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16 November 2011

The Religious Experience of Mormonism

November 16, 2011


The religious experience of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on a spiritual witness from God that inspires both heart and mind, creating an interpersonal relationship directly with the divine. It does not require one to pass a rigorous theological test. Nor does it demand the extreme self-denial and seclusion of asceticism. Rather, this unique individual experience unfolds in the natural course of everyday living. Thus, the beliefs of Latter-day Saints are not rooted in concepts and principles, detached from the realities of life. They are grounded in a much deeper level of experience that motivates individuals to action.

Furthermore, religious experience is too varied and indefinable for systematic theology to fully account for. At the same time, it is not simply relative to the passing whims of each individual believer. For Latter-day Saints, it must be founded on revealed truth. Emphasizing the important role that doctrine plays in guiding religious experience, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged Latter-day Saints to internalize that truth: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.”

Thus, the religious experience of Latter-day Saints is both sufficiently anchored in rationality to satisfy the mind and sufficiently independent from intellectual systems to satisfy the spirit. President Packer described this relationship as “a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.” In a society that limits so much of human experience to the known boundaries of scientific knowledge, religious experience is often dismissed. If all religious experience was bound by a system, there would be little room for mankind’s boundless potential for spiritual growth. God expects His children to continually stretch their horizons and broaden their understanding of things both secular and religious.


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Music and Inspiration Highlight Mormon Latino Devotional

November 15, 2011


Spanish-speaking members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enjoyed this year’s annual Latino devotional, “En la Luz de Su Amor” (“In the Light of His Love”). Elder Claudio D. Zivic of the Seventy, a native of Argentina, and Elder Gary B. Doxey, of the Seventy, shared uplifting messages associated with the conference’s theme, and a large choir provided beautiful music sung in Spanish.

As in past years, thousands of Spanish-speaking members from the community gathered for the event held at the Conference Center at Temple Square.

“We have a large Latino community in and around Utah with a rich heritage,” said Loren Ashcraft, a senior producer for Latino events in Utah. “Our goal is to bring the regional Latino community together for an evening of music and inspirational messages.”


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Mitt Romney’s candidacy: Would you be comfortable voting for a Mormon president?

November 15, 2011

AnnArbor.com (Michigan)

So, let’s get right to the point: Would you be comfortable or uncomfortable with a Mormon president? If you feel comfortable with the idea, then you are in the majority. Just over half of voters (53 percent) said they would be somewhat or very comfortable with a Mormon as president. But if you said uncomfortable, you also have plenty of company — 42 percent said they would be somewhat or very uncomfortable.
More Democrats feel uncomfortable (50 percent) than Republicans (36 percent) or Independents (38 percent) with the idea of a Mormon president. But even more Democrats (70 percent) and more Republicans (80 percent) are uncomfortable with an atheist in the highest office. A majority of Independents (56 percent) would also be uncomfortable with a nonbeliever in the Oval Office. Religion is a still a prerequisite for election to the American presidency.


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Keep Religion Out of Politics

November 15, 2011

Huffington Post

A Baptist pastor describes the Mormon faith as a “cult” and proclaims that he would prefer not to vote for a Mormon candidate. Another Christian leader calls for Americans to elect “a man of sincere, authentic, genuine Christian faith.”

Here we go again.

Another presidential election year has brought with it another infusion of religion into politics.

Talking to reporters a few weeks ago, Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas called the Mormon faith “a cult” and said he would prefer “a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian.”

At the recent Values Voter Summit, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said that the “ideal profile of the next president of the United States” should be “a man of sincere, authentic, genuine Christian faith.”

Both assertions are deeply misguided and profoundly undemocratic.


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Yale professor cites similarities between Mormons, Southern Baptists

November 15, 2011

Associated Baptist Press

Southern Baptists who question Gov. Mitt Romney’s Christianity have more in common with Mormonism than they know, Yale literary critic and author Harold Bloom opined in a New York Times commentary Nov.12.

Under an op-ed headline “Will This Election Be the Mormon Breakthrough?” Bloom agreed that Mormonism as envisioned by founding prophet Joseph Smith “was as much a departure from historical Christianity as Islam was and is.”

“But then, so in fact are most manifestations of what is now called religion in the United States, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God Pentecostalists and even our mainline Protestant denominations,” Bloom continued.

Bloom revisited assertions from his influential 1992 book The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation, which argued that the central religious experience on the American continent has been European Christianity in name only.

Bloom identified the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints and the Southern Baptist Convention as the two best expressions of an American religion distinguished by an elevation of a personal and individual experience of God.


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Mormon Health Code Has Proven Results

November 15, 2011

Houston Chronicle

The Word of Wisdom is something Mormons are known for all over the world. This counsel came about in 1833 when Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma, was disgusted after cleaning up the tobacco spittle from the floor following her husband’s meetings. Joseph Smith then prayed to ask the Lord what to do concerning such a matter and received the modern revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 89.

Besides avoiding addictive substances, the Word of Wisdom counsels us of things that are good for the body. For example, we are told to eat meat sparingly and to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

This law of health has always existed. In the Bible, Daniel, and his three friends, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego, were taken captive by the Babylonians. Fortunately for them, they were spared from slavery and sent to King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace to be taught the Babylonian language and culture. When the king offered them “unclean” meats, rich desserts, and wine, they refused. Instead they ate fruits and vegetables and drank water. In ten days, they appeared healthier-even to the point of having a healthy glow- than all the others in the king’s court.


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Provo Mormon bishop may face criminal charge for not reporting sex abuse, police say

November 15, 2011

Deseret News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Tuesday reporting that the church has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to abuse.

“Congregational leaders are instructed to obey the law and have access to a 24-hour helpline to assist them,” according to the statement. “We contacted local authorities as soon as we learned of the situation and will continue to work with them until it is resolved.”

Police and city prosecutors met to discuss potential misdemeanor charges of failure to report an alleged abuse against Bishop Amado Rojas in connection with an incident from August. Siufanua said prosecutors agreed to file the charge, but no charges had been filed as of Tuesday evening.


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Lincoln used skilled diplomacy to charm the once-hostile Mormons

November 15, 2011

Standard Examiner (Utah)

The crude, casual racism of a long-ago era is striking in this Nov. 28, 1860 Deseret News advertisement from merchant George Goddard. It reads, “Abe Lincoln, Republican, elected by a large majority!!!, immense excitement!, Democrats all but crazy!!!, Niggers rejoicing at the prospect of freedom!!! and before they are all let loose — over 4,000,000, Geo. Goddard is determined to close out his present stock of goods at the following reduced prices: What follows is a list or ordinary merchandise, everything from grey overshirts, to fine tooth brushes, to tobacco to McGuffey’s Readers, etc.

Mr. Goddard’s published bigotry underscores the hostility that Utah’s Latter-day Saint hierarchy greeted the presidential election of Republican Abraham Lincoln 151 years ago. Historian George U. Hubbard, writing in the Spring, 1963 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly, notes that the election of Lincoln was greeted with derisive speeches by Mormon leaders, including Church President Brigham Young and apostle George A. Smith. As Hubbard writes in, “Abraham Lincoln as seen by the Mormons,” the Illinois president was described as “weak as water” or as a “King Abraham” who would oversee the destruction of the United States. Prominent Mormon John D. Lee, who would later be executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, referred to Lincoln as “the Black Republican,” recounts Hubbard.


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Romney Tax Return Offers a Glimpse

November 15, 2011

New York Times

Ann Romney, the wife of Mitt Romney, increased her donations to a family foundation by $1.5 million last year, raising its total assets to $10 million, according to a tax return filed on Tuesday.

The foundation handed out $647,500 in donations last year, bringing its total to $7.1 million since 1999. The largest donation in 2010, $145,000, went to the Mormon Church, to which Mr. Romney and his wife belong.

Over the years, the foundation has given about $4.8 million to the Mormon Church and at least $525,000 to Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution where Mr. Romney earned his bachelor’s degree.


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The New Religious Bigots

November 16, 2011


Enter religious-bigotry-by-proxy. It was not by co-incidence that Rev. Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was asked to introduce Rick Perry to a group of social conservatives in Washington in October. Rev. Jeffress took the occasion to declare that Rick Perry was a Christian and Mitt Romney was not, for which he was taken to task on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” Rev. Jeffress’ response to Matthews was calculated, well-rehearsed and rather clever. People should be able to vote for a Mormon if he’s the best politician available, Rev. Jeffress’ said, but all other things being equal, you’re better off voting for a Christian. Besides, he said, Mormonism is a cult.

Of course, when anyone mentions the word ‘cult’ it tends to make people think of something vaguely criminal and pathological, which Chris Matthews was quick to point out. Rev. Jeffress hastened to add that he meant only that Mormonism is a “theological cult.” But the damage had been done–once you use the word ‘cult,’ the mental associations jump into place. You can’t unring the bell, as the lawyers say.

Sometimes people ask this writer if Mormonism (or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is part of Christianity, or something separate. The answer is interesting to students of comparative religion, but it should have no relevance to the choices I make in a presidential election. Mitt Romney isn’t running to be elected as the rector of my church; he’s running to be the GOP nominee for President of the United States. To meet my obligations both as a Christian and as an American citizen, I should consider only his qualifications as a candidate. His religion shouldn’t enter my calculations at all.


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Yawn breaks on the beginning of the end of all things Twilight

November 16, 2011

Media Update (South Africa)

The film opens with a really angry Jacob (Taylor Lautner) ripping off his t-shirt and running off in the rain – as one does when one is a werewolf with abs of steel who has just learned that the love of your young teenage life has sent you an invitation to her wedding, at which she will marry your cold-blooded vampire arch-nemesis. That’s right folks, after three movies packed with more teenage angst and suppressed sexuality than you can find at the mall during the school holidays, it’s finally time for Edward (Robert Pattinson) to get into Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) pants and Jacob is not happy. You might remember her begging for it in the previous film, with Edward refusing to sully her virtue (as nice vampire boys do) and insisting on marriage first, sex later. This, I believe, is what happens when Mormons write vampires. To solve this problem, 18-year-old Bella takes a walk down the aisle while her human friends gossip about the likelihood that this is a shotgun marriage. 18-year-olds getting married … it tempts me to make another Mormon comment, but, to be fair, considering Edward is stuck at age 18 for all time, if Bella is going to be his always and forever, best they do this now – we can’t have her appearing older than her hubby for all of time (that would just be tacky).


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BYU’s Vocal Point voted off “Sing-Off” Island

November 15, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune

Monday’s ninth episode of NBC’s show “The Sing-Off” narrowed down the competition from five groups to four, and it was BYU’s Vocal Point’s turn to say their goodbyes.

Vocal Point is Brigham Young University’s premiere contemporary a cappella ensemble. Composed of nine talented young men, the all-Mormon group brought powerful vocal harmonies and charismatic performances to “The Sing Off.

Vocal Point’s members have served their Mormon LDS missions throughout the world and speak seven languages between them. They are also the winners of the 2006 International Championship of A Cappella and were the first runner ups in 2011. On Monday night, they performed renditions of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations and “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown. Vocal Point bid farewell to “The Sing Off” stage with their swan song, “Home” by Michael Buble.


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ROMNEY FLASHBACK: Homosexuality Is ‘Perverse’ And ‘Reprehensible’

November 16, 2011

Think Progress

What has been largely overlooked is that prior to Romney’s unsuccessful senatorial run, his beliefs about gays were, to put it kindly, not so magnanimous. According to several articles in the Boston Globe in the mid ’90s, just before launching his senate run, Romney told an audience of Mormon Church members that homosexuality was “perverse” and “reprehensible.” From the Boston Globe, July 15, 1994:

Speaking last fall to a Mormon Church gathering, Mitt Romney, then on the verge of launching a bid for a US Senate seat, expressed dismay at reports of homosexual behavior in the group and denounced homosexuality as “perverse,” according to several people present at the meeting.

Romney’s alleged comments on homosexual practices were part of a 20-minute address he delivered on November 14 to the Cambridge University Ward, which numbers about 250 to 300 single Mormons.

“He said he was appalled at the incidence of homosexuals in the congregation,” said Rick Rawlins, a 32-year-old Mormon who had previously served as a counselor to the ward’s bishop. “He went on to say that he found homosexuality both perverse and reprehensible.”


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Hoover’s Howlers

November 16, 2011

National Review

Hoover’s alleged homosexuality is news to the FBI agents who worked alongside him. And yet, Black, who grew up as a gay Mormon in Sacramento, considers it a fact. Black’s screenwriting credits read as you’d expect from someone who is an unabashed activist: He won an Oscar for Milk; there’s Pedro (2008) about a gay HIV activist from San Francisco who got on MTV’s Real World; and there’s The Journey of Jared Price (2000), a gay-teen romance. Black’s play, 8, tells the story of the Proposition 8 trial, a theme he returns to in his documentary, 8: The Mormon Proposition, which argues that those bigoted Mormons, not the voters of California, did in gay marriage. Eastwood must have known what kind of screenwriter he was getting in Black.


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Poll: Latinos Were Key Factor in Arizona Recall Vote

November 15, 2011

Fox News Latino

The poll found that white voters were split evenly between Pearce and Lewis. Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Lewis, who also got most of the Independents support, according to the poll.

Pearce won the support of Mormon voters by a 16-point margin. Both Pearce and Lewis are Mormons.

Lewis said that while illegal immigration must be addressed, the solution does not lie in enforcement-only laws.


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New Speed Limit Signs Put Up on Midway Road

November 15, 2011

KRGV (Texas)

HIDALGO COUNTY – New speed limit signs are up along a Hidalgo County road exactly one week after a deadly crash.

The county posted several new 30 mph signs along Midway Road between Weslaco and Donna. Two Mormon missionaries were hit and killed while riding their bikes last Tuesday night.

Hidalgo County Commissioner Joel Quintanilla says workers will also add rumble strips in the near future.


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Claims that LGBT community harassed same-sex marriage opponents not supported by courts

November 15, 2011

Minnesota Independent

In October, NOM and ProtectMarriage.com lost their bid to keep donors to the Proposition 8 campaign anonymous. The groups worked to pass Proposition 8, which repealed the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2008. NOM had argued that disclosing its donors would chill free speech and that widespread violence against Prop 8 supporters would put its donors at risk.

But the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Morrison England, a Bush appointee, found the evidence a bit thin.

[T]he vast majority of the incidents cited by Plaintiffs are arguably, as characterized by defendants, typical of any controversial campaign. For example, picketing, protesting, boycotting, distributing flyers, destroying yard signs and voicing dissent do not necessarily rise to the level of “harassment” or “reprisals,” especially in comparison to acts directed at groups in the past.

Moreover, a good portion of these actions are themselves forms of speech protected by the United States Constitution.

The court also rejected the idea that any activity directed at entities that backed Prop 8, such as the Mormon church, necessarily meant it was due to Prop 8.

“Plaintiffs have produced insufficient evidence that the more incendiary events on which they rely were connected to Proposition 8 or to gay marriage at all,” the judge wrote. “Rather, a number of these incidents were directed at the Mormon church, which, though a backer of California’s proposition, may also have been a target for any of a number of other reasons.”


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The truth about “The Poof”

November 15, 2011

Daily Universe

Yes, Kofoed is a die-hard “poofer,” one of many who have caught on to the big hair trend that has become a defining fashion of Utah women in the past decade.

But the trend is not bound by Utah state lines — it has popped up in surrounding Mormon hot spots in the West, which leads some to believe that big hair has ties to the Mormon culture. Even though big hair made its debut decades ago, it has re-emerged and is without signs of de-volumizing.

“All my friends [from Colorado] have massive hair,” said Kasey Mortensen, a freshman at BYU, a mild participant of the trend. “Big hair is the style; I actually had the least extreme hair back home. I noticed coming into Utah that everyone has really big, teased hair too.”


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Penn State Scandal Emboldens Other Abuse Victims

November 16, 2011

National Public Radio

Several attorneys told NPR they’ve seen a spike in phone calls from people with long-buried secrets. Kelly Clark, an attorney in Portland, Ore., says about 30 of them came forward last week with stories of abuse by Boy Scout leaders, Catholic priests, Mormon leaders and family members. Clark says the events at Penn State have motivated a larger and more diverse group than church scandals have, because a sports scandal reaches a larger audience.


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Catholics Come Home Rolls Out Ads

November 15, 2011

National Catholic Register

Graduate student Andy Woods first heard a Catholics Come Home advertisement on Sacred Heart Radio in Cincinnati a few weeks ago while in his car running errands. When he returned home, he watched the television version on YouTube.

“It was really well done,” said Woods. “You see the Mormon ads popping up all over online. This is something the Catholic Church should be doing. It’s important for the Church to use the same forms of media that constantly attack it to evangelize and defend itself.”

Woods forwarded the ad to his mother, who then forwarded it to her sisters.
Come mid-December, those ads, which have been utilized in 30 dioceses, will air nationally on prime-time network television for the very first time. Beginning Dec. 16 and running through the feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 8, the ads will air more than 400 times, reaching more than 250 million television viewers in over 10,000 U.S. cities and every diocese.


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