any time becomes the prevailing character of a people, one half of their motives to vigorous defense is lost, and the hopes of their enemies are proportionally increased. Here, eminently, they are inseparable. Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears, and wolves; but not the freedom of New-England. If our religion were gone, our state of society would perish with it; and nothing would be left, which would be worth defending. —Timothy Dwight, President of Yale University, “The Duty of Americans, at the Present Crisis,” July 4, 1798

No compact among men… can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.—George Washington, draft of First Inaugural Address, April 1798

Heaven knows the proper price to attach to something so celestial as freedom.— Thomas Payne

It was through and by the power of God, that the fathers of this country framed the Declaration of Independence, and also that great palladium of human rights, the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing of a bigoted, narrow-contracted feeling about that instrument; it is broad and comprehensive.—John Taylor, The Constitution Is an Inspired Document, p. 644

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.—John Adams[i], 1770

David O. McKay
image from here
If I speak plainly, and in condemnation lay bare reprehensible practices and aims of certain organizations, please do not think that I harbor ill-will or enmity in my heart towards other United States citizens whose views on political policies do not coincide with mine. But when acts and schemes are manifestly contrary to the revealed word of the Lord, we feel justified in warning people against them. We may be charitable and forbearing to the sinner, but must condemn the sin.—David O. McKay, “Jesus’ Prayer for Unity,” General Conference, October 1939

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.—Thomas Jefferson

The duty of a true patriot is to protect his country from its government.—Thomas Payne

It has been fundamental to our way of life that charity must be voluntary if it is to be charity. Compulsory benevolence is not charity. Today’s egalitarians are using the federal government to redistribute wealth in our society, not as a matter of voluntary charity, but as a matter of right.—Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure, p. 91

You cannot stop a decades-long march toward a socialist and authoritarian state if the family breaks down. Those who say we need to maintain a laser focus on government spending miss the forest for the trees, or refuse to accept what the Founders embraced. If we balance the budget and rein in government but do not rebuild and protect families, then the popular will for government intervention will irresistibly grow over time.—Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America

Freedom and religion endure together or perish alone.—Mitt Romney, “Faith in America” speech, December 6, 2007

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.—John Adams, “Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States,” 1787

Basing state policy on relative measures devolves into covetousness.
—Bill Flax, “Don’t Like Handouts? Neither Does the Bible,” December 12, 2011 

And as ’tis folly to suppose that princes will always be wise, just and good, when we know that few have been able alone to bear the weight of a government, or to resist the temptations to ill, that accompany an unlimited power, it would be madness to presume they will for the future be free from infirmities and vices....
If the public safety be provided, liberty and propriety secured, justice administered, virtue encouraged, vice suppressed, and the true interest of the nation advanced, the ends of government are accomplished;--Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, pp. 319-320

Thus, the central problem of government, is a religious one, and anyone who assumes he can form his political beliefs without consulting his ethics, which have their basis in religious conviction, is deceiving himself either about the true nature of government, or his moral responsibility for its actions.—Elder H. Verlan Andersen, Many Are Called but Few Are Chosen

[i] John Adams said this, in defense of British soldiers following the Boston Massacre. However, it is also credited to Tobias George Smollett, who in turn was translating a work, Gil Blas, from French author Alain-RenĂ© Lesage. The phrase may predate all of these. 

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