What a government based on the Kingdom look like?
President Young said that if the Kingdom of God ruled on earth, "Every one would be fully protected in the enjoyment of all religious and social rights, and no state, no government, no community, no person would have the privilege of infringing on the rights of one another. . . . Whoever lives to see the Kingdom of God fully established upon the earth will see a government that will protect every person in his rights" (268).
Young reminds us that the Kingdom of God does not force anyone to do or believe anything. As such, "If that government [the Kingdom of God] was now reigning . . . you would see the Roman Catholic, the Greek Catholic, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Quaker, the Shaker, the [Hindi], the [Muslim], and every class of worshippers most strictly protected in all their municipal rights and in the privileges of worshiping who, what, and when they pleased" (268). Our country and church leadership would do well to work harder on to "protect every person in his rights" and ensure that "every class of worshippers [are] most strictly protected," rather than allowing Jews and Muslims to suffer and die as refugees abroad or victims of hateful actions domestically.
President Young also spoke about good leaders and the traits necessary for leadership: "[A good leader] should understand what administrative policy would be most beneficial to the nation. He should also have the knowledge and disposition to wisely exercise the appointing power. . . . He should not only carry out the legal and just wishes of his constituents, but should be able to enlighten their understanding and correct their judgement. And all good officers in a truly republican[*] administration will constantly labor for the security of the rights of all, irrespective of sect or party. . . . We want [people] to rule the nation who care more for and love better the nation's welfare than gold and silver, fame, or popularity" (269).
- Knowledge and Understanding
- Carry out the legal and just wishes of this constituents
- Constantly labor for the rights of all, irrespective of sect or party
- Care more for and love better the nation's welfare than money, power, or fame
How are Latter-Day Saints expected to participate in such government?
President Young spoke regarding electing representatives, saying, "We will vote for the man who will sustain the principles of civil and religious liberty, the man who knows the most and who has the best heart and brain for a statesman; and we do not care a farthing whether he is a whig, a democrat [etc]" (270).
After election, "We will pray for them and give them our faith [trust] and influence to do the will of God and to preserve themselves and the people in truth and righteousness" (270). Here, I do not believe the President Young is saying that the Saints are to vote, pray for our representatives, and leave it at that. He also says we should "influence" them - in today's words, an injunction to phone and write our representatives to tell them what we believe they should do and how they should act in given situations. We are to influence our representatives "to do the will of God." What does this mean? Well, I think the next part of the sentence partially explains that: "to preserve themselves and the people in truth and righteousness." We are to guide our representatives to act according to principles of truth and righteousness. We are not to allow or representatives to act based on falsehoods, assumptions, or bigotry. Remember, President Young said that the a Kingdom government "will protect every person in his rights."
"Are we a political people? Yes, very political indeed."
President Brigham Young
So, Latter-Day Saints, follow the prophet in all areas of your life, including government. May I remind you that Jesus of Nazareth was executed on a Roman cross for defying the government and calling for social, economic, and religious justice for the Jewish people. May we not be afraid of a fate like Jesus in fighting for the Kingdom he initiated.
*Republic - "a government in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
All images from lds.org.
All images from lds.org.