Religion: What is it for really

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Recently I had the opportunity to talk to a friend of mine who I don’t get to talk to or see much due to his wife having a severe hatred for me. I was lucky enough to bump into him when I was downtown with 2 of my kids and my wife. He expressed to me that he no longer believes in the church and does not trust religion because he feels that it is used to control and manipulate him. He told me that supposedly the church had become corrupted by satanic influence in the church leadership and such rituals of satanic influence were being practiced under the salt lake temple and church leadership were living double lives deceiving the members of the church.  All of which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

I knew that he had been inactive for years and had always been concerned about him and his wife. I told him how I felt about such accusations and it saddens me that he has come to such a conclusion. I told him that it simply would not be possible for the church leadership to worship the devil and God at the same time, nor would it be possible for them to hide such a double life from the membership of the church. It is not in the program and simply would not and could not work. I told him that this is God’s church and he would not permit the leadership of the church to do such a thing. Those who worship the devil could not provide such prophetic council to the members every 6 months.

I could not deny however that religion has been used as a method of control over large populations for thousands of years. Religion has been a tool of the devil to control populations and to limit knowledge. That is the beauty of the modern-day church however. It does not control us but frees us to pursue knowledge and question our faith if need be so that we might come out of it stronger than before. It is through that agency to question what we are taught and told that we can come to know of the truth whether those truths be found in scripture or other sources. The evil and devilish influence in this word is rapidly destroying all that is good and wholesome serves to support and solidify my faith in the gospel, as all these things were prophesied since early days. Men’s hearts would fail them for the calamities of the world.

I have seen the other side. I know what it is like to live outside the church. I struggled with drugs, sex, and alcohol for a time. It was a miserable life and I was not happy. How could a church that is run by devil worshiping leaders possibly have brought such happiness and love to my life. It just does not make sense.

What then is religion all about. Why do I have the faith I do. Such a question to ponder is not one I can come up with an easy answer to. But There is one none the less. What has the church done for me? What has it done for my family?

Throughout my life I have searched for happiness from a variety of sources. All of which have failed to provide the happiness that we all seek until I embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church and the gospel is the foundation for happiness.

Sadly however religion has been used throughout history as a means of control, to wage war, to oppress good and honest people and it is still used in such ways today. Does that make the church false or untrue? I supposed it would to some people. The crusade was a terrible war waged on those who did not believe in the same religion. Religion was used as a tool to hunt, destroy and oppress those who did not agree with them or worshiped other gods and other forms of religion.  10’s of thousands died in the crusades. Hitler exterminated 100’s of thousands of those who opposed him in what could be considered the Nazi religion, (Nazi was a form of religion in that it had a belief system that “the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: as it could be defined) Much of the worlds reported terrorist activity are described as “extreme Islam” which is a religion of the world. It can be hard to deny that religion has been a tool to inflict and cause much suffering throughout the world.

Does that make religion wrong? does it make it a tool of evil as my friend seems to have come to believe? Has religion done any good given its bloody and war-torn history? I believe that it has. I have seen the fruits of my religious observance within my own life. I have been blessed to such a large extreme in my home, my family, my faith, I have overcome depression to a large extent because of my religious belief. I have been blessed with a strong and wonderful wife who because of her own religious convictions has not left me when I am sure all other women would.

There are countless examples of the good that religion has done. Mother Teresa for example spent her entire life serving others with no thought of reward for her efforts and she is I am sure reaping the blessings of a life of godly service. Islamic charities around the world have provided aid and relief to those suffering from natural disasters and the very small amount of Muslim involved in terrorism is nothing compared to the whole Islamic community as a whole whom I believe to be good people poorly presented on the world stage because it does not fit in the program of western political ideology. There are extremest on all sides, we only hear about the one side because it does not fit the script otherwise.

Religion has been the fundamental building block of society since the earliest days of recorded history. This is because it is truth and truth is the cornerstone of a stable society. Religion gives us guidance and direction on how to live better and more successful lives. It shows us how to be happy and how in serving others we can come to know the blessings of joy, peace and prosperity.

Religion used as a tool for control and means of war is the direct result of the agency of man. Not because God is bad, or evil or anything like that. God loves us and gave us the tools for survival and happiness. Religion applied properly will bring about the joy that awaits us in this life and the next. Sadly many who believe they are applying religion as it was meant to be, cause harm greater than the harm they claim to want to stop or prevent by forcing their ideals on another group of people, citing scripture as proof that what they are doing is right. However I do not recall ever reading anything in any scriptural text that says you must force your religion on others and this is acceptable to God and this is what he expects of you.

This is a gospel of peace not war, we are told to protect and defend our selves but we are not to be the aggressor, we are to preach, but we are not condemn, we are to hate the sin but love the sinner, we are to help without thought for the sins of those we are helping, we are to LOVE not hate and that is what religion is good for, that is what religion has taught me. What has your religion done for you?

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The Sixth Article of Faith

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“We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”

The organization of the church was established by Christ, not just in modern revelation but in biblical scripture as well, when Christ came to the world and started his ministry. His first task was organizing his priesthood. He started by calling apostles. 12 Men that would lead his church in his absence. Christ also called other General authority’s to assist the 12 whom he called to church leadership. These other General authorities were referred to as seventy

Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

From the top down the churches leadership structure supports efficient operation of the lords church in latter days. Christ recognized this and has organized his latter-day church accordingly. While changes in organizational structure have occurred over the years the basic fundamentals and priesthood offices have remained the same.

From the top down a basic summary is what follows as the current church leadership and organizational structure of the church.

At the head of the church is Jesus Christ or lord and savior. It is Christ that is the leader of the church and it is under his direction that all things are done within the church. All those who serve in the church do so under Christ and his direction.

Under Christ is the first presidency which consists of President Thomas S Monson president of the church and prophet of the world. With him his 2 Councillors Henry B Eyring and Dieter F Uchtdorf.

The Quorum of the 12 Apostles is below them and has the following members Boyd K packer, L Tom Perry, Russel M Nelson, Dallin H oaks, M Russell Ballard, Richard G Scott, Robert D Hales, Jeffrey R Holland, David a Bednar, Quentin L cook, D Todd Christopherson, and Neil L Anderson.

All 15 of these men are sustained as prophets sears and revelators in the last days. They have all be called of God to their prophetic callings within the lords church. But the organization does not stop there. Under the 12 Apostles comes the quorum’s of the seventy of which there are currently 8 quorum’s of the seventy each made up of 70 members. Only the first 2 quorum’s however are considered general authorities while the rest are area seventies. Of the quorum’s of the seventy there are 7 Presidents who over sea the 8 quorums within the church.

Under the area seventies comes the stake presidency made up of 3 men who over see a group of congregations called wards. The stake is also composed of a high council made up of 12 high Councillors who sit in council with the stake presidency. Each ward is presided over by a bishop. The high Councillors representing the wards and branches contained with the stake.

At the ward level we have bishops and their Councillors. Under the bishops or branch president we have the priesthood leadership at the ward level consisting of  elders, high priest, deacons, teachers quorum’s presidents as well as other auxiliaries such as relief society, young men, young women, primary, Sunday school so forth and so on. Each one of these organizations also have 2 Councillors to assist the respective presidents.

Through this organization effectively leadership can handle the issue the church deals with on a daily basis. This is the organization that Christ had set up in ancient of days. For the church to function it must be run in the manner that the Lord has proscribed for his church. It must follow after his organization because it is his church.

The church as it stands today has truly been inspired and Organized by God the father and his son Jesus Christ. It is through him that the Lords church has once again been reorganized as Christ organized it in ancient days. No other christian church that I am aware has been organized in such a manner except maybe the RLDS which follow after the pattern of the LDS church.

With such an organization with Christ at the head the church is destined to fill the whole earth and will and is unstoppable in the last days.

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Government What is it Good For

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This past weekend we had a bit of a family get together to celebrate my Daughters birthday as well as my birthday. My cousin and his wife joined us and I had asked him if he will support me as I seek the nomination for the Libertarian party of Canada for the 2019 federal election. He said that he does not think he could do that given that Libertarians support the legalization of Marijuana, gay marriage and other such aspects.

I had asked him is it not possible to be strongly morally and ethically opposed to something while at the same time understanding that we do not have a right to force our ethics, morals, and ideology on others. I had asked him if everything that the church stands for in the gospel and otherwise should be made the law and everyone would have to live it. He said yes. I asked him if we would honestly then force everyone to be LDS against their will and if that is truly moral and right. At this point he left the conversation and I continued with his wife who seemed to feel that I have some great thoughts that while she may not fully agree it gives something to think about.

As I was thinking about this conversation My mind was brought to Doctrine and Covenants Section 134 which explains the Churches position on government and I have found it to be a very Libertarian View in our position on Government and Its purpose.

 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

This section starts out with a basic statement with regard to our responsibilities relating to government. We will be held accountable for how we behave in relation to our government however our government (meaning those who are elected to office) will be held accountable for how they behave in relation to us the people. Law’s are to be made for the good and safety of society.

When it comes to laws for the good and safety of society that does not mean that everything that is bad for us should be outlawed by default simply because it is not good for us. That is a slippery slope and does not contribute to the safety or good of society. This would rather have the effect of creating black markets and criminals out of people who are now committing crimes that have no victims, more victimless crimes. Laws need to be designed to benefit. As the phrase says “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” If the law you propose will create more crime and increase the burden on law enforcement, and the act that is being outlawed serves no real harm to others then it probably is not for the good or safety of society.

In the case of marijuana as an example there are countless other substances that are much more destructive to our bodies, such as cigarettes, alcohol, even regular consumption of coke will have greater harm on the body and in many cases is more addictive than smoking a joint. More deaths are related to alcohol and other legal substances than have ever been reported from smoking a joint, in fact I have never heard of a case of a marijuana overdose death. Given that we have to ask is such laws prohibited such a substance good or bad for society? has it served any benefit? if so what benefit has resulted from barring such a substance?

I am not suggesting that we should use marijuana or that it is good for you. I am not saying that to do so would be of benefit but rather trying to point out that some laws cause more harm that good and we need to look at the cost – benefit equation to ensure they are good laws. I drink a lot of coke, I know it’s not good for me but that does not mean it should be outlawed. That is a choice that I have to make.

  We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

This Statement is a very clear statement of libertarian values. When governments begin to pass laws that do not secure the free exercise of conscience we move toward a society of state control. Laws that legislated morality such as laws against drugs use and gambling for example do not secure the free exercise of conscience but rather try to legislate our decision and remove the ability for us to exercise our conscience as we see best fit. The right to control of property as we see fit is vital to our peace and prosperity. The right to defense of our property through any reasonable means and the protection of life is ordained of God and vital to the success of any society.

I was having a conversation with a friend at work who was saying that it is wrong to kill under any circumstances even when the life and well-being of our family was at risk. I had asked her how she can justify sacrificing her family to protect the one inflicting said harm. I do not believe that God would allow our families to come to extreme harm for the sake of not inflicting harm on the one threatening us. We are perfectly justified in defending our families and homes with deadly force if necessary even against the state. As this verse states “no government can exist in peace” unless they hold to the principles in this verse of scripture. Sadly governments around the world are rapidly moving away from these principles.

 We believe that all governments necessarily require acivil bofficers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

Wherever there is government their needs be those who will administer said government, whether through elected officials or otherwise. We have an obligation to ensure that we are supporting those that will uphold and administer with equity and justice. Noticeable in this verse there is not a statement indicating the will of the people should be upheld but rather equity and justice. Thus if the people choose corruption, that is the result we get, if the people choose equity and justice then that is what we will get. It is through equity and justice that peace can be established within our societies and homes. Equity and justice is fundamental to the administration of a healthy, happy and righteousness society.

When politicians play favorites with business buddies or fellow civil servants corruption springs forth, equity and justice disappear and the people suffer. “When the wicked rule the people mourn.”

Equality does not mean the same and this must be understood. No 2 of us are the same and never will be. Equity will not always mean we get what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. Justice Means that those who commit crimes will be punished accordingly and those who earn rewards will be given them accordingly.

 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of aworship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

As all men answer to God in the end the state or government does not have the right to prescribe rules of worship. The only time the state should get involved is if the religious beliefs prevent, or forcibly infringe on the rights of others. Some religious practices do this now such as polygamist sects where the marriages are not by consent but assigned or dictated by the religious leader. This would be an example of religious opinion infringing on the rights and liberties of others.

But what about human law prescribing rules of worship? or dictating forms of public or private devotion. This happens in many ways. I had mentioned in previous post titled Why I have decided to run as a libertarian candidate, there are many examples of the state forcing via threat of severe financial penalty and other extreme measures to provide services business owners have religious and moral objections to. The state is effectively proscribing rules of public devotion concerning ones faith. If we cannot be safe in our conviction publicly and privately we have lost our liberties.

When the state steps in and dictates how we are to think, who we are to serve, and how our faith is to be manifested in the private or public sphere they are enforcing or binding our consciences. No government has the moral, religious, ethical or moral authority to do so. To do so suppresses the freedom of the soul to which we all have been given the gift of agency to choose for our selves. It is this freedom or agency that gives us the freedom of our souls.

 We believe that all men are bound to asustain and uphold the respective bgovernments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and crebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

This is one of my favorite verses from this section of the Doctrine and Covenants. In this verse we learn that as part of LDS beliefs we do believe in upholding our respective government, however there is a condition to supporting said government. That condition is that we are to uphold the state so long as our inalienable rights are protected by the state. As soon as the state begins to pass laws that restrict and remove our rights as citizens we are no longer required to uphold such a government. As long as the state respects our rights and liberties rebellion is not acceptable. All laws passed by the state must hold sacred our freedoms. liberties and rights as citizens.

We as people are responsible for ensuring that we elect to office those who will hold sacred our liberties and freedoms. When we support evil and elect evil we will no longer have the freedom of conscience that is vital and sacred to our freedom and liberties.

When it comes to enacting laws based on the public interest, it will always be in the public interested to enact laws that protect freedom and liberty not destroy or limit it.

 We believe that every man should be ahonored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the blaws all men owe crespect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

In other words It is important to respect those who are in office, even if we do not agree with their political ideology but here is the catch. Politicians roles are for the “protection of the innocent and punishment of the guilty”. All men are accountable to the laws of the land including politicians. All men owe respect to the law. And all men must be punished that violate the law regardless of their office or position within or without the government of our respective nations.

Our laws made by man are just that, man-made laws thus apply to man only and thus man-made laws cannot interfere or determine spiritual laws of any kind. The spiritual law is given by God for the purpose of determining spiritual matters. Human or man-made laws are for the regulation of secular matters within our societies while spiritual laws are responsible for our spiritual welfare, However we are answerable to God for both types of laws while with man-made laws we are only answerable to man.

 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all acitizens in the free exercise of their religious bbelief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

This verse is one of great importance. Laws are meant to protect citizens “in the free exercise of religious belief” and no law or authority has the right to deprive citizens of this God-given right. When the state tells you what to believe and how to believe it as it does not now in so many ways.  “you can’t say marriage is between man and women” for example; Bill Whatcott was brought before human rights commission for distributing what was deemed hate flyers. He was punished and dragged through court not because he actually hurt someone, but because his statements on the flyers were offensive to some people and it angered people. He did not threaten anyone by name, or personally but denounced LGBT as sodomites. Whatever you position and I do not agree with the manner in which he expressed his opinion, He did not commit a crime. The state has effectively proscribed him in his opinions. Not state has the right to deprive citizens for expressing their personal beliefs no matter how vulgar, or hateful they may be.

 We believe that the commission of crime should be apunished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public bpeace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing coffenders against good laws to punishment.

This verse is pretty straight forward in its statement and I think quite self-explanatory. You break the law you should be punished according to the “tendency to evil” of the crime committed. We have a responsibility to bring offenders to justice. Crimes are those that harm or take the rights of others away. Distributing anti gay material does not constitute a crime for example, no one has been harmed and rights have not been taken in that example.

But here is the thing with this verse, It states that we must “use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment” not all laws are good. Many like the one used against Bill Whatcott are not good laws. They censor freedom of expression and proscribe men in their opinions. Good laws are laws that will uphold our fundamental freedoms and liberties not ones that would punish us for expressing an opinion no matter how vulgar, reprehensible, hostile or evil that opinion may be.

 We do not believe it just to amingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

The idea of church and state should not mix. How then can we have a government with many politicians who have religious associations and convictions. Their religious faith influences how they behave, act, think and feel which will have an influence on the decisions they make while in office. I know that It will influence me if I were to ever be elected.

What this verse means is that no religious body should ever be in control of the government. In the dark ages the monarch was also head of the church and thus the church was the government. This is what this verse is referring to. No religious body can nor should they have any official connection to government office. Or unofficial for that matter. No church is justified in influencing the government of the land. If this were to happen the state would then be dictating to the populous their religious practice and thus freedom of religion would be taken from the people.

 10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, aaccording to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has bauthority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

In other words no religious body has any legal authority or right to punish its members through secular means. Secular crime and punishment should be handled by the state while spiritual crime should be handled by the church. The church can only proscribe spiritual discipline on its members. Any religious punishment that involved physical harm, taking personal property or otherwise threatening liberty, freedom, life or limb is in violation of personal liberties and freedoms.

 11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all awrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in bdefending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.

This verse is again one of my favorites in this section. When our personal liberties, freedoms, properties, character and so forth have been impeded on then we should be able to appeal to the state for redress. However there is a catch to this “Where such laws exist as will protect the same”. Meaning that an appeal to the state will only be available if the state protects those said freedoms in the first place.

We have the right and are justified in defending our livelihoods, friends, families, homes and so forth from assault and encroachments but what happens when it is the state that is committing unlawful assaults and encroachments this is where the “immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws and relief afforded”. When the law is the problem we cannot appeal to said law, however we are still fully justified in defending our freedoms and liberties even when unlawful to do so. There is no contingency here that says “all men are justified, unless the state is the problem then you must submit”. We are justified in defending our freedoms. Period. No matter who is infringing on them.

 12 We believe it just to apreach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bbond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in cservitude.

While this verse talks specifically about slavery and those held in bondage this ideology can be expanded upon to cover not just slavery but to political interference with any nations at all. We do not have the moral right or authority to dictate to other nations how they are to manage their culture, country or citizens of their country. It has been proven time and time again that political interference in the affairs of other nations have caused more harm than good and often leads to war not freedom and liberty. When we get involved via military or otherwise we may get rid of the regime we don’t like but the replacement for said regime is often no better than the one we got rid of. Some wise words I once heard “when the rich wage war the poor suffer”

Preaching the Gospel is important and justified but not at the expense of the people we want to preach to as this does not bring the gospel but rather suffering and death. We must work with the governments of other nations to bring about the ideals that we want to see in this world, not by force but for mutual benefit.

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By Andrew McLean Posted in Orginals