By now, most everyone has probably seen the district court decision invalidating the partial-birth abortion ban. It’s no surprise that the judge in that case invalidated the law. The law did not include an exception for cases where the health of the mother was threatened, and was thus (under pretty clear Supreme Court precedent) unconstitutional. There has been some interesting internet commentary about the propriety of the decision. Rob Vischer at the Mirror of Justice comments on Judge Casey’s role, as a Catholic judge, in the case. Vischer suggests that Judge Casey’s findings of fact may be helpful for pro-life advocates, despite the fact that the judge was bound by legal precedents. A similar, and surprisingly deferential, analysis was offered at the National Review. I wasn’t surprised to see the law invalidated. To me, the issue of partial-birth abortion has always been a good illustration of a characteristic of the pro-life movement, which depending on one’s political perspective may be viewed as muleheadedness, hypocrisy, or steadfastness. Despite overwhelming public support for a ban on partial-birth abortion, pro-life politicians have been unable or unwilling to enact viable legislation against it. The law was struck down, just like the last one, because it didn’t have a health exception. The solution isn’t so difficult, guys: Add a health exception. How hard is that? And viola, a constitutional partial-birth abortion ban. Why can’t people get that through their heads?
Over at BCC, John Hatch points out an important new change to the church’s political neutrality statement. The statement has an additional new sentence, and it reads: In addition, members who hold public office should not give the impression they represent the Church as they work for solutions to social problems. John gives a detailed breakdown of some of the recent incidents of church legislators invoking church doctrine to justify legislation, and of the numerous statements issued by the church over the last year repudiating those legislators. This change drives home the point the the political neutrality statement is serious. The church doesn’t support Bush. It doesn’t support Kerry. It is neither Democrat nor Republican. And except in certain specific areas where the church has taken an explicit position (such as the ERA, or possibly the gay marriage amendment), it is probably wrong to suggest that church doctrine requires one to follow a particular political ideology. One need not be a good Republican, or Democrat, or Libertarian, or whatever, to be a good church member. Is that so hard to understand?
My impression is that pornography is a widespread problem among members of the Church. While women sometimes fall prey to its enticements, the overwhelming majority of pornography consumers are men. The perils of pornography are of particular concern for those who work with the young men, but many Elders and High Priests also suffer from a so-called “pornography addiction.” As I have encountered members of the Church who are dealing with this problem — whether as Church leaders or as parents — one thing has become depressingly clear: we are not very effective at countering the magnetic force of pornography.
Last Sunday morning, I was just starting to feel comfortable with the presidential election, having carefully completed my “lesser of two evils” analysis to make my decision about which of the two leading Skull and Bones members I wanted for President. And then during sacrament meeting, the bishop got up and read the Church’s political neutrality statement. It said something about not endorsing any party or candidate – sure, I was OK with that – and THEN came the catch: it said we were under a “special obligation” to seek out and uphold “leaders who will act with integrity and are ‘wise,’ ‘good,’ and ‘honest.’” NOOOOO! How can they call that “political neutrality”? And where on earth am I going to find politicians who meet such standards?? I’m back to drawing board, folks. Is there a check box on the ballot for “none of the above”? Or is there some third party candidate that the Church has endorsed — uh, I mean who meets the standards of our neutrality statement?
There have been some particularly heavy discussions here lately, so I thought I’d offer up something ultralight. Now I like books as much as the next person, but I’m not one of you bring-a-book-on-a-date-so-I-have-something-to-read-while-she’s-powdering-her-nose guys. I will, however, admit to viewing some 37 movies in the last six months (according to my Netflix records). Anyway, I was ruminating this morning about the best movies about the afterlife.
About a week ago I went to the wedding of one of my nieces. As I sat waiting for the wedding to begin and watching people arrive, I suddenly had a glimpse of how we look to many who either are not attending church with us or are completely outside our community. In short, we look weird.
Both Dave’s and the Mormon Wasp have noted the recent press accounts about Krakauer (yes, that Krakauer) working to assist the teenage boys who are routinely expelled from the polygamous FLDS community in order to keep the proper male-to-female ratio. The plight of the “Lost Boys” who are expelled from the FLDS is troubling, and it’s nice to see that Krakauer is doing what he can (along with others) to help them make the transition into the real world.
HBO has ordered 10 episodes of a serial drama series, produced by Tom Hanks, about a polygamist family in Utah. The story is here. Thanks to Renee for the tip.
As we move through election season, the polls start coming fast and furious; the pundits punditorate, the politicians spin, the news media pretend not to spin, bloggers blog, and everybody offers the inside scoop as to the outcome of the election. How is one to aggregate all this information into the best possible guess as to who will win the presidential election? One excellent way to do it is to pay people to be right. This is exactly what is done at the Iowa Electronic Markets. If you are sure that John Kerry is going to be the next U.S. President, you can got to the IEM website and buy Kerry stock. Currently, for 46 cents one can buy an option to get $1 if Kerry wins. Bush costs about 54 cents. If you are sure Kerry is the man, this is an easy way to make money, $46 now will get you $100 in just a few months.
I’ve noticed a few interesting statements linking the two states lately. The Boston Globe notes that: In Massachusetts, 16 percent of poll respondents said that they belong to “no religion,” only slightly above the national average of 14 percent (and below Utah’s 17 per cent). (Link via Philocrites). Meanwhile, Danithew notes John Kerry’s recent statement of how Mormonism is mainstream (and how that affects Massachusetts): “I think that over the course of this convention, people are going to see a Massachusetts that’s very much like America,” he said. “It’s interesting: the last four governors of our state have all been Republicans. We now have a Mormon Republican who originally came from Utah. Our state is as mainstream as any.” So the masses of marauding Mormons have made Massacusetts more mainstream? (How’s that, alliteration-haters?). Is this the beginning of a trend? (And did it start with sweet Sunstone symposiasts who schlep in from sunny Swampscott, snickering at silly syllogisms?). Will we see further Massachusetts-Utah links? And what does it all mean? I’m sure if it has any significance, we’ll figure it out here at T & S.
We would be remiss if we didn’t tip our collective hat to Ken Jennings, who is setting records on the Jeopardy game show. Many of the news stories about Jennings discuss tithing or his Church affiliation generally. My favorite is this spoof: According to a source within the Mormon church, a team of investigators have started looking into the life of this bright young husband and father of one…. “This is bad, real bad,” our source said. “Mormons do best when they are flying under the radar. At our core we are a fragile, shallow religion. One tremor like this game show thing could make us implode.” Our source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a fact finding inquest has quietly begun on the Jeopardy champ. “We’ve started to look into this Jennings fellow and we want to know how he slipped into Mormonism in the first place. He obviously is quite intelligent and we normally don’t go looking for the folks who are apt to think things out. We try to weed them out right away.”… “The increased scrutiny we are receiving because of Jennings can only hurt us. Non-Mormons will start asking our members what Mormonism is all about. That can only lead to our people having to wake up and look into things themselves,” said our perspiring source. “We’ll probably lose some of our members. Our net income will go down and the church elders…
Great posts (and thanks to Brayden for a genuine LOL comment). Some responses. 1. Danithew is right that 90 days/$5,000 does not begin to approximate the costs of adultery. . .
From the church’s website: The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement today. This is a statement of principle in anticipation of the expected debate over same-gender marriage. It is not an endorsement of any specific amendment. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.”
Hmm. The direction the responses took to my two points about ethical consistency and abortion remind of my (still unfinished) deck project, which started off simple enough, but soon spun out of control.
You’ve all apparently already had a long conversation on this site on abortion and the ethics (or lack thereof) of a Mormon pro-choice position, so let me just make two brief points with respect to those who brought the issue into their responses to my Mormon Republican Majority post. First, consider the sin of adultery. . . .
Well, it’s not often I get called a sneak and sophist at the same time. :) But I have a thick skin. As to trying to sneak something by anyone–as if that would actually be possible with this group!–I meant only to suggest that one possibility for the almost uniform dislike of President Clinton by Mormon Republicans might be that Mormons consider marital fidelity an indispensable quality of their public servants, because of the Church’s teachings. . . .
Karen Hall has thoughts on yesterday’s Washington Post story. In the mean time, readers are advised to hide the women, children, and livestock (not to mention those invaluable ward rosters!), while we all pray for a flock of Republican-eating seagulls to come miraculously to our aid.
I recently returned from a teaching stint in Europe, and this morning I was thinking about a small incident that prompted some Gospel-related thoughts … not about war. Two of my children and I were traveling from Bath to London, and we decided to take the scenic route, which allowed us to stop at Stonehenge on the way. We were all quite enamored with the ancient structure, which I found oddly inspiring. My children (ages 10 and 8) listened intently to their self-guided tour recordings and asked interesting questions. They were genuinely engaged.
A recent article from the nefariousliberalmedia discusses the recent spike in Senate profanity. I’m proud to see that Utah senator and church member Orrin Hatch is one of the politicians who has been putting blue language to public use. Well I say, it’s about time. There ought to be more profanity in Congress, not less. After all, Senators are important public figures. If they swear, others might start swearing as well, and that can’t be a bad thing, can it? Civility is over-rated. Politeness is for the namby-pamby. Contention may be of the devil, but it gets the votes. And dammit, that’s what matters!
Critics of the Iraq War are quick to argue that because Saddam hadn’t killed Americans and didn’t pose an immediate threat to Americans, the war wasn’t justified. I don’t know of anyone — Howard Dean, Al Gore, Michael Moore — who believes America would have been wrong to overthrow the Baathists had the Iraqi state gassed thousands of American women and children, thrown scores of Americans into plastic shredders, tortured American children in front of their parents, and tyrannically oppressed millions of Americans living in Iraq. In other words, the critics think the Iraq War is immoral because Saddam’s victims were foolish enough to be born to Kurds and Shiites, and not born to Americans who lived in Iraq.