Religious Freedom Matters: What’s at Risk

We believe in creating a space for everyone to live their conscience without infringing on the rights and safety of others. Elder Ronald A. Rasband

I have decided to share an article today that I recently re-read from an LDS magazine called the Ensign. I share it because I am concerned with the lack of understanding that so many individuals seem to have in regards to the importance of freedom – particularly religious freedom.

During my near-death experience, I witnessed that I was a part of what this article refers to as the War in Heaven. The war in heaven took place prior to this world being created and was a momentous occasion/event in heaven that we all were affected by. Some may think of this as a physical battle. Instead, what I witnessed was an incredibly important and pivotal debate that most of God’s children were a part of.  It was this debate, and our choices in regard to it, that determined our opportunity to be a part of this world.

In the United States, we are blessed to mostly take our freedoms for granted. However, our freedoms should cherished and and need protecting. We may not always agree with the beliefs of another individual or group but as long as forced coercion and physical harm are not utilized, we need to respect their ability to believe and worship as they desire.

It is because of what I witnessed in heaven and my concerns about what I now witness going on in this country and our world that I share today’s article. It includes references to scriptures and materials/individuals who are LDS (Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). However, I believe it is relevant regardless of your religious persuasion.

I hope you will read it and support efforts to protect religious freedom and freedom in general. Great sacrifices have been made by our military and their families throughout our nation’s history. I am grateful to be a beneficiary of their efforts and sacrifices. I believe that our freedom deserves their continued efforts but it also needs our efforts. If every family in America taught and practiced respect for a diversity of beliefs, not only would the freedoms of this nation continue to uplifted and preserved, the ability for the world, as a whole, to  live according to their conscience and beliefs would likewise spread and blossom.

I believe that every member of mankind inherently knows that they are meant to be free and to live according to the dictates of their conscience. If you are aligned with me in those beliefs, I hope that you will stand for and defend our right to practice freedom of religion and to live according to our beliefs and conscience. Silence will not preserve our freedoms – it will only encourage those who are intent on silencing the voices of religion and conscience.

I hope you enjoy today’s article:

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “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 [as for a Mormon]; 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” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.

  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?

  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.

  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.

  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.

  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other co-workers are willing to perform them in your place.

  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.

  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.

  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.

  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.

  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.

  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.

There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.

So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost.

When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom not just for Latter-day Saints but also for followers of all religions.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/07/religious-freedom-matters-whats-at-risk?lang=eng

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Your Freedom is the Most Expensive Thing You Have….

your-freedom-is-the-most-expensive-thing-you-have-soldiers-1010631From the time that I first stepped foot on Russian soil – during the Kosovo conflict, I have treasured my freedom and my U.S. citizenship. It was not until that moment that I understood what lack of freedom was or that it was even possible to lose it. The freedoms that this nation enjoys has come at a cost. I hope that each one of us who walks the soil of America as free citizens will cherish the gift that has been given to us by the soldiers of this nation and the inspired United States Constitution. Today, I am including just a brief portion of my book that addresses the trip my husband and I made to Russia to adopt our two youngest children. May freedom be a gift that we all enjoy forever!

From my book:

Greg and I were a little nervous about flying to Russia, but that  nervousness increased dramatically when our plane made its first  landing on Russian soil. Our first landing was made in Khabarovsk,  Russia. We were surprised to see that the airport seemed more like an  abandoned military base. Old weathered airplanes with questionable  functionality dotted the tarmac. Our initial astonishment turned to  tension as armed men in military type uniforms drove up to our  airplane and one of their commanders barked harsh words at the  flight attendants and demanded possession of their passports. Our  first touchdown in Russia made it painfully clear to us that while  on Russian soil, we would not have the same freedoms that we were  accustomed to in the United States.

Our second landing was just outside the city of Vladivostok,  the destination for our adoption. Though friendlier than our initial  landing, going through customs verified our initial impressions that  as foreigners in their country, we were not welcome visitors. 

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Forgiveness…Allows Us Freedom to Live and Love

Forgiveness restores our hearts  to the innocence that we knew -  an innocence that allowed us  the freedom to love

I have been reading a wonderful book by Greg Anderson called The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness. From my work with those who have lost their health, I can do nothing but applaud Greg Anderson’s work! I see almost every day the connection between harboring bitterness and grudges and the deterioration of health.

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer and then deciding that he was going to find out what survivors had done to cure themselves of cancer, Greg Anderson found an overwhelming number of survivors who had made the deliberate choice to forgive. Greg then chose to analyze his life and begin the process of forgiving those who he felt had wronged him.  He believes that his survival is a result of that choice.

Forgiveness is not about the forgiving the sin or the trespass, it is about the freeing our soul of the bitterness and cankers that come from carrying the resentment.

I hope if you are carrying those heavy burdens of resentment that you will consider unloading them! I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

Leave Your Hurts in the Sand

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”

LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.

Do not value the things you have in your life. But value who you have in your life!

Author Unknown

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspirationalarchive.com/1148/leave-your-hurts-in-the-sand/

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Stand up for America…. My spirit

Blue American Background Illustration. Statue of Liberty, Flag and City Skyline Illustration with Copy Space. American Events and Celebration Backdrop.

When I grow up, I wanna be just like my father. I wanna be just like the Father who is the creator of my soul. My mortal body has finished growing – it may get a little heavier but it has hit its maximum height. However, my spirit is another matter. My spirit has lots of “growing up” to do. It has lots of way in which it needs to grow and lots of ways that I need to “become”. One of them is how I represent my country – my sense of patriotism. Because I am a citizen of the United States, I need to stand up for America.

I have had a few life experiences which have taught me about the blessing of being an American. The first was my trip to Russia during the Kosovo conflict with my husband to adopt our two youngest children, Armed guards waiting as our airplane landed in two of the three airports we landed in and being locked in a room at one of the airports taught me a healthy respect for personal freedom. It only took those few times of having my freedom removed to instill a very strong desire to return to the soil and freedom of my native soil. The second was my near death experience.

That experience is a little more difficult to describe because I have not been allowed by God to remember all that I was shown. However, the feelings of that experience have very much remained and though I cannot tell you why, I returned to my body a new being with patriotism seared into my heart.

I have always believed that I was blessed as a result of living in the United States of America. However, since my near death experience, that belief has grown exponentially. I believe that very few Americans fully realize God’s impact in our lives and in the freedoms that we as a country enjoy. It may seem strange that a near death experience would engender patriotism but, having had that experience, I can tell you that God’s influence was seen by our Founding Fathers and that the desire to be free is a natural component within our hearts that is a God given gift.

When God’s influence is allowed, a people will be free and they will be a self-governing people.

It is my prayer and I hope that you will pray with me that this country would be blessed to continue to be a free nation and that, as a people, we would ever be both self-governing and aware of our many blessings!

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An Invitation to Fast & Pray for Our Nation

esther-fasting-reviseduntitled-1Sarah Land has initiated a Nationwide fast on Sunday, November 6, 2016. I love Sarah’s idea. Our nation and each of us need it! I believe in this country. I believe that the Lord has blessed this nation. I believe that now, more than ever, the United States of America needs to turn our hearts to our Creator for guidance and strength. I share with you Sarah’s words:

“With the Election coming up, I suggest that as a nation we fast for our country. Try to fast at anytime that you can on this day. If you can’t on this day, do so on another day. Fast for inspiration on who to vote for. Fast for Peace. If for whatever reason you can’t fast, just pray. Invite everyone.

If you don’t know how to fast this is how I fast: Start with a prayer. Prayerfully abstain from food and water for two meals. End with a prayer.”

I would ask that you also fast and pray that the individuals who will lead this nation and our communities by utilizing the Lord’s guidance would be elected.
The Lord is the perfect source of help and strength! There are many more stories throughout the scriptures that tell of the Lord’s assistance and protection! For example, here is a portion of the story of Elisha from 2 Kings 6:14-16:

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

 15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

I learned in heaven that God is the same – He never changes. How can you change perfection? Why would you want to? God has helped His children throughout all ages! He continues to help us today as we turn to Him and request His help (And do our part)! I hope you will join with Sarah, others and myself in prayer and fasting on November 6th!

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