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, September 23, 2023

What Is Simply Beautiful and Beautifully Simple?

My Come Follow Me lesson for this week took me to 2 Corinthians 8-13 in a lesson titled “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver.” The lesson was preceded by this counsel: “Recording spiritual impressions will help you remember what you learn during scripture study. You might write in a study journal, make notes in the margins of your scriptures, add notes in your Gospel Library app, or make an audio recording of your thoughts.” The lesson was introduced with this paragraph: 

What would you do if you heard that congregation of Saints in another area was struggling in poverty? This was the situation that Paul described to the Corinthian Saints in 2 Corinthians 8-9. He hoped to persuade the Corinthian Saints to donate some of their abundance to Saints in need. But beyond a request for donations, Paul’s words also contain profound truths about giving: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In our day, there are still Saints throughout the world who are in need of help. Sometimes the most we can do for them is to fast and donate fast offerings. In other cases, our giving can be more direct and personal. Whatever forms our sacrifices take, it’s worth examining our motivations for giving. Are our sacrifices expressions of love? After all, it’s love that makes a giver cheerful.

The principle for this post is found in 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 “We should focus on ‘the simplicity that is in Christ.’The verses are as follow:

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

            We are most interested in verse 3 where Paul speaks of “the simplicity that is in Christ.”  President Matthew Cowley was quoted as saying many times, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.” Yet, many members of the Church of Jesus Christ try to make the gospel more complicated than it is. They are overwhelmed with the demands of their lives as well as being Latter-day Saints. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave the following counsel to all who are overwhelmed with living the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Brothers and sisters, living the gospel doesn’t need to be complicated.

It is really straightforward. It could be described like this:

·         Hearing the word of God with earnest intent leads us to believe in God and to trust His promises.

·         The more we trust God, the more our hearts are filled with love for Him and for each other.

·         Because of our love for God, we desire to follow Him and bring our actions in alignment with His word.

·         Because we love God, we want to serve Him; we want to bless the lives of others and help the poor and the needy.

·         The more we walk in this path of discipleship, the more we desire to learn the word of God.

And so it goes, each step leading to the next and filling us with ever-increasing faith, hope, and charity.

It is beautifully simple, and it works beautifully.

Brothers and sisters, if you ever think that the gospel isn’t working so well for you, I invite you to step back, look at your life from a higher plane, and simplify your approach to discipleship. Focus on the basic doctrines, principles, and applications of the gospel. I promise that God will guide and bless you on your path to a fulfilling life, and the gospel will definitely work better for you (“It Works Wonderfully!,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 22).


Friday, September 22, 2023

Why Is Obedience to Laws Important?

Strong families, communities, and nations are born when parents teach their children to obey the laws by their words and actions. Law-abiding citizens strengthen their states and nations, which then provide protection for their residents and citizens. The opposite is also true: parents who do not teach obedience to law OR teach disobedience to law will weaken families, communities, states, and nations.

A program was implemented by former President Barck Obama, terminated by former President Donald Trump, and reinstated by President Joe Biden. This week a federal district court ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is illegal. Will the Biden administration try to resurrect the program or finally let it die? The answer is unknown, but the Biden administration does not usually abide by law. Hans von Spakovsky at The Daily Signal gave the following description about how the program started. 

This unlawful assertion of executive power started when Janet Napolitano, then-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a three-page memorandum in 2012 deferring the removal of illegal aliens who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 who had been in the country for at least five years prior to the date of the memo and were not above the age of 30.

They were granted access to Social Security and Medicare benefits – despite the fact that illegal aliens are barred from those government programs by federal law. By granting them access to those programs, that made them eligible for certain state benefit programs that depend on whether someone is “lawfully present” in the U.S., which was the label given to them by DHS. (Emphasis added.)

The program implemented by Obama and reinstated by Biden is a slap in the face for law-abiding people but came about because of compassion. When parents illegally crossed into the United States and brought their young children with them, they taught their children to break the immigration laws of the United States. In doing so, they made life much more difficult for their children.

Even though the families lived in the United States with all the freedoms and blessings of America, they were never legally eligible to do so. Therefore, they hid in the shadows for many years as the children became Americanized. Many of the children do not know of their previous homes, and they know of no other country than America. If they are deported, they would be deported to an unknown place.

Many of the “children” in the DACA program have waited years to realize their dreams of being in America legally. Now, a court has ruled the program to be illegal. This means that the “children” could be tagged for deportation at any time. Imagine how they must feel to know that their lives could be upended at any time!

Other parental words and actions may not be so impactful as those of the DACA parents. However, some parents really mess up the lives of their children, just as bad or worse than the DACA parents. God will hold such parents accountable. Parents must teach obedience to laws for their children to reap the blessings of those laws and to strengthen their communities, states, and nations.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Is Joe Biden An Enemy of the United States?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the growing problem of illegal immigration. The way that the Biden administration has handled illegal immigration gives cause for alarm. The results of Biden policies show that he is continuing Barack Obama’s promise to “fundamentally transform” the United States.

Mark Levin claims that Democrats hate the United States because Biden policies are destroying America as we know it. Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal says that the Biden administration is trying to “transform the United States into a poorly managed economic zone” and that “the latest mayhem at the southern border” is the evidence. What we are seeing at this time is a worse situation than at any point during the past two and a half years.

Even though the numbers of immigrants cross the border illegal dipped during the hot months of the summer, they are surging this week. Stepman wrote the following: 

As Fox News border reporter Bill Melugin said, it’s a “free-for-all” in Eagle Pass, Texas, right now as thousands of Venezuelans are crossing the border en masse.

The numbers are truly astounding.

The Biden administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it’s not only fine with that, but it will also do anything to ensure that the situation continues.

The White House created a visa program for illegal immigrants that allows them to stay in the country if they find a “sponsor” to support them. But the sponsor can be another illegal alien. Yes, really.

That’s why it’s fair to say that we have a completely open border. Even in the case where illegal immigrants are apprehended, the administration has pulled the plug on every tool that would allow the government to quickly deport them.

[Emphasis added.]

The Biden administration has done everything possible to stop the states from doing anything to halt the immigrants from crossing illegally. The federal government forced Arizona to take down the “fence” made of shipping containers. Texas authorities put up a barrier made of razor wire at the border near Eagle Point, Texas. The Border Patrol – obviously under Biden’s direction – cut down the wire. Texas put up fences, but Border Patrol opened the gates to let illegal immigrants to enter America. Texas put a barrier down the middle of the river, but the Biden administration sued Texas to remove it.

Stepman noted that the Biden administration motto must be “15 months to end America as we know it.” He concluded his article by comparing the decline of America to that of the Roman Empire and the fall of other great civilizations.

Lora Ries at The Daily Signal reported that Congress has been called to defund the open-border operations of the Biden administration. She explained that the House may attach “most of the Secure the Border Act to a continuing resolution package to fund the government.” The bill was passed by the House in May and was nearly passed by the Senate in June. “Now, Sen. Ted Cruz is leading 26 original Republican co-sponsors to introduce the Senate companion of the House bill.” 

The Senate bill is also called the Secure the Border Act and “combines closing known loopholes that illegal aliens, cartels, and the Biden administration exploit.” The Senate bill would apply “consequences for illegal immigration with previously successful policies; [increase] Customs and Border Protection resources for true border security and enforcement; and [authorize] the defunding of the nongovernmental organization industrial complex that the Biden administration pays to receive, process, transport, shelter, counsel, and give social services to the millions of illegal aliens coming to the U.S.”

Virginia Allen at The Daily Signal reported that the Biden administration expanded its efforts to bring illegal immigrants into America. 

Not all illegal aliens are entering the U.S. along the southern or northern border, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Over the past year, “more than 200,000 people from four countries” used a direct-flight parole program to enter the United States illegally, says Todd Bensman, senior national security fellow at the Washington-based think tank devoted to researching immigration issues. Those 221,456 illegal aliens are form Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, Bensman writes in a report published Thursday.

Allen also reported that Bensman learned of the federal government’s “CBP One” mobile application parole program. This program “permits inadmissible aliens to make an appointment to fly directly to airports in the interior of the United States, bypassing the border altogether.” Biden said that the purpose of the program was to form “lawful pathways” for people to enter the United States illegally. This program has decreased the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border between ports of entry because illegal migrants are “presenting themselves at the ports of entry within the interior of the country.”

The fact is that Biden’s policies brought five to ten million immigrants illegally into the United States in less than three years. The illegal immigrants are overwhelming small towns, large cities, and states all across America. If Biden were an enemy of America trying to destroy the government of the United States, what would he have done differently than he has done as President of the United States? 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

What Did Garland Have to Say to the House Judiciary Committee?

Attorney General Merrick Garland was interrogated by the House Judiciary Committee today. He declined to answer many questions. He could not remember if he spoke with FBI personnel about the investigation of Hunter Biden. He did not know the number of confidential informants who entered th4e Capitol on January 6, 2021. He had to be forced to answer if Catholics are “violent extremists.” Fred Lucas shared seven takeaways from the hearing in his article in The Daily Signal

1. ‘Traditional Catholics Are Violent Extremists? Yes or No?’

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., brought up the January memo out of the FBI field office in Richmond, Virginia, detailing plans to spy on American Catholics. The leaked memo said, “radical traditionalist Catholics” had the potential to become “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.” …

Van Drew again asked: “Are they extremists or not, Attorney General?”

Garland responded: “Everything in that memo is appalling.”

[Notice how he could not answer a yes or no question?]

2. ‘Don’t Recollect’ Personal Contact

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., asked about who the attorney general has talked to regarding his department’s investigation of Hunter Biden for failing to file income tax returns reflecting all his overseas business dealings, including in China and Ukraine, and for drug-related gun offenses. That probe began in 2018, during the Trump administration.

“Has anyone from the White House provided direction at any time to you personally or to senior officials at the DOJ regarding how the Hunter Biden investigation was to be carried out?” Johnson asked.

Garland answered, “No.”

From there, the attorney general’s answer became sketchier….

3. ‘Defunding the FBI’ Would Be ‘Catastrophic’

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, brought up the fact that some Republican lawmakers had called for shutting down the FBI. They did so in protest of what they saw as unequal treatment of Americans under the law, including the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home in August 2022.

“What would be the impact on America of defunding the FBI?” Nadler asked Garland.

The attorney general sounded alarms about such a move.

“Defunding the FBI would leave the United States naked to the maligned influence of the Chinese Communist Party, the attacks by Iranians on American citizens, attempts to assassinate former officials, up to Russian aggression, to North Korea cyberattacks, to violent crime in the United States, which the FBI helps to fight against,” Garland said….

4. About Weiss: ‘What Changed?’

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, noted that Weiss at one point wanted to bring charges against Hunter Biden in the District of Columbia, but U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves declined to cooperate….

Jordan also asked, “What changed?” in the time between the July 10 letter to Graham in which Weiss said he didn’t ask to be named a special counsel and Garland’s Aug. 11 announcement appointing Weiss as special counsel.

“Several days before my announcement, Mr. Weiss had asked to become special counsel,” Garland testified. “He explained that he had reached the stage in his investigation where he thought that appropriate.”

Jordan sarcastically referenced the launch of the Hunter Biden investigation in 2018.

“After five years, what stage are we in?” the Ohio Republican asked. “Are we in the beginning stage, the middle stage, the end stage, the keep-hiding-the-ball stage?”

Garland responded: “This one I would go back to the videotape, where I said I’m not permitted to discuss ongoing investigations.”

Jordan retorted: “Isn’t that convenient.”

“Something changed in 31 to 32 days from July 10 to Aug. 11,” Jordan added. “I think it’s two brave whistleblowers came forward and a judge called BS on the plea deal….”

5. ‘People Don’t Pay Bribes to Not Get Something’

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., suggested that the Biden Justice Department’s decision to close the Trump administration’s China Initiative, which since 2018 had investigated Chinese espionage in the U.S., correlated with millions of dollars from Chinese sources going to the Biden family.

Gaetz asked the attorney general: “What was the China Initiative dissolved?”

Garland replied that China isn’t the only source of espionage and other attacks.

“We face attacks from four nation-states: North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran, and we need to focus our attention on the broad range of these attacks,” Garland said. 

[Question: Why is America doing business with the four nation-states?]

Gaetz seemed to scoff.

“Are you saying that North Korea has the same malign influence risk to the United States as the Chinese Communist Party?” Gaetz asked the attorney general. “Because here’s what it looks like. It looks like the Chinese gave all this money to the Bidens and then you guys came in and got rid of the China Initiative….”

“It’s like you’re looking the other way on purpose, because everybody knows this stuff is happening. But people don’t pay bribes to not get something in return,” Gaetz told Garland.

“The China Initiative resulted in the convictions of a Harvard professor, of someone at Monsanto,” the Florida Republican said. “So we were working against the Chinese. They paid the Bidens. Now you are sitting here telling me that North Korea is the big threat?”

6. ‘Agents and Assets’ at Capitol Riot? ‘Don’t Know’

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., asked Garland whether any confidential informants were involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

“How many agents or assets of the government were present on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 and agitating in the crowd to go into the Capitol, and how many went into the Capitol?” Massie asked. “Can you answer that now?”

Garland replied: “I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Massie then asked: “You don’t know how many there were, or there were none?” Garland affirmed his lack of knowledge….

Massie said he didn’t believe the attorney general.

“I think you may have just perjured yourself [by saying] that you don’t know that there were any,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Do you want to say that again, that you don’t know there were any? …

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Ray Epps, a man seen on video telling protesters to enter the Capitol before the riot, on charges of disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted grounds.

Some politicians and pundits have questioned why Epps had not been charged earlier, and whether he was a confidential informant….

Massie continued:

You are putting people away for 20 years for merely filming [during the Capitol riot]. Some people weren’t even there yet. You’ve got the guy on video who is saying, ‘Go into the Capitol.’ He’s directing people to the Capitol before [Trump’s] speech ends. He’s at the site of the first breach. You’ve got all the goods on him. And it’s an indictment for a misdemeanor? The American public isn’t buying it.

7. ‘That Goes Right to the White House’

Jordan pressed Garland on why Justice Department prosecutors investigating Hunter Biden allowed the statute of limitations to expire for tax charges.

Such charges would have stretched back to the younger Biden’s time on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that paid him $50,000 a month while his father was vice president.

As vice president, Biden oversaw the Obama administration’s policy on Ukraine. “They made an intentional decision to say we’re going to let the statute of limitations lapse,” Jordan told Garland. “I want to know who decided that and why they did it.

Garland punted the answer to Weiss….

Jordan responded that everyone knows the answer.

“Those tax years involved the president. It’s one thing to have a gun charge in Delaware. That doesn’t involve the president of the United States,” Jordan said. “But Burisma, oh my, that goes right to the White House. We can’t have that.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

What Are the Cases in the 2023-2024 Judicial Season?

 Americans are always interested in the cases accepted by the Supreme Court, and we watch with interest as the decisions are made public. According to an article by Zack Smith and Caroline Heckman in The Daily Signal, the following five cases will be heard during the 2023-2024 Supreme Court season. 

1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited.

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as an independent regulatory agency. Congress gave the bureau broad authority and provided it with a unique funding mechanism outside the normal appropriations process. Instead of receiving congressionally appropriated money each year, the bureau instead receives its funding from the Federal Reserve.

Consequently, several financial service organizations claimed that the funding mechanism for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau violates the Constitution’s appropriations clause….

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agreed and ruled in favor of the challengers. Of course, the government disagreed with this ruling and asked the Supreme Court to review the case, which the Supreme Court agreed to do.

If the Supreme Court agrees with the 5th Circuit, the government contends, “virtually every action [the bureau] has taken in the 12 years since it was created” could be called into question.

But the challengers contend that the Supreme Court must agree with the 5th Circuit because to do otherwise would gut the Constitution’s requirements and allow Congress to create unique, unchecked funding mechanisms that could exist in perpetuity without appropriate – and constitutionally required – accountability….

2. Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo

This case asks the Supreme Court to decide whether courts must defer to an executive branch agency’s fishy interpretation of the laws governing its conduct.

If the high court agrees that no such deference needs to be given, it would be overruling one of its controversial precedents and the much-dreaded Chevron deference (requiring courts to defer to an executive branch agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute) no longer would exist.

Here, family-owned fisheries took issue with a regulation promulgated under the auspices of the National Marine Fisheries Service that required them not only to carry a person serving as a monitor on their fishing boats to ensure compliance with federal fishing regulations, but also to pay the salaries of the monitors they carry….

Of course, the Supreme Court’s decision in this case will have far-reaching implications across the administrative state. If the court discards the idea that it must defer to an agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute, many other programs promulgated by the federal bureaucracy could be ripe for reexamination by the courts.


 3. Moore v. United States

Charles and Kathleen Moore invested in an Indian start-up company. However, the Moores never received any distributions from the company, since any funds were always reinvested back into it. Nevertheless, the U.S. government taxed them based on their stake in the company….

So now, the Supreme Court must decide whether the 16th Amendment allows Congress to tax unrealized sums (profits that people don’t receive) without apportionment among the states.

Depending on how the high court rules in this case, it could have a rippling effect on the U.S. tax code. If the court upholds the tax, this might set the stage for a future “wealth tax.”

4. Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy

The Securities and Exchange Commission suspected that George Jarkesy and his investment advisers committed fraud. So, the SEC commenced an enforcement action against them….

Jarkesy, however, argued that, among other defects, the SEC’s in-house adjudicative process violated his Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agreed with Jarkesy….

Now, the Supreme Court will review these three holdings. Regardless of what the court decides, it will have major implications for the administrative state.

5. O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier/Lindke v. Freed

Both cases broadly revolve around whether a public official’s use of social media can constitute state action sufficient to establish a constitutional violation, and if so, when.

Specifically, in both cases, a public official blocked individuals from their social media accounts. If they did so in their official capacities, it could be a First Amendment violation. If they did so in their private capacities, it would not be a violation….

The Supreme Court’s decisions in these cases could have a far-reaching implication for how public officials and citizens interact on social media.

The Supreme Court will hear evidence on other cases during their 2023-2024 judicial season. However, the five cases referenced above may have the most impact on American citizens.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Who Is Ken Paxton?

My VIP for this week is Ken Paxton, the conservative and powerful Texas Attorney General who was acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment on Saturday after a two-week trial. To make a long story short, 70% of Republicans in the Texas House voted to impeach Paxton in May.

During the trial in the Texas Senate, the so-called evidence was presented, but the Senators did not believe it. “Only two of 19 Republican Senators voted in favor of convicting for any article – a stark contrast to the more than 70% of House Republicans who impeached the attorney general in May. 

In addition, “the Senate also voted 19-11 to dismiss the remining four articles of impeachment that the chamber had agree to set aside prior to the trial.” Paxton was immediately restored to his office by the not guilty verdicts. After his acquittal, Paxton released the following statement:

“The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House,” Paxton said in a statement. “The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”

Some of the senators made statements about the inappropriateness of the impeachment, but it was Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who made the most powerful statement. According to Zach Despart in the Texas Tribune, Patrick served as an impartial judge for the trial but was no longer impartial once the trial was over. Despart explained that Patrick tore into “the House and its leadership for filing the case in the first place, which he said wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. He blasted the lower chamber for voting to impeach Paxton after only three days of consideration.” Despart then quoted Patrick as saying, “With virtually no time for 150 members to study the articles, the Speaker and his team rammed through the first impeachment of a statewide official in over 100 years.”

Paxton survived this attempt to remove him from office. However, he still faces a federal investigation “alleging crimes that mirror the impeachment charges” as well as “charges of securities fraud dating back to 2015.”

Sunday, September 17, 2023

What Does History Teach about Preserving the Constitution?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Constitution of the United States. September 17, 2023, is the 236th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. Grant Madsen, an assistant professor in the History department at Brigham Young University, wrote about the Constitution in a recent opinion piece in The Deseret News.

Madsen explained that he teaches his students that “the Constitution provides the rules of republican government while protecting fundamental rights. But we also remind our students that it makes an implicit demand of its citizens. As John Adams explained, ‘Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’”

According to Madsen, one of the problems in understanding the statement of Adams is that “words tend to shift meaning over the centuries (what linguists call ‘semantic drift’).” The word moral is one of the words for which the meaning has shifted. Madsen explained that “one particularly important element of the word has been lost to history: Adams would have emphasized ‘disinterestedness’ as the critical virtue informing the morality of a successfully self-governing people.” Madsen continued with his explanation: 

In our contemporary usage, we equate “disinterest” with boredom. If used at all, people say it to signal they could not care less. By contrast, if the founders called a man “disinterested,” they paid him the highest compliment. It meant fair-minded and wise.

Samuel Johnson’s famous dictionary of 1755 defined disinterestedness as “superiority to regards of private advantage.” A disinterested citizen could not be bought nor persuaded by personal advantage; instead, he remained committed to the good of the republic and the interests of all. When Pennsylvanians wished to commemorate George Washington for his service in winning the Revolutionary War, they noted in particular his “disinterestedness and generosity of … soul.”

If disinterestedness stood as the chief virtue for the young republic, “faction” (what today we call “partisanship”) stood as its opposite. The founders understood that the spirit of faction had doomed all prior republican experiments to failure. Faction created “unsteadiness and injustice,” James Madison argued in what we now call “The Federalist Papers,” because factions coalesce precisely to subdue and exploit some number of their fellow citizens. They place exactly their “private advantage” ahead of the public good – usually by articulating their own desires as if it were the “the public good.” Rather than seek compromise or, better yet, search for an innovative and inclusive solution to a pressing public issue, most factions seek only victory.

A moral leader, as Adams understood it, refused to abide such a narrow attitude. Indeed, Adams often frustrated his fellow Federalists by refusing to favor a party system precisely because of its tendency to bring faction in its wake. Washington famously decried the party system in his farewell address. Madison, a brilliant political theorist, realized that the dangers of curing faction could prove worse than faction itself, and so he wrote much of our Constitution as an effort to at least alleviate its worst effects. But devising a system that tolerates faction is not the same as celebrating it, and none of the founders thought that a republic dominated by factionalism would prove the model of self-government they hoped this nation might become….

As we celebrate the Constitution’s birthday in 2023 and, by extension, admire those figures who devised it, we might ask who among us has not only embraced the freedoms it provides but also the spirit of the founders who created it. Which of us will achieve enough disinterest to rise above faction and, ideally, transcend the limits of our time? If history is any guide, this kind of moral commitment will do best by the nation and its founding document, the Constitution.

I learned much from Madsen’s article, particularly the meaning of the word moral. I can clearly see that factions are destructive to a constitutional way of life. America is deeply divided by two factions of our day – known as Democrat Party and Republican Party. Too many members of both parties make decisions on what is good for the party, not what is good for America.

I suspect that many Americans vote for a party rather than for what is good for America. Our nation will be better off when policy makers and individual citizens become more “disinterested” and make decisions that will create a greater and more united America.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

What Do You Need to Do to Reconcile with Jesus Christ?

My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to 2 Corinthians 1-7 and a lesson titled “Be Ye Reconciled to God.” The lesson was preceded by this counsel: “As you study Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, write down some of the gospel principles you discover and ponder how you can apply them in your life.” The lesson was introduced in the following paragraph.

Sometimes, being a Church leader means having to say some difficult things. This was true in Paul’s day just as it is today. Apparently, a previous letter from Paul to the Corinthian Saints included chastening and caused hurt feelings. In the letter that became 2 Corinthians, he tried to explain what had motivated his harsh words: “Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you” (2 Corinthians 2:4). When you’re on the receiving end of some correction from a leader, it definitely helps to know that it is inspired by Christlike love. And even in those cases where it is not, if we’re willing to see others with the kind of love Paul felt, it’s easier to respond appropriately to any offenses. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled, “Be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 94).

The principle that I feel prompted to discuss this week is found in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21: “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can be reconciled to God.” The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to become “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). He went from a man who persecuted the Christians to a man who fearlessly defended Jesus Christ. The scripture block is as follows:

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 

(2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

Some important words in this scripture block are reconciled, reconciliation, and reconciled to God. An online dictionary definition for reconcile is “restore friendly relations between” between two individuals or groups. So, reconciliation is the process of restoring friendly relations, and reconciled to God means to restore friendly relations between an individual and God. What is separating you from God? What do you need to change to be reconciled to God?

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke on the topic “The Ministry of Reconciliation” in the October 2018 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ. He concluded his remarks with the following comments. 

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify that forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid “with healing in his wings.” We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible, but they have already been purchased, paid for, at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it.

With the apostolic authority granted me by the Savior of the world, I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. “Cease to contend one with another,” the Savior pled. If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love.

My beloved friends, in our shared ministry of reconciliation, I ask us to be peacemakers—to love peace, to seek peace, to create peace, to cherish peace. I make that appeal in the name of the Prince of Peace, who knows everything about being “wounded in the house of [His] friends” but who still found the strength to forgive and forget—and to heal—and be happy. For that I pray, for you and for me, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.