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12 March 2012

Legal Issues Surrounding the Church and Proposition 8

March 11, 2012


Recently, a public figure has been quoted by several news publications saying that the LDS (Mormon) church was, in connection with the campaign for California’s Proposition 8, “convicted” of “13 counts of election fraud.” This claim is false. Responsible news outlets and commentators should stop repeating it.

Those making the accusation use the terms “guilty” and “election fraud” either ignorantly or deceptively. “Guilty” implies a criminal charge, or at least a loss at trial on a civil matter. “Election fraud” is a specific act which must include intent to defraud and deliberate misleading of authorities. The California Fair Political Practices Commission, which handled the LDS church’s non-compliance, specifically states that a violation of the Political Reform Act cannot be election fraud. The FPPC never called the church’s actions “fraud” or anything close to it. Actual election fraud would have been handled in a completely different manner, including criminal charges and a trial or guilty plea.


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A primer on Mormon priesthood

March 11, 2012


Recently, news reports have identified individuals as holding priesthood offices in the Mormon (LDS) church. Titles mentioned have included “Bishop,” “Stake President,” and “Priest.” Many may have assumed that because some Mormon priesthood titles are the same as titles used by other faiths, the offices must be similar in terms of requirements, selection, and authority. This is usually not correct.

Mormon priesthood is not limited to a few chosen leaders, but is available to any Mormon male who affirms obedience to basic moral standards, faith in God, and belief in the truth claims of the LDS church. He can be ordained a Deacon at age 12, a Teacher at age 14, a Priest at age 16, an Elder at age 18 or later, and a High Priest later in life. These offices are focused on performance of certain congregation duties, individual character, and service, but do not confer authority to speak or act for the church in general. A given congregation (or “ward,” containing about 300-500 members) may contain several Priests, all of whom are teenagers.


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Understanding the Book of Mormon’s teachings on race

March 11, 2012


Recently, individuals curious about Mormonism and eager to ensure that members of minority races are protected have tried to learn what the Book of Mormon has to say about race. They have found passages relating to a group that “was cursed” with a “skin of blackness” and are concerned that this means Mormons see non-whites as defective, lesser people. This is not true.

The Book of Mormon’s most direct teaching on the status of different races in God’s sight is in 2 Nephi 26:33: “[The Lord] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” Clearly, the Book of Mormon teaches that race, gender, and belief have nothing to do with one’s worth to God.


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What’s Mormon got to do with it?

March 12, 2012

The DePaulia (Illinois)

The official name of the church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They have been nicknamed “Mormons” because of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith was a prophet who is believed to have restored the Christian faith. After Jesus died, Mormons believe that the church headed in the wrong direction and Smith helped restore the Christian Church.

The angel, Moroni, led Smith to a hill in Manchester, New York. This is where he found the golden plates (Book of Mormon) which he translated into English.

According to beliefnet.com, there are 11 million members worldwide and five million in the U.S.


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Pro-Rick Santorum pastor slams Mitt Romney’s religion

March 11, 2012

The State Column (Arkansas)

Reverend O’Neal Dozier, an African American Rick Santorum supporter from Florida, held a press conference Sunday calling upon Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to renounce his Mormon religion.

Mr. Dozier’s request is regarding several racially motivated passages in the Book of Mormon, that have been called out by other African American leaders previously in the race.

One verse in the Book of Mormon discusses the “cursing the black African people,” and Mr. Dozier also notes that their are prejudiced passages against Jews and Native Americans as well.


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Santorum-Endorsing Pastor Calls on Romney to Renounce His ‘Racist Religion’

March 11, 2012

New York Magazine

The very first stop for Rick Santorum’s campaign in Florida (where he came in third) was at Pompano Beach’s WorldWide Christian Center, headed by the Reverend O’Neal Dozier, who was also his honorary Florida chairman. A noted anti-homosexual preacher, Dozier announced yesterday that he’d be holding a Sunday morning press conference to “ask Governor Mitt Romney to renounce his racist religion.” Citing verses in the Book of Mormon that accuse God of “cursing the black African people,” Dozier also attacked Romney’s church for being “prejudiced against Jews” and Native Americans. He also pointed to the highly controversial practice of posthumous baptisms. (In response to criticisms, the Mormon leadership has blocked off the names of Holocaust survivors in its extensive genealogical database.)

Because of the aforementioned facts, we believe that a Romney Presidential nomination for the Republican Party would widen the racial divide to a point of no return, because the Republican Party would be viewed as a racist political party.


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Melvyn L. Fein: Romney’s religion off-putting to rural evangelicals

March 12, 2012

Marietta Daily Journal (Georgia)

My wife provided what I think is the key. She was raised as an evangelical in rural Ohio. In fact, Santorum carried the county in which her parents have their farm. According to Linda, she met no Jews growing up. The few she knew about were doctors and lawyers. Nonetheless, they were not the ordinary folks with whom one regularly rubbed shoulders. As such, they were exotic. It was difficult for her neighbors to identify with them

This put me in mind of the fact that there are few Mormons in rural evangelical areas. As a consequence, they too would seem exotic. While the doctrines of the Mormon Church may strike many Christians as strange, it is probably more important that they have little contact with real live Mormons.


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Romney’s religion

March 12, 2012

Toledo Blade (Ohio)

Voters, media, and his opponents have a right and a duty to question Mr. Romney’s position on any issue, and to ask whether his policies are the right prescription for America. But his personal beliefs ought to be a matter for him and his conscience. Mormons have been Democrats and Republicans, governors and senators, excellent public servants and some who were less so, as is true of politicians of every faith.

It may be regrettably necessary for Mr. Romney to do what candidate Kennedy did: deliver a major speech making clear that his faith would be no handicap to the performance of his duties as president. Mr. Romney may even wish to dissociate himself from members of his church who offend Jews and other people by inappropriately and posthumously “baptizing” victims of the Nazi Holocaust into the Mormon faith.


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What LDS baptism for the dead is and isn’t

March 12, 2012

Get Religion

In my guilt files are several stories about the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead. Many stories have just done an inadequate job of explaining this doctrine and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There’s this Huffington Post piece which said:

In 2002, the managing director of the Mormon’s family and church history department told The New Yorker magazine that as many as 200 million dead people had been baptized as Mormons.

Well, no. As the reader who submitted it to us said, indicating skepticism that the managing director’s actual views were being conveyed, “Proxy baptisms DON’T make dead people Mormons. It never has and it never will, other than maybe in the minds of non-Mormons who don’t hold the same beliefs as Mormons. In a crude nutshell: It does the paperwork for the dead, but the dead still have to sign on the dotted line.”


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Former Huntsman Aide Warns Obama: Don’t Target Romney’s Mormonism

March 11, 2012

Utah Pulse

In a Guardian op-ed, James Richardson, a former aide to Jon Huntsman, warns the Obama campaign not to try and exploit the “weirdness factor” of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, which thus far hasn’t been a liability for Romney among GOP primary voters.

Should Romney earn his party’s nomination, Mormons will find their greatest challenge lies not in softening the temperaments of Southern evangelicals, but combating the brewing offensive of the incumbent. Campaign aides to the president began last year stoking latent concerns over Romney with the promise to spotlight his “weirdness factor”.

For a party itching to reclaim the executive, Republicans could ask for no better election season gift than the transparent intonation of dark perversity in Romney’s alleged weirdness, no more fortunate foil. America will not find Romney’s faith – shared by 6 million other Americans and defined by a threefold mission to preach, purify and provide for the needy – weird or eerily distinct from from the mainstream religious landscape.


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America has moved on from Romney’s Mormonism

March 8, 2012

The Guardian (United Kingdom)

And though he’s been buffeted for years now with the expectation that evangelicals and independents alike could not be reconciled to voting en masse for a Mormon, the theological contours of his bid grew sharper still this week – with a furor over an obscure Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints rite, whereby deceased persons are posthumously baptized. Recently discovered genealogical records indicate that Mormon proxy baptisms were performed on Anne Frank and Simon Wiesenthal. Even Mahatma Gandhi and England’s Princess Diana allegedly received the treatment.

You’ll find no argument from this former aide to Jon Huntsman, himself a prominent Mormon: it’s a curious practice. Even weird, as allies of the president’s re-election campaign will whisper this fall.

But is the ambiguity of Mormon otherness – the incalculable theological idiosyncrasies and insular nature of this distinctly American upstart – enough to sour the election prospects of the faith’s most prominent member? Not by half.


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New primary rules help everyone but Romney: Mitt’s wins just don’t count

March 12, 2012

Washington Times

Wins in states with a bunch of Mormons don’t count.

Angry Newt insinuated, after Romney’s win in Nevada, that the heavily Mormon state was unfairly favorable to Romney. Discounting wins in Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho by implication, Gingrich’s rule, in effect, says that Romney can’t appeal to religious voters in his claim for the GOP nomination.

Meanwhile, Santorum has racked up wins in evangelical-heavy Colorado, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee by stressing his spirituality and interest in socially conservative issues. Romney, incidentally, won a majority of Catholic votes in Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio, and his Arizona win was secure without Mormons.

Gingrich is making his last stand in the Deep South, where Mormonism doesn’t play as well. Mormon votes are unfair when they go for Romney, but religious voters are highly prized when they’re not so…Mormon.


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More than Half of Mississippi GOP Primary Voters Believe the President is Muslim

March 12, 2012

Religion Dispatches

The poll didn’t ask these voters if they believe the Mormon Romney is a Christian, which would have been a telling and fascinating data point since evangelical anti-Mormonism is thought to be more pronounced in the South. But it did ask whether they believe President Obama is a Christian, and only 14% did, with 45% saying they believe he is a Muslim. These numbers are more pronounced among evangelicals, with only 9% of evangelical likely Republican voters in Alabama believing the president is a Christian. Fifty percent–half of all the voters in the Alabama GOP primary–believe the president is a Muslim.


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President Holland Speaks on Understanding

March 12, 2012

UVU Review (Utah)

President Holland was invited to speak in Washington D.C. at a conference Feb. 25 titled, “At the Crossroads, Again: Mormon and Protestant Encounters”.

As part of the session “Religion and American Political Culture,” Pres. Holland emphasized the idea that despite religious and cultural differences, people can find common ground if they practice charity and good faith.

President Holland was in D.C. for fundraising and was invited to speak by Brian Birch, UVU’s Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and member of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. The session included Senator Bob Bennett and Shaun Casey, author of “Making of a Catholic President”.


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A Sense of Humor?!

March 12, 2012


Two takeaways: Romney has an acute sense of humor, and it operates most often at his own expense. Hey, any Mormon who can joke about polygamy knows something about self-deprecation.


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Coffee Is an Essential Benefit Too

March 12, 2012

Wall Street Journal

Republicans might argue that requiring Mormon charities to serve coffee is a violation of “religious liberty” since the Mormon church’s doctrine proscribes coffee, but this argument is a red herring. Leading medical experts recommend drinking coffee. Moreover, 99% of adults have drunk coffee at one point in their lives (including most Mormons).


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Goldman Looks West for New Flock

March 9, 2012


Goldman likes Utah because of its low corporate tax rates, comparatively inexpensive compensation costs and access to multilingual staff (Mormons spend time abroad on missions and learn languages as a result).

So far, Goldman employees in the state are accountants, analysts, quants and other operations-types. But the firm wants to hire investment bankers eventually to service potential IPOs in the region.

If you’ve had your fill of New York doldrums in the hiring market, you might want to check out “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway and pack your bags during intermission.


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NOTE: This is posted for those who are interested in keeping abreast what is being said around the world about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. MormonVoices cannot and does not guarantee the validity or truthfulness of any information reported. The responsibility for the interpretation and use of this information lies with the reader. As all information comes from other news sources and has not been independently verified, MormonVoices cannot guarantee or be responsible for the security of links in the clipping service. MormonVoices will attempt as much as possible to exclude news articles containing strongly offensive language or which lead to offensive images, but cannot guarantee that some will not slip through.

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