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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Is Abortion Morally Acceptable or Constitutional?

Abortion will be in the news this week because the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This is the Mississippi law that bans abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. If the Supreme Court finds this law constitutional, it could bring vast changes to abortion in the United States.

            Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, and it gave the mother the right to abort her baby as long as the baby could not survive outside the womb – generally 22-24 weeks of gestation. The Mississippi abortion law would make the defining issue on when a baby can first feel pain or about 15 weeks. Polls show Americans about evenly divided on the abortion issue. An example is a poll from Gallup with 47% saying that abortion is morally acceptable and 46% saying that it is morally wrong. 

            Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke about Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization today, and he predicted that “the tide has turned for the pro-life movement” and “life is winning across America.” 

I have long believed that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable…. The aged. The infirm. And the unborn.

I did not come here today to speak about popular opinion or jurisprudence…. I came here today to speak about right and wrong. To say life is a human right, and urge the Supreme Court of the United States to choose life….

Today we gather on the verge of what may be a new era in American history…. An era in which all human life is once again cherished and respected. An era in which the great moral questions of our time are once again decided by the people through their chosen representatives instead of unelected judges.

As we stand here today… we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs.

            Pence called the Supreme Court decision in Roe “misguided.” He said that it inflicted a “tragedy not only on our nation but on humanity” of “unprecedented” scale.

In the 48 years since the court’s ruling, unborn children have been relegated into a cast of second-class citizens…. Devoid of the most basic human rights. Precious babies have lived outside the protection of the law, and at the mercy of a culture that devalues them and an abortion industry that profits from their suffering.

I believe it is no coincidence that the last half-century has seen a persistent rise in family instability… single-parent households, a decline in family formation, an increase in unplanned pregnancies … an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases.

            Pence outlined one problem with keeping Roe v. Wade as the law of the land: “the radical left in this country will never stop pushing for more and more extreme abortion-related policies.”

            Tomorrow is an important day in the history of the United States. Will the Supreme Court uphold Roe v. Wade, or will they strike it down? Leftists have threatened a “revolution” if it is struck down, and the events of the past two years show that they are willing to burn, loot, and murder if they do not get their way. I hope that you will join me in praying for the Supreme Court, for America, and for the unborn babies. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Who Is Winsome Sears?

            Winsome Sears is the newly elected Lt. Governor of Virginia. She made history as the first woman and the first Black woman to hold the post. She is a former state House delegate. Since winning her new office, she has been in the national spotlight and making the rounds on the Sunday show circuit in Washington. 

            Sears is staunchly conservative and has been one of “Virginia’s most outspoken advocates for parental rights and school choice.” She is not afraid to take on anyone in the media. In an interview with The Hill, Sears said:

It seems that no one was willing to buck the system…. The system is we need to stop worshipping the brick building and give the child a chance, and the chance is the parents want to be able to decide where their children should go to school….

Let’s go even further back when during the convention period when I was nominated and there were crickets….

Maybe the cicadas hadn’t appeared yet, but certainly the crickets were out…. Nothing to say that [a Virginia political party] had nominated the first Black woman, statewide candidate. It wasn’t until my opponent was nominated and suddenly it was oh and by the way, yeah, Winsome was also.

            Sears is the type of conservative that is needed to win back our nation from the destructive Democrats. She stands tall and is not afraid to say it as she sees it. Good for her!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Are Red States Better Than Blue States?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the need for citizens to be well informed about candidates for office. With the freedom to vote for representatives comes the responsibility to do diligent research and to be informed about the choices. This does not always happen for a variety of reasons.

            Two journalists from the New York Times recently explored “what happens when Democrats control all the levels of power in state and local governments across the country.” They were “shocked” when they discovered the problems in “blue states.” Times video journalist Johnny Harris teamed up with Times editorial board writer Binyamin Appelbaum to examine why blue states “struggle to advance the progressive policies” when they have no Republican opposition. 

They focused on three core initiatives of the Democratic Party platform: affordable housing, economic equality, and educational opportunity. And in the end, they discovered that “liberal hypocrisy,” not Republican opposition, “is fueling American inequality” and that things are actually much worse in blue states than they are in red.

In key respects, many blue states are actually doing worse than red states,” the journalists noted in a written report accompanying the video. “It is in the blue states where affordable housing is often hardest to find, there are some of the most acute disparities in education funding and economic inequality is increasing most quickly.”

“Blue states are the problem,” Applebaum, who covers economics and business for the Times, exclaimed.

“Blue states are where the housing crisis is located. Blue states are where the disparities in education funding are the most dramatic. Blue states are the places where tens of thousands of homeless people are living on the streets. Blue states are the places where economic inequality is increasing most quickly in this country. This is not a problem of not doing well enough; it is a situation where blue states are the problem,” he added.

At one point, Harris noted that “affluent liberals tend to be really good at showing up at the marches and talking about how they love equality, [and] at putting signs in their lawns saying, ‘All are welcome here.’”

“But by their actions,” he continued, “What they are actually saying is, ‘Yes, we believe in these ideals, just not in my backyard.’”

            Americans can see what is happening, and they are moving from blue states to red states. Even Nancy Pelosi is doing it! She recently purchased a multi-million-dollar home in Florida! Americans prefer to live free in red states, but those fleeing blue states often take the liberal ideas with them and try to turn the red states into the type of place they fled. All Americans should open their eyes and see things as they really are and investigate why liberal policies are so terrible, while conservative policies work every single time that they are tried.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

When Do YOU Think Jesus Christ Will Return to Earth?

            I have been interested in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ since I was a child. I was taught that He would return, and I understood that it would be about the year 2000. I remember worrying that He would come before the year 2000 and wondering if I would have the opportunity to marry and have children before He came. As it happened, I did marry and have children, and now I am a grandmother with grandchildren old enough to marry and have their own children.

            The year 2000 came and went with nothing out of the ordinary happening. As I matured, my understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ grew, and I was no longer panicked about the Second Coming. However, I look at the signs all around me, and I continue to wonder how much more time will pass before He returns. I believe that the Second Coming is close, but I have no idea how close. It is definitely closer than it was when I was a child or even the year 2000.

            I recently purchased a book written by Gerald A. Lund. It is his second book about the return of Jesus Christ to earth. His first book was titled The Coming of the Lord and was published in 1971. It is only fitting that his second book is the titled The Second Coming of the Lord. The second book was published in 2020, nearly fifty years after the first one and contains more recent statements of the prophets and apostles.

I read a small portion of the book every day because I want to ponder and understand what I am reading. Today’s portion was in Chapter 6 “It is Nigh, even at the Door.” When Christ met with His disciples for the last time, they asked the question that people have been asking for the past 2000 years: When will Jesus Christ return?

Lund reminded his readers that the angel Moroni came to visit Joseph Smith in the fall of 1823. Moroni gave instructions concerning a record that was written on gold plates, and then he cited prophecies from the Bible. This is what Joseph Smith wrote in his history about the visit:

He quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, … He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come … but soon would come. He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in” (Joseph Smith-History 1:40-41).

            Moroni told Joseph Smith four times that the Second Coming was close but not yet. However, Moroni was not the only heavenly visitor to bring this message. After the Kirtland Temple was dedicated, Moses, Elias, and Elijah came to bring additional priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. While he was there, Elijah gave the following message: “By this [the coming of the three messengers] ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:16). The Lord said that His coming was near about fifteen times in the scriptures, according to Lund.

In the parable of the ten virgins, Christ taught that the bridegroom who represents Christ, comes “at midnight” (Matthew 25:6). In a revelation given in October 1830, the Lord declared that it was “the eleventh hour” [Doctrine and Covenants 33:3], a seeming reference to the parable. The Lord added that this would be the last time He called laborers into the vineyard [Doctrine and Covenants 33:3; see also Jacob 5:62-63; Doctrine and Covenants 24:19; 43:28; 95:4].

In the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord tells us that “the days speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth [Doctrine and Covenants 1:35]. The Savior personally declares in numerous places that “I come quickly” [Doctrine and Covenants 33:18; 34:12; 35:27; 39:24; 41:4; 49:28; and multiple others]. He also says, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” [Doctrine and Covenants 88:73). Early in the history of the Church the Lord said, “The day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am” [Doctrine and Covenants 38:8]. The phrase “soon cometh,” referring to His coming, is found in nine other places.

So it seems we have a dilemma. Over and over the Lord has indicated that the time of the end is near and that the day of His coming will be soon. And yet most of those scriptural passages are now almost two hundred years old, but we are still waiting for their fulfillment. So how are we to interpret words like “close,” “quickly,” “soon,” “hasten,” and “speedily”? …

            So, how do YOU interpret those words? It appears that Jesus Christ and His messengers have a different meaning for the words that mere mortals do. When someone tells me that they will be to my house soon, I expect them in a few minutes if they are locals, or in the near future if they are from out of state. I would not expect them to use the word soon if their visit would take place a few months later or years later.

            There is one thing that we know for sure. No one, not one single person on earth or in heaven – except Heavenly Father – knows when Jesus Christ will return to earth. This means that we should not listen to anyone who claims to know when He will come. President Russell M. Nelson made the following statement:

People often ask the Apostles, “When is the Second Coming going to be? “I’ve got the answer. “I don’t know.” It won’t be today or tomorrow, because there is much work that needs to be done before that can come. All I know for sure is that we are a day closer today than we were yesterday. (Teachings, 351)

            The current prophet of the Lord does not know when Jesus Christ will return. I expect that he will have more information prior to the coming of the Lord because “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). I have no idea how the prophet will know, but I believe that he will know at some point. It may be a simple announcement from the Lord, such as “The work is complete.” Right now, we know that there is much work to do before the Savior returns, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must work quickly to get it done. The world must be prepared for the Second Coming of the Lord.

Friday, November 26, 2021

How Can You Help Children Who Need Love and Security?

             Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when children are reared in a loving and secure home. However, the biological or adoptive family may not always provide such a place. In such cases, it is helpful when another family can offer love and security.

            According to Naomi Schaefer Riley, the Peppers Ranch offers love and security to numerous children. It is located about 30 minutes from Oklahoma City in the Guthrie area. “The ranch harnesses an old-fashioned understanding of family, neighborhood and community to solve the problems of a new generation of displaced children.” 

            Peppers Ranch is 160 acres of land that was donated by Hal French, a local oil and gas entrepreneur. He “had grown up near a boys home and often played with the children there.” He “wanted to create a similar opportunity for more kids.” He opened Peppers Ranch in 2002 as a place for boys, but he soon learned that he needed to include girls. Boys had a good place to go, but girls were “being dropped off at a local shelter” because they “had no equivalent.” This meant that siblings were often separated.

            French and the other people at Peppers Ranch decided to do something about the situation. They did extensive studies, and then decided to move to a family model in 2009. They offered “couples who were already licensed to do foster care in Oklahoma the opportunity to move to Peppers Ranch

There they could live in one of the newly built houses, paying only a couple of hundred dollars in rent and receiving a small stipend in addition to what the state offered for foster care, if they were willing to open their home to at least five foster children. Today, there are 16 homes on the property (with plans to build a few more over the next few years), all more than 3,000 square feet. The typical home has four bedrooms, a large living area and an industrial-size kitchen and pantry. The more recent homes even have hookups for two washers and dryers as well as larger garages in which families can park their super-size vans. The entire community has an annual budget of about $1.5 million, all from private donations. In addition to money, locals also donate furniture, clothing and other necessities. Hundreds of volunteers help maintain the grounds and run programs for the kids.

Set amid farmlands at the end of a dirt road which is prone to flooding, the community may seem inconvenient to some, but for the families at Peppers Ranch, it offers everything they need. The landscape feels a little sparse — not enough time has passed for many trees to mature on the land. Each family has a backyard, equipped with all the trampolines and play structures you would find in a typical suburban neighborhood. There is also a community basketball court and soccer field, a playground and pool complex, a pond where the kids can fish, and a barn with 17 horses. The horses, many of which are older and have been donated in their retirement, are used for equestrian therapy. They are gentle and the kids enjoy helping to care for them. Indeed, one of the Peppers Ranch mothers told me how excited her 6-year-old adoptive son was when he was given his very own pooper scooper for the horses. “They need my help,” he would tell his mother before running over to the barn. Each family also has to help with chores around the community — including feeding the horses over a weekend when the trainer is not around.

The logistics of being a foster parent, especially with multiple children in the home, can be overwhelming. Multiple therapy appointments a week, in addition to arranging visitation with biological parents, meetings with social workers and court dates can make even the most organized person’s head spin. But Peppers Ranch brings at least some of those services to the community. There is a learning center where children can receive after-school tutoring. The ranch also offers art therapy, dance therapy, a swim team and a variety of other extracurricular activities. Parents pay a small fee for these out of the stipends they receive.

        The community requires at least one parent to work full time. But the subsidized housing at         Peppers Ranch means one parent can stay home full time — and most of the time they do.             With so many kids, especially ones who have behavioral and emotional challenges, it is                 hard to outsource child care. But the state stipends do not allow a typical middle-class foster         family to give up one income. In families with older kids, mothers sometimes have part-time         jobs they can do from home during school hours. Mostly it’s the mothers at home but in at             least one case it’s the father who cares for the children while the mother works as a hospital         nurse….

But it’s not just the homes. It’s the community. Most of the families give their kids freedom to roam. Matt Terry says that’s one of the things he likes about Peppers Ranch, that it feels like a more old-fashioned neighborhood. It’s certainly true that it’s small enough for everyone to know everyone else. 

            Peppers Ranch was a group of people – a community – who saw a need for loving and secure homes for children and used their resources to meet the need. Some children come for a few days and end up staying for years, but all the children are cared for in loving families. Parents can strengthen their own family as well as help other children and strengthen their community and nation.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Do You Know How Long Americans Have Celebrated Thanksgiving?

            Today is Thanksgiving Day, one of the most popular holidays in America. Yet, there are people living in America who do not like Thanksgiving and are trying to stop the celebration. They are the same people who do not like America as it is and want to “fundamentally change” it into a socialist nation.

            Have you ever wondered how many years have passed since the first Thanksgiving? I knew that it happened many years ago, but I had not considered how many until I saw an article written by Scott S. Powell entitled “Why the 400th Anniversary of Thanksgiving Matters Today.” According to Powell, Americans should revisit “the Pilgrim ‘character’ and their five significant achievements.” Here are the five significant achievements of the Pilgrims. 

First, of the many groups of settlers who came to America, only the Pilgrims were singularly motivated by a quest for religious freedom. They repeatedly spoke about their voyage to the New World in terms of a flight from tyranny to freedom, comparing themselves to God’s chosen people -- the Israelites -- who overcame slavery and abuse in Egypt to get to the Promised Land. Similar to the Israelite’s exodus, the Pilgrims had left what they saw as oppressive and morally corrupt authorities in Great Britain and Europe to create a new life in America….

Now in sight of land after a frightening voyage and facing hunger from spoiled and depleted provisions and anxious about settling outside the purview of Virginia Company charter territory, the secular Mayflower passengers were clamoring for rebellion. And this is when the Pilgrims made their second major achievement that would shape the future of America. 

Pilgrim leaders William Bradford and William Brewster recognized that Mayflower passengers, diverse as they were, needed to maintain unity in order to survive and settle in a potentially inhospitable environment. So they drafted a governing agreement that would be acceptable to both their Christian brethren and the secular crewman and merchant adventurers who made up about half the 102 people aboard the Mayflower. That governing document, known as the Mayflower Compact, provided for peace, security and equality for everyone in their anticipated settlement. With every man aboard signing the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims established the foundation for democratic self-government based on the will of people for the first time. Without knowing it at the time of adopting the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims were laying the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution, which would follow some 170 years later….

The Pilgrims’ third major achievement was the Pilgrim-Wampanoag Peace Treaty that was signed on April 1, 1621, by leaders of the Plymouth colony and Indian chief Massasoit. And a remarkable accomplishment it was, for it lasted more than 50 years -- longer than subsequent peace treaties made by other colonizing groups with native Indian tribes. The fact that there were bloody conflicts between other colonists and tribes, such as in the Pequot War fought in Connecticut in 1636-1637, makes the Pilgrims stand out for they succeeded in maintaining the longest-lasting and most equitable peace between natives and immigrants in the history of what would become the United States….

The Pilgrims fourth major achievement was the rejection [of] socialism and the adoption of private enterprise. After the meager Thanksgiving harvest, the second season of collective farming and distribution proved equally disappointing. Governor Bradford had seen enough, recording that the system “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” So before the 1623 season he scrapped socialist farming and replaced it with private ownership of land for each of the families. As a result of becoming responsible for their own welfare and gaining freedom to choose what to grow for consumption or trade, the Pilgrims’ productivity surged.

The fifth factor that distinguished the Pilgrims was their model relational behavior. While tolerance enabled them to keep relative harmony in their diverse community, they also looked outwardly to serve and help others. In March of 1623, it came to be known that Massasoit was on the brink of death from an unknown sickness. Senior Pilgrim elder Edward Winslow immediately set out on a forty-mile journey to administer medicinal broth, natural herbs and prayers to Massasoit. Astonishingly, he made full recovery within days, and remarked, “Now I see the English are my friends and love me; and whilst I live, I will never forget this kindness they have showed me.”  … [Emphasis added.]

            I knew the basic story of the first Thanksgiving, but Powell’s article organized my thinking about it. It is important that today’s Americans know the basic story, and it is also important to know the character of the Pilgrims. First, the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. Second, they signed the Mayflower Compact that “provided for peace, security and equality for everyone,” religious and secular. Third, they made a peace treaty with the Native Americans that lasted for fifty years. Fourth, they rejected socialism when they discovered that it did not work and adopted a free enterprise system. Fifth, they were morally good people and treated each other with respect. I encourage you to read the entire article

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Do You Know the Real Story of Thanksgiving?

            Rush Limbaugh developed an annual tradition in which he told “the true story of Thanksgiving.” He included historical facts that are not always told. According to John Bickley, Limbaugh highlighted “the faith and courage of the Pilgrims, the partnership between the settlers and the Native Americans, the failure of socialism and the power of free enterprise.” 

            You may or may not like Rush Limbaugh. In either case, I encourage you to listen to Rush’s retelling of “the real story of Thanksgiving.” 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

How Often Do You Count Your Blessings?

            Many Americans are in the process of preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. You may be traveling and dealing with problems in the airports and on airplane, or you may be driving and dealing with the excessive cost of gasoline. I am staying home and starting to prepare for a feast. However, you spend Thanksgiving Day, you may be interested in knowing why we have this four-day Thanksgiving weekend.

            Abraham Lincoln presented a Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1864, and it is still meaningful today. It was written a particularly dark time in the United States. An editorial in the Deseret News described the situation as following. 

The nation was at the deadliest point of a long Civil War, one that had touched almost every American household. Gettysburg, Antietam and many other battles already had claimed the lives and the health of thousands upon thousands of people. Black bunting, the sign of mourning, was a common household adornment as people agonized over loved ones lost. No one could be certain when the violence would end, or when it would touch them personally.

It was against this backdrop that Lincoln pondered the nation’s blessings from God. “He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration,” he said, “while he has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards.”

God, he said, “has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.”

            The United States was in the midst of a civil war, and most families had lost loved ones. No one knew how or when the war would end, or what its results would be. Yet, President Abraham Lincoln was counting his blessings and the blessings of the nation.

            I am currently in the midst of drafting an academic paper on the topic of gratitude and how it affects wellbeing. The social scientists all declare that the expression of gratitude – mentally, verbally, or written – causes the person doing so to think and feel better. I studied a study today indicating that the expression of gratitude changes the thought process and can lead to a positive outlook. Besides counting blessings mentally, orally, or by the written word, anyone can use prayer and meditation to express gratitude. The editorial discussed some studies and gave this quote from the Harvard Medical School.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

            Like Lincoln, last President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited people worldwide to flood social media with messages about their blessings. He also prayed for the world and made this comment.

Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems…. No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a unique, fast-acting, and long-lasting spiritual prescription.

            I was one of the estimated fifty-two million people who responded to the invitation. I also make it a practice to list five blessings each day as I write my journal entry. Some days, I have a challenging time thinking of blessings, and other days I struggled to determine which blessings to list. Either way, I know that my daily expressions of gratitude help me to keep a positive view in our darkening world. I encourage you to take steps to develop an attitude of gratitude and improve your own wellbeing.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Who Is Bill Maher?

             My VIP for this week is Bill Maher. I do not normally make liberals my VIP, and I do not usually approve of anything that Maher does. However, he recently did something good when he “delivered some penetrating criticisms of Democrats and President Joe Biden” at an appearance on CNN. During the interview he told Democrats that they would be “thumped” next November unless they gain some common sense. 

CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Maher if the country will be better or worse in eight months, to which Maher responded, “Well, they’re not going better for Biden and the Democrats.”

The “Real Time with Bill Maher” host said Democrats are “going to get whopped or thumped” in the midterms….

"Democrats, I think, keep thinking they can somehow break through to the people who hate them and don't vote for them," he continued. "Anyone with a 'D' next to their name is just completely toxic."

"I mean, look at the election we just had in Virginia," he said. "I mean, the Democrats lost some of those rural counties by 80%. We don't do 80%, or we never used to, in America. A landslide was a guy who got 58% of the vote. That's what made us great."

            Maher is not the only person who thinks that Democrats are heading for trouble in the mid-term election. A recent survey by ABC News/Washington Post “reported the best midterm projection for Republicans in 40 years.”

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Why Did the Jury Find Rittenhouse “Not Guilty”?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the ancient right to self-defense. Kyle Rittenhouse made some bad decisions fifteen months ago when joined friends to defend property in Kenosha, Wisconsin, from a raging mob. He got caught in the mob and could have lost his life except he was carrying an AR-15 rifle and defended himself. He was arrested and given six charges. His trial lasted three weeks, ending this week. One of the charges was eliminated by the judge, and the jury cleared Rittenhouse of the other five charges.

            Leftists at all levels from President Joe Biden to the left-wing media to the mobs in various cities were all upset when the jury cleared Rittenhouse. They claimed that it was “white supremacy” and “racist.” They said that Rittenhouse was cleared solely because he was white. According to the leftists, any person of color in the same circumstances would be found guilty. They just cannot accept that Rittenhouse did nothing wrong when he acted in self-defense. The problem for the leftists is that other news came out as reported by Isa Cox

Andrew Coffee IV, a black man, was acquitted of murder by way of self-defense, as reported by WPBF-TV. On the same day, Kyle Rittenhouse was cleared of murder charges by reason of self-defense.

I mention that Coffee was black only because many have been asking what might have happened in the Rittenhouse trial if the defendant was black. The question is usually asked by those who maintain that the U.S. justice system is systematically racist and therefore unjust.

“If Black Kyle Rittenhouse had shown up at an anti-vax rally with a weapon and the crowd chased him down and he shot two people dead, what would have happened? One, he probably would have been shot dead by police or bystanders, and two, he likely would have been portrayed as a thug and convicted in front of an all-white jury,” journalist David Greenwald claimed.

In another reaction, Democratic Rep. Cori Bush goes so far as to claim the judge, jury and defendant are white supremacists.

            Greenwald and Bush were far from being the only people complaining that the justice system is unfair. However, the leftists are quiet about the Coffee case. So, who are the racists?

Coffee’s defense was similar to that of Rittenhouse except Coffee was asleep when deputies set off a flash-bang. Coffee thought it was gunfire and fired his gun to protect his girlfriend and himself. The girlfriend was killed in the return fire.

The jury, after deliberating over the evidence, including Coffee’s testimony, found the defendant not guilty on the murder charges. They did find him guilty of a felon in possession of a firearm for which Coffee faces up to 30 years in prison.

If Rittenhouse had been a felon carrying an illegal weapon, would he have been convicted of the charge? The question is moot. Rittenhouse was not carrying a firearm illegally, and he did not transport it across state lines, despite myths spread by a number of media outlets.

The equal outcomes in Coffee and Rittenhouse trials were not based on race. They were not based on propaganda. They were based on reason.

            The leftist politicians and media pushed a false message for the past fifteen months. However, the jury looked at the evidence and used their wisdom to determine that both men acted in self-defense of their own lives.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

What Is the Relationship Between Religion and Government?

            My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 133-134. These sections contain several principles that are good to study at this time. Two of those principles are preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and information about governments. This post will consider the principle “Governments were instituted of God for the benefits of man” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:1). First, I will give some background.

            The revelation that is recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 133 was received through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Hiram, Ohio, on November 3, 1831, following a two-day conference. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was barely nineteen months old, and the conference focused on the publication of the Book of Commandments. This book was never published due to the destruction of the printing press and many of the papers during a mob attack in Jackson County, Missouri.

            The revelation came to answer questions “the Elders desired to know relative to preaching the Gospel to the inhabitants of the earth, and concerning the gathering [of Israel]” (Doctrine and Covenants 133, section heading). In the revelation, the Lord commanded members of the Church of Jesus Christ to “go ye out of Babylon” and to “go ye forth unto the land of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:7, 9) to prepare for His Second Coming. The revelation also included events that would take place at the time of His Second Coming and during His millennial reign. The Lord also taught that His restored gospel would prepare the earth for His Second Coming. This section is known as the “appendix” to the Doctrine and Covenants.

            Doctrine and Covenants 134 is not a revelation but a document prepared by humans. Church members met in a special meeting on August 17, 1835, in Kirtland, Ohio, with the purpose of approving the upcoming publication of the Doctrine and Covenants. Oliver Cowdery was presiding at the meeting in the absence of the Prophet Joseph Smith who was visiting Church members in Michigan Territory. During the meeting, Church members voted to include in the Doctrine and Covenants “a declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” (Doctrine and Covenants 134, section heading).

            First, I will give some background to the situation. After the Saints were illegally driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri, in late 1833, Church leaders asked state and federal government officials for help in protecting the Saints’ civil rights and reclaiming their lost property. Church leaders made repeated appeals for help, but all of them failed.

            In July 1833 very few printed copies of the Book of Commandments survived the mob violence in Independence, Missouri. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ still wanted copies of the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, so a meeting was convened as explained above to approve the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants prior to its publication.

            During the meeting, Oliver Cowdery read aloud an additional document titled “Of Governments and Laws in General.” Members in attendance unanimously approved the document’s inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants, and it became Doctrine and Covenants 134 in the 1835 edition.

            This document was not a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, but it supports a statement made by the Prophet when he wrote thirteen statements known as the Articles of Faith. The twelfth article states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

Oliver Cowdery may have prepared the document with help from William W. Phelps. The paper clarifies the beliefs of Church members regarding their relationship to government and the law. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834-September 1835, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2016], 479-82). Here is the document now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 134.

We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.

We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.

12 We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude. [Emphasis added.]

            State and federal governments failed to protect the freedom and religion of the Saints, but members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are staunch supporters of the Constitution of the United States, believing that it was divinely inspired. According to Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, there are basic principles of religious freedom that we should all promote and support:

There are four cornerstones of religious freedom that we as Latter-day Saints must rely upon and protect.

The first is freedom to believe. No one should be criticized, persecuted, or attacked by individuals, or governments either, for what he or she believes about God. It is very personal and very important….

The second cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to share our faith and our beliefs with others…. As parents, full-time missionaries, and member missionaries, we rely on religious freedom in order to teach the Lord’s doctrine in our families and throughout the world.

The third cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to form a religious organization, a church, to worship peacefully with others…. International human rights documents and many national constitutions support this principle.

The fourth cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to live our faith – free exercise of faith not just in the home and chapel but also in public places (“Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom,” Ensign, May 2015, 112).

            Members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that every mortal who has ever lived upon the earth or will ever live upon the earth fought for agency in the pre-mortal world. Latter-day Saints continue to fight for agency – freedom and liberty – in this world. “Governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man,” and they are responsible to protect the God-given rights of all humanity.