Monday, October 20, 2008

Legalized Gay "Marriage": Its Impact on Religious Freedom in America

This article was published at LDS Living Online 10/17/08. It is written by Susan Noyes Anderson about the Gay Marriage Amendment in her state. Many states (including mine, AZ) have similar measures on their ballots this election. Her points about the ramifications of legalized gay "marriage" are poignant and frightening. Here is her article:

"Warning: This is not a "politically correct" post, at least where I live, but I feel obligated to make a statement of my beliefs and concerns about Proposition 8 due to its critical importance in this election.

I'll begin by affirming that I have no bias against gay individuals or groups per se and that I respect them as friends and associates. Neither do I oppose domestic partner statutes affording them any and all legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples in a marriage relationship. (Family Code 297.5) What I do oppose, specifically, is changing the legal definition of marriage to anything other than between a man and a woman. Here's how I see it. Domestic partnership is a newer status, engendered (and rightfully so) to support/protect the rights of same-sex couples. Marriage, on the other hand, is an ancient institution with well-established parameters developed more years ago than any of us would want to count and supporting/protecting not just the relationship between a man and a woman but the children that naturally result from the biological nature of such a union.

It is my deeply held belief that marriage is ordained of God as a sort of three-way contract with Him, made by a man and a woman who wish to welcome God's spirit children into their home. It is also my deeply held belief that no man or woman has a "right" to expand or redefine an institution as set forth by God. His law is not ours to change. We have no authority, as the California Supreme Court apparently believes it has, to "legislate from the bench."

Of course, I understand that not every American or Californian agrees with me, and I have no problem with that at all. There are many, however, who do agree. A number of people in our country (myself included) view marriage as a sacred estate whose purpose, at base, is procreation. Countless more, while not seeing this as a religious issue, are simply opposed to the idea of making marriage an umbrella category for every type of pairing entered into by committed individuals. In their purely secular view, marriage is marriage and domestic partnership is domestic partnership...historically, two different things. Indeed, why imbue an already established word, "marriage," with new definitions? It becomes confusing. Such new definitions, arguably, are best served by an equally new word. Should an e-mail address have the same nomenclature as a url? They are both internet addresses, but the dynamic, the process, and the end result of their use differs. Specificity in naming them, therefore, makes sense.

Other groups who support Proposition 8 are concerned about the manner in which a liberal state Supreme Court stepped in to overturn a law voted on and put in place by the people of California. Furthermore, a number of legal experts feel that the Court's ruling has established gay individuals as a "protected class." This status would likely make it difficult for individuals who are not gay to prevail in lawsuits where religious rights and gay rights come into conflict. Recently a doctor, whose personal religious views and conscience did not permit him to inseminate a lesbian woman, was sued by her and lost, even though another doctor agreed to perform the procedure. She had alternatives, in other words, but she was not satisfied with them. This suggests to me that the purpose of her suit was to satisfy one thing and one thing only: the need to see her rights as a gay person prevail over this man's right to freedom in practicing his religion according to his conscience. In all fairness, whose rights would be most violated here? Does his choice keep her from being inseminated as a lesbian woman? No. Does her choice to sue him (and win) keep him from practicing his beliefs (and medicine) as a religious man? Yes. She has other options. He does not. And yet, her rights prevailed...a harbinger, many people believe, of things to come. At the very least, a legal precedent has been set.

Another potential problem has been seen in Boston, where gay marriage is already legal. Catholic Charities has closed down operations there because it cannot arrange adoptions for same-sex couples and still maintain integrity with Catholic beliefs. Even though same-sex couples could have used other adoption agencies, the operative agenda was to see a gay person's right to adopt win out over the Catholic church's right to practice its religion and manage its adoption agencies in accordance with its core beliefs. Once again, religious rights lost the battle where there should be no battle at all. In essence, the right of gay couples to adopt at ANY agency they might want to approach was deemed more important than the right of an agency (run and based upon the Catholic religion and its tenets) to self-determine in accordance with its core beliefs. The Church was forced to either surrender its own rights or shut down. In this instance at least, gay rights trumped the rights of a religious group or individual. Where is the justice in that, especially if it becomes the national precedent? Where is the justice in having schools (at best) validate and (at worst) present ideas of marriage and family that are directly contrary to parents' religious beliefs? Should churches be sued if they refuse to allow same-sex marriages in their religious buildings that are open to the public? These are all concerns of mine.

More than a few opponents of Proposition 8 label any person who supports the idea that only a man and a woman should be eligible for marriage as a "hater." Those who espouse same-sex marriage too frequently view those who oppose it as (best case) homophobic and (worst case) bigots who want to deny the rights of fellow citizens simply because their lifestyle does not agree with more traditional views. Both of these assumptions are patently unfair. What's more, they worry me, for they suggest that views based upon religion are now being classed with views based on racism, ageism, or other prejudices. Religion is not a prejudice, it's a right, as valid and sacred as any other. Yet, opinions based on religious belief have become suspect, and the right to exercise religion is becoming somehow "less worthy" than other rights. People do have a right to act in accordance with their religious beliefs, and those beliefs should be respected, not suspected.

Contrary to (some) popular opinion, it is entirely possible to believe that men should not "marry" men and women should not "marry" women without bearing any malice at all toward the men and women in question. I fully support their right to form loving, committed unions under the protection of fair and equitable domestic partnership laws. For me, supporting Proposition 8 is simply about believing that marriage as an institution is ordained of God, between a man and a woman, with procreation as its greatest end. Period."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Pride Cycle

The pride cycle as it applies to democracies. Where would you say we are right now?

"1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence;

8. From dependency back into bondage.”

I'd say number 7, teetering on the plunge to number 8. Heaven help us. Please.

Read the source for this quote here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Man, One Woman

I hadn't considered the ramifications that legalized gay marriage would have on our schools. Absolutely frightening.

Watch your credit card statements for fraud

NORTH KANSAS CITY, MO. -- A North Kansas City couple has been left scratching their heads after they became the victims of a political scam.

Steve and Rachel Larman say a strange credit card charge appeared on their statement this month -- a $2300 donation to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The Larman's say they don't want this to be about their political affiliation, but they say they're not about to give the Obama campaign any help from their pocketbook. Read the rest of the story...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

3rd Nephi

One particular scripture stood out to me today as I was reading. I thought I'd share it with you.
"Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship and their freedom and their liberty." 3 Nephi 2:12

Monday, October 13, 2008

General Conference

General Conference was a spiritual feast. It usually is, but I found this one to be particularly edifying. I'm so thankful for inspired leaders. Here are a few quotes I found particularly interesting:

"It is my purpose to show that in troubled times the Lord has always prepared a safe way ahead. We live in those “perilous times” which the Apostle Paul prophesied would come in the last days.1 If we are to be safe individually, as families, and secure as a church, it will be through “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel".” President Boyd K. Packer of The Quorum of The Twelve Apostles, General Conference Oct. 2008

"We see increased conflict between peoples in the world around us. Those divisions and differences could infect us. That is why my message of hope today is that a great day of unity is coming. The Lord Jehovah will return to live with those who have become His people and will find them united, of one heart, unified with Him and with our Heavenly Father.

I bear you my solemn witness that the unity we now experience will increase. God the Father lives. He hears and answers our prayers in love. The Savior Jesus Christ, resurrected and glorious, lives and reaches out to us in mercy. This is His true Church. President Monson is the living prophet of God. If we are united in sustaining him with all our hearts, with willing obedience to do what God would have us do, we will move together in power to go wherever God would have us go and to become what He wants us to be." President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, General Conference, Oct. 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Excerpt from an Article in Meridian Magazine

....It's not your imagination, grocery prices are up, up, up. Experts expect this trend to continue for at least the next five years. ....

The consumer price index for food increased 0.7 percent in August and is now 7.5 percent above last August. ... (continue reading stats)

We have known the Lord's stand on preparedness since long before the restoration. Paul wrote to Timothy, “ If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
- 1 Timothy 5:8.

Every modern day prophet since Brigham Young has warned us that we need to be storing food and preparing for a time of scarcity. I have thought of the Latter-day Saints during the "great depression" and wondered if to some degree they, like so many of us, ignored the prophet's counsel.

Referring to the plague of crickets which nearly destroyed the crops of the early saints, Brigham Young advised:
“View the actions of the Latter-day Saints on this matter, and their neglect of the counsel given; and suppose the Lord would allow these insects to destroy our crops this season and the next, what would be the result? I can see death, misery and want on the faces of this people.

“ But some may say, ‘ I have faith the Lord will turn them away. ' What ground have we to hope this? Have I any good reason to say to my Father in heaven, ‘ Fight my battles, ' when He has given me the sword to wield, the arm and the brain that I can fight for myself? Can I ask Him to fight my battles and sit quietly down waiting for Him to do so? I cannot. I can pray the people to hearken to wisdom, to listen to counsel; but to ask God to do for me that which I can do for myself is preposterous to my mind. ”
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, quoted in Victor L. Brown, “Prepare Every Needful Thing,” Ensign, November 1980.

More recently we have been warned:
“ Should evil times come, many might wish they had filled all their fruit bottles and cultivated a garden in their backyards and planted a few fruit trees and berry bushes and provided for their own commodity needs. The Lord planned that we would be independent of every creature, but we note even many farmers buy their milk from dairies and home owners buy their garden vegetables from the store. And should the trucks fail to fill the shelves of the stores, many would go hungry.”
Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1974.

There is still time to fill our fruit bottles. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere you need to start now to plan and plant. For those of us approaching winter we need to hurry and seek out opportunities to glean or share with those who have canned all they need from their gardens and are now ready to give food away. Don't be afraid to knock on the door of a neighbor whose fruit is falling on the ground. They might love some help getting the fruit or veggies picked and be more than willing to let you keep part or all of it. No time or resources for canning - then create a plan and begin buying.

President Hinckley warned us immediately following the attack of September 11th that hard times were coming. He knew our economy was going to take a dive, and now it has. Did we listen? Some did.

"Occasions of this kind pull us up sharply to a realization that life is fragile, peace is fragile, civilization itself is fragile. The economy is particularly vulnerable. We have been counseled again and again concerning self-reliance, concerning debt, concerning thrift. So many of our people are heavily in debt for things that are not entirely necessary. When I was a young man, my father counseled me to build a modest home, sufficient for the needs of my family, and make it beautiful and attractive and pleasant and secure. He counseled me to pay off the mortgage as quickly as I could so that, come what may, there would be a roof over the heads of my wife and children. I was reared on that kind of doctrine. I urge you as members of this Church to get free of debt where possible and to have a little laid aside against a rainy day. We cannot provide against every contingency. But we can provide against many contingencies. Let the present situation remind us that this we should do. As we have been continuously counseled for more than 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time in case of need. But let us not panic nor go to extremes. Let us be prudent in every respect. And, above all, my brothers and sisters, let us move forward with faith in the Living God and His Beloved Son."
Gordon B. Hinckley , “The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 72.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

America's Faith

Regrettably, the War of 1812 is known as the “forgotten war.” Though it is true that it may not be as well remembered by our people, its effects upon our county still echo throughout our land every day. It was out of those dark and bleak circumstances that we defined America and her future. The War of 1812 not only gave birth to our national anthem, but it defined our identity and solidified that fervent patriotism that would become the legacy of our young country. We found the strength of character in our victory and proved to the world that we would endure; that this American experiment was no longer an experiment but the beacon that would lead the world in the pursuit of freedom and prosperity.

During the War of 1812, our morning of hope came only after a long night of darkness. That darkness culminated in the “Burning of Washington” where the British invaded Washington, D.C. and burned many public buildings including the White House. That night a hurricane moved in as if by the hand of God with entrenching rains and even a tornado to put out the fires and push the British back to their ships.

The next move for the British was to mount what they expected to be a fateful attack on Baltimore. On September 11, 1814 the British fleet arrived by sea signaling the land attack by the awaiting troops on land. The British troops attacked at 10:00 AM that morning of September 11 but were surprisingly beaten by the American troops. The British troops retreated and awaited the sea attack by the Navy. However, the British ships were unable to enter the Baltimore Harbor to mount an attack on the city. In anticipation of the British attack, the Americans had sunken 24 of their valuable merchant ships across the mouth of the harbor to prevent the British entrance. Being unable to enter the harbor, the British attacked Fort McHenry instead. On the morning of September 13th, nineteen British ships began the assault on Fort McHenry. Throughout the day and on through the night, for the next 25 hours the British ships fired on the American fort. During the attack a small American “storm flag” flew over Fort McHenry. But the following morning, the Americans hoisted the huge 30’ x 42’ American flag which had been specially made for the anticipated British attack. It was that morning of September 14th, with giant Old Glory flying over Fort McHenry, that the Americans won the decisive battle of the War and turned the tables of fate to victory.

It was also that morning of September 14th that Francis Scott Key caught a glimpse of the massive Old Glory and penned the poem that would eventually become our national anthem. Key had been held by the British on one of their ships until the attack was over. He had to wait out that long night of bombing. “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.” Although he could not see the flag during that night, Key knew that as long as the attack continued, the Americans were not defeated. The continued attack was a continued sign of the American’s determination to win the battle.

One cannot recall these accounts of the War of 1812 and not think of their paralleled events of recent. It was also on September 11 at 10:00 AM that the first of the two twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed due to the awful attack on our country. We suffered much doubt, fear, and pain in the days following. Just as Francis Scott Key found hope in the flag waiving over the fort, it was also on September 14th that we pulled from the wreckage of rubble a surviving American flag. It was the flag that was flying over the main plaza of the World Trade Center when it collapsed. Though tattered and torn, we held that flag as a sacred survivor. We also hung two giant flags, one on a building at ground zero and one on the Pentagon, just as the soldiers of Ft. McHenry, in defiance to our enemies and as a symbol of our eventual victory.

These experiences, both from September of 1814 and 2001, are gems for the generations of America. They are tangible evidence of our national character and faith. We know that victory comes at the cost of sacrifice. Our country has always been filled with patriots who were willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole. We have been willing to “sink the ships” of sacrifice to secure the victory. And we have.

We should never forget what makes America exceptional and what has carried us through to victory time and time again. America will always face three different kinds of enemies: enemies foreign, domestic, and economic. With the current problems we face, we should never doubt. We should never despair. We have been in impossible times before facing each of these three seemingly impossible enemies. Victory has been our legacy and it will be our future if we can hold fast to the faiths that have made us great.

America has always held to three great faiths for strength in defeating our three enemies. The first is our faith in God. From the Declaration of Independence and through each storm we have passed, we have trusted in the “Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” Our motto, “In God We Trust,” is not meant to be idle lip service but a sacred declaration of our faith. If our founders recognized God’s sustaining influence in the birth of our country, how could we ever doubt after witnessing our long legacy of prosperity and blessings. In our troubled times, we have always trusted God for our protection, preservation, and prosperity. We have placed our motto on our currency, and our continued trust in God’s hand and acknowledgement of his sustaining power is the currency by which we can purchase our future protection, preservation, and prosperity.

Our second source of power is our continued faith in our people. We carry a faith in the virtue of our people. We know that ordinary Americans are exceptional, and that they, not our government, are the true source of our greatness. The collective contributions of everyone and not a select few create our national synergy. We believe in each other. We know that when the American people are united in a common cause, no road block will stop us. Our persistence and hard work can accomplish the seemingly impossible and trump overwhelming foes. The day we lose faith in our people to govern ourselves is the day we are shattered into helpless multitudes of floundering factions. We must not fail to have faith in our neighbors across our country. We must remember that although many shall fall from our lofty responsibilities, the backbone of our country is good and that opposition will bring out the heroic in our people.

Our third great faith is placed in our system: freedom. Our system is not pure anarchic freedom, but is coupled with a strict moral code, responsibility to the whole, and accountability. Our system is that of equal opportunity and not equal outcome. Freedom and opportunity are the mother of our ingenuity and success. With these as our tools, there is not a problem for which we will not find a solution. We realize that great success can be born of lessons learned from failures. It is not the extremely talented, the gifted intellect, or the noble birthright that are blindly rewarded in our system but persistence and hard work. Though our economic system is inherently cyclical, it is successful. We have in the past and will in the future pass through tough economic and political times. But, the answer to our trials is not to change the system, but to weather the storm and find the real solutions that will lead us through and on to prosperity without breaking the system. Our economic system is living and it changes directions and shifts resources from one sector to another. We need to have the faith in it to allow it to make these changes and adjustments. No, it is not comfortable, but it is necessary if we want to progress. For over two hundred years, we have experienced that on the other side of every downturn is an upturn. Consistently we have been carried from one valley to a peak, from one slump to the next breakthrough. Our pattern is a forward consistency of growth and success. May we leave it alone, and it will ever be so.

Our future path to victory over our enemies foreign, domestic, and economic has been paved by our past. Though the enemies may change, the victory will always be forged with America’s faith and determination. We must secure and strengthen our faith in God, our people, and our system. Each time we see Old Glory, may we remember what three faiths keep her flying over our land. If we will secure America’s faith, we may be assured that no matter how dark and bleak the night, no matter how ferocious and long the attack, when the morning dawn breaks we will see Old Glory flying over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Jared Kimball Turner

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thoughts of a conservative Christian

I found this article very interesting. Here's a snippet...

"...predictions in the event the junior Senator from Illinois becomes President and especially if the House and Senate are veto proof.

1). Strict new gun laws will be enacted even though he promised he would not.

2). The phrase “In God We Trust” will be removed from all currency.

3). He will back away from his pledge to Israel and leave them to the wolves of Islam.

4). Hillary Clinton will be named to the Supreme Court.

5). Tax rates will return to their highest levels in 30 years.

6). The capital gains tax will be at least double current levels.

7). Retired Army General Wesley Clark will be named Secretary of Defense.

8). The borders will be ‘basically open’ to all comers. Especially those from the Middle East and South America.

9). Amnesty will be granted to all illegals now in the U.S

10). The war in Iraq will be brought to an abrupt end and the results will be tragic and the consequences to our military will be devastating."

Read the whole article...