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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Where Does America Go from Here?

            The news is full today comments about last night’s presidential debate. Some say that Donald Trump won the debate, and some say that Joe Biden won the debate. It seems that all agree that Chris Wallace and 320 Americans were the losers. The Deseret News Editorial Board claims the blame lies elsewhere. Without excusing Trump, Biden, or Wallace, the opinion piece puts the blame squarely on America. “If America wants better ,America must be better.” 

            The Commission on Presidential Debates announced today that future debates will be different. One suggested change is to control the microphones to allow only one person to speak at a time. It is sad that our society has so much disrespect and contempt for others. The opinion piece said that “Contempt has poisoned public discourse, and Americans should view Tuesday’s debate as a symptom of the disease rather than its cause.”

But to say disrespect is entirely the fault of the president or his opponent is to absolve the American people of their accountability and complicity. Public servants are, after all, reflections of the electorates who choose them.

For years, rancor on social media has soured relationships and, in the worst cases, turned otherwise honorable neighbors and friends into online boors. The collapse of participation in civil society coincides with the rise of digital echo chambers….

            Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson suggested that Americans reject the incivility and do it in their private lives. We should stop writing or responding to “contempt-filled posts on social media.” We should stop attacking anyone who disagrees with us, and we should stop making excuses for bad behavior.

            I have said for the past four years that Donald Trump is a product of the nation. He was elected by an electorate that had their fill of Barack Obama’s disrespect for America. This disrespect first became apparent when Obama took his “apology tour” around the world and apologized for all the “terrible things that America had done in the past.” To cap it off, he bowed to the leaders of other nations. No American president should ever bow to royalty or leaders because America is a sovereign nation equal to any other nation in the world.

            Obama brought the division to the nation, or he at least caused the gap to widen, by race-baiting words. He pitted black people against cops and other law enforcement offices. He called conservative Americans “bitter clingers to guns and Bibles.” Hillary Clinton added by calling conservative Americans “basket of deplorables.” Even today, the “elites” of the nation describe Trump supporters as rough, unpolished, and/or uneducated. I have personally been insulted because I support Trump and get much of my news from other than the mainstream media. It seems that everyone is called a “liar” or “racist” at one time or another, and the names mean nothing now. Good manners must return to both sides of the aisle if we are to bring civility back to America.

            The opinion piece is right to say that Trump and Biden misbehaved during the debate and should be more civil in future debates. However, all Americans should search their souls to discover individual responsibility for incivility in the nation.   

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Who Won the Debate?

            The first debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden was held tonight. Many people wondered if Biden would come out of his basement to debate Trump and in what condition he would be. I did not watch the debate because I had a more important task to perform.

Rain has fallen almost every day for the past two weeks, but the sun was shining today. Since more rain is forecast for the coming days, I had to mow the lawn today. However, I had to wait long enough in the day for things to dry somewhat from all the rain before mowing.

Then the job took longer because several inches of fallen leaves were on top of the grass. There were so many leaves that the mower did a better job at chewing up leaves than cutting the grass. I gave up on the mower and got a rake to gather the leaves before cutting the grass. This meant that I ran out of energy and daylight before completing the task.

From all that I have heard about the debate, I did not miss anything. Chris Wallace still leaned left in his questioning, causing the President to comment about debating both Biden and Wallace. I read that there was a vast difference between the times that Wallace interrupted Biden and the times he interrupted Trump. I understand that Wallace lost control early in the debate as the two contenders talked over each other. I have heard several descriptive words about the debate, including circus, insane, and chaos.

           Apparently, Biden made a good showing because he managed to stay awake and speak in coherent language. Trump was acting like Trump, which always drives people crazy. From what I have gathered, Trump did not win over any Never Trumpers, but he kept his base. I considered the debate a waste of my time because I can compare the records of Trump and Biden. Trump has accomplished more in 40-something months in government service than Biden has in his 47 years of government service. Therefore, I am willing to give Trump more time to keep more of his campaign promises. I did not watch the debate, but Trump won for me. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Who Is Amy Coney Barrett?

             My VIP for this week is Amy Coney Barrett. She is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She is also the first and only women to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She is 48 years old, pro-life, and a faithful Catholic. She is married and the mother of seven children, two of which were adopted from Haiti.

            Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump on Saturday, September 26, 2020, to the seat left open by the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. By all accounts, she is brilliant and an excellent choice for the seat.

            Growing up in Louisiana, Barrett went to law school at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where she graduated summa cum laude in 1997. Five years later she returned to Notre Dame (2002) where she taught federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation. She was named a professor of law in 2010. She received a “distinguished professor of the year” award in 2010 and 2016. While at Notre Dame, she belonged to the conservative legal group, the Federalist Society. 

            Apparently, Barrett is the nightmare for all liberals no matter their party. She is staunchly pro-life and believes that life begins at conception. She is also a constitutionalist. In addition, she is the mother of a child with Downs Syndrome. While many women would have aborted such a child, Barrett chose to give the child life and love. It goes without saying that Barrett’s personal views are different than that of the two women currently serving on the Supreme Court. Therefore, she has much to add to discussions. However, she has affirmed that her personal views as a Catholic and pro-life woman will not influence her constitutional decisions.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

What Does the Constitution Say about Religious Tests to Hold Office?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns President Donald Trump’s nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination was made just after 5:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, September 26, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House.

            Barrett is known for her originalist constitutional approach as a jurist. By all reports, conservative and liberal, Barrett is well prepared for the task. Trump told the audience in the Rose Garden that Barrett is “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds” who is “very eminently qualified for this job.” 

            If Barrett is confirmed by the Senate – and all reports say there is little doubt that she will be, she will be the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court in the history of the nation. Sandra Day O’Connor had the distinction of being the first woman on the Supreme Court, and she was followed in succession by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. According to Trump, Barrett will become “the first mother of school-age children ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court” if confirmed.

            The Democrat circus has already started. Less than 24 hours after her nomination, Barrett was accused of adopting two children from Haiti to show that she is not racist. Attacking children should be off-limits, but Democrats do not seem to have any limits.

The next claim that I heard was that the nomination of Barrett to the Supreme Court was illegitimate. This is one of the claims that I wish to address tonight as constitutionally wrong.

According to Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 – known as the Appointments Clause: “The President … shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court….” The Constitution states that it is the responsibility of the President to nominate a replacement for Ginsburg, and it is the responsibility of the Senate to give its advice and consent. There is no mention of timing, so the nomination and confirmation can take place any time during the four years that a President occupies the White House. Therefore, the nomination is constitutional, and the confirmation will be constitutional. 

            Another claim from leftists is that Barrett is too religious and will allow her religion to dictate her votes. During the 2017 Court of Appeals confirmation hearing for Barrett, Democrats made numerous statements about Barrett’s Catholic religion. There were enough statements and/or questions for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to say that Barrett was “controversial.” Feinstein is on record of saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” 

            It seems to me that no one should be making statements or asking questions about her religion. The Constitution specifically says in Article VI Clause 3: “… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The language contained in that clause seems plain to me. It clearly states: “no religious test shall ever be required….” 

            It seems that the Framers of the Constitution were able to debate the religious test question and come to a decision. That decision was put into the Constitution. However, there were problems with religion when it came to ratification of the Constitution. There were “some states during the 1788-1789 struggles over ratification of the Constitution. The main objection was that ‘Jews,’ ‘Turks,’ ‘infidels,’ ‘heathens,’ and even ‘Roman Catholics’ might hold national office under the proposed Constitution.”

The Constitution was ratified despite concerns, and there have been both Jews and Catholics sit on the Supreme Court. An article dated July 2, 2018, said that there have been “12 justices that were Catholic while serving on the Court… The incumbent Supreme Court justices who call themselves Catholic are Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Chief Justice John Roberts. A sixth, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was raised Catholic but currently attends Episcopalian services. The remaining three justices are Jewish.” 

With so many Catholics sitting on the Court, it is obvious that Feinstein was not as concerned about Barrett’s Catholic religion as she was about her strict adherence to the Constitution in her decisions. Barrett has maintained that she is a faithful Catholic and that she will make decisions based on the Constitution and not on her religious views. Having a majority of Justices who adhere to the Constitution presents a huge problem to liberals who desire to make their own rules. Once again Trump kept his promise to nominate constitutional judges!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

How Do the Beatitudes Apply to My Life?

            For my Come, Follow Me studies this week, I studied and pondered the Beatitudes, which were part of the Savior’s Sermon at the Temple found in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This sermon is quite like the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament.

            The Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 (2009) states that the “Savior’s sermon begins with the Beatitudes, or statements that start with the words ‘blessed are…’ (3 Nephi 12:1-11).” The text explains that the word Beatitude means ‘to be fortunate,’ ‘to be happy,’ or ‘to be blessed’” (Mathew 5:3a). “Webster’s dictionary defines the word as ‘a state of utmost bliss’ (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. [2004], 107). Such words describe the results when Saints apply the teachings of this sermon.”

            The Bible Dictionary describes the Beatitudes as “certain elements that go to form the refined and spiritual character, and all of which will be present whenever that character exists in its perfection.” The Bible Dictionary continued by explaining that the Beatitudes are not individual or “isolated statements,” but they “are interrelated and progressive in their arrangement” (“Beatitudes,” 620). The Guide to the Scriptures added, “The Beatitudes are arranged in such a way that each statement builds upon the one that precedes it” (“Beatitudes”).

            The Beatitudes are “Be Attitudes” or statements of attitudes and living patterns that bring blessedness and happiness. They teach us how to be true disciples of Jesus Christ and what we should do to be good examples to other people.

Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you…; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost

more blessed are they who shall believe in your words … and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

… blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

… blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

… blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.

… blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

… blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

… blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;

For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven… (3 Nephi 12:1-12).

            There is much more counsel in the chapters for this week, but this post will concern only the Beatitudes. President Harold B. Lee taught that the Beatitudes embody the “constitution for a perfect life”: “Four of them have to do with our individual selves,” and the other four “have to do with man’s social relations with others” (Decisions for Successful Living [1973], 57, 60) (as quoted in the Student Manual).

            The Student Manual explained the following as pertaining to relationships, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” is for self, while “Blessed are the meek” is for others. “Blessed are all they that mourn” is for self, while “Blessed are the merciful” is for others. “Blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness” is for self, while “Blessed are the peacemakers” is for others. “Blessed are all the pure in heart” is for self,” while “Blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake” is for others.

            As part of Christ’s “blueprint for life,” the Beatitudes teach us about Jesus Christ and His character. They show us the path to become like the Savior.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Do You Support Life?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when babies are protected. Babies have always been important for survival of society. In ancient days, men selected wives who would be faithful and who were strong enough to bear and rear children. Women mated with men who had the skills and abilities necessary to provide protection and security for her and her children.

Babies are still essential for the strength of any society, but current civilization does not seem to recognize its peril. The birthrate worldwide has fallen below replenishment numbers. The United States is about even but only because of immigration.

Yet, women demand choice. They desire the freedom to be carefree in their sexual liaisons, while rejecting responsibility for any child that is conceived. The irony is that women in the United States are aborting their babies while the nation’s birthrate is steadily falling.

In case you have been living in a cave or off the grid, there is a presidential election this year. The choice has never been clearer between the two political parties. The Democrat Party supports the right for a woman to kill her baby any time up to birth. If the baby survives the abortion, Democrats say that the mother can allow the baby to die after it is born alive. Republicans are the right-to-life party and believe that every life has value – from conception to natural and dignified death.

President Donald Trump is the most right-to-life president in recent history, and he continues to grow stronger in his fight for life. On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, he announced that “he will sign an executive order to ensure that babies who are born alive receive proper medical care.” Apparently, he has grown tired of waiting for Congress to do something concrete about the problem. 

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law a bill extending legal protection to infants born alive at any stage of development, including after an abortion. The law, however, lacked enforcement provisions.

Legislation called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, considered in 2019 and again in 2020, would include criminal consequences for health care providers who violate the 2002 law. It also would require that proper medical care be given by the health care practitioner present if an infant is born alive.

The bill that did pass Congress and was signed into law did not include power to enforce it. The second bill that would empower the first bill cannot get through Congress to be signed by the President. Meanwhile, more babies are killed or left to die.

Trump did not go into details about what would be included in his executive order. However, earlier proposals had requirements for “health care professionals to treat a baby born alive after an attempted abortion the same as medical professionals would treat any other newborn.” Trump declared, “I will always defend the sacred right to life” when he spoke at the 16th annual – and first virtual -- National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

When Democrats refuse to take action to preserve the lives of unborn and born infants, it is time to replace them. I encourage all people who believe that life is sacred to vote Republican. Let our nation re-elect Donald Trump who will continue to fight for all Americans – born and unborn, keep the Senate, and take the House of Representatives. VOTE RED and help Trump to make America as great as it can be!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Are Nine Justices on the Supreme Court the Right Number?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the frequent threat from Democrats to pack the Supreme Court by adding more justices. I believe that the first attempt to pack the court took place in the late 1930s. The United States was in the middle of the Great Depression, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was pushing legislation to find some way to help Americans.

            Problems for Roosevelt came when the Supreme Court struck down many of the bills for the New Deal. The actions started in May 1935 according to Dr. David B. Woolner. “Over the next 13 months, the court struck down more pieces of legislation than at any other time in U.S. history.” I can see why Roosevelt would get frustrated with the justices.

            Roosevelt decided to pack the court, and Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 was prepared. The bill would allow Roosevelt to “appoint up to six additional justices to the Supreme Court for every justice older than 70 years, 6 months, who had served 10 years or more.” That sounds like a lot of justices to me! Even Democrats opposed the deal. 

            We can be grateful that the bill did not pass Congress and become law. However, the threat to pack the court arises from time to time, particularly when Democrats get backed into a corner. The latest threat came when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. President Donald Trump declared that he would nominate a replacement to take her seat, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to bring the nomination to a vote in the Senate.

            This threat did not sit well with a “bipartisan group dominated by former state attorneys general” who are pushing back against it. The group has grown to 27 members with former members of Congress and former governors. Fred Lucas reported at The Daily Signal that the group is formally known as the Coalition to Preserve the Independence of the Supreme Court, but the group calls itself “Keep Nine” as a “short reference to the nine justices on the high court.” Former Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers, an independent, said: 

We feel that court packing, adding or for that matter subtracting justices for political advantage, is wrong. It would denigrate the rule of law [in favor of] the rule of men. It undermines the independence of the Supreme Court.

Democrats are still angry that McConnell refused to hold a vote on Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. His reason was that Obama was a Democrat and the Senate majority was Republican. It was a smart move on the part of McConnell. However, the Democrats were angry enough that they turned the Brett Kavanaugh hearing into a circus.

Now Democrats are demanding that McConnell abide by the same “rule” of not confirming a justice until after the presidential election. They refuse to accept the fact that the White House and the Senate are held by the same party in 2020, which was not the case in 2016. So, they are threatening to pack the court if confirmation hearings are held. They know that they cannot stop the confirmation, so they make threats of what they will do when they are back in power.

The “Keep Nine” coalition is promoting an amendment to the Constitution that would have only thirteen words: “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine Justices.” Noting that the Constitution has been amended only 27 times in the history of the nation, Summers admitted that the amendment process would be difficult.  

It will be hard to pass a constitutional amendment, but it will be harder on the country to denigrate a separate and equal branch of government. If one party packs the court, then another party will win power and pack the court, and you could have 27 justices or more.

The coalition believes that a constitutional amendment is the way to stop threats to pack the court. I believe that an amendment would be worth the battle to get it passed and ratified.

Just think, we could be finished with threats to pack the court with just thirteen words!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Who Is Standing Up for the Females?

             In 1972 the federal law known as Title IX was signed into law. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education systems. The signing of this law made a huge impact on girls and women and their sports program. Suddenly, there were all kinds of sports for girls to play. Do you know why?

            For decades, there were numerous sports teams for men and boys. In my high school, boys played football, basketball, baseball, golf and ran track and cross-country. There were no sports teams for girls. You read that right! There were no teams for girls. Zero. None.

Title IX requires equality in sports. If there are five teams for boys, then there must be five teams for girls. The number of teams does not matter. All that matters is that there are equal numbers of teams for girls as there are for boys. That is why Title IX was so important to females of all ages.

            Then some boys who felt like girls started joining sports teams for girls and winning championships. It is nearly impossible for girls to compete on the same level as boys because their anatomies are different from the time of birth. By the time they reach puberty, there are huge differences. The average man has longer legs and bigger muscles than the average woman and can run faster. If allowed, biological men who think they are women will take over women’s sports. However, there is one person who holds enough power to stop such ideas.

            Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia had the opportunity to play sports as a young woman, and she is taking action to block biological males from competing against females. The bill is titled the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2020, and it will amend Title IX if adopted. It declares that “it shall be a violation … to permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.” It also specifies that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” Loeffler made the following comment about the bill. 

Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception. As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities. This commonsense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and leveling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.

            Only one state – Idaho – has passed similar legislation. However, Title IX is a federal law that needs to be strengthen on a federal level. I am grateful that there are women like Loeffler that is standing up for the females of the nation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

What Is the Most Important to You?

             There is an adage that family and friends should never discuss politics and religion. The reason for this saying is that both politics and religion bring strong feelings to the surface. Many relations are destroyed by anger and hate that explodes, particularly this year. I have never seen so much anger and hatred in our nation as I have witnessed toward President Donald Trump and his supporters. There is most likely strong negative feelings on both sides of the political divide, but the negativity seems to be boiling over on the liberal side.

Different political beliefs recently caused a big problem between a man and his father, and the turmoil went viral. Writer Leo Guinan became angry when he saw a Trump sign in his parent’s yard, so he sent a text message to them. He was so angry that his hands were shaking, and tears were in his eyes. This is what he wrote: 

Due to the signs in the yard, the kids and I will not be down. The current occupant of the White House is preaching hate and violence, endangering the lives and safety of many of my friends. This is not acceptable to me at all. There is a complete disregard for women, minorities, science, ethics, and morality. Please consider if you support Trump that much. Because I hate him that much. I wanted to be upfront and honest about my feelings.

            My heart hurt for Guinan’s father and mother because I feel certain that they love him and his children and want to see them. I also felt some empathy for Guinan’s parents because my children have different political views than I do. They tell me about their feelings for Donald Trump and how they can never vote for him. At the same time, they know that I am passionate about the Constitution and the American way of life. They know that I am concerned about socialism creeping into our nation. They know my fears that a Joe Biden presidency will send us further down the slippery slope towards socialism and ultimately to communism. They know that I do not understand their negative feelings towards Trump. Yet, they still love me!

            They know my political views – and I know their political views – because we discuss them. Even though I would like my children to share my views and support me in them, I understand that they have agency to make their own decisions. I pray for them that they will not go off the deep end in political fervor, and I have found a few blessings in having children with opposing views.

One of those blessings is the opportunity to have a different perspective. I recognize that I have strong feelings about people who think differently than I do, and I know that I could become hateful in my opinions. However, I temper my feelings because some of those people are my children. Instead of thinking that all Democrats are either crazy (like Maxine Waters) or evil (like Nancy Pelosi), I remember that my children are intelligent, wise, and compassionate adults and good citizens of the nation. Just knowing my children as I do, I can look at the average Democrat in a different light.

My children and I can discuss our political views without anger and hate because we all recognize that our relationships are more important than our political views. I do not force my views on them, and they do not force their views on me. We are fortunate to belong to a church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – that teaches the importance of family relationships. I and my children believe that families can be together forever, and we strive to be worthy of that eternal blessing. We also believe that eternal relationships should be developed on this side of the veil as well as on the other.

As I thought about what I could write on this topic, I remembered a talk that was given by President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2008 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ. He spoke on the topic “Finding Joy in the Journey.” 

President Gordon B. Hinckley died eight months before that conference, and President Monson was ordained and later sustained as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator in the April 2020 General Conference. He reminisced about the 45 years that had passed since he was ordained as an Apostle. He also spoke of the sixty years that he had been married to his wife and how his grandchildren were mostly grown with children of their own.

Day by day, minute by minute, second by second, we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alternations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.

This is our one and only chance at mortal life – here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey – now….

Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important – and what is most important almost always involves the people around us….

… Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

            President Monson offered many other nuggets of counsel, but only one of them stands out in my mind. I remembered only one sentence from this talk, but it has had great influence on my life. I often remember his statement, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” It has been a great influence on me on numerous occasions.

            I wonder what Leo Guinan would have done if he had remembered that his relationship with his parents was more important than any presidential election. I think that he would have refrained from sending that text to his parents. To his credit, he did apologize to his parents and tried to heal the relationship. However, he can never take back the hurt that he inflicted on his parents and the pain that will always be in his heart.

            There is a little over one month until the November 2020 presidential election. With the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the political racket will become even more heated and hateful with the nomination and confirmation process of a new justice. I hope that we will all remember that relationships with our friends and loved ones are much more important than who is elected to the White House or appointed to the Supreme Court.


Monday, September 21, 2020

Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

             I do not normally choose liberals for my VIP, but I am making an exception this week. My VIP is U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died on Friday, September 18, 2020. 

            All that knew Ginsburg claim that she had a great legal mind and asked tough questions as a Justice. She was a champion for women’s rights and won many cases that helped women as well as men. Before she was appointed to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg provided general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). While there, “she argued over 300 gender discrimination cases – six before the Supreme Court – and cofounded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.”

            Ginsburg had a reputation for be an advocate for gender equality. She served for 13 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and 27 years as a justice on the Supreme Court. She left a legacy as champion for gender equality. While serving as an associate justice, she wrote 200 opinions – “and broke new ground for gender equality in the United States.”

            Using the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteen Amendment and prior civil rights rulings on race, Ginsburg made the case for “why the Supreme Court should end gender discrimination. She “chipped away at discriminatory laws” in several smaller cases. Then she had a big case in 1971, Reed v. Reed. Relying on the Fourteenth Amendment, Ginsburg wrote the plaintiff’s brief.

            Richard Lynn Reed, known as “Skip,” was a minor when he died, and his mother, Sally Reed, was designated as the administrator for Skip’s estate. Sally was separated from her husband Cecil Reed, and she filed her petition first. However, Idaho had a statute stating that “males must be preferred to females” if two or more people were qualified to administer an estate. Ginsburg argued that the statute violated the Equal Protection Clause, and the Supreme Court agreed. This was “the first time the Court had ever applied the Equal Protection Clause to a law that discriminated on the basis of gender.”

            Ginsburg argued her first case before the Supreme Court in 1973. Frontiero v. Richardson was a “case that hinged on gender discrimination and government benefits.” A woman serving in the U.S. Air Force had a dependent husband and applied for benefits for him. She “was told she’d have to prove he was a dependent,” but men in the Air Force were not required to prove that they had dependent wives.

In an amicus brief, Ginsburg used the statute to argue that gender-based discrimination hurt men, too. “Why,” she asked the Court during oral arguments, “did the framers of the 14th Amendment regard racial [discrimination] as odious? Because a person’s skin color bears no necessary relationship to ability. Similarly, … a person’s sex bears no necessary relationship to ability.”

            A plurality of the Supreme Court found the benefit policy violated the Constitution and argued that, because of the United States’ long history of gender-based discrimination, the court should use a strict standard of judicial scrutiny for laws that used sex as a classification.

            Ginsburg protected women’s rights in numerous ways. In Craig v. Boren Ginsburg argued in 1976 that the age should be the same for men and women to purchase beer. Oklahoma had a statute that women could buy beer at age 18, but men had to wait until age 21. This case “honed in on the old-fashioned gender stereotypes embodied by the law” and protected women’s rights in an unusual way. “The court agreed, determining for the first time that laws that hinged on sex should pass ‘intermediate scrutiny’ – a standard of judicial review that hinged on whether the law was related to a legitimate governmental objective.”

            In 1979, Ginsburg represented a man from Missouri who was accused of murder in Duren v. Missouri. She argued that the man could not have a fair trial if jury service was optional for women. She said that “such exemptions didn’t just make the jury pool unfair; it devalued women’s contributions to juries.” The court ruled 8-1 that “Exempting all women because of the … domestic responsibilities of some women is insufficient justification for their disproportionate exclusion.”

            After Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court, she worked for equal rights for women. In Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Lily Ledbetter was fighting for the same salary earned by her male coworkers. The court ruled against her because the claim was not filed early enough and said that Congress had to act on it. “In 2009, President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to reset the statute of limitations on equal-pay lawsuits with every paycheck.”

            Ginsburg was a firm supporter of a woman’s right to have an abortion. She wrote “a rousing defense of a woman’s right to choose” in her solo concurrence on the 2016 opinion of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The “Court ruled that Texas cannot restrict abortion services that unduly burden women who seek an abortion.” This verdict is “another example of Ginsburg’s staunch defense of women” as well as a clear victory for women’s right to choose an abortion.

            My daughter emphasized that women owe thanks to Ginsburg for many little things that might be taken for granted, such as the right for a women to open a bank account without permission from her father or husband or to get a credit card in her name. Even though Ginsburg’s politics were different than mine, I realize that she was a champion for women’s rights and am grateful for the rights that are mine because of her decades-long fight.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

What Does the Constitution Say About Replacing Justice Ginsburg?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the subject that is on many minds and tongues since Friday. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at the age of 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton for 27 years of service. She “was known for her soft-spoken demeanor that masked an analytical mind, a deep concern for the rights of every American and a commitment to upholding the Constitution.” 

            The death of Justice Ginsburg means that a new justice must be appointed to take her place. The debate surrounds the timing of the new appointment. Article II Section 2 Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States says: “… He [The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court….” In this clause – known as the Appointments Clause – the Constitution empowers the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm (advice and consent) to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. The Appointments Clause does not say anything about timing for the President to nominate or the Senate to confirm. It simply outlines their responsibilities to do so.

            The confirmation hearings for Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh were wild as Democrats sought to keep him from being confirmed. I expect that the confirmation for the next justice will be even more ferocious. Democrats have been encouraging and/or participating in violence for the past four years since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. They have pulled dirty tricks out of their bag one right after another with hopes of getting Trump out of office.

            Democrats want the seat to remain open until after the 2020 election. Of course, they do! However, they would not leave the seat open if they had control of the White House and the Senate! They – and some Republicans – are loudly calling hypocrisy for Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to vote on a nominee when Trump sends a name to them. However, he did not allow the Senate to vote on a nomination made by President Barack Obama in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

            Here is the reason that McConnell will be following a different path this time: In 2016, the White House was held by a Democrat, and the Senate was held by Republicans. There was absolutely no reason why a Republican-controlled Senate should confirm a liberal justice. In 2020, both the White House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans. Republicans have the power and the opportunity to confirm a conservative, constitutional justice to the Supreme Court, and they should move forward in fulfilling their duty to do so. The circumstances are different, but the Constitution and history say that Trump can nominate, and the Senate can confirm a new justice to replace Justice Ginsburg.

            There is no legal reason why either Trump or the Senate should hesitate to perform their constitutional duty to replace Justice Ginsburg. However, the Democrats and their far-left supporters will make everyone miserable during the process. I suggest that you buckle your seat beat and hold onto your hat because it is going to be a wild ride!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Do You Hear the Voice of Jesus Christ When He Speaks to You?

             The lesson in Come, Follow Me this week includes the appearance of Jesus Christ to the Nephites. This great experience came after lots of trauma. There arose a terrible storm that included thunder, lightning, winds, and earthquakes. Then darkness fell for three days that was so dense that no light could be seen anywhere, and no fire could be started.

            The surviving Nephites made their way to the temple, and “they were marveling and wondering one with another” about all the changes around them (3 Nephi 11:1). They were discussing the prophecies that were given about signs of the death of Jesus Christ. While they were carrying on their conversations, “they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven,” and they looked around (3 Nephi 11:3).

Even though they could not understand the voice, the Nephites recognized that it was “a small voice” that “did pierce them that did hear to the center,” caused them to quake, pierced “them to the very soul,” and caused “their hearts to burn” (3 Nephi 11:3). They heard the voice a second time and still did not understand it.

Then the voice came a third time. The people “did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were toward the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came” (3 Nephi 11:5). This time they understood the voice.

Behold, my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him (3 Nephi 11:7).

            Can you imagine the thoughts and feelings of the Savior when He heard His Father speak of Him with such love? The Son must have felt deeply loved. I would be in tears if I heard my earthly father speak such wonderful words about me!

The Nephites must have been in shock. They heard the voice of Heavenly Father who was introducing His Beloved Son, even Jesus Christ. There are few records of people hearing the voice of the Father, and most of them are an introduction of the Son by the Father. The first recorded experience of hearing the Father’s voice is found in Matthew 3:17 where John the Baptist hears the Father say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The second instance is found in Matthew 17:5 on the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, James, and John heard the Father say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains several instances where the Nephites heard the voice of the Father. The first occasion is recorded in 2 Nephi 31:14-15 as Nephi is nearing the end of his life. He tells of hearing the voice of the Son and then the voice of the Father.

But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have bene better for you that ye had not known me.

And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

            The second instance in the Book of Mormon takes place in Helaman 5:29, 32, 47. In the first two verses, the Father calls the wicked Nephites to repentance and tells them to stop destroying the prophets. A pillar of fire encircles the repentant people. In verse 47, the Father says, “Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.”

            The last instance in the Book of Mormon of which I have record is when Jesus Christ appears to the Nephites, and the Father says, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him” (3 Nephi 11:7).

            It seems that whenever Jesus Christ appears in a new dispensation, the Father introduces Him. This is what happened on a clear spring day in 1820 – some people think that it was March 26, 1820 – when the young boy Joseph Smith went to the woods to offer his first prayer. He saw a pillar of light over his head and then saw two Personages in the light.

… 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 other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:17).

            I believe that it is fair to say that Joseph Smith did not expect to see the Father and the Son when he went into the woods to pray that day. However, he learned that They had a work for him to do, and he spent the rest of his life completing that work. I know that Joseph Smith was and still is a prophet of God.

            Today God speaks through another prophet, even Russell M. Nelson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the April 2020 General Conference of the Church, President Nelson invited all his listeners to “Hear Him!” 

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 truths.

… where can we go to hear Him?

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.

We can also hear Him in the temple. The house of the Lord is a house of learning. There the Lord teaches in His own way. There each ordinance teaches about the Savior. There we learn how to part the veil and communicate more clearly with heaven. There we learn how to rebuke the adversary and draw upon the Lord’s priesthood power to strengthen us and those we love. How eager each of us should be to seek refuge there….

While worshipping in the temple is presently not possible, I invite you to increase your participation in family history, including family history research and indexing. I promise that as you increase your time in temple and family history work, you will increase and improve your ability to hear Him.

We also hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive. He is the Comforter. He will bring a feeling of peace to your heart. He testifies of truth and will confirm what is true as you hear and read the word of the Lord.

I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.

Doing so will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary.

And, finally, we hear Him as we heed the words of prophets, seers, and revelators. Ordained Apostles of Jesus Christ always testify of Him. They point the way as we make our way through the heart-wrenching maze of our mortal experiences.

What will happen as you more intentionally hear, hearken, and heed what the Savior has said and what He is saying now through His prophets? I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles, and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships, and daily work. And I promise that our capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life (“Hear Him,” April 2020 General Conference).

            We live in turbulent times. The year 2020 has been one of many trials and tribulations, and we have no promise that 2021 will be any better. We are in the Last Days, and Satan is doing all that he can do to hinder the work of the Lord. We know that the Lord will win in the end, so we should have no question about the outcome. Our only question should be, how can I hear the Savior when he speaks to me?

            I know that President Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet on earth today. I am grateful for all the ways that I can hear the counsel given by President Nelson and the fourteen prophets, seers, and revelators who associate with him. I look forward to hearing them speak in the October 2020 General Conference on October 3-4, 2020. I invite all my readers to join me in listening to their words and learning better to hear the voice of God.

Friday, September 18, 2020

When Will Parents Get Some Breaks?

            Parents, communities, and nations have a God-given responsibility to protect children and youth from predators of all kinds. Yet, the task grows more difficult with each passing day with reports of sexual exploitation and human trafficking all around us. Parents of young families are forced to walk a narrow line between allowing the rising generation to learn and grow as they become independent, while at the same time keeping them safe. This narrow line becomes narrower as time passes.

            One of my daughters sent information today about two possible acts of kidnapping that took place a short distance from her home. One of them took place at a Sonic where some young teens in a car became nervous when they discovered a man watching them closely and even following them when they went to the other side. They were smart and left the vicinity. The other one took place in front of Wal-Mart when a child was grabbed away from a parent but saved by nearby witnesses.

It is a sad day when teens cannot buy fast food with friends without facing danger from possible predators, and it is an even sadder day when a mother cannot take a child with her to a store. There are too many reports of children, youth, and young adults disappearing. We live in a wicked world where the evil steadily increases, and where parents carry heavier and heavier loads as they strive to rear children.  

            State governments should be supporting parents in their parenting challenges, but some of them are going rogue. It seems that whatever happens in California soon spreads to the rest of the nation, so Americans should be concerned about legislation that recently passed in the California legislature. Senate Bill 145 was signed into law that decreases consequences for adults who engage in sexual acts with minors aged 14 to 17. The new law ensures that such offenders will not be placed on the sex offender registry automatically.

This law was passed to end “discrimination against LGBTQ people on the sex offender registry,” but it could subject children to sexual abuse or exploitation. It exempts anyone from mandatory registration if they are “convicted of certain offenses involving minors if the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor and if that offense is the only one requiring the person to register.” This means that a 25-year-old male could rape a 16-year-old girl and be exempt from registering as a sex offender and free to rape again.

The new law in California is a travesty passed in the name of justice. All adults should be alert to such ideas in our communities and states and end them before they become law. We should stand strong around families as we protect the rising generation from all predators. By doing so, we can strengthen our families as well as our communities and nations.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Why Is the U.S. Constitution Important?

            A miracle happened more than 200 years ago in a hot, closed room in a building now known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There several dozen wise men (with the numbers fluctuating) spent the summer of 1797 debating, compromising, and pounding out the details for a new Constitution. Every state was represented except Rhode Island, a state that chose to not send delegates. At the conclusion of the Constitution Convention, there were 41 delegates in attendance, and 38 of the men signed the document. Today marks the 233d anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States.

            The men recognized that they had accomplished an essential task that would determine the future of the young nation. However, they understood that their work was not yet finished. According to the document itself, 9 out of the 13 U.S. states were required to ratify the document before it would become the law of the land.

            The first five states – Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut – ratified the Constitution in quick succession beginning on December 7, 1797. Massachusetts refused to ratify the document because it did not give “constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press.” Another compromise was made in February 1788 “under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed.”

            The ratification vote in Massachusetts was close, but it was in favor. Massachusetts was followed by Maryland and South Carolina. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document on June 21, 1788. Agreement was made that the new government under the Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. Virginia ratified the Constitution in June, and New York followed in July 1789.

            The new Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the Constitution on September 25, 1789 – known as the Bill of Rights – and sent them to the states to be ratified. The states ratified ten of the twelve in 1791.

            North Carolina ratified the Constitution in November 1789, and Rhode Island finally ratified on May 29, 1790, after the “U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state.” All 13 original colonies joined the United States, and the “U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world.”

            A miracle took place in that men representing thirteen different states agreed on one document to be the Supreme Law of the land. Another miracle took place when the states ratified the document. At a time in history when the writers of the Constitution are disrespected and dishonored and their statues are damaged or destroyed, I think that it is important to share some information about them.

            The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I established the Constitution of his land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80). He also said that the divinely inspired Constitution “belongs to all mankind) (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5). When the Kirtland Temple was dedicated, the dedicatory prayer as dictated by God contains these words: “May those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever (Doctrine and Covenants 109:54).

            President Ezra Taft Benson shared his personal experience that fulfilled a long-time dream. He was on assignment from the living Prophet. Here is his story. 

Shortly after President Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, he assigned me to go into the vault of the St. George Temple and check the early records. As I did so, I realized the fulfillment of a dream I had had ever since learning of the visit of the Founding Fathers to the St. George Temple. I saw with my own eyes the record of the work which was done for the Founding Fathers of this great nation, beginning with George Washington.

Think of it: the Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls and had their vicarious work done for them.

            President Benson then shared the following experience, which is given in the words of another prophet of God, President Wilford Woodruff.

Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, p. 160).

[President Benson continued:] After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits… [and] were inspired of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 89).

I have a copy of an original painting depicting the Founding Fathers appearing to President Woodruff. Just as President Woodruff mentioned, George Washington is at the forefront of the group of men urging President Woodruff to do their temple work. What did President Woodruff do? He did the work!

In 1986, members of the Family History Library staff in the LDS Reference Unit, were “assigned to compile and computerize all the existing genealogical data on the founding fathers, to identify their families, and to document completed temple ordinances for each.” They identified a founding father as being “identified as one who had signed one or more of the following documents: the Articles of Association (1774), the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Articles of Confederation (1778), or the Constitution (1787).” They used a variety of “sources to compile the information, including information recording by Wilford Woodruff.” 

… In his journal entry of Sunday, 19 August 1877, Elder Woodruff, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and president of the St. George Temple, wrote: “I spent the evening in preparing a list of the noted men of the 17 century and 18ty, including the signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, for baptism on Tuesday the 21 Aug 1877.”

His journal entry for August 21 reads, “I, Wilford Woodruff, went to the temple of the Lord this morning and was baptized for 100 persons who were dead, including the signers of the Declaration of Independence…. I was baptized for the following names.” He then listed the names of one hundred men (one of whom was shown twice, so actually there were ninety-nine), including forty-five “eminent men” of several nationalities. The baptisms were performed by J.D.T. McAllister, a counselor in the temple presidency.

Elder Woodruff continued his journal entry: “When Br. McAllister had baptized me for the 100 names, I baptized him for 21, including Gen. Washington and his forefathers and all the presidents of the United States that were not on my list except Buchanan, Van Buren, and Grant.” (The work for these presidents has since been done.)

“It was a very interesting day,” Elder Woodruff continued. “I felt thankful that we had the privilege and the power to administer for the worthy dead, especially for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, that inasmuch as they had laid the foundation of our Government, that we could do as much for them as they had done for us.

“Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was baptized for Martha Washington and her family, and seventy of the eminent women of the world. I called upon the brethren and sisters who were present to assist in getting the endowments for those that we had been baptized for today.” (Wilford Woodruff’s journal, typescript, vol. 7, Church History Library; spelling and punctuation modernized.)

Proxy ordinations and endowments for the men, and endowments for the women, were performed and recorded over the next few days.

            These events were not mentioned until nearly a month later when Elder Woodruff spoke in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on 16 September 1877. He spoke of the visitation of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, “They waited on me for two days and two nights.” He added, “I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them.” (Journal of Discourses, 19:229.)

            I strongly believe that our Founding Fathers and Mothers were prepared, raised up, and inspired by God to become an independent nation. I have great respect for them and honor their efforts in creating a new kind of nation with a written Constitution. I know that America was held in reserve until their time, so that they could prepare a nation where people would have freedom of religion. The new government took charge on March 4, 1789, and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Prophet Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820, only 31 years later to open this dispensation and to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth. The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the result of the work of the Founding Fathers.