About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

AG Sessions outlines religious freedom exemptions

I would love some help from knowledgeable people analyzing this legal guidance by the Trump administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued government-wide legal guidance Friday that urges sweeping protection for religious freedom and could impact a series of pending policy decisions involving health care, LGBT rights and even disaster relief.

Sessions billed the 25-page memo directed to all federal agencies as a response to an executive order President Donald Trump signed in May, promoting efforts to promote “religious liberty.”

That order triggered a major showdown within the administration as religious and social conservatives pressed for treatment that could essentially allow them to ignore anti-discrimination requirements, particularly in the area of sexual orientation, while more moderate forces warned that upending existing protections would trigger an uproar that could derail other administration priorities.

The new Justice Department guidance takes a muscular view of religious freedom rights, but officials said that the document is a neutral description of existing law and not an effort to weigh in on particular policy issues.

“Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place,” Sessions wrote. “Except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting and programming.”

The legal analysis was unveiled as the Trump administration is considering or pursuing a series of moves that could broaden the rights of the religious, including allowing churches more latitude to enter political campaigns without jeopardizing their tax exemptions and permitting religious institutions to receive more types of disaster relief funds.

Also, please note that today (Friday), the Trump administration rolled back the birth control mandate for Obamacare.

Eliminate nationalism?

The final session of Sunday’s general conference included a very interesting talk by Elder Ballard in which he said the following:

“We need to embrace God’s children compassionately and eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism,” Elder Ballard said. “Let it be said that we truly believe — and truly live — the words of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi: ‘(The Lord) inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female … and all are alike unto God.'”

Eliminating racism and sexism are not controversial, and many Church talks over the years have emphasized these points.  Elder Ballard’s was the second talk of this conference to discuss the evil of racism.

Eliminating nationalism, however, is not as common a subject.  I did a search on lds.org, and there simply are not that many talks about nationalism.

Such a subject is controversial for many reasons.  There are more latter-day Saints outside the U.S. than inside.  Eliminating nationalism in the U.S. seems politically correct, especially in the days of the nationalist president Donald Trump, but what about eliminating Brazilian nationalism or Japanese nationalism or French nationalism?

Are the prophets saying that no latter-day Saints in these countries should have nationalist feelings?  Should they not love their countries and have feelings of patriotism?

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Some remarks from Elder Ballard to young adults

Elder Ballard delivered some “blunt” but “loving” remarks to young adults in the Taylorsville, Utah Institute program on Sept. 17.  Those remarks were reported in the Deseret News here.

“We’re living in a time when you have to hear it very straight,” the apostle told more than 2,000 young adults gathered at the Taylorsville Utah Institute of Religion. Noting all the confusion in the world, Elder Ballard told listeners they didn’t have time to meddle with “fluff” or tamper with doctrine.

Elder Ballard continued:

In his many travels in his nearly 32 years as an apostle, Elder Ballard said he’s been approached by youth who are unsure about the Prophet Joseph Smith.


“I want to say to you, if you have any question about the reality of Joseph Smith being a prophet of God, called under the direction of the Father and the Son, you get into the Book of Mormon and you read it.”


Readers of the Book of Mormon cannot get far into the book without drawing closer to the Savior Jesus Christ, he said.

To those who doubt when questioned about the Book of Mormon, Elder Ballard declared, “You are members of the Church. You bear your testimony. You tell them to [read] the Book of Mormon and get down on their knees and let them ask God if [Joseph Smith] is a prophet.”


Elder Ballard then added his witness that Joseph Smith was raised up as a prophet of this dispensation of the fullness of times.


Elder Ballard said he also sometimes hears criticism from youth that the Church takes too hard of a stance on marriage or gender issues. “Before you start questioning that, you go back and study the plan of salvation,” Elder Ballard told the young adults.


“What is God’s great plan of happiness? Why are we here? Where do we come from? Who are we? Who are you?” he asked. “Well, you are sons and daughters of God. You are spirit offspring of our Heavenly Parents. You lived in the pre-mortal world as sons and daughters of God.”

He then encouraged listeners to go back to the book of Genesis in the Bible. “Find out why God created this world. Who are we … and what are we charged to do and how are we charged to do it? Well, Adam and Eve were given firm direction. They were moved out of the garden and told to multiply and replenish the earth. And there’s one way you should do that: in God’s way of marriage.”


Most questions can be answered by reminding individuals of the plan of salvation — “the great plan of happiness that Heavenly Father established in the beginning,” the apostle taught.


Those who have questions can also take their questions to their trusted teachers and leaders. “If they don’t know the answer, they can help try to find an answer for you.”