Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake. (Alma 46:10)
Cunning device mentioned here, but not elaborated on at all, beyond mentioning flatteries. It is as though Amalickiah was suspected to have been part of some sort of chicanery, but he did not seem obviously connected to it except in trying to take advantage of it by riding a tide of public feeling.
Perhaps we must look to Alma 47 (the story of betrayal and murder among the Lamanites) for a sample of the kind of cunning device that Amalickiah may have used among the Nephites. Since Amalickaih was leading away church members and lower judges, he may have staged situations to make it look like church members following him were better than those who didn’t or priests and teachers in the church. He may have staged court cases to make it look like the lower judges were wiser and fairer than the higher judges of the land. Or perhaps Amalickiah used some sort of staged atrocity to put the church in a bad light. Perhaps he used some sort of false flag attack on his people, framing the church and bringing the free government into disrepute to make it look as though choosing him as a leader was the only rational choice.
Under the supposition that Amalickiah tried to make the church look bad, Captain Moroni would have to do something to demonstrate that the church was not responsible. The Title of Liberty would make obvious to everyone what values the church members espoused.
The words of those wanting to maintain that title as they rent their clothes and made a covenant was very specific—“We covenant that we will be destroyed if we fall into transgression.” The covenantal acceptance of destruction as a penalty for sin seems very strange… unless you see it in the context of a group publicly declaring under oath that they had nothing to do with some evil act that may have been attributed to them. This oath would also make Amalickiah’s followers doubt the justice of their own cause, especially if their arguments were based on supposition that the church and the free government were bad.