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.

Are “dozens” of Church education employees being fired as the Church insists on higher standards for teachers?

Many Church members have been worried for years about the priorities of many of the professors and teachers at BYU and other Church institutions. The purpose of Church education is to promote Church doctrine and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet many professors concentrate on the latest woke causes and sometimes even contradict Church teachings.

Are things about to change?

This post reports:

And the first wave of centralized firings has begun—at the level of the Ecclesiastical Clearance Office (ECO) in Salt Lake. Dozens of adjunct faculty, many who have worked for CES for years, given overtime and heart and health to students, received compensation for barely minimum wage, have received calls that they have been fired—even as the fall semester begins—with zero information as to the reason for their dismissal.

According to this post from March 2022 Church educators are being asked to make sure they hold temple recommends. According to the author, this is somehow “authoritarian,” which is hilarious, but I will note that teaching standards also now include at least some CES employees being asked the following questions:

  • “Does this member have a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of its doctrine, including its teachings on marriage, family, and gender?
  • “Does this member support current church policies and practices and sustain the leaders of the Church?
  • “Has this member demonstrated an exemplary and extended pattern of avoiding pornography for at least one year?
  • “Please share any concerns you may have about recommending this member:
  • “This member will be an influence on youth and young adults. Your additional comments are needed for this endorsement. Please describe this member with regard to each of the following: Temple Worthiness, Church Attendance, Support of Church Leadership and Doctrine, Family Relationships, Testimony, Other Areas of Strength:”

I think I speak for many, and indeed probably the vast majority, of Church members when I say: “Can I get an Amen?!”

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Did the racist event at the BYU volleyball game even happen?

Social media was awash with condemnations of BYU and the LDS Church over the weekend after a volleyball player from Duke said she was subject to racial slurs “throughout the entirety of the match.”

BYU banned one fan, who was not a BYU student, from all athletic venues on campus and issued a statement saying:

“To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match in Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language. We will not tolerate behavior of this kind. Specifically, the use of a racial slur at any of our athletic events is absolutely unacceptable and BYU athletics holds a zero-tolerance approach to this behavior.”

BYU is of course correct in its statement. The LDS Church has come out with many recent statements against racism, and the Church policy on this issue is clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is against racist expressions like this and any other form of racism.

But new information has come out this week. The BYU police looked at the tapes from the event, and the fan who was banned didn’t actually say anything racist. In fact, he was not even in the stands when the racist comments were allegedly made. Even the never-LDS Salt Lake Tribune was forced to admit that the police are baffled. They can’t find the person or people who made the allegedly racist comments.

Now the on campus conservative publication is reporting that there is no evidence that the racist comments took place.

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Church corrects the record on the Arizona abuse case

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an excellent rebuttal today of the fake news from the AP regarding a recent abuse case in Arizona.

I will quote in full:

For generations, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have spoken in the strongest of terms about the evils of abuse and the need to care for those who are victims or survivors of abuse. From the thundering rebuke of former President Gordon B. Hinckley to the recent words of healing offered by Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy, our feelings are clear. We echo those sentiments and teachings today. Our hearts are broken as we learn of any abuse. It cannot be tolerated. It cannot be excused. The Savior Jesus Christ wants us all to do better and be better.

It is important to us that our members and friends understand how deeply we feel about this subject. It is also important that they have accurate information about how we approach this matter.

Church leaders and members are instructed in the Church’s “General Handbook” that their responsibilities related to abuse are as follows:

  1. Assure that child sexual abuse is stopped; 
  2. Help victims receive care, including from professional counselors; and
  3. Comply with whatever reporting is required by law.

Since the Church released its first statement about the Associated Press story, many have wondered about what was incorrect or mischaracterized in their reporting. The information and details below are provided to help media, members and others understand how the Church approaches the topic of child abuse, particularly as it relates to this specific case.

What did the Associated Press story get wrong?

The AP story has significant flaws in its facts and timeline, which lead to erroneous conclusions.

We are puzzled as to why or how a media source as respected as the Associated Press would make such egregious errors in reporting and editing.

Each of the facts below is contained in public filings in the pending case and is taken from the sworn testimony of Leizza Adams, the mother of the victims. The Associated Press was directed to those filings prior to the publication of their first story, but they chose not to include any of them. Those filings, accessible to and familiar to the Associated Press, are the source for the following facts:

  • In late 2011, Paul Adams made a limited confession to his bishop about a single past incident of abuse of one child. The bishop then called the help line, where he was advised about how to fully comply with Arizona’s reporting laws. In compliance with that counsel, from that time forward, the bishop repeatedly tried to intervene and encourage reporting, including by:
    • Counseling Paul Adams to repent and seek professional help;
    • Asking Paul Adams to report (he refused and also refused to give permission to the bishop to make the report);
    • Encouraging Paul Adams’s wife, Leizza, to report (she refused and later served time in prison for her role);
    • Encouraging Paul Adams to move out of the home (which he did temporarily);
    • Urging Leizza to seek professional counseling for Paul and their children, which would trigger a mandatory report (they refused).
  • In 2013, Adams was excommunicated for his behavior and lost his membership in the Church.
  • Prior to and after his limited confession, Paul rarely attended Church or talked to leaders.
  • It wasn’t until 2017, nearly four years later, that Church leaders learned from media reports the extent of the abuse, that the abuse had continued and that it involved a second victim born after Paul’s excommunication.

The AP story ignores this timeline and sequence of events and implies that all these facts were known by a bishop as early as 2011, a clearly erroneous conclusion. 

The suggestion that the help line is used to “cover up” abuse is completely false.

  • The Church’s abuse help line has everything to do with protecting children and has nothing to do with cover-up. It has been in existence for more than a quarter of a century. Its purpose is to:
    1. Comply with the various laws of child abuse reporting in all 50 states and the provinces of Canada, ministering to the needs of victims and their families where we can, while reporting abuse consistent with the law.
    2. To encourage victims, family members and perpetrators to seek professional counseling and to report abuse to the authorities themselves.
    3. To directly report the abuse to authorities, regardless of legal exemptions from reporting requirements, when it is known that a child is in imminent danger. The help line routinely reports cases of child abuse to authorities. Outside experts who are aware of the Helpline have regularly praised it.
  • Even when a report is not required or is even prohibited by law (because the confession is “owned” by the confessor), the help line encourages leaders to pursue ways to ensure these three goals are met.
  • Those who serve on the help line are parents and grandparents themselves and include former government child abuse investigators and child abuse prosecutors. Some are even themselves survivors of abuse. The notion that there would be any incentive on their part to cover up child abuse is absurd.

Conclusion

We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who spoke powerfully and repeatedly about the precious value of children and condemned those who would mistreat them. These are the ideals that characterize our understanding and approach to the issue of child abuse. What happened to the Adams children in Arizona at the hands of their parents is sickening, heartbreaking and inexcusable.

The Church has issued a strong response because this is a topic where there can be no mincing of words, no hint of apathy, and no tolerance for any suggestion that we are neglectful or not doing enough on the issue of child abuse. It is a matter that strikes at our hearts and is so deeply offensive to everything that we value. We will not stand by while others mischaracterize or completely misrepresent the Church’s long-term efforts and commitment. Nor will we tolerate the Associated Press or any other media to make such gross errors on the details of such a tragic and horrific incident as what occurred in Arizona. We are constantly striving to be better and do more, and we invite others to join us in such efforts.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Countless numbers of [children] cry out in fear and loneliness from the evil consequences of moral transgression, neglect, and abuse. I speak plainly, perhaps indelicately. But I know of no other way to make clear a matter about which I feel so strongly. 

“…there is the terrible, inexcusable, and evil phenomenon of physical and sexual abuse.

It is unnecessary. It is unjustified. It is indefensible.

“…there is the terrible, vicious practice of sexual abuse. It is beyond understanding. It is an affront to the decency that ought to exist in every man and woman. It is a violation of that which is sacred and divine. It is destructive in the lives of children. It is reprehensible and worthy of the most severe condemnation.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley; Save the Children, General Conference, October 1994)

Elder Patrick Kearon

“There is no place for any kind of abuse—physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal—in any home, any country, or any culture.

“The abuse was not, is not, and never will be your fault, no matter what the abuser or anyone else may have said to the contrary. When you have been a victim of cruelty, incest, or any other perversion, you are not the one who needs to repent; you are not responsible.

“You are not less worthy or less valuable or less loved as a human being, or as a daughter or son of God, because of what someone else has done to you.

God does not now see, nor has He ever seen, you as someone to be despised. Whatever has happened to you, He is not ashamed of you or disappointed in you. He loves you in a way you have yet to discover. And you will discover it as you trust in His promises and as you learn to believe Him when He says you are “precious in [His] sight.” (Elder Patrick Kearon: We Can be More than Conquerors. General Conference, April 2022)

On ‘Christian nationalism’

Several politicians have said recently that they describe themselves as “Christian nationalists.”

This story discusses the trend:

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, and other conservatives have called on Americans to embrace Christian nationalism in recent days, drawing intense backlash from some fellow Christians and non-religious individuals alike.

In Saturday (July 24) remarks to the conservative Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Florida, Greene argued that Christian nationalism is “a good thing.”

“That’s not a bad word,” the GOP congresswoman said. “That’s actually a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with leading with your faith….If we do not live our lives and vote like we are nationalists—caring about our country, and putting our country first and wanting that to be the focus of our federal government—if we do not lead that way, then we will not be able to fix it.”

Her remarks drew accusations that she was a “Nazi” and comparisons to the Taliban, the Afghan militant group that enforces an extremist version of Islamic law. Other Republican lawmakers have touted the ideology and taken aim at the long-standing principle of the separation of church and state in recent months.

“Christian nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way. Popularly, Christian nationalists assert that America is and must remain a ‘Christian nation’—not merely as an observation about American history, but as a prescriptive program for what America must continue to be in the future,” Dr. Paul D. Miller, professor of the practice of international affairs and co-chair for global politics and security at Georgetown University, explained in a 2021 article for Christianity Today.

So, what do I think about this from the Latter-day Saint perspective? I would not describe myself as a “Christian nationalist,” and I don’t think the Church supports Christian nationalism, but I think the opposition to such a description is WAY over the top compared to the supposed threat. And there are some points of the Christian nationalist perspective that are worth considering.

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