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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Naturalized Citizens

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.4: "The Congress shall have Power … To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization" and regulations for all immigrants who desire to become United States citizens. This provision in the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the power, authority, and responsibility to decide who could become a citizen of the United States and under what conditions.

The United States is a "nation of refugees" that welcomes immigrant minorities that will help our nation to become stronger and better. Our Founders set the stage for our nation to become successful because they "considered a law-abiding, hard-working population of productive people its greatest resource." Like Israel today, the Founders had the attitude that increasing the population would also increase the human resources. At the same time, Americans have the right to leave the United States and become citizens of another nation whenever they desire.

It takes at least five years for an immigrant to attain full citizenship in the United States. The requirements are:
1) The applicant must be at least eighteen years old. 2) The applicant must prove that he or she came to the United States legally.
3) The applicant must have lived in the United States for five consecutive years or for three consecutive years if married to a U.S. citizen and for six months in the state where the application is filed. 4) The applicant must be of good moral character as testified by two U.S. citizens. U.S. law states that a person is not of good moral character if he or she is a drunkard, adulterer, bigamist, polygamist, professional gambler, convicted murderer, been in jail for more than 180 days in the five-year period, or lied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. 5) The applicant must demonstration that they know the history of United States and how its government works as well as being "attached to the principles of the Constitution." 6) The applicant must be able to speak, read, write, and understand the English language.

Congress legislated that U.S. citizenship - either native-born or naturalized - could be forfeited in the following ways: 1) Being naturalized in a foreign nation. 2) Swearing an oath of allegiance to a foreign nation. 3) Enlisting in the armed services of a foreign nation unless being forced to do so. 4) Serving in a public office in a foreign nation where citizenship in the country is a requirement for the office. 5) Voting in a foreign nation. 6) Going before an American officer and formally renouncing U.S. citizenship. 7) Being convicted of treason or trying to overthrow the government of the United States, 8) Being a naturalized citizen living in the country of his birth for three years or in any foreign nation for five years.

There are no rights of amnesty or naturalization for any immigrant who enters our nation illegally. See #2 in my third paragraph. The federal government is responsible to secure our borders to the point that immigration is done in a controlled and orderly manner.

Facts are from W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 411-415, where there is much more interesting information.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Work is an eternal principle and is the subject of our gospel discussion for this Sabbath Day. We know that work is important in heaven and on earth because of the examples and teachings of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, worked to create the heavens and the earth. He worked when He caused the seas to gather in one place and the dry land to appear. He worked when He caused the grass, herbs, and trees to grow on the land. He worked when He created the sun, the moon, and the stars and hung them in the heavens. He worked as He created every living thing on the land or in the sea. When He placed Adam and Eve on the earth, He commanded them to take care of the earth and gave them dominion over all living things. (See Genesis 1:1-28.) We also know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ work because the Savior said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). The Savior also said, "I must work the works of him that sent me" (John 9:4).

When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, work became the way of life on earth. The Lord said to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). Adam and Eve worked to provide for their own needs and the needs of their children (see Moses 5:1). When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He said to the people of Israel, "Six days shalt thou labour" (Exodus 20:9). In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lord said, "Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them" (Doctrine and Covenants 68:31). President Heber J. Grant said, "Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant [2002], 115).

Parents have the responsibility to teach their children to work as they labor together to provide for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their family. Parents should never expect anyone to take care of this responsibility for them. The Apostle Paul wrote, "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith" (1 Timothy 5:8).

Mothers and fathers can establish individual responsibilities for family members as they seek inspiration from the Lord and follow the counsel of the prophets. Just as providing the basic necessities of food and clothing are important, creating a home where principles of the gospel are taught daily and where love and order abound is also important.

Children should be taught to do their share of the work in the home, and children learn best when they receive work assignments that fit their abilities as well as receive praise for their successes. Children can develop good work attitudes, habits and skills through successful experiences in the home.

A good attitude toward work is very important because attitude affects feelings. Some people find work to be an exciting part of life while other people find work to be drudgery. It seems that the happiest of people enjoy their work. We lighten heavy loads when we help each other in our work.

The following story shows the difference that attitude can make in our daily labor: A traveler passed a stone quarry where he saw three men working at the same job. He asked each man what he was doing. The first man answered, "I am cutting stone." The second one said, "I am earning three gold pieces per day." The third man replied with a smile, "I am helping to build a house of God."

We can serve God in any honest work. King Benjamin, a righteous Nephite prophet, taught, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). We are still helping some of God's children if our work provides only for ourselves or our families.

The Lord made plain that He is not pleased with anyone that is lazy or idle when He said, "The idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways" (Doctrine and Covenants 75:29). He also said, "Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer" (Doctrine and Covenants 42:42).
From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the prophets have taught the members to be independent and self-sustaining as well as avoiding idleness. No self-respecting person will voluntarily shift the burden of their own support to another person. They will supply the necessities of life to themselves and their families as long as they are able to do so. In addition, family members should accept the responsibility to care for their relatives who are unable to provide for themselves.

As important as work is, it is also important to maintain a balance between work, recreation, and rest. Work makes rest and relaxation more meaningful. We have six days every week to complete our work and participate in hobbies, recreation and other activities to refresh our bodies and minds. We are commanded to rest on the Sabbath day (see Exodus 20:10; Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-12) after working the previous six days to refresh our souls for the coming days.

Honest work brings many blessings into our lives. God told Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). This was not only a temporal law, but it was also a law for the salvation of souls because there is no division between spiritual, mental, and physical work. Work is a necessity for each of us to grow and develop character; it also brings many satisfactions that the idle will never know.

President David O. McKay said, "Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that the love of work is success" (Pathways to Happiness [1957], 381).

The ancient prophet Lehi told his family that "Men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). Work is the key to a fullness of joy in God's plan of salvation. Those who live righteous lives will one day return to live with Heavenly Father where we will have more work to do. As we grow and become more like our Heavenly Father, our work will become like His work, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Thus, we can honestly agree that work is an eternal principle.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Family Reunions

Families are strengthened by holding regular family reunions. Family get-togethers come in all shapes and sizes and happen at all times of the year. Some families return to their home towns; other families go on trips or cruises together. Some families meet at a certain location.

The family of my oldest sister holds their reunions every other year. Some years they go to the coast of Oregon where they rent a house or two and enjoy each other's company for a week. One year they gathered in their home town. Family members that didn't fit into the large family home went to a nearby motel to sleep and back to the home for meals and activities. Several years ago they cancelled their reunion for some reason, but they ended up gathering for the funeral of my brother-in-law at about the same time period as the planned reunion. This year is their year to gather together again.

Another sister's family traveled from Virginia, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah to meet in Nauvoo, Illinois, for a few days. While there they visited sacred spots in Church history in the general area and learned about ancestors who had lived in Nauvoo.

My immediate family gathered during the Christmas holidays to exchange gifts and to spend a week in adventure. We met at a time share resort where we rented several units. Using the resort as a base, we branched out to national parks, state parks, and other areas where we could hike and enjoy our relatives.

My large and extended family - the posterity of my parents - is meeting this weekend, but I will not be attending this year. We have such a large number of people that we reserve a park for a few hours on a Saturday. The agenda stays basically the same each year. The Big Twelve - my brothers and sisters - and our spouses meet on Friday evening for dinner and a business meeting. At approximately the same time but in a different location, the adult cousins and their spouses meet for an evening of food and fun together. The Saturday event is for all ages and includes more food, fun and visiting together. I am not able to attend every year, but I enjoy the reunions I attend very much because of the overflowing amount of love and concern we show to each other. I am positive that our parents are proud of the way we continue to be good friends as well as siblings.

I highly recommend family reunions. There is nothing quite like being with family!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Strength, then Peace

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that only the strong are able to stay free. The title for this post came from President Ronald Reagan who said that the only way our nation could have peace was to be so strong that no other nation would even consider attacking us. He said, "Peace through strength," and then he acted to make our nation strong.

Our Founding Fathers wanted peace for their new nation, and they understood that peace comes through strength. They understood that being a nation prepared to defend itself would provide protection from greedy nations wishing to profit from American prosperity. I have no doubts that our war with terrorists could have been much shorter and less deadly if acted with strength and unleashed the full power of the United States military.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, "The very fame of our strength and readiness would be a means of discouraging our enemies; for 'tis a wise and true saying, that `One sword often keeps another in the scabbard.' The way to secure peace is to be prepared for war. They that are on their guard, and appear ready to receive their adversaries, are in much less danger of being attacked than the supine, secure and negligent."

Franklin said later, "Our security lies, I think, in our growing strength, both in numbers and wealth, that creates an increasing ability of assisting this nation in its wars, which will make us more respectable, our friendship more valued, and our enmity feared; thence it will soon be thought proper to treat us not with justice only, but with kindness, and thence we may expect in a few years a total change of measures with regard to us; unless, by a neglect of military discipline, we should lose all martial spirit, and our western people become as tame as those in the eastern dominions of Britain [India], when we may expect the same oppressions; for there is much truth in the Italian saying 'Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you.'"

A common description of George Washington is "First in peace, first in war, first in the hearts of his countrymen." Washington understood the realities of life. He fought for the cause of liberty and risked his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor fighting for the independence of Americans. He wanted peace, but he declared, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

Our Founders passed their policy of peace through strength down to their descendents. Americans have been known for their love of peace and their willingness to go to war to preserve peace.

This may be one of the "fundamental changes" brought about by the Obama Administration. By the out-of-control spending and the policies of the federal government, our economy may be destroyed to the point that we have no means to wage war. By their dismantling of the military and opening it wide to perverts and people who hate our nation, we may have no manpower to fight a war. By our President going on a world-wide tour apologizing for our country and bowing to our enemies, we may lose the respect - and thus the fear - of nations who want to subdue us. In order for us to maintain peace and keep our freedoms, we must be stronger than all other nations. Real peace can come only through strength.

Ideas and quotes are from The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen, pp 181-188.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crazy World

The world has gone crazy! Much of the United States is broiling as the "heat dome" stretches from Texas to Maine and covers one million square miles. Some 141 million Americans in this area were under a "heat alert" as the dome moved from central U.S. and towards the East Coast. At least twenty-two people have died from the heat.

People are not handling the heat well. Two women brawled over a seat on the New York subway. One of the women left a sleeping baby in a stroller in order to fight over the seat. She never noticed that the baby rolled out of the subway and onto the platform - and luckily was rescued by strangers.

Girl Scouts selling cookies and children with lemonade stands on their front lawns are being shut down by police because they don't have the necessary "licenses" to sell. In fact, no one really knows what the children put in their lemonade!

Thieves are stealing grapes, avocados, bees, diesel, tools, and truck batteries from farms in California. Other thieves are stealing ambulances in North Texas and storm drain covers in Sacramento, California. Still other thieves have stolen copper and other metals wherever they could find it, even in air conditioning systems.

Residents of Chicago sought relief from the heat by opening fire hydrants. Fire crews sought police protection in order to shut off approximately 2000 hydrants. City officials were warning the people that opening a fire hydrant and spilling hundreds of gallons of water into the street presented a safety hazard: Drivers have a difficult time seeing children playing in the water. The water floods basements in the area. Lower water pressure could hamper the fire department's attempts to fight fires.

The U.S. Senate rejected the Cut, Cap, and Balance proposal passed by the U.S. House and then took the weekend off. They don't seem to be too concerned that our nation is in fiscal danger. President Obama is out campaigning on college campuses trying to sell his programs to the young idiots surrounding him.

This is only the United States! Norway is dealing with terrorist attacks and idiots shooting young people at camps. Greece is about to default on its loans, and other nations such as Italy and Spain seem to be following in their footsteps. The Middle East is still fighting for "democracy."

What in the world is happening?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cut, Cap, Balance

The worldwide debt crisis has been much in the news in recent months, and the debate about raising the United States debt ceiling has been loud, raucous, and not settled yet. It is no secret that our huge government debt was caused by our elected officials in Washington, D.C. - both Republicans and Democrats - who deliberately made and passed bills that put our nation's fiscal health in danger. Our nation now owes at least $14.3 trillion. Our elected leaders are borrowing about forty cents of every dollar they spend. We cannot continue on the path that we are currently traveling.

I have been watching the issues closely and reading as much about it as I possibly could, but I still do not understand much about our problems. I have noticed that liberals are adamant about the need to raise the debt ceiling so that we can even more money and go even further in debt while conservatives are opposed to raising the debt ceiling without cutting the deficit and capping future spending. A coalition made up of conservatives and libertarians put forth a plan to stop this out of control spending. Their stated goal is to keep Congress from raising the debt ceiling unless they also cut, cap, and balance federal spending. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "cut, cap, and balance" deficit reduction plan on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, by a bipartisan vote of 234-190 (229 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted for it). The U.S. Senate voted on Friday, July 22, 2011, to "table" or kill the House Republican proposal by a vote of 51-46 along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Harry proclaimed Cut, Cap, and Balance to be dead.

What is Cut, Cap, and Balance? Why are liberals so opposed to it? H.R. 2560, The Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, is basically just what it says. Cut the deficit immediately. The deficit last year alone was $1.6 trillion and must be halved for this year. Cap the spending. The historical rate of federal spending - before the Obama Administration - was 18% of GDP or less. In order to protect our nation from out of control politicians, we must put a cap on spending at the historical level. Balance the budget. We must pass a Balance Budget Amendment because we cannot trust politicians from either party. We know from the actions of politicians in the past - Republicans during the Bush Administration and Democrats in the Obama Administration - that we cannot trust them to spend our money wisely. Simply stated, Cut, Cap, and Balance is an effort to restrict and control politicians while saving and strengthening our freedoms. If it were made law, Americans would again be free to prosper and thrive.

Why are liberals so opposed to cutting our deficit, capping our spending, and balancing our budget when the majority of Americans are supportive of doing so? I do not know why. I cannot understand their unwillingness to do so. It appears that liberal/progressive Democrats are being irresponsible about our debt: the Senate has not passed a budget for over 800 days, and neither President Obama nor the Senate has come up with a plan to solve our fiscal problems.

President Obama called for a "balanced" plan, and stated that he wanted a "shared sacrifice." Yet, when the House put forth such a plan, he said that he would veto Cut, Cap and Balance if it were passed by the Senate.

Fox reported the following statement from Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas): "The Democrat-led Senate's failure to both produce a budget and pass the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011 underscores the Democrats' irresponsible commitment to the status quo. While the President and Senator Reid refuse to produce a plan to deal with our debt crisis, Republicans will keep working to meet the nation's fiscal challenges."

John Boehner (R-Ohio), Speaker of the House, was reported as saying, "Senate Democrats have defied the will of the American people who overwhelmingly support real spending cuts, caps on future spending, and a balanced budget to create a better environment for private-sector job growth.
"Republicans are standing with the American people and, as I've said before, will not pass a bill that fails to cut spending by more than it increases the debt limit, restrain future spending, or that raises taxes on families and job creators."

It appears to me that liberal/progressive Democrats are using smoke and mirrors in order to withstand the control of Cut, Cap, and Balance. Republicans who are not conservatives (RINOs) are sabotaging efforts to stabilize our fiscal situation. The situation has to be faced as soon as possible. The longer we allow the President and Congress to freely throw our money around, the worse the situation will become. If we don't get the borrowing and spending under control now, we will lose our ability to borrow anything or at least have a worse credit rating to deal with.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Dover, Delaware, in 1730. He had English ancestry as his grandfather emigrated from England soon after William Penn and the Quakers settled in Pennsylvania in 1681. The grandfather spent a short period of time in Philadelphia and then settled on a plantation in Kent County on the Delaware River. Due to his activity and popularity, he held many honorable and distinctive offices in the county. He had several sons, but only his youngest son, Caesar, survived. Caesar married the daughter of a respected clergyman; he preferred a more quiet life and chose to concentrate on domestic life and training his children. Their oldest son was named Caesar after his father and is the subject of this post.

Caesar inherited the family estate upon the death of his father as well as the considerable family respect. He began his public service sometime before 1762 when he is mentioned in the records of the Delaware Legislature.

Rodney was boldly opposed to the provisions of the Stamp Act. He was so open and bold in his thoughts and words that he was selected as one of three delegates to the "Stamp Act Congress" held in New York in 1765. He was elected as a member of the Delaware Assembly in 1769 and was chosen as Speaker of that body. He remained in the position of Speaker until 1774 as well as chairman of the corresponding committee. He was elected as a Delaware delegate to the General Congress in August 1774 and was seated on September 5. The three delegates from Delaware - Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean and George Read - were very active and devoted to the cause of liberty. Caesar was a member of a committee assigned to write a Declaration of Rights; he also gave a speech about the colonists' causes for complaints.

Caesar was again elected as a delegate in 1775; while serving in Congress he was appointed as the Brigadier General for Delaware. Even though the new appointment brought heavy additional responsibilities, he continued to serve well in Congress. Whether he was at home or in Congress, he was working hard for the public good. He was at home during the closing arguments about the proposed Declaration of Independence in 1776 when McKean sent for him to return to Congress; McKean was anxious to have Caesar there to help carry the Delaware vote for independence. Caesar arrived just in time for the vote for independence and to sign the document.

The people of Delaware called for a convention in the fall of 1776 to write a State Constitution as well as to elect delegates to the next General Congress. Due to the numbers of Tory members at the convention, neither Rodney nor McKean was re-elected. Rodney was not deterred and used his additional time and efforts in writing correspondence as well as to care for his private affairs.

After Colonel Haslet of General Rodney's brigade was killed in 1777 in the battle of Princeton, General Rodney started for Philadelphia. He received orders to stay in Princeton where he spent two months recruiting more soldiers.

Soon after he returned home, Caesar received an appointment to the Supreme Court, but he declined the offer in order to lead a more active life in the military. After serving in several military operations, he was again elected to the General Congress. He declined to serve in the Congress due to great political agitation in his home state. He was elected as President of Delaware and performed the heavy duties of that office for four years.

Rodney had cancer in his cheek from the time of his youth that only became worse from the stress of his public duties. He felt that he was wasting away and retired from public life. He died in the fifty-third year of his life in early 1783.

Facts are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 133-136.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Commerce with Indian Tribes

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.3: "The Congress shall have Power to … To regulate Commerce with … the Indian Tribes." This provision in the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate trade with Indian tribes.

At the time that the Constitution was written and ratified, the U.S. Governments treated Indian tribes as sovereign nations similar to the nations of Europe. The government used treaties with the Indian nations just as they did with other nations even though they thought that the Indians would eventually become an assimilated into the culture of the new nation.

Over a period of many years the government established the Bureau of Indian Affairs (1824 - to deal with any problems involving Indians), passed the Indian Removal Act (1830 - to open up lands west of the Mississippi River in order to have places to relocate the tribes), made the Bureau of Indian Affairs a branch within the Department of the Interior (1849), stopped considering Indian tribes as independent or foreign nations by congressional act (1871), imposed a system of criminal laws for Indians living on reservations (1886), and granted U.S. citizenship to all Indians born within the borders of the United States (1924). The sale of alcohol to Indians was about the only regulated commercial activity with Indian tribes for many years, but their gambling casinos may now come under the commerce clause.

Ideas and quotes are from W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 410-411.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pioneer Day

In the early spring my two granddaughters called to ask me a favor: They had been selected to ride on a float for the children's parade in Salt Lake City, and they wanted to know if I would make some pioneer outfits for them. Of course, I said yes. I sewed the outfits and delivered them in April. Their mother reported that the girls looked cute in their outfits and had fun riding the float and throwing candy to the people along the route.

The Days of 47 Celebration or Pioneer Day is a huge event throughout Utah, and many different communities hold special events. There are many different categories to the celebration including concerts, parades, picnics, games, rodeos, and royalty. Families enjoy sharing historical stories together and joining in groups to share the special holiday.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrate July 24 each year as Pioneer Day. Brigham Young reached the Great Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, and declared, "This is the place. Drive on." Brigham Young later said that he had seen the valley and Ensign Peak in a vision and recognized it when he saw it. The Mormon pioneers believed that God led them to the Great Salt Lake Valley in order that they would have a refuge from the violence of mobs and other people who did not like them.

God prepared places of safety for His people at numerous times in history. He still helps those who love Him to find the right place to live and work. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "The future is ahead. As great things were expected of the pioneers, so are they of us. We note what they did with what they had. We have so much more, with an overwhelming challenge to go on and build the kingdom of God. We are engaged in a great consuming crusade for truth and goodness" (Stand A Little Taller, 216).

Pioneers are people who lead the way and prepare a place for those who follow them. The Mormon Pioneers left civilization and moved into unknown territory in order to escape persecution and to make a new home. They worked diligently and made the "desert blossom as a rose." It is fitting that there is a day to remember the pioneers who settled our nation, but it is more important that we are pioneers in making life better for those who will follow us.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thoughts, Words, and Actions

Families are strengthened when individuals show concern, love, and support by their words and actions; on the flip side, families are destroyed when negative thoughts and feelings come out in negative words and actions. No word is spoken and no action is taken until after a thought has first entered the mind. In order to have loving words and loving actions, we must first have loving thoughts.

Righteous King Benjamin taught his people, "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish...." (Mosiah 4:30).

The Lord commanded His followers in the Doctrine and Covenants, "Thou shalt live together in love" (42:45) and "See that ye love one another…." (88:123). President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled, "God has brought us together as families to bring to pass His eternal purposes. We are part of this plan in this marriage relationship. Let us love and respect and honor one another. We can do it, and we will be the better for it" (Stand A Little Taller, 12). He also said, "True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one's companion" (p 47).

Love is best learned and nurtured in families. Since parents are the core of the family, we should demonstrate our love for each other by the words we speak and the actions we perform. The children will follow whatever example the parents set, whether consciously or unconsciously. If the parental example is a worthy one, the children are fortunate. If the parental example requires improvement, the children need to consciously develop a different way of speaking or acting.

I had the opportunity recently to spend several weeks in the home of my daughter and her husband as they welcomed their new baby and prepared for a move to another state. I was in awe as I watched Jimmy in his role of husband and father and assumed that he had learned by watching his own father in those roles. Even though Jimmy was working long hours each day - sometimes as many as fourteen or fifteen hours - when he returned home he was always in good spirits and took an active part in whatever needed to be done. He seemed to immediately sense what needed his attention, and he did it. If the laundry wasn't quite finished, he pitched right in to help - whether it was carrying baskets of clothing or folding clothes and putting them away. If it was time for Benson to go to bed, Jimmy was right there to change him or bathe him or read to him. He even brought dessert to Sue and I one night when he could tell we were really tired. One night Jimmy returned home even later than the usual late hour - about 11:00. Sue and I had been packing boxes for several days and were getting exhausted. Jimmy changed his clothes and packed several boxes before going to bed about midnight. He showed by his words and actions that he truly loves Sue and the children.

I am a fortunate woman because all of my sons - by birth or marriage - lead their families with authority and treat their wives and children with respect and love. Their families grow stronger as they continue to love and support their families with kind words and actions.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Educated Citizens

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that a system of general education is necessary in a republic in order to survive as a free society. The American colonists understood the necessity of having educated citizens. In fact, America was the first place on earth that attempted to educate everyone.

As early as 1647 Massachusetts legislated that a free grammar public school was to be set up in every community withy fifty or more families. The schools were to teach the fundamentals of reading, writing, history, geography, and Bible study. Communities with one hundred families were required to have secondary schools to prepare young men to attend Harvard. The people as a whole were responsible for the education of all levels of society. John Adams said, "A native of America who cannot read and write is rare, … as a comet or an earthquake…."

The American colonists wanted all children to be taught basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic in order that they would become life-long learners and well-informed citizens. This is one of the reasons why all of the Founding Fathers were well-read even though some had limited formal education. They learned the basics well and then continued learning through self-study. The American people as a whole were the "most enlightened in the world" according to Alexis de Tocqueville of France who visited the United States in 1831.

Americans understood that they had a wonderful and new experiment in liberty, and they wanted their children to receive instructions in political science. A popular textbook called "Catechism on the Constitution" was used to teach the children about the political system in America. The book was written by Arthur J. Stansbury and published in 1828.

Tocqueville wrote, "… But if you question [an American] respecting his own country …; his language will become as clear and precise as his thoughts. He will inform you what his rights are and by what means he exercises them; he will be able to point out the customs which obtain in the political world. You will find that he is well acquainted with the rules of the administration, and that he is familiar with the mechanism of the laws…. The American learns to know the laws by participating in the act of legislation; and he takes a lesson in the forms of government from governing. The great work of society is ever going on before his eyes and as it were, under his hands.
"In the United States, politics are the end and aim of education…." (Ibid, 1:329-330).

Many of the great leaders of our nation, such as Abraham Lincoln, developed their eloquence in speaking by extensive reading of the Bible because the American colonists insisted that the Holy Bible be taught in their schools. Today's students are not even permitted to read the Bible in many public schools. They are being deprived of the opportunity to learn the linguistic habits of the people, their moral standards, and their behavior patterns. Taking the Bible and God out of the classroom is just one of the ways that education in America is being dumbed down.

The need for an educated citizenry is very evident from the results of the 2008 presidential election. Obama was elected by people who voted for him because of his color and the fact that he spoke eloquently. He had no other credentials for being the President of the United States. He was lying in many of his statements as an candidate, and he continues to stretch the truth and outright lie to Americans today. He is able to fool many people because they are not educated enough to study out the issues and learn the truth.

In order for the United States to survive as a republic, its citizens must receive a broad program of general education. A huge problem is caused by activist teachers indoctrinating children and teenagers with Marxist ideas. Parents and neighbors must join together to make sure that the rising generations are taught the principles of freedom, how America became a world leader, and why America is loosing power and respect among other nations. Yes, our citizenry needs to be educated in order to keep our inalienable rights from being eroded, but we must insure that we learn the principles of truth because the truth will keep us free.

Facts and quotes are from The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ann Lawler Ross

Ann Lawler, an accomplished, respected, and handsome young woman, married George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence, on August 14, 1751. The marriage was considered "highly advantageous" to both parties. The couple settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and became parents of two sons and a daughter: George, James and Mary. Mary was described as beautiful and her children as being remarkable enough to attract attention.

Ann was the only child of Mary Lawler, a widow with "considerable property" in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who died in 1778. George was born in Newcastle, Delaware. His father was an Episcopalian clergyman who was married twice and had eleven children, all of whom became prominent members of society. George was well-educated by his father and then studied law with his brother John, who was a highly esteemed lawyer as well as a good friend of Benjamin Franklin.

George became very involved in public work. He was first elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly, and while serving there was also elected as a delegate to the General Congress. He served in public office "almost continuously" until his death on July 14, 1779. Ann died a few years previous to her husband.

Facts and quotes from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 207-209.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Space Program

At 11:29 a.m. on Friday, July 8, 2011, Atlantis blasted into space for the last time. This NASA mission is the "final chapter in a 30-year story of dazzling triumphs, shattering tragedy and, ultimately, unfulfilled expectations" (Marcia Dunn, AP). There were approximately a million people present to watch the beginning of the 135th shuttle mission.

Atlantis and four astronauts took a year's supply of critical items to the International Space Station. After orbiting for twelve days, the shuttle is schedule to return on July 20, 2011, with a load of trash. Atlantis is scheduled to be on display at the Kennedy Space Center after it returns.

There appears to be a plan to continue some kind of space program because NASA Administrator Charles Bolden reportedly told the launch control team that there is another program to get under way after the end of this mission. There also appears to be a long-time NASA goal to fly to an asteroid and possibly to Mars, but apparently it will be three to five years before more astronauts lift off from earth again.

I feel some sadness knowing that our space program has apparently been gutted or at least mothballed for a few years. Americans were not the first to go into space, but we were the first to land on the moon. Landing on the moon is considered to be a major accomplishment in the history of space exploration. During a 1961 mission statement before the U.S. Congress in 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Apollo 11 fulfill JFK's goal of reaching the Moon before the end of the 1960s and before the Soviet Union could do so. The goal of landing on the Moon united the nation in a common mission.

Apollo 11, the fifth manned mission and the third lunar mission of NASA's Apollo program, launched from Florida on July 16, 1969, with Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. The Lunar Module, known as the "Eagle," landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, with Armstrong and Aldrin on board. Collins continued to orbit the Moon in the Command Module, known as the Columbia.

I joined some friends in California on July 21, 1969, to watch Armstrong take his first step onto the surface of the moon. His first recorded words from the Moon were, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." About twenty minutes later, Aldrin became the second man to walk on the moon.

The Eagle spent a total of 21 hours and 31 minutes on the lunar surface, and the astronauts gathered 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar rocks to bring back to Earth. The Columbia landed in the Pacific Ocean with all three astronauts on July 24, 1969. There was much national pride and excitement at our accomplishment.

President Kennedy's goal to put a man on the moon brought many challenges in addition to actually getting there. Clothing had to be specially made in order to protect the astronauts. Tools, etc. had to be as light as possible while capable of doing the necessary jobs. Food was another challenge. The first astronauts had limited kinds of food available to them that consisted of "bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried foods, and semi-liquids squeezed from an aluminum toothpaste-like tube." Tang was one of the first special foods created for space travel. The list of available choices was continually expanding as the NASA food scientists discovered different and better ways to feed the astronauts. By the time Apollo 11 launched into space, Pillsbury as a food supplier had created Space Sticks. The long, chewy sticks, three sticks per day, came in three different flavors and slid through an airtight port located in helmets worn by the astronauts. It was not just the food that had to be created differently, but the packaging had to preserve the food while being light-weight and easy to dispose and capable of being used to help in the reconstitution and preparation of the food.

I am sad to see America's space program put in mothballs.

Monday, July 18, 2011

George Ross

George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1730 in New Castle, Delaware. His father was a highly esteemed Episcopalian minister who was highly educated. George was instructed by his father and became very proficient in Latin and Greek. When he was eighteen and still a student, he started working in the law office of his brother John who was a "respectable" member of the bar in Philadelphia. When George was twenty-one, he was admitted to the bar and started practicing law in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There he married a young woman named Ann Lawler on August 14, 1751. They were parents of two sons and a daughter.

Ross began his public life in 1768 at age 38 when he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly; he was re-elected several times. When the colonists began to feel heat from the British regulations, George sided with the patriot cause of liberty. He was adamant about the need to hold a General Congress and was chosen as one of the seven delegates from Pennsylvania while at the same time remaining a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. As an elected official in the Pennsylvania Assembly, he was directed to write the instructions for the Pennsylvania delegates to the General Congress. His fellow-citizens respected Ross so much that they voted to give him one hundred and fifty pounds sterling as a gift; he courteously refused the gift due to patriotism.

George served in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777 and spent nearly all of his time and effort on public business, either in the Pennsylvania Assembly or the General Congress. He strongly supported the resolution of Richard Henry Lee proposing independence from England. He "joyfully" signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.

Ross had great empathy for the remnants of the Indian tribes in his area and worked to make sure that their conditions were improved and that justice was given to them. He was assigned to be a mediator in difficulties with the Indians by both the State Legislature and the General Congress. He did not limit his empathy and help to the Indians but helped whenever he saw "weakness" being "trodden down by strength." Even though people considered it next to treason to help Tories and loyalists to the Crown who were persecuted and/or imprisoned, George Ross, James Wilson and a few others were always available to plead their cases.

George was appointed to be a Judge for the Pennsylvania Court of Admiralty in April 1799. He died suddenly in his fiftieth year of age in July 1780.

Facts are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 130-132.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Commerce between States

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.3: "The Congress shall have Power To regulate Commerce … among the several States." This provision in the U.S. Constitution gives the right and responsibility to Congress to "create a common market of free trade between all of the states and regulate interstate commerce of all kinds." This clause is the one used by the Obama Administration to justify forcing Obamacare on our nation.

Before the Constitution was written, the various states were regulating commerce with their neighbors in such a way that they were gouging each other in an effort to promote prosperity in their state. Even though the emphasis was at first on "commerce," it soon moved to "regulate." The first court cases were about attempts by states to gain special advantage by interfering with commerce across state borders. Now there are so many government regulations on interstate commerce that it is hampering the economic growth of our nation.

The U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the word "commerce" to cover "every species of movement of persons or things" - including all kinds of communications, all kinds of intelligence transmission, all kinds of commercial negotiation or anything else that may sooner or later be transported across state lines.

The emphasis has now changed to "regulate." "According to Supreme Court rulings, the government is empowered to adopt measures which will protect, foster, control, constrain, or prohibit commerce for the welfare of the public so long as the `due process' clause of the Fifth Amendment is not violated.

"Streambeds belong to the respective states, but the navigable waters are exclusively under federal control. The government has powers as broad as the needs of commerce may warrant. It includes flood protection and watershed development; and it has even been held that the government can use the water to develop power and sell it to help recover the costs of improvements. If a waterway is not naturally navigable until dams are built and improvements made, the federal government can erect a dam and thereafter has authority to regulate the dam, reservoir, and resulting waterway as though it had always been navigable.
"The government has the power to establish and regulate interstate highway systems. It need not build these highways directly but may charter private corporations to do it, and these corporations can be vested with the power of eminent domain to secure the necessary land for the building of such highways. The government may also exempt these federal franchises from state taxation (since otherwise the states could use taxes to destroy or inhibit these projects)."

Ideas and quotes are from W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 400-401. This book has approximately ten pages covering this topic so there is much more information available in an easily understood style.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sacrifice Brings Blessings

The word sacrifice means different things to different people. Some people think that sacrifice means the act of making an offering to a god such as when the ancient Hebrews killed animals on the altars to atone for their sins. Other people think it means to give up one thing for another. Others consider it to be the act of destroying or surrendering something valued or desired to satisfy a higher need. I like the following description of sacrifice: Giving up something good for something better.

The Lord requires us to be willing to sacrifice our earthly possessions, time and energy to further His work and defend His kingdom. He commanded, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). People have always been tried and tested to determine if they would put the things of God first in their lives. The willingness to sacrifice shows our obedience to God.

The law of sacrifice has been practiced since Adam and Eve built an altar and offered sacrifices to God. Heavenly Father commanded His people to offer as sacrifice the firstlings of their flocks - perfect and without blemish. The ordinance of sacrifice was a reminder to God's people that the Firstborn of the Father would come into the world, live a perfect life, and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. (See Moses 5:5-8).

Jesus Christ came into the world just as the prophets had taught. Through His atoning sacrifice, He made it possible for everyone to be saved from physical death through the Resurrection and to be saved from their sins through faith in Jesus Christ. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought to an end the shedding of blood for sacrifices. The outward sacrifice of blood was replaced by the ordinance of the sacrament as a reminder of the Savior's great sacrifice. We should partake of the bread and water of the sacrament often as these emblems remind us of the Savior's body and of His blood, which He shed for us.

Even though we no longer sacrifice by the shedding of blood, we are still commanded to offer sacrifices. Through latter-day revelation, the Lord said: "Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood, … and your burnt offerings shall be done away. … And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (3 Nephi 9:19-20). A person who has a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" humbly offers to the Lord a deep sorrow for sins in repentance of them.

We can have a broken heart and a contrite spirit when we humble ourselves and become willing to receive the will of God and the counsel of His leaders here upon the earth. Having a broken heart and a contrite spirit also means to feel a deep sorrow for our sins and to have a sincere desire to repent and become clean again.

Lehi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, emphasized the importance of offering this sacrifice: "Behold, [Christ] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered" (2 Nephi 2:7). In other words, if we don't offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we have no claim on the blessings of the Atonement.

Sacrifices take many different forms. A "living sacrifice" is made when we are willing to give everything we have to build the kingdom of God on earth and to labor to bring forth Zion. (See 1 Nephi 13:37.) Our daily activities can be a sacrifice as we strive to put the things of God first.

I know that it is difficult to give up something I value a lot, but I find it much easier when I remember that I am only trading what I have for something better. I know that sacrifice brings many blessings with the end result becoming worthy to live in the presence of God and to live eternally with Him and our loved ones. As we humbly offer our sacrifices, we strengthen our testimonies of the gospel. Sacrifice is not easy but it brings something better than what we give up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

God Ordained Marriage

Families are strengthened when children are taught that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (The Family - A Proclamation to the World). Children should also be taught that marriage is sacred and not to be taken lightly and that two very important reasons for marriage are for the procreation and nurturing of children and for the protection of women and children. The same proclamation on the family proclaimed that the father is responsible for protecting, presiding, and providing for his family while the mother is mainly responsible for nurturing and caring for her husband and children.

The very first marriage on earth took place when God joined Adam and Eve in holy matrimony in the Garden of Eden, and during that marriage ceremony God commanded them to have children. God created male and female in order that each could "complete" the other.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" …
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26-28.)

We know that Adam and Eve were married because the next chapter tells us that they were: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:24-25).

The greatest joys of life are found within the family. Happy and healthy marriages and strong family relationships take great effort, but the results are great happiness in this life and joy throughout eternity.

Our Heavenly Father has a plan where all of His children can achieve eternal happiness and joy. In His plan, a man and a woman can be sealed to each other for time and for all eternity. When a marriage is performed in the proper place (temple) and by proper authority (priesthood), we have the assurance that our relationship will continue forever if we are true to the covenants we made. Such a marriage carries the promise that nothing, not even death, can separate us permanently.

An eternal marriage does not just happen. Each of us must carefully prepare ourselves for marriage and live a life worthy of such a marriage. Since marriage means we are to give our entire heart, our entire love, our entire allegiance, and our entire loyalty, we must choose our companion wisely - someone we can always honor and respect as well as someone who will complement us in our life. There is no substitute for marrying the right person in the right place at the right time and by the right authority.

Friendship and love between a man and his wife should be a cherished relationship. Our spouse is the only person besides the Lord whom we have been commanded to love "with all thy heart" (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:22).

A true marriage is a partnership of equals. Neither partner should exercise dominion over the other, but each partner should encourage, comfort, help, and be a sustaining influence to the other.

Since marriage is such an important relationship, it needs and deserves quality time. We should never give higher priority to commitments that are less important. Marriage requires that we take the necessary time to talk together, to listen to each other, and to work together towards common goals. Healthy marriages involve thoughtfulness, respect, tender feelings, and frequent affection.

We should never let anything disrupt our marriages or come between us. Each marriage will face challenges of one kind or another, but we should always be loyal to each other and faithful in our marriage covenants in our thoughts, words, and actions. This means that we should stay away from anything that could lead to unfaithfulness and we should avoid every kind of pornography. When the Lord said, "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else" (Doctrine and Covenants 42:22), the phrase "none else" means that no person, activity, or possession should ever take precedence over the marriage relationship.

Parents should work together in managing finances and cooperate in establishing and following a budget. By handling our money wisely and staying free from debt, we can contribute to having peace in our homes.

In order to have an eternal marriage, we must center our lives in the gospel of Jesus Christ and help each other to keep our covenants. We can strengthen our marriages by attending Church and the temple together, by studying the scriptures together, and by kneeling together in prayer.

God meant for marriage and the family relationship to continue throughout all eternity and has shown us the way to make it so. Parents can teach by word and example that marriage between a man and a woman is important and sacred in the eyes of God and mankind.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is a question: Does the demand for same-sex marriage threaten religious freedom?

Elise Patkotak, an Alaskan writer who has lived in Barrow, Alaska for 28 years, recently wrote a column in the Anchorage Daily News; she claimed that "Gay marriage is an American right." She grew up in an Italian neighborhood and attended a Catholic school; she didn't know what being gay meant for a long time until someone she knew came out of the closet. She was nursing in Brooklyn in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the gay movement was fairly new; at that time, Brooklyn was "very, very gay." When New York State recently legalized same-sex marriage, she remembered her days in Brooklyn and some of her gay friends. She wrote,

"Eventually same-sex pairs became a rather mundane part of my life, mixed together with the many heterosexual couples with whom I socialized. And there seemed to be no justification that I could comprehend for why civil law should discriminate against gay people as long as the object of their affections was of legal age and mental ability to fully consent to the relationship.
"One of the great things about America is that it separates religious beliefs from civil laws so that no one religion dominates our lives and forces citizens into a belief system that may hold no meaning for them. So if Catholics believe that adherents to their faith should never divorce and should only marry other Catholics, fine. Their right to that belief is part of America's religious freedom. But they can't write those beliefs into our laws. In our civil society, we can choose to divorce or marry within or outside of our faith without government interference.
"I think the same is true about gay marriage. Religious ceremonies should stay true to whatever their beliefs are when it comes to this subject. But civil society should not be following those beliefs in creating laws that affect all citizens. Civil weddings are an affirmation of a specific dedication of two individuals to each other and their future. It provides legal protections and advantages that should be available to everyone. The marriage of two men or two women does not in anyway affect the marriage of any given man and woman. They all get to face the same challenges of daily life with a partner, and many will get to embrace the joys of a divorce lawyer and child custody arrangements." Patkotak's website is

Here is the first question that came to my mind: Is marriage - any kind - an American right? In reading the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, I found no reference to making marriage a right. The Declaration states, "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." In the long list of grievances against the King of Great Britain I found no reference to marriage of any kind. The Revolutionary War was about independence and liberty. I could not find any mention of marriage in the United States Constitution either.

In all my studies about rights, I found none that even suggested that marriage is a right. I offer the example of W. Cleon Skousen who wrote, "When the Founders adopted the Declaration of Independence, they emphasized in phrases very similar to those of Blackstone that God has endowed all mankind, `with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'" Skousen then proceeded to "identify some of the unalienable or natural rights which the Founders knew existed but did not enumerate in the Declaration of Independence: The right to self-government. The right to bear arms for self-defense. The right to own, develop, and dispose of property. The right to make personal choices. The right to free conscience. The right to choose a profession. The right to choose a mate. The right to beget one's kind. The right to assemble. The right to petition. The right to free speech. The right to a free press. The right to enjoy the fruits of one's labors. The right to improve one's position through barter and sale. The right to contrive and invent. The right to explore the natural resources of the earth. The right to privacy. The right to provide personal security. The right to provide nature's necessities -- air, food, water, clothing, and shelter. The right to a fair trial. The right of free association. The right to contract" (The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World, pp. 94-95).

I noticed that Skousen included "The right to choose a mate." We do have the right to choose our mate - but we do not have the right to insist that other people accept or approve of our choice. We do not have the right to insist that laws be changed so that we can marry the person or thing that we love.

The demand for same-sex marriage is just one part of a moral revolution that is shaking the very foundation of our society. Most moral revolutions take place over a number of generations, but the present moral revolution happened in a much shorter period of time than usual. The problem is not just homosexuality because the revolution includes couples living together without being married, public acceptance and support of unmarried women having children, the flood of pornographic materials, the increase in child sexual abuse, and the general acceptance that sex is okay as long as the participants are "of legal age and mental ability to consent to the relationship." The fact remains that of all these evils, only same-sex marriage is proclaimed as a "right." If society condones homosexuality and allows it the same rights as heterosexuality, it will be only a matter of time before other people are demanding the "right" to have sex with animals, children, etc.

Universally for many generations, homosexuality has been proclaimed an evil to be shunned. As we have become more and more "politically correct," we have blurred the lines between good and evil, and it is this blurring of lines that has allowed evil to overcome much of the good in the world. I believe that allowing same-sex marriage can be likened to the story about the camel who just wanted to put his nose in the tent to keep the sand from blowing up his nostrils. After his owner allowed the camel to put his nose in the tent, it wasn't long before the camel wanted his entire head in the tent in order to keep the sand out of his eyes and ears. Then he wanted his shoulders in the tent. Eventually, the entire camel was in the tent, and there was no room in the tent for the owner.

Evils of any kind and every kind threaten the freedoms of our nation, but it seems that the demand for same-sex marriage might be the breaking point. The following quote seems to confirm the truth of my theory that same-sex marriage can be compared to the camel in the tent. Lane Williams of Mormon Times wrote: "New York legislators tried to protect religious organizations from having to perform marriages with which they disagreed and carved that protection into their new law, but this part of the law didn't satisfy gay writer Howard Chura-Eoan, who wrote for Time:
"`In one very important way, gay marriage will not quite be marriage even in New York, even 30 days from now when the law goes into effect. That is because the psycho-sexual-financial-commercial-legal dramas that entangle the domestic lives of straight people often have another component: religion. And religious institutions have an exemption in the new law over accommodating gay people. It was key to the passage of the legislation.
"He continued: `Marriage without a church or temple wedding isn't the real thing. Why can some people have all the bells and whistles in the church of their choice but not me? Of course, there have been and will be congregations and churches that allow gay men and lesbians to be married in their midst and to bless those union. … but some rich and influential religious institutions are not only free to continue to reject gay men and women as equal beneficiaries of all aspects of faith but will now also rally their congregants to reject politicians who are willing to abide with this extension of secular civil rights - no matter how much acceptance there is of same-sex marriage elsewhere.'"

Chura-Eoan is wrong if he believes that same-sex marriage is accepted by the majority of Americans because every time it has been on a ballot, it has been defeated. Only liberal judges and liberal legislatures have approved gay marriage, not the majority of Americans. Chura-Eoan is correct when he said that some congregations and churches allow gay men and lesbians to marry with the blessings of the church. All of the churches and denominations that accept gay marriage and the "new morality" are liberal. The churches merely debate the issue with liberal members supporting the "new morality" and conservative members supporting the "older" but real morality. The liberals eventually win the debate, and the church decides to bless gay marriage and/or ordain gay priests.

Numerous leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have proclaimed that the "new morality" is simply the old immorality - or sin. Religious organizations that are committed to living the gospel of Jesus Christ according to Biblical authority have to take a stand against gay marriage. They must draw a line in the sand! They must plant their flag!

Reverend R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, wrote in The Wall Street Journal ( "The liberal churches and denominations have an easy way out of this predicament. They simply accommodate themselves to the new moral reality. …
"This is a route that evangelical Christians committed to the full authority of the Bible cannot take. Since we believe that the Bible is God's revealed word, we cannot accommodate ourselves to this new morality. We cannot pretend as if we do not know that the Bible clearly teaches that all homosexual acts are sinful, as is all human sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage. We believe that God has revealed a pattern for human sexuality that not only points the way to holiness, but to true happiness.
"Thus we cannot accept the seductive arguments that the liberal churches so readily adopt. The fact that same-sex marriage is now a legal reality in several states means that we must further stipulate that we are bound by scripture to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman - and nothing else."

I was impressed that Reverend Mohler was concerned about the souls of the individuals involved in homosexuality: "In this most awkward cultural predicament, evangelicals must be excruciatingly clear that we do not speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality as if we have no sin. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because we have come to know ourselves as sinners and of our need for a savior that we have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins."

Unlike Reverend Mohler, I am concerned that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted to the point that it will become main stream or accepted by the majority of the people. I know of numerous cities and nations that have been destroyed because of sin: Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire from heaven because they were full of sin. Ancient Rome fell because of sin. Both the Nephite nation and the Jaredite nation in the Book of Mormon were destroyed in war because of sin.

As homosexuals continue to push for all the rights and privileges of heterosexuals - including marriages performed with the authority and blessings of churches - religious freedom will continue to come under attack. When Patkotak wrote, "… civil society should not be following those [religious] beliefs in creating laws that affect all citizens," she apparently was unaware that the entire U.S. Constitution is based on the Ten Commandments and other Biblical principles. Freedom of religion - particularly the gospel of Jesus Christ - is the foundation of America; it is the reason why people fled Europe to come to America in the first place!

Elder Dallin H. Oaks a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke to students at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009, about religious freedom []. Elder Oaks is well qualified to discuss the Constitution because of his career in law, including time serving as a Judge. He started his talk by inviting those in attendance "to march with me as I speak about religious freedom under the United States Constitution. There is a battle over the meaning of that freedom. The contest is of eternal importance, and it is your generation that must understand the issues and make the efforts to prevail."

Elder Oaks set the stage for his talk by reminding the students that Joseph Smith declared in an 1833 revelation that "the Lord established the United States Constitution by wise men whom he raised up for that very purpose (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80). " He also reminded them that the "Lord also declared that this constitution `should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh' (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77; emphasis added).
"In 1833, when almost all people in the world were still ruled by kings or tyrants, few could see how the infant United States Constitution could be divinely designed `for the rights and protection of all flesh.' Today, 176 years after that revelation, almost every nation in the world has adopted a written constitution, and the United States Constitution profoundly influenced all of them. Truly, this nation's most important export is its constitution, whose great principles stand as a model `for the rights and protection of all flesh.' On the vital human right of religious freedom, however, many constitutions fall short of the protections that are needed, so we are grateful that the United States government seeks to encourage religious freedom all over the world. …

Elder Oaks quoted the first part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…." He explained that the "prohibition against `an establishment of religion' was intended to separate churches and government, to prevent a national church of the kind still found in Europe…."

Elder Oaks emphasized that the "guarantee of the free exercise of religion … is the first expression in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As noted by many, this `pre-eminent place' identifies freedom of religion as `a cornerstone of American democracy.' The American colonies were originally settled by people who, for the most part, had come to this continent to be able to practice their religious faith without persecution, and their successors deliberately placed religious freedom first in the nation's Bill of Rights. So it is that our national law formally declares: `The right to freedom of religion undergirds the very origin and existence of the United States.' …

After explaining more about the importance of the First Amendment, Elder Oaks continued, "Religious freedom has always been at risk. It was repression of religious belief and practice that drove the Pilgrim fathers and other dissenters to the shores of this continent. Even today, leaders in all too many nations use state power to repress religious believers.

After speaking about the silencing of religious voices in the public square, Elder Oaks continued, "A second threat to religious freedom is from those who perceive it to be in conflict with the newly alleged `civil right' of same-gender couples to enjoy the privileges of marriages.
"We have endured a wave of media-reported charges that the Mormons are trying to `deny' people or `strip' people of their `rights.' After a significant majority of California voters (seven million - over 52 percent) approved Proposition 8's limited marriage to a man and a woman, some opponents characterized the vote as denying people their civil rights. In fact, the Proposition 8 battle was not about civil rights, but about what equal rights demand and what religious rights protect. At no time did anyone question or jeopardize the civil right of Proposition 8 opponents to vote or speak their views.
"The real issue in the Proposition 8 debate - … - is whether the opponents of Proposition 8 should be allowed to change the vital institution of marriage itself.
"The marriage union of a man and a woman has been the teaching of the Judeo-Christian scriptures and the core legal definition and practice of marriage in Western culture for thousands of years. Those who seek to change the foundation of marriage should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights. The supporters of Proposition 8 were exercising their constitutional right to defend the institution of marriage - and institution of transcendent importance that they, along with countless others of many persuasions, feel conscientiously obliged to protect."

Elder Oaks said, "Religious freedom needs defending against the claims of newly asserted human rights. The so-called `Yogyakareta Principles,' published by an international human rights group, call for governments to assure that all persons have the right to practice their religious beliefs regardless of sexual orientation or identity. This apparently proposes that governments require church practices and their doctrines to ignore gender differences. Any such effort to have governments invade religion to override religious doctrines or practices should be resisted by all believers…."

Elder Oaks claimed that "Religious values and political realities are so interlinked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of Christianity in the public square without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms. I maintain that this is a political fact, well qualified for argument in the public square by religious people whose freedom to believe and act must always be protected by what is properly called our `First Freedom,' the free exercise of religion."

I hope that you will agree with me that there is no "American right" to marry. I maintain that no one has the "right" to expect other people to condone sin and evil or to make homosexuality appear normal by allowing same-sex marriage. Every person has the "right" to live as they so choose, but in doing so they must also be willing to accept the consequences of their choice. Homosexuality is evil, and no amount of acceptance, even marriage in churches and temples, can take away the guilt that comes because of sin.

Elder Oaks, Reverend Mohler, and I believe that the demand for same-sex marriage is a threat to our religious freedom. We also agree that marriage as a union between one man and one woman must be defended.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two Wives for Wilson

James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, married twice. His first wife was Rachael Bird Wilson, and his second wife was Hannah Gray Wilson.

Wilson was a highly educated young Englishman, newly admitted to the practice of law after completing studies with John Dickinson, when he married Rachel Bird in 1771 or 1772. Rachael was the youngest daughter of William Bird of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Bird was the proprietor of Birdsborough, the country seat and iron works on the Schuylkill River.
Wilson became a popular lawyer and defended most of the important cases in Philadelphia. He also became an ardent worker for the cause of liberty for the American colonists. For the rest of his life he spent much of his time and devoted his great abilities to public affairs either in Pennsylvania or for the new national government. He was a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rachael died in 1786, leaving five young children: Mary married Paschal Hollingsworth of Philadelphia; William died at Kaskaskia in 1817; Bird held a judicial position in Pennsylvania and then became a clergyman in New York; James was a army lieutenant but resigned his commission to became a merchant and died at St. Domingo in 1808; Charles was a naval midshipman before becoming a mercantile businessman and died in Havana in 1800. William, James and Charles died unmarried.

James married Hannah Gray, "an amiable young lady of Boston" and second daughter of Ellis Gray, a Boston merchant. James and Hannah had one son, Henry, who died in infancy. James died suddenly in 1798 in Edenton, North Carolina, while overseeing a federal court session there. Hannah later married Dr. Thomas Bartlett of Boston and died in London in 1807.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 205-207.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marriage Pledge

Would you sign a pledge to defend marriage, morals, and constitutional law? The FAMILY LEADER, a Christian conservative organization, unveiled on Thursday, July 7, 2011, the group's pledge document for presidential candidates. The pledge is titled "The Marriage Vow - A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and FAMily". The purpose of this pledge is to "have on record the personal convictions of each presidential candidate as it relates to the issue of marriage." In order to receive future endorsement by The FAMILY LEADER, candidates will be required to sign the pledge.

Candidates "solemnly vow [or solemnly attest] to honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage as only between one man and one woman. I vow [or attest] to do so through my:
1) "Personal fidelity to my spouse";
2) "Respect for the marital bonds of others";
3) "Official fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, supporting the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices";
4) "Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage - faithful monogamy between one man and one woman - through statutory-, bureaucratic-, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex, etc";
5) "Recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and that children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy";
6) "Support for prompt reform of uneconomic, anti-marriage aspects of welfare policy, tax policy, and marital/divorce law, and extended `second chance' or `cooling-off' periods for those seeking a `quickie divorce.'";
7) "Earnest, bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels";
8) "Steadfast embrace of a federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in all of the United States";
9) "Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy - our next generation of American children - from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence";
10) "Support for the enactment of safeguards for all married and unmarried U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, especially our combat troops, from inappropriate same-gender or opposite-gender sexual harassment, adultery or intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.); plus prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape or sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles";
11) "Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control";
12) "Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security";
13) "Commitment to downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA's $14.3 trillion public debt, its $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities, its $1.5 trillion federal deficit, and its $3.5 trillion federal budget";
14) "Fierce defense of the First Amendment's rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech, especially against the intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience for their adherence to, and defense of, faithful heterosexual monogamy."

As I read those fourteen statements, I realized that I could commit to the support and defense of every one of them. I believe and endorse the statement: "Marriage is a social, cultural, economic, and moral good" located in the eight-page packet of information. In the 31 states that voted on marriage, Americans in all 31 states had an average vote of almost 68% that affirmed marriage. When Americans had the opportunity to vote on state marriage amendments, 63 million people voted with 40 million of them - or 63% - voting to protect marriage in their state constitutions.

Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The FAMILY LEADER, said, "We are intentional about the opportunity to take another step in fulfilling our mission to `Strengthen Families' by providing The Marriage Vow to presidential candidates. The FAMILY LEADER views this pledge as an important component needed to inform constituents about the personal stand that each presidential candidate takes regarding marriage. We believe that the candidates' positions on core values, such as marriage, correlate directly to his/her moral stances on energy issues, sound budgeting policies, national defense, and economic policies."

Other statements in the packet include: "Faithful monogamy is at the heart of a designed and purposeful order - … - upon which our concepts of Creator-endowed human rights, racial justice and gender equality all depend.

"Enduring marital fidelity between one man and one woman protects innocent children, vulnerable women, the rights of fathers, the stability of families, and the liberties of all American citizens under our republican form of government. Our exceptional and free society simply cannot endure without the transmission of personal virtue, from one generation to the next, by means of nurturing, nuclear families comprised of sexually-faithful husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. We acknowledge and regret the widespread hypocrisy of many who defend marriage yet turn a blind eye toward the epidemic of infidelity and the anemic conditions of marriages in their own communities. Un mistakably, the Institution of Marriage in America is in great crisis."

I was particularly touched by a statement in the packet stating that the organization was not judging by past behavior but was only concerned about future marital fidelity. When we raise a "higher standard" we must allow for a lower performance in the past while at the same time encouraging and insisting on support for the higher level. I am a firm believer in the principle of repentance and the ability for people to change habits and desires and become better people. I am also a firm believer in the need to set a high standard; I know that most people will aim for the highest standard set.

I too believe that the institution of marriage is in great crisis and is under attack throughout the world. I believe that support for marriage will bring greater social, economical, and political strength and security to our nation.

Monday, July 11, 2011

James Wilson

James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Scotland in 1742 and immigrated to America in 1766. He was educated by "some of the best teachers in Edinburgh" and received outstanding recommendations from them. He was soon employed as an assistant teacher in the college in Philadelphia. A few months later he began studying law with John Dickenson, "one of the most eminent lawyers in America." Two years later he established a law office in Reading; he later moved his office to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but eventually made his home in Philadelphia. He quickly rose to a position of great superiority or distinction in his profession. He was also distinguished as an avid supporter of the cause of liberty whenever possible.

He adopted America as his home and espoused her cause of liberty as though he were a native-born son. He became quite popular and was elected as a member of the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania in 1774. In May of 1775, he was selected as a delegate, along with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Willing, to the General Congress. He was elected to the General Congress again in 1776 and eagerly supported independence as proposed by Richard Henry Lee. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence and remained an active member of Congress until 1777. Wilson, along with George Clymer, was not re-elected in 1777 "in consequence of the operations of a strong party spirit which at that time existed in the Pennsylvania Assembly."

As a private citizen, Wilson continued to be actively involved in public works and didn't let anything lessen his zeal to work for the welfare of his adopted country. He worked tirelessly with a Mr. Smith to organize a volunteer military corps and was elected as a regimental colonel in 1774. He exerted much energy in raising recruits for the Continental army and was instrumental in strengthening the Pennsylvania line.

In 1777 Wilson was sent as a commissioner to settle some Indian problems in Pennsylvania, and he successfully fulfilled his commission. France signed a treaty with the Americans and openly declared that they would support the United States. They sent a fleet of twelve ships to America under the direction of Count D'Estaing, and sent a Mr. Gerard as a minister to Congress along with the ships. Gerard appointed Wilson to be the Advocate General of the French nation in the United States, a position that required a "thorough knowledge of international and commercial laws." The King of France confirmed the appointment but later notified Wilson that he would not receive the promised salary. Wilson resigned the office at once.

Wilson was again elected to be a delegate to the General Congress near the end of 1782 and took his seat in January, 1783. During the same year he served as an agent and counselor for Pennsylvania in a controversy with Connecticut about the Wyoming domain and was successful in settling the matter in an "amicable settlement." He was again elected to the General Congress in late 1785 and took his seat in March, 1786.

Wilson was an active member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and served as chairman of the committee responsible for the first draft. He served as a member of the Pennsylvania state convention that ratified the Constitution and was a speaker at a celebration in Philadelphia honoring the ratification. He was a member of the convention that wrote a new constitution for the state of Pennsylvania in 1788. He was appointed by President George Washington as one of the judges of the United States Supreme Court.

In 1790, he was appointed to be the first Professor of Law in the College of Philadelphia. When the college merged with the University of Pennsylvania in 1792, he continued in the same professorship. He held both the office of Professor of Law and the position as Judge of the Supreme Court until his death.

In 1791, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives selected him by unanimous vote "to revise and properly digest the laws of the state," and he immediately started to work on the assignment. After he made "considerable progress," the Senate refused to concur in the project and stopped his labors. He never resumed the work.

As a judge of the United States Supreme Court, Wilson made frequent journeys into other states in an official capacity. He was on one such judicial circuit in North Carolina when he died on August 28, 1798, in the house of his friend, Judge Iredell of Edenton, in the fifty-sixth year of his life.

Wilson was at the head of the Philadelphia bar for many years. He was such a popular lawyer that he defended "nearly every important case that came before the higher tribunals of that State." Wilson was a firm patriot, a sincere Christian, and a beloved and esteemed husband, father, neighbor, and friend.

Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 126-129

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Regulate Commerce

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.3: "The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations." This provision in the Constitution gives Congress the right to represent the citizens of the United States in regulating commerce with foreign nations.

W. Cleon Skousen wrote, "This is an exclusive and sovereign power with nothing reserved to the states. In a technical sense this authority did not have to be granted by the states because it came automatically as a plenary power with the creation of a national government. In other words, it is a power inherent in any sovereign government to deal with foreign nations.
"In 1807-8 President Thomas Jefferson cut off all trade with Europe. This was attacked on the ground that federal regulation must always be to `preserve' commerce, not destroy it. The Supreme Court held that this power is all-inclusive, and the Congress may decide when it is in the public interest to have the President terminate certain foreign commerce" (The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 400).

Congress has the power to determine what articles can be imported into our nation and the terms of importation. Congress also has the power to ban certain articles from entering the United States. Skousen gave two different examples of items being banned from entering our nation: obscene literature (1843) and spurious or adulterated drugs and adulterated food and liquor (1848). A later ban was placed on opium, lottery tickets, and diseased cattle.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Law of the Fast

The law of the fast is an ancient law. God's people from the time of Adam have used this law to draw nearer to God and to worship Him. To fast properly means to go without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time. To prepare yourself and others to receive God's blessings, you must combine fasting with prayer.

Jesus Christ indicated the importance of fasting by His personal example when He fasted for forty days in the wilderness. (See Luke 4:1-4.) He taught His disciples about the power of prayer and fasting when He cast a devil out of a child. When His disciples questioned, "Why could not we cast him out?" Jesus replied, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (See Matthew 17:14-21.)

This account teaches how prayer and fasting go together to strengthen us in our personal efforts to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and to bless the lives of other people. When attempting to overcome a weakness or sin, especially after an extended time of struggling with the problem, we may need to add fasting to your prayers for help. The problem may be like the example above and be the kind the goes out only through prayer and fasting.

Fasting means to go without food and drink, and an occasional fast is good for the body and invigorates the mind. I once worked with a woman who "fasted" (going without food) one day each week in order to cleanse her body. She understood that fasting helped her physical body, but she did not understand that fasting could also benefit her spiritually. A purposeful fast is more than simply going without food and drink; it also includes a need to concentrate on spiritual things.

Going without food or drink is simply starving our bodies. There are many people who use this type of fast to draw attention to something or someone. Other people think that they are "fasting" when they are simply starving. In order to benefit the whole soul, fasting must be accompanied by sincere prayer. Each fasting period should start and end with prayer. To make the fast even more beneficial, it should have a purpose. Fasting accompanied by sincere prayer can be used to overcome weaknesses and to solve problems. We can fast and pray for help or guidance for ourselves or for others who may be ill, injured, or otherwise in need of a blessing. Fasting can help us know the truth, become more humble and feel closer to Heavenly Father. It can also bring comfort in times of sorrow and mourning. (See Mosiah 27:22-23 and Alma 28:4-6.) We should be cheerful when we fast. We should not advertise the fact that we are fasting to others nor fast to impress others. (See Matthew 6:16-18.)

The Savior taught the true form of fasting in His Sermon on the Mount. He described hypocrites as those who, when they fast, "disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast." Instead of trying to impress the people around us by our appearing to fast, we should fast "unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:16-18).

Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, taught the people of his day - and ours - of the true spirit of the fast: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" (Isaiah 58:6-7).

The prophet Isaiah also taught about the many blessings that come by obeying the law of the fast: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am…. If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isaiah 58:8-11).

To properly observe the fast we should go without food or drink for two consecutive meals. We should not fast too frequently or for excessively long periods of time. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints designates one Sunday each month - which is usually the first Sunday - as a day for fasting. Members of the Church are taught that a proper observance of fast Sunday includes attendance at fast and testimony meeting and giving a fast offering to help care for those in need as well as going without food and drink for two consecutive meals. Of course, members of the Church can also fast at other times for special blessings for themselves or others.

I know by personal experience that fasting brings many blessings. It improves our lives, gives us increased strength, and helps us to live other principles of the gospel by drawing us closer to God. It helps us improve our character as we learn to control our appetites and passions. Fasting helps us to prove to ourselves that we have self-control. Children can learn to develop spiritual strength if we teach them to observe a proper fast.

Wise and prayerful fasting helps us develop faith, and increased faith brings greater spiritual power. The Savior promised that proper fasting brings blessings from God: "Thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:18).