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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Patriotic Family Reunion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. God was behind the writing of the Constitution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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