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, June 23, 2018

Baptism


            My eight-year-old grandson recently made the decision to be baptized and confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His birthday is in May, but he postponed his baptism in order for me to attend. He invited me to give a talk on baptism on his special day, and I am honored to accept his invitation. This is basically what I will say at his baptism tomorrow.

            Many years ago when your mother was a small girl, I arranged for my children to receive piano lessons. My friend located a teacher who was giving group piano lessons. We enrolled our children in one of her groups, and we alternated weeks in taking the children to lessons. The children entertained themselves by singing Primary sons while we made the ten-mile drive to and from lessons.

            One of their favorite songs to sing was “Baptism,” a song about the baptism of Jesus Christ. I do not know why I remember the children singing this song because I do not remember any of the other songs. This memory came back to me as I was pondering what I would say at this baptism.

             The words to this song were written by Mabel Jones Gabbott (1910-2004) with music by Crawford Gates (1921). The words and music are copyrighted, so I will not include them. However, you can find them here. 

            This children’s song tells us that Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. Jesus was immersed in the water in order to be obedient to God’s law and to enter into the kingdom of God. When we are baptized we do so in order to show obedience to Heavenly Father and to become a member of His Church. Jesus went to John to be baptized because John held the priesthood of Aaron and had the authority to perform the ordinance. Your father holds this same priesthood authority and will perform the ordinance in the same manner as did John the Baptist with Jesus.

            I know that your parents and your Primary teachers have taught you the importance of baptism. I know that they have spoken about this important decision and the covenant that you are about to make. However, I want to remind you of some of the requirements for becoming a member of the Lord’s Church.

            The first requirement is that we must reach the age of accountability. Latter-day revelation says that we must be at least eight years old in order to be baptized. This means that we are capable of knowing good from evil and in choosing the right.

            Another important requirement is a visit with the bishop to receive a recommendation for baptism and confirmation. The bishop asks some questions to determine if you are worthy of baptism and if you understand your decision and the consequences of it. He may even ask you to recite one or more of the Articles of Faith.

            Just as there are requirements to meet before being baptized, there are certain responsibilities after baptism. Hundreds of years ago there was a prophet by the name of Abinadi who went to see wicked King Noah and his priests. His job was to call the king to repentance. Abinadi had the opportunity to teach the Ten Commandments and other gospel principles to the king and the priests. The priests did not like what Abinadi was saying, and they eventually convinced King Noah to burn Abinadi at the stake.

            However, there was a young man named Alma among the priests, and he recognized that Abinadi was teaching the truth. He tried to save Abinadi by speaking up for him, but Alma was forced to flee in order to save his own life. He hid himself and started to write the words of Abinadi. We have those words in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ because Alma wrote them.

            When Alma was finished writing, he started to teach the people even though he had to stay hidden from the king’s soldiers.  Alma was hiding near “a fountain of pure water” in a “thicket of small trees” near the boundary of the kingdom. The people who wanted to be taught came to him there. Here are some of the words that Alma taught to the people before he would baptize them. (See Alma 18:8-10.)

8 … Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

            Now those words may be a little difficult for an eight-year-old child to understand, so let’s define them. Any person who desires to join the Church needs to be willing to do the following:

1. Help other people carry their burdens: This may be as simple as helping a sibling with chores.

2. Mourn with others: This means to be sad when something bad happens to others. It may mean attending funerals, such as the funerals of Uncle Lynn and Larry.

3. Comfort those who need comforting: This means to be friendly to those who are lonely, to give a hug to someone who is sad, or to cheer someone up.

4. Stand as a witness of God all the time, wherever you go, until you die: This means that you are willing to let people know that you are a member of the Lord’s Church and that you will share the gospel with others.

            From this we know that baptism means more than being immersed in water. It means that we will keep God’s commandments, share His gospel, and do the things that He would do. In other words, we will follow the Savior and become like Him. These are some of the promises that we make when we are baptized.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Paradigm Shift


            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand that there are two separate forces in the world – good and evil. The good comes from our loving Father in Heaven while the evil comes from Satan, who is also known as Lucifer, the devil, or the adversary. Satan knows that he cannot sell his ideas by expressing them in the open; therefore, he hides his ultimate purposes by redefining words: “evil as good and good as evil, darkness as light and light as darkness, bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter.” (See Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 15:20.)

            Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on the topic “A Banquet of Consequences: The Cumulative Result of All Choicesat Brigham Young University on February 7, 2017. In his remarks he says that this redefining of words is “sometimes called a paradigm shift,” meaning that there is a change in “the usual way of thinking about or doing something.” He uses The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis as an example of this shift.

            Elder Cook tells of a “meeting with an internationally recognized advertising expert” where they discussed “the influence of evil and the consequences of bad choices.” This expert envisioned a hypothetical meeting between Lucifer and an advertising agency where the adversary explained his problem:

[H]e and his followers had rebelled and rejected the Father’s plan and had come to understand that they could not prevail against God. Lucifer understood that while the Father’s plan was about joy and happiness, his own plan resulted in grief and misery. The problem, Lucifer explained to the ad executive, was how to attract followers.
It was determined that Lucifer’s only hope of success was to achieve a paradigm shift or values inversion – in other words, to characterize the Father’s plan as resulting in grief and misery and Lucifer’s plan as resulting in joy and happiness.

This hypothetical meeting serves a useful purpose. The truth is, not only do the enemies of the Father’s plan attempt to undermine the doctrine and principles of the plan, but they also attempt to mischaracterize the blessings that flow from the plan. Their basic effort is to make that which is good, righteous, and joyful seem miserable.

            Elder Cook then shared several examples of how the adversary attempts to “mischaracterize and undermine the blessings of living according to the Father’s plan.” His first example is the Word of Wisdom as found in Doctrine and Covenant 89.

1 A WORD OF WISDOM….
3 Given for a principle with promise….
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation –
5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good….
7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
8 And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man….
9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

            The Lord’s law of health as found in Section 89 has instructions on keeping our bodies healthy by eating wholesome grains, fruits, and vegetables. It also includes promises to those who obey this law. Those promises say that the obedient “shall receive health … and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-19).

            The Lord gives a law that will bring health and other blessings to the obedient, but the world makes the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea seem attractive. Science and health professionals are now proving that these substances are bad for our bodies, but the Lord revealed this truth in 1833.

            Elder Cook cites many statistics about health problems caused by alcohol and tobacco and admits that he does not include all the problems caused by them.

In reciting primarily personal health issues, I have not attempted to categorize other serious consequences of alcohol use such as accidents while driving under the influence, men trying to excuse physical and sexual assaults because of alcohol impairment, and the effects on fetal brains from alcohol use by women during pregnancy.

As if cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, and an opiate epidemic were not harmful enough to society, we now see the forces of evil pushing legalization of recreational marijuana.

            It is easy to see the devious ways that the adversary attempts to fool us into breaking the God’s health law given for our good. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by helping the rising generation to understand that there is good and evil in the world and by helping them to recognize and accept the good.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Common Ground and Shared Freedom


            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the necessity of finding common ground in order to share the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. As each group in our society seeks special protection, there becomes less freedom for other groups.

            The US Supreme Court recently ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Philips and that the State of Colorado did not respect Philips’ right to exercise his religion. Colorado had allowed other bakeries to refuse service to causes that they could not support, but they did not give Philips the same freedom to object. The Court says that governments must treat religious beliefs with tolerance and respect as well as without religious hostility.

            The case of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was about whether a baker could be forced to use his talents to make a cake to celebrate same-sex marriage when it is against his beliefs. The ruling did not address the “question of whether religious objectors to same-sex marriage should be exempted from LGBT nondiscrimination laws and allowed to refuse service to gay or lesbian customers.” 

            The above ruling is considered to be “narrow” because it did not address the broader issue. However, it is bringing other results. One such result is an editorial written about an investigative report by Kelsey Dallas, faith writer for Deseret News. Released last week, the report “identifies and analyzes 139 state bills across the country pertaining to the place of faith in the public square.”

            The editorial claims that the number of state bills is not as important as the fact “states are engaging in the arduous process of carving out spaces for multiple groups to live according to their conscience.”

As Wednesday’s report indicates, protecting the liberty of all citizens extends far beyond the LGBT community and the religious community. And the two are not mutually exclusive. Only eight of the 139 bills identified deal with service refusals similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop situation. And 37 bills focus on protecting LGBT rights. The remaining 94 bills cover topics ranging from faith’s role in public speech to adoption services and the intersection of religion and health care.
The sad truth, however, is partisanship has taken its toll on the idea of shared freedom, with mostly Republicans signing on to legislation protecting religious belief while mainly Democrats have championed protections for LGBT rights.

            It seems that everything in our nation is politicized and pits one segments of our society against another. No one appreciates being called a racist, bigot, fanatic, or a snowflake. We are all human beings and children of the same Father in Heaven. We should be showing forth love and civility to each other. If we cannot get to “love” yet, we should at least treat each other with respect and tolerance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Inspector General Report


            The highly anticipated Inspector General (IG) Report was finally made available to the public. The 500-page report of misconduct makes clear that there are deep negative feelings in the FBI and DOJ toward Donald Trump and his supporters, particularly among the higher levels of leadership. Some of the leaders at the FBI showed great contempt for Trump and his supporters in their texts and instant messages to each other. The communications show bias toward Hillary Clinton and against Trump.

            According to J. Christian Adams at PJ Media, “One FBI agent on the Hillary investigation wrote in an FBI text: `Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS.’ `POS’ is the agent’s acronym for `Pieces Of S***.’” FBI Agent Peter Strzok wrote in another communication that he “could SMELL the Trump supporters.” In a text on August 8, 2016, Lisa Page stated, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” and Strzok responded, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” Various other communications between FBI agents show that there was bias among the elite leadership with suggested actions to stop Donald Trump from being elected.

            The IG Report makes one thing very clear: Americans “dodged a bullet” by electing Donald Trump to be the President instead of Hillary Clinton. If Clinton had been elected, none of this misconduct would have come to light but would have most likely continued to grow. If the Department of Justice and the FBI – and who knows what other agencies - were actively working to get Clinton elected, imagine what they would have done to cover up their wrong doing!

            Remember the problem with the IRS targeting Tea Party groups under Barack Obama? The groups were trying to organize and operate in support of conservative candidates and causes, but their applications for permits were pigeon-holed and slow-walked by the IRS. With Clinton in the White House and the Justice Department not doing their jobs, Americans would have surely lost more freedoms.

            God truly did bless America when Trump was elected President. He was instrumental in stopping the quickly-escalating slide of America into socialism and possibly communism. The US may have become a Third World country similar to the way that Venezuela has, and it may have done so just as quickly! We should all be thanking God that Donald Trump is the President of the United States!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Balancing the Federal Budget


            With the annual federal deficit projected to be over $ trillion by 2020, there is great need to find a solution. The experts at The Heritage Foundation share their answer to the problem in their proposed congressional budget, “Blueprint for Balance.” 

            Justin Bogie and Romina Boccia say that Heritage’s proposal “would reshape the functions of the federal government, focusing spending on its constitutional obligations and nixing programs that fall outside that scope or favor special interests.” They say that “there is a solution that Congress can implement this year and sharply reverse the projected course.” The Heritage blueprint contains these five key elements:

1. It would bring spending under control by reducing the growth rate from 5.5 percent each year to 3.1 percent.

2. It would reform the big three entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – that “are simply unsustainable in their current form.”

3. It would prioritize essential discretionary spending and cutting wasteful programs – such as those that “benefit special-interest groups at the expense of taxpayers;” those that can be “more effectively run by the private sector or state and local governments; and those that “don’t fall under the federal government’s core constitutional responsibilities.”

4. It would permanently extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

5. It would fix the broken budget process.

            In a government that has continually kicked budget problems down the road, it would be nice to end the dysfunction that has existed for far too long. Bogie and Boccia claim that Heritage’s “Blueprint for Balance” “would put the budget back on a path toward balance, and our nation on a path toward fiscal health.”

            The Heritage plan sounds like common sense to me. However, I am doubtful that there will be enough people in Congress that are brave enough to adopt it. Cutting the entitlement programs is a sure loss of office – unless than adequate explanation is given to the people.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Donald Trump


            Donald Trump is my VIP for this week due to his latest “winning” experience in North Korea. He did what no US president has been able to do in 60-70 years, and that is to sit down face-to-face with the leader of North Korea. The results of the meeting are yet to be seen, but they hold a great promise. The two leaders made the following commitments: 

1. The United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

            Trump has been slammed by leftists for meeting with Kim and putting North Korea on the same level as the United States. Who cares how Trump smoothed Kim’s feathers if peace comes to the world? Japan and South Korea seem pleased with the results of the summit meeting, and Trump has been officiated nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

            A second reason for naming Trump as my VIP is for the effect that he is having on elections in several states. Trump-backed candidates won primaries in Maine, South Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, and North Dakota. If they win in November, maybe Trump will have five more supporters in Congress.

            A third reason is for the way that he is changing minds. I found an interesting article written by Mark Alexander at The Patriot Post. Alexander is an unrelenting patriot who stands for the military and the Constitution. His articles are always interesting and enlightening. In this article he mentioned that he has noticed “an interesting trend in recent months.” It seems that some of his moderate friends have become Trump supporters. One of his friends used the following explanation for his change of feelings towards Trump.

[Trump] dropped a bomb on Washington. He dropped a bomb on the status quo in Congress and its special interests. He dropped a bomb on the regulatory behemoths and their bureaucratic bottlenecks. He dropped a bomb on the trade and national security institutions and alliances that have failed miserably over the last eight years.

            I like this analogy about dropping bombs because it totally describes the effect that Trump has on the elites in Washington. They do not know what hit them, and they do not know what to do about it. Now he is doing the same thing with the international community. The Group of Seven (G7) thought they could convince Trump to play by their rules and pick up their bills. Instead, he told them that the US piggybank is locked.

            Another analogy that has been used with Trump is that he plays chess while his opponents play checkers. Being okay at checkers but totally lost with chess, I can see how this analogy is good. It is fairly easy to get past an opponent in checkers, but it takes real thinking as well as planning ahead to win at chess. Trump has his opponents going in circles while he continues to move ahead with his campaign promises.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Voter Registration Rolls


            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is an important decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court last week concerning voter registration rolls. The verdict affirms Ohio’s right to keep their records up to date. The decision is a strike for freedom.

            One would think that all Americans would want voter registration rolls to be accurate, but this would apparently be a wrong assumption. Thomas Lifson shares some liberal reactions to the court’s decision. One of the reactions comes from Andrew Chung of Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived Ohio's contentious policy of purging infrequent voters from registration rolls in a ruling powered by the five conservative justices and denounced by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor as an endorsement of the disenfranchisement of minority and low-income Americans.

            For whatever reason liberals such as Sonia Sotomayor believe that keeping the voter registration rolls current will be harmful to some groups of Americans. Registrars do not automatically remove a name of an infrequent voter from voting registers. The Ohio policy is to send registration confirmation notices to any registered voter who has not voted in two years. If the voter does not respond, their names are purged IF they do not vote during the next four years.

            The notices are to determine if the person on the record actually lives at the address on the registration. If they are not living in the precinct, they should not be voting in the precinct. If the person responds to the notice or votes, their name remains on the list. If there is no response at all, the name is purged from the voter registration roll.

            The process seems to be responsible, and it was approved by the Supreme Court. However, liberals are upset. The most hysterical response came from Senator Chuck Schumer in several tweets. His first tweet says that the “ongoing push to disenfranchise Americans” comes from the Trump administration. “This is why elections matter.” In other words, VOTE!

            The next tweet reminds Schumer’s followers that the “right to vote is the most sacred right we have as citizens. Aggressive voter purge systems like Ohio’s essentially make voting a `use it or lose it’ privilege.” The right to vote is not a “use it or lose it” situation, but having one’s name on the voter registration rolls is. If a person has not voted in six years, there is no need to keep their name on the rolls.

            Schumer’s third tweet says, “Democracy suffers when laws make it harder for U.S. Citizens to vote. This decision is dangerous and damaging and is NOT why we passed the National Voter Registration Act in `93. In fact, this goes completely against the spirit of the law.” Democracy really does suffer when there are fraudulent votes!

            Lifson reminds his readers that fraudulent votes disenfranchise the genuine American voters. He also says that the “Failure to purge the rolls of those who have moved or died or given up on voting is an open invitation to fraud.” He then quotes Dan McLaughlin of NRO to give some perspective on matter:

The Court was not asked to decide if states are allowed to purge names from the voter rolls. Federal law requires them to do so. That law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 [referred to by Schumer], was written by congressional Democrats, passed with the votes of every single Democratic senator and 238 of the 252 Democrats in the House at the time (including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn) and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The NVRA, also known as the “motor voter” law, expanded voter registration in a number of ways, but it also formally recognized the legitimate interests of states in periodically updating their lists of voters so they are limited to people actually still residing in a place where they are eligible to vote, and commanded them to do something about it:

            NVRA requires States to “conduct a general program that makes a
            reasonable effort to remove the names” of voters who are ineligible “by                         reason of” death or change in residence. §20507(a)(4).

            It seems that the Democrats in office at that time the law was passed were so anxious to make voter registration easy that they did not consider the updating aspect of this law. They thought that they could continue adding potential voters without any consequences. If the names of dead people or former residents are no longer on the voter registration rolls, it will be harder for a fraudulent vote to be made for them.