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.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Who Is Korboi Balla?

            My VIP for this week is black retired firefighter in Minneapolis and 12,000 other people. Balla invested his life savings to open a sports bar in Minneapolis and then watched thugs loot it before burning it to the ground. He was reduced to tears as he watched his unopened bar go up in flames last week.

            Balla’s plans to open his bar in March were derailed by COVID-19. Minnesota recently gave restaurants permission to begin opening on June 1, so Balla was gearing to open his bar on that date. When he saw that a pile of bricks was all that was left of his bar, he did not know what he would do. The bar was not insured, and the fruits of his investment had gone up in smoke. 

Then he decided to try raising funds with a GoFundMe account to rebuild his bar. In less than 24 hours, the campaign brought in more than $160,000. A few days later it was $966,000. More than 12,000 donors dried Balla’s tears and brought him hope that he would again have a bar. I have no idea who any of the donors are, but I want them to know that they are true Americans who restored hope for a deserving man and his family.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

When Can the National Guard or Military Be Called by U.S. President?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns using the National Guard and/or military to restore order within the United States. The National Guard is technically part of the Armed Services, but they operate differently. The President can federalize the National Guard in times of emergency to fight international enemies or to restore order inside the nation. If this happens, the National Guard operates under the command of the Department of Defense. However, the National Guard does not usually operate this way.

            The National Guard operates under the direction of the Governor of the State where the unit is located. When the police officers in Minneapolis-St. Paul lost control of the city to the riots and looted, the governor called in the National Guard to restore order. I do not know the details of activating the National Guard, but I do know that they are available to the governors when needed.

There have been no soldiers marching in the streets of America since the colonists obtained freedom from Great Britain. However, there are times when our nation needs military forces against insurrection – read riots – or natural disasters. President Donald Trump called for the National Guard to be used in Minnesota, and they are there. However, I do not know if they have been federalized or are acting on orders from their governor.

President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have their eyes on the riots and protests over the death of George Floyd last week. Riots have happened in many cities across the United States, and they appear to have been orchestrated by a central source or coordinated sources. Several mayors have indicated that the people arrested in their cities were not residents of those cities. Some of their cars bore out-of-state licenses. Attorney General William Barr made the following press release today.

With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements.  Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.

It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it.  The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens. 

It also undercuts the urgent work that needs to be done – through constructive engagement between affected communities and law enforcement leaders – to address legitimate grievances.  Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed. 

It is the responsibility of state and local leaders to ensure that adequate law enforcement resources, including the National Guard where necessary, are deployed on the streets to reestablish law and order.  We saw this finally happen in Minneapolis last night, and it worked. 

Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.

To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF). 

The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.

            I understand that crossing state lines to riot is a federal offence. If any of the arrested people were from out-of-state, they could be facing federal charges. Meanwhile, the Minnesota National Guard – after allowing the riots to continue for three days – has brought order to Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

            Police officers in Salt Lake City brought the protests there under control without the help of the National Guard. However, other governors may be forced to call out their National Guard units if the protests continue.

            Fred Lucas wrote an interesting article containing some history of numerous times when U.S. Presidents have called the military to restore order within the nation. President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush each invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 when they “sent federal troops to respond to emergencies.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower enforced federal civil rights under the same act. Two other Presidents – Herbert Hoover and Woodrow Wilson – called on federal forces to help during emergencies.

            Most Americans over the age of 20 remember that President George W. Bush sent the National Guard into airports after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Fewer people will remember that President George H. W. Bush sent “federal troops into Los Angeles in 1992 to restore order after the city erupted in riots after the Rodney King affair. Even though “police officers were caught on camera beating up” King, a jury acquitted them.

            There are very few Americans alive who remember the day in 1957 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower faced down Democrat Governor of Alabama Orval Faubus. It was during the time when schools were being desegregated, and “nine black high school students tried to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock.” Faubus announced before the school year began that he would call in the National Guard to prevent the “Little Rock Nine” from attending that school. The National Guard – under direction of the governor -- prevented the students from attending. Then the governor pulled the National Guard and replaced them with the State Police. 

At some point, riots began. Eisenhower used an Executive Order to invoke the Insurrection Act and federalize the Arkansas National Guard. He sent the 101st Airborne Division to stop the riots. The “Little Rock Nine” attended their first full day of classes on September 25, 1957, under the protection of the Arkansas National Guard and other federal troops. They attended the school until the last day of the school year but received many threats.

Lucas gave several other examples, but they were either before my time – or I do not remember them. They show that the military can be used to restore order in the states if the governors cannot or will not enforce laws. I encourage you to read about them because it is always good to know the history of one’s nation.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

What Is Priestcraft and Why Is It Dangerous?

            As the days run together and one week turns into the next, I have a difficult time knowing which block of scriptures I should be studied. This week for my “Come, Follow Me” studies, I studied Alma 1-4 and then moved into Alma 5-7. I decided to go back to Alma 1 for my post, and I remembered some information that I studied for Alma. I think that it is interesting enough to include in this post.

As compiler of the Book of Mormon, Mormon faced difficult challenges in determining what to include in the abridged record. At least two directives guided his selections. First, the Lord told Mormon to “write the things which have been commanded” (3 Nephi 26:12). Second, Mormon knew that his record was to come forth in the latter days for the purpose of gathering scattered Israel to the covenants of the Lord (see Words of Mormon 1:1-11; 3 Nephi 26:6-12; 29:1-9; 30:1-2). We understand, then, that when Mormon made editorial decisions, these two factors were his governing concerns.

It is instructive to compare the length of books in the Book of Mormon and the time periods they covered. The inordinate amount of writing for a rather small period of history alerts the reader that the time of Book of Mormon history covered in the book of Alma is especially parallel and relevant for our time…

(Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 [2009]).

            Knowing that he was writing for our day, Mormon chose to include Alma’s record of his

dealings with a wicked man by the name of Nahor. Nahor was “large … noted for his much strength” (Alma 1:20). He decided to preach what “he termed to be the word of God” (verse 3), which were lies mixed with truths. 

Among the false truths that Nahor taught were the following: (1) Priests and teachers should become popular with the people. (2) They should not labor with their own hands but be supported by the people. (3) He mixed the truth that “all mankind should be saved” or resurrected with the lie that everyone will be redeemed and have eternal life. (See verses 3-4.) 

Nahor became full of pride and wore costly apparel provided by his supporters. As he was on his way to preach, he met Gideon, one of the teachers in the church of God. He contended “with him sharply” (verse 7) to lead him away from the church, but Gideon withstood him with the word of God. Nahor became so angry that he drew his sword and killed Gideon.

Nahor was brought before Alma, the chief judge of the people, to be judged. Alma told Nahor that this was the first time that “priestcraft has been introduced among this people” (verse 12). He told Nahor that he had not only practiced priestcraft, but he had sought to enforce it with the sword. Nahor was condemned to death, but he admitted before he died that he taught false doctrines.

So, why would Mormon include this story from Alma’s record? Was he warning us against priestcraft in our day? I believe that this story tells us that we should be suspicious of false teachers or those who seek riches from their preaching. Nephi left the following definition of priestcraft: “Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing” (2 Nephi 26:29-30).

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints warned us of spiritual danger when he urged us to reject modern-day Nehors and their popular messages. “Nehor’s words appealed to the people, but his doctrine, while popular to many, was incorrect. As we face the many decisions in life, the easy and popular messages of the world will not usually be the right ones to choose, and it will take much courage to choose the right” (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 67).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was more concerned about what is being taught in our classes and meetings. He taught religious teachers to look to the Savior and to encourage their students to do the same.

A gospel teacher will never obscure [students’] view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in priestcrafts, which are “that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world” (2 Nephi 26:29). A gospel teacher does not preach “to become popular” (Alma 1:3) or “for the sake of riches and honor” (Alma 1:16). He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which “the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner” (Alma 1:26). Both will always look to the Master (Ensign, November 1999, 79).

            Any speaker or teacher, who holds the Savior up for a light and encourages listeners to follow Him, is trustworthy, and we should strive to be this kind of teacher. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also spoke about teachers in the Church of Jesus Christ and defined how they could be practicing priestcraft.

Anything you or I do as an instructor that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self – in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor – is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost. “Doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:17-18) (“Seek Learning by Faith” [an evening with Elder David A. Bednar, Feb 3, 2006, 4; as found in Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 [2009].

            Alma (and Mormon) did not write of only priestcrafts and false teachers but included counsel on how we can stay strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ: (1) Stand fast in the faith, 
(2) Be steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, (3) Bear with patience any persecution that comes, (4) Leave our labors to hear the words of Church leaders, 
(5) Work to bring equality to all, (6) Labor to support ourselves, (7) Impart of our substance to the poor, needy, sick, and afflicted, (8) Wear neat and comely but not expensive clothes, 
(9) Be liberal to all, and (10) Treat all fairly (Alma 1: 25-31).

            So, we can assume that Alma 1 was included in the Book of Mormon to warn us against false preachers, false teachers, and false doctrines. We can also assume that we are to learn how to avoid and/or stand strong against all those who practice priestcraft – in or out of the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that we can stand firm by following the counsel of modern-day prophets and apostles.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Why Is Teaching Civics Critical to a Strong America?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals understand the laws of the locality, state, and nation. Knowing the correct history of America, what the Constitution says, and why America is great is essential to greater hope in the greatness of America.

            The United States is facing a two-prong problem. One prong is the fact that the teaching of civics and history is schools has declined. The other prong consists of the efforts to undermine the founding principles of America. According to Katie Gorka, two of those efforts are Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and The New York Times’ “1619 Project.”

            Numerous surveys show that civic history and love of country are declining. There are fewer Americans who “think that our nation is the best place of hope, opportunity, and community.” Many people have wondered how to bring back the level of “knowledge and understanding of America’s founding values and principles.” Lindsey Burke at The Heritage Foundation explained that this knowledge and understanding was the reason behind the establishment of the public-school system in America. 

Horace Mann, a leading advocate of public education in the mid-1800s, when America was still a young nation, said that a republic whose citizens were uneducated would be like an insane asylum. He believed that public education was essential to cultivating civic virtue and character in students.

That was the primary driver of tax-payer-funded public schools.

            The public-school system failed to do its job. Somewhere along the way, public educators decided that teaching civics and history was not necessary. A national assessment test results show that “only 24% of eighth-grade students performed proficiently on the civics exam.” One official said that students do not know important facts about the United States, but they do not believe America is a good country. “[T]hey do not have a deep understanding of what is right and true and good and beautiful about America.”

            Anyone who knows anything about the history of our nation knows that there are black marks against us. There is nothing right, true, good, or beautiful about slavery, racism, and racial segregation. There are people in our nation who have not seen fulfilment of the “promises of liberty and equality for all.” However, those promises in the Declaration of the Independence are what all the wars in America have been about for more than two centuries. Gorka explained how learning civics and American history can help to realize those blessings.

… Civics can equip young people – indeed, all Americans – to say we share in those promises, and we will not give up on them.

As a nation, we must be more intentional about reaffirming, illuminating, explaining, and disseminating the founding principles of freedom and individual liberty in compelling ways to prompt the next generation to safeguard our republic for generations to come.

That means going beyond the rudiments of civics. We must teach the next generations a deeper understanding of why our Founders risked their lives for the right to govern themselves, why they believed a Constitution and the Bill of Rights were necessary, and why they committed to equality for all, but then failed to codify that in the Constitution.

            Experts of all kinds suggest that “the solution lies in education, and in particular, in a return to primary sources.” They say that the founding documents are easy to read, and their ideas speak for themselves. Gorka suggested that students should be encouraged to read the words of the Founders and learn what they considered to be “right, true, good, and beautiful about America.” This type of study would strengthen families, communities, and our nation

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Why Are Churches Considered "Essential"?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the First Amendment right of Americans to believe as they choose and to exercise their religion as they choose. When COVID-19 invaded American shores, officials thought it was expedient to shut everything down except those things that are “essential.” This included churches.

Police and fire departments are essential for obvious reasons as are numerous government offices. Groceries stores are considered essential because they provide food, but Mom and Pop stores and other small businesses were not considered to be essential. I questioned why alcohol stores and marijuana shops are essential until I learned of the horrors of withdrawal from the substances.

Many churches recognized the dangers caused by large groups of people gathered in an enclosed place. On March 12, 2020, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suspended all public gatherings of church members worldwide “until further notice” and closed all meetinghouses. All Sunday meetings and mid-week meetings were cancelled for more than 300,000 congregations. In addition, all temples were closed. 

General Conference was held with less than ten people in the small meeting room and several million people watching via the internet and televisions stations. My congregation continues to hold “ward devotionals” via the internet with presiding authorities, speakers, and musical numbers remaining in individual homes.

An interesting tidbit about the buildings being closed is that it means that missionaries, like my grandson, cannot enter the buildings for their early morning exercise. My grandson loves to play basketball, but he was forced to find another way to get his exercise.

Other churches had “drive in services” with individual families coming in their cars, parking in the church parking lot, and listening to the sermon over the radio. Still other churches stayed open to meet the needs of their members.

When the nation was ready to reopen, the churches that were closed slowly prepared to reopen. Our temple services are limited to small groups of people for live husband and wife sealings for couples where both were previously endowed. There are no other temple services being held at this time. Sunday meetings are slowly being reopened, but not in my area yet.

Some states with Democrat governors ordered churches closed even though other segments of society were reopening. President Donald Trump declared that churches are essential and should be allowed to reopen.

This declaration brought mixed feelings from members of my family. Several of my children said that they prefer home church because it brings such a sweet spirit into their home. The husband in each of the homes holds the Melchizedek Priesthood and a current temple recommend. This means that he can officiate with a sacrament service for his family. Most of the homes have at least one son who holds the Aaronic Priesthood and can bless or pass the sacrament. In addition to the blessing of partaking of the sacrament each Sunday, they share music, talks, and testimonies, and they develop stronger spiritual intimacy, drawing the family closer. Being able to hold home-based church has kept many members of the Church of Jesus Christ healthy spiritually.

Why does Trump consider churches to be essential? Churches teach faith in God, and faith in God brings hope. Hope helps people to endure difficult situations and gives them spiritual power and emotional health. The lack of hope is one reason why some people commit suicide, something that has increased due to the isolation. This is the reason that churches are essential, or at least the opportunity to exercise religious beliefs.

In the 1830s, French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to discover “the greatness and genius of America.” These were the early years of the new nation known as the United States of America, and Tocqueville traveled across the nation in his quest. He later wrote the following words in his book titled Democracy in America, a book that many people consider to be the greatest ever written about America.

I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers -- and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce … and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.

            Tocqueville discovered that “the greatness and genius of America” is in her churches. It was the churches and their faith in God that gave the early American colonists the power and the strength to break away from Great Britain. It was divine intervention that helped the ill-prepared but willing American army to overcome the army and the navy of Great Britain, the most powerful nation on earth at that time. 

Trump recognized the power found in the churches and deemed them to be essential. They are essential because they teach faith in God and help ordinary people to bring the power of God into their personal lives.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Is COVID-19 Racist, Partisan, or Indiscriminate?

            There are claims that COVID-19 is racist. There are about three times more black Americans dying from the disease than other Americans. There could be numerous reasons why this is happening, but it looks like racism at first glance.

Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.

More than 20,000 African Americans – about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US – have died from the disease.

            Some officials thought that the difference could be attributed to “underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.” We have been told for a couple of months that these conditions tend to lead to more deaths from the disease. However, these co-morbidities are not the entire picture. It appears that black American neighborhoods have disadvantages in accessing both diagnostic testing and treatment for the disease.  

            It is apparent from news reports and maps, that death from COVID-19 is concentrated in certain areas. It just so happens that most of these areas are large metropolitan areas – Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City. These are areas where “ethnic and racial minorities” live in “densely populated urban and suburban areas.” It just so happens that “almost all [are] represented by congressional Democrats.”

            John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering collected information on COVID-19 deaths, and Pew Research Center analyzed the data. The data shows the following:

… As of last week, nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been in just 12 congressional districts – all located in New York City and represented by Democrats in Congress. Of the more than 92,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19 as of May 20 (the date that the data in this analysis was collected), nearly 75,000 were in Democratic congressional districts….

Of the 44 hardest-hit congressional districts – the top 10% in terms of deaths – 41 are represented by Democrats, while three are represented by Republicans. These include the New York-area districts, as well as those in the Boston, Detroit and New Orleans metropolitan areas. The average death toll in each of these hardest-hit districts was 1,122 as of May 20.

            Does this data say that COVID-19 is not only racist but partisan too? The answer is no because the disease is slowly moving from Democrat districts to Republican ones. However, the data shows some interesting results.

Two-thirds of residents of the hardest-hit districts live in urban or dense suburban areas, compared with just 19% of those living in the least hard-hit districts.

Nearly half (47%) of the population of districts that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus do not identify as white (while 53% of residents of these districts are white).

By comparison, in the 44 districts that have the lowest coronavirus death rate, seven-in-ten residents are white.

Harder-hit districts also tend to be places where residents have higher levels of formal education: 39% of those living in the districts with the highest death rate [having] a four-year college degree or more, compared with 28% of those living in the districts with the lowest death rate.

However, there are no differences across districts in terms of poverty rates. About equal shares of those living in both the most and least hard-hit places are under the poverty level as defined by the Census Bureau (13% of those in the districts with the highest death rate, 14% of those in districts with the lowest death rate).

            So, what can we take from the available data? It appears that (1) Education alone does not prevent illness, (2) white people are less likely to die of COVID-19, (3) more people living in in densely populated areas are likely to die, (4) poverty rate does not affect the death numbers.

            This is an interesting set of data, which shows correlation but not causation. We cannot say that more black people died because they live in Democrat congressional areas. We cannot say that the bad policies of Democrat governors caused more deaths. We cannot say that poverty is the reason for more deaths in one area than another. We can say that whites seem to fare better than other races with the disease. We can say that congested areas fared worse than those with wide-open spaces.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

How Do Americans Fight Tyranny in 2020?

            The American colonists went to war against Great Britain over tyranny. Americans today are again fighting tyranny in their state governments. The coronavirus invaded American shores and caused all kinds of problems while we searched for solutions to it. One of the problems was Americans voluntarily staying in their homes to “flatten the curve” so that medical facilities were not overwhelmed.

            The lockdown itself was not a bad thing because it met the goal of flatting the curve, and it was done for a good purpose. However, one result of the lockdown is a depressed economy. President Donald Trump recognized what was happening with the economy and tried to get the country opened again. He wanted it to be opened by Easter, but scientists convinced him that a longer lockdown was necessary. 

Some states did not have lockdowns at all, and states with Republican governors began opening several weeks ago. Alaska was the first state to be fully open with several other states following close behind. Anchorage has a Democrat mayor who was slower to open the city than the rest of the state. Numerous states with Democrat governors are still under lockdown. You see, Democrats see that the lockdown hurts the economy, and they think that a damaged economy will improve their chances for the election in November. 

Americans have voluntarily stayed in our homes and isolated ourselves to practice social distancing. We have been told to stay at least six feet away from anyone that does not live in our household. Alaskans were told to get out of their houses and enjoy this beautiful state. The only requirement was to social distance. We could go hiking, fishing, running, or whatever we chose to do outside if we kept a few feet between us and another household. There were no cops patrolling the neighborhoods to make sure that we were social distancing. We were treated like adults who could care for ourselves. We did, and we were the first state to open.

A few of the Democrat governors and/or became tyrants who inflicted tyranny on their residents. According to Jarrett Stepman, they set up “arbitrary and … absurd rules that do little more than aggravate citizens and almost nothing to stop the spread of the virus.” There are many different opinions about how to best battle COVID-19 and end the pandemic. However, it is one thing to have a different opinion and another thing be tyrannical.

Unlike Alaska, some states or local authorities decided that citizens could not be in their cars. “For instance, some Americans have been pulled over and ticketed for merely driving, hardly an activity that is likely to spread disease” (Stepman). A woman in Pennsylvania was received a $200 ticket for defying the governor’s statewide hunker down order and going for a drive. The district attorney was wise enough to drop the matter.

Going for a drive in her private car was a whole lot better than getting cabin fever. Therapists are reporting higher numbers of calls for mental illness since the lockdown. Private cars are better than riding mass transit systems too. There are reports that “states with a higher amount of mass transit generally have had a higher number of COVID-19 cases” (Stepman).

Local, state, and federal parks were shut down to stop people congregating in them. A local park near my daughter’s home in Texas closes its gates when a certain number of people enter the parking lot. The parking lot has been closed as early as 7:30 in the morning and remained closed for the rest of the day. The closure stopped the wear and tear on a local park that was one of the few parks in the area. What is the cost to the mental health of area residents?

Pennsylvania does not have a lock on crazy rules. A man in Colorado was arrested for playing catch with his daughter in a park. I can understand why local authorities would close the playground equipment, but I do not understand why using wide open spaces would be wrong. 

Other states have arrested people for surfing in the ocean and walking on beaches. When beaches were opened, there were some activities that were approved and some that were not – some were absurd. I saw a sign from one beach in New Jersey with lists of things that people could and could not do there. They could walk, run, exercise, surf, or fish, but they could not swim, sunbath, or sit in chairs. I can understand why they did not want group sports or people forming groups, but I think that swimming, sunbathing, or sitting in chairs is a little overboard.

Because of states rights issues, there are some things that the federal government can do, and some things that are left to the states or the people to do. However, the Constitution is still the law of the land even in a pandemic. It is right that Americans be aware of orders that violate their constitutional rights and rights as human beings.

U. S. Attorney William Barr was concerned that some states and local governments were restricting the civil rights of Americans. One town issued tickets to people who drove their private cars into the parking lot of their church, stayed in their cars with the windows rolled up, and listened to the Sunday sermon over their car radio. The city fathers were ordered to allow churches to do whatever is allowed for other businesses. If a bar or restaurant could have drive up business, then churches can have drive-up sermons.

I am grateful that we have an Attorney General who honors the Constitution. He told U.S. attorneys in April that “the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis” (Stepman). He told them to be vigilant about upholding the Constitution while protecting the public from the virus. Stepman closes his essay with these reminders.

Our national push and pull over good laws and bad, the often-noisy debates over how to respond correctly to crisis, is the normal course of an American system created to handle both good times and bad.

America is not a democracy, but self-government and the democratic elements of our republic allow us to work through complex challenges far better than governmental systems with rigid, top-down control.

As tumultuous as our system may seem to the outside world, it gives us the best chance to beat COVID-19 and escape encroaching tyranny at the same time.

            Our democratic republic that allows Americans to rule ourselves is an inspired form of government. The tyranny exhibited by some state and local governments can be corrected by applying constitutional laws. No matter how noisy or crazy our debates get, we have the best kind of government in the world.