Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Freedom of Speech

            The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday concerns Freedom of Speech. In particular, it is to discuss whether or not a state can force crisis pregnancy centers to advertise the state’s free abortion program. This is exactly what California is trying to do, and the centers fought back in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The state is demanding that the pregnancy centers advertise for free abortion AND to include a long disclaimer in up to 13 languages. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court for resolution.

            The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Elizabeth Slattery at The Daily Signal reports that three attorneys appeared before the Justices, one representing the pregnancy centers, one representing the State of California, and one representing the Federal Government but supporting neither side. She writes that the “justices peppered all three advocates with questions.” She shares what she calls “seven key exchanges” that took place in the court room. She closes with these paragraphs.

After an hour of argument, some justices appeared to be concerned about the burden the California law places on free speech, and the fact that it clearly targets pro-life pregnancy centers. Even liberal justices seemed troubled by the arduous requirements of this law.

Now the justices will consider how to rule, and issue an opinion by the end of June. Hopefully, the court will rule in favor of the challengers and recognize that states may not impose their views on highly controversial political issues, such as abortion, on private entities.

            It is anyone’s guess as to how the justices will rule on this case. It seems to me that California has a lot of gumption. Why should centers that are in the business to help pregnant mothers have healthy babies be forced to advertise the killing of babies? It does not make sense, but most of the news out of California these days does not make sense. Hopefully, the justices will in favor of the pregnancy centers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Need for Moral Values

            My long-time readers know that I have a lot of respect for Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University. I first heard him express his ideas when he served as a guest host for Rush Limbaugh many years ago. His statements were simple statements of common sense, and he was not afraid to speak to the people of his race as a grandfather or uncle would speak to young relatives. Today I refer to a recent article by Williams and hope that you will follow the link to his article.

            Williams titled his article, “The Real Reason We Have Mass Shootings.” In an effort to help his readers understand that mass murders at schools are a fairly new happening, Williams reminds his readers there was more availability to guns in earlier years without mass murders. He shares the FBI statistic for “2016 that rifles accounted for 368 of the 17,250 homicides in the U.S. in that year.” This means that restrictions on the AR-15 would do little to lower the homicide rate. He also calls out the gun control movement for knowing this statistic to be true even while they call “for more restrictive gun laws [which] are part of a larger strategy to outlaw gun ownership.” He then states his claim.

Gun ownership is not our problem. Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns. That decline includes disrespect for those in authority, disrespect for oneself, little accountability for anti-social behavior, and a scuttling of religious teachings that reinforced moral values….

During my primary and secondary schooling, from 1942 to 1954, the only time one saw a policeman in school was during an assembly period where we had to listen to a boring lecture on safety. Our ancestors also wouldn’t believe that we’re now debating whether teachers should be armed.

            Williams and I enjoyed childhood and youth in about the same time period. He can remember seeing cops in his school for assemblies, but I do not remember any cops in our schools. There was no need for cops in the schools because we respected the authority of the principle and teachers. We knew that if we got in trouble at school, we would be in bigger trouble at home. We were taught right from wrong, and we were expected to show good behavior at all times.

            The family, school, and church worked together to teach us correct principles, and they expected us to live by those principles. The mass murders in our schools are a direct result of the loss of moral values in our society. The solution is to bring back the teaching of respect for authority figures and obedience to rules and laws. This means teaching the rising generation the basic moral values of yesteryear.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Army of Islam

            A semi-official newspaper in Turkey recently called for an “Army of Islam.” This army would be formed from 57 Muslim nations to “besiege and attack Israel.” If such an army was created, it would be as large as the total population of Israel as well as the largest army on earth.

The report came just ahead of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and was published under the headline “What if an Army of Islam was formed against Israel?” It was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

But it wasn’t a rhetorical question. It was actually a suggestion to combine the military forces of all Islamic countries to overwhelm the Israeli army in manpower, budget and equipment – even boasting with statistics….

It also advocates establishing joint bases for the army’s ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel, while noting that Pakistan, as the only nuclear country, has “a special status” among the OIC countries….

            I do not know what happened in my readers’ minds when they read the above information. I can tell you that my mind went “Whoa! This sounds serious!” Then my mind went immediately to the scriptures and the battle of Gog and Magog. I stopped at the Bible Dictionary and found the following information under “Gog.”

King of Magog, whose invasion of Israel was prophesied by Ezekiel (Ezek. 38; 39). The prophecy points to a time when the heathen nations of the north would set themselves against the people of God and would be defeated, and led to recognize Jehovah as King. All this appears to be at the second coming of the Lord. Another battle, called the battle of Gog and Magog, will occur at the end of the 1,000 years. This is described by John in Rev. 20:7-9; see also D&C 88:111-116.

            So Gog is the name of the king of land of Magog, and he will lead an attack on Israel. The attacking army will be defeated, and the attackers will be forced to recognize Jesus Christ as King. The last two references have to do with the battle that will take place at the end of the Millennium, so I went to Ezekiel to find the prophecy. The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel telling him to tell Gog, of the land of Magog:

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee …. 
And I will turn thee back and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords….

… In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:

And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes….

And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face….

Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 38:3, 4, 14-16, 18, 23).

            I do not know of any nations today that fight with horses, shields, and swords, but I recognize that Ezekiel would not have known what to call tanks, trucks, jets, and armored vehicles. Those words were probably not in his vocabulary. However, we can believe that there will be “a great company” and “a mighty army” that will be so large that it will cover the land like a cloud. We can also believe that it will happen in the “latter days” – our day.

            Ezekiel 39 tells of the cleanup work to be done. There will be so many weapons of war that it will take seven years to burn all the equipment. It will also take seven months to bury all the dead.

            I would warn those who are calling for an Army of Islam to attack Israel that they probably should reconsider their call. They should look at history and understand that God fights on the side of His people. Those who fight against Israel seldom prosper, and the results of this great battle have already been foretold. The time is coming when all the earth will recognize that Jesus Christ is King!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Louis Farrakhan Sr.

            Louis Farrakhan Sr. was born as Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933. He is a religious leader in the United States and was formerly known as Louis X. He is the leader of a religious group known as the Nation of Islam (NOI). He is an African-American activist and a social commentator. He has served as a minister in major mosques that are located in Boston and Harlem.

            Farrakhan must also be an anti-Semite because his Nation of Islam is anti-Semitic. He operates on the fringes of politics in the United States. He is friends with Barack Obama and the members of the Black Caucus in Congress. He is somehow involved in the annual Women’s March and the recent school walkout.

            Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN) recently introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that condemned Farrakhan for “promoting ideas that create animosity and anger” aimed at Jewish Americans and Judaism, and condemning “all manifestations of expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and ethnic or religious intolerance.”

            Nate Jackson at The Patriot Post says that the resolution is a “politically shrewd move, because so many Democrats just can’t bring themselves to denounce Farrakhan.” Jackson continues by sharing information on the people who support Farrakhan – “the entire Democrat Party Democrats is slouching towards anti-Semitism.”

That became even more clear Monday when Black Lives Matter, the New Black Panther Party and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network led a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill not about denouncing Farrakhan’s racism but to block Rokita’s resolution condemning it. Instead, these rabble rousers want a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for his perceived racism.

            Jackson continues to give more information in his article that you can find here. I decided to make Farrakhan the VIP for this week, not to honor him but to bring notice to stay clear of him. There is no room in America for racism of any kind – not even anti-Semitism!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Voter Fraud

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns voter fraud. Leftists lost bad in the 2016 election and have been actively working to make sure that they do not lose again. One way that they hope to win is by the votes of people who are not eligible to vote under the laws of the United States. Laws do not seem to matter to leftists because they tend to do whatever they want to do.

            Michael Bargo, Jr. posted an article on American Thinker about various ways that leftists seek to control the vote. He explains that after the Civil War whites in the southern states tried to stop freed slaves from voting. They instituted certain rules for Blacks that did not apply to anyone else, such as the requirement to recite the Gettysburg Address. Now they are using sanctuary cities to draw illegals to bolster their rolls. Bargo continues with these words.

But now times have changed, and those cities that call themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigration are engaged in a new vote fraud scheme: to enable “noncitizens” to vote. It’s a combination of two things: cheating immigration rules and cheating citizenship rules in order to establish new methods of vote fraud. This strategy is the polar opposite of the post-Civil War strategy: the methods of vote suppression have now become methods of vote enabling. Persons who are not citizens are now being allowed and fraudulently authorized to go to polling places and vote, violating all federal election laws. Here’s how it came about.

After losing the 2016 presidential election, Democrats were more determined than ever to regain the electoral strength in their big metropolitan areas. They made their big metropolitan areas into sanctuaries for one reason: all the big cities have been controlled by the Democratic National Machine, and all have been losing population since 1950. In order to restore the numbers of voters they need to win state and national elections, they needed more people.

            The article continues with numerous details about how leftists enable voter fraud. They do not care what happens to the country. All they want is to be in power, and they do not care how they obtain that power. The article is an interesting read because it leads to understanding of what has happened in the past as well as what could happen in the future.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Reaching Perfection

            I finished studying the writings of the Apostle Paul and moved into the writings of the Apostle James. One of the first things that I learned – or possibly relearned – is that this James is the half-brother to Jesus Christ and may possibly be the oldest son of Mary and Joseph. (See Matthew 13:55.)

            It took some time for James to accept that his brother was the Son of God. I think that I might have the same problem if one of my brothers started claiming to be divine. However, like James, I would be totally convinced if the resurrected Christ appeared to me!  We know that James was converted because he later became an Apostle of Jesus Christ and the first bishop of the Church in Jerusalem. (See Acts 12:17.)

            The writings of James show that he was a humble man. He could have been prideful and had the attitude, “I am the brother of Christ.” However, he began his epistle with the words, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). This simple sentence shows his humility even though he most likely had great influence as the brother of Christ as well as the held high offices that he held in the His church.

            Since James was the bishop in Jerusalem, he most likely wrote his epistle from Jerusalem. Unlike Paul, he wrote his epistle to the general church members rather than to members in specific locations. He addressed his epistle “to the twelve tribes which are scattered aboard” (James 1:1). This means that he was addressing people in all ages and not just those of his own day.

            James, the brother of Christ, was most likely stoned to death in A.D. 62 by order of the Sanhedrin. Therefore, he wrote his epistle prior to that time and most likely sometime between A.D. 45 and 60.

            As I read the book of James, I was impressed with his teachings. He covered a variety of topics, which may mean that his writings were taken from numerous sermons. The thing that stands out to me is his emphasis on living the principles of the Gospel. In fact, he emphasized the importance of not only knowing the gospel but on living it. Here are just a few of his teachings that emphasize works as well as faith.

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works (James 1:17-18).

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22).

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:26).

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17).

            James throws into the mix some teachings about speech. He compares the tongue to a bit in the mouth of a horse or the helm of a ship. He explains that we put a bit in the mouth of a horse in order to control the animal, and we use a fairly small helm to control the direction of a large ship. He says that the tongue is able to control the body even though it is so small.

For in many things we offend [meaning stumble or err] all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:2).

            I understand from this verse that we must learn to control our tongues – meaning the words that we say – in order to become perfect. Many of us may be frightened by the commandment to become perfect, but there is no reason why we should. This morning I listened to a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 2017 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He titled his talk, “Be Ye Therefore Perfect – Eventually.” 

            Elder Holland reminds his listeners that the New Testament meaning for the word perfection is to be finished or complete in our refinement. Jesus Christ is the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, but He made it possible for all of us to become perfect some time in eternity. No mere mortal will reach perfection in this life, but we can move in that direction by living Christian principles. Elder Holland counsels us to refrain from tearing ourselves or others down in the process.

What I now say in no way denies or diminishes any commandment God has ever given us. I believe in His perfection, and I know we are His spiritual sons and daughters with divine potential to become as He is. I also know that, as children of God, we should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become. No! With a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness always in our hearts, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include getting ulcers or anorexia, feeling depressed or demolishing our self-esteem. That is not what the Lord wants for Primary children or anyone else who honestly sings, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.”

To put this issue in context, may I remind all of us that we live in a fallen world and for now we are a fallen people. We are in the telestial kingdom; that is spelled with a t, not a c. As President Russell M. Nelson has taught, here in mortality perfection is still “pending.”

So I believe that Jesus did not intend His sermon on this subject to be a verbal hammer for battering us about our shortcomings. No, I believe He intended it to be a tribute to who and what God the Eternal Father is and what we can achieve with Him in eternity….

            Elder Holland continues by counseling us to focus on the achievements of the Father and the Son and stop dwelling on our own failures. We should recognize the magnificence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We should love them, admire them, and seek to become like them. “Our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from heaven – we can’t `earn’ it. Thus, the grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sorrow and sin and death but also salvation from our own persistent self-criticism….”

My brothers and sisters, except for Jesus, there have been no flawless performances on this earthly journey we are pursuing, so while in mortality let’s strive for steady improvement without obsessing over what behavioral scientists call “toxic perfectionism.” We should avoid that latter excessive expectation of ourselves and of others….

Brothers and sisters, every one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human. May we refuse to let our own mortal follies, and the inevitable shortcomings of even the best men and women around us, make us cynical about the truths of the gospel, the truthfulness of the Church, our hope for our future, or the possibility of godliness. If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete – which is the New Testament meaning of perfection.

            James and Elder Holland encourage us to live the teachings of Jesus Christ to the best of our ability. However, we must not let our human failings discourage us and cause us to waiver or leave the straight and narrow path. We must continue to move toward the eventual goal of perfection as we cling to the word of God, exercise our faith, and show our faith by our works. In other words, we must live the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Teach the Second Amendment

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when the rising generation is taught the importance of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment acknowledges the right of We the People to protect ourselves from all dangers, including a rogue government. If parents want to protect their children from the indoctrination of leftists, then they must teach correct principles, with the right to self-protection being one of the most important.

            This week we saw and/or experienced what happens when people with an agenda is able to convince the rising generation to act. The same people who organized and implemented the Women’s March – think pink pussy hats – are the ones who convinced students to walk out of class in support of gun control. I have to give these organizers credit because they are apparently ditching the pink hats for the 2018 Women’s March.

            It seems that some of the rising generation was able to resist the indoctrination and stood firm on their principles. However, they were few, and some of them were punished. An unidentified student at the New Prague High School in Minnesota walked out of his high school with a sign that read, “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.” He was escorted off the school grounds by the principal because he did not have the required permission 24 hours in advance.

            A student in Washington State had the courage to address the students who walked out of her high school. She told her peers that they should use their energy to make a positive change. She expressed her belief that they should shun bullying and be more kind and accepting in order to make less popular students feel accepted and love.

            We can learn much from these two examples, but we must understand that they do not stand alone. However, we must recognize that they stand because they have courage. They have courage to stand alone because they have been taught correct principles and, therefore, are immune to the indoctrination of the left. Leftist have no concern for student safety but merely want to use this crisis to forward their agenda.

            This article by John G. Malcolm may be useful in teaching children about the Second Amendment. The article lists eight facts about gun violence in the United States.

1. Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.

2. The principal (should be principle) public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.

3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.

4. Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.

5. Higher-rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.

6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.

7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.

8. Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.

            Malcolm continues his article by explaining each of the facts and sharing information to prove the truthfulness of the fact. I particularly like this statistic under Fact #1: “The number of nonfatal firearm crimes committed in 2011 was one-sixth the number committed in 1993.” This is an interesting statistic because gun ownership continually increased over the period of time when Barack Obama was in office, yet the crimes decreased.

            These two states are found under Fact #2: “Almost two-thirds of America’s annual gun deaths are suicides,” and “Most gun-related crimes are carried out with illegally owned firearms – as much as 80 percent according to some estimates.” How would more gun control laws lower this percentage?

            This statement is found under Fact #4: “According to studies, almost all mass public shooters have extensive histories of mental health issues (whether delusional/psychiatric or depression/anger), disturbing behaviors, or interpersonal violence.” More gun control laws will not solve this problem, but better enforcement of the laws on the books could help. Helping people to feel more included could also help.

            This statement is found under Fact #5: “Switzerland and Israel have much higher gun ownership rates than the United States but experience far fewer homicides and have much lower violent crime rates than many European nations with strict gun control laws.” Citizens in the two countries openly carry rifles on the streets and guard their schools.

            This statement is under Fact #6: “`Gun freedom’ states that score poorly, like New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, and Oregon, have some of the lowest homicide rates. Conversely, `gun control-loving’ states that received high scores, like Maryland and Illinois, experience some of the nation’s highest homicide rates.” How can this statistic be true if gun control laws decrease shootings?

            Under Fact #7 we learn that “Barack Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess existing research on gun violence.” The following information was in the compiled reports: “… firearms are used defensively hundreds of thousands of times every year.” This is an important acknowledgement! The reports also “acknowledge that studies directly assessing the effect of actual defensive uses of guns have found `consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.” Crime victims who protect themselves are injured less often. 

           This statement in the report deserves its own paragraph: “Semi-automatic rifles (such as the AR-15) are commonly used as self-defense weapons in the homes of law-abiding citizens because they are easier to control than handguns, are more versatile than handguns, and offer the advantage of up to 30 rounds of protection.” Imagine that! People who buy rifles for self-protection have good reasons for preferring the AR-15! The author then lists seven different instances when a good guy with a gun stopped a crime.

            The rising generation is being influenced by the information that is shared in their communities. Parents and other leaders should insure that they receive correct information in order to resist the indoctrination by half-truths and non-truths. We can protect the Second Amendment, but we must teach the importance of it to the rising generation. When individuals understand the value of the right to keep and bear arms, they strengthen their families, communities, and nations.