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.”
- “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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- “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.”