Monday, August 17, 2009

Meeting on August 20th and Other Info

We will be holding our next meeting of the Provo Lakeside area Freedom Forum discussion group on Thursday August 20th at 7pm.

We still have several presentations on Founding Fathers to complete. Our first order of business will be to give ample time for these presentations and related discussion.

Time permiting we will have a preview of the next discussion topic, 'Principles Upon Which Our Nation Was Founded'. This will likely be a multi-part discussion outlining the key fundamental principles used by our Founding Fathers in laying the foundation of our nation and its Constitution. These principles include the following:

- The need for basing government on sound and inspired principles
- The founder's understanding of the political spectrum
- Divine law
- Origin of rights
- Fundamentals of economic freedom
- Other basic principles

Following our discussions surrounding these and other fundamental principles used to lay a foundation for a free society, we will begin to focus in subsequent meetings on more specific building blocks used in constructing a government on this foundation. These include many of the principles built into our Constitution such as the importance of private property, separation of powers, and other key components of the American system.

We will use the following resources as pre-reading and source information for these upcoming discussions.

- The 5,000 Year Leap, Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies (I will have copies of this book available for $6 each for those interested in having a personal copy.)

- The Making of America, Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies. (Regularly $29, the hard cover copy of this book is currently on sale at for $19.77 plus shipping)

- The Federalist Papers, Madison, Hamilton, Jay. These can be purchased in book form for under $10 on, or found on line in free soft copy format at

I hope to see as many as possible at our meeting on August 2oth at 7:00pm.

If you would like to attend for the first time, it will be at the home of Richard and Natalie Parke. You can email us at for the address or driving directions.

Richard and Natalie

Friday, August 7, 2009

Recap of Meeting on August 6th

Several of our regular members were out of town or otherwise tied up this past Thursday, so we had fewer people attend than in past meetings. Nevertheless, we did have a couple of people attend for the first time. We are delighted to have new people join and add their insights and experiences to the group. We hope all feel welcome.

Please continue to invite those who you feel would enjoy being part of this effort and could benefit from the discussions. For those who have recently begun to participate in the Freedom Forum sessions, or who may be contemplating attending a future meeting, I recommend you take a few minutes to review the earlier post on this blog dated June 22nd. The post is entitled "Why We Meet" and gives an overview of the purpose and objectives of our group. Also, the introductory post may be helpful in laying the foundation of why the Freedom Forum was formed.

Due to the number of people unable to attend this session, we did not proceed with the remaining presentations of our Founding Fathers. We hope to complete these in the meeting on August 20th.

We did have the chance to discuss a number of topics, including the following:

  • The importance of supporting candidates for office who base their positions on sound principles and remain true to their convictions.

  • How many (the vast majority) of politicians in Washington no longer represent the people of the United States and do not stand in defense of our Constitution. We must work to peacefully change our government through voting these people out of office and replacing them with upright men and women who stand for freedom above their own designs and ambitions.

  • The 2010 congressional elections are vital to slowing the progressive march away from the founding principles of our nation.

  • We must continue to stand up to ensure that God continues to be the foundation of our nation, even though God is being increasingly marginalized by a growing majority of leaders and organizations weilding power in our society.

  • The best way to make sense of the ever-increasing positions, philosophies and proposals that are vying for our support. The only way to do this is to learn and understand true principles, and judge what we hear from politicians and see in the news based on these principles. That is the primary reason the Freedom Forum exists, to help each of us become better versed in the true principles that we must all adhere to.

  • Finally, we discussed how the current proposed healthcare legislation stacks up against the founding principles of our nation and the risks of the government assuming greater control over more aspects of our economy, and ultimately, our ability to make decisions for ourselves and our families.

Finally, for all who may be interested, the imbeded video below is a broadcast of the "Brent Giles Show". This is a radio program that is broadcast nationwide. Earlier this week our Freedom Forum group was discussed live on the air, along with a number of other topics you may find interesting.

I hope you enjoy. . .

As always, please reach out to all you know who may like to join in our Freedom Forum discussions.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upcoming Meeting

The next meeting of our discussion group is scheduled for Thursday July 16th at 7pm.

This meeting will be held at the home of Spencer and Tamra Ockey.

The topic of this meeting is Our Founding Fathers. Members of the group will be sharing their insights and what they've learned about the men who were involved in the drafting of our Constitution and the establishment of our nation.

The following nine men will be discussed.
  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • John Adams
  • John Jay
  • John Locke
  • Adam Smith

God stated in the Doctrine and Covenants that these men were inspired men raised up for a special purpose. Learning about the influences that shaped their perspectives, the principles they believed, and the faith they held is important to understanding the government they left for us and how we can preserve it in our day.

We hope to see each of you there.



Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recap of July 2nd Meeting

Thanks to all those who attended our discussion group forum on July 2nd. It was a terrific discussion and the feelings and insights of each person were much appreciated.

Following is a recap of the discussion for those who were not able to attend:

  • We discussed the future meeting schedule. We will begin meeting on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month at 7pm.

The topic of the evening's discussion was "Prophetic Guidance- Our Duty to Follow Counsel".

The topic was introduced by discussing the fact that even the elect may be deceived in the latter-days. The only sure way to avoid being deceived and adhere to a true course is to follow the prophet. Excerpts from an exchange on the Internet between a blogger and reader was used to show an example of how some may justify not following the Prophet.

After the blogger posted some thoughts on a discourse delivered by Howard W. Hunter about the dangers of socialism, the reader (a self proclaimed devout member of the church)responded with a statement defending socialism as a better course than the capatilism of America. Following are some excerpts of the discussion (bold and italics added).

Reader: "Socialism in my mind is only praiseworthy in the absence of Zion. Until Zion is here, our society is too wicked to take care of the poor. It is in our nation’s interest to take care of these people. You still haven’t shown me where in the scriptures it says socialism is bad. I see the prophet’s words, but I want some cannonized doctrine."

Blogger: "I am sorry that the words of our modern Prophets aren’t convincing enough for you. For me, they suffice."

Reader: "I believe that the Gospel of Christ is the answer to all problems in the world, as you do. You’ve questioned how I can be a true believer and still accept socialism. I know what Benson and others have said on the subject, I’ve just never really agreed with them. When they come out with a “thus saith the Lord” statement then I’ll swallow my pride and fall into line. Until then, I’ll continue to stand for that which my heart tells me is good. The way our system of Capitalism works here is the root of the great secret combinations of the latter-days."

Blogger: "Many people dislike when a Prophet delves into political and temporal affairs. A few quotes on the subject come to mind." The blogger then shares several quotes from Presidents of the Church regarding the role of the Prophet and that he is qualified to speak on any subject. The following quote from Harold B. Lee was one of these. "You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life… Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow… Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church." (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

Reader: "[A] prophet of God is only a prophet when acting like one. I’ve heard of no revelations or official declarations on the subject of socialism vs. capitalism and therefore I continue to exercise my freedom of conscience. If you took every word that ever came over the pulpit from a general authority as revelation from God, you’d have to leave the Church if you had any integrity since so much changes over time. Joseph Smith told us that prophets are fallible men and subject to passions etc. You’ve got to base your testimony on Christ, not men. You will go wrong when you cease to follow Christ. Following the prophet is good when he is standing in Christ’s place. When he is standing in his own place and speaking his own opinion like Pres. Hinckley at the start of the Iraq war for example, take it with a grain of salt."

Blogger: "When he’s speaking over the pulpit, and his words published in the official Church publication, rest assured that he’s acting like one. Point six of Pres. Benson’s “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” addresses this issue:

'The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture. Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel, but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you' (D&C 21:4)."

Reader: "You stick to following every word which proceeds forth from the prophets mouth. As for me, I’ll stick to following every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God. You have yet to understand that prophets are fallible men, while God is not fallible."

The blogger then responds with a number of quotations from scripture and latter-day prophets expounding that we should follow all the prophet says, that the prophet will never lead us astray, that some like to follow only when it fits their own views, but fall away when they don't like what the prophets say, etc.

Reader: "I agree that it is wise to follow a prophet’s counsel in most situations. I think that the intelligent member of the Church has to realize though that often our positions change with the times… showing a lack of inspiration in some areas. The intelligent member should acknowledge that the President stands in authority, holding the keys of the kingdom of God on the earth, but at the same time, not just accepting everything that the President or other GA’s say, but studying and searching out what they say and confirming their words with God for themselves."

Blogger: "Then how do you discern when not to follow the Prophet’s counsel? And why would you do such a thing? When the Prophet of God, in authority of his office, issues any commandment, counsel, or statement, isn’t that the mind and will of God? And if you don’t believe so, how do you discern when it is and when it isn’t?"

Several other readers of this blog, all members of the church, jumped into the conversation. Surprisingly, they all sided with the reader. Together they teamed up to contend with the author of the blog, asserting that following the prophet should be conditional.

The seeds of apostasy are abundant in our day. If we are not careful, even the elect will be deceived. If following the prophet is the only sure way to stay on the right course, planting questions in the minds of the saints about the legitimacy of the prophet's words must be a priority of the adversary. From the exchange above, it is clear that there are those within the church who have justified their belief that following the prophet is situational.

We Must follow the prophet. We ignore prophetic counsel at our own peril!!!

For a great discourse on this topic, refer to "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" by Elder Ezra Taft Benson. Follow the link to find this address:

The foundation for the remaining of the discussion is that we must believe and be willing to follow the words of latter-day prophets. With that in mind, we began to delve into the words of the prophets regarding our liberty, freedoms, and the destiny of our nation.

We viewed the following short video clip about the statement by many prophets and apostles that the fight for freedom in the last days is a continuation of the war in heaven. The agency of man is at the core of the Gospel, and was the central issue in question during that war which began in our pre-mortal state.

The prophets have had much to say about freedom and our country ever since the Gospel was restored. Reviewing statements of the 16 men who have served as Presidents of the Church in this dispensation, from a variety of sources, we discussed 10 key themes that surface repeatedly in the prophetic word. These 10 principles provide an instructive and important foundation for what we should adhere to as principles of freedom in our day.

  1. The Constitution of the United States was inspired by God. It represents the greatest form of government ever devised for man on this earth.
  2. The founding fathers of our nation were divinely inspired men, raised up by God for the purpose of establishing our government.
  3. Latter-day Saints have a particular responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution.
  4. Significant threats to our Constitution will arise in the latter-days. The Constitution will be on the very verge of destruction.
  5. The Latter-day Saints will rise up to save the Constitution from utter destruction, otherwise it will not endure.
  6. We have a responsibility to learn all we can about the Constitution and strive to uphold the principles it represents.
  7. Collectivist philosophies are counter to the principles of our government. These represent true threats to freedom that should be opposed.
  8. The 'Law of the Harvest' and self-sufficiency are keys to preserving individual liberty.
  9. Corrupt and misguided leaders and politicians will try to subvert true principles of government.
  10. America will endure as a land of liberty, even if after much difficulty.

As a group we reviewed each of these ten principles, and read quotes from latter-day prophets supporting each one.

These statements have been compiled and categorized in a Power Point presentation, which I will attach as soon as I figure out how to attach a file to a blog post.

The prophets have been clear. Having received their words, we have a responsibility. Let us stand up and follow the counsel of prophets. As stated by Elder Ezra Taft Benson, we will "save our souls, and might just save our country".

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why We Meet

I thought it might be worthwhile to take a few minutes to outline why this group has been started and the purpose of meeting on a regular basis.

I believe that we have been blessed more than any people who have lived on earth. We live in a time in which we have been given a heritage of freedom. The restored Gospel is on the earth and the world is being prepared in these last days for the return of Jesus Christ. God has said that to whom much is given, much is required. It stands to reason that due to the many blessings we've been given, we also have certain responsibilities in this day and age that we will be held accountable for fulfilling.

I believe that one of the great blessings we have is the freedom to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness in our lives. A condition in which these freedoms are present was necessary for the Gospel to be restored, for the church to grow, and will be necessary for the establishment of the New Jerusalem in this land. I further believe these freedoms are God given. He inspired the drafting of a constitution to ensure that we will not be deprived of the freedoms we’ve been given. We cannot over-estimate the value of liberty in our lives, or the role it plays in our Heavenly Father’s plan. Nevertheless, we have enjoyed these blessings now for so many generations that it becomes easy to take them for granted. We hear stories of great sacrifice from those who gave everything to preserve our liberty. Yet it is so easy for us to get caught up in our own lives and daily concerns that we don’t always pay enough attention to what makes possible our daily lives as we know them. Elder Ezra Taft Benson stated “If we lose our freedom, it will be because we did not care enough—because we were not alert enough—because we were too apathetic to take note while the precious waters of our God-given freedom slipped—drop by drop—down the drain.” (Title of Liberty, p. 10)

We have been warned by almost every president of the church since Joseph Smith that the day would come in which the constitution of our nation would be in great danger, even on the verge of collapse. The membership of this church would be responsible for standing up and preserving our freedoms. Here’s just one of the many statements issued by latter day prophets on this matter. John Taylor stated, “When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men. . .And they will tear away one plank of liberty after another, until the whole fabric will totter and fall; and many other nations will be cast down and empires destroyed; and this nation will have to suffer as others will. And it will be as Joseph Smith once said, ‘When all others forsake the Constitution, the Elders of this Church will rally around the standard and save its tattered shreds.’ We will come to its rescue and proclaim liberty to all men.” (Journal of Discourses 21: 8 and 20:357)

I believe we are seeing efforts to undermine our constitution on a daily basis, and that it has been this way for some time now. One plank of liberty after another is being torn away, and the dangers are increasing. I have no doubt that the prophesies will be fulfilled, and that we, our children, and our grandchildren will be called upon to stand up and fight for the freedom we have been granted. Elder Ezra Taft Benson stated in reference to preserving our freedom, “the only questions, before the final victory, are, first, what stand will each of us take in this struggle? And second, how much tragedy can be avoided by doing something now?” (Title of Liberty, P. 20) Liberty will prevail. We can either be a part of the victory, or not.

As I’ve contemplated all of this, three things became abundantly clear to me.

  1. There will be threats to our freedoms so intense that the very constitution will “hang as if by a thread” and that we are seeing this begin to transpire before our very eyes.
  2. That the cause of freedom will be victorious in the end, but it will be after much difficulty.
  3. Each of us can answer the call and play a role in preserving freedom and helping ensure the Gospel can continue to grow and the kingdom can be prepared for Christ’s return.

I believe we can begin to make a difference and answer the call as we return to the core, fundamental principles that God has revealed and upon which our nation was founded. Yet these principles are not always taught and discussed often anymore. We see the events of the world transpiring around us, and it is sometimes difficult to know what to support and what to oppose because its not always easy to view current events in the light of true principles. In fact, it is seldom even discussed anymore what the prophets have expounded to us for decades about the future of our nation and the responsibilities we have to preserve freedom. We need to reacquaint ourselves with proper principles, teach them to one another and understand how they apply in our world. One way that we have been advised to accomplish this is by getting together in local groups to teach one another and jointly gain greater perspective on the founding principles of our nation.

President David O. McKay stated, “They [church members] are free to participate in non-church meetings that are held to warn people of the threat of Communism or any other theory or principle that will deprive us of our free agency or individual liberties vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States. . . We therefore commend and encourage every person and every group who is sincerely seeking to study Constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us.” (Statement Concerning the Position of the Church on Communism, 477)

So, in the spirit of what President McKay encouraged of us, we are endeavoring to meet on a regular basis to do as he advised.


With the aforementioned in mind, the following sums up some of the key objectives of this meeting group.

  • Become familiar with the correct principles upon which our nation was founded. While there will be discussions about those things transpiring in our day that are counter to these principles, the primary focus will be on what we stand for as citizens of this nation, not dwelling on what we’re against.
  • Increase our ability to assess the current events of the day in light of correct principles. Ezra Taft Benson stated that, “Every Latter-Day Saint may well ask as he attempts to appraise any program, policy, or idea promoted by any would be political leader. First, is the proposal, the policy, or the idea being promoted right as measured by the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Secondly, is it right as measured by the Constitution of the land and the glorious principles embodied in that Constitution? Thirdly, is it right as measured by the counsel of the living oracles of God?”
  • Determine what we as individuals and as a group can do to stand up for correct principles and help preserve the freedom as guaranteed by our constitution.
  • Help awaken others by expanding the size of the group and introducing others in our area to the importance of being anchored to correct principles of government and preservation of freedom.
  • If possible, encourage and support the establishment of discussion groups in other areas outside of our neighborhood.

Most importantly, this group is for all of us. As our participation increases and the group evolves, our objectives may expand according to the desires and needs of the membership.


I think it is also worthwhile to underscore a few key things that this group is not, so as to avoid misunderstanding.

  • This is not a political party group. We are focused on principles, not parties. Whether Republican or Democrat, the principles revealed by God when our nation was founded should be understood and adhered to.
  • While there will certainly be discussion on how the current events of the day conform or diverge from correct principles, the focus of the meetings will not be to simply complain about things we don’t like in current administrations. In other words, the meetings are not intended to be complaint sessions.
  • The meetings are intended as forums for open discussions, although there will be specific topics and directed discussion agendas. We need not agree on all points and policies, but this will not be a place for arguments.

Thanks to those who have been able to join and participate in the discussion sessions we’ve held. I think there are some worthwhile and engaging sessions yet to come. We look forward to meeting.


Natalie and Richard

Friday, June 12, 2009

Upcoming Meeting For June

The next discussion group meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday June 25th at 7pm.

We will then schedule each meeting to be held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Any changes to this will be communicated on this blog and via e-mail to all group members before hand.

Upcoming meeting schedule will tentatively be as follows:
  • July 23rd
  • August 27th
  • September 24
  • October 22
  • November 19th (3rd Thurs due to Thanksgiving Day Holiday)
  • December 10th (2nd Thurs due to Christmas Holiday Season)
We will discuss this schedule at the meeting on 6/25 and determine if we want to keep meeting on a monthly basis or move to bi-weekly schedule to keep more momentum around our discussions.

The topic for the meeting on 6/25 is prophetic counsel regarding our liberty and our responsibilities that come from being a free people. This discussion topic will lay a strong foundation for future sessions in which we will begin discussing the principles upon which our nation was founded, and the elements of the Constitution.

If you would like to do any pre-reading for this meeting, here are a few recommendations:

Book- Prophets, Principles, and National Survival by Jerreld L. Newquist

This book can be purchased through Amazon or the entire text is available free online at (thanks Greg Lemon for finding this link)


Remember to bring along any friends or family members who you feel would benefit from the discussion or enjoy the meeting.

We look forward to the meeting and discussion.

Richard and Natalie

Friday, May 22, 2009

Recap of Our First Meeting (session 1)

Natalie and I would like to thank those who attended the first meeting of our group. We feel it was a great evening with good discussion and served as a good kick-off to future discussion sessions.

In this first session we addressed the following key items:

  • Why each member felt compelled to get involved in this group and how we feel the group can be of benefit going forward.

  • The "awakening" that is going on within individuals and groups regarding the status and future of our nation.

  • The role our country has played in God's plan up to now. This land was consecrated by our Heavenly Father and preserved for a specific purpose. The destiny of America is intricately intertwined with the Gospel plan in this final dispensation, and was set up as a free country in which the restoration could occur.

  • The restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith, and the growth of the church thus far, emanating from the United States, is just a begining to the role our Father in Heaven has in store for this land. The mission and role of our nation is significant in establishing the New Jerusalem, preparing for the return of the lost tribes, and ushering in the Millenium.

Regarding the role of America in this dispensation, President Brigham Young said the following:

"When the day comes in which the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flag staff of liberty and equal rights, without a spot to sully its fair surface; the glorious flag our fathers have bequeathed to us will then be unfurled to the breeze by those who have power to hoist it aloft and defend its sanctity.

"How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph Smith will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 360)

  • A short clip was shown entitled "LDS Prophets Warn of The Dangers Facing America". It can be found at the following link.

  • Discussion was held regarding the role individual freedom and agency has in the Gospel plan.

  • As a group we discussed some of the recent events that have occurred, just in the past few months, that represent a departure from principles of liberty and the role of government ordained by God and set up by our founding fathers.

  • We read and discussed excerpts from a General Conference address by Ezra Taft Benson entitled "Not Commanded in All Things". This address clearly outlines the responsibility of Latter Day Saints to engage in what President Benson has often referred to as "the fight for freedom" or the "freedom issue". President Benson then outlines seven tactics the adversary uses to keep good people from getting involved in this issue, and explains the potential consequences if we choose not to get involved.

We will be holding a second session of this first meeting on Thursday May 28th for those who are interested in participating in this group, but were unable to attend the first session.

Please consider others in our area who would find benefit in this group, and invite them to attend. We hope to see many more faces on Thursday May 28th.

Dates and times for future sessions will be published soon.

Key Resources To Accompany the Discussion:

  1. Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi Chapter 13
  2. Book: Elder Marke E Petersen, (1978) The Great Prologue, Desert Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah (available on starting at $9.99)
  3. Book: Jerreld L Newquist (1964) Prophets, Principles, and National Survival, Publishers Press, Salt Lake City, Utah (available on starting at $11.72)
  4. Talk: Ezra Taft Benson Not Commanded in All Things General Conference April 1965
  5. LDS Prophets Warn Us of Dangers Facing America