What Would You Be Willing To Sacrifice To Prevent A Religious Constitutional Crisis?

What Would You Be Willing To Sacrifice To Prevent A Religious Constitutional Crisis?

You’re Reading the Wrong Book: The Reasons Why the LDS Church Changed Its Same Sex Marriage Policy


This post is going to explore the possible reasons for the change in the LDS Church policies regarding same-sex couples. Without full disclosure, it is difficult to know the reasons why an action is taken. After considering the context, certain inferences can be drawn as to why changes were made. This post will go through the position taken by the church and the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to protect same-sex couples as a discrete and insular minority.


A valid place to start is why make the same-sex relationship changes now? This is not exactly virgin territory. In 2000, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same sex-marriage. Many other countries adopted same-sex marriage, including Canada in 2005, and the church did not make major changes to their policies. The Church did not take any action in those countries or at least that we know about. With that being said, the Church provides answers to the most basic questions in their own words if we are willing to listen.

On November 6, 2015, the LDS Church posted an interview with Elder Christofferson with the purpose of providing a “better understand[ing of] the context and purpose of the changes” in the handbook in regards to same-sex couples. He went on to say, this change is “a statement to remove any question or doubt that may exist” as to how the church views same-sex marriage. “It’s a matter of being clear.”


Who needs clarity? After reading the 1995 document called “The Family: A Proclamation To The World,” there can be little confusion as to the church’s position. The LBGTQ community was able to detect the church’s position with subtle hints such as “Marriage between man and woman is essential” or “we…solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” For a normal person, the issues were clearly defined.

If not the church members or same-sex couples, who does the Church need to be clear for? Lawmakers, attorneys and Judges who use the Constitution and caselaw as their standard of truth.

Elder Chrisofferson went on to say: “With the Supreme Court’s decision in the United States, there was a need for a distinction to be made between what may be legal and what may be the law of the Church and the law of the Land and how we respond to that.” With the change in the law of the United States, the Church was affected in ways that most people, including me, cannot wrap them minds around.


Why do they need to be clear? If the Church does not have a this kind of policy, then it may appear the treatment of same-sex couples is out of animus or dislike and not a religious belief. So the Church made changes to the handbook to create a new category of apostasy involving same-sex couples. The Church made a policy to not proselyte to their children.


When people analyze this issue, too often the focus is on scriptures. These are the wrong books. Instead, to understand you need to read case law, statutes and understand how they interact with the United States Constitution.

When Elder Christofferson says the Church must “respond” to the change in the law regarding same sex couples, they responded with making changes to the Handbook.


The conflict with Church teachings and the recognition of same-sex marriage is so diametrically opposed that it should be called a “religious constitutional crisis.” This term is a conflict between the constitution and a religious organization that is so great that it threatens to cause a breakdown of the organization’s beliefs or structure.

If this was a boring interview, it is because you didn’t understand the ramifications. The interview provided context as to why it took an even stronger position against same-sex marriage by denying their children access to the LDS church. As will be explained in a later post, this is the execution of an aggressive legal strategy to operate in a way to qualify for a soon-to-be if not already created “religious exception” under state and federal law.

In order to avoid this religious constitutional crisis, the LDS Church over hauled its same sex policies including how to treat innocent children. Let there be no mistake, this change was not for the benefit of the children. If it was, the Church would have implemented this policy prior to the Supreme Court stepping into the same-sex issues. Once the class was respected by the Law, the Church had to follow suit in some way. This direction was made based upon legal advice which was more concerned with preserving property than people.

A wise professional told me that when an action is taken that seems unreasonable, behind that action is someone who believes there is a reason good enough to take the risk. At this point, the shock value has worn off a bit. Lets re-characterize the policy and see if it reminds us of why this is a difficult proposition.

Imagine reading the following headline:

“Church places children of same-sex couples on government altar for spiritual sacrifice to obtain Government benefits.”

Though this sounds like The Onion, it is a fair way to characterize what the Church’s legal position. I am not saying that do be dramatic or get people excited. This is what the Church actually did. The Church said if we give up on providing a way to salvation for a certain class of persons – i.e. same-sex relationship children – can we keep our benefits? Please.

My point is, the Church must believe that whatever harm that flows from this choice is worth it. The Church makes the point that this will help same-sex couple families by not creating discord. Though on the surface, this argument has some merit, the reasoning is faulty. The policy singles out same-sex couples with long term relationships and/or marriages. If you live with a LBGTQ parent, who is not in a committed same-sex relationship, the Church allows this person to decide whether their child can join the church.

This is the beginning of a series of difficult post legalized same-sex marriage faith choices. The Church publicly uses the phrase “fairness to all,” even in this interview, as a way to describe this approach that includes an absolute bar to proselyting or allowing children of same-sex parents into the church. This is not a scriptural maneuver; this is a legal maneuver with a religious basis. The Church created a policy where same-sex couples are respected to such a degree that the Church takes away their agency as to their childs participation in the LDS Church. In a religious context, this is a resurrection of the outlawed doctrine of separate but equal.

Instead feeling like a loving policy it feels more like Child Protective Services.

Those who watched Elder Christofferson, may wonder if we watched the same interview. Click on this link to see the Church’s public positions, including court documents, that demonstrate the Church’s belief in the religious constitutional crisis. The fallout of the religious constitutional crisis will include the risk of losing, at a minimum, school accreditation for the different iterations of BYU and LDS Business College and the tax exempt status for the entire church. If the church loses its tax exempt status, billions of tithing dollars would be paid in tax annually. That is billions with a B.


What is the Church’s strategy to fight the religious constitutional crisis? The legal strategy is to take a stronger position against same-sex marriage.

That is not a misprint. Re-read if you need.

Said another way, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is a protected class under the constitution. This will apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. In order for the Church to retain government benefits, a government agency will have to codify a religious exception that allows for the Church to discriminate against same-sex marriages. Then that religious exception will need to survive close judicial scrutiny. This process will apply to accreditation, tax exempt status, property taxes and many other issues on both the state and federal level.

A good example of a religious exception is found in Utah. A counter point occurred in New Jersey. These are not apples to apples comparisons. Don’t expect a smooth narrative. This is a crisis after all.

At this point, we don’t have a lot of judicial direction as to how the same-sex marriage protection is going to work. This means that the policies of the church are not in final draft. It is also difficult to understand why all of the legal maneuvering is happening. The Church is gearing up for a legal battle to retain its beliefs and retain government benefits. We can only hope and pray that the church is through sacrificing innocent children to meets its religious constitutional crisis. God help us all.

Is My Inherited IRA Protected in Bankruptcy?

The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that an inherited IRA is not protected in bankruptcy under the current bankruptcy laws. Here is a link to the case: Clark v. Rameker | U.S. Supreme Court 2014.

This not a question everyone deals with, but if it does affect you, it will be a big deal. It is important to understand the issue and explain clearly to your bankruptcy attorney how you came to own your own retirement accounts including IRAs.

This case hinged on the wording of 11 USC 522(b)(3)(c) which protects (exempts) “retirement funds to the extent that those funds are in a fund or account that is exempt from taxation” under varying IRS code sections. There was no question this was a tax exempt asset, the main question was whether this was viewed as a “retirement fund” when it was inherited by the current owner.

As a Debtor’s attorney most of the time, I see the code from that angle. Were these retirement funds? Yes. Have they crossed the line and now are taxable? No. Thus, this retains its nature as a retirement fund. The Court disagreed by focusing more on how the accounts are treated under the new ownership. The rules change enough for an inherited IRA, that the Court held that this changed the nature of the asset enough to not be covered by the statute.

Though this can be frustrating to Debtor attorneys, this case is not a miscarriage of justice. The could have gone either way. I think people give property as an IRA for the sole purpose of protecting the hard earned retirement. I have done advised this myself. We always knew this was working its way through the system but hoped for a different outcome.

This means essentially, that if you want to protect your inheritance from bankruptcy, you are going to have to use a different method. Please give us a call to discuss your options.

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How To Choose a Bankruptcy Attorney

How To Choose a Bankruptcy Attorney

There is not one way to hire a Bankruptcy Attorney. There are a number of factors to consider including experience, temperament, style, location and hours, and attorney fees.

Even though there is no one formula, we believe there are a few issues that should be considered.

Bankruptcy experience comes in many forms. Some attorneys who work for larger firms only handled one aspect of a case. This means that they may have filed a large number of cases but do not have the experience that would be expected with the number of bankruptcy filings.

Other attorneys who have not filed many cases, lack the experience to even understand the bankruptcy process. It is important to ask about the type of bankruptcy experience.

If you meet with a “salesman” instead of office staff this is usually a sign that your case will not be handled by one person.

Additionally, there are different aspects to bankruptcy. The main reason you come to the bankruptcy court is to receive a discharge.

With that being said, there can be issues where you must negotiate on your house or car loan. Additionally, you can be sued by creditors. If you think this type of issue may arise, it is important to ask how much experience they have with adversary proceedings in bankruptcy.

In our Mesa Bankruptcy office, there is one attorney. James Portman Webster has essentially handled all of his cases from beginning to end since 2007. As an office, we handled multiple issues including: adversary proceedings, redemption of vehicles, reaffirmation agreements, stipulations, means test, among other legal issues.

I attend all hearings unless I am required to be in two hearings at the same time and there can be no accommodations made. This situation rarely arise.

An attorney’s temperament and style are important. You are going through this process once and the attorneys you choose will dictate to a large degree your experience. In picking an attorney, make sure your personalities fit together in a desirable way.

Our office focuses on both the legal and personal affects of bankruptcy. We will discuss both aspects of a bankruptcy filing and ways to address both the intended and unintended consequences.

The location of the attorney’s office and hours will directly affect your experience.

In our office, we are located right off the U.S. 60 and the 101 Loop on Dobson Road. Clients coming from Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa find this to be a close and convenient location. We can accomodate weekend appointments upon request. Additionally, a lot of work can be done by fax and email to reduce the number of trips to the office.

Attorney fees can be one of the largest issues in determining which attorneys or lawyers to hire. Attorney fees should be based on a number of issues like complexity of case, types of property, potential issues of bankruptcy adversary proceedings, pre-bankruptcy planning, and other factors.

Any attorney who quotes a flat price for all cases is a red flag. This means that no matter how much or little work must be done, the attorney charges the same price. If I had a very complex bankruptcy, this would concern me because I would wonder if all of the issues would be properly addressed. If I had very few issues, I would also be concerned about being over charged for the amount of work done.

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Which Chapter of Bankruptcy Should I File?

Which Chapter of Bankruptcy Should I File?

Arizona Bankruptcy Attorneys: What BK Chapter Do I File?

As Scottsdale & Chandler Arizona Bankruptcy Attorneys, I am able to assist people and businesses through the complicated process of protecting assets through bankruptcy. Generally, anyone in this situation experiences an immense amount of stress and fear of the unknown. Knowing where to start can be the most difficult part. This website, in part, was created to assist people with understanding what bankruptcy can and cannot do for a situation. If it appears that bankruptcy may benefit your family, please contact our office to discuss your potential options and to find options for your situation. A free consultation is one telephone call away. We understand. Being in this business for years, we have just about seen and heard it all. The point is that we can assist you through this difficult time.

Should I file Chapter 7, 11 or 13?

Chapter 7 Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 each have benefits and drawbacks. The best way to understand each chapter is to read through the short descriptions and see what benefits may come out of each chapter. Chapter 7 is often a fresh start or liquidation bankruptcy. This means that you don’t make payments on debts except for what you want or are required to keep by law. Most debts are discharged or in other words not required to be paid back. This is the most often used chapter of bankruptcy, but it can be tricky if you own certain types of assets. Click here to learn about AZ Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 is most often utilized by business entities like corporations or LLC’s but can be filed by individuals if they have enough business interests. This bankruptcy is similar to a Chapter 13 but has distinct advantages over a chapter 13. A chapter 11 at a minimum must be a five year plan and allows for cramming down but the absolute priority rule must be addressed. Click here to learn about AZ Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 can only be filed by human beings. This means corporations and LLC’s cannot file under Chapter 13. A plan will be prepared that will last 36 or 60 months depending on your household income. If you have certain types of assets that you would lose in a Chapter 7, Chapter 13 may provide a way to keep those assets. If you own you car more than 910 days, you can cram down the value of your vehicle. Click here to learn about AZ Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Choosing a Phoenix Arizona bankruptcy attorney is a difficult process. There are many aspects of the process that can be confusing. We will do what we can to address your concerns and protect your assets. Click here to learn about How To Choose an AZ Bankruptcy Attorney. If you already know you need to file bankruptcy, you can download the bankruptcy packets:

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Will Bankruptcy Ruin My Credit Forever?

Will Bankruptcy Ruin My Credit Forever?

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Many people have the concern that bankruptcy will ruin their credit for ten years. This is the wrong question. The right question is, “when can I get credit again at a reasonable interest rate?”

The answer lies in a number of factors. One thing for sure, bankruptcy will not ruin your credit for ten years. Though mortgage lending guidelines change regularly, certain government programs allow you into a home a few years following bankruptcy. A conventional bank loan is a possibility five years after bankruptcy.

The biggest factors in credit coming back is income and payments on credit that is reported to the agencies. I have had clients show me paperwork where they obtained single digit interest rates on car loans twelve months after filing bankruptcy.

Is this the standard way it is handled? No. But it does happen.

Though you should not file bankruptcy with the goal of accruing more debt, it is a factor that should be about after leaving bankruptcy. Though debt can be tricky, a good credit score means cheaper car and mortgage payments. This can mean the difference between making it and not making it every month.

If you are located within the State of Arizona, please contact my office to discuss your options.