There is a growing, well-funded, multifaceted movement within the United States to put our wonderful, God-ordained Constitution at risk by calling a convention as is provided for in Article V of the United States Constitution. Following is the briefest review of the risks associated with a call for a convention.
The Lord Endorses the United States Constitution
Those familiar with the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be familiar with the fact that the Lord and those He has designated as His mortal spokesmen have unequivocally endorsed the United States Constitution. It would require volumes to fully elucidate the facts, but perhaps the following will suffice for the honest truth seeker:
In August, 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 98:4-11 the Lord endorsed the Constitution, stated that anything more or less than it “cometh of evil,” and we are to live by every word that He gives us.
In December, 1833, the Lord revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80 that He established the Constitution and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
The Lord endorsed the Constitution, stating that anything more or less than it “cometh of evil.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith testified that the Savior dictated to him the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple. That dedicatory prayer is recorded as Doctrine and Covenants section 109. Verse 54 of that section expressed the Savior’s will that the Constitution of our land “be established forever.”
Most of the Latter-day prophets have spoken eloquently and powerfully as they have sustained these revelations. Brigham Young’s position is cited as an example of the words of the LDS prophets:
“I want to say to every man, the Constitution of the United States, as formed by our fathers, was dictated, was revealed, was put into their hearts by the Almighty, who sits enthroned in the midst of the heavens; although unknown to them, it was dictated by the revelations of Jesus Christ, and I tell you in the name of Jesus Christ, it is as good as I could ask for.” 1
What an incredible endorsement!
Paraphrasing the Prophet Joseph Smith’s advocacy of the matter, all faithful Latter-day Saints should be willing to personally not only say, but also live by the statement:
“I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth.” 2
In light of this, faithful LDS members should be willing to rally to stand foursquare for the preservation of the United States Constitution as it is brought in our day to the brink of the greatest threat against this marvelous republic since the 1860’s.
There is a growing, well-funded, multifaceted movement within the United States to put our wonderful, God-ordained Constitution at risk by calling a convention as is provided for in Article V of the United States Constitution. During the entire history of the United States the nation has only experienced one example of a similar call that was carried out at the national level. Following is the briefest review of the risks associated with a call for a convention.
Could a Modern Convention Replace Our God-Inspired Constitution?
Our nation’s only experience with a nationally-focused constitution convention testifies that if an Article V convention is started, there is no way to keep it from even creating an entirely new constitution; and we are at risk of losing our constitution and having it replaced by an entirely new constitution.
In fact, that is exactly what happened in the Convention of 1787.
When Congress called the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the convention was called “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation,” thereby rendering “the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the Union.”
However, when the delegates gathered in Philadelphia in May of 1787, they recognized that as a duly-constituted convention, they were legally authorized to set the existing constitution aside and create an entirely new constitution. That is exactly what they did, and in the process, they modified the process by which this new constitution would be ratified.
So Why Does Article V of the Constitution Provide for the Possibility of a Convention?
Often, when discussing my perspective with those who profess a belief in the LDS faith that the United States Constitution is a God-inspired document, those who advocate a new modern convention mockingly state:
“Oh, so you believe everything in the Constitution is inspired EXCEPT the power delegated within Article V to hold another convention.”
Nine years ago, I wrote an expansive 13-page white paper on the matter of the possibility of another convention from the LDS perspective, but in the interest of brevity perhaps the following synopsis will suffice as the basis of why the Lord had the convention option included in His Constitution:
The answer is found in a perfect example in the history of God’s dealings with His people. He gave the law of Moses. He fulfilled the law of Moses and improved upon it with his Gospel (see Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”)
He did not destroy the law, but fulfilled it in accord with His divine plan and will, and replaced it.
HE GAVE THE LAW, AND DID NOT HAVE OTHERS REPLACE IT. HE DID IT IN HIS TIME AND WAY.
Usurpers could try to preempt His will and timetable, but it would be wrong (see: 3 Nephi 1:24-25, for example). As in the Meridian of Time, when the Lord returns, He will work WITHIN the law He gave (the United States Constitution) and call a convention (as allowed in Article V) to make the modifications necessary so that He may rule as Lord of lords and King of kings over the entire earth (and the Constitution may be the governing “rule of law” during His Millennial World-wide Reign, as has been prophesied—below are MANY statements of the prophets to the effect that the Constitution will be that document).
So, Christ gives the law, and He fulfills the law. He will not destroy it. He works within it and delivers all that is required. I believe that in this we may find a “type and a shadow” of how He works, and we may logically apply the concept to His other operations, including the fulfillment of His purposes under the Constitutional law He has given in the latter-days. In His eternal wisdom, He foresaw the eventuality of his Millennial Reign and provided for it.
The Constitution is ignored and abused, not broken. The solution is to return.
The advocates of calling an immediate convention can (and do) mock this concept (I have heard their mocking tones and seen their smirking countenances). But as the Lord said to Moroni:
“Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness . . .” (Ether 12:26).
A convention (regardless of the name by which it is denominated) must not be used in today’s politically debauched and acrimonious time. Now is as was prophesied by Isaiah, a time when good is called evil, and evil is called good.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
Now is not the time to open our divinely inspired Charter of Liberty up to those who are most adept at violating it, and have the least understanding of its sublime principles. The fact they want to change it testifies of that!
The Constitution is not broken. It is being ignored and abused.
The solution is to return to it and apply Article VI (the oath to abide by it), not Article V.
A Few (of the Many Dozens Possible) Additional Statements by Inspired Statesmen Regarding the Importance of Preserving the United States Constitution
“We say that God is true, that the Constitution of the United States is true, that the Bible is true, the Book of Mormon is true, that Christ is true.” 3
David O. McKay:
“Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States.” 4
“If we would make the world better, let us foster a keener appreciation of the freedom and liberty guaranteed by the government of the United States as framed by the founders of this nation. Here again self-proclaimed progressives cry that such old-time adherence is out of date. But there are some fundamental principles of this republic which, like eternal truths, never get out of date, and which are applicable at all times to liberty-loving peoples. Such are the underlying principles of the Constitution, a document framed by patriotic, freedom-loving men, who Latter-day Saints declare were inspired by the Lord.” 5
“I repeat that no greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this republic and of neighboring republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.” 6
Ezra Taft Benson:
“I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval upon it.
“I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it.” 7
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:
“I have said to you before, brethren, that to me the Constitution is a part of my religion. In its place it is just as much a part of my religion as any other part. It is a part of my religion because it is one of those institutions which God has set up for His own purposes, and, as one of the brethren said today, set up so that this Church might be established, because under no other government in the world could the Church have been established as it has been established under this Government.” 8
“So, brethren, I wish you to understand that when we begin to tamper with the Constitution we begin to tamper with the law of Zion which God Himself set up, and no one may trifle with the word of God with impunity.” 9
“I say unto you with all the soberness I can, that we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this Church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known, heavy as our sacrifices and grievous as our persecutions of the past have been.” 10
“The Constitution of the United States is a great and treasured part of my religion…. The overturning, or the material changing, or the distortion of any fundamental principle of our constitutional government would thus do violence to my religion.” 11
Interested in learning more? Read Scott Bradley’s response
to 12 Constitutional Convention MYTHS:
- Article V of the Constitution allows the STATES to CALL a “convention of the states” to modify the Constitution.
- The U.S. Congress has no power in the matter once the states “call” the convention.
- The states may collude among themselves by prior agreement, compact, or arrangement to call a convention for their purposes according to their prior discussions, and thereafter call a convention by the Article V application process that supercedes and supplants the congressional prerogative and power in the matter.
- Once the states have called the convention, they will be completely in charge of the “rules of engagement” associated with the convention; including defining and calling delegates, the number of delegates, one-state-one-vote voting allotment, control of the matters and issues upon which delegates may vote, etc.
- The convention promoters assure us that the voting on proposed changes to the Constitution will be done on a One-State-One-Vote basis.
- Advocates of the convention assure us that the delegates to the convention will be kept under the strict control of their states. They propose to do this through Voting Instructions, Delegate Recall by their State, Criminal Penalties Pre-Defined by the States for Violations (including: Misdemeanor Charges, Felony Charges, Fines, Prison Terms).
- Promoters of the proposed convention resolution foster the falsehood that amendments could not be proposed during the convention that could result in modification of the amendment ratification process. They assert that because the Supreme Court would not allow the ratification window for the so-called Equal Rights Amendment to be extended from seven years to ten years that it would be impossible to ever change the current amendment ratification requirement of 3/4’s of the states.
- Term Limits are proposed as a justification for calling a convention to change the Constitution. We are told that this is necessary because so many representatives are constantly being re-elected.
- Those who seek a convention through this resolution purport to seek to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government through the amendments they hope to proposed in their convention.
- Numerous concerns are enumerated by promoters of the convention which purportedly justify the necessity of changing the Constitution. Matters such as the ballooning federal deficit, onerous laws and regulations created by the Executive Branch, federal destruction of protections vouchsafed in the Bill of Rights, etc. are bandied about as requiring the Constitution to be changed.
- Three Fourths of the states would not ratify a bad amendment.
- Delegates to the proposed convention will be highly qualified representatives of the people who are soundly founded in the science of government, and will bring forth solutions to that which vexes the nation today.
- Henry, D. “The Prophets on the Christ.” Liahona: The Elders’ Journal (26 Dec 1908) 6:678; also in Roberts, B. H. Mormonism, 27-28 ↩
- Joseph Smith,15 October 1843, History, 1838–1856, volume E, pg. 1754, also, History of the Church 6:56-57 ↩
- Times and Seasons vol. 1, page 134; also, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 147-148 ↩
- CR, October 1939, p. 105 ↩
- CR, October 1940, p. 104. ↩
- CR, April 1950, p. 37. Gospel Ideals, p.319-320 ↩
- Our Divine Constitution, President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1987, page 7 ↩
- Conference Report, October 1942, p.58 ↩
- Conference Report, October 1942, p.59 ↩
- Conference Report, April 1944 ↩
- Preface, Stand Fast by our Constitution ↩