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, August 17, 2019

Scriptures Teach that My Body Is a Temple

            A month or two into 2019 I felt prompted to do my scripture study electronically. I had often read the scriptures on my cell phone, but I had not learned how to use the available tools provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though I did not know much about the tools that are available in the LDS Library app, I did recognize that Heavenly Father wanted me to develop new skills and knowledge. 

I was obedient to the prompting and began studying the scriptures on my iPad. I slowly learned how to use the various tools, learning first how to mark the scriptures. Then I learned how to add notes and how to file them under different topics. I eventually learned to link various scriptures and notes to other references in the library.

I recently felt prompted to write a blog post on a gospel topic. I do not remember the subject, but I do remember the feeling of not wanting to do the research for it. The Holy Ghost reminded me that I had already done it and could find it in my electronic scripture base. I was ecstatic! I quickly wrote the essay and posted it to my blog.

Today I had another confirmation of the importance of using technology to study the scriptures. I was doing my “Come, Follow Me” studies for this week and felt impressed to do some extra studying. I later felt prompted to use material from my studies to write this blog post about the importance of our physical bodies. I was happy once again to have numerous quotes in my personal library to include in my essay.

Today’s studies covered Romans 12:1 where Paul urges the Romans to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” I went to the New Testament Student Manual – Religion 211-212 (p. 357) for additional information and found the following quote by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “As our body is the instrument of our spirit, it is vital that we care for it as best we can. We should consecrate its powers to serve and further the work of Christ” (“Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 17). 

            The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that our bodies are temples. If we keep our bodies physically and spiritually clean and worthy of His presence, the Holy Spirit will dwell within us and will guide us in our lives. This quote from Elder Christofferson says that we should consecrate our bodies to service in the work of God, and the Holy Ghost will help us. 

The accompanying information in the student manual explains that Paul drew a parallel between making our bodies “a living sacrifice” and the Old Testament practice of sacrificing animals. It also included this quote from then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

We are still commanded to sacrifice, but not by shedding the blood of animals. Our highest sense of sacrifice is achieved as we make ourselves more sacred or holy. This we do by our obedience to the commandments of God. Thus, the laws of obedience and sacrifice are indelibly intertwined…. As we comply with these and other commandments, something wonderful happens to us. We become disciplined! We become more sacred and holy – like our Lord! (“Lessons from Eve,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 88). 

            After I read the above quotes and added them to my notes, they seemed vaguely familiar. I sensed that I had recently read something else about caring for our physical bodies. I remembered after a few moments that the August 2019 Ensign came yesterday, and I read a few articles in it about the importance of our physical bodies in Heavenly Father’s plan for our happiness. I quickly obtained the magazine and turned to the pages I had read. After looking them over, I added them to my personal library. The first one was a statement from President Russell M. Nelson to the youth of the Church.

The gift of our physical bodies is a transcendent miracle. A unique body is given to each of us by our loving Heavenly Father. He created it as a tabernacle for our spirit, to assist each of us in our quest to fulfill the full measure of our creation. Our bodies allow each of us to experience the great plan of salvation that He has designed for all His precious children. He wants us eventually to become more like Him and return to live with Him. That great blessing would not be possible without our first receiving a physical body in this probationary estate (“Your Body: A Magnificent Gift to Cherish,” New Era, Aug. 2019, 2). 

This is not the first time that President Nelson spoke about our physical bodies as being part of God’s plan for our happiness. When he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then-Elder Nelson said the following. 

With your body being such a vital part of God’s eternal plan, it is little wonder that the Apostle Paul described it as a ‘temple of God’ [1 Cor. 3:26; see also 6:19]. Each time you look in the mirror, see your body as your temple. That truth – refreshed gratefully each day – can positively influence your decisions about how you will care for your body and how you will use it (“Decisions for Eternity,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 107). 

            We show respect and reverence for great cathedrals and temples dedicated to God. We should show the same type of respect and reverence for our physical bodies because they are our personal temples and are essential for our eternal salvation. Just as we would not write on the walls of the temples or make holes in them, the prophets and apostles tell us that we should not have tattoos on our body or extra holes in it. 

            I have shared with you only a few of the quotes that I found in my gospel study and included in my personal gospel library today. I have quick access to these quotes whenever I need them because I listened to the Lord’s prompting to move my scripture study to a higher spiritual level. 

I still feel more comfortable with my paper copy of the scriptures. I often return to them when searching for a specific verse because I know where the verse is located on the page. However, I am learning that there is great value in using the electronic scriptures. I am grateful for the prompting I received so many months ago and for the blessings that are coming to me as I follow that counsel.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Becoming Independent and Self-Reliant

            Independent and self-reliant families strengthen their communities and nations. In order to gain such characteristics, certain principles must be understood and lived. One such principle is that each person is responsible to provide for their own needs and wants. When individuals need assistance, they should go to their family first before seeking help elsewhere.

I have often wondered why African-Americans support Democrats so strongly when Democrats do nothing for them. I believe that liberals do not help blacks for the very purpose of keeping them under their control. They keep blacks on their plantation by keeping the racial issue alive. As long as blacks continue to blame whites for all their problems, they will never realize that they can overcome all of them. 

Democrats do not want blacks to become independent and self-reliant because they know that anyone that has such qualities would never consent to stay on their plantation. So they play the racial discrimination card at every opportunity.

            We all know that there is discrimination of all kinds in America and elsewhere. Discrimination seems to be a human weakness, but it does not need to be exploited. Most people, even those who are in denial, discriminate against someone or some group of people at some time. Anyone who denies doing so is a saint or a liar!

            Walter E. Williams, one of my favorite authors, writes about racial discrimination and the state of the black family. He also asks some hard questions, such as “How much of the plight of many blacks can be explained by current racial discrimination?” He says that “the root of most of the problems black people face is the breakdown of the family structure.” He gives the following statistics about families in black America to prove his point.

Slightly over 70% of black children are raised in female-headed households. According to statistics about fatherless homes, 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes; 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father figure; 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes; 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes; and 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions have no father.

Furthermore, fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school and twice as likely to end up in jail.

            The above statistics do not show any connection to slavery, racism, or civil rights, but  they do show a direct connection to the breakdown of the family. Williams shares further statistics that show black families were stronger in past years than they are now. What happened to tear black families apart?

In the late 1800s, depending on the city, 70% to 80% of black households were two-parent. Thomas Sowell has argued, “The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

As late as 1950, only 18% of black households were single-parent. From 1890 to 1940, a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. In 1938, black illegitimacy was about 11% instead of today’s 75%. In 1925, 85% of black households in New York City were two-parent. Today, the black family is a mere shadow of its past.

            Williams paints a sad picture of the black families of America. He also looks at crime, education, and racial discrimination. He says that about 7,000 blacks die of homicide each year, a number that is “slightly over 50% of U.S. homicide victims.” Most of the time – 94% -- the black victim is killed by another black person.

            Looking at schools that are predominantly black, Williams says that “chaos is the order of the day” with “a high rate of assaults on students and teachers.” Students who are not interested in gaining knowledge make it difficult for other students to learn. He says that “overall black educational achievement is a disaster.”

            Children of all races behave better when they have access to both parents. The crime in the black neighborhoods and the chaos in the black schools would decrease exponentially if there were more black fathers in the home. More black families would take themselves out of poverty if the parents were married. Study after study shows that two-parent families do better financially. The breakdown of the family causes many of the problems for blacks.

            Williams speaks directly to those who “blame racial discrimination for the problems of black people.” He wants to know how long blacks are going to wait for “moral rejuvenation among white people” before they act for the good of the black community. He reminds his readers that African-Americans were not the only people who were discriminated against in America. Jews and Asians were discriminated against but not enslaved, and they did not wait for whites to become better people before moving upward. Williams puts the plight of black Americans at the feet of those who benefit from blacks staying on the plantation.

Intellectuals and political hustlers who blame the plight of so many blacks on poverty, racial discrimination, and the “legacy of slavery” are complicit in the socioeconomic and moral decay.

Black people must ignore the liberal agenda that suggests that we must await government money before measures can be taken to improve the tragic living conditions in so many of our urban communities.

Black and white intellectuals and politicians suggesting that black people await government solutions wouldn’t begin to live in the same high-crime, dangerous communities, and send their children to the dangerous schools that so many black children attend.

The answer to many of the problems in America would be solved by strengthening families. If liberals were really interested in helping African-Americans, they would develop policies and programs that would teach the importance of marriage and education. The crimes in all neighborhoods and chaos in all schools would be a thing of the past if fathers and mothers could only realize the importance of marriage and education in strengthening their families. Strong families of all colors strengthen their communities and nations.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fix the Flores Agreement to Protect Alien Children

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns how to solve the crisis at the southern border of the United States and stop the exploitation and/or abuse of children. The border problem has reached the point that no one can deny that there is a crisis, but Democrats and other liberals in Congress continue to drag their feet in solving it while children continue to suffer from adult decisions. 

Everyone dislikes the idea of children suffering for any reason, and alien children are suffering every day as adults seek to enter the United States. We hear many stories of children being separated from their parents, of the difficult journey on which children are taken to reach the U.S. border, and of the horribly crowded conditions at the detention centers. We have heard much about children being kept in “cages” by authorities. However, we do not hear much about children being rented, purchased, kidnapped, exploited, and/or abused for people to create fake families to ensure access to the United States.

Igor C. Magalhaes, an immigration legislative fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, published an article titled “Congress Can Help Migrant Children with This Key Fix” at The Daily Signal. He suggests some simple fixes to solve the border crisis while our do-nothing Congress continues to cause problems for children by refusing to fix the “broken American asylum system.”

What is this so-called fix that Magalhaes is discussing? He says that the “common thread” between all the problems faced by the alien children is the Flores settlement.

The Flores settlement has its roots in legal battles over the government’s handling of unaccompanied alien children dating back to the mid-1980s. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government’s procedures dealing with unaccompanied alien children in Reno v. Flores.

Unfortunately, the Clinton administration succumbed to pressure from activist groups and approved more lenient administrative practices. Among other things, the government agreed to release unaccompanied alien children “without unnecessary delay” to a parent, guardian, or adult relative.

            In 2015 a rogue judge broadened the scope of the agreement. He expanded the agreement to mean all minors – not just the unaccompanied minors but also any “minors apprehended with their parents.” The judge decided on his own authority to determine that “without unnecessary delay” meant no longer than 20 days. This limit of “20 days is an arbitrary timeline that is insufficient to review asylum claims, particularly as the asylum system becomes more and more overwhelmed by many fraudulent claims.” As a result, the immigration agencies had two options when dealing with family units seeking asylum: separate the children from the parents or allow the entire family into the United States.

The public blowback to family separation eventually resulted in its termination, leading to the practice of “catch and release” for foreign nationals with children. Many of those aliens who are released simply disappear and never show up for their immigration hearings.

Consequently, the notion that entering the country with a child will result in an immediate release has led to a huge increase in family units (both real and fake) migrating to the United States, though the vast majority of these migrants – even those who come from impoverished countries – will not qualify for asylum.

Those seeking to take advantage of American asylum laws are clogging up the system. They are not only slowing the process of those with legitimate claims, but [they] are also putting the children they come with in harm’s way.

Magalhaes has some simple solutions that could quickly bring the crisis under control. He says that Congress needs to fix the Flores agreement if they really want to help migrant children. The first fix would be the elimination of the “arbitrary 20-day limit on detaining alien minors.” Without this illogical limit, children could be detained with their parents as the family’s “asylum claims are reviewed and go through the process.”

The second fix would be to deny asylum claims for all aliens who cross the border illegally or cross at points other than ports of entry. All people seeking asylum should wait in Mexico for their claims to be investigated and settled.

Magalhaes makes the following comment: “Eliminating the impression that bringing a child to the border guarantees expedited release into the country will reduce the incentive to put a child’s life in danger and provide relief to the congested immigration system.” It is a long sentence, but it contains common sense. If we eliminate the motivation to bring a child or children, we will eliminate the exploitation and/or abuse of many children.

Anyone who truly cares about children’s lives, health and safety will support fixing the Flores decision in order to bless thousands, possibly millions, of alien children. Fewer children will be taken on the thousand-mile journey across harsh country to reach the border. Fewer children will be exploited and abused by people attempting to enter our nation illegally. Fewer children will be separated from their parents or detained in crowded immigration detention facilities. Fixing the Flores agreement is the act of doing simple things that will bring about great differences in the lives of thousands of children. Let’s do it for the children!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Safe Haven for Women

            Does a biological man who identifies as a woman belong in a shelter for battered women? I do not believe so, but one such individual filed a lawsuit when they were not allowed into the women’s shelter. The lawsuit was filed on the grounds of discrimination based on sex and gender identity. The shelter filed a lawsuit in federal court and received a reprieve while the lawsuit continues. A federal court decision says that the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission cannot enforce an anti-discrimination ordinance against the shelter for refusing to admit the transwoman. 

            Hope Center in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, is a Christian ministry. Its operations conform to its religious views, including the belief that sex cannot be changed. This shelter serves 142,000 meals per year and provides a safe place for abused women. Kate Anderson, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, made the following statement: 

Downtown Hope Center serves everyone, but women deserve a safe place to stay overnight…. No woman – particularly not an abuse survivor – should be forced to sleep or disrobe next to a man. The court’s order will allow the center to continue in its duty to protect the vulnerable women it serves while this lawsuit moves forward.

            The transgender movement is encroaching on the rights of women on numerous levels. Transgender women are now allowed to compete against biological women in sporting events even though they have the body, speed, and strength of males. In doing so, they are erasing all the gains for which women have fought for many years. We hear much about the rights of people who identify as the opposite sex from which they were born, but what about the rights for biological women? The last place that biological men should be allowed is in a shelter for battered women!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

No More Freeloaders Invited

            There is new evidence this week that the Trump administration is putting Americans first. There is a new regulation in the Federal Register this week that is causing an uproar in the liberal camp. Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told reporters on Monday that use of welfare benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid will be considered when determining if an immigrant is eligible for permanent legal residency or a temporary visa. The new Department of Homeland Security regulation was placed in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect on October 14. 

            The authority for this regulation comes from a bill passed with bipartisan support in 1996. Until this regulation takes effect, the bill applied only to legal immigrants who received cash benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income. Cuccinelli says that the new regulation will “help promote immigrant success in the United States as they seek opportunity here…. Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle in America.”

The law, in effect since 1996, required non-citizens to provide for themselves and their families or to be supported by other family members, sponsors, or private organizations. However, Congress failed to complete their task because they did not define the term “public charge” in the law. The term has not been defined by regulation until the new rule was passed. 

The new rule clearly says that any immigrant seeking to be a permanent U.S. resident must not expect to be a recipient of U.S. welfare programs. Even though the concept has been in effect for generations, the regulation will apply only after it takes effects the middle of October. David Inserra, a policy analyst for homeland security at The Heritage Foundation explained what the new regulation will do. 

The public charge requirement is a long-standing principle of U.S. immigration law, first implemented at the federal level in 1882.

However, the [meaning] of public charge has been poorly defined. The administration’s new rule simply defines … the public charge requirement to reflect today’s system of government benefits.

This rule protects U.S. taxpayers by ensuring that new immigrants to the U.S. will not add even more spending on top of welfare and entitlement programs that are already unsustainably driving American debt higher and higher.

It also ensures that the U.S. is granting permanent residency to those who are self-sufficient, rewarding such immigrants with the privilege of staying and working in the U.S. and eventually gaining access to American citizenship.

The new regulation applies to any public benefit programs on the federal, state, local, or tribal level. However, it does not affect those programs that help children – born or unborn – or public benefits that go to military dependents. It does not apply to refugees or immigrants seeking asylum.

The new rule tells the world – as well as liberals – that the United States is not inviting anyone in the world to come to America and freeload off the American taxpayers. We are interested in immigrants who will be assets to the United States and not those who are coming for benefits. Americans are interested in immigrants who are self-sufficient and self-reliant.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Helpful Airman Declines Title of Hero

            My VIP for this week is Jibril Jennings, an airman at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is a radio operator on the Airborne Warning and Control System. He is considered a hero because he saw an elderly woman and stopped to help her. The temperature was about 100 degrees when he noticed that cars were swerving to miss the woman, but none were stopping to help. 

Janice Hall, age 71, was struggling with several heavy bags and had her walker loaded with others. He stopped to offer her a ride home, and she accepted. She says that she enjoys the two-mile walk between Wal-Mart and her home, but she was grateful for the ride and the help with her groceries.

No one would have known about Jennings’ good deed except Amber Roy came upon the scene as he was loading Hall’s groceries into his car. She recorded the experience and uploaded it to Facebook where it has been viewed 3.3 million times. Jennings was unaware that he was being watched and was surprised to be called a hero.

There are thousands, maybe even millions, of elderly people in our nation, and many of them are live in difficult circumstances. There is a multitude of people willing to take advantage of older people. Some are robbed, while others are beaten and otherwise abused. Some are even killed, like the elderly man who was pushed out of bus. 

It is good to know that there are people like Jennings around who are willing to stop and help when they can. Hall reminded Jennings of his grandmother, and the two became friends on their short ride together. Jennings saw other ways that he could help Hall when he arrived at her home. He plans to recruit some of his friends in the Air Force to help him fix the broken ramp outside Hall’s home in order to make her life easier. 

            Hall may not fit the title of “hero,” but he certainly is a man to be admired. He stopped to help Hall out of the goodness of his heart. He did not film himself doing the good deed, nor did he expect to become famous for his service. He seems to be a genuinely good man who cares about other people.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Rights for Illegal Aliens

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns people who are illegally in the United States and their rights. Do they have the same constitutional rights as American citizens? No, they do not have the same constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. However, they do have some rights. They also do not have the right to receive the same benefits that are available to American citizens.

            Illegal aliens have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They have the right to be represented by counsel but not the right to a government-paid attorney. They have the right to life, but they do not have the natural right to reside in the United States. They do not have the right to welfare benefits, but they do have the right to emergency medical care.