Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

What Do We Know about the Resurrection?

            For my studies this morning of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I read and pondered Alma 40 where Alma teaches his son about the resurrection. I discovered that there are numerous principles contained within the twenty-six verses in this chapter, and I thought that I would share some of them with my readers. 

            The first principle is well known and understood to all Christians: “There is no resurrection … until after the coming of Christ” (Alma 40:2). All the people – righteous and wicked – from the creation of Adam remained in their graves until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the scriptures tell us that many of them were resurrected immediately following the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, this was the beginning of the First Resurrection.

Matthew tells us, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:52). This information was confirmed by Jesus Christ when He visited the Nephites in the New World.

Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?

And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.

And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?

And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.

And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded (3Nephi 23:9-13).

            The second principle taught by Alma is that there “is a space betwixt the time of death and the time of the resurrection” (Alma 40:6) and that “the spirits of all men … are taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11). Jesus Christ’s body lay in the borrowed tomb for three days between His death and His resurrection, but His spirit went to the spirit world – the same place that our spirits will go when we die.

            Alma taught that the spirit world is divided. There is a portion called paradise where the “righteous are received into a state of happiness.” Paradise is described as a “state of rest, a state of peace, where [the righteous] shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow” (Alma 40:12).   The wicked who “chose evil works rather than good” are “cast out into outer darkness” there “there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth” (Alma 40:13).

            President Joseph F. Smith received a vision on October 3, 1918, about the spirit world. He saw a gathering “in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality” (Doctrine and Covenants 138: 12).  

He saw that “they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:15). 

They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.

Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.

While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;

And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance (Doctrine and Covenants 138:15-19).

            President Smith continued by saying that Jesus Christ did not go into spirit prison and did not raise his voice to the “wicked,” “ungodly,” unrepentant,” or the “rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets” (Doctrine and Covenants 138: 20-21). As President Smith pondered what he had seen, he saw that the Son of God went “among the righteous” spirits and “organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them” as missionaries. 

            Even though Jesus Christ did not go into spirit prison, He did not forget the spirits who were there. He organized the righteous spirits and gave them power and authority to go into the spirit prison to teach His gospel to those who did not accept it in mortality. They taught the same principles that are taught by missionaries in mortality: “faith in God, repentance from sin, … baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:33; see also Articles of Faith 1:4). 

            The wicked spirits were taught “other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:34). The only difference is that mortals can be immersed in water for themselves, while baptism for spirits must be done vicariously by mortals still living. President Smith continued:

Thus was it made known that our Redeemer spent his time during his sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified o him in the flesh;

That they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead, unto whom he could not go personally, because of their rebellion and transgression, that they through the ministration of his servants might also hear his words (Doctrine and Covenants 138:36-37).

            Less someone thinks that they can sin until death and still receive all the blessings reserved to the righteous, Alma teaches elsewhere that we should not procrastinate our repentance (Alma13:27-30; 34:32-34) because this life is the “time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24). Those who repent and accept the gospel in spirit prison will be in better circumstances than those continue to reject Jesus Christ because “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 40:26). However, they will not receive the same blessings as those who repent, accept the teachings and ordinances of Christ, and follow Him in mortality.

            Thus, the Savior’s mission to the spirit world made it possible for the spirits of the wicked to repent from their sins in mortality. His work continues to give them an opportunity to improve their circumstances before they are resurrected and stand before Him to be judged.

            The third principle is that resurrection unites the body and the spirit in such a way that it will never be divided. Resurrection means “the reuniting of the soul with the body” (Alma 40:18). It means that “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul” (Alma 40:23). The body and spirit of Jesus Christ is still united as is that of Heavenly Father. They each have a glorified body of flesh and bone, but the Holy Ghost is a “personage of Spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).  When we are resurrected, each of us will have a body of flesh and bone, but we determine our glory by our obedience to the commandments of God. The doctrine of the resurrection refutes the false doctrine of reincarnation. We began our mortal lives as children of God, and we are resurrected as children of God.

The fourth principle is that during the resurrection when the spirit is reunited with the body, “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23). This means that all those who struggle with physical or mental problems will be made whole.

            In summary, the four principles are: (1) Jesus Christ was the first person to be resurrected, but many righteous people were resurrected soon afterwards. (2) There is a time between death and resurrection where we can improve our situation and prepare to be judged.

(3) When our bodies are resurrected, they will never again be separated. (4) During the resurrection our bodies will become as near perfect as possible.         

Friday, August 30, 2019

Thriving at School or Merely Attending

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when children and youth thrive at school and not merely survive. Parental attitudes, expectations, and assistance can make a difference between a child thriving or merely going through the actions. When parents are enthusiastic about learning, children most often follow their examples – but there are exceptions.

            I remember being excited to go to school. I had to wait until I was nearly seven years old before I started school. There was no kindergarten in my school when I was five years old, and the age to start school was six years old. Since my birthday is mid-winter, I was way to young to start school in September. I remember telling everyone I met that I would be going to school. I was so excited, and I thought that school would never start that year.

            I continued to be excited for each school year. I loved going to school and spending all day with my friends, but I always loved to learn new things. That love for learning continued with me even after I graduated from high school. I am one of those people who read encyclopedias for the fun of it. I suppose that my life-long love for learning is why I am working on a college degree in my later years.

            My children also love to learn. One of my daughters read the entire set of encyclopedias over one summer break – and remembered much of what she read. All my children are college graduates and five of the six of them have master’s and/or doctorates. Five of the six spouses also have masters. All the children and spouses continue to read and study to learn new information about whatever they are interested in – finances, vacation spots, etc.

Loving to learn does not necessary translate to love of school. One of my sons hated school from the time that he started kindergarten. Whenever I asked what the favorite part of the day was for him, he would always say “coming home.” His next favorite part was lunch time, and his third favorite time was recess. I think that you can see how he felt about school. However, he graduated from high school with honors and recently earned his master’s degree.

I do not know how much influence parental habits have on children or whether love for learning comes from nature or nurture. I often saw my mother reading a book at the end of the day. I knew that reading was one of the few luxuries that she allowed herself, and I was anxious to learn to read. I love reading to this day, my children love to read, and now my grandchildren are developing a love for reading. How much of this love for reading from through the genes, and how much came from parental example? We will never know, but we know it is a blessing.

Lois M. Collins wrote an interesting article titled “Back to school: How to make sure your child is ready to launcha successful school year.” She includes quotes from both parents and experts who suggest some ideas that I did not consider.

One family attended “a school-sponsored scavenger hunt” and practiced “walking to school and crosswalk safety.” They also “tried hard over the summer to keep mealtimes and bedtimes consistent” to make the transition to school easier. The most important thing that they worked on was nurturing excitement and enthusiasm for school.

Some experts say academic success starts not with what you learn, but what’s in your mind to boost learning, including tools to self-calm, a sense of wonder and gratitude.

Gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin, relieving anxiety and depression. When you feel grateful, it’s easier to focus on things that are going well and see positives, rather than dwelling on negatives and what has gone wrong, says Anne Grady, author, speaker and resilience expert from Austin, Texas. While lots of parents focus primarily – even exclusively – on grades, Grady says social well-being is an integral part of doing well in school.

She suggests figuring out what success means in your own family, then working backward from there to achieve it. Such a journey will inevitably have highs and lows, but that’s not something to fear. Parents need to help instill a mindset that struggles, challenges and even failure are not just bumps in the path to success, but building blocks to it, “because they are how we grow and strengthen ourselves,” adds Grady, author of “Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph,” among other books.

Grady also emphasizes self-care and says parents have to model it themselves. Good self-care includes being physically active, but also taking time to meditate and practice mindfulness. That’s a major help to student academic success, as well.

“It sounds touchy-feely, but it’s really brain training,” says Grady, who notes that meditation involves focusing on the present and being attentive in the moment, skills most people lack. “We think so much about everything but what we are doing right now. When your child talks to you, put down the phone and give 100 percent of your attention. … Be where you are when you’re there.”

            I found Grady’s suggestions to be interesting. I would never have thought that teaching gratitude to my children could help them to be better students. I also like the idea that “struggles, challenges and even failures” are building blocks. 

            Another idea suggested in the article is for parents of students who struggled the previous year. Tell the children that it is a new year and a new opportunity to succeed. Another is for students who have difficulty separating from parents: put a picture of the family in the lunch box so the student can look at it whenever they need reassurance. Another suggestion is something will help students who feel different – such as speaking a foreign language: “reframe anything that might make a child feel different as a superpower that makes them unique.”

            One mother gave the “most important advice for parents to ensure kids thrive is to listen to the kids. She says it’s a priority to spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one with each of her kids and let them talk about whatever’s on their mind.” Another mother says, “Always send kids off with a smile and greet them with a smile.”

            Other topics that the experts suggest for parents is about safety at school (everything from how to cross the parking lot to the possibility of terrorists coming to the school), grief for a loss (parental divorce, death of a loved one, move to a new area, loss of a friend), and bullying.

My daughter who is nearing 50 recently told me that she did not realize the strength that she received as a child and teenage by my being home when she got home and being willing to listen to her drama. She meets numerous people through her personal and work experiences who did not have that blessing, and she feels that many of their struggles later in life could have been eliminated if they were able to share their youthful drama with somebody who loved them.

            My counsel to parents is to be actively involved in the life of your child or teenager without being too involved. If possible, be there when they come home from school because this is the best time for them to share what happened during their time away from you. Parental attitudes, expectations, and time can determine whether a child merely attends school or thrives from the experience. Helping children and teenagers to thrive from their school experiences can strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Should Migrant Children Receive Birthright Citizenship?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the perceived right of citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. Long-time readers know that I do not believe that there is a such a right to United States citizenship to anyone and everyone who is born on U.S. soil. This week President Donald Trump reopened the discussion when he said that he is taking a closer look at the situation. Liberal are throwing their usual temper tantrums.

            In fact, leftists are shrieking their usual name for anything conservative and/or good for the country. They are, of course, calling Trump a “racist” and claiming that his idea violates both the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment. They say that the topic has been decided and does not need any more discussion. A professor of constitutional law does not agree with them.

            In his article titled “George Washington Law Professor: Opposing Birthright Citizenship Is Not Racist,” Joe Saunders quotes from an article by “one of the country’s best known legal scholars.” Jonathan Turley is that professor of constitutional law at George Washington University. 

            Turley reminds his readers that the Civil War was fought over slavery. [In fact, more than 600,000 Americans died in the war effort to end slavery.] Turley also reminds us that the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868 to protect the rights of citizenship of freed American slaves. These two statements are clear to most Americans, but “little else is.” 

Trump is not the first leader to oppose birthright citizenship, but he might be the last. Even Democrat Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, is on record as opposing claims of birthright citizenship. In fact, most countries in the world reject such claims. After explaining the above, Turley says, “One can be entirely on board with the outcome of the Civil War, not be a racist, and still oppose birthright citizenship.” 

The 14th Amendment starts and ends as a model of clarity, stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” are “citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” But between those two phrases, Congress inserted the words “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Those six words have perplexed scholars for 150 years. The dominant view of law professors is the line as a whole guarantees that anyone born within the United States becomes a[n] American citizen. But many believe that the caveat means you must be here in a legal status, that if you are not a[n] American citizen, then you are a legal resident.

At the time it was written, the sponsors expressly stated its purpose as protecting freed slaves and not the offspring of foreign citizens. Republican Senator Jacob Howard, who was a coauthor of the 14th Amendment, said that it was “simply declaratory” of the Civil Rights Act to protect freed slaves. He assured senators, “This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, or who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.” 

Then there was Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull, who was the author of the 13th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act, and a drafter of the 14th Amendment. Trumbull stressed that the six words only included those “not owing allegiance to anyone else.” 
Yet, other members objected that the language could cover anyone physically within the United States.

The Supreme Court seems to reflect the same confusion over the caveat. Not long after the 14th Amendment was ratified, the justices seemed to affirm that the language was meant solely to protect the status of freed slaves. In the Slaughterhouse Cases, the Supreme Court explained the phrase “subject to its jurisdiction” was “intended to exclude from its operation” children of “citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States.” A few years later, the justices cast doubt over claims that the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to “children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents.”

Later, in 1884, the Supreme Court stated unequivocally in John Elk versus Charles Wilkins that parents must not merely be “subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction, and not subject to any foreign power,” as well as owe the United States “direct and immediate allegiance.” Yet, the Supreme Court also held later that the 14th Amendment “affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens.” But the parents in that case were legal residents. The justices also rejected efforts to draw distinctions between individuals within the United States for other purposes of the 14th Amendment.

            So, if you are wondering what all this means, you are in good company. Turley says, “anyone who claims that this issue is clear is being less than candid. There are strong arguments on both sides of this question.”

            What does seem to be clear is that the issue of birthright citizenship will end up at the United States Supreme Court if President Trump pursues it – and that may be the exact reason why he wants to pursue it. This is an issue that needs a clear solution, and the Supreme Court is the place to get that answer. There answer needs to be a crystal clear about who qualifies for birthright citizenship in the United States and who does not. As Turley emphasizes, those “six words followed by 150 years of conflicting legislative and judicial statements on its meaning” have brought us to this point of total confusion.

            If the Court comes down on the side of illegal aliens, there is nothing that Trump can do about it short of a constitutional amendment – and our borders will continue to be overrun by pregnant illegal aliens. If the Court comes down on the side of American citizens and legal residents, I believe that it will stop many of the illegal immigrants from coming to the United States. Birthright citizenship is a strong magnet, and it has been drawing more and more people from numerous countries to America!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How Important Is Education?

            This week seems to be “back to school” week for many students. My grandchildren live in five different school districts, but all of them went back to school this week. The children in my local area went back to school as did many college students. However, my classes do not start until the middle of September.

Many parents are taking “first day of school” pictures and remarking about how fast their children are growing up. There are smiles of joy at the development of their children and sadness at the realization that their children are advancing year by year and will soon be out of the house.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He says that parents should consider and ask this question, “What will my youngster learn in college?” Then he gives some statistics put out by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni that give some disturbing answers to the question.

The organization evaluated every four-year public university as well as hundreds of private colleges and universities. That’s more than 1,100 institutions that enroll nearly 8 million students, more than two-thirds of all students enrolled in four-year liberal arts schools nationwide. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s findings were published in its report “What Will They Learn? 2018-19.”

It doesn’t look good.

The ACTA assigned grades tell some of the story. Just 23 (2%) of the over 1,100 colleges earn an A grade; 343 colleges (31%) earn a B grade; 347 (31%) get a C grade; 273 (24%) earn a D; and 134 (12%) colleges earn an F. If you’re thinking that your youngster will get a truly liberal arts education, you are sadly mistaken.

It turns out that less than half of the schools studied require courses in traditional literature, foreign language, U.S. government, or history and economics….

…The reality is something different with only 68% of the schools the American Council of Trustees and Alumni surveyed requiring three or fewer of the seven core subjects. Their curricula poorly represent critical subjects such as U.S. history, economics, and foreign languages….

…Even though some of the best-known colleges earn poor marks for their general education curricula, it doesn’t necessarily mean they do all things poorly. A student can get an excellent education at these schools if classes are chosen wisely.

            Williams says that this discussion brings up an issue that is not heard often enough, “how important is a college education in the first place.” A college education may be detrimental to the success of a student if he/she does not learn the important things. In fact, there are many jobs that do not require a college degree, such as flight attendants, janitors, and salesmen. With the cost of a college education continuing to climb higher and higher and students receiving a less-than- adequate education, this is a good time for parents and young adults to discuss this issue.

            This seems to be a good place to share information about my college program. Ten years ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started a “tiny pilot program” with 50 students. This program now includes “at least 45,000 students and a mushrooming global footprint.” The program is now in 133 countries besides the United States

BYU-Pathway Worldwide now offers a full private college education to U.S. students for less than $8,760. BYU-PW tuition prices drop even lower – often far lower – in other countries, providing opportunities for a university education to capable students who before could only dream of them.

            BYU-Pathway began with 50 students, and it is now the “largest institution of higher education in the educational system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” How is BYU-Pathway growing so rapidly while other institutions are struggling? Is BYU-Pathway taking students that would otherwise go to other schools? No! BYU-Pathway is “serving the hidden many…. BYU-PW is not taking students from other schools and programs. It is serving a new educational category” – people who would not be going to college without it.

BYU-PW students begin in the one-year PathwayConnect program. PathwayConnect is what the original 50 students started in the pilot 10 years ago. The program does not require an ACT or SAT test, and students do not need the ecclesiastical endorsement required at other church schools. Students enroll in two classes per semester for three semesters. The six classes include three religion courses and one each in life skills, professional skills and university skills. The latter three classes include math and writing skills.

The students take the courses online, but in a unique twist, they also meet once a week in small groups. It is in those meetings that PathwayConnect builds student confidence. Students take turns leading class discussions while providing each other with encouragement and support. As students gain confidence in themselves, they also gain confidence in BYU-PW.

            About 56 percent of the students who start PathwayConnect complete the year. Approximately 95 percent of those student earn a B average and qualify for cheaper tuition -- $73 per credit – in the BYU-Idaho’s online degree programs. These programs are subsidized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and require an endorsement from a church leader.

            The second major innovation in the school is the structure of its degree programs. The online programs all have stackable certificates and degrees that work together for the benefit of the students. 

 Push skills-heavy courses other schools reserve for the fourth year all the way up into the first year so students can earn employable certificates sooner. Then make those certificates an integral part of associate and bachelor degrees. One or more certificates stacked together make an associate degree, which in turn stacks into a bachelor’s degree.

            It appears that the second innovation works well with the first one. Once a student has a certificate and can use it to improve their job situation, their confidence increases in themselves and in their ability to gain a college education. “Of those students who complete a certificate, 92% continue toward a degree or achieve better employment.”

            I remember when I started my first PathwayConnect class. I looked at the list of assignments for the week, and I was nearly in tears with anxiety of how I would accomplish the task of completing all of them. The Holy Ghost told me that I could do it if I took one assignment at a time and did not worry about the rest for that time period. I took that counsel seriously and applied it to that class and to every class since then. I also applied it to the number of courses that I take each semester. I do not push myself to carry a “full load” of classes but take only the number that I feel I can handle in any given semester. By taking one or two courses at a time, I can eventually earn a college degree. Why do I and so many other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that education is important? It is simple!

            Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are commanded to gain as much knowledge as possible during this life because we can take all that we learn into our next life and be further ahead in our eternal journey. We are taught that “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:36). We are told that “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24). We are also taught that we are to “obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:53). With such an emphasis on life-long learning, is it any wonder that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is doing all that it can do to help as many people as possible to gain more university learning?

            Williams asked, “how important is a college education in the first place?” The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say that a college education is eternally important. However, not all colleges and universities provide the same kind of training and education. Different schools receive different grades in how well they are fulfilling their stated missions. Some schools take the money and give little in return, while other schools charge little money and give much in return. Students and their parents must be aware of what is available to them and then choose wisely.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

How to Marginalize Hate and Hostility

            I believe that most people in the world have heard of the devastating treatment of two Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were denied entrance into Israel. How dare Israel stop them when all they wanted to do is weaken Israel?

Last week authorities chose to deny Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar entrance into Israel based on their history. The two Muslim women are aggressive supporters of the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. Tlaib says that the BDS movement is a freedom movement. However, it is an attempt to strangle the economics of Israel in reality.

            The two women are open in their hostility and hate in their desire to destroy Israel. Any logical person can understand why Israel denied entrance to them. Why would the women be allowed to enter when their stated objective is to destroy Israel? Besides, their itinerary said that it was a trip to “Palestine” (non-existence country) and not to “Israel.” The whole idea of the trip makes no sense whatsoever!

            In order to understand the absurdity of Tlaib calling the BDS movement a freedom movement, we must look no further than an annual report published by Freedom House. According to Star Parker, this nonpartisan organization ranks “nations around the world according to freedom – measuring political rights and civil liberties in each country.” The countries are put in one of three categories: “free,” “partly free,” and “not free.”

In the region that Freedom House calls Middle East and North Africa, there are 21 countries and territories, and only two are ranked free, Israel and Tunisia, with Israel receiving the highest total freedom score in the region.

The total population of the region is 420 million, and of the 420 million, 5% are free, including Israel’s tiny population of 8.9 million.

So freedom is the exception rather than the rule in the Middle East, and Israel is the shining light. Yet Israel is the only country in the region that seems to bother Tlaib and Omar.

            Parker continues by explaining that the West Bank (the home of Tlaib’s grandmother) and Gaza are not sovereign nations. However, Freedom House includes them in the freedom rankings as territories. They are both in the “not free” category and sit at “rock bottom.” She continues by explaining that Israel does not control the government in the two territories and that they are governed by the Palestinian Authority. Even though the Palestinians “have control over their own affairs, they choose to live under a corrupt, un-free regime” and blame Israel for their dire circumstances.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 49 Muslim-majority countries in the world. Two, per Freedom House, are free. But what bothers Tlaib and Omar is the world’s single Jewish country, Israel, which is free.

            I agree with Parker when she says that a reasonable person would “admire and want to help others emulate the social and economic miracle that Israelis have created in their young country.” It becomes clearer by the day that Tlaib and Omar are not reasonable because they continue to “spread hate and blame” instead of admiration for Israel. Tlaib and Omar show the truth of the words of former prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir. She said more than 60 years ago, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” Those were powerful words when she said them, and they are more true today.

            Tlaib and Omar are hate-mongers who are attempting to use their positions as members of the United States House of Representatives to further the agenda of their ancestral nations: destroy Israel or die trying. President Donald Trump is right in pointing out that these hateful women are now the face of the Democrat party, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right to deny them entrance into Israel. Hate and hostility must always be marginalized in order to insure peace and tranquility.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Baltimore Cleanup Hero Angers Liberals

            My VIP for this week is conservative activist Scott Presler, who saw a need in Baltimore and organized a group of volunteers to take care of it. In July President Donald Trump drew national attention to Baltimore by calling Congressman Cummings a “bully” and Baltimore “a disgusting rat and rodent-infested mess.” 

            On August 5, 2019, more than 170 volunteers descended on Baltimore to pick up trash, and members of the community joined the effort. According to Pressler, they worked from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and picked up more than 12 tons of garbage. The group made a huge difference in a short period of time, and they have pictures to show the change.

            Of course, liberals could not let conservatives do a good thing without finding fault with them. The Baltimore Sun published an op-ed with the title, “We assume it was pure motives that led a Trump supporter to launch a cleanup in Cummings’ district, right?” 

“Look, we appreciate anyone who is willing to roll up their sleeves to help Baltimore. 

More than 170 people came from all over the country and cleaned up nearly 12 tons of trash, according to Mr. Presler’s Twitter feed,” the paper claimed.

“But if this was all about ‘Americans helping Americans,’ why all the videos of Baltimore residents thanking Mr. Thump for bringing attention to the issue? We happen to know that not everybody in West Baltimore feels that way. And in the same posts as the videos, why the frequent reminders that this is in … Mr. Cummings’ district?” the editors pondered.

They then attacked Presler for posting a photo of a newspaper from President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008 that the organizers and volunteers stumbled upon while hauling debris from the streets.

            The writer continued with his complaint that Presler’s visit to Baltimore emphasizes the problems of the area: the failing urban cores, difficulty of poor people to take care of their own neighborhoods, and the public officials who continue to fail the people they are supposed to serve. “The bureaucratic, all-talk Democrats strike again. If a crowd of volunteers could clean up 12 tons of trash in 12 hours, how incompetent and helpless must Baltimoreans be if they can’t manage it in decades, right?”

            Democrats need look no further than Baltimore, San Francisco, Detroit, and many other cities that have existed under the control of Democrats for years or even decades. Democrat policies and politicians fail time after time. It seems that the federal government continues to dump money into such areas, but there are no improvements.

            I believe that President Trump had every right to ask where all the money went. Why is Baltimore covered in trash and its residents living in “a disgusting rat and rodent-infested mess”? The liberals at the Baltimore Sun and elsewhere may be upset to have Democrat weaknesses shown so clearly to all Americans, but what are they going to do about it? Are they going to start cleaning up their own messes – look at Los Angeles and San Francisco – or are they going to continue to blame conservatives who try to make a difference?

            I want to recognize Presler and his fellow volunteers for giving of their effort, money, and time to travel to Baltimore to help their fellow Americans. Their service should be appreciated, and their example should be followed by the rest of us.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

What Is Election Integrity and How Can We Obtain It?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is voter fraud. Despite Democrat denials, voter fraud happens all too often in the United States. Many cases of voter fraud have been documented, and some have been prosecuted. Whenever voter fraud takes place, it dilutes votes of every honest voter and make the whole process unfair. It may even change the results of an election.

            There are numerous types of voter fraud. They include voting in the name of someone else, voting at multiple locations in the same election, and voting even though ineligible to vote. One sure way to eliminate much of the voter fraud is to require personal identification in order to vote. Democrats rely on voter fraud to win elections, so they fight voter identification in all forms. There are numerous locations where there are more registered voters than there are eligible citizens, and most of them are in Democrat-controlled states. 

            Hans von Spakovsky is an expert in many areas of the political process. He says that “America depends on having free and fair elections where all Americans can trust the process and the results.” He shares the following three suggestions for lessening voter fraud and possibly eliminating it entirely.

Since states control much of the electoral process, they must pass laws requiring government-issued IDs to vote. [This will stop people from voting in someone else’s name, but it most likely won’t happen in Democrat-heavy states.] 

States should join voter registration cross-checking programs to identify voters registered in multiple places. One cross-check program has identified hundreds of thousands of potential duplicate registrations across 30 states as well as evidence of illegal double voting. [What do you think the chances are for Democrat-heavy states joining this effort?]

States should compare voter rolls with government records to identify convicted felons and noncitizens who should be removed from the rolls. And the federal government should cooperate with these efforts and make Department of Homeland Security and other databases available to state officials. [Why would Democrats, who push for felons and noncitizens to vote, cooperate with this effort?]

            Von Spakovsky’s suggestions are good ones and would work if every state cooperated in ensuring election integrity. He says that we must protect “our right to vote; that’s how we protect the future of our very republic.” It is essential that our voting process has integrity and that the vote of every citizen is protected.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

I Was a Stranger and You Took Me In

            I came across a story in my scripture study this morning that caused me to reflect on what is happening in our nation today. The Prophet Alma heard that the Zoramites were “perverting the ways of the Lord” (Alma 31:1). The Zoramites had previously been members of the Church of Jesus Christ but had fallen away. Alma took his trusted missionary companion (Amulek), three of his best buddies (Ammon, Aaron, and Omner), and two of his sons (Shiblon and Corianton) and went to teach the truth to the Zoramites. 

            The missionaries had success with the poorer class of people. Alma taught them about humility, prayer, scripture study, repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, mercy, and other gospel principles. Many of them believed the teachings of Alma and were converted. However, the elites of the city were upset and cast the poor people out of the land of Zoram.

            The poor people traveled to the land of Jershon that was inhabited by the people of Ammon. There Alma and the missionaries continued to minister unto them, and the people of Ammon received “all the poor of the Zoramites that came over unto them; and they did nourish them, and did clothe them, and did give unto them lands for their inheritance; and they did administer unto them according to their wants” (Alma 35:9).  

            Zoramites were upset with the people of Ammon and threatened them. The people of Ammon paid no heed to them and continued to minister and administer to the poor. However, the Zoramites just could not let it go. They mixed with the Lamanites and stirred the Lamanites up to anger and caused war between the Nephites and the Lamanites. 

            The reaction of the Zoramite elite is a story for another day. Today I want to discuss the behavior of the people of Ammon and how it compares to my own words and actions. The people of Ammon immediately took in all the poor of the Zoramites without question and gave them food, clothes, and even “lands for their inheritance.” They had compassion on the refugees and ministered to them.

The poor of the Zoramites are not the only refugees in the world. There are more than 60 million refugees in the world today. They have been persecuted, experienced violence of all kinds, and saw their families threatened and/or destroyed. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have issued calls for governments to do more to help the refugees. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Governments today are not responding to the refugee problem urgently enough, nor on a large enough scale.” He also said, “We need to encourage local citizens to welcome (refugees) into their everyday lives.” 

            As I pondered and reflected on the difference between the response of the people of Ammon and my response to the people coming to the United States and claiming asylum, I wondered what caused it. Why am I not able to open my heart and home to welcome the refugees of my day as the people of Ammon did with the poor Zoramites?

            I began to rationalize. The people of Ammon were welcoming a group of people who had recently been converted to their same church. They were welcoming people who had made the same covenants. Most of the refugees coming into the United States are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ, and thousands, if not millions, of them do not even believe in the same God as I do.

            The Zoramite poor people were cast out of their land; therefore, they could not stay in their homes and attempt to make a better life. They were forced to go somewhere else. Most of the people coming across our southern border come by their own free will. They were not forced to leave their homes, but they were searching for a better life for themselves and their families. No one should be condemned for wanting to create a better life, but they should respect the laws of all nations, particularly the one that they want to enter.

            The poor people of the Zoramites must have assimilated into the main body of Nephites because we hear no more about them as a distinct group of people. I believe that it is safe to say that they willingly supported the Nephites and may have even fought against the Zoramites and Lamanites who came to destroy them and their new friends. 

Many, if not most, of the millions of “refugees” coming to the United States do not want to assimilate, and some of them do not bother to learn the English language. They maintain their separate groups and speak their separate languages. Some even want to change the laws of America to the laws of the nations from which they come. It seems that they desire to make the United States into the type of nations from which they “escaped” rather than assimilate and make the United States a better and stronger nation. It seems that they are here to take advantage of what we have worked and sacrificed to build but are unwilling to help us continue to become even stronger and better.

Each government of the world has the right to maintain its own sovereignty and borders. Yet, each one also has responsibility to rescue refugees from other nations, and Elder Holland says that they need to do more. However, no government needs to -- or should -- take in more refugees than it can handle appropriately and still meet the needs of its own people. The main responsibility of each government is to meet the safety and security needs of its own citizens.

The challenge for me is that I, along with all other Christians, am charged with treating all people as I would like to be treated, or as I would treat the Savior. Even though the “refugees” of our day may not be the same caliber of people as the converted Zoramites, they are still children of the same Heavenly Father and my brothers and sisters. 

I am charged with the responsibility to treat all people as the Savior would treat

them. It should not matter to me whether they assimilate, learn the language, belong to the same Church, or even learn to love my country. My responsibility is to care for them in the best way that I can. If they do not deserve kind and loving treatment but seek to take advantage of those offering it, they will be held accountable by God. In the end, they will get what they deserve, whether it is good or evil – just as all of us will.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Using Children as Lab Rats

            Families, communities, and nations will be stronger if parents are aware and active in preventing government-sponsored schools from using their children as lab rats. It seems that the American Psychological Association is promoting “polyamory,” “swinging,” and “relationship anarchy” in public schools and saying that it is “healthy and ethical” to do so.

            Cathy Ruse is a senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council. She published an article titled “California Public Schools Promote Polyamory for Preteens”  at The Daily Signal. She writes about a teacher in California who accidentally discovered “LGBT Consensual Non-Monogamy Task Force” while reviewing California’s “health” lesson requirements for the next term. Her research led to the American Psychological Association.

California instructs teachers to talk to youngsters about sex “partners.” They are to avoid terms like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” because “some students may be non-monogamous.” This is in the lesson plan for 12-year-olds….

The Education Department tells teachers that 14-year-olds “may have various gender identities and sexual orientations.” Indeed, “there are an infinite number of ways an individual can express their individuality and sense of self.” …

“Polysexual” and “pansexual” are “common” sexual orientations for high schoolers, teachers are told. But they are to keep in mind that “gender and sexuality are often fluid and do not always fit neatly into these categories.”

            If you think that California is the only state that are “intentionally sexualizing kids,” you are wrong. Ruse states that “The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network admitted” to The Washington Post last year that schools in northern Virginia are being used as “laboratories” to promote LGBT policies.

After reading my column, a mom in Fairfax wrote to me about the “thruples” and “quadruples” [rhymes with couples] her kids encountered at a Fairfax County high school. These are polyamorous groups of three or four.

“These groups are allowed to openly ‘be together’ (hold hands, kiss, wrap arms, etc.), just as standard couples are in the halls,” she said.

She also told me there are “furries.” Rhymes with insane. Poor souls who believe they are animals and self-identify as such. “This year, we have some cats and a fox.”

There is a very good chance that most moms and dads are not even remotely aware of the insanity going on in government schools today. None of it is by accident. All of it is by design. All of it funded by you and me.

Children are being used as lab rats in a social experiment. Without the consent of their parents. But with the encouragement and approval of the American Psychological Association.

            Isaiah warns us against those who “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Ruse suggests something similar when she states, “Sickness is health, bad is good, wrong is right. And there is no tolerance for those who might disagree.”  

            Approximately "86 percent" of American children and youth attend government-sponsored schools, and they are sent to school by their parents to gain an education in order to become successful in life. However, the rising generation are being “educated” in ways that most parents would disapprove. With Ruse, I say that it is time to “take back our public schools” and to “rescue these children.” There is no time to waste!

            Common sense tells us that the following quote, attributed by Ruse to Abraham Lincoln, is true: “The philosophy of the school room in one generation, will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Do we want the leaders of our communities, states, and nations of tomorrow to be taught the same type of insanity that is rampant in schools in California and northern Virginia? Of course, the answer is “NO” for most parents and grandparents.

            Such indoctrination is becoming entrenched in many schools. Anyone who desires to stop this insanity must act immediately. The first step in taking back our schools is to become aware that such garbage is being taught in them. The second step is to educate ourselves in exactly what is being taught in our local schools and to teach correct principles to our children and youth. The third step is to spread the word as quickly and as far as we can. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by fighting back against such indoctrination, but we must do it now!