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10 December 2012

Mormons Celebrate Christmas
December 10, 2012


A few Christian groups decline to celebrate Christmas, and many people mistakenly believe Mormons are one such group.

Mormons do celebrate Christmas, and always have. Mormon Sunday services in December often feature Christmas themes and congregations sing traditional Christmas carols. Some Mormon chapels offer nativity displays for public viewing. Many LDS temples, including those in Salt Lake City Utah, Washington DC, Oakland California, and Mesa Arizona, feature elaborate Christmas displays with lights and music.


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Orrin Hatch On A Mission To Show Mormons Are Christians, Too
December 10, 2012

US News and World Report

The nomination of Mitt Romney as the GOP presidential candidate may have brought the Mormon faith into the mainstream, but Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch believes the religion still has a long way to go.

“People don’t think Mormons are Christian,” he tells Whispers. “That’s totally wrong. [As a Mormon] you can hardly move without hearing the name of Jesus Christ. We’re fervent believers in Jesus Christ.”

Although there are key differences between Mormonism and mainstream Christian doctrine, such as their understanding of creation, Mormons describe themselves as Christians. And Hatch uses the bible to explain why in his new book, “An American, A Mormon and A Christian.”


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Russia’s anti-Mormon campaign
December 11, 2012

The Telegraph (United Kingdom)

Yekaterina Steniakina is one of Russia’s young politicians, the leader of the influential pro-Kremlin movement called the Youth Guards. She has dyed blonde hair and a forceful voice, and she’s determined to change many things about the present state of her country starting with the Mormons.

Ms Steniakina is leading the charge to change Russia’s legislation and ban Mormon missionaries from the nation. Though the number of Mormons living inside the country is small around 400 foreign missionaries and 21,000 registered members at last count they are a relatively visible presence in Russia’s larger cities. The missionaries hand out the Book of Mormon to those who might be interested, give free English lessons, and spend three hours a day cleaning public places or helping people around their homes.


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Mormon ex-lesbian on how she’s happily married to a man as she tries to free others from ‘overwhelming same-sex desires’
December 10, 2012

Daily Mail (United Kingdom)

A happily-married Mormon mother of three who, 30 years ago, was living her life as a lesbian, is speaking out about same-sex attraction on a new website created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Laurie Campbell, 52, who considers her earlier life as a lesbian a sin, hopes to give other Mormons the tools to overcome their homosexual desires by speaking out on her own successful marriage to a man.
She told Deseret News: ‘I’m reaching out to those who are not happy with their orientation, who don’t want to be gay, and who want to free themselves from overwhelming desires that create conflict.’


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Russia’s Anti-Mormon Campaign
December 9, 2012

Daily Beast

Steniakina is leading the charge to change Russia’s legislation and ban Mormon missionaries from the nation. Though the number of Mormons living inside the country is small–around 400 foreign missionaries and 21,000 registered members at last count–they are a relatively visible presence in Russia’s larger cities. The missionaries hand out the Book of Mormon to those who might be interested, give free English lessons, and spend three hours a day cleaning public places or helping people around their homes.

Steniakina, who says the Latter-day Saints are a “totalitarian cult” sent by the FBI and the CIA “to fool and covert” unwitting Russians, is making her anti-Mormon campaign her top priority for the next political season. Specifically, she’s agitating to add language that would ban “the West [from converting] our citizens into non-traditional religions”–i.e. anything other than Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. She already has a seat in Moscow’s city hall, and she is certain Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will back her push, if it makes it all the way to the Duma.


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Mormon church in Richmond draws in Latino converts
December 10, 2012

Richmond Confidential (California)

In the last decade, the Mormon church has increased its membership by nearly 2 million people, making it the fastest-growing religion in the world. At the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Richmond, its members demonstrate the success the church has made in Latin America, the place of origin for many new converts.


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Openly gay singer Justin Utley speaks of Mormon church’s website outreach to LGBT | VIDEO
December 10, 2012

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (California)

CNN’s Susan Hendricks discusses MormonsAndGays.org website and the apparent shift in the Mormon church with a current and a former Mormon.

Openly gay singer Justin Utley, who has performed at the past two San Diego Pride festivals, is a former Mormon who underwent the widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy. Utley faced off against Ty Mansfield, who met each other during reparative therapy. Mansfield, whose story is featured on the new website, told Hendricks that he is now married to a woman and has a baby son.

Utley expressed skepticism that the website marked much of a change for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormons, and he pointed out how the church got a black eye after pouring $32 million into the fight to pass California’s Proposition 8. He said church leaders are now trying to repair the collateral damage, especially now that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to review the Prop 8 case in late March 2013.


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It’s Official: White Evangelical Support for Romney Not Dampened by Mormon Factor
December 10, 2012

Religion Dispatches

Of special interest to the Pew was the voting behavior of white evangelical Christians, a group with a substantial history of antipathy towards Mormonism. But white evangelicals supported Romney as strongly as they supported George W. Bush–both candidates received 79% of the white evangelical vote. (Romney received more support among white evangelicals than John McCain in 2008.)

About 60% of white evangelicals said they “strongly favored” Romney, and about 30% said they had “some reservations”–proportions just about equivalent to those reported for Romney voters overall. In the voting booth, partisanship trumped sectarianism. As we knew it would.


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Utah’s Dixie was steeped in slave culture, historians say
December 10, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

In 1857, Mormon convert Robert Dockery Covington was dispatched by church leaders to Utah’s Virgin River Basin to lead a “cotton mission” because of his experience on Mississippi plantations.

Not as well known is historical evidence that Covington, a revered figure in Utah history who died in 1902, and his fellow Washington County settlers included former slave drivers and Rebel sympathizers during the Civil War. Covington enjoyed recounting how he raped and used lethal violence on disobedient blacks and celebrated Confederate battlefield victories, according to a narrative by fellow settler George Hicks.


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Tourist Tip #107 / Top of the Mormon to you
December 10, 2012

Ha’aretz (Israel)

For millennia, Jerusalem has been considered the center of the world for monotheistic faiths. Far from the hustle and bustle of the much-visited religious sites of the Old City are a number of gems hidden in other parts of Jerusalem.

High up on a list of such sites is the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center on Mount Scopus. Belonging to the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, which undertook not to engage in any missionary activities before being granted permission to erect the center, in 1987.

Today the center is known mainly due to the free concerts that take place there every Sunday in its 334-seat auditorium. The genre of music played at the concerts varies from classical to jazz and ethnic music. To get free concerts tickets and a concert schedule, visitors should send an email ahead of time to concerts@jc.byu.ac.il. You can also try to get standby tickets by arriving at the center at 7 P.M., an hour before the performance begins, and wait to see if there are any available seats.


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Of faith and frostbite: a review of True Sisters
December 10, 2012

High Country News

In the 2012 presidential election, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerged from the shadows with the first Mormon candidate for the nation’s highest office. Colorado writer Sandra Dallas’s 11th novel examines the history of a religion not widely understood outside its Utah base, where 62 percent of residents identify as Mormon. True Sisters illuminates the disastrous 1856 Martin Handcart Company journey from Iowa City to Salt Lake, introducing us to a fascinating group of mostly Scottish emigrants.


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Conservative pundit George Will: ‘The opposition to gay marriage is dying’
December 10, 2012


Attitudes are changing across the country. The Mormon Church released a new same-sex attraction website last week. A Gallup poll released Dec. 5 shows 53 percent of Americans supporting marriage equality.


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Mormon missionaries enjoy sunshine, cool temperatures at the square
December 10, 2012

Rapid City Journal (South Dakota)

Elder Klint Garner, of Rexburg, Idaho, strapped on skates for the first time Monday, testing his skills on the ice rink with fellow missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The group took a break from mission duties to skate at Main Street Square.

Garner explained that one day a week is usually spent shopping, exercising and doing laundry. And Monday also left some time for skating.


When exotic investments are too good to be true
December 10, 2012


Keith Woodwell knew something was amiss the moment he unwrapped the Christmas present from Ross Moore. Woodwell and Moore — both Utahans, both Mormons, both graduates of Brigham Young University, both lawyers — had become tight friends after both, in parallel bursts of patriotism inspired by 9/11, decided to devote themselves to their country and entered the same CIA training program. Their lives had intertwined further as their wives had become close and their children played together. By late 2006, Woodwell was serving in the spy agency, posing as a U.S. embassy employee in Australia while gathering intelligence on Southeast Asia. Moore had tired of the demands of the job and moved back to Utah, a civilian once again.


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Guest Opinion: Beck, Marriage and The State of The Union
December 10, 2012

Catholic Online

Faced with this unyielding opposition, the Mormon Church wisely reconsidered its position on polygamy. Mormons desperately wanted to be included in the American Union. They were willing to give up a sincerely held tenet of their new religion in order to gain acceptance.

This turnabout led to one of the funniest episodes in congressional history. When Church Elder Reed Smoot was elected by Utah to serve in the U.S. Senate, he was vigorously opposed. Critics said that even though Smoot was not a polygamist himself, he had strongly supported polygamy as one of the Mormon Council of Twelve. Idaho Sen. William E. Borah, a fellow Republican and also a Mormon with only one wife, rose to argue for seating Smoot. “I would rather serve in this august body with a polygamist who doesn’t polyg than with a monogamist who doesn’t monog.” Smoot was seated. Washington scuttlebutt had it that T.R.’s daugher, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, was only with difficulty dissuaded from naming her newborn daughter Deborah (from Borah).


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Utah County poised to get its first mosque
December 10, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

At the Planning Commission, there were some people who had some issues with a mosque being there,” City Planner Jason Bench said Monday. “But, overall, I don’t think there was any issue.”

In fact, Bench sees the proposed Islamic Center — along with planned storefronts — at 935 S. State as a welcome addition to the Mormon-dominated city.

“Building the mosque,” he said, “would help the community in general in being open to more religions.”


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Ask Larry: Real Danger of Old Age Is Outliving Your Savings
December 10, 2012


You are asking about spousal benefits, I assume. If you got divorced from all three former spouses, but were married to one or more of them for 10 or more years, you are eligible for spousal benefits. Can’t you find someone who knows when and where you got married? Look at some old wedding pictures or ask some relatives. Once you know, you should be able to locate the marriage certificate in the local town office. Or check with your local Mormon Church. The Mormons have been putting these records on microfiche for years.


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Trail of Blood: Israel Keyes’ Serial Murders End with a Suicide, but No Answers
December 10, 2012


Keyes was born in 1978 in Utah to a Mormon family, one of ten siblings. At some point, his family moved to Stevens County, Wash. The family home schooled the boy and sometimes attended The Ark, a white supremacist church linked with the Christian Identity movement, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He served in the U.S. Army from 1998 to 2000 and was honorably discharged, records show.


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