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17 September 2012

Stephens: Muslims, Mormons and Liberals

September 17, 2012

Wall Street Journal

So let’s get this straight: In the consensus view of modern American liberalism, it is hilarious to mock Mormons and Mormonism but outrageous to mock Muslims and Islam. Why? Maybe it’s because nobody has ever been harmed, much less killed, making fun of Mormons.

Here’s what else we learned this week about the emerging liberal consensus: That it’s okay to denounce a movie you haven’t seen, which is like trashing a book you haven’t read. That it’s okay to give perp-walk treatment to the alleged–and no doubt terrified–maker of the film on legally flimsy and politically motivated grounds of parole violation. That it’s okay for the federal government publicly to call on Google to pull the video clip from YouTube in an attempt to mollify rampaging Islamists. That it’s okay to concede the fundamentalist premise that religious belief ought to be entitled to the highest possible degree of social deference–except when Mormons and sundry Christian rubes are concerned.

And, finally, this: That the most “progressive” administration in recent U.S. history will make no principled defense of free speech to a Muslim world that could stand hearing such a defense. After the debut of “The Book of Mormon” musical, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded with this statement: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

That was it. The People’s Front for the Liberation of Provo will not be gunning for a theater near you. Is it asking too much of religious and political leaders in Muslim communities to adopt a similar attitude?


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Hillary Cheered Broadway’s Book of Mormon, Condemns Innocence of Muslims

September 17, 2012

The American Thinker

Although some likely found The Book of Mormon as “offensive and reprehensible and disgusting” as White House spokesman Jay Carney found Innocence of Muslims, the Obama administration chose not to denounce it. Nor could I find any protest from Carney when his former employer, TIME Magazine, praised The Book of Mormon as “bright and enjoyable, and good enough to make even a grumpy critic’s 10 Best list.”

The White House certainly did not ask the Eugene O’Neill Theater “to review” whether The Book of Mormon “violates their terms of use,” as it asked Google to review the trailer for Innocence of Muslims.

Nor did the White House ask the FBI to interview everyone associated with the show, from the set designers to the producers, as it has done for Innocence of Muslims. “We cannot and will not squelch freedom of expression in this country,” said Jay Carney. “It is a foundational principle of this nation.” That bromide should reassure those people now being grilled by the FBI.


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Mormonism’s Mystical Vision of America: Will It Make a Better President?

September 17, 2012

Christian Post

Still, with these concerns laid aside, many voters may not recognize an often undervalued feature of the faith: how it might help a Mormon lead well in the Oval Office. This possibility arises from the emphasis the Latter-day Saints place upon patriotism, civic duty and morality in government–American government in particular.

These civic virtues spring from the fact that Mormonism is more a religion of America and about America than any other religion on earth. In fact, some scholars, such as UCLA historian Fawn Brodie, see Mormonism as little more than the values and symbols of America spun into a religion. This, they say, is what has made the Saints of recent decades such super-patriots and it may also be what could make a Mormon candidate for president an attractive choice.

Mormonism carries within it a spiritual vision of the U.S. and its meaning in the world. Most Mormons believe that the nation is divinely ordained, that the Constitution was drafted under divine guidance, and that the U.S. will play a divinely predestined role during the millennial reign of Christ. Many also believe Native Americans are descendants of ancient Hebrews and that this extends to the U.S. a divine blessing once intended only for ancient Israel.


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Some black pastors are telling their flocks to stay home Election Day

September 17, 2012

New York Daily News

Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.

The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.


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Glen Warchol’s Crawler: Defending the faith of Mitt Romney

September 17, 2012

Salt Lake Magazine (Utah)

In short, Critchley’s valentine to the Mormon religion is complex and thought provoking and isn’t any stranger than transubstantiation or virgin birth. But the essay also clearly explains why Mitt Romney, who presumably believes he has a shot at godhood, hasn’t committed a lot of time explaining his religion to the Evangelicals he needs to win the somewhat less exhalted post of president of the United States.


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Mormons build a bridge to Ogden homeless gay teens

September 17, 2012

Standard Examiner (Utah)

Who says there’s no good news? There is great stuff going on with gays and Mormons in Utah.

Mormons Building Bridges blew people’s minds when 300 active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marched in Salt Lake City’s Gay Pride parade this year.

Now there are 2,000 members. They’re joining with Ogden OUTreach to help homeless gay LDS youth.

OUTreach Director Marian Edmonds figures half the estimated 1,000 homeless youths in Utah are gay, driven from their homes. She sees about one a week, and their stories break her heart.


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Racism, Anti-Mormonism Won’t Affect Election, Expert Believes

September 17, 2012

Christian Post

With a black man and a Mormon running against each other in the presidential race, will racism or anti-Mormonism effect the outcome? Political scientist Norman Ornstein does not think so.

“I’m really skeptical at this point that either of those things, which are big factors more generally in society, racism especially, are going to have any significant impact on the campaign itself,” Ornstein told The Christian Post Thursday.


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LDS apostle tells Mormons: Stock up on food, not ammo

September 17, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks cautioned Mormons against joining or supporting “right-wing groups who mistakenly apply prophecies about the last days to promote efforts to form paramilitary or other organizations.”

Such groups could “undermine the authority of public officials,” Oaks said Sunday at a regional Mormon conference broadcast from the Marriott Center on Brigham Young University’s Provo campus, “in the event of extraordinary emergencies or even in cases of simple disagreement with government policy.”

Latter-day Saints should not “substitute [their] own organizations for the political and military authorities put in place by constitutional government and processes,” the apostle said.

After all, the LDS Church’s food-storage program is about amassing a year’s supply of food and water, Oaks reminded the thousands watching in the giant arena, not “arms and ammunition.”


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‘Mormon’ maintains B.O. lead

September 17, 2012


“The Book of Mormon” stayed on Broadway’s top shelf last week, with the foul-mouthed Tony magnet maintaining its No. 1 slot on the Rialto.

“Mormon” ($1,618,059) came out ahead of more frequent top dogs “The Lion King” ($1,599,094) and “Wicked” ($1,435,082) for the second week in a row. That feat was all the more impressive given the small size of the “Mormon” venue — 1,066 seats vs. 1,677 at “Lion King” and 1,809 at “Wicked”; demand for “Mormon” hasn’t flagged in the back-to-school weeks that have prompted dips at other shows.


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Is Romney’s Foreign Policy Problem a Product of his Mormonism?

September 17, 2012

Religion Dispatches

Where are his moral bearings? There was a time just last year when pundits who didn’t know very much about Mormonism worried out loud that the writings of Cleon Skousen or LDS teachings about sacred history of North America might impact Romney’s foreign policy in unpredictable and worrisome ways. But after Romney showed more interest in scoring political points than statesmanship last week, the question has morphed. What if it’s not that Romney is too Mormon, but that faith has played virtually no role in shaping his approach to foreign policy issues?

There have been serious foreign policy thinkers in Mormonism, like J. Reuben Clark (1871-1961), Coolidge’s undersecretary of state, whose memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine contributed the development of the “Good Neighbor Policy” scaling back US military intervention in Latin America. What would happen if Romney took a cue from Clark, and other foreign policy thinkers and theologians in the LDS tradition? I spoke to Professor Patrick Mason, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont University and editor of a new volume of essays War and Peace in Our Times: Mormon Perspectives (2012).


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Dallas pastor in SA urges vote for Romney, despite Mormon faith

September 17, 2012

San Antonio Express News (Texas)

The Dallas megachurch pastor noted for calling Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a cult last year urged a San Antonio gathering of more than 300 area pastors Monday to confront secular culture, which he said was gaining ground through controversial court rulings and socially liberal policies led by President Barack Obama.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, endorsed Romney last spring despite the preacher’s well-publicized remarks that Mormons are not Christians. Jeffress since has said the GOP nominee matches evangelical values better, including his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights.

“The fear among evangelicals is that this would legitimize a religion that we believe doesn’t lead people to God,” he said Monday as the keynote speaker for the yearly luncheon hosted by KSLR, a Christian radio station, at the Club at Sonterra in Stone Oak.

“And so those of us who have said yes (to Romney), we’re going to support him as the lesser of two evils, but at the same time, we’re making very clear that we’re doing so realizing Mormonism is not Christianity.”


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The Mormon Church Baptized Pres. Obama’s Mother…After She Was Dead

September 17, 2012

Your Black World

It has been determined that Barack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was baptized by the Mormon Church after her death. The baptism occurred five months before the 2008 presidential election. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints confirmed that the president’s mother was baptized into the Mormon faith, and it doesn’t appear that the president wanted this to happen. Dunham died in 1995 from cancer and after President Obama received enough delegate support to win the Democratic nomination for president, someone in the Mormon church improperly conducted the ceremony


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Long journey led to settlement in Salt Lake

September 17, 2012

Bluefield Daily Telegraph (West Virginia)

I ended my five-day visit to Utah’s Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area at a place where the Utah chapter of Mormon history began – near the mouth of Emigration Canyon high up on the east bench of the Wasatch Mountains overlooking the Salt Lake Valley.

After a 1,500-mile long trek that started in Nauvoo, Ill., on Feb. 4, 1846, the first company of Mormon pioneers passed through Emigration Canyon in search of religious freedom on July 24, 1847.

In their company, Brigham Young, their leader stricken with Rocky Mountain spotted fever and seated in the back of a wagon, is said to have taken one look at the expansive valley below and exclaimed to his driver “It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.”


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The myth of Mitt Romney’s evangelical problem

September 17, 2012

Washington Post

“Evangelicals say they want a presidential candidate who shares their religious beliefs and they still hold that Romney’s religion is different from their own,” says Robert Jones, CEO of the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute. “And yet as early as May 2012, shortly after it became clear that Romney was the presumptive nominee, Romney held a 45-point lead over Obama” among evangelicals.

We’ve been told that evangelicals were so skeptical of Romney’s Mormon faith they might not be able to pull the lever for him in the voting booth. But according to Jones’ research, as more white evangelical voters have realized that he is Mormon, his favorability among them has actually risen.


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Update: Obama vs. Romney by Religious Groups

September 17, 2012


This tablebelow is based on interviewing conducted Aug. 1-Sept. 16 among registered voters. I’m using this large sample period in order to get adequate sample size of some of the smaller religious groups. Jewish and Mormon voters, for example, are just about 2% of the population each, with “other non-Christian” identifiers coming in at about 3%. This expanded period of interviewing means, of course, that any shifts as a result of recent news events — such as those in the Middle East — would only be minimally reflected in these data.


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