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15 November 2012

The Mormon Missionary Revolution
November 15, 2012

Wall Street Journal

It has been quite a year for Mormonism in America. Outside the faith, the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney sparked unprecedented levels of interest and attention. Meanwhile, church leaders have transformed how young Mormons start their adulthood, affecting everything from education to dating and marriage.

Though you might not know it from Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon,” 12% of Mormon missionaries are women–a number that is about to skyrocket thanks to an unexpected change in official Latter-day Saint policy. The church announced last month that Mormon women are now eligible to begin serving missions at age 19 instead of 21, and that Mormon men may serve at 18 instead of 19.

The response was immediate. Within two weeks, the number of missionary applications jumped an astonishing 471%, from the usual 700 per week to more than 4,000. Slightly more than half of these applicants were women.


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Mitt, Mormons, and the religious test that wasn’t
November 15, 2012

Hamburg Reporter (Iowa)

One week after Graham’s embrace of Romney, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed from its website the reference to the Mormon Church as a “cult” – a small change in language that could have a big impact on future relations between evangelicals and Mormons.

It’s very likely, of course, that conservative Protestant acceptance of Romney was largely a political marriage of convenience. Evangelical positions on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage trumped misgivings about putting a Mormon in the White House.

But however pragmatic the reasons, strong evangelical support for Romney was an unprecedented break from the long history of anti-Mormon sentiment among Protestants that dates to the founding of the Mormon faith in the 19th century.


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Is Mormonism better understood after Romney’s run? Most Latter-day Saints say yes
November 15, 2012

Washington Post

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has entered a new era after Romney’s run for president. His candidacy illuminated a changing landscape for the religion, where Americans are growing more curious than fearful about the faith, and allies can be found even among Christians with deep misgivings about Mormon beliefs.

“After this, it’s hard to say the Mormons are really outsiders,” said Jan Shipps, a scholar of American religion and expert on the LDS church.

No one would argue that prejudice and misunderstanding have disappeared. And many wonder how long the new tolerance will last beyond the election. But over the years since Romney first indicated he would try for president, there have been signs of real progress.


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Among Election Winners — Mormons
November 15, 2012

Spokesman-Review (Washington)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has entered a new era after Romney’s run for president. His candidacy illuminated a changing landscape for the religion, where Americans are growing more curious than fearful about the faith, and allies can be found even among Christians with deep misgivings about Mormon beliefs. “After this, it’s hard to say the Mormons are really outsiders,” said Jan Shipps, a scholar of American religion and expert on the LDS church. No one would argue that prejudice and misunderstanding have disappeared. And many wonder how long the new tolerance will last beyond the election.


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November 15, 2012


Responding to Putin’s recent statement on the need to “confront totalitarian sects” operating in Russia, instead of looking in a mirror and repeatedly slapping themselves, the Young Guard turned up to Mormon meeting houses last week in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities and picketed them, accusing Mormons of being “foreign agents” paid by the USA to brainwash young Russians. They also claimed that many young Mormon missionaries return to America to become members of the FBI and CIA.

When I heard that a group of brainwashed idiots were picking on another group of brainwashed idiots, I felt confused and sad at how stupid the whole world is. So I decided to talk to Elena Nechiporova, the Russian press contact for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


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A Mormon Reporter On The Romney Bus
November 14, 2012

Huffington Post

On the night of the South Carolina Republican primary in January, I sat near the front of a dark campaign press bus and listened to reporters talk about Mitt Romney’s underwear.


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Mormons see bright side to election despite Mitt Romney’s defeat
November 15, 2012

Las Vegas Sun (Nevada)

Sitting cross-legged on a lawn with two other students, Whitney Call, a 23-year-old creative writing major at Brigham Young University, took satisfaction in at least one aspect of the outcome of the 2012 presidential election:

Mitt Romney might not have won, but he demonstrated that being a Mormon, like her, was no barrier to winning the nation’s highest office.

“His faith was not a factor in the election at all. Maybe that means that people are beginning to realize that Mormons are more mainstream than they thought,” she said.


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Religious Moments
November 15, 2012


It occurs to me that LDS church leaders must find various aspects of the recent media scrutiny intensely annoying. Church members submit the names of Holocaust survivors, and a torrent of public criticism ensues. Outsiders (and a good number of insiders) call on the church to repudiate the priesthood ban, encourage church members to treat gays and lesbians with greater respect, and more fully reckon with the less pleasant aspects of its history. Bloggers post videos of the church’s endowment ceremony, trampling on something that church members regard as sacred.

Even post-Mitt, the LDS Church will continue to attract more than its share of public fascination and investigation. After all, the Mormon moment has really been — with peaks and valleys — going on since around 1830. Exposés of Mormonism (from John C. Bennett to Fanny Stenhouse to Ann Eliza Young) sold very well in the nineteenth century, and anti-Mormon novels (from Maria Ward to Sherlock Holmes) took their place alongside Catholic literature. Still, things will subside from the past five years. There won’t usually be Broadway hits and presidential candidates.


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November 15, 2012

South Florida Times

The Mormon church is stepping up its efforts to assist genealogists by sending teams around the world to photograph important documents.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors the nonprofit family history organization FamilySearch, which plans to post 320 million microfilm images online this year.

About 200 teams are visiting churches and archives in 45 countries, and photographing birth, death, church and immigration records, as well as wills.
The images then are sent to Salt Lake City and made available to the public at no charge on FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch boasts the largest collection of family history records in the world.


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Whoopi Goldberg On Ann Romney Interview: ‘I Don’t Care If Her People Were Annoyed’
November 15, 2012

Huffington Post

On Wednesday, Goldberg appeared on her “View” co-host’s Current TV program, “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” When Behar asked Goldberg about the interview moment, Goldberg responded candidly. She said she really had always thought members of the Mormon faith did not fight due to religious reasons, but Romney corrected her.

Goldberg said, “[Romney] basically said, ‘We all serve in our own way,’ which I thought was a reasonable response.”


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‘Twilight’ and Evangelical Christianity’s Eternal Girlhood
November 15, 2012

Huffington Post

Author Stephanie Meyer has said that her Mormon faith played a role in the creation of her characters, but I didn’t have to hear that to recognize in Twilight’s erotic mix of want and withholding the stuff of religious girls’ lives.

Though in many ways we can still expect to see Bella as the good girl by religious standards, adhering to Mormon rules of avoiding drinking alcohol and coffee and dutifully cooking and cleaning for her father, what feminist doesn’t feel a secret thrill when, in the trailer, we see her throw herself onto a wild cat?


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At Its Core, the ‘Twilight’ Saga Is a Story About ________
November 15, 2012

The Atlantic

Other thinkers have identified elements of the Twilight series as clear allegories–and apologias–for the Mormon faith, to which Meyer belongs. According to John Granger’s Touchstone magazine article “Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden: What the Bestselling Twilight Series Has in Store for Young Readers,” the series is a thinly veiled retelling of the formation and survival of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

While most of Meyer’s vampires are dangerous–heartless, blood-atonement-driven religious believers who prey on non-believers–this is not true of the Cullen family, who are the Celestial-life Mormons of the story. (The Volturi, on the other hand, the ancient vampires in Italy who lead and police vampires everywhere, are a thinly disguised Roman Catholic Church, the “Whore of Babylon” to Joseph Smith, Jr., and his nineteenth-century followers.)

Carlisle Cullen was born in the mid-1660s, the same period when historic Mormonism was born in Europe. He became a vampire when he was bitten but not slain by a weakened vampire. His heroic choice to turn away from vampirism and to eat animal rather than human food turns his eyes golden rather than blood red. Over the next two centuries, he learns all he can about medicine and in the mid-1800s becomes a doctor, saving rather than taking human lives. By placing the birth of the Cullen “vision” in the same time and place as the birth of Mormon beliefs (see Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1640-1844, by John L. Brooke) and by having Carlisle take up medical practice in the 1840s, the same time as Joseph Smith’s “restoration” of the gospel in America.


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Convention center hosts conference on LDS same-sex attraction
November 15, 2012

Provo Daily Herald (Utah)

The conference, called “Same-sex Attraction: Reconciling Faith and Feelings,” will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Provo. According to promotional materials, the event will bring “together a number of people who have experienced same-sex attraction, including several persons who now have successful opposite-sex marriages.” The conference promises to explore how those people have “reconciled their challenges and their traditional moral values.” It also will include discussions on “sexual orientation change therapy.”

The conference is being presented by the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists, and is sponsored by Evergreen and North Star, two LDS-oriented organizations that deal with homosexual attraction. Featured guests include author Ty Mansfield and his wife Danielle, author Laurie Campbell and her husband Dallas, therapist and Center for Gender Wholeness founder David Matheson and his wife Peggy, and Josh Weed, who has blogged about his marriage and same sex attraction, and his wife Lolly.


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Poolesville and Germantown residents rally for Sandy victims
November 15, 2012

Gazette (Maryland)

And the Montgomery County Mormon community threw its weight into the recovery effort. A “stake” (the Mormon equivalent of a “diocese”) in New York contacted the 18 stakes in the greater Washington and Baltimore area seeking donations to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, said Marlowe Leafty, who directed the drive in Germantown.

“Wards,” or churches, from Germantown, Olney and Montgomery Village advertised their efforts and collected goods on Nov. 10, Leafty said.

On Nov. 11, after a stake-wide meeting, they packed the donations they had collected, along with materials left over from a drive by another nearby stake and a ward in Annapolis, he said.


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Muse’s Matt Bellamy receives ‘The Book Of Mormon’ following talk of Killers collaboration
November 15, 2012


A Muse fan is trying to convert Matt Bellamy and co to the Mormon religion.

Following on from the story that The Killers’ Brandon Flowers hopes the two bands will collaborate, Matt Bellamy received a copy of The Book Of Mormon, the religion’s sacred text, in the post.

The Muse frontman posted a picture of the present on the band’s official Twitter, saying “Weird fan gift!” The book came with a handwritten note saying “This book changed my life, I give it to with all my heart…” Brandon Flowers, who earlier this week hinted at a hook-up between the two bands, is a Mormon. He recently appeared on a Swedish chat show, where he defended his beliefs against renowned atheist Richard Dawkins. Watch the video below.


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MormonVoices Declares Best “Mormon Moment” Reporting
November 15, 2012

Houston Chronicle (Texas)

Claiming that Mormonism has lately been “analyzed, criticized, praised, appreciated, and misunderstood,” MormonVoices has identified ten examples of coverage that it views as being accurate, fair, and relevant to the beliefs and practices of today’s members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“At MormonVoices, it’s our un-cheerful mission to call out instances of unfair reporting and try to repair the damage done by inaccuracy and bias in the media,” explained Scott Gordon, Managing Director of MormonVoices. “We’re really glad to have been able to identify so many examples of really well-done reporting, so that readers can see what sources are reliable.”


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Holiday Central: Your guide to helping those in need during the holiday season
November 15, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

PFLAG Salt Lake City will partner with Mormons Building Bridges to prepare a turkey dinner for the homeless youth of Salt Lake County. The meal will be served on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Erika Munsen, of Mormons Building Bridges, said many of Salt Lake City’s homeless youth are gay kids from Mormon homes who feel they have no place to turn. The groups want to start the holiday season by helping serve the vulnerable population. Volunteers are needed to help prepare dishes for 15 people, and to serve meals. Donations to the event–including funds to cover the cost of turkeys–are also encouraged.


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2 suspended BYU football players charged in fight
November 15, 2012

Yahoo Sports

Charges have been filed in a fight that led to the suspension of two Brigham Young University football players.

Prosecutors in Provo, Utah, say they filed misdemeanor assault charges against 20-year-old Matthew Santos, 21-year-old Alexander Jackman, 21-year-old Zachary Stout and 23-year-old Joe Sampson.
Provo police say they responded to reports of an assault at the Rancherito restaurant early in the morning on Nov. 1. Officers used surveillance videos to identify people in the incident.


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Metaphors all line up in sensual finale
November 16, 2012

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Call me slow, but it has taken me five movies to figure out who and what the Cullens really are. They are not vampires. They are Mormons, at least in a spiritual sense, as you might expect from a writer who cites The Book of Mormon as her strongest influence. They have moved so far west to escape persecution that they live deep in the forest near Forks, Washington, on the edge of America. The Mormons ended up in Utah after being persecuted wherever they set up communities during the 1840s. That’s why the Cullens are such nice vampires; they are family-oriented, opposed to eating humans, and led by the charismatic and caring doctor and elder in Carlisle Cullen, the Joseph Smith of the series.

The metaphors all line up in the final movie when the Volturi decide to make war on the Cullens over the birth of an ”immortal child”. The Volturi live in Italy as the reigning powers of the vampire world. They wear dark ecclesiastical cloaks with scarlet linings. Their leader Aro (Michael Sheen) is a scheming, red-eyed villain with mystical powers. They are rich, corrupt and autocratic. V as in vampire and Volturi, or V as in Vatican?


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Embracing diversity: Religious intersections at Princeton
November 15, 2012

Daily Princetonian (New Jersey)

Kate Wadman ’16 gets up every Sunday at 7 a.m. to sing exuberantly with the Chapel Choir. Immediately after, she takes the Dinky to Trenton to attend services at the Church of Latter Day Saints. She is Mormon. And she sees absolutely no conflict.

“I love being Mormon,” Wadman says. “And I definitely think Chapel Choir is a very accepting group. When we sing in English we sometimes change the words in our songs to be more applicable to various religions, and although the services we sing for on Sundays are Christian, they are ecumenical and don’t favor one branch over another.”


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Mitt Romney’s misperception of President Obama’s ‘gifts’
November 15, 2012

Los Angeles Times (California)

Romney’s best self–the one that gave tirelessly and deeply to his fellow parishoners in the Mormon church and who worked with opponents to make progress in Massachusetts–made an appearance now and then. But that Mitt Romney didn’t seem, often enough, like the one who was running for president.


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New Bobcat excited to join men’s Sweet 16 squad
November 14, 2012

Athens News (Ohio)

After graduating from high school in 2007, Wilkins took a two-year hiatus from schooling and sports to go on a Mormon mission. Following this mission trip, Wilkins played basketball at Snow College, where he shot 48 percent from the field, including 46 percent from three-point range, and averaged 17.2 points in playing nearly 30 minutes per game. These numbers garnered him National Junior College Athletic Association Division I All-America third-team honors, while his 3.95 GPA cemented his status as an academic All-American.


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