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.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

What Is at Stake When the Supreme Court Hears Three Abortion Cases?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is abortion and Roe v. Wade. Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court will review abortion law recently signed into law by Texas. The Texas law was described as the “most-restrictive-in-the-nation abortion law” by Robert Barnes. However, he had to admit that highest court in America today is different than the one who legalized abortion in 1973. 

Monday’s hastily scheduled hearing opens the most dramatic month for reproductive rights at the Supreme Court in three decades. That was when a surprising majority of Republican-nominated justices did the unexpected and affirmed rather than renounced the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Such an outcome this time around – as the court considers the Texas law and, on Dec. 1, a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks, far earlier than current Supreme Court precedent allows – would be a bitter disappointment for antiabortion activists who feel this is their chance.

“For two generations, the U.S. Supreme Court has tied the hands of states to enact laws protecting unborn children and their mothers,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said of the Texas legislation. “It is time to restore this right to the people and update our laws.”

Abortion-rights supporters, meanwhile, say the court’s action will have immense consequences, beginning with the Texas law, known as S.B. 8.

“The outcome of this case will define the future of our constitutional democracy,” said Sam Spital, director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is supporting abortion providers and a Justice Department lawsuit against Texas.

“Absent the Supreme Court’s intervention, S.B. 8’s model for openly defying precedent set by the highest court in our land will metastasize – and not just with respect to abortion rights,” he said. “Many of our constitutional rights will be in grave danger.”

            Barnes continued his declaration that overturning Roe v. Wade would be disastrous for Americans, and he did so without any consideration at all for the innocent babies that are killed through abortion. I agree that such an event would bring substantial changes to America. Removing abortion as a birth-control measure would force people to take responsibility for what they do with their bodies. There is no moral reason for innocent unborn babies to lose their lives for the convenience of adults.

            Oriana Gonzalez at Axios sought to determine “What abortion access would look like if Roe v. Wade is overturned.” She wrote that the immediately result of Roe v. Wade being overturned would be abortion becoming immediately “illegal in at least 12 states” with more states to follow quickly.

            Gonzalez then sought to answer the question of why the challenges at the Supreme Court are important. “States have been preparing contingency plans for a post-Roe landscape while state Republicans ramped up efforts to get the landmark ruling overturned. And the future of Roe is on the court’s docket.”

            Gonzalez explained that the Supreme Court “will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging a Texas law effectively banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.” Abortion providers and the U.S. Department of Justice are challenging the Texas law. The challenges to the Texas law will be followed a month later by a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. Mississippi “is asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe.

According to Gonzalez, states are aligned on both sides of the abortion question. Twelve states currently have “trigger laws” in place, meaning that abortion would immediately be illegal in those states if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The twelve states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming could quickly pass similar laws. In addition, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina have enacted laws banning abortion, but federal courts blocked those laws – which could be quicky revived.

Conservative states are not the only ones passing laws about abortion. “At least 15 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted laws that would automatically keep abortion legal if Roe is overturned.” The fifteen states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

The Texas cases do not directly challenge Roe v. Wade, but the Mississippi case implicate Roe directly. The bottom line is that abortion would become a state issue if Roe were overturned. It would take the federal government out of the abortion issue completely.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

What Role Should Church Leaders Play with Worldly Leaders?

            My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 124. The revelation now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 124 was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, Illinois, on January 19, 1841. More than two years had passed since Lilburn W. Boggs, governor of Missouri, issued his exterminating order on October 27, 1838, and left the Saints no alternative except to leave Missouri. However, the Saints had struggled for six years before things started to look better in the spring of 1839.

            Increasing persecutions and illegal procedures against them by public officers compelled the Saints to leave Missouri. The weather was cold with snow on the ground, and the Saints were ill-prepared to be trekking across the country seeking shelter. However, life began to look bearable when the good citizens of Quincy, Illinois, opened their homes and businesses to the Saints. Within days or weeks, the guards allowed the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders to escape captivity in Missouri, and they joined the Saints in Quincy.

            The Saints did not plan to stay in Quincy and began looking elsewhere for a place to gather. Joseph Smith was offered some land in Illinois, and the Church purchased the land. It was swamp land infested with mosquitoes, but it seemed manageable to the Saints who had seen some tough challenges over the last six years.

            The Saints discovered that the swamp was caused by springs on the property and not by drainage from the Mississippi River. They drained the swamp and drafted a charter for a new city, which they named Nauvoo. In Hebrew, Nauvoo means “beautiful.” At first, the name was more an expression of faith in the future than a description of the place.

            The Saints had suffered tremendously, and life was still touch. Nonetheless, the Lord was impressing His prophet with a sense of urgency. He had more truths and ordinances to restore, and He needed a holy temple where they could be received. Today, President Russell M. Nelson, his counselors, and the Apostles are share the same feelings of urgency and need to exercise faith.

            Nauvoo became a beautiful city with a beautiful temple, but the Saints were not allowed to enjoy either of them for long. However, the Lord was able to restore His truths and ordinances to “crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:55). The Saints left Nauvoo endowed with power from God.

            One of the principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 124 is that the Lord wants us to welcome and accept others. The Saints experienced a warm welcome and acceptance by the good people of Quincy, Illinois, after they were driven out of Missouri. They could have isolated themselves in Nauvoo and discouraged visitors, but the Lord told them to build a “house of boarding” (verse 23), a place where visitors could rest and learn about the Saints and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He instructed that the boarding house be called the Nauvoo House.

            The Saints worked to build the Nauvoo House, while at the same time building the Nauvoo Temple. Church leaders felt that it was important to finish the Nauvoo House to have a place to entertain important worldly leaders and to teach them the truth. However, the Nauvoo House was never finished. Shortly before his death on June 27, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed that the Saints stop work on the Nauvoo House and use the resources to finish the temple.

            Once the Saints were established in the Salt Lake Valley, the great people of the world were welcomed by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Numerous Presidents of the United States have visited with officials of the Church of Jesus Christ, and leaders of other nations have also been welcomed.       

Friday, October 29, 2021

Should Parents Be Involved in Educating Their Children?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents protect their children from use, abuse, and indoctrination. The Left has long been indoctrinating college-age students, and they are now trying to do the same with K-12 children and teenagers. The implementation of certain programs into schools was moving along smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and parents could see what the schools were teaching their children.

            Parents began attending school board meetings to express their viewpoints, and school district personnel did not appreciate the parental views. Jarrett Stepman at The Heritage Foundation gave the following sequence: For example, parents were first told that critical race theory and similar ideologies were not being taught in public schools, so parents should sit down and shut up. 

            Parents did not sit down and shut up because they saw evidence of CRT showing up in the classrooms and in teacher training sessions. Some school districts were saying that CRT did not exist, while at the same time promoting CRT. Parents did not buy the message, so the Left was forced to abandon the lie that schools were not teaching critical race theory.

            The Left next admitted that schools were teaching critical race theory because “it’s a good thing” and “left-wing groups would rally around educators prohibited from teaching it.” However, parents continued to voice their opposition to CRT in angry outbursts at school board meetings across the nation. Stepman explained, that there was a clear message coming from parents and other concerned adults “from different parts of the political spectrum.”

The message is that children should not be defined “by their race into oppressors and oppressed.” No truly sane person believes that little white babies are racists and little colored babies are doomed to failure simply because of the color of their skin.

According to Stepman, the newest message of the Left is: “parents, stop your squawking, you don’t even have a right to determine how your child is educated.” This was the clear message from Democrat Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe who made this statement, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Parents in Virginia obviously think otherwise because McAuliffe’s approval rating has fallen in double digits over the past two weeks. He could lose the election because of his stance on education.

The Left does not want parents to have any say in what is taught to their children because the “experts” know what is best for the children. Stepman gave the following example:

Jack Schneider, who is a professor at the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, wrote in The Washington Post about how parents really don’t have a right to determine what their children learn in schools.

“Common law and case law in the United States have long supported the idea that education should prepare young people to think for themselves, even if that runs counter to the wishes of parents,” Schneider wrote.

Is subjecting children to critical race theory in public schools really preparing students to “think for themselves,” or is it about indoctrinating children in a perverse ideology?

            Schneider continued his reason for why it is an unwise decision for parents to determine what schools teach their children: “When do the interests of parents and children diverge? … Generally, it occurs when a parent’s desire to inculcate a particular worldview denies the child exposure to other ideas and values that an independent young person might wish to embrace or at least entertain.”

            Stepman pointed out that this is an insane reason because “the teaching of critical race theory and similar ideas [is] inculcating a particular worldview.” He explained that Schneider, McAuliffe, and other people on the left believe that “children are the wards of the state.” He used a statement by Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritages Foundation, to show the wrongness of the ideology.

Burke explained that such an idea is philosophically wrong and “runs afoul the American legal system.” She used a case decided by the 1922 Supreme Court and cited by The Washington Post article. The case, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, concluded, “the child is not the mere creature of the state.” Then Burke continued with her explanation.

“I think the authors forgot,” Burke said. “Maybe they had the Cliffs Notes version of the court case, but that really is the most important line. And that’s absolutely right. The child is not the mere creature of the state. They belong to their parents. Parents are their first and foremost educators. So they should be, of course, involved in what their schools are teaching.”

            Parents in Virginia and across America understand this concept well, and they are standing up to school districts and taking their rightful place in the education system. Parents want schools to help prepare their children and teenagers to be productive members of society, and they do not appreciate schools indoctrinating their children in woke ideology. Parents must hang tough and win this battle because their families, communities, and nations need them to be a part of educating the rising generation.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

What Do You Think of Attorney General Merrick Garland?

            Attorney General Merrick Garland sat before a Senate committee this week. He faced tough questions about his memo directing the FBI to check out the “domestic engineers” otherwise known as parents speaking out at school board meetings.

Some Senators sounded as though they wanted to jump down Garland’s throat, and he looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a vehicle at times. Fred Lucas took the following six things away from the hearing. 

1. Defending His Schools Memo

Testifying to the House Judiciary Committee last week, Garland defended his memo directing the FBI and Justice Department personnel to investigate parents who speak out at school board meetings as a response to a letter to Biden from the National School Boards Association.

The NSBA apologized, however, following a public row over the letter in which multiple state chapters of the group representing school board members distanced themselves from language calling for use of the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism laws to act against angry parents….

2. ‘Thank God You’re Not on Supreme Court’

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., unloaded on Garland. 

“When you crafted that memo, did you consult with senior leadership at the FBI?” Cotton asked about the instructions on working with local school officials and law enforcement. …

Cotton [asked several questions and] seemed to become frustrated. 

“Judge, this is shameful. This testimony, your directive, your performance is shameful,” Cotton said. “Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace, Judge.” …

3. ‘Multimillion-Dollar Bill’ for FBI’s McCabe

Grassley asked why the Justice Department settled with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired in 2018 for repeatedly lying under oath, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and its Office of Professional Responsibility. 

Despite that, the Justice Department reached a settlement with McCabe in his lawsuit to overturn his firing, and allowed him to retire and keep his taxpayer-funded pension….

4. ‘Not Constrained’ From Pursuing Conservatives

Garland said the Justice Department is “not constrained” from investigating multiple conservative organizations such as the Republican Attorneys General Association, the Honest Elections Project, and others as part of the investigation into the Capitol riot….

5. Need for Ethics Opinion on Son-in-Law’s Job

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noted that Garland’s son-in-law, Alexander Tanner, is an executive with Panorama Education, a company that makes money off the use of critical race theory in schools.

The teaching of critical race theory, or using it to frame lessons, is a major issue that parents protest at local school board meetings. 

“Did you seek and receive a decision from an ethics adviser at DOJ before you carried out an action that would have a predictable financial benefit to your son-in-law?” Cruz asked Garland.

Garland seemed to dodged the question a bit before answering: “This has no predictable effect on what we are talking about.”

When Cruz pressed, Garland said of his instructions to the FBI and other Justice Department personnel: “This memorandum has nothing to do with critical race theory.”

Garland did not directly answer no as Cruz kept asking: “Did you seek an ethics opinion?”

“I’m telling you if I thought there was a reason to believe there was a conflict of interest, I would do that,” Garland said.

6. Protecting Durham Investigation

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., asked whether the report from special counsel John Durham, who is investigating the origins of various probes of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, would be made public. 

“His budget has been approved, as I have already announced,” Garland said, “and with respect to the report, I would like as much as possible to be made public. I have to be concerned about Privacy Act concerns and declassification. But other than that, our commitment is to provide a public report, yes.”

Blackburn followed up by asking: “Can you guarantee this committee that Special Counsel Durham has free rein to proceed wherever his investigation takes him, without any political or otherwise undue influence or interference?”

The attorney general answered succinctly. 

“There will be no political or undue interference,” he said.

            Garland seems to me to be a political hack, as shown by his memo to the FBI calling parents “domestic terrorists.” I feel certain that the Biden administration and their supporters do not like the fact that parents are aware of what is happening in school. Parents love their children, and most of them get upset when people use and abuse them.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

What Will Biden’s “Build Back Better” Bill Do to the Economy?

            President Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress are working overtime to find a way to pass the “Build Back Better” bill out of Congress – or at least give Biden something to show when he travels to Europe. Biden continues to claim that the $3.5-trillion tax-and-spend bill is an “investment” that will not cost American taxpayers even a single penny. He continues to say that the bill will pay for itself. Richard Stern at The Heritage Foundation tells a different story. 

However, the specific details of this 2,465-page manifesto tell a very different story. It’s an old story, one where your interests and hard work are subverted for the benefit of a well-connected few….

Every good and service we produce that enriches our lives requires innovation and hard work to invent, design, produce, and ultimately make available. That’s a delicate process that requires a society where people are free to pursue their passions and reap the benefits of their hard work and successful innovation.

Instead, Biden’s plan offers dramatic tax increases, increasing regulatory burdens, distortionary benefits for the well-connected, and a bloated bureaucracy designed only to micromanage and suppress freedom.

The only investment made by Biden’s so-called Build Back Better bill is in the tools of tyranny and central planners.

            Stern gave ten of the “egregious provisions of the bill that would undermine the work of innovators and entrepreneurs” and “stifle economic opportunities for all Americans.”

1) Your Tax Dollars for IRS

The bill would dramatically expand funding to the IRS for so-called enforcement activities. Section 138401 of the bill would provide $78.9 billion to hire an army of new IRS agents over the next 10 years … a 64% increase in IRS funding.

2) Labor Department Bureaucrats

The bill doesn’t just stop at bolstering the IRS. Sections 21001-21003 would direct $2.6 billion of taxpayer funds to the Department of Labor to dramatically expand its army of bureaucrats to harass businesses more and more….

3) Micromanaging Small-Business Loans

The bill would increase the Small Business Administration’s bureaucracy by $3 billion. That represents funds taken from taxpayers and used to distort and micromanage investment in small and new businesses….

4) Suppressing Worker Freedom

Section 138514 of the bill would create an above-the-line tax deduction for union dues, granting a taxpayer-funded subsidy to unions. That would effectively give union income the kind of tax treatment reserved for charities….

5) Making Well-Connected Even More So

In additional to the aforementioned IRS provision, the bill would give another $3.8 billion to the IRS to administer subsidies through the tax code….

6) Central Planning for Rural America

Sections 12008 and 12009 direct $3.5 billion toward federal central planners to cherry-pick winning and losing businesses in rural America. They also use $545 million in taxpayer funds just to administer this program….

7) Central Planning at Regional Level

The bill would also create a $5 billion program to allow bureaucrats to subsidize the business ventures and economic activities they deem worthy of investment….

8) New ‘Clusters’ of Micromanagement

Sections 110018 and 110019 would commit $4 billion in taxpayer funding to so-called economic growth clusters. As with the above sections, that would just create one more bureaucratically directed slush fund….

9) Injecting Bias Into Central Planning

Section 40401 would allot $1.6 billion in direct and indirect business subsidies based on discrimination using demographic data. Specifically, those funds would be used to provide services to federally designated minority businesses or business support centers that are federally designated as serving minorities….

10) More State, Local Bailouts

Despite numerous state and local bailouts already provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, Section 135101 of the bill would provide yet another state and local bailout. It would use taxpayer funding to offset a portion of the cost of certain state and local projects. Any entity receiving those funds would be required to use David-Bacon union-determined prevailing-wage levels. That would boost unions with taxpayer funds.

            In addition to the ten reasons outlined by Stern, “this program would take billions of dollars from hardworking Americans and productive U.S. businesses to be used by state and local governments.” He wrote, “This is a clear-cut case of funds being directed away from private free market investment and toward ‘investment’ run and directed by the government.”

            From Stern’s point of view, Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill is “a giant step in the direction of central planning, government malinvestment, and stunted economic growth and opportunity.”

            It appears that the “Build Back Better” is the plan for socialists to move the United States from its free enterprise system to one of socialism. Democrats must pass the bill before the end of the year. Otherwise, the nation will be close to the mid-term election and could have terrible results for Democrats. Americans should be praying for God’s help to stop the bill!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

How Many States Have Banned Biological Men from Female Teams?

            Americans should thank conservative governors for their efforts to save America and our constitutional way of life. One such governor is Greg Abbott of Texas. Yesterday, Abbott signed a bill intolaw that requires students in public schools to compete in sports competitions on biological sex. Once the bill goes into effect in January, transgender students will be forced to play on a team that corresponds to the sex listed on their birth certificate even if they identify as another sex. T

            The reason for the bill is to stop discrimination against girls in sports. Women and girls fought for many years for the level playing field of playing against other females. However, biological men and boys who identify as female have been forcing their way onto female teams. The male body is bigger and stronger than the female body with longer legs and arms and bigger hearts and lungs. It is unfair to expect females to compete against males, and this law will protect women and girls.

            The campaign to save sports for girls and women began in Idaho in March 2020. Even though Idaho’s ban on biological males playing on female teams has been blocked by a federal court, seven other states have passed similar laws this year. The laws are passed for fairness to females. Even though transgender women and girls should not play on female teams, there should be a way for them to compete. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Who Is Dave Chappelle?

            I chose comic Dave Chappell as my VIP for this week because he is standing up to the cancel culture. Apparently, he is often controversial, but I became aware of him this time. He is under fire this time because he “made a series of jokes that ran afoul of transgender ideology” in his latest special “The Closer” on Netflix. He does not seem to care because “Gender is a fact.”

            According to Douglas Blair, some people want to keep the Chappell controversy alive. However, Blair wonders, “why should we care what any number of leftists on Twitter have to say about Chappelle?” 

Twitter is not indictive of real life. According to a 2020 Pew Research Center report, “just 10% of users produced 92% of all tweets from U.S. adults since last November, and that 69% of these highly prolific users identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.” That is an obscenely small number of people driving cultural narratives like the Dave Chappelle story. But it also indicates that the narrative itself is being propped up by a group that doesn’t represent the average American, who likely either agrees with Chappelle or couldn’t care less.

June Gallup polling indicates that 30% of Americans identify as socially conservative, while 35% identify as moderate. That’s a far cry from a majority who buy into the radical left’s demands for progressive orthodoxy.

Chappell himself said it best during “The Closer,” “When ‘Sticks & Stones’ came out, a lot of people in the trans community were furious with me and apparently they dragged me on Twitter. I don’t give a ___ cuz Twitter’s not a real place!”

The sooner people stop giving unrepresentative Twitter mobs the time of day, the sooner they lose their monopoly on the narrative.

            Good for Chappell! It is time for everyone to stand up to the cancel culture. Why do we allow them to make the rules? Conservatives and moderates make up 65% of Americans. There is no intelligent reason why the majority should allow the minority such control over us.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Did God Raise Up and Inspire the Writing of the U.S. Constitution?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution is the foundation of the federal government because it provides the structure of the government and limits the power of the government. According to President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “United States Constitution is the oldest written constitution still in force today.” This Constitution was written for and adopted by the original thirteen American colonies, but today it is a model for nations worldwide. “Today, every nation except three have adopted written constitutions.” 

            President Oaks is uniquely qualified to speak about the Constitution. He explained in his talk in the April 2021 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ that he has studied the Constitution “for more than 60 years.” He spent some of those years as “a law clerk to the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.” He also worked as a professor of law for 15 years and served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court for 3.5 years. “Most important, I speak from 37 years as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”

            The U.S. “Constitution is unique” and “is of special concern for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world,” according to President Oaks. His reason for this statement is that God revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80 that He “established” the Constitution “for the rights and protection of all flesh.” This idea brings this question from President Oaks: “What was God’s purpose in establishing the United States Constitution?”

We see it in the doctrine of moral agency. In the first decade of the restored Church, its members on the western frontier were suffering private and public persecution. Partly this was because of their opposition to the human slavery then existing in the United States. In these unfortunate circumstances, God revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith eternal truths about His doctrine.

God has given His children moral agency – the power to decide and to act. The most desirable condition for the exercise of that agency is maximum freedom for men and women to act according to their individual choices. Then, the revelation explains, “every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:78). “Therefore,” the Lord revealed, “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:79). This obviously means that human slavery is wrong. And according to the same principle, it is wrong for citizens to have no voice in the selection of their rulers or the making of their laws.

            President Oaks continued his talk by explaining why Latter-day Saints believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired. Even though we do not believe that every word was inspired by God, we believe that there are inspired principles in the document. Some of those principles are: (1) the principle that the people is the source of power for government, (2) the division of delegated powers between the federal government and the sovereign states, (3) separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, (4) the Bill of Rights which guarantees of certain freedoms for the people and certain restrictions on government, and (5) the overall purpose of the Constitution – government “by law and not by individuals.”


Saturday, October 23, 2021

What Happened in the Temple Prison of Liberty Jail?

            My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 121-123. The Saints were being persecuted in Missouri and elsewhere. They were driven out of their homes in the Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, area and gathered in an area called Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. However, the persecution did not stop. Vigilantes attacked a group of Saints living at Hawn’s Mill, located about twelve miles from Far West but still in Caldwell County, Missouri. The mob killed seventeen Saints.

            On October 31, 1838, in Far West, Missouri, state militia troops arrested the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders. The men were eventually imprisoned in the lower level of Liberty Jail in Clay County, Missouri.

            The bottom level of the Liberty Jail was known as a dungeon. The walls were four feel thick, the stone floor was cold and filthy, and the only light came through two narrow iron-barred windows located near the ceiling. I have been to the Liberty Jail – or a replica of it. The ceiling of the dungeon was so low that grown men could not stand upright. The Prophet and his companions spent four frigid months during the winter of 1838-39 in the Liberty Jail awaiting trial for treason against the state of Missouri.

            The prisoners had visitors and received correspondence from family and friends. In fact, Joseph Smith was constantly receiving news about the suffering of the Saints. The Saints felt peace and optimism in Far West for several months, and then life crashed around them. Again, they were driven from their homes, across the Missouri River, and into Quincy, Illinois, in the dead of winter. All this happened while the Prophet and other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were in prison. In these dismal circumstances, the Prophet sought answers from God.

1 O God, where are thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?

3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?

4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol – stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.

5 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.

6 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-6).

            The Prophet poured out his heart to God in the six verses shown above. Then, the Lord answered His prophet in the following forty-three verses recorded in two sections – Doctrine and Covenants 121-122. The Lord began with words of comfort and love:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.

            The Lord continued with instructions and knowledge. In Section 122, He even told him that things could be worse, but all his experiences would be good for him.

7 And … if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

            The Prophet’s circumstances did not change right away, but his attitude improved. Section 123 is part of a letter that the Prophet wrote while he was still in Liberty Jail. He told the Saints to gather all the facts that they could about the suffering and abuses that they had suffered.

The facts were to include the property that they lost, the damages to character, personal injuries, and real property lost. They were also to include the names of all persons who had persecuted and oppressed them. They were to take statements and affidavits and to gather all the “libelous publications” that had been printed – including magazines, encyclopedias, and histories. When all the “knowledge” had been collected, it was to be presented to “the heads of government. The Prophet ended his letter with these words:

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17).

            At the beginning of Doctrine and Covenants 121, the Prophet Joseph Smith was in the depths of discouragement. However, his attitude changed once he was assured that God was aware of what was happening with the Saints and himself. He concluded his letter that is recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 123 with renewed spiritual confidence.

The Prophet could once again comfort the persecuted Saints and remind them that they were doing God’s work “in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:13). He ended by reassuring them, “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17).

The Prophet and his companions were allowed to escape several weeks later, while they were being transported to another jail. They joined the Saints in Quincy, Illinois, and began looking for another place to gather.

President Henry B. Eyring testified that God does strengthen those who seek to serve God and assist Him in His work:

You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith. The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve. And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 78).

            I know that God does strengthen us as we seek to do His will and to serve our brothers and sisters here on earth. He is aware of our trials as well as our attitudes. Let us “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power” and show the Lord that we allow Him to prevail in our lives.


Friday, October 22, 2021

What Happens When Parents Get Involved with Education?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents are involved in the education of their children. In recent months, parents became more aware of what was being taught to their children in their schools, and they have attended school board meetings ready to make their views known about numerous topics.

            Recently, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Joe Biden claiming that school board members were under “immediate threat” of violence from parents who were protesting. Biden sent the letter to the Department of Justice, and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the FBI would investigate any threat of intimidation against school board members. The NSBA immediately heard from critics at all levels from parents to state school officials to members of Congress. Today, the NSBA apologized.

As you all know, there has been extensive media and other attention recently around our letter to President Biden regarding threats and acts of violence against school board members….

On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter. To be clear, the safety of school board members, other public-school officials and educators, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue….

However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance….

            The apology did not note the specific language that was wrong in its letter, but it could have been this section: “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

            Parents and other adults do not appreciate being called terrorists for protesting against policies that they deem dangerous for their children, such as vaccine and mask mandates, critical race theory, and transgender bathroom controversies at public schools.

            In its later statement, the NSBA claimed to “deeply value” the input from parents – the same parents that were likened to “domestic terrorists.” The NSBA indicated that an internal investigation would be performed to determine the processes and procedures behind the controversial letter.

            The apology from the NSBA is one example of what can happen when parents stand up for their children against government overreach. Parents are tasked with the care and education of their children, and no school board has the right to exclude them from being involved. When parents are active advocates for their children, families, communities, and nations are stronger.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

What Is Behind Biden’s Choices for Nominees for Federal Positions?

            President Joe Biden chooses nominees for various positions in the federal government without considering bias towards the specific topic. The latest nominee put forth by Biden is Atul Gawande to lead global health development at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The reason that Gawande is a poor choice for this position because of his past comments about gruesome partial-birth abortion techniques. According to Mary Margaret Olohan, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) delayed a committee vote on this nominee and gave the following explanation for his decision. 

“Atul Gawande’s defense of infanticide is disqualifying,” the Florida Republican said in a statement. “Infanticide should be condemned, not celebrated, but Gawande’s radical, anti-life views are becoming mainstream in today’s Democratic Party.”

“President Biden should withdraw Gawande’s nomination and replace him with someone who is committed to upholding the agency’s mission of saving lives,” Rubio, a senior Republican on the Senate Committee for Foreign Relations, added.

            Olohan continued her article at The Daily Signal with an explanation that “Partial-birth abortions have been banned in the United States since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act passed Congress in 2003. This act was signed into law by President George W. Bush and was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007.

According to the legislation, a partial-birth abortion is one in which an abortion doctor delivers a living baby until the baby’s head is outside the mother’s body, then punctures the back of the baby’s head, “removing the baby’s brains.”

            Gawande is a doctor of endocrinology and a professor at Harvard Medical School. In his 1998 Slate op-ed, Gawande “suggested that critics should not vilify partial-birth abortion over other abortion procedures merely because it is gruesome: ‘Grossness is not a good objection. Lots of operations are gross – leg amputation, burn surgery, removal of facial tumors, etc. But that does not make them wrong.’” Gawande did acknowledge that “partial-birth abortions are ‘disturbing’ since the baby being aborted is ‘big now – like a fully formed child.’” He then described the abortion “procedure in gruesome detail,” while “comparing partial-birth abortions to dilation and evacuation procedures (abortion in which the abortion doctor vacuums the baby out of the mother’s womb).”

“Partial-birth abortion is, if anything less grotesque,” he wrote. “The fetus is delivered feet first. To get the large head out, the doctor cuts open a hole at the base of the fetus’s skull and inserts tubing to suck out the brain, which collapses the skull.”

            Gawande said that “dilation and evacuation abortions may also be too gruesome to be permitted” if “partial-birth abortions are ‘too gruesome to allow.’” I agree with him that they are too gruesome, and they should be “the inevitable next target for pro-life advocates.”

            Abortion of any kind is too gruesome, and American tax dollars should not be used to pay for them. Gawande does not sound like a man who should be trusted with protecting the lives and health of people receiving American aid – including unborn babies.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What Policies Are In the “Build Back Better” Plan?

            The massive $3.5 trillion social-welfare spending bill being pushed by Democrats contains more problems than the cost of it. Two Democrat Senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – are opposing the bill because of the cost. Their opposition caused the bill to stall in Congress.

The cost is too high, but the policies in the bill have the potential to change America as we know it. The agenda of the bill is to shift more power and control to the federal government and away from the states and individuals. Nina Owcharenko Schaefer is a senior fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation, and she sees problems in the bill regarding health care. 

The so-called Build Back Better plan, moving its way through the Democrat-led Congress, is jammed full of policy changes that drive the country closer to a government takeover of health care than ever before.

Trying to slim down the cost or water down the proposals will not resolve those fundamental policy concerns.

            Schaefer listed seven ways that the bill will make it more difficult for individuals to keep their health plans, while also making it “more likely you’d get the subpar benefits” of government-run health care. Here is her list.

1) Creates a New, Government-Run Health Plan

Part of the legislative package would put in place a new federal health care program. The program would be modeled after Medicaid, a joint federal-state program to provide medical services to certain low-income Americans, and would be made available to those individuals in states that did not adopt the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

While seemingly narrow and targeted, the proposal could easily be scaled up and expanded to new groups. Under such an arrangement, the government would set regulatory rules in favor of the government plan, drive out private competition, compel participation, consolidate enrollment, and shift costs on to health care providers and taxpayers….

2) Expands Government Subsidies to Insurance Giants, the Rich

The proposal would make existing Obamacare subsidies more generous and make them available to more people, regardless of income.

Specifically, individuals with income between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty line would no longer have to contribute to the cost of their Obamacare premiums…

Since the subsidies are tethered to Obamacare, these changes are intended to drive more people to the government-run Obamacare exchanges, including some of whom would have otherwise had insurance.

The more people enrolled in Obamacare, the more the government controls the delivery of care and benefits. Moreover, these changes attempt to cover up the fact that Obamacare is driving up – not down – the cost of coverage….

3) Undercuts Private, Employer-Based Coverage

The bill changes the requirements for those with access to employer-based coverage to qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

Under current law, individuals with access to employer-based coverage are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies unless their share of the premium costs exceed 9.2%. The bill would lower that threshold to 8.5%.

The private, employer-based market is where the majority of Americans still get their health care and remains a critical obstacle to a full-blown government-run health care plan. Lowering the threshold is a small, but significant, shift in the opposite direction….

4) Undermines Non-Obamacare Options

The proposal blocks access to information about non-Obamacare coverage options. The bill would prohibit federal funds from being used to “promote non-[Affordable Care Act] compliant health insurance coverage” and explicitly defines short-during and association health plans as such options….

5) Expands Size, Scope of Medicaid

The legislation assumes a larger role for the federal government in Medicaid. The proposal would create a new grant program within Medicaid that would add $190 billion for home and community-based services.

The proposal would also impose new federal requirements on state Medicaid programs and would weaken oversight and accountability through various policy changes….

6) Puts New Obligations on Outdated Medicare Program

The legislation proposes adding dental, hearing, and vision to the traditional Medicare program. To avoid an even bigger price tag, the benefits would be phased-in over time. Seniors would still be responsible for a portion of costs, but taxpayers would be responsible for the rest….

7) Sets Government Controls on Prescription Drugs

Under the bill, the federal government would set prices for certain prescription drugs in the Medicare program, based on prices paid in other countries….

Government control over the price of pharmaceuticals means government control over access to pharmaceuticals. Like residents in those selected other countries, seniors would face less access and fewer choices under this model….

            Government should not be involved in the health care business. Schaefer points out that Canada and the United Kingdom are good examples that show “the impact such controls have on access to care, where wait lists are common and expected, and where access to treatments are limited or denied.”  

Schaefer summarized her article by explaining that there is “a common health care thread running throughout the ‘Build Back Better’ plan.” That thread is the desire to remove “private coverage alternatives and consolidate enrollment in the government-run plans.” The government would then control the dollars and the decisions.

This post discusses only the affects that would take place in the health care arena. The “Build Back Better” plan has an agenda to take over the lives of Americans. That is the reason the policies contained in the proposal are just as bad or worse than the price tag.