I have this theory… that the key to winning the fight for “religious freedom” is found right within the Book of Mormon. Yeah, the book that millions of people around the world attempt to prove true and false on a regular basis. Regardless of whether or not you believe the book to be true, it can’t be denied that there is a blueprint to preserving our religious freedom contained within it’s pages. The whole book acts as a treatise on the subject of religious freedom, from the beginning to the end, with a climactic war hero almost right smack in the middle of the book to show us the way.
The fight for “religious freedom” might just be the most important battle we ever fight in the period of time in which we live. This was definitely the case for that Ancient American Nephite captain known by the name of Moroni. It’s crazy to think that the ancient inhabitants of the American continent were in the same situation we find ourselves in today.
Here are four important strategies that Captain Moroni used when he had no other choice but to stand up and fight against those people who threatened to take away his and his family’s freedom of religion:
1. Make A Commitment To Stand Up And Fight
One of the founding fathers who laid the foundation for religious freedom in this country was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson famously said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Well, that’s exactly what Moroni had to do in about 72 B.C. He had to stand like a rock in the face of Amalickiah and a bunch of other people who had given up on faith and decided that they wanted to “destroy the Church of God” and ” destroy the foundation of liberty” that God had granted them. (Alma 46:10) When Moroni heard this, he made sure everyone knew where he stood and that he would do everything in his power to defend the rights of his family, his freedom, and his right to worship God. Making the commitment to NOT bury his head in the sand was the most important first step he could take in his fight for religious freedom. He wasn’t about to just “let things play out.”
2. Prepare Spiritually First
The most effective way for enemies of religion to get rid of religion is to do it one person at a time. Religious freedom is threatened because of the fact that the rising generation in our world is largely turning away from God and toward secularism. Atheism and Agnosticism are the fastest growing religion among Millennials and this rising generation will be the lawyers, judges, and politicians of the future. Sadly, that future is not too far away. Spiritually strong families are the only thing that will preserve the religious freedom we’ve been able to enjoy in our country thus far. The same thing happened in the Book of Mormon, so Moroni did something interesting before he did anything else. Instead of forging swords and training armies like his enemies were doing, Moroni went out to “prepare the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.” (Alma 48:7) Moroni wanted to strengthen families by asking them to turn their hearts to God.
Moroni prepared the minds of his family and his countrymen spiritually before he did anything physically. Moroni then encouraged the people to make covenants with God and to not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He reminded them of their ancestors that had gone before and the sacrifice that had been made so that they could be in that promised land with religious freedom.
3. Build Forts and “Places of Resort”
After Moroni prepared the minds of the people, he began to build little forts as “places of resort.” (Alma 48:5) He built walls and other fortifications and then went around looking specifically for the “weakest fortifications.” (Alma 48:9) When he found a weak spot in his fortification, he doubled his efforts on strengthening that weak spot. He employed these defensive strategies to provide safety and refuge from the storm.
Building those forts, however, was hard work. It wasn’t as simple as just sitting in their tents and praying for safety all day. These religious-freedom-loving Nephites had to get out and proactively work hard to build these places of resort. Spiritual preparation and prayer is just one side of the equation. When Brigham Young and some of his companions got their wagon stuck on a sandbar while crossing a river, one of Brigham’s companions asked Brigham, “Should we pray?” Brigham responded, “We prayed this morning… now let’s get out and push.” We can’t hide in our homes and hope for our religious freedom to remain intact. We’ve got to get out and push.
4. Start Fighting Evil From The Inside Out
In one of my favorite church manuals, we’re reminded that our families have been gathered together into a covenant society in order to “train them to fight evil.” We are fighting the same battles that Moroni fought almost 2,000 years ago. Only we aren’t throwing up banks of earth, or building physical walls. The forts we build today as “places of resort” are spiritual in nature. The enemy has become much more intelligent and instead of charging into our physical fences, he will find ways to infiltrate our forts and cause ideological chaos from within. The forts we build for our families must be even more comprehensive than the Nephite forts of old. Our enemy digs tunnels from below, sends air raids from above, and has the ability to invisibly sneak in soul crushing poison through our walls. Today’s enemy knows that if he can destroy us and our children from within, that he won’t even need to fight us at all. The forts will collapse on their own, paving the way for evil to come in and steamroll our families and send us into oblivion. If that happens, there will no longer be anyone to stand up for religious freedom.
This may seem like a simplistic list, but I truly believe it to be the key to the preservation of religious freedom. We can do many things to help preserve religious freedom, but none greater than ensuring that the next generation understands the importance of religious freedom, and then having the backbone to stand up for it.