Declaration of Independence

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

Saturday, July 31, 2021

How Can I Gain More Understanding of the Priesthood of God?

             My Come, Follow Me studies this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 84. This section contains a revelation that was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, on September 22 and 23, 1832. This communication was received during a season of joy when missionaries were returning from their missions in the eastern states and reporting on their labors. It was during this reunion that the Prophet inquired of the Lord and received this revelation. The Prophet Joseph Smith designated it as a revelation on priesthood.

            The priesthood was restored in May 1829, and Latter-day Saints had been blessed by its sacred power for more than three years at the time Section 84 was received. Latter-day Saints had been baptized, confirmed, and called to serve by priesthood authority – much the same as is done today. Having access to priesthood power and enjoying its blessings is not the same thing as completely understanding it. This revelation was the Lord’s means of giving more understanding to His Saints. This revelation on the priesthood expanded the Saints’ vision of what the priesthood really is, and a study of Section 84 can expand our vision today.

            The Lord used this revelation to explain how the priesthood prepares the Saints to enter God’s presence and receive all that He has. The Lord taught of the importance of hearkening to His words and reproved the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, for treating the Book of Mormon and His commandments lightly. The Lord also commanded the Saints to preach the gospel to the world, and He provided instructions for doing so.

            The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual – Religion 324 and 325 [2018] gave further information about Section 84.

During a conference of priesthood holders held in Amherst, Ohio, on January 25, 1832, a number of elders were called to preach the gospel in various locations in the United States (see Doctrine and Covenants 75). In September 1832, some of these elders returned from their missions in the eastern states. Joseph and Emma Smith had just moved from the John and Alice (Elsa) Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio, to the living quarters in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. When the missionaries returned to Kirtland, they reported their experiences, and the Prophet Joseph Smith rejoiced in their success. While the Prophet was with these elders on September 22, he inquired of the Lord and received revelation about the priesthood. The Prophet continued to receive instruction from the Lord the following day, September 23. This revelation, received over two days, is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. Several individuals witnessed the Prophet Joseph Smith dictate the revelation. Doctrine and Covenants 84:1 suggests that six elders were present as the dictation began, but a note in an original handwritten copy of the revelation indicates that 10 high priests were present during the latter part of the revelation. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831 – January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 289-90.)

            One of the principles taught about priesthood in Doctrine and Covenants 84 is: “We all have access to God’s priesthood power and blessings (verses 1-5, 17-28, 31-42). The Lord begins this revelation on the priesthood by teaching that a temple will be built in Zion (verses 1-5). Temples would have little purpose without priesthood power and authority. It is within the walls of the holy temple that men and women receive some of the greatest blessings that can be received on earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ is taught in the temples, and families are sealed together for eternity in the temples.

            The oath and covenants of the priesthood are taught in this revelation (verses 31-42), and this information has special application for those who are ordained to a priesthood office. However, many of the promised blessings in these verses are available to all as we receive the Lord’s servants and the Lord. President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following.

All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness of the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has (“Men and Women and Priesthood Power,” Ensign, Sept. 2014, 32).

            Men and women are called to labor together in building up the kingdom of God upon the earth. This includes the building of temples and doing sacred temple work. It is through performing the work of the Lord that can receive blessings both for time and for eternity. Men and women stand together in performing the work for the living and the dead.

            Another important principle found in Doctrine and Covenants 84:61-88 is: “The Lord will sustain those who serve Him.” These verses are directed to those who “shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom” (verse 80), but many of the principles they contain can apply to anyone who is serving God.

            The Lord charged His ancient Apostles (see Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18) to preach the gospel to all the world. He, likewise, instructed His Saints in the latter-days to preach the gospel to all the world. He commanded them to send their testimony in some other way if there was any place that they could not personally go to ensure that the restored gospel was proclaimed “unto every creature” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:62). Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited members of the Church of Jesus Christ today to use innovative and inspired communications and technology to send the gospel message to people throughout the world:

The Lord is hastening His work, and it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fulness of times. Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families. And I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work….

What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning – but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood…. I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth – messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy – and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood (see Moses 7:59-62) (“Flood the Earth through Social Media,” New Era, Aug. 2015, 32, 35).

            The priesthood is the power of God bestowed upon mortals for the purpose of blessing all the children of Heavenly Father. Doctrine and Covenants 84 teaches about the priesthood and how to use it more effectively in doing God’s work here on earth.

Friday, July 30, 2021

What Children’s Programming Should Parents Trust?

            Strong communities and strong nations are built upon strong families. The job of a parent has always required time and effort, but the job of today’s parent may be the most difficult of all.

Once upon a time, parents could depend on the children’s television program Sesame Street to “babysit” their children for a few minutes.

This program allowed a mother to grab a quick shower without any children in the bathroom with her, or it allowed a parent to prepare dinner without children getting into mischief. Today’s parents can no longer trust Sesame Street to teach their children the alphabet, numbers, colors, or how to get along with a friend.

            Bethany Mandel has fond memories of watching Sesame Street as a child. She “remembers the letters and numbers of the day, the celebrity guest stars, and the cantankerous Cookie Monster stealing my heart.” However, she did not plan to set her children in front of the television set and let them watch the modern-day Sesame Street. In fact, she added “a DVD player and seasons of all the old shows” to her baby registry.  Mandel and her husband had “witnessed a shift in the purpose and direction of contemporary children’s media over the past decade” and did not want to take their children on that journey. 

But the shifts keep coming. Last month, “Sesame Street” marked Pride Month by showing a type of family that has never been seen in the 51-year history of the iconic children’s television show. According to TODAY:

The show shared an episode last week called “Family Day” that features a married gay couple of two dads with their daughter. A dad named Frank, played by Alex Weisman, and a dad name Dave, played by Chris Costa, along with their daughter Mia, played by Olivia Perez, join the neighborhood family that surprises Big Bird at a party.

A character in the episode observes that “all of our families are so different.”

“There’s all kinds of different families,” Frank says. “But what makes us a family is that we love each other.” …

“Sesame Street” has addressed a range of social issues in recent years, including addiction, incarceration, race, homelessness and autism.

            Parents may not be opposed to such an episode under certain circumstances. However, this episode -- and other children’s media following the same type of trend – assumes that parents do not mind television programs teaching values to their children. Mandel wrote about her opposition to this teaching.

I don’t particularly care if “Sesame Street” features episodes with two dads; we have discussed with our children the different family makeups around us. What makes this episode – and the entire trend in children’s media – troublesome is the assumption that it is up to a media company to introduce topics ranging from addiction to same-sex marriage on their terms and that these topics should be presented to toddler-aged children watching programming like “Sesame Street.”

When played out in this way, the presentation isn’t just designed to be educational and informative; it’s meant as a symbol of virtue. The intention with episodes of this nature, especially launched during Pride Month, isn’t merely inclusion – it’s promotion.

Mandel continues her explanation for why she is concerned about children’s programming today. She ends with the following warning:

Parents should take note: The aim of children’s media is no longer just to provide free, education-minded babysitting while you get ready for work. Parents who want to remain the guiding force in their kids’ moral upbringing should opt-out of kids’ media produced in the last decade or so and invest in some vintage “Sesame Street.” The screen may not be in HD and the latest celebrity guest stars may be dated, but at least you know you can walk out of the room for a quick shower.

            Parents can no longer trust children’s programming to be strictly educational because too many are trying to teach morals. Parents must be aware of what children are learning from media to keep their family strong and to strengthen their community and nation.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Is the Biden Border Crisis Incompetence or Corruption?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the topic of illegal immigration into the United States. The steady stream of non-citizen travelers entering the United States was vastly decreased during the Trump administration. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaigned on the idea that they would open the borders to anyone who wanted to come to our nation. As soon as the results of the 2020 presidential election were announced, migrants began planning to come.

            The numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the border in March 2021 was the highest in history – until the numbers came in for April 2021, which were the highest until the numbers for May 2021 came in, which were the highest until the numbers for June 2021 came in. Here are some actual numbers provided by The Daily Wire

Democrat President Joe Biden’s crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border sank to new lows last month as U.S. law enforcement officials apprehended more illegal aliens trying to enter the U.S. than in any other month on record at the Department of Homeland Security, which was founded in 2002.

“In May 2021, CBP encountered 180,034 persons attempting entry along the Southwest Border,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. “Single adults continue to make up the majority of these encounters.”

The disastrous border numbers for last month represented a staggering 674% increase vs. May of 2020 when 23, 237 illegal aliens were apprehended. Last month’s numbers were the worst numbers in more than two decades.

The Trump administration turned around the situation on the border starting late during Fiscal Year 2019 and kept them low throughout Fiscal Year 2020. Biden’s border crisis has worsened every month that he has been in office in terms of the number of illegal aliens apprehended at the southern border.

            The situation at the border is just one evidence that “elections have consequences.” Hopefully, this disaster will teach American voters to look further than the manners or looks or even the personal morals of a candidate. The single most important factor in determining which candidate to elect should be the policies put forth by the candidate and the candidate’s party. I will vote every single time for a candidate who promises to and works toward putting America first. However, I have digressed from the topic of this post and will now return to it.

            To put it bluntly, the policies of the Biden administration have been disastrous in many ways but especially on the southern border. The projected number of illegal immigrants to cross the southern border this year is more than two million. We should keep in mind that this number does not include the “got aways” – those migrants who did not come through Immigration. Biden tries to convince America that he inherited a bad situation at the border. However, he lies about this topic and many others. The fact is that he could have left the Trump policies in place, and there would not be a border crisis. The following quote comes from Axios. 

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

·         Its unprecedented for agents to release migrants without an official notice to appear in court. Where it has occurred recently, migrants have instead been given a list of addresses and contacts for ICE offices across the country and told to report to one of them.

·         The hope has been for migrants to show up at these offices after reaching their final destination, to get work permits.

By the numbers: Just 6,700 migrants who crossed between mid-March and mid-July showed up at ICE offices as of Monday, one source briefed on Department of Homeland Security data told Axios.

·         16,000 have not showed up and passed the 60-day reporting window they were given. That’s 2.4 no-shows for every one that has checked in.

·         Another roughly 27,000 migrants who crossed and were released during the same time frame have yet to turn up, but remain within the 60-day window for reporting….

More than 1 million arrests have been made involving people trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border since last October. The last time we saw that many stops in one year was 15 years ago, and there are still two months left in the current fiscal year.

Further, the 178,000 arrests made in June alone marked a 20-year high for the month. That follows other, similar monthly records being broken.

            Under Biden, the Obama policy of “catch and release” has turned into “catch and misplace.” There are “repeated record-setting” numbers of people attempting to cross illegally into our nation, and there is no way that Biden can convince any honest person that this is just the normal annual surge at the border. This is definitely a crisis, and the Biden administration created it.

            On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order to stop the construction of the border wall – costing American taxpayers several billion dollars for the contractors to NOT build the wall and to secure the building materials. Possibly the same day but soon after the first executive order, Biden reversed Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. This policy caused immigrants to stay in Mexico while their asylum requests were processed and researched. It was also instrumental in slowing the stream of immigrants because they did not want to be stuck in Mexico.

To show their gratitude, many immigrants showed up at the border with Biden-themed T-shirts. One migrant told a journalist this month, “Gracias al President Biden por la oportunidad de venir aqui ahora,” meaning “Thanks to President Biden for the opportunity to come here now.” This statement alone shows that the migrants know that it is Biden who is letting them into our nation.

Biden’s border crisis brings not only a huge number of people that is currently overwhelming the system. It also brings many hundreds of COVID-19 infected individuals. At a time when the Biden administration is trying to convince Americans to wear masks once again, it is an ironic fact that he is allowing thousands of foreigners to enter our nation without knowing much about them or their health.

According to Axios, 30% of the illegal migrants in ICE custody refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccination. The numbers of COVID-19 cases in the southern states – states to which the migrants are transported – have jumped to something like 900%.

The Biden administration totally owns the border crisis, and the Democrat Party and the mainstream media support him in it. It is difficult to imagine that an administration could do so much damage to our nation in less than seven months. Since Biden promised that he would open the borders and followed through on his promise without any corrections, we must assume that corruption is the reason for the border crisis.

For some “Firsthand Accounts of the Illegal Immigration Surge,” click here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Does America Have a Crisis of Empathy?

            Ben Shapiro believes that America has a crisis of empathy because it “is divided over two mutually exclusive definitions of empathy.” He also believes that the American divided cannot be bridged and is “tearing the country down the middle.” 

            According to Shapiro this crisis has nothing to do with charitable giving, governmental spending, or being tolerant racially and religiously. He admits that an individual American donates about seven times as much as Europeans do, and the United States far outspends all other nations. In addition, “America is one of the most racially and religiously tolerant nations on Earth.” So, what is causing the empathy crisis?

            Shapiro describes the two groups as “neutrality-driven empaths” and “emotion-centered empaths.” The first group “defines empathy as treating people as individuals capable of free choice and deserving of equality under the law.”

In this view, empathy manifests in respect for the capacity of other human beings, and in understanding that they make different decisions than you would. This version of empathy doesn’t require that we agree with anyone’s decisions, but that we understand that it is not our job, absent significant externalities, to rule them….

Neutrality-driven empaths believe that politics ought to be about solutions geared toward equality of individuals before the law. Policy and emotional empathy may come into conflict in this view.

            The second group, according to Shapiro, “believes that empathy means mirroring solidarity with subject feelings in policy. I

In this view, empathy means expressing agreement with someone else’s specific feelings, refusing to assess whether those feelings re merited or justified, and then shaping policy around assuaging those feelings.

Emotion-centered empaths … believe that politics ought to be bout emotional solidarity rather than finding solutions. Policy must follow emotional empathy in this view.

            Shapiro used the question of black student test performance for an example. Neutrality-driven empaths suggest that using meritocratic standards is the “only neutral rule that can be applied to education” and that “such standards have acted as a ladder” for various races. They believe that the underperformance of “a disproportionate number of black students” on such tests merit empathy but not the discarding of the standards.

            On the other hand, according to Shapiro, emotion-centered empaths suggest that the underperformance of black students “requires discarding testing regimes. Any other action would “abandon solidarity with those who underperform, to ignore the myriad factors that undoubtedly led to the underperformance in the first place.”

The battle between neutrality-driven empaths and emotion-driven empaths creates a massive political asymmetry. That’s because neutrality-driven empaths acknowledge that while people may disagree over policy, that does not mean they are uncaring or cruel.

But for emotion-driven empaths, the opposite is again true: If policy is directly correlated with empathy, failure to agree represents emotional brutality and cruelty. Not only that: There can be no agreeing to disagree, because to suggest that people bear consequences for their actions is in and of itself uncaring and unempathetic. It lacks solidarity.

            There lies Shapiro’s reasoning for claiming that the “empathy gap is a crisis” in America. On one side of the great divide, “empathy means treating people as individuals capable of reasoning and acting under neutral rules.” On the other side of the gulf, “empathy means shaping policy around solidarity with subjective feelings.” This means that “rules become kaleidoscopic, variable, and fluid – and compulsion is generally necessary in order to effectuate such rules.”

            A society can survive and prosper when adopting neutrality-driven empathy, but it will shrivel and die using emotion-driven empathy and coercion. Shapiro concluded with this statement:

Empathy for people as full human beings means recognizing their agency, understanding their differences, and holding fast to equality before the law. If we reject those principles in favor of a high-handed and paternalistic approach to power politics, freedom will not survive.

            This conclusion takes us right back to the discussion about equality and equity. It is possible to give equal opportunities to achieve success, but the degree of success will depend on the individual. The person’s talents, skills, knowledge, determination, work ethic, etc. will determine if they become a success. This is the same reason why we cannot guarantee equity in results – unless it is equity in poverty and sorrow. I agree with Shapiro: America has an empathy crisis. There are too many people who want success handed to them rather than the opportunity to work for greater success.       

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Should Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?

             Roe v. Wade became the law in all fifty states on January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute that banned abortion. The Texas statute made it a crime to perform an abortion except in cases where the mother’s life was endangered.

The Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion across the nation continues to divide Americans today. There are three findings from Roe v. Wade that are kept today: (1) “Women have the right to abort pre-viability without undue interference from the state.” (2) “The state may restrict abortion post-viability.” (3) “The state has a legitimate interest in protecting woman’s health and life of the fetus.” 

The U.S. Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade nearly fifty years ago before much of the current medical technology was developed. The sonogram was first used for clinical purposes in 1956 in Glasgow, Scotland, and was routinely used in hospitals there. However, British hospitals did not use it much until the 1970s, and American hospitals did not widely use it until “well into the 1970s.” 

My children were born between 1972 and 1985 without the use of sonograms. I remember hearing about sonograms with my fourth or fifth child simply because my friend’s doctor had one in his office. I was never offered a sonogram or had need for one, but I believe that they were more widely used in Alaska by the time that my last child was born. Most of my grandchildren were introduced to me by sonogram.

Sonograms give doctors and parents a way to look into the womb to see the child or children before they are born. These medical miracles show that unborn children are human beings, and I have long believed that they would be instrumental in ending abortion on demand. That time may be the present.

According to Mary Margaret Olohan, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear in October an abortion case titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Three Republican Senators – Josh Hawley (Missouri), Mike Lee (Utah), and Ted Cruz (Texas) – filed a brief in the case, and they asked the court to “revisit its rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.” In doing so, they asked the court to “return questions of abortion legislation to the states and challenged the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence as unconstitutional.” In other words, they said that abortion is a decision that each state should decide. 

This status quo is untenable….

Where a legal doctrine has repeatedly failed to offer clarity – where it has proved unworkable in the past and will likely engender unpredictable consequences in the future – its existence constitutes an open invitation to judges to interpret it according to their own policy preferences, usurping the constitutional prerogatives of the legislature.

Roe and Casey should be overruled … and the question of abortion legislation should be returned to the states.

            This is the first time in my recollection that a case has challenged Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. At least, none has done so successfully. Olohan explained that Dobbs “deals with a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.” The law was challenged by Jackson Women’s Health Organization and struck down by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2019. The State of Mississippi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. Olohan continued with her explanation:

An unborn baby is considered viable at 24 weeks, though medical intervention and a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit are usually required this early. Babies born before 23 weeks have a survival rate of about 5% to 6%, and analysis by Charlotte Lozier Institute medical experts found that unborn babies can feel pain as early as 12 weeks.

            Sonograms can detect a fetus about six weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period. Healthy pregnancies today usually involve two sonograms, one in the first trimester and the second in mid-second trimester. The sex of the child can usually be seen by the time of the second sonogram. Yet, abortion is legal up until the child is born.

            With the use of modern technology and modern medicine, much more is known today about the unborn baby than could be proven in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was passed. Now that it is obvious that an unborn baby is a human being and not just a blob of tissue and that unborn babies feel pain, it is time to revisit the law that legalizes killing of unborn babies for the convenience of their mothers.

Monday, July 26, 2021

What Do Medical Doctors Say About Transgender Athletes?

             My VIPs for this week are two medical doctors, Michelle Cretella and Quentin Van Meter. They published an article explaining why biological men cannot become women and should not be allowed to compete in women and girls’ sports. 

            Males who identify as females have infiltrated women and girls’ athletes at all levels, so it was only a matter of time before transgendered woman was selected to participate in the Olympics. Laurel Hubbard is a male athlete who thinks that he is female. He/she was selected to represent New Zealand on the women’s weightlifting team in the Tokyo Olympic games. Although the transgender movement celebrated it as a victory for “the power of inclusion,” most people can understand that it is unfair to both the sport and the athletes.

            Belgium female weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen hoped to qualify in the same event that Hubbard will compete. She claims that she “supports the transgender community.” However, she recognized that the benefits of steroids “give athletes unfair advantages” years after their use. She wants to know there is still a question about the effects of steroids.

            In 2015, the International Olympic Committee approved transgender athletes “who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category” IF their testosterone level falls below a certain level for the past twelve months. However, this rule has been challenged by two recent peer-reviewed studies, according to two medical doctors – Michelle Cretella and Quentin Van Meter.

            The doctor-authors explained that the first study, published in the Sports Medicine Journal, found “the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women [men on estrogen] is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed” for twelve months. The “review article found the male strength advantage to remain even after three years of testosterone suppression.” They continued their explanation:

Even if the strength advantage could be eliminated, however, to reduce the definition of female human being to having a certain level of testosterone in your body for a certain amount of time completely ignores the scientific reality that genetics – not testosterone – is at the root of all that makes the two sexes different.

When males are allowed to compete in athletic leagues designed for females, they deprive female athletes of the opportunity to safe and fair participation in sports. As Vanbellinghen said, “Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless.”

Vanbellinghen is not alone in feeling powerless. The authors discussed several instances where males took awards from female athletes: high school track, high school softball, college basketball, mixed martial arts, and state track and field championships. The authors continued their explanation.

The simple truth is that males outperform females in regard to speed and strength due to inborn genetics and sex hormones. This has consistently been proven by long-term research on elite athletes when matched for training.

The sex hormone testosterone plays an important role in regulating bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, and the production of red blood cells leading to higher circulating hemoglobin. This is particularly true during puberty.

After puberty, male circulating testosterone concentrations are 15 times greater than those of females at any age. The result is a clear male advantage in regard to muscle mass, strength and circulating hemoglobin levels even after adjusting for sex differences in height and weight.

The authors continued by explaining that “Athletic differences are also due to genetics.” Referring to completed studies, the authors wrote that the studies “identified more than 3,000 genes that are differentially expressed in male and female skeletal muscle.” The studies found some interesting facts.

Obvious bone differences due to a combination of genetics and hormones even exist at birth; the average male is heavier and taller than the average female and this advantage continues, hen controlled for stage of puberty, throughout life.

Genetics is why a male who self-identifies as female remains male, and giving estrogen to a male does not transform him into a female.

While it is true that a male using estrogen will lose muscle strength and impair other aspects of his physiology, he does not alter his genetics; he remains male at the cellular level in all body systems.

Similarly, a female who self-identifies as male remains female, and giving her testosterone does not transform her into a male. In terms of genetics, she remains female at the cellular level.

These inherent sex-based differences also mean that females are at higher risk of athletic injuries….

            The doctors concluded that “these discrepancies render females, on average, unable to compete effectively against males in power-based or endurance-based sports.” Science and common sense agree that males should not be allowed to compete in female sports because “they deprive girls and women of the opportunity to safe and fair participation in sports.” The question is how many women and girls will be denied proper recognition for their skills because men cannot succeed in competing against men?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Why Is the U.S. Constitution Considered to Be Inspired?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the inspiration involved in writing the Constitution of the United States. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the Lord prepared the men who wrote the Constitution for their important task. Latter-day Saints also believe that the Lord influenced the Framers to include inspired principles in the Constitution.

            According to President Dallin H. Oaks and scholar of the Constitution, said that the Constitution of the United States contains at least five divinely inspired principles. The first divine principle in the Constitution is that it makes the source of government power to be the people. “The Constitution established a constitutional democratic republic, where the people exercise their power through their elected representatives.”

            The second divine principle of the Constitution is the division of delegated power between the nation and its subsidiary states. Each state is a sovereign government, and the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution gives all powers to the people and the states that were not specifically given to the federal government.

            The third divine principle of the Constitution is the separation of powers, or the division of federal power into the “independent executive, legislative and judicial powers so these three branches could exercise checks upon one another.”

            The fourth divine principle is the cluster of guarantees of individual rights and specific limits on government authority in the Bill of Rights.

            The fifth divine principle is “the vital purpose of the entire Constitution. We are to be governed by law and not by individuals, and our loyalty is to the Constitution and its principles and processes, not to any officeholder.”

            When Latter-day Saints say that the Constitution was inspired by God, they do not mean that every word was inspired. They mean that the process was inspired by God as well as the principles that are included in the Constitution. Latter-day Saints also believe that they have a unique responsibility to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution by praying for guidance from the Lord on the nation and by living in obedience to the conditions contained in the Supreme Law of the United States.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Why Does the Lord Require More from Those Who Have Been Given Much?

             My Come, Follow Me studies took me to Doctrine and Covenants 81-83 this week. Section 82 contains a revelation that was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on April 26, 1832. The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual for Religion 324-325 gives the following background information for this section.

In 1832 the Church had two centers of growing membership: one in Kirtland, Ohio, and one in Jackson County, Missouri. To assist needy Saints and to generate revenue that could be used to purchase land in Zion (Jackson County) and publish the revelations, a storehouse was established in each location (see D&C 57:8–1072:8–10). In November 1831, the Lord appointed a group of Church leaders to be “stewards over the revelations and commandments” (D&C 70:3) and see to their publication. Later, the Lord commanded that a “firm” be organized to manage the literary and mercantile endeavors of the Church (see the section headings to D&C 78 and D&C 82).

As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 78, Joseph Smith, Newel K. Whitney, and Sidney Rigdon were commanded to travel to Independence, Missouri, and counsel with Church leaders there….

To fulfill the Lord’s commandment to counsel with Church leaders in Missouri, the Prophet and others left Hiram, Ohio, on April 1, 1832, and made the nearly 900-mile journey to Independence, Missouri, arriving on April 24, 1832. As the Church leaders from Ohio assembled with those in Missouri in a council meeting held on April 26, 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 82….

            The principle for this essay comes from Doctrine and Covenants 82:3: “For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” The Lord emphasized to leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this revelation that they were blessed with a greater understanding of God’s plan than were most people, and they would also be held accountable for what they did with that greater knowledge.

            The same is true of all people today. God will hold us accountable for the knowledge that we have. Those who have received greater understanding of Heavenly Father and His plan for the eternal happiness of His children will be held accountable for that understanding. There are other scriptures that teach the same principle. James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Alma 9:23 says, “And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.”

These scriptures tell us that God requires His children to live the higher law once they receive it. A modern-day Apostles, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained it this way:

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having a witness of His reality not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon; knowing His priesthood has been restored to the earth; having made sacred covenants to follow Him and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; having been endowed with power in His holy temple; and being part of preparing for His glorious return to the earth, we cannot compare what we are to be with those who have not yet received these truths. “Unto whom much is given much is required” [D&C 82:3] (“Never Leave Him,” Ensign, November 2010, 41).

            This principle applies in all areas of our lives. If the Lord has blessed us with greater knowledge, we are required to share that knowledge with others. If He has blessed us with worldly goods – food, clothing, etc. – He requires us to share with those who need our sustenance. If He has blessed us with freedom and liberty, He requires us to appreciate what we have and to help others to gain the same. “Where much is given, much is required.”

Friday, July 23, 2021

How Prevalent Is Estrangement in Families?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals remember that relationships are more important than winning arguments. Yet, many families have estranged members with parents not speaking to children and siblings fighting against each other.. Recently, adult children have begun to “cancel” their own parents for nothing more than a difference in political affiliations.

            Karl Pillemer is the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Human Development. His book, “Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them,” was published in September 2020. The book documents the results of a large-scale national survey on the prevalence of estrangement in families. According to James Dean,  Pillemer… 

…“found that 27% of Americans 18 and older had cut off contact with a family member, most of whom reported that they were upset by such a rift. That translates to at least 67 million people nationally – likely an underestimate, Pillemer said, since some are reluctant to acknowledge the problem.”

“It became clear that estrangement is a very widespread problem that was hiding in plain sight,” said Pillemer, who is also a professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “I felt it was critically important to bring this problem out of the shadows and into the clear light of open discussion and dialogue.”

Of the more than 1,300 people Pillemer surveyed, 10% reported being estranged from a parent or child, 8% from a sibling and 9% from extended family members including cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, nieces and nephews.

            Such relationships are described as “toxic” and consist of family members being cut out of one’s life for one reason or another. Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote that Pillemer’s study looked at families that reconciled.

Pillemer’s study also helpfully looks at those who were able to reconcile. Almost all “abandoned a need for the estranged relative to accept their version of the past and to apologize. They instead focused on the present and future of the relationship, adopting more realistic expectations about the other person rather than trying to change them….”

Indeed, the study finds that “performing a sort of return-on-investment calculation, reconciled family members determined the minimum relationship they could live with to, for example, enable a relationship between grandkids and grandparents.”

This kind of practical approach to family seems rare these days. It involves a certain swallowing of one’s pride, and a sense that maintaining family ties is vital even if those family members are not everything you want them to be. There has to be an acknowledgement that there are things more important than being right. It’s a lesson that comes with age, frankly, and too many of these relationships are cut off before people have reached that level of maturity.

            Family members are individuals. As such, they think differently and have different opinions. When problems arise from the different thoughts and opinions, we should follow the counsel of the late President Thomas S. Monson: “Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.” Families are stronger when individuals give the benefit of the doubt to others, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Is Racism a Problem that Can Be Solved by Government?

             The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the fact that all humans deserve to be free to become the best that they can be. Racism has been a problem worldwide for hundreds of years. It should have ended in America with the Civil War and the three new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but it did not. It should have ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1960, but it did not. Thousands of white people thought that they could end racism by voting for a black man for President of the United States. Barack Obama was elected as president – twice – and served for eight years in the most powerful position in the world. Yet, racism is still a problem in our nation, and it seems to be getting worse.

            The more that government does to solve the problem of racism, the more racism grows. Maybe it is a problem that government cannot solve, but Salt Lake City is attacking the problems of systemic racism. 

            Some cities tried to solve the problem of racism by defunding the police departments. Such cities cut so many police from their department that crime escalated – and the police had to be rehired. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall went the opposite direction. She increased salaries for new recruits by 30 percent and for senior officers by 12 percent. Her intention is to attract and keep the best officers. The higher salaries show that the city government is behind the police officers and brings a higher level of dignity to the job.

            Mayor Mendenhall and the City Council proclaimed last week that “racism is a public health crisis.” They resolved to “look closely for racist legacies within the city’s own policy framework and beyond.” Racism is one of the words that has become highly politicized, so Salt Lake City went with a definition provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Racism is a system – consisting of structures, policies, practices, and norms – that assigns value and determines opportunity based on the way people look or the color of their skin.”

            The proclamation from Salt Lake City sounds much like the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion unveiled last December by former Governor Gary Herbert and other political and community leaders. Herbert said at the time that the compact was “just a beginning” something to help individuals and groups to build something better.

            The first step to stopping racism is to recognize that there is a problem. It appears that Salt Lake City and Utah have recognized the problem and are moving forward with plans to take more steps to overcoming racism. Maybe racism can be solved by government, but it looks like it will be state and local governments doing the work rather than the federal government with all its power.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Are We Living in George Orwell’s 1984?

            Once upon a time, high school students were required to read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, often referred to as 1984. Now the book is banned because socialists and social justice warriors do not want the rising generation to know their true agenda. Published in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four became an influential political novel, maybe one with the greatest influence. The novel shines a bright but negative light on communism and gives a warning about a world where totalitarian government has control of the people.

            The novel follows the life of Winston Smith and depicts the people of Oceania living in a dystopian society and being under the surveillance of the government most of the time. The people have no freedoms, not even the freedom to think independently, an act considered to be a “thoughtcrime.” Orwell created new words, such as “Big Brother” and “Newspeak,” that are used today, and he thoroughly explored totalitarianism.

            Nineteen Eighty-Four could describe our day. Not too many years ago, I was told that referring to people illegally crossing our borders as illegal aliens was “politically incorrect. I was supposed to refer to such people as undocumented immigrants.

John Stossel published an article about how “Woke Language Is Changing the Meaning of Words.” He stated that “women” and “mothers” are now referred to in congressional hearings as “birthing people” because our “language needs to be more inclusive.” Other words that have been changed are “equality” to “equity” and “affirmative action” to “diversity.” Reporters now use words like “companion, friend, or lover” where they would once use the word “mistress.” We are told that we are guilty of “violence” when we use certain speech. 

Are we committing “acts of violence” when we use certain words or promote certain books? Some people think so, but Tim Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute says that it is dangerous to call words violence. “The only way human beings can deal with one another is through language, discussion, debate…. If we say that that’s violence, then the only way for us to relate to one another is through power.”

When Stossel asked him why anyone would listen to a white man, Sandefur replied, “Because what I say has, or doesn’t have, merit on its own…. A big problem with the social justice movement is the idea that people’s mindset is controlled by their skin color. That may be called ‘anti-racism’ today, but it’s just plain old-fashioned racism.”

Other people, like linguist John McWhorter – author of “Woke Racism” – adds, “It can be really hard for us to talk to each other, because we don’t know what the words we’re using mean. The idea is, wherever there are white and black disparities, we’re supposed to call that phenomenon ‘racism.’ … It never fully holds together.”

Activists created the word “Latinx,” a word that is rejected by Hispanic people who prefer Latino or Latina. However, the “largely white, upper-middle-class, college-educated movement” – an army of “social justice activists” – tell them that they cannot make distinctions for gender.

The bottom line is that it is difficult to know what is okay and what is forbidden. Jason Kilborn, a law professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, used a certain word in exams for the past ten years. Recently, students were upset because he “included the N-word, with only the first letter shown.” One student said that she “had to seek counsel immediately after the exam to calm myself.” McWhorter said that those students are lying because “Claiming that kind of victimhood gives them a sense of belonging, of togetherness, a sense that they’re contributing to a struggle that their ancestors dealt with in a more concrete way.”

The law professor was suspended in the name of “social justice,” which “seeks to redistribute wealth and power between groups to suit what some political authority thinks is the right outcome,” according to Sandefur.

So, how do we keep America from becoming Orwell’s 1984? How do we stop the government from controlling our thoughts and forcing us to learn a new language, Newspeak? How do we stop social justice warriors who want to “reorganize how people live their lives, silence some groups that have been heard more often”?

McWhorter says that the only way to stop social justice is to push back against it. “Enlightened America needs to develop a backbone and start getting used to being called racist on Twitter. Just withstand it. Keep their voices out there. Make us understand what true justice is.” 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

What Can America Do to Help the Protesting Cubans?

            Thousands of Cubans have been protesting in the streets against the communist regime controlling their nation. Cuba has been under communist control for sixty years. The communists have used all the money available. Now there is not enough food, water, medicine, or electricity. The people are tired of the oppression, and they are risking their lives in protesting.

            The Biden administration was slow to say anything about the communists, but it was finally forced to make a statement against it. Republicans in Congress are trying to get a statement out in support of the protesters.

Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida) represents many people of Cuban heritage, and he has heard many stories. Protesters are being beaten. They are being drug out of their homes by the hair of their heads. They are being arrested, and no one knows where they are. In an interview with Rachel del Guidice, he suggested that there are three things that America should do. 

So here’s what we got to do. We’ve got to do three things. The first thing is Joe Biden’s got to stand up. There’s hashtags that we ought to use. Dónde está Joe? Where is Joe? Joe’s nowhere.

Remember, he didn’t want to be in all those international clubs. Like, you work with [French President Emmanuel] Macron, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, and [U.K. Prime Minister] Boris Johnson. Well, maybe he should call all of his buddies and say, “You know what? We actually do believe in democracy. We do believe in freedom. We’re going to go help the people of Cuba and stop this dictatorship down there.”

But has he so far? No. And look, that’s No.1. He needs to do that. We need to call him out for that.

No. 2, we’ve got to get the internet back on. We’ve got to figure out, whether government does it or private sector, we’ve got to get the internet back on so the people of Cuba can share where they’re going and how to deal with their government. The government of Cuba is scared to death of them, and they should be.

And No. 3 is we’ve got to talk about what’s going on. We’ve got to talk about what’s happening to José Daniel Ferrer. We’ve got to talk about what’s happening to the Ladies in White. And we got to show the pictures of the protests.

And whether the mainstream media will do it, we can do it. We can put it up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and all that stuff. We can get the message out. If we do, we’re supporting them, and we’re going to see new government. If we get a new government in Cuba, we’ll get a new government in Nicaragua, we’ll get a new government in Venezuela, and we’ll stop the protest in Colombia.

            The protesters in Cuba deserve our support. Cubans have been oppressed by communists for more than sixty years. They are risking everything by protesting for freedom.