Love Our Political Refugees As Ourselves

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22: 35-40; King James Bible)

Who is our neighbor? What makes loving them the second greatest commandment? We read about love for our fellow man all throughout Christ’s ministry on earth. “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; King James Bible) Throughout his ministry Christ emphasized that we should love our fellow man. He even went on to explain exactly what he meant by “love thy neighbor.”

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10: 29-37; King James Bible)

In this parable, Christ clearly explained that those who show compassion are true neighbors. Those who show love toward their fellow man, despite differences in creed or ideology, are those who are keeping that great commandment.

But what about people who have slighted us? Or people whose members have expressed hatred toward us? Are we still required to love them? Christ has an answer for that too.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt lovethy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  (Matthew 5: 43-44)

I don’t know about you, but I see a very clear trend here of unconditional love for all people. So why is it that so many people have a hard time loving those of Muslim creed? Why are we unwilling to help those who have been displaced by war simply because those people are a different faith than us?

Look back to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ made a very deliberate choice to use the Samaritan as the hero of the tale. At the time, the Samaritans and the Jews were in a blood feud with one another. By using a Samaritan as the hero, Christ emphasized the hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership. This was particularly emphasized by addition of a Priest and a Levite in the story who both walk by without even attempting to help.

Today, we are faced with a similar situation. We have a whole nation of people who have “fallen among thieves, are wounded, and left for dead.” A civil war in Syria has left hundreds of thousands of innocent people exiled from their homes as they have fled the violence. And now they are looking for protection and sanctuary. Yet, here in the US, a nation in which a vast number of people claim to be Christian, people are clamoring over one another to be the most vindictive and hateful as they demand that none of them be allowed in the country. Are these people really showing love toward their fellow man?

Most of these people are attempting to justify their hate of these refugees by attempting to tie them to ISIS, a terrorist organization that formed in the chaos left in the Middle East after we destabilized the region. By claiming they don’t want terrorists to enter the US, they are attempting to justify their nature as the Priest and Levite who left their neighbor on the side of the road dying.

The Book of Mormon gives us another example of this Christ-like love for our neighbor. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were enemies for generations. Despite this hatred, the sons of the Nephite King Mosiah felt the love of Christ in their hearts and sought to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Lamanites. Through their love and example, these young men brought thousands of Lamanites to the gospel. However, those Lamanites who still had hate in their hearts persecuted and killed those converted to the gospel. In the end, the only way to protect themselves was to flee. The only place left to flee that would provide any protection was the home of the Lamanite’s enemy the Nephites. When they arrived, what did the Nephites do with this group of people, who called themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehis, who were once their hated enemy? Did they turn them away to fend for themselves because they were afraid of potential wolves among the sheep?

And it came to pass that the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land, desiring the voice of the people concerning the admitting their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance.

And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, (Alma 27: 21-23; Book of Mormon)

Not only did the people of Nephi, a self proclaimed Christian nation, chose to love their neighbor. They not only allowed these people, these people who were once their hated enemy, to seek sanctuary, but they also provided a new home for them and provided defense support from those who persecuted them. Truly a people who have accepted the love of Christ into their hearts.

It seems that a minority of people in the US have this love in their hearts. With so many people in political power, and those that support them, declaring that the refugees should not be allowed into the US because their faith is not “Christian enough”, is an affront to Christ and his teachings. It is an affront to basic humanity.

As a Libertarian, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would support those who have expressed xenophobic and bigoted sentiments toward these war refugees. The Libertarian Party has long been a supporter of helping those who have been persecuted in their home countries escape to safety.

Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. (Libertarian Platform 3.4)

I find this policy to be more in line with the Gospel of Christ and his message of love your neighbor.

In the end, who are we supposed to emulate? Are we to be the Priest or Levite, or are we to be the Samaritan or Nephites? Do we love those seeking safety from death and destruction or do we pass by on the other side of the road and claim that those people are not our problem? Or do we justify our hated and bigotry by claiming that our enemy might be hiding among them? What would Christ do in this situation? What would he ask us to do?

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What Would Happen If All Registered Independents Voted That Way In Oklahoma?

Voter Registration trends in OklahomaA few days ago, I came across this line graph showing voter registration trends in Oklahoma. This graph shows a trend of disenfranchisement in the Democratic Party, growth within the Republican Party, a near flat lining of Independent voters over the course of about 16 years. This got me thinking about elections in Oklahoma and how these numbers correlate to actual voter turnout. It also had me thinking of just how much power the independent voter has in the Oklahoma election.

As you can see from this graph, Independent voters equal to about 11% of the potential voting pool. Democrats represent 47%. Republicans represent 41%. But actual election results paint a far different picture. One in which election results do not match voter registration at all.

I am going to look at the last 3 Presidential elections. In each of these elections, the Republican candidate won in Oklahoma despite being outnumbered by Democrats alone. Yet, in each of these elections, the voter turnout was far lower than the total registration numbers.  So let’s start in 2000. Continue reading

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Filed under Political Liberty

[UPDATED] Senate and House Effectively Declare War On American Citizens

And behold, Pachus was slain and his men were taken prisoners…

And the men of Pachus received their trial, according to the law, and also those king-men who had been taken and cast into prison; (Alma 62: 8-9; Book of Mormon)

This past week marked a new turn in the US’s “War on Terror”. This past week, the US Senate passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The US House passed theirs earlier in the year. The most contentious point of this bill is the new ability given to the military. The ability to indefinitely detain US citizens during time of war.

Prior to this, the US military has had the ability to capture and detain enemy combatants that are suspected of terrorism. Most of these detainees have been kept in Guantanamo Bay. Very few of them have seen a trial of any sort. This ability is somewhat justified as those captured were taken during a time of war and there is a reduced ability to give them a speedy trial. As we read in the book of alma:

And those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period. (Alma 51: 19; Book of Mormon)

However, there is no real justification for taking 8 or more years to give these prisoners a trial. We have the resources to do so. So while the military takes its sweet time to bring trials to these prisoners, they are asking for the ability to do the same to US Citizens captured on US soil. This is too much.

Is it justifiable to ask for this ability? Well, if you look at the example of Alma, the answer is yes, as long as the US is a battle ground. However, the US is not currently part of the battle ground. There is no fighting here in the US that would require this ability. Those that are captured in the US as parts of terrorism plots have the benefit of receiving a fair and speedy trial. Those captured in battle do not. If we were to give the military that ability, it would be a slap in the face of the US Constitution and the rights protected by it.

So why would Congress want to grant power to the military for this purpose? For me the answer is simple. They want to ability to continue the fear within the US over terrorism. The US isn’t a hotbed of terror plots and that is frustrating those in power who want to keep the wars raging on. The citizens in the US are becoming increasingly tired of war and Congress is looking to continue to remind them about these “threats” to our “freedoms”.

Just look at the recent DHS push for a program they call “If You See Something, Say Something.” They want people to be suspicious of one another. They want people to be afraid of every little thing that bumps in the night. With these PSA’s and this new ability to indefinitely detain US citizens without trial or charge, they can keep up the facade of terror.

This is not how we should be ruled. A people ruled by fear are not a free people. We must demand that our government not take away our rights. As the Libertarian Party Platform states:

The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens. The Constitution and Bill of Rights shall not be suspended even during time of war.

War is not a reason to take away our rights. It never has and it never will be. There is no credible threat to our nation at this time. The battle ground is not within our borders. Attempts to bring the battle to our shores should not be made by those who promise to uphold the Constitution and defend our liberties. Our government has lost sight of its promise. They have effectively declared war on US citizens. It is now time to defend ourselves by voting out those who seek to limit our freedoms. Very few people in the House and Senate are living up to this promise. It is time to stop voting for more of the same “lesser evil” and vote for those who truly want to defend our liberties.

This coming year is a new election. We should be working hard to replace those in power with people of integrity and who love the Constitution and will truly hold to its limits. I have already promised both my Senators and my Congressman that they will not be getting my vote and I will be actively working to replace them with someone who lives and loves the Constitution. I recommend that you do as well.

UPDATE: In what can’t be seen as a surprising update, Obama has backed down from his threat to veto the bill and will now sign it into law by the end of the week. I really miss our Constitution and long for the return of its values and limitations to Washington.

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Filed under Defending Liberty

Why Is Our Logo Censored?

You may have noticed that our logo is censored with a link pointing to American Censorship. There is an interesting story about it.

What is happening is the US government at the behest of a number of media companies such as the RIAA, MPAA and the ESA are working to pass some of the worst copyright legislation in US history. These two bills are titled “Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House and “Protect Intellectual Property Act” in the Senate. What these bills hope to accomplish is a reduction in movie, music, game and software piracy as well as reduce counterfeit goods from entering the US.

They hope to achieve these goals by giving sweeping power to the US Attorney General and copyright holders the ability to prevent ad providers, credit card processing firms and DNS providers from working with websites that are “dedicated to infringing activities”. These bills would also make it illegal to stream or upload any video or song that is covered by copyright that you do not have rights to.

Sadly, these bills will be used to censor a lot more than copyright infringement. Under these bills, sites like YouTube, Twitter, Flicker, Facebook  and any other site that allows users to upload content will be liable if anyone uploads copyrighted materials without permission. That means that if someone uploads a video to YouTube that infringes a copyright, movie studios would be able to have all of YouTubes services cut off and whole swaths of legal content will be censored as a result.

That isn’t even the worst of it. Currently under the DMCA, copyright holders can only ask for certain content to be removed. If the site owner removes said content they maintain what is called “safe harbor” protections. This prevents the site owner from being sued for copyright infringement for something a user of the site did. This is a good thing for sites like YouTube because safe harbors have allowed it to continue to operate and be a vessel of free speech for millions of people.

Under SOPA, all that goes away. Now, it doesn’t matter what the site owner does, they will have no safe harbor to protect them. If only one person uploads a copyrighted song or video, the whole site is gone even if the rest of the millions of videos are perfectly legal.

Additionally, SOPA and PROTECT-IP have no punishment for false accusations. A copyright holder can have a site removed and if it turns out to be a completely legal site, there is no punishment for the false takedown. Nothing happens to that copyright holder. That is beyond bad. There should be some kind of punishment such as a fine of $150,000 per false takedown. But no. They can get away with it.

One last thing I would like to share is that under these laws there is also no court involved. Copyright holders can just fire off letters at will to ISPs, DNS providers, Credit card companies and ad companies and those companies have to follow the law or they can be prosecuted for copyright infringement that had ZERO to do with them. This is absurd on a major level. These companies are completely neutral in all this but they run the risk of being prosecuted themselves if they don’t comply. Not with a court order, but with a letter from some random person or company. If a court were involved, these copyright holders would have to prove that the site is actually infringing before anything could happen, but the content industries don’t want to have to get a court order. They feel it is too much work.

In the end, these laws are not about stopping piracy. These laws are about unloading the burden of policing the content of copyright holders like those under the RIAA, MPAA and ESA onto third parties that have absolutely no power to control what users of the internet do. They don’t want to have to do the work themselves.

These bills need to stop now before they can be voted into law. Using the link provided at the beginning of this post and that can be found by clicking the black bar over our logo, you can contact your Senators and Congressman and tell them not to vote for this legislation. Tell them that you like our internet as it is.

You can find more information about these bills at the following location:

The Definitive Post On Why SOPA And Protect IP Are Bad, Bad Ideas
Congress considers anti-piracy bills that could cripple Internet industries

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The Police State: A Weapon Used By A Fearful Government

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. (Doctrine and Covenants 121: 7-8)

You probably have already seen it all over the web. I know I have. I am talking about the video of one Officer John Pike seemingly spraying a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters with a casual disregard for their well being. This image has become the symbol of a government so fearful of its people that it resorts to violence to silence them. This image has been photoshopped into numerous pictures to highlight the ridiculousness of the whole ordeal.

Just why is this happening? We hear on the news on a daily basis of the protests in Syria that are being cracked down upon by the Syrian government with the use of lethal force. We condemn the Syrian government and demand that the Syrian President leave his office to let a new leader take over. Yet, here we are with a similar situation and we resort to violence to silence citizens who are exercising their First Amendment right to freely and peaceably assemble. Continue reading

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Which Does the US Have: Free Markets Or Crony Capitalism

And Whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread all over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed… (Ether 8:22; Book of Mormon)

With the Occupy Wall Street movement having been in place for a number of weeks now, I have contemplated a number of issues that I think should be of primary focus of this movement and anyone who sympathizes with them. The Occupy movement has at its core the idea that the top 1% of the US control way too much power and wealth and are hindering the growth of the other 99%. In a way, they are right. There is a seemingly imbalance between the two groups.

However, I think the focus of the movement is a little out of whack. First, there is nothing wrong with being industrious and turning your talents into wealth. As the parable told by the Savior of the man who left varying number of talents with his servants with the commandment that they increase those talents shows. (Matthew 25: 14-30; Bible) The two who turned their 5 talents into 10 and 2 talents into 4, respectively, showed that the Lord looks with admiration and respect to those who are industrious with what they are given no matter how much or little. The third servant who hid his talent away and squandered his time was punished because of his idleness. As with this parable, so are we. We are as these servants. Some of us have been given 5, others 2 and yet still others 1. It doesn’t matter what we do with them as long as we increase them through industry in whatever trade we seek. This is something that the Occupy movement refuses to accept. The majority lump all wealthy people into the same class, that of cronies. Continue reading

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Filed under Economic Liberty

What Qualifies as Fair Taxation?

And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike… (Mosiah 29:32; Book of Mormon)

There has been a lot of discussion in the political world about taxation and how the rich need to pay their “fair share” of the tax burden. I could go into a lot about the actual economic facts about the situation that show that the rich do pay far more than the rest of us. However, what I would like to focus on today is just what is a “fair tax” and how can it be implemented.

As a Libertarian, I want to reduce the total tax burden of all citizens in this nation. There is no reason we should have to pay income, sales, excise, import, inheritance, property taxes and the many more we must pay everyday. The Federal, State and Local governments place a huge burden on the people of this nation. What we really need to do is streamline the tax system and implement a fair tax. Continue reading

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Filed under Economic Liberty

Debt: Financial Prison

Pay the debt thou hast contracted… Release thyself from bondage. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:35)

Those are some strong words. The fact that the Lord equates debt with bondage is something that we should all keep in mind.

Currently the US is facing some of that hardest of economic times we have ever faced. The main cause of this “recession” is the copious amounts of debt that the citizens and the government itself has allowed ourselves to get into. People borrowed money in order to buy houses they could not afford otherwise. The government passed regulation to allow people to borrow money even though there was a high risk of default. The government has been borrowing money in order to meet the obligations it has set upon itself for the last few decades. Frankly, we are in bondage to our debtors. Continue reading

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Filed under Economic Liberty

People Are Talking About Mormons

If there is one good thing I can say about the Romney and Huntsman bids for the GOP presidential primary, it would be that it is getting people talking about the legitimacy of a Mormon running for the highest elected office in the US. We already have Mormon Congressmen, Senators, Governors etc, but we have yet had a Mormon President. If it weren’t for my disdain of Romney and Huntsman’s politics, I might be convinced to seriously consider them for president.

All this is leading to a lot of people talking about Mormons. One instance of this is a recent Blogging Heads discussion between two journalists, Erica Grieder and Kathrine Mangu-Ward.

I have embedded the two relevant sections of the discussion below. Aside from some serious inaccuracies of the founding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they do raise some good points on why the anti-Mormon efforts to belittle the legitimacy Romney and Huntsman bids for president are unfounded. Continue reading

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Quality Entertainment: Video Games and Beyond

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (Articles of Faith: 13)

I find the circumstances around two separate events between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Supreme Court of the United States to be so compelling, it requires some comments from me on this blog.

The first event I want to emphasize is the ruling from the Supreme Court on the issue of violent video games. In this ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that video games of all types, not just violent ones, are protected by the first Amendment. They ruled that a law that would restrict the sales of violent video games was an unconstitutional violation of our rights to free speech.

I liked this ruling as it exercises a very libertarian view of the First Amendment in that the protection of that part of the Constitution is absolute. You can read more of my thoughts on this ruling on my personal blog.

The other event that I find interesting is an article in the New Era, a monthly publication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aimed toward the youth in the world. This article poses the question “Is the Church against all video games or just the violent ones?” Now this question may have been posed because of recent events, as this edition of the New Era was written with full knowledge of the coming ruling from the Supreme Court. Aside from that, the actual answer is pretty good advice. I want to emphasize a few points. Continue reading

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Filed under Personal Liberty