Patriotism or Sedition? — T.F. Stern

By T.F. Stern,


An interesting discussion took place during the last hour at church this past Sunday; a bunch of old geezers talking about the undeniable responsibility to support our government. You’ll be happy to know I remained silent most of the time; groaning only occasionally as the Spirit dictated. Whenever government and religion are put up for discussion at the same time interesting, a wonderful word; interesting assessments are made. Life long friendships are put on hold as battle lines are drawn; respect could easily be turned to contempt depending on social issues held dear.

We read scriptures in Isaiah, 2nd Nephi and Alma setting up the grand finale, Doctrine and Covenants 134 . For my non LDS readers, this particular section is listed as, “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general, adopted by unanimous vote at a general assembly of the Church held at Kirtland, Ohio, 17 August 1835”, rather than “revelation”. The casual observer would recognize slavery was still practiced in parts of the United States at the time and this “declaration” was issued with a certain amount of “political correctness”. (Opinions expressed are mine and may not be the same as official positions taken by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)

“1. We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.”

The statement holds true for the United States of America; for other governments I cannot say. So much for those who claim all governments are inherently evil; does this offend anyone? God surely will hold men accountable for their acts; both in making laws and administering them as well as individuals who sustain or fail to sustain governments instituted of God; but what of governments which fall short of providing for the good and safety of society?

Ah, therein the seeds of both patriotism and sedition are sewn. What’s the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Who determines, on a government level, the mind and will of God as it’s transformed into law; kings, despots, tribal leaders, tyrants, appointed dictators or elected representatives? Would America accept and sustain, for example, Sharia Law; it’s used in other countries? When is it appropriate, when dealing with government, to disagree and, when there is disagreement, what constitutes sedition?

“The crime of seditious conspiracy is committed when two or more persons in any state or U.S. territory conspire to levy war against the U.S. government. A person commits the crime of advocating the violent overthrow of the federal government when she willfully advocates or teaches the overthrow of the government by force, publishes material that advocates the overthrow of the government by force, or organizes persons to overthrow the government by force. A person found guilty of seditious conspiracy or advocating the overthrow of the government may be fined and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. States also maintain laws that punish similar advocacy and conspiracy against the state government.”

The Sedition Act, which expired in 1801, was used by then president John Adams to silence supporters of Thomas Jefferson, who was running against him. It would appear Adams used the Sedition Act inappropriately, perhaps criminally; but you won’t hear that taught in public schools.

“Matthew Lyon, a congressman from Vermont, was found guilty of seditious libel for stating, in part, that he would not be the “humble advocate” of the Adams administration when he saw “every consideration of the public welfare swallowed up in a continual grasp for power, in an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice”’. (emphasis added) Interestingly, “Vermont voters reelected Lyon while he was in jail. Jefferson, after winning the election and assuming office, pardoned all persons convicted under the act”.

The United States government has attempted to define “sedition” on numerous occasions, and in general, has thrown away restraints found in our constitution when such laws were implemented. Benjamin Franklin was credited with saying, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one”.

The latest “sedition” act came on the heels of the 9/11 attacks:

“Congress enacted the Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272. Among other things, the act increases the president’s authority to seize the property of individuals and organizations that the president determines have planned, authorized, aided, or engaged in hostilities or attacks against the United States.”

Are we to sustain our government, through actions of the president, acting outside of the “rule of law” to seize property from any individual without having gone through the courts? “But it’s for the safety of our nation”, doesn’t fit within our pledge to apply the law equally. Are we not guilty of ignoring the freedoms of a few to gain security?

“2. We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

Those simple and concise statements, if applied without regard for race, creed, color or religion; would be precisely as God would have us do. Unfortunately our laws are not framed, at least not in our day, in such a way as to conform to God’s design for equality among all.

Our laws, in fact, are intentionally slanted to give some individuals “more equality” than others to make up for “sins of the past”. The idea of equal opportunity in the pursuit of happiness has been carefully transformed into, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” (Karl Marx)

There is no room in our constitutional republic for socialism; it being in direct conflict with our form of government. Those who fail to see this have been blinded by half truths and out right lies. There are many with limited self discipline; they become violent to the point of injuring others or taking lives in the public square; claiming their actions were the result of political discourse fostered by opposing views. Is it sedition to actively seek removal of those in government who defiantly act against the constitution?

Many laws are written in such a way as to create “wealth envy”, to distort the accumulation of property as if those accomplishing greater success did so on the backs of others who were “less fortunate”; forgive the commonly used phrase. Our income tax schedules were issued to make government an “authorized” agent of the “less fortunate”, to redistribute ill gotten gains. Many have supplanted and attempted to justify government taxation and seizure of property for paying tithes and offerings, supposedly as God would have; or am I mistaken.

“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” (Vladimir Lenin)

It’s one thing to voluntarily give of your substance to take care of the poor, as we have been commanded by our God; yet another to enlist the powers of government to forcibly exact wealth from those who rightfully deserve the fruits of their labors. Individuals have a right to protect what is theirs, “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”; sound familiar? (emphasis added)

“3. We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.”

I read an article by Burt Prelutsky wrote after he’d addressed a local Rotary Club in which he emphasized what has evolved in the mindset of lawmakers, government agents entrusted to administer the law in equity and justice. Here’s what he said:

“…justice is justice, whereas ‘social justice’ is code for one set of rules for the rich, another for the poor; one set for whites, another set for minorities; one set for straight men, another for women and gays. In short, I pointed out, it’s the opposite of actual justice.” (Burt Prelutsky)

I could go on and on; but to what purpose. The “declaration of belief regarding governments and law” as found in the Doctrine and Covenants is a great read and a wonderful “prayer” for humanity should we actually achieve anything close to the mind and will of our Creator while here in mortality. Let’s not kid ourselves into believing the manure we’re spreading; the current course of America is anything other than what our Creator had in mind when He established this nation at the hands of wise men whom were raised up unto this very purpose.

I count myself a patriot with conservative values, values which are labeled “extreme” for demanding my government only spend money we actually have, to defend our citizens from those who would do us harm and facilitate the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as found in the Declaration of Independence. The government I sustain would refrain from destroying the constitution which protects individual God given rights at every turn.

The government I sustain would honor the God which provided this great land for a people as would obey His laws. Righteous people would do their level best to adhere to and sustain our divinely inspired Constitution which protects individual God given rights through equal and impartial laws.

The way things are going you might find me jailed; defending against charges of sedition as I shout to anyone listening about our current government, their “every consideration of the public welfare swallowed up in a continual grasp for power, in an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice.”

I’ll close with inspiring thought from the Doctrine and Covenants 109:

“Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.”

The Moral Lib­eral asso­ciate edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.