Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’
If you were unaware that the recent action to pass the debt limit increase also included provisions to create a “super-congress” (AKA cross-shredding the constitution) you’re not alone. This move will create an unconstitutional body within the congress to fast-track issues that appear to get held up in the full congress. At least that’s my take on it. Anyone that voted against raising the debt limit won’t be invited to the panel. Here’s some news to update you.
At the Republican state convention a few months ago I had the chance to speak with Utah Governor Gary Herbert for a few minutes and so I brought up the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The governor assured me they weren’t a prelude to a national takeover of education (which by some measures we could conclude that already happened years ago). The governor said the CCSS was the product of states getting together and collaborating to improve the standards. That is true in part. The states got together. However, some states had better standards than what was produced in the CCSS documents. Rather than 50 experiments in education, we will now have 1. Success and failure is now 100% for our country in either direction, rather than 2% per state. Will the CCSS work? Nobody knows. They’ve never been used. They weren’t even complete when they started being adopted by states. Assessments weren’t ready to look at, but “don’t worry, everything necessary for this system to work 100% is in process…”
When the evidence is examined as a whole, it is difficult to not see the CCSS as the prelude to a national melding of education into a giant pot. It’s not like everything is isolated and we certainly can’t say that the standards are independent objects for the states to manipulate. If a state signs on, they can’t modify the standards except to add a little to them. So lets look at what else we know is happening that is pushing forward to compliment the CCSS.
What? The people that wrote the standards are now telling curriculum designers how to design the curriculum? That sounds like a national curriculum in the works. But that’ll never happen so don’t worry about that.
So you have these “state” standards which are being pushed with the odd national anticipation that very soon all the states will adopt them (even if the standards are worse than their current successful standards such as in MA and CA). Shown on this SBAC timeline, that will be by late this year (2011). By 2013 they will be pilot testing the assessments, field testing in 2014, and 2015 will be when we have “final achievement standards.” The SBAC is one of a couple of consortia that have received massive amounts of federal funding to develop a set of assessments that will match the CCSS. SBAC’s senior researcher is Linda Darling Hammond, proponent of social justice in the classroom, and constructivist extraordinaire. Anyone want to guess what these assessments will be asking and how they will influence the “final achievement standards?” Does anyone think the CCSS might change by 2015 based on these tests and developing “final” standards?
Once you have the standards, curricula to teach them, and assessments to measure student progress, the next thing you’ll want to know is information about the students to see how they are progressing (and of course you’ll want to track the teachers so you know who the ones are that most successfully get students to answer the correct questions on the SBAC social justice tests).
If you didn’t read the post the other day on Marxism and CCSS, here’s the flowchart from page 20 of that pdf someone produced. Everything fits nice and neat together. I haven’t looked into it myself, but from the title on this map, these relationships all seem to get identified in the Race to the Top grant.
I have read estimates that in California alone, implementing these new standards will entail spending several hundred million dollars. Nearly every state was hoping to get Race to the Top funds but only a handful did. Not surprising, Utah got nothing and so implementation of these new standards will be a significant new expense for our state. It will involve teacher training in the new standards, new textbooks written to the standards, and additional costs for switching out assessments and such. Why on earth would we create massive new costs when we already have pretty good math standards and we have high unemployment and a financial disaster brewing in our country?
Everyone’s favorite buzz-phrase but which only a few really cherish. The only local control that is going to exist after this will be for home schoolers and private schools. Accepting this package, and make no mistake it is a package, will terminate local control and allow for Educrats in Washington D.C. to determine what is taught, how it’s taught, what’s tested, and what’s tracked. If we’re lucky, they’ll share a little bit with us at the local level.
Here’s a great piece from Ze’ev Wurman on the newly proposed CC science standards. His conclusion as an engineer and educator who has served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that reviewed the adoption of Common Core for California, is that these standards are going to develop students who appreciate science rather than actually learn science. You can read his article here entitled Education to Raise Technology Consumers instead of Technology Creators. These standards will only serve to dumb down our children and allow for further deteriorating our scientific prowess (if we can even call it that anymore).
There are many people who believe the CCSS are good standards. No doubt they may be better than what some states were using, but that’s no reason to kill innovation between the 50 states, nor to allow for all these separate components to join together. It’s out of our hands though. The only way to avoid this is to reject the CCSS and be a state that is free to innovate and educate as we see fit.
For more information about the CCSS, check out the Truth in American Education website.
“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat…” (Joshua 6:20)
I started writing this post months ago but set it aside as other things became more pressing. With the recent 4th Circuit ruling upholding a terrible lower court ruling that saying “Jesus” during a public prayer is unconstitutional, I thought it was time to finish this post off. If you were unaware of the ruling, please read Ken Klukowski’s piece in his blog at the Washington Examiner where he concludes:
“As I explain in my law review article, “In Whose Name We Pray,” published by Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, not only does Marsh v. Chambers allow “sectarian” prayers (i.e. mentioning Jesus), it would violate the Establishment Clause for any government official—including any federal judge—to censor the content of anyone’s prayers.
Under our Constitution, every American can pray in accordance with the dictates of his conscience, and government never has a right to interfere with religious beliefs.
This is the latest in a string of disappointing lower court decisions on public prayer. It’s time for the Supreme Court to revisit this issue.”
I agree. Further, lets examine what Jefferson meant when he wrote his oft-quoted letter to the Baptists in Connecticut.
In October 1801, President Thomas Jefferson received a letter from a committee of individuals at the head of the Danbury Baptist Association in Danbury, Connecticut, including the minister who was a friend of Jefferson’s, on the subject of religious liberty. Both their letter and Jefferson’s reply can be read on this page:
David Barton has written a wonderful article analyzing this church and state issue which I highly recommend.
I will quote from it and then share some other thoughts:
“Therefore, if Jefferson’s letter is to be used today, let its context be clearly given – as in previous years. Furthermore, earlier Courts had always viewed Jefferson’s Danbury letter for just what it was: a personal, private letter to a specific group. There is probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by a single individual in a private letter – words clearly divorced from their context – have become the sole authorization for a national policy. Finally, Jefferson’s Danbury letter should never be invoked as a stand-alone document. A proper analysis of Jefferson’s views must include his numerous other statements on the First Amendment.
For example, in addition to his other statements previously noted, Jefferson also declared that the “power to prescribe any religious exercise. . . . must rest with the States” (emphasis added). Nevertheless, the federal courts ignore this succinct declaration and choose rather to misuse his separation phrase to strike down scores of State laws which encourage or facilitate public religious expressions. Such rulings against State laws are a direct violation of the words and intent of the very one from whom the courts claim to derive their policy.”
The truly amazing thing that nobody seems to talk about is that when Jefferson wrote his letter, 2 states HAD STATE RELIGIONS. Both Massachusetts and Connecticut had written into their constitutions establishments of religious practices. They did away with them in 1833 and 1818 respectively. When I heard David Barton mention this on Glenn Beck’s TV show a year or so ago, I had to go look it up myself to make sure.
In 1639, Connecticut created its Fundamental Orders, which were the first written constitution in this country (causing Connecticut to nickname themselves the “constitution state”). In this document they established themselves as a Christian state in these words:
“…do, for ourselves and our Successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation to gather, to maintain and pressure the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practised amongst vs;…”
In 1662, the Connecticut Colony Charter was granted by Charles the 2nd which continued this belief in this language:
“And for the directing, ruleing and disposing of all other matters and things whereby our said people, Inhabitants there, may bee soe religiously, peaceably and civilly Governed as their good life and orderly Conversacon may wynn and invite the Natives of the Country to the knowledge and obedience of the onely true God and Saviour of mankind, and the Christian faith, which in our Royall intencons and the Adventurers free profession is the onely and principall end of this Plantacon; WILLING, Commanding and requireing, and by these presents, for vs, our heires and Successors, Ordaineing and appointeing.”
Clearly, Connecticut was a Christian state dedicated to being based upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Massachusetts on the other hand, went much further. Drafted in 1779 by John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin, and ratified in 1780, this document contained several provisions that clearly establish the Christian religion.
In the first part of the constitution declaring the rights of the people, the 2nd and 3rd articles read (emphasis added):
“Article II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe…”
“Article III. As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of the public instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, To promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.
And the people of this commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subject an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if there be any on whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend.
Provided, notwithstanding, That the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic, or religious societies, shall at all times have the exclusive right and electing their public teachers and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance.
And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship and of public teachers aforesaid shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he attends; otherwise it may be paid toward the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised.
And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.”
This is nothing short of stunning! At the time Jefferson wrote his private letter to the Danbury Baptists, Massachusetts was forcing the citizens to pay taxes to support churches whether or not those citizens attended a church. Jefferson never said a thing about this practice! There was no cry from him of a problem in Massachusetts but he was most certainly aware of this practice which had been codified into supreme law by John Adams, Sam Adams, and James Bowdoin.
Before moving onto the next part of their constitution I must point out article 4 which follows.
“Article IV. The people of this commonwealth have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves, as a free, sovereign, and independent state; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not, or may not hereafter, be by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in Congress assembled.”
This will be taken into account below, but it’s clearly an indication that Massachusetts was identifying itself an independent state and upon joining the federal body would only delegate certain powers to the federal body.
In Massachusett’s “Part the Second: The Frame of Government” we see how they would elect officers also took into account an establishment of the Christian religion.
“Art. II. The governor shall be chosen annually; and no person shall be eligible to this office, unless, at the time of his election, he shall have been an inhabitant of this commonwealth for seven years next preceding; and unless he shall, at the same time, be seized, in his own right, of a freehold, within the commonwealth, of the value of one thousand pounds; and unless he shall declare himself to be of the Christian religion.”
They further required anyone taking office to make this oath:
Article I. Any person chosen governor, lieutenant-governor, councillor, senator, or representative, and accepting the trust, shall, before he proceed to execute the duties of his place or office, make and subscribe the following declaration, viz:
“I, A.B., do declare that I believe the Christian religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth; and that I am seized and possessed, in my own right, of the property required by the constitution, as one qualification for the office or place to which I am elected.”
They even openly declare in chapter 5 of the constitution that Harvard university was established for the “advantage of the Christian religion.” I wonder how they might feel about Harvard fulfilling that mission today?
Clearly Massachusetts had established a religion and even required its office holders to declare a firm belief in Christianity.
So what did Jefferson mean in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptists? Clearly it wasn’t to prevent a church from influencing government, or to prevent invoking the name of “Jesus” in a public prayer. Jefferson understood 3 things very clearly as they were written into the U.S. constitution.
1) Article VI: “[legislators and officers must support this constitution]… but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
2) Amendment I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”
3) Amendment X: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The first, Article VI, was clearly written in response to the Framer’s distaste for the Church of England’s influence to prescribe the beliefs of an individual before allowing them to hold national public office. (The difference in MA was they did not hold people to a specific sect but just mandated they must be Christian. Another factor is MA is not the United States as specified in this article.)
The second specifically forbids the federal government from medling with religion or interfering in the free speech of anyone else.
Neither of these items forbids religious leaders from making statements regarding politics, but they prevent the establishment of a national religion or any kind of litmus test to hold office. The religious pastors of the Revolutionary era stirred the souls of the people to rise up and cast off England and nobody condemned them in those actions (except perhaps the pro-England factions). It was clearly within the freedom of speech rights of religious leaders to participate in civic affairs, but not vice-versa for the federal government to meddle in religious sects.
The third element, the 10th Amendment, Jefferson clearly understood when as governor of Virginia, he called for a day of thanksgiving and prayer, but as president of the United States, he was hesitant to do so because he recognized the differing roles of state versus federal involvement.
Said Jefferson to the Reverent Samuel Miller on Miller’s recommendation for a national day of fasting and prayer:
“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises…Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. …But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from…civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”
So Jefferson signed the state level observance, but felt he didn’t have the right or ability to do it at the federal level because it was reserved to the states through the Constitution.
Dallin Oaks, a well respected judge for many years and now a General Authority in the LDS church, recently said this at a speech he gave at Chapman University:
“The prohibition against “an establishment of religion” was intended to separate churches and government, to forbid a national church of the kind found in Europe. In the interest of time I will say no more about the establishment of religion, but only concentrate on the First Amendment’s direction that the United States shall have “no law [prohibiting] the free exercise [of religion].” For almost a century this guarantee of religious freedom has been understood as a limitation on state as well as federal power.”
As he notes, for the first century or more of our nation’s history, states had the power and authority to establish religious tests and even force citizens through taxation to support Christianity, deeming it in the public good and for the benefit of morality and even the preservation of the civil government. It was only after progressive elements came into power in the courts that these views were overturned and stripped from the states.
Now before someone jumps on me and says “Oak wants to establish the LDS faith as the Utah state religion” lets just put that to rest. My purpose in writing this post is to point out the fallacy of the “church and state” argument that is created by those that uphold a single quote from Jefferson’s private letter, and then ignore all his other writings which would clearly explain what he was talking about.
Religious leaders should have every right to speak out on any political matter without fear of losing their tax-exempt status. People can pray and speak in public and public schools and invoke the name of Jesus in the course of doing so. These are first amendment rights. It is a violation of the constitution for anyone, especially a national official, legislator, or judges to proscribe people in those practices, or to establish a particular sect to the exclusion of others (ex. The Church of England).
This nation was founded upon the principles of Christianity and ensuring people had the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. Today’s vocal minority is stripping that right from those that worship God with the blessing and collusion of the federal government to establish their religion, secular humanism, and in the process, laying flat Jefferson’s wall of separation they claim as their ensign.
Just as Star Trek’s visionary technology spawned all kinds of useful tools we enjoy today, the movie Minority Report has spawned it’s own tool but not the useful kind. Reported on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze news site, comes this video straight from the Department of Homeland Security, now testing citizens for “malintent” as they pass their new scanners designed to test your psyche.
“Move along citizens, nothing to see here. Just quietly put on those chains after you pass through the scanner.”
I’m sure there’s nothing in the constitution that would be violated by this device. That old document is sooooo outdated anyway.
A diverse group of individuals has written up a manifesto and petition of sorts on why the Common Core State Standards are a bad idea. I encourage everyone to read this and then add your name to the supporter list.
Here is their press release:
Broad Coalition Opposes National Curriculum Initiative by U.S. Dept. of Education
Over 100 leaders sign manifesto against nationalization of schooling
Stanford, Calif. & Fayetteville, Ark. – A broad coalition of over 100 educational and other leaders representing diverse viewpoints released a manifesto today opposing ongoing federal government efforts to create a national curriculum and testing system.
The manifesto, entitled “Closing the Door on Innovation,” is available at www.k12innovation.com. It argues that current U.S. Department of Education efforts to nationalize curriculum will stifle innovation and freeze into place an unacceptable status quo; end local and state control of schooling; lack a legitimate legal basis; and impose a one-size-fits-all model on America’s students.
Congress is now preparing to debate renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the main law authorizing federal aid to K-12 education. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education has been quietly funding efforts by two assessment groups to develop a national K-12 curriculum, along with a national testing system that tests every public-school student multiple times each year. This federal initiative will create a national system of academic-content standards, tests, and curriculum. It is in line with the goals of a manifesto released on March 7, 2011, by the Albert Shanker Institute that calls for a single nationalized curriculum in every K-12 subject.
“A one-size-fits-all national curriculum based on mediocre high-school standards will stifle the educational innovation essential to closing the racial gap in academic achievement,” said Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom in a joint statement on why they signed the new manifesto. Abigail Thernstrom is vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former member of the Massachusetts Board of Education; Stephan Thernstrom is a professor of history at Harvard University.
“Closing the Door promotes what is for high schools the most important innovation in a century,” said signatory Blouke Carus, leading children’s magazine publisher, math and reading textbook developer, and chairman of the Carus Corporation. “Our schools need to offer each student a choice among six or more challenging and rigorous high school curricula, as do other, higher-performing countries.”
“The federal government’s effort to impose a national curriculum on all schools spells trouble for the educational system,” said Richard Epstein, law professor at New York University, also a signatory. “No one in Washington can craft a curriculum that works well throughout this diverse nation. Once errors are built in at the national level, corrections will be ever more difficult to make at the local level. Only decentralized control over education can prove nimble enough to root out errors and spur innovation. Washington bureaucrats should not trumpet their own omniscience, but should become more cognizant of their own fallibility.”
“To some, a national curriculum sounds like a redemptive cure-all for the shame of our public schools’ failures,” said signatory Shelby Steele of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “And a national curriculum gives the education establishment elite a powerful warrant for ‘doing good.’ But we must not discard the proven constitutional discipline of our federalist system. Decentralization has been the engine of educational innovation. We shouldn’t trade our federalist birthright for a national-curriculum mess of pottage.”
“National curriculum becomes, in effect, a nationalization of what teachers teach,” said former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, another signatory. “We must always evaluate policy proposals in light of principles like rule of law and the logic of our constitutional system. The Education Department’s sponsoring and funding of national curriculum runs counter to both laws of Congress and the wisdom of the Founders.”
The coalition of leaders releasing its counter-manifesto today opposes both the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U.S. Department of Education initiative on a variety of grounds:
•These efforts are against federal law and undermine the constitutional balance between national and state authority.
•The evidence doesn’t show a need for national curriculum or a national test for all students.
•U.S. Department of Education is basing its initiative on inadequate content standards.
•There is no research-based consensus on what is the best curricular approach to each subject.
•There is not even consensus on whether a single “best curricular approach” for all students exists.
With federal education law coming to the top of Congress’s agenda, the U.S. Department of Education’s push to create national curriculum and assessment is becoming a hot topic.
The manifesto opposing a national curriculum was organized by Bill Evers, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; Greg Forster, senior fellow at the Foundation for Education Choice; Jay Greene and Sandra Stotsky, professors at the University of Arkansas; and Ze’ev Wurman, executive at a Silicon Valley start-up.
Which is greater, you or government? Who created whom? Where did government get its rights? Are they unalienable or temporal? To the LDS, D&C 134, a statement on government, says that God instituted government for the benefit of man and that we should respect and uphold the government while we are protected in our inherent and inalienable rights.
So who has rights? We do as children of God. In fact, as Mary Mostert pointed out in her books on the founding of this country, we have unalienable rights. When Jefferson presented his draft of the Declaration of Independence, he used the word inalienable, but the committee changed it to unalienable. What’s the difference? Mary points out that both mean we have rights that cannot be taken from us, ever. The difference though is that “un” alienable means the rights cannot even be transferred by us, while “in” alienable means we could transfer those rights to someone else. Rights from God to us cannot be cast aside.
Does government have rights? No, it has powers. Can those powers exceed our natural, unalienable rights? Never, because government’s powers are derived from our delegated rights.
Are you smarter than all your neighbors? Well, besides that one family down the street… ;) How about smarter than all your neighbors combined? Do you know anyone that thinks they are? Of course we all do, and far too many of those people become politicians. Who is best qualified to know the needs of a child? The parents of course. Empowering parents in their God-given role as the head of the family is the only morally right thing to do. Allowing them the maximum freedom to determine what is best for their children’s education, health, and all other activities, is the only God-approved course we can follow.
Government exists to provide for the safety, security, and happiness of the people. It exists to protect our unalienable rights. I cannot create a mob of people and send them out to murder and steal and provide myself and my neighbors with the goods the mob captures. Government cannot legally do this either simply because we call it government instead of a mob. Frederick Bastiat pointed out this is what government’s devolve into and we legalize plunder causing a moral imbalance in people who recognize the injustice on the one hand, but recognizing the need to respect government on the other. This imbalance leads to frustration and disgust with the process of government. The only solution is freedom. Freedom to fail. Freedom to watch your neighbor fail to educate their children (according to your own perspective). Freedom to choose a course of life that doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s life and thus maximize your own freedom by staying within the bounds of natural rights. None of this means government or schools completely go away, it just means they operate within their bounds. That question then leads to, “where’s the line America?”
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” – Patrick Henry
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
The ultimate purpose of Christ’s mission was to make us free through his sacrifice and resurrection. Free from sin and ultimately free from power and control of others. Through him, those in bonds (spiritual and temporal) may become free.
The U.S. Constitution was divinely established by Him to assist in fulfilling this purpose. Fourth President of the LDS church Wilford Woodruff said of those that framed the Constitution, they “were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits. . . .” (Wilford Woodruff, CR, April 1898, p. 89). Today we face a great challenge in defending these noble and moral men. There are those who would tear down Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and others, calling them immoral and trying to expose some type of filth that they never engaged in. If they had, they would not have been selected for such a work. The false notion that so many of them were deists also propagates through our education system. A brilliant new book called “Walking in Darkness at Noon-Day | The Cunning Plan to Destroy the Agency of Man” by John C. Greene addresses some of these points. The book has a lengthy chapter on addressing the Deist issue and contains some fantastic information about our founders that I had never before seen. I encourage you to get a copy because you and your children won’t be getting this in public schools. It is an LDS oriented book, but this particular chapter (which is about 60 pages) contains so much good information on debunking the falsehoods that you may want to pick up a copy even if you’re not LDS.
Do we really value freedom? I wonder sometimes when I see the number of people who claim such, but only want it for themselves and not for others. The LDS church members in particular will someday have to account for what they did in the fight for freedom since they have a greater light and knowledge concerning the true nature of the fight. Our beliefs in a pre-mortal war in heaven that continues on earth today should serve as a clear warning of the nature of this conflict and yet far too many are willing to take the wrong side in the battle today. Clear warnings from prophets of God have served as preparation for this fight and yet they are dismissed by some as irrelevant or in the past as if that somehow erases the fact that those things were ever said.
We would never go to our neighbors and tell them when to fill their gas tank up, what to teach their children tonight, what time to turn their lights off, what occupation they should prepare for, etc… Yet far too many are willing to let government overstep the powers WE GAVE IT and tell people how to do these very things. If we can’t tell people how to do these things, we cannot allow government to do them. We delegated powers to the government so it cannot do something we cannot do.
In the beginning when Satan sought to destroy our agency (our gift from God to choose how to live), there was only a simple choice we had to make. Would we let others risk losing their eternal salvation by giving them their choice, or would we force everyone to make the right choices, destroy agency, and deny everyone the opportunity for personal growth through opposition? That same battle is raging today in the form of communism and socialism. Those who embrace those principles are in reality, listening to the wrong spirit and fighting the spirit of God. They would rather try and prevent a failure through force, than encourage success through true freedom.
I have shared this quote elsewhere but it is particularly relevant to this post. In the April 1965 General Conference of the LDS church, Elder Ezra Taft Benson, an apostle of God, quoted President David O. McKay, God’s mouthpiece and prophet on the earth at that time.
Hear his words: “No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this Republic and of neighboring Republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.” (Cited in Jerreld L. Newquist, Prophets, Principles and National Survival [SLC: Publishers Press, 1964], p. 157.) As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue which determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The war in heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: “Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare” or will they heed the counsel of the prophet and preserve their freedom?
In the Book of Mormon, a letter from Pahoran, the ousted/exiled governor of the Nephites, to Captain Moroni, the general of the armies conducting a war and dealing with both external and internal threats, expresses the truth that the Spirit of God is the spirit of freedom.
Alma 61:15 Therefore, come unto me speedily with a few of your men, and leave the remainder in the charge of Lehi and Teancum; give unto them power to conduct the war in that part of the land, according to the Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom which is in them.
It may not surprise anyone that my favorite song has always been “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Even as a young child I always loved patriotic holidays because sometimes we would sing that hymn. The lyrics are particularly poignant and this third verse is the summation of my Easter message.
“In the beauty of the lilies,
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom
That transfigures you and me.
As he died to make men holy,
let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.”
-Julia Ward Howe (modern lyrics differ from Julia’s original wording, most particularly in this verse is her phrase “let us die to make men free”)
I’ll close with a rendition of this song I found this which contains a touching gallery of images set to this wonderful song, as well as my testimony that God lives and is returning. It is our solemn obligation to demonstrate our faithfulness to God by defending the truth and freedom he has given us, both spiritually and temporally, according to our capacity and opportunities the Lord sets before us.
This relatively short video is a reading of the Declaration of Independence as performed by a group of actors and actresses. Morgan Freeman starts things off by indicating that some record may show that Thomas Jefferson actually wanted the DOI performed and not merely read. That’s an interesting tidbit which led to this production.
This is mostly for those of you that are LDS, but of course, if you’re not, you’re still welcome to read it. :) The talk by Marion G. Romney I reference below, is one of the greatest sermons ever given exposing the evils of socialism and how it destroys the agency and freedom of man. It contains an excellent lesson in the background of socialism and the extreme importance of the U.S. Constitution. I believe all people would be benefited by reading it regardless of religious preference.
A couple weeks ago when my op-ed reply to Brian Jackson appeared in the Deseret News, someone posting under the name “LDS Liberal” responded to someone with this statement advocating socialism:
Do you live in a Family?
City of Enoch was what?
1st Century Christians practiced what?
Nephites/Lamanites had what in common?
The problem I see is that Religion actually teaches Socialism.
Do unto others….
Give to the poor and the needy.
etc., etc., etc.
Too bad we can’t recognize Religion and the Bible as History — you’d really blow a gasket.”
I tried to post a comment but it never got to the board. What I posted was essentially this.
First of all, these 3 scriptural societies did not practice socialism, they practiced what was called the United Order and it was fundamentally different from socialism. How important is this distinction? So important, that at the 1966 April General Conference of the LDS church, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles started his talk on this subject by saying this:
“What I am going to give you now is a statement I have prepared in answer to the question, “Is Socialism the United Order?” Some of you may have already heard it. This is the first time I have ever attempted to give a talk a second time. My excuse is that the Brethren have asked me to give this talk here tonight.”
Elder Romney’s talk is much longer than a normal conference talk which also shows the high value the leadership of the church placed on ensuring these doctrines were taught. I am going to post a pdf of his talk here with my own highlighting for those that want to just skim it, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. One relevant quote I found in the talk is:
“We have much to do, and fortunately for us the Lord has definitely prescribed the course we should follow with respect to socialism and the United Order.
He has told us that in preparation for the restoration of the gospel, he himself established the Constitution of the United States, and he has plainly told us why he established it. I hope I can get this point over to you. He said he established the Constitution to preserve to men their free agency, because the whole gospel of Jesus Christ presupposes man’s untrammeled exercise of free agency.”
“These scriptures declare the Constitution to be a divine document.”
There you go folks, the official position of the LDS church is that the U.S. Constitution is a divine document.
Oh, and as for the comment from “LDS Liberal” about families practicing socialism, that would mean nobody in the family has any private property. Try to tell your teenager that his iPod really belongs to everyone. :)
“Socialism is not the United Order” by Marion G Romney (click to open PDF, right-click to save PDF to your desktop)
One of my favorite speakers is Dr. Rufus Fears. I’ve listened to a few of his lectures through The Teaching Company which produces some wonderful material. If you get on their email list you can wait for a 70% off sale and pick up some of the courses pretty cheap. Anyway, this lecture by Dr. Fears is really wonderful and I encourage you to listen to the parts at lunch or sometime.
There are 7 parts to this speech, but half of it is Q&A which has some good material but I’ll just post the speech below.