Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #44 | BYU Studies

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #44

October 27, 2017
Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #44
Being Good Citizens

Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon presented a document titled "Declaration of Government and Law" to Church members in Kirtland on August 17, 1835. Now known as D&C 134, this document is one of many that seeks to define the LDS position on government, politics, rights, and duties.

Religious Freedom, at

"Learn about religious freedom and what you can do to protect it." "Religious freedom … the freedom to talk about and act on your core beliefs without interference from government or others, except when necessary to protect health and safety. It also allows people with similar beliefs to form religious organizations that govern their own affairs."

Joseph Smith's Statements on Religious Freedom, compiled at Joseph Smith Papers

Here are 17 prominent statements by Joseph Smith on religious freedom. For example, "Pacific Innuendo," Times and Seasons, 15 February 1844, states: "Political views and party distinctions never should disturb the harmony of society. . . . Our motto, then, is peace with all. If we have joy in the love of God, let us try to give a reason of that joy, which all the world cannot gainsay or resist."

 "Of Government and Laws," Spencer W. McBride, Revelations in Context

Gives background about D&C 134: it was written most likely by Oliver Cowdery. Joseph Smith accepted it and referenced it later in his speaking and writing.

Joseph Smith, General Smith's Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States,

In 1844, Joseph Smith laid out his presidential candidacy platform in this pamphlet. The Prophet stated that the power of government rests with the people. He said, "In the United States the people are the government, and their united voice is the only sovereign that should rule, the only power that should be obeyed." Thus, he admonished, "The aspirations and expectations of a virtuous people, environed with so wise, so liberal, so deep, so broad, and so high a charter of equal rights as appears in said Constitution, ought to be treated by those to whom the administration of the laws is entrusted with as much sanctity as the prayers of the Saints are treated in heaven." Excerpted from John W. Welch, "Joseph Smith and the Constitution," in Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith's Legal Encounters, ed. Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, 2014, pages 9-10, 32.

Additional resources:

"Joseph Smith and the Constitution," John W. Welch, Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith's Legal Encounters, ed. Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, 2014, pages 9-10, 32.

Lectures on Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, ed. John W. Welch