Author: Marc Bohn

Release Time v. Early Morning Seminary

Below is a forward I recently received about a perceived effort to eliminate the release time seminary system in an Idaho school district. The email is from a CES employee to parents of students in the school district encouraging them to oppose one of several proposed schedules currently under consideration that apparently would restructure the district’s trimester system and eliminate the class flexibility that enables the release time seminary program. It’s unclear whether preventing the Church from offering seminary during school hours was the intent of the proposed schedule at issue, but it nonetheless raises some interesting questions about the release time seminary program.

Rhetoric, Ideology and Prop 8

In the run up to and in the wake of Prop 8, Latter-day Saint proponents of the measure have often tried to parse their words carefully when discussing their support for it in order to avoid charges of bigotry and hate for opposing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. Echoing a refrain from the late Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prop 8 supporters have often tried to explain that they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.” This effort, however, has clearly failed to shield members from allegations of discrimination.

An Historic Night

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight,…

Counterpoint: Abortion, Obama

Barack Obama has sought to bring pro-lifers and pro-choicers together to find a middle ground on the issue of abortion. With the help of noted conservative legal scholar, pro-life activist, and former Romney supporter Doug Kmiec

President Hinckley and J. Edgar Hoover

The FBI released its files on Gordon B. Hinckley last week in response to a FOIA request from the Salt Lake Tribune. Apparently the FBI conducted a background check on President Hinckley in 1951 in order to ensure he wasn’t a communist and clear him for a potential position with Voice of America. The results… no dirt. The verdict seemed to be that this Gordon B. Hinckley was a “loyal American” whose reputation and work ethic were unimpeachable. The whole (slightly redacted) file is pretty interesting and definitely worth a look.

Court Finds Mormonism is Not “Protestantism”

An appellate court in Arkansas last week refused to overturn a lower court ruling which found a woman’s ex-husband in contempt of court for [violating the couple’s custody agreement by] failing to raise their minor children “in the Protestant faith” after the ex-husband started promoting his Mormonism to their children. While many Mormons, and the Church itself even, would agree with the idea that Mormonism is not a Protestant faith, it seems to me that having courts making theological determinations about what denominations constitute “Protestant” is wading into some pretty murky territory. What if the custody agreement had stipulated that the kids were to be raised “in the Christian faith” and the wife similarly objected?

“Nobody Knows” Screening

Heads up for those in the D.C. area. Earlier this Spring I posted a notice about a great series of events that Greg Prince, co-author of David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, hosted at his house in Potomac, Maryland. After a brief summer interlude, Brother Prince is back at it. The speaker at his next meeting will be Darius Gray, who will screen and discuss his recently completed documentary, “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” (which he co-wrote and produced with T&S alum Margaret Young). Brother Gray served in the presidency of the Genesis Group–a Church-sponsored support group for black Latter-day Saints–for three decades and is truly a pleasure to hear speak. The meeting will be on Sunday, October 19th, at 7:00 p.m. Those interested in attending need to RSVP to Brother Prince as soon as possible (gprince at erols.com). When you do, request his address (I’d rather not post it here) and let him…

A Worse Job At Everything…

Conference this past weekend (and the lengthy list I made during it of all the ways I need to change) got me thinking about a conversation I had with a recent law school grad in our ward who was studying for the bar this summer. He’d been complaining to me about having no time and had asked me how I went about trying to balance family, work, Church, and the constraints of the billable hour.

The Epitome of Not Forgetting

I linked to an article earlier that I have since decided is to good to leave just to the newsfeed. It’s from a Chicago Tribune religion reporter who is Jewish with Mormon relatives. In it, the reporter describes a rift that formed in her family after her great-uncle Al married a Mormon and then later converted to Mormonism himself. To a deeply Jewish family, this was difficult news to absorb, and, as a result, each side of the family ended up imputing bad motives and intents on the part other, leaving bitter feelings that took decades to reconcile. In the wake of all of this, the reporter writes about learning recently that her late (and staunchly Jewish) grandfather had been baptized in proxy by her Mormon relatives and her struggle to come to terms with this revelation: “I imagined my grandfather downright mad at the arrogance of presuming he would abandon what he had devoted his life to preserving. But…

Three Million Strong (and Growing)…

A little more than a year ago, Russell wrote a post commemorating Times and Seasons 2 millionth hit. A feat he said wasn’t bad “for a blog that doesn’t feature kittens or porn.” Looking back, he also noted that while “We’ve weathered storms and squalls, and some people have gone overboard… Still, old Times and Seasons lumbers onward.” Fifteen months, a few new shipmates, and another million readers later, it’s still plowing onward (with the occasional hiccup). Whatever success Times and Seasons has enjoyed along the way is due in large part to all of you who peek in on us once in awhile. So, to echo Russell once more, thanks… “to our [three] millionth reader, and our first, and everyone who has come in between.” Hopefully, we can keep you coming back for more.

Church halts sending North American missionaries to Russia

Last week BYU Newsnet posted and then pulled offline an article announcing that North American missionaries were no longer being called to serve in Russia. The move left many wondering about the state of the missionary program in Russia with some tempered hope that perhaps the Newsnet article had jumped the gun on a situation that was being resolved. Unfortunately, however, the news now official. The Deseret News has confirmed that the Church is no longer sending North American missionaries to Russia “due to new, tougher visa laws.” North American missionaries currently in-country will stay, but those newly called missionaries and those currently in the MTC have both been reassigned. The Church clearly hopes to resolve this situation, but the reassignment of these missionaries suggests to me that it isn’t expecting a solution anytime soon.

When The Prophet Speaks

Dave’s Mormon Inquiry has a post up about a new article in Meridian Magazine today that likens the brewing battle over gay marriage in California to the War in Heaven. The comments of the post link to an editorial from the Daily Universe editorial board this week that I found pretty shocking. The money quote: Consequently, “active Mormons” know that when the prophet speaks, the debate is over. No matter how diligently someone reads their scriptures, attends church or pays a full tithe, unless they sustain President Monson, his counselors and the other 12 apostles, [by supporting the proposed amendment to legally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman] they are not “active Mormons.”

FAIR One Ups The Tanners

Score one for FAIR. Last week, in Utah Lighthouse Ministry v. Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected an appeal by Sandra and Gerald Tanner’s anti-Mormon ministry over its claims of trademark infringement, cyber-squatting, and unfair competition that arose out of a parody website created by the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR).

The Mormons: Director’s Cut

Heads up for those in the D.C. area. Greg Prince, co-author of David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, hosts a great series of events at his house in Potomac, Maryland, the next of which is coming up on Sunday, June 8th.

The Hallmark of Monson’s Presidency?

“Change for the better can come to all. Over the years we have issued appeals to the less active, the offended, the critic, the transgressor — to come back. ‘Come back and feast at the table of the Lord and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints.’ In the private sanctuary of one’s own conscience lies that spirit, that determination to cast off the old person and to measure up to the stature of true potential. In this spirit, we again issue that heartfelt invitation. Come back, we reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express our desire to assist you and to welcome you into full fellowship.

Confessions of a News Junkie

Sunday morning. Clicked off This Week with George Stephanopoulos just a couple of minutes after clicking it on. Feeling especially weary of the twenty-four hour news cycle for some reason today… the relentless intensity, the insatiable talking-heads, and a seemingly never-ending electoral season.

The Secular as Sacred

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the seemingly secular things that I’ve come to hold sacred, whether they be songs, books, films, works of art, or even places. My spiritual regard for these things is often rooted in my own experience, yet, I also believe that I’ve come to appreciate many of them in a spiritual sense because they broach truth in their own right. Brigham Young once said “The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this church” (JD 11:375).

Missionary Photos

The Church says it intends to discipline the missionaries responsible for these photographs. Given that they appear to have returned from their missions, what is that discipline likely to be? Beyond that, while these pictures certainly aren’t respectful or in good taste, how many returned missionaries out there have similar sorts of photographs sitting in their picture albums at home? Might not want to upload those to Facebook or Flicker any time soon…

Mormons and Evolution

Elder Packer’s article in this month’s Ensign closes with some thoughts on Evolution that have the potential to stir up a debate on the issue within the Church after several relatively quiet years.

A Sample Of Mormon Donors

Mormons contributed to Mitt Romney’s campaign over the past year and half in some pretty eye-popping numbers (see, e.g., here and here). As such, I decided to comb through the campaign finance contribution records to see who exactly some prominent Mormons were donating to this past election cycle.

Rock-Bottom Loser

An Onion article out today, like most good Onion articles, works off a premise that’s largely true. The headline reads “Rock-Bottom Loser Entertaining Offers From Several Religions” and the money quotes are: