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.

The bizarre Huntsman lawsuit against the Church over tithing

I want to recommend this excellent article from Public Square Magazine regarding James Huntsman’s strange lawsuit against the Church regarding tithing.

Here are the key paragraphs:

Huntsman sets the tone for his lawsuit in the very first paragraph by including a bizarre quote about honesty from early Church leader Brigham Young. Throughout the complaint, Huntsman put his personal outrage and the most salacious details in a bold-italicized font so that anyone perusing the suit could quickly get a sense of the purported “fraud” and “greed.”

For 13 pages, Huntsman rambles on without specificity, without evidence, and without explaining how he personally was harmed—the cornerstone of any civil action. In legal terms, Huntsman failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim for fraud and thus his complaint is deficient. The Court will have no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit. Huntsman’s clumsy and bumbling complaint signifies to me that he filed this suit merely as a publicity stunt without any sincere intent to recover his monies.

The writer is a former outside counsel to the Church who knows her stuff. More from the piece:

James Huntsman knows his tithing donations were voluntary and fall under the legal definition of a gift. He knows the Church has no legal obligation to return his tithing. He knows that the return of his tithing has tax implications, and he would most likely have to file years of amended tax returns to remove any deduction claimed.

But most importantly, I believe Huntsman knows that if he had sincerely sent his tithing refund request to Church leadership, they would have absolutely worked with him toward a positive resolution. There is no plausible reason Huntsman needed to file a baseless, improperly pleaded claim in federal court other than in an attempt to embarrass the Church. The only person who should be embarrassed is James Huntsman.

Huntsman’s lawsuit will certainly go down in history as another weird chapter in the “people lose their minds when they get angry at the Church” story. That story started in the days of Joseph Smith and continues, sadly, today.

Hope wears no mask

I walked by a school in St. Augustine, Florida this week, and I saw dozens of elementary age children playing outside with no masks and no scolding teacher telling them not to get near each other. In fact, the teacher watched calmly from the shade without a mask as the children hugged each other, touched each other and played like normal children are wont to do. I felt a huge surge of hope.

There are indeed people in the United States who have not fallen for all of the false information, fake science and mass hysteria regarding COVID-19. If there is a school where children are able to avoid medieval, senseless rules, this means there is one sensible school administration, one group of intelligent teachers and one group of enlightened parents — at least one. And where there is one such school, there are likely to be others. And that is hopeful.

In fact, Florida has not closed its schools this year, unlike the backward, science-ignoring schools in many other states. In Colorado, where I live, we have had a byzantine set of rules — one week the kids can go three days a week, the next week not at all, a few weeks later they can go again. Finally, the schools my kids go to in Colorado is going back to full-time attendance next week, but they have — bizarrely — canceled band and orchestra practice because….people can’t play some instruments without masks on, and you wouldn’t want that! Never mind that the kids all interact freely with each other without masks before and after school — some bureaucrat decided to cancel the music program because he or she had the power to do so.

I am in Florida in part because it is one of the few sensible places left in our increasingly tyrannical United States of Panic. As I pointed out in this post, Florida and California have had about the same results during the pandemic, despite the fact that Florida is mostly free and California is mostly locked down. The Florida economy, meanwhile, is booming while California continues its economic free-fall. The results are clear: lockdowns don’t work. As I wrote in this post, the lockdowns have caused millions of unnecessary deaths, destroyed economies worldwide and caused an increase in depression, anxiety and suicide. We will be suffering from the effects of these lockdowns for years if not decades to come.

Meanwhile, billions of mostly free people worldwide have allowed tyrannical governments to take away their freedom in the name of “safety.” This is what dictatorial governments always promise — safety without freedom. And the traditional media, the social media platforms and elite politicians and public figures have colluded to suppress the truth about the lockdowns and the useless mask mandates. So, yes, there are many reasons to be concerned about this time in our history.

But if one school can buck all of these forces, and allow kids to be kids, maybe there is hope after all?

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Secret combinations: from the military-industrial complex to the digital-intelligence complex

A little more than 60 years ago, President Eisenhower, as he prepared to leave office, gave what has proven to be his most enduring and well-known speech:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Recent scholarship has confirmed that Ike saw this as one of his most important speeches ever:

We should be clear what Ike was concerned about. He knew that the United States, with its growing economy and growing needs for defense, would need private businesses to help build weapons. What he was concerned about was that these companies would promote war or other military priorities so they could improve their profits. These companies would hire lobbyists to encourage members of Congress to direct business their way. Ike was worried about crony capitalism, the use of government money to promote private businesses.

Sixty years later, it is easy to see that Ike’s warning has come true. Almost nobody reading this believes in a completely pacifistic U.S. foreign policy. But I hope most people reading this can see that U.S. defense should concentrate on defending the U.S. borders. In the last 60 years, and especially the last 20 years, U.S. foreign policy has increasingly promoted wars in foreign lands (Iraq, Lybia, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc) far from our borders. Some of those actions may have been justified (I am thinking about Afghanistan after 9/11), but why is the U.S. military spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year fighting wars far from American shores? Is it reasonable to believe that the military-industrial complex is truly the source of the constant need to find new enemies abroad? Are these wars really about companies paying off politicians so these companies can make more money?

As this article points out, we have a new secret combination to worry about in 2021: the digital-intelligence complex.

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Lockdowns don’t work: comparing Florida and California

The most urgent assault on our liberty and the most dangerous attack on human health in decades has taken place in the last year, and it is incumbent on latter-day Saints to speak out against this human-caused disaster. Billions of people have lost freedom — perhaps forever — and hundreds of millions more have suffered depression, anxiety and massive losses in income, all because a few power-hungry politicians imposed ruthless lockdowns throughout the world.

One of the saddest things about the tragedy of the lockdowns is that they simply don’t work. The most respected scientists have known this for decades, which is why there were no lockdowns during past pandemics that were even more deadly than what we are living through today.

But yet, our media today is so dishonest that the public perception remains: lockdowns good, no lockdowns bad.

This post will deal specifically with a comparison between two states, Florida and California. In Florida, the schools are open and people go to the beach and concerts and restaurants. There is no mask mandate in Florida, while two masks are apparently de rigueur in the People’s Republic of California. The heroic Florida Gov. Ron Desantis has actually followed the science, as opposed to his counterpart in California, the authoritarian fool Gavin Newsom, who has sought to take away every possible freedom while refusing to follow his own bizarre rules. The good news is that Newsom is facing a likely recall election, and DeSantis has a 54 percent approval rating.

It turns out that Florida (no lockdown) and California (full lockdown) have had about the same results. Yes, I know most of the media (with some exceptions) has not been reporting this, but it is true, as I will show in this post.

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Five women who are witnesses of the physical Book of Mormon plates

As we study Church history this year, I wanted to make sure readers had seen this post from Book of Mormon Central that describes the history of five women who were witnesses of the golden plates that were translated to bring us the Book of Mormon. Did you know that Lucy Harris, usually seen as a villain in the story of the translation of the Book of Mormon, was also a witness of the physical plates? I did not know that. Worth reading.