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, April 30, 2013

America's Immigration Policy

                Is America’s immigration policy fair?  Is it fair to American citizens?  Is it fair to legal immigrants to the United States?  Is it fair to illegal aliens or undocumented immigrants?  Is it based on the rule of law? 

                Matthew Spalding, expert at The Heritage Foundation, wrote that the United States “beckons to its shores the downtrodden, the persecuted, and all those `yearning to breathe free” and “embraces those who come to this country honestly, armed with their work ethic, in search of the promises and opportunities of the American Dream.”

                Spalding explained that the “key to the uniquely successful story of American immigration is its deliberate and self-confident policy of patriotic assimilation.  America welcomes newcomers while insisting that they learn and embrace its civic culture and political institutions, thereby forming one nation from many peoples….
                “The overwhelming result of this policy of assimilation, throughout American history, has been a strengthening of our social capital, the continuing expansion of our economy, and the constant renewal of our national purpose.  America has been good for immigrants, and immigrants have been good for America.”

                I would correct that statement to say that “legal immigrants have been good for America.”  The immigration policies of the United States used to be based on law:  those who obeyed the laws were blessed and those who broke the laws were penalized.  The policies have now been turned upside down and law-abiding potential immigrants are being penalized for obeying the law while those who come to this country are being honored and promoted.

                Many of the illegal immigrants to the United States come across the southern border with Mexico.  That is interesting because Mexico has some fairly strong laws against immigration to that country.  I understand that the following are Mexico laws:  1) There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools.  2) All ballots will be in this nation’s language.  3) All government business will be conducted in our language.  4) Non-residents will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are here.  5) Non-citizens will NEVER be able to hold political office. 6) Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers.  No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs.  Any burden will be deported.  7) Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.  8) If foreigners come here and buy land … options will be restricted.  Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into this country.  9) Foreigners may have no protests; no demonstrations, no waving of a foreign flag, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies.  These will lead to deportation.  10) If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted and, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged.  All assets will be taken from you.

                Mexico is not the only nation that has much harsher laws against illegal immigration than the United States, and yet the Left constantly condemns our nation for being mean to “undocumented immigrants.”  Our immigration system is badly in need of reform, but the proposal currently making its way through Congress is not the kind of reform we need.  I believe we should include some or all of the ideas that are purportedly laws from Mexico; however, I recognize that our political climate would never allow such strict laws.

The current immigration bill pending in the Senate, written by the Gang of Eight – four Democrats and four Republicans - has opposition and support from both sides of the aisle. Byron York,  Chief Political Correspondent for The Washington Post, reported on the Senate bill.  “Members of the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight have stressed that under their new immigration plan, currently illegal immigrants will have to wait more than a decade before achieving citizenship.  Newly-legalized immigrants will be given a provisional status and `will have to stay in that status until at least ten years elapse and [border security] triggers are met,’ Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News on April 14.  `Then the only thing they get is a chance to apply for a green card via the legal immigration system.’  The green card process would take additional years, meaning the road to full citizenship could take as long as 15, or even 18 years.

                “Unless it doesn’t.  A little-noticed exception in the Gang of Eight bill provides a fast track for many – possibly very many – currently illegal immigrants.  Under a special provision for immigrants who have labored at least part-time in agriculture, that fast track could mean permanent residency in the U.S., and then citizenship, in half the time Rubio said.  And not just for the immigrants themselves – their spouses and children, too.

                “A second provision in the legislation creates another fast track for illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 – the so-called Dreamers.  The concept suggests youth, but the bill has no age limit for such immigrants – or their spouses and children – and despite claims that they must go to college or serve in the military to be eligible, there is an exception to that requirement as well.”

                York’s article deserves to be read in its entirety because it explains how using the two loop holes can turn millions of “illegals” to citizens in just a few years.  Neil Munro  at The Daily Calls believes the “pending Senate immigration bill would bring a minimum of 33 million people into the country during its first decade of operation, according to an analysis by NumbersUSA, a group that wants to slow the current immigration rate.

                “By 2024, the inflow would include an estimated 9.2 million illegal immigrants, plus 2.5 million illegals who arrived as children – dubbed `Dreamers’ – plus roughly 3.4 million company-sponsored employees with university degrees, said the unreleased analysis.
                “The majority of the inflow, or roughly 17 million people, would consist of family members of illegals, recent immigrants and of company-sponsored workers, according to the NumbersUSA analysis provided to The Daily Caller.”

                The immigration debate seems to be picking up speed because those leaders who should be upholding the law are the very people who are undermining the laws for political purposes.  Attorney General Eric Holder  spoke to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund on April 24, 2013, and said that illegal immigrants have a “civil right” to earn citizenship:  “Creating a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country is essential.  The way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented – by creating a mechanism for them to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows – transcends the issue of immigration status.  This is a matter of civil and human rights.  It is about who we are as a nation.  And it goes to the core of our treasured American principle of equal opportunity.”

                I believe that our immigration policies are failing all of us because they are no longer based on the rule of law.  America has always been a land full of promises and opportunities; it has been a place where honest, hard-working, and law-abiding people could obtain the American dream.  The American Dream was successful as long as immigrants came here legally and with the desire to become Americans.  There are still many immigrants who come with this desire and goal, but there are far too many people who come to America’s shores and borders with ulterior motives.  They do not want to assimilate and become part of the American “melting pot.”  The best recent example of this is the bombing of the Boston Marathon by Chechen immigrants who lived on welfare and built bombs to destroy lives and properties.

The immigration policy of the United States has changed in recent decades until it is no longer functional.  Jessica Zuckerman,  an expert at The Heritage Foundation, is a third-generation American whose grandfather came to the American shores from Hungary following World War I.  He left behind everything he had to “escape discrimination and destruction” and to give his posterity “the promise of freedom and opportunity in a new land.”   Her grandfather’s story is not “unique” because “millions of immigrants have come to our shores with a similar dream, each bringing with them new experiences and pieces of their cultures that together form part of what makes this nation great.”

                Zuckerman too believes that our immigration policy has changed.  “Over the past several decades, however, immigration policy has become confused, unfocused, and dysfunctional.  America lacks a simple system to attract the qualified immigrants who can help our economy and contribute to our nation.  Millions of unlawfully present immigrants are undermining America’s core principle of the rule of law, while the legal naturalization process isn’t working as well as it should.  Large-scale immigration without effective assimilation threatens social cohesion, along with America’s civic culture and common identity.  This is particularly true when immigrants are assimilated into the welfare state rather than into a society of opportunity.

                “It is high time for an immigration policy that serves immigrants and citizens alike.  As an important part of this, we must find ways to reform our legal immigration system to create a process that is truly fair, orderly, and efficient.  Indeed, currently there are close to 4.5 million individuals waiting in line to come to this country legally and some have been waiting for as long as 24 years.
                “These numbers make one thing clear:  America needs meaningful immigration reform.  It must, however, be done in a deliberative and thoughtful manner.  It must also seek to uphold the rule of law, welcome individuals through a legal framework, and discourage future flows of unlawful immigrants.”

                Americans should be grateful that Congress cares about fixing our immigration system, particularly our broken borders, but we should be leery of the 844-page-plus “comprehensive” immigration bill being pushed by the Gang of Eight and the Obama Administration.  The current bill is so large and covers so many areas of immigration that it will make the immigration system worse, not better.  Like Obamacare, the immigration bill was “designed to solve everything” but will end up “creating as many problems” as it addresses. 

James Carafano, another Heritage expert, listed five reasons why the “comprehensive” immigration bill is a failure that cannot be fixed.  “1) Amnesty.  This bill grants amnesty.  It creates a framework for legalization for the estimated 11 million people unlawfully present in the United States…. 2) Fiscal Costs to the Taxpayer.  This plan does not account for the government benefits, especially welfare and entitlement benefits, that would be paid to those who are legalized over their lifetimes.  The additional costs to taxpayers would be enormous…. [The Obama Administration is currently trolling for illegal aliens and encouraging them to apply for food stamps.]  3) Government Spending.  The bill is a Trojan horse for government spending, and in some cases, it appears the funding is unrestricted or ill-defined…. 4) `Border Triggers.’  The bill requires certification of `border triggers’ for stemming the tide of illegal border crossings before additional steps in the legalization process can proceed.  But the Department of Homeland Security has been trying unsuccessfully to define credible metrics for border security since 2004….  Amnesty creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays.  Thus, the strategy laid out would drive up the cost of securing the border…. 5) Lawful Immigration Reform.  The bill `modernizes’ lawful immigration and non-immigration visas. These modernizations include substantially lowering `chain’ migration; abolishing the diversity lottery; expanding the visa waiver; increasing high-skill migration; and expanding temporary worker programs.

                I am for legal immigration but against those who come here illegally.  I am also against amnesty for those who have broken our immigration laws.  We had an amnesty program in the 1980s that was supposed to end our illegal immigrant problem, but it simply made the problem bigger by encouraging more people to come here illegally. The “comprehensive” immigration law currently pending in the Senate would only make the problem grow.

Americans deserve a better bill than the current “comprehensive” bill.  I know that good immigration reform can happen, and I know that we need to do something with the illegal aliens currently among us.  I also believe that we need to do things in proper order.  The first thing we should do is secure our borders so that we know who is entering and leaving our nation.  We need to have laws that will keep America’s enemies outside our borders while allowing freedom-loving people to enter our nation.  We need a justice system that enforces the laws of the land fairly and squarely.  Instead of a “comprehensive” bill that deepens the divide in our nation, we need to work on solutions that will work for all and upon which we can all agree. We need solutions that will be based on law – not emotions - and will be fair to everyone – citizen and immigrant alike.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Thomas Fitzsimons

                Thomas Fitzsimons, an American merchant, statesman, and signer of the United States Constitution, may have been born in October 1741 in Ballikilty, North Co. Wexford, Leinster Province, Ireland, into a “collection of families” known as the “Fitzsymons.”  He immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid-1750s and was not there long before his father died.  Thomas had enough education to obtain employment as a clerk in a mercantile house. 

Thomas married Catherine Meade on November 23, 1761, and became business partners with her brother George.  They operated a successful business in the West Indies trade for more than 41 years.  Great Britain applied new revenue measures, including the Stamp Act of 1765, and these measures greatly affected Thomas’s firm.  Thomas was concerned about the tax problems and became an active member in the Irish merchant community in Philadelphia.  He was elected as the head of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in 1771; in 1774 he was part of a committee organized to protest the taxes.

Thomas Fitzsimons quickly became involved when Pennsylvania formed a militia to fight the British.  He helped to raise a company of home guards and served as a captain in the company under the command of Colonel John Caldwalader.  His company defended the New Jersey coast against British military actions and was later part of the reserve at the Battle of Trenton in 1776.  At the request of the government of Pennsylvania, Thomas oversaw the newly formed Pennsylvania Navy and helped to organize the strategic resources of Pennsylvania.  In this role, he later provided ships, supplies, and money to support Pennsylvanian and French forces.

Fitzsimons became active in politics when he was chosen to be a delegate to the Continental Congress (1782, 1783).  His political career continued when he was elected as a member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives in 1786 and 1787.  Also in 1787, he was a Pennsylvania delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He was not a “leading member” of the group, but he “supported a strong national government, the end of slavery, the United States Congress’s powers to impose a tariff on imports and exports, the granting the house of representatives, and the equal power in making treaties to the United States Senate….  He was one of only two Catholic signers of the United States Constitution, the other being Daniel Carroll of Maryland.”

Under the new Constitution, Thomas served in the first three sessions of the House of Representatives.  After losing the next election, he withdrew from politics but remained active in civic and business affairs.  “He served as president of Philadelphia’s Chamber of Commerce, as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Delaware Insurance Company, and a director of the Bank of North America from 1781-1803.  He was a founder of the bank, and supported efforts to found the College of Georgetown.”
Thomas Fitzsimons died on August 26, 1811, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was buried in the cemetery of St. Mary’s Catholic Church (now part of Independence National Historical Park).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cases with USA as a Party

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:  “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made … to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party….”

                “Because the United States government is the highest level of legal authority in the Union, it is only appropriate that any issue in which it is a party should be adjudicated as a matter of RIGHT in the highest available tribunals of the nation” (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 601).

                “Among the numerous jurisdictional grants to the new federal court system, one of the least controversial was the proposition that the new federal courts should have jurisdiction over any case to which the new United States was a party.  The provision for jurisdiction over cases to which the United States is a party was a comparatively late addition to the Constitution, adopted long after the Committee of Detail had completed its work.  It seemed to reflect nothing more than a correction of an oversight.  As Alexander Hamilton said of this jurisdictional grant:  `any other plan would be contrary to reason.’  The Federalist No. 80.  Even the Constitution’s most vigorous opponents in the Anti-Federalist camp acknowledged the logic of this position.  Later, Chief Justice John Jay noted in Calder v. Bull (1798) that federal jurisdiction over cases involving the United States was necessary `because in cases in which the whole people are interested, it would not be equal, or wise, to let any one state decide, and measure out the justice due others.’
                “Today, the interesting legal questions about this clause involve determinations of precisely what entity is the `United States’ and when the United States has consented to be a party to a lawsuit” (David F. Forte in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 248).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Receiving a Testimony

                My husband and I have been out of state for the past six weeks visiting and helping our children and grandchildren and returned home early Tuesday morning a week ago.  Late that evening our doorbell rang, and I found our Bishop standing at our door and asking me to speak in sacrament meeting the following Sunday.  He gave me the topic of gaining a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and handed me a conference talk given in General Conference by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  This is the talk I delivered.

                Elder Hales explained in his talk that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often asked, “How do I receive a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ?”  He answered that question by saying, “Gaining a testimony and becoming converted begins with study and prayer, then living the gospel with patience and persistence and inviting and waiting upon the Spirit.  The life of Joseph Smith and the pattern of the Restoration are excellent examples of this process.  As you listen to my message today of the events of the Restoration, look for the steps that lead to testimony:  desiring to know the truth, pondering in our hearts, then feeling and obediently following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.”

                Elder Hales then proceeded to tell the story of Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He reminded us that Joseph was born into a family that prayed and studied the Bible.  He reminded us that Joseph became interested in religion in his youth and wanted to know which church he should join but was confused by the teachings of the various priests.  He explained the Great Apostasy and how the Apostles were killed, Christ’s teachings corrupted, and the priesthood taken from the earth.  He reminded us of God’s promise to restore the gospel in the latter-days.

                Elder Hales said, “Over the centuries, the world was prepared for that restoration.  The Bible was translated and printed.  A new land was discovered.  The spirit of reformation swept through the Christian world, and a nation was founded on the principles of freedom.”

                We know from history that the American colonists declared independence from Great Britain in 1776 and battled for eight long and costly years to gain that independence.  The Constitution of the United States was written and signed in 1787.  Only thirty-three years later in 1820, Joseph Smith was asking himself, “If any one [of these churches] be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

                Joseph turned to the Bible for the answers to his questions and read in the Epistle of James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

                In obedience to the instructions, Joseph went to a grove of trees near his home to pray.  As he prayed, “a pillar of light … descended,” brighter than the noonday sun, and “two Personages” appeared.  “One of them spake …, calling [Joseph] by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!”

                Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph, answered his questions, and told him that the true Church of Christ was not upon the earth.  Joseph could see that the members of the Godhead were (and are) separate and distinct Beings.  He understood that They knew who he was and would answer his prayers.

                Elder Hales continued:  “Like Joseph, many of us find ourselves seeking the light of truth.  Just as the world was prepared for the Restoration, each of us is prepared to receive the light of the gospel in our own lives….
                “Like Joseph, we must search the scriptures, pray, and exercise faith.”

                I have been an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life.  All eight of my great-grandparents crossed the plains to the Great Salt Lake Valley after joining the Church, and my grandparents and parents were active in the Church.  I attended Church meetings regularly, graduated from Primary, earned my Young Women’s awards, and even earned my Golden Gleaner Award as an adult.  I graduated from four years of Seminary at a time when only three years were required for graduation.  I prayed, studied the scriptures, and was married in the Salt Lake Temple.  I tell you these things, not to boast but to prove that I was active.  I followed the teachings of the prophets and had a strong belief in the gospel, but I never sought or received a confirmation from the Holy Ghost.  I was a believer, but I was not a convert.

                My life proves the truthfulness of the following words of President Marion G. Romney: “Membership in the Church and conversion are not necessarily synonymous.”

                I became a convert when I was thirty years old, married, and the mother of three children under the age of four.  At that time I was serving in the presidency of the Primary in the Anchorage Third Ward.  During one fast and testimony meeting, I managed to pay enough attention to the testimonies to realize that many children were going to the podium to bear their testimonies.  One child after another said, “I know Joseph Smith was a prophet” or “I know the Church is true.”  I began to silently ask questions such as “Do they really know these things or are they simply repeating what they have heard other people say?” and I eventually asked, “Do I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Church is true?”  I thought and thought and then realized that I could not say “I know.”  I believed these things, but I did not know for sure.

                That very day I embarked upon a six-month quest to learn for myself whether or not I had learned, believed, and lived the truth.  I believed strongly with absolutely no doubts, but I needed to know for myself. 

                I knew enough to know that I had to start with Joseph Smith and learn for myself whether or not he was a true prophet of God.  I began to read every book and article I could find about him.  I guess the Lord was trying my sincerity because several weeks passed before the Holy Ghost whispered to me that I needed to study the Book of Mormon if I really wanted to know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

It isn’t that I had never read the Book of Mormon previously because I had read the book numerous times; I knew the story line and could even quote scriptures from it.  This time was different because I was on a journey to know the truth.  I did not start my study with First Nephi but began with Moroni 10:4-5:  “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

I then read the experience of Alma and the teachings of Abinadi.  I read the conversion story of Alma the Younger and the sons of King Mosiah.  I read the conversion stories of King Lamoni and his father.  Even though I was asking God “with real intent” and had “faith in Christ” that I would receive an answer, I still had not received a confirmation from the Spirit.

I next studied Third Nephi and the resurrected Christ’s visit to the Americas.  I read and prayed every day.  I searched, and I pondered.  I needed to know.  I eventually arrived at Third Nephi 27 where the disciples asked Jesus Christ what they should call His church and read the following in verses 4-8:

“And the Lord said unto them:  Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
“Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name?  For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
“And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
“Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
“And how be it my church save it be called in my name?  For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.”  (Emphasis added.)

                 I knew that the name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I knew that we pray, speak, and do all things in the name of Jesus Christ.  I pondered upon the experience of Joseph Smith and his vision of God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I thought about how he translated the Book of Mormon in a short period of time and then re-established the Church of Jesus Christ on earth under the direction of Christ.  I remembered that the Church had started with just six official members and had grown to more than a million members.  [There are now more than 14 million members of the Church.]

                I realized that I had found the missing piece to my puzzle.  I knelt beside my bed in prayer and pleaded with Heavenly Father to give me a confirmation of the truthfulness of what I had read.  In my pleading, I asked Him to help me to know that I know.

                I was still praying when I began to feel a wonderful warm feeling.  The Holy Ghost filled my soul so completely that I felt like I was glowing, almost like a giant light bulb, with a bright light shining from every part of my being.  I thanked Heavenly Father for confirming to me what I had believed all my life, ended my prayer, and sat upon my bed.  The Holy Ghost continued to be with me for a long time, and I basked in the light.  I felt absolutely wonderful because I could finally say, “I know” - and I knew that I knew!

                A few years ago I wrote my testimony for my children as part of their Christmas present.  After sharing my conversion story, I wrote:  “I have relied on this testimony many times in past years and have even gone back to Heavenly Father for reconfirmation numerous times.  Over the years, I realized that this testimony meant much more than I thought at first.”  Then I shared some of the other truths I know because I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true.

                President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about how a testimony of the Book of Mormon is the foundation to much more knowledge.  He said, “I repeat, if the Book of Mormon is true, the Church is true, for the same authority under which this sacred record came to light is present and manifest among us today.  It is a restoration of the Church set up by the Savior in Palestine.  It is a restoration of the Church set up by the Savior when He visited this continent as set forth in this sacred record.”

                Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Quorum of Seventy stated:  “The testimony of others may initiate and nourish the desire for faith and testimony, but eventually every individual must find out for himself.  [Emphasis added.]  None can permanently endure on borrowed light….
                “It is a grand thing to know – and to know that you know and that the light has not been borrowed from another.”

                Elder Callister said that as long as we “casually read and pray” we will “never” find out the truth, “worlds without end,” but if we “set aside a period of fasting and pleading, the truth will be burned into [our] heart, and [we] will know that [we know]….
                “If you want to know that you know, a price must be paid.  And you alone must pay that price….”

                Brothers and sisters, I paid the price and can say “I know” - and I know that I know.  This knowledge changed my life – not outwardly but inwardly.  I continued to follow the same patterns as I had done previously, but I was spiritually stronger and more committed.  I know that the Book of Mormon is a true witness of Jesus Christ and that we can move closer to God by reading this great book.  I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the Church of Christ that was restored to the earth in the latter days.  I know that there is a living prophet upon the earth, even Thomas S. Monson, who leads us and guides us in the paths we should follow.  I know that God lives and that He knows each one of His children by name and loves each one of us.  I testify of the truthfulness of these things because I know they are true.  I encourage you to pay the price and learn the truth for yourself.  You can know – and know that you know!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Family Proclamation, Part 2

Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand and live the principles contained in the inspired document known as “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.”  The second paragraph of the Proclamation testifies that each one of us is a child of God.  Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits.

“All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God.  Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.  Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

Psalms 82:6 explains our relationship to God:  “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

I believe it is important for us to know and understand that we are children of God.  When we understand that we are embryo Gods,  no one can put us down and make us feel inferior.  This knowledge can change how we think of ourselves.  Another reason why this knowledge is important involves our treatment of other people.  Since we are all children of God, we should treat each other as royalty.  We are all princes and princesses in the kingdom of God.  This knowledge can change our lives and the lives of all with whom we associate!

Because we are children of God and have moral agency, we have the responsibility to make good choices and take personal responsibility for our words and actions.  President Boyd K. Pack of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:  “We know that gender was set in the premortal world.  `The spirit and the body are the soul of man’ (D&C 88:15).  This matter of gender is of great concern to the Brethren, as are all matters of morality  A few of you may have felt or been told that you were born with troubling feelings and that you are not guilty if you act on those temptations.  Doctrinally we know that if that were true, your agency would have been erased, and that cannot happen.  You always have a choice to follow the prompting of the Holy Ghost and live a morally pure and chaste life, one filled with virtue.”

A hymn entitled “I am a Child of God” (Hymns,#301) explains how being a child of God applies to each of us.  I know that God is our father and that He love each of His children – both you and I.  We should all feel better about ourselves and each other because of this knowledge.  We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by understanding and applying this doctrine in our lives.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Obedience to Law Is Liberty

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that obedience to law is liberty.  Many people have the mistaken idea that rules take away freedoms; in fact, laws and commandments are written for our physical and spiritual safety and provide freedoms.  We each have our agency and can choose to obey or disobey the rules, laws, and commandments, but we cannot choose the consequences of our choices.  Obedience to traffic laws helps to keep us safe from accidents; it also frees us from constantly watching for troopers and/or policemen.  Obedience to God’s law keeps us free from danger and sin.  When we are obedient to God’s laws, we encourage God to protect us from all evil – physical and spiritual.

                Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently spoke at a world-wide conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the importance of obedience.  The topic of his talk was “Obedience to Law Is Liberty.”  He began his talk by stating, “Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws.”

                Elder Perry described a little brown book that he received as an LDS serviceman entering the armed forces during World War II.  “In the front of the book, these three prophets of God [President Heber J. Grant and his counselors, J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay] wrote:  The incidents of the armed service do not permit our keeping in constant personal touch with you, either directly or by personal representation.  Our next best course is to put in your hands such portions of modern revelation and of explanations of the principles of the Gospel as shall bring to you, wherever you may be, renewed hope and faith, as likewise comfort, consolation, and peace of spirit.

                Since we are currently fighting “another war,” Elder Perry sought to give us counsel on how to fight this war.  “It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds.  It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments.  Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.”

                Elder Perry continued to share excerpts from his “little brown book” and said that “immediately after the letter from the First Presidency, there is a `Prefatory Note to Men in the Service,’ titled `Obedience to Law Is Liberty.’  The note draws a parallel between military law, which is `for the good of all who are in the service,’ and divine law.
                “It states, `In the universe, too, where God is in command, there is law – universal, eternal … law – with certain blessings and immutable penalties.’

                “The final words of the note focus on obedience to God’s law:  `If you wish to return to your loved ones with head erect, … if you would be a man and live abundantly – then observe God’s law.  In so doing you can add to those priceless freedoms which you are struggling to preserve, another on which the others may well depend, freedom from sin; for truly “obedience to law is liberty.”’”

                Elder Perry said that this statement rang “true” to him at the time and that it rings “true to all of us now.”  He explained that it may be “because we have a revealed knowledge of our premortal history.   We recognize that when God the Eternal Father presented His plan to us at the beginning of time, Satan wanted to alter the plan.  He said he would redeem all mankind.  Not one soul would be lost, and Satan was confident he could deliver on his proposal.  But there was an unacceptable cost – the destruction of man’s agency, which was and is a gift given by God (see Moses 4:1-3).  About this gift, President Harold B. Lee said, `Next to life itself, free agency is God’s greatest gift to mankind.’  Then it was no small thing for Satan to disregard man’s agency.  In fact, it became the principle issue over which the War in Heaven was fought. Victory in the War in Heaven was a victory for man’s agency.”

                Elder Perry reminded us that Satan has a “backup plan” – and “none of us should ever underestimate how driven Satan is to succeed.”  He said that Satan’s “role in God’s eternal plan” is to create “`opposition in all things’ (2 Nephi 2:11) and [to test] our agency.  Each choice you and I make is a test of our agency – whether we choose to be obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God is actually a choice between `liberty and eternal life’ and `captivity and death.’

                “This fundamental doctrine is clearly taught in 2 Nephi, the second chapter:  `Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself’ (2 Nephi 2:27).”

                The First Presidency probably sent the “little brown book” to Elder Perry and other servicemen because “they were more concerned about a greater war than World War II.  I also believe they hoped the book would be a shield of faith against Satan and his armies in this greater war – the war against sin – and serve as a reminder to me to live the commandments of God.”

                Elder Perry continued:  A useful way to think about the commandments is they are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father.  His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy….

                “God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes.  Sin will always be sin.  Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings.  The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change.  They are immutable and unchanging.  Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws.  As Alma counseled his errant son Corianton, `Wickedness never was happiness’ (Alma 41:10)….

                “Surely there could not be any doctrine more strongly expressed in the scriptures than the Lord’s unchanging commandments and their connection to our happiness and well-being as individuals, as families, and as a society.  There are moral absolutes.  Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. These things do not change.

                “In a world where the moral compass of society is faltering, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers, nor should its stakes and wards, its families, or its individual members.  We must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important to keep but acknowledge all of God’s commandments. We must stand firm and steadfast, having perfect confidence in the Lord’s consistency and perfect trust in His promises.”

                Elder Perry encouraged us to keep our “lights” high by setting good examples in keeping the commandments of God.    He encouraged us to “stand morally firm” in this war against sin.

                Our nation is in deep peril as evil is attempting to destroy our government and our way of life.  The very best thing that we can do to safeguard our nation is to keep the commandments of God.  He promises that He will send His angels to protect us if we will keep His commandments.  We must turn to the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ, in order to be truly safe and free!  Obedience to law is liberty!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Internet Tax

                Congress is considering a federally mandated Internet sales tax known as the Marketplace Fairness Act; in fact, it is being rammed through the Senate.  Senators voted on Monday 74-20 to send the act to the floor for final passage.  Since there is bipartisan support for the bill in the House, the final passage of the bill could take place this week.  The President has already endorsed the Senate bill and said he would sign it if it gets to him. 

                The national Internet tax mandate would give massive new controls over state tax policies to the federal government, and it would affect every American, whether or not they use the Internet.  Under this mandate, all Americans would pay more taxes and governments would be able to access and keep records of any and/or all purchases we make over the Internet.  The additional tax money would encourage big-spending governors to keep spending.  The mandate would bring more regulations, and the higher taxes would crush economic growth.

                This bill would affect anything we purchase over the Internet and make all of it subject to new state and local sales taxes, taxes that would be determined by where we live.  Both consumers and on-line companies would have new tax burdens to carry.

                T. Elliot Gaiser explained the consequences of the plan:  “The burden on businesses would be immense and would skew the playing field against online businesses and online consumers.  `This means quizzing purchasers about their location, looking up the appropriate rules and regulations in more than 9,600 taxing jurisdictions across the country and then collecting and remitting sales tax for that distant authority,’ writes Andrew Moylan, senior fellow with the R Street Institute.  `No brick-and-mortar shop has to do this for in-store sales, and yet every online retailer would have to do it for remote sales.’”
                There is bi-partisan opposition to the Marketplace Fairness Act.  Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Finance Committee, said that the proposed law would “violate the rights of citizens who choose to live in states without sales tax” and is a “clear infringement on states’ rights.”  Baucus was joined in his opposition by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
                Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said in a Washington Times column that he opposes the bill because it will destroy jobs and impose massive new costs on small businesses. “At a time when businesses are already being strangled by job-destroying regulations, such as those imposed by Obamacare, the Internet Tax Mandate would add even more costs to our nation’s small businesses and job creators.  The requirement to calculate sales-tax rates, much less collect those taxes, for each customer becomes even more burdensome when considering the various state, city and county sales taxes that will be imposed across the United States.”
                The experts at The Heritage Foundation have weighed in on the subject also. Heritage President Jim DeMint, while still a Senator, said that the plan amounts to “taxation without representation” because business owners would be subject, under the proposed mandate, to taxes over which they have no say.”  “The Marketplace Fairness Act recently introduced in the Senate would require online retailers to collect and pay sales taxes to states where they have no physical presence or democratic recourse., eBay and the like could have to pay sales taxes to any state from which an Internet user placed an order, even if the company’s headquarters, warehouses and sales staff are located entirely in other states.
                “Such online sales tax proposals are taxation without representation.  The proposed federal law tells businesses that there is no escape from the clutches of tax-hungry politicians. That concept is antithetical to our federalist system, which promotes competition among our states for the best economic policies.”
                David Addington, one of the many experts at Heritage, explained, “The 1992 Quill Corporation decision protects out-of-state businesses that have no facilities or employees in a state, but receive orders by Internet, mail-order catalog, or telephone from in-state customers, often called `remote sales.’  The Supreme Court held that, under the Constitution’s clause authorizing Congress to `regulate commerce … among the several states,’ a state could not force those out-of-state businesses to collect the state’s sales tax on remote sales.  However, the Court made clear that Congress could, if it wished, pass a law to authorize the states to impose that tax collection requirement on out-of-state businesses.  Thus, Senators who wish to authorize states to require out-of-state businesses to serve as their tax collectors have introduced S. 743.
                “Like the money-hungry federal government, many state governments have financial and political interests in getting their hands on more and more money to grow their governments.  It is not surprising that many of those state governments find out-of-state businesses to be lucrative and politically easy targets for tax legislation.
“Take, for example, a company whose workforce and warehouses are in New Hampshire.  This company has no contacts with Illinois other than taking remote sales orders over the Internet.
                “The Internet sales tax proposal would allow Illinois politicians to use the New Hampshire company as their tax collector.  The New Hampshire company would have to collect Illinois sales tax on its remote sales to Illinois residents and send the taxes to the Illinois state government.
                “The Illinois politicians would have nothing to fear, because the damaging effects of the Illinois tax action fall on the New Hampshire company, in the form of an increase in the price of the company’s goods or a cut in its profit margins, or both.  And, of course, the New Hampshire employees who understand what the Illinois government just did to them vote in New Hampshire and not Illinois.  Moreover, the Illinois consumers who would pay Illinois state sales taxes to the New Hampshire company, for subsequent forwarding to the Illinois treasury, would likely not understand that their payment of sales tax to the New Hampshire company is the result of a new taxation decision under S. 743 by their home state’s governing officials.”
                Amy Payne, another expert at Heritage, wrote, “`Brick-and-mortar’ stores like Wal-Mart are in favor of the Internet sales tax, because they see these online retailers as competitors.  But the other big proponents of the tax are state governments, which would be able to reach into other states for revenue.”
                This tax will hurt consumers and small businesses conducting business on the Internet, but it will benefit politicians and special interests.  I do not believe that the Marketplace Fairness Act is fair at all!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Saudi Connection

                Numerous people believe that the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the attack on our embassy in Benghazi are connected, and they believe that the connection is Saudi Arabia.  The relationship between the government of the United States and the Saudi government is being questioned, and the questions go all the way back to September 11, 2001, and before.

                Why did airplane-loads of Saudi nationals – including some of the Bin Laden family – take off from airports in the United States when our nation was a huge no-fly zone following the attacks on our nation?

                Did Barack Obama have Saudi support in order to move from community organizer to state senator to President of the United States?

                What were the Americans really doing in Benghazi and who were they really working for there?

                Why did Secretary of State John Kerry meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud on Tuesday – the day after the Boston bombing?  Why did the FBI start backtracking on the Saudi national from suspect, to person of interest, to witness, to victim, to nobody?

                How is it possible that President Obama just happened to have a “chance” encounter with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud and Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday?

                Why was the file on the Saudi national altered late Wednesday afternoon?

                Who is the Saudi national, and why did Michelle Obama visit him in the hospital?

                Why was this same Saudi national granted a student visa without being properly vetted – especially since he was allegedly once flagged on a terror watch list?

                The Blaze reported on the Saudi connection:  “It is still unclear why the government is stonewalling on information as to why the file initially labeled [the Saudi] as a threat, only to change that designation later in the week.  Is there a legitimate threat that’s being covered up?  Did the government have actual concerns about [the Saudi], but was too quick to connect him in this instance and is now trying to stave off embarrassment? …

                “Beck proceeded to put the issue in a larger perspective, noting that multiple news outlets reported after 9/11 that prominent Saudis were allowed to leave the country, even as all flights were grounded.  `The Bush administration would later block the investigation into Saudi involvement into 9/11, even though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and would eventually force the redaction of a 28-page chapter of the 9/11 Commission report regarding foreign, specifically Saudi, support for some of the Al-Qaeda hijackers,’ Beck said, noting that the questionable relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States goes back further than the current administration.

                “But, he said, we have now taken that relationship to a whole new level.  `On January 14, 2013, President Obama met with Saudi Minister of Interior,’ Beck remarked  `Two days later Janet Napolitano signed agreement with Saudi minister allowing “trusted traveler” status on Saudi student visitors, meaning greatly reduced security checks and scrutiny.

                “`This is trusted traveler status that we don’t give to some of our most trusted allies, and we gave it to Saudi Arabia last January?’  Beck said.  `So they can just walk into our country no questions asked?’
                “`There is a pattern,’ he said.  `There is a relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia the American public doesn’t know about.  The case of [Saudi national] is only the latest example.’”

                Doug Hagmann believes that there is a “blood trail” between the murders of our Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi and the murders of three Americans in the terrorist attack in Boston.  He reported the same information about the Saudi national who “was seen running from the explosions and tackled by police a short distance from the bombing site.”  He was under guard at a Boston hospital after being injured in the attack and “was reportedly the subject of an alleged deportation order….

                “Amid the flurry of media reports that followed, however, his name and status at the hospital were gradually and methodically being erased from news reports and people’s memories.  In intentional government and media brown-out turned into a noticeable blackout, even while federal authorities were searching his … apartment … and removing various items for forensic analysis.

                “Before the last items were taken from his apartment, I am told, orders were given to immediately stop any investigation of [him].  Suddenly and inexplicably, [he] became off limits, and a few federal agents are angry and want to know why….

                “According to sources close to this author, [he] became the primary focus of a high level diplomatic meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal on Tuesday morning, a the day after the marathon bombing and the day before his status suddenly changed….

                “The aforementioned file alteration and status were changed following this meeting, and arrangements were reportedly made for him to leave the United States.  As all of this reportedly took place in such a very short period of time, it is important to understand that the alleged changes had to have the approval at the level of the U.S. Secretary of State, or higher.  It was done on behalf of the Saudis, with approval and direction form the highest levels of our own government.  Why is this important to the events in Boston and Benghazi?”

                Hagmann warns us to not get caught up in what happen to this Saudi national but to simply be “aware of it and who is behind it.”   He wants us to look at the bigger picture – “an agenda to shape the world power structure.  The Obama regime is in place to finish what was started long ago.  Now, the players under Obama and a complicit press are shielding the truth from the American people.  We are not being told the truth about anything, from Benghazi to Boston, and the common factor in all of this is Saudi Arabia….”

                According to Hagmann, we started down this path under the direction of President George H.W. Bush, that it “existed under [George W.] Bush, and “was further solidified and even expanded by the Obama administration.  It is not a political agenda, but a globalist one.  We do not have elected leaders who favor the U.S., but internationalists that favor the globalist agenda.  Understanding this should explain that the right-left paradigm is a historical artifact, and provide prospective in terms of how the government is pushing this agenda towards completion.  We’ve been overtaken and captured from within….”

                Hagmann believes that the situation with this Saudi national and Benghazi debacle both provide us “with a window into this agenda.”  “Unraveling the truth from the lies in both instances will show just how deep the U.S. is involved with expanding the Saudi Kingdom of power across the Middle East, even at our own national peril.  Of critical importance, this relationship is leading us on the path to World War III.”

                According to Hagmann we “must be able to see the connections – the blood trails – that connect the terrorist attacks in Boston to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi.”  We must see that the “same template” was used from the “first World Trade Center Bombing to 9/11, from Benghazi to Boston.”  I have come to the conclusion that we cannot trust anything that our federal government tells us.  We have to think for ourselves and read between the lines.  We must rely upon the God of this land, even Jesus Christ, in order to survive the evil that has taken over our government.