Ol' Buffalo Soapbox

Error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -- Thomas Jefferson
As long as man's beliefs, or any part of them, are based on error, he is not completely free, for the chains of error bind his mind. -- Bruce R. McConkie
You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. -- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

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Texas government agents raided a compound owned by and for members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS). They removed over 400 children. Over 100 women chose to join the children in shelters, presumably mothers trying to say with their children. Unfortunately, Texas kidnapped these children and women so clumsily that it took a week to count them! Now, they are placing them in homes with government-approved religious (or non-religious) environments. It appears that the children will be placed in foster homes and may never return to their parents. The raid was a response to an alleged anonymous phone call from a female who claimed she is a pregnant 16-year-old girl who was forced into marriage to a man three times her age. It now is evident that the call was a malicious hoax from someone who is trying to damage the FLDS church. I acknowledge the need for state intervention when a specific crime is identified. This is what Arizona and Utah have done in dealing with the FLDS church. These states identify a specific offender and his victim(s). They then prosecute. But does the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), do that? No, based on an anonymous phone call (a hoax) and with no investigation whatsoever and with no clear evidence that a crime had been committed by anyone, they attacked an entire religion and community with the unconstitutional assumption that everyone is guilty. To justify their ill-considered strike, they are now on a fishing expedition to find a crime of any kind -- even if they have to create their own evidence with DNA testing. They have needlessly and unlawfully torn apart scores of families and must be held accountable. Unfortunately DFPS agents in any state are rarely held accountable for the havoc they wreak. I don't see the police raiding an entire apartment complex and taking away all the women and children that live in the complex just because there was one 911 call regarding abuse. But that is exactly what happened in this case. Those citizens who support this attack on the FLDS church must think about what DFPS agents will do tomorrow to parents who send their children to Bible camp -- or to those who don't. Or parents who send their children to Christian schools -- or to those who don't. Or those who take their children to a Methodist church -- or those who don't. We would do well to remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller, "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me." I am not affiliated with the FLDS church nor do I support their polygamous lifestyle. I find their practice of arranged marriages involving children repugnant. I am repulsed by a church leadership that takes wives and children from a man who doesn't toe the line and gives those families to another man who is deemed more faithful. But I do support human rights, the rule of law, and I oppose unaccountable government agents who impose their arbitrary will on innocent people. On the other hand, maybe this raid, combined with the imprisonment of Warren Jeffs, will get the FLDS leadership to modify their practices a bit. There is no question that child rape has at least occasionally been an accepted practice in this church. That practice must stop. This is cultural and religious genocide. Be very careful Texans, next they will take your children because you "force" your own children to attend a Bible camp run by Baptists! (12 Apr 2008)

I've read statistics that show that Utah is highest in use of Prozac and other anti-depressants. Other statistics say Utah has the highest divorce rate of any state in the Union. Some people use these statistics to challenge the value and values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons or LDS). However, these statistics can be misleading because of the way samples were taken. The studies did not differentiate between practicing LDS church members, non-practicing LDS church members, members of other churches, and non-religious persons. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." (Disraeli) "Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable." (Laurence Peter) I have a book (Religion, Mental Health and the Latter-day Saints by Daniel K. Judd) that cites a study showing that there is no difference in depression rates of LDS and non-LDS people. Therefore, if Utah is highest in Prozac use, that would seem to be a measure of our prescription rate -- not of depression itself.  However, one must consider that not all Utahns are members of the LDS church. If Utahns who are not practicing members of the LDS church have a disproportionately high rate of depression, it could elevate the average depression rate, but not necessarily be indicative of mental health problems among active church members. Other studies indicate that Utah also has the highest divorce and use-of-pornography rates. But, you rarely see divorced people sharing your pew (dunno about porn, but the emphasis on the subject by church leadership indicates there may be a serious problem). I once saw a survey that showed that only 5% of members of a stake in Southern California (San Diego, if I recall correctly) had been divorced. If that 5% divorce rate (or even triple that) is also typical of Utah Mormons, the "Gentiles" and "Jack-Mormons" would have to have a much higher divorce rate than the national average to put Utah at the top of the divorce rate. Judd's book cites a survey that shows an overall divorce rate of 14% for LDS men and 19% for LDS women. However, the survey indicates that 5.4% of temple-married men have been divorced as compared to 27.8% of non-temple-married LDS men. Statistics for LDS women are very similar. These figures indicate that faithful adherence to the standards of the LDS church is good insurance against divorce. My theory is that rebellion against the teachings instilled in LDS members is what characterizes those who are prone to divorce and depression. Conversely, learning to sacrifice for a higher cause (regular church attendance, tithing and other offerings, fasting, living the LDS health code, attending Seminary and Institute -- especially early-morning Seminary, missions, chastity, serving church callings, etc.) teaches active members the skills needed to better resolve personal and marital problems. I'd like to see a survey that compares divorce and depression (or anti-depressant use) rates between temple recommend holders, baptized LDS members who are inactive, and the rest of the adult population. I think that one would see the highest rate of problems among the inactive LDS. (9 Mar 2008)

Salt Lake City recently enacted a "domestic partnership registry". The Salt Lake domestic partnership registry gives legal recognition to alternative relationships and civil unions, sending a message which conflicts with the purpose and intent of Utah's Marriage Amendment 3 (defining marriage as the "legal union between a man and a woman"). Even though the registry is a city ordinance, what happens in Salt Lake City does not stay in Salt Lake City. It influences the rest of Utah. The destruction of the natural family and the weakening of the institution of marriage has come at a very high cost to society. Because of this, every person benefits from public policies that encourage and preserve the institution of traditional marriage. Because I disagree with the Salt Lake Registry and any other effort to trivialize the natural family, I support Utah Senate Bill 299 which would prohibit anti-family ordinances like the "domestic partnership registry" recently enacted in Salt Lake City. (1 Mar 2008)

HR-2015 (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) (ENDA) was introduced as HR-2015 purportedly to prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In reality, this bill further attempts to legitimize deviant and destructive behavior by forcing it upon virtually everyone in the nation. As worded, this bill prohibits any company or organization which employs 15 or more persons from discriminating against persons with deviant sexual behaviors such as homosexuality. ENDA abolishes the concept of male/female and forces employers to accept the idea that gender exists only in the mind. Employers will be forced to defend against frivolous complaints about dress and grooming standards. For example, a man who wants to wear a mini skirt to work can complain that the employer is discriminating, when the employer is simply upholding a corporate image. Companies could not refuse to hire a man who wanted to be a woman, dress like a woman and use the woman's restroom! With very narrow exceptions, it would force churches, church-run schools, church-run adoption agencies, etc. to employ persons who violate the church's moral standards. It would force the Boy Scouts to hire persons who violate the very standards of conduct they try to teach to the next generation. This bill clearly violates our Constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of association by forcing us to associate with persons whose behavior we find to be abhorrent. This is just one more example of Congress and the federal government imposing its will upon the people simply because few members of Congress have the moral courage to say no to to immorality, anti-family agendas, and self-destructive behavior. At what point will Congress finally draw the line? Pedophilia? Bestiality? Necrophilia? This bill must be stopped immediately! (20 Sep 2007)

"Haven't you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?' So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don't let man tear apart." (Matthew 19:4-6) Marriage is an institution established by God. Only in relatively recent years have governments assumed the role of managing this spiritual institution. Now, courts and even legislatures are willing to "tear apart" what "God has joined together". Experts consistently say a child does best when raised in an intact home by his/her father and mother. Congress, the courts and the Whitehouse must take every possible step to avoid harming that intact traditional family through misguided government programs. Governments must also take every possible step to ensure the success of that intact traditional family. I am wary of any changes to the US Constitution, whether formally by amendment or informally, by judicial activism. Nevertheless, I see the Marriage Amendment as the last stand against anti-traditional forces. (13 Jul 2006)

Arthur Frommer, author of Frommer's Travel Guides has called for a boycott of Kanab, Utah because the town announced its support for the traditional family. I will not buy books from anyone who is an anti-family bigot. (17 Mar 2006)

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If the government and the teachers unions wanted students to be better educated, they would be better educated. The fact that most graduates of public schools are poorly prepared in basic academic skills, civics, ethics, morality, and critical thinking indicates that this is exactly what the government and the unions want. And, parents expect nothing more because they are products of the same school system and are too busy in their careers to be bothered with the proper education of their own children. (1 Jan 2007)

Today, I received an email from my Congressional representative, Jim Matheson. He proudly reported on the passage of the "College Cost Reduction and Access Act", which he describes as "the biggest federal boost in student aid in more than 50 years". Sounds like higher taxes to me. I ask every Congressman and every voter to please identify the portion of the US Constitution that allows Congress to pass legislation such as the "College Cost Reduction and Access Act". Failing that, please review the 10th Amendment to see what the role of Congress is with regard to education and to all other issues not specifically listed in the Constitution. Bills such as this are exactly why the federal government is so bloated and costly. Ironically, Congressional meddling in education, including student financial aid, is directly related to the fact that the cost of higher education consistently rises faster than the cost of living and the income of average Americans. Congress has added so much costly, inefficient, and eternal bureaucracy in areas for which it has no Constitutional authority, such as education, that I am amazed that the people have not yet risen in armed rebellion as it did against King George. If there is any bill that desperately needs to be passed through Congress, it is a bill requiring every congressman, judge, and the President to take initial and daily recurrent training in the Constitution as it was intended by our founders. Now, there's an education bill I can support! (9 Sep 2007)

Our government schools desperately need competition. When taxpayers are required to cough up money to run government schools, it reduces their ability to send their children to non-government schools that give better results without the socialist indoctrination imposed by NEA teachers. Vouchers are a big step in the right direction. My big complaint is the income-based sliding scale the Utah legislature imposed. If a taxpayer pays $3000 in taxes to support a child in the government school system, he should get full credit for that money if he chooses to send his family to non-government schools. He should not be required to also support a school system that is crippled by the NEA. (23 Sep 2007)

From its omission from the US Constitution, it is clear that the founders never intended for the Federal government to have a role in education. According to the 10th Amendment, that role is retained by the states and the people. One area that the Constitution does allow Congress to regulate is interstate and international commerce. In order to stick its nose in education and to establish the Department of Education, Congress has said that in as much as educated people are involved in interstate and international commerce, they can therefore regulate education. This is only one of countless abuses of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Congressional and Federal meddling in education is not authorized by the Constitution and therefore is unconstitutional. An ignorant public (says a lot about our Federally-controlled education system) and a colluding Supreme Court have allowed this abuse of the Commerce Clause to continually expand Federal intrusion into individual and states' rights. It must stop. (15 Nov 2006)

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