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Politics – Current Events – Media

An April 15th Post

April 15, 2013 | 8 comments
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Reed Smoot

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

Sorry, Murphy

January 9, 2013 | no comments
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 »

Holding Steady: Forbes List Update

September 27, 2012 | 10 comments
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Feel like you’re treading water financially? I don’t suppose it will help to know that the wealth of the richest Mormons is also not growing? Perhaps not, but my analysis shows this to be the case. To be honest it’s hard to even think that they are put out! Read more »

Romney’s Tax Highlights

September 24, 2012 | 17 comments
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Okay, I took a quick look through the Romneys' 2011 tax return. There's plenty that could be said (it is, after all, a 300+ page document), but I only want to highlight a couple things. Note that my explanations are based on reading his returns; to the extent I ascribe motive to the Romneys, it's not because I know their hearts, but because that's what the tax returns look like. Read more »

Romney Released His 2011 Tax Returns Today.

September 21, 2012 | 65 comments
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Is anybody else excited? Read more »

Cálice (Let this cup pass from me)

September 11, 2012 | 14 comments
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Cálice (Let this cup pass from me)

Over the past year or so, I have become increasingly enamored of a popular Brazilian song, one that today makes me tear up simply from hearing the opening chords. On the surface, at least, the song, “Cálice” (Chalice), is quite religious. And its refrain is simple: Father, let this cup pass from me Father, let this cup pass from me Father, let this cup pass from me This cup of bloody red wine. And today, of all days, I think this song is particularly fitting. I will think of it during a moment of silence. Read more »

Entirely Privately

September 6, 2012 | 41 comments
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When I lived in New York, I could have told you what virtually all of my friends paid in rent. It was a fairly common topic of conversation, and the conversation was one of two types: the can-you-believe-I-pay-$2,000-for-this-dump, or can-you-believe-I-only-pay-$3,500-for-this-apartment. I didn’t really think much of it; I didn’t put much stock in financial privacy. And it wasn’t just the amount I paid in rent—as an attorney at a big firm in New York, if you wanted to know how much I made, you basically just needed to know the year I graduated from law school, the firm I... Read more »

Not a Legitimate Rape

August 23, 2012 | 59 comments
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I’ve been listening to the radio this morning about the Republican Party platform and abortion and rape. I’ve never had an abortion; thankfully I’ve never been in a situation where that seemed like a viable option. I am thankful that the Church handbook allows for abortion, but even there the wording is “forcible rape or incest” . And apparently Representative and would-be Senator Akin meant to say “forcible rape” rather than the terribly unfortunate “legitimate rape.” But what does “forcible” mean in terms of rape? That a woman or girl is held down and raped against her vain... Read more »

Moroni Torgan, Yeah Samaké, and Political Neutrality

August 21, 2012 | 6 comments
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As a result of its political neutrality policy, the Church is not going to endorse Mitt Romney in his bid to become President (or, for that matter, Harry Reid in his bid to be reelected to the Senate). There are probably a number of reasons for the Church's desire to avoid endorsing a candidate but, as I've said previously, one reason may well be the tax consequences of such an endorsement. (Short refresher: technically, the IRS could revoke the Church's tax exemption, meaning the Church would owe taxes on all of its income other than donations, and that Church... Read more »

On Being Taken Seriously

August 17, 2012 | 11 comments
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Once upon a time, the rare article or essay on Mormonism was noteworthy and bloggable. Now, in this extended Mormon Moment, there are so many it is hard to even keep track of them. But Adam Gopnik’s article “I, Nephi: Mormonism and its meanings” deserves special notice, not just because The New Yorker is widely read and respected but because it is a serious and informed discussion. Maybe the media is getting better when it comes to discussing Mormonism. Read more »

Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 3)

August 16, 2012 | 9 comments
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Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 3)

. Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza by Emmanuel Santana The 2004 race for mayor was more exciting. The “Juraci Era” had put Fortaleza’s voters in the mood for change. Inácio Arruda and Moroni... Read more »

Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 2)

August 15, 2012 | no comments
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Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 2)

.  Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza by Emmanuel Santana Out of the books and stories of their elders. I can not remember anything of Moroni’s first election, since occurred just a few years... Read more »

Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 1)

August 14, 2012 | 6 comments
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Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 1)

The following is a translation from an article written by Emanuel Santana and published on the Brazilian group blog, Vozes Mórmons. I have divided it into three parts because the post is so long and raises so many questions about politics and the Church—things that strike me as repeatedly-covered issues in the U.S. and perhaps Canada, but which are new territory in Brazil and elsewhere around the world. This first part covers background information, from the introduction of the Church in Fortaleza to Moroni Torgan’s arrival and rise to prominence as Brazil’s first Mormon Congressman. Read more »

Charitable Profit

July 12, 2012 | 44 comments
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About six months ago, I got an email asking (a) if I knew anything about low-profit limited liability companies (“L3Cs”) and private foundations, and (b) if I’d be willing to be a guest lecturer in a class, explaining what they were and how they function. I did know something (though at the time not much) about them, so I said I’d do it, then spent several weeks immersing myself in the theory and practice behind L3Cs. It turns out that Loyola’s business school offers an elective class in Social Entrepreneurship. The point of the class, from what I can gather,... Read more »

The Boundaries of Independence

July 4, 2012 | 6 comments
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The Boundaries of Independence

As my children have grown and started to leave home, I find myself conflicted by the idea of Independence. Of course I want them to be independent, to go off on their own, make their own choices and even, to be frank, to require less or none of my support and effort. Its not that I’m not willing to give them support and effort, but more that just as they need to be independent, my wife and I would like fewer requirements. We, too, would like a bit more independence. Read more »

Taxing Churches: A Response

June 21, 2012 | 27 comments
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Oh no—somebody on the Internet is wrong while I’m on vacation! But duty calls. Recently, Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor, along with students Stephanie Yeager and Desmond Vega, argued that the government subsidizes religion by about $71 billion a year. He thinks this is wrong, and that religions should pay their fair share. I have no problem with his making this argument—tax exemption costs the government significant revenue (though his $71 billion is based on really, really poor assumptions—more on that later), and should be examined carefully and critically. But Prof. Cragun’s analysis is not the careful and critical... Read more »