News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

Books of Interest to the LDS Nerd

September 6, 2011 | 18 comments
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Books of Interest to the LDS Nerd

A few of these are forthcoming, a few have appeared recently. I am compelled to read them all, as soon as I can get to them. Now Available Charles Harrel,“This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology (Kofford Books) “In this first-of-its-kind comprehensive treatment of the development of Mormon theology, Charles Harrell traces the history of Latter-day Saint doctrines from the times of the Old Testament to the present.” I have my doubts that someone who does not equally control original Biblical sources and LDS history, as well as the vast amounts of secondary literature on historiography, exegesis,... Read more »

Mission Finances, Part 2 [edited 8/26/2011]

August 25, 2011 | 22 comments
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Pop quiz: when you think “Mormons” and “US Supreme Court,” what do you think? (The correct answer is, of course, Reynolds.) For many of us, though, another... Read more »

14.1 Million

August 12, 2011 | 107 comments
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In the comments to Dave’s post discussing Joanna Brooks’s discussion of myths about Mormonism, the conversation is getting hung up on whether her citation of 14.1 million members is disingenuous or not. That discussion, I believe, misses the point. Why? Baseline. First, because 14.1 million is as good a number as any. Sure, in a real discussion of how many Mormons there are, you need to do a whole lot more work to define what you mean by “Mormon.” There are some areas that are clear: for example, it’s hard to argue that a person who has been baptize... Read more »

Mormon Myths

August 11, 2011 | 77 comments
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If you haven’t read “Five Myths About Mormonism,” a piece at the Washington Post by Joanna Brooks, you should. There are plenty of Mormon myths out there, but few people are going to visit the LDS Newsroom or the Mormon Defense League to upgrade their ideas about Mormons and what we believe. We need more articles like this in the mainstream media to get the message out. Read more »

The Tax Exemption and the Church’s Political Leanings

July 18, 2011 | 28 comments
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In light of the Church’s recent policy statement banning some Church authorities from endorsing candidates, and the speculation that the Church’s political neutrality derives from its desire to stay tax-exempt, I thought I’d present a brief primer on the tax exemption. The Revenue Act of 1894 probably represents the birth of the modern federal income tax. An inauspicious birth, to be sure–it was struck down as unconstitutional in 1895–but the birth, nonetheless. True, it was enacted 19 years before the 16th Amendment permitted direct taxation (whatever that is), but it set the stage for the income tax to come.... Read more »

Mormons Drafted

June 15, 2011 | 8 comments
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Mormons Drafted

Last week Major League Baseball held its most important annual draft, indicating interest in more than 1,500 possible players. As far as I can tell, just two of them are Mormon, down from 6 last year. Read more »

Immigration Where?

June 13, 2011 | 20 comments
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Immigration Where?

When I was on vacation a few years ago I picked up a local paper and found a number of articles about the problems that area was facing because of illegal immigration. Predictably there was crime committed by the illegal immigrants, and a lot of hate towards them. For an American nothing there was unusual–except that I was in South Africa. Read more »

Where are the Mormon Community Leaders?

June 6, 2011 | 46 comments
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At the end of a recent White House meeting with a Mormon focus group White House officials asked an illuminating question: Who are the LDS Community leaders that the White House should try to recognize? Read more »

Evangelical Incivility

June 2, 2011 | 19 comments
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I am guessing many readers have already stumbled across a controversial opinion piece posted at Patheos last week, Warren Cole Smith’s “A Vote for Romney Is a Vote for the LDS Church.” Smith is the author of the book A Lover’s Quarrel With the Evangelical Church, so it is clear where he is coming from. In fairness to Patheos, it should be noted that the article was part of an online symposium on faith and social conservatism offering a variety of viewpoints, including “Yes, Christians Can Vote for Mormons,” “In Defense of Mormons,” and Nate Oman’s “The LDS Church... Read more »

Personal and Community Responsibility

May 30, 2011 | 37 comments
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Personal and Community Responsibility

Yesterday in priesthood we discussed President Monson’s October 2010 Conference address on the Three Rs of Choice. One of the three Rs is ‘Responsibility’ — which led, of course, to discussing personal responsibility. In the discussion it occurred to me that personal responsibility is very closely connected to community responsibility. Read more »

Who reports crimes confessed to a Bishop?

May 23, 2011 | 61 comments
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Who reports crimes confessed to a Bishop?

Last week the Pinal Arizona County Attorney decided not to charge two LDS Bishops with failing to report the sexual abuse of a minor in the case of LDS Church member Susan Brock, who is now serving a 13-year prison sentence for the crime. While I tend to agree with the county attorney’s position on the bishops, I have to ask the question, who should have reported the crime and when? Read more »

A memory of youth draped in black

May 17, 2011 | 8 comments
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A memory of youth draped in black

I was saddened to hear today that a central part of one of my fondest childhood memories is no longer here. Baseball great Harmon Killebrew died this morning following a six month battle with cancer. He was 74. Read more »

Who is the World’s Wealthiest Mormon? Should We Care?

May 16, 2011 | 33 comments
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Who is the World’s Wealthiest Mormon? Should We Care?

A decade ago I compiled a list of the world’s wealthiest Mormons, based on the annual Forbes lists of the World’s Billionaires and of the 400 Wealthiest Americans. At that time there were 7 on the list, down from 8 the previous year. Now only 4 of these are left on the list. If there are fewer Mormons on the list of the World’s Wealthiest, I think it might be a good thing. Read more »

Elder Andersen’s Sid Going example was timely

May 13, 2011 | 16 comments
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Elder Andersen’s Sid Going example was timely

In the first talk given during the Priesthood session of this past General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen told the story of New Zealand rugby player Sid Going, who, in 1962, was poised to become a major Rugby star. But Going instead chose to serve an LDS mission, and became a star anyway when he returned two years later. Now, less than six weeks after Conference, Australian LDS Church member Will Hopoate has chosen to follow Going’s example, forgoing interest from 6 teams and at least one offer worth USD $1.6 million. Read more »

Persecution or Freedom?

May 6, 2011 | 81 comments
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Persecution or Freedom?

Just a week after he was named chef de mission of the U.S. Olympic Team for 2012, Peter Vidmar has resigned because of objections to his beliefs—specifically his opposition to same-sex marriage. Vidmar, an LDS Church member and a member of the gold-medal winning 1984 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. He is also the highest scoring gymnast in Olympic history. But in 2008 Vidmar publicly campaigned for Proposition 8 in California. Read more »

Influence, Reflecting Badly and Mormon Culture

April 29, 2011 | 34 comments
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Influence, Reflecting Badly and Mormon Culture

The news yesterday that artist Jon McNaughton had pulled his artwork from the BYU Bookstore led me to ponder once again the influence that Church-owned businesses and institutions have on Mormon Culture. While these institutions seem focused on how what they carry and produce reflects on themselves and, ultimately, the Church, I worry that the variety of books, art, music and other Mormon cultural materials aren’t as available as they should be. Read more »

Heller is Senator: Appointment makes 6 Mormons in U.S. Senate

April 29, 2011 | 6 comments
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Heller is Senator: Appointment makes 6 Mormons in U.S. Senate

Yesterday, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval named LDS Church member and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives Dean Heller to replace Senator John Ensign, who has resigned effective May 3 rather than face an ethics investigation. The move increases the number of Mormons serving in the Senate to 6 while decreasing the number serving in the House to 9. Read more »

Inoculation for Mormons Behaving Badly

April 14, 2011 | 44 comments
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Last June Dave Banack discussed the idea that LDS Church members should be inoculated for troubling LDS doctrinal and historical issues. I don’t think that idea has been completely explored, but I do think inoculation might be useful in one area where our (i.e., Mormon) sub-culture doesn’t use it: the news. Read more »

Balancing Political Positions with the Church and the Gospel

March 29, 2011 | 106 comments
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Balancing Political Positions with the Church and the Gospel

My earliest memory of conflict over Church decisions came because of a local stake division and boundary changes.I remember my mother venting about how one high councilor in one stake prevented the boundary change from following local political boundaries, which would have, in my mother’s view, give Church members a more unified voice in local politics. Read more »

Tribute to Richard Daines: Health, Sugar & Taxes

March 18, 2011 | 22 comments
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Tribute to Richard Daines: Health, Sugar & Taxes

When I learned that Richard Daines, a fellow New York City Mormon, passed away last month, I knew I wanted to write something about him for several reasons. First, I like writing about Mormons outside of the Wasatch-front bias of Mormon culture. Second, I have my own bias towards New York City, and third, I admire his political achievements. Read more »

Applying the Golden Rule Collectively

March 15, 2011 | 39 comments
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Applying the Golden Rule Collectively

Christian religions, in general, believe in what is widely known as the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In fact, as I understand it, most belief systems have some version of this idea. It seems to me that it is usually understood individually. But I have to believe that we should also apply it to groups — other countries, other peoples, other races, other sports teams… and other religions. Read more »

Misunderstanding or Malice?

March 11, 2011 | 22 comments
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Misunderstanding or Malice?

I came across an interesting reaction to LDS missionaries recently. A letter to the editor of an English-language Thai paper suggested that the presence of LDS missionaries there is an insult: “Why do Mormon missionaries in particular always travel thousands of miles on the ‘mission’ when Mormonism was entirely founded in the United States over a century ago, yet the US is 98 per cent non-Mormon?” Read more »

Missionary Visas and Political Strategy

February 18, 2011 | 50 comments
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Missionary Visas and Political Strategy

Mexican-American activist Raul Lopez-Vargas letter asking Mexican President Felipe Calderón to hold up LDS missionary visas to Mexico because of proposed illegal immigration enforcement legislation is being called a blatant blackmail attempt. If true, I have to wonder how he could possibly think it would work. Read more »

Will 3rd Mormon make Baseball Hall of Fame next year?

January 7, 2011 | 14 comments
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Will 3rd Mormon make Baseball Hall of Fame next year?

When I looked at the results of voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, I was somewhat surprised that two LDS players were still getting enough votes to stay on the list for next year, even though they haven’t yet been selected. And one of the players looks like he may eventually be selected — perhaps even next year. Read more »