About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

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.

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About that claim of suicides by LDS teens with same-sex attraction

You may have heard the claim that there have been at least 32 suicides by LDS teens with same-sex attraction since the Church made the now well-known changes in the handbook.

I’d like to make a few comments about that claim.

First, and this should be obvious but it still bears repeating: every suicide is a tragedy, for the person and for the person’s family. I agree with the Church spokesman who said that every soul is precious to God and the loss of life to suicide is heartbreaking.

But second, the people who are trumpeting the claims are well-established critics of the Church who are reporting from people they claim have talked to them privately. No independent confirmation of these numbers has taken place. You, dear reader, can choose to believe what you want, but based on my life’s experience, I simply don’t believe that these people are telling the truth. Given the ghoulish way that they are glorying in their claims (which in their minds confirm their opinion that the Church is bad, bad, BAD), is it beyond the pale to believe that they have simply made things up? I think not.

None other than the Salt Lake Tribune, always anxious to find ways to criticize the Church, went looking for information to corroborate the claim of “32 suicides.” But, in a strange twist, actual journalism took place at the Tribune, and they were forced to report that there is no evidence of that many of suicides:

Trouble is, the number far exceeds the suicide figures collected by the Utah Department of Health.

Preliminary figures for November and December show 10 suicides in the Beehive State for people ages 14 to 20, with two more cases “undetermined.”

In fact, the department reports, the overall number of Utah deaths for that age group in those months was 25, including the 10 suicides and two “undetermined” cases, along with 11 in accidents, one by natural causes and one homicide.

“We monitor the numbers [of youth suicides] very closely. We review them every month,” says Teresa Brechlin, who works in the department’s violence- and injury-prevention program. “If we had seen such a huge spike, we would have been investigating it.”

Had there been any mention of the LDS Church’s policy on gays, her department “would have noted that,” Brechlin adds. “We have not seen that at all.”

But third, the people involved ignore the obvious reality that suicide is a complex psychological problem that simply cannot be attributed to one cause in a person’s life. It might be instructive to read this post.

Do you realize that by no research or academic standard would a simple causal factor be seen as responsible for any given suicide – even those that appear to have an obvious instigator (see below). That may be the one thing that everyone in the suicide literature actually agrees on: taking a life is an inherently complex matter (even when it seems simple).

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Elder Nelson makes clear the LDS policy on same-sex attraction is the ‘will of the Lord’

The Salt Lake Tribune has a story on Elder Nelson’s talk to young adults Sunday night in which the senior apostle makes it as clear as can be that the Church’s policies are the will of the Lord.

The Mormon Newsroom has not reported on the talk yet, so my post will have to rely on the report from the Tribune, but here are some key paragraphs:

After same-sex marriage became legal in several countries, including the United States, the LDS Church’s top 15 leaders wrestled with what to do, weighed all the ramifications, fasted, prayed, met in the temple and sought God’s guidance on the issue.

Balancing their understanding of Mormon doctrine about the “plan of salvation,” which is built on male-female marriage, with compassion for children of same-sex couples, Russell M. Nelson, head of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said Sunday night, “we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise.”

Then President Thomas S. Monson, considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” in the 15 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, declared “the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord.”

That led to the Utah-based faith’s new policy regarding same-sex Mormon couples — that they would be labeled “apostates” and that their children would not be allowed baptism and other LDS religious rites until they turn 18.

“Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation,” Nelson, next in line for the Mormon presidency, told the faith’s young adults in the first official explanation of the hotly debated policy’s origins. “It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson.”

Nelson explained that revelation from the Lord to his servants is a sacred process.

“The [three-member] First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively,” he said. “And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord’s will.”

Elder Nelson also said that this is a time for choosing:

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Mother with chronic pain booked in Utah for using medical marijuana

Enedina Stanger is a Utah mother of two who suffers from a rare genetic disease called Ehlers-Dalos Syndrome (EDS). This fatal disease caused her bones to move out of her joints, causing constant, excruciating pain. She is wheelchair-bound.

Here is how she describes the pain she is in:

(The pain) is excruciating! I hurt all of the time. I have to try and smile, otherwise I’d be crying all of the time.

I call this my “concentration camp.” I realize that sounds drastic, but I’ve studied history and identify with Man’s Search for Meaning and other people who have experienced horrible things. My body is my concentration camp. My joints are the SS guards. At any second, they’re going to turn on me, and I have to be able to brutally take it, pop them back in, and keep on going.

She has tried many opiate-based medicines to help with the pain, but they all have side effects and often do not work. The only drug that helps her get through the day and act as a mother to her kids is marijuana.

On October 1 she was using medical marijuana in a car by herself in a Wal Mart parking lot. She was there because she has to sell her house to pay her medical bills, and the Realtor was showing the house. She was given a citation, and today she was booked by the Weber County Sheriff’s Department.

Because of cases like Stanger’s and others in Utah, the legislature is considering laws that would allow patients to use medical marijuana. I would like to add my voice of support to legalizing medical marijuana in Utah to help people like Enedina Stanger.

I have had discussions with many friends who oppose marijuana legalization, and I can see their arguments and understand them and even agree with many points they make. The best point against legalization is that it normalizes a drug that is bad for you and more people will likely smoke marijuana if it is legal. I think this is true.

But remember: Utah is not considering fully legalizing marijuana, it is considering making it available for people with chronic pain. I cannot see any reasonable arguments against legalizing medical marijuana. Most people have no problem with addictive, harmful opiates being legal and available through prescription. Then why not another drug that is less expensive and in many cases more effective?

You can read more about Enedina Stanger at her blog here.