Another high profile disciplinary council

Some readers may have heard that Jeremy Runnells has announced via a press release that he is facing a disciplinary council.

There are a few points I would like to make:

1)We would not know about this situation if he had not announced it in a press release. Church discipline is private.

2)When the council takes place, we will only hear one side of the story, i.e., Bro. Runnells’.

3)People who are truly interested in repentance usually do not make their disciplinary councils public through press releases. I have known people who faced a disciplinary council with an attitude of understanding and willingness to make changes. They have faced a loving, charitable process that has resulted in true positive progression in their lives. Bro. Runnells’ public statements show he is not interested in counsel from Church leaders.

4)Bro. Runnells’ claims in “Letter to a CES Director” have been thoroughly debunked point by point by FAIR Mormon.

5)Bro. Runnells’ claims had already been debunked by many sources when he wrote them, but he chose to ignore the existing scholarship.

If you have any friends who have been affected by Runnells’ letter, please ask them to read this:

http://en.fairmormon.org/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director

Bad news for Bernie Sanders supporters

If you are a Bernie Sanders supporter, I’ve got some bad news for you: nothing significant will change if your guy gets elected.

Here is the simple reality of the American political system: it was designed to prevent significant change. We have three branches of government intended to check and balance each other. We have states intended to check and balance the federal government.

There are only three real areas where presidents can effect significant change: 1)foreign policy 2)judicial appointees and 3)the bully pulpit. Bernie is only likely to bring change in the latter two areas. So, if you are content to have a lot more left-wing judges and a lot more talk about inequality and social justice — but not much actual action — then by all means “Feel the Bern.” But don’t come complaining to me three years from now when nothing else has changed. I will just remind you of this post, and I will point out that Hillary Clinton probably would have given you the same judges.

If you want to claim that the Obama presidency brought change, I would point to two “accomplishments” of note: the disastrous Obamacare bill and the worthless Dodd-Frank bill. Yes, these were two significant pieces of legislation, but remember they took place when Obama had a Democratic House AND a filibuster-proof Senate. There are no scenarios where Bernie enjoys a Dem House and Senate.

So, let’s say Bernie wins in 2016. He will face a Republican House galvanized more than ever to stop his brand of Socialism. The Senate will probably be won by the Democrats, but probably with 51 to 53 Democrats at most. And then come the 2018 elections, which are likely to resemble, more than anything else, the shellacking that Obama suffered in 2010. This is simply a reality that nearly all presidents in recent U.S. history have faced: off-year elections are usually punishing for presidents, and this happened to Obama in 2010 and 2014, and it will almost certainly happen to Bernie.

Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge gains on the local level. I urge you to read this article if you still think the Obama presidency was all awesome and stuff for Democrats.

The shift in party affiliation over the past seven years is absolutely incredible. In 2008, there were 35(!) states that were either solidly or leaning Democratic, five solid or leaning Republican and 10 judged as competitive. The following year there were 33 Democratic states, 12 competitive states and, still, five Republican ones.

From 2008 to 2015, Democrats went from a 30-state lead to a six-state deficit when it comes to states solidly or leaning their way on party affiliation. That is simply stunning.

Gallup’s findings are in keeping with what I think is the most under-told story of the Obama years: Republicans have made massive gains at virtually every level of government other than, of course, the White House.

Republicans have their largest House majority since World War II, having retaken the majority in the 2010 election. They hold a four-seat majority in the Senate, having seized control of the world’s greatest deliberative body in the 2014 midterms.

At the state level, Republicans have 31 governorships — almost two-thirds of all the governor’s mansions in the country. Republicans are even more dominant at the state legislative level; the GOP holds total control over 30 of the 50 states’ legislatures and has partial control in another eight states — meaning that more than three-quarters of the country’s state legislatures are controlled by the GOP.

Continue reading

Mormons can be Awesome!

Too much time and attention has been spent discussing the negatives of Mormons. With the way some people talk, even among those who consider themselves believers, the LDS Church has serious trouble keeping members active. Statistics are interpreted to imply that an unsustainable number of young adults are dropping out or going inactive. Despite the admitted higher than hoped for numbers who leave, the remaining are actually above average for religious participation. There has also been steady growth, with some returning later in life. The bad news is not all bad.

In the spirit of the more positive side of Mormonism, here are some members who have awesome achievements and testimonies. They are an inspiration for those struggling or asking if there are still any good members to have as role models. A very long list could be possible, but a sample is sufficient. These are members who have expressed faith in the Gospel while pursuing what they love, with noteworthy results. The future is brighter than the pessimists assume.

Jenn Blosil has not made it big yet, but as the last Mormon on “American Idol” she is on her way. Her personality and musical style is quirky and uneven. Yet, there is something about her that cannot be ignored. To put it simply, she stands out from others. Her testimony of the gospel and love for music are equally strong.

Jenn served a mission to New York like the second person on this list. Continue reading

Black Lives Matter AND…

I have a unique background that few other white LDS members have. I lived in the deep South for 17 years, assigned during most of that time in stake and ward missionary callings. I was instrumental in beginning the work among African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama 30 years ago. With two full time missionaries, I opened the work in Tuskegee, and was their group leader until a branch was established. One of my greatest honors was being “adopted” as an honorary black brother to my dear deceased friend, Renee Olsen, who said I was among a few white Mormons that understood the black world (Margaret Blair Young being the foeremost expert in this area, IMO).

Still, I realize I do not carry the burden placed upon blacks by even well meaning whites of all religions and political views. Yes, even white Democrats do not understand and many of their words and actions harm more than help. When asked if Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders responded by saying “all lives matter”.

The problem is, for blacks, this is comparing apples to oranges. They are equivalent.

All Lives Matter means we should care and help all people, regardless of what class or caste they are placed in by nature and society.

However, Black Lives Matter is different. Unlike whites and many others, racial prejudice still lives on. Separate water fountains happened in the recent past, which was experienced by many older blacks we know. Today, most whites do not think that racism still happens. It does. More blacks are stopped by police than whites. Blacks, though a minority population, take up almost half of prison beds. Government ‘helps’ the poor (mostly blacks), by giving women welfare only if there is no man in the home. Teachers give up on black kids quicker than white kids. Even the Academy Awards demonstrated racist tendencies by giving no nominations to blacks this year.

If you were walking down a dark street, what would be your initial response if some young black men were to walk towards you? Would you feel the same if it were some white boys?

Black Lives Matter should not be compared to All Lives Matter. Both are valid statements, but mean different things. It is best if we do not insist on one over the other. They are both important, with different connotations. Black Lives Matter AND All Lives Matter.

We need to care for all people, from the womb to the deathbed. This is what Christ would have us do. But we also need to look at blacks as our brothers and sisters, treat them with dignity, and help lift them out of the tragic poverty and dependency that we have placed them in.