Paul Barker

Born and raised in Northern California, Paul received his education at Ricks College and BYU with a BA in Spanish, minor in PE Coaching. Paul served his LDS mission during the years 94-96 in Rosario, Argentina. He now runs a skate shop in Provo, UT. He's married and has 4 boys. He is currently inbetween callings ;).

L. Tom Perry and Family First Weddings

Sep 30, 15 L. Tom Perry and Family First Weddings

Posted by in Featured, Temple

Everyone seems to have their favorite apostle, some might even have a story of “the one time I met Elder so and so”.  I don’t know if I had a favorite at this particular time in my life, but I do have three moments I have shared with Elder L. Tom Perry. These are the stories.  I hope you enjoy them! The first has no real meaning. I was in at an art show on the top floor of Zions Bank in downtown Salt Lake. I was to meet a client there. While I was waiting and looking at the different art pieces I noticed a rather tall elderly man. I recognized him as soon as I saw his face, it was Elder Perry. Some people were stopping to say hi. I quickly thought to myself should I ask him a question? I decided it wasn’t the place to press him with any questions. So I decided just to say hi. He shook my hand and said “It is good to see you”. I said something stupid like, “it’s good to be seen”.  It was dumb, but I doubt he heard me. The second time I came across Elder L. Tom Perry I was flipping through the channels late one night and settled for Sixteen Candles while I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed.  While brushing and I couldn’t believe my eyes! There he was in the movie! I never knew he was an actor. But alas when I told my friends about it, they quickly told me that it wasn’t him, but an actor named Max Showalter. The third time, had much more meaning. This story requires a little more background… Family First Weddings was started by my brother Mike and I about 2 years ago with a mission to separate the temple sealing ceremony from the civil wedding. The civil wedding and sealing are combined in only a few countries like the USA and Canada, but in the majority of the...

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I’m Sorry Argentina

I’m sorry Argentina. I taught you incorrectly. When I served my mission in Rosario, Argentina 94-96 I misled the people I taught. I feel terrible because I fell in love with the people there. I was treated with kindness and respect. They welcomed me into their homes, we ate together, sung together, prayed together and cried together. I am forever changed because of the love they showed me. When I was a young missionary I wanted to improve the discussions or “charlas” as we called them. We were provided  a flip chart that had illustrations so that the investigator could better understand. I’m sure it was hard enough to understand with our American accents. In the flip chart, there weren’t many images to relate to during the teachings. Especially in the first charla. So I took the liberty to add more. My resource was old Liahona and Ensign magazines that every missionary apartment had. I began my search with scissors and a glue stick in hand. I found some great ones and the investigators, I felt were getting a better idea of what was being taught. So instead of just this image: I also included this:     See how much better the story is told with these images? You get Joseph studying… and then God the Father and Jesus appeared while I recited “Vi una columna de luz, mas brillante que el sol…”. There were no images that explained the Book of Mormon in the flip charts so I went to the Church’s publications to find a picture of how the translation happened. This is where I totally went wrong. I searched for images of the Urim and Thummim, but I couldn’t find any. I remembered one from my youth, but I couldn’t find it any of the hundreds of magazines that were stacked in my apartment.  I did, however, find a ton of Joseph with him studying/reading the plates with either him writing or a scribe writing. I settled for these images: During the lesson, I would...

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Why God Allowed Gays to Marry

Jun 28, 15 Why God Allowed Gays to Marry

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Polygamy

It’s been a wild and crazy week! Even though states have been legalizing gay marriage throughout the individual states, the Supreme Court just made it legal in all 50 states. For many Mormons and Christians this has been a troubling dark time. How could God allow this to happen? How could we lose?  Many end of the world scenarios have already been predicted along with people thinking this was the “darkest day” in American history. It really is gloomsville for many of my Mormon friends. Over the years the LDS Church has fought so hard and have spent millions of dollars to avoid this day, but alas this day has come all the same… CHEER UP MY FELLOW BELIEVERS! This isn’t a day to be down—the Lord works in mysterious ways! Even though the family is under major attack with gays waving their flags everywhere, now a small door has opened to strengthen the true family. Because God has allowed gay marriage to happen, the true Celestial order of marriage is just right around the corner! POLYGAMY! Justice John Roberts even stated: “I … can’t help but think this decision opens the door to legal polygamy”.  Already many of the news headlines have captured this same sentiment. Just think about it: Why else would God allow for his church to spend millions of millions of dollars (est. $45 M) and time on a losing campaign instead of using those dollars to help the poor? You can also blame the LDS Church for bringing marriage equality into the public conversation. The LDS Church literally shined a spotlight when it spent millions of dollars and man/woman hours for the cause of Prop 8 in California. (Members, not the LDS Church because the organization can’t get involved in politics) We even produced a document about the family solely on the basis of fighting gay marriage. This document has now been framed and hung in millions of Mormon homes. Why have we done all this for a losing...

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The Bias is Strong With This One

May 05, 15 The Bias is Strong With This One

Posted by in Featured, Honesty, Priesthood, Racism

Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, or recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. (wikipedi) This morning while eating my breakfast, I came across a most troubling article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The headline reads: This Mormon Sunday school teacher was dismissed for using church’s own race essay in lesson. You can read it yourself here. Content warning—you will want to punch something after reading the linked article. The headline sums up the article. The teacher is asked a sincere question from the youth about the priesthood and temple ban, “To answer the teen’s inquiry, Brian Dawson turned to the Utah-based faith’s own materials, including its groundbreaking 2013 essay, “Race and the Priesthood.” His research prompted an engaging discussion with his class of 12- to 14-year-olds.”  The bishop gets word of it and tells the teacher to “agree never again to bring up the essay or discuss ‘black Mormon history’ in class”… it continues with this gem: “Dawson declined—even after believing he would be ‘released’ from teaching the class for disobedience. ‘If the [Holy] Spirit guides me in a way that involves these multitude of documents,’ he asked the bishop, ‘who am I to resist the enticing of the Spirit?’ The bishop replied, according to Dawson, ‘The Spirit is telling me to tell you not to use those documents.’ And so it went.” So what does this teach us about confirmation bias? When something crashes against our belief system or world view, we are more critical of this new evidence. When something goes along with our belief system, we tend to be less critical of it. This essay on Race and the Priesthood is published on the church’s website and by this notion has gone through some...

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When Having the Answers is the Wrong Answer

Mar 26, 15 When Having the Answers is the Wrong Answer

Posted by in Featured, Mormonism

Celebrating my son’s ninth birthday this year was extra fun. He decided to have a Star Wars birthday and I was beyond thrilled. While my wife spent the requisite hours searching Pinterest for Star Wars party ideas to entertain a crew of rowdy boys, my contribution to the party was a group of life-size Star Wars cardboard cutouts. We had all the major players – Han, Chewy, Luke, Leia, and, of course, Darth Vader. The night before the birthday party, after all the kids were finally asleep, we put the large cardboard cutouts in different areas around the house. We strategically placed Han Solo – pointing his trusty blaster – and Chewy so the kids would see them as soon as they came out of their bedroom the next morning; however, I ended up being the first one surprised by the intergalactic duo. When I was getting ready for bed, I decided to do some late-night wandering around the house while brushing my teeth. The instant I stepped out of the bathroom I was greeted by Han and Chewy, having already completely forgotten that I had set them up there myself not even an hour earlier. My body instantly went into defense mode and then my brain caught up and I laughed at myself for being so startled by my cardboard guests. Fun ensued the next day as we moved Chewy from room to room attempting to scare the sh*t out of each other. Good fun. I’m sure many have experienced similar situations of reaction. Maybe a loose thread on your shirt feels like a spider running up your arm. Your heart rate spikes and you hurriedly brush off your arm to make sure nothing is crawling on you. Or maybe you catch a glimpse of the garden hose out of the corner of your eye and mistake it for a snake (while starting to run away). It may only be for a split second, but our bodies are ready for danger – fight...

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Here Is Our Apology

Feb 02, 15 Here Is Our Apology

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Repentance

Dear Queer Mormons, We are So So Sorry. We realize that it is not within our stewardship to apologize for or in behalf of the institution that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however institutions are cold things bogged down in bureaucracy. Our Mormonism is not cold or distant, it is alive inside each of us, it dwells in our hearts, and informs our choices every day. We love the Gospel. We love our Mormon culture and people. Mormonism is our home, our family. And we know that our queer siblings do not feel the love and belonging that we owe them as a Mormon family. This last week has felt like a family disaster, like our dear sweet grandpas, who we’re used to saying old-fashioned biased things at family gatherings, just took a microphone and told the world that the whole family feels the way they feel. We disagree. We believe that our queer family deserves a sincere and heart-felt apology. . On behalf of our Mormonism, we can apologize. We are so sorry that you don’t feel safe and welcome at church. We are so sorry that you have been taught that there is something sinful about who you are. We are so sorry for the pain and rejection you have felt from your Mormon family. We are so sorry for all the practices both cultural and institutional that othered you, marginalized you, and made you feel lesser. Dear Queer Mormon family, we want you to know what we believe: We believe you are worthy of love and belonging. We believe that you are whole and perfect and exactly as our Heavenly Parents intended you to be. We believe that our Heavenly Parents want you to experience love and intimacy and have families of your own. We believe that Church should be a safe haven, where you feel loved and welcomed to come unto Christ. And we know that these are not the messages that you have received at...

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Come Support Rational Faiths at the Wheaties Awards!

Jan 30, 15 Come Support Rational Faiths at the Wheaties Awards!

Posted by in Featured

Rational Faiths has been nominated for several Wheaties Awards for Bloggernacle excellence. I know, I know, freaking awesome right? If you have a favorite, we need your help to win… because we will win a major award or something like that. Please come vote for your favorites! (click here to vote) Listed below are the categories and essays that are up for winning a Wheatie. We tried to make it easy for you to pick out the RF crew. Help us get a much needed self-confidence boost and vote! Best big Blog: Rational Faiths Best podcast: Rational Faiths Best overall blogger: Lori Burkman Funniest thread: The Old Testament: There’s better books out there By Viliami Pauni Funniest thread: There are Better Cheapo Mormon Halloween Costumes By Thomas Hatton Best satire: LDS Marriage 2012 By Geoff Nelson Best satire: A Letter to a Liberal Mormon By Michael Barker Best series: The Milgram Experiment By Geoff Nelson Best series: Natural Gods By Jonathan Cannon Best feminism post: “Why aren’t the Women Included in This?” by Lori Burkman Best feminism post: Tears for the unordained women in my life by Viliami Pauni Best apologetic post: Tale of Two Chapels By Melissa Inouye Best apologetic post: Jeremy Runnells–the New Expert on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy? By Brian Hales Best apologetic post: What the Hell did Joseph mean by Translation? By Michael Barker Best spiritual post: Life Interrupted  By Jeremy Timothy Best spiritual post: The Spirit of God By Leah Marie Silverman Best doctrinal post: Disgracing God to Save a Prophet By Lori Burkman Best doctrinal post: Peace on Earth By Patrick mason Best doctrinal post: The Doctrine of Celibacy By Thomas Montgomery Best doctrinal post: Tiamat and the Atonement By Michael Barker Best doctrinal post: Why the Priesthood and Temple Ban Was Wrong By Paul Barker Best doctrinal post: Who is your God? By Paul Barker Best personal post: Never Let me Go  By Leah Marie Silverman Best personal post: Infertility. Sometimes it hurts to be a Mormon By Camille Pickren Best personal post: From Whom Do Your Blessings Come By Michael Barker Best personal post: A Circle, Unbroken By Janan Graham Best personal post: I Hope They Don’t Ask Me about My Mission By L. Thomas Best faith crisis post: When the Levee Breaks By Lori Burkman Best faith...

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Polygamy, Really?

Oct 24, 14 Polygamy, Really?

Posted by in Featured, Polygamy

Really? God sent an angel with a sword to Joseph Smith to tell him about polygamy(1)? Is that what we are going with? Are we all ok with that? If God is in the business of sending angels down, wouldn’t it be nice if he sent Joseph a message that was more useful than say the terrible practice of polygamy? I know, I know, “God works in mysterious ways”, but I can’t help myself of thinking of some useful things that could have been revealed in this moment. If I was in the business of sending messages to humans via angels with a sword this would have been my wish list of realistic messages: 1. Wash your hands after using the bathroom. 2. Wash your hands before preparing food. 3. Anyone in the medical field should wash their hands and sterilize instruments before performing any actions. 4. Floss. 5. Boil water before drinking it. 6. Do not cough into your hand, rather cough in your elbow. 7.  When preparing chicken, wash off area where chicken was prepared with hot water and soap. 8.  People of any color besides white are not cursed – AT ALL, they are to be seen and treated as equals. 9. Slavery is evil. 10. Women should be seen and treated as equals. (this one might be a tough one for the time period, but maybe move out to the rocky mountains to practice this one). 11.  Garments are to be worn only in the temple. 12. Polygamy should not be practiced, for it will cause your death, the death of your brother and the persecution of your followers. 13. One should never marry any person under the age of 18. 14. Take care of the poor before worrying about missionary work, who is or isn’t baptized, sins, who committed sins or who is “worthy”. 15. Again with the cursing, there is no such thing, there is no color curse at all. 16. Apostles shouldn’t be called for life to avoid major health issues. 17. You should...

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BYU-I: All Aboard the Crazy Train

Sep 18, 14 BYU-I: All Aboard the Crazy Train

Posted by in Featured, Gospel Topics, Modesty, Obedience

This little gem came across my Facebook feed this afternoon. It has already gotten a lot of buzz so I thought I would throw in my two cents, since I am alumni. President Clark is the president of BYU-Idaho located in Rexburg, Idaho. This is what he wrote on his Facebook page:       Go ahead and read it again, I’ll wait here for you. All ready? So let’s just go through this bit by bit. BYU-Idaho does have a dress and grooming standards that ALL students have agreed upon before entering the school. It is a requirement to sign this agreement or “Honor Code” to attend this school. That being said, this is all wrong – along with this dress and grooming standards. His statement is terrible because it lacks understanding and compassion. He doesn’t know these students and he doesn’t know why they are dressed this way. Was the non-clean shaven man up late the night before taking care of a sick roommate? We don’t know and neither does President Clark. All he knows is that these men are not obedient. Since they can’t be obedient with something so trivial, something so small, who knows what is happening when he goes home! He is probably touching pink parts with his girlfriend!!!!! SINNERS! ALL OF THEM! This is the culture of obedience. This is the culture of the Pharisees. It’s time to revisit the archaic “standards” so we can get rid of this culture and get some hair where God himself put it and also where He wears it very well. If Jesus can’t even obey these “standards” it might be time to reconsider them. It’s time to get off this train! “The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism. Longhairs, beards, necklaces, LSD and rock, Big...

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The Word of Wisdom: We are Doing it All Wrong

Aug 13, 14 The Word of Wisdom: We are Doing it All Wrong

Posted by in Featured, Word of Wisdom

A couple of years ago I wrote a series of posts about revelation, specifically about revelation or inspiration received through a human filter. Part of the series was a three-part post in which I dissected the Word of Wisdom (through my own filter, obviously). You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.  In those posts I related how the Word of Wisdom was a product of Joseph’s time and his worldview and perspectives. Today, most Mormons believe that the Word of Wisdom consists of abstaining from coffee, tea (green and black), alcohol (excluding Nyquil), and tobacco. Although the Word of Wisdom does not specifically mention illegal drugs, they are on the blacklist today too. I think it would be fair to include the abuse of legal drugs also. I don’t think there is an official church stance on medical marijuana. If I’m wrong, please post a comment and the source. First and foremost, the Word of Wisdom was intended as counsel, not as a commandment: D&C 89:2 “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint…” But somehow, over time, the intention changed. The culture changed. Things got specific… 89:9 “…hot drinks are not for the body or belly.” What exactly does this mean? Well, it evolved from literally not drinking anything hot – including soup – to just not drinking coffee and tea (green and black tea). If you ask Mormons why those two things are singled out, most will rattle off something about caffeine (while slurping down their ice-cold Diet Cokes). Fortunately, the church recently stated that caffeine is in fact not part of the Word of Wisdom. All closet Diet Coke drinkers breathed a sigh of relief and felt worthy again. Dr. Peppers on the house! When the church’s statement about caffeine came out, I got the sense that we as a people want to be commanded in all things. We want to be told what is good and what is bad. For a lot of people...

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