The freedom principle for this week is that religion is essential to a government of free people. Most, if not all, of our Founding Fathers believed that religion and morality were essential for good government as well as happiness, and they insisted that these topics be taught in the schools. No specific religion was to be taught, but the universal truths, which were acceptable to all religions, were necessary.
The early settlers of the American continent were Christians who believed and lived the teachings of the Bible. Our Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution with biblical principles and beliefs. Even though our nation was founded on Christian principles, people of all religions have been welcomed to our shores. Now the very principles and beliefs upon which our nation was founded are being attacked in an effort to destroy religion and morality in the United States.
Recently Lawrence O'Donnell (MSNBC) went into a tirade against God and the Bible: "The book of Revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious God would bring about the end of the world. No half-smart religious person actually believes the book of Revelation. They are certain that their God would never turn into a malicious torturer and mass murderer beyond Hitler's wildest dreams…."
I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person - not just half-smart, and I believe the book of Revelation to be a revelation from God to warn us about the end days of time as we know it. In fact, there is a second witness to the book of Revelation. Nephi, a prophet who lived on the American continent 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, testified that an angel showed him a vision in which he saw "a man … dressed in a white robe." The angel told him that the man was "one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" and that he would "write concerning the end of the world."
"Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew [Bible]; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.
"And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see.
"But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.
"And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.
"And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel." (See 1 Nephi 14:19-27.)
Since I have received spiritual confirmation from God that the Book of Mormon is a true record, I know beyond doubt that Nephi was and continues to be a witness for John the Revelator and the book of Revelation.
I also know that God is not a "malicious torturer and mass murderer" as described by O'Donnell. I know God to be a loving Father in Heaven who cares deeply about His children. He sends prophets and apostles to teach us how to live in peace and harmony with each other. He warns us of terrible things that will happen if we venture from the paths He wants us to take. These bad things are natural consequences which come because of disobedience - not because God wants to punish us. No loving parent would hold his child's hand to a hot stove, but every loving parent would warn and try to protect his child from touching the hot stove. God is a loving and perfect Parent who wants His children to be happy and successful, but He knows that happiness and success come by following His rules and not by rebellion from them. I know beyond doubt that happiness can come by listening to the teachings and warnings of God.
I, like our Founding Fathers, know that religion and morality are important to freedom and liberty. I also know that the God of this land is Jesus Christ. I know that we will be safe and prosper for as long as we are obedient to the laws and commandments of Jesus Christ.