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23 May 2012

Mormon Helping Hands Assist in Maryland Park Cleanup (Photo Essay)

May 23, 2012


Approximately 300 Mormon Helping Hands volunteers joined community members and elected officials to clean up Parkville, Maryland’s Double Rock Park on 12 May. The following photo essay shows these volunteers in action.


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For the first time, they have a choice: an African-American or a Mormon.

May 23, 2012


“Obama calls Romney to say he thinks it is time the country had a Mormon president. But just as Romney is thanking the president for the apparent concession, Obama interrupts him to say, ‘My baptism is on Saturday.'”

The joke is just a bit of Black Mormon humor that, The New York Times reports, is circulating among the rarified group in Utah. But in reality the punch line would make a lot of their dreams come true.

As Marguerite Driessen, an African-American who converted to Mormonism while a student at Brigham Young University in the 1980s told the Times, 30 years ago, having a choice between an African-American and a Mormon for the nation’s highest office was unimaginable.


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For black Mormons, a political choice like no other

May 23, 2012

Honolulu Star Advertiser (Hawaii)

When Marguerite Driessen, a professor here, entered Brigham Young University in the early 1980s, she was the first black person many Mormon students had ever met, and she spent a good bit of her college time debunking stereotypes about African-Americans. Then she converted to Mormonism herself, and went on to spend a good deal of her adult life correcting assumptions about Mormons.

So the matchup in this year’s presidential election comes as a watershed moment for her, symbolizing the hard-won acceptance of racial and religious minorities.


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Mitt Romney’s Mormon Politics

May 23, 2012

Tablet Magazine

Two recent pieces have explored how Mitt Romney’s devout Mormon faith directly informs his politics.

In the New York Times, Jodi Kantor reports, “Mormons have a long tradition of achieving success by sharing secular versions of their tenets.” So it’s not only that Romney’s positions on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage stem from what his church teaches. It’s that more abstract concepts like his devotion to following the rules, which shows in his being anti-corruption, or his belief in American exceptionalism, find sacred parallels in Mormonism.


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Gotta Like Mitt

May 23, 2012

First Things

Being Mormon has the disadvantage of voters knowing that they can’t even imagine having a beer with you-or even a cup of coffee. Still, although most voters don’t know or understand or like what Mormons believe, who couldn’t like what they do? It reassuring to know that Mitt’s faith informs all of his life, and that he’s lived in a highly responsible, deeply familial, “I’m-in-it-for-eternity” way. If voters come to like Mitt along those lines, then they won’t, of course, be buying it when the MSM says there that cold and classless ruthless downsizer goes again.


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Daniel Allott: Ted Kennedy’s Anti-Mormon Moment

May 23, 2012

History News Network

Those looking for hints about what role faith might play in the presidential election campaign would do well to recall Ted Kennedy’s bitter and bruising 1994 Massachusetts Senate campaign against Mitt Romney.

Facing the prospect of losing his well-worn seat to the political novice, Kennedy and his surrogates unleashed a broadside against Romney’s Mormon faith. The episode may offer a preview of how the Obama re-election campaign will address Romney’s faith, and how Romney will respond.


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The media’s religion deficit

May 23, 2012

Washington Examiner

The Washington Post on Monday, reporting from Carrollton, Ark., uncovered an event that occurred nearly 155 years ago, and then sought to link it to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney: “On Sept. 11, 1857, a wagon train from this part of Arkansas met with a gruesome fate in Utah, where most of the travelers were slaughtered by a Mormon militia in an episode known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.”

The Romney connection? “There aren’t many places in America more likely to be suspicious of Mormonism — and potentially problematic for Mitt Romney, who is seeking to become the country’s first Mormon president.”

As Carrollton, Ark., goes, so goes the nation? Would the Post question the legitimacy and faith of a Muslim candidate for Congress, or any office, because of 9/11? Do you even have to ask? Should the Spanish Inquisition reflect on a Catholic candidate?


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Mitt, We Hardly Know You

May 22, 2012

The American Interest

There are signs that Team Romney is beginning to change its approach. Over at the New York Times, Jodi Kantor examines how important Romney’s Mormonism has been in shaping the contours of his life. Although Romney himself declined to be interviewed for the article, that his son Tagg was quoted suggests the campaign might be adopting a new course. What’s more, we are glad to report that, while Kantor’s piece throws a few obligatory bones to the reflexively anti-Romney readership, the article generally eschews the insidious Mormon-bashing and ludicrous theocracy warnings that have sadly characterized much of the coverage of Romney’s faith.

But the piece exposes the dilemma at the heart of the Romney campaign: the former governor can only be understood and appreciated as a human being in the light of the deep faith that informs and guides his approach to life, but few Americans understand what that faith is and how it works. Worse, while a tolerant society no longer persecutes Mormons or drives them out of town, many Americans view Mormonism as a cult and as an aggressive competitor against orthodox Christianity rather than as just one more stripe in the coat of many colors that makes up the American Christian world. (On the left, many find Mormon evocations of traditional American values and social norms both hackneyed and threatening; for these people, the profound theological differences between the faiths are obscured by their conservative social agenda. Either way, Romney loses.)


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One in Four Say Having a Mormon President Would Cause Concerns

May 22, 2012

Wall Street Journal

More than one in four Americans say having a Mormon as president would cause concern for themselves or someone in their family, neighborhood or office, presenting a challenge for Mitt Romney, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

In general, Americans are reluctant to admit they harbor biases against particular groups, so the portion of people who say Mormonism is a concern is notable, pollsters said.


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Romney, Obama and the Jews

May 23, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

The 2012 presidential election is an interesting one for us Jews. Do we pressure the candidate who belongs to a faith that seemingly enjoys baptizing our dead -­ Mitt Romney? Or do we lobby President Obama to again address his ethnic group, which harbors a dislike for Jews that exceeds any other American group?

Posthumous baptisms by the LDS Church have stained Jewish-Mormon relations since the early 1990s when it was discovered that more than 600,000 Holocaust victims had been posthumously baptized in a Mormon temple. According to church doctrine, that makes them eligible to embrace Mormonism in the afterlife.


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May 23, 2012

New Yorker

Mitt Romney hasn’t been all that comfortable, on the campaign trail, talking about what he refers to as “the faith of my fathers”-Mormonism-and his attachment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And when it comes to personal professions, there is no reason why he should. (In fairness, he is not all that comfortable talking about, say, money, or the weather, for that matter.) But, as I write over at Daily Comment, where I can be found on Wednesdays, being a Mormon and running for President introduces certain complications (for Romney) and opportunities (for the rest of us), in terms of a wider discourse on religion, history, tolerance, and intolerance in America. (Two items of recommended reading: Lawrence Wright’s “Lives of the Saints,” and his post on Mormons and the Presidency.)


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Farmington Board To Hold Public Hearing On Mormon Temple Tonight

May 23, 2012

Hartford Courant (Connecticut)

Residents who attend a public hearing Wednesday night will have a chance to discuss and ask questions about plans to build the state’s first Mormon temple on 11 acres off Farmington Avenue.

The planning commission will also discuss an access road expected to connect Melrose Drive to Bridgewater Road.

The public hearing, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at town hall, will consider a request to change the zoning of the 11-acre parcel from business/retail to “R30,” which allows the construction of a building for religious use. Immediately after that hearing, another will be held on whether to approve the site plan for the temple.


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Meeting Tonight on Mormon Temple for Farmington

May 23, 2012

NBC Connecticut

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has submitted plans to build a Mormon Temple in Farmington and a public hearing will be held on Wednesday night.

The 35,500-square-foot temple would sit along Route 4 at the intersection of Melrose Drive. There would also be two smaller buildings on the property. The building would be covered with white granite and would stand about 36-feet tall with a 115-foot steeple, according to the plans.

The land where the temple would be built is partially open but also includes a business and five houses that would have to be torn down, according to the church.


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Scholar: Romney’s faith ‘makes people uneasy’

May 23, 2012

Washington Post

“It’s not that Romney is a religious man. It’s not that he’s a church leader. It’s not that he is open with his faith. It is that his Mormon faith, in particular, makes many people uneasy. And that unease has political consequences. […] Our findings suggest that the type of campaign messaging that can sway voters away from supporting Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon will be difficult to counter.”


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