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.

President Kimball on Church discipline

President Spencer W. Kimball, counseling priesthood leaders, said:

“We are concerned that too many times the interviewing leader in his personal sympathies for the transgressor, and in his love perhaps for the family of the transgressor, is inclined to waive the discipline which that transgressor demands.

“Too often a transgressor is forgiven and all penalties waived when that person should have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated. Too often a sinner is disfellowshipped when he or she should have been excommunicated. …

“Do you remember what was said by the prophet Alma? ‘Now,’ he said, ‘repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment.’ [Alma 42:16.]

“Ponder on that for a moment. Have you realized that? There can be no forgiveness without real and total repentance, and there can be no repentance without punishment. This is as eternal as is the soul. …

“Please remember these things when somebody comes before you who has broken the laws of God.

“It is so easy to let our sympathies carry us out of proportion; and when a man has committed sin, he must suffer. It’s an absolute requirement—not by the bishop—but it’s a requirement by nature and by the very part of a man.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 116; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 78.)

Thoughts from readers?

The MoTab member who refused to sing at Trump’s inauguration is interviewed

Jan Chamberlin, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir member who refused to sing at Trump’s inauguration, is interviewed.

A few quick thoughts:

1)Sister Chamberlin seems like a nice enough person.  It is useful to put a face to a name and to see her express her views calmly.

2)I strongly disagree with her comparison of Trump to Hitler, and I think she will be embarrassed by this comparison over time.  Trump is certain to do bad things just like all presidents, but he will leave office in four or eight years, and all indications are Trump actually wants to avoid a world war, not start one.  If I were Jewish, I would be deeply offended by comparing Trump, who is notably pro-Israel, to Hitler and his concentration camps.

3)Not all MoTab members are singing at the inauguration.  Sister Chamberlin could have quietly told the leadership she didn’t want to go for this concert.  Instead, she deliberately took this issue public.  I suppose she would say her motives were in the best interests of the country, but I am skeptical.  I mostly see her actions as virtue signaling to her friends.

4)The choir is an important missionary tool and public symbol of the Church.  The MoTab also brings the Spirit of the Lord. Many people feel the Spirit in different ways and in different situations. You may not feel the Spirit every time the MoTab sings, but you may have felt it once or twice. I very often think of choirs of angels with I see the MoTab sing. I find myself thinking how extraordinary it is to see these people sing together in harmony and how great they sound. Everybody needs the Spirit of the Lord, even (and perhaps especially) President-elect Trump. If you are opposed to Trump’s politics, why wouldn’t you want him to be exposed to the Spirit of the Lord? What harm could it do?  Aren’t we supposed to spread the Gospel to everybody?

I am wondering if Sister Chamberlin is already regretting her decision to take this issue public. Or is she enjoying this 15 minutes of fame?  I honestly don’t know, but I think there will come a time when she regrets her comparisons of Trump to Hitler.  She has already taken down her Facebook post in which she makes that comparison.

Trump Derangement Syndrome infecting Mormon brains

Ivanka Trump and her children were harassed this morning by a man for political reasons while she was flying on coach on JetBlue from NY to Florida.  Here is what happened:

According to the report, a man – holding a child of his own – began yelling at her and “jeering” at the young kids.

“Your father is ruining the country,” he reportedly told her, while questioning why she was on the flight instead of flying privately.

Daily Mail identified the man as Dan Goldstein, a lawyer from Brooklyn. Before boarding the flight, Goldstein’s husband, Matthew Lasner, tweeted: “Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them. #banalityofevil”

I mention this report because it is the latest in a long line of crazy incidents involving unhinged responses to the president-elect.  I am saddened to report that there are even members of the Church of Jesus Christ who are opposed to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir  performing at Trump’s inauguration.  Shame on them.

This issue should not be controversial.  It is only the hyper-politicized culture — akin to college campuses with safe spaces and trigger warnings — that allows it to be controversial.  Trump is the legally elected president of the United States.  The Inauguration Committee invited them to perform and they accepted.  The MoTab choir has performed multiple times in front of Democrat and Republican presidents:

The choir has previously sung at the inaugurals of five other U.S. presidents, including the official swearing-in ceremonies for George H. W. Bush (1989), Richard M. Nixon (1969) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1965). They performed in inaugural parades for George W. Bush (2001), George H. W. Bush (1989) and Ronald W. Reagan (1981).

When the choir sang its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the inaugural parade for President Reagan in 1981, he dubbed the choir “America’s Choir.” President George H. W. Bush called the choir “a national treasure” during his swearing-in ceremony in front of the Capitol in 1989.

Over the years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed on other occasions for five additional U.S. presidents. The choir sang in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for Jimmy Carter in 1978 and John F. Kennedy in 1963. Gerald Ford heard the choir sing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 1974. White House performances included a 1958 appearance for Dwight D. Eisenhower and an occasion for William Howard Taft in 1911.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed in multiple Communist countries that have values significantly worse that the Trump administration.  The choir brings the Spirit of the Lord, which is a necessary thing now and at all times.

The MoTab choir performing at Trump’s inauguration is not an endorsement of the man.  It is simply an agreement to perform at a high profile event and is completely in line with past decisions by the choir.

How would a decision not to perform ever be justified?  The MoTab choir is willing to perform in Communist dictatorships that have killed and imprisoned hundreds of thousands, but not in front of the legally elected president of the United States?  Such a decision would be impossible to defend.  But even worse, it would create a precedent where all future MoTab performances are judged by politics.  Let’s say Hillary Clinton is elected in 2020 — would the MoTab be justified in refusing to perform for her because of political reasons?  (For the record, I would never vote for Hillary, but I would have no problem with the MoTab performing for her, and I would look on such an event with pride).

It does no good for Mormons who oppose many things about Trump (as I do) to become unhinged on minor issues like this.  If Trump tries to implement a registry of U.S. citizens based on religion (which I doubt is going to happen), then let’s scream bloody murder.  If Trump tries to restrict the First Amendment, then let’s complain loudly.  But it makes Mormons look petty and contentious to spend their time complaining when the MoTab choir does something that should not be controversial — and is in line with precedent.

The deranged behavior by Trump opponents — including Mormons opposed to the MoTab’s decision to perform at the inauguration — is alarming and embarrassing.  There are appropriate times to be political and there are times that are completely inappropriate.  This is one of those times where such behavior is inappropriate.  It makes Mormons look like the crazy guy harassing Ivanka Trump on a plane, and believe me this is not an image I want for the Church or its members.

Some reasons for cautious optimism about the incoming Trump administration

Eight years ago, I passed through a brief moment of cautious optimism about the Obama administration.  His election has been so historic, and the country had just suffered the traumatic 2008 market crash.  Like many people, I wanted some reasons for optimism.

I am much more optimistic about President-elect Trump, but I am also cautious.  Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign and his horrible performance during the debates sealed the deal that I could never vote for him.  But I have been pleasantly surprised since his election.  To be quite frank, I was certain Trump would govern like a moderate New York Democrat.  But if anything, his Cabinet choices indicate he may have the most conservative administration since Reagan.  Trump is certain to disappoint in some areas, but there has been a lot of good news for conservative Trump skeptics since his election.

Here are some of the primary reasons for optimism from my perspective.

1)Religious liberty.  The last eight years have been frightening for those of us who care about religious liberty.  Every week brings a new outrage with Christians on the defensive if they actually follow traditional Christian teachings.  Religious freedom has been one of the primary Church causes in recent years, as can be seen from this page on the Church web site.  The good news is that, much to my surprise, Trump’s administration seems to see religious freedom as an important issue.  Trump has said that the country will be saying Merry Christmas again, which is an important rhetorical signal, in my opinion.  But most importantly, Trump’s appointment for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is one of the biggest defenders of religious freedom in Congress.  Trump has also indicated he will appoint conservative judges who understand the importance of religious freedom.  There is a lot of room for optimism.  (Note:  Trump said some truly unfortunate things about Muslims during the campaign.  This story details Trump’s comments on a Muslim religious registry.  To sum up:  Trump has gone back and forth on that issue.  Let me be perfectly clear:  a registry or database of Americans based on their religions would violate the first amendment, and all Mormons should oppose such a scheme.  If Trump or his administration takes such steps, I will be one of the first to condemn it.  Personally, I don’t believe we will get anything close to a Muslim registry.  I hope I am not wrong.  Note the use of the word “cautious” in the title of this post).

2)School choice.  Trump made school choice and opposition to Common Core central to his campaign.  This is a huge issue for those of us with children, especially if you live in areas where the public schools are failing.  The appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is a reason for hope.  DeVos is one of the country’s leading supporters of home schooling, vouchers and charter schools.  Despite what you may have read from some fringe publications, she also opposes Common Core.  DeVos’ leadership has the potential to revolutionize education in America.

3)Federal court appointments.  The latest information from the transition team seems to indicate Trump really will appoint constitutionalist judges.  All I can say is:  Hallelujah!  I am sure that Trump will disappoint us on some appointments, but his list of potential Supreme Court justices is top-notch.  There are all kinds of encouraging signs here:  Trump met with Judge Andrew Napolitano to consult on federal appointees.  Utah’s Thomas Lee is apparently high on Trump’s list of appointees, and he would be an excellent choice.

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