The Twelfth Article of Faith

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

mormon churchMormon belief teaches respect and submission to the laws of secular government under whose jurisdiction an individual resides. As recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 134 was adopted by a general vote of the Church in 1835, regarding its position toward laws and governments. Following the lead of the founders of the United States, this document proclaims Mormon belief in the milieu of separation of church and state and universal human rights, of which religious freedom is one.

Mormon belief states that governments are instituted of God for the good of society and all are held accountable before God for their respective behavior toward their governments. At the same time, Mormonism implores all governments, in the words and ideas of the founders of the United States, to allow its citizens the right to life, liberty (specifically religious liberty), and property. The citizens, in turn, must show respect and deference to the law. Legislation is enacted to regulate and retain order in society, and to punish those acts which infringe upon the rights of fellow citizens or threaten the sovereignty of the government, according to the seriousness of the crime.

Mormon belief also promotes a separation of church and state. Religious influence should not be used in the execution or legislation of civil government. In keeping with the 11th Article of Faith, which supports the right to worship, no religion should be promoted over another, or forced upon someone of a different faith. A fundamental Mormon belief is that agency is one of the supreme gifts from God to man, which must respected. Even God Himself will not force a person to act according to His desires. Mormon belief also only extends the ability of a religion to punish its members by excommunication or disfellowship. Any trial affecting the rights of life, liberty, or property is to be carried out by the state.

Again, in keeping with the U.S. founding documents, Mormon beliefs concerning government do extend to citizens the right to petition their government when any rights of theirs have been violated or deprived. And in the case that the rights of an individual are threatened, and due process of law is not possible or would not be timely, it is justifiable to defend oneself, friends, family, and property against assault.

Following the lead of the nation which allowed it to prosper, Mormon beliefs advocate a mutual respect between citizens, religions, and governments. The government is to grant its people basic rights, and then the people must show respect to the laws of the government. Religion should not mingle its beliefs in legislation or execution of the law, and then government is expected to uphold the right of worship. The separation of the two is in line with the Lord’s edict to Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Mark 12:17).

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