Confederate Symbols and the Black Flag of ISIS: Two Sides of the Same Coin

A terrorist symbol looms over my hometown. It stands for an intolerant, un-American ideology, one that stripped human beings of their dignity and equated them with animals, beasts who could be killed at will.  Ominous and unmoving, it is an unholy shrine to rape, torture, and genocide.It is a monument to Confederate soldiers. And it is just as much a symbol of terrorism as the black flag of ISIS.I grew up in Cochran, Georgia, a small town located approximately two hours south of Atlanta. … [Read more...]

First-Order Myopia: What Donald Trump Can Learn from Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's life was cut short because he failed to look beyond first-order consequences. Trump should learn from his mistake. In the summer of 1844, the bustling new city of Nauvoo, Illinois, was a powder keg. Doctrinal disputes and personal feuds had birthed a state of heightened tension between Joseph Smith, the mayor of Nauvoo and founder of Mormonism, and certain Mormon dissidents. These tensions came to a head on June 7, when some of Smith’s detractors published the first (and only) e … [Read more...]

The Anti-Trump General Conference

Like many Mormons around the world, I’ve spent this weekend watching the Church’s General Conference, a biannual assembly of Church leaders and members where they come together to learn and be uplifted. While watching it, I’ve been struck by one thought – this is the anti-Trump conference.No, the leaders of the Church haven’t spent their time denouncing President Trump or calling for his ouster. Rather, they have offered forceful denunciations of some of the key tenets of Trumpism. That is, t … [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 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...]

Stop Praying for us, and Acknowledge That You Helped Create Omar Mateen

Let me give you a run down: 2015 was the deadliest year on record for transgender women, but 2016 could surpass that—since the beginning of the year, 14 transgender individuals have been murdered. Additionally, research shows that 80% of LGBTQ people killed are people of color. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, fought over 200 anti-LGBTQ laws in the first ten weeks of 2016. Advocacy groups continue to fight House Bill 2, also known as The Public Facilities Privacy & S … [Read more...]

Gordon B. Hinckley, Gun Control Advocate

 My heart aches in the wake of Sunday Morning's Pulse nightclub tragedy. I haven't said much, haven't looked for arguments or consolation, because this is just getting too exhausting. We've been here before. And the way things look, we'll be here again. We have a crisis of inaction in the U.S.; we are bombarded with horrible tragedies just like this, and we are continuously satisfied with our wobbly justifications that doing nothing is the best course of action. Because we all have … [Read more...]

Normalizing Gun Violence on Campus

The following post originally appeared on Professor Park's Blog.When I first read about the shooting incident on UCLA’s campus this morning I immediately feared that it was over a grade dispute. Especially at this time of the year, when final grades are being doled out, many professors live in fear of students literally fighting back over anything short of the perfect grade. This anxiety is heightened as we become more aware of the brutality common in our news. The violence has become too co … [Read more...]