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, March 31, 2021

Does the New Georgia Election Law Bring Back “Jim Crow Laws”?

             Democrats, liberals, and progressives use the “race card” whenever they cannot win with ideas and policies, and President Joe Biden is no different. In discussing the latest election reform bill in Georgia, he claimed that the Jim Crow laws of the “Old South” were returning. Nothing can be further from the truth.

            According to Hans von Spakovsky at The Daily Signal, the claims of Jim Crow laws are insulting and have to do with two of the provisions of the bill. He wrote that critics of the bill apparently did not actually read what the bill said. If they did, they do not “understand that similar provisions already exist in federal law.” 

            In an effort to educate the critics, von Spakovsky discussed the two provisions. The first one is a requirement to provide an ID to receive an absentee ballot. There is already a law in Georgia – in place since 2008 presidential election – with the requirement of showing “a government-issued photo ID” to vote in person.

When a federal judge threw out the lawsuit against the law in 2007 (amid similar “Jim Crow” comparisons), he specifically noted that in two years of litigation, the challengers could not produce a single resident of the state who would be unable to vote because of the new ID requirement.

Georgia provides a free photo ID to anyone who doesn’t already have one. We have more than a decade’s worth of Georgia’s turnout data in election after election that graphically shows that the ID provision does not prevent anyone—including minorities—from voting. Simply extending the ID requirement to absentee ballots is a much-needed, commonsense reform that voters support.

            Von Spakovsky continued with his explanation about why the new law is not a new Jim Crow law. Section 25 of the bill says that a voter can write “the number of his or her Georgia driver’s license or identification card” on the application for the absentee ballot. Any voter without a Georgia ID card can “provide a copy of a form of identification listed” in another code section of the Georgia law (§ 21-2-417(c)). The other acceptable forms of identification are “a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of such elector.” That language came from the Help America Vote Act of 2002 approved by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Harry Reid (D-Nevada), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).

            Von Spakovsky then explained the second provision about the provision of food and water being given to voters at the polls. Georgia does what most other states do – they prohibit electioneering inside or within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voters waiting in line to vote. The previous law prohibited the solicitation of “votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material” within such distances. Section 33 of the new bill added “nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gift, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to any elector” within such distances.

In other words, a candidate and his campaign staffers can’t show up at a polling place with a truckload of pizzas and sodas and start giving them to voters standing in line. The clear intent here is to prevent campaigns, candidates, and political operatives from unduly influencing or bribing voters with money or gifts, including food and drink.

Similarly, federal law (52 U.S.C. § 10307also prohibits paying or offering to pay anyone to register to vote or to vote. In fact, this ban was part of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965.

According to the U.S. Justice Department’s handbook on “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses,” this statute has been broadly interpreted to apply to “anything having monetary value, including cash, liquor, lottery chances, and welfare benefits such as food stamps.”

The idea that Georgia is somehow doing something nefarious by preventing gift-giving at the polls is bizarre and ignores the unfortunate, long history we have of this type of corruption and undue influence being used in our elections.

            The State of Georgia is attempting to “protect the security and integrity of the election process.” The criticisms of the law are meant to mislead the citizens of Georgia by using the race card once again. Since Black voters approve of voter ID laws by a high percentage (70%), any reasonable person would assume that the race card should be dropped.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Why Are Democrats Complaining about the New Georgia Election Law?

             Numerous state legislatures have been writing new laws to tighten election laws after the disaster known as the 2020 presidential election. Georgia’s new election law brought condemnation from President Joe Biden and other Democrats who claim that the law brings back the old Jim Crow era. There are many Democrat talking points being repeated by the various politicians and media organizations. They claim that the new law will restrict or limit voting by black and brown voters.

            Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal sought to show the difference between the six key myths being spouted by Democrats and the facts about Georgia’s election legislation signed by Governor Brian Kemp last Thursday. 

1. “Restrictions on Casting Absentee Ballots”

[Myth] In his written statement, Biden said of the new law: “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.” …

For its part, Fair Fight Action, the group run by [Stacy] Abrams, asserts: “Over 200,000 Georgians lack the appropriate ID under SB 202.”

[Fact] The law does require voter ID for individuals who are casting absentee ballots, which previously was not the case. A vote would need to provide a driver’s license number or another state identification number on the absentee ballot form.

The law also requires voters to request absentee ballots [at least] 11 days before the election. In its previous form, the law allowed voters to request ballots by the Friday before Election Day….

The earliest that Georgia voters may request an application for an absentee ballot will be 77 days before Election Day, down from 180 days….

Kemp said that 96% of Georgia voters already have suitable voter ID, and alternative identification would be provided at no charge to those who need it. [The law states the following:]

“In order to verify that the absentee ballot was voted by the elector who requested the ballot, the elector [voter] shall print the number of his or her Georgia driver’s license number or identification card…. The elector shall also print his or her date of birth in the space provided in the outer oath envelope.

“If the elector does not have a Georgia driver’s license or state identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40, the elector shall so affirm in the space provided on the outer envelope and print the last four digits of his or her Social Security number in the space provided on the outer oath envelope.

“If the elector does not have a Georgia driver’s license, identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40, or a Social Security number, the elector shall so affirm in the space provided on the outer oath envelope and place a copy of one of the forms of identification set forth in subsequent (c) of Code Section 21-2-417 in the outer envelope."

2. “Crime to Provide Water”

[Myth] Biden and Democrats have been spreading this myth. Biden said the following in his formal statement about the law: “It makes it a crime to provide water to voters while the wait in line – lines Republican officials themselves have created by reducing the number of polling sites across the state, disproportionately in Black neighborhoods.”

[Fact] Georgia’s law prohibits campaign workers from distributing food or drink, or anything else of value, to waiting voters, and from setting up a table within 150 feet of the building or 25 feet of a voter…. The law specifically allows official poll workers, as opposed to campaign workers, to provide water to voters.

Specifically, the law says: “No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.

… “This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer from distributing materials, as required by law, which are necessary for the purpose of instructing electors or from distributing materials prepared by the Secretary of State which are designed solely for the purpose of encouraging voter participation in the election being conducted or from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.” …

As to Biden’s charge that Republicans are creating long lines to vote, the new law provides “additional voting equipment or poll workers to precincts containing more than 2,000 electors.”

3. “It Ends Voting Hours Early”

[Myth]In his written statement Friday, Biden said: “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”

[Fact] The new Georgia law does nothing to change Election Day voting hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although it expands weekend voting before Election Day.

… The law itself states:

Requiring two Saturday voting days and two optional Sunday voting days will dramatically increase the total voting hours for voters across the State of Georgia, and all electors in Georgia will have access to multiple opportunities to vote in person on the weekend for the first time.”

4. “Render Drop Boxes Useless”

[Myth] Abram’s Fair Fight Action organization said the law, known as Senate Bill 202, would “render drop boxes ‘useless’ and otherwise harm voters across the state.” …

The law states:

“A board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall establish at least one drop box as a means for absentee by mail electors to deliver their ballots to the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk.

“A board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk may establish additional drop boxes, subject to the limitations of this Code section, but may only establish additional drop boxes totaling the lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county. Any additional drop boxes shall be evenly geographically distributed by population in the county."

5. “Jim Crow 2.0”?

[Myth] Upon the Georgia Legislature’s passage of the bill, Abrams … said…: “Republican state leaders willfully undermine democracy by giving themselves authority to overturn results they do not like. Now, more than ever, Americans must demand federal action to protect voting rights as we continue to fight against these blatantly unconstitutional efforts that are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.”

… Biden later tweeted a similar assertion. “It’s Jim Crow in the 21st Century – and it must end.”

[Fact] … Putting aside what is or isn’t acceptable political hyperbole, Jim Crow has a literal historical legacy.

Factually, the term Jim Crow laws refers to state and local laws in the segregated South that existed from after the Civil War until at least the mid-1960s.

With regard to voting, these laws included requiring poll tests for black voters before they could cast a ballot. These overtly racist laws also restricted employment and educational opportunities for black Americans.

Schools, parks, recreation facilities, and other public buildings routinely were segregated throughout the South, as were public restrooms and water fountains. The Jim Crow era included terrorist activity by the Ku Klux Klan, which committed violent and deadly acts against blacks such as lynchings, often with impunity….

6. “Legislative Takeover”

[Myth] Abram’s Fair Fight Action says Georgia’s new law would “allow legislative takeovers of local boards of elections, and much more.”

[Fact] The fact is that under the new law, the state Legislature does indeed have an increased role in the State Election Board under the new law.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s secretary of state will have a diminished role. This is the basis for the claim that partisan politics could play a role.

“The secretary of state will no longer chair the State Election Board, becoming instead a non-voting ex-officio member,” Georgia Public Broadcasting explained. “The new chair would be nonpartisan but appointed by a majority of the state House and Senate.

“The chair would not be allowed to have been a candidate, participate in a political party organization or campaign or [have] made campaign contributions for two years prior to being appointed.”

            I do not know much about Georgia’s prior laws, but I do offer my opinion about the Democrat talking points following the signing of the new law. The new law in and of itself seems like common sense and something that any person desiring fair and honest elections could support. The fact that Democrats at all levels – including the White House – are complaining about the new law tells me that the law was much needed. There is a good chance that Democrats in Georgia used the old law to commit fraud in prior elections. Now that the law has been changed and tightened, it will be more difficult for them to cheat.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Who Is Robert Redfield?

            My VIP for this week is Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who helped lead the response to the coronavirus pandemic for the Trump administration. Now that he is no longer in charge of the CDC, he is free to share his opinions. 

In an interview released last Friday, Redfield said, “I do not believe this [COVID-19] somehow came from a bat to a human.” He added, “Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonot to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human to human transmission.”

Redfield shared his belief that the coronavirus escaped as a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China, sometime in September or October 2019.  “That’s my own feelings. And only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”           

Acknowledging that his point of view is with the minority in the scientific community, Redfield stated, “Now, I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely aetiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped.” He added, “The other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”

Will the truth about the origin of COVID-19 ever be known? That is a good question. However, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe hinted that they had seen evidence that supports the lab leak theory. It may take years, but one thing that we know is that truth has a way of finally finding the light.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

What Should Be Done to Bring Integrity Back to Elections?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the regulation of elections. Article I of the United States Constitution gives the duties of the legislative branch of the government. Section 4 discusses elections. The Election Clause designates authority to regulate elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The clause also authorizes and empowers states to set the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.” However, Congress has power and authority to “make or alter such Regulations, excepts as to the Places of chusing Senators.”

            Michael T. Morley, Assistant Professor of Law at Florida State University College of Law, and Franita Tolson, Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, wrote an article discussing the Election Clause and explained it as follows. 

Although the Elections Clause makes states primarily responsible for regulating congressional elections, it vests ultimate power in Congress. Congress may pass federal laws regulating congressional elections that automatically displace (“preempt”) any contrary state statutes, or enact its own regulations concerning those aspects of elections that states may not have addressed. The Framers of the Constitution were concerned that states might establish unfair election procedures or attempt to undermine the national government by refusing to hold elections for Congress. They empowered Congress to step in and regulate such elections as a self-defense mechanism.

            The authors continued by explaining that there have been times when Congress used its “power to ‘make or alter’ rules concerning congressional elections, and some of its laws lie at the very heart of the modern electoral process.” Federal laws include the establishment of “a single national Election Day for congressional elections,” the mandate for “states with multiple Representatives in the U.S. House divide themselves into congressional districts,” laws “limiting the amount of money that people may contribute to candidates for Congress,” mandate that “voter registration forms be made available at various public offices,” and the requirement for “states to ensure the accuracy of their voter registration rolls.” The authors also stated that the Fourteenth Amendment “protects the fundamental right to vote, barring states from needlessly imposing substantial burdens on the right….”

            The power and authority for elections rests with the states, but Congress has the ultimate authority and power. They are to work together to ensure election integrity. This explains actions on two different fronts. On one front, H.R. 1 “addresses voter access, election integrity, election security, political spending, and ethics for the three branches of government. Specifically, the bill expands voter registration and voting access and limits removing voters from voter rolls. The bill provides for states to establish independent, non-partisan redistricting commissions.” Opponents of this bill say that it will end open and honest elections and ensure that Democrats remain in power. 

            The other front is taking place in the states. It is an effort to investigate what happened in the 2020 election and ensure that election fraud does not take place in the future. Just the News reported that some courts in battleground states have declared state laws regarding how “absentee ballots were implemented or counted violated state laws.” This month Michigan State Court of Claims concluded that Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson violated state law when she with her “instructions on signature verification for absentee ballots.” She told local election clerks in October to start with a “‘presumption’ that all signatures on absentee ballots were valid and only reject those that had ‘multiple significant and obvious’ inconsistencies.” Her instructions were challenged in court by Republicans and one election clerk. 

Chief Court of Claims Judge Christopher M. Murray ruled March 9 that the state Legislature did not provide such guidance in its election laws, and therefore Benson needed to promulgate a formal rule – a timely process – before imposing such a requirement. Murry told election clerks they should disregard Benson’s instructions in future elections.

“An agency must utilize formal rule-making procedures when establishing policies that ‘do not merely interpret or explain the statute or rules from which the agency derives its authority,’ but rather ‘establish the substantive standards implementing the program,’” Murray ruled.

“The guidance issued by the Secretary of State on October 6, 2020, with respect to signature-matching standards was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act,” he concluded.

            Next door in Wisconsin, the justices at the state Supreme Court “concluded that state and local election officials erred when they gave blanket permission allowing voters to declare themselves homebound and skip voter ID requirements in the 2020 elections.” The “court ruled that only those voters whose ‘own age, physical illness or infirmity’ makes them homebound could declare themselves ‘indefinitely confined’ and avoid complying with a requirement for photo ID.” 

"We conclude that both the contention that electors qualify as indefinitely confined solely as the result of the COVID19 pandemic and the declared public health emergency and the contention that Wis. Stat. § 6.86(2)(a) could be used for those who 'have trouble presenting a valid ID' are erroneous because those reasons do not come within the statutory criteria," the court ruled.

In so doing, the court ruled that local officials like Dane County and Gov. Tony Evers did not have legal authority to exempt all voters to get an absentee ballot without an ID. Evers had issued an executive order earlier this year.

"We conclude that [Evers'] Emergency Order #12 did not render all Wisconsin electors 'indefinitely confined,' thereby obviating the requirement of a valid photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot," the majority ruling concluded.

            According to Just the News, a judge in Virginia ruled in January that election law had been violated by the Virginia Department of Elections in the 2020 election. The court “approved a consent decree permanently banning the acceptance of ballots without postmarks after Election Day.” The case was filed when an “electoral board member in Frederick County challenged the legality of the state’s instruction and won though the ruling came after the election. “If the return envelope has a missing postmark, the ballot shall be rendered invalid” was the ruling made by Frederick County Circuit Judge William W. Eldridge IV.

            A recent audit of mail-in ballots for heavily-Democratic Missoula County, Montana, found election irregularities – enough that could have swung the local 2020 election as well as past statewide elections. There is a question that the investigation into Montana elections may have an impact on the what the Democrats are planning for nationalizing and making permanent of the measures that were used during the 2020 election.

            In the summer of 2020, then-governor, Democrat Steve Bullock permitted counties to have full mail-in-voting. In addition, a “law aimed at preventing ballot harvesting” was struck down by a court in Montana. When Missoula County chose to go the vote-by-mail route, several residents of the county responded in October 2020. They had “experience targeting election integrity issues” and “formed a group to ensure the legitimacy of the 2020 vote.” They acted because the county had a history of anomalies in past elections.

            The group contacted state Republican state Rep. Brad Tschida, who hired attorney Quentin Rhodes to represent him. He contacted Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman to request “access to all of the county’s ballot envelopes.” Seaman complied to the request. A team of volunteers worked with Rhoades and the Missoula County Elections Office to conduct an audit on January 4. The auditors counted and reviewed all ballot envelopes and compared their number to the number of officially recorded votes cast during the November 3, 2020, general election. 

Its conclusions were troubling: 4,592 out of the 72,491 mail-in ballots lacked envelopes – 6.33% of all votes. Without an officially printed envelope with registration information, a voter’s signature, and a postmark indicating whether it was cast on time, election officials cannot verify that a ballot is legitimate. It is against the law to count such votes.

What’s more, according to auditors, county employees claimed that during the post-election audit, some of the envelopes may have been double counted, possibly indicating an even higher number of missing envelopes.

Auditors also tested a smaller, random sub-sample of 15,455 mail-in envelopes for other defects. Of these, 55 lacked postmark dates, and 53 never had their signatures checked – for a total of 0.7% of all ballots in the sample. No envelope had more than one irregularity.

Extrapolating from the sub-sample, that would make more than 5,000 of Missoula County’s votes – roughly 7% -- with unexplained irregularities.

            The audit found another suspicious issue with dozens of ballot envelopes with similar and distinctive handwriting, suggesting one or more people had submitted several ballots – an act of fraud. Missoula County elections officials would not allow pictures of the signatures, which would allow cross-compare of ballot samples. Neither would the officials allow auditors “access to video footage [the county elections office] claimed to have recorded of vote-counting activities.”

            The court cases in the battleground states and the audit in Montana show that there were voting irregularities in the 2020 election. The election results have been confirmed, but the investigations could still show enough fraud to change the election. There were over 200,000 people in Wisconsin that declared themselves to be permanently confined because of the pandemic, many more than in a normal year with only a 20,000-vote difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. From Virginia to Michigan and Wisconsin to Montana and maybe Arizona - it sounds like election fraud was widespread to me.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

How Will Christ Gather His People?

             My Come, Follow Me lesson this week was Doctrine and Covenants 29. This revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, in the presence of six elders, in September 1830, at Fayette, New York. It was given several days before the conference that began September 26, 1830. It reveals much information about the gathering of Israel, the Millennium, the conditions that will precede the Second Coming of Christ, the last resurrection, and the final judgment after the Millennium. There are numerous other topics in this section.

            Even though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been organized on April 6, 1830, there were still many truths to be revealed and many questions to be answered. They were familiar with prophecies in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ about the gathering of Israel and the building up of Zion (see 3 Nephi 21). How would the gathering take place? Where would Zion be built?

            In addition, Hiram Page claimed to receive revelations, and people had increased curiosity about revelations (see Doctrine and Covenants 28). Other people had questions about the Fall of Adam and Eve and spiritual death. The Lord welcomed these questions: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:6). He also welcomes our questions today. He wants to teach us, and He waits for us to go to Him in prayer with our questions. Section 29 shows that God often imparts more truth and knowledge than a simple answer to a prayerful question. The first topic covered in Section 29 is the gathering of Israel.  

1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I Am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins;

2 Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.

3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you, therefore ye receive these things; but remember to sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you.

4 Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.

5 Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.

6 And, as it is written – Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.

7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice land harden not their hearts;

8 Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked (Doctrine and Covenants 29:1-8).

            This revelation taught the small group of men that the members of the newly organized church are chosen to take the gospel to the world and to gather the Lord’s “elect.” The Lord defined His “elect” as those who “hear [His] voice and harden not their hearts” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7). The Lord’s elect is anyone who assists the Lord in the work of salvation (see Doctrine and Covenants 101:39-40; 115:5; 138:55-56). The gathering begins when individuals hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, make covenants with God, and gather with the Saints. This gathering must take place for God’s people to be prepared for “the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:8).

            In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ, new converts gathered to where the main body of the Saints was located. They first gathered in Jackson County, Missouri, but were later driven from their homes. They gathered in Far West, Missouri, but were driven out of Missouri. They gathered to Nauvoo, Illinois, and later to the Salt Lake Valley. It is no longer necessary for converts to gather to a specific geographical place. They are counseled to remain in their home country and to build up the stakes of Zion wherever they live. President Spencer W. Kimball explained the law of the gathering of Israel.

The gather of Israel consists of joining the true Church and … coming to a knowledge of the true God…. Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel, and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 439).

            In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ, there was only one “stake of Zion,” so converts were counseled to gather to a central gathering place. Now there are “stakes of Zion” located in many of the nations on earth, and new converts can gather with the Saints in their local stakes. President Russell M. Nelson, then-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught how the gathering of God’s elect takes place today.

Here on earth, missionary work is crucial to the gathering of Israel…. Consequently, servants of the Lord have gone forth proclaiming the Restoration. In many nations our missionaries have searched for those of scattered Israel….

The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” [3 Nephi 20:13] without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation. The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion [see Doctrine and Covenants 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6] in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise” [2 Nephi 9:2]. “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people” [Bruce R. McConkie, in Conference Report, Mexico City Mexico Area Conference 1972, 45]. The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart” [Doctrine and Covenants 97:21]. Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location” (“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 81).

            The gathering of Israel continues to take place, and there are many ways to assist in the work. My sons and sons-in-law served as missionaries in their young adulthood. Now their children are following in their footsteps. My oldest grandson will complete his mission in early June, and my oldest granddaughter plans to leave on her mission in mid-July. Other grandchildren are quickly reaching the age of missionary work.

            Other gathering takes place as we live our lives and show good examples to the communities around us. I try to use this blog as an instrument to help in the gathering. Wherever we live, there are opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and assist in His work of gathering Israel in preparation for His return to earth.


Friday, March 26, 2021

How, When, and Why Should Parents Teach Children about Sexuality?

             Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents arm their children against the effects of pornography. Parents should understand that it is no longer “if” children view pornography, but it is “when” they must deal with it. The prevalence of pornography and its availability increases every year, and every child with access to the internet may come in contact with it.

            I have been studying about sexuality and pornography for the past two weeks. I opened my lesson for week 12 and found it to be about pornography. A day or so later, I opened an email from the stake executive secretary with four links to articles about pornography. It seems that the adult session of stake conference this weekend will be about sexuality and pornography.

One of the links is to an article titled “How, When, and Why: Talking to Your Children about Sexuality” by Laura M. Padilla-Walker, a professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University (BYU), and Meg O. Jankovich, a student in the BYU Marriage, Family, and Human Development master’s program. The point of the article is to help children to prepare for and enjoy sexuality in marriage. 

Padilla-Walker and Jankovich believe that parents should guide their children as they learn to control their God-given feelings. They wrote that the goal of parents and teachers “should be to help our children to be both sexually pure and prepared.”

The physical aspects of the law of chastity (for example, abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity after marriage) are central and important. However, abstinence is sometimes discussed more often than the emotional and spiritual aspects of the joy and beauty of sexual intimacy in marriage, as well as the peace that comes form living a life of virtue and purity both before and after marriage: “Intimate relations … are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, May 2013, 42).

In order to help our children prepare to enjoy sexual intimacy in its beauty and wonder within marriage, we need to help them understand their sexual development and guide them as they work toward controlling their God-given feelings and emotions.

            Padilla-Walker and Jankovich say that it is “never too late” to teach children about sexuality. They discuss the how, when, and why parents can began talking with their children about sexuality.

1. How to Talk about Sexuality

One critical element of healthy parent-child conversations about sexuality is to promote a culture of openness….

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “As our children grow, they need information taught by parents more directly and plainly about what is and is not appropriate. Parents need to … talk to [their children] plainly about sex and the teachings of the gospel regarding chastity. Let this information come from parents in the home in an appropriate way” (“Like a Flame Unquenchable,” Ensign, May 1999, 86).

To foster open communication, you can:

·         Start when your children are young by calling body parts by their correct names….

·         Let your children know they can ask you any questions, and then try not to overreact or attach shame to their questions or confessions. Celebrate that they are talking to you, show them love and support, and do your best to keep lines of communication open.

·         Avoid using metaphors for sexuality. Children need information presented in a clear and honest way….

2. When to Talk about Sexuality

Most parents have a single conversation with their children about sexuality. But given the false messages youth are getting from the world today … children need more than one talk from their parents….

In speaking about potential exposure to pornography, Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, said: “Earlier discussions are better, and children will come forward more readily when they know they are loved and nothing they say or do can change that love….

“Parents, we must start the conversation and not wait for children to come to us…. We want children to feel prepared and empowered, not scared. We want to talk with them and not at them” (“Addressing Pornography: Protect, Respond, and Heal,” Ensign, Oct. 2019, 25, 26).

To be more intentional, you can:

·         Have home evening lessons on topics related to sexuality and let your children teach as they feel ready. Topics might include puberty, body image, the positive aspects of sexuality, the dangers of pornography use, that it is normal to have sexual feelings, and more.

·         Help your children come up with specific strategies to resist temptation… sing a hymn, think of a scripture, pray, engage in physical exercise….

·         Teach children how to avoid sexual predators and to stay safe…. [To prevent fear about sexuality, do not teach about safety at the same time that you teach about sexual intimacy within marriage.]

3. Talk about the Why of Sexuality

Children often want to know why they are expected to do things. Why should they keep the law of chastity when some people around them do not? When they understand the reasons behind expectations, they are more likely to internalize shared gospel and family values. Youth who know why they are committing to keep the law of chastity find that this commitment “ceases to [be] a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Forget Me Not,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 122).

If we want our children to keep God’s law of chastity, we need to give them reasons for why it is important to abide by this law. They must be taught that sexuality is given to us by Heavenly Father to be used under the conditions that He sets….

As you discuss sexual development with your child, consider these teachings:

·         Sexuality is an inherent part of each child of God … created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). …

·         Experiencing sexual feelings and sexual arousal is normal. Children don’t need to act on those feelings and sensations but instead can be mindful of them. This means noticing sexual feelings but not negatively judging them. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can help us make better choices that are in line with our values and goals, such as keeping the law of chastity.

·         Masturbation is often a child’s first experience with sexuality and is done in ignorance. Even young children are prone to self-touching, and how parents respond to these early behaviors can set the stage for how young people feel about themselves and their sexuality….

·         If children understand the why behind standards related to relationships and sexuality (including dating, modesty, chastity, etc.), they are more likely to see the wisdom in God’s laws and have the motivation to keep them. As you teach these standards, remember that it’s important to do so without imposing shame or fear.

Padilla-Walker and Jankovich reminded their readers that there is power in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. When our youth stumble while learning to “understand and regulate their sexuality,” parents should react as they would when their toddler falls when learning to walk. “It is important for us to remember to promote growth instead of guilt and to teach children that Jesus Christ can bless them with grace and power and mercy to strengthen them and help them remain sexually pure and one day enjoy the blessings of sexual intimacy in marriage.” Parents can strengthen their families, communities, and nations by teaching and preparing their children about the proper use of sexuality.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Is the Bill for the People or to keep Corrupt Politicians in Office?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that every eligible American citizen has a right to vote – one person equals one vote. Democrats do not seem to like this principle because they use every tactic in their power to give non-citizens, dead people, felons, etc. the right to vote. Their latest scheme is to take the constitutional control of elections from the states and give it to Washington, D.C.

The first hearing on the Democrat’s legislation to nationalize elections was held on Wednesday. Part of the legislation calls for eliminating voter identification and most other state election safeguards. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) denounced the legislation and said that it should be called the Corrupt Politicians Act because its main purpose is to keep corrupt politicians in office.

Democrats claim that Republicans are “afraid of democracy” and that voter fraud “simply doesn’t exist.” Democrats know that both statements are false. The proposed bill would legalize ballot harvesting nationwide, establish same-day voter registration, transfer the authority to draw congressional districts from state legislatures to unelected bureaucrats, and more. Fred Lucas wrote about nine highlights from the hearing on the federal takeover of elections. 

1. Mao and Maduro

Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., compared congressional Democrats’ bill to the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela and Mao Zedong in China, saying they would change the rules to cling to power….

2. Eric Holder: Voter Fraud “Simply Doesn’t Exist.”

… “There is a large and powerful faction in this country intent on retaining power, and who will bend or break the rules of our democracy in order to do so,” Holder testified, adding:

“The attack on our system of government did not begin nor end with the insurrection at our Capitol on Jan. 6. For years now, politicians have spread the same lies about voter fraud and expressed falsehoods about the integrity of our electoral system. The fact is, there is no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud during the 2020 election or at any other time.”

Hold identified an “undemocratic trinity” of issues as “gerrymandering, voter suppression, [and] dark money.” He said Democrats’ bill would “get rid of all of them at once.” …

3. Schumer, McConnell, and “Shame”

Demonstrating the significance of the legislation, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., each dropped by the opening of the hearing to deliver their own remarks….

[Schumer said] “Republican state legislatures have seized on the former president’s big lie that the election was stolen and introduced more than 26 bills in 43 states aimed at tightening voting rules under the guise of election integrity.” …

The New York Democrat cited proposals in Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia that he characterized as voter suppression.

“This is one of the most despicable things I’ve seen in all my years. Shame, shame, shame,” the majority leader said…

McConnell dismissed Schumer’s claim of a vast voter suppression effort….

McConnell said Democrats’ legislation would create an “implementation nightmare” for local election officials.

“This legislation would forcibly rewrite election laws in all 50 states from here in Washington,” McConnell said, adding:

“Popular policies like voter ID would be banned unless states neutered with loopholes. Meanwhile, unpopular, and absurd practices like ballot harvesting – where paid political operatives can show up carrying stacks of other people’s ballots – would not just be allowed, it would be mandatory….

4. Ted Cruz: “Keep Corrupt Politicians in Office.”

Cruz called the legislation a “brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats.” He referred to it as the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” a phrase also popular on Twitter.

“Under this bill [called For the People Act], there is automatic registration of anybody, if you get a driver’s license, if you get a welfare payment, if you get an unemployment payment, if you attend a public university,” Cruz said. “Everyone knows there are millions of illegal aliens who have driver’s licenses, who are getting welfare benefits, who attend public universities. This bill is designed to register everyone of those illegal aliens.” …

5. Opposition to Voter ID Is “Racist.”

During [an] exchange with Cruz, [Indiana Attorney General Todd] Rokita noted the effectiveness of Indiana’s voter ID law and said Indiana is a national model.

“In Indiana, we had the country’s first phot ID law; voter turnout went up, and it went up because more people had confidence in the process,” Rokita said. “In fact, when others on this panel and other places say that a certain subset of our country or our electorate can’t vote with photo ID, that’s really a racist statement.” … 

6. Taxpayer Funding for Politicians?

Although the public campaign financing portion of the bill, numbered as S1, provides $6 in government funds to federal candidates for every $1 raised in private donations, some supporters insist that money wouldn’t be taxpayer money….

7. “Absolutely Eliminate.”

Although the legislation would expand same-day voter registration and allow felon voting and other procedures that Democrats contend enfranchise more voters, some voters would lose access, [Marc] Warner, West Virginia’s secretary of state, told the Senate panel. [Voters who would lose access are members of the military stationed overseas and voters with certain disabilities.]

8. Cleaning Voter Rolls and Suppression

Early in the hearing, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the ranking member of the Rules and Administration Committee, asked Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, whether state laws using Social Security information to identify dead people would be considered voter suppression….

Blunt followed up: “Just on the question I asked, why would that bill, removing dead people from the voter rolls based on Social Security information, be voter suppression?” …

But Blunt noted a contradiction in Waldman’s support of Democrats’ legislation. So, your view would be, the federal government is not capable of telling the state which Social Security recipients died and no longer get a check,” Blunt said. “So, we should turn the entire election over to a federal structure? I just don’t agree.” …

9. “Remember the Sabbath.”

During Schumer’s remarks, he sharply criticized the Georgia Legislature for eliminating early voting on Sunday.

“The most reprehensible effort of all might be found in Georgia, where Republicans recently passed a bill to eliminate early voting on Sunday – on Sunday – the day when many church-going African Americans participate in voter drives known as Souls to the Polls,” the Senate majority leader said.

“What an astonishing coincidence. I’d like one of the Republican members on this committee to give us a plain sense justification for that restriction,” Schumer said, adding: “Monday through Saturday, legitimate voters show up, but Sunday is voter fraud day. Give me a break.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., offered a justification for not allowing voting on Sunday.

“I cannot speak for Georgia, but I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never do that on a Sunday or hold an election on a Sunday,” Hyde-Smith said, before holding up a dollar bill.

She said, referring to the national motto:

“This is a dollar bill. This says, ‘The United States of America … In God We Trust.’ Etched in stone in the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘In God We Trust.’

“When you swore in all of these witnesses, the last thing you said to them, your instructions, was ‘so help you God.’ In God’s word, in Exodus 20:18, it says: ‘Remember the sabbath and keep it holy.’ That is my response to Sen. Schumer.”