Declaration of Independence

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Milton Friedman

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that freedom determines how well the economy runs.  The Constitution of the United States was written to protect and preserve freedom.  Economists understand the connection between freedom and economy.

                Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, and writer; he taught at the University of Chicago for more than thirty years.  He received the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.  He is “known for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy.  As a leader of the Chicago school of economics, he profoundly influenced the research agenda of the economics profession.  A survey of economists ranked Friedman as the second most popular economist of the twentieth century after John Maynard Keynes, and The Economist described him as `the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century … possibly of all of it.’”

                Friedman was born July 31, 1912, in Brooklyn, New York, and died on November 16, 2006, in San Francisco, California.  He married Rose Director, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.  She was born December 25, 1910, in Staryi Chortoryisk, Ukraine, and died August 18, 2009, in Davis, California.  The couple became the parents of David D. Friedman and Janet Friedman.

                Milton Friedman gave much counsel about how the economy runs well and what conditions it needs to flourish.  In honor of his 102nd birthday, the Blaze published “ten of his most timeless quotes according to readers, from his influential `Capitalism and Freedom’ “based on Amazon Kindle’s popular highlights feature.”  They are listed below “in descending order based on number of highlights.”

1.   “[Of the two key Constitutional principles for preserving freedom] [t]he second broad principle is that government power must be dispersed.”

2.   “Fundamentally, there are only two ways of co-ordinating the economic activities of millions.  One is central direction involving the use of coercion – the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state.  The other is voluntary co-operation of individuals – the technique of the market place.”

3.   “Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it does this task [protects individuals against coercion] so well.  It gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want.  Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

4.   “[Of the two key Constitutional principles for preserving freedom] [f]irst, the scope of government must be limited.  Its major function must be to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow-citizens:  to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets.”

5.  “To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them.”

6.  “A society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom.”

7.   “The possibility of co-ordination through voluntary co-operation rests on the elementary – yet frequently denied – proposition that both parties to an economic transaction benefit from it, provided the transaction is bi-laterally voluntary and informed.”

8.  “The nineteenth-century liberal regarded an extension of freedom as the most effective way to promote welfare and equality; the twentieth-century liberal regards welfare and equality as either prerequisites of or alternatives to freedom.”

9.   “These then are the basic roles of government in a free society:  to provide a means whereby we can modify the rules, to mediate differences among us on the meaning of the rules, and to enforce compliance with the rules on the part of those few who would otherwise not play the game.”

10.  “Fundamental differences in basic values can seldom if ever be resolved ate the ballot box; ultimately they can only be decided, though not resolved, by conflict.  The religious and civil wars of history are a bloody testament to this judgment.”

                Our nation – and indeed our world – would be much better off if more people understood and followed Friedman’s ten bits of counsel listed above.  The principles contained in these quotes are priceless.  He tells us in simple language what is required to have a healthy economy:  limited government, voluntary participation in the market place, the best way to promote welfare and equality, the difficulty of resolving conflicts about basic values, and much more.  Please take a moment to study his ten quotes and compare them to our nation today.  Is it any wonder that our economy continues to struggle under the current administration?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Israel at War

                Israel has been at war many times since they became a nation again after World War II.  The latest war involves terrorists (Hamas) living in its own territories and funded by the United States.  This war apparently started with the kidnapping and killing of three teenage boys followed by the retaliatory killing of a Palestinian teenager.  Israel located and dealt with the murderer of the youth from Gaza, but Hamas began unrelenting rocket attacks on civilian population centers in Israel.  Israel had no choice but to defend its people and began an aerial campaign to stop the attacks.  Israel began its ground offensive when Hamas used a “homicide tunnel to infiltrate thirteen terrorists, armed with anti-tank missiles, machine guns, grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition within a few hundred meters of a civilian farming community.”  The latest report on the number of rockets fired at Israeli cities is “more than 1,820 explosive projectiles in the past 14 days, an average of 140 per day, according to the IDF.” 

                The war continues at the present time because Hamas will not agree to the cease fire brokered by Egypt, supported by the United States and other nations, and agreed to by Israel.  Israel has agreed to stop this war if Hamas will stop firing rockets; therefore, the continuing deaths are the fault of Hamas who refuses to comply with a cease fire. 

                An article written by Dan Gordon, a reserve captain in the IDF, and another article by Sharona Schwartz explain how Hamas uses a series of tunnels to get into Israel to advance their agenda to “attack, kill, and kidnap Israeli civilians.”  Captain Gordon’s article describes tunnels dug/built by Hamas:  “The IDF Military Spokesperson Unit announced that the Israel Defense Forces have uncovered thirteen tunnels with thirty-four access points to them across the Gaza Strip.  To perhaps put a finer point on that, reliable civilian news outlets have stated that the IDF has uncovered and controls a dozen tunnels which lead under the border from Gaza straight into Israeli territory, directly threatening Israeli communities within Israel’s pre-1967, internationally recognized borders. 

                “Just so there’s no confusion here, we’re not talking about `Occupied or Disputed territories.’  Nor are we talking about smuggling tunnels.  The tunnels have been burrowed from Gaza, underneath the internationally recognized border of the State of Israel, and have exit points that put them in close proximity to civilian communities.

                “As has been widely reported in the international press, Hamas has three types of tunnels.  One type is used for smuggling everything from luxury automobiles to advanced anti-tank missiles.  Those tunnels are built by private Gazan contractors, who get rich off them, and are in turn taxed by Hamas, which makes a large part of their income from these smuggling operations.

                “The second type of tunnel which Hamas digs are the ones they dig for their leaders, to allow them to operate safe and sound from Israeli air strikes or artillery.  These have been reported to be built beneath such institutions as Gaza’s largest hospital.  The point not to be missed here is that Hamas knows how to build, not only smuggling tunnels, but sophisticated, air conditioned, structurally sound bomb shelters.  And it does so … for its political and military elite….”

                Captain Gordon describes the third type of tunnel as “homicide tunnels meant to provide the means to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians.”  These “holes literally opening up within a few hundred meters of your home and armed terrorists coming up out of the earth, like zombies in a horror movie, heading straight for your home, for you, for your children.
                “Once again, just so there is no mistake, these homicide tunnels are OFFENSIVE weapons.  There is nothing defensive about them.  They are built, not to defend Gazan civilians from Israeli attack, but to attack, kill and kidnap Israeli civilians.”

                Ms. Schwartz’s article gives more information on the Hamas tunnels.  “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at the start of the ground operation that the main objective was to dismantle Hamas’ terror tunnel network.
                “`All of Gaza is an underground city, and the amount of infrastructure Hamas built up over the years is immense.  There are tunnels, extended bunkers, weapons storage facilities, even within urban areas.’ Israeli military spokesman Capt. Eytan Buchman told the Washington Post. 
                “Human rights groups have for years decried Israel for limiting the amount of construction materials into Gaza, but Israeli officials have insisted the cement was being diverted for terrorism use, not homes and businesses.  The latest revelation of the extensive, concrete-fortified underground structures would appear to bolster the Israeli claims.”

                I understand that some of these tunnels are more than one hundred feet underground and more than a mile long.  The IDF recently discovered an opening of a tunnel in the dining hall of Kibbutz Kissufim, a community in southern Israel.

                Before you decide which side to support, please remember the moral difference between Israel and Hamas.  Israel is defending its right to exist while Hamas fights to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.  The IDF puts itself between Hamas and Israeli civilians while Hamas puts its civilians between themselves and the IDF.  Steven Buccexplains this moral difference.  He served as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official before joining The Heritage Foundation.

                “Hamas sets up rocket launchers – as well as supply dumps and command-and-control sites – in the midst of apartment buildings, mosques and schools.  From these sites, its fighters launch dozens of rockets in salvos, targeting population centers with no discrimination at all.  They have been firing almost continuously of late.  But normally, they fire when Israeli school children move from their homes, which have safe shelters, to their schools, which also have shelters.  They do this deliberately to try to catch the kids in the open.  They don’t seek to minimize collateral damage – they seek to maximize it.

                “Israel, on the other hand, fires only at specific, intelligence-derived military targets.  Since these targets are deliberately intermixed with the civilian population by Hamas, Israel must take steps to minimize the collateral casualties.

                “Before the Israelis strike a building, every home in it gets a call on its landline phone, as do all the cell phones associated with the inhabitants of the building – the cells additionally get text messages – telling them that in a few minutes the building will be targeted.  Finally, to make sure everyone gets the message, Israel drops a dud bomb – one containing no explosives – onto the roof of the structure.  Minutes later, the building is destroyed.  There is no instance in modern military history where a force has taken greater measures to give the innocents as much change to get out of the way.  It is as `discriminant’ as a modern military can be.”

                Mr. Bucci’s article continues with an explanation of how Israel protects its citizens with its Iron Dome rocket defense system and its ‘Red Alert’ app for warning civilians of an attack.  He gives a simple explanation of why Israel is at war:  “Israel just wants to be left alone; Hamas wants the destruction of Israel.  There is no moral equivalence there, and the tactics of the two sides prove the point.”

                Prophets for thousands of years foresaw present-day Israel and how the world around it will try to destroy it.  Ancient prophecies are being fulfilled, and the scene is being set for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  A cease fire may end this specific war, but Israel will continue to fight wars.  I will continue to support Israel because God protects them.  No one can win against the God of Israel!

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. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moral Issues of Crisis

                The crisis caused by our porous southern border involves many issues.  There are the health problems coming into our nation by unvaccinated illegal aliens.  There are the social issues caused by people who refuse to assimilate.  There are the national security problems caused by porous borders.  Then there are the moral issues.

                Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University, wrote an interesting article about how the crisis shows the immorality of “callous parents” who “send their children as pawns northward without escort,” liberal elites, progressives and ethnic activists, CEOs of companies wanting cheap labor, immigration-reform advocates, etc. 

                Hanson also discusses the hypocrisy of the government in Mexico.  “Mexico strictly enforces some of the harshest immigration laws in the world that either summarily deport or jail most who dare to cross Mexican borders illegally, much less attempt to work inside Mexico or become politically active.  If America were to emulate Mexico’s immigration policies, millions of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. immediately would be sent home.
                “How, then, are tens of thousands of Central American children crossing with impunity hundreds of miles of Mexican territory, often sitting atop Mexican trains?  Does Mexico believe that the massive influxes will serve to render U.S. immigration law meaningless, and thereby completely shred an already porous border?  Is Mexico simply ensuring that the surge of poorer Central Americans doesn’t dare stop in Mexico on its way north?”

                Hanson also discusses the hypocrisy of the U.S. government in its choice to simply not enforce existing laws, in the decision to “send immigrant kids all over the United States and drop them into communities without firm guarantees of waiting sponsors or family.”

                I encourage you to read the entire article because it asks a lot of questions that should be asked and points out the selfishness and immorality in allowing the crisis to take place.

                Judge Jeanine Pirro explains the moral problems clearly and passionately. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Daniel Boone

                Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  He learned to read and write but received little formal education.  He was an expert rifleman, hunter, and trapper by age twelve.  He married Rebecca Bryan about 1755.

                Boone was part of the unsuccessful mission to capture Fort Duquesne in 1755 and escaped from the bloody ambush.  He later led an expedition into Kentucky where he eventually settled and endured many hardships.  Boone and twenty-seven of his men were captured by Indians in 1778; he was taken to the Indian village and adopted by Flack Fish, a distinguished Shawnee Chief, to replace his deceased son.  Boone was honored and respected by the members of the tribe.  He escaped by traveling one hundred and sixty miles on foot in four days while being pursued by several hundred Indians. 

                Daniel Boone had great influence in opening the wilderness beyond the Alleghenies to millions of Americans.  He died on September 26, 1820, in Missouri at the age of eighty-six years.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Confront 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 … be confronted with the witnesses against him….”  This provision gives the accused the right to confront the witnesses of his alleged crime and to question them.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained that under “the English system of law there was an odious practice of having witnesses make out depositions (written testimonies) which were read to the accused at the time of his trial.  This deprived the defendant of the opportunity to confront his witnesses and cross-examine them.  It was on the basis of a mere deposition that Sir Walter Raleigh was convicted of treason and beheaded.
                “The one exception to the rule against the admission of a written accusation is the declaration by a dying witness, which may be read against the accused on the ground that the `solemnity of the circumstances’ tends to make the testimony creditable.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 708-709.)

                John C. Douglass of The Heritage Foundation explained that there was “no record of any debate over the Confrontation Clause in the First Congress.  Nevertheless, history offers some guidance to understanding the purpose of the clause.  Long before the American Constitution, trials featuring live testimony in open court subject to cross-examination were typical in the English common-law courts.  Those who adopted the Sixth Amendment probably had that model in mind, especially in light of the abuses the American colonists knew of or had experienced….”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 354.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Making the Sacrament Meaningful

                What do you do to make your sacrament experience more meaningful?  The opportunity to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants with God can be a source of strength to us as well as a new beginning.  We can make our experience more meaningful by preparing ourselves for it.  We should examine our lives and consider what we need to do to repent of our sins.  We should also ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how we are applying it in our lives.  None of us is perfect nor do we need to be perfect to partake of the sacrament; we just need to come to our sacrament meeting with a spirit of humility and repentance in our hearts. The sacrament helps us draw closer to the Savior.  

                Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church.  It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together.  Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

                Continuing with his remarks, Elder Oaks suggested several things we can do to better prepare ourselves for a more meaningful sacrament experience.  (1) Be seated “well before” the meeting starts.  (2) Dress appropriately.  “Our manner of dress indicates the degree to which we understand and honor the ordinance in which we will participate.”  (3) “During sacrament meeting – and especially during the sacrament service – we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others.”  (4) “The music of sacrament meeting is a vital part of our worship….  How wonderful when every person in attendance joins in the worship of singing – especially in the hymn that helps us prepare to partake of the sacrament.  All sacrament meeting music requires careful planning, always remembering that this music is for worship, not for performance.”

                Elder Oaks quoted President Joseph Fielding Smith:  “This is an occasion when the gospel should be presented, when we should be called upon to exercise faith, and to reflect on the mission of our Redeemer, and to spend time in the consideration of the saving principles of the gospel, and not for other purposes.  Amusement, laughter, light-mindedness, are all out of place in the sacrament meetings of the Latter-day Saints.  We should assemble in the spirit of prayer, of meekness, with devotion in our hearts” (Doctrine of Salvation, 2:342).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finding Happiness

                Parents can strengthen their homes – and thus strengthen their communities and nations – by teaching their children the path to happiness.  We are all searching for happiness, but many of us do not know where to look for it.  The Declaration of Independence declares that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are God-given rights.  So, how are we to find the path to happiness?

                Bishop Gerald Causse, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, discussed how to follow the path of happiness.  “Most people dislike the unknown.  The uncertainty of life can create a lack of confidence, a fear of the future.  Some hesitate to make commitments out of fear of failure, even when good opportunities present themselves….

                “Another philosophy that will limit us is illustrated by this maxim:  `Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 28:7).  This philosophy favors indulging in immediate pleasure regardless of their future consequences.

                “There is a different path than the paths of fear or doubt or self-indulgence – a path that brings peace, confidence, and serenity in life.  You can’t control all the circumstances of your life, but you have control of your happiness.  You are the architect of it.

                “Your happiness is more the result of your spiritual vision and the principles upon which you base your life than of anything else.  These principles will bring you happiness regardless of unexpected challenges and surprises.  Let me review some of these essential principles.

                “1. Recognize your personal worth….  Knowing that God knows us and loves us personally is like a light that illuminates our life and gives it meaning.  Whoever I am, whether I have friends or not, whether I’m popular or not, and even if I feel rejected or persecuted by others, I have an absolute assurance that my Heavenly Father loves me.  He knows my needs; He understands my concerns; He is eager to bless me….

                “2. Become who you are….  One of the great adventures of life is finding out who we really are and where we came from and then consistently living in harmony with our true identity as children of God and with the purpose of our existence.

                “3. Trust in God’s promises….  [The promises given to Abraham] are tangible, and  if we do our part, God will do His….

                “You have dreams and goals?  That’s good!  Work with all your heart to accomplish them.  Then let the Lord do the rest.  He will make you  into what you cannot make of yourself.

                “At all times, accept His will.  Be ready to go where He asks you to go and to do what He asks you to do.  Become the men and women He is nurturing you to become” (“Follow the Path of Happiness,” Ensign, June 2014, pp. 14-18).  

                I know there is a God in heaven who wants us – His children – to be happy.  That means all of us, including you and me.  I know that we can follow the path to happiness if we will follow the counsel of Bishop Causse.  We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by following the path to happiness.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Armed Citizens Save Lives

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that law-abiding and armed citizens save lives.  The vast majority of current, former, and retired law enforcement officers who responded to a survey at believe that armed citizens are an effective deterrent to gun violence.  In a survey question about an active shooter situation, those surveyed believe that casualties could be decreased with nearby armed citizens.

                According to the survey and a growing number of sheriffs, police chiefs and rank-and-file offices across the nation, many of our front-line responders disapprove of more restrictions on gun ownership.  They believe that armed citizens are assets in curbing violent crime.

                Detroit City police work in a city that is plagued by many woes, including joblessness, poverty, gangs, illiteracy, and crime.  Detroit City declared bankruptcy and twenty-five percent of the citizens moved away.  The city cut the 2012-2013 budget for the police department by $75 million; this forced a reduction in the number of officers.  The latest estimate lists about 3,000 sworn officers to protect 700,000 residents.

                Residents of Detroit understood that they had no choice if they wanted to survive.  They decided to fight back by obtaining concealed carry permit applications and protecting themselves.  James Craig, the new chief of police, encouraged citizens to arm themselves.  “We’re not advocating violence.  We’re advocates of not being victims.  We’re advocates of self-protection.  We want people to be safe” (America’s 1st Freedom, p. 35).  He sounded both amazed and grateful that large numbers of Detroit residents have armed and empowered themselves.

                If law enforcement officers encourage residents to arm themselves and believe that armed citizens are assets to the police, why do politicians continue to push ineffective gun laws.  Why don’t they enact legislation to get the crazy people off the streets and prevent them from having guns instead of going after the law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights?  Why do politicians refuse to listen to those we pay to combat gun violence?  Why do the mainstream media continue to slant the news about gun violence?  We can only assume that they have ulterior motives in their efforts to disarm law-abiding citizens?