We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.— Twelfth Article of Faith
Being a good citizen means more than just obeying the laws of the land. It also means being actively involved in making our community the best possible place for all to live. As we become good citizens of our community, we are doing the will of our Heavenly Father in that regard.
Discuss with your family what it would be like to live in a country where citizens do not obey the laws of the land.
Use the following questions and include your own to help in the discussion:
What would happen if no one obeyed the traffic laws?
Would the people be safe on the streets at night or in the parks? Why?
What would happen without laws to protect people’s possessions and property?
How would you feel about living in such a country?
Explain to your family that without law-abiding citizens, your country would not be a safe place to live and only the strongest would survive.
Contrast this imaginary country without obedient citizens with a real city where everyone cared for each other and all obeyed the law. Let a family member read Moses 7:18–21, or tell the story of the city of Enoch in your own words.
How would you feel about living in this city? Why? Is there anything you as a family can do to make your city or country a better place to live? Read the twelfth article of faith and discuss why you think our Heavenly Father wants us to be good citizens.
Review some of the laws that affect you and your family such as traffic laws, school laws, city laws, tax laws.
What is the role of a good citizen in relationship to these laws?
Have your family read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 58:21, and discuss it. Explain that being a good citizen is more than just obeying the law. It means taking an active part in the community and working to make it the best possible place for all to live. (See Mosiah 2:17.)
What are some of the ways we can do this? (Finding and voting for good leaders, supporting improvements in laws, volunteering to help on local civic boards and committees, serving in civic groups, helping to improve the community in different ways. See D&C 98:8–10.)
Have family members find examples of good citizens in the newspaper or magazines or think of someone in your city, at work, or in school who would qualify as a good citizen. Have them explain why the person they chose is a good citizen.
Plan a trip to a meeting of a local school board, city council, or planning commission. Learn in advance who the members of the governing body are. Get a copy of the meeting agenda. Discuss the procedures the body will follow in conducting the meeting and how they hear from citizens like you. Discuss why some of the business items on the agenda have been placed there.
Think of a family project to help your own community in an active way (such as a neighborhood clean-up campaign). You could have a contest to see who could pick up the most cans, paper, etc. You may want to coordinate this activity with local officials. (They may suggest a particular place or job area where your family could be of the most service.)
Present a story or skit about the early days of your country or learn together about some of your country’s early leaders. Tell what motivated them to do what they did.
Read Alma 46 and discuss Moroni and his title of liberty. Show your country’s flag or a picture of it. Have someone tell what the design on the flag means.
You might plan to let your family see the swearing in of a new citizen. If possible, have one of these new citizens talk to your family and tell what it means to become a citizen.
Plan a trip to a site important in the history of your country, state or province, or city (such as a battlefield, a fort or outpost, early homesite or settlement, home of distinguished person, or government building). Discuss what took place there. Try to learn something about the men and women who contributed to the event that gave historical significance to the site. What kind of people were they? Discuss the sacrifices that are necessary to make possible the comforts we enjoy today.
Learn the words of and sing your national anthem for a closing song.
Matthew 7:12 (The Golden Rule.)
Doctrine and Covenants 58:22 (Be subject to the powers that be.)
Doctrine and Covenants 134 (Statement of belief on governments and laws.)
See “Citizenship” in the Topical Guide.
Patriotic songs of your land.