Declaration of Independence

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

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Why Should I Study Psalms?

            My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Psalms 1-2; 8; 19-33; 40; 46. The title of the lesson was “The Lord Is My Shepherd.” The lesson was introduced as follows:

We don’t know for certain who wrote the Psalms. Some have been attributed to King David, but for most of them, the writers remain anonymous. Yet after reading the Psalms, we may feel as if we know the hearts of the Psalmists, even if we don’t know their names. What we do know is that the Psalms were an important part of worship among the Israelites, and we know that the Savior quoted them often. In the Psalms, we get a window into the soul of God’s ancient people. We see how they felt about God, what they worried about, and how they found peace. As believers today, all over the world, we still use these words in our worship of God. The writers of the Psalms seem to have had a window into our souls and seem to have found a way to express how we feel about God, what we worry about, and how we find peace.

            As usual, the lesson taught several principles. The principle for this discussion is “The Psalms point our minds to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.” Some of the Psalms point to the mortal life of Jesus Christ, and the relationships were noticed by Christians in New Testament times. Here is a comparison between Psalms 2 and 22 with some New Testament scriptures.

PSALM 2:2-3, 7

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointedsaying,

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.


Acts 4:24–30

24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

            PSALM 22

            A messianic psalm of David—He foretells events in the Messiah’s life—The Messiah will say, My             God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?—They will pierce His hands and feet—He will yet                govern among all nations. To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken mewhy art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.


Matthew 27:35–46

35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36 And sitting down they watched him there;

37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

39 ¶ And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

 

Luke 23:34–35

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

 

John 19:23–24

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

            If you were a Jew in the time of Jesus and were familiar with the Psalms, how would you view the connections between Psalms and what you were seeing? For me, the connection would be a confirming voice that Jesus really was the Son of God. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Should Parents Be Concerned about Having Children at This Time?

            Parents can strengthen their children as well as their community and nation by recognizing that the spirits coming to earth today were saved for “such a time as this” (Esther). I found the following information on Facebook and shared it with friends. However, I could not get it off my mind and decided to share it on my blog. It was published by Carli Stralo under the date of April 22, but I do not know the year. Nevertheless, it is “signed” Alex Cravens. 

“Don’t feel sorry for or fear for your kids because the world they are going to grow up in is not what it used to be.

 

God created them and called them for the exact moment in time that they’re in. Their life wasn’t a coincidence or an accident.

 

Raise them up to know the power they walk in as children of God.

Train them up in the authority of His Word.

 

Teach them to walk in faith knowing that God is in control.

Empower them to know they can change the world.

 

Don’t teach them to be fearful and disheartened by the state of the world but hopeful that they can do something about it.

 

Every person in all of history has been placed in the time that they were in because of God’s sovereign plan.

 

He knew Daniel could handle the lions’ den.

He knew David could handle Goliath.

He knew Esther could handle Haman.

He knew Peter could handle persecution.

 

He knows that your child can handle whatever challenge they face in their life. He created them specifically for it!

 

Don’t be scared for your children, but be honored that God chose YOU to parent the generation that is facing the biggest challenges of our lifetime.

 

Rise up to the challenge.

Raise Daniels, Davids, Esthers and Peters!

 

God isn’t scratching His head wondering what He’s going to do with this mess of a world.

 

He has an army He’s raising up to drive back the darkness and make Him known all over the earth.

 

Don’t let your fear steal the greatness God placed in them. I know it’s hard to imagine them as anything besides our sweet little babies, and we just want to protect them from anything that could ever be hard on them, but they were born for such a time as this.”

~Alex Cravens

             This statement is powerful, and it helped me to see the situation in a whole different light. My children are all adults, but they have children for whom I am concerned. I know that parents can strengthen their children by looking forward with faith rather than fear. I know that strong families strengthen communities and nations.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Why Is Religious Freedom Essential for True Liberty?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns religious liberty and why it is essential to pursue it worldwide. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including some of my ancestors, have been persecuted for their religious beliefs from the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ in April 1830.

            President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ spoke about religious freedom on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at the 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome, Italy. The title of his presentation was “Pursuing Religious Liberty Worldwide.” He began his talk by declaring that Latter-day Saints, Catholics, and other minorities in the United States have been persecuted because of their religious beliefs. 

For me personally, religious liberty is not academic. In 1838, my third great-grandmother Oaks and her family lost most of their property when the Missouri state militia drove our members, then mockingly known as “Mormons,” out of that state. A few years later, Illinois state authorities stood by while a lawless element burned homes and drove Church members from that state as well. In 1844, my wife, Kristen’s, second great-grandfather, Hyrum Smith, was murdered by a mob who opposed his religion. In 1893, my great-grandfather Harris was sent to prison in the Utah Territory for his religious practices, and my great-aunt was the first woman imprisoned for hers. I am one of many Latter-day Saints whose DNA includes a desire for religious freedom, felt as fundamental as the marrow in our bones.

Leaders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ seek to bring religious freedom to all people and have done so from the beginning. The Prophet Joseph Smith made the following statement in 1843:

I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am … ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any the denominations.

            Though having different doctrines, Catholics and Latter-day Saints stand shoulder to shoulder in defending religious freedom. Recently, Cardinal Francis E. George, then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke to a large audience at Brigham Young University. He began his presentation by declaring his personal gratitude for this improved relationship: “after 180 years of living mostly apart from one another, Catholics and Latter-day Saints have begun to see one another as trustworthy partners in the defense of shared moral principles and in the promotion of the common good of our beloved country.”

            George concluded his remarks: “that Catholics and Mormons stand with one another and with other defenders of conscience and that we can and should stand as one in the defense of religious liberty. In the coming years, interreligious coalitions formed to defend the rights of conscience for individuals and for religious institutions should become a vital bulwark against the tide of forces at work in our government and society to reduce religion to a purely private reality.”

            Oaks said that he was speaking at the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit “in furtherance of our enthusiastic support for such ‘interreligious coalitions’ to defend religious freedom for all people. During the earlier persecution of our Church, we have learned that the best remedy for religious persecution that affects us is to join in efforts to reduce religious persecution that affects others.” He called “for a global effort to defend and advance the religious freedom of all the children of God in every nation of the world.”

            Oaks noted that “Organized religion and personal freedom of religion” are being facing serious challenges. At the same time, “Religious liberty is declining in popularity with governments and their citizens.” He continued:

Religion is under siege by secularism, authoritarianism, and political correctness, all of which seek to replace or weaken the influence of its teachings. Globally, there are many government restrictions on religious liberty. More significant in the long run may be the deteriorating attitudes of individuals toward religion….


Doubtless there are many causes of this deterioration. Whether cause or effect, the education of the rising generation has surely played a role. In the United States we have observed a diminishing coverage of religion in school textbooks and curricula. Two decades ago, a report of the American Textbook Council observed that “The strength of religion in shaping human thought and action is not often explained, and its role as a motivating agent of culture, politics, and ethics often remains under-examined.”


One observer wrote that school textbooks “create[e] the impression that religion and faith have little to do with the development of U.S. History.”


What are the religious freedoms or liberties that concern us? For faith communities, the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of association and the right to assemble; the right to determine new members; the right to select leaders and important employees, including in related organizations; and the right to function as an organization. For individual believers, essential rights include religious expression and exercise and freedom from religious discrimination.

            Oaks suggested that the various religions – Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, Latter-day Saints, and other faiths – can “join forces to confront religious challenges” without examining “doctrinal differences” or identifying “their many common elements of belief.” He then said, “All that is necessary for unity is our shared conviction that God has commanded us to love one another and has granted us freedom in matters of faith.”

            Later in his talk, Oaks declared that “Religious teachings and the religiously motivated actions of believers benefit society and deserve legal protection.” One of the ways that religion benefits society is in giving humanitarian assistance for “hunger, disease, and lack of education to mention only a few” of the many needs.

Religious liberty enables believers and faith communities to provide this aid to society’s neediest members. Most religions exhort their believers to give to the poor. Most also teach their believers that they are accountable to God for this duty. Religions also play a vital role in contributing to social stability. Societies are not held together primarily by law and its enforcement, but by those who voluntarily obey the unenforceable because of their sense of accountability to God….

            Religious freedom is essential for true liberty. Our beliefs are core to who we are. If government or individuals deny freedom to believe, to speak of our beliefs publicly, and to share our beliefs with others, society itself will suffer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Why Did the FBI Raid Mar-a-Lago When Trump Was Cooperating?

            Questions are flying about why the FBI raided the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump. However, the White House, the Department of Justice, and the FBI are providing few answers. In fact, the Biden family left Washington, D.C., on a vacation, and Attorney General Merrick Garland cannot be found. John Sullivan at Just the News has been asking questions and found more information.

            According to Sullivan, “Trump secretly received a grand jury subpoena for classified documents belonging to the National Archives” in June 2022, two months before the raid. Trump “voluntarily cooperated by turning over responsive evidence, surrendering security surveillance footage and allowing federal agents and a senior Justice Department lawyer to tour his private storage locker.” This information came from “a half dozen people familiar with the incident.” 

            Trump’s attorneys arranged the cooperation, but “Trump personally surprised the DOJ National Security Division prosecutor and three FBI agents who came to his Mar-a-Lago compound on June 3, greeting them as they came to pick up a small number of documents compliant with the subpoena,” sources told Just the News. The sources spoke “only on condition of anonymity because the visit was covered by grand jury secrecy.”

The subpoena requested any remaining documents Trump possessed with any classification markings, even if they involved photos of foreign leaders, correspondence or mementos from his presidency.


Secret Service agents were also present and facilitated the visit, officials said.

Trump signaled his full cooperation, telling the agents and prosecutor, “Look, whatever you need let us know,” according to two eyewitnesses. The federal team was surprised by the president’s invitation and asked for an immediate favor: to see the 6-foot-by 10-foot storage locker where his clothes, shoes, documents and mementoes from his presidency were stored at the compound.


Given Trump’s instruction, the president’s lawyers complied and allowed the search by the FBI before the entourage left cordially. Five days later, DOJ officials sent a letter to Trump’s lawyers asking them to secure the storage locker with more than the lock they had seen. The Secret Service installed a more robust security lock to comply.


Around the same time, the Trump Organization, which owns Mar-a-Lago, received a request for surveillance video footage covering the locker and volunteered the footage to federal authorities, sources disclosed.

            The above disclosure on Wednesday brought “new questions in legal and congressional circles about the subsequent raid.” One of the questions being asked is “whether the judge who approved the warrant [knew] of the earlier cooperation.” George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley said the following to Sean Hannity at Fox News.

The more we learn, the more confusing this gets…. Did they relay this history to the magistrate? That, according to these sources, that the president had cooperated.

I mean, the idea that he was subject to a subpoena, complied with a subpoena, didn’t challenge it, voluntarily showed the storage room to the agents, followed their advice, secured it to meet their demands. All of that is hardly a basis for saying now we need to send in 40 FBI agents on a raid…. I mean, if the subpoena worked the first time, then presumably a second subpoena would work the second time if there were remaining documents.

            Some people, including Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), believe that raid is Democrats’ attempt for impeachment #4, noting that the January 6 investigation is #3, plus the two formal impeachment attempts. The activity in June “came months after Trump had already returned about 15 boxes of documents, many of them classified, at the request of the National Archives.” According to government officials, “the documents were mistakenly boxed up by the General Services Administration along with Trump’s personal possessions from the White House and shipped to Mar-a-Lago.” Federal authorities were not satisfied that they had all the classified materials and arranged the June 3 visit.

            There were “no other official contacts with the president’s lawyers until agents showed up unannounced on Monday and executed the search warrant.” The FBI ousted the president’s lawyers and staff and spent nine hours in the Trump home. They “collected about 12 boxes of evidence.”

            Did U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart know about the cooperation from Trump? Government officials will not say whether he knew of it or not. Another question is why did the FBI wait three days after getting the warrant signed by the judge?

            Another question is why Reinhart did not recuse himself from signing the warrant? “Just the News obtained a court document showing that Reinhart … recused himself from Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats in the Russia collusion scandal, citing concerns that he couldn’t be impartial.” He recused himself from that case only six weeks before he signed the current warrant.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

What Will Be the Results of the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago?

            The news today on every channel and every talk show is the FBI raid on President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump released a statement yesterday that Mar-a-Lago had been raided by the FBI, and details of the raid are slowly emerging.

Apparently, 30 FBI agents in 20 black vehicles went to Mar-a-Lago with guns to look for papers that the National Archives wants. They began their search while Trump was in New York/New Jersey and would not allow Trump’s attorneys to watch what they took.

Trump has called the Democrat persecution of him and his family a “witch hunt,” and now Republican members of Congress, governors, and other leaders are using the same word. Representative Pat Fallon (R-Texas) told The Daily Signal, “Since they took office, the Biden administration has tried to weaponize the Department of Justice and the FBI to go after political enemies. While we do not know all the details yet, this raid has all the markings of a politically motivated witch hunt.” 

Representative Michael Cloud (R-Texas) said, “Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the IRS targeting conservatives. We’ve seen [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] abuse. We’ve seen the Hunter Biden case…. We had the Russian collusion hoax. We had riots in cities that they didn’t follow up on.” He added, “What the American people are seeing that’s very clear right now is the two-tiered system of justice in our nation, which goes against the bedrock of what we are as a nation.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) tweeted that the Department of Justice had “reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and that “when Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department.”

The FBI raid has unified Republicans – Trump supporters, Never-Trumpers, and right-leaning Independents. Those who recognize the danger presented to our nation are calling for congressional investigations and defunding of the FBI. If Republicans take the House of Representatives in November, Republican leaders in Congress promise oversight investigation.

Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal has questions about Trump’s future as well as the propriety of the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago. Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press Secretary, claims that no one at the White House knew about the raid in advance. Here are Lucas’s four key questions with answers from legal experts.

1.      Is a Trump Indictment More Likely?

The FBI’s rationale for the search warrant authorized by a federal judge likely concerned the Presidential Records Act, according to news reports.


The raid by about 30 FBI agents could foreshadow an indictment of the 45th president, said Michael Lawlor, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.


“It’s more likely than not there will be an indictment of the former president,” Lawlor, a former state prosecutor and one-time Democratic member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, told The Daily Signal.


“To get this type of warrant, they need to have probable cause showing they recently learned of documents in his possession. This would be recent, not something they knew about for a year or for a month,” Lawlor said….


However, Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative legal group, said he doesn’t anticipate an indictment of Trump.


“My guess is they won’t indict him over records retention,” Levey told The Daily Signal.

“If the goal is to send him to jail, no, he will not go to jail for a violation of the Presidential Records Act,” Levey said. “Would charges on that act satisfy the [Democratic Party] base? Possibly. But it would look bad, particularly since Hillary Clinton was investigated in 2016 for transmitting classified information.”


The FBI investigated Clinton for potentially mishandling classified information on an unsecure, home-based email server while she was secretary of state under President Barack Obama. The FBI determined that she was reckless, but that her actions did not warrant an indictment.


“I don’t buy that the raid in and of itself means we are on the verge of an indictment,” Levey said of the Trump case….


2.      What Are Potential Penalties?

Someone who removes or destroys protected government documents faces a penalty of a fine or imprisonment under several statutes.


What Trump’s foes could aim for is a statute covering concealment, removal, or mutilation of classified information generally. Under this statute (18 U.S. Code § 2071), someone found to be guilty “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” It’s not clear what statute could be used in the Trump case, the University of New Haven’s Lawlor said….


“Trump has been out of office for a year and a half. It’s difficult to say there is suddenly an imminent danger he would destroy or flush these documents,” Levey said.


Levey said he doubts that language in the law requiring someone convicted of mishandling classified information to “forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States” could disqualify anyone from running for president.


Constitutional requirements for running for president supersede all statutes, said Larry Schweikart, a retired professor of history at the University of Dayton and author of several history books, most recently “Dragonslayers: Six Presidents and Their War With the Swamp.”


“They will try to use the Arizona Dog Catcher Act to prevent him from running for president again,” Schweikart quipped in an interview with The Daily Signal. “The Constitution outlines who can run for president. And if he is indicted, well, Eugene Debs ran for president in 1912 from a prison cell and got 3% of the vote.”


3.      Will This Further Undermine Confidence in Justice Department?

Schweikart pointed to a history of a politicized CIA used during Watergate, as comparable to a politicized Justice Department.


The Justice Department has clearly been going after Trump for four years, but couldn’t get him with two impeachments or a special counsel,” Schweikart said. “Trump could be seen as a bigger threat to the swamp out of office.” …


“The track record of this Justice Department is one hostile to the former president, such as lying on search warrants, Andrew McCabe’s lying to the inspector general, the almost three-year Mueller investigation,” Levey said.


“So there is good reason for the department to explain why this is not just a hostile act toward Trump,” Levey continued. “I would think they would try to dispel that notion. I’ve never understood Trump derangement syndrome, but it sometimes makes people do things that don’t make sense.”


4.      Is This Unprecedented Action Justified?

Shirley, the presidential historian, stressed that it is Biden’s administration, not just Attorney General Merrick Garland or FBI Director Christopher Wray, that is responsible for the unprecedented action against Trump.


“This has never been done before with a president or former president in American history,” Shirley said….


This move, however, could be more problematic as the Biden administration potentially is attempting to prosecute a past and future political rival.


“This is without a doubt one of the biggest days in American history. You can’t minimize it,” Shirley said. “No president, not even Richard Nixon, did this to political enemies.”

Moreover, he compared what just occurred to Trump’s 2019 impeachment for abuse of power for encouraging an investigation affecting a political opponent – Biden – in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


“This is far worse. Trump used a phone call to supposedly target an opponent,” Shirley said. “Biden is using the full apparatus of the Department of Justice. This is all political.”


The problem is that, technically, “abuse of power” is not illegal and would be a difficult basis for impeachment should Republicans choose to take that path, Levey said.

“Will Republicans go down the road of these types of impeachments, as Democrats have?” Levey said. “Will every future president be consumed with indicting his predecessor of the opposite party? Or will Republicans choose to restore democratic norms? It could be a dangerous road we are going down.”

            Anyone with any knowledge about how the federal government is supposed to work is upset with the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago. When even Democrats are questioning the raid, the Department of Justice and the FBI have a problem.

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that the Department of Justice should quickly justify the FBI raid on Trump because it looks politically motivated and could taint the January 6 investigations: “DOJ must immediately explain the reason for its raid & it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigations & legitimacy of January 6 investigations.”