Thursday, July 31, 2008

Religious Liberty

"The Latter-day Saints have always been a people to recognize and uphold religious liberty
without restraint from opposing sects; and the manifestations of their acts and labors prove beyond controversy, that they extend freedom to all, with intolerance for none. Shortly after the Church, was organized in 1830, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was asked to give an epitomized statement of the "Mormon Faith," as it is commonly called, among other declarations of the religious convictions of the Latter- day Saints, he made the following assertion, which has ever been kept sacred and inviolate by this much despised people: "We claim the privilege of worshipping God Almighty according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

"This declaration breathes of the same spirit as that which actuated the noble defenders of '76. Hear those sturdy, bold, faithful patriots in Congress assembled — stirred by the promptings of justice — filled with a spirit of love for their country, and freedom for its sires, affirm that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Happy for the country, blest would be the Union, if that same spirit of freedom, and the same acknowledgments of religious liberty had descended to after years, that the people of the present day might enjoy its glorious privileges. Need we say that the country is full of religious intolerants today! Have we not seen these Pharasaical zealots, blinded in their own ignorance and bigotry, mantled in the flaring robe of usurped authority, placing daggers in the hands of the reckless and unthinking rabble, with which to ply upon the righteous and God-fearing, because they cannot force or persuade them to follow in their wake? Simply because we do not see alike, or believe as our Christian friends do, should this give them a license to abuse and persecute us? No! verily no! We accord to every man the privilege of worshipping and believing as his conscience may direct, and we look for a reciprocation of such treatment, especially from those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus.

"It is often argued by our opponents, that the Mormon people are seeking to gain power and authority in civil affairs to the exclusion of all others not of their faith. This is not true — the power they seek for, is the power of Almighty God, and the liberty they crave, is freedom to worship Him according to the dictates of their own conscience. The first President of the Church of Jesus Christ in these last days — that faithful martyr who sealed his testimony with his life's blood that his testament may be of force to this generation, said: "The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. It has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a 'Mormon.' I am bold to declare before heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination: for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of a Latter-day Saint would trample upon the rights of a Roman Catholic, or any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves." by the spirit of its leaders, one can very readily come to know and understand the motives of their adherents. This being true, certainly the leaders of "Mormonisrn" have been (judging from the above declarations and assertions) men who were broad-minded, liberal, patriotic, and willing to grant unto others the blessed privilege of believing and worshipping as they thought best. We have no moral right to suppress, or control others in their religious views; for it is a God-given legacy and agency bestowed upon man, that each shall choose for themselves the goal they would obtain. Then let us not be so contracted with hide-bound bigotry as to endeavor to choke others out of existence simply because "they don't believe as we." Remember the Lord God is the Judge, and He will reward every man according to his works."

Latter Day Saints Southern Star Vol.2 Page 196

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