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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nobody Born Gay

                The battle for the souls of men and women continues.  The LGBT movement claims that gay people are “born that way” in order to press their same-sex marriage agenda.  Society has been flooded with these claims even though the gay movement is a very, very small percentage of Americans.  Now information is coming to the forefront stating that gay historians do not believe anyone is “born that way.”

                Freelance writer David Benkof  claims that gay historians say no one is “born that way,” meaning nobody is born gay.  “Virtually no serious person disputes that in our society, people generally experience their gay or straight orientations as unchosen and unchangeable.  But the LGBT community goes further, portraying itself as a naturally arising subset of every human population, with homosexuality being etched into some people’s DNA. 

                “Are gays indeed born that way?  The question has immense political, social, and cultural repercussions.  For example, some of the debate applying the Constitution’s equal protection clause to gays and lesbians focuses on whether gayness is an inborn characteristic.  And the major argument gays and lesbians have made for religious affirmation has been, `God made me this way.’

                “Thus, if its proven sexual orientations are not innate, much of the scaffolding upon which today’s LGBT movement has been built would begin to crumble.  Given the stakes, most gays and lesbians are dismissive or hostile toward anyone who doesn’t think being gay is an essential, natural characteristic of some members of the human race.

                “But a surprising group of people doesn’t think that – namely, scholars of gay history and anthropology.  They’re almost all LGBT themselves, and they have decisively shown that gayness is a product of Western society originating about 150 years ago.

                “Using documents and field studies, these intrepid social scientists have examined the evidence of homosexuality in other times and cultures to see how the gay minority fared. But they’ve come up empty.  Sure, there’s substantial evidence of both discreet and open same-sex love and sex in pre-modern times.  But no society before the 19th century had a gay minority or even discernibly gay-oriented individuals.  (There weren’t straight people, either.  Only our society believes people are oriented in just one direction, as gay history pioneer Jonathan Ned Katz, formerly of Yale, explained in his book The Invention of Heterosexuality).

                “According to the experts on homosexuality across centuries and continents, being gay is a relatively recent social construction.  Few scholars with advanced degrees in anthropology or history who concentrate on homosexuality believe gays have existed in any cultures before or outside ours, much less in all cultures.  These professors work closely with an every-growing body of knowledge that directly contradicts `born that way’ ideology….”

                I do not claim to know what causes homosexuality in some people; in fact, I am somewhat confused about its causes.  I thought the problem was caused by the home environment until I heard that children of some of my dearest friends gay.  In fact, my own great-niece claimed she was gay and began a family with another woman.  A few years later, I learned that she was leaving her gay partner and marrying a man; I believe they have two children together.  Was she gay to begin with or not?  If she was gay, what caused her to become heterosexual?  Her genes surely did not change!

                I do not believe that anyone is born gay.  I believe that we lived with our Heavenly Father.  I believe that He has a plan by which all of His spirit children can achieve happiness.  I believe that part of that plan is marriage between one man and one woman and biological children.  Just as something can happen to prevent a man or a woman from having children, I suppose that something can happen to make someone to prefer a same-sex partner. 

                I do not believe God causes anyone to become gay.  I do believe that some children and youth can hear so much talk about same-sex attraction that they develop an unnatural interest in it.  I believe that some children and youth experience neglect, abuse, etc. that could warp their thinking.  I believe that proper parental examples and proper behavior from other adult mentors could go a long way toward helping our children and youth develop natural interest in the opposite sex.  I am grateful that scholars and historians are coming forth with information about the gay movement throughout history.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sam Houston

                Samuel Houston was born on March 2, 1793, in Timber Ridge Church, Virginia.  After his father passed away, the family moved to Tennessee when Samuel was thirteen years old.  They lived in a frontier settlement next to the Cherokee Indians; the Cherokee adopted Samuel into their tribe, and he lived with them for three years.

                Samuel eventually returned to the white settlement where he taught school.  When he was twenty years old he served under General Andrew Jackson in the battle of To-ho-po-ka.  He was wounded severely and given up for dead.  He headed to his mother’s house and reached home after almost two months of severe suffering.

                Houston was elected to Congress in 823; four years later he became the governor of Tennessee and was re-elected in another four years.  He married Eliza Allen, but she left him; he resigned his office and became an Indian trader in Texas.  He lived with the Indians for three years and resumed his Indian name of Colonnel.  He traveled to Washington, D.C. several times to plead for better treatment of the Indians.

                Houston took a beautiful Indian maiden named Tyania Rodgers as his wife and lived with her until he returned to civilization.  She desired to stay with her own people and died a few years later.

                Sam Houston became famous in Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico.  He organized a small army of Texans and led his badly outnumbered forces into battle against Mexico.  His greatest victory took place in April 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto.  He captured Mexican general Antonio de Santa Anna, and Texas won its independence from Mexico.

                Houston was elected as the first president of the new Republic of Texas and served until 1838; he served in the same capacity again from 1841 until 1844.  Governor Houston married Margaret Moffette Lea in 1840, and the couple became parents of four sons and four daughters.

                Under Houston’s leadership, Texas was admitted to the Union in 1845.  He served as a U.S. Senator from Texas for nearly fourteen years.  Houston stood staunchly with the Union and vigorously opposed secession.  He was elected governor again in 1859 while running on an anti-secession platform.  Texas voted to secede in 1861; when Houston refused to take Texas out of the Union, Confederate forces removed him from office.

                Sam Houston retired to Huntsville, Texas, where he passed away on July 26, 1863.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Favorable Witnesses

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor….”  This provision gives the accused the right, with compulsory help from the court, to obtain witnesses in his own behalf.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained that this clause in the Constitution “allows the defendant to use the good offices of the court and the enforcement machinery of a U.S. marshal’s office to compel witnesses to participate in the trial in his defense.
                “This is particularly important in criminal cases, since there is a severe reluctance on the part of others to become involved in such cases.  Even when they have important knowledge concerning the facts of the case, they seldom feel duty-bound to come forward without a subpoena from the court.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 709.)

                Stephen Saltzburg of The Heritage Foundation explained the historical significance of this clause:  “For centuries, Britons had struggled against the common-law rule that forbade an accused from calling witnesses in his defense in cases of treason or felony, or, even when allowed, not to permit the defense witness to be sworn under oath.  The common-law rule survived in the American colonies even after England had abolished it by statute.  After the Revolution, however, a number of state constitutions established in one form or another the right to call defense witnesses.  When the First Congress considered the Compulsory Process Clause, there was little debate over its value, and it became part of the Sixth Amendment without opposition.  The clause assured that the accused in a criminal case was guaranteed not only the right to call witnesses but also a process to obtain witnesses, so that defense evidence could be evaluated by a jury, or, in a nonjury criminal case, by a judge.  It was, in sum, an essential part of the right of an accused to present a defense.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 355-356.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Temple Ordinances

                The ordinances of the temple are so important that the Lord commands us to act as proxies for our ancestors who have gone before us.  The Lord is hastening His work in preparation for His return to earth and requires us to assist Him in this preparation.  The most important thing we can do to help the Savior is to do our own temple work and then prepare to help other people with their work.  

                What are you doing to prepare to receive temple ordinances?  There are a number of ways we can prepare, including the following:  (1) live worthy to enter the temple, (2) keep the covenants we have already made, (3) study the scriptures and words of the prophets to learn more about the ordinances of the temple, and (4) make the temple a part of our lives.

                Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “Inscribed on each temple are the words `holiness to the Lord.’  That statement designates both the temple and its purposes as holy.  Those who enter the temple are also to bear the attribute of holiness.  As temples are prepared for the people, the people need to prepare themselves for the temple.
                “A temple differs from other houses of worship….  A temple is literally the house of the Lord, reserved for ordinances of eternal significance.  Those ordinances include baptisms, marriages, endowments, and sealings.

                “Each temple is symbolic of our faith in God and an evidence of our faith in life after death.  The temple is the object of every activity, every lesson, every progressive step in the Church.  All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple.  Ordinances of the temple are absolutely crucial.  We cannot return to God’s glory without them….
                “Because a temple is sacred, the Lord asks that it be protected from desecration.  Anyone may enter who is willing to prepare well for that privilege.  The concept of preparation prevails in other fields of endeavor.  I remember when I was but a young boy, I told my parents I wanted to attend the university.  They said I could, but only if I worked hard in preliminary schooling and met all the requirements for admission to the university.  Similarly, we must qualify for admission to the temple.  We prepare physically, intellectually, and spiritually.  Eligibility is determined individually for each person applying for a recommend….

                “How do you prepare for a temple recommend?  You may consult with your bishopric, as well as your parents, family, stake presidency, teacher, or quorum adviser.  The requirements are simple.  Succinctly stated, an individual is required to keep the commandments of Him whose house it is.  He has set the standards.  We enter the temple as His guests.
                “The Lord would be pleased if every adult member would be worthy of – and carry – a current temple recommend…” (“Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple,” Liahona, October 2010).  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Spirit of Elijah

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by the spirit of Elijah.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often hear of the spirit of Elijah; millions have been touched by that same spirit as they search out their ancestors and do temple work for them.  While answering the call of the spirit of Elijah, they are unifying and strengthening their families.

                The promise of the spirit of Elijah is found in the scriptures:  “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (Doctrine and Covenants 2:2; see also Malachi 4:5-6; 3 Nephi 25:5-6; Doctrine and Covenants 110:14-15)

                People have worked on family history for close to two hundred years.  The work was slow until new technology opened up amazing ways to make it quicker and easier to do.  A recent Ensign article by Carol Brennan Moss of the Family History Department shed some light on the subject.  “The website was introduced to the world in May 1999.  It was an instant success, experiencing more than 1.5 billion hits by October of that year.  Back then, users could perform a basic search for an ancestor in limited databases and compiled genealogies ….  Today we can search over 3.5 billion records in databases containing actual images of records, add sources to individuals in our family trees, and directly process temple work on  The new features of adding photos and stories to our family members on the tree enable individuals young and old to become instantly engaged in the work.  Their hearts turn as they discover pictures of their relatives and read facts about them in both record and story forms….”

                My husband’s sister did not complete her temple work during her life on earth, and we gathered the necessary information to do the work for her.  We found some interesting hurdles to get over before we could take her name to the temple but eventually completed the task.  We performed the necessary temple work that is essential to her eternal happiness.

                Individuals and families can get involved in family history work; the rising generation is particularly adept doing the work because of their computer skills.  All ages enjoy reading the stories and seeing the pictures of their ancestors.  The spirit of Elijah can unify families here on earth and help all of us learn about our loved ones who have passed on to a better life.  Family, communities, and nations are strengthened when they have the spirit of Elijah.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Road to Serfdom

                The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the connection between the economy and freedom.  The economy must be free from governmental control in order to prosper.  When the government controls the economy – as it does more and more today - freedoms are destroyed.

                Friedrich August Hayek wrote and published a book in 1944, which has recently been re-discovered.  His book, The Road to Serfdom, became a No. 1 best seller.

                Mr. Hayek was a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a philosopher.   He was a well-known scholar and one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century.  He earned three doctorates – in law, the social sciences, and economics – and authored many books.  As President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher restored free market economics in the United States and Britain, they called Hayek the “founding father of freedom-inspired economic policies.”

                In a special abridged edition of The Road to Serfdom, Edwin J. Feulner, past president of The Heritage Foundation, claims that Hayek was not only an economist, philosopher, and scholar but a prophet also.  “Hayek taught that socialism leads to slavery and that those who try to control an economy are guilty not only of a fatal conceit but also of factual errors – which inevitably doom planned economies.”

                Included in this abridged edition is a list of “Ten (Mostly) Hayekian Insights for Trying Economic Times.”  It was adapted from a Heritage First Principles Essay of the same title by Bruce Caldwell.
                (1)  “Recessions are bound to happen.”
                (2)  “Central planning and excessive regulation sure don’t work.”
                (3)  “Some regulation is necessary.”
                (4)  “A stimulus will only stimulate the deficit.”
                (5)  “The economy is too complex for precise forecasting.”
                (6)   “Remember the rule of unintended consequences.”
                (7)   “You won’t believe how much you’ll learn in Econ 101.”
                (8)   “Leave social justice out of it.”
                (9)   “Nothing beats the free market.”
                (10) “As a rule of thumb, government cures are not only worse than the disease, but lead to further disease.”

                The Road to Serfdom is often referred to and cited.  It has much information for those of us who do not fully understand the connection between the economy and loss of freedom.  I encourage you to read the book and learn more about this topic.

                In the meantime, read this comic strip – converted into video. It was originally published in 1945 with the title “The Road to Serfdom in Cartoons” and contains the fundamentals of Hayek’s argument.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Acts of Courage

                It is Days of 47 time again, time to remember and honor the courage and strength of the Mormon Pioneers.  The first pioneers crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 to build a place where they could enjoy religious freedom.   They entered the Valley on July 24th, and the date of their arrival, known as Pioneer Day, is celebrated with parades, rodeos, and other activities.  This time of celebration is important to my family as seven of my eight ancestors were part of the Mormon Exodus and my eighth ancestor entered the Valley a few years later by transcontinental railroad.

                The Mormon pioneers, most of whom were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, migrated from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley, located in the Territory of Utah (the present state of Utah).   This area was once part of the Republic of Mexico before the Mexican War, but it became American territory after the United States won the war over the annexation of Texas.

                The Mormons were forced out of the American Midwest because of their religion.  They were chased out of Missouri with threats of death; they settled in Illinois where they built a beautiful city known as Nauvoo.  A few years later enemies of the Church killed the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in Illinois in an effort to destroy the Church and extinguish the religion.  When the enemies realized that the Church was not falling apart, they forced the Mormons out of Illinois.

                The pioneers began leaving Nauvoo in February 1846 by crossing the Mississippi River on top of thick ice.  They traveled westward in winter weather until they left the United States.  They wintered in Winter Quarters, near present-day Omaha, Nebraska.  There they repaired old wagons and built new ones; they gathered supplies and made plans.  They built log cabins and planted crops in the spring for the people who would follow them.   People who could not afford teams and wagons built handcarts to carry their belongings.  The advance pioneer companies entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and were followed by approximately 70,000 people.  Some handcart companies were caught in early winter weather and suffered greatly.  The Mormon Exodus is said to have ended with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. 

                This video, narrated by President Gordon B. Hinckley, illustrates the sacrifices made by the Mormon Pioneers.  His retelling of the experiences of the Martin Handcart Company at the Sweetwater River is particularly poignant.  The pioneers were struggling with cold, hunger, and discouragement when three 18-year-old boys came to their rescue.  The names of these three young men are etched in history:  George W. Grant, C. Allen Huntington, and David P. Kimball.  These young men carried nearly every member of the handcart company across the icy river and died years later from the effects of the experience.  Their acts of courage, compassion, and service saved many of the handcart pioneers, and the report of their acts brought tears to the eyes of President Brigham Young.