Yesterday, in Elders Quorum, we discussed Elder Perry's talk in the last General Conference. Elder Perry's talk was based off of thoughts made by Thoreau. Thoreau was a great American...but he was also a criminal.
He wrote an essay on civil disobedience. Peaceful rebellion against false government practices. Thoreau himself spent a night in jail for refusing to pay taxes (he didn't want to support slavery and the Mexican-American war).
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Dalai Lama, and many others have practiced civil disobedience, following Thoreau's example.
People who practice civil disobedience do so peacefully. They do so understanding that they may be thrown in jail, or even beaten or killed. They do so to set an example, to show that a government practice is wrong, to help bring public awareness to an important issue.
Today, like in the past, many who practice civil disobedience are criticized. People who believe, mistakenly, that the government is always right, call these people sinners. They are not sinners. They are rebels. They follow a higher law than man's. They deserve our respect, not our criticism.
Joseph Smith practiced civil disobedience. He tried to escape from jail. He did other legally dubious things for a higher purpose.
Our founding fathers practiced civil disobedience. The Boston Tea Party is a great example. So is just about everything else they did to separate themselves from Great Britain.
Christ himself practiced civil disobedience. His family illegally fled from the government as the government killed all the other young male children. He went against Jewish law and picked and ate corn on the Sabbath; he also healed on the Sabbath. He cast out the money-changers in the temple.
May we all have the courage and wisdom to engage in civil disobedience when the circumstances warrant it.