Declaration of Independence

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

Sunday, June 30, 2024

How Will Fischer Case Affect Trump?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns a case that affects “the prosecutions of around 350 individuals” who have been “charged in connection with the events” that took place at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. In addition, the decision could also “affect two of the four charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith that are pending against former President Donald Trump in federal court in Washington, D.C.” John G. Malcolm and Seth Lucas wrote the following about the decision. 

The case arose from the prosecution of Joseph Fischer, who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse on Jan. 6 and subsequently entered the Capitol with hundreds of others. Fischer claims that he was inside the Capitol for less than four minutes and that he was pushed into the police line by the surging crowd, but prosecutors contend that Fischer was among those who urged the crowd to “charge” and was part of a mob that pushed the police.

A grand jury returned a seven-count indictment against Fischer, charging him with assaulting police officers, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and engaging in disorderly and disruptive conduct within the Capitol.

Although Fischer did not contest the sufficiency of six of the charges returned against him, he filed a motion to dismiss the charge that he violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) by corruptly obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding – in this case, Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote. Fischer argued that this code section only applies to evidence tampering designed to impair an inquiry or investigation.

This is significant because, as previously stated, approximately 350 other Jan. 6 defendants have been charged with violating this provision, and Count Three of the four-count indictment against Trump alleges a violation of this code section.

At its core, Fischer v. United States is about the meaning of a law passed in the wake of the Enron accounting scandal in the early 2000s – not whether the events of Jan. 6 were a riot or insurrection. When Enron discovered that its financial practices were being investigated by federal regulators, executives at the company’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, ordered the destruction of countless documents. They even brought in multiple shredders so they could destroy around 7,000 pounds of documents per hour for two weeks straight.

At the time, federal law forbade directing another person to destroy evidence of financial wrongdoing. But it didn’t ban a person from acting alone to destroy evidence. Congress subsequently enacted 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c), violations of which can result in a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to close that loophole.

Section 1512(c) contains two clauses. The first — § 1512(c)(1) — imposes criminal penalties on anyone who corruptly “alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object” with an intent “to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.” The second —§ 1512(c)(2) — does the same for anyone who corruptly “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding” or attempts to do so.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 in the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. However, the Biden justice department declared that it would seek more prison time for convictions under other statutes if they lost at the Supreme Court. The decision affects cases against Trump, as the authors explain.

Significantly, Fischer’s win Friday at the Supreme Court will likely impact Smith’s D.C. prosecution of Trump. Smith charged Trump with obstructing the electoral vote certification in violation of Section 1512(c)(2), as well as engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding in violation of Section 1512(k). Smith will now have to show that Trump impaired, attempted to impair, or conspired with others to impair the availability or integrity of documentary or testimonial evidence used in an official proceeding.

Regardless of whether he can make that showing, which seems doubtful, additional court proceedings over whether Smith can even continue prosecuting Trump under these code sections will likely ensure that this case against Trump will not reach a trial before the election. And, of course, we will still have to assess the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in the presidential immunity case, which the court will likely issue on Monday.


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Why Should We Put Our Trust in God?

My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to Alma 13-16 in a lesson titled “Enter into the Rest of the Lord.” The lesson was introduced by the following information. 

In many ways, life in Ammonihah had been good for both Amulek and Zeezrom. Amulek was “a man of no small reputation,” with “many kindreds and friends” and “much riches” (Alma 10:4). Zeezrom was an expert lawyer who enjoyed “much business” (Alma 10:31). Then Alma arrived with an invitation to repent and “enter into the rest of the Lord” (Alma 13:16). For Amulek, Zeezrom, and others, accepting this invitation required sacrifice and even led to almost unbearable adversity.

But of course the story doesn’t end there. In Alma 13-16, we learn what ultimately happens to people who believe “in the power of Christ unto salvation” (Alma 15:6). Sometimes there’s deliverance, sometimes healing – and sometimes things don’t get any easier in life. But always, “the Lord receiveth [His people] up unto himself, in glory” (Alma 14:11). Always, the Lord grants “power, according to [our] faith … in Christ” (Alma 14:28). And always, that faith gives us “hope that [we] shall receive eternal life” (Alma 13:29). As you read these chapters, you can take comfort in these promises, and you may come to understand better what Alma meant when he spoke of entering into “the rest of the Lord” (Alma 13:16).

The principle for discussion for this post is found in Alma 14 “In times of suffering, we must trust the Lord.” Many people wonder why terrible things happen to good people, particularly people who are striving to live righteous lives. Alma 14 tells of horrible results for a group of people who listened to the Prophet Alma the Younger. The husbands and fathers were driven out of the city, and the women and children were put in a pit and burned to death. (See Alma 14:7-8.)

Amulek – whose wive and children could have been burned – wanted to use the power of God to save the women and children, but Alma declined.

9 And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.

10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

12 Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.

13 And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.

Life is not fair because we are all born into different circumstances. We all make different choices when given the same opportunities – college or no college, candy or bicycle, how we spend our time and money. Elder Dale G Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the “Infuriating Unfairness” of life in his April 2021 General Conference address. Among other information, Elder Renlund said the following: 

In mortality, we can “come boldly” to the Savior and receive compassion, healing, and help. Even while we suffer inexplicably, God can bless us in simple, ordinary, and significant ways. As we learn to recognize these blessings, our trust in God will increase. In the eternities, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will resolve all unfairness. We understandably want to know how and when. How are They going to do that? When are They going to do it? To my knowledge, They have not revealed how or when. What I do know is that They will.

In unfair situations, one of our tasks is to trust that “all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ overcame the world and “absorbed” all unfairness. Because of Him, we can have peace in this world and be of good cheer. If we let Him, Jesus Christ will consecrate the unfairness for our gain. He will not just console us and restore what was lost; He will use the unfairness for our benefit. When it comes to how and when, we need to recognize and accept, as did Alma, that “it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case” (Alma 40:5).

We can try to old our questions about how and when for later and focus on developing faith in Jesus Christ, that He has both the power to make everything right and yearns to do so. For us to insist on knowing how or when is unproductive and, after all, myopic.

As we develop faith in Jesus Christ, we should also strive to become like Him. We then approach others with compassion and try to alleviate unfairness where we find it, we can try to make things right within our sphere of influence. Indeed, the Savior directed that we “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:27).

Friday, June 28, 2024

Why Should Parents Teach Financial Responsibility?

Responsible parents can strengthen their family by teaching their children to be financially responsible. Such parents teach their children to work for their income and to pay their bills. When families are strong, they strengthen their communities, states, and nations.

The Biden administration has tried twice to repay the college loans of certain graduates. However, the judicial system said, not so fast! Madison Marino reported as follows:

“On Monday, two federal court judges issued nationwide injunctions stopping the Biden administration from illegally canceling hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt.” The “latest lawless loan redistribution attempt to fail in court” is “the Saving on a Valuable Education, or SAVE, Plan.”

President Joe Biden finalized SAVE via an administrative regulation less than two weeks after the Supreme Court struck down his initial attempt at mass student loan cancellation through the HEROES Act. There, Biden had unlawfully attempted to cancel up to $10,000 each for borrowers earning less than$125,000 annually, or up to $20,000 if they had ever received a Pell Grant, a federal need-based aid grant, while in college.

SAVE re-imagined the Department of Education’s income-based repayment plans. Under these plans, borrowers would see their monthly loan payment cut in half, from 10% to 5% of their discretionary income. The program also increased the threshold for income that is exempt from the calculation from 150% to 225% of the poverty line. In addition, borrowers could qualify for loan cancellation is as little as 10 years instead of 20 or more, depending on their loan amounts. The plan also waived accrued unpaid interest.

Under the new SAVE Plan, only 22% of undergraduate borrowers were expected to repay their loans, and it was estimated to cost American taxpayers $475 billion over 10 years.

There are further details about the SAVE Plan and why the courts struck it down. They can be found at this site. The important point for this post is that millions of college graduates borrowed money that they pledged to repay.

Parents should teach their children to be honest in their dealings with individuals or organizations. They should not borrow anything that they do not plan to repay. Honesty in business dealings will make families stronger, and strong families strengthen communities, states, and nations.


Thursday, June 27, 2024

Who Do You Think Won the Presidential Debate?

The presidential debate between current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. The two men squared off in their first scheduled debate in the 2024 presidential campaign, which was hosted by CNN and took place in Atlanta.

CNN declared that there would not be a live audience but would have two commercial breaks. The debate moderators were given the power to mute the microphone of one candidate while the other candidate was speaking.

The moderators were Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, two people who “have openly and consistently expressed disdain for Trump, accusing Trump of crimes ranging from Russian collusion and corruption to channeling Adolf Hitler and not “trusting the science” during COVID-19. In fact, Tapper has refused “to show widely covered Trump rallies, claiming that Trump was too “mean” for air clips to be shown with audio. 

Nevertheless and for whatever reason, Tapper and Bash “were largely fair and evenhanded in their treatment of Trump.” In their article, Mary Margaret Olohan and Tony Kinnett shared four major highlights from the debate tonight.

1) Medicare for Illegal Aliens?

When discussing his economic record, Biden appeared to lose his way, pausing for several seconds, stuttering, and leading to a claim that he “beat Medicare.” …

Trump responded: “Well, he’s right. He did beat Medicare. He beat it to death.”

Trump then claimed that a large number of illegal immigrants were allowed onto the Medicare and Social Security rolls. At the southern border, illegal immigrants who are taken into Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody are given medical treatment, shelter, and meals. The ICE Health Service Corps’ current policy is to reimburse those providing those services “at Medicare rates.”

While illegal immigrants are ordinarily not eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, noncitizen parents with “birthright citizenship” children are eligible for Medicaid.

Trump further suggested that Biden would destroy Social Security by overloading it with the cost of illegal immigrants added to the rolls. Biden announced a plan this week to provide some illegal immigrants with work permits and Social Security numbers, which would increase the spending burden on the struggling federal program.

2) Support for Late-Term Abortions?

As Trump and Biden discussed the topic of abortion, Biden appeared to equate the deaths of American women at the hands of illegal immigrants to purported efforts to stop women who are attempting to cross state lines to get abortions….

Biden emphasized that his party supports the restrictions on abortion imposed by Roe v. Wade.

Trump argued that Biden and Democrats support allowing babies to die after they have been born alive, pointing to former Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s comments on what his critics called infanticide.

Biden, angered by Trump’s remarks, emphatically argued that Roe v. Wade does not allow for late-term abortion.

“We are not for late-term abortion. Period. Period. Period,” the president said.

“Under Roe v. Wade, you have late-term abortion,” Trump said, pushing back. “You can do whatever you want, depending on the state. We don’t think that’s a good thing. We think it’s a radical thing. Democrats are the radicals, not the Republicans.

3) Charlottesville and ‘Very Find People’

Biden falsely claimed that Trump had said white supremacists and neo-Nazis were “very fine people” at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., and that that 2017 event had inspired him to run for president.

Trump responded that the claim of “very fine people” on both sides had been debunked by “reputable” anchors. It was also debunked just this week by the fact-check site Snopes.

Trump actually said, “And you had people – and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists – because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists” to describe those attending a protest over a Confederate statue being taken down.

Snopes and other outlets fact-checked the claim that Trump had referred to “white nationalists” or “white supremacists” as “very fine people,” and rated the claim as “false.”

Biden reiterated that the claim had not been “debunked” and said that Trump was a “liar.”

4) Border Patrol Endorsement

Biden falsely claimed that he had been endorsed by the Border Patrol, saying, “By the way, the Border Patrol endorsed me, endorsed my position.”

The Border Patrol Union fact-checked Biden in real time during the debate, tweeting: “To be clear, we never have and never will endorse Biden.”

The president also made rather garbled remarks discussing the need for more Border Patrol officers and more asylum officers, to which Trump responded: “I really don’t know what he said. I don’t think he knows what he said either.”

“We had the safest border in the history of our country,” Trump added. “All he had to do is leave it. He decided to open up our border, open up our country, to people that are from prisons, people from mental institutions, insane asylums, terrorists. We have the largest number of terrorists coming into our country right now, all terrorists, all over the world … from the Middle East, everywhere.”

In another article, Virginia Allen, Fred Lucas, and Tyler O’Neil discussed the presidential debate and gave fifteen fact-checks about the debate. You can find their article here. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Who Will Win the Debate?

According to Ben Shapiro, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, the “2024 election is Donald Trump’s to lose.” Donald Trump and Joe Biden are running even in the national polls. Shapiro noted that Trump is running ahead of Biden in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. He is running even in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He is within striking distance in Minnesota and New Hampshire. 

As the polls show Trump gaining on Biden, they also show that “Biden’s approval ratings are stagnant … below 40%. Americans appear stuck in their views and “unlikely to change dramatically before the election.”

No matter how good it looks for Trump, it does not necessarily mean that he will win the election. The debate scheduled for tomorrow night, June 27, 2024, could be a turning point. The debate may change some opinions, or at least change the focus.

So far, the race has been about Biden. No new information has been added to the litany of criticisms against Trump since 2021. Meanwhile, Biden has been the president – and he’s been doing a terrible job of it, setting things on fire both at home and abroad. He’s also in a state of obvious mental and physical decline.

But the debate could shift the focus back to Trump. Obviously, that’s Biden’s plan – and the plan of the interlocutors at CNN.

As George Stephanopoulos recently told CNN’s Abby Phillip, the “most important question” is whether Trump will accept the results of the 2020 election as legitimate. “If you can’t pass that fundamental threshold of saying, “Yes the last election was not stolen,’ two, ‘I will abide by the results of the next election,’ then I think that’s all voters and viewers need to know,” said Stephanopoulos.

Presumably, Biden and anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will follow that advice. Which means that Trump had better have an answer that shifts the focus away from his views of 2020 and back toward 2024. He ought to say:

We disagree on what happened in the 2020 election. I believe, for example, that your Democratic colleagues changed a lot of the voting rules in shocking ways, and that you and your friends in the media covered up a story about your son’s corruption, even though they knew it was true. But none of that matters much to the American people. What matters is now. Today. 2024. You’re the president, regardless of what I think happened in 2020. And you’ve been awful, which is why you’re losing.

Keeping the focus on Biden will be key. If asked about Jan. 6 – which he surely will be – Trump should respond:

Joe, you’ve said I’m a threat to democracy because I don’t believe I lost the 2020 election. Well, Hillary Clinton doesn’t believe she lost the 2016 election, and that’s apparently just fine. In reality, you’re the threat to democracy: You’ve sicced your political allies on me in the courts, used OSHA to try to mandate vaccines for 80 million Americans, violated the Constitution to try to let people skate on their student loan debt, and violated your constitutional oath by keeping the border open and letting through 7 million illegal immigrants. Americans care less about Jan. 6, 2021, than Nov. 5, 2024.

Shapiro believes that the “election is Trump’s to lose.” Shapiro’s counsel is for Trump to keep the focus steadily and calmly on Biden – regardless of what Trump believes about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

When Will Left-Wing Mobs Suffer Consequences for Actions?

Antisemitic mobs have been “protesting” on college campuses for several months, and the mainstream media turned its back. On Sunday, another violent antisemitic mob descended upon a synagogue in Los Angeles. They harassed the members of the congregation and injured several of them. Yet, the LA media and authorities responded pitifully, according to Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal

Stepman reported that the Palestinian Youth Movement LA and Code Pink LA – “the same coalition of people who’ve organized the protests on college campuses and in our cities – organized the initial protests. Some of the protesters even filmed themselves as they marched down the streets of Los Angeles. They were also carrying Palestinian and pro-Hamas flags and shouting antisemitic chants.

As Stepman reported, the scene was ugly, but “The Los Angeles Times buried this story in its back pages.” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass put out a statement, about which Stepman noted a few things about it.

First, Bass buries the lede.

The word “antisemitism” only shows up near the end of the statement, and from the first paragraph, one would hardly know that the hostility and violence were directed toward Jews or who committed it.

Bass condemns “violence,” but only says it took place at a “place of worship.”

It wasn’t just a place of worship, it was a synagogue. The people in the mob had a target, and the target was Jews.

This is a common left-wing linguistic tactic. Any time a group they aren’t so keen on is targeted, or the ethnic and religious dynamic is uncomfortable, they will label the incident with generic words like “hate” to dodge the issue and shift it to a broader societal problem….

Next, Bass says she’s organizing more police patrols outside – again, totally generic – “houses of worship.”

Unless those so-called houses of worship are synagogues, this is entirely a waste of police time and money….

The only meaningful part of Bass’ bland statement is the line that “those responsible” for antisemitism and violence “will be found and held accountable.”

Stepman reported that only one person was arrested for the attack on the synagogue. This is common in “blue, heavily Democrat-controlled cities” where “lawbreakers who commit their crimes on behalf of left-wing causes often escape punishment entirely. They know that the powers that be will come to their aid.”

Monday, June 24, 2024

Who Is Caitlin Clark?

My VIP for this week is Caitlin Clark, WNBA superstar of the Fever. She made the news in her collegiate career and even more news since joining WNBA. Earlier in June during a game between the Indiana Fever and the Chicago Sky, Clark was “body-checked by Sky star player Chennedy Carter in a flagrant display of unsportsmanlike conduct,” according to Armstrong Williams at The Daily Signal

Carter has been lambasted by WNBA fans and passive onlookers of the sport. There was even a moment when a person in Washington, D.C., confronted Carter outside of her team’s hotel.

Longtime fans of the game have noted that this type of dirty play is common among WNBA players, yet with fresh new faces watching the sport as a direct result of Clark’s entry into the league, many onlookers questioned the racial dynamics of the situation and how it may have motivated the push.

Professional basketball is generally dominated by black athletes. In fact, despite the fact that blacks make up approximately 13% of the U.S. population, nearly 64% of WNBA players are black. This statistic is practically the same in the NBA, with approximately 70% of players being black.

Is it possible that Clark, a white athlete joining the WNBA, a league with historically low ratings and an average attendance of around 6,000 fans per game … and who has significantly elevated the sport to unprecedented levels, might face criticism from black athletes?

Can we also say that fans and passive observers who witnessed Carter’s shove of Clark … may be exhibiting more severe reactions toward her due to her being a black woman? …

I think we can say with absolute certainty that the backlash regarding the event would not have happened if Clark were a black athlete. We can say that with certainty because, as previously mentioned, this level of play is common in the WNBA and has been common for years.

But, at the same time, could it not also be true that black athletes in the WNBA are displeased that a white athlete has stolen their glory and, within a short time, propelled the league into a position that was once unattainable even with the efforts they put in for decades?

… I have no doubt this situation has fueled Clark to perform at her best and set her on a path to greatness.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Why Is Moral Clarity Essential to a Strong Nation?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the stability of America. The Founders of America built their new nation on the solid bedrock of moral clarity, and America became a powerful nation. However, the Left is destroying the morals of America, and the foundation is crumbling. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin spoke at the Road to Majority Conference on Saturday, and Fred Lucas reported the following

“They built it on rock. They unleashed a wave of freedom across the world with the prosperity of seeing a shining sea, the greatest national ever built,” Youngkin said. “Yet today, we can feel the great American house shaking. Across our college campuses, echoes of extermination speech, while chaos roars across our borders.”

He noted that “Joe Biden and the progressive Left began to attack the basic foundation of our nation. The rock began to crumble and turned to sand, and those shifting sands compromised in America.” …

“A nation built on rock has moral clarity – moral clarity to say that having thousands more across our border every single day is wrong, moral clarity to never question that we stand faithfully and unapologetically with Israel, moral clarity to say men playing sports with women is wrong. A nation built on rock sees the role of faith across our history.” …

“We see a weakened America on the global stage with Iran and Russia waging war and the Chinese Communist Party threatening to take advantage of America’s weakness,” Youngkin added….

“We know one basic truth: God has blessed America,” he said.


Saturday, June 22, 2024

What Is God’s Plan For His Children?

 My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to Alma 8-12 in a lesson titled “Jesus Christ Will Come to Redeem His People.” The lesson was introduced by the following paragraph. 

God’s work will not fail. But our efforts to help with His work sometimes seem to fail – at least, we may not immediately see the outcomes we hope for. We might feel a little like Alma when he preached the gospel in Ammonihah – rejected, spit on, and cast out. Yet when an angel instructed him to go back and try again, Alma courageously “returned speedily” (Alma 8:18), and God prepared the way before him. Not only did He provide Alma with food to eat and a place to stay, but He also prepared Amulek, who became a fellow laborer, a fierce defender of the gospel, and a faithful friend. When we face setbacks and disappointments as we serve in the Lord’s kingdom, we can remember how God supported and led Alma, and we can trust that God will support and lead us too, even in difficult circumstances.

The principle that I feel impressed to discuss tonight is taught in Alma 11-12: “God’s plan is a plan of redemption.” Amulek taught about the plan in detail, which can be seen in this video titled “Amulek Testifies of Jesus Christ.” 

The following is a summary of God’s plan for the eternal happiness of His children. The purpose of the plan is to enable God’s children to be exalted and to become like Him. The plan is known by several names: “great plan of happiness,” “the plan of redemption,” and the “plan of salvation” (Alma 42:8, 11, 5).

The plan began with a Council in Heaven where we, as spirits, wanted to achieve eternal life and to be like our heavenly parents. However, we had progressed as far as we could “without a mortal experience in a physical body,” according to President Dallin H. Oaks. This earth was created to provide that experience.

Heavenly Father knew that we would make mistakes and commit sins during our mortal experience and become subject to physical death. Heavenly Father’s plan provided for a Savior to reclaim us from death and sin. President Oaks taught, “His Resurrection would redeem all from death, and His atoning sacrifice would pay the price necessary for all to be cleansed from sin on the conditions prescribed to promote our growth. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is central to the Father’s plan. President Oaks continued his teachings (“The Great Plan,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, 93-96). 

In the Council in Heaven, all the spirit children of God were introduced to the Father’s plan, including its mortal consequences and trials, its heavenly helps, and its glorious destiny. We saw the end from the beginning. All of the myriads of mortals who have been born on this earth chose the Father’s plan and fought for it in the heavenly contest that followed. Many also made covenants with the Father concerning what they would do in mortality. In ways that have not been revealed, our actions in the spirit world have influenced our circumstances in mortality….

The purpose of mortal life and the postmortal growth that can follow it is for the offspring of God to become like He is. This is Heavenly Father’s desire for all His children. To achieve this joyful destiny, eternal laws require that we must become purified beings through the Atonement of Jesus Christ so we can dwell in the presence of the Father and the Son and enjoy the blessings of exaltation….

The divine plan for us to become what we are destined to become requires us to make choices to reject the evil opposition that tempts mortals to act contrary to God’s commandments and His plan. It also requires that we be subject to other mortal opposition, such as from the sins of others or from some defects of birth. Sometimes our needed growth is achieved better by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquility. And none of this mortal opposition could achieve its eternal purpose if divine intervention relieved us from all the adverse consequences of mortality.

The plan reveals our destiny in eternity, the purpose and conditions of our journey in mortality, and the heavenly helps we will receive. The commandments of God warn us against straying into dangerous circumstances. The teachings of inspired leaders guide our path and give assurances that promote our eternal journey.

God’s plan gives us four great assurances to assist our journey through mortality. All are given to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the centerpiece of the plan. The first assures us that through His suffering for the sins of which we repent, we can be cleansed of those sins. Then the merciful final judge will “remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42).

Second, as part of our Savior’s Atonement, He took upon Him all other mortal infirmities. This allows us to receive divine help and strength to bear the inevitable burdens of mortality, personal and general, such as war and pestilence….

Third, the Savior, through His infinite Atonement, revokes the finality of death and gives us the joyful assurance that all of us will be resurrected….

Fourth and finally, modern revelation teaches us that our progress need not conclude with the end of mortality. Little has been revealed about this important assurance. We are told that this life is the time to prepare to meet God and that we should not procrastinate our repentance (see Alma 34:32-33). Still, we are taught that in the spirit world the gospel is preached even to “the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:29 and that those taught there are capable of repentance in advance of the Final Judgment (see verses 31-34, 57-59).

Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption is a simple plan. This plan involves listening to the words of prophets and apostles, repenting of our sins, making covenants with God, and keeping His commandments. Those people who follow the plan will find happiness on earth and joy in their postmortal lives.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Should Women Be Drafted into the Military?

Families are strongest when both mother and father are in the home. If one of the parents must be drafted to serve in the military, it is better for the family if the mother stays in the home. Therefore, families are stronger when women are not subject to a military draft, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.

Nevertheless, the topic of drafting women is discussed before every presidential election, according to Valerie M. Hudson, university distinguished professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and a contributor at The Deseret News. She wrote that Republicans suggested a military draft of women in 2016 and that Democrats made a similar suggestion in both 2020 and 2024. The suggestion is “coincident with the defense authorization bills necessary to keep the military running.” 

The Supreme Court refused to discuss a draft of women in 2020 and deferred such a decision to Congress. However, “the government commission assigned to study the issue concluded that women should be required to register for the draft.” It is little surprising that military chiefs like the idea of drafting women due to “the troubling shortfall in recruitment for the all-volunteer military” – about 41,000 short in 2023.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) commented that opposition to the proposal by Republicans does not make sense. However, Hudson wrote that drafting women does not make sense.

…Let’s count the ironies here. And let’s start from the reality-based premise that only women give birth to the new generation of Americans.

What, at a minimum, must a nation have to survive? It must have protection, even physical protection in the form of soldiers willing to lay down their health and even their lives if necessary to counter threats to the nation’s security. But protection is not enough for a nation to survive. Even a well-protected nation will die out in the space of a generation if there is no reproduction. Only through reproduction does a nation have a future. These two tasks, protection and reproduction, are the fundamental tasks of the nation.

Both of these tasks are personally costly. But only one – protection – is recognized for that cost. Let’s examine the costs of the other.

Though we rarely couch it in these terms, women, like soldiers, offer to lay down their health and even their lives so that their nation might have a future in the new citizens brought into the world. That we have not seen this reproductive labor as a patriotic service on a par with men’s service in combat says more about our society than it says about the intrinsic value of this work. By the time they reach menopause, about 86% of women in the U.S. have become mothers; far less than half that percentage of men will have served in the military.

Indeed, consider that in the history of our nation – from 1776 onwards – more women have died or been seriously harmed in the processes of childbirth than men have died or been wounded in battle. Examining the time period 1900-2019, comparing combat deaths versus maternal deaths for the entire 120-year period, there were an estimated 432,895 combat deaths and an estimated 854,824 maternal deaths.

Think about that – there were almost twice as many maternal deaths as combat deaths over the past 120 years.

But what if we delimited it to the first few decades of the 20th century, when we had World War I and World War II? And maybe even throw in the Korean War for good measure? From the period 1900-1953, there were an estimated 379,114 combat deaths and an estimated 804,514 maternal deaths – over twice as many maternal deaths as combat deaths during the bloodiest part of the 20th century.

What about the 21st century? There were an estimated 5,686 combat deaths and an estimated 13,219 maternal deaths – again, well over twice as many maternal deaths. Indeed, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is now more than double what it was 35 years ago (currently 19.0 per 100,0000). The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate of all the developed countries in the world, and it is likely to get even worse under the patchwork of post-Dobbs state laws that make abortion illegal even when the health of the mother is at stake.

Given the numbers above, Hudson asked a critical question - why is it fair to add “women to the Selective Service mandate.” She continued, “More women are already laying down their lives for our society in greater numbers than men are. Drafting women would mean a gross disproportionate burden of physical risk would fall on women compared to men.”

Hudson mentioned other “ironies” about the fairness of drafting women, and they are as follow:

1. The “mommy tax” on a woman’s lifetime earnings of having a child, which can amount to over $1 million over time – an economic sacrifice.

2. The GI Bill given to all the soldiers who volunteered to lay down their health and their lives for their country. There is no such bill for the mothers. No, indeed, the pay gap between mothers and childless women is wider than the gap between childless women and men…. Women choose to have children; no one forced them to. Of course, in today’s all-volunteer army, soldiers choose to fight for their country; no one forced them to.

3. The military’s concern over recruitment has to do with falling birth rates. The United States now has a total fertility rate of about 1.62, far below the 2.1 children per woman necessary to keep the population stable…. Drafting women makes [the decision to have children] even more difficult.

4. Who is making the decision to go to war? By and large, it’s men. Only 25% of U.S. senators are female, and only 29% of representatives are….

God created men and women different but equal. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explained the God-given roles of men and women. 

… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners….

Both fathers and mothers are needed in the home to love and care for children and to rear the next generation. However, fathers have the responsibility to protect the family, and mothers have the responsibility to nurture the children. Drafting men into the military is part of their divine responsibility, but drafting women into the military makes it impossible for them to perform their divine responsibilities. Mothers need to be at home with their families to strengthen their family, and a strong family will strengthen the community, state, and nation.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

How Do We Magnify the Power of Sisterhood?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns freedom of religion for women. President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke today at the 2024 BYU Religious Freedom Annual Review in Provo, Utah, and share some of the remarks that she gave in March 2024 to the European Union Parliament before International Women’s Day.

Tad Walch covers religion for The Deseret News with a focus on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to his article, Johnson believes that women must have religious liberty for the world to have global peace. 

“As women, we exist in an often-unspoken global sisterhood,” she said. “The tides and season of our biology and the universality of the way we bear and nurture humanity connect us wordlessly across cultural divides, language barriers and political chasms. They create a common experience when no other obvious bridges exist. Because of the connectedness of women and of humanity’s highest aspirations, I submit that the religious freedom of women is a key component to global peace.”

Johnson understands that this is a “bold claim.” However, it “comes from her lived experience as the head of one of the world’s oldest and largest women’s organizations.” There are “nearly 8 million women in more than 30,000 congregations worldwide” with all of them being members of the Relief Society. Walch indicated that the Relief Society presidency “recently announced a new donation of $55.8 million to expand its global initiative to improve maternal and child health worldwide.” This initiative will work “with eight partners in 12 countries.”

Even though the Relief Society sisters are powerful as a whole, Johnson said that “Latter-day Saint women are equally powerful in the work they do individually and in their families, congregations and their local areas.

“I have seen how this faith-based organization inspires women to unite in providing consistent acts of service within their homes and communities,” she said.

That is why governments and others should champion religious freedom for women, President Johnson said.

“In almost all instances when society or governments restrict women from living out their rights of conscience, we can expect poorer outcomes – poorer outcomes within the home, with public health, with education and with civil society,” she said. “By extension, when religious freedom for women is protected, we can expect better outcomes in all those domains.”

The speakers at the BYU conference spoke to the theme “Becoming peacemakers through supporting religious freedom and pluralism.” Speakers included Muslims, evangelicals, Latter-day Saints, and people from other religions and faith traditions, and they discussed throughout the day “the importance of finding common ground in a polarized society.”

Johnson asked the leaders at the conference to find ways “to remove unnecessary burdens and restrictions on women” and to unify for freedom of religion and belief.

“Women’s engagement in their congregations and families and communities will create a wave of empathy and compassion. The sisterhood of women, unburdened by prejudice and oppression, can unite across boundaries through the simplest of acts.” …

“Our implicit sisterhood creates an ability to build on common ground,” she said, “which forms the basis of peace, a peace that is more than mere coexistence in the absence of war, but something much more beautiful and powerful, bringing individuality into a unified whole.” …

“Imagine with me what would happen if every woman felt empowered, within her sphere of influence, to live out the full measure of her special gifts and propensities for nurture, care, healing, teaching, leading and peacemaking,” she said.

“Women who express faith from any faith tradition or spiritual background will then undoubtedly serve those around them,” she added. “This service, especially when rendered alongside other women of faith and across cultural divides, will empower the peacemaking capacity of our global sisterhood.”

President Johnson also said freedom of religion and belief provides assurance to women “that they can live conscientious moral lives with mutual supportive fellow believers while affording that same dignity to their neighbors.”

Her term as Relief Society general president has afforded her the opportunity to travel around the world and see first hand what women can do when allowed “to express their fullest selves and connect with others through our joint sisterhood.”

“I have seen women elevate one another in the midst of poverty,” she said. “I have seen women care for, feed and nurture children who are not their own. And I have seen women stand to protect others from the ravages of war. When it lives up to its highest aspirations, our sisterhood provides the practical means of fulfilling Jesus Christ’s admonition to love our neighbors and our friends just as ourselves, thereby providing the conditions for lasting peace and human flourishing.

Johnson gave examples of how Latter-day Saint women with religious freedom have worked with other women to provide care – helping thousands of refugees in Europe, helping to feed malnourished children (first in the Philippines and then in 12 other countries). However, she believes “that the most important and impactful work of women continues to be done when we care for our own children, when we teach a friend to read, patiently address the needs of an elderly neighbor, prepare a meal for the sick or cry with a sister who was grieving.”

Just as she did in her speech to the European Union Parliament, Johnson closed her talk with a call to action. She asked everyone to stop, offer a prayer, and “think of someone whose life they can meaningfully improve with an act of compassion.” Then she asked the attendees to write it down and to act upon it. That is good advice for all of us.


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Will Congress Pass a Resolution to Celebrate Overturn of Roe v. Wade?

On June 24, 2022, in a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court made “a historic and far-reaching decision” when it officially reversed Roe v. Wade. This decision was made after forty-nine years of legal abortion, and it means that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists. Nina Totenberg and Sarah McCammon authored an article at and wrote the following: 

Writing for the court majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 Roe ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions reaffirming Roe “must be overruled” because they were “egregiously wrong,” the arguments “exceptionally weak” and so “damaging” that they amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.”

The decision did not eliminate abortions in the United States. It merely sent the responsibility for decisions back to the states. Numerous states have passed laws codifying the right to an abortion, while other states have passed laws to tighten up control for abortions.

On Tuesday, June 18, 2024, Republican senators introduced a resolution to celebrate the second anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, according to Mary Margaret Olohan at The Daily Signal. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) led the effort, and he was joined by Mike Lee (R-Utah), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Katie Britt (R-Alabama), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), and Steven Daines (R-Montana). Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) will introduce companion legislation in the House, according to Olohan. 

“I will always support the sanctity of life,” Rubio told The Daily Signal on Tuesday. “This anniversary serves as a time to celebrate the great work that has been achieved by the pro-life movement and reaffirm our commitment to support families and protect the unborn.”

According to Olohan, the Senate resolution “would commemorate the two years since the ruling.” It would celebrate “the millions of lives that will be saved as a result of the ruling in Dobbs,” committing to “protecting the unalienable right to life and guarding unborn lives against lethal violence,” as well as to “supporting families, including new and expectant mothers and their children.”

Olohan also wrote that the “Senate would also commit to ‘proclaiming the humanity of the unborn, consistent with the findings of modern science and the unswerving demands of justice.’”

The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was not a surprise to anyone because someone leaked the draft majority opinion that indicated the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The leak brought all kinds of illegal and violent behavior, including months of protests out the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices. It also prompted an assassination attempt on Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his home.

Despite repeated condemnations by conservatives, local and federal prosecutors failed to enforce laws against intimidation of federal judges that are already on the books. Also, there have been no announcements concerning arrests for the individual(s) who leaked the court decision, an illegal act.