Doctrine and Covenants
August 17, 1835-Kirtland, Ohio. At a general assembly of the church (see Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants), this article was adopted by unanimous vote and ordered to be printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. It is not a revelation, but gives a statement of the belief of the church concerning civil government.
The purpose of government-Uphold freedom of religion and conscience-Proper role of law in civil governments
D&C 112:1 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, either in making laws or administering them, for the good and safety of society.
D&C 112:2 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.
D&C 112:3 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.
D&C 112:4a We believe that religion is instituted of God and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it unless their religious opinion prompts them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;
D&C 112:4b but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men nor dictate forms for public or private devotion,
D&C 112:4c that the civil magistrate should restrain crime but never control conscience, should punish guilt but never suppress the freedom of the soul.
D&C 112:5a We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments, and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected and should be punished accordingly,
D&C 112:5b and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest-at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
D&C 112:6a We believe that every man should be honored in his station-rulers and magistrates, as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty;
D&C 112:6b and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror-
D&C 112:6c human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man, and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.
D&C 112:7a We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief;
D&C 112:7b but we do not believe that they have a right, in justice, to deprive citizens of this privilege or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence is shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
D&C 112:8a We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense-
D&C 112:8b that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished, according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed;
D&C 112:8c and for the public peace and tranquillity, all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.
D&C 112:9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
D&C 112:10a We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct according to the rules and regulations of such societies, provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing;
D&C 112:10b but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world's goods or put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, neither to inflict any physical punishment upon them-they can only excommunicate them from their society and withdraw from their fellowship.
D&C 112:11a We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same;
D&C 112:11b but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons, in times of exigencies, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws and relief afforded.
D&C 112:12a We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world;
D&C 112:12b but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them, contrary to the will and wish of their masters,
D&C 112:12c nor to meddle with, or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men.
D&C 112:12d Such interference we believe to be unlawful, and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.