Thursday, September 19, 2013

Religious Freedom video

Religious Freedom


"If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.

“It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:498–99; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on July 9, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois.)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reagan quote

Ronald Reagan said, "The Founding Fathers—that little band of men so advanced beyond their time that the world has never seen their like since—evolved a government based on the idea that you and I have the God-given right and ability within ourselves to determine our own destiny.”

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day post


Gen. Robert E. Lee was one day walking through the snow. His oldest of seven children, still a lad at the time, was mimicking every step his father took; he stepped in the same footprints as his dad. General Lee later recalled, "When I saw this, I said to myself, It behooves me to walk very straight when this fellow is already following in my tracks."

That story reminds me of a poem I read many years ago. I'm not sure who the author is. The poem goes like this:


A careful man I ought to be
A little boy follows me
I dare not ever go astray
For fear he’ll go the self same way.

I must remember as I go,
Through summers heat and winter’s snow
I’m building for the years to be
The little chap who follows me

I cannot once escape his eyes,
What ere he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be
This little chap who follows me.


We all can be good examples to those around us, whether we're fathers or not. May we each recognize that there is always someone looking to our example and looking to us to be leaders. Sometimes the title of "Father" isn't alone given to one who bears children, although that's one of the most significant and important roles in life. No, sometimes "Father" is reserved for leaders, like General and later President George Washington, the Father of our Nation, or James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, or all of America's Founding Fathers.

Finally, in a society that is increasingly fatherless and too often exhibits a disturbing trend of cultural emasculation towards men and boys, let us remember to rise up and be the kind of men and fathers whom our mothers would be proud to call sons.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion


Transcript: Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Transcript of a speech given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Canterbury Medal Dinner in New York City, 16 May 2013

Distinguished guests and fellow workers in the cause of religious freedom: I am profoundly grateful for the Canterbury Medal you have bestowed on me. Just to have my work associated with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a great honor, which is magnified by this opportunity to speak to what is surely the most influential audience I have ever addressed on this subject.
I.
        I begin with a truth that is increasingly challenged: Religious teachings and religious organizations are vital to our free society and therefore deserving of its special legal protection.
        Our country’s robust private sector of charitable works originated with and is still sponsored most significantly by religious organizations and religious impulses. This includes education, hospitals, care for the poor, and countless other charities of great value to our country.
        Many of the most significant moral advances in Western society have been motivated by religious principles and persuaded to official adoption by pulpit preaching. Examples include the abolition of the slave trade in England and the Emancipation Proclamation in this country. The same is true of the Civil Rights movement of the last half-century. These great advances were not motivated and moved by secular ethics or persons who believed in moral relativism. They were driven primarily by persons who had a clear religious vision of what was morally right.
        Our society is not held together primarily by law and its enforcement, but most importantly by those who voluntarily obey the unenforceable because of their internalized norms of righteous or correct behavior. Religious belief in right and wrong is a vital influence to produce such voluntary compliance by a large number of our citizens. President George Washington spoke of this reality in his farewell address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports,” he said. “Reason and experience both forbid us to ex­pect that national morality can prevail in ex­clusion of religious principle.”[1]
        Over 200 years later, in 1998, Congress enacted a law that formally declares: “The right to freedom of religion under­girds the very origin and existence of the United States.”[2] That law formally associates our nation with the truth voiced by Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth:
        “[Religion] remains the most powerful community builder the world has known. . . . Religion is the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age. The idea that society can do without it flies in the face of history.”[3]
        In our nation’s founding and in our constitutional order, the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and the freedoms of speech and press are the motivating and dominating civil liberties and civil rights. Appropriately, the guarantee of freedom of religion is the first expression in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, and it is embodied in the constitutions of all 50 of our states. For many Americans, the free exercise of religion is the basic civil liberty because faith in God and His teachings and the active practice of religion are the most fundamental guiding realities of life.
        The free “exercise” of religion obviously involves both (1) the right to choose religious beliefs and affiliations and (2) the right to “exercise” or practice those beliefs without government restraint. However, in a nation with citizens of many different religious beliefs, the right of some to act upon their religious beliefs must sometimes be qualified by the government’s responsibility to further compelling public interests, such as the health and safety of all. Thoughtful authorities and scholars have wrestled with this tension for many years, and will continue to do so.
        Another current debate over religious freedom is more easily resolved. The guarantee of free exercise of religion must give persons who act on religious grounds greater protection against government prohibitions than are already guaranteed to everyone else by other provisions of the constitution, like freedom of speech. Otherwise, we erase the significance of the separate guarantee of free exercise of religion. Religion must preserve its preferred status in our pluralistic society in order to make its unique contribution—its recognition and commitment to values that transcend the secular world.
        This preferred status must include more than a believer’s right of conscience. The Second Vatican Council’s “Declaration on Religious Freedom” (1965) per­suasively declares that “individuals do not practice their religion as a solitary act, but together with one another.” Our right to the free exercise of religion must apply when we act as a community. As elabo­rated by Matthew J. Franck of the Witherspoon Institute: “The vitality of faith comes in its communal character, in the individual’s fellowship with others whose views support, inform, and refine his own,” including the right to undertake “educational, cultural, charitable and social” efforts as they see fit. [4]
II.
        Unfortunately, as scholars have observed, for about a half-century the role of religion in American life has been declining.[5] In this same period, the guaran­tee of free exercise of religion seems to be weakening in public esteem. It is surely under siege by the forces of political correctness, which would replace it with other priorities.
        When he was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George referred to what he called “threats to religious freedom in America that are new in our history and to our tradition.”[6] Legal commentator Hugh Hewitt described one of these threats: “For three decades people of faith have watched a systematic and very effective effort waged in the courts and the media to drive them from the public square and to delegitimize their participation in politics as somehow threatening.”[7]
        Powerful secular interests are challenging the way religious beliefs and the practices of faith-based organizations stand in the way of their secular aims. We are alarmed at the many—and increasing—circumstances in which actions based on the free exercise of religion are sought to be swept aside or subordinated to the asserted “civil rights” of officially favored classes. This conflict between religious freedom and antidiscrimination laws was the subject of a recent public hearing before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
        In the long run, the vitality of religious freedom must rely on public under­standing and support. We are therefore troubled at the recent survey finding by the Barna Group that the population least concerned about religious liberty in America are adults under 30, only 20 percent of whom believe that restrictions on religious freedom will increase in the next five years.[8]
        Related to this is the familiar fact that our rising generations are less religiously observant than their predecessors. Even though about 80 percent of our citizens report that they believe in God, the percent who have no denominational affiliation—the so-called “nones” (n-o-n-e-s)—is large and growing larger, especially among the young. The Putnam/Campbell book American Grace identifies these facts with scholarly precision. These authors put the proportion of “nones” in our population at 19 percent overall,[9] solidly ahead of mainline Protestants, and ex­ceeded only by evangelical Protestants and Catholics, who have about 30 and 24 percent, respectively.[10] Even more signifi­cant is the fact that the “nones” are now 33 percent of the young adults,[11] and that about half of the increasing proportion of Americans who have no denomina­tional affiliation—mostly young people—have “a genuine antipathy toward organized religion.”[12]
        These facts are extremely important to our efforts to strengthen religious free­dom. We must enlist the support of persons who have what is called “spirituality” but who lack denominational affiliation. Religious freedom must not be seen as something serving only the interests of churches and synagogues. It must be understood as a protection for religious people, whether or not their beliefs involve membership or behavior. Support for the First Amendment free exercise of religion should not be limited to those who intend to exercise it, individually or through denominational affiliation.
        We must give greater attention to the education of the rising generation. If the foundation of religious liberty is weakening, it must be because the role of religion and the contribution of religious organizations and religiously motivated people in our nation is not sufficiently understood.
        The rising generation is not being taught these things. I believe that a study of the treatment of religion in elementary and secondary textbooks over the last half-century would show a significant decline in the description and stated importance of religion in the founding of our nation and the progress of our civilization.
        A generation ago, an influential public education group joined others in calling for action by educators, textbook publishers, and civic leaders to halt what they called the “rigorous exclusion” of religion from school textbooks and curricula.[13] Scholars of education advise me that the current problem is not so much the “exclusion” of religion, but its presentation in a critical or biased way that minimizes its influence. The American Textbook Council surveys the most widely used American and world history textbooks. Their 1995 report con­tained this description:
        “The strength of religion in shaping human thought and action is not often explained, and its role as a motivating agent of culture, politics, and ethics often remains under examined. . . . Religion in the contem­porary world is discussed by region, out of context, and often in oblique and misleading ways.”[14]
        At the same time, some influential leaders and many educators have come to con­sider it bad taste or even illegal for public schools even to mention religious influ­ences and motivations.
        A continuation of this trajectory of ignorance and advocacy of diminished religious freedom—inhibiting the free exercise of religion in favor of other (though often worthy) social goals—will fundamentally change the character of America, and not for the better.
        The problem of educating the public, and especially the rising generation, needs to be addressed on a front wider than preaching, lobbying, and litigating. We must employ education to broaden the base of citizens who understand and are committed to defending religious freedom. This will require better information for our religious believers and also the enlistment of other groups.
        I conclude this recital of concerns for the current and future freedom of religion with what is essentially a legal point, but one of considerable significance. We must be sensitive to the definition ofreli­gion. We must resist two opposite tendencies. We must not define religion too narrowly—excluding those who do not believe as we do. Christians and Jews can make this mistake by arguments and practices that fail to extend religious freedom to beliefs outside the Judeo-Christian tradition.
        The opposite tendency—to define reli­gion too broadly—is more seductive and more dangerous. We already see the tendency to describe religious freedom as “freedom of conscience”—whatever its source. That definition can deny the protection of the free exercise guarantee to churches and the organizations through which believers exercise their faith. In addition, if we expand the definition of religion to systems of belief not based on a divine being, we incur the risk I once described as a judge in a lecture at DePaul University:
        “The problem with a definition of reli­gion that includes almost everything is that the practical effect of inclusion comes to mean almost nothing. Free exercise protec­tions become diluted as their scope becomes more diffuse. When religion has no more right to free exercise than irreligion or any other secular philosophy, the whole newly expanded category of ‘religion’ is likely to diminish in significance.”[15]
III.
        While there are serious challenges to the continued strength of the constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion, there have been many encouraging developments during the last half-decade that make us optimistic about its future.
        First, we have the marvelous work of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. We, of course, link them with the United States Supreme Court’s remarkable decision in the Hosanna-Tabor case—remarkable for its ruling, its opinion, and its unanimity. We salute the Becket Fund attorneys and all others involved in advocating this marvelous precedent, which we pray will be applied rigorously and per­suasively for years to come. We also salute the Becket Fund for their decisive role in Stanford Law School’s recent creation of a clinic focusing on the religious liberty rights of believers of various faiths.
        Of immense importance to the strengthening of religious freedom is the rising concern and vigorous advocacy of many influential religious leaders. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ creation of an Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Freedom is of pivotal importance. So are the influential voices of Protestant evangelical leaders, such as Pastor Rick Warren, who has stated his belief that “religious liberty is going to be the civil rights issue of the next decade.”[16]
        We all agree with Cardinal Francis George, who said, “In the coming years, interreligious coalitions formed to defend the rights of con­science for individuals and for religious institutions should become a vital bulwark against the tide of forces at work in our government and society to reduce religion to a purely private reality.”[17]
        Religious leaders and believers must unite to strengthen our freedom to teach what we have in common, as well as to teach and exercise our very real religious differences. We must walk shoulder to shoulder on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our distinctive beliefs. We must also insist on our constitutional right to exer­cise our beliefs and to voice our con­sciences on issues in the public square and in the halls of justice. These are the rights of all citizens, including religious believers, leaders, and organizations.
        We are heartened by the formation and work of the American Religious Freedom Program, under the auspices of the respected Ethics and Public Policy Center, which seeks to organize a nationwide nonpartisan movement to strengthen religious freedom. Numerous legal challenges to various government imposi­tions show the vigor of the free exercise of religion. Some of these involve individual choices based on the exercise of religious beliefs. A large and growing number of others are legal actions by religiously affiliated organizations challenging government actions inhibiting the exercise of religious beliefs in institutional activities.
        We are also encouraged by the turning tide of scholarly support for the free exer­cise of religion as it applies to important social issues. For example, the Girgis, Anderson, and George book What Is Marriage? states a powerful scholarly and philosophical case for the time-honored definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and its importance for the issue of religious freedom. If the defense of traditional marriage “comes to be seen as irrational,” the authors write, “people’s freedom to express and live by it will be curbed,” and “believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage—that it is a male-female union—will be seen in­creasingly as a malicious prejudice, to be driven to the margins of culture.”[18]
        There are encouraging signs that the American public is awakening to the im­portance of strengthening religious freedom. A recent study showed that one-fourth of all Americans consider religion to be the First Amendment freedom most threatened.[19] Another recent study showed that significant majorities of all faith traditions—even including those not religious affiliated—said they support organizations that protect the religious freedom of all religions.[20]
IV.
        I conclude with a well-known image from the New Testament. Jesus used a coin to teach the principle that we have obligations to civil government as well as to divine authority (see Mark 12:14–17). Similarly, a two-sided coin reminds us of our two-fold duties to truth and to tolerance. In our efforts to strengthen religious freedom, we must always remember that the truth of our cause does not free us from our duty of tolerance toward those who differ.
        Jesus modeled this principle. When He faced the woman taken in adultery, He spoke the comforting words of tolerance: “Neither do I condemn thee.” Then, as He sent her away, He spoke the commanding words of truth: “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). We should follow this example, by kindness in communications but firmness in the truth.
        The metaphor of the two-sided coin yields another lesson, with which I close. The coins of our country contain the declaration “In God We Trust.” I repeat that declaration as the concluding affirmation of this message, and invoke the blessings of Almighty God on our difficult task of preserving and strengthening the precious first freedom, the free exercise of religion.



[1] Washington’s Farewell Address, ed. Thomas Arkle Clark (1908), 14.

[2] International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, 22 U.S.C. § 6401(a).
[3] Jonathan Sacks, “The Moral Animal,” The New York Times, Dec. 23, 2012,http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/opinion/the-moral-animal.
[4] Matthew J. Franck (The Witherspoon Institute), “Individual, Community, and State: How to Think about Religious Freedom,” Hillsdale Publication, Imprimis, Sept. 2012, 6.
[5] See Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace (2012), 562.
[6] Cardinal Francis George, “Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom,” Brigham Young University (Feb. 23, 2010).
[7] Hugh Hewitt, A Mormon in the White House? (2007), 242-43.
[8] “Many Americans Worry about Religious Freedom,” Deseret News, Jan. 30, 2013, A8.
[9] American Grace, 7, 75–80, 588–61. This is also the finding of The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Oct. 9, 2012.
[10] American Grace, 17.
[11] American Grace, 558–61.
[12] American Grace, 566.
[13] Report, “Religion in the Curriculum,” described in Religious News Service, week of July 6, 1987, p. 4; also see Washington Post National Weekly Edition, July 21, 1986, p. 23; and William J. Bennett’s Payne Lecture, “Religious Belief and the Constitutional Order,” University of Missouri, Sept. 17, 1986, pp. 12–14; Warren A. Nord, “Liberals Should Want Religion Taught in Public Schools,” Washington Post National Weekly Edition, July 21, 1986, p. 23; Washington Post editorial, Dec. 27, 1986; also seeWashington Post, Oct. 22, 1988, p. A22.
[14] G. T. Sewell, “Religion in the Classroom: What the Textbooks Tell Us, a Report of the American Textbook Council” (1995), 17, http://www.historytextbooks.org/reports.htm. Also see M. H. Romanowaki, “Addressing Christianity in American History: Are Textbooks Improving?” Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 14(2) (2001), 21, 23–24. (“They simply mention religion . . . creating the impression that religion and faith have little to do with the development of U.S. History.”)
[15] Dallin H. Oaks, “Separation, Accommodation and the Future of Church and State,” 35 DePaul L. Rev. 1, 8 (1985). More recently I have said that while I have “no concern with expanding comparable protections to non-religious belief systems, as is done in international norms that protect freedom of religion or belief” (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 18, Dec. 16, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 302), I object to doing so by “re-interpreting the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion” (“Preserving Religious Freedom,” Chapman University School of Law, Feb. 4, 2011).
[16] “Church Founder: Religious Liberty the Next Rights Issue,” Deseret News, Dec. 3, 2012, A6.
[17] Cardinal Francis George, “Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom,” Brigham Young University (Feb. 23, 2010).
[18] Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, Robert P. George, What Is Marriage? (2012), 9; see also pp. 62–64.
[19] “Survey Fact Sheet: Americans’ Views on Religious Freedom,” American Religious Freedom, Dec. 2, 2011, http://www.religiousfreedom.org/research/detail/survey-fact-sheet-americans-views-on-religious-freedom.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day

"In our observances this Memorial Day, we honor the brave Americans who paid the highest price for their commitment to the ideals of peace, freedom, and justice. Our debt to them can be paid only by our own recommitment to preserving those same ideals. But our recommitment cannot be for ourselves alone. It must also be for our children, and for the generations yet to come. Peace, freedom, and justice are not things that were won for us two hundred years ago or forty years ago; they must be won again and again by each successive generation. And so today, let us pray for peace; and let us remember those who gave so much for peace that the ideals of the West may survive." 

– Ronald Reagan, 1985

The Tattooed Girl finds Mormon Missionaries




blog: http://alfoxshead.blogspot.com This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. People can change. God loves us and wants us to succeed.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fathers, Read the Scriptures with Your Sons and Daughters

This weekend I was able to hear from the daughter of the late Elder Bruce R. McConkie. She said that her father used to read and study the scriptures with her. Specifically, one summer, they read and studied The Book of Mormon -- Another Testament of Jesus Christ, together.  

What a blessing to have fathers read scriptures to their sons and daughters. How different the world would be if men would regularly read from the writings of holy prophets to their children. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In My Father's Eyes -- What God Sees in Me


Heavenly Father’s Eyes and Me
by Jeffrey Denning

I cannot go this life alone
I need strength beyond my own.
Troubles near and troubles far
It does not matter who you are.

Everyone in time of need
Finds themselves on bended knee,
Looking up as if to say,
“Please help me live another day.”

When life ends it's mortal journey
And our body's limp and lonely,
Buried deep within the Earth
We'll discover our real worth.

In our Heavenly Father's eyes
We will see Him when He cries
For the wickedness of men
And of war, of rage, and sin.

And so it goes when in life lows
Through dark valleys we must go
Only if my eyes could see
What Heavenly Father sees in me.

He would see an imperfect man,
But He would let me know I can
Return and live with Him someday
With my family here today.

He would help me now to see
That I like Him can someday be
By relying on His Only Son
The Infinite and Eternal One.

I can have a healthy heart;
I can make a brand new start.
He can heal and comfort me
If through His eyes I view me.

Copyright - 2013 Jeffrey Denning 

I wrote this poem after having a really tough day. I was reminded of those times of desperation and prayer that I spoke of in the poem when just the day before I heard a colleague -- a former Vietnam era Marine -- point out to a younger war veteran of Iraq that he certainly pleaded for heavenly help and cannot deny it when that first bullet whizzed past his head in battle. The younger veteran admitted, almost sheepishly, that he had prayed. In times of in desperation there can be a tendency to pray, even if we normally don’t. I’ve certainly had those prayers of panic and pleading.

Feeling that I was about to fall to my certain and painful death, I have prayed. I have begged and pleaded with the Creator of the Universe more than once. I said I would do anything for Him, but “please, please help me live.” I got into a foolish situation. I feared greatly. I've tried to keep up my side of the bargain.

The interesting thing is that there are other times -- times in our lives when there are mean people or hardships -- when we wonder if the challenges we face will ever leave. We wonder if our situation will ever change. The poem embraces those times best. 

God is our loving Heavenly Father. I believe He sees all things and knows all things. He knows what is best for us and He is anxious to bless and help us. He sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. He recognizes our potential. He feels sorrow when we do wrong and so do we. Fortunately, we can repent when we do wrong and be better tomorrow, and today. We are all sinners to one degree or another, but we can strive to be better.  

When we feel sorrow and suffering (not necessarily because of our sins, but because of our circumstances and imperfections or the imperfections of others), I believe there is a special kind of unconditional love only a parent can give us, in this case a Heavenly Parent, One who sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. 

Our Heavenly Father has a plan for us; He wants to see us succeed. He sees what is around the corner for us. Great things are in store for us. He will help us. He will guide us. He will comfort us, but only if we let Him. God loves us. Let us love Him. 

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

--1 Corinthians 2:9

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President's Day -- A Tribute to Ronald Reagan


President’s Day - A Reagan Tribute 

Jeffrey Denning

In honor of President’s Day, highlighting the words of the late President Ronald Reagan seems appropriate.  He would have turned 102 years old this last week on Feb 6, 2013. 

During President Reagan’s first inaugural address, on January 20, 1981, he said, “Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people.”  And then he boldly added, “It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.” Reagan’s words ring from the grave and have great applicability today. 

Not too long ago I was able to pick up a book of many of the great orator’s speeches. Here are a few profound and eloquent words from this well-spoken Commander and Chief: 

“The Founding Fathers—that little band of men so advanced beyond their time that the world has never seen their like since—evolved a government based on the idea that you and I have the God-given right and ability within ourselves to determine our own destiny.  Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction—we didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

One of the things that will certainly sap our liberty and enslave us is our national debt.  Again, Ronald Reagan’s words: “Here is the main battleground! We must reduce the government’s supply of money and deny it the right to borrow.... If your Congressman should say we must cut costs first and then reduce taxes—don’t stand for it. Remind him that no government in history has ever voluntarily reduced itself in size. Governments will always find a need for the money they get.”

A recent news headline reported that Virginia may be printing it’s own money in the near future. Why? because of the looming financial problems that are rapidly becoming the quagmire of the nation—a hole of our own digging in which we have sinked into, and which abyss we may not be able to recover from unless we act with greater urgency right now. Now is the time to raise a hue and a cry. 

Reagan had a way with words.  His battle cry was for liberty and freedom.  Whether people liked him or not, these words, as our Founding Father’s outlined, are ‘self evident’. Consider the words spoken during Reagan’s first inaugural address:

“From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden."

And, finally, when Ronald Reagan became the governor of California, in his inaugural address there, in January 5, 1967, he gave these profound words:

“Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle too long to be properly appreciative.  Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.  It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.  Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again…

“Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid. With all the profound wording of the Constitution, probably the most meaningful words are the first three, ‘We, the People.’  Those of us here today who have been elected to constitutional office of legislative position are in that three word phrase.  We are of the people, chosen by them to see that no permanent structure of government ever encroaches on freedom or assumes a power beyond that freely granted by the people.  We stand between the taxpayer and the taxspender.

“It is inconceivable to me that anyone could accept this delegated authority without asking God’s help.  I pray that we who legislate and administer will be granted wisdom and strength beyond our own limited power; that with divine guidance we can avoid easy expedients as we work to build a state where liberty under law and justice can triumph, where compassion can govern and and wherein the people can participate and prosper because of their government and not in spite of it.”

May the spirit of liberty and freedom be alive in each of us, and may the wisdom of the past generations of president’s be alive in our hearts and minds forevermore.  May God bless each of us, and may God bless America, the land of the free because of the brave.

My Flag -- The United States Flag



I awoke this morning, after dreaming, with a renewed vigor to protect the America I know and love—to do all in my power to preserve the greatest symbol freedom in the world today, Old Glory.  I felt, as I nearly leaped from my bed, to contact my elected officials and with all the vigor I have to muster, encourage them to preserve, sustain and/or create any and all such laws that make dropping the flag, burning, trampling, spitting upon, or disrespecting, defiling, or defacing the national flag, in any way, illegal.  

We must treat the Stars and Stripes as the physical representation of all America holds dear.  The fabric of three colors—red, white and blue—beautifully sewn in a pattern rich in national historic meaning, is the symbol of a free people and a free nation.  That incredible flag which was still standing during the War of 1812, while Francis Scott Key was held a helpless prisoner on a British vessel during the attack at Fort McHenry, is the flag I hold most dear.  That same flag, given 37 more stars, is the flag of my home.  

We must treat the United States flag as the symbol of peace and power she truly is.  Americans must look to that beautiful, incredible and majestic piece of art as the sacred emblem of “the Republic for which it stands.”  

I have seen the flag—my flag—flown high over the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and U.S. embassies and consulates in foreign lands.  I have seen the fabric and material honored, presented and saluted by men and women in military uniform.  I have witnessed men literally weep while looking to her and the free nation she represents.  I have wept myself and have received chills over my entire frame while saluting and listening to our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.  I have silently watched as our flag has been draped over the coffins of American countrymen who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of all she stands for—foremost being freedom, liberty and equality. 

May the blood of our forefathers, who created and erected the blessings we now enjoy because of their actions, and because of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, be revered, respected and honored forever.  May the faithful and courageous military men who hoisted the flag of our nation from Fort McHenry to Iwo Jima and beyond, be remembered for sacrificing for our great nation, represented foremost by our greatest symbol of freedom, the American flag.  May the war dead who die today and tomorrow be allowed an honorable burial without protesters who, in essence, are certainly disrespecting my flag, my nation, and my brothers and sisters in arms.  

I pray that our flag—my flag and your flag—will be the banner of freedom it truly represents, the beacon of hope for all mankind, the light and glory of “one nation under God.”  May this blessed symbol—held high at ball parks, waved at parades, worn on every military uniform, and flown at half-mast during national catastrophes and loss of life—become, and forever stay, the symbol of hope for a better way, the sacred evidence of self-government, the meaning of all things Americans cherish most, the incarnate Constitution of these United States of America.  

May each of us gain anew the appreciation for Old Glory.  May we each rally together, around and behind and beside this blessed symbol of freedom.  May we all look high to see this extraordinary piece of fabric forever waving in the breeze and cherish all she stands for.  May national patriotism shown to our flag be honored, respected, and sustained and enforced by law.  

Finally, may all those who value freedom and all those who have stood with arms to defend her rich blood-red stripes, her deep-blue sky and pure-white stars and stripes, forever thank God for all she stands for.  May this people -- the American people -- remember what Abraham Lincoln once so eloquently encouraged in his Gettysburg Address every time we look upon the folded or unfurled flag.  Let us “be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Service is Sublime

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17).

Why Not to Have 'Universal Healthcare'

Indian-American Dinesh D'Souza gives the very best explanation I've ever heard regarding the falsehood and skewed ideology behind helping our neighbors by government mandate. Every American should watch this.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Liberty -- A Peaceful Revolution in America

To all who have discerning eyes, it is apparent that the republican form of government established by our noble forefathers cannot long endure once fundamental principles are abandoned. Momentum is gathering for another conflict — a repetition of the crisis of two hundred years ago.... Another monumental moment is soon to be born. —Ezra Taft Benson, The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner, Deseret Book, SLC, 1986, 27.

I Have to Share This Story - by my brother Greg Denning

The following is a note from my little brother, Greg Denning. Check out GregDenning.com or DeterminedLives.com. From the book “Return From Tomorrow” “When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, the 123rd Evac entered Germany with the occupying troops. I was part of a group assigned to a concentration camp near Wuppertal, charged with getting medical help to the newly liberated prisoners, many of them Jews from Holland, France, and eastern Europe. This was the most shattering experience I had yet had; I had been exposed many times by then to sudden death and injury, but to see the effects of slow starvation, to walk through those barracks where thousands of men had died a little bit at a time over a period of years, was a new kind of horror. For many it was an irreversible process: we lost scores each day in spite of all the medicine and food we could rush to them. Now I needed my new insight indeed. When the ugliness became too great to handle I did what I had learned to do. I went from one end to the other of that barbed wire enclosure looking into men’s faces until I saw looking back at me the face of Christ. And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody. That wasn’t his real name. His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish, but he had long drooping handlebar mustaches like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill. He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long: his posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable. Since he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator. We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole hometowns, might have disappeared. But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness. While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength. “We have time for this old fellow,” he’d say.”He’s been waiting to see us all day.” His compassion for his fellow-prisoners glowed on his face, and it was to this glow that I came when my own spirits were low. So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939! For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration. Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked to him as a friend. He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration. Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans. As for the Germans, feelings against them ran so high that in some of the camps liberated earlier, former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw. Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness. “It’s not easy for some of them to forgive,” I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the proceeding center. “So many of them have lost members of their families.” Wild Bill leaned back on the upright chair and sipped at his drink. “We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,” he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself. “My wife, our two daughters, and our three little boys. When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.” He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and children. “I had to decide right then,” he continued, “whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this. It was an easy decision, really. I was a lawyer. In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life, whether it was a few days or many years, loving every person I came in contact with.” Loving every person . . . this was the power that had kept a man well in the face of every privation.” By George G. Ritchie/Elizabeth Sherrill and Gary Amirault (An excerpt from the book “Return from Tomorrow” by George G. Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill, published by Fleming H. Revell, A division of Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI., pgs. 113-116)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Save America!

"My peaceful but powerful Revolution has begun. My voice will be heard. I took an oath to protect the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That oath has no expiration, so help me God."

-- Jeffrey Denning, noncommissioned and commissioned military officer, Iraqi war Vet, former federal air marshal, Warrior SOS founder, writer, firearms instructor, Mormon, father of six children, lover of freedom, red-blooded American

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Letter to my US Reps -- Gun Control and Mental Illness


Dear Honorable -----, 

As a former local and federal law enforcement officer, as well as a military veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I strongly oppose any ban on high capacity magazines or so-called military or assault-style firearms.

As a combat veteran, there is no one who hates and opposes violence more than I do. But, I am also experienced enough in law enforcement to know that banning guns or high capacity magazines will not reduce crime or gun violence. Banning firearms or magazines usurps the freedoms and liberty of those who obey the law -- those who wish to protect themselves and their families. Criminals do not obey the law.

From shooting sports to hunting, and from firearms collection to self-defense, I urge you to please oppose any and all legislation designed to stop millions of law-abiding citizens from gun or magazine ownership.

The facts revolving around the terrible incidents at the most recent school shooting were incorrect. There was no so-called military assault-style weapon used in the school, and the gun in the trunk of the subject's vehicle was not in the AR family of rifles. To me, it appeared to be a shotgun.

There are so many more facts needing to be addressed, like the annual FBI uniform crime report, which shows that more people were bludgeoned to death by hammers and clubs than were killed by rifles; and that banning firearms does not make an area safer. For instance, Chicago has had more firearms violence than in many years past. On the corollary, Florida concealed carry permits are up and the violence is down. These are just two brief examples of reasons to allow law-abiding citizens to continue to own, purchase, use, sell or transfer firearms according to the laws currently in place.

Certainly many things ought to be done to help our society become less violent. Strengthening the most fundamental unit of society -- the family -- will help alleviate many social ills. Avoiding and prohibiting violence that our children are exposed to in the media and in video games will do much more to help control violence than any attempt to "control" guns. After all, whether using a claw hammer or an illegally purchased or stolen firearm, the criminal element will not be entirely stopped unless his mind and heart can be changed.

In sum, I plead with you to help design, support and sustain any legislation that supports and strengthens traditional family units while allowing law-abiding veterans like myself to keep and bear arms. Moreover, please be cautious about measures or legislation that may be introduced that may negatively impact veterans (or citizens) who suffer from PTSD from legally owning firearms. As a founder Warrior SOS, I have talked with many veterans about PTSD. Having PTSD is not like what Hollywood says it is. It may be classified as a "mental illness", but this certainly does not mean that veterans who suffer from this will go "crazy" and begin shooting up kindergarten classrooms, as horrible as that comparison sounds.

Thank you very much for your time.

Very Respectfully,

Jeffrey Denning