I wanted to get a little personal for a moment and talk about my spiritual side. It is true that I am a member of the LDS Church and also adhere to the principles of Libertarianism. Some may think that they are mutually exclusive including some who may be in the Church. However, based on the religious doctrines that I have studied in depth and the principles of libertarianism I have studied, there is far more in common between the two than what is normally perceived.
In order to understand the first line up of the religious doctrine to libertarian philosophy, we must go before the world was created. According to our beliefs, in Heaven there was a great assembly of all the souls that would eventually inhabit the Earth. During this meeting our Heavenly Father laid out his Plan of Salvation. This plan would require for us to come to Earth, forgetting our Heavenly home, and come to accept God through prophets he would send. Because of this mortal state, we would make mistakes and would be considered unclean in the sight of God. In order for us to return to his presence and reunite with him after our passing, we would need a Savior to atone for the sins we commit.
God’s plan required us to have agency, or the ability to choose to accept to come back to him. This is the first instance of free will.
Another entity we believe as Lucifer, stood up to God and offered an alternative. This alternative was to force everyone to be righteous and then there would be no need for us to have this agency. There would be no need for a savior. Through Lucifer’s plan, all would be guaranteed to return to Heaven.
The flaw with Lucifer’s plan was that without the ability to make a mistake, we could not learn beyond that which we already knew. We would not grow as spiritual beings in truly knowing the difference between right and wrong, suffering and pleasure, sorrow and happiness. We had to learn these things in order to become more like God. We had to understand things through experience.
Ultimately the proposal from Lucifer failed, and we came to Earth with free will: our agency. This is 100% in line with the philosophy of libertarianism, as we believe all interaction must be voluntary without any force or coercion.
The next doctrine I find that falls in line with philosophy is what we consider “Articles of Faith.”
The first one that I find aligning with libertarianism is the second article: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” This is saying that you can only be accountable for the actions you choose to take. You are the only one responsible for what you do, no one else.
The next one I find aligning perfectly with libertarianism is the eleventh article: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
In the Book of Mormon, taxation is linked with slavery and bondage of the people. One king was described as wicked for, among other reasons, a 20% income tax on the people, while another king is praised for his righteousness for levying no taxes whatsoever.
Doctrine and Covenants 134, a chapter in scripture prefaced as “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general,” contains several verses which uphold the explicit right to private property. For example: “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.” If you fall into the faction of libertarianism that believes a cornerstone of rights is the right to property, this is one that definitely aligns with our philosophy.
David O. McKay, the man who served as prophet of our church from 1951 until his death in 1970, stated the following: “A man may act as his conscience dictates so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others.” On of the highest leaders of the Church in our history understood the importance of individual liberty.
Towards the latter end of the Book of Mormon, one of the books that serves as a doctrinal instruction and testament of Christ in the Americas, the prophet Mormon, who later compiled the record of scripture offers a stark warning to those who would eventually read the passages. He had documented how secretive groups of conspiring individuals brought down two strong civilizations by infiltrating the governments and imposing their wills on the masses.
As members of the Church, we are counseled to “suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain” and commanded by God to “awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you.” Many members of the LDS faith thus are sensitive observers and tend to oppose corruption and conspiracy— especially within government, since our scriptures also document such groups usurp political authority in an attempt to further their lust for control and power over others.
One of the prophets in my lifetime, Ezra Taft Benson, regularly cited individuals like Hayek and Mises when delivering advice to members of the Church. He spoke often of freedom and liberty, both socially and economically.
These are just a few examples of places that we align. While some members of the Church come off as more authoritarian, we are not supposed to force our will upon others. We are supposed to have voluntary acceptance of our faith. Some who have garnered power have used it to enact spiritually based laws, which would negate why we came to Earth in the first place: to choose. We must remember that free will is why we are here, so I do encourage members of my faith to start reading into libertarianism.