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

No widget added yet.

Finding Peace and Contentment…Living in Harmony with the Lord and Your Conscience

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen KellerEvery life has it’s ups and downs – it’s trials and strife.

Yet, I have found that there is a simple way to have peace and contentment. The way to peace and contentment is to know the source of peace and contentment.

I have witnessed great effort on the part of many to utilize situational ethics or create man made parameters of what should be right and what should be wrong. Yet, what I witnessed in heaven gave me no assurance that God’s children are either adept at or are in a position to create eternal laws.

Those laws – God’s laws are eternal and, just like His love for us, fixed and immovable.

God has given each of us a conscience. That conscience allows us to know right and wrong. Additionally, He has given us laws and guidance that directs how we are expected to act and behave.

We have the right to choose whether we will accept and obey God’s laws or whether we will rebel against them.

However, just like jumping off of a ship – we can choose to jump ship but we can’t change the consequences of our actions.

I have found that, as I choose to listen to my conscience and to live in harmony with the Lord, I am given peace and contentment.

I love that, as a result of my conscious decision to align my actions with both my conscience and the Lord, I have been blessed to be at peace with myself. I am comfortable being alone with myself and I love silence. I love being able to commune with the Lord and to receive of His abundance in my heart.

My choices have not made me perfect but they have given me greater access to the Lord and His perfection.

If you struggle to find peace and contentment in your life – analyze where you are in your relationship with both the Lord and your conscience. If your analysis finds you needing some improvement, go to the Lord for help. If you are willing to provide sincere effort, I know that He will provide the assistance that you need!

Please remember that the Lord loves you and it is His desire for you to have His greatest blessings!

I hope you will enjoy today’s story!:

Real Meaning Of Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

“Inner peace: a state of mind, body and perhaps soul, a peace within ourselves. People that experience inner peace say that the feeling is not dependent on time, people, place, or any external object or situation, asserting that an individual may experience inner peace even in the midst of war”

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.” Dalai Lama quotes (Head of the Dge-lugs-pa order of Tibetan Buddhists, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, b.1935)

Story is shared from the following website: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Love-Inspirational-Story/734744

Save

Save

Save

Save

No widget added yet.

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!

No widget added yet.

Labor to Keep Alive Your Conscience….

Silhouette of prayer bend to the cross to make a confession

Today, I am sharing a story from guideposts.org. It is a story about a woman following her conscience. So many times, it can be difficult to do the right thing. However, abuse is perpetuated and our safety, freedoms, and connection to God are compromised when we choose to ignore the voice of our conscience. Our conscience is the angel within. When we listen to that still, small voice – we will receive inspiration and guidance from God. If we want God to be a part of this world, we must allow our conscience to direct our choices and actions. Whether it is an individual, country or the world; when conscience prevails, God’s influence reigns. When God’s influence dominates the world in which we live, human rights are protected and truth rather than ego and greed becomes the overriding standard that guides conduct . Here is today’s story:

Reporter Michael Winerip details how Georgia state investigators were able to zero in on the Atlanta school administrators responsible for a widespread cheating scandal that falsely raised test scores in order to line their own pockets with lucrative performance bonuses.

The lead investigator, Richard Hyde, had a serious obstacle in his way. Finding a cooperative witness was key to the government’s case. Without testimony from one of the teachers assigned to alter students’ tests, the administrators who led the deception might escape prosecution. But the teachers all had their own reasons to stay silent.

One teacher, Jackie Parks, a single mother who taught third grade at Venetian Hills Elementary School for 17 years, had gone along with changing the tests because she could not afford to lose her job. If she became a whistle blower, she’d be fired and might not be able to feed her family. A difficult risk to take.

But one night in August, just before the beginning of a new school year, she had a dream.

“I saw people walking down the hall with yellow notepads,” Jackie told the Times. Not teachers or students. People who wanted answers. “From time to time, God reveals things to me in dreams.”

A few weeks later, out of a hundred Atlanta schools under investigation, Richard Hyde showed up at hers.

“I think God led Mr. Hyde to Venetian Hills,” Jackie told the Times.

At first, Jackie was afraid to speak to him. But he returned, day after day, and Jackie found it impossible to stay silent anymore. “I wanted to repent,” she said. “I wanted to clear my conscience.”

Jackie wore a wire to meetings that captured key players discussing the case. Several months later, the state investigators released an 800-page report, implicating 178 teachers and principals in the scandal and bringing down the alleged ringleader, Beverly J. Hall, the district superintendent.

 

No widget added yet.