About Rhett Wilkinson

Rhett is a writer whose work has been seen in USA TODAY, ESPN and the Pew Forum. He's a Batman and Utah Jazz fan who believes in religious trauma syndrome. Reach him on Twitter @rhettrites or via email: rhett.wilkinson@yahoo.com.

‘Gov. Herbert has created his own rock and hard place’ (Rhett Wilkinson, in USA TODAY)

I wrote the following op-ed and it was picked up by USA TODAY:

USA TODAY

Gov. Gary Herbert used the term “let us reason together” when suggesting that the outdoor retailer shows were in the wrong in leaving over Herbert and Utah politicians’ land grab efforts.

One must wonder if he realized that Utahns might find it reasonable for the shows to leave given that the land grab efforts, in one case, would have cost $14 million (a lawsuit); in another, was not considerate enough of tribal concerns (the Public Lands Initiative); and in a third, were trying to undo something that had already been done (a resolution to President Trump — from a different level of government — to rescind former President Obama’s Bears Ears designation) when that act of undoing (reversing national monument designations) has never even been done before.

Or at the least, Herbert realized that Utahns would frown on a major economic driver leaving town, one that brought 40,000 visitors and $45 million to the state each year.

The cards against him, Herbert did what tyrants have done: Deploy religious rhetoric to manipulate deep convictions for political gain. “Let us reason together” comes from Isaiah 1 of the Judeo-Christian world and a form of that phrase is found in Mormon scripture (D&C 50). Surely, he must have known that even if Utahns generally weren’t going to absolutely hammer him, the highest-profile and most influential of business leaders would.

This must certainly include Scott Anderson, the Zions Bank CEO, so powerful in Utah that he may as well be another powerful politician. But Anderson is also a devout Latter-day Saint — those close to him have said that he will leave his Zions post only after he is assigned as an LDS mission president. Anderson runs a bank that has had church association.

Gary Herbert trying to manipulate the Scott Andersons. Boy. I’d say that’s sad for Herbert, except in his policy approach and communications on this affair, he created his own rock and hard place.

Rhett Wilkinson lives in Centerville. He was a staffer on Herbert’s 2012 re-election campaign and interned in the governor’s communications office.

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Maher’s Mormon motive? My question in The Salt Lake Tribune

maher

Self-proclaimed secularist celebrity Bill Maher said that he would become Mormon if Mitt Romney became president. Why did he say that?

As I wrote in The Salt Lake Tribune:

“Bill Maher said that he would consider becoming Mormon if Mitt Romney was president. Convenient that he said that on the eve of performing in Mormon haven Utah. Get the crowd invested?

Rhett Wilkinson

Centerville”

Political burnings in Utah: check out what happened, live-tweet style

(Twitter: @rhettrites)

Would you like to know what happened at the

– Village Square Utah “Climate on Climate” “Living Room Conversation?”
– Utah climate change resolution in a House committee?
– Mental health rally at the Utah Capitol?
– Food tax press conference from Crossroads Urban Center?
– Utah’s Trailblazing Women event?
– Standing Rock eviction rally at the City & County building?
– HEAL Utah/Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment clean air meeting at Westminster College?
– Envision Utah public feedback forum at Thanksgiving Point?
– HEAL Utah annual board meeting?
– Salt Lake Oasis event in which folks heard Mormon Stories founder John Dehlin’s confessions?
– Committee hearings on Utah bills that arguably handcuff OBGYNs, would “ban the box” for convicts looking for work and remove weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers?
– Decriminalization of polygamy rally at Utah’s Capitol?
– U.S. Army general presentation for a Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy lecture?

All of this happened in roughly the past two weeks, and I live-tweeted at each!

I would share screenshots of my live tweets at these events, but WordPress isn’t letting me.

So, I invite you to check out @rhettrites on Twitter to learn what happened!

Thank you!

Rhett

Image may contain: 1 person, meme and text

I heard them on NPR. Then I realized: I’d interviewed all of them myself.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CeKFELjWwAEByzK.jpg

This guy, a top business executive in America, joined a U.S. senator and former CIA director as stakeholders I have interviewed in the past and now have enjoyed attention on National Public Radio or an affiliate. (Traeger Grills)

A whole lot has been written about Jeremy Andrus since the turn of the calendar year, what with his success leading Traeger Grills after building Skullcandy. (Read: for example, he was named the Utah Business CEO of the Year after being featured in Forbes.)

I’ll humbly say that I was one of the first to report on his leadership of the innovative grill company, when its global headquarters were established in one of the cities that I covered as a reporter for a Salt Lake City-based newspaper.

That was just the beginning in terms of folks I have interviewed who have recently rode the biggest airwaves.

Andrus was referenced last week in a story by the National Public Radio affiliate of Salt Lake. I also enjoyed hearing on NPR last week from Leon Panetta and Steve Daines. Panetta is the former is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Daines is a U.S. senator. It was awesome for me to realize that I had interviewed all three just more than a year apart in my journalism career.

I would share the Panetta and Daines stories, but they are archived only in print. But here’s the digital Andrus story:

Company led by former Skullcandy CEO moves global headquarters to Sugar House

By Rhett Wilkinson

Traeger Pellet Grills is about creativity. So is Sugar House.

But the commonality is merely one reason why the counter-culture city is a “great place” for the innovative grill company to relocate its global headquarters, a Treager executive said.

“Traeger is an outdoor cooking brand, and outdoor cooking, by nature, is about creativity and in particular, the outdoors,” Vice President of Marketing Sean Laughlin said. “We felt that Sugar House is a great place for us to be located based upon the diversity, the creativity, and the value placed in outdoor spaces that this neighborhood provides.”

The company made the move from Portland this week into a 28,000-square foot location in the 1215 Wilmington Building, where more than 100 employees will be based, according to a press release.

The decision-maker was Jeremy Andrus, Traeger CEO and former top man at Skullcandy.

“We’re thrilled to be relocating our company’s global headquarters from Oregon to the great state of Utah,” Andrus said. “We’re looking forward to building another great brand right here at home and to being a contributing member of the community. We’ve been hard at work building a new, unique office in Sugar House that will reflect the DNA of our brand and inspire our team and our customers alike. The design concept connects people to our product with elements of reclaimed wood from both of our homes – Oregon and now Utah – fire, steel, and sophisticated electronics.”

Read more at ValleyJournals.com.

Pontifications at Utah’s independent newspaper

city-weekly

I’m admittedly proud to have been featured in the Staff Box for City Weekly, Utah’s independent newspaper, for seven straight weeks. Staff Box usually features commentary on contemporary issues!

Links to other staff comments and companion articles are below:

“What are your plans for January 20?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/trumps-words/Content?oid=3583149

“If you got invited to sing at Trump’s inauguration, which song would you perform?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/singin-in-the-rain/Content?oid=3579930

“What’s the worst thing that could happen if Utah legalized marijuana?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/gone-to-pot/Content?oid=3572461

“What is your New Year’s wish for our country?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/voting-in-the-past-election/Content?oid=3566787

“Let’s flip the switch. What would you gift Santa Claus?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/odds-and-ends/Content?oid=3561173

“Who would you award a Nobel Prize to and for what?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/ignoble/Content?oid=3553987

“What would you give President-elect Donald Trump for Christmas?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/im-dreaming-of-a-white-supremacist-christmas/Content?oid=3548801

This woman was one of many sexually assaulted at BYU. Now she’s a student at rival Utah — and rooted against the Cougars

byu_rape_honor_code

Madeline MacDonald now attends the University of Utah and rooted against her former school, BYU, after the Mormon church-owned school pointed fingers at her after she was sexually assaulted. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Editor’s note: this story was written in advance of the 2016 Utah-BYU football game.
Madeline MacDonald attended Brigham Young University.
Then, she was sexually assaulted at the school.
Now, she goes to the University of Utah.
So she’ll be wearing red this Saturday, as the Utes and Cougars clash in football in Salt Lake City.
So will her family. It is a rather big change for them considering that her mom sang the Cougar fight song to MacDonald in their Seattle home, to wake her for school.
“You know that part where they sang ‘rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah — gggoooo… Cougars!?” Madeline asked. “She sang that while rubbing my shoulders.”
The sexual assault revelations from BYU since the spring may be just one reason why this year’s version of the rivalry is the biggest BYU-Utah game in some time. This matchup is the rivalry’s biggest since the Utes showed that they could compete against the Cougars in 1993, according to Jorge Iber, a history professor at Texas Tech University who specializes in United States sports. That year marked when a 55-yard field goal from Chris Yergensen at game’s end concluded a stretch in which Utah, in 21 prior consecutive contests, had lost 19 times. (In the next 21, it won 15.)
 
A conversion
At first, MacDonald thought that the rapists and BYU’s honor code were merely bad apples in the Mormon church-owned school. Then she learned the issues went to the top – even to president Kevin Worthen, who knew about sexual assaults at his school for years but kept quiet about it, she said.
“I didn’t even make it a year before I was sexually assaulted,” she said. “And I thought I was getting this special unique thing (in attending BYU). It was worth going to the school with a program that wasn’t the best for my major or going into a desert – I don’t like deserts – and then I learned like it was anything else.”
MacDonald is especially disgusted that, in her mind, BYU put football over people. Over women, since potential lost funding for BYU over a violation of Title IX rules could inversely affect its athletic programs, including football; over the LGBTQIA community, because of the Big 12’s possible concern about an LGBTQIA non-discrimination policy. BYU does not have one and it may keep them from being invited to the Big 12, one of a handful of titanic football leagues in American known as the Power 5.
“They want the publicity (through football) so that everyone can become Mormons,” MacDonald said. “It was shocking to me… there was no deeper morals. It came to protecting the public image.”
The Washington native transferred to the U. largely because she wanted to stay in the state, where she has a strong support group. She applied late, but the admissions office made special exceptions for her. They almost hung up the phone but pulled an end-around, she said, after she told them her story. Many personnel have helped her with getting as many resources as possible, a major difference from at BYU.
“There, they said ‘wait, wait. We are going to investigate you,” she said. “(At the U.), even people I didn’t know sought where they could help and have really gone the extra mile to see that I’m comfortable at the U., and that’s been really special.”
MacDonald feels bad that the student-athletes in Provo, including Taysom Hill, the starting quarterback who has fought back from repeated serious injuries, must represent a school so problematic.
“It’s funny – it feels so strange to be seeing all of these things on Facebook and not have it be my team anymore,” she said a month after being admitted to the U. “Who cared about the Utes?”

I have two blogs: one about the institutional LDS Church, the other about “Star Wars.”

I’ve enjoyed doing what I should have done for a couple of years: writing blogs. It’s been a blast to explore the institutional LDS Church and “Star Wars” through bloggernacleblog.com and starwars7.org, respectively.

See below for explanations of each of the blogs:

(bloggernacleblog.com)

Resolution: 1 (I). Declaration of the institutional problems of the LDS Church

search your feelings

Whereas the institutional LDS Church has not valued the dignity and worth of all persons and marginalized segments of membership,

Whereas the author, with other church members and stakeholders, believes that the church is institutionally not observing the basic Christian message,

Whereas mankind owes to humanity the importance of decrying policies and practices that violate that message,

Now therefore,

the author

Proclaims this Bloggernacle Blog to the end that the institutional LDS Church may better observe that message.

1st plenary couch-sit

12 November 2015

(starwars7.org)

Resolution: 1 (I). ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

this is the world in one week

This was the world on December 18, when “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released. (Disney)

Whereas the most anticipated movie in film history (since another “Star Wars”) is upon us,

Whereas that movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered records globally,

Whereas planet Earth generally reacted with great emotion to the return of the greatest mythology of our time,

Now therefore,

the author

Proclaims StarWars7.org to the end that explorations of the film are satisfied.

1st plenary couch-sit

10 December 2015