Utah People's Party

…proclain liberty through out all the land….(Leviticus 25:10)

Citizens

Community Service: Teachings of the Prophets and Apostles

A collection found on LDS.org contains quotes from various prophets and apostles explaining what the duties of citizens are. Community Service: Teachings of the Prophets and Apostles is the title of this collection from which we quote selected parts below and comment thereon. The most recent presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimble, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinkley, and Thomas S. Monson in that order. We turn first to the teachings of President Harold B. Lee.

“We must urge all members as individuals to become involved in public issues within and without political parties. … One of the things that is wrong with politics [is that we] have been staying away from our district meetings where the delegates to conventions are made. …too late, we see the wrong people on the ticket.…
If we were in it at the beginning and were studying the issues and the people, active in our own parties, we would be far more influential” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 363).

As president Lee teaches us, if we are wise, some of our political involvement will occur many months before each general election, to ensure that we have the best possible candidates to support on election day. If we wait until election day is only a month away, then start researching the candidates for a government office and discover that none of them are good options, then what? By law it is too late to get any other candidate unto the ballot. If we wish to support a Write-In candidate then we have only one month to both find the candidate and inform other citizens about him. That is not enough time. If the election is that close and we dislike all of our options in any race, then we have ourselves to blame. If you get involved only when the election nears, and then complain that you do not have any good option in a race, you are assuming that some one else has the responsibility to provide you with candidates worthy of your support. Who is that some one else? Why is getting the right candidates on the ballot his duty but not yours? Many people imagine that they have done their duty if all they do is vote on election day but statements the Lord’s authorized representatives make show that the Lord requires more than that of every citizen. Getting the right candidate into each race is the shared duty of the candidate himself and of the other citizens. We hear from President Ezra Taft Benson.

“We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens … we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators. It is vital that we follow this counsel from the Lord: ‘Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil’ ” (D&C 98:10) (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 683).

The Lord says (D&C section 98) that seeking the good, wise and honest to be our political leaders should happen, but surely no such seeking can ever happen unless someone does it. Every one else can point out that the Lord did not assign him the duty of doing the seeking any more than he assigned that duty to you or to me, so this duty is equally distributed over all the citizens. What then is the duty of a citizen who has been selected by his piers as their candidate? The same as any citizen selected by his piers to represent them. According to President Harold B. Lee–

“The reason why we get into the hands of autocrats in politics is because many of us criticize and stay home and don’t go to our district meetings. And we don’t allow ourselves to become candidates, or representatives to vote for those who will represent us in the nation, or the county, or the state” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 367).

President Lee here teaches that each of us should be willing to be a candidate if his piers find him when they or their representatives do the needed search. Furthermore, each of us should be willing to serve as a representative if our piers wish us to represent them. As explained in detail on the Candidates Page, the People’s Party implements these duties by having the party members (all of whom are citizens) meet and select committee members to represent them in doing the candidate search. For each government office such as governor of Utah, the committee recommends a candidate to the party members. The party members then accept the recommended candidate or select some other candidate.

Note the Words of President Harold B. Lee immediately above. He tells us “the reason why we get into the hands of autocrates is because ….” The word “autocrat” means tyrant or dictator. Here we see that a president of the Church, a Latter Day prophet has told us that the reason why people end up ruled by dictators is because many citizens criticize but do not participate. The people who have suffered under the worst governments in world history have brought their misery upon themselves by neglecting their duties as citizens. Let us consider more words of Ezra Taft Benson.

“The most dangerous threat of all comes from the disinterested—that great group of otherwise intelligent people who shrug off any responsibility for public affairs” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 628).

By “great group” we believe President Benson means very large group. Historically, neglecting the responsibilities of citizenship has usually been one of the most common sins. If the citizens that are disinterested are the most dangerous threat, then surely it is reasonable to consider those disinterested folks guilty of sin.
But how are disinterested citizens dangerous to themselves and to others? We turn to the words of Elder Dallen H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve to answer this question.

“Citizens … should be practitioners of civic virtue in their conduct toward government. They should be ever willing to fulfill the duties of citizenship. This includes … numerous voluntary actions they must take if they are to preserve the principle of limited government through citizen self-reliance” (“The Divinely Inspired Constitution,” Ensign, Feb. 1992, 74).

Citizen self-reliance and numerous voluntary actions preserve the principle of limited government. The disinterested are not acting self reliant; they are expecting others to do all the work required to maintain limited government. The disinterested avoid their fare share of the numerous voluntary actions. Their sin is sin of omission and sins of omission can be serious. Does the Lord consider those that do not pay tithing worthy to enter His temples?
President Gordon B. Hinckley has some counsel for us regarding how we should do our political participation.

“Let us not forget that we believe in being benevolent and in doing good to all men. I am convinced that we can teach our children effectively enough that we need not fear that they will lose their faith while being friendly and considerate with those who do not subscribe to the doctrine of this Church. Let us reach out to those in our community who are not of our faith. Let us be good neighbors, kind and generous and gracious. Let us be involved in good community causes. There may be situations where, with serious moral issues involved, we cannot bend on matters of principle. But in such instances we can politely disagree without being disagreeable. We can acknowledge the sincerity of those whose positions we cannot accept. We can speak of principles rather than personalities.

“In those causes which enhance the environment of the community, and which are designed for the blessing of all of its citizens, let us step forward and be helpful. An attitude of self-righteousness is unbecoming a Latter-day Saint.

“… Teach those for whom you are responsible the importance of good civic manners. Encourage them to become involved, remembering in public deliberations that the quiet voice of substantive reasoning is more persuasive than the noisy, screaming voice of protest. In accepting such responsibilities our people will bless their communities, their families, and the Church” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 131).

So president Hinkey has counseled us to participate in a civil, respectful manner. Civility is an integral part of dutiful citizenship.

Now that we have a general idea of the steps that we should take and how we should take them, the next question to consider is to what end? We seek influence as citizens so that we can use that influence to promote what cause? Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve answers this question.

“To worship the Lord is to stand valiantly in the cause of truth and righteousness, to let our influence for good be felt in civic, cultural, educational, and governmental fields, and to support those laws and principles which further the Lord’s interests on earth” (Doctrines of the Restoration, ed. Mark L. McConkie [1989], 372).

Our duty is to participate in civic and governmental affairs to promote the Lord’s interests on earth. For those citizen afraid to do this, we turn to the words of a more recent Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley.

“Now, I want to say to you, and I say it with a plea in my heart, get involved. Get involved on the side of righteousness and truth and decency and sobriety and virtue. You, and others like you, are the great hope of this world. …
“The problem with most of us is that we are afraid. We want to do the right thing, but we are troubled by fears and the world drifts about us. …
“ ‘Be not afraid, only believe.’ I commend to you these wonderful words of the Lord as you think of your responsibilities and opportunities” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 128–29).

It seems that many Latter Day Saints are reluctant to acknowledge that God commands us to participate in public affairs and that therefore the failure to do so is sinful, because they find this responsibility scary. Bear in mind that the Lord knows that you have other duties to family, church, work etc so that you cannot act as a citizen full time. What the Lord expects of you is a reasonable balance. For example, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve taught that–

“A person could get so caught up in making civic contributions to his community that he could lose his family. By the same token, one cannot readily save his family in an environment in decay. Thus we have obligations to contribute to the civic betterment of the communities in which we live” (The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, ed. Cory H. Maxwell [1997], 59).

Thus civic duties are not intended to be an alternative to family building but rather a support thereto. If your civic involvement is not about making your community more family friendly, then are you doing the right things? The People’s Party is designed to help party members achieve a reasonable balance between civic and other duties. Members of the People’s Party have assignments and callings to perform as do members of the Church, but we are careful to remember that our members’ time is limited and precious, a point to which we return after the following summery.
Here is a summary of what we learn from Community Service: Teachings of the Prophets and Apostles.

  • Get involved early to get the right candidates on the ballot.
  • Citizens must seek out the good, wise and honest not wait for them to appear.
  • A citizen whose piers find him, should serve as a candidate or representative as requested.
  • Disinterested people are the most dangerous threat.
  • Citizen self reliance maintains limited government.
  • We should be civil when involved in politics.
  • We should use our influence as citizens to further the Lord’s interests.
  • Be not afraid.
  • Balance your civic and other duties.

Political Participation is Spiritual

The Lord intends that our participation in local, state, and national affairs increase our faith and strengthen our families. This conclusion follows from two premises: that we are commanded to do such participation and that only things that increase our faith and strengthen our families are really worthy of a slice of our limited time and other resources. The former premiss we know to be true because, President Ezra Taft Benson told us so.

“Let us seek to take an active part in our local, state, and national affairs. We are commanded by the Lord to do so. It is as binding on us as any of the Lord’s commandments” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 675).

The latter premiss immediately above we know to be true because Elder Dallin H. Oaks asserts it.

Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
….
Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forgo some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families. (Elder Dallin H. Oaks “Good, Better and Best” General Conference 2007)

Therefore, our participation in community affairs can and should increase our faith in Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.

The commandment to participate as a citizen is a spiritual commandment. This conclusion follows from two premisses: that God has commanded us to participate as citizens and that God’s commandments are spiritual rather than temporal. The former premise must be true because President Ezra Taft Benson asserts it as noted immediately above.

“Let us seek to take an active part in our local, state, and national affairs. We are commanded by the Lord to do so. It is as binding on us as any of the Lord’s commandments” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 675).

The latter premise above must be true because the Lord asserts it.

Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual. (DC 29:34 – 35)

Therefore the commandment to get involved in the governance of our communities is spiritual rather than temporal. It is our duty to make political participation as spiritually edifying as we can. If your political activities are not spiritually edifying, then you may be wasting time on activities that are not worthwhile. We invite you to replace those activities with other forms of political participation that meet the Lord’s standards better.

Grace

Let’s review how the children of God succeed at the performance of any duty. On the Introduction Page of the Utah People’s Party, we red that “If the People’s Party is something you should embrace, if the Party is something good for you and for other citizens–only by faith can you embrace it.” To show that this assertion is true, the Introduction Page cites Moroni.

And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.(Moroni 7 : 21)

From that point we continue.

Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.

And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you. (Moroni 7:25-26)

Since by faith we lay hold on every good thing, we urge you to lay hold of your duties as a citizen by faith. Also, when we have faith in Christ we can and should ask the Father in the name of Christ for success in accomplishing our duties as citizens just as we do our other duties. To this thought, Nephi the son of Lehi adds the following.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

When we rely on our Lord, we of course “…labor diligently….” as Nephi puts it. How is it then that by grace we are saved?

…It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, … that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Divine grace is needed by every soul …. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). (Bible Dictionary – Grace)

To be a good citizen, you must cultivate your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, because it is by the grace of Christ that you can accomplish the duties of a citizen. Our Savior spoke of His grace when he gave us the Parable of the Vine and the Branches.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15 : 4 – 7)

Note that the definition of Grace from the Bible Dictionary says that we get the grace that we need through “…faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of …[our]…sins….” Because they are essential to your success in fulfilling your duties of citizenship, we urge you to look up the definitions of faith and repentance in the Bible Dictionary to make sure that you understand what these critically important terms really mean. Space limitations do not allow us to quote these definitions here.

Let us be grateful that the Utah People’s Party is design from the ground up to help faithful saints participate in politics as a spiritual pursuit, a pursuit that develops our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthens our families. The Candidates Page continues this discussion of the duties of citizens and relates those duties to more details of the candidate selection process that the People’s Party uses. Will you please read the Candidates Page?


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