Your Optimism Isn’t a Virtue

Growing up in an abusive home taught me a harsh lesson about optimism: too often, optimism is a weapon in the hands of people who are simply unwilling to help. Too often the apathetic bystander uses optimism as an excuse to walk away, guilt free. It wouldn't surprise me if the Priest and Levite who walked past the wounded man in a ditch told themselves to hope for the best, that surely someone would come along and help him, or he'd rest awhile and find the strength to crawl to safety. Surely, he … [Read more...]

The Trump Supporter Next Door

If you've been following the Peculiar People column over the past few months, you've probably noticed two things: the posts have been sparse, and nearly all of them have been anti-Trump. The emphasis on Trump wasn't a coordinated effort on anyone's part - personally, I've held back from writing more about him so that it wouldn't seem like we'd plunged into political propaganda. But I'm acknowledging that trend because it probably won't surprise you that I'm among the many Americans still reeling … [Read more...]

The Case for Hillary Clinton and a Mormon Stance on Abortion

It's no secret that Mormons don't like Donald Trump. So I was surprised a few weeks ago when, among my conservative Mormon friends, one of the most common public reactions to the third debate was a doubling down on far-right anti-abortion stances. In response to Clinton's insistence that a ban on late-term abortion needed to include exceptions for the life and health of the mother, friends shared articles claiming that no abortion is ever necessary to save a pregnant woman's life and gave … [Read more...]

The Real Reason Harry Potter Helps Us Resist Donald’s Hate.

In the wake of a Republican National Convention that has left many shaken - including many conservatives, particularly among conservative Mormons - there's a teensy bit of glimmering hope for bookworms who don't want a man who deliberately incites mob violence to take the White House: according to one study, Harry Potter may be part of the solution. Even after controlling for the most relevant mediating factors, such as age, education, and party affiliation, reading Harry Potter books was … [Read more...]

Mormonism Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on Rape Culture: It’s Just an Easy Target

I'm normally a fan of Peggy Fletcher Stack's articles at the Salt Lake Tribune, but her recent article, "How outdated Mormon teachings may be aiding and abetting 'rape culture' " strikes me as irresponsible. In the article, Peggy Fletcher Stack and co-author Erin Alberty recount anecdotal evidence that Mormon culture and teachings support rape culture, such as a bishop who, upon learning a woman had been raped, responded "let's begin the repentance process," or outdated 19th-century language in … [Read more...]

What BYU’s Honor Code Office Doesn’t Understand About Trauma is Endangering Victims

By now, I'm guessing you've heard about BYU's track record of using Title IX investigations about alleged instances of sexual assault as an opportunity to investigate the alleged victim for any potential honor code violation, a track record that may not only discourage victims from coming forward but may even, in one extreme case, interfere with a criminal case. For their part, BYU and the Honor Code Office are firmly denying that they would ever punish someone for being assaulted.the … [Read more...]

Cliven Bundy and His Sons Are Terrorists: So Why Haven’t They Been Excommunicated?

The notorious Cliven Bundy is back in the news, this time because two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, have joined up with a terrorist group that has seized a national wildlife refuge in Oregon as a form of protest. Cliven Bundy and his sons are also Mormons - they are not fundamentalists, but official members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.In a Church that puts a great deal of resources into PR efforts, the Bundy family seems to contribute a lot of bad press for the … [Read more...]

No, Mormon Women do not Oppose Female Ordination, and Here’s Why That Matters

When the topic of ordaining Mormon women comes up, one of the most common responses from top Church leadership as well as more orthodox members is that Mormon women are, in an overwhelming majority, against being ordained. Personally, I've heard a number of reasons for being against ordination, ranging from pseudo-science theories about female vs. male brains (theories about the brain that have been debunked), to insulting complaints that men would slack off if they weren't the only people o … [Read more...]