Leaders of integrity or infamy found in The Book of Mormon provide the fodder for spiritual growth and self-improvement. It was made for us.
Power for Your Freedom
Liberty and freedom are on the minds of many Americans as changes course through society. Groups with differing causes rally for freedom and opportunities long denied them due to ignorance and bigotry. Freedoms are sought now that were not considered rights but privileges. Religious norms no longer permeate society as secularism continues to erode the influence of God on many nations—the erosion of the influence of God not the influence of religion.
Captain Moroni, the chief captain of the armies of a nation called Nephites in the ancient Americas, was on the verge of a troubling political issue that would dynamically change the government of his nation permanently. A man by the name of Amalickiah achieved a celebrity among the Nephites that elevated him to a status where he determined to be king (read about it here). The Nephite government had changed to a somewhat democratic form of government at the time this commotion with starting a new kingdom began, and the people caused no small stir about the matter, namely Captain Moroni.
Moroni made a covenant to maintain the freedom of his people to express religious belief and freedom to live as individuals with rights to govern their families. Governed by a king, the rights of the people to determine went to the king. The king would determine who had rights and power instead of the laws established by the last King Mosiah who believed that all men should be free to govern themselves—making all men equal before God and the law. Amalickiah wanted a return to the old ways, and to lead the people according to his desires. Promising power to those who followed him, he caused a political contention that began a more successful counter-movement similar to the American revolutionary war—similar in perspective.
The Resolutionary War
Unlike the American, French, Haitian or any other nation seeking freedom from a powerful sovereign, the Nephites were not looking to overthrow a government. It sought to KEEP the government. In colonial America, the freedom fighters wanted to self-govern with representation at the imperial legislature. It took a revolution to create what the colonies wanted and a new government. The Nephites wanted to keep their ability to self-govern with individual rights intact; therefore, the resolution to maintain their liberties became their freedom cry.
During that time in ancient American history, a republic or democracy was not normal. Most, if not all governments consisted of a king or similar that ruled his subjects according to his dictates. Because the location of the Nephites and Lamanites is in dispute, it is difficult to compare them to other ancient American groups, like the Maya who are their contemporaries if not their society.
The Nephites, under the leadership of Captain Moroni, came together resolutely under the Title of Liberty Moroni formed upon hearing of Amalickiah’s political aspiration to be king of the Nephites. Mormon records dramatically how Moroni, upon hearing of the political theatrics of Amalickiah after the Nephites repulsed the Lamanites, who also wanted to rule in a king-like manner over them, just a year and some months prior, took his cloak or coat and tore it to produce a flag of liberty of sorts.
Upon it he wrote, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” That was only the beginning of his campaign for freedom. The title of liberty became the war cry of every Nephite citizen.
The Title of Liberty
What does The Title of Liberty mean?
The title of liberty means freedom. Nephites did not have the same political system that citizens of the United States have; nevertheless, the governments had many parallel functions. There was no constitution established by wise men. There was a list of laws established by wise kings, however. The Nephites’ liberty was established by God, something that is no longer popular to suggest in the United States. The Constitution is the god of America now, and it is not considered an all-powerful god, which is a topic for another article. Americans focus more on their freedom of speech and to assemble—personal expression.
Nephites did the same in degrees; however, much of what Mormon records about Captain Moroni’s time suggest the Nephites focused on their right to believe in their unique Christian theology. Maintaining their freedom to worship as they desired and govern themselves according to their established laws and traditions required constant battle with external forces and infrequent internal segments, which segments caused the most damage to the Nephite society.
Internal strife always has a more destructive effect on any society than does external pressures. During civil unrest, like the kind Amalickiah caused among the Nephites, each side of the equation has an intimate understanding of the inner workings of society. Battling foreigners, any nation has an automatic patriotic understanding, shared history, culture, and identity. The enemy is very clear. When civil division arises, all those identifying factors still exist creating confusion and strife that can lead to centuries of war, hence the Nephite-Lamanite affair in the Book of Mormon.
Lehi’s death around 590 b.c. led to the first civil war that brought about the two warring nations of Nephites and Lamanites. From that rift, many subcultures formed that supported Nephite culture or warred against it—leading the Nephites to associate all anti-Nephite groups with the Lamanites.
Amalickiah, along with a number of lower judges wanted to have power and authority not assigned to their caste. Within Nephite society, though there existed democratic influences, the leadership positions passed to the next leader through heredity. When the position of Chief Judge arose, the candidates for the vacant position generally were the sons of sitting or former officials. The only time elections took place occurred when more than one son vied for office; otherwise, the eldest capable son inherited the office.
In Nephite society, the people were free to choose from the list provided them when elections occurred unlike in US politics where any person could seek the office of president within established parameters. Nephite freedom focused on the right to worship and participate in government when it was warranted. Consequently, just like US citizens, Nephites wanted the right to enjoy their rights and peace with their property and family.
In the infancy of the United States, a desperate cry to coronate George Washington as a new king to rule the liberated land as a limited Monarchy by Colonel Lewis Nicola went to Washington for his consideration. Nicola worried that he and his men would not receive their pay/pensions from Congress because of the lack of federal power during those years before the Constitution.
Nicola may have represented a group of supporters of this idea, but Washington in his response to this communique from Nicola, just as Moroni did to Amalikiah, expressed his thoughts and feelings in certainty:
"Be assured Sir," wrote Washington, "no occurrence in the course of the War, has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the Army as you have expressed, and I must view with abhorrence, and reprehend with severity."1
Washington had fought for the way to uproot the powers of monarchy only to learn that some in his company hinted at throwing the yoke of it back onto the free nation!
"I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have given encouragement to an address which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my Country" he concluded incredulously. Washingon continued,"If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable."1
Neither then with the Nephites or in early US history did those who strove for liberty think it better to have a king when each man could fight together for every person be the king of his (or queen of her) own liberty.
- Acts of Captain Moroni: Rise of Liberty - Freedom
This article covers the challenges faced by a nation, more particularly the commanding officer of the military of this nation and how he dealt with the political intrigue. Part B
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson