Saturday, April 25, 2009

A random thought on welcoming dictators

All the discussion that was going on last week about meeting with people like Hugo Chavez reminded me of something. Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union while President Benson was serving as our Secretary of Agriculture, came to visit the United States. President Benson said this about his visit during a 1966 talk at BYU:

"It may surprise you to learn that I was host to Mr. Khrushchev for a half day when he visited the United States, not that I'm proud of it. I opposed his coming then and I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor."

It's amazing how many topics the Apostles have talked about, if you are looking for it...while I would consider it a statement of President Benson's opinion rather than a statement of church policy, it does give some insight into how he felt about befriending some of the evil leaders of the world.

I highly recommend watching the warning that President Benson gave in that talk:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An attack on the Constitution

The US Department of Homeland Security recently released a report about "rightwing extremist" domestic terrorist groups in our country. I was rather surprised to read one definition in it:

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are...rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority."

I found that particularly interesting, given the tenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

"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."

Why do I care to post this? I hope you recognize just how dangerous the idea expressed in this report is. Effectively, the most powerful law enforcement department in our government is telling law enforcement officers that people who believe in the Constitution are probable terrorists. Why would the DHS find the Constitutional principle of State sovereignty extremist? It is the Constitution that gives the federal government its authority, and it is also the Constitutionthat sets limits on the federal government. Government "by the people" can only work when the power of government is kept close to the people. Unfortunately, some very influential people do NOT like the idea of you keeping the power close to yourselves...They seem to believe it rightfully belongs concentrated in their hands. When the government itself considers people who believe in the principles of the Constitution to be a dangerous threat, can we doubt that the Constitution is "hanging by a thread"?

If my belief in State's rights makes me a potential terrorist, then call me a potential terrorist. I reject the notion that the federal government is superior to the states, and I am proud of the company I stand with in that belief:

Thomas Jefferson: "The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants."

James Madison: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce...The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

Ezra Taft Benson: "It is well to remember that the people of the states of this republic created the federal government. The federal government did not create the states." "I believe that each state is sovereign in performing those functions reserved to it by the Constitution, and it is destructive to our federal system and the right of self-government guaranteed under the Constitution for the federal government to regulate or control the states in performing their functions or to engage in performing such functions itself."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thoughts on Conference

Naturally, since this blog is focused on how our religion and our country's liberty are related, I'll be writing about what I thought was related to our efforts to preserve our liberty...

President Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood session jumped out at me the most. He told about an airline flight that was headed for Florida. As the pilots prepared for their final approach to their destination airport, they noticed the light that should indicate the nose landing gear was down was not on. They started circling their plane over the Everglades while they tried to figure out what was wrong with the nose gear. While their attention was focused on that problem, the plane was gradually losing altitude. It eventually crashed, and all on board were killed. The investigation into the crash later found that absolutely nothing was wrong with the landing gear, but the indicator light in the cockpit was burned out. President Uchtdorf then spoke on focusing on what was most important (like an airplane's altitude, if you're a pilot), versus what is less important (like a burned-out light bulb).

I think we can easily lose track of what's most important in our fight to preserve our liberty as well. We often focus on winning an election, or passing some legislation. Some of these things end up feeling like playing a game of whack-a-mole (we knock down homosexual "marriage" in California, so it pops right back up in Iowa...) Those efforts are certainly important. But, the Lord's promises about this nation's liberty are clear:

"And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever." 1 Ne 2:7

In the fight for liberty, righteousness is what is most important. Even if we win every battle we fight on elections and policies, without preserving the righteousness of the people the war for liberty will be lost. This puts the responsibility squarely on myself: My first priority must be to set my own spiritual house in order. Without that, my other efforts will be of little consequence. My second priority should be to teach and encourage my friends and neighbors to make righteous choices. Of course, that will include encouraging them to make liberty-supporting (and therefore righteous) political decisions, but it also needs to include trying to lead them to make righteous decisions in other areas. If we don't stop the constant decline in individual morality in this country, our fight for freedom will be a losing battle.