LDS Church Leader, Elder Oaks, on U.S. Constitution

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently stated United States Constitution's fundamental principles must be understood, valued and protected.
Elder Oaks made these remakes as the key note speaker at Utah’s Constitution Day Celebration that took place at in the Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah on September 17, 2010.

The Fundamental principles he pointed out were:

  1. Popular Sovereignty: "The people are the source of government power; it is they who consented to a constitution that delegates certain powers to the government . . . [and] implies responsibility in the people. Instead of blaming their troubles on a king, on a cabal of military leaders, or on some distant group of wise men, citizens who are sovereign must share a measure of the burdens and responsibilities of governing."
  2. Division of Powers in a Federal System: ". . . divides government powers between the nation and the various states . . . [which] was unprecedented in theory or practice. In a day when it is fashionable to assume that the national government has the power and means to right every perceived injustice, we should remember that the United States Constitution limits the national government to the exercise of powers expressly granted to it. The Tenth Amendment provides: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”"
  3. Bill of Rights: ". . . came by amendment, but I think almost all Americans look upon these first ten amendments as an essential part of the original Constitution . . . The Bill of Rights begins with what many believe to be the most important guarantee in the United States Constitution . . . “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” . . . religious freedom, is one of the supremely important founding principles in the United States Constitution . . . I maintain that in our nation’s founding and in our constitutional order, religious freedom, and the freedoms of speech and press associated with it in the First Amendment, are the motivating and dominating civil liberties and civil rights."
  4. Separation of Powers: "The concept of separating the executive, legislative, and judicial functions was established in the American colonies in the 1700s . . . If the idea of checks and balances is to work properly, each branch of government must preserve its independence from the others. Moreover, the powers of each of these three branches must be exercised in a good faith effort to serve the interests of the public, rather than to dominate the others or to enhance the personal position of a particular official . . . each branch of government must fulfill its duties fully, and each must refrain from attempting to exercise the functions of the others."
  5. The Judicial Branch’s Role in Separation of Powers: ". . . many believe the courts have a legitimate function in lawmaking when the problem is large and urgent enough and the legislative and executive branches have shown by inaction or ineffective action that they are unable to perform their functions to resolve it. The opposite point of view argues that the courts should stay entirely out of the domain of legislative lawmaking, leaving this function to the popularly elected legislative bodies and the elected chief executives who presumably reflect the will of the people . . .The differences in these approaches will not be resolved. Both will be followed in their time, with the ebb and flow of judicial appointments, politics, and legal thought. But it is important to note that we currently have widespread public dissatisfaction on this subject . . . that if not attended to it will threaten the independence the judicial branch must have to perform its function in our system of separation of powers . . . In my opinion, the judicial lawmaking that has been legitimately criticized as judicial activism concerns the interpretation of state and federal constitutions. This kind of judicial action is not reversible by the popularly elected lawmakers, and cannot even be changed by the sovereign people except in those unusual circumstances in which a constitutional amendment is feasible. If such judicial action sets aside laws enacted or approved by a direct vote of the people, it offends two fundamentals: separation of powers and popular sovereignty."
  6. Citizen Responsibilities: " We have a great Constitution whose fundamental principles many believe to be divinely inspired. Therefore what? I will suggest five responsibilities that I believe are appropriate for all citizens—whatever their religious or philosophical persuasion. Understand the Constitution . . . Support the Law . . . Practice Civic Virtue . . . Maintain Civility in Political Discourse . . . [from] “The Mormon Ethic of Civility.” I quote from that statement: “The Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that renders civil discussion impossible. . . . Our democratic system [should] facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing.” . . . Promote Patriotism . . . "

LDS Church seeks to “Regularize” Activities in China

From the LDS Church Newsroom: "A series of high-level meetings between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and an official from the People’s Republic of China is expected to lead to “regularized” operations for the Church in China."

“It is important to understand what the term regularizing means, and what it does not mean,” Church spokesman Michael Otterson said. “It does not mean that we anticipate sending missionaries to China. That issue is not even under consideration. 

“The Church deeply appreciates the courtesy of the Chinese leadership in opening up a way to better define how the Church and its members can proceed with daily activities, all in harmony with Chinese law.” 

With China's long history of persecuting Christians - first in 845 with an imperial edict limited all foreign religion, including Christianity - this is should be a welcomed changed of attitude for all Christian denominations as it may be the first time a foreign run Church was allowed to remotely operate in an officially recognized capacity within China.  More recently, the post WWII Communist China had promoted atheism as part of the Marxist ideology of the Chinese Community Party. After the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), China decided to regulate churches by requiring them to be registered with the government and subjects them to state monitoring and restrictions involving personnel, preaching topics and congregational composition.  This resulted in may Christian Churches starting similar but separate denominations in China.

Although the LDS Church does not currently proselytize in China, they do hold worship services. People living in China on foreign passports are allowed to hold religious meetings, but with restrictions that have kept the LDS Church from operating in China in a more official capacity.  The restrictions for expatriate members in China include no proselyting of any kind, no distribution of religious materials and no invitations to Chinese nationals to join the international branches' meetings or activities.  If the church becomes "Regularized", some of these restrictions may be lifted; hopefully allowing native Chinese people to begin participating.