Utah People's Party

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

Religion

Freedom of Religion and Separation of Church and State are two different principles. Freedom of Religion is the correct principle, the one taught by our Founding Fathers, the one taught by the prophets of God, the one advocated by the People’s Party. Freedom of Religion is about welcoming freedom in. Separation of Church and State is about pushing religion out. At least that is what Separation of Church and State has come to mean to many people as the idea has developed over the course of the decades following World War II.

Now days there are many people among us who claim that our Founding Fathers, such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson wanted to make politics and government in America completely secular, but is that the impression one would get from reading the major documents the Founders wrote?

In the form in which it was ratified, the form in which it stood before the adoption of the First Amendment, the U. S. Constitution consisted of seven articles of which the last was the shortest.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

Done in convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United State of America the twelfth … (U. S. Constitution, Article Seven)

Do secular people describe the year 1787 as ” the Year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred Eighty seven “? Speaking of “the Independence of the United States of America…” Lets look at the first two sentences and the last two sentences in the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them….

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men…

….

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, …

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

When the delegates to the Second Continental Congress adopted this declaration, were they trying to make American government and politics purely secular? We hear it said that the First Amendment to the Constitution establishes the separation of church and state.

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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (U. S. Constitution, the first Amendment )

Does the First Amendment mention separation of Church and State?

The earliest document that we know of that does mention separation of church and state is a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a group called the Danberry Baptists. Jefferson wrote his Danberry Baptist letter while he was the third President of the United States, more than a decade after the ratification of the First Amendment. After that one man, President Jefferson, used the term separation of church and state in that one document, the Danberry Baptist Letter, about five generations passed in which most Americans never heard the term. Americans went up to, and through The Second World War without hearing of Separation of Church and State. The Second World War ended in 1945, and a couple more years after that, for the first time, the U. S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that included the term separation of church and state, and the modern politically correct notion began to form.

Freedom of Religion is based on moral principles and therefore is consistent over time. In contrast, separation of church and state is constantly developing, constantly evolving, constantly forcing all of America to become more and more secular. Prohibiting Christianity from having any presence in government, and then expanding government to encompass more and more of our lives logically must result in confining Christianity to the constantly shrinking part of our lives that government does not yet control.

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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (U. S. Constitution, the first Amendment)

In the Constitution, “law” is a standard of conduct enforced by earthly government. Government enforces a law by punishing people who disobey that law. Now let’s imagine a scenario. In December, private donors buy a nativity scene, and place it on a federal courthouse lawn with the permission of federal officials. Is this a violation of the first amendment? No, it is not. How can a person disobey the nativity scene? What would that mean? If the nativity scene cannot be disobeyed then how can it be a law? If the scene is not a law then how can it violate the first amendment?

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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (U. S. Constitution, the first Amendment)

In the U.S. Constitution, The word Congress is used in only one sense. It refers to the legislative or law making branch of the federal government. So really the first amendment limits the Federal Government but not state governments. Some people are sure that this cannot be true. Why go to the trouble of making an amendment to the Constitution to protect freedom of religion but only limit federal power? Doesn’t that leave the people exposed to attacks on their freedom of religion from their state governments?

The Constitution was published during the twelfth year that the United States had independence. By that time, the existing states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc had already adopted state constitutions that included bills of rights. For example, here is a quotation from the state level bill of rights that had already been adopted in Virginia.

That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding: And that no man ought or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of warship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to, or against, his own free will and consent: Nor can any man, who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments or peculiar mode of religious worship: and that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship. (Virginian Bill of Rights of 1776 section 2)

Then the federal constitution was ratified and it included a supremacy clause that we explain more fully on our Constitutional Government page.

This constitution, the laws of the United States made pursuant thereto, and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the united states, shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary not withstanding. (U.S. Constitution, Article 6, section ?)

Many citizens feared that making not just the federal constitution but also federal laws and treaties supreme over the constitutions of the individual states would enable the federal government to encroach on the rights protected by the already existing state bills of rights. These citizens insisted on adding a bill of rights to the federal constitution to restrain the one government that state constitutions could not restrain. Since that time, many additional states have come into the Union, and so far as we know, every one of them protects freedom of religion from encroachment by the state government with a provision in the state constitution. Here is the relevant constitutional provision in our own state.

The rights of conscience shall never be infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust or for any vote at any election; nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror on account of religious belief or the absence thereof. There shall be no union of Church and State , nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment. (Utah state constitution, Article 1, section 4)

God is the source of all that is good. This is a major theme of the Book of Mormon and a major theme of the People’s Party.

… exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good: for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord:…(Omni 1:25)

…for I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil. (Alma 5:40)

…all good comes from God….(Ether 4:11 – 12)

…all good comes from God ….(Moroni 7:12)

If you truly believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. How can you also believe that good Government is government without God? All quotations from this point to the end of this page come from the following source.

Religion in a Free Society

Elder M. Russell Ballard

Of the Quorum of the Twelve

M. Russell Ballard, “Religion in a Free Society,” Ensign, Oct 1992, 64

From a talk given 5 July 1992 at the Freedom Festival in Provo, Utah.

I focus my comments on sixteen significant words found in the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”…

… through the years presidents, Congress, and the courts have interpreted them in so many different ways that many people today have no sense of the perspective upon which they were based.

In England, during the period just prior to the reign of King Henry 8th, the only religion allowed in England was Catholicism. King Henry had a dispute with the Pope in Rome and decided to have a separate church for his own Kingdom. Over time, this church for England only was called various things including Church of England, Anglican Church, Established Church, or even the Establishment. The King of England stood at the head of this church. For example, he appointed the chief priests. Persons who rejected the teachings of this church or questioned its authority to speak for God or administer ordinances in His name were treated quite harshly. King Henry himself killed some skeptics such as Sir Roger Moore who retained his earlier loyalty to the Catholic Church. Later other skeptics arose such as Roger Williams, whom Elder Ballard mentions in the article we are discussing. Williams sought to free the church from the authority of the King so that the work of saving souls would no longer be distorted by political considerations. The British government drove him out of England and he fled to America. An Establishment of Religion is a religion sponsored or controlled by government. In its mildest forms, under an establishment of religion, only those who profess to believe in the religion chosen for them by their ruler are eligible to serve in government offices or all the people including the most skeptical are required to pay taxes that the government uses to support the religion of its choice. The People’s Party understands the term establishment of religion in this historical sense as did America’s Founding Fathers and opposes the reintroduction of any such establishment as would America’s Founding Fathers.

The constitutional provisions relating to government and religion were not intended to control the religious rights of people. Rather, they were intended to expand them and eliminate the fear of government intrusion. These provisions were meant to separate religion and government so that religion would be independent…, they drafted an article in the Bill of Rights to guarantee religious freedom from government as opposed to government freedom from religion.

In fact, the framers of the Constitution probably assumed that religious freedom would establish religion as a watchdog over government, and believed that free churches would inevitably stand and speak against immoral and corrupt legislation. All churches not only have the right to speak out on public moral issues, but they have the solemn obligation to do so. Religion represents society’s conscience, and churches must speak out when government chooses a course that is contrary to the laws of God. To remove the influence of religion from public policy simply because some are uncomfortable with any degree of moral restraint is like the passenger on a sinking ship who removes his life jacket because it is restrictive and uncomfortable.

… the values that the Founding Fathers drew upon are eternal, unchanging values. …. The values that made America great are, in reality, the commandments of God. They provide the foundation upon which the American republic was built. And if American democracy seems shaky today, it’s only because that foundation has been eroded and weakened under the guise of separation of church and state.

There are many people in America today who realize that our state and the United States are going in the wrong direction but few are wise and courageous enough to say what Elder Ballard says in the paragraph immediately above. We argue that democracy in America really is shaky today. Elder Ballard really did boldly assert that if that is the case, then the only cause is our adherence to the misguided notion of separation of church and state. It is the wickedness of the people that makes separation appealing. The people need to repent of their sins.

A simple constitutional prohibition of state-sponsored church has evolved into court-ordered bans against representations of the Ten Commandments on government buildings, Christmas manger scenes on public property, and prayer at public meetings. Instead of seeking the “national morality” based on “religious principle” that Washington spoke of, many are actively seeking a .. standard of legislative amorality, with a total exclusion of the mention of God in the public square.

Such a standard of religious exclusion is absolutely and unequivocally counter to the intention of those who designed our government. Do you think that mere chance placed the freedom to worship according to individual conscience among the first freedoms specified in the Bill of Rights—freedoms that are destined to flourish together or perish separately? The Founding Fathers understood this country’s spiritual heritage. They frequently declared that God’s hand was upon this nation, and that He was working through them … While they were influenced by history and their accumulated knowledge, the single most influential reference source for their work on the Constitution was the Holy Bible. Doubtless they were familiar with the Lord’s counsel to the children of Israel as they struggled to become a great nation:

The People’s Party will work to restore the Ten Commandment to government buildings, Christmas manger scenes on public property, and prayer at public meetings. Elder Ballard then quotes Deut. 28:1–9 and comments thereon.

In other words, that nation that keeps God’s commandments and walks in His ways will prosper. The framers of our Constitution knew that, and they tried to lay a solid moral foundation for a society that could be so blessed.

The United State of America, build on this solid foundation of faith and righteousness, prospered more and for longer than any other nation that we know of. There were some troubled times when the citizens forgot their faith and grew lax in their morals, but each time they repented and God graciously restored their blessings. Over all this nation has been remarkably bless until lately when secularization cut us off from the source of our blessings.

I believe he [George Washington] would have been troubled to see a time when citizens are forbidden to pray in public meetings; when people claim that “you can’t legislate morality,” as if any law ever passed did not have at its heart some notion of right and wrong; when churches are called intruders when they speak out against public policy that is contrary to the commandments of God; when many people reject the correcting influence of churches if it infringes on daily living; …; when people bristle if representatives of churches speak in any forum except from the pulpit.

People’s Party candidates if they are chosen by the citizenry to serve as legislators will base legislation on moral standards derived from Holy Writ. Legislation must be based on some notion of right and wrong. The some one whose notions of right and wrong should be used as the bases of legislation is the creator of Heaven and Earth.

Indeed, some people now claim that the Founding Fathers’ worst fear in connection with religion has been realized; that we have, in fact, a state-sponsored religion in America today. This new religion, adopted by many, does not have an identifiable name, but it operates just like a church. It exists in the form of doctrines and beliefs, where morality is whatever a person wants it to be, and where freedom is derived from the ideas of man and not the laws of God. Many people adhere to this concept of morality with religious zeal and fervor, and courts and legislatures tend to support it.

While you may think I am stretching the point a bit to say that amorality could be a new state-sponsored religion, I believe you would agree that we do not have to look far to find horrifying evidence of rampant immorality that is permitted if not encouraged by our laws. …

Elder Ballard is not stretching the point. The ruling class today does treat secularism and moral relativity as a new, state sponsored religion in defiance of a clear constitutional prohibition. For example, those who do not believe in the godless worldview of their rulers are being forced to pay taxes that the government uses to fund the teaching of moral relativity and secularism.

We see a sad reality of contemporary life when many of the same people who defend the right of a pornographer to distribute exploitative films and photos would deny freedom of expression to people of faith because of an alleged fear of what might happen from religious influence on government or public meetings. While much of society has allowed gambling to wash over its communities, leaving broken families and individuals in its soul-destroying wake, it reserves its harshest ridicule for those who advocate obedience to God’s commandments and uniform, inspired standards of right and wrong.

As M. J. Sobran recently wrote: “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, pp. 58–59.)

This situation will continue as long as believers continue to accept their place as second class citizens. Accepting our place as second class citizens is exacting what we are doing when we fail to participate in the governance of our communities. We also accept second class citizenship whenever we support a political party that embraces separation of church and state rather than freedom of religion. We also accept second class citizenship when we support a candidate that believes in separation of church and state rather than freedom of religion. Instead, we now have the opportunity to support a party that will stand with God and his commandments and his people boldly. There is now a party that will insist on interpreting all provisions in the constitution according to origin intent. Now is the time to participate actively in the People’s Party.

Organized religion finds itself increasingly on the defensive. Not only are people questioning the right of the church—any church—to be involved in matters of public policy, but some are even beginning to wonder whether the church is entitled to exert any kind of meaningful influence on people’s lives. As one churchgoer recently said on a radio talk show, “I think the world of my minister—as long as he doesn’t try to tell me how to live my life.”

Is it any wonder, then, that religion now finds itself under attack in legislative assemblies and in the courts?

No, it is not any wonder. The People’s Party will be our most helpful tool in performing the duties Elder Ballard lays out below.

Let us be wise and remember the source of our blessings and not be timid or apologetic in sharing this knowledge with others.

and

… it depends on us. If we would maintain the independence and freedom the Founding Fathers intended, we must work to preserve and protect the moral foundation upon which they built the U. S. government. We must stand boldly for righteousness and truth, and must defend the cause of honor, decency, and personal freedom espoused by Washington, Madison, Adams, Lincoln, and other leaders who acknowledged and loved God. …

Let us resolve to make our own families truly free by teaching them that God holds us all accountable. His laws are absolutes; breaking them brings misery and unhappiness; keeping them brings joy, happiness, and the blessings of heaven. Let us teach our families and others the importance of moral responsibility based on the laws of God.

The freedom we give thanks for is at stake—for ourselves and for our posterity. No nation or people that rejects God or His commandments can prosper or find happiness….

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