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.

LDS Perspectives #56: Engaging with Social Media with Linford, Handy, and Trimble

In this special three-part episode, LDS Perspectives gifts us a social media tool box.

LDS Perspectives Podcasters Stephanie Sorenson and Nick Galieti sat down with social media experts Michelle Linford, DaNae Handy, and Greg Trimble, to discuss how to maximize our interactions in the age of instant communication.

Michelle Linford is Executive Director of EPIK Deliberate Digital, a collaborative nonprofit focused on changing the culture related to kids and technology, encouraging a mindset where adults and children/youth work together to deliberately use technology for good.

Like many modern parents, Michelle feels responsible for helping her children stay safe and healthy in a digital world. She has volunteered for years in the pornography prevention space, so she is keenly aware of the very real dangers and concerns parents have. Her work at EPIK has also helped her understand that technology is a gift from God. It’s how and why we use it that matters. So she’s trying to create a #UseTech4Good culture.

DeNae Handy is an instructor of social media marketing and personal branding at LDS
Business College and has a background in music and music education. DeNae has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine and has essays in various book compilations.

Ms. Handy speaks to what our online presence reflects about our personal “brand.” Online forums are not insular; what we say and how we interact in one venue will bleed through to how we are seen through different digital “eyes.” Professor Handy talks about using good branding practices in every digital communication to maintain a consistent online presence.

Greg Trimble is an entrepreneur, member missionary, father, blogger, and digital marketer, and founder of an internet marketing agency in Southern California. He is a featured contributor to LDS Living, Deseret News, FamilyShare, other online publications. Greg has been interviewed by Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City, KSL, and BYU, and has spoken at firesides and conferences in Southern California, Utah, Australia, and Massachusetts.

Greg shares his experience jumping head-first into the deep-end of the blogosphere on March 10, 2014, when he created a blog and put out his first post. Since that time, he has had over 7 million page views.

Greg shares practical tools for those wanting to maximize their impact as a digital missionary and the reach of their personal blogs.

Hearing and Heeding the Words of the Lord Through His Prophets

I know there has been some backlash from a few of the talks given at General Conference over the weekend, specifically the talk on the Family Proclamation given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the 12. I’ll just say this, it saddens me to see the level of vitriol aimed at him from those who preach tolerance and love ad nauseum. If you’ve engaged in this, stop it today. I came across this wise council from Elder David A. Bednar last night and it was very comforting to me.

“The Savior declared, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). May we hear and heed the eternal truths taught by the Lord’s authorized representatives. As we do so, I promise our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be fortified, and we will receive spiritual guidance and protection for our specific circumstances and needs.”

There were things I heard from the Conference that have made me squirm in my seat a bit — but not because I thought the messenger was trying to be hateful or mean to me and my particular circumstance. It’s because I knew those words were true. Nephi teaches us in the Book of Mormon that the guilty take the truth to be hard. And we’re all guilty of something. I know there are areas I need to work on in my life. Change is hard — but I felt the nudge from this weekend. Giving up our ideas for God’s better ideas and way, is hard. It means sacrificing our wants and our agenda. It might mean finding new friends, living life differently and breaking old and comfortable habits. However, if we don’t do those things, we don’t grow and improve. That’s the whole point of this mortal existence — to grow, to improve, to learn, to come back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

What Elder Bednar has said, is true, particularly this last part, “We will receive spiritual guidance and protection for our specific circumstances and needs” Hear, and heed — those are your action verbs! Then take it to the Lord. He does know you, and all of us, and will help us in a way that’s best for us. This is where we put faith into action and trust. The question of the day is this, “Dear Lord, how do I apply this council, from a prophet of God to my life? Please help me to go and do the things You have commanded.”

BYUtv’s Extinct.

[This started out as a comment on facebook that I then expanded into a post there.  I decided I could expand it a bit more and post it here as well].

BYUtv’s new sci-fi series (free on BYUtv’s app, no registration required) is, so far, pretty strong. It is not great (though it is fairly good). There is plenty to complain about if you want to go that route (the acting talent is uneven, the pacing is too slow at times, some shots linger a little too long, green screen backgrounds are a little too obvious, dialogue is occasionally on the nose), but given that this is a small, independent production with a limited budget from what is essentially a regional TV station, it exceeds expectations. Continue reading

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, 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?

Continue reading