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, August 31, 2018

Spiritual Integrity

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals act with integrity. The best place to learn about integrity is within the walls of our own homes, and the best way to teach it is by example. Parents must act with integrity in order to teach it to their children.

            Integrity has been described as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided.” Thus, a person with integrity has high moral principles and is undivided against themselves.  

            I do not agree with everything that Sarah Palin says or does, but I am highly impressed with recent news about her. A few days ago information was leaked that Palin was not “invited” to attend the funeral of Senator John McCain. Palin was McCain’s 2008 presidential running mate, and she made many appearances with him. She brought life and enthusiasm to an otherwise dull campaign. Palin considered McCain and his family as “friends” even after McCain supposedly wrote that he regretted choosing Palin as his vice president. Palin responded as follows to McCain’s death. 

Today we lost an American original. Sen. John McCain was a maverick and a fighter, never afraid to stand for his beliefs. John never took the easy path in life – and through sacrifice and suffering he inspired others to serve something greater than self. John McCain was my friend. I will remember the good times.

            Palin and her family declined to say anything else except, “out of respect for Sen. McCain and his family we have nothing to add at this point. The Palin family will always cherish their friendship with the McCains and hold those memories dear.”

            I think that Palin’s response in the face of rejection by McCain and his family is a classy one. She could have given some negative comments about them, but she chose to stay positive. She showed integrity to herself and to her feelings for the Senator. She considered him to be her friend, and she chose to act like a friend should act. She chose to act with integrity.

            Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke about integrity in an address given at a devotional at Brigham Young University on February 23, 1993. Russell M. Nelson was a world-famous heart surgeon before he was called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his address he described the various parts of a heart, how they are supposed to work, and the problems that happen when they do not. He continues:

Cardiac surgeons speak of the heart in terms of its structural integrity. The word integrity is related to the word integer, which means “entire” or “whole.” Integrity may be defined as “the state of being unimpaired.” Integrity also means “incorruptibility” – a firm adherence to a code of values. Integrity denotes a state of completeness. If any component of the heart loses its integrity, the heart is impaired and a vicious cycle ensues. An anatomical flaw leads to improper function, and improper function leads to further failure. Therefore, the ultimate objective of any cardiac operation is to restore structural integrity to the heart.

            Elder Nelson moves from a description of the physical integrity of the heart to the importance of spiritual integrity in each individual. He explains how integrity, or the lack thereof, makes us who we are.

A model of spiritual integrity can be depicted using the mitral valve analogy. For example, let the sail of integrity, tethered by cords, attach to us as individuals. And let us label each cord with a spiritual quality such as specific attributes of character mentioned in the thirteenth article of faith – being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, doing good, and seeking things of good report. Other qualities of character could be listed, but these will suffice to illustrate the principle. As we study this illustration, let us think of someone we admire greatly – someone with spiritual integrity. His or her integrity is characterized by the strength of each of these cords of character. As long as this model is unimpaired, the sail, cords, and attachments are all secure.

But imagine what would happen if one of the supporting cords breaks – the cord of honesty, for example. If that cord breaks, additional strain is immediately imposed on neighboring cords of chastity, virtue, and benevolence, in accordance with the law of sequential stress….

Integrity safeguards love, and love makes family life rich and zestful – now and forever. But none of us is immune to temptation, and the adversary knows it. He would deceive, connive, or contrive any means to deprive us of potential joy and exaltation. He knows that if one little cord of control can be snapped, others likely will weaken later under increased strain. The result would be no integrity, no eternal life….

If we are wise, we assess personal cords of integrity on a daily basis. We identify any weakness, and we repair it. Indeed, we have an obligation to do so….

            Elder Nelson continues his address by discussing various ways that we can assure that each of our “personal cords of integrity” stay strong. One of the ways that he suggests is to assess our integrity through personal prayer. Through prayer we can discuss the various aspects of our life with Heavenly Father and receive assistance and direction from Him in our decisions and applications. We need daily communication with God in order to stay spiritually strong.

            We need spiritual integrity in order to stay strong in stressful situations. Palin could have acted or reacted differently, but she stayed strong and showed a great example of kindness and friendship to the rest of us. When individuals stand strong in their integrity, they can strengthen their family, community, and nation.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Freedom of Religion Answers 7

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the need for us to know our religious rights, freedoms that are protected by the laws of the land. Freedom of religion is under attack more than it has been for many years, and many Americans are afraid to even speak of religion in public settings. It is imperative that all Americans know and understand our rights of religion in order for us to be prepared to defend them.

            I shared some information over the past few weeks from an article posted by Maurine Proctor. Her article is titled “You Should Know the Answers to these 35 Questions about Religious Freedom.” She takes her 35 questions from a booklet compiled by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the Brigham Young University Law School. She quotes their goal as follows: “Our aim is to help everyone understand the scope of religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and to offer suggestions on how to peacefully reconcile the rights of all.”

            I shared the answers to questions 1-31 in previous weeks. This week I will complete the questions and answers about religious speech and expression, and you may find these answers a little confusing or alarming. I hope that you appreciate the importance of this freedom and the value of respecting the rights of all people.

            Question 32 asks if “professionals (such as bakers, florists, and doctors) [can] refuse to provide services that violate their conscience or religious beliefs.”

It depends. Each state has its own anti-discrimination laws applying to businesses and professionals providing goods or services to the public. Some of these explicitly allow exemptions when providing a service that would violate a provider’s religious beliefs. Others do not. Similarly, some states have conscience laws that affirm the right of doctors or other professionals to refuse to provide services they oppose While it is clear that government enforcement of anti-discrimination laws must not be hostile to religion or to religious believers, this area of the law is still in development. Cases will depend on the law in question and a variety of other circumstances. When considering the constitutionality of such laws, courts may seek to balance the government’s interest in limiting discrimination against individual freedoms of speech and religion.  

            Question 33 asks if “a religious organization that rents its facilities to the public for events [can] refuse certain types of events.” Again, the answer is “It depends.”

Some states have laws that specifically protect religious organizations’ right to refuse to rent their facilities for events contrary to their beliefs. But as with the issue of businesses or professionals refusing to provide services, the answer is not always clear.

            Question 34 asks if “employers [can] discriminate based on religion.” The answer is “Generally, no.”

Most employers may not hire or fire employees on the basis of their religion or their need for religious accommodations in the workplace (such as an exception to a dress code for a religious head covering, or reasonable excuse for religious holiday observances), and must generally accommodate their employees’ religious practices, unless doing so would place an undue burden on the business or other employees.
One major exception is that a religious organization has the right to require its ministers and many other kinds of employees to be members of that religion and to live by the religion’s standards of conduct even outside the workplace.

            Question 35 asks if “religious organizations [may] receive federal funding for social programs and services, such as healthcare or education.” The answer is Yes. “Religious organizations may apply for and receive federal funding for such programs on the same basis as non-religious organizations, and often do so.”

            This post completes the 35 questions and answers about religious speech and expression. In a time when freedom of religion is under attack from various angles, it is important that we all understand what protections are provided.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Roots and Wings

            I think it is funny how we act in different seasons of life. For example, we run in certain circles in our school years and do not have much to do with people in other circles. We know them and have classes with them, but we do not interact with them. They are a part of our life, but they do not play an active role. Things often become very different once we all grow up.

            I learned this lesson when I attended a reunion celebrating fifty years since my class graduated from high schools. It did not seem to matter whether we were among the popular crowd or a less desirable. We were happy to see each other again and to have an opportunity catch up with each other. We enjoyed the fiftieth reunion so much that we decided to hold reunions every five years.

            I recently attended the fifty-five year reunion of my graduating class. Out of approximately 117 graduates, there were about 35 in attendance at this reunion. We learned that 35 other members of the class had passed away. This means that only half of the living members of the class attended the reunion. It seems that those of us living at great distances attend better than those still living nearby. I am sure that I travel the furthest, but I know that others make big sacrifices to be there also.

            As I walked into the reunion I was stopped by two different classmates who were planning cruises to Alaska this summer. I think they were doing the same cruise but in opposite directions. One was traveling from Vancouver to Seward, while the other was traveling from Seward to Vancouver. They both wanted to know what clothes to bring. I told them to bring good rain gear and something to keep them warm as well as to dress in layers. I did not hear any more from Eve, but Ron stayed in contact.

            I attended school with Ron from early elementary school, maybe even first grade. We were often in the same class through high school, but I do not remember having any interaction with him during our school years. Yet, in our older years we became friends on Facebook and exchanged many thoughts. When I learned that he and his wife were coming to Anchorage for a few days before catching their fiftieth anniversary cruise, I offered to assist in any way possible.

            Tonight my husband and I picked Ron and his wife up at their bed and breakfast in downtown Anchorage. We drove to a restaurant, ate dinner, and visited. After dinner we drove around Anchorage looking at the sights and sharing with them as much information about our current home as we could. We took them back to their bed and breakfast and came home. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening with them.

            Ron and I were not close friends in our childhood and youth, but we know many of the same people. The thing that drew us together is the fact that we have roots in the same home town and come from the same kind of people. I am learning more and more about the importance of roots. I now understand that the roots of my hometown gave me the security to spread my wings and to fly far from my roots. I am a much better person today because of the people I associated with during my foundational years.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Catholic Sex Scandal

            There are three big news items making the circuit today. One is the death of John McCain, a second is more attacks on Donald Trump no matter what he says or does, and the third is the Catholic sex scandal. I am tired of hearing about the wonderful John McCain and the terrible Donald Trump, so that leaves the Catholic sex scandal to discuss.

            The Catholic Church has faced numerous sex scandals over the past few years, but this one is big. Sometime over the weekend U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ³, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the U.S., sent a scathing letter calling for Pope Francis to resign. This letter hit like a bomb! It seems that ViganĂ³ knows some inside information about the Pope. He says that the Pope knew about the sexual abuse perpetrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, knew that McCarrick was under disciplinary sanctions by the previous Pope Benedict, and lifted the sanctions to free McCarrick to do whatever he chose. ViganĂ³ went full bore on the Pope:

He knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end; indeed, he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intentions and for love of the Church. It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention, that he took action [regarding McCarrick] to save his image in the media. [He continues]

In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.

            Now I have been leery of Pope Francis from the beginning because Pope Benedict was basically ousted under the influence of Barack Obama – or so it seemed to me. I have always questioned why Benedict abdicated and Francis took his place. However, I am putting all my thoughts and feelings about Pope Francis aside, and considering how the lay members of the Catholic Church must be feeling. They surely must be wondering what in the world is happening to their church. They must be stunned with the news that the Pope, the Holy Father, the head of the church, was instrumental in covering up sexual abuse! I feel sincerely sorry for the situation that has been thrust upon the members of the Catholic Church.

            I tried to imagine how I would feel if a member of one of the leading quorums of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were to call for our Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to resign over similar charges. It would be a devastating situation for all of us! It would certainly challenge many testimonies and cause countless members of the Church of Jesus Christ to question everything they had been taught. I cannot imagine such a thing happening in the Church of Jesus Christ, but I am sure that faithful Catholics once felt the same way. What does one do when one has a “bomb” like this explode in their spiritual lap?

            The first thing that we must do is to remember that all mortals are human and capable of being deceived by Satan and his minions. This is just one important reason to pray for our leaders that they might remain strong. The second thing that I would do is to remember the foundation for my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ.

            My testimony is based on personal revelation from the Holy Ghost that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is literally the Church of Jesus Christ on earth; therefore, I can stand firm on this testimony in spite of what any mortal leader may say or do.

            I find comfort in the teachings of prophets and apostles who teach that the Lord will never allow the Prophet to lead us astray. In October 2016 then-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Elder Russell M. Nelson counseled a group of Millennials to follow the Prophet and taught the following. 

The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray. President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) declared: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that `the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (Doctrine and Covenants 21:6).”

You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet. But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed.

            I follow this counsel carefully. I went to the Lord and asked for confirmation that Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet for today, and I received an affirmative answer. I have also asked for confirmation from the Lord on numerous teachings and policies. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by the Lord Jesus Christ through His prophets and apostles. I know that I can trust their counsel and follow their examples. I am grateful for this testimony because it gives me firm ground upon which to build my life.


Monday, August 27, 2018

John McCain

            We learned on Friday that Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) stopped treatments for his cancer, and we knew that his death was close. The next day, Saturday, August 25, 2018, we were told that he had died in the presence of his wife and family. I send my condolences to his family in the loss of their loved one because I know that the death of a loved one is difficult.

            I do not really know how I feel about the policies of John McCain. I voted for him when he ran for President of the United States. I did not know much about him at the time, but I felt that he would be better for the United States than Barack Obama. I may have been wrong on that assumption because I have questioned many of his votes and statements since that time.

            The biggest question I have is why he did not resign from the Senate as soon as he learned that he would not be able to fulfill his responsibilities there. I cannot understand why he kept the seat when he could not do the work. I am positive that he understood that his cancer was terminal. Why did it make a difference if he died in office or not? I believe that he would have received just as much honor and glory at his death if he had resigned as he will now. It seems to me that he would have resigned in order for Arizona to have full representation in the Senate. Nevertheless, I hope that John McCain rests in peace!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Amendments Work Together

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the fact that the amendments listed in the Bill of Rights can and do protect each other. A recent example is a case where the Second Amendment protectors are being defended by the First Amendment. This case brought a big surprise to many people because the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is defending the National Rifle Association (NRA) against political leaders in New York who are trying to put the organization out of business.

            The ACLU argued in federal court last Friday that “New York’s attempts to compel banks and insurance companies to remove the NRA as a customer is a violation of the First Amendment.”  This brief by the ACLU supports the NRA in its lawsuit against New York.

            Declan McCullagh reports on the case here. Even though the ACLU’s official view is that the Second Amendment protects a “collective right rather than an individual right,” it is helping the NRA in this case. The author calls New York’s actions “strong-arm efforts to compel banks and insurance companies to ditch the NRA as a customer” and says they are “a glaring violation of the First Amendment.

            Even though the ACLU brief “never says the group agrees with the NRA’s position on firearms,” it does argue that the First Amendment rights of NRA and its members are being used by regulators to punish those with different political views. 

Although public officials are free to express their opinions and may condemn viewpoints or groups they view as inimical to public welfare, they cannot abuse their regulatory authority to retaliate against disfavored advocacy organizations and to impose burdens on those organizations’ ability to conduct lawful business.

            I am surprised that the ACLU would defend the NRA. They are, in my point of view, very liberal. At least, it seems to me that ACLU usually defends liberal causes. I now have more respect for the ACLU simply because I learned that they are supporting and defending a conservative organization! 

            The liberals - in New York and otherwise - do not seem to understand that conservatives can play the same game. Just as liberal politicians in New York are threatening the First Amendment rights of the NRA, conservative politicians in other states could threaten the same rights of liberal organizations. This is not a good game to start on either side of the political situation. I am grateful that the ACLU is standing for First Amendment rights even though they do not necessary agree with the NRA’s stand on the Second Amendment.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Most Important Day in History

            The Internet is a wonderful thing, and it has brought a great change in the way most people act and interact. I appreciate the Internet for many reasons, the most important of which is the ease that I now have to stay in contact with family members and friends in distant places. However, I also appreciate the ease with which I can gain instant information about many subjects. I can ask Google almost any question and receive an answer immediately.

            Tonight I asked the Internet this question: What day most changed the course of history? I discovered some interesting answers that include following: Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker, says that it is June 28, 1914. On this date “Franz Ferdinand’s carriage driver took a wrong turn” and “put in motion the two largest wars in world history” – World Wars I and II.
Christina H. Paxson, President, Brown University, says that it is the day in 1440 when “Johannes Gutenberg finished his wooden printing press” and “Western civilization turned onto a path toward more efficient, accessible communication of knowledge.” Other people listed the day that the steam engine was invented, the day that the American colonists signed the Declaration of Independence, and even the date when American women received the right to vote. Surely, others would say the date of the first flight by the Wright brothers as well as other worthwhile achievements. 

            Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggests that we should raise our thinking to a higher level. He believes that the event that changed the course of history for all mankind happened on a day nearly 2000 years ago. 
In my mind the answer is clear.
To find the most important day in history, we must go back to that evening almost 2,000 years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus Christ knelt in intense prayer and offered Himself as a ransom for our sins. It was during this great and infinite sacrifice of unparalleled suffering in both body and spirit that Jesus Christ, even God, bled at every pore. Out of perfect love, He gave all that we might receive all. His supernal sacrifice, difficult to comprehend, to be felt only with all our heart and mind, reminds us of the universal debt of gratitude we owe Christ for His divine gift.
Later that night, Jesus was brought before religious and political authorities who mocked Him, beat Him, and sentenced Him to a shameful death. He hung in agony upon the cross until, finally, “it [was] finished” (John 19:30). His lifeless body was laid in a borrowed tomb. And then, on the morning of the third day, Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, emerged from the tomb as a glorious, resurrected being of splendor, light, and majesty.
Yes, there are many events throughout history that have profoundly affected the destiny of nations and peoples. But combine them all, and they cannot begin to compare to the importance of what happened on that first Easter morning.
            Elder Uchtdorf asks what it is about this infinite sacrifice as well as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that makes this “the most important event in history” – even “more influential than world wars, cataclysmic disasters, and life-changing scientific discoveries?” He says that the answer to this question “lies in two great, insurmountable challenges” faced by all mankind.
            The first challenge is the fact that “we all die.” However, death is a temporary condition. Jesus Christ overcame death and was resurrected. He also made it possible for all mankind to be resurrected. At that time, the spirit and body will be reunited for all eternity.
            The second challenge is that we all sin. God said that “no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom” (3 Nephi 27:19). Since we all sin, none of us would qualify to live with God, and we would all be shut out of His presence for all eternity. However, Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins – every single one – when He “offered His life as a ransom for our sins.” He is the only sinless person who has ever lived on earth, and He “owed no debt to justice.” Therefore, “He could pay our debt and meet the demands of justice for every soul.”
On that most important day in history, Jesus the Christ opened the gates of death and cast aside the barriers that prevented us from passing into the holy and hallowed halls of everlasting life. Because of our Lord and Savior, you and I are granted a most precious and priceless gift – regardless of our past, we can repent and follow the path that leads to celestial light and glory, surrounded by the faithful children of Heavenly Father.
            The first challenge and solution are definite. We will all die, but we will all be resurrected. The solution to the second challenge – sin – comes by choice. We can choose whether or not we will choose to follow Jesus Christ. We can repent and overcome the problems caused by our sins. If we choose this solution, we can return to the presence of God and live with our loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all eternity.
            I agree with Elder Uchtdorf when he testifies that “the most important day in the history of mankind” is the day that Jesus Christ overcame death and sin for all of us. I also agree with him when he says that the most important day in each of our lives is the day that we commit ourselves to follow Christ. I know that as we make this commitment and keep it, we will be on the path that leads to eternity life and exaltation.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Long-Lasting Family Reunions

            We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by holding regular reunions of our extended families. Time together in conversation, hugs, games, and laughter can strengthen most family relationships. I know this to be true because the posterity of my parents hold annual family reunions.

            I thought that our family was doing well to continue our reunions for the past forty years. Then I read in Parade Magazine about a family based in North Carolina that has been meeting annually since 1853. According to Lauren Harris, the Siler family in Macon County, North Carolina, holds the title of the “longest-running family reunion in the U.S.” This family not only has the title, but they have the historical records to prove it. 

What started as a small family gathering in 1853 is now an annual event that draws as many as 250 Siler descendants of all ages from across the world and back to their Macon County, North Carolina roots for fellowship, food and fun.

            Members of the Siler family have a “sense of who we are” according to one member. The reunion in 2018 will be the 167th event because the family had two reunions one year. The family meets in Franklin, North Carolina, in a spot near where Plikard and Elizabeth Siler planted their roots in the early 1800s. The German immigrants settled in this spot because they heard that sweet potatoes grew well there. After they were settled, the Silers learned that they did not even like sweet potatoes. They did not grow them, but sweet potatoes are often present at the reunions.

            The Siler family reunion is “hosted by a different family every year.” The potluck meal features “many traditions that keep the event true to its roots.” Each family reunion is called to order by the “same hand-carved gavel” in order for “the year’s births, deaths and marriages” to be recognized. The family also sings and prays together. All this activity is contained in minutes that are now “archived at the local Fontana Regional Library. Most recently, the Silers initiated a family-to-family networking list to connect relatives for business and professional opportunities across the country.”

            Another family that has a long-lasting tradition of family reunions is the William Bull and Sarah Wells family of Campbell Hall, New York. This family has been gathering for 151 years at “the Stone House they built in 1722.” They “have a record of about 20,000 descendants alive in North America.”

            There are several points that I would like to bring out about these family reunions:
(1) The events are held annually, (2) they are held in the same place each year, (3) records are kept, (4) traditions play a big part in long-lasting reunions, and (5) there is strong sense of belonging to something bigger than self or immediate family.

            For the Siler family, the responsibility for planning and directing the reunion is rotated around the family, so the same people are not doing all the work every year. (This is a concept that is a current struggle in my family.) These families know that regular family reunions strengthen their families and bring the individuals closer together. They know that strong families help to create strong communities and nations.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Freedom of Religion Answers 6

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the need for us to know our religious rights, freedoms that are protected by the laws of the land. Freedom of religion is under attack more than it has been for many years, and many Americans are afraid to even speak of religion in public settings. It is imperative that all Americans know and understand our rights of religion in order for us to be prepared to defend them.

            I shared some information over the past few weeks from an article posted by Maurine Proctor. Her article is titled “You Should Know the Answers to these 35 Questions about Religious Freedom.” She takes her 35 questions from a booklet compiled by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the Brigham Young University Law School. She quotes their goal as follows: “Our aim is to help everyone understand the scope of religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and to offer suggestions on how to peacefully reconcile the rights of all.”

            I shared the answers to questions 1-25 in previous weeks. This week I will continue sharing questions and answers about religious speech and expression. As you might expect, there are many questions in this area.

            Question 26 asks if “the government [may] forbid religious speech or expression on government property.” The answer is a definite NO.

The government may not forbid or restrict speech on government property simply because it is religious or because of its particular religious content. In fact, the government has a duty to accommodate such speech, for example by providing police protection, if needed.

            Question 27 asks if “the government [may] prohibit religious speech if it offends others.” The answer is again a definite NO.

The government cannot restrict speech because it is unpopular or offensive, even if it is extremely offensive or likely to provoke protests. On the contrary, police have a duty to protect speakers by controlling crowds and hecklers.

            Question 28 asks if “the government [may] prohibit religious speech on private property.” Once again, the answer is NO.

Individuals and organizations have the right to express their religious faith or views on their own property, including displaying religious symbols or messages. Certain land use or zoning restrictions may limit religious and non-religious displays alike but they may not single out religious speech or unreasonably limit it.

            Question 29 asks if “there [is] a constitutional right to religious speech on the private property of others.” The answer is NO. “Even if the private property is open to the public, such as retails stores or shopping centers, permission must be obtained from the owner.”

            Question 30 asks if “the government [can] require permits for door-to-door proselytizing or advocacy.” The answer is NO. “However, the government may impose reasonable regulations on the time, place, and manner of door-to-door advocacy, so long as they apply equally to everyone who engages in [this] kind of activity.”

            Question 31 asks if “the government [may] control the content of religious sermons.” The answer is NO.

Even if anti-discrimination laws were to prohibit messages that might offend certain groups of people, applying these laws to church sermons, would be unconstitutional, as would any law prohibiting churches from preaching their own views on social and moral issues.

            As we can see from the above questions and answers, the government is limited on what it can do about speech, religious or not. Americans are free to share their religious views with anyone who cares to listen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Donald Trump - the Man and the President

            I recently had numerous opportunities during a cruise in foreign waters to meet people from other nations. One evening my husband and I had a lengthy discussion with a couple from Israel. When we mentioned that we live in Alaska, they expressed their great love for the beauty of Alaska. Then they asked their $64,000 question: What do you think of your President?

            Knowing that they were referring to Donald Trump, I shared my feelings openly and honestly. I told them that I believe that Trump is accomplishing many good things as the President of the United States even though I am not sure about Trump the man. They expressed their approval of Trump’s many accomplishments and his support of Israel, but they acknowledged their understanding of my feelings about him personally.

            Having lived more that seventy years, I have endured and survived several presidential administrations. Some of the presidents were good men and good presidents while others were the total opposite or even mixed. An example of the latter is Jimmy Carter who was a Sunday school teacher, obviously loved his wife and family, and seemed to be a thoroughly good man. However, he was a terrible president, and I was relieved when he was not reelected to office. Donald Trump has many characters flaws, but he is a good president.

            Donald Trump says and does things that I do not support, but I must give him credit for the many ways that he is blessing Americans and people all over the world. He claims that he is putting America and Americans first, and I have no reason to doubt his words. He has been constantly opposed by the media, liberals, and even members of his own party, but he continues to fight for Americans and people in every nation.

            The list of Trump’s accomplishments continues to grow. I approve of what he is doing because I believe he is making America great again (MAGA). The list of Trump’s accomplishments includes the following: (1) booming economy; (2) lowest unemployment in history for blacks and Hispanics; (3) appointed Neil Gorsuch and nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court (Both men are high qualified for the job and have respect for the Constitution.); (4) nominated more than two dozen lower court judges with similar qualifications and constitutionalism; (5) worked with Congress to pass the largest tax cuts since the Reagan administration; (6) cut regulations; (7) ended the U.S.’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil; (8) ended the Obamacare mandate; (9) reformed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; (10) took the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and Iranian nuclear deal; (11) rebuilt our military; (12) brought Kim Jong Un of North Korea to the bargaining table to negotiate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; (13) caused NATO allies to pay for their own defense.

            Trump has made it clear to allies and enemies that the United States is not the piggy bank of the world. He bows to no one, and he allows no one to insult the United States. I believe that Trump is a good president even though I question some of his personal manners. Although I do not believe that he is a good example to hold up for my children and grandchildren, I must give him credit for his accomplishments.

            Trump made all the above accomplishments while liberal judges stopped many of his actions and liberals of both parties fought him on all sides. The “deep state” continues in their attempt to bring Trump down even as he is fighting for America and Americans. I realized recently that Trump is not the first President to fight the “deep state.”

            A couple of nights ago I watched the movie titled JFK about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The movie is based on two books – On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Kill Kennedy by Jim Marrs. The movie is described as follows

JFK is a 1991 American conspiracy-thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and alleged cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner). Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, for which Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) was found responsible by the Warren Commission.

            Having lived through the assassination of JFK and tried to discern the truth of what happened, I was riveted to the movie. As I watched it, I could not help feeling that I was reliving history. As the movie played, it seemed to be describing the situation that we are in at the present time with Trump. The media and the “deep state” were opposed to many of the actions taken by JFK and determined that the only way to stop him was to kill him – and they did.

            The “deep state” continues their attempt to bring Trump down and to stop him from “draining the swamp.” I am fearful that there may be another presidential assassination if the “deep state” fails to stop Trump in other ways. I will continue to pray for protection of President Trump because I believe that he is a good president who is putting America and Americans first and making America great once more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Voter Fraud and Illegal Immigration

            Concerns about voter fraud and illegal immigration continue to build. San Francisco recently made it legal for illegal immigrants to register and vote in local school board elections. Democrats encourage illegal immigration in hopes to increase votes for liberal politicians.

            Readers were recently asked by The Daily Signal to share their thoughts on this question: “What’s worse, the Russians messing with our elections or us letting our guard down on the right to vote?” A reader named Michael Bowler shares his thoughts in a long message. 

A person who loses a local election by a few votes may never become the next mayor, then governor, then senator, and so on.

You get the idea. Elections can have far-reaching, difficult-to-identify consequences….

Someone who votes without eligibility, because a local or state authority decides it’s too much trouble to enforce the law – or, more insidiously, decides illegal voters will throw the election in a direction they prefer – is damaging the very democracy supposedly being defended….

Not only should voter ID laws be enacted and enforced, but punishments should be sufficient to deter those who engage in improper voting from seeking to do so….

            Bowler obviously believes that there should be voter ID laws as well as strict punishments for those who break the laws. Another response is from Teresa Barrett who asks a very important question: “Why is it not discrimination to require a photo ID to cash a check, get a library card, buy a car, buy a gun, get a passport, board a plan, buy cigarettes or liquor, and numerous other everyday activities, but is the height of evil against minorities to require the same to vote?” She is absolutely right when she says the Democrats are insulting minorities when they believe that they are “unable to secure identification to vote.” She says that it is racism to treat “minorities like children who aren’t able to function in society” without help from the government.

            This writer agrees with both Bowler and Barrett. There should be strict voter identification laws with appropriate punishments for those who break the laws. It is difficult to believe that any adult can function in modern society without an ID card with one’s picture on it. One cannot see a doctor, use a credit card, open a bank account, or visit the local Social Security office without a picture ID.

            Newt Gingrich, former Republican House Speaker, referred to San Francisco’s registering illegal aliens to vote for some elections and accused Democrats of using illegal immigration to gain voters. Most Americans can see the danger when people who are in the nation illegally have the right to vote on our policies and laws. Gingrich says that local governments have “no interest in enforcing the law when it’s being ignored by fellow Democrats.” He writes in his article as follows. 

The Californians who don’t support the radical views of Democrats can simply be eclipsed by non-citizen voters supporting the Democrats….

This, combined with national efforts to abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has lead [led] to a showdown between federal and state governments, with law enforcement caught in the middle….

A sound immediate step would be for Congress to pass a law reaffirming that you must be an American citizen to vote in all American elections…. Let’s see how many Democrats would oppose this simple requirement.

            There is a very real danger that Americans could lose their constitutional freedoms. The most obvious way that they could happen would be through voter fraud. Americans must elect politicians who will protect and preserve the Constitution.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Daisy Burungu Kadibil

            I chose Daisy Burungu Kadibil for my VIP for this week because of her accomplishments and not because she had anything to do with America. Daisy was born in 1923 to a mother who “was of the Martu people” and a father (Thomas Craig) who was of English descent. This made Daisy “half-caste” according to the Australian government.

            “[Daisy] was a member of the Stolen Generations, which were Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by the Australian government.” Australia had an “assimilation policy that sought to absorb Aboriginal people into the country’s white society by taking children from their families and indoctrinating them in the ways of that dominant culture.” 

            Approximately eight years old in 1931, Daisy, along with her cousins Molly and Gracie (whose mothers were Daisy’s aunts), were taken from their home in the Jigalong Community in northwestern Australia  and sent to the Moore River Native Settlement more than 800 miles south. Thomas Craig (Daisy’s father) was also the father of Molly, so they were both half-sisters and cousins.

            The girls escaped the internment camp after spending only one night there. They were determined to return to their home that was 800-1000 miles away. Their journey home took eight to nine weeks, and they accomplished it by following the rabbit-proof fence in Australia as their guide in traveling north.

            The trek home was difficult for the young girls as they not only traveled hundreds of miles, but they did it while evading search parties. At night they slept under bushes or in rabbit burrows. Sometimes Molly carried one or the other of the younger girls. The trio found their own food, even though farmers and hunters sometimes gave them some.

Kadibil worked as a housekeeper and cook on stations in the Pilbara of Western Australia. She married and had four children. She had children in Wiluna, Western Australia, then returned to Jigalong. Members of her family established and still head the Parngurr Community. She died March 30, 2018, in a nursing home in South Hedland, Western Australia. [She was the last of the three girls to pass away.] 

            The ordeal of Daisy, Molly, and Gracie was told in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. The book was written by Doris Pilkington Garimara, Molly’s daughter and Daisy’s niece, and published in 1996. Doris also had the misfortune of being sent to the Moore River internment camp, but she was not reunited with Molly, her mother, for 20 years. An Australian movie, titled Rabbit-Proof Fence, came out in 2002 and tells the story of the three girls.

            I am amazed that three young girls could travel 800-900 miles and survive. Obviously, they had received some survival training in their young years. Their story tells us that children can accomplish difficult things when they are prepared to deal with them and have the desire.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Carrying a Gun Is a Constitutional Right

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the Second Amendment. As most people know, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is under almost constant attack from people as well as local and state governments who are out to destroy the Constitution. However, courts are now passing decisions that force governments to recognize that the freedom to bear arms is protected. This is good news.

            The ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of San Francisco recently ruled that Americans have the constitutional right to carry a gun outside of their homes. The decision on Young v. State of Hawaii went through numerous cases, some as far back as the fourteenth century, and came to this conclusion with added emphasis (page 58).

We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence, which the State of Hawaii “has understandably sought to fight . . . with every legal tool at its disposal.” Wrenn, 864 F.3d at 667. We see nothing in our opinion that would prevent the State from regulating the right to bear arms, for the Second Amendment leaves the State “a variety of tools for combatting [the problem of gun violence], including some measures regulating handguns.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 636.

But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense. We would thus flout the Constitution if we were to hold that, “in regulating the manner of bearing arms, the authority of [the State] has no other limit than its own discretion.” Reid, 1 Ala. at 616. While many respectable scholars and activists might find virtue in a firearms-carry regime that restricts the right to a privileged few, “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 636.

                This case may be taken to the US Supreme Court, but for now we can rejoice in the fact that the ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the right to bear arms publicly. Miracles do happen!