The Constitution Condones Slavery?

On July 24 2011 the American Thinker published this article:

In a recent series called “The State Against Blacks” John Stossel interviewed Rep. Charles Rangel and made the case that big government had failed the black American family. Congressman Rangel, an unabashed proponent of big government, asked Stossel, “What do you want? No government?” Stossel held up a copy of the Constitution, and answered, “No. I want it this size again. The Constitution and the Declaration – great government right here.” To which Rangel responded, “No, that government will throw me back into slavery. You don’t want that government. Come on now. I mean they weren’t thinking about me when they wrote that book. I wasn’t even three fifths of a guy. So let’s pass that book and say that it was a good beginning and it’s there to improve order and that’s what we’ve done.”

Rep. Rangel ought to be asked to explain how limiting the size and scope of the federal government to Constitutional standards would throw him back into slavery. The idea is preposterous. It might also be noted that the Founders were indeed thinking of him when they laid the foundations of this nation. Charles Rangel has been a powerful member of the U.S. House of Representatives for forty years. Had the Founders not succeeded in establishing the American nation, Congressman Rangel’s prospects in this world might have been severely limited. Evidently, Rep. Rangel finds no cause for gratitude to the Founders for placing our nation on a path to ever increasing opportunity for all its citizens.

But Rangel’s argument is clearly one that liberals like. Liberals are terrified at the rise of serious talk in America about going back to the principles of the Constitution, and I believe we will see Rangel’s invidious argument trotted out again and again. But “the Constitution was an instrument of slavery” argument will be effective for the liberals only if we are ignorant of the truth.

It should be understood that if the Founders had failed to organize the states into a union, slavery would have continued unabated, certainly in the South, and perhaps in the North as well. One of the great obstacles to forming a union of the states under a constitution was the question of representation in Congress. How shall small states be unified with large states in a government that would be fair and equitable to both? The small states wanted one to one representation equal to the large states, while the large and more populous states wanted representation proportionate to the relative populations of each state. The impasse seemed insurmountable and had the potential to wreck all hope of union. But Roger Sherman of Connecticut provided the solution that ultimately satisfied the representatives at the convention: he proposed that Congress be composed of two houses. Representation in the House of Representatives would be apportioned by population, thereby satisfying the large states, while representation in the Senate would be one vote per state, thereby satisfying the small states.

The question then became which “inhabitants” of each state would be counted for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives. The northern states insisted that only free citizens of each state be counted for purposes of apportionment in the House. The southern states, wanting to garner as much power and influence in the new government as possible, argued that all people within their borders, whether free or not, be counted for purposes of apportionment.

This was yet another deadly serious impasse. It must be said, however, that many of those representatives at the convention who owned slaves recognized that slavery would be a blot on the new nation and that it had to be ended. But it was also certain that if they tried to abolish slavery immediately with the Constitution, it would be rejected by the southern states and the union would fail. Two compromises were made. First, the southern states agreed to count only three fifths of slaves. In turn, the northern states agreed to a clause prohibiting Congress from abolishing slavery for twenty years, until the year 1808.

Charles Rangel and many others argue that, under the Constitution, a black man’s worth was only three fifths of a white man. But the Constitution says no such thing. Article I, Section 2 reads (in part) “Representatives…shall be apportioned among the several states…according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons…three fifths of all other persons.” “All other persons” referred to slaves. In other words, only 60% of slaves could be counted for purposes of a state’s representation in the House. That’s a far cry from arguing that the Constitution valued black men at three fifths of a white man. And what would Rangel and others have preferred, that all slaves be counted, thus increasing the power and influence of the slave states when the time came to vote to abolish slavery? What if the Founders had allowed all slaves to be counted for purposes of representation in the House, thus eliminating the three fifths compromise that so offends Rep. Rangel? And then what if, because of increased slave state representation, the legislation to abolish slavery had failed in 1808? Is that what Rangel would have preferred?

The result of these compromises was that a major obstacle to a union of the states and the establishment of the nation of America was overcome, and slavery as it was known in early America was eventually abolished. It should also be pointed out that America, it’s flaws and imperfections notwithstanding, has become a beacon of individual liberty to the whole world.

We modern Americans allow ourselves a certain self-congratulatory pride because we think we are morally superior to the Americans of the eighteenth century. But let’s consider what it is we so smugly condemn them for. What is slavery? Is not slavery that the fruit of a man’s labor is deemed not to be his own by the system of laws under which he is held in servitude, and that it is taken from him by those who have power and authority over him? When one adds up all the taxes and fees – local, state, and federal – that Charles Rangel and many other like-minded persons of power and authority have gradually imposed on us, we have certainly become a nation of slaves. I don’t mean to suggest that there is equivalency between eighteenth century slavery and slavery today. The slavery of two hundred fifty years ago was a hard slavery, while today’s slavery is much more subtle. I would call it soft slavery. But it is slavery nonetheless. A large portion of the fruit of our labor today is taken from us by people like Charles Rangel who then use the fruits of our labor to purchase the votes they need to keep themselves in power to rule and reign over us.

Charles Rangel and many other like-minded people have presided over the gradual imposition of a soft enslavement of millions of modern Americans. Their defense of today’s soft slavery is essentially the same as the slave masters of the eighteenth century: this is our system and the economy depends upon it. But, in truth, their own personal wealth and influence also depend on it. In addition to legally confiscating large portions of the fruit of our labor, they control our compulsory education system. They tell us how much water we can use to flush a toilet; what kind of light bulbs we must use. They have shut down vast reserves of our nation’s natural resources which we require for our energy needs, intentionally driving up the cost of energy. They intend to disarm us. They intend to tell us what doctors we can see and when. They insult and demean us in our airports. They seek to divide and inflame us by race and by economic status. They intervene in every aspect of our personal and business lives. They are destroying the value of our currency. They are the soft, but ever hardening, slave masters of the twenty first century. And sadly, most Americans seem to support this system. We are a generation who self-righteously condemns the eighteenth century American for the moat we see in his eye, but are largely blinded to the fact that we have a beam in our own eye.

The Constitution is a framework for a government intended to protect the individual liberty of each citizen – his life, his liberty, and his property – from the encroachments of his neighbor. But the Constitution is an impediment to the slave masters, and they have no regard nor use for it. Remember that the next time you hear Charles Rangel, or anyone else, dismissing the Constitution as the antidote to our national decline.

As for this American, you can count me among the twenty first century abolitionists.

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We must stand with Israel

On April 1, 2010 Connor Boyack published a piece which he titled “Foreign Entanglement with Israel” on his Connor’s Conundrums blog. He re-posted a link to that article recently as Israel invaded Gaza in response to relentless rocket attacks by Hamas. Essentially, Brother Boyack considers America’s long standing support for the state of Israel as a foreign entanglement which is contrary to the counsel of President George Washington as given in his Farewell Address. He quotes Washington:

“Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible” (George Washington, Farewell Address).

Brother Boyack follows the Washington quote with this statement:

“Those who most frequently refer to this letter as a signpost from which America long ago deviated often reject this wise counsel in at least one specific case: when the subject at hand is a country whose name and citizens’ lineage share a Biblical connection. The mere mention of Israel leads some otherwise-faithful advocates of Washington’s guidance to cast their principles to the wind and embrace deeply entrenched relations with another country.

Why the cognitive dissonance?”

It should be pointed out that, while Washington’s counsel is well-founded and wise, it is based largely on his assessment of “European ambition, rivalship interest, humor, or caprice” (Farewell Address). He says:

“Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities” (Farewell Address).

I think Washington was absolutely right in this assessment of Europe. But does this assessment transfer neatly to the nation of Israel? Do the primary interests of Israel (which, simply put, is to survive) have only a “very remote relation” to us? Are the “collisions of her friendships or enmities” merely the fruits of Israeli “ambition, rivalship interest, humor, or caprice”? Are America’s ties to Israel artificial? Are the causes of Israel’s “frequent controversies” “essentially foreign to our concerns”? I say no. The controversies and collisions in Europe are not analogous to the controversies and collisions in the Middle East vis a vie Israel, Washington’s admonitions regarding Europe do not transfer neatly to Israel, and America’s ties to Israel are and ought to be anything but artificial. In fact, Israel’s enemies are our enemies. Here is an example of the world-wide ideology Israel and America are facing:

“We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews – even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew” (Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, sermon of May 13, 2005 aired on Palestinian Authority TV, translated by MEMRI).

I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s assessment to his fellow revolutionists at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Knowing the dire consequences they were facing because of their determination to be free, Franklin said: “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” I think Franklin’s assessment is far more pertinent to the reality facing America and Israel today than Washington’s assessment of European “foreign entanglements.” America and Israel must hang together because, most assuredly, if we do not, Islamists around the world intend to see us hang separately. Islamists consider Israel to be the Little Satan, and America to be the Great Satan and they consider the destruction of both to be their inevitable responsibility.

Franklin’s counsel on hanging together lest we hang separately was not lost on George Washington, who gave great emphasis to that principle in his Farewell Address when he argued that if we would preserve liberty in America, we must preserve our national Union:

“Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts…In this sense it is, that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear you to the preservation of the other” (George Washington, Farewell Address).

No doubt this eloquent portrayal of the necessity of hanging together as a nation was not lost on Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is often demeaned as a tyrant for his refusal to allow the southern states to secede from the Union. But it is clear that Lincoln understood what Franklin and Washington understood: liberty, that human condition which is so very rare in this world and has been since the dawn of mankind, cannot survive if free men fail to remain unified. Those who possess this pearl of great price must hang together in spite of our differences or we shall lose it.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up…

“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12).

These great men also understood this: that those who would destroy us will work tirelessly, internally and externally, covertly and insidiously, to break down our union and divide us.

The principle applies to Israel and America. It is the oft-stated intention of Islamists to destroy the Little Satan first. Then they will turn their attention to the Great Satan.

Our Duty to Defend Liberty

Those who possess liberty have a duty to defend it.

The Nephites were taught by the Lord that they should defend their families, their lands, their country, their rights, and their religion “even unto bloodshed” if necessary (Alma 43:45-47). The right to defend oneself is a natural right. But there are a number of accounts in the Book of Mormon – Amalickiah, Morianton, the king-men, and Pachus – where Moroni shed the blood of his own countrymen for their failure to defend their country and their freedom. In his letter to Pahoran, a righteously indignant Moroni warned Pahoran that if those in the government failed to “be up and doing” in the defense of the country, that he would come back there and “[cleanse] our inward vessel” (Alma 60:24) for

“Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet” (Alma 60:33).

The law referenced by Moroni is not explicitly given in the Book of Mormon. However, it is my assumption that this was a law given by King Mosiah and had been taught to and was understood by all the Nephite people.

“And thus it became expedient that this law should be strictly observed for the safety of their country; yea, and whosoever was found denying their freedom was speedily executed according to the law” (Alma 62:10).

Those found denying their freedom were speedily executed?

“What other conclusion can we arrive at but that with ‘unalienable rights,’ which come from God, come ‘unalienable duties,’ which also come from God? And if unalienable rights may be defended with force with the approbation of God, ‘even unto bloodshed’ (Alma 61:10), so, it would seem, may unalienable duties be enforced according to the commandments of God, ‘even unto bloodshed'” (This theme is fully developed in Walking in Darkness at Noonday, John C. Greene, pg. 33-40.)

I believe that the Book of Mormon teaches us this principle: where there are unalienable rights, there are also unalienable duties. Those people who are blessed by God with freedom are also charged by God with the unalienable duty of defending that freedom. Clearly, that is the essence of the law referred to by both Alma and Moroni.

Spending Tax Dollars Defending Israel is Unconstitutional

Which leads me to another argument made by Brother Boyack:

“The scriptures that I read contain no commandment that we submit to taxation and inflation in order to send billions of dollars to a foreign government (despite no constitutional authority to do so) which has adopted for itself the identity its ancestors once shared. While the people themselves may properly be referred to as Israel and be worthy of our support, to argue that our government must have a ‘special relationship’ with theirs is an outright rejection of [George] Washington’s counsel, wholly un-constitutional, and a recipe for continual geopolitical conflict.”

I recognize that there is no specific authority in the Constitution to come to the aid of another nation. But the Constitution was inspired by the same God who taught the Nephites and Moroni the principle that where there are unalienable rights, there is also an unalienable duty to defend those rights. I believe we Americans, who have been made by the Lord to be a light unto the world with the introduction of the eternal verity that the rights of man are endowed upon him by his Creator, and that therefore those rights are unalienable, have a duty to defend unalienable rights beyond our borders lest we be guilty of taking the talents the Lord has given us as a nation and burying them in the ground. How, exactly, and to what extent we should go about doing that I do not say. Prudence and principle must certainly prevail in such a decision. But to characterize our relationship and stand with Israel as merely a “foreign entanglement” as opposed to a sacred duty seems to me on par with minimizing the sacred nature of a child in the womb by dismissing it as merely a “fetus.”

Is the Modern State of Israel the Same as the Biblical Nation of Israel?

Brother Boyack’s phrase “a country whose name and lineage share a Biblical connection” leads to his question: “But is the modern nation state of Israel the same thing [as the ancient biblical nation of Israel]?

He follows with :

“What if the citizens of Israel decided to change the name of their country to something else? If they were no longer known as Israel, would people still be as inclined to support them financially and militarily? What if they chose the name Babylon? Would we then look at them with scorn, somehow tying them to the actions and culture that once described the ancient city of the same name?”

The question seems intended to raise the possibility that the founding of the modern nation state of Israel was entirely the work of men, not directed by the hand of God, and therefore not to be confused with the Israel of scripture. Many Americans, and especially most Latter-day Saints, see the hand of God in the founding of America in spite of all the wrong turns we have made on the way, to include slavery and our treatment of the native Americans among many others. But are we unable to see the hand of God in the latter-day founding of the nation of Israel? To draw an analogy to Connor Boyack’s argument, some might say to us, “If Joseph Smith had called the church he founded the Church of Joseph Smith, then where would that leave your claims of the divine origin of the Church?” Perhaps this is so. But that is not what happened. Joseph Smith was the instrument of the Lord in accomplishing His purposes. Accordingly, the name of the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not by happenstance, but by divine design. I believe that the name of the nation state of Israel is no less the work of God than is the name of the Church. The nation of Israel is as flawed as is the nation of America. But both are the yet-to-be-completed, yet to be perfected, work of God. Both have been established under His direction and for His purposes.

The Return of the Rightful Heirs

The Lord tells us:

8 I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not….
24 And this I have told you concerning Jerusalem; and when that day shall come, shall a remnant be scattered among all nations…
43 And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place (D&C 45).

On March 27, 1836 in the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, a prayer which was given by revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith offered this supplication:

62 We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed;
63 And the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David;
64 And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father (D&C 109:62-64).

On the 10th birthday of the Church, April 6, 1840, Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was called in a conference of the Church in Nauvoo to undertake a mission to several foreign cities, including Jerusalem. On Sunday morning, October 24, 1841, Elder Hyde ascended the Mount of Olives and offered a dedicatory prayer. Excerpts of that prayer follow:

“O Thou! who art from everlasting to everlasting, eternally and unchangeably the same, even the God who rules in the heavens above, and controls the destinies of men on the earth, wilt Thou not condescend, through thine infinite goodness and royal favor, to listen to the prayer of Thy servant which he this day offers up unto Thee in the name of Thy holy child Jesus, upon this land, where the Son of Righteousness set in blood, and thine Anointed One expired…

“Now, O Lord! Thy servant has been obedient to the heavenly vision which Thou gavest him in his native land; and under the shadow of Thine outstretched arm, he has safely arrived in this place to dedicate and consecrate this land unto Thee, for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets — for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long…

“O Thou, Who didst covenant with Abraham, Thy friend, and who didst renew that covenant with Isaac, and confirm the same with Jacob with an oath, that Thou wouldst not only give them this land for an everlasting inheritance, but that Thou wouldst also remember their seed forever…

“Grant, therefore, O Lord, in the name of Thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to remove the barrenness and sterility of this land, and let springs of living water break forth to water its thirsty soil. Let the vine and olive produce in their strength, and the fig-tree bloom and flourish. Let the land become abundantly fruitful when possessed by its rightful heirs; let it again flow with plenty to feed the returning prodigals who come home with a spirit of grace and supplication… Incline them to gather in upon this land according to Thy word. Let them come like clouds and like doves to their windows. Let the large ships of the nations bring them from the distant isles; and let kings become their nursing fathers, and queens with motherly fondness wipe the tear of sorrow from their eye.

“Thou, O Lord, did once move upon the heart of Cyrus to show favor unto Jerusalem and her children. Do Thou now also be pleased to inspire the hearts of kings and the powers of the earth to look with a friendly eye towards this place, and with a desire to see Thy righteous purposes executed in relation thereto. Let them know that it is Thy good pleasure to restore the kingdom unto Israel — raise up Jerusalem as its capital, and constitute her people a distinct nation and government, with David Thy servant, even a descendant from the loins of ancient David to be their king.

“Let that nation or that people who shall take an active part in behalf of Abraham’s children, and in the raising up of Jerusalem, find favor in Thy sight. Let not their enemies prevail against them, neither let pestilence or famine overcome them, but let the glory of Israel overshadow them, and the power of the Highest protect them; while that nation or kingdom that will not serve Thee in this glorious work must perish, according to Thy word — Yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”

In the letter that Elder Hyde wrote reporting on his mission, he added this:

“I have found many Jews who listened with intense interest. The idea of the Jews being restored to Palestine is gaining ground in Europe almost every day. .. Many of the Jews who are old go to this place to die, and many are coming from Europe into this eastern world. The great wheel is unquestionably in motion, and the word of the Almighty has declared that it shall roll.”

How can there be any doubt that what we have seen in the last 140 or so years with regard to Israel is an answer to the prayers of the authorized servants of the Lord? Some forty years after Elder Hyde’s dedicatory prayer, the remnant of the Jews which had been scattered around the world began what was known as the First Aliyah to the land of their ancient inheritance. They purchased land from Arab landowners and began building small communities. Soon, some Arabs began to take offense at the small but growing Jewish presence. Opposition, violence, and jihad began early and has continued almost unabated since the late nineteenth century.

A brief history of the birth of the modern state of Israel: On November 29, 1947 the United Nations, in a peaceful and legal process, partitioned land which had been ruled for 400 years by the Ottoman Turks but lost by them when, allied with Germany, they were defeated in World War I. This land became known as the Palestine Mandate. The states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were created out of about 80% of that land. From the remaining 20% the UN created the State of Israel for the Jews, and a state for Palestinian Arabs.

Isaiah foresaw these events and prophesied of them with these words:

22 Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me (Isaiah 49:22-23).

Is this not a scriptural description of the establishment of the nation state of Israel under the auspices of the United Nations? I think it is. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob comments on the words of Isaiah:

8 And now I, Jacob, would speak somewhat concerning these words. For behold, the Lord has shown me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried away captive.

9 Nevertheless, the Lord has shown unto me that they should return again…(2 Nephi 6:8-9).

8 And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.

9 Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it, and who can dispute? (2 Nephi 10:6-10).

Note how pleased the Lord is with those nations of the Gentiles who “shall be great in the eyes of me” because of their “carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.” And because of the kindness of the Gentile nations, and because of their nurturing the Jews, the Lord promises great things to the Gentiles. The Lord hath spoken it. So why would Brother Boyack or anyone else who knows of these things dispute it? If these things are pleasing to the Lord, how can they be displeasing to any Latter-day Saint?

Where should we stand?

In the end, the Lord will

“…make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:2).

This is indeed the circumstance in which Israel finds itself today, under siege by all the people round about them who, as Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris stated, want Israel and the Jews annihilated.

Further,

“And in that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:3).

Brother Boyack asks:

“Does this ‘unbreakable’ commitment [to Israel] know no limits? Should the American people be forced to fund the operations of another government which – like any other government – is riddled with corruption, waste, and power-lusting politicians?”

Evidently, to Brother Boyack, to some Latter-day Saints, and to “all the people of the earth,” Israel has become a burdensome stone, the warning of the Lord against such notwithstanding. The whole world is turning against Israel, and will soon be gathered against her to battle. The Lord has warned that he will “gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zechariah 14:2). I have to assume “all nations” will include America. “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations…” (Zechariah 14:3). And, it would seem, against those people to whom Israel has become a burdensome stone.

I write this not to castigate, not to upbraid, not to make an enemy of Connor Boyack or anyone else who has a different point of view. I write this because I love liberty, I love justice, and I love the ways and the works of the Lord. Israel, with all its imperfections, is the work of the Lord. Turning away from Israel because she has become a burdensome stone seems to me to be unsound. Joseph Smith taught “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:286.) It is in this spirit of persuasion that I write.

If we would “stand in holy places” (D&C 45:32), we must stand with Israel.

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Here am I; Send me

Some years ago a young man joined the Church in the Madison Ward and became very enthusiastic about the Church and about the gospel. His wife, however, was not so enthusiastic. She came with him to church a few times, but clearly did not warm to anything she saw. She vigorously opposed his activity in the church. In time, he became discouraged and confided in me that it was becoming too hard for him. I knew what he was going through because I had a very similar experience. My wife bitterly opposed my activity in the Church for many years.

I asked him if he knew that the Church was true, that it was the Church of Jesus Christ? He said, yes, he did. I asked him if he loved his family? He said, yes, he did. The choice then, I said, is simple. Not easy, but simple. You either lead, or you follow. But if you choose not to lead your family back into eternity, who will? To me, the answer was always obvious.

Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Christ sacrificed his life in a way that we are not called upon to do. He died for us. But as we follow Christ and seek to emulate Him, is it not possible that we may be called upon to sacrifice our lives also in a manner of speaking? Would it be an inappropriate paraphrase of Christ’s words to say “greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his family?” A family that doesn’t understand. A family that will not follow. A family, even, that severely persecutes you for your beliefs within the walls of your own home. A family of whom it might be said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

Some of us in the Church understand very well the meaning of these words of Christ:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

Indeed, “greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his family.” Meekly, patiently, with humility. Christlike.

Unfortunately, the young man I speak of left the Church and never returned. In my own case, I trudged on. In time, my wife simply became reconciled to the fact that I was determined to stay the course. Though she still has no interest in the Church or the gospel, she at least now can joke that the only person she knows who can out-tough her is me.

But for me, the long struggle is far from over. Our three children have all abandoned the things I worked so hard all those years to teach them and are wandering, as Lehi might have put it, in strange paths. I promised each of them, when I gave them their names and a father’s blessing, that I would always be faithful to their mother and to the Lord, and that I would do everything I could to teach them the truth and to lead them back into the presence of their heavenly Father. I promised them that I would never fail them. Over the years, I brought them to church faithfully, held family prayer daily, struggled to have family home evening regularly, and even taught seminary for five years. Today, I carry on alone. There is no family home evening in our home anymore. No family prayer. I know they don’t want these things, so I hold my peace.

When I received my patriarchal blessing in 1978, I was counseled not to be preachy to my family. I assumed that the counsel referred to my parents and brothers and sisters. But I have come to realize that that admonition from the Lord to me pertained most importantly to my wife and my children. I could never have imagined that at the time.

Responding to a sister who had inquired of Pres. John Taylor, the latter-day prophet wrote:

“Where did I come from? What am I doing here? Wither am I going? And what is my destiny after having obeyed the truth, if faithful to the end?” Pres. Taylor answered in part, “Knowest thou not that eternities ago thy spirit…madest a covenant with one of thy kindred spirits to be thy guardian angel while in mortality, also with two others, male and female spirits, that thou wouldst come and take a tabernacle through their lineage, and become one of their offspring. You also chose a kindred spirit whom you loved in the spirit world…to be your head, stay, husband and protector on the earth and to exalt you in eternal worlds. All these were arranged, likewise the spirits that should tabernacle through your lineage…” (Origin and Destiny of Woman, President John Taylor, “The Mormon,” August 29, 1857, quoted in “The Vision or the Degrees of Glory,” by N.B. Lundwall)

There is a principle here which I believe is true. The principle is that just as we are free to prepare for and work out our eternal destiny while we are here in mortality, so we were free, it seems, in our first estate, to work out and prepare for our mortal probation.

There is evidence that some of the children of God, perhaps all of us, volunteered to fulfill certain callings or missions during this mortal probation.

I have often thought of a young man named Chris Johnson in the Canoga Park II (CA) Ward where I joined the Church. Chris was about 14 when I knew him in the late 1970s. As I recall the story, he got turned around in the birth canal, was strangled by his umbilical chord, and was born a quadriplegic. I remember Chris saying once in a testimony meeting that there were two things he had always wanted to do: go to a high school dance like everyone else, and play soccer. When I think things are tough for me, I think of Chris.

I think it is reasonable to ask, why Chris, but not me? Does heavenly Father arbitrarily designate one of his children to abide in mortality in a wheelchair, while another gets to play soccer? Where is the principle of agency here? Was not the lynchpin of the great controversy in the first estate which culminated in the war in heaven the issue of the agency of man? What about Chris’ agency?

In his book “Life Everlasting” Duane Crowther prefaces the account of a man named DeLynn with these words:

“Inseparably connected with the premortal education program is the process of selecting the challenges one is to deal with during his mortal probationary period. Earth life clearly is an extension of the premortal training environment, as we undergo a variety of challenges which we chose for ourselves prior to coming to earth, each person tailoring his selected mortal tests and experiences to best enhance his eternal progression” (Life Everlasting, Duane S. Crowther, Second Revised Edition, pg. 101).

This is a fascinating prospect because, if it is true, it reinforces the idea that the divine principle of agency is never violated by a just and loving Father. The account of DeLynn buttresses the point.

DeLynn had suffered with cystic fibrosis for 37 years. In a near death experience, he found himself in a conversation with a voice that was very familiar to him, but which he hadn’t heard in a very long time. He recognized it to be the voice of his Father in Heaven. Among other things, he asked why he had had to suffer so in mortality. DeLynn states:

“When he told me that it was my choice, in a premortal environment, to suffer when I came to earth, I was both astonished and incredulous. He must have understood my incredulity, because I was immediately transported to my pre-mortal existence” (Ibid pg. 99).

DeLynn saw himself in a kind of classroom with an instructor. He recounts:

“He was instructing us about things we had to know in order to come to earth and get our bodies. Then he said, and I’ll never forget this: You can learn lessons one of two ways. You can move through life slowly, and have certain experiences, or there are ways that you can learn the lessons very quickly through pain and disease. He wrote on the board the words: Cystic Fibrosis, and he turned and asked for volunteers. I was a volunteer; I saw me raise my hand and offer to take the challenge. The instructor looked at me and agreed to accept me.”

“That was the end of the scene, and it changed forever my perspective of the disease that I previously felt was a plague on my life. No longer did I consider myself a victim. Rather, I was a privileged participant, by choice, in an eternal plan. That plan, if I measured up to the potential of my choice, would allow me to advance in mortal life the fastest way possible. True, I would not be able to control the inevitable slow deterioration of my mortal body, but I could control how I chose to handle my illness emotionally and psychologically. The specific choice of cystic fibrosis was to help me learn dignity in suffering. My understanding in the eternal sense was complete – I knew that I was a powerful, spiritual being that chose to have a short, but marvelous, mortal experience.”

“While I was marveling at this new-found knowledge, or rather, from the reawakened knowledge that I previously had, I was again transported to another era. This time I found myself looking on a different scene – the scene was the Garden of Gethsemane. Looking down from above, I saw Christ undergoing his ordeal of pain with dignified endurance…I felt bad that he had to go through it, and I felt empathy for him. I also realized why he was doing it; I understood that it was his choice, just as cystic fibrosis had been my choice…” (Ibid pg. 102).

Another revelation to me in my patriarchal blessing is that I have a mission to fulfill on this earth. Leading my family is no doubt a very important part of that mission. But I think there is something else as well. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but I believe it is also very important. Whatever the sum of my mission in this life is, I believe I volunteered to fulfill it before I ever came into this life.

Examples of such volunteerism are not unfamiliar to us. We know that in the great Council in Heaven before the foundation of this earth, our Father outlined the plan for our progression and salvation. There were many missions which needed to be fulfilled to bring all things to pass in the best interests of each of His children, the most important of which was the need for a Savior, an Exemplar, a Redeemer. No doubt the requirements were set forth and the call was issued:

“And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27-28).

Isaiah, much like DeLynn, was given a glimpse of a seminal moment in his premortal existence. The Lord had need of a prophet at a time of great wickedness. He again issued a call, and Isaiah recounts:

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Likewise Jeremiah received his call to be a prophet before he was born:

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

I have had the feeling for some time that in those premortal councils the Lord described a mission that needed to be fulfilled. There were several of his children, good children, but weak in some ways, who needed a strong guide. If they were to traverse the long, perilous journey through mortal life and successfully find their way back to presence of God, they would need someone who would lead them. Someone who could endure many years of spiritual rejection and loneliness. Someone who would never slacken in faith. Someone who would never give up on them, never abandon them. Someone who would bear the loneliness and discouragement and disappointment for a long, long time. Someone who would endure to the end for them. It would not be easy. It would feel like a lifetime of failure. But with faith and endurance and patience, these children would make it.

I expect that the Lord asked for a volunteer. “Whom shall we send?” I expect that I raised my hand, “Here am I, send me.”

There have been times when I have looked at families in the Church that seem whole and healthy, where everyone seems to be, relatively speaking, on the same page – families with sons who have served honorable full time missions and daughters who were married in the House of the Lord – and I have ached. I couldn’t avoid the question: why is my family so spiritually dysfunctional? I have come to understand the answer to that question line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.

It has to do with the principle of agency. It has to do with what one author called “divine initiative.” It has to do with what I would call the principle of leaven.

Agency is that divine principle by which “…every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment” (D&C 101:78).

When agency is combined with “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 11:22), the result is “divine initiative,” the willingness to say “Here am I, send me,” to voluntarily take up the cross of Christ and bear it, alone if necessary.

Leaven is that powerful living agent a small amount of which, after much blending and kneading and in the heat of an oven, causes a mass of dough to rise to the full measure of its potential and become life giving bread. That principle, when applied to souls, calls for small quantities of strong souls (often only one) to be kneaded in amongst the many, and in the furnace of affliction, cause the many to rise to the fullest measure of their creation and become the sons and daughters of God. How much less good would be accomplished if the Lord organized us with all of the strong in strong families, and all of the weak in weak families? How could the strong come to know of their strength? And how could the weak become strong? Where would the service be? Where the eternal gratitude?

I have come to realize that my role in my family is, essentially, to be the leaven.

There is much talk today of heroes and role models. Sometimes I question the world’s definition of just what a hero is. To me, the designation is often misapplied. The true hero is that person who, without fanfare, usually without recognition, often without even thanks, effectively lays down his or her life in the hope of bringing to pass some good for others. Here is living evidence of “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 11:22). These are they who, alone, take up their cross and follow after Jesus Christ, and in so doing, sacrifice their life in this world because they volunteered to do so at another time, in another place. To them it is promised that they shall not lose their lives, but that they shall find their life with those whom they have saved at yet another time and yet another place.

Do you recognize a little bit of yourself in all of this? Remember, “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good…Therefore, hold on thy way” (D&C 122:7-9).

You are not a victim of circumstance. You are a person of destiny. You have exercised divine initiative in all of this. You are a volunteer.

You are one who once said, “Here am I, send me.”

Posted in Agency of man, Pre-existence, Purpose of life | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Justice Clarence Thomas: Be Not Afraid

In early 2001 I was channel hopping on the television and came upon U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas giving a speech before the American Enterprise Institute. I stopped for a moment to listen, expecting that I would move on in a few moments. But I found Justice Thomas’ remarks to be riveting. Not only did I listen to the entire speech, but I was so inspired by his words that I obtained a copy of it and wrote the following article:

Daniel Webster, the eloquent Senator from Massachusetts, expressed his reverence for the Founders of our country:
“Truly…these founders and fathers of the Constitution were great men…All that reading and learning could do; all that talent and intelligence could do; and, what perhaps is still more, all that long experience in difficult and troubled times and a deep and intimate knowledge of the condition of the country could do, conspired to fit them for the great business of forming a general but limited government…I love to linger around these original fountains, and to drink of their waters. I love to imbibe, in as full measure as I may, the spirit of those who laid the foundations of the government, and so wisely and skillfully balanced and adjusted its bearings and proportions” (The Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. I, pg. 203-204).

Like Daniel Webster, I also love to linger around the writings, the words, and the ideas of the founders. A sampling of some of my favorites:

“Government is instituted to protect property…This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own…That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has …is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.” James Madison

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington

“It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights; that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism – free government is founded in jealousy and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions; to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power…In questions of power, then, let not more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson

“It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression, that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scarecrow), working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed; because, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.” Thomas Jefferson

There are many more I would love to include. But let me segue from Thomas Jefferson’s deep concern about the corrupting potential of the judiciary to the man I really want to speak of, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ann Coulter wrote a piece recently titled “Eight More Clarence Thomases” in which she posits that the assault by liberals on John Ashcroft was a shot across the Bush bow and a warning that they will tolerate no more principled conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court. Coulter observes that liberalism has rarely found its way into our institutions via the vote of the people, but rather by judicial fiat when she says “A lot is at stake for liberals with the court. If they lose a liberal vote, they will be forced to fight political battles through a messy little system known as ‘democracy’…Conservatives always knew they had to win at the ballot box; liberals prefer to skip voting and win by judicial fiat.”

She is quite right. And while Thomas Jefferson must have seen liberals in his worst nightmares, the liberals’ worst nightmare would be another Clarence Thomas on the court. Coulter offers what I think is a great idea:

“There are…any number of ways the Supreme Court will wreck the country if Bush appoints another David Hackett Souter rather than another Clarence Thomas…Bush ought to find eight more just like Thomas. For one thing, it would be really cool to have an all black Supreme Court. But mostly it would be nice to go back to living in a democracy again.”

Justice Thomas gave a speech on February 13 before the American Enterprise Institute which was absolutely riveting. The theme of his comments was the profound need in our nation today for courage, a virtue which Clarence Thomas clearly possesses. Said he:

“Judges do not cease to be human beings when they go on the bench. In important cases, it is my humble opinion that finding the right answer is often the least difficult problem. Having the courage to assert that answer and stand firm in the face of the constant winds of protest and criticism is often much more difficult…judges can be buffeted by strong winds that tear them away from the basic principles they have sworn to safeguard. Fulfillment of our oath requires us to have both a clear understanding of the principles that allow us to ‘call as we see it,’ and the fortitude to stand by those principles and the decisions that rest upon them.”

“If we are to be a nation of laws and not of men, judges must be impartial referees who defend constitutional principles from attempts by particular interests (or even the people as a whole) to overwhelm them, in the name of expediency…A judge is not a legislator…”

“When interpreting the Constitution and statutes, judges should seek the original understanding of the provision’s text…This approach places the authority for creating the legal rules in the hands of the people and their representatives, rather than in the hands of the judiciary. The Constitution means what the delegates of the Philadelphia Convention and of the state ratifying conventions understood it to mean; not what we judges think it should mean.”

“…We ‘the people’ adopted a written Constitution precisely because it has a fixed meaning, a meaning that does not change. Otherwise we would have adopted the British approach of an unwritten, evolving constitution. Aside from amendment according to Article V, the Constitution’s meaning cannot be updated, or changed, or altered by the Supreme Court, the Congress, or the President.”

Hence, Clarence Thomas, or more to the point, any more Clarence Thomases on the U.S. Supreme Court, is liberalism’s worst nightmare.

Thomas then spoke of the forces of intimidation which array themselves against anyone who dares to question the accepted dogmas:

“…in December of 1980…I was unwittingly candid with a young Washington Post reporter. He fairly and thoroughly displayed my naive openness in his op-ed about our discussion, in which I had raised what I thought were legitimate objections to a number of sacred policies, such as affirmative action, welfare, school busing – policies that I felt were not well serving their intended beneficiaries. In my innocence, I was shocked at the public reaction. I had never been called such names in my entire life.”

“Why were these policies beyond question? What or who placed them off limits? Would it not be useful for those who felt strongly about these matters, and who wanted to solve the same problems, to have a point of view and to be heard? Sadly, in most forums of public dialogue in this country, the answer is no.”

“It became clear in rather short order that on the very difficult issues such as race there was no real debate or honest discussion. Those who raised questions that suggested doubt about popular policies were subjected to intimidation. Debate was not permitted. Orthodoxy was enforced. When whites questioned the conventional wisdom on these issues, it was considered bad form; when blacks did so, it was treason.”

“…In my humble opinion, those who come to engage in debates of consequence, and who challenge accepted wisdom, should expect to be treated badly. Nonetheless, they must stand undaunted. That is required. And, that should be expected. For, it is bravery that is required to secure freedom.”

“When one observes the pitched battles that rage around persons of strong convictions, who do not accept the prevailing beliefs of others, it is no wonder that those who might otherwise wish to participate find more hospitable outlets for their civic interests…”

“I do believe that we are required to wade into those things that matter most to our country and our culture, no matter what the disincentives are, and no matter the personal cost. There is not one among us who wants to be set upon, or obligated to do and say difficult things. Yet, there is not one of us who could in good conscience stand by and watch a loved one or a defenseless person – or a vital national principle – perish alone, undefended, when our intervention could make all the difference…if we think something is dreadfully wrong, then someone has to do something.”

Justice Thomas then goes on in his speech to enjoin courage in standing for correct principles, and not to succumb to intimidation:

“As I have said, active citizens are often subjected to truly vile attacks; they are branded as mean-spirited, racist, Uncle Tom, homophobic, sexist, etc. To this we often respond (if not succumb), so as not to be constantly fighting, by trying to be tolerant and non-judgmental–i.e., we censor ourselves. This is not civility. It is cowardice, or well intentioned self deception at best.”

I find Justice Clarence Thomas’ wisdom to be on a par with that of the Founders. I get the same sense of clarity and understanding of correct principles from his words as when I contemplate the words of the Founders. My guess is that, like Daniel Webster, Clarence Thomas loves to drink deeply the waters that flow from that fountain of inspired doctrine which was the Founders’ legacy. This is a man cut from similar cloth. If the Founders were great men for their times, then Clarence Thomas is clearly a great man for our times.

So, with Ann Coulter, I say yes, let’s have eight more Clarence Thomases on the U.S. Supreme Court!

The full text of Justice Thomas’ remarks can be accessed here. It is a remarkable speech. A fountain of wisdom for our times. I encourage all to obtain a copy of it, read it, keep it with your copy of the Constitution, and return to it as needed to remind yourself what is required of each of us if we are to preserve our Constitutional Republic.

Let me close with the closing words of Justice Thomas:

“So, this evening, I leave you with this simple exhortation: Be not afraid.”

Posted in Clarence Thomas | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Abortion: America’s Greatest Sin

A long time ago I was the editor of the Nutmeg Political Report (affectionately known as NPR). We wrote opinion pieces which we published via e-mail before anyone had ever heard the term “blog.” Then we would send our publication unsolicited to any e-mail address we could find of persons in politics, academia, etc. before anyone ever heard the term “spam.” This article was published on 08/13/00. I think it’s worth publishing again.

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“The Republican Party has this hang-up about sex. Every time it tries to act like a modern institution, it stumbles over its Victorian morality and ends up looking absurd.”

So begins David S. Broder’s recent piece in the Courant (08/01/00). He went on to mock Republicans, or more precisely, conservative Republicans, for their insistence on maintaining their pro-life position on abortion, their opposition to failed sex education programs, and their refusal to embrace the homosexual cultural and political agenda.

Just for openers, since “choice” (what a ludicrous and disingenuous euphemism), sex education, and the homosexual agenda all have a home in the Democrat Party, why the obsession with re-making the Republican Party in the image of their sworn ideological enemies? And why is it that only the Republicans are expected to modify their platform to conform to liberal dogmas? Is the criticism of the Republicans by liberal columnists balanced by similar criticism of the Democrats? Name for me, if you will, which planks in the Democrat platform liberals in that party are being hounded and ridiculed about for their unwillingness to modify so as to accommodate conservative beliefs.

There are none, of course. And there never will be. Democrats are judged by a different standard than are Republicans. But I think it is instructive to note that if the so-called “pro-choice” minions could have their way they would remove the pro-life plank from the Republican platform and deny millions of pro-lifers…dare I say it…? Choice.

I am pro-choice. I believe that a woman should have the right to choose what she does or does not do with her own body. But everyone knows that sex is inextricably linked with procreation. And once a woman has freely chosen to involve herself in those activities by which the spark of human life is struck, she enters a higher realm of natural law and its concomitant duties. By her actions, she has willingly invited another human being to leave the presence of God and come into this life. She has now taken upon herself the most sacred responsibility in all of creation: motherhood.

The often heard but not often questioned pro-abortion argument that a pregnant woman’s right to abort follows from her right to control her own body is a cunning deception in that it is a blend of truth and the purposeful omission of truth. By virtue of her decision to step over the threshold and enter in to the sacred temple of life, she has exercised her right to choose. She has become a partner with God in the creation of life; she has beckoned a new soul to come forth. And now there is not just the woman, now there are two souls within the one body, her own, and that of another – a child of God. Two souls, two bodies, two beings. Not just one. This is the purposeful omission of truth in the “pro-choice” deceit.

The woman does and ought to have control of her own body. But to leap from that truth to the proposition that by virtue of her right to control her own body she therefore also has a right to vivisect and destroy the child residing within is sheer evil. The higher laws of life dictate that her right to choose has now been modified by virtue of her own choice. Millions of Americans hold this truth to be self-evident.

The “pro-choice” argument is the greatest and most damnable lie of our time.  Only a conscience coarsened by years of moral light mindedness could not know that. There can be no right among a civilized people to willfully, deliberately, cruelly destroy an innocent helpless child in the womb. This is a crime of unspeakable proportions. This is barbarism. In America, it has long ago become a sin of holocaust proportions.

Life is one of the unalienable rights recognized by the Founders in the Declaration of Independence. Life is unalienable because it is given to each individual by God. Among the limited powers granted to our government under the Constitution is the power and duty to protect the unalienable rights of each of it’s citizens. This is one of the most fundamental reasons that legitimate governments exist.

To the extent each of us has unalienable rights, each of us also has an unalienable duty to promote, to uphold, to demand the protection of those rights for all. We are our brother’s keeper. It is my opinion that a people who are unwilling to defend those rights, not only for themselves but for their fellow man as well, will ultimately be found by the natural order of things to be unfit to retain them for themselves.

Millions of Americans recognize that abortion is an infanticidal assault on the unalienable right to life of the unborn child, and it is among their deepest convictions that they have a God-given duty to defend the defenseless, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, to contend for and uphold the unalienable rights of those who are inexplicably considered by some to be the least among us. It is on this basis that they oppose abortion.

But for those who are so callous, so morally weak, or so fundamentally dishonest that they are capable of embracing the “pro-choice” lie, it is evidently not beneath them to lie also about the motivation of those who oppose this great evil. By their snide portrayals of the defenders of life as intellectually dysfunctional Victorians from a benighted past who are hung up about sex, who want the government snooping in every bedroom, by their invoking images of coat hangers in back alleys and similar tactics, they attempt to reduce the high mindedness of the vast majority of the defenders of life to little more than a vulgar strain of religiously induced psychosis. In doing so they reveal much more of the truth about themselves than about those they scorn.

Those who oppose the death penalty seem also to be almost uniformly “pro-choice”. They often insist that executions should be public, believing that people would lose their stomach for capital punishment if they could see its results. What if all of those who support “choice” could see babies being killed in the womb? Would not the same principle apply? Do you think you would retain your “pro-choice” credentials if you could actually see what it is you are supporting? If you could actually see the child’s reaction as it is being put to death?

Speaking of the passing last year of Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, author of the ruling that opened the floodgates of legal abortions in America, Pres. Clinton paraphrased the prophet Micah: “He did justice, he loved mercy, and now he walks humbly with his God.”

The question the President’s statement begs is obvious: Where is the justice, where was the mercy, for all those millions of souls whose journey from the presence of God into mortality was brutally terminated in the wombs of their mothers? And can any honest person really believe that our Father in heaven smiles upon those who have done such things to His innocent children while their blood cries from the grave for the mercy and the justice that Harry Blackmun denied them?

We will all, Harry Blackmun and David Broder included, face a Supreme Court one day. Is it possible that we will then learn to our everlasting shame that all of those “fetuses” were real people, and that they will each be permitted to testify as to what was done to them, and will bear witness against all those who not only performed these evil deeds, but also all those who were philosophically complicit?

No, Mr. Broder, it’s not about sex at all. It’s about right and wrong. And it’s about our future. Whether the issue be abortion, sex education, or the homosexual political and cultural agenda, each has serious moral implications for our culture and our republic that can only be glossed over or dismissed or denied if we would place our future in great peril.

Try as you will to misrepresent and to marginalize those with whom you disagree, you will not ultimately prevail. Try as you will to belittle and to besmear those who question these things, and who steadfastly refuse to embrace them, as merely hung up on sex, or mean spirited, or prudish, or ignorant, or phobic, you will not ultimately prevail. Your characterizations of them are not founded in the truth, and they will not long stand. Nor will the causes you espouse because they are wrong. Lies and those who embrace them, while they may have their season, are always, in time, discovered, vetted and judged in the irresistible and inescapable light of reality and truth.

May God have mercy on us for what we have done to millions of His little ones in the name of “choice.”

Posted in Abortion, Constitution | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Tithing Cut for the Rich

We hear the mantra “tax cuts for the rich” over and over again. The Bush tax cuts, we are repetitively told, favored the wealthy. And Republicans, because they passed “tax cuts for the rich,” are for the 1% while Democrats, who opposed those “tax cuts for the rich,” are for the 99%. Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal tax advocacy group, illustrates the argument this way:

Now comes the Romney-Ryan team and their proposal for tax cuts. Mitt Romney characterizes his tax plan as follows: Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates. In other words, he proposes a 20% tax cut for everyone who pays federal income taxes.

Everyone. Across the board.

President Obama and his fellow Democrats, sure as the sun came up this morning, calls Romney’s proposal “a tax cut for the rich.” The President says “the bulk of this tax cut would go to the very top…a lot of it going to the wealthiest 1% of all households.” The way the President puts it, it sounds really unfair. But is it? That depends on your point of reference, and your point of reference depends on the moral compass that guides you.

The matter is easily understood with a little demonstration.

Is Romney actually proposing a tax cut that unfairly favors the wealthy?

To keep this simple, I will answer the question and make my point by using the principle of the tithe to illustrate. The Lord’s tithe is a very simple 10% of an earner’s income. The tithe is the same percentage for everyone, no matter how much or how little they earn.

We will compare two tithe payers: Steve, who earned $3,000,000 last year, and Bill, who earned $30,000. Steve paid $300,000, while Bill paid $3,000 in tithes. Of course, Steve earned 100 times more than Bill and, consequently, paid 100 times more in tithes.

Now, let’s imagine what would happen if the Lord let it be known that he was calling for an across the board reduction of 20% in the tithe. In other words, he was reducing the tithe from 10% to 8% for all tithe payers. That would reduce Steve’s tithe from $300,000 to $240,000, a tithing cut of $60,000. Bill would see his tithe reduced from $3,000 to $2,400, a tithing cut of $600.

There are two ways you can look at this tithing cut. You can either say “it is fair and equitable to both Steve and Bill because they were treated equally, the tithing percentage was reduced by an equal amount for each of them,” or you can say “this is a tithing cut which favors the rich because Steve saw a $60,000 cut while Bill only saw a $600 cut.”

This is the essence of the charge that the Romney tax cut proposal, like the Bush tax cuts, is a tax cut for the rich. The Romney proposal is to cut marginal federal income tax rates by 20% across the board for everyone who pays federal incomes taxes. This proposal would treat everyone equally. But the dollar amounts would differ depending on a person’s taxable income.

The moral linchpin upon which this debate turns is this: which should we institutionalize in our laws in America? Equality of treatment of all people? Or equality of outcomes?

Equality of treatment of all people is the American ideal, and is morally right. Equality of outcomes, imposed by compulsory rather than by voluntary means, is tyranny, and is morally repugnant.

“Tax cuts for the rich” has an unseemly appeal for some Americans. But it is the mantra of cunning demagogues who are determined to bury the traditional American ideal of equality under the law by imposing equality of outcomes under the law. Whether or not America continues to be the shining city on a hill will depend on how many of us recognize the demagoguery and reject it at the polls.

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Perceptions: The Romney/Obama Clash on Foreign Policy

The clash between Mitt Romney and the Obama administration over the assaults on our embassies in Egypt and Libya and the murder of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others has provided a stark contrast between two fundamentally different views of American governance.

Romney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s initial response to the assaults on the U.S. Embassies in Cairo and Benghazi has drawn fire from both friend and foe alike:

“The foolishness of Romney’s reaction is glaring. Pretending that the statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo was anything other than a completely understandable and reasonable attempt by its occupants to save their own lives borders on disgraceful. Romney’s implication that the statement was issued at the height of the attacks is also false; it was actually released earlier in the day, a preventive measure aimed at keeping the protests from turning violent” (Mitt’s Shameful Libya Statement, Salon.com).

“I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors, say in the past few hours, perhaps since last night,” (Peggy) Noonan told Fox News. “Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go…I was thinking as he spoke, I think I belong to the old school of thinking that in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and in times when something violent has happened to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go,” Noonan said. “When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you’re always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically” (Noonan: Romney not Helping Himself, Politico.com).

First, a timeline: With protestors evidently gathering outside, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued the following statement on Tuesday morning:

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

Then, throughout the day, the embassy stood by its original statement with a series of tweets, even after their security had been breached and the embassy stormed:

@USEmbassyCairo “This morning’s condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy” 11 Sep 12

On Tuesday evening Romney released the following statement:

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Which is precisely what Administration officials in Cairo did throughout the day on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday evening (10:10 p.m.), the Obama administration disavowed the statements of its Cairo Embassy:

“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.”

After the Obama administration’s disavowal of its Embassy’s statement, the tweets were all deleted.

On Wednesday, Romney defended his statement of the previous evening:

“The embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached, protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead, when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”

I agree. But Romney’s response to the attack on America gives me hope that maybe in Romney we have a leader who takes American national security seriously. Consider the following:

“Islamist militants armed with antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, late Tuesday, killing the American ambassador and three members of his staff and raising questions about the radicalization of countries swept up in the Arab Spring.”
American and European officials said that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning. But the officials cautioned that it was too soon to tell whether the attack was related to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks” (Libya Attack Brings Challenges for U.S., New York Times, 9/12/12).

How could it be that on a day so portentous as September 11 that our embassy in Benghazi could be “lightly defended”? What does this say about the Obama Administration? How could it be that the attackers “seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning” and yet the Obama Administration was caught flat-footed on September 11, 2012? The New York Times article continues:

“But a Libyan politician who had breakfast with Mr. Stevens at the mission the morning before he was killed described security, mainly four video cameras and as few as four Libyan guards, as sorely inadequate for an American ambassador in such a tumultuous environment” (Ibid)

This, I fear, is the state of American security at home and abroad under the current administration.

Maybe the lack of seriousness with regard to security at our embassies in Cairo and Benghazi has something to do with the fact that President Obama displays only a half interest in daily intelligence briefings. An analysis of the President’s first 1,225 days in office from January 23, 2009 through May 31, 2012 reveals that the President was in attendance at less than half of the Presidential Daily Briefs. An article in the Washington Post cites this study and adds that President George W. Bush “almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.” It might not be a stretch to suggest that President Obama attends more fundraisers than intelligence briefings. In fact, after the President delivered his Wednesday morning Rose Garden comments on the American deaths in Libya, he was off to Las Vegas for a scheduled fundraiser.

The criticisms of Romney are

1. That he reacted too quickly. But when you are a Republican/conservative politician, you’re going to be criticized no matter what you do. Remember the vilifying George Bush took from the Left because he showed restraint for seven minutes after learning of the attack on the World Trade Center? Romney’s reaction was timely, firm, and highly appropriate.

2. The Salon.com piece charges Romney with being “fundamentally dishonest.” They point to two PolitiFact posts, one which parses the word “apology” and another the term “apology tour” to argue that some “experts” don’t agree with Romney’s use of these terms because neither Obama nor administration officials ever actually said the words “I’m sorry.” Therefore, they conclude, Romney is a liar for characterizing the Embassy’s statements as an “apology.” But would these same people argue that a crime is not a hate crime unless the perpetrator says “I hate you” while committing it? I don’t think so.

To deny that Obama has not been apologizing for his country because he didn’t actually say the words “I’m sorry” is absurd. I am reminded of the oft recalled lawyerly parsing of former President Bill Clinton who, in his deposition in the investigation that led to his impeachment, proffered “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” As to whether or not the Obama Administration has a track record of apologizing for America, the liberals are modeling their debate tactics after those of Slick Willie, arguing that it depends on what the meaning of “apologize” is.

Romney did not lie, nor was he precipitous in his reaction to the assault on American sovereignty. He showed himself to be a principled leader with the courage to defend America. But more importantly, Romney’s response showed the nation and the world that we are in great peril with a weak, disengaged, and equivocating president in the White House, and that we have, for the first time in a very long time, a real choice in November.

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