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Social Justice

Liberals in many religious traditions use the expressions "social justice" or "peace and justice" to refer to their faith-based activism around issues such as poverty, discrimination, exploitation of workers, war, or the environment. Social justice is more than charitable aid. It means working for change in how the human family organizes itself politically and economically.

Although not so well known, Mormonism, too, has a social justice tradition. Latter-day revelation enjoins the Saints to "plead the cause of the poor and the needy" (D&C 124:75). The Book of Mormon echoes the social justice teachings of the Hebrew prophets, warning that the Lord will bring judgment on those who "oppress the hireling in his wages" (3 Ne. 24:5). Rejecting distinctions by race or gender, God requires that "there should be an equality among all" (2 Ne. 26:33; Mosiah 27:3). The scriptures commend democracy and constitutional law as means to protect human rights (Mosiah 29:26; D&C 98:5; 101:77), while condemning inequity, exploitation, and violence (2 Ne. 20:1-2; D&C 38:26; Moses 8:28). The Saints are challenged to “renounce war and proclaim peace” (D&C 98:16). We are taught that God has made human beings stewards of the earth, with a charge to use its resources equitably, “with judgment, not to excess” (D&C 59:20; 104:14-18).

Much of this material is adapted from the "Mission Statement" and "Statement of Principles" of Mormons for Equality and Social Justice (MESJ).  LiberalMormon.net admires but is not connected to MESJ.

B. H. Roberts: The hosts of men that are engaged in the several trades have found it necessary in some way or other to protect themselves, that they may command a reasonable price for that labor. . . . [W]hatever the excesses may be, and however much we may regret them, nevertheless organization and union on the part of labor became an absolute necessity to the working masses.
Conference Report, April 1903, 97

Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay: The Church is and must be against war. . . . It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.

Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 6:158

Hugh B. Brown: It is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship. . . . We call upon all men, everywhere, both within and outside the Church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God's children.

Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 91

Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney: Women, as daughters of God, should have without discrimination every political, economic, and educational opportunity.

From a First Presidency letter of 12 Oct. 1978, in Ensign, Mar. 1980, 19

Richard E. Johnson: We might gain valuable insight by broadening the measure of morality beyond the traditional sins to include such variables as poverty, homelessness, and socioeconomic inequality. Perhaps the central moral problem of our time is primarily economic or materialistic, involving behavior that is more often than not perfectly legal and socially acceptable.

"No Poor among Us?" in Women Steadfast in Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 166

Alexander B. Morrison: Our current way of life is simply environmentally unsustainable. The immensely complex and still not fully understood systems that sustain life on earth are being destroyed by human activities.

Visions of Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 77-78

Read more at mesj.org.  LiberalMormon.net admires but is not connected to MESJ.

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.