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Spirit of America is 'liberty and justice for all'

PROVO, Utah — America is a country charged with the heavy responsibility of preserving the ideal of "Liberty and Justice for All," said Elder John H. Groberg. "America is a country — but it is also an ideal. To preserve America we must preserve this ideal."

Speaking July 7 in the Marriott Center on the campus of Brigham Young University, Elder Groberg of the Seventy addressed more than 16,000 students and area residents as part of the annual American Freedom Festival Fireside.

"Remove the ideal of Liberty and Justice for All and do you have America? I think not," he said. "True Americans are those who seek to enthrone God in their hearts and strive to follow His teachings, as they understand them. Enemies of America are those who knowingly or unknowingly seek (which is often the case) to dethrone God and substitute man's theories for God's truths."

Speaking in the first Freedom Festival Fireside since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Elder Groberg said, "This is the Spirit of America — Liberty and Justice for All. Not for just a few, for all. This marvelous ideal comes from God who sent His Son to sacrifice His life for all mankind — not just a few.

"We became a nation through divine intervention," he said. "We espoused the goal of Liberty and Justice for All through divine inspiration. We continue our journey to achieve that goal through divine help."

By mixing video clips with his message, Elder Groberg used narration to dramatize the feelings and thoughts of such historical figures as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

"To the degree we seek and qualify for God's help we move toward our ideal," he said. "To the degree we leave God out of our lives individually or as a nation we move away from it. As fellow Americans, I ask you: Are you personally seeking this ideal? Do you ask God in prayer to help you overcome any prejudices or laziness you may have? Do you live a life that will allow Him to answer your prayers? It will take the best effort of all of us, personally and as a nation, but we will achieve it. It is our duty and our destiny.

"Yes, the destiny of America and of this ideal are entrusted to us," he said. "Never underestimate the enormous value of a righteous person. . . . Are you helping or hurting America by the way you are living? And praying?" he asked.

America has always had enemies, both from within and without, he continued. "But God is wiser and more powerful than all these enemies. In war parlance, He is our 'secret weapon.' Since He is Almighty no one can stand long against Him.

"Today, we are again threatened from within and without. We need His help. We are not self-sufficient. We must call upon His Almighty power to deliver us from our modern-day enemies."

Elder Groberg described the "cunning of those seeking to inflict harm on America," and said they are "determined and ruthless. Killing innocent civilians in the twin towers is but one example of their warped mentality.

"There will be other attempts," he continued. "Individual acts may succeed but their overall agenda will fail so long as there are enough God-fearing Americans to merit His help. God's help is more powerful than guns or bombs, faster than the best planes or ships. . . . Weapons and manpower are needful, and we must use them to the best of our ability," he said, "but our secret weapon — God's help — is our only sure defense.

"How grateful we should be to have a God-fearing man in the White House today," he said, urging the audience to watch a video clip of President George W. Bush's "recent words on prayer, rooted in the best of our nation's history."

Elder Groberg then turned his attention to "another test in our journey toward Liberty and Justice for All."

"Many new immigrants are coming to America from countries, cultures and races with which we may not be familiar," he said. "When people are 'different' we tend to be suspicious. . . . We must treat them with love and respect and have faith in their ability to become true Americans who seek the same ideal.

"As these new immigrants worship God, they are helping America, not hurting it. It is not the color of one's skin nor the language one speaks that makes one an American. It is the 'color' of his heart."

Elder Groberg told how he grew up in Idaho during the Great Depression. "I seldom saw anyone who looked, spoke, believed or thought different from me. I don't believe I was prejudiced, but I certainly was uninformed and lacked experience. None of us feel we are prejudiced, but many of us are uninformed and lack experience with faithful God-fearing people from other ethnic backgrounds."

He then told of his mission experience in Tonga. "At first I was scared and unsure of myself, but with the great love and sincere prayers of the wonderful island people I lived among I soon felt at home. I came to love my companion, Feki Po'uha, as a true brother. See if you can feel his sincerity and love," he said, introducing a video clip from the movie "Other Side of Heaven" which portrays his mission experiences.

"I not only learned to love Feki and the Tongan people and see them as my equals, but I recognize them as my superiors in many ways — especially spiritual and musical," he said.

"Future danger will not come from people's appearance, but from the set of their hearts. . . . There are many battles ahead — physical, mental and spiritual. I am sure we will need and receive great help from many modern-day 'stripling warriors.'

"We don't have as much to fear from new immigrants, the majority of whom are hard-working, God-fearing, family-loving people, as we do from the few birth Americans who don't work very hard, treat their family commitments lightly, think of military service as 'below them,' are intoxicated with pleasure seeking, deal in drugs and even alter financial records for personal gain."

Elder Groberg closed his comments by reaffirming, "God is in charge of this world. . . . Satan wants to destroy America" by getting others to physically destroy, or secularists to deny God and thus "weaken us," or by trying to "get us to be half-hearted about our commitments to God, family and country.

"Let us not give in. Let us give our whole hearts to God, to family and to country. . . . After we have done all we can He will step in and fill the breach."

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