New Church initiative with NAACP

Today, the Church and NAACP announced a new initiative. After again denouncing racism, Pres Nelson said the relationship with the NAACP was built upon the two great commandments: Love God and Love your neighbor.

Included in the initiative are:

  1. Humanitarian efforts. The Church has pledged a $2 million per year for the next three years “to encourage service and help to those in need” and promote self-reliance.
  2. Scholarships for Black students. Latter-day Saints have committed to fund a $1 million scholarship donation per year for three years, overseen by the United Negro College Fund.
  3. A fellowship to send up to 50 students to Ghana to learn about history. The Church will donate $250,000 to create the Amos C. Brown Student Fellowship to Ghana — allowing selected students from the United States an opportunity to learn more about their heritage.

This is awesome. African Americans need help to overcome the continuing struggles from Jim Crow, poverty and, yes, slavery.

These efforts will be on top of ongoing self reliance courses and other initiatives.

To Those Who Love the Prophet, But Not the Vaccine

Note: The events of recent months have prompted some significant wrestles for faithful members of the Church with sincere questions about vaccines, even leading some to the edge of estrangement. That has compelled me to write this. Although directed primarily at Latter-day Saints cautious about some of the dominant public health messaging about COVID-19 over the last year (and sympathetic to alternative, more natural approaches to healing), I hope some of it might help foster more understanding among those who are neither of these things. Where we disagree strongly about important matters, I keep feeling like the Lord wants us to keep reaching for each other, with love, gentleness, and curiosity.

Come along with me, for a moment, on a little imaginary thought experiment. It’s General Conference, and President Nelson is mid-way through a fall 2020 message on “letting God prevail in our lives.” Then he pauses, and says the following:

As a prophet of God, I must raise my voice about another matter. We are sincerely grateful for new inventions and technological discoveries that have improved the quality of life for so many, including in matters of health. Too often, however, I fear the degree of trust we place in external interventions can unintentionally lead us to discount the Lord’s power in our lives, along with simple adjustments He can inspire us to make in order to improve our health. For instance, scripture and science are both clear on the value of improving what we eat and getting better sleep – with abundant evidence that less stress, and even a little more physical activity can help boost our immunity against disease. Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, may we relish the benefits of greater faith, and inspired daily repentance, including in how we take care of our bodies. Even when we need additional assistance from competent medical practitioners, may we continue to appreciate and explore ways to better care for the “temple of our spirits” – including in serious periods of pandemic.

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The soul of the SBC

For decades, the Southern Baptist Convention has been very conservative. Think Jerry Falwell.

Since bonding with Donald Trump, the SBC has lost not only moderately conservative members, but entire congregations, mostly consisting of both white and people of color congregants.

They will be electing a new president this summer, who will determine whether the SBC stays politically pro Trump, or leave behind politics and focus on bringing people’s of all colors and cultures into Christ.

The article discusses both sides. Some insisting Christ wasn’t woke, while the other side confirms hearing racial epithets.

The battle is big and ugly. It will likely lead to a bigger schism.

Contrast this to the Latter-day Saints. No elections. There are no big divisions among the leadership. They stay politically neutral. They warn about abortion and sexual ain, but also insist that “black lives matter is an eternal principle.” Pres Oaks and others teach that a person can prayerfully belong to almost any political party and be in good standing. IOW, abortion is an important issue, but not the only issue.

While the entire SBC is possibly on the verge of secession, our leadership is united, Yes, we have many hyperpolitical members who judge those who vote for/against Trump/immigration/abortion, etc. Hopefully most of our members watch the living prophets and emulate them.

Come Follow Me: D&C 63

My blog post for Come Follow Me: D&C 63.
Excerpt:Joseph wrote in his journal:
“In these infant days of the Church, there was a great anxiety to obtain the word of the Lord upon every subject that in any way concerned our salvation; and as the land of Zion was now the most important temporal object in view, I enquired of the Lord for further information upon the gathering of the Saints, and the purchase of the land, and other matters.”
This is noted in the preface of section 63. It is such an important comment that I did not want us to overlook it. Many revelations were occurring. About half of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received before the Church was 2 years old! Yet, of all the important revelations thus far, Joseph noted that the most important temporal thing was to build the physical Zion as a gathering place. You will note I’ve mentioned the Gathering many times in the lessons I’ve shared to this point. Why?
Because to this day it is still the “most important temporal object in view” for all branches of the Restoration.

A Harvard professor of medicine explains why he spoke out against the lockdowns

Please read this article from Harvard Prof. of Medicine Martin Kulldorff, who followed the science and began speaking out against the COVID-19 lockdowns soon after the pandemic began. Here are some key excerpts:

Two key Covid facts were quickly obvious to me. First, with the early outbreaks in Italy and Iran, this was a severe pandemic that would eventually spread to the rest of the world, resulting in many deaths. That made me nervous. Second, based on the data from Wuhan, in China, there was a dramatic difference in mortality by age, with over a thousand-fold difference between the young and the old. That was a huge relief. I am a single father with a teenager and five-year-old twins. Like most parents, I care more about my children than myself. Unlike the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, children had much less to fear from Covid than from annual influenza or traffic accidents. They could get on with life unharmed — or so I thought.

For society at large, the conclusion was obvious. We had to protect older, high-risk people while younger low-risk adults kept society moving.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, schools closed while nursing homes went unprotected. Why? It made no sense. So, I picked up a pen. To my surprise, I could not interest any US media in my thoughts, despite my knowledge and experience with infectious-disease outbreaks. I had more success in my native Sweden, with op-eds in the major daily newspapers, and, eventually, a piece in spiked. Other like-minded scientists faced similar hurdles.

Instead of understanding the pandemic, we were encouraged to fear it. Instead of life, we got lockdowns and death. We got delayed cancer diagnoses, worse cardiovascular-disease outcomes, deteriorating mental health, and a lot more collateral public-health damage from lockdown. Children, the elderly and the working class were the hardest hit by what can only be described as the biggest public-health fiasco in history.

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