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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Remembering the Pioneers

            July is an exciting time to be in Utah because there are many events leading up to the big celebration of Pioneer Day. Residents of Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in other areas celebrate Pioneer Day in remembrance of the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The holiday is celebrated for several weeks and includes concerts, rodeos, and marathons as well as the big parade on the 24th.

            President Gordon B. Hinckley presented some remarks at a Pioneer Day commemoration concert on July 22, 2001. He counsels the people of Utah and particularly members of the Church to never forget the sacrifices and achievements of the pioneers.

I have felt that we must never permit ourselves to lose sight of the great and singular achievements of those who first came to this valley in 1847. They came not for riches or gold, but rather to find a place where they could worship God under the revelations which are the foundation of this work. They were outcasts, driven and hounded, persecuted and peeled. Their reliance was on the God of heaven. When they reached this place, they stopped in spite of entreaties to go on to California or the Northwest. 

As I have said before, they knew nothing really of the climate of the area, of the conditions of the soil, of the crickets or the grasshoppers with which they soon became acquainted. They had learned all they could concerning the Great Basin, but that was precious little. No one before them had ever grown a potato or an ear of corn or moved a plow to break this sunbaked soil.

            In the months leading up to July 24, 1997, members of the Church studied the lives and accomplishments of the Mormon pioneers. There was a huge reenactment of the pioneer trek with a wagon train traveling from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley. My husband’s brother and his wife took part in this event. Their experience had a profound effect in their lives.

            In recent years the youth organizations of the Church started doing “Trek.” The youth and their leaders are divided into “families” who are members of a handcart company. The youth have the experience of walking for several days, pushing handcarts, and living in conditions similar to those of the pioneers. If the youth live near enough to the pioneer trail, they do their trek along the actual path of the pioneers. Other groups reenact the experience in their local areas. All come away from their experience with greater knowledge about their ancestors and other pioneers and stronger faith in Jesus Christ.

            President Hinckley often reminded members of the Church that we are all beneficiaries of the Mormon pioneers whether or not we had ancestors among the Mormon pioneers. In these remarks he shares the following quote made by Brigham Young in 1868 – 21 years after entering the Salt Lake Valley.

We made and broke the road from Nauvoo to this place. … Some of the time we followed Indian trails; some of the time we ran by the compass. When we left the Missouri River we followed the Platte. And we killed rattlesnakes by the cord in some places, and made roads and built bridges till our backs ached. Where we could not build bridges across rivers we ferried our people across, until we arrived here, where we found a few naked Indians, a few wolves and rabbits, and any amount of crickets; but as for any green tree, or any green fields, we found nothing of the kind, with the exception of a few cottonwoods and willows on the edge of City Creek. For some 1,200 or 1,300 miles we carried every particle of provisions we had when we arrived here.

            President Hinckley says that President Young went on to say: “We prayed over the land, and dedicated it, and the water, air and everything pertaining to them unto the Lord, and the smiles of heaven rested on the land and it became productive, and today yields us the best of grain, fruits and vegetables” (quoted in Nibley, Brigham Young, 441-42).

            Then President Hinckley says, “We must never allow recognition of their trials, of their sacrifices, of their tenacity, of their faith and their prayers in establishing this great community to lapse or be forgotten.”

            The Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and began to tame the desert. They built homes and dug ditches to bring water from the mountains to water their crops. They made the desert blossom and the Valley to become fertile. Many of them were barely settled when they were asked by Brigham Young to go to other areas to make more settlements. Most of the cities in the Mountain West were first started by Mormon Pioneers.

            I am a descendent of the Mormon Pioneers. Seven of my eight great-grandparents traveled to Utah with the pioneers. The eighth came after the transcontinental railroad was finished. Pioneer Day has always been an important day in my life as I remember the trials and sacrifices of my ancestors and their associates.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Family Reunion

           Families are strengthened by family reunions, and strong families support communities and nations. My husband and I - along with three children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren - recently attended the annual reunion for the posterity of my parents. I love family gatherings, and I look forward to THE family reunion each year. Even though I recently had two weeks with my children and grandchildren, I still looked forward to attending the reunion of my extended family. I love being with my siblings and seeing the various members of their families.

            Most years I leave the reunion feeling a little let down, and this year was no exception. I felt a little sad and slightly disappointed, but I did not know why. The patriotic program was outstanding, the company was wonderful, the food was delicious, and the games entertaining. What more did I want?

            I finally determined that I was saddened at the number of family members who attended. I checked the official records and determined that about 130 people were at the reunion. Although this number is a little low, it is very close to the average attendance. I was sad because 130 people represent about 27 percent of my parents’ posterity of 487. I wondered why the rest of the family was not there.

            I started by subtracting the family members who are deceased – about a dozen. I figured that there were another dozen or so people serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or serving in the military. I know that a fair number of people live far enough away to make it difficult to travel to the reunion annually. I gave them a pass as well as a pass to a niece celebrating her birthday, another niece who had an annual commitment on that particular weekend, a great-niece who gave birth to her first child the previous day, and anyone who was too ill to come or had to work. I gave an arbitrary number of 243 people who fit in these categories. That leaves 244 people. Where were the 114 people who were not there?

            Why would this number of people choose to stay away from a family reunion – especially when they live in the same city or within an hour’s drive of the reunion? Everyone is welcome for whatever time they can spare. There is no requirement to attend the entire reunion, and numerous family members were in attendance only a part of the time. My son attended the first half and then left for work. Members of my younger brother’s family left a little early in order to attend a nephew’s baptism. Others came late and were a welcome addition.

            I am saddened to think that I have loved ones who do not want to be around family enough to attend the reunion. How many of them are nursing bitter feelings? How many of them do not feel like they are important to the family? How many of them do not place a high priority on family togetherness?

            These thoughts and feelings are weighing on me quite heavily. I have them every year, but this year they are a little weightier. I suppose the extra weight could come from the fact that I am the chairman for the next reunion. Now I am faced with more questions: What can I do to encourage better attendance? Who can I invite to assist me? What will make a difference?

            I put a high priority on family, and I feel that attendance at the family reunion is important. My husband and I paid more than $1300 to attend this reunion, and we are away from home for ten days this year. I consider those facts to be proof of my commitment to family. I hope and pray that more members of my family will put a high priority on family togetherness!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Family Prosperity

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the connection between strong families and economic prosperity. I have written numerous times about the importance of families in society, and I have called families the core unit of civilization. I found a report that shows the truth of my statements in figures and charts.

            The Sutherland Institute posted its Family Prosperity Index for 2016 showing the connection between the family and the economy. The article reports a combined effort by Sutherland Institute and the American Conservative Union Foundation.

The family is an engine, a force for good. It powers our country and our economy. It’s a building block of who we are, a vision for what we can become, and the cornerstone of strong communities. Without it we are lost. Nourish it and we find prosperity.

            This project is called the Family Prosperity Index (FPI). It ranks the fifty states in how well they are “moving toward the goal of creating family prosperity” in the following six areas: economics, family culture, family self-sufficiency, family structure, family health, and demographics.

            The initiative “measures more than 50 of the economic and social factors that show how families experience prosperity. A state that scores well on the FPI is one that is moving toward the goal of creating family prosperity.” The state with the highest rank is Utah (7.24), and the lowest ranking state is West Virginia (3.50).

            The 2015 Family Prosperity Index here has Utah with the highest rank and New Mexico with the lowest (3.94) - but West Virginia is listed next with a score of 4.03. It shows Alaska in the middle with a ranking of 4.89, just above Illinois at 4.87. It also has the following explanation for what the index does.

The Family Prosperity Index (FPI) provides federal, state, and local policymakers – as well as civic leaders and community-minded citizens – the roadmap needed for the development of economic and social policies that improve the wellbeing and prosperity of American families and the communities in which they live. No other measure provides more credible and comprehensive insights into how the economy affects families, and how families affect the economy.

            Strong families help the economy and good economies strengthen families. Wise politicians will recognize the importance of supporting families by strengthening the economy. Boyd Matheson, President of Sutherland Institute says the following.

Of all the awards and accolades Utah has received, this may very well be the most significant. While Utah has long recognized family as a critical social engine, this report illustrates the power of the family as an economic engine. Lawmakers would be wise to recognize that just as a strong economy helps families, strong families strengthen economies.

            The Sutherland Institute is not the only ones calling for stronger families. Linda and Richard Eyre have written a book with the claim that “strong families equal strong economy and strong society. Their book is titled The Turning: Why the State of the Family Matters, and What the World Can do About It.” The Eyres make the following three points in their book: (1) Households or family groups are the basic unit of society, not individuals. (2) Families have declined more in the last 50 years than in the previous 6,000 years. (3) The increase in social problems directly corresponds with (and is caused by) the decline in functional families. According to the Eyres, strong families will bless this country and society.

Of course, it is one thing to talk about societal problems and declining families, and another thing all together to do something about it. When we are speaking, we like to tell our audiences that “the best thing you can do for this country, and for society at large, is to form a strong family and raise responsible kids.”

            We can follow the counsel of the experts on families and help our nation and society to prosper, or we can ignore them and face the opposite consequence. I intend to do everything that I can do to strengthen my family and other families. I hope that you will join the effort too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sabotaging Trump's Agenda

            Donald Trump has been in office six months tomorrow, but he has little to show for all his efforts. Congress seems to be the problem. Congress has approved a small percentage of his appointees. A Senate bill repealing and replacing Obamacare has once again been shelved. The wall on the southern U.S. border has little or no financing. It appears that Democrats are not the only factor in stopping the Trump agenda. Republicans are not supporting the President.

            Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” but apparently did not realize the depth of the swamp. Establishment politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are fighting against him. The Blaze reports on statements made by Rush Limbaugh on a recent radio show. Limbaugh accused the “Washington establishment” of trying to stop the President with a “silent coup.” 

There was no way that this establishment was going to permit an outsider to come in and clean house and show how Washington can work and blow their cover for the last how many decades….

They were not going to contribute…. They were not going to make this easy for Trump….

We’re in the midst of a silent coup…. These people are trying to take this president out. And everybody understands that. So why in that circumstance do you think that the same people trying to destroy Donald Trump are going to help him get rid of Obamacare? Are going to help him reform the tax code? They’re not. They are going to have to be defeated, not worked with. There isn’t any cooperation.

            This writer believes that Limbaugh is on to something. RINOs are sabotaging President Trump and making it impossible for him to fulfill his campaign promises. Voters gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and now the White House with the expectation that great things would happen. Trump and his cabinet have gotten rid of some of the swamp creatures, but there are many more than must be defeated. Voters can help Trump defeat them by voting them out of office.    

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wisest Person in My Life

            I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is for me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year. I have not posted my story for a few weeks, so I thought I would share a little more of my life.

            Here is the question for Week 10: Who is the wisest person you’ve known? What have you learned from them? Wow! What a question! It is a good question, but it is one that I would have never considered. In fact, I had to give it a great deal of thought. There are many wise people in my life, people that I know personally. They include my parents and siblings, my children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They also include friends, teachers, and associates.

            I suppose that the wisest person in my life is my father. I chose him because his teachings seem to ring louder in my ears than any other. My father was a good man who lived the commandments of God to the best of his abilities. He would be the first person to say that he had many weaknesses, but he worked diligently to overcome them.

            My father was a man who lived the law of repentance. I know this because I saw the effects of the law in his life. He did not use a lot of cuss words, and he never took the Lord’s name in vain. However, I heard some words occasionally on the farm that were not appropriate. I do not remember him using that type of language after leaving the farm. I never heard my father use rough language around my mother.

            My father loved my mother dearly. He made it clear with his words and actions that she was the most important mortal in his life. There was never any doubt in my mind – or the minds of my siblings – about his feelings for her. There was also no doubt that we would be in serious trouble with him if we showed disrespect to his sweetheart – and he heard about it. I think that I saw him cry for the first time when she died in 1979. I felt much security in my childhood because I knew that my father and mother loved each other dearly.

            My father had some sayings that he used over and over again. Each saying had a specific meaning. When he said, “Little picture have big ears,” I knew that I needed to be careful with the words I was using because there were small children in the room who would pick up on the words and probably share them. Another saying was, “Don’t tell anyone everything that you know because they will know what they know plus everything that you know.” My father did not play cards, but he would have held them close to his body if he had.

            My father taught me by word and example to work. He labored hard on the farm to make it successful, and he also worked an eight-hour graveyard shift at a Sinclair service station. He did not take much time for rest or recreation – except on Sundays and holidays. Because my father taught me to work, I am able to walk into a situation and see what needs to be done – and I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and go to work.

            My father taught me by his words and actions that family is important. He would make any sacrifice of time, effort, or money for the good of the family. He did lots of family history and temple work to connect us with our ancestors and attended annual family reunions. He watched over and took care of his family, no matter their relationship with him.

            My father is a very wise man, and I look forward to being with him again in the next life. I am sure that there is much more than he can teach me.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rand Paul

            Senator Rand Paul is my VIP for this week, and he may just be the most important member of the U.S. Senate. It seems that Paul is the only person in Congress that remembers their promises. He recently posted an article outlining his reasons for not voting for the Senate healthcare bill. 

I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch”! …

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now.

            Paul states clearly that he will not vote for the Senate bill as it is written because it does not repeal Obamacare. He calls the bill “Obamacare-lite” and says it does nothing to improve health care.

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.
In fact, the Senate GOP bill codifies and likely expands many aspects of Obamacare.
The Senate Obamacare-lite bill codifies a federal entitlement to insurance. With the Senate GOP bill, Republicans, for the first time, will signal that they favor a key aspect of Obamacare – federal taxpayer funding of private insurance purchases.
The bill will transfer billions of dollars to people who will then transfer billions of dollars to insurance companies….

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill does what the Democrats forgot to do – appropriate billions for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, aka subsidies. Really? Republicans are going to fund Obamacare subsidies that the Democrats forgot to fund?

Doesn’t sound much like repeal to me. One might even argue it’s worse than Obamacare-lite because it actually creates a giant superfund to bail out the insurance companies – something even the Democrats feared to do.

            According to Paul, the Republicans are trying to make Obamacare even worse, rather than repeal it completely and then replace it with something better. The insurance companies surely must be exerting some pressure on Congress to get this type of treatment! It is definitely not the program that Americans are demanding.

I was first elected in the heady days of the Tea Party Tidal Wave, when tens of thousands of citizens gathered on the central city lawn to protest Big Government, Big Debt, and a government takeover of health care.

This citizenry won in four elections. Each time, the GOP establishment told conservatives, “We can’t repeal Obamacare until we have all three branches of
government.” Finally, in 2016, that came to pass. Republicans now control all three branches of government.

And . . . the best that is offered is Obamacare-lite: keeping the Obamacare subsidies, keeping some of the Obamacare taxes, creating a giant insurance bailout superfund, and keeping most of the Obamacare regulations.

            Senator Paul may be joined by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in opposing the bill. So far, Lee has not committed himself one way or the other. Hopefully, he will stand with Paul and save Americans from Obamacare-lite. Maybe, just maybe, both of them will remember their campaign promises to repeal Obamacare.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Obamacare Repeal

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the repeal – or lack thereof – of Obamacare. The Republican Party claimed that they needed to have the U.S. House of Representatives in order to exert power. The people gave the House to them. The party then said that they needed the Senate to have any real effect. The people gave the Senate to them. Then they wanted the White House, and the people gave it to them. Donald Trump has been in office for almost six months, and Obamacare has not yet been repealed. The people are understandably upset and are demanding to know the reason.

            Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) recently gave the best reason for the delay. Toomey was asked a question by an ABC news anchor about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, at a recent town hall. The Senator bluntly said, “I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win. I think most of my colleagues didn’t. So we didn’t expect to be in this situation.” In other words, Republicans felt that they were free to say whatever the people wanted to hear because they were not worried about actually doing what they said they would do.

            This writer is becoming more and more convinced that the current members of Congress – with a few exceptions – are not really interested in doing the will of the people. Apparently, it is time to replace Republicans in Congress in order to help President Trump drain the swamp. This writer is very anxious to vote Alaska’s RINO, Senator Lisa Murkowski, out of office!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Be One

            The visiting teaching message for July 2017 is “That They May Be One.” This is an excellent topic for sisters to discuss, but it is also good for all ages. Hence, I am including the message on my blog.

            We read the thoughts of Jesus Christ on this topic in John 17:20-21: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

            How did Jesus Christ become like Heavenly Father? He did the things that Heavenly Father wanted Him to do. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following. 

Jesus achieved perfect unity with the Father by submitting Himself, both flesh and spirit, to the will of the Father.

… Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire. Such submissiveness is not reached in a day, but through the Holy Spirit, the Lord will tutor us if we are willing until, in process of time, it may accurately be said that He is in us as the Father is in Him. (See “That They May Be One in Us,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 72, 73).

            Elder Christofferson also reminded us that “as we endeavor day by day and week by week to follow the path of Christ, our spirit asserts its preeminence, the battle within subsides, and temptations cease to trouble.” (See “That They May Be One in Us,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 71.) In other words, we cannot achieve this oneness immediately.

            Sister Linda K. Burton, former Relief Society General President, explained what we need to do in order to work toward this unity: “Making and keeping our covenants is an expression of our commitment to become like the Savior. The ideal is to strive for the attitude best expressed in a few phrases of a favorite hymn: `I’ll go where you want me to go. … I’ll say what you want me to say. … I’ll be what you want me to be.’” (See “The Power,Joy, and Love of Covenant Keeping,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 111.) 

            When we make sacred covenants with God, He expects us to keep those covenants. As we keep them, He blesses us and gives us power to keep our covenants to a greater degree. It is by continually striving to keep our covenants that we become like Heavenly Father and Christ.

            Neill f. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, testifies of the blessings that come from aligning our will with God’s will: “I have struggled to banish the mortal desire to have things my way, eventually realizing that my way is oh so lacking, limited, and inferior to the way of Jesus Christ. `His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come’ [“The Living Christ”; emphasis added].” (See “Yielding Our Hearts to God,” Ensign, Nov. 2015, 32.) 

            How does doing the will of God help us to become more like Him? As we go the places that Christ would go, say the words that Christ would say, and do the works that Christ would do, we will become more like Him. As we strive to humbly align our will with that of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, let us remember that the Savior showed us the way to true unity. I know that we can align our will with that of Heavenly Father, but we cannot expect to do so suddenly or overnight. It is the work of a lifetime.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Patriotic Family Reunion

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when family members reunite to strengthen bonds and to enjoy each other’s company. It is time once again for the reunion for my parents’ posterity. Since the theme of the reunion is patriotic, some members of the family decided that I should make a presentation as part of a larger program. To fulfill this responsibility, I put together the following presentation.

            I introduce my presentation by explaining why I began studying about government and the Constitution in the first place. After the 2008 presidential election, I began to feel concerns for the future of our nation. As a result of these concerns I embarked on a study of the U.S. Constitution, government, etc. From what I was seeing and hearing in current events as well as what I was studying about how the government should work, I feared a possible question from my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The question that so frightened me was: “What were you doing while the U.S. Constitution was being destroyed?”

            I felt a great need to share my new knowledge and understanding with my family, but I did not know how to do it. In May 2009 I began to feel promptings to write a blog in order to share this information. Since I knew nothing about how to set up a blog and had little writing experience, I procrastinated for several months. By September 2009 the promptings were so strong that I knew that I could no longer ignore them. So I set up a blog and started posting.

            This September will begin my ninth year of writing a blog, and I continue my blog for the same reason that I started it. I do not worry about who may read my blog or how many followers I have. I assume that what I write is being found by those people who need the information.

            During the past eight years I have read many books and articles in an effort to gain needed knowledge and then attempted to share that information with other people. I have probably forgotten most of what I learned, but I have retained basic understanding in some areas. I believe that following three topics are important information for all Americans.

I. There is a relationship or connection between the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

            According to Rob Natelson at IndependenceInstitute.Org, the “Declaration is a statement based on natural law” – law that “consists of fundamental principles of justice and right.” Religious people believe natural law comes from God, and “Atheists who believe in natural law … view it as a collection of rules inherent in the way the universe works.”

            Natelson continues his explanation of natural law: “The men who approved the Declaration” believed that their natural rights came from God. They believed the following:
(1) people have equal dignity before God, (2) God grants people rights or powers, some of which are transferable (alienable) and others not transferable (inalienable or unalienable),
(3) government is erected primarily to protect people’s rights, (4) government is a fiduciary enterprise, subject to rules of public trust, and (5) the people may alter government when it does not serve their purposes.”

            According to Natelson, “The Constitution … is a statement of positive law. Positive law consists of rules enforceable by governmental authority. There are many positive laws, but the Constitution was designed to be the supreme positive law.
            “The Founders believed that in a perfect world, positive law would be the same as natural law. In an imperfect world that is impossible, but we should try to make positive law approximate natural law as closely as feasible.”

            The Preamble to the Constitution is basically a summary of what its writers wanted the document to accomplish: They wanted it to bring more unity to their new nation; they wanted it to provide justice for every person; they wanted it to bring peace to the people; they wanted it to bring the ability to fund a military to defend the nation, and they wanted it to bring prosperity to all citizens. In short, they wanted it to bring the blessings of freedom for themselves as well as all following generations.

II. God was behind the writing of the Constitution.

            In many places in the Book of Mormon, the writers state that God preserved and protected the American continents as a land “choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 13:42). The writers also tell us that the safety and prosperity of Americans lies in righteousness. The Book of Mormon tells us that Nephi saw a vision of the coming of Columbus, Pilgrims, and others to America, the Revolutionary War, and the success of the Americans in gaining independence from Great Britain. Of course, Nephi did not name the people or events as I have done, but any serious student can understand what Nephi saw.

            We read in the Doctrine and Covenants that God established “the laws and constitution of the people” and commanded that the Constitution be “maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles.” We also read that God “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:77, 80). 

Even though the Constitution was inspired of God, not every word is divine in nature.

            The writers of the Constitution were wise men, but they were not prophets. The Constitution was inspired, but it is not scripture even though some of it sounds scriptural. The Constitution came about after much debate and compromise between learned and wise men.

            The February 1992 Ensign has an article by Elder Dallin H. Oaks titled “The Divinely Inspired Constitution.” and gave a list of five fundamental principles that were inspired.

1. Separation of powers. The inspiration for separation of powers came long before the writing of the Constitution. The idea of separation of powers had been around for at least 100 years and was well established in the American colonies. The various colonies adopted constitutions during the Revolution that “distinguished between the executive, legislative, and judicial functions.”

“The inspiration in the convention was in its original and remarkably successful adaptation” of this “idea of separation of powers to the practical needs of a national government. The delegates found just the right combination to assure the integrity of each branch, appropriately checked and balanced with the others.”

2. A written bill of rights. Again, the idea of a Bill of Rights was not new. Nearly 600 years before the Constitution, the Magna Charta “contained a written guarantee of some rights for certain” subjects.” Elder Oaks says that the “inspiration was in the brilliant, practical implementation of preexisting principles.”

“I have always felt that the United States Constitution’s closest approach to scriptural stature is in the phrasing of our Bill of Rights. Without the free exercise of religion, America could not have served as the host nation for the restoration of the gospel, which began just three decades after the Bill of Rights, was ratified. I also see scriptural stature in the concept and wording of the freedoms of speech and press, the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, the requirement that there must be probable cause for an arrest and that accused persons must have a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, and the guarantee that a person will not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

            Before I leave Elder Oaks’ words on the topic of the Bill of Rights and move on to his next principle, I want to clarify that the Bill of Rights was written because the people were afraid that their new government would become a tyrant, such as the king from which they had just won independence. It is important for all to understand that we have the Bill of Rights to protect us from our own government!

            The Second Amendment, the right to own and use guns, is apparently the most dominant one because it is the power that protects the other rights. Once a government takes away the freedom to use guns for self-protection, the government can do whatever it pleases. This is the main reason for the assault on the Second Amendment.

            If you do not believe that there is an assault on the Second Amendment, Oregon’s House and Senate just passed a bill that allows the “confiscation of an individual’s firearms. [The law] creates an Extreme Risk Protection Order, which forces the subject of the order to hand over all firearms, as well as his concealed carry permit if he possesses one.” The Oregon bill is based on a California law and allows a judge to decide “whether guns should be taken from [the individual] without due process of the law.”

3. Division of powers. “Another inspired fundamental of the U.S. Constitution is its federal system, which divides government powers between the nation and the various states. Unlike the inspired adaptations mentioned earlier, this division of sovereignty was unprecedented in theory or practice. In a day when it is fashionable to assume that the government has the power and means to right every wrong, we should remember that the U.S. Constitution limits the national government to the exercise of powers expressly granted to it [by the Tenth Amendment]. This principle of limited national powers, with all residuary powers reserved to the people or to the state and local governments, which are most responsive to the people, is one of the great fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution.

“The particular powers that are reserved to the states are part of the inspiration. For example, the power to make laws on personal relationships is reserved to the states. Thus, laws of marriage and family rights and duties are state laws.”

4. Popular sovereignty. “Perhaps the most important of the great fundamentals of the inspired Constitution is the principle of popular sovereignty: The people are the source of government power. Along with many religious people, Latter-day Saints affirm that God gave the power to the people, and the people consented to a constitution that delegated certain powers to the government…. The sovereign power is in the people. I believe this is one of the great meanings in the revelation which tells us that God established the Constitution of the United States, `That every man may act … according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land.’ (D&C 101:78-80.)

"In other words, the most desirable condition for the effective exercise of God-given moral agency is a condition of maximum freedom and responsibility. In this condition men are accountable for their own sins and cannot blame their political conditions on their bondage to a king or a tyrant. This condition is achieved when the people are sovereign, as they are under the Constitution God established in the United States. From this it follows that the most important words in the United States Constitution are the words in the preamble: `We the people of the United States … do ordain and establish this Constitution.’ …
"Popular sovereignty necessarily implies popular responsibility…

5. The rule of law and not of men. “Further, there is divine inspiration in the fundamental underlying premise of this whole constitutional order. All the blessings enjoyed under the United States Constitution are dependent upon the rule of law. … The rule of law is the basis of liberty.”

            The U.S. Constitution was the first written constitution in the world, and it is the pattern for the constitutions in many other nations. It was written 230 years ago, and it is still relevant. It is the Supreme Law of our land and should be followed. It includes instructions on how to amend it if necessary. In more than 200 years, it has been amended only 27 times. I encourage all of my readers to embark on a study of the U.S. Constitution and join the effort to protect and preserve it for many generations to come.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dress Codes

            The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday concerns the need for dress codes in our communities, in our professions, and in Congress. Dress codes have been around for centuries, insuring that people dress appropriately for varying situations. The type of clothing worn determines the actions of the people wearing them and often shows one’s attitude as well.

            Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked to wear “Sunday dress” for meetings on the Sabbath Day or to attend the temples. This dress code is in place to show proper respect to the Lord and for His buildings. Sunday dress is often requested for other meetings as well as for youth dances. Sunday dress is considered to be dresses or skirts for females and slacks, shirts, and ties for males. All clothing is expected to be modest – knee-length skirts, no sheer materials, no bare shoulders and midriffs, no plunging necklines. Casual clothing is also expected to be modest, clean, and in good repair.

            Congress also has a dress code. The dress code in the U.S. House of Representatives mandates that men wear a suit jacket with a tie and forbids women from wearing open-toed shoes and sleeveless dresses. This dress code has existed for decades, but a debate about it was reopened recently during a heat wave in Washington, D.C. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is now being accused of sexism even though the dress code applies to both males and females.

            Tiana Lowe posted an interesting article at National Review about the accusations and some of the history of the congressional dress code. She easily illustrates how the dress standards deteriorate when not enforced. After sharing some of those ways of deterioration, she writes the following to show that Ryan is not being sexist in his demands.

As the story details, both men and women are subject to the summer-incompatible dress code, which is enforced on the House floor and in the Speaker’s lobby and has been around in some form for centuries. While the vague code is subject to the speaker’s interpretation, Ryan’s specifications do not deviate from those of the speakers immediately before him.”

            Avrohom Gordimer believes that Ryan is absolutely correct to enforce the dress code, and he gives some convincing reasons why.            Even though he comes from a different background, his reasons sound quite similar to the reasons given by the Church for its dress code.

Coming from an Orthodox Jewish background, I have a deep appreciation for dress and have developed a strong sensitivity to the messages one sends by his attire and appearance. The Talmud elaborates about the sense of dignity that can be conveyed by one’s choice of clothing, as well as about the nonverbal messages sent by one’s garb and appearance.

Modesty, reverence, and an air of honor are reflected by dignified and unrevealing attire. In fact, it is at moments when the wearing of more formal and unrevealing attire truly appears to be a burden that its message of respect for the situation at hand resonates most. President Ronald Reagan would never enter the Oval Office without a jacket; such was his respect for the presidency. When one considers that this self-imposed practice was probably an imposition on President Reagan, who would in all likelihood have preferred to be fully comfortable at his desk, one is struck with an even greater appreciation and sense of reverence for the presidential position. The opposite can be true as well.

            Dress codes are used to ensure that people dress appropriately for a given situation. Jeans and tee shirts as well as sandals and sun dresses are perfectly okay in some situations. However, members of Congress should show proper respect to the responsibilities given them as elected representatives of the people. They are expected to dress and act as professionals instead of looking like they are going on a summer outing. Ryan is doing the right thing to enforce the dress code.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Are You Republican?

            Many people refuse to belong to the Republican Party, and they do so for various reasons. I refused to join the Republicans for many years because I wanted to remain “independent” for voting. A close friend was quite involved in politics at the time, and she described Independents as people who did not know what they wanted or who refused to commit themselves. She explained that as Independents, people had absolutely no influence on who represented either party but had to resign themselves to whomever the Party chose to represent them.

            I considered my friend’s comments for a few months, and I decided that she was absolutely right in my case. I did not want to commit myself to any particular party because I wanted to be free to choose the individuals that I would support. I pondered the situation for some weeks, and then I decided to commit myself. Since I was voting a nearly-straight Republican line any way, I decided that I might as well become a Republican in name.

            Are you a Republican in principle, but not in name? If you are, what is your excuse for not making the commitment? You might believe in Republicanism and not even know it, just as I did at one time.

            Earick Ward posted an article at American Thinker titled “You might be a Republican….” It lists a lot of Republican ideas and values that you might support and believe. One never knows unless one investigates! Here are some of Ward’s words.

If you believe in God, you might be a Republican.

If you believe that your Rights are inherent (in that they come from God), and not granted by Government, you might be a Republican.

If you believe that Western Civilization (America) has been a net good in the world, you might be a Republican.

If you believe in the Rule of Law, you might be a Republican.

If you believe in the traditional tenets of Marriage and Family, you might be a Republican. …

If you believe that your opportunity is the result of hard work, you might be a Republican….

If you believe in Freedom of the Press, but despise fake news, you might be a Republican.

If you believe that the “free market” is better than a centrally-managed socialized economy, you might be a Republican.

If you believe that your “right to carry” shall not be infringed, you might be a Republican….

If you support our military and police, you might be a Republican….

If you believe that you deserve to keep what you earn and that you are taxed enough already, you might be a Republican….

            What do you think? Are you a secret Republican?