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Americans Are Destroying America

In the LDS Church General Conference of April 1968, Ezra Taft Benson, a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and former Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, gave a talk called Americans Are Destroying America.  The full text of the talk can be found in a couple of places online, http://rogmo.com/98.html, and http://www.ldsinfobase.net/liberty/ETB_68apr.html.

My friend Greg McMurdie shared the article with me recently, and I found it to be a fascinating read.  I guess what amazes me most is that if the situation was bad when President Benson gave this speech 40 years ago, how bad must the situation be now!

The first source mentioned above even says that the talk was entered in the Congressional Record by Senator John McClellan of Arkansas with the following  introduction on the Senate floor:

“Mr. Benson’s speech . . . should be read by every American citizen, and I hope the central truth it conveys that Americans, by their lack of self-discipline, by their apathy and indifference, and by their lack of will and resolve, can succeed in destroying America.”
(See Congressional Record, April 22, 1968)

President Benson’s main point is that no outside force can or will destroy America.  The United States of America was conceived and built by men that God raised up for this very purpose.  And it is only by Americans turning their back on God and the founding principles of the US Constitution that America can be destroyed.  Unfortunately that is happening; the moral fabric of America is eroding at an alarming rate, and the Constitution is being trampled by scheming politicians.  All the while, average everyday Americans are frequently blind to these changes, being lulled to sleep by a culture of entertainment and entitlement.

All Is Not Lost: A Plan of Action

Though America is in dire straights, all is not lost.  As President Benson points out in his talk, there are things we can do to save America and preserve it as a great nation.  Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Stand up now for freedom. It is a celestial gift bestowed by the God of Heaven. Don’t allow yourself to be an idle onlooker while our freedom and nation are destroyed.
  • Return to a nation of morals. Honesty and integrity.  Law and order.  Allow police and law enforcement to do their jobs.
  • Educate yourself on the Constitution. Acquaint yourself with our nation’s history and founding principles. And do not support the world’s greatest evil: the Godless, Socialist-Communist conspiracy.
  • Reign in an out of control Federal government. Return power to the people and their communities. Reduce taxes and dependency on government.
  • Elect good leaders. Put politicians in office who will abandon the self-destructing course, and return to the Constitutional, founding principles of this country: life, liberty and property.

The bullet points above are my summary of President Benson’s main points.  Here are just some of the many highlights from the talk, in his own words:

  • “No government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”
  • “No people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded upon faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law.”
  • “The function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property, and anything more or less than this is usurpation and oppression.”

Breakdown of Law and Order

  • “Through the exercise of political expediency, the government is condoning the breakdown of law and order.”

Qualifications for Liberty

  • From Edmund Burke: “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.”

Greatest Threat

  • “I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles…I think it will die when we no longer care, when the spiritual forces that make us wish to be right and noble die in the hearts of men.”
  • Abraham Lincoln said: “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.”
  • “If America is destroyed [it will be by] Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free—Americans who have been lulled away into a false security.”

Erosion of National Morality

  • “Great nations are never conquered from outside unless they are rotten inside. Our greatest national problem today is erosion, not the erosion of the soil, but erosion of the national morality.”
  • Teddy Roosevelt said: “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first.”
  • “I mention only a few of the reported startling evidences of our national illness, our moral erosion…We continue to move in the direction of more federal intervention, more concentration of power, more spending, more taxing, more paternalism, more state-ism.”

Our Responsibility

  • Babson’s Washington Forecast Letter said: “Unless those in authority in the United States can be influenced to abandon the suicidal course on which they have embarked—or unless they can be replaced by men who will—we cannot hope to restore in our nation the kind of domestic peace and order which has made our many generations proud to be Americans . . . living in a land of freedom, security, opportunity, and justice under law.”

Gradual Encroachments

  • James Madison said: “There are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
  • “If America is to withstand these influences and trends, there must be a renewal of the spirit of our forefathers.”
  • “National character is the core of national defense.”

Appreciation for the American System

  • Americans have “grown up to believe in politics without principle, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without effort, wealth without work, business without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice.”
  • “We can never survive unless our young people understand and appreciate our American system.”

Heritage Threatened

  • “Those of us conscious of the seriousness of the situation must act, and act now.”
  • Alexander Hamilton warned that “nothing is more common than for a free people, in times of heat and violence, to gratify momentary passions, by letting into the government, principles and precedents which afterwards prove fatal to themselves.”

The Way to Safety

  • “Can we cope with these threatening realities? Yes, we can; if we would allow the local police to do their job… if we have the courage and wisdom to return to basic concepts, to recall the spirit of the founding fathers.”
  • “With an aroused citizenry and the help of Almighty God it can be accomplished.”

Protect The Divine Institution of Marriage: Yes on CA Prop 8

You will notice in the right hand column of my blog is a “Yes on California Proposition 8” widget. My reasons for supporting this constitutional amendment are both religious and political in nature. From a political perspective, please see my blog post from March 2007 entitled Why I Oppose Gay Marriage: Politically. From a religious perspective, which encompasses the current, future and eternal happiness of men, women and children, I’m sure I could not articulate the position better than in the LDS Church’s official statement on The Divine Institution of Marriage. This is a lengthy document, though, and I would like to highlight some of the more salient parts:

“Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults.”

“Strong families serve as the fundamental institution for transmitting to future generations the moral strengths, traditions, and values that sustain civilization.”

“A husband and a wife do not receive these benefits to elevate them above any other two people…Married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared.”

“Extensive studies have shown that in general a husband and wife united in a loving, committed marriage provide the optimal environment for children to be protected, nurtured, and raised.”

“The complementarity of male and female parenting styles is striking and of enormous importance to a child’s overall development.”

“Gender differences increasingly are dismissed as trivial, irrelevant, or transient, thus undermining God’s purpose in creating both men and women.”

If Proposition 8 is passed, “The institution of marriage will be weakened, resulting in negative consequences for both adults and children. ”

The Church wishes to sustain and defend “the crucial role that traditional marriage has played and must continue to play in American society if children and families are to be protected and moral values propagated.”

“Because this question strikes at the very heart of the family, because it is one of the great moral issues of our time, and because it has the potential for great impact upon the family, the Church is speaking out on this issue, and asking members to get involved.”

“Tolerance as a gospel principle means love and forgiveness of one another, not ‘tolerating’ transgression.”

“Jesus taught that we love and care for one another without condoning transgression.”

“Jesus loved the sinner even while decrying the sin, as evidenced in the case of the woman taken in adultery: treating her kindly, but exhorting her to ‘sin no more.'”

“We can express genuine love and friendship for the homosexual family member or friend without accepting the practice of homosexuality or any re-definition of marriage.”

“Certain states already are challenging the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs and only place children in homes with both a mother and a father. As a result, Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped offering adoption services.”

“Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples.”

“If same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished.”

“The experience of the few European countries that already have legalized same-sex marriage suggests that any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally.”

“Marriage is fundamentally an unselfish act: legally protected because only a male and female together can create new life, and because the rearing of children requires a life-long commitment, which marriage is intended to provide.”

“Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners, for it is not the purpose of government to provide legal protection to every possible way in which individuals may pursue fulfillment.”

“When the state says that same-sex unions are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, the curriculum of public schools will have to support this claim…These developments will create serious clashes between the agenda of the secular school system and the right of parents to teach their children traditional standards of morality.”

“The walls of a home provide a defense against detrimental social influences and the
sometimes overreaching powers of government…The consequences of crossing this line are many and unpredictable, but likely would include an increase in the power and reach of the state toward whatever ends it seeks to pursue.”

“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” from The Family:A Proclamation to the World