South Georgia Feb. 23, 2005 edition
Really Represent You?
by John R. Taylor
For the first time in, - - well, ever, there is a Republican
President, both houses of congress are controlled by Republicans, the
Governor is a Republican, and the entire state legislature is
controlled by Republicans. They are definitely in charge, but do their
ideas represent your ideas?
As a preface to my remarks let me say three things - firstly, I have
voted for and supported Republicans for almost thirty years and will
for the foreseeable future most likely continue to do so. So I am no
attack dog for the democrats. But I have supported Republicans and
will continue to do so because I see them as the lesser of two evils,
not because they fully express may dream of what American government
ought to be. Now don't for a minute think I am espousing a third
party, I am not. In the current system a third party does more harm
than good. (Read my articles on the Electoral College, you can find
them online at viewsandnews.ucan.us.)
Secondly, there is a great and terrible reality to our government, and
that is that there is little difference between the extremes of one
party and another. This is great because it protects us from an over
zealous nut that might other wise cause immense damage to the nation.
It is terrible because is also prevents a great leader from making
monumental changes for the good, or at least from making those changes
And lastly - having said there is little difference, there is one
thing which might make a big difference- terrorist or rogue nations
with weapons of mass destruction. With the wrong Commander and Chief,
millions of American lives may one day be needlessly lost.
The rise of the Republican Party, particularly in the south is not so
much a result of the party's fiscal, that is monetary, policy, as it
is the party's social policies. Most hardworking Americans recognize
that much of the Republican platform disproportionately favors the
very wealthy individuals and large corporations over the common man
and small business. But they also recognize that the Democrats are
equally bias against them in favor of those who want something for
nothing. Be all this as it may, it is not these money issues which
have relegated the democratic parity to minority status. It is the
democrats' willingness to scorn Christianity, marriage, honor,
chastity, and traditional moral values as outdated and unimportant
that has turned the electorate against them.
Does the Republican Party Really Represent You? Will odds are that it
does much more closely represent your views of right and wrong than
does the democratic party, but there is still much we could hope for.
The wealth gap and the income gap is forever widening in this country.
The poor are getting poorer and the rich getting richer. While it is
naive to really expect to one day live in a world that has no rich and
no poor, it is realistic to expect that one day the major factors
determining if you are rich or poor have to do with your work and
savings habits, not the origin of your genes. The Wal-marts have
driven most independent store owners out of business. Huge corporate
farms are displacing family farms. Over half the population of the
country receive some form of unearned government aid. We are rapidly
ceasing to be a manufacturing power.
It is not the Republicans alone to blame for these and other ills we
face. The democrats were more than willing to support NAFT and any
other legislation which force American companies to either go broke or
move manufacturing operations overseas. Both parties are gung-ho to
eliminate the inheritance tax, a move which will only help the richest
of the rich. While most Americans agree with them on this it is only
because they don't fully understand the facts about the tax. Most of
us, more than 99.6% of us that is, will not have estates large enough
to be taxed at all. In 2009 the first $3.5 million is not taxed at
The democrats ranted and raved about the republicans cutting the
capital gains tax, calling it a break for the rich. Never mind that it
actually greatly helped the average working family directly and
indirectly. It saved the average family money when they sold their
home and saved for their retirement, and it helped them indirectly by
encouraging companies to expand and invest in new equipment, creating
a better economy. All the while, they were going right along with the
republicans in working to end the inheritance tax, a benefit only for
multi-millionaires and billionaires.
More than anything else, we a stuck with the republicans because the
democrats are "crazy Eddie." Crazy Eddie can be best explained with an
example. Suppose there is a large ship sinking in the icy North
Atlantic. They have no lifeboats, but a rescue ship is on the way. All
they have to do is stay afloat until it arrives. If they run their
bilge pumps at the maximum they can do this. However the bilge pump
operators decide it would be a good time to go on strike for more
money and better working conditions. They do, and they and everyone
else onboard either drown or freeze to death. That's crazy Eddie. In a
real world example: the republicans say that raising the minimum wage
causes an inflationary spiral that actually hurts the lowest wage
earners. I think this is more the rich trying to keep the poor poor,
than anything else, but for our example let us suppose it is true. The
democrats would still do it. Even though it would hurt the ones they
claim to champion, they would still do it. That is crazy Eddie
Back to the Top
The usual suspects
Like many of you, I have for a number of years read in newspapers,
both large and small, about people arrested, or otherwise suspected of
all matter of unlawful or despicable actions. Most of these people
have been strangers to me, but some of them I have known of and some
of them I have known well. Now whether they indeed did the things for
which they were suspected or not, I don't know, but I do know that
when someone is arrested or convicted of a crime it is much bigger
news than when one is acquitted or when the charges are dropped.
That we as a people are all too willing to accept any and all negative
reports on someone and not nearly so willing to believe the good, is a
fact, but is not one I am going to debate here. What I am going to do
here, is to a least a little, help balance the scales. Although we do
not at this time have absolute proof, we do have a list of people who
are suspected of doing good.
Our fist case is a cold case. It is from the early 80s, but the
statute of limitations on kindness and selfless service is far longer
than those few years. The suspect is a Jerry Edmondson from Hahira
Georgia. We have reports that Edmondson would seek out a fellow
employee at dinner time, (that's lunch for you Yankees), to make sure
he had something to eat. When Edmondson would find this young man he
would take him to his home and prepare the food and see that he ate
all he wanted. Of course he never would allow the co-worker to pay him
any money, although he supplied the noonday meal for him on many
occasions. You may think that this was only minor good works, but you
were not that hungry young man. And it gets more serious. That same
young man lived in Nashville Georgia and worked with Jerry in Hahira,
not a short trip. The young man had only one car in his family and his
wife would drop him off at work, but he worked irregular hours and she
never knew when to come pick him up. He would call her when he got
off, but many times he could not reach her and would have to wait for
hours to get home after work. When Jerry found out what was happening
he would go straight away after work to look for the young man. They
did not work the same hours, but as soon as Jerry was off he would try
to find the young man. When he did he would insist on taking him home,
to Nashville. He would never allow the young man to give him any
money. When the young man began to hide so that Jerry would not have
to take him home, Jerry would look until he found him. This happened
for many weeks, involving dozens of roundtrips between Hahira and
Nashville. As best as we can discern from our research Jerry never
told anyone of these deeds of kindness.
Our next suspect is Hal Walker of Nashville. After the hurricanes hit
Florida, Walker allegedly spent three consecutive weekends in Florida
helping victims. Walker, a young husband and father with a large
family, and great time constraints, not only spent those three
weekends, cutting and lugging trees, bushes and debris from victims
yards, covering roofs with plastic, loading and unloading relief
supplies, but he also used his own van at his own expense to haul
supplies to those in need. There were no services in these areas so
Hal carried his own food and water, and extra food and water for other
relief workers. It was reported that he and the relief workers also
slept in tents with little or no comfort facilities.
Our last case spans activities over decades. Our research shows that
when Patricia Miley Tucker, AKA Tricia, was a teenage girl, her
grandmother suffered a stroke which left her a complete invalids. For
years Tricia, with the aid of her sister and mother, lovingly, cared
for her grandmother. This care involved chores and tasks many of us
would find more than objectionable. Tricia grew from a young girl to a
young woman, all the while feeding, changing, bathing and loving her
grandmother. Not long after death took her grandmother out of this
mortal world, her own mother suffered a similar stroke. For many more
years this selfless woman gave of her self again. No witnesses can be
found that have heard a word of complaint pass her lips. She
shouldered the burdens she lovingly and nobility accepted, though they
were not by right hers alone, humbly, quietly and cheerfully.
You may have heard it said, "if you were on trial for being a
Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" I believe
there is enough evidence to convict our suspects.
Back to the Top
Now We Know Everything!
By John R. Taylor
The other day Cynthia Tucker wrote a column in the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution titled "Evolution a vital study; that's a fact."
It was not really any different than hundreds of others that are
churned out everyday. Her main points are that Georgia's children will
stay in the "education cellar" if a disclaimer sticker is placed on
text books which teach evolution and that many scientific theories are
accepted as implicit facts. She gives gravity as an example.
As is typical of such works, her implications are more insulting and
ridiculous than what she actually writes. Although she stops short of
calling "creationists" and "biblical literalists" ignorant, stupid,
uneducated and without intellectual merit, the implication is
unmistakable. While not saying it, her view that evolution is the one
and only scientific theory which call never be questioned and that
anyone who wishes to have an open debate about it are religious
fanatics and dumb country bumpkins, it is still very clear.
What has her, and those like her, up in arms is not that someone has
proposed to stop teaching her beloved evolution. Nor is it that
creationism is to be taught; it is not. This thing which they feel is
sure to doom all our children to ignorance and backwardness is that a
school in Georgia is going to place a sticker on textbooks, which are
filled with evolutionary teaching, which simply states that evolution
is a theory. It doesn't say evolution is wrong. It does not teach or
even mention creationism, or any other alternative to evolution. It
contains only a dozen or so words. Evolutionary teaching inside the
textbooks gets thousands of words.
Before I make my case against evolution on strictly logical grounds, I
will preface that logical augment with these words. I know how my
human progenitors came into being. God created Adam and Eve. I of
course don't know specifically how He did that, but I know he did.
That He might have used evolution to create them does not necessarily
run contrary to my faith in God; but I don't believe He did. It is the
illogicalness of evolution itself which makes me question it.
Evolution presents four problems in logic for anyone with an open and
thoughtful mind. Firstly, as Robert L. DeHaan, in another column in
the AJC trying to defend evolution, stated a theory is a hypothesis
that makes testable predictions about natural events. If those
predictions are confirmed, the theory is strengthened, but never
proved. One negative result, however, is enough to disprove it.
As scientist try to confirm evolution with empirical experimentation
they often use animals which have extremely short lives and breading
cycles. This way they can study hundreds and in some cases thousands
of generations. Fruit-flies and a species of small fish meet these
criteria and are commonly used.
In one experiment a type of fruit-fly was raised in a very dark
environment. After many generations, the fruit-flies began to have
larger eyes. In another experiment a small type of fish was raised in
a totally dark environment. After many generations the fish began to
be born without eyes. Some will point to these and other experiments
as conformations of evolution. However, let's ponder these results.
First of all, evolution is supposed to be an advancement. While a fish
living in a totally dark world may not need eyes, it certainly could
not be said that being blind is an advancement. As far as the
fruit-fly's eyes, it has never been argued that species do not adapt
to their environment.
What these experiments show more than anything else is what they can't
do. The eyeless fish will not grow eyes when placed back into the
light. If they could do that, that would be advancing to a higher
state. The poor eyeless fish has no way on sensing light so even if it
could grow eyes it would not know to. And at some point in the
evolutionary chain an organism had no organs to sense light. How then
can it sense light to know that it needs eyes. It can't. So if
evolution is correct, we, and no other life form, has eyes. They can't
make fruit-flies grow gills by placing them in an all water
environment. As a mater of fact, they cannot make anything grow an
organ which it did not already have.
This brings us to our second problem with evolution. What Cynthia
Tucker failed in her column to say is that although one can find
quotations where the theory gravity is mentioned, there are theories
which have been confirmed so often as to now be called laws. The
theory of evolution is not one of them. There is no law of evolution.
There is a law of gravity. There are also laws of thermodynamics.
Experimentation has always confirmed these laws. The 2nd law of
thermodynamics states that a system let to itself will degenerate.
This is a simplification, be it is the essence of the law. How this
applies to evolution is that a system, an organism, a planet or the
universe, left to itself can not advance to a higher plane. It can
degenerate, but not generate, retard but not advance. Biological and
cosmic evolution defy the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
The third problem with evolution is that the fossil record has no
transactional links. There has been much writer about this and there
are some good arguments on both sides of the issue. That in itself
adds questions to the evolution problem.
Lastly, and most importantly of all, the theory of cosmic evolution
has a fundamental flaw. While biological evolution is hard to separate
from natural adaptation with in a species, cosmic evolution, the
grandfather of biological evolution, is easier to simplify. And if
cosmic evolution is false then biological evolution is equally false.
To see the flaw in this theory we must go back to the beginning. Go
back before the big bang. Before what was before that. And then on
back before that. And when you have went as far back as you can go,
the evolutionist, regardless of the number of letters they may have
after their name, is left with two possibilities. One possibility:
back in the unimaginable past something appeared out of the void.
Matter or energy spontaneously came into being out of nothingness.
They themselves reject that this could have happened. The other
possibility: All matter and all energy has existed perpetually in a
steady state. Now at first they assert that there is a third option:
matter and energy have continually evolved. But were that the case,
everything evolving though time would de-evolve as you go back though
time, and then you are left with possibility one.
Have you ever noticed that throughout human history we humans have
arrogantly and haughtily thought that at the present exact time we
knew everything. At any point in our history, we have thought nothing
of looking back to our past and viewing the minds of the past as
backward and foolish. And the past is, by definition, backward; the
trouble is that today is tomorrow's past. Why can we not see the
backwardness and foolishness of our time?
While not presenting a logical impossibility, there is another paradox
to evolution, or at least to the attitudes of those who believe in it.
You see on the one hand they see humans as simply another animal,
different from but certainly not superior to other animals. They never
miss an opportunity to express our human faults, both real and
imagined. Likewise they never miss an opportunity to rave about other
animals, how they live in concert with the environment while terrible
old man lives contrary to the environment. I don't know at the times I
have heard the expression, only man does this or only man does that,
and this or that always being a negative thing. Now the paradox is
this. They give to that same man the ability to be omnificent. That
same animal that is no better and in most cases far worst than the
other animals of the world knows all. There is nothing beyond man's
grasp. We know all the answers right now. Perhaps in their minds they
can reconcile these lines of reason, but for me they are mutually
In the coming weeks we will augment this argument, but first we wish
someone to respond and enlighten us on the points thus far put forth.
Back to the Top
Will the Social Security
When FDR instigated the Social Security
system there were more than thirty people working for every retired
person. Today that number is more like three to one and will one day
soon be only two to one. With more than thirty workers paying into a
system that immediately disperses those collected funds to the
currently retired or disable recipients the system works. In this way
each worker on average only is responsible for less than one thirtieth
of a retirees check. With only two workers working for each retiree,
each worker is on the average responsible for fully one half of a
retiree's check. In short, no matter at the political talk and
arguments on each side of this issue, Social Security, as it is
presently constituted, is doomed to fail.
The answer to fixing this system in the
future is straight forward. Whether using a privatized or partially
privatized system or a revised public system, the workers of today
must have at least part of their money going into some investment
vehicle which takes advantage of the time value of money and
Most Americans don't realized just how poor
an investment Social Security is. For example if a young person began
to invest $100 per month in a tax deferred investment when they were
18 and continued to do so until they were 65 at 7.2% return on
investment they would have $470,000 to retire on. With that amount of
money they could draw out over $2800.00 per month and never touch the
principal. While it is true that CDs haven't returned 7.2% lately,
this is not an unrealistic number. The S&P 500 have averaged well
above this for the last forty years. As a matter of fact 9% would be
realistic and at that rate the $100 per month investment would grow to
over $880,000.00. A monthly retirement income of almost $7000.00 could
be drawn for life and still leave nearly a million dollars to the
In the current system workers pay in well
over the $100 per month but will never see $2800 per month let alone
the $7000 per month. With the increased life spans, coupled with
drastically reduced birthrates for wage earners, the problem is only
going to get worst, and if people want to retire at less than 85 or
90, than the current system can't work. The naysayers and fear-mongers
say that a scheme which takes advantage of the time value of money and
compounding interest is dangerous and will not work, but indeed it is
all that will work. Can you afford to have half of a retirees pension
check taken out of your salary every month? You can't, and the nation
could not stand it. It would be economic ruin for the entire country.
The only real question is how we are to fund
the retirements of those already too old to take full advantage of a
plan utilizing the benefit of the time value of money. Younger workers
could start now to have a portion of their retirement investment, (the
money they are now paying into Social Security,) go into a tax
deferred, government regulated, growth investment. I am certainly no
fan of government regulations; however the government must insure that
this plan is not abused. The last thing we as a society needs is for a
large group of citizens to foolishly invest, or not invest at all, and
then have to be supported by the tax payers.
The government has no money. The money it
spends, by the trillions of dollars, is the taxpayers', yours and
mine. All that can be done about the older workers, that have little
time for the magic of compound interest to work, is to fund, in all or
part, their retirement out of the general tax revenues of the Federal
Government. This will be a burden on the workers who have to supply
the funds for their own retirement and also provide all or part of the
funds for the retirement of those retiring under the old system, but
it is all that can be done.
This additional funding should come from cuts
in the abundance of wasteful spending our government already has and
not form in cresses in taxes. There are those who suggest that the
limit on which earnings are subject to the Social Security tax should
be raised. Raising this cap on the tax is unfair because the cap on
the pension payments are very low and the $87,900 which are now taxed
are more than fair.
Christian E. Weller, a senior economist for
the Center of American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington,
recently wrote a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled
"All Social Security needs is common sense," in which he espoused
rising taxes and doing pretty much nothing else about Social Security.
His main focus was an attack on President Bush and those he called
"conservatives," as if these were people with the plague. He also
asserted that privatizing Social Security would cause an increase in
federal debt. For someone who is suppose to be so smart, he sure has
stupid ideas. Transforming Social Security into a system which takes
advantage of the free enterprise system will lower federal debt, not
increase it. His do nothing approach will doom Social Security and
drive up federal debt. There is no way for the current system to
withstand life spans reaching to one hundred, low birthrates, and
reasonable retirement ages. It just will not work.
Back to the Top
While many of the humanists and atheists would have us believe that
religion is outdated and irrelevant in today's world, the fact is that
the overwhelming majority of the world's inhabitants have very strong
religious views. Most of the good actions, and sadly, many of the bad,
are done for religious reason. In this country we as a nation have
strayed far from our religious roots. Views & News will present an
essay on a different religion each week.
We will be as subjective, opened minded,
factual, and fair as possible. Nothing in any essay is in anyway
intended as an endorsement of any particular religion. If you would
like to dispute, correct, or add to anything presented, please submit
these to us. Christian and non-Christian religions will both be
covered and we will select their order by what we deem as relevant and
interesting at the present time. Religions that are very well known,
will be presented after those we know little of as a matter of course.
If you have missed any of our past essays on Islam, Jehovah’s
Witnesses, or the Anglican Church, you can read them online at
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
Again there is just too much material to cover
in one week's column. We presented part one last week. Part one had
"The Articles of Faith", which are the basic beliefs of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, a proclamation on the family, and a
brief overview of the Church's history. This week part two contains
statistics and more in-depth study of its history, and doctrine. Next
week we will continue with the Presbyterian Church.
The history of the Mormons is a story of revelation, persecution,
exodus, and eventual triumph.
It is a story rich in prophets and the guidance of God - remarkably
like the story of the chosen people of the Bible.
And from the very first revelation, it was clear
that the Mormons were going to be, like the Jews, the outsiders - a
people set aside.
And like the Jews, and indeed the Muslims, they
would be a people whose faith, culture and everyday life are so
intimately entwined that they can't be understood without
understanding their faith and its history.
And the Mormons too, intended and intend to build the Kingdom of God
on Earth, and to do it quite literally.
The First Revelations
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by Joseph
Smith in New York State April 6, 1830.
Smith had received a revelation from God, first
through an angel, and then through a book inscribed on golden plates.
Smith translated the writing on the plates into
the Book of Mormon, which tells the story of the ancient people of
America. It was published in 1830.
The Church was founded in 1830 and soon attracted members. From the
start it actively tried to convert people and sent missionaries out to
The first church meeting, in a farmhouse in New
York State on 6 April 1830
The Church also attracted enemies and was
persecuted by mainstream Christian church members.
Smith himself was imprisoned more than thirty
times for his faith.
In 1836 the first Mormon Temple was dedicated at
Kirtland in Ohio.
The City of Nauvoo
The church continued to grow, many of its members being converts from
England. But the persecution also continued and eventually the Mormons
moved to Illinois, where they built a new city, where they could live
and worship in peace, on the banks of the Mississippi.
The death of the prophet
The Mormon hope that they would find peace at Nauvoo was disappointed
and the persecution continued.
In 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother were
falsely arrested for criminal damage of a newspaper that had attacked
them. The jail where they were held was attacked by an armed mob, and
both brothers were shot and killed.
The Story of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, has been described by Professor Harold Bloom as "an authentic
religious genius." He was born into a poor family in 1805 in Sharon,
Vermont, USA, the fifth of eleven children. Because the family was so
poor, Joseph received very little education - learning only basic math
and literacy. But he did spend much time in Bible study.
Later the family moved to Palmyra in New York. It was a time of
religious revival and the teenage Joseph was not sure which version of
Christianity he should follow. He found a Bible text that told him to
ask God what to do.
The First Vision
Joseph went out into the country and prayed for guidance, and he had a
vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph wrote: "I saw a
pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun,
which descended gradually until it fell upon me." Two beings appeared
within the light "whose brightness and glory defy all description".
One of them spoke his name, pointed to the other, and said,
"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" Christ told Joseph that he
should not join any existing church, but should be God's agent to
restore the true Church of Christ. This vision and its effect on
Joseph are a close parallel with the vision of Paul on the Damascus
Road. Joseph went home and told his family. They supported him,
although the local churches, not surprisingly, were highly critical.
The Golden Plates
Three years later, Smith was visited by the angel Moroni and told that
he should unearth and translate a holy book written on plates of gold,
which contained the religious writings of the prophets of ancient
America. Smith wanted to take the plates immediately but was
advised by Moroni not to do so. Four years later Smith removed the
plates, and spent 3 months translating the words engraved on them into
the Book of Mormon.
Restoration of the Church
Before Joseph could fulfill the task of restoring the Church it was
necessary for him to get the authority to do it. This authority could
come only from God. In 1829 Joseph was visited by John the Baptist.
The Baptist laid hands on the heads of Smith and his colleague Oliver
Cowdery and gave them the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. Soon
afterwards, the Apostles James, Peter, and John appeared to Joseph and
Oliver and gave them the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. With
this priestly authority, Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York State on 6 April 1830. Joseph
set about building the restored church, continuing to receive direct
guidance from God on how to do it.
During the rest of his short life he translated
further scriptures, and wrote down further revelations from God, which
form a major part of Church doctrine today. He also founded the
missionary program of the Church, built several towns and was a
candidate for US President.
In 1836 the first Mormon Temple was dedicated at
Kirtland in Ohio.
He suffered much persecution, being jailed over thirty times (although
never found guilty), as well as being tarred and feathered. The
persecution eventually led to his death at the age of 38. Joseph and
his brother Hyrum were shot on 27 June 1844 by a mob of 150 men while
they were jail in Illinois on charges of riot and treason. During
Joseph's life the Church grew from six to 26,000 members.
After the murder of Joseph Smith the Mormons realized that they could
not stay safely in the heartland of America. Latter-day Saint
settlements were being attacked by mobs who burned crops, destroyed
homes and threatened the people. The Mormons were persecuted for
They didn't keep slaves, which was seen as a
threat to the surrounding slave-owning culture at a time when the
abolition of slavery was a big issue.
Their doctrine of plural marriage was seen as a
serious attack on the social and ethical rules of the period.
The rapidly growing and tightly-knit Mormon
communities had the potential to exercise considerable political
They were considered outsiders who led a
completely different sort of life.
After Smith's death the new Church leader,
Brigham Young, decided that their future lay in the American West. He
decided that the people would emigrate en-masse. It would be a
migration like that of the Israelites who had been forced to leave
Egypt in search of the Promised Land. And although the Mormons got to
their promised land sooner than the Israelites, they suffered great
hardship and suffering along the way.
The first year of migration took the 16,000
migrants to Winter Quarters by the Missouri Rivers. The second stage
of migration took them to the Rocky Mountains and to the Great Salt
Lake Basin, which they reached in 1847.
Salt Lake City
The Great Salt Lake Basin was extremely remote, and at that time was
outside the USA. It was 1000 miles from the nearest significant town
in the East, and so a very long way from their persecutors. Brigham
Young decided that this was the place where the Mormons should create
their new land.
The area was an inhospitable desert, but the Mormons were inspired by
it, and named it Zion. They gave the local river the name Jordan. And
they began to build Salt Lake City, which is still the headquarters of
The Mormons saw Salt Lake City as their holy city - Brigham Young
called it a "Kingdom of Heaven on Earth". But it was a bleak cold
kingdom, and the Mormons had to work hard to make it a livable place.
Their first job was to irrigate the land to make it soft enough to
plough and grow food. In 1848 their crops were damaged first by
drought and then by a plague of crickets. The crickets were eaten by a
flock of seagulls. The "miracle of the Seagulls" is commemorated by a
monument in Salt Lake City. They swiftly created a plan for Salt
Lake City itself, with a Mormon Temple at its heart. The Temple itself
was dedicated in 1893.
The Mormons weren't content with just one city
and within the lifetime of Brigham Young they founded another 325
The Mormons mapped out a huge area of the west which they called
Deseret (which means "honeybee"), and asked the US government to make
it a new state. The government gave them a smaller patch of land
called Utah (after the local Ute tribe of Native Americans), as a
territory, not a state. The Church leader Brigham Young (left) became
Persecution and Statehood
In 1857 the US President sent troops to Utah to put down what he had
been told was a Mormon uprising. After much confusion and preparations
for war, a settlement was negotiated and Mormon growth resumed. The
Mormon community grew rapidly, not just by having children, but also
by the mass immigration of converts from elsewhere in the USA and from
abroad. By the time of Brigham Young's death in 1877, there were
140,000 Mormons in Utah, and at one stage more than half of them were
immigrants from Britain. But more trouble was to come. The Mormons at
that time believed in plural marriage; meaning that a man could have
more than one wife. Laws were passed to make this unlawful, and legal
action was taken to suppress it. The Mormons resisted, many were
jailed for polygamy, while others, including church leaders, went
underground. A law of 1887 placed great restrictions on the Church,
removing the political rights of anyone who would not renounce
polygamy, and destroying the Church as an economic entity. In 1890,
after praying for guidance, Church President Woodruff announced an end
to plural marriage.
The end of polygamy allowed Utah and the Mormons to take their place
in the USA mainstream.
In 1896 Utah became the 45th state of the USA. The State symbol is the
beehive and the state insect is the honeybee. The beehive was chosen
by early leaders of The Church as a symbol of their ideal community;
one filled with industry and co-operation.
At the end of the 19th Century the Church was still grappling with the
money problems that had been caused during the fight to retain
polygamy. It decided to bring new life to the custom of tithing a
proportion of a member's income to the Church. Within a year church
income had doubled, and by 1907 the Church was out of debt. Having
until recently been reviled by much of the US population the Church
began to work on its image, and by the late 1920s it had become a
respected and respectable institution in the eyes of most Americans.
Dispersion and growth
The Church began to grow strongly outside its Utah stronghold; first
in California and the West Coast and then in the East and Midwest. In
the first half of the century the number of Mormons grew from 268,331
in 1900 to 979,454 in 1948. Some of this growth was due a reform of
the missionary system that provided proper training for missionaries
before they set out, and ensured that they had the funds to support
them during their service.
The second half of the 20th Century saw the Church expand massively
outside America. In 1950 only 8% of church members lived outside the
USA, by 1990 the figure was 35%. Now less than half the membership
lives in the USA. 20% of growth is due to children being born into the
faith, while 80% is due to new converts. In 1950 the Church had 8
temples, 4 of them in Utah, now it has 106 around the world. Church
membership passed 11 million in December 2000 and today is more than
The Church has a lay priesthood, with no
professional clergy. A worthy young man can be ordained to the Aaronic
Priesthood when he is 12 years old and to the Melchizedek Priesthood
when he is 18 years old. Family members usually attend the ordination
to show their love and support. Older men who join the Church as
adults may receive the priesthood whenever they are prepared to accept
the blessings and duties of the office.
Women and the priesthood
Women are not ordained to the priesthood in the Church; however,
whether on a churchwide or local level, there are many opportunities
for women to lead and serve in the Church. The Church has several
organizations that are directed by women. Those leaders regularly sit
in council with priesthood leaders.
The Relief Society is a worldwide women's
organization more than four million strong. The president of the
Relief Society is Bonnie D. Parkin, with Kathleen H. Hughes and Anne
C. Pingree serving as her counselors.
The Young Women organization serves young women
12 to 18 years of age. The Young Women general president is Susan W.
Tanner, and her counselors are Julie P. Beck and Elaine S. Dalton.
The Primary organization exists to teach
children 18 months to age 12. Coleen K. Menlove is the president of
the Primary, and Sydney S. Reynolds and Gayle M. Clegg are her
Each of these organizations also operates on a
local level, where women are responsible for the supervision of
teachers and committee members, as well as meeting the needs of Church
members who fall under their stewardship.
Women also serve as teachers, missionaries,
chapel librarians, music directors, temple workers, and activities
committee chairpersons, among other positions. Opportunities for
service are almost endless, and, working together, the women and men
of the Church can truly answer the call of the Savior, who asked His
disciples to feed His sheep (John 21:16-17).
Latter-day Saints have always been temple builders, but their chapels
and temples are not the same thing. Chapels are meeting houses where
they hold Sunday meetings and not too unlike a meeting in a protestant
church. The two notable exceptions are there is no paid ministry so
the "talks", Mormon terminology for the sermons, are given by members.
Each week there will be two or three speakers. The other main
difference is that Latter-day Saints never pass an offering plate. The
meeting house is also used during the week for other church meetings.
Temples, on the other hand, are not open to the
public. To enter a temple you must be a member is good standing, and
if a male you must hold the Melchizedek priesthood. Following is an
explanation of what goes on in LDS temples. It is form the LDS
"Temples are sacred buildings that are
considered to be the houses of the Lord. They are the most sacred
structures on the earth. Anciently, the Lord directed that
Solomon build a temple (1 Chronicles 28:1-9). After Jesus restored His
Church, He again directed that temples be built. The Church first
built temples in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois. Today the
Church builds temples throughout the world. In temples, Church members
can participate in ordinances that will unite their families forever
and help them return to God. In the temple, members:
Learn eternal truths.
Receive sacred ordinances, including those that
marry husband and wife and unite families for eternity.
Provide ordinances such as baptism for those who
have died without the ordinances (1 Peter 4:6; 1 Corinthians 15:29).
There are over 100 temples in countries
throughout the world"
Members are organized into local congregations called wards or
branches. These congregations are organized geographically, and
members attend a ward or branch near their home. Congregations meet
together on Sundays to worship. The leader of a congregation is a
bishop or a branch president. He is not paid for his service, but he
donates his time to serve the congregation. Members are called
by their leaders to serve in various positions in their congregation.
Leaders seek divine guidance when making such callings. Positions to
which one might be called include teachers, youth leaders, clerks,
etc. A member's service blesses others and provides opportunities for
the member to learn and grow.
A ward or a branch is a community in which members help each other.
Members try to follow the teachings of an ancient prophet who taught
that when we are baptized, we are "willing to bear one another's
burdens, that they may be light" and "willing to mourn with those that
mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Book of
Mormon, Mosiah 18:8-9). Through service, members lift one
another's burdens and express their love.
About a dozen wards or branches form a Stake. Stakes are presided over
by a Stake President who answers directly to the General Authorities
of the Church.
The Church is led by a president and prophet,
currently Gordon B. Hinckley.
The President has two counselors, and these three leaders constitute
the First Presidency.
The First Presidency is assisted by Twelve
Apostles, who are special witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world.
Leaders called Seventies assist the Twelve
Apostles and serve in various locations throughout the world.
Back to the Top
terrorist every time we turn the key
By John R. Taylor
You have heard all those who want to mind everybody else's business
scream about your SUV. How you should feel guilty about driving one
because you are aiding terrorist and destroying the environment. Well
maybe you are, but isn't it going a bit far when we don't have even
the freedom to choose what we drive? If we are willing to pay $50 for
a tank of fuel that will take you 200 miles, I think you should have
that right. I like paying $16 for a tank that will take me 400 miles
better; of course I'd like it better were it four or five dollars.
The problem is that we should be able to drive
what we want and can afford, and not dirty up all our air, and help
those who wish us dead. And we can. We may not do it, but it is
completely in our power to do it. What we all together must realize is
that it is not so important what we pour our fuel into, but rather
what the fuel is we are putting in it. The gasoline we now use is
distilled from petroleum crude oil, a resource we have in great
supply, but not nearly so great as our colossal appetite for it.
Because we can't supply it domestically we have no choice but to
import it. The United Kingdom has a vast North Sea reserve and we
import enormous quantities form them. This adds to our trade deficit
and is therefore damaging to our economy, however the UK is our ally
and doing business with them is much more favorable than doing
business with counties and peoples who are trying to destroy us. But
we require so much oil that we must get it from everywhere. OPEC, the
Oil Producing and Exporting Countries, is a cartel of mostly Middle
Eastern countries; Venezuela being the notable exception. That their
anti-competitive practice of suppliers banning together to control the
price of a commodity is unethical and would be illegal in this
country, should be enough for us not to trade with them to say nothing
of the fact that of every dollar we Americans spend on their oil much
of it goes to sponsor terrorism and acts of violence against us and
our allies. We are most literally trading with the enemy. The attacks
of 9/11 were funded by American dollars paid to Saudi Arabia for oil.
We can fix all this by simply using alcohol as a
motor fuel rather that gasoline. The Model T was originally designed
to run off alcohol, but because gasoline was cheep and being discarded
from the distillation of kerosene anyway, they switched to gas.
Today's modern automobiles with their computer controlled fuel
injection systems could easily be made to use alcohol. Many new cars
are already multi-fuel ready. Most South American countries today use
an ethanol product which is at least 75% alcohol.
There are three main reasons to switch to
alcohol fuel in all gasoline powered cars. Any one of these reason
alone are compelling enough to make the transition, together they may
be our epitaph.
We can supply our own alcohol. While there are
naysayers who say otherwise, we can unquestionable produce enough
alcohol to meet our needs. An alcohol-for-fuel industry would have to
be created. The relative small volumes of alcohol made for human
consumption and medical prepossess would be nothing to the vast
refining operations to supply the millions upon millions of gallons
needed to fuel our cars. But to question that we can get it done is
ridiculous; just build more stills. It might become a cottage
industry; I'm sure there are some good ol' boys around here that know
how to make alcohol.
The present logistical and delivery systems can
be completely utilized. The same trucks which now bring gasoline to
pumps at the store on the corner can bring alcohol to those same
pumps. The oil companies, who are the major opponents to an alcohol
fuel system, could provide the distillation and refining facilities.
They should take a hint for the tobacco industry. That industry knows
that it will one day die, so the companies in that industry have
bought food companies, financial service businesses, and other
non-tobacco ventures. While the oil industry will not die in my
lifetime, we should not buy one drop of oil from Saudi Arabia to burn
in our cars.
Stopping the importation of oil would not only
severely cripple the money pipeline to Moslem terrorist, it would also
balance our trade deficit. It is true we have created many new
potential problems in trade by shipping our jobs overseas,
nevertheless it is oil which puts us at the greatest disadvantage.
Understanding trade deficits is a topic for another time; but know
this - our trade deficit negatively impacts each and every American.
The second major reason that we should burn
alcohol in our cars instead of gasoline is that it is a renewable
resource. We have used enormous amounts of oil, and there are even now
immense amounts in the ground that we have not pumped out, and
probably much more that we have not yet discovered. But one fact is
inescapable. The amount of oil, however large that amount is, is
finite. When it is gone, it is gone. We cannot make more of it. One
day we will run out. Is it not smart to save an unreplenishable
resource for uses which only it can supply? Why burn it up in our cars
when there is a replensihable and renewable substitute? We can create
a perpetual supply of alcohol.
The third of the major reasons to switch now to
an alcohol-for-fuel system is that it is immeasurably cleaner burning
that any fossil fuels. There has recently been a study which showed
that our automobiles are the chief factor in air pollution. Coal-fired
electric power plants were previously thought to be the number one
culprit. Whether they are number one or two on the list of dirty air
makers, changing to an alcohol fuel would make our air a great deal
cleaner for us and all of our posterity.
There has been and will continue to be those who
fight with all their might to stop this from happening, but they all
are motivated by self-serving reasons and hidden agendas. But it must
happen. We owe it to our children.