News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

The Church and Taxes

September 29, 2011 | 25 comments
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The Church and Taxes

The Church cares about taxes. It doesn’t really seem to care about the details of tax policy, of course. I’ve never seen the Church weigh in on the appropriate tax rate, tax base, or even the appropriate type(s) of tax (e.g., an income or consumption tax, a retail sales tax or a VAT, or whatever) a government should impose. But still, it makes explicit and implicit nods that indicate that, ultimately, it cares both about its tax position and that of its members. The Church and (Its) Taxes Like (essentially) every other church in the U.S., the LDS church is... Read more »

Which Mormon are You Voting For?

September 26, 2011 | 14 comments
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Which Mormon are You Voting For?

One of the gloriously enriching experiences in marriage – at least in my marriage – is all of the truly wonderful people that my wife has brought into my life. One of these persons is Sarah Bringhurst Familia – a brilliant, homeschooling mother, who also happens to be a pillar of global citizenship. Since marrying, she and her husband have lived in a number of exotic locations, including Utah, California, The Philippines, Ireland, Italy, and most recently Tunisia. With both a degree and lots of life experience centering around the Middle East, she’s a trenchant observer of current affairs... Read more »

Desperately Seeking Seniors

September 19, 2011 | 78 comments
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Desperately Seeking Seniors

I was surprised a week ago when a senior missionary serving in our ward said that the Church is struggling to get senior missionaries, something that an article in the Deseret News last week confirmed. But my senior missionary friend went further than the article did, saying that the number of senior missionaries has declined by 40% in the past decade. Read more »

Desert and a Just Society

September 18, 2011 | 99 comments
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The 2010 poverty level in the U.S., we learned on Tuesday, is the highest it has been since 1993. In 2010, about one in six Americans lived below the poverty line. In June, 14.6% of Americans received food stamps. To some extent, the high poverty rate is probably related to the high unemployment rate, which was 9.1% in August. I throw out all of these numbers to suggest that, as a society, we have a problem. That problem needs to be fixed. And we, as Mormons, undoubtedly have something that we can bring to the discussion of how to... Read more »

Mormonism and Social Justice

September 12, 2011 | 64 comments
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Recently, we’ve seen some distrust of religions that advocate social justice, from sources as diverse as the political punditry and lay Mormons. The criticism is unfounded, of course, and strikes me as ahistorical and anti-Catholic. The term “social justice” comes from 1840, when the Jesuit scholar Luigi Taparelli as he worked through the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. As you look at Jesuit schools’ mission statements, you begin to understand how central social justice is to the Jesuit identity. I teach at a Jesuit law school. Part of our mission is to “prepare graduates who will be ethical advocates for justice and... Read more »

Mormons and Meaning on September 11

September 11, 2011 | 50 comments
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In the comments to Pres. Monson’s article on the Washington Post’s On Faith blog one Church member claimed that “Not one single LDS employee working in the Twin Towers was at work that morning.” This is, of course, incorrect. In fact, one of the LDS employees working in the towers died in the attack, as did two more on planes and two in the Pentagon. Read more »

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 »