Should a predominantly LDS community use its majority voting power to make laws that reflect its religious beliefs? When addressing this question, members of the church should consider if their answer would be the same if they were asked this concerning an area dominated by followers of Islam, Judaism, or any other religious belief that does not reflect their own. While it may seem good to the majority, laws like this can be seen as tyrannical to the minority. There are three good reasons a Latter-Day Saint should oppose creating laws which only reflect personal religious belief.
First, the rights of an individual need to be protected against the power of the majority. A person should be free to make choices as long as those choices don’t involve aggression or fraud against others. Most of the laws a community makes really only work to protect against those types of dangers. A law crushes individual liberty when it is made not to protect against those dangers but its only use is to enforce a religious code. Some members of the Church would say the creation of the laws is only there to guide people to do the right thing. The founding fathers foresaw this desire and ratified the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to help codify protections for minority groups to practice or not practice religion as they see fit.
Another good point is that Latter-Day Saints should first examine the principle of agency. LDS.org defines agency as “the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves.” This gift was so important that it was one of the central principles dividing those in the War in Heaven. A third of the host of Heaven followed Lucifer in support of giving up this gift to him and they were ultimately cast out. With this gift we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” ( Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:27). Some Latter-Day Saints have said there are times agency needs to be enforced. This is an obvious contradiction and perversion of the way the Lord would have us do things.
The third reason Latter-Day Saints should oppose enforcing personal religious belief is that they should look to whose example they are following. When we look at the methods of influencing others we can see that the Lord’s way is through persuasion and love. The way of force has been the way of Lucifer from the beginning as he has always “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:3). When a government creates laws which don’t protect the citizens but it enforces a moral code, this is following the example of Satan. There really is no counter argument which can support the position of following the example of Satan.
Members of the Church want to share the happiness of the Gospel with others. This can’t be done through the might of law enforcement. Righteous followers of the Lord should use their influence to encourage having laws which protect liberty and use their own personal influence to encourage moral behaviour in others.
Who is Paul Darr?
Paul Darr has lived in California, Oregon, Colorado, and currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. Paul is also an Army Veteran, who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. On the political spectrum Paul is a Libertarian that advocates fiscal responsibility and social tolerance. Paul is currently employed as a Systems Administrator and is a father of a handsome boy and beautiful daughter. In his free time Paul enjoys reading, using and modifying open source software, gaming, and several other geeky pursuits.