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Acknowledging the Good and God in the United States of America's History
This week, Tad R. Callister shared an important message about the founding of America in honor of Constitution Month in the state of Utah. Together with the Why I Love America organization, Tad Callister explains the importance of having a well-rounded perspective when approaching our nation's history and values.
By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them
Elder Callister begins his message by drawing inspiration from the famous Winged Victory statue, housed in the Louvre. This statue is considered a masterpiece of Hellenistic art, but it is missing its arms and head. If an observer were to focus only on the missing elements, he would miss the beauty of the masterpiece. Similarly, if one focuses solely on the flaws that exist in the United States of America, he or she will be unable to recognize the divine masterpiece of “a nation raised up by God and the inspired principles upon which it was founded.”
To determine if the United States of America is truly a divine masterpiece, one only needs to follow the Savior’s counsel in Matthew 7:20: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The rich “fruits” of liberty in this nation include the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of the opportunity to progress.
God’s Hand in America’s Past
As we celebrate these fruits of liberty, we must also recognize the abundant presence of the hand of God in America’s history. The prophet Nephi saw this land in a vision and referred to it as “the land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 13:30). The Apostle Paul taught that “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
In 1 Nephi 13, Nephi foresaw the discovery of America, her colonization, and her preservation by the hand of the Lord. He beheld the Spirit of God inspire a Gentile man to sail across the ocean to the Americas (1 Nephi 13:12). Unknowingly fulfilling this prophecy, Columbus wrote in his journal about the guidance he felt from the Holy Spirit. Nephi also saw the early colonists come to America, fleeing religious captivity, as well as God’s continual guidance of the American colonists during the American Revolutionary War and American Founding. George Washington proclaimed that the adoption of the Constitution “will demonstrate as visibly the finger of Providence as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it." In Doctrine and Covenants 101:80, the Lord Himself declared, “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.”
God’s Hand in America Today
As a reflection of the immeasurable influence that the Lord has had on the nation’s birth and development, God is well represented in the national lexicon. The nation’s motto is “in God we trust.” The Pledge of Allegiance calls the American people “one nation under God.” The last verse of the national anthem declares, "may the heaven-rescued land praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!"
God has blessed the United States of America immensely and will continue to bless the people of this nation insofar as we honor and worship Him. The Constitution now serves as a model for freedom-loving nations across the globe. As we contemplate our nation’s history, it is vital that we perceive more than solely the missing arms and head on a Winged Victory statue. The fruits of liberty grow abundantly in this land, and we must remember these good fruits of liberty as we look back to the tree from whence they came.
Elder Callister concludes his remarks with the rousing appeal:
May we the people ever be grateful for God's hand in America's origin and destiny. May we the people never forget the divine masterpiece that it is. The Founding Fathers whom God raised up and the inspired principles underlined in our constitution. And may we the people always be a nation under God, not without God, thus meriting the promise of the scriptures, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12).
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