America Needs a Return to Fundamentals

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Called Unto Liberty, Stephen L. Richards: 1944, 20th Century Sermons

Many thoughtful persons in these days are urging a return to the virtues and the way of life of former days. It is their contention that the worth-while things for which America stands are attributable in large measure to the concepts and stability of the founding fathers, and to the persistence of these concepts through the passing years.

Some of these students and observers, and they are the ones who arrest my attention and most command my admiration, go so far as to assert, and I think with deep conviction, that it is not only necessary to return to the original principles and ways of work and living, but that we must also recapture the spirit, the faith, and the reverential devotion of our forebears if we are to sustain the drive that will make America achieve her high and glorious destiny. Some are far-seeing and penetrating enough to realize that the principles of liberty and equity and justice incorporated into the institutional make-up of our country were but the expression of the deep-seated personal convictions and concepts of God-ordained righteousness, purity of life and fair dealing which characterized many of the most influential and contributive groups in our history. There are some among these observers, but not all, who are frank enough to accord to religion a major part in the formulation and maintenance of the salutary principles which support American spirit and enterprise. Some plead for more religion, but many are vague as to the method by which our spiritual and moral values may be restored.

I agree that a return to many fundamental principles and practices is essential. I am sure that it is an error to discard time-tested doctrines of procedure merely because they are old. I believe that the soundest growth and evolution come from building on solid and tested foundations. He is reckless who disregards the lessons of experience. [p. 64]

The evidence is abundant to show that we have strayed far from many fundamental conceptions of right and good.

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Source: Stephen L. Richards. General Conference address, April 1944. Stephen L. Richards (1879 – 1959) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also served as First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.