Mithryn’s breakdown of the lawsuit against Monson. Has it got a chance?

Full text here

I’ve done some digging on the 2006 fraud act, and the 7 claims that are specifically mentioned in the brief may not hold up.

Of them, most claims (Nauvoo expositor was full of lies, Book of Abraham legitimacy, DNA and indians, etc.) were made publically before Jan 15th 2007, so they don’t apply to the law.

However, if Tom can show correspondence between himself or others and the General Authorities claiming these things, that might suffice.

Further the church can use Monson’s Alzheimers or “I cannot recall” as a defense at any time, but that might cost them.

Click on full text for legal breakdown and links.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a sociopath’s dream”

Read this deeply bizarre cover story from Psychology Today.  Entitled “Confessions of a Sociopath,” it tells the story of a female Mormon law professor with an undergraduate degree from BYU.  Here’s the most relevant part about the church:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a sociopath’s dream. Mormons believe that everyone has the potential to be godlike—I believe this includes me. Every being is capable of salvation; my actions are what matters, not my ruthless thoughts, not my nefarious motivations. Everyone is a sinner, and I never felt that I was outside this norm.

When I attended Brigham Young—where students were even more trusting than the average Mormon—there were myriad opportunities for scamming. I stole from the lost and found, saying I lost a book, but then I would take the “found” book to the bookstore and sell it. Or, I’d take an unlocked bike that sat in the same place for days. Finders, keepers.

But I am functionally a good person—I bought a house for my closest friend, I gave my brother $10,000, and I am considered a helpful professor. I love my family and friends. Yet I am not motivated or constrained by the same things that most good people are.

The essay is excerpted from a book entitled Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight by someone named M.E. Thomas, a pseudonym for someone who who started this awesome website for sociopaths and went on the Dr Phil Show to promote her book.  At that point, people had some decent clues to work with in trying to figure out who she is.

Turns out she’s probably someone named Jamie Rebecca Lund. And not only is Ms. Lund Mormon, but she was set to join the faculty at BYU law school–which church leaders are now apparently trying to undo.

We’re actually late to this party–it’s been parsed on Facebook and Mormon Discussions.  There are debates about whether she’s really a sociopath or just a narcissist–I saw comments from someone who saw her segment on Dr. Phil; apparently she kept claiming she had such and such a trait, which was a hallmark of a sociopath, and Dr. Phil kept saying, “No, it’s not.”

Anyway, it’s a funky story to begin with, and the Mormon angle just makes it too salacious to resist.




“Religious Exemption” in Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Law

I’ve been thinking about how a couple leaders of the LDS Church have vocalized how they wouldn’t mind the 2009 nondiscrimination laws in Salt Lake City (in housing and employment, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity) be expanded across the state of Utah. Specifically, what they’re interested in is duplicating how those laws include “religious exemptions” that let Mormon and other religiously-owned institutions be exempt from the nondiscrimination laws altogether. The leaders don’t bring attention to this, of course — rather they just voice their support for the “balance” in the laws — but you can bet your breeches that if the exemptions were removed, the Church would not support the nondiscrimination laws whatsoever.

Not all Mormons are convinced these laws are good, regardless of the exemptions. Many Mormons continue to believe that such laws are a sign of “death by a thousand cuts” to traditional family culture. This is because it’s possible to imagine the phrase “religious exemption” as a temporary placeholder for when everyone will eventually have to follow the same law, rather than the language setting in stone a divide between “civil society” and “religious institutions.” When it comes down to it, no Utahn is a member of a religious institution and not also subject to civil society. I can understand why the dialogue hasn’t moved much in the Utah State Legislature, even as a few more individual cities have followed Salt Lake City’s lead since 2009.

There’s an angle of why the Church feels its exemptions are necessary that I think is worth examining in order to move the dialogue forward. Let’s take, for example, a teacher at BYU in a same-sex relationship. Currently, if the school finds out about the relationship, the teacher will be fired on the basis of breaking the honor code: namely, the rule that students and faculty are not supposed to have sexual relations with anyone other than a married spouse (“married” as defined by the Church must be an opposite-sex spouse). If that teacher were able to sue BYU for “discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation,” then that would open up BYU’s honor code to legal scrutiny (as it is applied to everyone, gay, straight or otherwise). Is it possible to protect people from being fired on the basis of sexual orientation/gender identity at BYU, but also not affect BYUs honor code? I can’t think of how. Still, does an individual citizen’s “right” to privacy trump a religious institution’s “right” to have knowledge of private affairs and discipline accordingly for the sake of religious assembly? Perhaps this isn’t the way the legal world would frame the issue exactly, but hopefully I’ve made the contention clear.

Recently, I asked an orthodox gay Mormon (who thinks same-sex intimacy is a “sin”) who supported the SLC nondiscrimination ordinances what is more important to him: protection in housing/employment, or preventing same-sex couples from being allowed in Mormon spaces. He told me that he would rather deal with Mormon homophobia than bring “sexual orientation law” into Mormondom. He feels such law would limit the Church’s right to discriminate on the basis having sex with someone you’re not married to. He casually added that same-sex couples are allowed at church, “everyone is allowed,” which, well…I’m slightly curious about the current cultural dynamics (that is, how my local ward would respond to a same-sex couple…though my partner isn’t interested in carrying out such an experiment with me, understandably).

Anyhow, I’m not sure how to resolve this protection and/or privacy vs assembly issue other than the exemptions that are in place. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of the exemptions because I see them as wiggle room for the Church and individuals in the Church to continue to be as homophobic as they want, and not have to be subject to the same law everyone else is.

Prop 8 update: the question of child welfare

Thirteen states have signed on as “friends-of-the-court” to assert that defining marriage is a state issue rather than a federal issue. If gay marriage comes to pass federally, they promise to break away and become colonies. (kidding.) The irony is that in order to argue for a state’s right to determine the definition of marriage, they have to outwit Judge Walker’s logic that Prop 8 violates the 14th Amendment, Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution. Basically, the age-old arguments are being pushed to their limits within a federal framework (rather than a state framework) because this is ultimately going to the US Supreme Court. I’m not sure how much life these age-old arguments have left, but some new twists have turned up that I haven’t seen before.

Here’s an example:

  • Heterosexual couples who are infertile or do not have children reinforce and exist in accord with the traditional marriage norm. This is because by upholding marriage as a social norm, childless couples encourage others to follow that norm, including couples who might otherwise have illegitimate children, and it is in children’s best interest to be in a stable household.
  • Parenting by same-sex couples is not worthy of the same protections because same-sex couples can only become biological parents by deliberately choosing to do so; thus, without the same potential for unintended children, the state does not necessarily have the same need to provide such parents with the incentives of marriage.
  • If over time society concludes that the children of same-sex couples would do better if some incentive existed for such couples to remain together, then states can address that need.

So, the argument is that the state is interested in producing children, society is interested in children having stable homes (and a married coupledom is such an incentivized home), but same-sex parented homes are seemingly stable enough that marriage for them is unnecessary at this time. I don’t think this makes much sense, unless you deem same-sex parented homes as “lesser than” opposite-sex parented homes.

The way I see it, it’s a question of which comes first: The state’s desire to produce children, or society’s desire to care for children? Here in Washington State where same-sex adoption is legal, there is a campaign to get gay couples to adopt because these couples generally tend to have disposable incomes. This campaign exists because there is an abundance of uncared-for children. It is briefly suggested by the “friends-of the-court” that the welfare policies of the 1960s weakened the incentive to marry (since a single mother would be supported by the government), and there is a subtle suggestion that adoptions by same-sex couples are a band-aid to the problem of child welfare; the “ideal” is supporting marriage as is and limiting government welfare. The “friends-of-the-court” admit that gay couples are great at family planning, but are nonetheless averse to incentivizing their families. Why? Again, I think it’s because of a “lesser than” stance. They repeatedly state that Prop 8 wasn’t about “animus toward gay people,” but obviously what is at work here is an animus toward homosexuality. Because they can’t say “love the sinner, hate the sin” (due to the separation of church and state), they instead take a scenic route through heteroville.

Some of the language of the document sounds like it could have come directly from Mormon leaders. Consider this:

In brief, the State may rationally reserve marriage to one man and one woman because this relationship alone provides for both intimacy and complementarity, while also enabling the married persons in the ideal to beget children who have a natural and legal relationship to each parent, who serve as role models of both sexes for their children.

How can they not realize that this language is homophobic? Are same-sex relationships devoid of intimacy and complementarity? What does it mean to be a “role model” of both sexes? Because I have a penis, I am A, B and C? Personally, most of my role models are women. Does that make me “gender dysphoric?” Good grief.

The next set of arguments has to do with the idea that if marriage isn’t about procreation, then it can’t be about anything, because “commitment” as a definition leads to incest, polygamy, etc, so the government might as well get out of the marriage business altogether. Walker had stated that marriage is about “1) facilitating governance and public order by organizing individuals into cohesive family units; 2) developing a realm of liberty, intimacy, and free decision-making by spouses; 3) creating stable households; 4) legitimating children; 5) assigning individuals to care for one another; and 6) facilitating property ownership” and that a gender distinction is not important. The opponents of Walker argue that if there’s no gender distinction, then the government “must necessarily be served even more by expanding marriage to any group.” Same-sex marriage is deemed the limit here, they say, only because of a “desire for social recognition and validation of same-sex sexual love and relationships,” a desire for validation that could apply to any other group. Being “gay” is not a suspect class and they have judicial precedent to prove it.

Unfortunately, I can see why gay rights groups were frustrated about taking this through the legal system right now, because I can see how the odds are stacked up against gay marriage in the form of endless rhetoric.

Judge Walker’s Prop 8 ruling: Evidence shows that a gender restriction on marriage is “nothing more than an artifact of a foregone notion that men and women fulfill different roles in civic life”

This is the first (of six) of Walker’s dismissals of Prop 8 supporters’ claims. The first claim was that “tradition” is enough to maintain marriage as between a man and woman. Walker states that previous court rulings indicate that an “ancient lineage of a classification” does not make a classification timelessly rational. “The state must have an interest apart from the fact of the tradition itself”; the tradition of opposite-gender marriage is rooted in a history of mandated gender roles, which are no longer legal. Continue reading “Judge Walker’s Prop 8 ruling: Evidence shows that a gender restriction on marriage is “nothing more than an artifact of a foregone notion that men and women fulfill different roles in civic life””

BYU Law Professor explains why Prop 8 was an unfortunate example of Mormon fundamentalism

Frederick Mark Gedicks
Brigham Young University – J. Reuben Clark Law School
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 18, pp. 901-914, 2010
God of Our Fathers, Gods for Ourselves: Fundamentalism and Postmodern Belief:

” … there is also an ethical reason for wariness. One should pause at imposing absolute truth on those to whom the validity of that truth cannot be demonstrated unless they already believe it — indeed, absolute truth whose universality or validity may sometimes be in question even among those who claim to believe it. As Learned Hand once famously declared, “The spirit of liberty is the spirit that is not too sure that it is right.” This is the best safeguard of religious freedom in a pluralist democracy, a constant and present and humble reticence at imposing one’s own truth as the truth for all.”

h/t Times & Seasons Notes from All Over
Continue reading “BYU Law Professor explains why Prop 8 was an unfortunate example of Mormon fundamentalism”

National Day of Prayer – bye bye!

My crazy uncle (who I really like) just send me one of his amazing emails. Here’s the email with some comments I couldn’t help but add included in blue:

HOORAY, HOORAY, HOORAY for Andy Rooney (hilarious that they think Andy Rooney would write this!). I myself have been grumbling and wondering how a handful of people have been able to take our right to pray in public places away from us (I’m assuming they mean the recent court case that determined a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional). So, agreeing with Andy, I GLADLY will forward this email AGAIN, AGAIN AND AGAIN. Folks, this is the Month that we RE-TAKE AMERICA (from the majority group that has most of the power, those fracking Christians!). Keep this going around the globe . Read it and forward every time you receive it. We can’t give up on this issue.

Andy Rooney and Prayer
Andy Rooney says: I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I’m not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don’t agree with Darwin , but I didn’t go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution (this is the sentence that immediately cued me into the fact that this couldn’t be Andy Rooney; he may be odd, but he’s not ignorant). Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what’s the big deal? It’s not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts. They’re just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game. But it’s a Christian prayer, some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America , a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1.(ahh, the old argumentum ad populum) So what would you expect — somebody chanting Hare Krishna? If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer… (no he wouldn’t ’cause they wouldn’t) If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad , I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. (again, no he wouldn’t ’cause they wouldn’t; and I’m guessing he’d be offended if one was said) If I went to a ping pong match in China , I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. (now he’s removing any trace from anyone’s mind how uneducated he is; definitely no prayers to Buddha in China before ping pong matches) And I wouldn’t be offended. It wouldn’t bother me one bit. (I’d love to see this actually play out and see if he was offended) When in Rome… (um, is he really saying do as the “Muslims/Buddhists/Jews” would do? I don’t think he means what he thinks he means…)

But what about the atheists? Is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized.(um, well, yes, people are) We’re not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds.(only if you’ll humor me for 30 seconds when you’re done; fair is fair) If that’s asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer! (ah, yes, the old – “suck it atheists” approach when all else fails) Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do.(yep, just like one or two told whites that segregated schools were a bad thing and beating wives was a bad thing; those a**holes, thinking they know what is best for everyone else! Bring back the 1940s!) I don’t think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world’s foundations.(nope, just inappropriate) Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights.(um, wow! Can you say “not a good Christian”?!? Matthew 5:38-42 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”)

Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.(um, not exactly; the federal courts are simply saying that government can’t tell citizens when and how to pray; you can pray without ceasing, just don’t force me to listen to you) God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.(no need; we won the lawsuit already) The silent majority has been silent too long.(oh, you mean the one with thousands of radio stations and TV stations and billboards and churches and politicians representing it? Right. I never hear that “silent majority.”) It’s time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn’t care what they want.(You hear that, blacks, women, homosexuals, etc? The majority doesn’t want to give you rights.) It is time that the majority Rules! (um, that’s basically defined in the Constitution; been that way for a long time) It’s time we tell them, You don’t have to pray; you don’t have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don’t have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away.(you mean your right to infringe upon my rights; didn’t know that was a right…) We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN! (um, nope; you lost)

God bless us one and all… (no thanks) Especially those who denounce Him, God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God. Let’s make 2010 the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. And our military forces come home from all the wars. Keep looking up.

I, of course, as the crazy nephew, couldn’t help but respond to everyone on the email list with the following:


Sorry for the intrusion in your inbox, but I once again feel obligated to correct misinformation. First, the email below was not written by Andy Rooney (if you know Andy Rooney, you know he’d never write that email):

It was written by Nick Gholson, a sports writer in Wichita Falls, Texas.

It is also remarkably ignorant of the recent court case in which a Federal Court decided that a National Day of Prayer IS unconstitutional:

Basically what happened was Billy Graham, using the political influence of Evangelical Christians, convinced Congress to enact a National Day of Prayer in 1952. The date for the National Day of Prayer was formalized in the 1980s at the request of Campus Crusade for Christ. The National Day of Prayer Task Force, led by Shirley Dobson, was housed in the Focus on the Family building in Colorado, which is where James Dobson, an Evangelical Christian, has his headquarters. In other words, the National Day of Prayer was an Evangelical Christian sponsored event!

Everyone who cares about religious autonomy should be cheering this court decision. Why? Because it makes it so government cannot tell you when and how you should pray. Religious minorities, like Mormons, should be particularly excited by this case, as this reduces the odds of Evangelical Christians pushing their particular religious worldview on the rest of America, which I’m sure Mormons and other religious minorities would not like.

Just thought you’d like some accurate information today.

Yeah, I know, I’m THAT jerk who feels arrogant enough to think he should correct people via email. Anywho, here’s a response I received:

No, I don’t know that Andy Rooney would never write an article like the one below. I don’t know him, do you? But it doesn’t matter if Andy wrote it orNick Gholson wrote it. It is a well writtenarticle that everyone should consider. And what was threatening or unconstitutional about a national day of prayer?? One could pray to their God or not, it was not forced and they certainaly were not telling us “when or how youshould pray”. Who cares who sponsoredit. It was a daywherebelievers in God could collectively thank the Supreme Being for our blessings and ask Hisblessings for our country and fellow man. So a federal courtruled it unconstitutional.So what!! That doesn’t make it right. It just makes it one more bad, unconstitutional, decision the courts havemade over the years – like the one the U. S. Supreme Courtymade in 1857 wherethey ruledblacks, slaves as well as free, were not and could never become citizens of the United States. Or like the decision the Supreme Court made in 1890when they declared that Idaho’s 1885 law denying Mormons the right to vote or hold public office was consitutional. Who knows -if this case goes to the Supreme Court perhaps they will overule the lower court.

No, I’m not cheering the decision thecourt made denying the right for a national day of prayer.It’s only just one more assault on religion and prayer made byunbelieversand atheists. I believe the goal of those who bring these court cases is not to preserve religious rights but to ultimatelyhave allprayer and religion in this country banned. They are trying to take away our right to believe inand worship God.I doubt they will everbe happy or stop the assault on religionuntil they have everyone convincedthat God is a myth and all religious worship and prayers are forbidden.

My less than kind response:

First, yes, I do know Andy Rooney. He’s a famous television personality and social commentator on 60 Minutes. I’m amazed you don’t know him, but I guess not everyone watches 60 Minutes.

Second, it’s not well-written. It’s actually quite poorly written. But issues of grammar aside, the issue behind a national day of prayer is an important one. Is it threatening? Yes. We were told WHEN to pray (first Thursday in May) and we were told HOW to pray (the National Day of Prayer Task Force wrote the prayer for everyone). Since it sounds like you’re a Christian, my guess is that you probably don’t mind this because the prayers were Christian in nature. But, and this is the point, what if they were not? What if a Muslim or a Hindu were elected to office? And what if their prayer was, “Allah, smite the Christians that they all die.” Would you still feel the same way about a national day of prayer? Or what if it was a Wiccan who was elected to office? Would you be okay if, instead of prayer, they performed a magical ritual involving pentagrams, black cats, and human blood?

You see, here’s where you’re missing the point: You’re okay with a “National Day of Prayer” because you are in the majority and you don’t think that all of the minorities out there should find your beliefs offensive. But THEY DO! Especially when they are forced on them. Try flipping perspectives for a minute to see the world from the perspective of a religious minority. If you can’t, too bad. You’re welcome to continue in your dogmatic views. But perhaps seeing the world from the perspective of a minority will help you realize that the intent is not to remove people’s right to pray but rather to remove government from religion. Do you really want big government telling you how to worship? I’m guessing your against government and doubly against government controlling religion. So why aren’t you for this court decision?

You then assume that “unbelievers and atheists” are assaulting religion. Really? Maybe they’re simply defending their rights (FYI, I’m an atheist). Have you ever been forced to listen to an atheist give a “prayer” at a funeral or graduation? Me either, because they would never force their views on anyone else. Atheists don’t want to listen to your prayers any more than you want to listen to them. So, they are asserting their rights to say, “Don’t make me listen to your prayers.” And they’re not saying, “Oh, you now have to listen to mine.” They’re/We’re simply saying, “Be as religious as you want – on YOUR time and YOUR dime, but not on mine.” Isn’t that fair? Or do you think it’s not fair because you want the government to support your beliefs over theirs?

Oh, and just for fun, if you are a Christian, maybe you should reconsider your position in light of your own scripture:
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

Your god says not to pray in public anyway. This court decision actually just makes it easier for you to follow your own religion.

And, finally, her response:

Yes, I have heard of Andy Rooney and have listened to some of his commentaries, but I don’t know him and can’t speak for what he would or wouldn’t say and neither can you.

Please delete my email address from your records and I will certainly remove traces of your address from my computer. I have no wish to hear from you and I also thinkit was veryrude of you to steal email addresses from forwarded mail and then email your views topeople you don’t know and who definitely don’t share your views!