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16 March 2012

What Slowdown? The Mormons Are Building a Mega-Mall

March 16, 2012

Bloomberg Businessweek

Mall construction has screeched to a near-halt across the country, with stores such as Sears (SHLD) and Gap (GPS) shuttering hundreds of locations. But in Salt Lake City the future of retail is bright: On March 22, a 700,000-square-foot mega-mall will open in the city’s heart. Construction was funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

City Creek Center is the nation’s only regional mega-mall slated to open this year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, and more than 90 stores and restaurants are moving in. One-third of the retailers are new to Salt Lake City, including Tiffany & Co. (TIF:US) and Coach (COH:US). Nordstrom (JWN:US) and Macy’s (M:US) are also on board.

Designed by the Church’s real estate arm, City Creek Center is replete with a retractable sunroof, a man-made creek, and fountains that spew fire and water. Apart from elaborate design features, the redevelopment project–estimated by the Mormon-run Desert News to have cost roughly $1 billion–includes offices, condos, apartments, and 5,000 underground parking spots. The mixed-use project is owned and run by mall operator Taubman Centers, which has a long-term lease and revenue-sharing agreement with the LDS Church. Stores will be closed on Sundays.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-16/what-slowdown-the-mormons-are-building-a-mega-mall

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More than a ‘Mormon moment’

March 15, 2012

Washington Post

History has not recorded the name of the journalist who created the phrase, “the Mormon moment.”

The originator may have been a headline writer for U.S. News and World Report who, back in November of 2000, used “Mormon Moment” as the label for a story triggered by a new Mormon temple in Houston. The church’s growth, according to the story’s author, reporter Jeff Sheler, was “a tangible sign of the rising fortunes of this uniquely American religious movement …the Salt Lake City-based church is finding a home in the least likely places, from Houston to Helsinki, and from Tampa to Tokyo.”

So here is my invitation to serious journalists. Get to know us, properly. Drop into our services, talk to our people, have dinner with a local leader, spend a family home evening with a family, be present when a young soon-to-be missionary opens his or her “call letter” and learns where they will be spending the next couple of years. Join with us on a service project. And then, when you have scratched the surface in this way, closely observe the transformation of people’s lives outside the church as missionaries teach them and they go through the conversion process. Watch those who transition from attitudes of hopelessness to lives of purpose and meaning and learn new ways to follow Jesus Christ. Talk to a Mormon bishop –our version of the local pastor, but who is unpaid for their volunteer work –as he helps people grapple with problems of addiction or shaky marriages or unemployment. Examine the doctrine – not through the simplistic
“us and them” comparisons that we see so often, but in ways that explain how the doctrine of the church influences behavior.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/more-than-a-mormon-moment/2012/03/15/gIQA8pHlES_blog.html

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Romney’s religion shines light on Mormon food storage practices

March 15, 2012

Public Radio International

As Mitt Romney moves forward in the political campaign, it’s been an opportunity for Americans to learn about the Mormon church. In a recent article in The New York Times, some Mormons wondered whether the Romneys would have a food storage supply in the White House, in keeping with a practice encouraged by the church.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or Mormons) are urged to keep at least a three month supply of food and water, cash and a 72 hour emergency kit.

If Mitt Romney were to become president, the first Mormon to do so, would his family set up a food storage facility at the White House? That’s one of the questions that came up recently when the New York Times ran a story about Mormon cuisine.

Kathleen Flake, associate professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University and a Mormon herself, said she keeps an emergency backpack kit and said her food storage tends towards canned food and the freeze-dried “space age” kind.

http://www.pri.org/stories/politics-society/religion/romney-s-religion-shines-light-on-mormon-food-storage-practices-8950.html

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Shea’s success helps land ‘Book of Mormon’

March 16, 2012

Buffalo News (New York)

To cap off its 25th season of Broadway musicals, Shea’s Performing Arts Center is bringing the most popular show to hit Broadway in recent memory. “Book of Mormon,” the breathless, outrageous and profanity-laden send-up of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and composer Robert Lopez, will come to Shea’s for a one-week run on June 11, 2013. The “Book of Mormon” tour, one of only two small-market engagements in the tour’s first year (the other is in Rochester) will conclude perhaps the most buzzworthy season of Broadway musicals in the theater’s storied history.

http://www.buffalonews.com/entertainment/gusto/theater/theater-previews/article764649.ece

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Denominations take different paths to missionary work

March 15, 2012

USA Today

Jake Pulsipher’s first day as a working missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began at 6:30 a.m. on a recent Tuesday with prayer and exercise, followed by breakfast and study.

Then he put on a black suit, white shirt, and red tie, along with his official name tag, and headed out to knock on doors and tell people about Jesus. In doing so, he became the latest of 20,000 Mormon missionaries in the United States.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-03-13/baptist-mormon-missionaries/53553360/1

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Missionaries have distinct takes on work

March 15, 2012

Tucson Citizen (Arizona)

Jake Pulsipher’s first day as a working missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began at 6:30 a.m. on a recent Tuesday with prayer and exercise, followed by breakfast and study.

Then he put on a black suit, white shirt, and red tie, along with his official name tag, and headed out to knock on doors and tell people about Jesus. In doing so, he became the latest of 20,000 Mormon missionaries in the United States.

http://tucsoncitizen.com/usa-today-news/2012/03/15/missionaries-have-distinct-takes-on-work/

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Lahaina Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints building new home

March 15, 2012

Lahaina News (Hawaii)

With a burgeoning congregation of over 1,000 parishioners, the Lahaina Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints celebrated the groundbreaking of their new West Side location above the Lahaina Gateway Center two weeks ago.

First Ward Bishop Sione Olevao reported that the new church location will be three times bigger on a lot of almost three acres, compared to the .79-acre lot for the current facility fronting Honoapiilani Highway at Wahikuli.

“We’ve just been growing and growing over the recent years, and this new location will really relieve the crowding we’re experiencing now down at the current church location. Especially with parking, it will be a more comfortable situation for everyone. Throughout the years, our neighbors down there have been so accommodating and gracious about letting us park on the street in front of their houses. Now, there will be plenty of parking.”

http://www.lahainanews.com/page/content.detail/id/507957/Lahaina-Church-of-Jesus-Christ-of-Latter-Day-Saints-building-new-home.html?nav=19

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Mitt Romney Reflects ‘Mormon Culture’ Of Moderation, Expert Says

March 15, 2012

Huffington Post

Mitt Romney has called himself “severely conservative” but an expert on religion and politics said the Republican presidential front-runner, a Mormon, is a product of “Mormon culture,” which contains “a real strain of moderation and pragmatism” on issues like same-sex relationships, abortion and immigration.

David Campbell, co-author of “Amazing Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said at a policy briefing Thursday that “the moderation you see in Romney the candidate, and I suppose in Romney the governor of Massachusetts, I would say pretty nicely reflects what you see in the public opinion polls of the rank and file of the Mormon community.”

A recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report, “Mormons in America,” found church members are quite conservative compared to the general public, yet Campbell said it “will come as a surprise to many audiences” that Mormons are actually moderate when it comes to many hot-button issues.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/mitt-romney-mormon_n_1349081.html?ref=elections-2012

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Nearly 90 Percent of Mormons Tithe Regularly, Researchers Confirm

March 15, 2012

Christian Post

Nearly 90 percent of Mormons reported tithing regularly, new research shows. Researchers who presented their findings on the charitable habits of members of the Church of Jesus Church of Latter-day Saints are confident in the reliability of the responses from Mormons surveyed.

Ram Cnaan, director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research for the University of Pennsylvania, told The Christian Post that although his research did not verify the responses from Mormons surveyed, other studies indicated that the data could be trusted.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/nearly-90-percent-of-mormons-tithe-regularly-researchers-confirm-71529/

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Bigot Chris Matthews’ War On Catholics And Mormons

March 15, 2012

Investors Business Daily

Imagine the uproar if Rush Limbaugh had called Islam a cult. Yet there was Matthews, whose legs once twitched at every word coming from Barack Obama’s teleprompter, telling fellow MSNBC left-winger Ed Schultz in the presence of the Rev. Al Sharpton that the GOP has “two RCs — Roman Catholics — running and a Mormon, so three cultists running.”

http://news.investors.com/article/604492/201203151750/chris-matthews-calls-republicans-mormon-and-catholic-cultists.htm

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Chris Matthews Fires Back: ‘Glenn Beck Is A Nincompoop’ Who Misunderstood ‘Cult’ Comment

March 15, 2012

Mediaite

I talked the other night about the Catholic as well as the Mormon religion being viewed as “cults” in the South. I talked about the fact that many who hold this view are voting for Mitt Romney because they view President Obama as a Muslim. Beck, either out of stupidity, hardness of hearing, or malice, said that I was calling my religion and the Mormon religion a cult. I make Beck’s dishonesty a matter of record because sometimes people hearing something from even someone like Beck and take it as having an element of truth. Well, everyone who watches me knows I’ve never said a word critical of the LDS religion or my own. I’ve taken on members of our religions, and will continue to do so.

Beck is out there saying something absurd — that I don’t believe in my own religion. He is saying something about me that I resent more: that I’ve ever said anything about the Mormon faith. The fact is, I owe my start in politics to a couple of wonderful people of that faith.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/chris-matthews-fires-back-glenn-beck-is-a-nincompoop-who-misunderstood-cult-comment/

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DOZIER: ROMNEY SHOULD DENOUNCE RACIST MORMON CHURCH

March 15, 2012

South Florida Times

A South Florida pastor is calling on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to denounce the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The call has come from the Rev. O’Neal Dozier who wants Romney to “openly denounce his racist Mormon religion.”

“The Mormon religion is prejudiced against blacks, Jews and Native Americans. These allegations are substantiated and validated by the writings of the former prophets and seers of the Mormon Church,” Dozier said at a press conference Monday at The Worldwide Christian Center, 450 N. Powerline Road, Pompano Beach, where he is pastor.

http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9454&Itemid=331

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Mitt Romney’s Faith Draws Attention To Mormon Food Storage

March 15, 2012

WBUR (Massachusetts)

If Mitt Romney becomes President, would Ann Romney set up a food storage facility at the White House? That’s one of the questions that came up when the New York Times ran a story about Mormon cuisine.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or Mormons) are urged to keep at least a three month supply of food and water, cash and a 72 hour emergency kit.

Kathleen Flake, associate professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University, told Here & Now’s Robin Young that she keeps an emergency backpack kit and says her food storage tends towards canned food and the freeze-dried “space age” kind.

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/03/15/romney-mormon-food

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Romney’s turbulent missionary days in France

March 14, 2012

France 24

France is known to be somewhat of a punching bag for Republicans in the US, who often cite the country as an emblem of Old World elitism and smug resistance to all things American.

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, however, has a rather deep connection to France: he spent more than two years here as a young Mormon missionary in the 60s, and has referred to the experience as “very enriching”.

http://www.france24.com/en/20120314-usa-mitt-romney-france-paris-mormon-mormonism-mission-election-presidential

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MARRIOTT: Hotel magnate talks business

March 15, 2012

Press Enterprise (California)

Q: How important should a candidate’s religion be?

A: It’s important that the candidate be a person of strong moral character. They should be true to their beliefs, whether it’s Protestant, born-again, Mormon, Jewish. There should be separation from church and state. When Kennedy was running, they didn’t want the pope to tell Jack Kennedy what to do. We don’t want the president of the Mormon church telling Mitt Romney what to do. If he’s president, he won’t. The Church is totally hands-off, politically. We want the country to understand that a Mormon in the White House is going to be just as effective as anybody else.

Q: You are a very active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How do you balance your religious beliefs with some of the desires of your guests?

A: I’ve always been concerned about (pornographic) movies in rooms. In the next three or four years, we won’t have any more of those. That’s something we’ve had a real problem with because the Church is very, very opposed to pornography, as it should be, and we are for families. But the owners of our hotels were making a lot of money. In fact, the only movies that make any money are pornography.

http://www.pe.com/business/business-headlines/20120315-marriott-hotel-magnate-talks-business.ece

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Deeply-In-Debt Marriott Still Wants to Ditch In-Room Porn

March 15, 2012

AVN

“I’ve always been concerned about [pornographic] movies in rooms. In the next three or four years, we won’t have any more of those,” Marriott told an interviewer from the Associated Press. “That’s something we’ve had a real problem with because the Church is very, very opposed to pornography, as it should be, and we are for families. But the owners of our hotels were making a lot of money. In fact, the only movies that make any money are pornography.”

“The Church,” of course, is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons, and Bill’s dad, John Willard Marriott, was so deeply involved in church politics that fellow Mormon George Romney named one of his children after the magnate. You may have heard of him: Willard “Mitt” Romney?

And why did the younger Marriott, who after retirement from running the company will remain on its board of directors with a 10 percent equity stake, decide to abandon the pay-per-porn money machine, which according to one hotel insider accounts for 80 to 90 percent of all in-room movie purchases?

“It was the right thing to do. The other side of it is if they want that stuff, they can get on the computer. So, the demand for them has gone way down. It was a good time to exit.”

http://news.avn.com/articles/Deeply-In-Debt-Marriott-Still-Wants-to-Ditch-In-Room-Porn-469020.html

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Romney and evangelicals, revisited

March 15, 2012

Hot Air

It figures that days after considering whether there might be an anti-Mormon “Romney effect” in 2012, there would be fresh data from Michael Tesler at YouGov:

Media speculation abounds that Mitt Romney’s poor performance among Evangelical voters in the 2012 Primaries is rooted in anti-Mormonism–a sentiment that will surely intensify if the former governor loses this week in Alabama and Mississippi. My analysis of seven surveys conducted by YouGov from late January to early March 2012 (pooled n=7,000, with 1,791 likely Republican primary voters), however, suggests that Romney’s religion is not the main reason why he has not won over these voters.

Why, then, has Romney underperformed among this group throughout the primary season? The answer most likely resides in moral issues like abortion and gay marriage. For, unlike attitudes about Mormons, Evangelical Republicans are much more conservative on these issues than their fellow partisans. Moreover, and also unlike anti-Mormonism, Evangelicals are more likely to vote in the primaries based upon moral issues than other Republicans.

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/03/15/romney-and-evangelicals-revisited/

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God Gave Rock & Roll to Her

March 16, 2012

Austin Chronicle (Texas)

Electrick Children is a modern-day retelling of the Virgin Mary story set in a small fundamentalist Mormon colony in rural Utah. Thomas’ story follows Rachel (the brilliant Julia Garner), a 15-year-old innocent who believes God has caused her to immaculately conceive a child by way of a rock song she hears on a forbidden cassette tape. Convinced that the voice on the tape is the father of the child, Rachel sneaks off to Las Vegas in search of love and religious revelation.

“I was raised in Las Vegas, in a normal Mormon upbringing,” Thomas says. “But my grandparents lived in southern Utah, and we would visit them and see the FLDS [Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints]. I was intrigued by it because I had seen it my whole life and wondered about the places where Mormonism and fundamentalism overlapped. I really wanted to adapt the Virgin Mary story, and I thought if there was ever a girl who thought she had gotten pregnant by God or by some force, it would probably be someone from one of these sheltered places.”

http://www.austinchronicle.com/screens/2012-03-16/sxsw-film-god-gave-rock-and-roll-to-her/

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Work begins on Phoenix Temple

March 14, 2012

Arizona Central

Work on a Mormon temple is under way less than a year after church officials and neighbors of the project settled their disagreement.

Construction workers were busy last Friday on what will become the basement of the Phoenix Temple at 5104 W. Pinnacle Peak Road. Officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expect to complete the project by late 2013. It will add to their 129 temples throughout the world.

http://www.azcentral.com/community/northvalley/articles/2012/03/06/20120306work-begins-phoenix-temple.html

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Get To Know Mitt Romney’s Most Controversial Backer, Frank VanderSloot

March 16, 2012

Buzz Feed

The Tidmarsh post that raised Melaleuca’s ire pinpointed three incidents: when VanderSloot paid for a full-page newspaper ad that outed a reporter, Peter Zuckerman, who had exposed sexual abuse among Boy Scout troops in a Mormon area in Idaho; when VanderSloot paid for billboards that criticized Idaho state television for running “It’s Elementary,” a documentary about discussing gay issues with schoolchildren; and third, the article mentioned the fact that VanderSloot’s wife Belinda donated $100,000 to support Proposition 8 in California.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/get-to-know-mitt-romneys-most-controversial-backe

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