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18 November 2011

If not Romney, who? If not now, when?

November 17, 2011

Jewish World Review

As we’ve known for years, his negatives are: Romneycare and Mormonism.

We look forward with cheery anticipation to an explosion of news stories on some of the stranger aspects of Mormonism. The articles have already been written, but they’re not scheduled for release until the day Romney wraps up the nomination.

Inasmuch as the Democrats’ only argument for the big-eared beanpole who’s nearly wrecked the country is that you must be a racist if you oppose Obama, one assumes a lot of attention will be lavished on the Mormon Church’s historical position on blacks. Church founder Joseph Smith said blacks had the curse of Cain on them and banned blacks from the priesthood, a directive that was not revoked until 1978.

There’s no evidence that this was a policy fiercely pushed by Mitt Romney. To the contrary, when his father, George Romney, was governor of Michigan, he was the most pro-civil rights elected official in the entire country, far ahead of any Democrat.


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Mormons’ Ad Campaign May Play Out on the ’12 Campaign Trail

November 17, 2011

New York Times

After Sunday worship in recent months, Mormon bishops around the country gathered their congregations for an unusual PowerPoint presentation to unveil the church’s latest strategy for overcoming what it calls its “perception problem.”

Top Mormon leaders had hired two big-name advertising agencies in 2009, Ogilvy & Mather and Hall & Partners, to find out what Americans think of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Using focus groups and surveys, they found that Americans who had any opinion at all used adjectives that were downright negative: “secretive,” “cultish,” “sexist,” “controlling,” “pushy,” “anti-gay.”

On seeing these results, some of those watching the presentation booed while others laughed, according to people at the meetings. But then they were told that the church was ready with a response: a multimillion-dollar television, billboard and Internet advertising campaign that uses the tagline, “I’m a Mormon.” The campaign, which began last year but was recently extended to 21 media markets, features the personal stories of members who defy stereotyping, including a Hawaiian longboard surfing champion, a fashion designer and single father in New York City and a Haitian-American woman who is mayor of a small Utah city.

“We’re not secretive,” Stephen B. Allen, managing director of the church’s missionary department, who is in charge of the campaign, said in an interview. “And we’re not scared of what people think of us. If you don’t recognize the problem, you can’t solve the problem. If nobody tells you you have spinach in your teeth, how would you know?”


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Digging Back Into the Mormonism Mailbag

November 17, 2011

The Atlantic

Yesterday I posted a very long item about the “Mormon question,” a question that keeps gaining salience with the serial self-destruction of each “anyone but Romney” candidate in the GOP field. Since it was so long, here’s the executive summary of my own case:
I can imagine Mormon candidates — or Muslim, Baptist, Jewish, Christian Scientist, etc ones — who were so fundamentalist in applying their faith that to vote for them would be to vote in their religion. Neither Romney nor Huntsman gives off that vibe to me. I’m not going to vote for Mitt Romney, but that’s because of the corelessness of his positions, and the irresponsible warmongering of his talk about Iran, and his shameless bloody-shirtism about the immigrant menace, and many other positions that have no known connection to his faith. For me, Romney the Mormon is exactly as appealing as he would be if he were Catholic, Jewish, Episcopalian, or any other mainstream faith. The only difference is that I would actually find him more appealing if he were an “out” Muslim or atheist, because those would be gutsier stances in the America of our day.


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Mormons launch $6m ad campaign to make people like them

November 18, 2011

America Blog

The Mormons are reportedly spending $6 million on an “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign to convince Americans that they’re really nice people.

The thing is, really nice people don’t try to steal the souls of dead Holocaust victims, and then lie about it, for years, after they get caught.

Nor do they secretly baptize President Obama’s deceased mother into their faith, right before the election, without his knowledge or permission, and then not to tell him.

You know another thing nice people don’t do? They don’t use their billions to politically gay-bash year after year after year.

The Mormons are quite possibly the biggest funder of anti-gay bigotry in America today. The group running the campaign to pass Prop 8 in California, which successfully ripped away the right to wed from gay couples in that state, reports that half of their total donations came from Mormons, and 80% to 90% of their early volunteers were Mormons.


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Jews won’t mind Romney’s Mormonism – but Christians might

November 18, 2011

Ha’aretz (Israel)

My father was crestfallen, then outraged, as were many Jews around the world, especially when it turned out that among the lost Jewish souls that were being nudged up the stairway to LDS heaven there were hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Holocaust victims who had been butchered by the Nazis specifically because they were Jewish and who had, needless to say, never heard of Mormonism while they were still alive.

Responding to the ensuing Jewish outcry, Mormon leaders promised in 1995 to end the baptism by proxy of Holocaust victims, but were found time and time again to have done very little to actually put an end to the practice. It was only in September of last year, after numerous letdowns, crises and threats of going public, that Jewish leaders seemed satisfied that technological safeguards had finally been put in place to physically prevent persistent Mormons from registering Holocaust victims as potential converts.

Thus came to an end, hopefully, the second crisis in the past half century that had cast a cloud over the otherwise excellent relations between the largely philosemitic Mormons and the Jews. The first but far less incendiary controversy had erupted over the opening of the Mount Scopus branch of Brigham Young University but that one was resolved in 1987 when LDS leaders promised to exempt Jerusalem from the Mormon imperative of perpetual proselytizing. The “baptism of the dead” standoff, involving as it does conflicting cherished core values that are central to both groups, had the potential of erupting into a major scandal that could have poisoned the relations between Jews and Mormons for many years to come.


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Mormon voted out of ‘Survivor,’ sent to Redemption Island

November 17, 2011

Deseret News

One of the two Mormons on “Survivor: Pacific Island” was voted out during Wednesday night’s episode.

Seven of the nine remaining survivors sent Dawn Meehan, of South Jordan and an English professor at Brigham Young University, to Redemption Island.


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Retired COS history instructor’s book on Mormon politics an interesting read

November 17, 2011

Visalia Times-Delta (California)

Two noted historians of Mormonism in the United States, Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster, have revised and expanded their 2008 book “The Mormon Quest for the Presidency.” This new, expanded edition takes their account through July 2011.

Certainly Bringhurst and Foster are well suited to their task of chronicling a unique subset of presidential hopefuls. Bringhurst is a retired professor of history and political science at the College of the Sequoias and the author or co-author of dozens of books and articles on Mormonism and Mormon history, including a well-received and highly respected short biography of Brigham Young. Foster is a longtime researcher at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the author or co-author of four books on Mormonism and likewise an active scholar in his field.

Through 12 brisk chapters, Bringhurst and Foster describe how eleven individuals with varying degrees of association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sought the presidency of the United States.


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Suspect Held on $1M Bond in Missionary Hit-and-run Case

November 18, 2011

Magic Valley Times-News (Idaho)

The Mexican national suspected of killing two Mormon missionaries in Texas, including Fairfield native Derek Jason Walker, faces two felonies and is held on $1 million bond.
The Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Jose Luis Garza, 32, was arraigned Nov. 9 in district court on two counts of causing an accident with bodily harm or death, after allegedly hitting a pair of LDS missionaries while they were riding their bikes in Donna, Texas, the night prior.

Walker, 20, who is the son of Camas County 5th District Magistrate Judge Jason Walker, and fellow missionary Trevor Reinhold, 21, of Taylorsville, Utah, died after being stuck by a black car at about 7 p.m. A third missionary, 19-year-old Zachary Harris, of Huntsville, Ala., was injured in the collision, but treated and released later that day.


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Cardon uses polished message in claiming ‘outsider’ status

November 18, 2011

Arizona Capitol Times

Asked whether he supports strict enforcement-only laws to solve the illegal immigration problem or whether he would be open to a more moderate approach being promulgated by the Mormon church — a faith he shares with Flake — Cardon was ever politician-like.

Clearly it was a question he was anticipating.

“If you read the Mormon statement, they talk, and we as Mormons believe, you obey the laws of the land,” he told the Arizona Capitol Times. “I am totally in line with the Mormon statement. I am a compassionate person, but I also understand you have to obey the laws of the land.”

The rare policy position issued in June by the Mormon church also denounces the idea of mass expulsion and targeting a group of people, while it supports avenues for undocumented immigrants to square themselves with the law while still continuing to work in this country.


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Newcomer has a thing for Jo Dogs

November 18, 2011

Times Herald (California)

Fran from Kimball Township: “Why is everyone so concerned about Mitt Romney being a Mormon? The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is a Mormon. You never hear about it in the media. By the way, Mormons are Christians.”


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Sponsors of Prop. 8 have right to defend it, court rules

November 17, 2011

Greeley Gazette (Colorado)

Following the constitutional amendments passage, homosexual activists threatened violence against individual voters who voted for the measure. Some of the threats were:
I have never considered being a violent radical extremist for our Equal Rights, But now I think maybe I should consider becoming one
Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT.
I’m going to give them something to be f – ing scared of. … I’m a radical who is now on a mission to make them all pay for what they’ve done
Burn their f-ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers.
I hope the No on 8 people have a long list and long knives
Trust me. I’ve got a big list of names of mormons and catholics that were big supporters of Prop 8. … As far as mormons and catholics … I warn them to watch their backs.


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WILLIAM Hopoate has officially embarked on what will be the longest pre-season in NRL history.

November 18, 2011

Sports News First (Australia)

As he begins his Mormon mission, 24 months of training both on his fitness and with weights, combined with a healthy eating regime, is the closest thing Hopoate will come to elite level rugby League for the next two years.

“I was talking to the training staff and they have given me some guidelines on what to eat and what to do (gym wise),” Hopoate told Eels Reels.

“I’m going to have to be self motivated to take on their advice so I don’t come back a prop.

“I don’t think any player likes pre-season but the pre-season I’m going to be coming back to (at the end of 2013) I’m definitely going to look forward to getting my hands on the ball and being in the team environment again.”

While many players have done it – including former Cronulla Shark Fraser Anderson and former Gold Coast Titan Jordan Rapana – none had reached the heights of Hopoate before pressing pause on their League career.

At age 19, Hopoate will return to Parramatta in 2014, where he will begin the first of a two-year deal with the club after completing his Queensland-based mission.

“We’ll just be teaching people about our religion, about Jesus Christ,” said Hopoate.


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10 Election Things You Need To Know Today

November 18, 2011

Huffington Post

PERCEPTION PROBLEM: Aware that it has an image problem, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a multi-million dollar media campaign in 21 markets. One of the ads, which includes pictures of a diverse range of people and uses the tagline, “I’m a Mormon,” will appear in The New York Times on Friday. Missing from the promos are images and/or testimonials from Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, two Mormons running for the GOP presidential nomination. The church is reportedly not airing the campaign in states that have early primaries in order to avoid the perception that it is trying to influence politics. (The New York Times)


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Academics blast final installment of Twilight

November 17, 2011

Toronto Star (Canada)

Jen Aubrey says author Stephenie Meyer, a Mormon, ratcheted up her socially conservative agenda in the final Twilight book, on which Summit Entertainment’s highly anticipated movie is based.

“It only stands to reason she would make a story that fleshes out her views on morality,” says the professor, stopping short of suggesting the author is an instrument of the Mormon Church.


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What would the White House be like with a Mormon president? Pretty much the same

November 18, 2011

Daily Caller

Two Republican presidential candidates — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — practice a religion that many Americans don’t quite understand. But would having a Mormon in the White House actually change anything in the day-to-day workings of the presidency?

Not really.

“I think everyone will find it very boring or normal in the White House itself,” said Joanna Brooks, a Mormon and a columnist at religiousdispatches.org.

“There’d be a Book of Mormon, maybe, in the nightstand,” said Brooks, grasping at straws to come up with some things that would change. Of course, she pointed out, there’s already one in the nightstand in every Marriott hotel room in America.

Mormons obey the Word of Wisdom, a religious law that prohibits consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea and illegal drugs. But does that mean that under a President Romney or Huntsman, the White House would go dry and sleep-deprived aides wouldn’t be permitted to refuel with coffee?

“I would absolutely predict and bet a thousand bucks that you would not have a dry White House,” Chuck Warren, a Republican strategist and a practicing Mormon, told The Daily Caller.


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Religion, Economy Loom Big in 2012 Election

November 18, 2011

Christian Broadcasting Network

The survey showed voters were unconcerned about whether a candidate’s faith is the same as their own.

Only 19 percent say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate whose beliefs were very different.

Fifty-three percent say they would be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very comfortable’ with a Mormon serving as president.

However, 42 percent say a Mormon president would make them uncomfortable.


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‘The Joy Behar Show’ ending after two years on HLN

November 18, 2011

Digital Spy

The Joy Behar Show premiered on HLN on September 29, 2009 and quickly became a hit with viewers.

During her tenure on HLN, Behar received a GLAAD Award nomination in 2010 for an episode of her series dealing with the Mormon church and homosexuality.


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NHL honours Grande Prairie football coach just weeks after four of his players killed

November 18, 2011

Edmonton Journal (Canada)

Grande Prairie Composite co-workers have told Robertson of their amazement at Gilson’s ability to carry on, helped in part by a Mormon faith that the boys went to a better place when they were killed.

“They said he’s just a rock,” said Robertson, who now teaches junior high in Hythe. “His faith carried him through everything that had happened with his four players and the rest of his team, when a lot of teams might just fold up and die.”


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Five favorites On Faith

November 17, 2011

Washington Post

Is this Mormonism’s moment?

A panel debate on how religions assimilate in America and how Mormonism is emerging into the mainstream.

Bonus round: Tony Blair, the Dalai Lama, Rick Warren, Mormon president Thomas Monson, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and a host of other leaders examine what we have learned about religion in the ten years since 9/11/2011.


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Coming Up — November 7, 2012: A REALLY Wild Ride

November 17, 2011

Op Ed News

Huntsman surveys the field. Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer have just dropped out and endorsed the leading outsider. Rick Perry is a ghost and Huntsman sees Newt as capable but full of himself, Santorum as insane, Herman Cain as a hurricane waiting to happen, Bachman as Rick in drag, and that leaves only two. Endorsing Romney will look like a Latter Day conspiracy and Ron Paul’s age makes getting Romney out of the way his best bet for 2016. Besides that, Huntsman’s endorsement will be viewed as the first mainstream, centrist approval of Paul. Doing so kills a second bird, his being perceived as overly cautious and too statesmen like. Nevada is his last chance but the Mormon machine is coalesing around Romney. He goes bold, knowing that Secretary of State is a sure thing and VP is a possibility with Paul.


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“FAIR Conversations,” Episode 12: Steven L. Peck on Evolution (part 1 of 2)

November 17, 2011


In this episode of “FAIR Conversations,” associate professor of biology Steven L. Peck discusses the relationship between science and religion. Latter-day Saints have long praised the blessings of science, including medical advances and various technological developments. But our relationship with various scientific theories hasn’t invariably been particularly cozy, particularly on the subject of evolution. A 2009 Pew Forum survey asking respondents if evolution is the best explanation for human life discovered that the general American public is evenly divided, with 48% saying it is the best explanation and 45% rejecting that position. Strikingly, only 22% of Mormons say it is the best explanation for human life, with three-in-four (75%) disagreeing. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses rank lower, at 90%.

Although the survey’s phrasing may skew the stats a little, Peck feels that many Latter-day Saints do reject evolution without knowing that Mormons need not do so. In part one of this episode, Peck gives a basic overview of the idea of “science” and how it helps us better understand the world. He also outlines the theory of evolution and describes some of its yet-to-be-solved puzzles. He tackles a few common questions like: “Science has been so wrong in the past, how can we rely on it in the present with any confidence?” and “If evolution is true, why don’t we see half monkey-men walking around today?”


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