13 January 2024

Freedom vs. Liberty from an LDS Perspective

Sadly, "liberty" and "freedom" are just words to too many people. They are too often just catch words used in conversation that are, many times, used out of context and interchangeably without the knowledge of their true meaning or even the desire to know.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these words have a particularly strong meaning to me, as it should to all Latter-day Saints (read Alma 12 through 24 in the Book of Mormon.) Virtually every president of our church and many of the other brethren have spoken on this topic repeatedly throughout the history of the Church. Freedom is mentioned 47 times in the Book of Mormon and liberty, 28 times. As Latter-day Saints, we should set the bar for others in the proper usage of these words by demonstrating our love and knowledge of these sacred principles every time we get the opportunity. 

OK, so the implication above is that the two words should not be used interchangeably, and I'm sure at least a few of you are wondering why. What's the difference?

Put simply, the liberty, or liberties that you enjoy are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Liberty allows you to think, act, speak, write and worship as you choose, within certain confines of the law.

Freedom, on the other hand, means unconfined. That you are free to do as you please, regardless of consequences. You are free to run red lights, drive 50 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, rob a bank, or take a deer out of season. However, you must understand that if you do these things and get caught, you are subject to lose both your freedom and certain liberties.

No, it's not nit-picking. It's a real thing, and it matters how you use those words.

I frequently hear people thank their Heavenly Father for their freedoms during a prayer. No. You don't have "freedoms." You have freedom... singular. But you have multiple liberties within the liberty granted by the founding documents.

Teach your children, friends, and neighbors the difference! We owe it to the Founders.

Incidentally, "freemen" is mentioned at least 8 times in the BoM. We were freemen long before we were Americans.