Chapter 4

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.—In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.—The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.—A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity . . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without’ religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure—reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.—It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.

George Washington, Farewell Address [See P. 541 for extended address]

      Serve God or be Destroyed.      Assuredly in the preservation of virtue, morality, and intelligence she [America] may look for the perpetuity of her free institutions, and the preservation of her liberty.(1) And in the moment of her disregard of these principles, when wickedness and sin can run riot with impunity, and not moral influence and force enough be found in the people to check it, and walk it under foot, then may she reckon on a speedy downfall. When moral obligations cease to exert an influence, and virtue hides its face, and the unblushing effrontery of sin and foul corruption takes it place, then may the nation consider there is danger. “When the wicked rule the people mourn.”

      . . . To serve God and keep His commandments, are first and foremost with me. If this is higher law, so be it.(2) As it is with me, so should it be with every department of the Government; for this doctrine is based upon the principles of virtue and integrity; with it the Government, her Constitution, and [p. 34] free institutions are safe; without it no power can avert their speedy destruction. It is the life-giving power to the government; it is the vital element on which she exists and prospers; in its absence she sinks to rise no more . . . .

      In the sincere observances of the principles of true religion and virtue, we recognize the base, the only sure foundation of enlightened society and well-established government . . . . That city, nation, government, or kingdom which serves not God, and gives no heed to the principles of truth and religion, will be utterly wasted away and destroyed. (President Brigham Young, 1855, JD-2:176-8)

      If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (The Lord, Bible, II Chronicles 7:14)

      The World’s Greatest Need—To Serve God.      Undoubtedly we are living in one of the most epoch-making periods of the world. It is a time that demands clear thinking and sound judgment. It is not strange that the majority of men and women in this nuclear age are unhappy because they feel the foundations beneath them are tottering.

      Notwithstanding all our achievements, social unrest was never more pronounced than it is today. We are living in an age of shifting opinions, of swiftly changing human relations. Man’s wisdom is baffled. Obviously, there never was a greater need for anchorage to fixed principles and never-changing truths. Men are in need of a safe pilot to serve as a guide over the troubled and turbulent waters through which we are now sailing.(3) . . .

      The world needs fundamentals, eternal verities that never change. It needs to adopt the teachings of the One into whose hands the soldiers drove the iron spikes, “the only world- conqueror who came with clean hands,” from whom down through the centuries have come these assuring words: “. . . I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

      Never before in the history of the world has there been such a need as today for spiritual awakening . . . . [p. 35]

      Jesus taught that men and women fail to live truly, and they really amount to nothing unless they have spirituality. The spiritual force underlies everything, and without it nothing worthwhile can be accomplished. Spiritual needs can be met only by spiritual means. All governments, laws, methods, and organizations are of little value unless men and women are filled with truth, righteousness, and mercy. Material things have no power to raise the sunken spirit. The inventions of this modern age have produced great forces, but they are all powerless to change the motives of men and women. The wealth of the world cannot heal a broken heart, and the wisdom of all our universities cannot turn into the paths of righteousness a wayward soul. Men can be born again only through religion. (President David O. McKay, 1962, 1-97:1)

      An Ill Balanced World.      Our civilization is imperiled today simply because it is ill balanced. Our spiritual culture lags so far behind our material culture in its development that we have no adequate control over the latter. Our science, our education and our government can do much to help correct this lack in our spiritual development; but in the main, this must be done, if done at all, by religion and by the Church, for religion is the creator and the conservator of our social ideals, and the Church is their chief propagator.(4) (President David O. McKay, 1959, 1-94:318)

      A Christian Ethic Without Faith in God Fails. It cannot be forgotten that the scourging war, which has just devastated the earth, broke out right in the heart of so-called Christendom. Christian nation destroying Christian nation. The degradation left in its wake, the tragic collapse of morals, the earth-searing desolation spread everywhere, and the tottering of the whole social order among peoples who have forgotten God, should teach us lessons in humility and make us know that puny man, of himself, standing in the midst of this universal wreckage, “is no more capable of saving the world than he was of creating it in the first place.” [p. 36]

      It is high sounding to deny divinity and to say that man must make for himself whatever he has or may ever have. Men may profess to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher and his doctrines as comprising the best code of ethics the world has known. But his ethical and moral teachings derive their influence over the lives of men out of the majesty of divine authority with which Christ’s gospel invested them. There they have their roots. They cannot support a civilization if severed from their nourishing roots any more than the bloom of a flower can be kept after cut from its parent stem. We have been trying to maintain faith in a Christian ethic without faith in the religion that produced it. That cannot be done! True, a civilization and its culture may go on after a fashion after it has lost faith in the power from which it rose, carried on its acquired momentum. But unless it is nourished at the roots, it will ultimately exhaust the surplus on which it draws. You can no more go on drawing indefinitely on moral reserves without replenishment, than you can go on drawing from a bank without keeping the account current by new deposits. For too long now, the civilization of Christendom has been living on the remnants of a discarded faith. Its weakened condition is apparent in the lack of moral direction which characterizes these times. It is the teaching of history that moral decay follows upon the withering of belief of God. (Albert E. Bowen, CR-4/47:109)

      Private Morality More Important than Intellect.      I know I don’t have to argue in this company, perhaps not with many of my listeners, for the recognition of moral and spiritual values in the solution of our problems. I take it that we are all gratified from time to time to hear expressions of this recognition by some of the leading men of the country and the world. I am hesitant to say a word that might be construed in disparagement of such statements, but I am constrained to question a little from time to time their sincerity. Is spirituality anything other than a personal attainment and investitute? Is there any such thing as mass morality? The Master taught us that as a man, not the masses, thinks, so is he, not they. It is true that if enough individuals are convinced of spiritual realities, they can greatly influence the society in which they move, but it is the individual and not the mass mind which has the conviction.

      I hope you will approve the application which I make of this principle. I don’t believe that men in high places, in government, in business, or elsewhere can successfully divorce their private lives from their public declarations and protestations. Nor do I believe that women who attain positions of eminence can do it [p. 37] either. We often speak of the gullible public, but I am very much inclined to think that there is enough discernment in this public to see behind the idealistic words of speaker or writer, the consistency of performance. I note with growing concern the declination of governmental appointing power to take into consideration morality, except as it affects stealing and treason. The sooner men learn that they cannot teach virtue without living it, the quicker we will attain the respect of those whose cooperation we seek. And what is even more important the sooner we will bring ourselves to our own self-respect.

      You will gather from these remarks that I would subject every representative of the American people, from the small community level, to state, national and international position, to the scrutiny and test of virtuous, moral standards. I would.(5) Some will say, you are discounting the value of brains and “know-how” in this intricate business of government and sociology. I am not. I stand in awe in the presence of a great mind with superior intelligence devoted to human welfare. We are greatly dependent upon such minds, but if I had to make a choice, which I ought not to have to make, between talent and integrity, I would choose integrity and virtue, for without them we are lost.(6) (Stephen L Richards, CR-10/53:101)

      Government Rests on Religion.      President Calvin Coolidge once said:

Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in the world. One rests on righteousness and the other on force. One appeals to reason, the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in a republic, the other is represented by a despotism.

The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country. There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of men. Of course we can [p. 38] help to restrain the vicious and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reform which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of religious convictions, or they will not come at all. Peace, justice, charity—these cannot be legislated into being. They are the result of Divine Grace.

      It is true that a country cannot get ahead of its religion. The higher our ideals, the nearer we observe divine law, and the stronger are our spiritual forces. No Christian country can forsake the divinity of Jesus Christ and not suffer. In those lands in Europe where paganism has superseded the Christian ideals, there is bound to come decay and eventually, if there is no repentance, their former greatness will be forgotten. Jesus said: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)

      Here is another inspiring thought. It was copied from a panel on the wall in the chapel at Stanford University:

There is no narrowing so deadly as the narrowing of man’s horizon of spiritual things. No worse evil could befall him in his course on earth than to lose sight of heaven; and it is not civilization that can prevent this; it is not civilization that can compensate for it. No widening of science, no possession of abstract truth, can indemnify for an enfeebled hold on the highest and eternal truth of humanity.

What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

(Joseph Fielding Smith, CR-4/43:15)

      Nation No Greater than Character of People.      In stabilized character, established by a consistent course of conduct, directed by adherence to right principles, lies the only safety of the state. It is that which gives to the individual citizen the power to govern himself from within. If we cannot build up a race of individuals capable of governing themselves from within, we shall not have people who can be governed by authority exterior to themselves . . . .

      Mr. Charles H. Turtle, United States District Attorney for the southern district of New York, has written:

A nation’s destiny is not in its learning, or in its scientific attainments. It is in character. The heart of culture is the culture of the heart. Our nation cannot survive materially unless it is preserved spiritually. Mere intellectual growth will never sustain our form of government unless it is accompanied by a moral growth; and there is no source of moral power comparable to that spiritual interpretation of life which is religion in its essence—religion pure and undefiled.

      Life cannot be measured in terms of the abundance of the things possessed or produced. Those supposedly solid, realistic [p. 39] foundations upon which nations have sought to build are proving not to be solid at all. Paradoxically enough, the supposedly intangible, nebulous, idealistic, and spiritual bases, we are beginning to learn, afford the only safe foundations upon which to build. They are the only rock against which the rains might descend and the floods come and the winds beat without knocking down the house. A nation is but the aggregate of the citizens who compose it, and national character is but the sum total of the individual characters. It is apparent, therefore, that the life of the people cannot rise higher than the lives of the individual persons who constitute the whole. (Albert E. Bowen, 1936, E-39:346)

      Political Programs Upsurp Religious Goals.      A very eminent English philosopher has pointed out that “In the 19th Century there was a general agreement among thinking people as to the nature and end of the individual. His nature was that of an immortal soul; his end was to attain eternal salvation.” He then points out that broadly speaking and particularly in western democracies, there was general agreement as to the kind of government under which man could best work out and realize his end. Individual freedom was essential. All agree to that. The point of difference among men was about the means of achieving the agreed upon ends. Different programs were offered based upon different views for reaching the accepted goal. When men differed about politics they were merely differing about the best method of realizing the individual’s nature and ultimate end. Politics thus were mere programs put forward as affording the best means to the agreed purpose.

      But a change has come, due to religious decline, and people are no longer in general agreed that man is an immortal soul nor destined to eternal salvation. What formerly were programs for attaining an accepted end cease to be such for there is no acceptance of that end. Programs, particularly political programs, have accordingly usurped the place of ends and have instead of being means become ends or goals in themselves. Thus politics instead of being programs have become religions, filling the void made by the discarding of the ancient faith. “Political doctrines such as Fascism and Communism assume for the 20th Century the status which religious doctrines possessed in the nineteenth.” (Albert E. Bowen, 1946, CWP-79)

      Morality Not Legislated.      “There ought to be a law” many say when corruption raises its ugly head and our answer is that there are laws—numerous laws which are not enforced, but our further answer is that you cannot legislate goodness, and honor and honesty. There must be a return to consciousness of those [p. 40] values. Every nation which has dropped out of sight can trace its downfall to the breakdown of its moral structure.(7) There are no walls or forts which can protect a nation or a people from invasion but the wall of righteousness. France built the series of impregnable forts along its borders, but the Germans paid little attention to the Maginot line of forts, for there was an easier way in—through the flimsy veil of the countrys’ bad morals. China could never be safe behind the GREAT WALL or even one ten times as high and long and thick so long as corruptible officials have the keys to the doors through it . . . .

      Our complacency and feeling of security toward honor and integrity in our teachings starts our children on their way to dishonesty and corruption. Are we doing all we can in our own homes? No public official goes to power other than through the legalized individual votes. Do we send to political office men because they are our friends, relatives, townspeople regardless of their honor and decency and integrity?(8) Why need en forcing officers? In an uncorrupted world it would be enough to point out that certain speeds were dangerous to ourselves and to our neighbors whom we are commanded to love, and we would obey the rules without Officers and sirens and tickets. In order to preserve the game and the fish so there would be some for all, not only today but in years to come, it should be sufficient to Christian peoples, and especially to members of the Lord’s true Church, that there must be game wardens to watch us and enforce regulations. What a travesty that in a Christian community stores must employ detectives, officers, and plants have watchmen, banks must have police in their lobbies, institutions must transfer their money in armoured cars, and dark alleys and parks must be patrolled! Must we not return to fundamentals and teach our children that they should never touch [p. 41] anything which is not their own. (Spencer W. Kimball, BYU, 1958)

      Evil Rampant But Truth Will Prevail.      Today, as we see hovering over the nations of the earth the ever-darkening clouds of nuclear war, we are prone to think that righteousness among men is waning. In our own beloved country, “a land choice above all other lands,” we are grieved and shocked when the Supreme Court(9) renders a decision ruling that it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government of any State to require a “belief in the existence of God” as a qualification for public office; also, we experience apprehension when we know that enemies to our republican form of government are becoming more blatant; when we see political demagogues seemingly more successful, drunkenness and immorality flauntingly defiant—seeing these conditions we wonder whether mankind is growing better or worse. In private life, disappointments, adversity, sickness, and sorrow make us discouraged and sometimes despondent.

      Still I am confident that truth will yet prevail, and in that confidence, say again with the Psalmist: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” (Psalms 31:24) (President David O. McKay, CR-10/61:8)

      A Spiritual Reorientation Needed.      Nothing but a revolution in human behavior and a reappraisal of what is enduring in values can rescue us from seemingly impending chaos. There must be a reorientation of life around spiritual verities if individual or national integrity is to be saved. This miracle can be wrought only in the hearts of men. Laws on the statute books howsoever multiplied can never work it. No amount of force which it is possible for human ingenuity to devise or impose can ever introduce a regenerating influence into the human soul. I know of only one power that can do it, the power of a revived living faith and an acceptance of the anciently declared truth that to be saved man must be born again, purged and cleansed. This is one of the messages of religion to this age. (Albert E. Bowen, 1943, Constancy Amid Change, p. 41-2) [p. 42]

      Western Nations Headed For Destruction.      Less than twenty short years ago three of the most powerful nations in our so-called free world were allied with Russia and locked in mortal combat with the other three most powerful nations of the present free world. The atrocities perpetrated in Western Europe during the 40's by so-called Christian nations, the goings on in Cuba where almost everyone professes belief in God, the class hatred and strife, the political hypocrisy and chicanery, and the racketeering and crime in our own land, to say nothing about Sabbath breaking, drunkenness and immorality, all belie the thesis that all is well in the Western world.

      The recent action of an Eastern state’s education department in eliminating from its curriculum all courses dealing in any way with moral ethics, on the pretext of complying with the Constitutional provision for the separation of church and state is most disturbing. This is a repudiation of all responsibility for the building of character—the true purpose of education. It puts education, as does Communism, on a purely materialistic basis. I[ this trend continues, we will come to Communism in this country as surely as we have come to the welfare state which in itself is a long step toward Communism.

      The tragic and fatal weakness in the posture of the Western world is precisely the same as it is in the world of Communism m namely, reliance upon uninspired human wisdom. The difference is in degree, not in essence. The course of Communism and the present course of the Western nations will eventually bring us to slavery, despair, and destruction m the inevitable end of every person, nation, and civilization which persists in refusing to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Marion G. Romney, BYU, 1/11/61.)

      Integrity—The Strength of a Nation.      The foundation of a noble character is integrity. By this virtue the strength of a nation, as of an individual, may be judged. No nation will become great whose trusted officers will pass legislation for personal gain, who will take advantage of public office for personal preferment, or to gratify vain ambition, or who will, through forgery, chicanery, and fraud, rob the government, or be false in office to a public trust.

      Honesty, sincerity of purpose, must be dominant traits of character in leaders of a nation that would be truly great. (President David 0. McKay, CR-4/64:6)

1.       “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites—in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity;—in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption;—in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon the will and appetite is placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” (Edmund Burke, Works-4:51-52)

2.       “Men will either be governed by God, or ruled by tyrants.” (William Penn)

3.       “When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are.” (Daniel Webster, 1830, Reply to Hayne)

4.       “We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side is strengthened, the other side will take care of itself. It is that side which is the foundation of all else. If the foundation be firm, the superstructure will stand.” (Calvin Coolidge, The Price of Freedom, p. 390)

5.       “All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust: and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of Society . . . . Power to be legitimate must be according to that eternal, immutable law, in which will and reason are the same.” (Edmund Burke, quoted in Modern Age 5:273)

6.       “His [our elected representative] unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure,—no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” (Edmund Burke, Works 2:95)

7.       “My principles enable me to form my judgment upon men and actions in history, just as they do in common life, and are not formed out of events and characters, either present or past. History is a preceptor of prudence, not of principles: The principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged; and I neither now do, nor ever will, admit of any other . . . . The principles that guide us in public and private, as they are not of our devising, but moulded into the nature and essence of things, will endure with the sun and moon, long, very long after whig and tory, Stuart and Brunswick, and all such miserable bubbles and playthings of the hour, are vanished from existence and from memory.” (The Philosophy of Edmund Burke, pp. 16-17)

8.       “When an individual, in his thinking and actions, unhitches himself from integrity, he ‘lets himself go,’ so to speak. He is anchored to nothing more stable than whimsy, momentary impulses, mere whiffs of fickle opinion. He is adrift and without compass. This shows through in much current art, music, poetry, and unquestionably accounts, in a very large measure, for the rapidly growing socialism, collectivism, decadence—call it what you will.” (Leonard E. Read, Elements of Libertarian Leadership, p. 108)

9.       “I am sensible of the inroads daily making by the federal, into the jurisdiction of its co-ordinate associates, the State governments. The legislative and executive branches may sometimes err, but elections and dependence will bring them to rights. The judiciary branch is the instrument which, working like gravity, without intermission, is to press us at last into one consolidated mass.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 7:199) [p. 43]

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