The question is whether the principles in the Constitution are best represented in the government the Constitution created or some other system of governance more adequately fulfilling those principles.


The idea of replacing the State with Anarchy is often met with criticism that abolishing the State is the same as abolishing the Law. When an anarchist argues against the Constitution, it is not often against the principles in the Constitution that an anarchist is arguing, but against the government the Constitution created. Anarchists (more specifically anarcho-capitalists) feel that a private system of voluntary institutions founded on property rights will better fulfill the principles of the Constitution than would any system of government monopoly however limited. Limited government is merely one of various degrees of socialism. The reader is at liberty to assess for oneself whether the principles outlined below adequately represent those of the Constitution and whether the government the Constitution creates or the governance of a private, voluntary system of free institutions founded on property rights best represents and fulfills those principles (rather than abolishing those principles by its very creation). These are my personal feelings, thoughts and beliefs on the principles of the Constitution and the system which fulfills them (versus the State which abolishes them).

When Jesus walked the earth, he did not look for fights either with the people or with Caesar. While he has allowed the Saints to seek redress of wrongs, Jesus never denied the wicked their free exercise of conscience and the civil government was not resisted. Jesus did not resort to a “political” movement. Instead, Jesus used the “social” means to bring down Caesar, the wicked and the dominion of Satan. I will characterize Jesus movement metaphorically for clarity:

Caesar has produced a product that has gained a monopoly market share. Jesus shows up and, by establishing a parallel government, is accused of infringing on Caesar’s monopoly. Jesus assures Caesar that his government is not political. No attempt is made by Jesus to throw off, change, duplicate or overthrow Caesar’s product. Therefore, by offering a competing government, Jesus engages in a fair and equitable competition for the souls of man. Jesus begins a marketing campaign he calls missionary work. He does not use politics to increase his market share, rather he allows his product to stand on its own merit and to speak for itself. It is voluntary and peaceful, whereas, Caesar’s is compulsory and violent. As more consumers are converted to Jesus’ product, fewer frequent and buy into Caesar’s. This is how Jesus nonviolently resisted Caesar and the wicked: Voluntary, parallel government and missionary work. All Jesus asks is that the sovereignty of his product be protected that he may be allowed to compete on equitable grounds with Caesar and the wicked.

Jesus protects the sovereignty of his product by driving or casting out (John 2:13-17, the Greek renders it “sends away” cf. John 18:6, 2 Cor. 10:4 and Zec. 4:6) the wicked and by resisting not Caesar. Therefore, any involvement in politics is solely to provide exceptions in the law that allow the free exercise of conscience for the Church and disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a “negative” on any political power that encroaches on Church sovereignty.

The parts of the Constitution relevant to the idea of God inspired principles are Art. 1 Sec. 10 and the Bill of Rights. Although not revelation, Article of Faith 12 does dispels the myth that a democratic republic is at all a servant of the people, rather consideration should be given to the fact that citizens are subjects to and not masters of the civil authority.  It is not a voluntary relationship. Therefore, inspiration in the Constitution can be reduced to two general principles: 1) the inspiration working in the Constitution is not in the delegation of political power, rather 2) through limitations upon that power (which has been usurped from social institutions) or the outright abolition of political power (returned to the people IAW Amendments 9 & 10).

The above stated parts of the Constitution which are inspired promote the following, more broadly defined, principles: 1) Peace as against War, 2) Commodity Money as against Fiat Money, 3) Social Power as against Political Power, 4) Free Exercise of Conscience as against real or de facto political Theocracy, 5) Plurality of Law as against Uniformity of Law, 6) Sovereignty of Private Institutions and of Individuals as against Sovereignty of State, 7) Property Contracts as against Promise Contracts, 8) Local government as against World government, 9) Rights of the Accused as against Rights of Society, 10) Rights of Citizens (ie. Victim’s) as against Rights of State. If anarchy can provide governance better than states (which I believe it can), then the people have a right to dissolve their government for a system that more adequately fulfills these principles. Therefore, anarchists are not abolishing the law by returning power to private, voluntary institutions founded upon property rights when abolishing the state, but fulfilling these principles.

Further Examination Needed

There are plenty of historical examples demonstrating that anarchy is not the same as chaos, anomie, or a society without rules. Government is not the United Order because government is not voluntary. Attempting to implement God’s United Order through government would result in communism and according to the First Presidency (Clark, Grant, McKay), the government would need be destroyed before communism was permitted (Better dead than red). However, even limited government is socialism in security and defense, both of which can be provided on the market.


The Church recognizes that D&C 134 is not revelation from God. The Lord never revealed that governments were instituted by him.  If doctrine is true merely because it is accepted by common consent as doctrine, then by common consent we can make true, or be it doctrine, any philosophy of man mingled with scripture.  D&C 98 & 101 simply states that God permits, justifies, or suffers the Saints in befriending constitutional law, which is different than saying constitutional law is either righteousness or that constitutional law is best enforced by monopolistic government.  The term “befriend” is also used to describe a relationship permitted by God with the “mammon of unrighteousness.” Whether God is equating constitutional law, government as its enforcement apparatus, or some other entity with “the mammon of unrighteousness” is disputable, but what is known is, with permission, befriending (or, be it, not violently resisting) the mammon (which is different from doing unrighteously) is justifiable.  Befriending laws of man which do anything “more or less” than protect the rights of persons “comes of evil” (See comments below).

A similar phrase to “…more or less…” in D&C 98 can be found in Deuteronomy and Revelations. There is no reason to believe another is “adding to” or “taking away” from the principles in the Constitution simply because those principles are being fulfilled (applied) in a manner more consistent with them than had been when the principles were first inspired. I would disagree with the Pharisees that Christ was “destroying” the Law simply because he applied it in a way different than the Pharisees had previously conceived. The principles in the Constitution are ends or goals. The government it created is a way and means of achieving those ends or goals. I would not accuse Christ of destroying the goal or ends simply because he chose a way and means that were more excellent for their achievement.

The First Amendment prohibits a political theocracy (monopoly on force by religious institutions). An interpretation of the Constitution is not beholden to any one religion. The Constitution exists only to protect religions from destroying each other in a theocracy. The Constitution is anti theocracy. It’s only concern is to safeguard persons and property, not to dictate morality. The latter is the job of the churches. According to Elder Oaks, it is not up to anyone to decide what is Constitutional except who the Constitution delineates as it’s interpreter. According to Elder Oaks, the Constitution sets up the Supreme Court (not the LDS Scriptures, not the Elders of Israel, not God, neither common nor natural law) as the Final Arbiter.

“[T]he United States Supreme Court…has the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the meaning of the lofty and general provisions of the Constitution…” – Dallin H Oaks (“Fundamentals of Our Constitution” speech)

In quoting D&C 98 and 101 are we saying that scripture is primary to modern day prophets? Are we saying we are not friends of the Constitution because we disagree with the Final Arbiter on what is Constitutional? Are we saying that federalism has failed? Again, if the Supreme Court (as means) failed to uphold the principles of the Constitution (ends) by ruling gay marriage to be Constitutional, then calling the means into question is not the same as calling the ends into question. There is no reason to believe anarcho-capitalists are against the principles of the Constitution simply because they disagree on the means for achieving them. If they are wrong, then so are those who disagree with the Supreme Court on gay marriage.  If one feels the means are failing to achieve the ends, then derive new means.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” (Declaration of Independence)

Is the Constitution perfect?  I would say not.  Restoring the Constitution would require restoring slavery. The Constitution provides for mercantilism which is a socialist policy for the rich.  One might ask, “Where in the Natural Law do we find a power to tax and upon which individual right is such a power predicated?” If we had constitutional governance without taxation and without conscription, then I would say, that is anarchy.

Let’s look at the revelation upon which the doctrine of D&C 134:1 is premised: Jer. 27:4-11 and Romans 13. Did God institute the Babylonian government or did it already exist and the Lord instructed the Israelites to befriend it to avoid Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath? Would one say that the Roman government under the Caesars was instituted by God (or even just) or that the Lord instructed the Saints not to offend for fear of wrath? Why does the Lord refer to the civil authority in the United States as Caesar (D&C 63:26)? None of the civil authorities cited in the scriptures used to premise the statement in D&C 134:1 are governments instituted by God. They are preexisting and were instituted by men. What is not referenced with this statement in D&C are those verses of scripture in which Christ established his church (a government, albeit a private voluntary one). Are men more wise than Christ?

Though God suffered to exist the uncomfortable situation of a Nebuchadnezzar,  a Caesar or the President of the United States exercising power over the Saints, this ordinance is no differ than God ordaining the Lamanites to be a scourge unto the Nephites. That God permits the wicked to rule, for the sun to shine and the rain to fall on their governments, is not an indication that God instituted those governments. As demonstrated in 4 Nephi, the civil authority arises in rebellion to the Church and to God’s United Order, to usurp authority for power, gain and glory. That the powers of hell can be organized should be obvious. Organization does not imply righteousness. However, whether by consent (through contract and covenant) or by force (in violation of contract or without one), we can distinguish the order of Lucifer from that of Christ.

As I pointed out, the principles of the Constitution (the Constitution, or government it would create, rejected by those preferring religious freedom) are best fulfilled through anarchy (private voluntary institutions founded on property rights). Joseph Smith was unhappy with the government the Constitution created because it was unaccountable to Natural Law.  Joseph Smith explains:

“The only fault I find with the Constitution is, it is not broad enough to cover the whole ground. Although it provides that all men shall enjoy religious freedom, yet it does not provide the manner by which that freedom can be preserved, nor for the punishment of Government officers who refuse to protect the people in their religious rights, or punish those mobs, states, or communities who interfere with the rights of the people on account of their religion. Its sentiments are good, but it provides no means of enforcing them. It has but this one fault.”

While I believe there are more faults than one with the Constitution (taxation, slavery and eminent domain being others), the one cited by Joseph Smith is a significant one. Due to this single fault in the Constitution, the Constitution created a government that rendered all the ideals and principles therein of no effect. It created a government that was immune to justice. This begs the question, Can States be subjected to justice? Inherent in the nature of states, however limited, is the idea of sovereign immunity. If governance is to be subjected to justice then governance cannot be embodied in a state. States are judges in their own cause as territorial monopolies on the use of violence. This is what anarchists and voluntaryists have been saying from the beginning. If we want the principles of the Constitution upheld, then we must provide a different system of governance than states.

Joseph Smith attempted to do this very thing: to replace the government the Constitution created with a private voluntary institution through voluntary, parallel governance. The Council of Fifty was organized by Joseph Smith in an attempt to fulfill the principles and noble aspirations of the Constitution which the government it created failed to do.  Like Joseph Smith, voluntaryists feel no different about the government the Constitution created and, like Joseph Smith, propose an alternative system of governance that best fulfills the principles of the Constitution while remaining compatible with God’s United Order and the requirements of the Melchezidek Priesthood.

The view that the Articles of Confederation were too weak because they limited government too much leads me to believe the Framers of the Constitution did not want to limit government, but to empower it even more. If the Bill of Rights in protest to the Constitution can be considered evidence in favor of the above view, then I am further inclined to believe that the Constitution does not chain government, rather unbridles it.


The only part of the Constitution (of which I do not consider the Bill of Rights to be a part) that actually limits government is Art. I Sec. 10 (and this applied only against the individual State governments).


The Constitution “limits” the individual branches by defining the jurisdiction and role of each (we call these checks, balances or separation of powers), but taken cumulatively, they are no check upon government from encroachment upon the people or even the States (only from encroachment upon the other branches of the federal government).


Some muddle the sequence of events in order to project the beliefs of the anti federalists upon the intent of the federalists (who authored and ratified the Constitution without a Bill of Rights). It is apparent to me, however, that the Constitution is a nationalist document, empowering the federal to limit the States and run roughshod over the people. Were it not for the protest of the anti-federalists in the eventual securing of a Bill of Rights, then there would be no limit upon the federal and a John Adams (or worse, an Abraham Lincoln) would not only have risen to power sooner but would have been justified in their dictatorial powers (having no Bill of Rights to usurp).

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L. Richard Nielsen

L. Richard Nielsen

L. Richard Nielsen

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