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28 December 2013

Church Missionaries Provide Cleanup of Historic Site in Cambodia

December 27, 2013

Mormon Newsroom

More than 100 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in a Christmas service project to help clean the grounds of the Choeung Ek Memorial in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The missionaries from six countries donated 2,000 service hours scrubbing the park’s central monument, parking lots and park entry roads, as well as removing unwanted vegetation from the park’s protective walls.


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Ancient Temple Themes in the Book of Mormon

December 26, 2013

FairMormon Blog

Over at The Nauvoo Times, my latest post, “The Temple in the Book of Mormon,” points to several recent discoveries or scholarly developments that help us better appreciate the influence of ancient temple concepts in the Book of Mormon. One of the topics there that I enjoyed learning about most was the possible role of ancient sacred relics in Nephite religion serving a role similar to the relics of the Ark of the Covenant in the Jewish temple. Here I combine a portion of my previous post with some additional information.


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Mormon Fair-Cast 187: Polygamy Roundtable

December 25, 2013

FairMormon Blog

The Church recently released a new Gospel Topics article addressing plural marriage and families in early Utah. As a supplement to this material, FairMormon is reposting this Special Roundtable Discussion on Polygamy that was hosted by the Interpreter Foundation and posted August 15, 2013. The discussion is moderated by Andrew C. Smith and involves three experts on the history and practice of plural marriage within Church History. Craig L. Foster, Brian C. Hales, and Gregory L. Smith have all published and presented widely on this topic.


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Fair Issues 36: Co-creative Book of Mormon translation

December 27, 2013

FairMormon Blog

Mike Ash shows how a “co-creative” view of revelation explains how and why Joseph Smith updated some of his revelations including some passages in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It is possible that Joseph may have added, perhaps unconsciously, divine inspired insights, words or phrases that may not have been on the original plates. The same can be said for Mormon, the Nephite prophet, who compiled and edited the writings of past Nephite prophets.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.


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Historians size up Mormon Moses: Brigham Young

December 26, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

The LDS Church recently acknowledged that its former ban on blacks being ordained to the all-male priesthood likely originated with Brigham Young, the faith’s charismatic and controversial president from 1847 to 1877.

The newly released essay argued that Young, successor to Mormon founder Joseph Smith, was influenced by the racism of his times. For those knowing little about this modern Moses — who led his band of believers in an arduous cross-country trek to Utah and tried to create Zion in the West — it may be easy to dismiss the LDS leader as a tyrant or a bigot. The reality, scholars say, is much more complex.


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Gay Mormon in Idaho Shares His Story With Local TV, NPR, YouTube

December 28, 2013

Boise Weekly (Idaho)

He began sharing the challenges of his personal life via YouTube. Then, National Public Radio saw the video and asked him to be a guest on a number of their programs. And now, Jamison Manwaring’s hometown television station–Idaho Falls KIDK-TV–is sharing Manwaring’s story with his neighbors.

“It took my parents and family some time to process it,” Manwaring told KIDK-TV.

Manwaring lived as a gay Mormon in extreme privacy, until earlier this year, when he decided to tell his brother and father before posting a video on YouTube. The video has since garnered tens of thousands of hits.


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No Apology: Mormon Church Explains, in 2013, Racist Policy It Ended in 1978

December 26, 2013


Until June 8, 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) officially barred black men of African descent from its priesthood, a policy which it claimed to have changed as a result of “divine guidance.” A little over 35 years later, the LDS Church is finally offering a thorough accounting of that policy, along with a clear statement of condemnation of “all racism, past and present,” but like one of its most famous members, offers “No Apology.”

In 2012, the LDS Church responded to renewed reporting on the policy by releasing a statement which sought to distance the church from the policy, but with an odd claim of ignorance for such a young church:


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Holy fetch! Mormon missionaries called to China?

December 27, 2013

Provo Daily Herald (Utah)

The rumors have persisted for several years. The story usually goes like this: Someone knows someone who knows someone whose child opened an LDS missionary call to find these words: “You are called to serve in the Taiwan mission until China is opened…”

Oh, Mormon rumors!

HolyFetch.com is a website “dedicated to Mormon urban legends, rumors, folklore and gossip.” Here you can find answers to your questions about rumored Mormon celebrities — are they or aren’t they? Also tackled here is watercooler gossip running the gamut from sports and politics to missionaries and conversions.


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Many Mormons welcome church’s explanation on racist past

December 24, 2013

Chicago Sun Times (Illinois)

Many Mormons welcome the first comprehensive explanation from their church on why it previously barred blacks from the priesthood — a ban that ended 35 years ago.

And they commend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for disavowing once long-held views that blacks were cursed or inferior.

But some local black Mormons said they also would have liked an apology.


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Mormon population increases thanks to missionary system and recruiting

December 28, 2013

Easton Star Democrat (Maryland)

Mormonism is the fastest-growing religion in the nation. In Maryland, the population has risen by two-thirds since 2000 to more than 42,000, according to the U.S. Religion Census, an independent study sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.
At the center of those rising numbers, according to experts and members of the church, is a burgeoning and sophisticated missionary program, like the Visitor’s Center, a patient recruiting approach and the appeal of a religion with kind and optimistic members who are part of an immense community.


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Utah residents prepare for Armageddon

December 24, 2013

Voice of Russia

“A lot of times we are thinking in terms of food storage that we are preparing for this major calamity or major disaster or for Armageddon,” said Rick Foster, manager of North America Humanitarian Services with the LDS church. “It’s not about that.”

“It’s about helping all of us individually to get through these bumps that occur in our lives,” he said.

If members are prepared, they can help themselves and others in times of need, Mormons assume.


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Christmas phone call from Mormon missionary brings Madison family together

December 25, 2013

Huntsville Times (Alabama)

It’s the telephone call Julia and John Fellows have waited for since May: The call home from their 19-year-old son, Kent, who is serving a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But when the call came late Christmas afternoon, Julia couldn’t speak. She held her hand to her mouth and blinked back the tears as Kent’s voice greeted her from the receiver. She held the receiver out from her ear, with the speaker on so that John could hear, too.


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LDS church explains racial ban

December 25, 2013

Coolidge Examiner (Arizona)

More than three decades after reversing its prohibition of black priests, the Mormon church has disavowed the ban, saying it was put into place during an era of great racial divide that influenced early teachings of the church.

The nearly 2,000-word statement posted on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ website was the church’s most comprehensive explanation of why it previously had barred men of African descent from the lay clergy. In the article, the church pinned the ban on an announcement from church president Brigham Young in 1852.


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Mormon state to propel gay marriage to top court

December 28, 2013

The Australian

A LEGAL battle over gay marriage in Utah is likely to reach the US Supreme Court after a federal appeals court repeatedly rejected efforts by the deeply conservative state to prevent same-sex couples taking their vows.

The office of Utah’s Attorney-General said it was prepared to take the matter to the nation’s highest court, following the decision on Christmas Eve by the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals to reject its request for an emergency order to put gay marriage on hold.


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After Coming Out, Gay Mormon Finds Support At Home

December 25, 2013

WWNO (Louisiana)

Jamison Manwaring came out to extended family and his church community last spring in a YouTube video. More than 20,000 people have watched it since.

Coming out wasn’t easy, because Manwaring is a Mormon. According to the church, having homosexual feelings is not a sin, but acting upon them is.

When NPR’s Rachel Martin spoke to Manwaring for a Sunday Conversation in March, his immediate family had known he was gay for several years. Now Manwaring, a resident of Salt Lake City, is finding a measure of support within his own church, but he speculates that he might not feel as welcome further out in the suburbs or in smaller Utah towns.


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Mormon state fails to ban gay marriage

December 27, 2013

The Times (United Kingdom)

A legal battle over gay marriage in Utah is likely to reach the US Supreme Court after a federal appeals court repeatedly rejected efforts by the deeply conservative state to prevent same-sex couples taking their vows.


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Mormon-centric Utah epicenter for emergency preparation and food storage

December 24, 2013

The Globe and Mail (Canada)



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First LDS Stake Organized in Togo

December 27, 2013

Meridian Magazine

Nestled between Ghana to the west and Benin to the East, the nation of Togo occupies 22,000 square miles of West Africa. It is about the size of West Virginia in the United States. You may not even have heard of this country, but regardless of wide recognition, miracles are happening there.

“Elder Terence M. Vinson of the Seventy and first counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency, organized the Lomé Togo Stake with the assistance of Elder Norbert K. Ounleu, an Area Seventy from Cote d’Ivoire.


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Transmormon – LGBT-themed short documentary looks at a trans woman in the Mormon faith

December 28, 2013

Big Gay Picture Show

Created by OHO Media (aka Torben Bernhard, Marissa Lila and Travis Low), the film follows Eri Hayward, who ‘was born and raised in Utah County, comes from a conservative Mormon background, was raised in the LDS Church and even went to Mormon private school – but something wasn’t adding up. Eri was born a boy and it was a slow, painful journey for her to recognize she is transgender.’ The short covers a few months as Eri and her family navigate the transition, and she prepares to go to Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery.


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