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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life in Space

                Is there life in space?  Are there other planets that could sustain life?  Astronomers announced last week they discovered a planet that is the most like earth yet detected.  It is about the size of Earth and is also located in the “Goldilocks zone” – an area that is neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life.  It is 500 light-years from earth.

                NSA’s orbiting Kepler telescope detected the planet.  The telescope studies the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star.  Scientists can use this information to calculate a planet’s size and make calculated guesses about its makeup.

                Even though scientists are searching for life in space, we do not have to wait for further discoveries to know for certain there is life in space.  A few thousand years ago Moses spoke to God face to face and was shown our world and its inhabitants (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:31). God told Moses, “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten….
                “But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you.  For behold there are many words that have passed away by the word of my power.  And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:33, 35).

                There we have it, Folks!  In God’s own words, we learn that there are many worlds in space that have or will sustain life.  I believe that the inhabitants of every one of those worlds look a lot like you and I – all made after the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  It is nice to have science confirm God’s words; however, I believe the word of God must more than the word of any man!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blood Moon

                I experienced a rare sight last week when the moon turned red as did millions of other people.  We were told that the red moon was a “blood moon because of the “reddish color that results when the Earth comes between the sun and moon….”  We were also told there will be a “rare series of four total lunar eclipses that occur over two-year periods,” with the added information that these “`blood moons’ … are tied to major events involving Israel.”

                I do not remember seeing a red moon at any time previously in my life, but I have read many places in the scriptures about the moon turning to blood just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  “But, behold, I say unto you that before this great day shall come the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and there shall be greater signs in heaven above and in the earth beneath” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:14).

                I was anxious to see the red moon because of the above prophecy.  I was just curious but not concerned about the end of the world or anything fearful.  I found the red moon fascinating, but I could not help wondering if it is the same type of red moon that will appear when Christ comes.  Will that sight be caused simply by a lunar eclipse?  Of course, none of us know what will cause it – at least not at the present time, but it is an interesting idea to ponder.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Robert E. Lee

                Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and was the son of a famed Revolutionary cavalry officer and member of a distinguished family.  Lee attended West Point and graduated in 1829 second in his class.  In June 1831, he married Mary Ann Randolph Custis, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, and the couple became parents of seven children.

                Lee was involved with the corps of engineers and served as superintendent at West Point.  In October 1859 he led a company of marines who captured John Brown and his followers at Harper’s Ferry.

                Even though he was a Southerner, Lee did not believe in slavery and did not favor secession.  He was offered command of the active army of the United States in February 1861 but declined the position.  He was strongly devoted to the Union but could not bring himself to invade the South.  Three days later he accepted command of the forces of Virginia. 

                In the following years Lee assumed command of the new Army of northern Virginia.  He forced General McClellan to retreat from his position that threatened Richmond.  He afflicted heavy losses in repulsing the attack at Fredericksburg by General Burnside.  He achieved another major victory at Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863.

                Lee and his army headed north but met terrible defeat at Gettysburg, which marked the turning point of the war.  General Grant began a campaign against Lee in the spring of 1864 with soldiers numbering twice what Lee had.  Lee retreated slowly and inflicted heavy losses against Grant while doing so.

                General Lee was promoted in early 1865 to general in chief of all Confederate forces.  Finally, recognizing that he could retreat no further, General Lee met with General Grant – the first time they met since they served together in the Mexican War.  Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865.  Contrary to the usual custom, Grant did not require Lee to surrender his sword.

                In October 1865 General Lee became the president of Washington College (later changed to Washington and Lee University) at Lexington, Virginia.  He held this post until his death on October 12, 1870.  General Lee was a man of great dignity and very worthy to be considered a VIP. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Searches and Seizures

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:  “The right of the people to be secure … against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated….”  This provision guarantees that Americans will be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

                W. Cleon Skousen explained that “legalized searches and seizures connected with the regulatory and taxing laws has seriously strained the protection intended by this provision.  There has also been a serious invasion of privacy through the use of telephone wiretaps, electronic listening devices installed in offices and homes, and tampering with the mail.

                “It should be noted that this provision protects a person only in cases where the invasion of privacy is `unreasonable.’  Consider, for example, these situations:  (1) It is not considered unreasonable for the police to check an offender’s car or immediate premises at the time of his arrest and pick up any property belonging to the offender that is considered to be `evidence.’  (2) It is not considered unreasonable for the police to pursue a suspected criminal across private property in order to apprehend him.  (3) It is not considered unreasonable for a person to check out a vacationing neighbor’s premises under suspicious circumstances.

                “Obviously, however, it would be unreasonable to open the mail, tap the telephone wire, or put another citizen under electronic surveillance.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 702.)

                Skousen published his book in 1985.  I am sure he would have included data gathering on our telephones by the NSA and drones flying around our homes on his list of “unreasonable” searches and seizures.

                Gerald V. Bradley of The Heritage Foundation explained the “primary mechanism for enforcing the Searches and Seizures Clause is the exclusionary rule:  evidence seized illegally may not be used against the one whose privacy was invaded, at least where there is a criminal trial against him, and there only in the prosecutor’s case-in-chief.  Apart perhaps from the required Miranda warning … the exclusionary rule is the most criticized Warren Court criminal justice innovation….

                “Did the Framers intend the exclusionary rule?  Even the rule’s most ardent supporters admit that they did not.  Virtually no one doubts that, until the twentieth century, criminals did not go free, as Judge (later Justice) Benjamin N. Cardozo put it, `because the constable blundered.’  … The criminal would have been convicted, and the offending constable would have been liable as a tort-feasor for trespassing upon a person’s privacy without proper authority or cause.

                “The central argument in favor of exclusion is that it is necessary to give the Fourth Amendment real, as opposed to theoretical, meaning.  If police officers were allowed to offend the Constitution with impunity (which, it is alleged, they would if a defendant could be convicted on tainted evidence), the Fourth Amendment would be a `mere form of words.’  This argument presupposes that illegal searches and seizures are deterred by the prospect of exclusion.  If the evidence cannot be used at trial, what is the point of seizing it?”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 325.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

He Is Risen!

                It is Easter once again.  All of Christendom rejoices at this Easter season as we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  A miracle took place on that first Easter morning more than two thousand years ago in Jerusalem.  It was a miracle so magnificent that words cannot fully describe its magnitude.  This day was long foretold by prophets and looked forward to by Saints of God on earth, and spirits waiting in spiritual prison on the other side of the veil.  Yet His disciples were in despair.

                Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles recently described the “crushing sense of defeat and despair [that] enveloped His disciples as Jesus suffered and died on the cross and His body was placed lifeless in the tomb.  Despite what the Savior had repeatedly said of His death and subsequent rising again, they had not understood.  The dark afternoon of His Crucifixion, however, was soon followed by the joyous morning of His Resurrection.  But that joy came only as the disciples became eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, for even the declaration of angels that He had risen was at first incomprehensible – it was something so totally unprecedented.

                “Mary Magdalene and a few other faithful women came early to the Savior’s tomb that Sunday morning, bringing spices and ointments to complete the anointing begun when the Lord’s body was hastily laid in the sepulcher before the approaching Sabbath.  On this morning of mornings, they were greeted by an open sepulcher, the covering stone having been rolled away, and two angels who declared:

                “`Why seek ye the living among the dead?
                “`He is not here, but is risen:  remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
                “`Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again’ (Luke 24:5-7).
                “`Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
                “`And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead” (Matthew 28:6-7).

                “As bidden by the angels, Mary Magdalene looked into the tomb, but it seems that all that registered in her mind was that the body of the Lord was gone.  She hurried to report to the Apostles and, finding Peter and John, said to them, `They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcre, and we know not where they have laid him’ (John 20:2).

                “Peter and John ran to the place and verified that indeed the tomb was empty, seeing `the linen clothes lying … and the napkin, that was about his head, … wrapped together in a place by itself” (John 20:5, 7).  John apparently was the first to comprehend the magnificent message of resurrection.  He writes that `he saw, and believed,’ whereas the others to that point `knew not the scripture, that [Jesus] must rise again from the dead’ (John 20:8-9).

                “Peter and John left, but Mary remained behind, still in mourning.  In the meantime the angels had returned and tenderly asked her, `Woman, why weepest thou?  She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13).  At that moment the resurrected Savior, now standing behind her, spoke, `Woman, why weepest thou?  Whom sleekest thou?  She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away” (John 20:15).

                “Elder James E. Talmage wrote:  `It was Jesus to whom she spake, her beloved Lord, though she knew it not.  One word from His living lips changed her agonized grief into ecstatic joy.  “Jesus said unto her, Mary.”  The voice, the tone, the tender accent she had heard and loved in the earlier days lifted her from the despairing depths into which she had sunk.  She turned, and saw the Lord.  In a transport of joy she reached out her arms to embrace Him, uttering only the endearing and worshipful word, “Rabboni,” meaning My beloved Master’ (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 681).
                “Elder Christofferson continued, “And so this blessed woman became the first mortal to see and speak to the resurrected Christ.  Later that same day He appeared to Peter in or near Jerusalem (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5); to two disciples on the road to Emmaus’ (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-35), and in the evening to ten of the Apostles and others, appearing suddenly in their midst, saying, `Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself:  handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have’ (Luke 24:39).  Then to further convince them `while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered’ (Luke 24:41), He ate broiled fish and honeycomb before them (Luke 24:42-43).  Later He instructed them, `Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).”

                The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explained that the Resurrection of the Lord “completed the process of the Atonement that included His sinless life, His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His death on the cross.  The Resurrection assured immortality for all, and the blessed Atonement provided a pathway to exaltation for those who will adhere to His gospel principles.
                “At this sacred season, we solemnly testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of all the world.  We know that He lives!  We know that because He lives, we too shall live again….”

                I too testify that Jesus Christ is our resurrected Lord and Redeemer.  Because He overcame both death and sin, we can live again too and walk back into the presence of Heavenly Father.  We must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end of our lives.  He is risen!  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Follow the Prophet

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the rising generation to follow the counsel of the living prophet.  The prophet of the Lord on earth today is Thomas S. Monson.  He is the mouthpiece of the Lord, and we will be blessed as we follow his counsel.

                Elder William R. Walker of the Quorum of the Seventy suggested five ways to follow the example of President Monson.

                “We can be positive, and we can be happy.  On one occasion President Monson said:  `We … can choose to have a positive attitude.  We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.  In other words, we can choose to be happy and positive, regardless of what comes our way.’ (See “Messages of Inspiration from President Monson,” Church News, Sept. 2, 2012, p. 2.)”

                Elder Walker described an experience of being invited to attend a meeting in the First Presidency boardroom.  He was waiting quietly outside the room waiting to be invited in when he heard whistling in the hall and thought it was inappropriate behavior for the place.  “A moment later the whistler walked around the corner – it was President Monson.  He was happy, and he was positive.  He greeted me warmly….  Even with the weight of the whole Church on his shoulders, he is an example of happiness and he always has a positive attitude.  We should be that way.”

                “We can be kind and loving toward children.  Jesus spoke often of children.  His prophet, President Monson, speaks often of children as well.  I’ve seen, particularly at temple dedications, how he loves children and, by his example, teaches us how to treat them.  At every temple dedication he focuses on the children.  He loves to include them in the cornerstone ceremony and always invites a few of them to put some mortar in the cornerstone to participate in the symbolic completion of the temple.  He makes it fun for them.  He makes it memorable for them.  He always has a big smile for them.  He encourages and commends them.  It is a wonderful thing to see.”

                “We can follow the promptings of the Spirit.  President Monson beautifully stated his devotion to the Lord and his commitment to following the promptings of the Spirit with these words:  `The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need.  And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”  (See On the Lord’s Errand, DVD, 2008.)

                “We can love the temple.  President Monson will go down in history as one of the great temple builders in the history of the Church.  Since becoming President of the Church in February 2008, he has continued the great work of building temples.  In the six years he has been the prophet, President Monson has announced plans to build 33 new temples.

                “President Monson has said, `May each of us live worthy lives, with clean hands and pure hearts, so that the temple may touch our lives and our families.’  (See “Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, p. 19.)

                “He has also given this wonderful promise:  `As we love the temple, touch the temple, and attend the temple, our lives will reflect our faith.  As we come to these holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we shall be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation.”  (See Be Your Best Self (1979), p. 56; emphasis added.)

                “We can be kind, considerate, and loving.  President Monson is a wonderful example of loving others.  His entire ministry has been filled with making visits to homes, placing his hands on heads and giving blessings; making unexpected phone calls to comfort and encourage; sending letters of encouragement, commendation, and appreciation; visiting hospitals and care centers; and find time to go to funerals and viewings despite a very busy schedule.

                “Just as the Savior would do, Thomas Monson has gone about doing good (see Acts 10:38) and blessing and loving others; this has been the driving force in his life.”

                As an example – one of many – Elder Walker described meeting with the First Presidency to discuss plans for the dedication of the Brigham City Utah Temple located about an hour north of Salt Lake City.  Even though President Monson could easily travel to Brigham City to dedicate the temple, he assigned President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to do the dedication.  “Brigham City is the hometown of President … Packer, this great Apostle who has sat beside me for so many years in the Twelve.  I want him to have the honor and blessing of dedicating the temple in his hometown….  I want it to be his day.”

                I attended a broadcast of the dedication and sensed the gratitude that President Packer felt for this honor.  He and his wife both grew up in Brigham City and spent a wonderful in the temple there.  Elder Walker stated, “I was very touched by President Monson’s kind and magnanimous gesture to his fellow Apostle.  We can all be that way.  We can share and be kind and think more of those around us.”

                President Monson has taught us in words and example how to live as true followers of Jesus Christ.  We will be blessed as we follow the pattern he has provided for us.  As we do so we will strengthen our capacity to be even more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Freedom of Marriage

                Have you considered the possibility that Americans could lose the right to associate with whom we choose?  Do you realize that the loss of association would also take the freedom to marry whom we choose?  Traditional marriage has been around since God performed the marriage ceremony for Adam and Eve.  It has been the “backbone” of societies for thousands of years.  Now there is a very real possibility that the very institution of marriage will be destroyed in the name of “marriage equality!”

                Traditional marriage has been under attack for a long time, but the speed of the destruction of marriage has increased in recent years.  This has happened particularly under the direction of the Obama Administration but federal judges assisted.  The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was introduced in Congress in May 1996 and passed by “both houses of Congress by large, veto-proof majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.  By defining `spouse’ and its related terms to signify a heterosexual couple in a recognized marriage, Section 3 codified non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, social security survivors’ benefits, immigration, bankruptcy, and the filing of joint tax returns, as well as excluding same-sex spouses from the scope of laws protecting families of federal officers …, laws evaluating financial aid eligibility, and federal ethics laws applicable to opposite-sex spouses.

                Under DOMA states could “refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states….  DOMA, in conjunction with other statutes, had barred same-sex married couples from being recognized as `spouses’ for purposes of federal laws, effectively barring them from receiving federal marriage benefits.  DOMA’s passage did not prevent individual states from recognizing same-sex marriage, but it imposed constraints on the benefits received by all legally married same-sex couples.”

                Mr. Clinton and some legislators began speaking about repealing DOMA.  Then “the Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had concluded Section 3 was unconstitutional and that although the administration would continue to enforce the law while it existed, it would no longer defend the law in court.”  In United States v. Windsor in 2013 “the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”  Since the Supremes made their decision, judge after judge has struck down laws defining traditional marriage as a man and a woman. 

                I have often wondered at the speed of the destruction of traditional marriage.  I found answers to numerous questions in an article by Stella Morabito entitled “Bait And Switch:  How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy” with a second line stating “The goal isn’t equality – it’s abolishing an institution.”  Ms. Morabito began her article:  “Abolishing all civil marriage is the primary goal of the elites who have been pushing same sex marriage.  The scheme called `marriage equality’ is not an end in itself, and never really has been.  The LGBT agenda has spawned too many other disparate agendas hostile to the existence of marriage, making marriage `unsustainable,’ if you will.  By now we should be able to hear the growing drumbeat to abolish civil marriage, as well as to legalize polygamy and all manner of reproductive technologies.

                “Consider also the breakneck speed at which the push for same sex marriage has been happening recently.  The agenda’s advocates have been very methodical in their organization, disciplined in their timing, flush with money, in control of all information outlets, including media, Hollywood, and academia.  And perhaps most telling is the smearing of any dissenter in the public square, a stigma made de rigueur by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his animus-soaked opinion that repealed the Defense of Marriage Act.

                “We’ve seen also how the Obama Administration’s push for same sex marriage has occurred in lockstep with policies that are hostile to marriage, such as the severe marriage penalty written into Obamacare.

                “Activist judges have taken their cues from Attorney General Eric Holder who used the DOMA repeal to proclaim open season on any state that recognizes marriage as an organic (i.e., heterosexual) union of one man and one woman.  In their crosshairs are state constitutions, businesses, students, communities, churches, and all of those bogus `conscience clauses’ that were written into same sex marriage legislation in order to sway wavering state legislators to vote `aye.’

                “The tipping point came soon after certain big name conservatives and pundits swallowed the bait on same sex marriage.  Folks like Michael Barone, John Bolton, George Will, S.E. Cupp, and David Blankenhorn have played a huge role in building momentum for this movement, which, as we will see, is blazing a trail to the abolition of state recognized marriage.  And whether they know it or not, advocacy for same sex marriage is putting a lot of statist machinery into motion.  Because once the state no longer has to recognize your marriage and family, the state no longer has to respect the existence of your marriage and family.

                “Without civil marriage, the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state.  This has huge implications for the survival of freedom of association.

                “The notion of marriage equality was never about marriage or about equality.  It’s all about the wrapping paper.  It’s been packaged as an end in itself, but it is principally just a means to a deeper end.  It is the means by which marriage extinction – the true target – can be achieved.  If marriage and family are permitted to exist autonomously, power can be de-centralized in society.  So the family has always been a thorn in the side of central planners and totalitarians.  The connection between its abolition and the limitless growth of the state should be crystal clear.  So anyone who has bought into this movement, or is tempted to do so, would want to step back and take a harder look.”

                This is only the beginning the article.  A large portion of it contains a discussion about “six indicators we’re headed directly for abolishing civil marriage.”  After thoroughly discussing these indicators, Ms. Morabito declares, “The hard push for marriage equality was never about marriage.  Neither was it about equality.  It’s a convenient vehicle to abolish civil marriage, whether to rid the world of paternalism, evade responsibility for children, `privatize’ relationships, or whatever.  Abolishing marriage strips the family of its autonomy by placing it much more directly under the regulating control of the state.

                “Once the state no longer has to recognize the marriage relationship and its presumption of privilege and privacy, we all become atomized individuals in the eyes of the state, officially strangers to one another.  We lose the space – the buffer zone – that the institution of the natural, organic family previously gave us and that forced the state to keep its distance….”

                The entire article is very thought-provoking.  I can now see more clearly why progressives are pushing same-sex marriage on us and why the push has been so rapid.  I believe it is part of the plan to destroy society as we know it.  I hope you will read the article and then spend some time pondering the implications of the same-sex marriage movement and what would be the outcome in the United States and the world if traditional marriage is destroyed.  I too believe the institution of traditional marriage is a wall of separation that protects our freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution.  Do you agree?