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.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Who Is Robert L. Woodson Sr?

            My VIP for this week is Robert L. Woodson Sr., an entrepreneur and veteran of the civil rights movement. He was born in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia, but he learned to work hard, had good family support, and enjoyed a good group of friends. He served in the U.S. military, attended the University of Pennsylvania, and worked for the American Enterprise Institute. He started the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in 1981 and renamed it as the Woodson Center in 2016. 

            In 2020, the Woodson Center started an initiative known as 1776 with the mission of saving our country. It gives training to local leaders to help them improve their communities. This initiative features essays by notable scholars and writers as well as curriculum and multimedia resources. It offers “perspectives that celebrate the progress America has made on delivering its promise of equality and opportunity and highlight the resilience of its people.”

            Woodson started 1776 “to counter The New York Times’ 1619 Project. The 1619 Project is “a series of essays launched a year ago this month with a very different focus: It teaches that America is defined, now and forever, by slavery.” In the lead essay for the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

            Believing that the 1619 Project inspires the “diabolical, self-destructive” idea that “all white Americans are oppressors and all black Americans are victims,” Woodson started 1776 to give a different view.

Though slavery and discrimination undeniably are a tragic part of our nation’s history,” Woodson notes, “we have made strides along its long and tortuous journey to realize its promise and abide by its founding principles.”

Woodson continues: “People are motivated to achieve and overcome the challenges that confront them when they learn about inspiring victories that are possible and are not barraged by constant reminders of injuries they have suffered.”

He points to the surprising number “of men and women who were born slaves” but “died as millionaires,” the existence of famous black business districts in cities such as Durham, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the midst of oppression and segregation, and heroes like baseball Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron as powerful examples for black uplift.

And it’s a lesson that Woodson knows firsthand.

            I like the way that Woodson recognized a problem and created a solution. Instead of allowing 1619 to change the history of America and paint the entire history and nation as racist, Woodson created 1776 to teach of the greatness of America despite some dark chapters. America was not built on slavery. America was built on freedom and the right of all Americans to pursue happiness, while trying to end slavery and oppression.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Why Should Religious People Support Donald Trump?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns faith, religion, and spirituality. The Puritans were some of the first Europeans to come to America, and they made the voyage because they wanted to practice their religion in peace. Other people came searching for a peaceful place to live according to their religion. I believe that it is safe to say that religion has always been important in America. We know that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to every American.

Before I start the discussion, I desire to define the words faith, religion, and spirituality. I believe that it is critical to understand what each of these words mean. An internet definition of faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something; strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” Synonyms include trust, belief, confidence, conviction, and expectation.

An internet definition of religion is “a belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods; a particular system of faith and worship; a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” Synonyms include faith, belief, divinity, worship, creed, teaching, doctrine, theology, religious group, faith community, church, denomination, persuasion, and affiliation.

The same source gave this definition of spirituality: “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” There were no synonyms listed for this word.

Both Democrat and Republican conventions spoke about faith and religion, and Kelsey Dallas wrote about the different approaches being made to people of faith. “The Democrat and Republican national conventions each featured prayers, pastors and multiple speakers saying, ‘God Bless America.’ But, in terms of religion-related messaging, the similarities ended there.”

Dallas stated that the “Democrats focused on Joe Biden’s personal faith and guiding values” because they wanted to emphasize that he would bring moral leadership to the office. They obviously think that Trump “has fallen short” in this category. They “appealed to worshippers fed up with injustice and corruption.”

According to Dallas, the Republicans “spoke more often and more directly about religious conflict and what faith communities could lose if Trump leaves office next year.” Their emphasis was not on Trump’s religious commitments, but it centered on “religion’s role in America’s founding and attacked the Biden campaign’s faith-related claims.” They “spoke to those who worry their way of life is under threat.”

Speakers at both conventions courted religious voters because they “represent around two-thirds of those who are registered to vote.” However, “they seemed to have very different listeners in mind.”

Both Biden and Trump identify as “religious,” but “many Americans are skeptical of their claims.” Biden claims to have been a life-long faithful Catholic who “is guided by faith.” However, this same Biden was caught numerous times plagiarizing speeches, or stealing the words and ideas of other people. This same man has been accused of being a home wrecker by Bill Stevenson, the ex-husband of Jill Biden. Stevenson said that Joe and Jill began an affair while Jill was still married to him. 

In addition, Biden supports abortion “under any circumstances” and “for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.” His views on abortion are “increasingly extreme.” His parenting also comes into question because of the acts of Hunter Biden and the rumors surrounding him. Hunter is reported to have entered an affair with the widow of his dead brother Beau. He is also said to have fathered a child out of wedlock with a stripper and then denied until a paternity test proved his fatherhood. Then there is the whole thing about deals in Ukraine and China where there are many questions about his honesty.

Many Never-Trumpers do not like Donald Trump because they do not like his morals, or his lack of morals. Everyone knows that Melania is Trump’s third wife, and he has been accused of cheating on all of them. He has never denied nor agreed with the accusations. He also has a foul mouth and says crude things. He is accused all the time of lying.

This information tells me that neither Biden nor Trump can claim the high ground on moral character. Even though their sins may be different, no one can claim that the sins of one are worse or better than the other. I am a firm believer in the principle of repentance and the basic fact that people can change and put their sins behind them.

I am not looking for a prophet of God to become President of the United States, although I agree that it would be a wonderful experience. I already have a divinely called prophet, seer, and revelator, even Russel M. Nelson, to guide me spiritually. He is assisted by fourteen other men who I also sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. In addition, I have a stake president and a bishop to guide me spiritually.

I do not expect the next President of the United States to be any better spiritually than the other presidents of my lifetime. While John F. Kennedy was President, women came to the White House for immoral activities. Lyndon B. Johnson was one of the most crude and gross men ever elected to the office of President of the United States – and rumored to be unfaithful to his wife. Bill Clinton had an affair in the Oval Office and lied about it to Congress. I do not have the words to define how corrupt Barack Obama is in my eyes. I feel certain that the other Presidents had just as many sins.

I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 because he promised to choose judges and justices who would protect and preserve the Constitution. I took him at his word, and I have been pleased with the caliber of judges and justices who have been confirmed.

I have been pleasantly surprised with many of the accomplishments of Donald Trump. One of the greatest surprises is that he has accomplished almost every single thing that he told us he would do. He has kept his word to the American people.

I believe that Trump sincerely loves America and Americans. He sees the greatness of America despite knowing that there are some dark chapters in our history. He has given away every dollar of salary paid to him over the past four years and has been said to have lost $3 million while serving as President.

I support Trump because he is pro-life. In fact, he is the most pro-life President that I have known, and he is not afraid to let the world know that he fights for Americans, born and unborn. He also fights to keep taxpayer money from paying for abortions in America and in foreign nations.

Most of all, I support Donald Trump because he is not a pushover. Previous Republican presidents have stepped backwards when Democrats pushed them, but Trump pushes back. He fights for what is right for America and Americans. He fights to protect and preserve the Constitution. He loves America, and he fights for the American people. I believe that he willingly stands between America and the people/organizations who are trying to destroy our American way of life.

There are many people in the world who claim to be “religious.” Some of them do some terrible things in the name of their “religion.” I am not impressed with people who claim to be religious but have little spirituality. The policies of the Republican Party seem to me to have more spirituality in them, such as fighting for the innocent unborn children. He seems to be as concerned about the souls of Americans as their physical circumstances.

Although I do not expect Donald Trump to be my spiritual leader, I believe that he has more spirituality than Joe Biden. I believe that he is more apt to seek guidance from Heavenly Father in making decisions for the United States. He has my support for another four years because I like his accomplishments over the past four years.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Do You Have Enough Faith to Look to the Source of Healing?

            COVID-19 originated in China in late 2019. Many scientists say that it originated in a laboratory, specifically a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Some scientists doubt that COVID-19 is a natural coronavirus, but they stop short of saying that it is manmade. China could have stopped the coronavirus in China, but the Chinese let it spread throughout the world. According to this site, about 25 million COVID-19 cases and 842,000 deaths have been reported in 214 countries and territories since December 2019 when the first cases were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

            Scientists and medical personnel have made great progress in understanding how the coronavirus spreads and how to treat it. At this point, the coronavirus is still rampaging through the world with no agreement as to the best way to treat it. However, even as the number of cases continue to climb, the rate of death is decreasing. High percentages (in the 99.9 percent range) in each age group that get the disease seem to get over it with no ill effects. However, some people develop long-lasting health problems, and some people die from it.

            Nations throughout the world have used various degrees of isolation, physical distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks. These practices seem to have some affect on keeping people healthy, but there is no certain cure for the disease. Knowing what you know about COVID-19, how willing are you to do something simple to be healed from this terrible disease? Numbers 21:6-9 tells of an experience of the Israelites where they faced a serious problem and were promised healing if they did one simple thing.

6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

            The people were experiencing a difficult time because poisonous serpents were biting them. The Lord, through Moses, provided a way to heal them. The only thing that the people had to do was to look at the brass serpent on a pole that was created by Moses. If you were dying from a bite by a poisonous serpent, would you be willing to look at the brass serpent on a pole?

            Nephi, a prophet in ancient America, taught his people that the brass serpent on a pole represented the Savior hanging on the cross. (See 2 Nephi 25:20.) Just as the Israelites would be healed if they looked at the brass serpent, we can be healed of whatever afflicts us if we will look to Jesus Christ.

20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.

            Nephi was not the only ancient prophet who taught that the brass serpent represented Jesus Christ. Alma taught the people in his day of Jesus Christ, and he also taught why some Israelites would not look at the brass serpent. (See Alma 33:19-22.)

19 Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live.

20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them.

21 O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting bout your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?

22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise gain from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.

            At a time of great wickedness in his society, another prophet with the name of Nephi also taught his people to look to the Son of God with faith. He added that “all the holy prophets” testified of Jesus Christ. (See Helaman 8:13-16.)

13 But, behold, ye not only deny my words, but ye also deny all the words which have been spoken by our fathers, and also the words which were spoken by this man, Moses, who had such great power given unto him, yea, the words which he hath spoken concerning the coming of the Messiah.

14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.

15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.

16 And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham.

            Nephi continued by saying that many prophets since Abraham have also testified that Jesus Christ would come to redeem His people. Nephi used this story about Moses and the brass serpent to emphasize that we “should look upon the Son of God with faith” and live (Helaman 8:15). Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He overcame the poisonous venom of Satan for all people who would look to Him and repent.

            Another man who I sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator spoke about the experience of Moses. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified the symbolism of the brass serpent as retold in the Book of Mormon.

Divinely deliberate and serious symbolism is involved. Without this needed elaboration, the Old Testament episode of the fiery serpents does not give us a fulness of spiritual insight that can clearly be “for our profit and learning.”(1 Nephi 19:23.) The symbolic emphasis in this episode is upon both the necessity and the simpleness of the way of the Lord Jesus. Ironically, in Moses’ time many perished anyway. The promise for the future is as follows: “And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.” (Helaman 8:15. See also 1 Nephi 17:41; Alma 37:46.)

Thus, now we have the verified and amplified analogy, thanks to the precious and plain things given to us in “these last records.”

The whole episode points toward the need to look upon Jesus Christ as our Lord, likewise a simple but unwaivable requirement. How plain and precious in any age! (Plain and Precious Things [1983], 22, as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 [2009]).

            How much faith in Jesus Christ do you have? Do you have enough faith to follow the counsel of the living prophet of God – even if it sounds too simple to be true? President Russell M. Nelson counseled us in the April 2020 General Conference to hear Jesus Christ.

Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son.

Because when we seek to hear – truly hear – His Son, we will be guided to know what to do in any circumstance….

As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truth.

            President Nelson told us that we can find peace and safety in these uncertain times by hearing the words of Jesus Christ. He suggested several places that we can go to hear the Savior.

We can go to the scriptures. They teach us about Jesus Christ and His gospel, the magnitude of His Atonement, and our Father’s great plan of happiness and redemption. Daily immersion in the word of God is crucial for spiritual survival, especially in these days of increasing upheaval. As we feast on the words of Christ daily, the words of Christ will tell us how to respond to difficulties we never thought we would face.

            Daily scripture study is a simple thing – much like having faith to look upon a serpent made of brass, but it can bring peace and comfort to our souls. President Nelson had other suggestions as to where we can hear the Savior: attending the temple, doing family history research, indexing, and heeding the words of prophets, seers, and revelators. In all we do, we should “refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost … [and] … know how the Spirit speaks to you…. do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.”

           President Nelson gave us counsel to do several small and simple things that will help us to hear the words of the Savior. Do we have enough faith to listen to his counsel? If so, we will be better prepared to look to the Savior, be completely healed, and receive eternal life. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Why Should American Exceptionalism Be Taught in America’s Classrooms?

             Families, communities, and the nation are stronger when the rising generation is taught the exceptionalism of America, and they are weaker when they are taught the nation is systemically racist. Therefore, the education system needs to be overhauled.

            President Donald Trump is calling for school choice for every child in America and a return to teaching American exceptionalism. School choice provides the right and means to make the decisions about the schools where their children will best learn and thrive. Teaching American exceptionalism is perhaps the only way of avoiding more summers watching our cities burn and our statues and monuments defaced and destroyed.

            Mike Gonzalez and Jonathan Butcher published an article about a return to teaching American exceptionalism in the classroom. They explained that older Americans are the strongest supporters for “the idea that America is an exceptional country” with “75.2% of Americans 60 and over [in agreement].” They also said that young Americans ages 18 to 29 have the weakest support for the idea that America is exceptional.

            The authors indicated that academic studies and performance are behind the above noted differences. “Our best indicators of K-12 student performance in U.S history, geography, and civics indicate that our students cannot explain the ideas behind representative government that set the U.S. apart.” They said that “test scores in those subjects had declined in recent years” to the point that “fewer than 1 in 4 students posted scores at what is reasonably considered appropriate for their grade level.”

            It seems that our schools are not successfully teaching U.S. history, geography, and civics, while “progressive media outlets are pushing the narrative that American history should be reframed around the idea that slavery be made central to U.S. history instruction.” Young Americans are obviously listening to the progressive voices as shown by the summer of riots, looting, burning, and killing.

            Parents are often told, “If you do not teach your children to have faith in God, other people will teach them that there is no God.” The same is true about patriotism. If the rising generation is not taught American history, civics, and geography and does not learn about American exceptionalism, progressives will teach them false ideas.

            Gonzalez and Butcher wrote that it is not enough to teach American exceptionalism. We must also teach the rising generation why America is exceptional. It is true that citizens of every nation love their country and think that it is wonderful. However, “American exceptionalism is rooted elsewhere, a mixture of the liberal traditions of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment and the Colonial experience.”

The social scientist Louis Hartz, whose groundbreaking 1955 book “The Liberal Tradition in America” has influenced generations of future thinkers, posited the idea that because America lacked a feudal past it made unfertile soil for either socialism or the European conservatism that unites church with big government.

“It is not accidental that America, which has uniquely lacked a feudal tradition, has uniquely lacked also a socialist tradition. The hidden origin of socialist thought everywhere in the West is to be found in the feudal ethos,” wrote Hartz, for whom America possessed a “fixed, dogmatic liberalism of a liberal way of life.” In his book, Hartz observed repeatedly that America was “unique.”

            Gonzalez and Butcher used the word “exceptional” to describe America, while Hartz used the word “unique.” An internet definition for exceptional is “unusual; not typical; unusually good; outstanding.” Synonyms include unusual, uncommon, extraordinary, out of the ordinary, rare, singular, unprecedented, unexpected, remarkable, excellent, unequaled, unparalleled, unrivaled, and surprising. An internet definition for unique is “one of a kind, unlike anything else.” Synonyms include distinctive, individual, and special. I believe that both exceptional and unique are good descriptive words for America. Gonzalez and Butcher continued their discussion with the following.

America thus is exceptional because it is the only country in the world that derives its legitimacy from its start not from a common ethnicity or monarch, but from natural rights – the idea that rights, such as the right to free speech, property, and self-preservation can be observed in nature and precede politics or government.

This liberal tradition was mixed with a Colonial experience that also made America unique in terms of the people who were attracted here.

            To prove their point, the authors included a quote from a speech given by Edmund Burke in the House of Commons in 1775. The statement was a warning by Burke to the other members of the House about the type of people living in America.

Protestants, and of that kind which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion…. All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies [Burke meant New England] is a refinement of the principle of resistance: it is the dissidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion…. The colonists left England when this spirit was high, and in the emigrants highest of all.

Even that stream of foreigners which has been constantly flowing into these colonies has, for the greatest part, been composed of dissenters form the establishments of their several countries, and have brought with them a temper and character far from alien to that of the people with whom they mixed.

            America is exceptional because it was founded on an idea that all men are created equal. The founding fathers and mothers, as well as those men who framed the Constitution, were mere mortals. However, they were “raised up” by God, prepared for their task, and inspired in their decisions. They created an entirely new type of government. They included the things that they liked about other governments and excluded the things that they did not like.

            Because the Framers were mere mortals, they had faults and weaknesses as well as gifts and strengths. For example, most of the Framers wanted to do away with slavery in their new country. However, they needed the southern colonies to be part of their new United States, and the southern colonists were not ready to give up slavery. The Framers knew that slavery would rear its ugly head in the future, but they acted to form the Union with what they had available and trusted that future Americans could deal with the horrors of slavery.

            The Constitution and the government formed under it are exceptional. Every American child deserves to be taught that their country is exceptional – a shining city on a hill that is a light to the world. At the same time, every American man and woman should stand forth to help our nation become stronger and better in the future. Adults in America owe it to the rising generation to teach the exceptionalism of America. By doing so, we can strengthen our families, communities, and nation.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

When Will American Cities Be Free from Riots and Anarchy?

             The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that there is a fine line between tyranny and anarchy. The Founders of America and the Framers of the Constitution of the United States sought to find that fine line and create a government that stay oriented to it.

            Tyranny is a type of government that uses cruelty and oppression to control its subjects. It enslaves its people as they become more and more dependent on the government for the necessities of life. The laws of a tyranny are usually enforced by military forces.

            Anarchy is complete disorder in a society without government or control. The people have complete freedom to do whatever they choose without suffering any consequences for their actions. People living in anarchy have no police or anyone that they can call upon for safety.

            John Adams stated that the Constitution was created for moral and religious people and completely inadequate to govern any other people. This is because moral and religious people govern themselves according to the commandments of God. People with good morals do not lie, steal, or murder because they know it is wrong to do so and because they will be held accountable by God. People who can govern themselves need fewer police and other governmental controls.

            With this information understood, we are now prepared to discuss the riots and anarchy that have taken place in numerous U.S. cities in June, July, and August 2020. There are some people who say that the riots happened because people were confined to their homes in March, April, and May to fight COVID-19. Rational people understand that this is a false answer.

            I was confined to my home, as were my children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors. None of us are out rioting in the streets, breaking into businesses to loot and destroy, or burning police cars. We are moral and religious people who can govern ourselves because we know right from wrong. We love God, and we love our neighbors. We choose to live in peace. None of us escaped the fear of catching the deadly virus, and many Americans had no money to pay bills or to buy food. In addition, parents had the responsibility of home schooling their children. Still, none of us are rioting, burning, and destroying life and property.

            The people comprising the mobs obviously faced some of the same situations, but they apparently did not have a moral foundation to support them. They obviously cannot govern themselves. They do not seem to understand that stealing and killing are wrong as is destroying property that belongs to other people.

            If the common excuses do not explain the riots, what does. Victor Davis Hanson listed numerous excuses being made and called it a cultural revolution with many of the same goals as other “incoherent and nihilist” cultural revolutions.

Those who signed up for the Jacobin Reign of Terror wanted violence, not a constitutional republic to replace the French monarchy.

The Bolsheviks were less interested in substituting an elected prime minister for the Russian czar than in grabbing power and murdering millions of their enemies.

Mao Zedong did not just hate the warlords, landlords, Mandarins, and Nationalists. He wished to reinvent 1 billion Chinese in his own narcissistic image by first killing millions.

Hanson admits that there is “reason to oversee the police more effectively” and that universities carry some responsibilities for the enormous amount of student loan debt. He said that the middle class is being “eroded” by globalization and that there is too much violence in the inner cities of America. However, none of these seem to be the real concerns of the looters and arsonists.

The point of the mob is to wipe out what it cannot create.

It topples what it can neither match nor even comprehend.

It would erode the very system that ensures it singular freedom, leisure, and historic affluence.

The brand of the anarchist is not logic but envy-driven power: to take it, to keep it, and to use it against purported enemies – which would otherwise be impossible in times of calm or through the ballot box.

            I believe that many of the anarchists are being paid by people that have sworn to destroy the government of the United States. One such person is George Soros, the billionaire who pumps millions of dollars into campaigns for such offices as state attorney generals, governors, senators, representatives, and president. I believe that these people wish to cause so much unrest in the United States that the citizens will be overwhelmed and come under their control.

            Democrat mayors and governors allowed the chaos to reign in their cities and states by holding back their police departments, letting the rioters back out on the streets, and paying bail money for rioters. The anarchy in American cities was not even mentioned at the Democrat convention last week.

            Polls are now showing that Americans are moving to support President Donald Trump. Therefore, Joe Biden finally condemned the riots and called for peace in the streets. Most Americans are not stupid, even though many are a little blind or maybe just dense. However, once we understand what is happening, we can see clearly.

            The Democrat Party has little to offer to Americans besides hatred for Trump and America. They could not talk about their agenda last week because they know that Americans would not like it. Instead, all they could talk about is hating Trump. This is the same message that they have been shouting for the past four years. It began with the Russian collusion story and impeachment for asking about corruption in Ukraine. Have you noticed that there is currently nothing in the news about these topics?

            Democrats have chosen Joe Biden to be their candidate for President of the United States. They keep him isolated from the public because he is only a trojan horse. If he were elected, he would be a propped-up puppet saying and doing what Bernie Sanders and the other socialists want. They know that he is too weak to stand up to them and are using him to gain power – just as they are using the anarchists.

            I believe in Americans. I believe that many Democrats and Independents will open their eyes to see the distinct differences between Trump and Biden and their plans for America. I believe that the hearts of many of the never-Trump people will soften toward him and that Trump will win by a bigger margin than anyone expects.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Why Is the Voice of the People Important?

             The United States of America is amid the 2020 presidential election. Last week, the Democrat Party held its political convention, and former Vice President Joe Biden was selected as the party’s candidate for President of the United States. He chose Senator Kamala Harris to be his vice president. Harris is the most far left member of the U.S. Senate, and Biden is clearly in the hands of self-declared socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders. They seek to “fundamentally transform” America.

            This week, the Republican Party is holding its political convention. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have a proven record on which we can assume a second term would resemble. They were instrumental in creating the strongest economy in the history of the United States. They stand with the military and with police. They put America first and do their best to Make America Great Again. Their love for America is obvious and strong.

            So, what is on the Democrat party platform?  On one subject, the Democrat platform calls for “the repeal of the Hyde Amendment” – which bars taxpayer-funded abortions. It calls for the codification of “the right to reproductive freedom,” and it says nothing about making abortions “rare” as was done by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Democrats declare that women should be able to get abortions on demand and without apology up until a baby is born.

            President Trump and the Republicans are pro-life. Trump may be the most pro-life President in the history of the nation. He is the only President to attend the annual pro-life rally in Washington, D.C. Other presidents have addressed the rallies in videos, but Trump attended and spoke in person. Republicans believe that an unborn child, like any individual in this country, has an individual right to life that should not be infringed upon by others. They also believe that the rights guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment apply to unborn children as well as other American citizens.

            Americans will be voting in November for the next President and Vice President of the United States. The final decision will be made by the voice of the people. The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ tells of a righteous King Mosiah who helped his people move from a monarchy to a democracy.

King Mosiah reminded his people of some of the problems caused by unrighteous kings and then encouraged them to change their government to one of judges. “Because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you. For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!” (Mosiah 29:16-17). He continued by telling them, “ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood” (Mosiah 29:21).

The King continued by explaining why it is difficult to dethrone a wicked king: he has friends in iniquity, keeps guards around him, tears up the laws and enacts new laws, and condemns the commandments of God. If anyone opposes the king, he sends his armies to destroy them.

King Mosiah suggested that the people choose judges to make and enforce the laws. Higher judges would judge the work of the lower judges, and a group of lower judges could judge a higher judge. He wanted the government to be controlled by the voice of the people because most of the people usually choose the better policies.

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law – to do your business by the voice of the people (Mosiah 29:26).

            The United States is currently in a presidential election that will determine to large degree whether American remains America or goes socialist. If it goes socialist, it will no longer be “government of the people by the people for the people” (Abraham Lincoln). King Mosiah explained what would happen if the voice of the people chose evil.

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land (Mosiah 29:27).

            This election presents a clear choice between good and evil, speaking of the parties rather than individuals. Republicans want to preserve life – both born and unborn, while Democrats want to kill unborn babies. Republicans support police, while Democrats want to defund police departments. Republicans believe in Second Amendment rights, while Democrats want gun control. Republicans believe in law and order, while Democrats believe in riots and violence (otherwise, they would have stopped them). Republicans believe in legal immigration and secure borders, while Democrats believe in illegal immigration and open borders. Republicans believe in giving tax breaks, while Democrats promise to raise taxes. Republicans believe in a strong military, while Democrats want to take money from the military for social programs.

Republicans believe in small businesses, while Democrats want to overregulate them. Republicans believe in voter identification, while Democrats fight against all efforts to insure honest elections. Republicans believe in the principle of work that leads to prosperity, while Democrats believe in handouts that lead to poverty. Republicans believe in small government, while Democrats believe in large government. Republicans believe in free speech for everyone, while Democrats seek to suppress any speech that does not support their policies. Republicans believe in conservatism, while Democrats believe in liberalism. Republicans believe in capitalism and the free market, while Democrats socialistic ideas that lead to communism. Republicans believing in creating a better and stronger America on constitutional principles, while Democrats want to “fundamentally transform” America. The Republican Party seeks the approval of God, while the Democrat Party seeks to take God out of their program.

The voice of the people in November will determine the future of the United States of America. As explained above, the choice is clear. If most Americans choose to vote for Donald Trump, America will continue to strengthen and become better. If most Americans choose to vote for Biden, God help us!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Are “Nice White Parents” Responsible for Failure of Public Schools?

             The public education system has been failing for decades, and experts have been searching for the reason. The first thought was that schools were not receiving enough money. Another thought is that parents should be able to choose where their children go to school.

According to a piece by Mary Clare Amselem at The Daily Signal, the New York Times recently said that the problem is caused by “white parents.” White parents have too much power according to a podcast titled “Nice White Parents” that tells the racial history of one New York school. The problem seems to be parents who voted to integrate this public school and then sent their child/children elsewhere. The reasoning of such parents was that integrating schools is a good thing, but this school was teaching below the academic level of their child/children. 

Critics of school choice say that the public schools are underfunded because parents take their child/children out of it. However, facts show that the schools are not underfunded. School funding has gone ever higher since 1979 when the Department of Education was created. Amselem wrote, “New York spends almost $23,000 per student per year in the public school system – a close second to Washington, D.C., for the highest per-pupil expenditure in the country. That figure also is significantly higher than most private school tuitions.”

It seems that the problem is not lack of funding, so the next question is, where is the money going? To bureaucrats – who “get paid before teachers – and before students get new textbooks.”

Amselem quoted a study done about “administrative bloat in the K-12 public education system” by Ben Scafidi at Kennesaw State University. “He found that between 1950 and 2015, the student population at public schools had grown roughly 100%. During that same time period, teaching staff had grown 243% … [and] ‘administrators and other staff’ in the public school system grew 709%.”

            We can see now that the problem is not lack of funding or “nice white parents” who get involved in the education of their children. Why should parents be allowed to choose a school where their children can learn French – or Russian – or Japanese? Parents should be satisfied with the “one-size-fits-all public school system” and stop making ridiculous demands!

The New York Times and the makers of “Nice White Parents” argue that the solution to the different wants and needs of families is to ignore the wishes of parents altogether and let education bureaucrats decide what is best for their children.

School choice proponents, by contrast, believe that every family in America should be empowered to choose an education option that is custom fit for their child’s needs. Through programs such as vouchers or education savings accounts, every family would be financially empowered to make that decision. Students do better when their parents are actively engaged in their education.

Many, if not most, Americans are tired of people pulling the race card every single time something goes wrong. Being called a racist no longer means anything, but it is wrong to blame one race for the failure of an entire system. The public school system has been failing for years, and one-size-fits-all children stopped working long ago. Parents know and love their children more than any government organization could ever care for them. Therefore, parents should have the final say as to where the children are educated.

Monday, August 24, 2020

What Are Some of the Sacrifices Made in Support of the President?

             For my VIP for this week, I chose to remember Kellyanne Conway, who announced this morning that she is leaving the White House at the end of this month. I know that presidential aides come and go in every administration, but I really hate to see Kellyanne leave because she is one of Donald Trump’s longest-serving aides. She was his 2016 campaign manager and was the first woman to lead a winning campaign. She moved from the campaign to the position of counselor to the President in the White House. She has been one of Trump’s most ardent supporters and defenders.

            Kellyanne is leaving the White House for a good reason – for the good of her family, and I applaud her for doing so. I often wondered how she could continue to do such an outstanding job in supporting Trump, when her husband, George Conway, was such an outspoken critic of the President. The difference in political views must have made an interesting marriage and family atmosphere. There is little wonder that their fifteen-year-old daughter was affected.

I do not know how such a situation could continue for a month, let alone four years. However, the parents have come together “for the good of the children.” Kellyanne is leaving the White House, and George is stepping down from his role at the Lincoln Project – an organization that seems to have a single goal of defeating Trump. They both made statements to explain their plans for the immediate future – first Kellyanne’s and then George’s.

Our four children are teens and tweens starting a new academic year, in middle school and high school, remotely from home for at least a few months. As millions of parents nationwide know, kids “doing school from home” requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times. This is completely my choice and my voice. In time, I will announce future plans.

For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.

So I’m withdrawing from @ProjectLincoln to devote more time to family matters. And I’ll be taking a Twitter hiatus. Needless to say, I continue to support the Lincoln Project and its mission. Passionately.

            I will miss seeing Kellyanne and her smiling face dueling with the reporters in her vibrant defense of the President Trump. I wish the Conway family much success in strengthening their family and meeting the needs of their children.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

How Is the Cancel Culture Destroying Free Speech?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is how the current cancel culture destroys free speech and open discourse. Americans should feel free to share their thoughts and ideas about any topic if they do not infringe on the rights of other people. However, most Americans do not feel safe in sharing their political views. A recent poll from Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank located in Washington, D.C.,  found that 62 percent of Americans are afraid to share their political opinions.

            Jay Hobbs posted an interesting article at titled “Frederick Douglas and the Answer to Cancel Culture.” As you may know, Frederick Douglas was born a slave in the Antebellum South. He was not taught to read and write, so he devised a way to learn these skills. He challenged white boys his age to spelling contests. He lost every contest, but he learned to read and write. In time, he used his skills in the English language to gain freedom for himself and to “play a crucial role in the eventual liberation of millions of American slaves.”

            Hobbs found it interesting that the cancel culture of today condemns the exact characteristics – competition, hard work, and rugged individualism – to push the idea that they are values of “whiteness.” Most people would consider those values as important to success for every race. The current cancel culture makes it even more important for Americas to stand up and defend freedom of speech. Hobbs encouraged his readers to follow the courageous example and relentless commitment of Frederick Douglas in fighting for “the liberty of the mind and freedom of speech [that] played a major role in achieving the physical liberation of millions of Americans bound in chains.”

            As an example of the importance of standing up and facing the cancel culture crowd, Hobbs wrote of a “largely center-left group of writers, historians, and scholars [who] published an open letter at Harper’s Magazine calling for a recommitment to free speech and open debate.” Among this group were J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series) and Matthew Yglesias of Vox. The signatories all received “sharp backlash from far-left activists.”

            Hobbs added “a separate group of prominent scholars, legal experts, and religious leaders [who] signed onto the Philadelphia Statement.” This statement was released at Newsweek and called “for a renewed commitment to civil discourse and free speech” that is part of the American experiment.

It’s “the American tradition of freedom of expression,” the statement lays out, that “trains us to think critically, to defend our ideas, and, at the same time, to be considerate of others whose creeds and convictions differ form our own ... And it admonishes us that if we value the freedom of expression, we must extend the same measure of freedom to others, even to those whom we believe have gone very wrong in their thinking.”

In its first 24 hours, the Statement gained well over 5,000 signatories, adding onto its initial list that included human rights scholar and advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Kevin D. Williamson of National Review, and Dr. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute – three public figures who have experienced the human cost of cancel culture firsthand.

Ali grew up in truly oppressive conditions in Somalia and has spent her adult life advocating for the rights of women and minorities. Yet in 2016, she was targeted by the thoroughly discredited Southern Poverty Law Center as an “anti-Muslim extremist” – an unfounded allegation that not only damaged her reputation, but further compromised her physical safety. In 2018, Williamson was fired by The Atlantic at the behest of a Twitter mob just three days after his first piece appeared there. And a year earlier, Murray was caught in the middle of an actual mob at Middlebury College, where he had been invited as a gust speaker by a student group.

            Is it any wonder that Americans are afraid to speak about their political views? I did not read the names of any conservatives in the Hobbs piece, but I know of several who were invited to speak on college campuses and had their invitations rescinded or faced mobs of angry students. It appears that libertarians and people in the left-center are also concerned about losing freedom to share ideas and views.

            Frederick Douglas once said, “Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.” The liberty and freedoms of Americans are slowly being infringed upon, and they will disappear if all Americans do not stand up and fight for them.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Why Is Pride So Deadly?

             My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Helaman 1-6. These chapters have an over abundance of what is described as “the pride cycle” that is evident in much of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. As I studied, I wanted to know why pride is so deadly and how it was identified as such.

            I learned that pride is one of the seven most deadly sins. These seven sins are discussed throughout the scriptures, but there is no place in the scriptures that makes this statement: “These are the seven most deadly sins.”  This site states that in the late sixth century, Pope Gregory 1 listed seven categories of sin: pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth, and greed. It also says, “Almost every sin can be placed in one of these seven categories” and that “pride and selfishness are related to each of the seven and are viewed as the root causes of all sin.”

            I then wanted a definition of pride and found this one on the Internet: “A feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” I wanted to know what the Prophets and Apostles said about pride, so I went to a classic address titled "Beware of Pride" and given by President Ezra Taft Benson in the April 1989 General Conference. Here is his definition of pride from a prophet of the Lord.

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. (See Mosiah 3:11; 3 Ne. 6:18.) In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride – it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby. (See 2 Ne. 4:15; Mosiah 1:3-7; Alma 5:61.)

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity – enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.”

            Now that we know what pride is – hatred toward God and our fellowmen – we are ready to discuss the pride cycle. I found a presentation about the pride cycle by Come, Follow Me Insights from Book of Mormon Central to be quite interesting. This presentation was given by two professors at Brigham Young University (BYU) named Taylor and Tyler. This pride cycle goes as follows: Prosperity leads to Pride (the gateway sin) leads to Sin leads to Destruction leads to Sorrow leads to Humility leads to Repentance leads to Blessings leads back to Prosperity.

Tyler explained that this cycle describes a terrestrial lifestyle cycle. People in this cycle are never really good and never really bad. They prosper, become prideful, suffer, repent, and are blessed. However, people sometimes get caught in the downward part of the pride -- Pride – Sin – Destruction – Sorrow. Their sorrow does not lead to humility but to more pride. They continue to cycle through the lower part of the pride cycle until they are destroyed. Tyler called this the telestial lifestyle cycle.

Tyler also explained that there is a celestial lifestyle cycle. People prosper, and they express gratitude to God for their many blessings. They stay humble and repent of their sins immediately. They are blessed, and they continue to prosper. The pride cycle is usually shown in a circle or oval shape and often has a little difference in wording.  

I remember sitting in a Sunday School class discussing the pride cycle and asking the question why people and societies continue to go through the cycle. I could not understand how people went from being righteous to being wicked in a year or two. The instructor asked me if I had times where I was living the gospel and times when I was not doing as well. Of course, I answered yes – but I did not go from righteous to wicked in a matter of months. A sister in the class commented, “That is because you check yourself. You do not wait for the bad things to happen before you humble yourself and repent.”

The sister’s comment opened my eyes to understanding that people do not have to go through the entire pride cycle before changing directions. We can stay in the celestial lifestyle cycle by checking ourselves and getting back on the strait and narrow covenant path.

            The scriptures, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, shows the people going through the pride cycle over again. The Book of Mormon tells of two civilizations that prospered and went through the pride cycle for thousands of years before being destroyed. However, it also tells us of a group of people who lived in righteousness for 200 years – before letting pride lead to their destruction.

            The Bible tells us of Enoch who prophesied and taught his people for hundreds of years before they became so righteous that the entire city of Enoch was taken up into heaven. They stayed humble, repented of their sins, were blessed, and prospered without ever falling into the lower parts of the cycle. This story tells us that people and societies can avoid destruction by staying humble. Pride is a deadly sin because it leads to more sin and destruction.

            Helaman 5 tells of Helaman’s teachings to his two sons, Nephi and Lehi. In verse 12, Helaman gives us the secret to avoiding pride.

12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail.

            When we build our foundation on the rock of Jesus Christ, we will be spiritually strong enough to defend against the attacks of Satan. When we are humble enough to depend on God, He will protect us and bless us.

            President Benson said that the key to avoiding pride is to choose to be humble. “God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.” He also said, “Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.” Pride causes us to stumble, whereas humility brings power from God.

Friday, August 21, 2020

What Direction Does Your Door Face?

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when there is a temple in their vicinity. It seems that whenever The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds a temple, the real estate surrounding the temple increases in value. The reason is that a temple blesses the whole community, not just members of the Church of Jesus Christ.

            Some years when I was visiting my daughter who was living in Spring, Texas, I decided to drive over to the temple for an endowment session. This was my first time to visit the Houston, Texas Temple, so I did not know exactly where to go. However, I had some general directions from my daughter, and I knew what the temple looked like.

            When I arrived in the area where I thought that the temple should be, I could not see it. I stopped at a convenience store to ask for directions. There were several people in the store, so I just threw out a general question. A black lady knew exactly where the temple was and how to get there. She gave me directions and then indicated that the entire community claimed the temple as their own.

            Temples are always beautiful buildings with lovely landscaping surrounding them. However, it is the spirit of Elijah in the temple that attracts members and non-members to it. When we direct our lives towards the temple, we receive blessings.

            In ancient America, there was a prophet-king by the name of Benjamin. When he was aged, he decided to ordain his son Mosiah to be the next king. He sent a notice to all his people to come to the temple, and the people came to hear their king because they loved him. In Mosiah 2, we read that the people pitched their tents around the temple because the king would be speaking from the temple.

5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.

6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.

            We do not know all the reasons why the people pitched their tents with the doors toward the temple. They might have done so because they wanted shade from the hot sun. The important thing is that the door was towards the temple, so the people could hear the words of the king. Contrast this experience of real people in the scriptures to another scriptural story of real people, the story of Lot and his family.

            We read in Genesis that Abraham and his nephew Lot had too many animals for all of them to be able to graze. The two men decided to divide the land of Canaan.  Ted Gibbons explained that “Abraham stayed in the rocky hills of upper Canaan, but Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom in the Jordan River Valley” (see Genesis 13:12). Some years later, Lot and his family were living in Sodom when the Lord told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom because the people were so wicked. It is only natural that Abraham was concerned about his family members. He bargained with the Lord. Would the Lord destroy Sodom if there were 50 righteous people? No. How about 45? No. How about 40? No. Abraham continued until he got down to 10 righteous people, and the Lord agreed that he would not destroy Sodom if there were ten righteous people living in it. (See Genesis 18:20.)

            When the three messengers of the Lord came to destroy the city, they went to Lot’s house. Lot sent messengers to call his children and their families to come, but they did not. The wicked men of the city wanted to use and abuse the three messengers and Lot’s two unmarried daughters. The three messengers took hold of Lot, Lot’s wife, and their two daughters and took them to the area outside Sodom. They told Lot and his family to not look back. The story says that Lot’s wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. She may have turned around and headed back to Sodom to find her children. At any rate, Lot’s wife died with the rest of the inhabitants of Sodom. Lot’s daughters, thinking that the three of them were the only people left on earth, got their father drunk on two separate nights, and both became pregnant by their father. So, how many righteous people were living in Sodom?

            Lot’s problems started when he decided to live near Sodom – he pitched his tent “toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12.) Something drew him into Sodom, and his family was destroyed. Parents must be careful where they “pitch their tent.” Those who orient their “door” toward the temple will bring great blessings upon their family, community, and nation.