News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

Don’t forget the theological issue in posthumous baptisms

March 14, 2012 | 30 comments
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It occurred to me the other day when I read Givens’ beautiful description of why we perform ordinances for the dead that our response to some critics of the practice of posthumous baptism may be too defensive. In response to those who believe that baptism or some other ordinance or event is required to enter God’s Kingdom, shouldn’t we go on the offensive and ask them what they are doing about those who were never baptized? Near as I can tell, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of humans have died without even having heard the gospel of any... Read more »

Mormons, Increase, and Gifts

March 13, 2012 | 24 comments
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An unscientific poll: (Poll inspiration here.) Read more »

Policing Submissions for Baptisms for the Dead

March 7, 2012 | 44 comments
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And it’s in the news again. We have Elie Wiesel’s name slated for baptism, baptisms performed for Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s parents, baptism performed for Anne Frank (for the ninth time!), baptism performed for Daniel Pearl (who was killed in part, at least, because he was Jewish), and baptism performed for Gandhi. This in spite of the Church’s agreement (in 1995!) to remove Holocaust victims from the database. And, apparently, the Church has now sent out a strongly-worded letter to be read in Sacrament meetings. In the letter, the Church (strongly) reiterates the prohibition on submitting celebrity and Holocaust victim... Read more »

The Bott Gaffe: A Chronology [Updated 6Mar12 9:45p]

March 2, 2012 | 48 comments
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The Bott Gaffe: A Chronology [Updated 6Mar12 9:45p]

Since Wednesday, when I read the Washington Post article that cited BYU Professor Randy Bott, I have been surprised at two elements of the news and commentary I’ve read about it. First, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the unanimity of the response—no one that I’ve seen has tried to defend the ideas that Bott expressed. Second, I’ve been surprised at the speed of the official response. If it is possible, the response makes the views expressed by Bott seem anachronistic to Mormonism today. And I hope this response will make clear to those who still maintain some version of... Read more »

My Cri de Coeur to Randy Bott [Updated][Update 2]

February 28, 2012 | 121 comments
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The Church has responded, both with respect to Dr. Bott’s statement and with a statement on the Church and race. I’m adding the text of each to the bottom of the post, but I want to highlight these two excerpts: We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not... Read more »

Enough, already!

February 15, 2012 | 111 comments
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Enough, already!

I was a little annoyed to hear it on the radio again yesterday. The Church was apologizing because apparently over-enthusiastic members had performed temple ordinances for recently-departed Jews, AGAIN! This time the situation was particularly egregious because the Jews involved are the parents of the late Nazi-hunter and war-crimes expert Simon Wiesenthal. Can those who keep submitting these names stop already? Read more »

Exploring Romney’s Tax Return

January 25, 2012 | 16 comments
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Like most people who've looked at Romney's return, I have to say: there's nothing terribly interesting there. Okay, let me walk that back: there's a lot of hugely interesting things, if you're interested in all the many ways a person can earn income, and all the many forms a taxpayer has to fill out when the taxpayer is broadly invested. Still, there are a couple things that I thought I'd highlight: Read more »

A Romney Tax Return Placeholder Post

January 24, 2012 | 19 comments
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Right now, I have 200+ pages of Mitt Romney’s 2010 tax return clogging up my work printer. He’s a Mormon, it’s a tax issue, I’m a tax guy, so there will clearly be a blog post in the near future. Unfortunately, I also have a job and a family and obligations (and did I mention it’s 200+ pages?), so that post may or may not happen in the next couple days. I’ve glanced through really quickly and, even though it’s fascinating, there doesn’t seem to be anything terribly surprising (his effective rate’s a little lower than I expected, but... Read more »

Mitt Romney’s Tithing Problem (?)

January 18, 2012 | 76 comments
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Mitt Romney’s Tithing Problem (?)

ABC broke the news: Mitt Romney has donated millions of dollars worth of stock to the Mormon church. SEC filings disclose that a Bain partner donated $1.9 million of Burger King stock to the Church; in addition, the Church has received stock of other Bain holdings, including Domino's, DDi, Innophos, and the parent company of AMC Theaters. But why? Why would Romney give the Church equity stakes in bad fast-food chains, second-rate pizza chains, and other such holdings? Read more »

Sex-Ed and Social Justice*

January 10, 2012 | 30 comments
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***WARNING: This post mentions sex. I use the word a lot in this post. If that makes you uncomfortable, this may not be the post for you.*** Over the summer, the Bloomberg administration announced that, for the first time in two decades, public school students in New York would be required to take sex-ed. The curriculum the administration recommended---HealthSmart (middle school and high school) and Reducing the Risk---include, among other things, lessons on abstinence and birth control. Read more »

An Argument for Huntsman

December 22, 2011 | 33 comments
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An Argument for Huntsman

With the impending vote, most Mormons may assume that Mitt Romney is the clear favorite. He has been the most consistent front runner for the Republican nomination for President this year, and his views may be most consistent with those of most Mormons. So why vote for Jon Huntsman, Jr.… Read more »

Harold Bloom, the Byrds, and Me

November 30, 2011 | 16 comments
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About a week ago, James posted a reflection on Harold Bloom’s (frankly awful) New York Times op-ed. Rather than directly responding, though (other than expressing his rightful disappointment), James engaged with Dr. Bloom’s allegation that Mormonism and Protestantism are converging. Though concerned about such a convergence, James ultimately (and rightly, I believe) doesn’t think we’re headed inexorably down that path. That said, Dr. Bloom is right that the Church has changed a lot between 1844 and 2011. Change is inevitable and, as Ecclesiastes tells us, is to be expected. And, frankly, there have been a number of changes that,... Read more »

Black Friday

November 25, 2011 | 44 comments
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Yes! The Dow is back down to 11,232! I feel a little like Jonah sitting on the hill, waiting for the fireworks. Hearing that news on the radio brought me my biggest smile all day. Of course, Jonah was roundly rebuked, because Nineveh repented in ashes, and he still was annoyed they weren’t destroyed. He clearly had an attitude problem, and lots of people might say the same about me. The Super Committee’s lame punt is just the most recent sign of the overall trend, though: at an institutional level, we haven’t even really admitted there is a problem,... Read more »

A Missionary Reminiscence on Christmas

November 25, 2011 | 13 comments
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A Missionary Reminiscence on Christmas

When the mission president announced to our small group of greenies that I was going to Strasbourg, I shrugged the resigned shrug of a missionary who knew nothing about anywhere but was willing to go wherever. One of the sisters expressed jealousy; Strasbourg, she said, was one of the best cities in the mission. She was right, and it would not be a good thing. Strasbourg is and was beautiful pre-Christmas.* Several weeks passed before I fully acclimatized to the major time-change, and the schedule of missionary life, but I loved Strasbourg almost instantly. The eastern area of France... Read more »

Why Bloom, et al are wrong

November 22, 2011 | 12 comments
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Why Bloom, et al are wrong

Harold Bloom’s recent NY Times article on Mormonism & politics was tremendously disappointing. The sheer volume of poorly (or dishonestly) researched writing on Mormonism this season is exhausting; and to get this sort of long worn-out, conspiracy minded expression of clichés from someone as well educated as Bloom is downright disheartening (though to be fair, we’ve gotten a good deal of serious journalism as well). But I’m actually not much interested in that side of Bloom’s article. Let me quickly bring up two other points from the article. First, Bloom states this: The founding prophet Joseph Smith…highly original revelation... Read more »

Politics and Members of the Church

November 11, 2011 | 19 comments
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The Catholic church, that is. Read more »

Mormons in Politics Update: Arizona

November 9, 2011 | 23 comments
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Mormons in Politics Update: Arizona

While off-year elections, like yesterday’s U.S. elections, are usually almost irrelevant, there was an interesting, if not important, race for those following Mormons in Politics—and the result appears to be the election of Jerry Lewis. Read more »

Utah Women in the Labor Market

November 4, 2011 | 41 comments
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The Atlantic Cities, currently one of my favorite sites, has, over the last several days, run a series looking into the best states for working women (both generally and in the "creative class"). What leaped out at me: Utah's a pretty bad place to be a working woman. Read more »

Birthday of the New Colossus

October 28, 2011 | 51 comments
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Birthday of the New Colossus

The New York Public Library posted on Facebook this morning that today is the 125th anniversary of  the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. While intended and generally thought of as an icon of freedom, its place in New York harbor, through which much immigration to the United States has passed, has meant that it is also considered a symbol of immigration. Read more »

The Forbes Shuffle

October 24, 2011 | 16 comments
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The Forbes Shuffle

Forbes’ annual look at the 400 richest Americans was released last month, so I thought I would again take a look at the Mormons on the list, and was surprised to find a different Mormon on top of the list. Aaron B. claimed last May that Steven Udvar-Házy is LDS, and I have been able to verify that at least his wife is from an LDS family. Udvar-Házy now tops the Mormons on the Forbes list. Read more »

How Are You Celebrating?

October 22, 2011 | 21 comments
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No, today isn’t a national holiday. It’s not any particular religious festival. We’re more than a week away from Halloween, a month from Thanksgiving, and a couple months from Christmas. The only reason you have today off (assuming you have today off) is because today is Saturday. And yet . . . On October 22, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a bipartisan bill. That law, signed 25 years ago today, was the last fundamental tax reform in which the U.S. has engaged. Among other things, it broadened the tax base, reduced... Read more »

Do Mormons Get a Seat at the Table?

October 20, 2011 | 29 comments
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Do Mormons Get a Seat at the Table?

I just started reading the recently published Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise, by Kevin M. Schultz (OUP, 2011). With Mitt Romney’s Mormon-ness continuing to be an oddly fascinating topic for the mainstream media, a point of criticism and ridicule for journalist comedians (they think they are journalists, I think they are comedians), and a strategic weakness to be exploited by Rick Perry and possibly other candidates, Tri-Faith America seems like a very timely book. Read more »

Background: Elder Oaks and the Charitable Deduction

October 19, 2011 | 19 comments
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Yesterday, as Marc pointed out, Elder Oaks testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee in favor of the deduction for charitable giving. He argued that the charitable deduction is vital to the nation’s welfare. Why, though, these hearings on the charitable deduction? Is it under attack? In case you haven’t been following the politics of tax and budgeting recently (of course, who hasn’t?), I thought I’d provide a little background to the hearing. The Deduction for Charitable Donations The charitable deduction is an itemized deduction (more on that later). It’s one of the older deductions in the tax... Read more »

Is the ‘Mormon Moment’ larger outside the U.S.?

October 17, 2011 | 18 comments
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Is the ‘Mormon Moment’ larger outside the U.S.?

I’ve been looking at Google’s ngram viewer this weekend, at the instigation of my fellow blogger, Wilfried Decoo, and what I came across implies that the “Mormon Moment,” starting in this case with Mitt Romney’s first run for the presidency, may have had a larger impact in places outside of the U.S. than it has had in the U.S. Read more »