Religious Freedom Matters: What’s at Risk

We believe in creating a space for everyone to live their conscience without infringing on the rights and safety of others. Elder Ronald A. Rasband

I have decided to share an article today that I recently re-read from an LDS magazine called the Ensign. I share it because I am concerned with the lack of understanding that so many individuals seem to have in regards to the importance of freedom – particularly religious freedom.

During my near-death experience, I witnessed that I was a part of what this article refers to as the War in Heaven. The war in heaven took place prior to this world being created and was a momentous occasion/event in heaven that we all were affected by. Some may think of this as a physical battle. Instead, what I witnessed was an incredibly important and pivotal debate that most of God’s children were a part of.  It was this debate, and our choices in regard to it, that determined our opportunity to be a part of this world.

In the United States, we are blessed to mostly take our freedoms for granted. However, our freedoms should be cherished and need protecting. We may not always agree with the beliefs of another individual or group but as long as forced coercion and physical harm are not utilized, we need to respect their ability to believe and worship as they desire.

It is because of what I witnessed in heaven and my concerns about what I now witness going on in this country and our world that I share today’s article. It includes references to scriptures and materials/individuals who are LDS (Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). However, I believe it is relevant regardless of your religious persuasion.

I hope you will read it and support efforts to protect religious freedom and freedom in general. Great sacrifices have been made by our military and their families throughout our nation’s history. I am grateful to be a beneficiary of their efforts and sacrifices. I believe that our freedom deserves their continued efforts but it also needs our efforts. If every family in America taught and practiced respect for a diversity of beliefs, not only would the freedoms of this nation continue to be uplifted and preserved, the ability for the world, as a whole, to live according to their conscience and beliefs would likewise spread and blossom.

I believe that every member of mankind inherently knows that they are meant to be free and to live according to the dictates of their conscience. If you are aligned with me in those beliefs, I hope that you will stand for and defend our right to practice freedom of religion and to live according to our beliefs and conscience. Silence will not preserve our freedoms, it will only encourage those who are intent on silencing the voices of religion and conscience.

I hope you enjoy today’s article:

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.

  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?

  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.

  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.

  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.

  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other co-workers are willing to perform them in your place.

  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.

  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.

  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.

  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.

  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.

  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.

There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.

So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost.

When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom not just for Latter-day Saints but also for followers of all religions.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/07/religious-freedom-matters-whats-at-risk?lang=eng

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Friendship and Love…

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love Hubert H. Humphrey

I have been touched recently by the importance of friendship. I am very blessed to share my life with my best friend. He is my husband and sweetheart 🙂  Because I am blessed with that constant arrangement, I have often been more lax about developing and maintaining other friendships in my life.

It’s not that I don’t value friendship – I do. It’s more like I put those relationships on the back burner more than I should have because my needs were already being so well met by my husband and family.

I don’t know what exactly penetrated my heart recently, but I have become more intimately aware of the great family, we as a human family, are. We need each other and we need to support each other.

We all have a profound impact on each other – both small and large.

Friendship, in whatever forms it presents itself in our lives should never be taken for granted. It is a gift that once given, must be guarded like a rare jewel and nurtured like a priceless garden. I am making it a goal in my life to be more friendly to strangers and to reach out more often to my friends that I am blessed to have.

What about you? Has it been too long since you have talked to your best friend? …or have you been in contact recently, but have not taken the time to let them know how important they are to you? Are your best friends your spouse and children? Are they halfway around the world and in harms way? I hope you will take just a brief moment and reach out to a friend today!

Today’s story shares the importance of unselfish friendship. I hope you will enjoy!

A Touching Story about Friendship

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island.

The two survivors who have been a good friends, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island.

He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.
As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered “

Moral: For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us (Congregational Prayer). Value your friends, don’t leave your loved ones behind.

Today’s story is shared from the following website: http://www.videoinspiration.net/blog/short-stories-about-friendship/

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How Parents Who Play Favorites Hurt the Entire Family

For there is no respect of persons with God Romans 2:11Parents try to be fair, but children pick up on subtle differences in the way they are treated.

In a study appearing in the journal Child Development, researchers led by Jennifer Jenkins, a professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, report on the wide-ranging effects that playing favorites, known as differential parenting, can have on not just individual siblings but also on the behavior and mental health of all family members.

When parents provide more positive feedback and encouragement to one child while sending primarily negative comments to another, it’s no surprise that the negatively targeted child may develop more behavior problems and have a more difficult relationship with his parents. But Jenkins and her colleagues were interested in exploring how differential parenting affects all siblings in a family and in understanding some of the factors that might make such differential treatment more likely.

The researchers focused on nearly 400 Canadian families, each of which had at most four children. They asked mothers about their children’s positive and negative behaviors and went to some of the families’ homes to observe parent-child interactions — for example, how the children played without toys and how mothers taught their children to make a pattern based on a photo, and the way mothers told their children a story. When the youngest children were at least 18 months old, the researchers measured the youngsters’ aggression, attention and emotional problems and rated their relationships with siblings and parents.

Overall, the negatively treated children tended to show more attention and emotional problems than their more positively treated siblings by the end of the four-year study, but all children showed higher rates of these problems compared with when the trial began. That, says Jenkins, was a surprise since previous work had only highlighted the effect of differential parenting on the targeted children.

“We would have thought that, on the basis of previous research, it would just be the disfavored children who are having problems, but that’s not the case,” says Jenkins. “Sometimes moms are very similar with their kids, and sometimes they’re very different with their kids. And when they advantage some and disadvantage others, it looks like it’s a problem for all of the kids in terms of their mental health.”

Since parents rarely set out to treat their children differently, the scientists decided to explore which factors promoted differential parenting; they figured that a mother’s stress due to economic or personal experiences might have the greatest impact on the way she treats her children, so they also collected data on the mothers’ education levels, depression and history of physical and sexual abuse. They also considered family dynamics such as whether the mother was a single parent raising her family and the safety of the home environment.

Mothers who came from unstable family backgrounds were more likely to treat each of their children differently than mothers who had privileged upbringings, and the more external factors a mother faced, like being a single parent or struggling with depression, the more difficult it was for her to treat her children equally.

That makes sense, Jenkins says, since a mother who is stressed may have less patience with the child who has more problems. But as a result, all of her children may experience more behavior problems since children tend to internalize their parents’ reactions. Children who perceive the differential treatment as unfair, even if they are treated more positively, may also act out and develop attention or emotional problems as they grow older, possibly as a way to empathize with their siblings or in protest of the injustice of the favoritism. “It creates a sense of the kids feeling uneasy, or [gives them a] sense of unfairness,” says Jenkins. “In other studies, we’ve shown that the amount of differential parenting is related to the quality of sibling relationships, so when a kid is favored or disfavored, [he or she] is fed up with the sibling, getting on less well with that sibling, and that also feeds into the general dynamic of the family.”

Addressing some of the factors that may fuel parents to play favorites, like financial strain, could help alleviate some of the wide-ranging effects on families. “We really have to start supporting parents who are socially disadvantaged and make sure they have access to money so they aren’t worried about their kids all of the time, and access to good childcare so that they’re not worried about kids being on their own when they’re working,” says Jenkins. “These things are eating into the way parents can parent.”

Even when parent-child relationships are stressed in this way, communicating well can reduce some of the negative consequences. In some families, certain siblings need more attention or support than others, and parents should discuss with their kids why they are approaching siblings differently to avoid any misunderstanding. Children “don’t mind that parents treat them differently,” Jenkins says. “They only mind when they see that differential treatment as unfair, and that comes about when things aren’t explained to children.”

Today’s article was written by Olivia B. Waxman and is shared from the following website: http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/12/how-parents-who-play-favorites-hurt-the-entire-family/

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What Two Things Most Shape our Lives? Love and Attention

Who, being loved, is poor? Oscar WildeOur emotional well being depends hugely on how well we can control our attention

Two fundamental things –  love and attention – shape our lives more than anything else. Without the consistent love of at least one person, children’s brains do not develop properly and their lives are often blighted. Being attended to  – that is, feeling held in another’s mind – is part of being loved and is also crucial for the brain’s development.

Attention is the gatekeeper for how experiences sculpts the child’s brain. Without attention, experiences don’t trigger physical changes in the brain tissue of the sort that attended-to input does. [i]   This means that potentially rich stimulation drains away like water into sand because it is not ‘activated’ by attention.

Our brains have a number of specific general purpose attention networks which help us to select what to attend to (one voice rather than the background conversation), allow us to switch from one thing to another (from the song on the radio to the red traffic light ahead) and to sustain it over time (read this blog to the end without mind wandering).

Loving adults sculpt these attention networks in their young children through joint attention; babies learn to attend a little like they learn to walk, by being held for the first few steps before gradually venturing on their own with just a hand, and finally staggering off with anxious hands braced to catch. Attention is a bit like that – the attentional circuits are like muscles which need to be developed.

Children learn to sustain their attention in this sort of faltering, supported way: the brain finds it hard to keep attention on an unchanging stimulus for more than a few seconds at a time, but that’s exactly what the children have to learn to do they are going to learn to read, think and regulate their emotions.

Love is a specific kind of attention imbued with feeling, and the same is true for hate. When a child struggles through a difficult reading passage in school, it’s not just her brain’s attention network which is keeping her focused – it is also the fact of feeling held in her parent’s attention which helps keeps her on task.

This is why children who are having emotional problems, say during family breakup, can really start to perform badly in school, but this is not just true for young children.

Attention depends a lot on the brain’s prefrontal cortex and this region is not fully ‘wired-up’ to the rest of the brain until the early to mid twenties, particularly in men [ii]. This is why car insurance premiums are so high for people in this age group – even young adults’ ability to focus their attention, consider future risk and inhibit their emotions are underdeveloped.

Attention is not just about thinking and focus – it is hugely important in our emotional life as well. When someone snaps at us, it is our ability to refocus our attention which allows us to remember that he is very stressed, and so with luck we inhibit our natural response to retaliate and provoke more trouble.

Our ability to control our attention seems to be very important for our own emotional balance as well. Left to wander on its own, the mind will quickly revert to unhappy memories or anxious thoughts if these exist –  as they do for many people.  This is why, in the words of one pair of researchers –  ‘a wandering mind is an unhappy mind’: this study showed that people are unhappier when their minds are wandering, even when compared how they feel when focused on routine or tiresome chores.[iii]

The centrality of love and attention to our health mental functioning is becoming starting to become clearer in recent research on the biological and psychological effects of two different types of meditation, each emphasizing one element of the love-attention partnership.

Today’s article was written by Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D. and is shared from the following website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-winner-effect/201306/what-two-things-most-shape-our-lives-love-and-attention

 

 

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The Importance of Friendship

The causes of modern social problems, from divorce to homelessness and obesity, are often thought to be based in areas such as poverty, stress or unhappiness. But researchers suggest we are overlooking something crucial: friendship. It would appear that our society is ignoring its importance.

The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” Friendships are vital for wellbeing, but they take time to develop and can’t be artificially created. No wonder they are at risk of being neglected.

Nevertheless, the Gallup Organization’s director, Tom Rath, believes that we are all aware of the value of friendship especially during difficult times. In his book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without, Rath makes the point that if you ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved.

Rath undertook a massive study of friendship, alongside several leading researchers. His work resulted in some surprising statistics: If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage. Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job. Conversely, if you have a “best friend at work”, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job.

The book was very well-received by the business world as well as by readers who could identify with the points made about these often unexplored relationships. On its release, Time magazine stated, “Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee.”

The book recommends carrying out your own “friendship audit”, in order to recognize which of your friendships provide you with the different things you need, then to sharpen each friendship in line with its strength. Of course, it’s not always a good idea to judge friends in a detached way, or to doubt a friendship just because you can’t easily identify its rewards. The closest friends like each other for who they are in themselves, not for what they deliver. In fact, Aristotle made the point that it is better to give than to receive in friendship. Aristotle also believed that friendship can only arise indirectly, like happiness. It comes with living what he called a good life, including strong personal values such as honesty, character and passion. Our contemporary culture, for all its benefits, tends to focus more on commerce rather than to help us live Aristotle’s “good life”.

British writer Mark Vernon found support for this idea. He quotes the philosopher Epicurus, “The noble man is most involved with wisdom and friendship.” Oscar Wilde also emphasized the altruistic aspect of true friendship when he said, “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.”

In his search for the essence of friendship, Vernon explored a variety of definitions from well-known personalities. For example, Ralph Emerson said, “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.” Vernon’s book, The Philosophy of Friendship, makes the point that we have now established that money does not buy happiness. He suggests that we take the lead from Aristotle, and spend at least a fifth of our time with our friends. “Is this not what children do in their persistent requests to play with their friends?” he asks.

Vernon writes that a close friend is a mirror of your own self, someone with whom you realize that, though autonomous, you are not alone. He adds that friendship is also important in politics because it “cultivates the virtues, such as creativity and compassion, which are essential to a flourishing society”. He concludes that if we cultivate friendship, we can “lift some of the burden from our apparently unhappy, isolated selves”.

References

www.vitalfriends.com
Rath, Tom. Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without. Gallup Press: September 2006.
Vernon, Mark. The Philosophy of Friendship. Palgrave Macmillan: November 2006.

Today’s article was written by Jane Collingwood and is shared from the following website: https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-importance-of-friendship/

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