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, January 31, 2020

How Safe Are Children and Teens at School?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when the rising generation is well educated, and good schools are important to good education. Parents of my day looked for schools with good teachers, strong academics, and their choice of extracurricular activities. 

Today’s parents must add safety to their list. They want to know that their children will be safe at school. Jude Schwalbach, research assistant in education policy at The Heritage Foundation had this to say about school safety: 

Safety is a growing concern for parents. A 2017 Gallup survey found that 3 in 10 parents are concerned for their children’s safety at school. And it’s no wonder, given what kids are experiencing.

In the District of Columbia, more than 30% of middle school students reported being bullied at school, nearly 10% of high school students say they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, and more than 15% experienced physical fights on school property.

Another 10% said they missed school because they felt unsafe at school or during their commute.

            How are children or teens supposed to concentrate on education when they are concerned about their safety? Parents are concerned, and policymakers have taken notice of their concern. According to Schwalbach, there are several possibilities being discussed. Some of the proposals are: 

1. Child safety accounts for “children who are the victims of bullying, sexual harassment, or violence to pay for tuition, tutoring, books, transportation, and therapy” enable them to move to another school.

2. School choice options that provide “vouchers to children from low-income families to attend a private school of choice.”

3. “Charter schools are another solution for parents looking for safe schools.”

            With so many parents concerned about the safety of their children at school, it might be well to pay attention to this quote in Schwalbach’s article: “Parents generally have both greater interest in their children’s schooling and more intimate knowledge of their capacities and needs than anyone else” (Milton Friedman in “Free to Choose”).

            If policymakers trust parents to do what is best for their children, they will develop policies that will allow parents to make the best choices for educating their children. When children and teens are safe at school and become well educated, families, communities, and nations are stronger.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

How Do We Protect Freedom of Religion?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns freedom of religion. According to Mary Margaret Olohan, Attorney General William Barr said that “militant secularists” are imposing their non-religious values upon people of faith. In an interview on The Catholic Channel, he said that religion is being “driven out of the marketplace of ideas” as well as “an organized, militant secular effort to drive religion out of our lives.”

The reason [the Framers] felt they could grant so much freedom in the Constitution and only provide for limited government was because they felt that religion was there, and the people were religious people who could largely govern themselves. All the founders, and as you pointed out earlier to me, Your Eminence, [French diplomat and historian] Alexis de Tocqueville, observed the centrality of religion, to the health of American democracy.

We believe in the separation of church and state, but what permits a limited government and minimal command and control of the population, and allows people to have freedom of choice in their lives and trust in the people, is the fact that they are a people that are capable of disciplining themselves according to moral value.

            Barr’s statement sounds a whole lot like the words of John Adams who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

            According to Adams and Barr, the Constitution cannot govern people who do not believe and follow a higher power. If we continue to allow militant secularists to destroy our foundation of faith, the Constitution will have no power over them. We must maintain a place for religion in our marketplace of ideas.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Is Peace Possible between Israel and Palestinians?

            Yesterday President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a peace plan, and the Palestinian Authority immediately rejected it. Yet, there is still a chance that the peace plan will work.

            James Carafano, a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, says that “there are good reasons for the U.S. administration to offer a peace plan and offer it now.” He described the President’s peace plan as “a Marshall Plan to help the Palestinian people.” As you may know, the Marshall Plan was used to rebuild Western Europe after the devastation of World War II. Trump is offering a huge investment opportunity for the Palestinians, money that their leaders are rejecting.

            Trump made plain that the investment comes with some concessions. There is “a long list of compromises” from both the Israelis and the Palestinians and “some significant land concessions from the Palestinians.” Carafano calls the peace plan “a serious plan” because it was put together with a lot of time and effort. He says that the obvious question is “Why bother? And why now?” He continues by partially answering the questions.

The administration started with some bold and radical assumptions. The most important, and likely the most accurate, was that it was stupid for the U.S. to seem like a neutral disinterested party. Nobody ever believed that.

Israel has been and remains a vital American ally in the region. The U.S. will always put the security of Israel first; that is just a reality. Washington isn’t about to support a plan that is going to hamstring or undermine the capacity of Israel to defend itself.

Trump also rightly rejected the fiction that a Palestinian-Israeli peace was key to solving all the problems of the Middle East – that somehow, as soon as two-state solution was signed, the entire region would blossom into a tranquil land of milk and honey.

Unrestrained by the great myths of the peace process, the president could set about putting forth a realistic plan. Here is why unveiling that plan now makes sense.

There will be no peace as long as groups like Fatah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad call the shots. They have a vested interest in preventing peace…. There is no money and power for them in peace.

The genius of this plan is it makes clear to the people in the streets the future they could have if they take control of their future away from the likes of Fatah. It creates pressure for political transformation.

Couple that with the enormous pressure the U.S. is placing on the Iranian regime…. Essentially, the U.S. administration is trying to lay the groundwork for a political environment in which Palestinian leaders might one day put the Palestinian people first – not last.

Laying this deal out there also makes clear to America’s Arab friends and allies that the U.S. is serious about continuing to engage in the Middle East and be part of the solution….

Finally, let’s be honest: This plays well here at home. The plan is yet another reminder that this president is not an isolationist….

            Will the people known as Palestinians put enough pressure on their political leaders to accept the plan? We do not know the result, but we can rejoice in the fact that Trump has offered them a way to a better life.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

How Do We Stop Another Holocaust?

            On January 27, 2020, the world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It was a world-wide commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was a day to remember the six million European Jews who were murder by Nazis during World War II. It is a day that reminded the world of its commitment to “Never again” allow such a thing as the Holocaust or its terrible tragedies. 

            Even though people worldwide declared that they would never forget the genocide of the Holocaust, the rising generation is graduating from schools without any knowledge of what happened to the Jews during World War II. Anti-Semitism is rising in Europe and in the United States. According to an article in The Daily Signal by David Closson and Arielle Del Turco, “70% of French Jews say they have been victims of at least one anti-Semitic incident.” Americans should understand that it is not just a French or European problem. Anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head in the United States too. Closson and Del Turco continue:

But anti-Semitism is not a solely European problem. In December, attacks against the Jewish community surged in New York and New Jersey. A fatal shooting at a kosher deli in Jersey City, a stabbing in the home of a rabbi during Hanukkah, and multiple attacks against Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn are just a few examples of resurgent anti-Semitism in America….

            As the world renews its commitment to protect its people from another Holocaust, all of us should remember that Jews are human beings who deserve to be treated like any other human being and Israel as a nation must be allowed to exist.  Vice President Mike Pence joined leaders from nearly fifty nations in Jerusalem last week. In his speech he remembered the victims, the survivors of the concentration camps, the liberators, and the mortal angels who saved many lives by putting their own lives in danger.  Close to the end of his talk, Pence said the following.

Today we remember not simply the liberation of Auschwitz but also the triumph of freedom – a promise fulfilled, a people restored to their rightful place among the nations of the Earth. And we remember – we remember the long night of that past, the survivors and the faces of those we lost, the heroes who stood against those evil times. And today we gather nearly 50 nations strong, here in Jerusalem, to say with one voice: Never again.

            What do we mean when we say, “never again?” What are you willing to do to stay up to anti-Semitism? How do you treat Jews or people of any other race? We must all be aware of how we think, feel, and act and then make any corrections necessary. The world must never again see another atrocity like the Holocaust!      

Monday, January 27, 2020

Who Is Kobe Bryant?

            My VIP for this week is Kobe Bryant, the NBA legend who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. He played for 20 years for the Los Angeles Lakers and was still involved in basketball at the time of his death. The crash victims included Bryant’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Gianna. The crash occurred in foggy conditions. Flames from the helicopter started a fire on the ground. 

The pilot and eight passengers were on board the helicopter. Among those who died in the crash were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Alyssa. 

Bryant was on his way to coach a basketball team in Malibu at the Mamba Cup

tournament for boys’ and girls’ travel teams. The sports world and Americans are in mourning. May God bless the survivors as well as the families and friends of the deceased.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Do You Support the March for Life?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the fact that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the right of all Americans, born and unborn. The March for Life drew tens of thousands of people to Washington, D.C., on Friday. This annual march is in its 47th year and seems to be drawing more young people each year.

            Nick Sandmann and four bus loads of students from Covington Catholic High School attended the annual event despite their bad experience last year. Sandmann said that he would not miss the event. Their time in the national’s capital apparently went well this year, but one of the buses was in an accident on the trip home. A car going the wrong way hit the bus head on, and the driver of the car was killed. The bus driver and others were injured. I hope that the students will attend the March for Life without concern for something else going wrong!

            This site assembled photos of many of the best signs at the 2020 March for Life. Notice how many young people are holding the signs and how many of them could have been victims of abortion!

            President Donald Trump spoke at the 2020 March for Life. He is the first President of the United States to attend the march in person. He and other Presidents spoke by video or phone at previous marches. This site carries the President’s speech at the event. He welcomed “tens of thousands” of high school and college students to the march. “Young people are the heart of the March for Life. It is your generation that is making America a pro-family, pro-life country.” The life movement is led by strong women, amazing faith leaders, and brave students who carry on the legacy of pioneers before us to raise the conscience of a nation and uphold the rights of our citizens. You embrace mothers with care and compassion. You are powered by prayer and motivated by pure, unselfish love…. Every child is a sacred gift of life.”

Saturday, January 25, 2020

What Doctrines Are Taught by the Second Article of Faith?

            Have you ever considered the doctrines taught by the Articles of Faith? I did not until I took a class on them, and I am amazed at the number of doctrines taught in the simple statements that make up the Articles of Faith.

            Articles of Faith 1:2 states: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” That simple statement means that we are born innocent and into innocence and are responsible for only the things that we do wrong. Three doctrines taught by this statement are The Fall, Agency, and Personal Accountability.

            As I studied the three doctrines associated with the second Article of Faith, I gained much more understanding about it. Here are a few of the insights that I gained.

            I will first discuss The Fall. I appreciate the way that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that The Fall was a part of God’s plan for His children. This tells us that it was not an accident or just a happenstance but was meant to be. The Church of Jesus Christ also teaches that The Fall happened in two directions (True to the Faith). The earth and everything on it fell downward to a telestial level and were no longer in God’s presence. In other words, The Fall brought both spiritual and physical death into the world. However, mankind fell forward in that we received the opportunity to come to earth to gain physical bodies and to learn and progress to become like Heavenly Father. 

In 2 Nephi 2:25 Lehi taught that Adam fell to give mankind the opportunity of a mortal life and to have joy. We know that joy comes from working and progressing toward a goal. We also know that we receive joy from our family relationships. Even though we live in a fallen world and are constantly “tested by the difficulties of life and the temptations of the adversary” (Gospel Topics), we can use our mortal lives to work toward our full potential as divine sons and daughters of God. This means that The Fall was a good thing and that we should be grateful to Adam and Eve for making such a difficult decision. 

The more I learn about the Fall and it being a fall forward, the more I love Adam and Eve for making their difficult choice. Many people blame Eve, but I honor her courage. I also honor Adam for thinking through the problem and making the correct choice. Eve understood that the fruit was good for food and that it looked good. She believed that the fruit would give her wisdom (Moses 4:12). We do not know how much Eve understood before she partook of the fruit, but we know from her statements that she soon gained great understanding about the importance of what she did. We know also that the ability to know good from evil (Moses 4:28) is important to our growth.

The second doctrine is agency. I find it amazing that Heavenly Father trusted us enough to give us the gift of agency prior to our proving ourselves worthy of it. It is a gift that was given to us in our pre-mortal life. It is gift that is ours to use in our daily life no matter where we live or in what the conditions. Even in the German concentration camps, some of the people understood that they could still choose their attitude about being there. Satan understands the importance of this gift for our eternal progression and continually seeks to destroy it (Moses 4:3).

Jacob taught the importance of agency when he said that there must be “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). He also taught that Adam had some understanding of the importance of the Fall and partook of the fruit that he might have posterity (2 Nephi 2:25).  Jacob states plainly that we can use our agency to choose to follow the Savior to “liberty and eternal life,” or to follow Satan to “captivity and death” (2 Nephi 2:27).

As a parent, one of the most difficult things that I did was to allow my children to use their agency. It was not too difficult when they were choosing their pants and shirts because it did not matter whether they chose as I would choose. However, they did not stay little for long, and their choices became more important. Thus, allowing agency became more difficult.

The more I learn about agency, the more I marvel that Heavenly Father trusted us enough to give it to us. Usually people are given great gifts after they have earned them in some way, but Heavenly Father gave us agency before we had proven ourselves. We were given agency in the pre-mortal world, and we brought it with us to this world. We know that we exercised our agency wisely because we are here on earth in physical bodies (True to the Faith). We are told that those who used their agency to rebel against Heavenly Father were cast out without physical bodies. He is so committed to allowing His children to use agency that He allowed one-third part of His children to rebel and receive much less than He desired for them. 

We learn in 2 Nephi 2:27 that we can use our agency to “choose liberty and eternal life” or to “choose captivity and death.” That choice is so much greater than choosing the color of shirt to wear today or what meal to order at McDonalds. Even though agency was given to us freely, we can lose it by the choices we make. We lose agency in many ways, such as going into debt and losing financial freedom, but we lose agency in more important ways by breaking the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and other commandments.

The third doctrine is personal accountability. God gave us agency in our pre-mortal life, and The Fall gives us many opportunities to use it in this fallen world. However, we have full accountability for the choices that we make. We are accountable for choices that lead us into sin, and we are also accountable for how we use our abilities and time (True to the Faith). Abraham 3:25 tells us that God created the earth and gave us agency in order to “prove” us. This is the reason why He gave us agency before we earned the gift. We must have freedom to choose for ourselves before we can be held accountable for our choices.

Heavenly Father allows us to make choices and to act as we choose. However, He cannot change the consequences. We will move toward “happiness, peace, and eternal life” when we make good choices, and we move toward “heartaches and misery when we choose to sin” (True to the Faith). I will close with a powerful statement made by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles about personal accountability.

[Personal accountability] has been under assault since before the creation. We must defend accountability against persons and programs that would — sometimes with the best of intentions — make us dependent. And we must defend it against our own inclinations to avoid the work that is required to cultivate talents, abilities and Christ-like character….

Who bears responsibility for what happens in our lives?

When things turn bad, there is a tendency to blame others or even God. Sometimes a sense of entitlement arises, and individuals or groups try to shift responsibility for their welfare to other people, or to governments. In spiritual matters some suppose that men and women need not strive for personal righteousness because God loves and saves us ‘just as we are.’

[God intends for us to use the moral agency given to us in our pre-mortal lives.]

 It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama,” he said. “God will not live our lives for us, nor control us as if we were His puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of ‘puppet master’ in God’s place.

Friday, January 24, 2020

How Do You Share Your Religious Beliefs with Your Children?

            Families are stronger when they share the same religious beliefs, and strong families strengthen their communities and nations. It is a natural thing for religious parents to desire their children to follow in their religious footsteps. These same parents walk a straight line when sharing religious truths with their children because they want to convince them to follow but do not want to use coercion in doing so.

            A group of researchers in BYU’s School of Family Life conducted a study and recently published their paper in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. This study built on the American Families of Faith Project that has been ongoing for 20 years. The project interviewed about 200 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families who were identified by their leaders as good examples of their beliefs. 

            According to Lois M. Collins, the paper shares how religious parents of all Abrahamic faiths face the same struggle. The study shows that the parental approach and good relationships are important. Parents who are warm and loving rather than controlling are more successful, particularly if they set good examples, outline expectations, and respect the views of their children. Parents should focus on the relationship and remember the importance of agency.

            The paper also documents that religious influence in families travels in both directions. Parents can transmit religious beliefs to their children, but children can also influence their parents. There is more unity in families that share the same religious beliefs, and unity brings greater strength to families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Will Trump Draw More People to the March for Life?

            Tomorrow will be the annual March for Life, which just happens to be an enormous march in Washington, D.C. There may have been 200,000-300,000 marchers in 2019, and the march this year may be just as huge.

            President Donald Trump is a pro-life president. He addressed the March for Life event previously by video, but he plans to present live remarks for the 2020 event. If he does attend, he will be the first sitting President to attend the March for Life personally. Will his personal attendance increase the number of marchers? Only time will tell.

            One thing is certain. President Trump is committed to pro-life values. Even though he has done much to protect the unborn, associating personally with the right-to-life marchers may increase his passion. Steven Ertelt included the following paragraphs in his article about Trump.

Last year, Trump told thousands of pro-life advocates at the March for Life that he plans to veto any bill that would promote abortion.

“Today I have signed a letter to Congress to make clear that if they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto,” Trump said. “And we have the support to uphold those vetoes.”

“We know that every life has meaning and that every life is worth protecting… 

“As president, I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence, the right to life,” Trump said in remarks recorded in the Oval Office, a right he said extended to “unborn children.”

            Personally, I hope that the size of the marching crowd doubles and even triples from last year. I cannot be there in person, but I am grateful for those who choose to march to protect the lives of unborn children.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Who Is Sharyl Attkisson?

            My VIP for this week is Sharyl Attkisson who has been described as a “National news media figure and multiple award-winning, straight-shooting investigative reporter.” The Obama administration “illegally and unconstitutionally” hacked into her computer as well as trespassed at her home. She recently refiled a lawsuit against the federal government for the bad behavior of several “high profile Deep State officials.” Mark J. Fitzgibbons wrote the following about Attkisson’s first lawsuit.

Attkisson’s first lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice for failing to expressly name the government spies and conspirators who hacked her computers and remotely planted classified materials, obviously to set her up. The Department of Justice, where [Rod] Rosenstein worked, had repeatedly obstructed Attkisson’s attempts to get information through litigation discovery. The court dismissed nevertheless, and even gave immunity to former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, whom Attkisson did name in her first lawsuit.

One federal court of appeals judge even called this dismissal of her lawsuit “Kafkaesque” given how well-nigh impossible it was for her case to proceed under our justice system’s rules and judicial interpretations rigged in ways that protect government lawbreaking….

            Given the problems with her first lawsuit, why did Attkisson refile it on January 10? A whistleblower came forward with information, including the fact that he was “involved with hacking her computers.” In addition, the whistleblower identified “other government officials complicit in the very disturbing spying on her. The refiled complaint quotes government forensics experts as being ‘quite shocked,’ demonstrating some within the government Intelligence Community thankfully have consciences.”

            Why did the Obama administration decide to spy on Attkisson? She was relentless with her “reporting on the gun-running scandal called Fast and Furious, then continued through her reporting on the Benghazi disaster.”

            It appears that Donald Trump was not the only person on whom the Obama administration spied. Sources within the government – some of those with consciences – said that Attkisson was “just one of hundreds of journalists or other American citizens who have been victims of such illegal spying.” Maybe you and I were included in the elite group! I hope Attkisson wins and wins big! Since Attkisson is funding her own costly lawsuit, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help her. If you so choose, you can link to it through Fitzgibbons article here

Sunday, January 19, 2020

How Long Will the Impeachment Trial Last?

            Today was the first day of the impeachment trial for President Donald Trump. Senators were sworn in as jurors and opening statements were made last week, but today the trial began. Senators are under confinement for the trial. There is no allowance for cellphones, talking, or escape. The Senators will sit at their desks as House prosecutors and Trump’s defense team present their arguments. 

In fact, the following statement will be made at the beginning of each day of the trial: “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment.” This proclamation was first made in 1868 at the trial of President Andrew Johnson. It was heard again at the trial of President Bill Clinton. President Trump is only the third President to be impeached, but he is the first to be impeached without committing a crime. 

The House of Representatives impeached him for purely political reasons. They know that they cannot beat him in November 2020, so they are trying to weaken him with impeachment. I wonder how long the trial will last before the Senators get antsy and want it over. I wonder if it will last long enough to even call witnesses. I hope that Americans citizens are watching and taking notes. How can anyone in their right minds support the Democrat Party after watching the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing and the House of Representatives impeachment circus?

Do You Believe the Second Amendment Is in Danger?

            The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution declares that the government cannot “infringe” on the right to keep and bear arms. Yet, Democrats in Virginia, with their new power of total control over the state government, are trying to do ban firearms. Numerous counties have declared themselves to be sanctuary counties.

            Paul Pedard said that “100,000 Virginia gun owners” have attended county and town meetings rallying for “gun sanctuaries.” Now they are “bombarding” the Democrats in the state legislature. According to Pedard, Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is leading the sanctuary movement, said the following:

Now it’s time. Now we’re going to melt down their phones, explode their inboxes on their email. We’re going to bombard them more than they’ve been bombarded.

            Van Cleave sent an alert to his supporters to lobby lawmakers in Richmond who are against gun control. The group is organizing its annual “lobbying day” that promises to bring buses of supporters from all over Virginia and at least 13 others states with some of them coming from Texas, Florida, and Connecticut. For more information, see Pedard’s article here

            The Governor of Virginia imposed a ban on firearms at the planned pro-gun rally and a judge upheld the ban when gun owners sought an injunction against it. It is obvious that the Second Amendment is in danger in Virginia. How is it faring in other states? Liberals just cannot wrap their heads around the idea that people can own firearms and use them lawfully.

Added later:

            The rally at the Virginia capital was massive with thousands of gun rights supporters on hand. They had a message for legislatures about their new gun bans: We will not comply. See this articlefor more information.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

How Much Do You Know about God?

            Much of the world as well as many Christians do not know or understand the true nature of God. On a beautiful spring morning in 1820 – some people believe that it was March 26 – young, fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to ask God which church he should join. He came out of that experience with more knowledge about God than all the religious experts of the day. Here is the event in Joseph’s own words, which can be found in Joseph Smith-History 1:15-17.

15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God….

16 … I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

17 … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

            In an instant Joseph learned that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate Personages and They have glorified bodies of flesh and bone. Joseph immediately shared his experience with his family, and he shared it a few days later with a preacher. I find it interesting that his family – the people who knew him best – accepted what he told them. However, the preacher did not. The preacher told Joseph that his experience was of the devil and that “there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days” (verse 21). 

            Being just “an obscure boy” Joseph was surprised when there arose “a great deal of prejudice” against him. The prejudice continued to increase and became “bitter persecution” (verse 22). The persecution followed Joseph Smith until he and his brother Hyrum were killed.

            Despite the persecution that he, his family, and his followers – many of them my ancestors – faced, he never changed his story. He went to his death testifying that he had seen God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

            The persecution seemed to come from two false ideas: (1) There were no more visions or revelations after the days of the Apostles and (2) Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were one entity without body, parts, or passions. Joseph’s experience, known as the First Vision, proved both ideas to be false.

            This year marks 200 years since the First Vision. Millions of people testify that the Holy Ghost bore witness to them that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I add my witness that Joseph Smith is a prophet through whom God restored the true concept of the Godhead. He saw two Personages -- the Father and the Son, and he heard the Father introduce His Son. He spoke with Jesus Christ and gained the knowledge that he sought. Here is the testimony of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the living Apostles of Jesus Christ, to close my message.

Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life. (See Ensign, November 2007.)

Friday, January 17, 2020

How Do We Learn to Listen with Love?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals learn to listen to each other with love. Listening with love makes a difference in the willingness of the speaker to discuss problems because no one wants to share deep feelings with a person who does not care enough to listen. 

An important thing to remember is that we can hear someone say something but not really be listening to them. Nicholeen Peck posted an article titled “10 Lessons for Listening with Love,” and she gives some powerful reasons for doing so.

1. Focus your whole attention on them. [We cannot be multi-tasking and truly listen.]

2. Silence is okay. [Both the speaker and the listener sometimes need time to process thoughts.]

3. Sometimes just think but don’t say. [The speaker will know that we are listening to them if we are looking at them.]

4. Look at the person. [We can show that we love them and care about them with our eyes.]

5. Judging first is always a trap. [Allow the speaker to tell their full story and give all the facts before jumping to a conclusion.]

6. Analyze their words before planning your words. [Spend some time thinking about their words before speaking.]

7. Value them and their experiences. [When we listen with love, we let our loved one know that they have value in our life, and we allow them to fully share their experience without jumping in to tell one of our own.]

8. Recognize that when they say something, they might have just heard it for the first time and could change their mind later. [Sometimes we need to put an experience into words before we can see it clearly.

9. Ask questions. [Your questions can show that you are listening and that you do care.]

10. Repeat back what they said. [When we repeat back key points, it shows that we listened to what they were saying, and it gives the speaker time to consider what else they wish to say.]

            There are numerous relationships that can be strengthened by listening with love. How many wives or husbands long for their spouse to truly listen to them? How many teenagers believe that their parents do not understand them? How many children misbehave in order to get the attention of their parents? Listening with love can solve many problems in a family. It can also make other problems easier to bear. I know that we can learn to listen with love by following the suggestions above. I know that listening with love will strengthen families, and I know that strong families strengthen their communities and nations.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Do We Need Governmental Permission to Pray in Public?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns freedom to pray in public. President Donald Trump says that students should be allowed to pray. He recently held an event in the Oval Office showing his support for students. He told the group of students and others, “You have the right to pray and that’s a very important and powerfulright.” 

            Trump has a prayer plan that will protect prayer in schools without changing existing policy. It focuses on “ensuring current protections are understood and enforced.”  There is an improved process for students and teachers to file complaints and a request for “educational leaders to confirm they comply with rules related to school prayer.” Trump stated, “We will not let anyone push God from the public square. We will uphold religious liberty for all.”

            Even though school-sponsored prayers were outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1962, student can still “pray privately in the classroom and elsewhere on school property.” They can also “reference their faith in homework assignments and form religious clubs.” I wonder how this new “freedom to pray” will affect school activities when students want to pray.

            I was in school in 1962 when the Supreme Court reached its decision on prayer. I do not remember the new law affecting my time in school. In fact, I do not remember participating in prayer at any time during my childhood and youth. We did pray in high school in our released-time religion classes, but those classes were not held on public property. Even though there were no school-sponsor prayers in my memory, I feel certain that there were many private prayers being said.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What Happens Now?

            Today the House of Representatives voted 228-193, almost along party lines, to send formal articles of impeachment to the Senate. The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump were then ceremoniously carried across the U.S. Capitol Building to the Senate. After ending at the back of the Senate chamber, the Clerk of the House made the announcement: “The House has passed House Resolution 798, a resolution appointing and authorizing managers of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, President of United States.”

            The Senate will become an impeachment court at noon tomorrow with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. He will administer the oath to senators who will be the jurors. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed seven Representatives to act as prosecutors with two of them being Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.

            Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that the Senate would rise above party factions to do what is best for our nation. Only time will tell whether the clown show continues in the Senate, but Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney will certainly add interest to the entertainment by their shenanigans.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Is the Equal Rights Amendment Alive?

            In the 1970s a radical constitutional amendment known as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was passed by Congress and sent to the States to be ratified. Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative activist, and her followers killed the passage of the ERA. At least, the amendment was declared dead. Now there are questions about it.

            Since Democrats took over both houses of the state legislature, they have pushed several radical ideas. One of those ideas is the Equal Rights Amendment. The Virginia Senate sent the amendment and passed it to the house where it could soon pass. If Virginia passes the amendment, it would be the 38th state to ratify it. According to Thomas Jipping, Heritage Foundation legal scholar, the key question concerns the life of the amendment.

The issue is whether the 1972 ERA remains pending before the states. If ERA advocates are correct that it is, then additional states may ratify it. If the [Congressional Research Service] is correct that it is not, then additional states cannot ratify it because the 1972 ERA no longer exists.

            Since Congress has authority to set the deadline and that deadline has passed, the ERA is effectively dead and anyone wanting a new ERA would have to start from the beginning. However, we have many rogue judges in our nations, and anyone of them could say that the ratification was good.

            I remember the turmoil in our nation during the ratification process of the ERA and the relief when the deadline passed without the amendment being ratified. It seems that we must deal with a terrible amendment once again. Jarrett Stepman wrote about the bad merits of the amendment. 

The ERA reads, in part, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

This may sound good and reasonable, but the Constitution already protects the rights of women as it does men. So why pass it?

            If equality before the law is already protected by the Constitution, proponents of the amendment has other reasons for wanting the ERA. Inez Stepman wrote in the New York Post that one purpose may be to “enshrine left-wing gender dogmas into the highest law of the land.” Jarrett Stepman says that the ERA could “produce a host of negative consequences for the country” and lists four “potential outcomes.”

1. Women must sign up for the draft. Perhaps one of the clearest results of the ERA would be that it would almost be impossible to exclude women from the draft….

2. Disallow Same-Sex Bathrooms. Another potential consequence of the ERA is, depending on legal interpretation, it could make gender-segregated bathrooms illegal in public buildings….

3. End the Use of Women-Only Shelters. The ERA would put government-funded women-only institutions at risk, much the same way it would threaten unisex bathrooms…. It would be particularly problematic for facilities designed for battered women and those harmed by domestic violence….

4. Government Funding of Abortion. Potentially the most significant effect of passing the ERA is that it could potentially enshrine the “right” to taxpayer funding of abortion into the Constitution....

            The ERA is proposed to protect the rights of women, but it will do more harm than good. That is the most important reason why it did not pass in the 1970s. Women were wise enough to vote against it then. Are the women of today just as wise? We may have an opportunity to see. I hope that the ERA is dead and buried!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Who Is Nick Sandmann?

            I chose Nick Sandmann as my VIP for this week because he stood for his rights against great odds. Sandmann was just an ordinary high school student until he became famous about one year ago. He was with classmates on a visit to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. when a Native American man saw his red “Make America Great Again” hat and got in his face. 

            Sandmann did nothing wrong. He was just standing there looking at the man, but CNN and other media outlets botched the story. Last week CNN settled a lawsuit with Sandmann, but he has other media outlets and individuals on his radar. Adults and businesses tried to ruin this young man’s life, and he is making them pay. I say, “Good for him!”

            The sad thing is that CNN and other outlets never learn. They do not change their ways and merely find another victim to harass. Maybe if a few more people stood firm as Nick Sandmann did, the media would get the message that their tactics do not work.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Did Trump Have Authority to Kill Iranian Terrorist?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns authority to launch military strikes against enemies of the United States. According to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, “the distribution of war powers between Congress and the President” is one of the most “consistently and heatedly debated” constitutional issues. So, we should not be surprised that Democrat leaders in Congress are upset about President Donald Trump’s strike against Iran’s chief terrorist.

… As a matter of history and policy, it is generally accepted that the executive takes the lead in the actual conduct of war. After all, a single, energetic actor is better able to prosecute war successfully than a committee; the enemy will not wait for deliberation and consensus. At the same time, the Founders plainly intended to establish congressional checks on the executive’s war power. Between these guideposts is a question of considerable importance: Does the Constitution require the President to obtain specific authorization form Congress before initiating hostilities?

            In an ideal situation, Congress would be working with the President to do the right thing for the nation. However, we have had nothing had an “ideal day” in our nation since Trump won the 2016 presidential election. The fact is that Democrats have been fighting against Trump every day for more than three years, and they began looking for impeachable offences from day one. The political environment in Washington, D.C. made it difficult to impossible for Trump to give Congress advance notice to the drone strike. With so many people in Congress suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, how could Trump be sure that the information would not be leaked? 

            According to Lawrence B. Brennan, a professor specializing in maritime law at Fordham University Law School, in an interview with The Daily Signal, “It’s not a violation of the law. The president has the right to launch this strike. It’s a question of whether he should act without notification of Congress. Historically, presidents have given some briefing to Congress and allies ahead of time.”

            Brennan was aware of the political environment in Washington when he spoke about Trump ordering the drone strike that killed Gen. Qassim Suleimani. “The political situation right now in Washington is so confrontational, how does the White House notify the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who handled the president’s impeachment, and trust this won’t leak to the press?”

            Brennan asked a pertinent question. Would Trump be wise to trust Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) who is well known for leaking information? As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he is also one of the eight lawmakers who would be notified. Brennan said that he could argue that both sides were right. 

In fact, there are prior examples of Presidents going to Congress and allies before an attack. President Ronald Reagan did so in 1986 before bombing Libya, and dictator Moammar Gadhafi relocated and survived the attack. Did the leak come from a member of Congress? I guess that no one knows. President Bill Clinton was challenged by members of Congress in 2000 when he authorized military action in Yugoslavia with Congressional approval. 

All Americans want rules in place to control a rogue President, but we also want him to have the power to make split-second decisions, such as the one made by Trump. The War Powers Act requires that the President notify Congress within 48 hours of authorizing military action. It also requires Congressional authority for military action that lasts longer than 60 days. It also allows for a 30-day withdrawal period for military action not approved by Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on this matter and most likely would not take up such a political issue.

            Democrats claim that Trump assassinated a foreign political leader, but Cully Stimson at The Heritage Foundation said that Trump “acted lawfully in ordering the strike against Suleimani.” “This was not an assassination…. This was a lawful killing of a combatant on the battlefield who was responsible for more than 603 American deaths, according to DOD statistics, from his own militias and thousands of American deaths or injuries by his proxies.”

            The fact is that Iran has been at war against the United States since it took over the U.S. Embassy on November 4, 1979. Iran held 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage until January 20, 1981, a period of 444 days. The hostages were released only when President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. Iran was growing more aggressive, and Trump acted to stop attacks.

            Another fact is that Democrats will do anything to cause problems for Trump. They do not seem to care what is good for America. They just care about taking down Trump. If Democrats in Congress were doing their job, they most likely would have been notified. When they act like enemies to Trump, he must assume that they are enemies.