The Declaration of Independence: A Spiritual Manifesto

Called Unto Liberty, Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure

As we read the newspapers and other printed materials, listen to television and radio, and read or hear the voices of distinguished Americans, we become conscious that America is at the crossroads. we stand today with the reality before us that we could lose our great heritage of freedom.

There are those in our midst who depreciate our great beloved republic and the men who laid the foundation of our government. these are the voices and the words that our youth frequently hear or read. I ask, How can they be expected to feel a duty to God and their country when the climate of opinion is so negative to all that we cherish and hold dear? The answer to that question will be decided by how well our homes instill a love of God and of our country and how well we as leaders exemplify before our youth our devotion. When was the last time you took the occasion to let them know your feelings about your country?

This nation is unlike any other nation. It was uniquely born. It had its beginning when fifty-six men affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. I realize there are some who view that declaration as only a political document. It is much more than that. It constitutes a spiritual manifesto, declaring not for this nation alone, but for all nations, the source of man’s rights. (Emphasis added)

The purpose of the declaration was to set forth the moral justifications of a rebellion against a long recognized political tradition—the divine right of kings. At issue was the fundamental question of whether men’s rights were God-give or whether these rights were to be dispensed by governments to their subjects. This document proclaimed that all men have certain inalienable rights; in other words, that those rights came from God. The colonists were therefore not rebels against political authority. Their contention was not with Parliament nor the British people; it was against a tyrannical monarch who had “conspired,” “incited,” and “plundered” them. They were thus morally justified to revolt, for as it was stated in the declaration, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

The document concludes with this pledge: “For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance  on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

How prophetic that pledge was to be! …


Source: Ezra Taft Benson, “This Nation Shall Endure,” p. 30-31. Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1977.