The Next Church Handbook Change: Tithing and Affinity Fraud

Shawn Merriman was a devoted family man, a diligent Mormon bishop, and, ultimately, a convicted fraudster. Dubbed the “Mormon Madoff”, Merriman, a self-described hedge-fund manager, ran a Ponzi scheme that swindled dozens of his friends and acquaintances, and even his own mother, out of millions of dollars. He used his ill-gotten gains to finance a luxurious lifestyle, purchasing Rembrandt prints, antique cars, and sports memorabilia. In March 2009, finding that he could no longer maintain his el … [Read more...]

Mormon Church Responds to Bundy-led Oregon Occupation

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now officially condemned the actions of a group of armed militiamen in Oregon, led by Ammon Bundy--a Mormon--and fueled by right-wing ideology, mixed with a unique brand of Mormonstyle American exceptionalism. Here's the statement: While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those … [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...]

Familiar with All and Free with Our Substance

This past year I read (or returned to) a handful of both fiction and nonfiction portraits of poverty. Part of the motivation for this reading was the significance of economic inequality as a contemporary political issue (see #feelthebern), but the primary motivation was religious. I have found it very hard to read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants and ignore the claims these texts make about God’s desire that the poor receive attention. This desire is clearly present i … [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...]

Five Mormons Worth Reading

Here are five thought-provoking perspectives on Mormonism that I'm glad to have read in the recently released Book of Mormons [full disclosure: my essay is in the book as well, so this borders on shameless self-promotion, but I really am glad to have read the many insightful essays].The diversity and depth of Mormon experience captured in this volume are a timely corrective to recent black-and-white portrayals in media and in online discussions. Available for a steal at 50% off if you use th … [Read more...]

The “Thoughts and Prayers” Backlash is Deserved

After so many shootings this year, it just feels like nothing is ever going to change. But after the San Bernardino shooting, there was a decent amount of backlash against the many politicians who responded to the news with a very bland, “thoughts and prayers” tweet. Tweeting "thoughts and prayers" is right up there with American politicians' favorite past time of making excuses for why we can’t have any sensible firearm legislation.here’s a template tweet for all politicians to use. “My thou … [Read more...]

Batman vs Superman (The Gods Are Fighting)

So there's a new Batman vs Superman trailer (thanks to Jimmy Kimmel) and it's kind of got my head in a tizzy. I think there's still plenty to be excited about, mainly how great Ben Affleck's portrayal of Batman looks. Mostly his awesome suit, really.There are three things about this trailer, however, that have me feeling down.1) It's very clear that there is a ton of boring-looking CGI action in this movie. Stuff exploding to an obnoxious degree etc. Scenes that end up looking like … [Read more...]


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