Our pal Aaron R has noted that while “the D&C teaches that the [US] Constitution is inspired,” such rhetoric is “conspicuously absent in British Mormon religious discourse.” He further notes that Armand Mauss has recently argued that “it these types of doctrines which inhibit Church growth in some areas and he subsequently calls for reinterpretations of these doctrines.”
I have had my own run-ins with hyper American patriotism in what is supposed to be an international church. Nonetheless, I do not believe there is a need for Mormonism to downplay the inspired nature of the Constitution. The mistake is in making it Exhibit A in American exceptionalism, as if because the American founding was inspired, nothing else comes close. There is a way to proclaim 1776 without alienating the world, and President Obama on his visit to London just nailed it. Witness:
Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders.
Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in the elected parliament that’s gathered here today.
What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world. But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic. As Winston Churchill said, the “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”
And this is not just an Anglo-American project:
[W]e have learned better than most that the longing for freedom and human dignity is not English or American or Western — it is universal, and it beats in every heart . . .
[W]e believe not simply in the rights of nations, but the rights of citizens. That is the beacon that guided us through our fight against fascism and our twilight struggle against communism. And today, that idea is being put to the test in the Middle East and North Africa. In country after country, people are mobilizing to free themselves from the grip of an iron fist.