As has been discussed on this website in the past, too many Latter-Day Saints confuse the laws of the United States with holy writ by bringing it up to an equal level with the words of the Lord. Likewise, absolute obedience to the mandates of United States government is often expected because it is mistaken for the Kingdom of God. This article will attempt to lay to rest the inaccuracies represented within this line of thinking.
In order to understand this topic completely, it must be realized that although the terms are often used interchangeably, the Kingdom of God and the Church of God are NOT the same organization.
“God has established his Church, and we sometimes say his kingdom. What do we mean by “the kingdom of God?” I wish somebody would tell me what we mean by using that term. There is the Church of God and the kingdom of God. The Church, of course, refers more particularly to spiritual things, and the kingdom to temporal rule and government and management and to temporal affairs.“ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 20:166)
“As observed by one of the speakers this morning, that Kingdom grows out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is not the Church, for a man may be a legislator in that body which will issue laws to sustain the inhabitants of the earth in their individual rights, and still not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ at all.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:310)
In a preparatory step to setting up this Kingdom, God “raised up” wise men to establish the Constitution of the United States. (D&C 101:80)
“It is true that the founders of this nation, as a preliminary step for the introduction of more correct principles and that liberty and the rights of man might be recognized, and that all men might become equal before the law of the land, had that great palladium of liberty, the Constitution of the United States, framed. (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 21:31)
“The men who established that Government were inspired of God—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and all the fathers of the Republic were inspired to do the work which they did. We believe it was a preparatory work for the establishment of the kingdom of God.“ (George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 14:55)
Although the Lord established the Constitution and government of the United States as “the best or most wholesome one on the earth,” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:310) it has been and continues to be abused and torn apart so much so that the very people who have been instructed to defend and follow its principles left the country in an attempt to take the next step to build the Kingdom of God. This flag, flown at the funeral of the Prophet Brigham Young, was one of many representing that Kingdom.
With the infiltration of Gadianton Robbers, the United States government, as it operates today, is much more like the Empire of Star Wars than the inspired organization it was meant to be. Because of this apostasy, Latter-Day Saints that equate the laws of the United States with holy writ and expect absolute obedience to its mandates, even to the laying aside of gospel principles, are not much different than those guilty of idol worship.
JOD 15:67 Orson Pratt
We have, during the last six thousand years, or nearly so, had a very great variety of human governments established on the earth. Governments began to be established in the days of our first parents. As they lived to be very aged—or almost a thousand years before they were taken from the earth, they saw their children multiplying around them in vast numbers, and governments began to be established. Among those governments, however, was maintained also the government of God—a patriarchal government, that continued with the righteous from the days of Adam down till the days of Enoch, and for a short period after his days. This government was patriarchal in its nature, or, in other words, directed and dictated by the Creator of man—the great Lawgiver. He directed and counseled his servants, and they obeyed his counsels.
JOD 24:113 Moses Thatcher God’s kingdom will rise and shine. They say we are endeavoring to establish a theocratic government. What is theocracy? The kingdom and government of God. Who will contend against it—will the Latter-day Saints? No. It is our duty to contend for it, and to assist to build it up. It is a government of purity. It is a government of the people, and for the people; it maintains liberty and right, and is always opposed to oppression and misrule.
JOD 26:12 George Q Cannon A good many of our people confound the Kingdom of God with the Church of God. Now there is a very wide distinction between the two. A man may, in one sense, be a member of the Church of Christ, and not a member of the Kingdom of God. The two organizations are entirely distinct. The Kingdom of God when it shall prevail in the earth—as it will do—will be the civil power which will shield and protect the Church of Christ against every attack, against every unlawful aggression, against every attempt to deprive it of its legitimate rights.
Article of Faith 10
JOD 6:342 Brigham Young few, if any, understand what a theocratic government is. In every sense of the word, it is a republican government, and differs but little in form from our National, State, and Territorial Governments; but its subjects will recognize the will and dictation of the Almighty…..The Constitution and laws of the United States resemble a theocracy more closely than any government now on the earth, or that ever has been, so far as we know, except the government of the children of Israel to the time when they elected a king.
We read in the proposed constitution for the Kingdom of God (Available here),
“We, the People of the Kingdom of God, knowing that all power emanates from God, that the earth is his possession, and he alone has the right to govern the nations and set in order the kingdoms of this world; that he only has a right to institute laws and establish decrees for the government of the human family; that he is our Father in heaven; and we, his legitimate children, inhabiting his footstool, and that no rule, law, government, Dominion or power, unless instituted by him, can be productive of the greatest happiness, prosperity, exaltation and glory of his subjects:- And knowing also that none of the nations, kingdoms or governments of the earth to acknowledge the creator of the universe as their Priests, lawgiver, King and Sovereign, neither have they sought under him for laws by which to govern themselves;- And knowing also, that there is not an original kingdom on the earth that holds the rightful authority from the king of Kings and Lord of Lords, to govern his subjects: but that all the nations have obtained their power, rule and Authority by usurpation, rebellion, bloodshed, tyranny and fraud:-
And knowing also, that no government, which has thus originated, has the disposition and power to grant that protection to the persons and right of man, viz. life, liberty, possession, of property, and pursuit of happiness, which was designed by their creator to all men; but that the cruelty, oppression, bondage, slavery, rapine, bloodshed, murder, carnage, desolation, and all the evils that blast the peace, exaltation, and glory of the universe, existing consequence of unrighteous rule, and unlawful dominion, by which the pure, the patriotic, the noble, The virtuous, the philanthropic, the righteous and why servants of God have been persecuted, hunted, whipped, scourged, exiled, massacred, sawn asunder, crucified and slain in all ages of the world, under all earthly authorities, and by every form of government, from the days of murderous Cain, to the days of the exterminating Boggs of Missouri; and that all the pride, corruption, impurity, intrigue, spiritual wickedness in high places, party spirit, faction, perplexity and distress of nations, are the natural results of these illegitimate governments:-And knowing that God hath created all men free and equal:- And having sought in vain among all the nations of the earth, to find a government instituted by heaven; an Asylum for the oppressed; a protector of the innocent, and a shield for the defenseless:- an impenetrable Aegis for the honorable of all nations; uncorrupted by the usurpations of designing men the contaminating influence of the love of Gold, and the lawless intrigues of aspiring demagogues:- unfettered by unrighteous legislation, and untrammeled by the mandates of an unjust judiciary; not degraded by a superstitious or religious influence: A Realm where liberty spreads undivided and operates unspent; and where truth and virtue are the centre and circumference of the nation; are as enduring as the hills of eternity, and as omnipotent as the voice of Jehovah:- To hasten the accomplishment of his purposes….” ( Joseph Smith Papers project, Administrative Records: Council of Fifty Minutes, pg 110)
Since the US Government had apostatized from the principles of the US Constitution, the Saints moved out west and were attempting to build the literal Kingdom of God to ensure liberty for everyone no matter what they did or did not believe. This flag was one of many flown representing that Kingdom. It was flown at the funeral of the prophet, Brigham Young.
As John Taylor was fond of proclaiming, we stand behind the sentiments: “The Kingdom of God or NOTHING!”
We must cease our idolatry of a government that has apostatized from the inspired foundations and work to build the literal Kingdom Of God.