News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

Boko Haram, 200 schoolgirls and us

May 14, 2014 | 11 comments
By
Boko Haram, 200 schoolgirls and us

The French president Francois Hollande is convening an international conference with the countries around Nigeria on the question how to deal with Boko Haram, Michelle Obama addressed the USA on the plight of the abducted schoolgirls: all through the western world the media react to this incident in North Nigeria. Last Saturday I gave an interview on Boko Haram for the national Dutch radio: the media have ‘discovered’ Boko Haram, and so have international politics. Of course the furor is completely justified, especially when the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, announced that he would sell the girls, either... Read more »

Why I Watch Game of Thrones

May 3, 2014 | 34 comments
By
Bran-stark_193560-1152x864

Since Nathaniel mentioned Game of Thrones and why he doesn’t watch it in his wonderful post earlier this week, I thought I’d give you a few lines on why I do watch the series. Much ink has been spilled over the gratuitous sex and violence in Game of Thrones. I’ll admit that I roll my eyes over the fact that every conversation that can possibly take place whilst the person speaking (or at least someone else in the room) is having sex, does. Still, I think what tends to bother people even more is the sense that there are no boundaries to the... Read more »

Some Thoughts on the Inevitable Failure of the Ordain Women Movement

January 26, 2014 | 166 comments
By

It’s hard to know the future, but I will hazard a prediction: the Ordain Women project will fail. If I understand its ambitions correctly, Ordain Women would define success as an announcement that the prophet, having followed the invitation of these faithfully agitating sisters, has gone to the Lord and has received a revelation that women are to be ordained to the priesthood. I don’t know if women will ever be ordained to the priesthood, but I would be shocked if this was to happen while any institutional breath breathed in the Ordain Women movement. There are two reasons... Read more »

Good news for Gene Schaerr

January 23, 2014 | 78 comments
By
Good news for Gene Schaerr

As reported by outlets including Above the Law, well-known LDS attorney Gene Schaerr is leaving his law firm for a new post at the State of Utah. His departure e-mail describes his new role as “defending the constitutionality of traditional marriage.” This certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavor. It would be terrible if male-female marriage (which is often described as “traditional marriage”) were found unconstitutional, barring straight folks from marrying. I have good news, though. A careful perusal of the Kitchen v. Herbert opinion reveals that male-female marriage remains completely constitutional in Utah. In fact, based on anecdotal reports,... Read more »

Do exemptions from the ACA’s ‘contraception mandate’ threaten religious liberty?

January 16, 2014 | 47 comments
By

In March, the Supreme Court will hear a pair of cases on whether for-profit employers can claim a religious exemption to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer health plans cover contraceptives without any out-of-pocket expense because the use of contraceptives violates their owners’ religious beliefs. In a Washington Post op ed this week, Fred Gedicks, the Guy Anderson Chair at BYU Law School (and a prior T&S guest blogger), flips the case on its head, claiming that it is actually exemptions from the “contraception mandate” that pose a threat to religious liberty. The op ed briefly summarizes a... Read more »

A Look at the Political Affiliations of Some Prominent Members

January 10, 2014 | 115 comments
By

A friend recently drew my attention to a new website that catalogs Utah voter registration data in a searchable format that was purportedly purchased from the Herbert administration. After checking the voter registration data of a few friends and acquaintances, I thought it would be interesting to identify the party registrations of some prominent members of the Church. Any other fun finds to add to the list? First Presidency Thomas S. Monson, registered Republican Henry B. Eyring, registered Republican Dieter F. Uchtdorf, unaffiliated voter Quorum of the Twelve Boyd K. Packer, registered Republican L. Tom Perry, registered Republican Russell M.... Read more »

Same-Sex Marriage Bans and Tax

December 21, 2013 | 7 comments
By
District-Utah

The District of Utah has had a busy week. As I'm sure you heard (and if you haven't, you ought to read Kaimi's post first), Utah's ban on same-sex marriage has been struck down as unconstitutional. A week ago, in the wake of the decision that didn't actually legalize polygamy, I looked at the potential tax consequences of that decision and, fairly anti-climatically, determined that there were none. Plenty of electrons will be spilled going over this decision but, again, I suspect that the tax consequences will be underexplored. Read more »

Decriminalizing Polygamy (and, of Course, Tax)

December 14, 2013 | 11 comments
By
sister_wives_tv_series_logo

On Friday, December 13, the Judge Waddoups, a district court judge in the District of Utah, held that Utah's criminalization of polygamy was unconstitutional. Partly, anyway. More on that in a minute. I suspect that this opinion will reverberate throughout the blogosphere and the mainstream media, with the reporting displaying various levels of accuracy. The question I suspect won't get much play, though, is, what are the tax consequences of this decision? Read more »

Happy(?) Repeal Day!

December 5, 2013 | 12 comments
By
prohibition_ends_repeal_day_cocktails

The Twitters tell me that 80 years ago today, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, thus ending Prohibition. Whatever you think about Prohibition, it's probably worth noting the Pres. Grant was not a fan of its end. In fact, he addressed the end of Prohibition---and Utah's role in ending it---at General Conference in 1934. Here's an (annotated by me) excerpt of what he said: Read more »

Money for Nothing and the Housing for Free

November 25, 2013 | 22 comments
By
Methodist Episcopal Church and Parsonage, Iroquois, South Dakota 1900s 2.preview

On Thursday, November 21, the district court of the Western District of Wisconsin declared (part of) the parsonage exemption---a special tax provision for certain religious persons---unconstitutional. Read more »

Complicity

September 4, 2013 | 23 comments
By
Complicity

It's one thing to know that what you are witnessing is wrong; it's another thing altogether to know what to do about it. I do know that inaction is often taken as tacit approval, and I do not want to be guilty of the sin of complicity Read more »

A Canning Statement from the Church

May 7, 2013 | 15 comments
By
A Canning Statement from the Church

Given the rumors circulating about closing canneries and the reasons for doing so, Times and Seasons asked the Church’s PR department for a statement and received the following: The Church is not closing canneries and is not limiting the variety of goods available to Church members. Over time, we will be reducing the number of facilities where the packaging of dry goods occurs. Instead, Church home storage centers will offer the same or additional commodities in pre-packaged form, at no additional cost.   Read more »

An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign

April 25, 2013 | 38 comments
By

I’ve just posted my article, ‘The Divine Institution of Marriage': An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign, to SSRN. The article is largely descriptive, setting out in some detail the church’s actions and statements relating to Proposition 8. It chronicles a significant amount of factual material that has not been discussed at all in the existing legal literature. It may be especially relevant to people who have an interest in Proposition 8, same-sex marriage issues, gay rights issues generally, or LDS church issues generally. The full abstract is as follows: “The Divine Institution of Marriage”: An... Read more »

This Sunday’s Sacrament Meeting

April 17, 2013 | 24 comments
By
podium

As a child in the 80s, I remember often feeling a low-level dread. Not constant, not to the extent that it interfered with enjoying life, but the dread of a Cold War child that, any minute, the happy world I lived in might be destroyed in a hail of nuclear fire. It didn’t have anything to do with my parents, who didn’t spend any significant amount of time talking about the risk of all-out war. And I don’t recall talking about it at school or at church. But it kind of underlay the culture, emerging not infrequently from the... Read more »

An April 15th Post

April 15, 2013 | 8 comments
By
Reed Smoot

Happy tax day! In honor of today, a Mormon/tax story: Read more »

Sorry, Murphy

January 9, 2013 | no comments
By
Sorry, Murphy

Despite a heartfelt campaign led by his children, LDS baseball star and former Massachusetts Boston Mission President Dale Murphy was not inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, according to the results announced this afternoon. While that result was expected, the fact that fellow Mormon Jack Morris was also not selected was almost as suprising as the fact that the BBWAA selected none of the eligible players this year. The group last failed to add any players to the Hall of Fame in 1996. Read more »

Facebook Memes and the Property Tax

November 27, 2012 | 39 comments
By
Facebook Memes and the Property Tax

There is, I've been told, a Facebook meme going around, juxtaposing a decaying house and the San Diego temple to support the argument that churches should not be exempt from taxation. And, like Facebook memes everywhere, this one is dumb. Dumb primarily because it is a tautology that doesn't say anything. Because of course a tax-exempt organization does not pay taxes that a non-exempt individual pays. That's pretty much the definition of tax exemption. Of course, saying that a Facebook meme is dumb and tautological makes for a pretty short and boring post. Far more interesting, imho, is to take seriously... Read more »

Elected Mormon Politicians

November 20, 2012 | 12 comments
By
Elected Mormon Politicians

The recent elections included some changes in the Mormons holding elective office around the country, but overall not a lot of change. We still have about the same number of Mormons in the U.S. Congress. The areas where a lot of Mormons are in state government still have a lot in state government. But some of the areas where there were few Mormons serving in elected office lost the few that they had. In the end, Mormon politicians ended up more concentrated. Read more »

Quick Mormon Election Results

November 7, 2012 | 8 comments
By

Here are the results so far for Mormon candidates running for the U.S. Congress. I will have complete results for all races in the next few days, as they become available. Please let us know your thoughts and about any aspects of the elections that you though important: Read more »

Mormons in the Running

November 2, 2012 | 20 comments
By
Mormons in the Running

With the election approaching on Tuesday, I’ve been racing to put together a rundown of the candidates who are Mormon around the country.  I know that Kay Atkinson King has done an extensive series on BCC going over the congressional elections, but I think that my summary below has a few additional pieces of information, including both state level elections and information on a few candidates who aren’t actually Mormon but who have significant Mormon connections or were once Mormon — a status that we will probably see more in the future. Read more »

Romney’s CRUT – Updated (10/30 at 7:30 pm)

October 30, 2012 | 40 comments
By

Maybe you’ve heard: Bloomberg News reports that Romney escaped taxation on some of his income by donating it to the Church, only that he donated less than he said he did, only that he didn’t have to donate as much as he said he would, or something like that. Confused? Fair enough. I’ll try to walk through what happened (though estate tax isn’t really my specialty, and I haven’t ever worked with a charitable remainder unitrust (“CRUT”). A CRUT is an irrevocable trust. What that means, essentially, is that it is a legal entity that an individual can form.... Read more »

New Progress for Mormon Studies

October 10, 2012 | 17 comments
By
New Progress for Mormon Studies

The University of Virginia today announced today a $3 million anonymous donation to establish the Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies in the University’s Department of Religious Studies. The chair is still subject to approval by the University’s Board of Visitors, after which a search committee will look for candidates for the inaugural appointment, due to begin serving in the 2013-14 school year. Read more »

Potential Effects of the Missionary Age Announcement

October 7, 2012 | 92 comments
By

If you had any doubt about the impact of the announcement yesterday that missionary service for men and women can begin earlier, just read the reactions in the bloggernacle, on facebook and twitter and even in major newspapers. The largest of the blogs in the bloggernacle have already weighed in on the change… multiple times… in less than 24 hours. I have to wonder; has anyone not put in their two cents? Read more »

Is this the first bestseller by a Mormon not written in English?

October 4, 2012 | no comments
By
Is this the first bestseller by a Mormon not written in English?

A few weeks ago a book by the Brazilian language entrepreneur and LDS Church member Carlos “Wizard” Martins, who started the massive Wizard Language Schools chain (similar to Berlitz), reached the bestseller lists in Brazil. I’m fairly sure that the book Desperte o milionário que há em você (Awake the Millionaire Inside of You) is the first by a Brazilian Mormon to reach the bestseller list. I first heard of his book just before it was launched in April, and I didn’t give it much thought then—I’m not really in the book’s the target audience of those seeking a... Read more »