The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that faith in God and high moral principles are necessary for liberty to endure. The United States of America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our nation was strong when Americans believed in God and lived high moral principles. As Americans lost their faith in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, they descend into debauchery and our nation became weaker.
Wise men understood the connection between liberty and virtuous lives that come from faith in God. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” (See Smyth, Writing of Benjamin Franklin, 9:569, as quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap, 41.)
President John Adams was another Founder who made the connection: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (See John R. Howe, Jr., The Changing Political Thought of John Adams, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1966, p. 189, as quote by Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap, 46.)
Alexis de Tocqueville was a famous Frenchman who traveled to America during the 1830 in search of the secret to the success of the new nation called the United States of America. He traveled throughout our nation and published his observations in his Democracy in America, a two volume set that has become a classic. He was particularly impressed by the religious goodness he found in the characters of Americans.
Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.
In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.
Religion in America … must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste of freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.
I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion – for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious… there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people…
Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent…
I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.
Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.
The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.
Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts – the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.
The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains a history of ancient Americans. From the beginning of the book to the end of it, the various writers remind their readers that they live in a land of promise: “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2:20)
“Blessed are thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Alma 50:20).
The Nephites and Jaredites failed to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and were swept off the land when they reached the point of no return. We too live in the land of promise, and we much keep the commandments of God in order to prosper. Our safety lies in our obedience to the commandments of God. Our nation will be strong when Americans return to worshipping the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ. We must be good in order to have the strength of the Lord with us. In the words of Alexis de Tocqueville: “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”