1. Behold, I am Orel and I am the son of Shachal, who did dwell in the land of Middoni; and I do now at this time dwell in the land of Jershon; for I am of the people of Ammon, and I live within the household of mine inheritance, which I did receive from the Nephites.
2. And this inheritance I did receive in the sixteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; and it did come by lawful grant of the judges who did portion the land for our sakes after the victory over the Lamanites; for these are they of whom we sought no more to take up the sword against.
3. And the people of Nephi, having bestowed this land unto us did stand as protectors that we might retain our covenants. For which we did offer gratitude unto the Nephites and unto God. And we do honor God for this mercy with fasting and prayer even unto this day.
4. Yea, and our people observe to keep the commandments of the Lord as it is taught from the mouths of the Beloved Prophets, and according to the Law of Moses, for the Prophets teach the Law of Moses; and they doth teach that it should be kept until the time that it should be fulfilled.
5. And thus the people did have no disturbances from without their borders in all the sixteenth year of the Reign of the Judges over the people of Nephi.
6. And it came to pass that in the commencement of the seventeenth year of the Reign of the Judges, there was continual peace, for the people were quick to remember the tragedies and sufferings of those who had been slain.
7. But in the latter end of the seventeenth year, there was a new conversation that did stir among the people; some saying that this was a conversation of contention and ill begotten, for it did give voice among the people who began to question the Beloved Prophets.
8. And others saying that this was a conversation of essential need and was good as it proceeded forth among the people, for it did cause the people to reflect inward and reconsider the meaning of their prosperity; and thus it did kindle a conversation of enlightenment amongst them.
9. They did consider anew the teachings that were previously held as traditions; whether these teachings were right or whether these teachings were wrong; yea, they did revisit these things with new eyes and a new heart.
10. Yet there was one man among them who dwelt in the land of Zarahemla; and it was he who was remembered more particularly and his voice did rise above the others for they found his teachings persuasive. And still for others, they found his words more threatening, by the cause of his rational questions which did catch them in their traditions, to consider that which they had not considered before.
11. Now there was no law against a man’s Belief; for it was strictly contrary to their understanding of the nature of God. For they taught amongst themselves that God upheld all his creations with equal respect and opportunity. Wherefore the people established the laws that there could be no law which should drag any man down to unequal grounds.
12. For thus saith the scriptures: The greatest creators of heaven do cherish all creations, And they hold none greater than another; for all are of their creation; And they do answer the petitions of all, even of the smallest of creations that walks upon the earth.
13. Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege to petition God and receive counsel unto himself how he might please the Creator of Heaven and Earth. And it was incumbent upon that man to serve God according to the words which God did write within the heart and the mind of that man. Now for this purpose, a man was free under the law to serve God according to his own beliefs; that is, according to his own understanding of the voice of God.
14. Yet for that man who did not believe there was any God, he too had privilege under the law. For the law protected all souls, granting them freedom to act according to their conscience. And such a man as did not believe in God was nevertheless free to follow the dictates of his own conscience and to abide by the morality which did dwell within his heart.
15. But if any man murdered he was punished unto death, and he was punished even if he believed his acts were received by the voice of God; as also was that man who did murder for the sake of jealousy or anger.
16. And if he robbed he was also punished, even if he taketh according to that which the voice of his God declared belongeth unto him. Likewise, in as much as a man did rob according to the hunger of his greed, he too was punished according to the law.
17. And if either man committed adultery he was also punished; yea for any wickedness they were punished.
18. For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief. Therefore a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done.
19. Which crimes were established by the voice of the people, who did not allow for any unjust nor any cruel act to be brought down upon another man. And the Judges did enforce no law save it be that which was established by the people. Wherefore the Judges were subject to the people.
20. And the Priests did teach according to the manner of their beliefs, and enforced no laws upon the people, leaving all to choose according to their own conscience. And the Teachers did preach according to their knowledge, enforcing no emotion upon the hearts of the people, leaving them to rationalize according to their own understanding.
21. And if the people did unite in their knowledge according to that which is just and that which is merciful and that which is reasonable, then they could establish the law, but not unto excess against the smaller number of the people.
22. And in the forming of any law, at all times upholding the principle of guidance that belongeth unto all laws: that ye do unto others as ye would have done unto you.
23. Now this was the manner of law by which the people where made free; that they might prosper in the land and enjoy their privileges, to live according to their own respective beliefs.
24. And no man’s beliefs could exonerate nor denigrate any man under the law. For all did act according to their beliefs, yet no man was punished for his belief. Therefore all men were on equal grounds according to the law.