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5 September 2012

Mormon FAIR-Cast 105: Temple Study Fireside 2-the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jacob at Bethel

September 5, 2012


Professor William J. Hamblin leads the second of this series of on-line fireside discussions of the book Temple Worship: 20 Truths That Will Bless Your Life, by Andrew C. Skinner. This discussion focusses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes, Qumran, the Temple Scroll, Jacob at Bethel the symbolism of Jacob’s Ladder, as well as some thoughts from Elder Carlos E. Asay. Others who participated in this disussion were Bryce Haymond and Gary N. Anderson. This discussion was conducted live on August 16, 2012 through Google’s Hangouts on Air. It was streamed live on TempleStudy.com, where the video can also be found. A rough transcript of the discussion can be found here.


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Why I Fell in Love With Joseph Smith But Couldn’t Commit to Mormonism

September 5, 2012

Huffington Post

In 2003, I signed on as a writer for a PBS series on “The Mormons.” I liked what I knew about Joseph Smith, but I had never actually met a Mormon before. Nevertheless, while researching Joseph Smith, I found myself falling in love with what his critics found so unacceptable: his irreverence, bold imagination and extremes of self-invention. Ultimately, I had what you might call a road to Damascus moment. Three years into the film, I was stopped in traffic by a head-splitting revelation of Joseph’s presence, something so strong I began considering conversion. However, when I began traveling down that path, investigating as a potential convert, the lessons contained little of my Joseph. Indeed, it felt almost like the modern-day Mormon church was vaccinating its members against its founder’s wild, religious intensity.


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Mormon Democrats: Romney’s Values Not Our Values

September 5, 2012

RTT News

For the first time ever on Tuesday, Democrats from the Church of Latter Day Saints held a convention caucus meeting. The group of LDS Dems, numbering around 75 at the gathering, made clear they were Democrats because they were Mormons and that Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s values were not in line with their own.

The group varied widely across ages, races and geographic locations, but the gathering was hosted by the Utah Democratic Party. The Utah party chairman told RTTNews about the importance of LDS members to Democrats.


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A young Mormon Democrat in Utah hopes new group sparks change

September 4, 2012

Los Angeles Times (California)

Craig Janis, a 28-year-old technology entrepreneur, is a rare species. He’s a Mormon Democrat in Utah, a state where only 7% of Mormons are Democrats.

Janis’ shift from Republican to a Democrat began in college, but four years ago, he wanted to like Mitt Romney The idea of a fellow Mormon, one who reminded him of church leaders of his youth, winning the White House tugged at Janis’ heart.

Janis said he respected Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, when he passed a universal healthcare bill. But Janis says Romney has shifted steadily to the right since then, and has embraced positions that are no longer moderate.


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Mormon Democrats Battling Romney — And What Would Be Church History

September 4, 2012

National Public Radio

“It’s like a missionary effort,” Young-Otterstrom said in a room packed with the curious, the media and a cadre of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints making the argument that the Democratic Party best represents their personal and religious values.

“This is a monumental moment for the LDS faith,” said Scott Howell, a U.S. Senate candidate in Utah challenging GOP incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch, also a Mormon.

He was talking, in part, about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the first Mormon on a major party ticket. But he was also referring to what felt like a Mormon Democrats coming-out party. (With non-adult beverages, the hosts joked.)


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Mormon Democrats gather for first-ever national meeting in Charlotte during DNC

September 5, 2012


“People will automatically assume I support Romney,” said Robert Cooper, 28, below, who belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A recent graduate from law school who lives in Washington, D.C., Cooper said he feels government should offer the kind of safety net that members of his church enjoy.

“I consider myself a centrist, but am more comfortable in the Democratic party. I feel there’s a big-tent approach, helping those who are disadvantaged. If you look at economics, Mormons take good care of themselves. We give 10 percent of our income to the church, in addition to a monthly donation. So a lot of Mormons say that’s not the role of government, but not everyone has that support structure. That’s one of the roles of government, to help those who don’t have that support structure. A lot of people don’t have what we have.”


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Mormons for Obama! LDS Democratic Caucus Convenes Convention Event

September 4, 2012

Daily Beast

It was one of the more touching events–and certainly the most unexpected–I’ve run across here in Charlotte. On Tuesday afternoon, Democrats from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened the first-ever national gathering of their LDS Democrats Caucus in a second-floor meeting room of the Holiday Inn in downtown Charlotte.

In an era when pretty much every group has a well-established caucus, it was almost quaint to be in the midst of folks just now groping their way into political daylight. Most of the speeches and much of the chatter around the room were peppered with anecdotes and quips about how strangely folks look at you when you’re a Mormon Democrat–even in a year when there’s not a fellow LDSer heading the GOP ticket. One gentleman noted that his family’s claim to fame was that his daughter had recently served as the highest-ranking Mormon in the White House–pause a beat–“as an unpaid intern.”


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Mormon voters lean toward Romney, regardless of party affiliation

September 4, 2012

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Nevada)

When it comes to the Mormon vote, it appears GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has it all but wrapped up in Nevada and the nation even before the Nov. 6 election.

As a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Romney is the U.S.-founded religion’s first real hope to win the White House. As a Republican, his conservative views on fiscal and social issues align more with church teachings of modesty and self-reliance. And as a candidate, he attracts a loyal LDS contingent of volunteers and supporters who are working hard to elect him.

Despite that advantage, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the most prominent Democratic Mormon politician in Nevada, on Tuesday urged LDS members to vote for President Barack Obama and to side with Democrats, who he argued help the poor and middle class more than the GOP.


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Senator Reid says Mormon Democrats should hold heads high

September 4, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

Dawn Miller feels a bit like an outcast in her Georgia community. She’s a Mormon and a Democrat at a time when Mitt Romney, possibly the world’s most famous Mormon, is the Republican presidential candidate.

That may explain why Miller and her friend Dana Cork drove three hours to Charlotte on Tuesday for the chance to mingle with like-minded Mormons and hear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

They just couldn’t pass up the first national gathering of LDS Democrats, an event organized by the Utah Democratic Party timed right before the official beginning of the party’s national convention.

What Miller heard from Reid, D-Nev., is that he’s a Mormon because of his faith and not in spite of it and that people like Miller should “be proud of who they are” and not “be afraid of what your neighbors think.”


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Democrats take on uphill battle of winning over Mormon voters in the presidential election

September 5, 2012

Las Vegas Sun (Nevada)

Mitt Romney’s candidacy has made Mormonism an issue in this election. But is it an issue around which to organize? Hardly.

The Latter-day Saints don’t rank as a voting bloc on the national stage like Hispanics, women or even evangelicals. To the extent that anyone even conceives of the LDS vote, it’s usually presumed to be Republican.

And in Nevada, Mormons are typically thought of as a voting bloc to cultivate only by Mormon candidates.

This year, some Democrats are trying to change that — at least on the national stage.


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Mormons For Obama Launch Their Own “Missionary Effort”

September 5, 2012


Several dozen Mormon Democrats packed the second floor meeting room of a Holiday Inn here Tuesday for an event that was part political rally and part support session: an address from the modern icon of Latter-day Saint liberalism: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Setting aside his typical combative tone, Reid sought to reassure and rally a political minority that has spent much of this year under heavy scrutiny — and sometimes intense judgement — by their conservative coreligionists, who wonder how any true Mormon could fail to support Mitt Romney. Reid said he could relate.

He told a story about his son Leif, who once had a Mormon classmate at a new school urge him to join the Young Republicans. According to Reid, when his son said he was a Democrat, “The boy responded ‘I didn’t know Mormons could be Democrats.’ I wish that was a joke, but it’s true. And for 30 years I’ve been trying to change that perception.”


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These Mormons Aren’t Voting for Romney

September 4, 2012

New York Magazine

If Mitt Romney wins in November, his ascension to the White House will represent a historic moment for religious tolerance in general and for Mormons in particular. Most Mormons are, presumably, eagerly looking forward to such a milestone. But the couple dozen Mormons who crammed into a meeting room at a Charlotte Holiday Inn this afternoon had one thing in common: They’re all voting for Obama.

“Be proud of who you are,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid advised the gathering of LDS Democrats in his remarks, which were preceded by a roomwide rendition of the Mormon hymn “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?”

“Don’t back down. Don’t be afraid of what your neighbors think.”


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Not All Mormons Rooting for Romney

September 4, 2012

National Journal

Even though he’s the first-ever Mormon presidential nominee, not all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are supporting Mitt Romney. That much was apparent on Tuesday afternoon at the Holiday Inn, where the Utah Democratic Party and the LDS Democrats gathered to show their support for President Obama.

Among them was 53-year-old nurse practitioner Jennifer Meldau, who admits that she often feels lonely as a liberal in her home state of South Carolina. She considers health care, education, and the environment to be her top causes. “Romney does not reflect my political beliefs,” she said.

Apparently, she’s not alone, if the packed conference room gave any indication. And the Mormons for Obama have also mobilized on Facebook, where their page has roughly 300 “likes.”


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Carl Schneider: Romney seems to favor needy Mormons over needy non-Mormons

September 4, 2012

Sun Sentinel (Florida)

Mitt Romney advocates lowering federal taxes but believes the Mormon church tax is OK. He seems to believe federal tax money to help poor people in the form of food stamps, health care and other services is wasetful. Although Romney supposedly pays only about 13% of his net income in federal taxes he is proud to pay 10% of his gross income to the Mormon church. A tithe requested by the Mormon church is equivalent to a tax. I do not resent Mitt supporting the Mormon church but apparently he is much more willing to help needy Mormons than needy non-Mormons.


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DNC 2012: Democrats Look to Sway Western Mormons

September 5, 2012

Boise Weekly (Idaho)

A busy morning on Tuesday, Sept. 4, greeted Idaho’s Democratic Party delegates, scheduled to attend the Women’s, LGBT and Senior caucuses.

They were also scheduled to attend a caucus designed to reach the Mormon population within the Democratic Party. A group of Utah Democrats led other Western states in a meeting meant to raise the profile of followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who vote for Democrats.

Scott Howell, a Utah Democrat challenging incumbent Orrin Hatch for a Senate seat, told the Las Vegas Sun that the Mormon church is not “a Republican church.”

The group hopes to get out the vote among large LDS populations in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Idaho.


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‘Book of Mormon’ single-ticket sale date

September 5, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle (California)

Single tickets for the San Francisco run of “The Book of Mormon” will go on sale to the general public Sept. 21 at 10 a.m., SHN and the producers of the national tour announced Wednesday. A special pre-sale for American Express card members begins Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. and runs through Sept. 20.

The release of tickets ends months of waiting for many would-be attendees of the wildly popular Broadway hit by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q”) – winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, book, score and direction. Until now, tickets for the Curran Theatre run of “Mormon,” announced in February, have been available only as part of SHN’s five-show subscription package.


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THE BOOK OF MORMON Tickets Go On Sale 9/21 in Minneapolis

September 5, 2012

Broadway World

Hennepin Theatre Trust and the producers of the national tour of the new musical THE BOOK OF MORMON, winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, announced today that single tickets will go on sale onFriday, Sept. 21, 2012 at 5 p.m. in person at the Orpheum Theatre Box Office and at 7 p.m. online throughHennepinTheatreTrust.org or by calling 1.800.982.2787 . An exclusive pre-sale for American Express® cardmembers will begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12 and end on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 11:59 p.m. Ticket prices begin at $35. THE BOOK OF MORMON debuts in Minnesota February 5-17, 2013 at Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Orpheum Theatre and is part of the 2012/13 Broadway Across America-Minneapolis Season.


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Provo council rejects plan to curb Mormon missionary building

September 4, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

Residents living near the Mormon Missionary Training Center (MTC) didn’t get what they wanted Tuesday.

The Municipal Council voted 4-3 to reject their proposal to require a conditional use permit for high-rise structures at places such as the training center, where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is proposing to build a nine-story classroom building. But the council did agree to review the public facilities zone ordinance to address future controversies.

Council Vice Chairman Gary Winterton, who made the motion, also called for the LDS Church and Brigham Young University to meet with the residents to try to alleviate their concerns.

“I don’t see how we can stop this building from going forward,” Winterton said.


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Independent conservative-leaning Mormon explains why he is not supporting (Mormon) Mitt Romney.

September 4, 2012

Tucson Citizen (Arizona)

We believe that “when we are in the service of man, we are only in the service of God” (read if you wish Mosiah 2:17-18). So as a candidate for President I would hope, particularly if that candidate should be a Mormon that he would be able to express the love of Christ in his acts, and let me be clear, I am not saying he should be preaching but acting as Christ’s disciple.

So when Mitt Romney says he will do everything in his power as President to push self-deportation of 12 million undocumented humans, including minors brought by their parents as children to USA, is he expressing the love of Christ for his children? How did the Nephites receive their Lamanite brethren when they converted? See Alma 27


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What Romney Didn’t Tell You about Mormonism at the RNC

September 5, 2012

Religion Dispatches

I was among the many Mormons who were happy to see and hear three rank-and-file Mormon people take the podium at the convention talking in a familiar Mormon way about a familiar Mormon ethic of compassionate service; especially after so much hype and caricature of the faith. (See also Mary Barker’s analysis of the Romney testimonials here at RD.)

But as I reflected, I realized that Romney’s convention was not a moment when the story of the Mormon people was connected to the American story in any meaningful way.

Prominent Mormons may be celebrating Romney for leading the charge on changing public opinion on the faith. But really, Romney has done very, very little to make our Mormon story better known to the American public.


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The Dangers of Political Prayer

September 4, 2012

Houston Chronicle (Texas)

To not have prayer at an American political convention, so I’m told, would be unthinkable. It would send a powerful political statement. But the choice of who will offer prayers sends a powerful statement as well. CNN released a cheat sheet explaining who would be praying at the Democratic National Convention, and “why they matter.” The choice of Rabbi David Wolpe, for example, is important because “Wolpe is a prolific author and media personality who’s recognizable to many American Jews, who constitute an important voting bloc in some swing states and whose whose ranks include many big political donors.” Including former Mormon stake president Kenneth Hutchins as a prayer-giver at the RNC convention was meant to bolster Romney’s narrative that being a Mormon leader helped him “understand the very real concerns and pains people have, the struggles that they have.”


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