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13 January 2012

“On Faith” Blog: Mormons in the Mainstream

January 12, 2012

Washington Post

On the “On Faith” blog today, Michael Otterson comments on the study on Mormons released today by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

Over the years we’ve learned quite a bit from opinion polls about how Americans view Mormons. Clearly, there is a big knowledge gap about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, complicated by a lot of erroneous assumptions.

But this morning we saw something different with the release of an important study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which put questions to Mormons themselves about how they see their place in the religious and secular world, and what they think is important about their own faith. It delivers some fascinating data.


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What 2012 means to Mormons

January 11, 2012

Washington Post

Every Mormon I know has been watching Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign with close interest because of the kinship we feel with him. And, for his part, Romney has used Mormon social and business networks to enlist bundlers, donors, and volunteers. Those networks may play a role in key campaign states like Nevada. But it would be a mistake to believe that all Mormons plan to vote for Romney this fall. Some Mormon conservatives feel strongly about Ron Paul’s economic message, and a substantial minority of us-about 15 to 20 percent–are Democrats and will vote for Barack Obama this November.

However we vote and whatever happens to Mitt Romney, Mormons across the political spectrum are riveted by the kind of attention our faith is getting in the national media. Mormons know that our religion seems exotic and even esoteric, and we chuckle when we compare sensationalistic media depictions of Mormonism to our everyday lives. Surveys show that most Americans still have little to no understanding of what Mormons believe. Mormon habits of social insularity may inadvertently contribute to this understanding: like many religious minorities, LDS people often prefer to socialize and marry within our own communities.


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What do Mormons think about the ‘Mormon moment’?

January 11, 2012

Washington Post

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Mormon who would say “we hate all this attention.” It’s a great chance to do some evangelizing! But here’s how the conversation goes in real life:

Mr. Jones: Hey, Mr. Smith, I’ve been noticing a lot of talk about Mormons in the media. Would you mind if I asked you some questions about your religion?

Mr. Smith (excitedly): Sure! I love talking to my friends about my faith. It’s what has helped me and my family be so happy my whole life.

Mr. Jones: Tell me, do you really get to have your own planet? And what’s up with the magic underpants?

Mr. Smith (chuckling nervously): Well, I wouldn’t really consider those to be big parts of what I believe…

Mr. Jones: I read that Harold Bloom called your leader a “plutocratic oligarch.” Is that true?

Mr. Smith: I really need to get back to work now.


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FAIR Examination 7: Therapy and same-sex attraction-David Matheson

January 11, 2012


David Matheson is a licensed professional counselor at the Center for Gender Wholeness in Salt Lake City, Utah. His practice focuses on helping people with unwanted same-sex attraction. David received his Masters of Science degree in Counseling and Guidance from Brigham Young University in 1996. Afterwards, he practiced for seven years as a psychological assistant under Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. During his tenure, he co-created the “Journey into Manhood” experiential weekend with Ben Newman and began serving on the board of directors of People Can Change.

He is an active member of the Church and shares how the gospel of Jesus Christ has influenced his desire to serve men with same-sex attraction. He talks about some modern approaches and how these approaches fit within the stances of major medical institutions and the relationship with the Church. He shares stories of success as well as some potential for harm associated with therapy. He clarifies some common misconceptions around therapy and the need to make this therapy available for those seeking it. He talks about how family, friends and leaders can help people with same-sex attraction and how that fits in with their duty to bear one another’s burdens.


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Romney’s Faith: Behind Mormonism

January 12, 2012

Mormons tackle Americans’ skepticism of their religion. (Video)


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Mormons ‘face more bigotry than black Americans’ as one third of church members say U.S. not ready to elect Romney president

January 12, 2012

Daily Mail (United Kingdom)

Nearly half of Mormons say church members face significant discrimination in the United States, and a third believe voters are not ready to elect Mitt Romney, or any other member of their church, president.

A survey of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life comes as the former Massachusetts governor fights to keep his GOP front-runner status.


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Mormons say voters will send them to the White House

January 12, 2012

Star Tribune (Minnesota)

A majority of Mormons believe that Americans are ready to elect a Mormon president, according to a new poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.

The poll is significant because it’s believed to be the first survey of its kind by a non-Mormon organization. It was conducted late last year and covered a spectrum of cultural and religious issues, including politics.


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Mormons feel rooted and happy, but marginalized, poll finds

January 12, 2012

Los Angeles Times (California)

Mormons sometimes refer to themselves as a “peculiar people,” a reference to what they believe is a unique covenant with God. Yet as they bask in what has been called the Mormon Moment — and may soon be the Mitt Moment — a new survey suggests that many also hold uncommon views about their place in American life, feeling deeply rooted but outside the mainstream.

Nearly half the Mormons believe they are victims of discrimination, and many feel particular enmity from evangelical Christians, according to the survey released Thursday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. But the survey also showed that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among the most happily settled and optimistic of Americans.


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Study portrays Mormons as outsiders looking in

January 12, 2012

Washington Post

In some ways, Mormonism is the ultimate American religion. Born in America, it was unveiled by an American prophet who believed the Constitution was divinely inspired and the Garden of Eden bloomed in Independence, Mo.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown from six members gathered around a charismatic New Yorker named Joseph Smith in 1830 to nearly six million believers in the U.S. alone. Richard Ostling, a religion expert and co-author of the book “Mormon America,” calls it “the most successful faith ever born on American soil.”


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US Mormons Say They are Misunderstood Despite Romney Candidacy

January 12, 2012

Voice of America

As Dave and his wife Andrea sit on the sofa with their two small children on their laps, the Cooks have the look of the all-American family. But they belong to one of the least understood faiths in America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon church is officially known.

“Some people know a lot about our church. Some people don’t know anything about our church,” Dave Cook says. “There’s a lot of misperceptions about Mormons.”

Mormons make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, around 6 million people. Another 8 million Mormons live abroad. But in the United States, some of the misperceptions Dave Cook speaks of are being challenged.


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Mormons see mainstream acceptance ahead for church

January 12, 2012

Atlanta Journal Constitution (Georgia)

Mormons and white evangelicals share an intense commitment to family life, prayer, the Bible and conservative politics, including support for the Republican Party and smaller government, according to a new study released Thursday. But the two groups strongly hold divergent religious beliefs, and half of Mormons surveyed felt hostility from evangelical Christians.

The survey of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was published by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, fights to keep his GOP front-runner status. The campaign moves next to the Jan. 21 primary in South Carolina, where evangelical voters are key.


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Is Romney Mormonism’s JFK?

January 12, 2012

Washington Post

But there are silver linings that the candidacy of Romney, like that of Al Smith, will help to pave the way for a successful Mormon candidate for president later down the road. That 17 percent figure? That’s down significantly from the quarter of Americans who reported just a few months earlier that they were not likely to vote for a Mormon. Progress in religious tolerance happens incrementally, but it does happen.


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Study examines Mormon-evangelical divide

January 12, 2012


A study out Thursday takes another look at the uneasy relationship between Mormons and evangelical Christians, a timely issue as Mitt Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, seeks to wrap up the Republican presidential nomination next week in heavily evangelical South Carolina.
The report, by the Forum on Religion & Public Life of the Pew Research Center, says Mormons and white evangelicals share strong beliefs in prayer, the Bible and conservative politics but disagree sharply over theology. About half of Mormons in the survey said they felt hostility from evangelicals.


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January 12, 2012

South Florida Times

The question of tolerance versus brotherhood is a prickly one for Bethel. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS, is perceived as being unfriendly to people of color — a stereotype challenged by the fact that Bishop Bethel is an African American.

“I am a black man in the LDS church,” he said. “I’ve created quite a stir.”

Bethel was raised as a Baptist in a Miami-Dade city known for social problems and high crime. He attributes his success in life to his mother who reared him and his sister to value education above temptation.

Both Bethel children earned scholarships and were college educated. He attended historically black Jackson State University in Mississippi where he became a brother of Dr. King in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He applies King’s position on brotherhood to his everyday conduct, he said, adding that becoming a Mormon has had its challenges in applying that ideal.

“There is a lot of tradition in the church that doesn’t parallel with the teachings of the church” as far as tolerance goes, he said.


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2011 positive Mormon media highlights

January 11, 2012

Deseret News

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has always been the religion of the future — demographically, organizationally, fervently. Well, the future is now,” the blurb began. After running through the highlights, it concluded, “Mormon visibility has helped dispel some stunning bits of ignorance. … By being part of the social and political conversation, this original, innately American religion has become even more a part of the mainstream American fabric.”

That mainstreaming was in evidence in two New York Times pieces on pop culture icons. In November, the paper did a profile of Ryan Raddon, a $200,000-a-club DJ with a large and fanatical nationwide following — who, oddly, has never tried alcohol or drugs: “The kids at Roseland may be surprised to learn that their beatmaster is the father of three small children. And that he doesn’t drink. And that he’s a devout Mormon who still goes to church in San Clemente, Calif., and counts choir practice among his music influences.”


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Even Mormons Don’t Think U.S. Ready for Mormon President

January 12, 2012

Opposing Views

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman face an uphill battle to convince suspicious Americans that they should elect a Mormon president, even from members of their own religion.

The New York Daily News reports that a new Pew Research Center poll finds that just 56% of Mormons think the country is ready send a Mormon to the White House.

Many Christians don’t even consider the Mormon Church to be a Christian religion, likening it more to a cult. Indeed, 62% of Mormons surveyed said most Americans know little or nothing about their religion, and 46% say there is discrimination against them.

Mormons make up 2% of the American population.


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Besieged Mormons seek to be loved

January 14, 2012

The Australian

For decades, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – commonly known as Mormons – has been growing in numbers, confidence and influence. Now it is increasingly likely that one of its number, Mitt Romney, will compete against Barack Obama for the ultimate power prize: the American presidency.

Mr Romney’s tilt at the White House is emerging as a high point in a Mormon purple patch. There are already 15 Mormons in congress. Suddenly, a religion that frowns on premarital sex and drugs seems imbued with a rock ‘n’roll quality.

Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of The Killers, is a Mormon, as is Stephenie Meyer, the author of the popular Twilight novels (whose sexy vampire hero displays a very Mormonesque brand of chastity). Big Love, a television drama that depicted the religion’s polygamous offshoots, was a hit. A Broadway musical has garnered rave reviews.


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Kaskade announces 2012 Vegas residency; still a mormon though

January 13, 2012

In The Mix

But does Vegas have the chops to become the new Ibiza? Well, if the city can convert a non-drinking, anti-gambling and happily-married Mormon, it may yet convince the rest of the electronic and dance music world.


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Where Politics & Personality Don’t Seem To Intersect

January 12, 2012

League of Ordinary Gentlemen

Back when I was in Deseret, the vast majority of my coworkers were somewhere to the right of center. It’s a Mormon part of the country and Mormons tilt to the right. It was a white collar employer, and white collar jobs are disproportionately taken by Mormons. The COO was the bishop of the local church, and people often got jobs through him. My own department, where word-of-mouth hiring expanded the rebellious gentile population’s network, was the only exception.

There was a guy who worked in Account Management who I will call Nick. Nick was the prototypical Super-Mormon, for good and for ill. Practically a Huntsman, though that wasn’t his name. He was ambitious and had a good work ethic. He had a family of five (at the time, nine now) to support, two kids by birth and one foreign-adopted. He had at least a touch of Mormon Male Entitlement Syndrome: God told him he was special and we had an obligation to respect that, or at least defer to His wisdom on the matter. For reasons I do not understand, he liked me. Professionally, we got along great. He was congenial on the surface, but also a bit frosty to people he perceived as Others. He was the type of guy who, when he thought someone had borrowed some of his cottage cheese, sent a company-wide email saying, in essence, “DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF!” But, in his sense of inners-and-outers, when I told him what had happened (I opened the fridge, his cottage cheese came tumbling out, and I spent half my lunch period cleaning the mess) he was all backslaps and no problems and the girls at the office sure do love to overstuff the fridge so we don’t have places to put things don’t they?


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Business Class: Latter Day Turbulence

January 12, 2012

Business Week

Clearly my education would have to be self-directed. Firing up my iPad, I downloaded a Latter Day Scriptures app and dove into the Book of Mormon. The real one, without the Tony awards. “What on earth would make you read that?” my seatmate asked while retrieving a copy of Suze Orman’s Courage To Be Rich: Creating a Life of Material and Spiritual Abundance from the seat-back pocket in front of him. Others can debate whether the Mormon Bible is the “Word of God” or as true as Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, but it is undeniably a rollicking read. The hours passed like minutes as I lost myself in an odyssey from the foothills of Jerusalem to the Americas, culminating in an epic battle between good and evil with a cameo appearance by Jesus Christ. Right here in North America.


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Religion continues to impact voting

January 12, 2012


A new study shows Mormons and white Evangelicals share an intense commitment to family life, prayer, the bible and conservative politics.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman are both Mormon and seeing the Republican Presidential nomination.

With the upcoming South Carolina primary, the Evangelical vote is key. However, the study released by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life show that Mormons feel hostility from Evangelical Christians.


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Religious leaders: Gay marriage a ‘peril’ to liberty

January 12, 2012

Washington Times

Nearly 40 religious leaders, including Catholic, evangelical, Jewish and Mormon figures, issued an open letter Thursday that argues that the battle against same-sex marriage is a fight on behalf of religious freedom.


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The truth is out there

January 13, 2012

Irish Times

Repression is not Black’s natural milieu, though he does know the psychology. Born into a devout Mormon family in 1974, the writer-director and LGBT rights activist grew up around Texan military bases, thinking he was going straight to hell.

“There aren’t a lot of writers who have had an east time of it. I think one of the things that is most valuable to discover as a writer is: how are you different, what sets you apart. And being gay, being a Mormon, I felt an outsider. And that allowed me to observe. I hope it also gave me empathy which is very important as a writer.


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