Author: Matt Evans

I grew up in Salt Lake City, the oldest of seven kids. My parents divorced when I was 11, an experience that shaped my life in many ways. After graduating from Cottonwood High in 1991, I served a mission in southern Spain and north Africa. When I returned home I enrolled at Salt Lake Community College and soon married Lori Middleton, a friend from high school. After doing as much of my undergrad education as possible at SLCC, I transferred to the University of Utah and graduated with degrees in Political Science and Sociology. After Lori finished her Master's program we moved to Concord, Massachusetts, so I could attend Harvard Law School. Upon graduation I took a position at a large law firm in Washington DC and we moved to the Maryland suburb of Rockville (Derwood, actually). In 2003 my wife and I were pioneers in the nascent fetal imaging industry, an industry we recognized would shape public knowledge and attitudes about the human person before birth, and were featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and many other media outlets. The industry is especially helpful to pro-lifers for chipping away at the conventional mindset that people begin at birth. After 8 years on the east coast we returned to Utah in 2006 so our kids could grow up near their extended family. We have six wonderful kids.

Guest Blogger: Joseph Stanford

We’re pleased to introduce our latest guest blogger, Dr. Joseph Stanford. Dr. Stanford is a professor at the University of Utah Medical School where his research focuses on fertility care. This year he’s on sabbatical at the National Institutes of Health to do epidemiologic research related to human reproduction. He recently finished a three year appointment on the FDA Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs. Brother Stanford is an advocate of natural family planning and published an article on the topic for the religious journal First Things in November 1999. (The article caused some controversy about whether a Mormon “should” publish in a journal that publishes articles by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish scholars.) Joe and his wife Kathleen have seven boys, all of whom, minus their eldest son who’s serving a mission in Toronto, are spending the year in my Maryland ward. Welcome, Brother Stanford.

Christmas Cigarettes

Imagine that universally-respected researchers had determined that most of the people in your community eat far more sugar and fat than they should, and are at serious risk of developing diabetes, hardened arteries, and other ailments associated with poor diet and inadequate exercise. If you were to live in such a community, how much sugar-filled and fat-laden goodies would you give your neighbors at Christmastime?

Where does the Bloggernacle live?

Bryce Inouye has created a bloggernacle Frappr page that shows you where our bloggernacle community lives. If you’re willing to share your zip code, add yourself! (Note that Frappr requires you to leave a short comment in the “shoutout” box. )

Scriptures Citations in General Conference

Times & Seasons commenter and economist Ed Johnson (“ed”) has performed some sophisticated statistical analysis on general conference scripture citations. We discussed the same data, but with the aid of lesser tools and minds, in earlier posts here and here. The finding that most surprised me is that the surge in Book of Mormon citations evident in the previous posts can’t be attributed to President Benson’s famous general conference talks about the Book of Mormon after all: his talks coincide with the crest of the wave.

To be read June 27, about five o’clock p.m.

To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob — painted black — of from 150 to 200 persons.

The Church “has not taken a position on the issue of embryonic stem cell research”

The church has corrected a newspaper that had written, “Mormons, for example, oppose abortion, but find some embryonic stem cell research morally acceptable,” with the clarification that, “the Church has not taken a position on the issue of embryonic stem cell research.” They also note that the church has no official position on the moment human life begins. Additionally, the church’s August 2001 “Apostles have not taken a position” statement about stem cell research, which many interpreted as providing tentative support for embryonic stem cell research, has been removed from the church’s website.

Noah’s Ark Room

We call one of our bedrooms the Noah’s Ark Room because there’s a mural of Noah’s Ark on the wall. It was painted by our house’s previous owner for his son Noah, who lived in this bedroom from his birth until we purchased the townhouse in 2001 and he and his parents moved to a home nearby.

Announcing Steve Urquhart, Guest Blogger

We are pleased to announce that Steve Urquhart, the majority whip for the Utah House of Representatives, will blog with us for the next two weeks, including the final days of the 2005 legislative session. Steve grew up in Houston and graduated from Williams College and BYU Law School. After working at Morrison & Foerster for two years, he moved to St. George, Utah, where he practices law with two other attorneys. He served a mission in Curitiba, Brazil, and now serves as stake auditor and Sunday School teacher. Steve and his wife Sara Stanley have four children.

Blatant Media Bias for Abortion

Monday I joined 200,000 people at the annual ‘March for Life’ to protest the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. My wife wasn’t feeling well enough to go this year (she’s pregnant — with twins!) and the weather accompanying Roe’s anniversary was typically frigid and miserable (if the Supreme Court was going to make such a colossal moral error, couldn’t they have at least done so in April?), so it was just my son and me. We were excited because the Family Research Council was distributing thousands of posters with my Created Equal logo and we hoped the signs might make it into the spartan coverage the march receives from the mainstream media.

The Road Less Traveled

The book that most influenced me when I was a lad was The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck. I probably read it four times between ages 15 and 22. When the Book of the Month Club surveyed its members for the most influential book they’d ever read, it ranked number 3. (The bible and Atlas Shrugged were 1 and 2.) Several years ago a stake president in Sandy, Utah, challenged his whole stake to read it. Over the coming weeks I will post some selections to discuss. Today I’ll start with the famous opening.

The Rapid-Changed Role of the Book of Mormon

When looking through lists of scriptures most of cited in General Conference over the past 60 years, nothing is more remarkable than the rapid change in frequency of references to the Book of Mormon. The move toward the Book of Mormon could hardly be more pronounced. In just a few years, the Book of Mormon went from nowhere to everywhere. When President Benson spoke, General Conference speakers listened.

Most Prominent Scriptures in Mormondom

Thanks to a cool feature on the website, it’s easy to rank the scriptures by the frequency they’ve been cited in General Conferences since 1942. I guessed number one, but was surprised by several of the top ten. Before checking the answers, make a few guesses: What are the most prominent scriptures in Mormondom?

Letter from Birmingham Jail

April 16, 1963 MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Thank you Ryan Bell, Welcome Clark Goble

It’s again time to rotate our guest bloggers. We offer many thanks to Ryan Bell for his thoughtful posts. Given that I graduated in the bottom 10% of my high school class, his provocatively titled post questioning the value of a good education was especially welcome. We are pleased to announce that Clark Goble, Times & Seasons’ most prolific commenter, has agreed to write with us. Clark has been a staple on intellectual forums discussing Mormonism and philosophy for many years, being a prominent voice on the LDS-Philosophy and LDS-Law email lists, and then starting his own philosophy-intensive blog, Mormon Metaphysics. Welcome Clark Goble.

Where the Mormons Are

This map, from the New Historical Atlas of Religion in America, shows the largest religious denomination in each US county. This does not mean that the majority of the county belongs to the denomination, only that no other denomination is larger. My guess is that Hancock County, Illinois (Nauvoo) will be the first purple county east of the Rockies. Maybe it already is (I don’t know the age of this map). What are the other contenders out east? Which will be the first purple county in California? .

The Immorality of Voting One’s “Self-Interest”

Last night on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer there was a segment with Tom Frank, the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Frank argues that conservatives have successfully used cultural issues to con the lower and middle classes into voting against what Frank believes to be their “economic self-interest.” It’s probably the leading explanation for the migration of the middle class away from the Democratic party. A smart Democratic friend of mine from church recently used it while lamenting Mormons’ support for Republicans. The NewsHour invited conservative David Frum, one of Bush’s former speech writers, to respond to Frank. Frum responded ably (if Democrats care so much about the lower and middle classes, why do they dismiss their opinions on cultural issues important to them? Who is Frank to tell someone they should care more about the sales tax rate than abortion? ), but he didn’t expose the weakest part of Frank’s argument: his premise. The common idea that forms Frank’s premise — that people should vote their self-interest — is repugnant and corrosive to public discourse.

A Delicate Subject

I will handle this topic as gently as I can. In this post I wonder whether Mormons who choose to leave the church are disproportionately likely to lean left politically. As most of you know, I’m a political conservative, so I’m afraid this topic will make some readers defensive. That is not my intention. It would be easier to treat this subject delicately were someone else — someone who’s left of center — to raise it. (Only Nixon could go to China; only Bill Cosby could chastise black parents.) Anyway, let me emphatically say from the outset that I know someone can be a Democrat and a good member of the church. I know many of you are loyal members of the church and lean left politically. I know those of you who lean left are as faithful as any other members. None of what I’ve written below implies otherwise. The sensitive stuff starts here: Of the few people I know who have deliberately left the church, they have all been political liberals.

FMA Fails to Win 2/3 Vote in House

The House of Representatives today voted on a Federal Marriage Amendment. A large majority of representatives voted in favor of the amendment, but it did not receive the 2/3 majority necessary to amend the Constitution. In a textbook example of media bias, the AP story on the vote begins, “The House emphatically rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.” Later they note that the vote was 227-186, but they never point out that the vote was 227 in favor, and 186 against. Only someone determined to obscure the truth could say a measure that gets 22% more votes for it than against it was “emphatically rejected.” The House didn’t reject the amendment at all — they supported the amendment — the House merely failed to pass the amendment. Count me among those happy to witness the mainstream press dying a slow death.

Experience of a Young LDS Doctor

Andrew Florence, a friend of mine doing an ER residency, emailed a journal entry to some of his friends. He has given me permission to post it here: This morning I cried for the second time during residency. Neither time has been in the ER.

In Opposition to “So-Called Freedoms”

President Hinckley writes this month’s First Presidency Message, In Opposition to Evil. After lamenting society’s “inordinate emphasis on sex and violence,” he writes: The whole dismal picture indicates a weakening rot seeping into the very fiber of society. Legal restraints against deviant moral behavior are eroding under legislative enactments and court opinions. This is done in the name of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of choice in so-called personal matters. But the bitter fruit of these so-called freedoms has been enslavement to debauching habits and behavior that leads only to destruction. A prophet, speaking long ago, aptly described the process when he said, “And thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21). He then calls upon members to “oppose the tide of evil” in four ways:

Teaching Gay & Lesbian Sex to 8th Graders

Just a few months ago, defenders of traditional marriage predicted that should government recognize gay marriages, public schools would soon give equal treatment to homosexuality in sex education classes. We were right quicker than I expected. In Massachusetts, a committee is already preparing a ‘gay-friendly’ curriculum for kindergartners and up, a school district is helping elementary teachers overcome their reluctance to use particular words in the classroom, and an 8th grade sex education teacher shows her students how to have gay and lesbian sex by drawing pictures of various sex positions, then asking the class questions such as “Can a woman and a woman have vaginal sex?” The students usually answer no, she says, but she tells them, “Of course they can! They can use sex toys, or do other things.” After she’s cured them of their innocence, she leads the class in discussion.

Davis Bitton: “I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church”

Davis Bitton, one of the Mormon church’s most prominent historians, has written an essay with the provocative title, “I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church.” First delivered at the 2004 FAIR Conference, his purpose is to distinguish the gospel, of which he has a testimony, from church history, of which he does not. Meridian Magazine has published the essay here. I don’t find his reasoning persuasive.

12 Answers! for Ken Jennings, part two

Here’s the second half of our 12 Questions with Ken Jennings. (Click here for part one.) We thank Ken for participating in our 12 Questions feature, especially for his smart (but delicate) responses to the obnoxious, smart-aleck questions that seem to come with the territory. .