Love and SCOTUS

This afternoon in Testimony Meeting, the culminating testimony was given by a young teenage member of the congregation. This past week, she had spent several days in line at the Supreme Court to obtain a ticket for someone to attend the hearing regarding same sex marriage.

The weather was alternately wet and cold or fair and hot. Unpleasant conditions in any case. But beyond that was the nature of the discourse.

One particular aspect she mentioned was the religious groups who were opposing those seeking marriage status for those in same-gender relationships. It was not opposition, per se, that bothered this young woman though. It was the hate-filled language being screamed from the bullhorns.

And so this young woman stepped away from her three friends who were waiting in line with her and approached the ministers preaching hate. She confronted them, asking if Christ did not teach love of all, even when they had sinned. As this young teen (think of a modern Helen Mar Kimball) confronted them, they agreed that they could (and should) still love the sinner, even as they condemned the sin.

For the next several minutes, the message proclaimed from the bullhorn was tempered with love. Then, when she expects they figured she was no longer in ear shot, the message reverted to the prior rhetoric.

But for fifteen minutes, the message from those protesting in favor of retaining marriage recognition in the hands of the states was moderated with words of love, because a young Mormon teenager confronted the ministers face to face.

Marriage is important. Family is important. But above all, the worth of each individual in the eyes of God is important.

As we strive to inform the world of the importance of family, we must not lose the love we aspire to feel for all, modeling the love we know God feels for all. If we allow hate and fear to guide us, any victory we might win will be Pyrrhic and our legacy will be as dust to the generations that follow us.

The Church in a New Hostile America

Never since the earliest days has the LDS Church been in such danger of persecution by a mass of Americans. The same can be said about the danger of governmental punishment from the time of the polygamy trials. Unlike the mentioned examples where the religious were the instigators, secularists are in command and faith itself is in the crosshairs. This time no one who believes in God and attends church will be spared. Worst case scenarios have Christians going underground like in China to worship, if the modern interpretation of the religious clause is brought to its logical conclusion. Religation to absolute privacy is not freedom; its house arrest. There are some possible changes coming to how the LDS Church operates in this increasingly hostile secular new United States. Some are already in practice where secularism has completely taken over.

There is no need to rehearse where the danger comes from the most. Anyone can look at the current headlines about the U.S. Supreme Court’s biggest case of the year. For those who wish to criticise any “the sky is falling” concerns, a reasonable person should read what Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli said in response to Judge Alito’s question:

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax ­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­-sex marriage?

General Verrilli: You know, ­­I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.

Although the question refers to a college, it can easily apply to a Church since the university is a privately held religious institution. It wouldn’t take a leap to translate into any private institution with tax exempt status. For many religions the university is an extension of the church and not a side project. I am sure that Brigham Young University’s varied campuses are seen in that light by the LDS leadership, who on more than one occasion has stated it outright. Calling it “The Lord’s University” is more than a silly saying to be mocked. Those might be the first casualties. Continue reading

Joseph’s Wives: Mary Heron & Clarissa Reed

[By popular demand, objectionable words in this post will be blacked out as follows: objectionable words. If you feel a need to confirm that you’ve inferred the correct objectionable word(s), you can see the text by using your mouse to highlight the black rectangle.]

JEJohnsonYou’re expecting me to talk about Fanny Alger next, but something came across my desk that prompted me to jump chronological order to examine the tenuous hints people will seize upon when claiming a woman was a plural wife of Joseph Smith.

First we’ll talk about the case of Mary Heron, who some believe was either a wife or sex partner of Joseph Smith based on the testimony of Joseph Ellis Johnson (pictured to the left). Second, I’ll discuss the “hope” some have harbored that Clarissa Reed produced a son by Joseph Smith over a year after her marriage to Hancock. Continue reading

BYU Women’s Conference to be streamed online

Ballard WC speakerBYU Women’s Conference has announced that the closing session of the Conference will be streamed live on LDS.org. Tune in Friday, May 1st at 3:45pm MDT, to hear Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve speak. The theme of this year’s conference is 2 Nephi 11: 5, “And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.”

Thank you to all who made this available. And if you’re there, we hope you’re having a spectacular time!

Follow BYU Women’s Conference on social media with the hashtag, #BYUWC.

Why you should have more sympathy for protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson

The chaotic protests and looting in Ferguson last year and Baltimore in the last week have created understandable concern about the rule of law in these cities and elsewhere.

Who cannot help but admire the mother who disciplined her teenaged son who she thought was throwing rocks at police?

This mother’s actions seem to show that 1)the people protesting are misguided thugs and 2)all that is needed is a bit of discipline to get things under control.

Such a reaction is understandable but unfortunately ignores the realities of the lives of people in Ferguson and Baltimore and their interactions with the government. Once you begin to dig down into how police and local government have, for years, oppressed the people in Baltimore and Ferguson, you cannot help but feel some sympathy for residents there.

Let me put it to you this way: if you lived in the poorer parts of Ferguson or inner-city Baltimore, chances are you would feel helpless and angry at the police and the government too. Would you riot? Perhaps not, but you would at least understand why other people are protesting.

Before going on, let’s remember how the United States was founded. It was a violent revolution against an oppressive government. History shows clearly that the British government was considerably less oppressive to the majority of people in the colonies than the police and local governments of Ferguson and Baltimore today. It is simply a fact that the vast majority of colonists never had to deal with a British government official. If you were a landowner in Connecticut or New York or Virginia, you might go your entire life without ever seeing a British “oppressor.”

So, why did the colonists rebel? Because of taxes (which were ridiculously low compared to today) and because the British government was denying basic rights to people in the Americas that were granted, for the most part, to people in England. It is true that colonists read about and heard about oppression of other people, but the vast majority of white colonists never suffered any oppression from government themselves. (It is worth remembering that the situation was obviously different for the slaves).

Yet, in an environment of relatively light tyranny, the colonists nevertheless wrote founding documents expressly intended to limit and control police power. The colonists recognized that they had unusual liberty, and they wanted to protect and enlarge liberty for future generations.

Do the people of Ferguson and Baltimore have liberty today? No, they do not.

Continue reading