Monday, September 19, 2016

Joseph Smith on The U.S. Constitution - A Call for Protection of Minority Rights as in the Fourteenth Amendment

I've written some on this before including a guest opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune. Now that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Historian's Office has published the Council of Fifty Records, we can see for the first time, the full quote from Joseph Smith as recorded in that Council.

Joseph Smith on 11 April 1844:
Hence in all governments or political transactions a mans religious opinions should never be called in question. A man should be judged by the law independant of religious prejudice, hence we want in our constitution* those laws which would require all its officers to administer justice without any regard to his religious opinions, or thrust him from his office. There is only two or three things lacking in the constitution of the United States. If they had said all men all born equal, and not only that but they shall have their rights, they shall be free, or the armies of the government should be compelled to enforce those principles of liberty. And the President or Governor who does not do this, and who does not enforce those principles shall lose his head. When a man is thus bound by a constitution he cannot refuse to protect his subjects, he dare  not do it. And when  Governor or president will not protect his subjects he ought to be put away from his office. The Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846 (The Church Historian's Press, Salt Lake City, Utah 2016) at 100-101. (underlining emphasis in original, bold by this blogger).
We should be pleased that Joseph spoke so strongly in support of Constitutional Minority Rights and the protection thereof by the federal government.

This applies to religious, political, and racial minorities as became evident in the horrors of the American Civil War. Yes, that war.

And I wonder if there are any applications of these principles in present days? Oh, yeah. I think we're on record. Like the day after Trump proposed to ban all Muslims from entry into the U.S. Headline from the D-News of Dec. 8, 2015:
LDS Church releases statement on religious freedom as Donald Trump's Muslim controversy swirls
It's time to stop claiming "limited government" is some sacred, founding principle out of misplaced fear of a cold-war, communistic threat that did not and will not materialize. The secret combinations of corporate power and its control of government is sufficient to our present day of evil. We need to unite in democratic representation in order to protect the weak against the strong. That includes undocumented immigrants and refugees from war and turmoil that we helped create.

*The Council of Fifty initiated the drafting of its own Constitution to deal with deficiencies of the U.S. Constitution with the ultimate goal of a mechanism of Theocratic Law when all other governments failed. Religious diversity would still be protected. And this new volume of the Joseph Smith Papers will help us understand this proposal and process better. It doesn't look like there's much to be embarrassed about.

ADDENDUM Next day, Sept. 20, 2016

The LDS Church just released this video:

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