Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Mormons should vote Democratic

Why Mormons should vote Democratic
By Fred Voros
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:10/28/2006 03:55:02 PM MDT

"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms
of all major political parties," declared the First Presidency of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is certainly true of
the Democratic Party.
Mormon descriptions of a just social order read like a Democratic
manifesto. The Book of Mormon decries a society in which every man
prospers according to his genius, and every man conquers according to
his strength (Alma 30:17). It condemns those who ignore the plight of
the hungry, needy, naked and sick (Mormon 8:39).
This brother's-keeper principle animates government programs
pioneered by Democrats. In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw
"one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished" and acted.
LDS scripture warns incessantly against economic stratification: "
. . . it is not given that one man should possess that which is above
another, wherefore the world lieth in sin" (D&C 49:20). Yet Republican
tax cuts on one end of the economic spectrum and aid cuts on the other
have widened the gap between rich and poor. Thanks to our Republican
Congress, the world lies a little more in sin.
LDS scripture also calls us to "renounce war and proclaim peace"
(D&C 98:16), and condemns offensive wars (Alma 43:45-47; Mormon
3:8-16). Yet the Republican administration misled America into
invading Iraq, a nation that had not even threatened the U.S. Nor does
LDS teaching justify the administration's fall-back rationale that the
invasion was justified by our attempt to impose democracy.
In 1942, Church President David O. McKay declared, "Nor is war
justified in an attempt to enforce a new order of government . . .
however better the government . . . may be."
Astoundingly, the Republican Congress is borrowing money - from
China, Saudi Arabia and federal trust funds - to cover the war, lavish
tax cuts and their own profligate spending.
Even on abortion, the Democratic position is friendlier to LDS
Church teachings. Mormonism does not teach that life begins at
conception. President Gordon B. Hinckley declared that abortion
inevitably brings "sorrow and regret."
Yet Church policy makes allowance where pregnancy results from rape
or incest, where the life or health of the mother is in serious
jeopardy, or where the fetus suffers from fatal defects. In such
cases, Latter-day Saints are to consult with priesthood leaders and
seek confirmation of their decision in prayer before proceeding.
The 2004 Democratic national platform says Democrats uphold Roe v.
Wade; "strongly support family planning and adoption incentives"; and
believe abortion "should be safe, legal and rare." This position
grants Latter-day Saints freedom to follow the prophet.
The Republican position does not. The 2004 Republican platform
declares that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to
life which cannot be infringed." In other words, it would prohibit all
abortions. Consequently, a Latter-day Saint's decision to seek an
abortion may be allowed by church policy, approved by priesthood
leaders, confirmed by the Lord in prayer, but forbidden by the
Republican Party.
We need both parties. As the First Presidency foresaw in 1891, "The
more evenly balanced the parties become the safer it will be for us in
the security of our liberties; and . . . our influence for good will
be far greater than it possibly could be were either party
overwhelmingly in the majority."
This will never be achieved in Utah, however, until Mormons see the
light and vote their values. By which I mean, of course, vote
* FRED VOROS is a lawyer living in Salt Lake City.

Ex-congressman Harding, who took on LDS leader Benson, dies

Ex-congressman Harding, who took on LDS leader Benson, dies

Christopher Smith
Associated Press
October 27, 2006

BOISE – Ralph R. Harding, a former two-term Mormon congressman from
Idaho who lost re-election in 1964 after publicly berating a church
leader for supporting the John Birch Society, has died at age 77.

Harding died Oct. 19 at a hospital in the town of Blackfoot,
Hill-Hawker-Sandberg Funeral Home said. The cause of death was not

Longtime friend and former Idaho U.S. Rep. Richard Stallings, chairman
of the state's Democratic Party, said Harding will be remembered as
much for his rapid rise in Idaho politics as for his abrupt defeat in
1964. Harding, a Democrat who served in the Idaho Legislature from
1955 to 1956, ran against 16-year incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Hamer
Budge for Idaho's 2nd Congressional District in 1960 and pulled off a
4,000-vote, or 51.1 percent, upset victory.

"He surprised a lot of people by winning in 1960," said Stallings, who
represented Idaho's 2nd Congressional District from 1985 to 1993.
"Then, in 1964, he was one of the few incumbent Democrats who did not
get re-elected in the L.B.J. (President Lyndon B. Johnson) landslide."

Harding, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
blasted LDS Church Apostle Ezra Taft Benson as "a spokesman for the
radical right" during a September 1963 speech on the U.S. House floor.

Harding criticized Benson, who had served as Republican President
Dwight D. Eisenhower's secretary of agriculture from 1953 to 1961, for
a speaking appearance that same month on behalf of John Birch Society
founder Robert H. Welch. Welch had just published a book alleging that
Eisenhower, commanding general of victorious U.S. forces in Europe
during World War II, was a Communist Party sympathizer.

"Ralph felt this man should have stood up for Eisenhower so he
unleashed an attack from the floor of the Congress on Elder Benson
that made national headlines," said Stallings. "It did not set well
with his Mormon constituency, because even if many people felt Harding
was right, they didn't feel they should have their dirty laundry aired
on the House floor."

Two months later, Harding lost to Republican George V. Hansen.

Harding was born Sept. 9, 1929, in Malad, Idaho. He graduated from
Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, after serving in Korea from
1951 to 1953 in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of

Harding is survived by his widow, Willa C. Harding.

Ex-congressman Harding, who took on LDS leader Benson, dies


Ex-congressman Harding, who took on LDS leader Benson, dies

Christopher Smith
Associated Press
October 27, 2006

BOISE – Ralph R. Harding, a former two-term Mormon congressman from
Idaho who lost re-election in 1964 after publicly berating a church
leader for supporting the John Birch Society, has died at age 77.

Harding died Oct. 19 at a hospital in the town of Blackfoot,
Hill-Hawker-Sandberg Funeral Home said. The cause of death was not

Longtime friend and former Idaho U.S. Rep. Richard Stallings, chairman
of the state's Democratic Party, said Harding will be remembered as
much for his rapid rise in Idaho politics as for his abrupt defeat in
1964. Harding, a Democrat who served in the Idaho Legislature from
1955 to 1956, ran against 16-year incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Hamer
Budge for Idaho's 2nd Congressional District in 1960 and pulled off a
4,000-vote, or 51.1 percent, upset victory.

"He surprised a lot of people by winning in 1960," said Stallings, who
represented Idaho's 2nd Congressional District from 1985 to 1993.
"Then, in 1964, he was one of the few incumbent Democrats who did not
get re-elected in the L.B.J. (President Lyndon B. Johnson) landslide."

Harding, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
blasted LDS Church Apostle Ezra Taft Benson as "a spokesman for the
radical right" during a September 1963 speech on the U.S. House floor.

Harding criticized Benson, who had served as Republican President
Dwight D. Eisenhower's secretary of agriculture from 1953 to 1961, for
a speaking appearance that same month on behalf of John Birch Society
founder Robert H. Welch. Welch had just published a book alleging that
Eisenhower, commanding general of victorious U.S. forces in Europe
during World War II, was a Communist Party sympathizer.

"Ralph felt this man should have stood up for Eisenhower so he
unleashed an attack from the floor of the Congress on Elder Benson
that made national headlines," said Stallings. "It did not set well
with his Mormon constituency, because even if many people felt Harding
was right, they didn't feel they should have their dirty laundry aired
on the House floor."

Two months later, Harding lost to Republican George V. Hansen.

Harding was born Sept. 9, 1929, in Malad, Idaho. He graduated from
Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, after serving in Korea from
1951 to 1953 in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of

Harding is survived by his widow, Willa C. Harding.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pedestals and PodiumsSample chapter
Susan B. Anthony

Pedestals and Podiums
Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights
by Martha Sonntag Bradley

hardback. 584 Pages. / 156085-189-9 / $39.95

Almost from the beginning, the women's movement has been divided into two factions--those wanting full equality with men (Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul) and those seeking legal protections for women's particular needs (Julia Ward Howe, Eleanor Roosevelt). Early Utah leaders such as Relief Society President Emmeline B. Wells walked hand-in-hand with Anthony and other controversial reformers. However, by the 1970s, Mormons had undergone a significant ideological turn to the mainstream, championing women's unique roles in home and church, and joined other conservatives in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment.

Looking back to the nineteenth century, how commited were Latter-day Saints of thier day to women's rights? LDS President Joseph F. Smith was particularly critical of women who "glory in their enthralled condition and who caress and fondle the very chains and manacles which fetter and enslave them!" The masthead of the church's female Relief Society periodical,

Woman's Exponent, proudly proclaimed "The Rights of the Women of Zion and the Rights of Women of All Nations!" In leading the LDS sisterhood, Wells said she gleaned inspiration from The Revolution, published by Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Fast-forward a century to 1972 and passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by the United States Congress. Within a few years, the LDS Church, allied with Phyllis Schlafly, joined a coalition of the Religious Right and embarked on a campaign against ratification. This was a mostly grassroots campaign waged by thousands of men and women who believed they were engaged in a moral war and that the enemy was feminism itself.

Conjuring up images of unisex bathrooms, homosexuality, the dangers of women in the military, and the divine calling of stay-at-home motherhood—none of which were directly related to equal rights—the LDS campaign began in Utah at church headquarters but importantly was fought across the country in states that had not yet ratified the proposed amendment. In contrast to the enthusiastic partnership of Mormon women and suffragists of an earlier era, fourteen thousand women, the majority of them obedient, determined LDS foot soldiers responding to a call from their Relief Society leaders, attended the 1977 Utah International Women's Year Conference in Salt Lake City. Their intent was to commandeer the proceedings if necessary to defeat the pro-ERA agenda of the National Commission on the International Women's Year. Ironically, the conference organizers were mostly LDS women, who were nevertheless branded by their sisters as feminists.

In practice, the church risked much by standing up political action committees around the country and waging a seemingly all-or-nothing campaign. Its strategists, beginning with the dean of the church's law school at BYU, feared the worst—some going so far as to suggest that the ERA might seriously compromise the church's legal status and sovereignty of its all-male priesthood. In the wake of such horrors, a take-no-prisoners war of rhetoric and leafleteering raged across the country. In the end, the church exerted a significant, perhaps decisive, impact on the ERA''s unexpected defeat.

from the dust jacket:

"Martha Bradley is uniquely qualified to write about this period of women's history. Her contribution to understanding gender events from national and local perspectives is invaluable, and she admirably maintains a cool tone as she explicates the rancorous and polarizing confrontations of the ERA wars."

—Claudia L. Bushman, Columbia University; editor of Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah; author of "A Good Poor Man's Wife: Being a Chronicle of Harriet Hanson Robinson and Her Family in Nineteenth-Century New England

"Bradley has written a page turner of a book! Using Utah as a case study, she demonstrates with admirable objectivity the clash of forces at work, identifying the economic realities, religious influences, political conservatism, and radical and moderate feminism that did battle on the field of women's rights. This is a book to be trusted."

—Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Brigham Young University, emerita; general editor of the Life Writings of Frontier Women series from Utah State University Press.

"The author's life experience and academic credentials make this an unusually significant book. Bradley was raising children at the time of the Utah women's conference in 1977, but she attended and was troubled by the rhetoric she heard. Later she returned to her study of history and women's issues, which prepared her to write this balanced and important work."

—Grethe Ballif Peterson, Director of the Tanner Humanities Center, University of Utah; past managing editor, Exponent II; founder of the Utah Children's Justice Centers

"Those of us who concern ourselves with the roles of women in society and religions can welcome this book. It provides a well researched record of events too often ignored by people of good will. The controversy surrounding women's activities was fueled by political manipulation in high places, which continues to affect attitudes and practices today."

—Aileen Hales Clyde, past Regent, Utah System of Higher Education; former chair, Utah Task Force on Gender and Justice; former counselor, LDS Relief Society General Presidency

Martha Sonntag Bradley is a professor in the College of Architecture and Planning and director ofMartha Sonntag Bradley the Honors Program at the University of Utah, where she has received the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Student Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Bennion Center Service Learning Professorship, and the honorary title of "University Professor, 1999-2000." She taught previously in the history department at Brigham Young University, where she received a Teaching Excellence Award. She has served as president of the Mormon History Association and co-editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Her many books include Kidnapped from that Land: The Government Raids on the Short Creek Polygamists; Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier ; and A History of Kane County.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Symposium Sponsored by Mormon Scholars in the Humanities

Call for Papers
Mormon Belief, Scholarship, and the Humanities

March 23-24, 2007
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT

A Symposium Sponsored by Mormon Scholars in the Humanities
With Support of the College of Humanities at BYU-Provo

Keynote Address by Richard Bushman

As the inaugural meeting for Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, this
symposium will explore the relationship between Mormon belief and the
practice of humanistic scholarship. We invite papers that will cover a
wide range of practical, theoretical, and historical questions
regarding the connection between faith, teaching and research, and
that draw on experiences at a wide range of institutions of higher
education. We wish to provide a forum for humanities scholars that
reflects on the experience of Mormon religious practice and its
connection to humanistic scholarship, how the experience of Mormon
scholars in the humanities relates to historical and contemporary
scholars of other faiths, and what prospects exist for the successful
integration of faith and scholarship. Although Mormon Scholars in the
Humanities enjoys the support of the College of Humanities at
BYU-Provo, the organization is intended to provide benefits and
reflect the experience of Mormon scholars in the Humanities nationally
and internationally. In this spirit, we are committed to finding other
venues beyond the BYU campus for future symposia.

We welcome papers that will explore such questions as:

* Scholarship: Is there a Mormon foundation to humanistic inquiry?
What is the role Mormon belief plays in the practice of scholarship,
especially in regard to topics far afield of Mormon experience? What
is the Mormon responsibility toward secular, cultural, and
intellectual knowledge? How does one approach the lifestyles, belief
systems, and values that humanistic scholarship analyzes when these
conflict with those of the Mormon faith?
* Religious Humanism, Past and Present: What examples from the
past demonstrate the successful integration of faith and scholarship?
What examples from other religious and cultural contexts today provide
insightful comparative contexts for the symposium's themes? What
values ought the Humanities espouse in light of Mormon belief? To what
degree is secular humanism compatible with religious humanism? Where
must they part ways?
* Pedagogy: What is the relationship between scholarship and
teaching? What is the role Mormon belief plays in teaching mostly
non-LDS students, or for that matter, mostly LDS students? Which
aspects of teaching are particularly challenging and rewarding? Is
there a Mormon pedagogy in the humanities? What are the ultimate aims
of teaching the humanities and how do those aims relate to spiritual
and intellectual development?
* Intellectual and Professional Development: What roadmaps exist
for those pursuing the life of scholarship in the humanities? What
advice can be given to future PhDs? How does one balance the
expectations of a humanistic scholar with the expectations of an
active LDS church member?

Please submit no more than one-page paper proposals to George Handley
( by December 15, 2006. Include a two-page CV.
We also welcome entire panel proposals, workshop ideas, or other
proposed formats.

All participants must be members of MSH at the time of the symposium.
Membership information is available at

New president of The John Whitmer Historical Association from the BYU's College of Religious Education

BYU's Alexander L. Baugh named president of John Whitmer Historical Association

The John Whitmer Historical Association recently appointed Alexander
L. Baugh, Brigham Young University associate professor of church
history and doctrine, to be its president for 2006-2007.

The announcement was made during the annual conference held in
Independence, Mo., Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The John Whitmer Historical
Association was founded in 1973 to study the Restoration movement of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During the past year, Baugh has served as the association's
president-elect and program chair for the 2006 conference. His
appointment marks the second time a BYU faculty member has been
elected president of the association.

Baugh earned a bachelor's degree in family and human development from
Utah State University and master's and doctoral degrees in history
from BYU. He was an instructor in the Church Educational System for 14
years before becoming a full-time faculty member with BYU Religious

In 1998, he won the Reese History Award from the Mormon History
Association for the most scholarly dissertation in the field of Mormon
history, and he also serves as the editor of Mormon Historical

For more information, contact Alexander L. Baugh at (801)
422-5164.Latter-day Saints.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Jersey Court rules same-sex couples are entitled to marriage-like rights & benefits

NY Times, October 25, 2006
New Jersey Court Backs Rights for Same-Sex Unions


The State Supreme Court in New Jersey said today that same-sex couples
are entitled to "the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex
couples under the civil marriage statutes."

But the court, in its 4-3 ruling, said that whether that status should
be called marriage, or something else, "is a matter left to the
democratic process."

The court's eagerly awaited decision found that an arrangement akin to
that in Vermont, which authorizes civil unions between same-sex
couples but does not call them marriages, would satisfy the New Jersey
constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The court gave the legislature a six-month deadline to enact the
necessary legislation to provide for same-sex unions with rights equal
to those of married couples.

The decision leaves Massachusetts as the only state to authorize
same-sex marriages as such. Since the Massachusetts Supreme Court held
in 2003 that that full marriage rights were required for all couples
under that state's constitution, gay-rights advocates have suffered a
string of defeats in other states. The Court of Appeals of New York
rejected a similar argument in July.

Steven Goldstein, the chairman of the gay-rights group Garden State
Equality, said the court's decision was disappointing.

"Those who would view today's ruling as a victory for same sex couples
are dead wrong," he said. "Half-steps short of marriage — like New
Jersey's domestic-partnership law and also civil union laws — don't
work in the real world."

Mr. Goldstein promised an immediate campaign to change the state law.

According to the 90-page description of their ruling published by the
court today, the justices acknowledged that "times and attitudes have

"There has been a developing understanding that discrimination against
gays and lesbians is no longer acceptable in this state," they wrote.

But the justices wrote that their mission in this case was a narrow one.

"At this point, the Court does not consider whether committed same-sex
couples should be allowed to marry, but only whether those couples are
entitled to the same rights and benefits afforded to married
heterosexual couples," the court wrote.

"Cast in that light, the issue is not about the transformation of the
traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation
of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of

The justices went on to say that this case and other federal cases
cited by the plaintiffs "fall far short" of establishing a fundamental
right to marriage, which is an institution the court termed "deeply
rooted in the traditions, history, and conscience of the people of
this state."

"Despite the rich diversity of this state, the tolerance and goodness
of its people, and the many recent advances made by gays and lesbians
toward achieving social acceptance and equality under the law, the
Court cannot find that the right to same-sex marriage is a fundamental
right under our constitution," the court wrote.

But the court also said that denying same sex couples "the financial
and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual
counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate
governmental purpose."

Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, who is retiring from the New Jersey high
court today, said the majority didn't go far enough, and that gay
couples have the "fundamental right to participate in a
state-sanctioned civil marriage," according to Bloomberg News.

She and two other justices concurred in part and dissented in part
with the majority opinion written by Justice Barry Albin.

Courts in many other states have rejected similar lawsuits by same-sex
couples, ruling, as the Court of Appeals of New York did in July, that
only the legislature can define marriage or redefine it to include
same-sex unions.

No state legislature has done so. The California legislature came
closest, passing a bill in 2005 that would have redefined marriage as
"between persons," permitting same-sex couples to marry, but the bill
was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To the contrary, nineteen states have adopted constitutional
amendments explicitly banning same-sex marriage. Most others have
statutory bans, but New Jersey and four other states have neither.

New Jersey is one of several states that recognize domestic
partnerships between unmarried people irrespective of sex, which
afford limited rights and benefits; Vermont and Connecticut authorize
civil unions, which afford more legal protections.

In part because the New Jersey Supreme Court is known as relatively
liberal and, above all, independent, the lawsuit here garnered
national attention.

The case was brought by seven gay and lesbian couples who have been
together from 14 to 35 years and who were denied marriage licenses.
Five of them have children.

The trial-level and lower appellate courts rejected their claim that
the state constitution afforded them the right to marry as
heterosexual couples do. The Appellate Division said in June 2005 that
marriage between members of the same sex was neither a fundamental
right under the constitution nor one covered by its equal- protection

The state Supreme Court heard the case, known as Lewis v. Harris, on Feb. 15.

Under New Jersey's domestic partnership law, enacted in 2004, same-sex
partners may make critical medical decisions for one another, for
example, and must be offered the same health coverage by insurers that
is offered to spouses.

The law was approved by the Legislature with little dissent, and
signed by then-Gov. James E. McGreevey — who at the time did not
support fully legalized gay marriage, even though he would resign
several months later with the statement, "I am a gay American."

Mr. Goldstein was among those who celebrated the domestic partnership
law, but he would later find that it fell short of expectations. He
said today that "hospitals and other employers have told
domestic-partnered couples across New Jersey: We don't care what the
domestic partnership law says, you're not married."

In the last few years, public opinion has become more accepting of gay
marriage, at least in New Jersey. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll of New
Jersey residents taken in June found that 50 percent said they
supported allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, while 44 percent
were opposed. (The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage
points.) When the poll asked the same question in 2003, 43 percent of
respondents supported legal recognition for gay marriage and 50
percent were opposed.

Still, conservative opposition has also organized, culminating in
proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in 11 states in 2004.
All were approved overwhelmingly.

Last summer, the New York Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-to-2 decision
that it would not depart from the state's century-old law defining
marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye
wrote, in a sharply worded dissent, that "a history or tradition of
discrimination — no matter how entrenched — does not make the
discrimination constitutional."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Improbable Gay Activists

Improbable Gay Activists
PRNewswire/October 17, 2006

Portland, Oregon /PRNewswire/ -- It took him 33 years, but by October
2004 Lester Leavitt could no longer deny it. He was gay, and he was
ready to come out, even if it meant turning his world upside down. He
had never slept with a man, or even embraced a man, but he knew that
he could no longer deny his feelings.

"There are so many parts to coming out," Leavitt explains. "I came out
late - in my forties; I came out married - after 23 years with my
wife; I came out a father - with four mostly grown children; and what
turned out to be the most difficult of all; I came out Mormon!"

Leavitt is in Portland this weekend to attend the Affirmation
Conference for gay Mormons. He will almost certainly be the only gay
man attending with his wife.

His wife Barbara explains why she is still with her husband. "Our
marriage is stronger today, and so much more alive than it was before
Lester came out. To understand why, we would need an hour of your
time, but the biggest reason, I feel, is because we were finally
honest with each other about everything, and I mean everything!"

Lester is quick to add a warning. "I don't want any gay man to think
that he can stay with his wife just because I was able to do it. Our
situation was so unique that I doubt very much that it could be
duplicated. I think that is why I have unwittingly become such an
outspoken activist for gay marriage."

Lester's activism is not limited only to gay rights issues. As noted
above, the most difficult part of coming out was coping with his
Mormon upbringing.

"I'm a 7th generation Mormon, and I was raised in Cardston, AB where
it is almost more sheltered than in Utah behind the 'Zion Curtain'.
From the time of my earliest feelings of attraction to other boys, I
remember the guilt. I know why gay Mormons commit suicide," Leavitt

Affirmation has teamed up with other organizations like LDS Safe Space
to try to change the church, and that is how Leavitt met Olin Thomas,
Affirmation's executive director.

"I found LDS Safe Space right after I was excommunicated. I needed to
talk to somebody about it because I was not excommunicated for being
gay; I'm still faithful to my wife! I was excommunicated for becoming
a liberal, and expressing my liberal views in my book," Leavitt
explains. "Olin sits as one of the ad hoc directors on the LDS Safe
Space forum, and he encouraged me to become involved with Affirmation.
Barbara and I are here this weekend so that we can become part of a
team that will eventually make it safer for gay people within the

LDS Film

- * Tears of a King: A new Elvis movie began shooting September 1,
2006, in Orem, Utah, directed by Rob Diamond who also wrote the
screenplay. The movie is set for release next year to coincide with
the 30th anniversary of Presley's death on August 16, 1977. "Tears" is
being produced by 7 Films 7 of Salt Lake City in association with
Matthew Reese Films of Orem. The producers are Diamond, Joshua
Pearson, and Kels Goodman. Reese is the executive producer.
Co-Producers are Rhet Marsing and Bob Conder. The background story
goes like this: A "Book of Mormon" studied by Elvis before he died was
given to the LDS Church by members of the Osmond family, who received
it from a woman named Cricket Butler, a friend of Elvis', who gave the
"Book of Mormon" to him in the months preceding his death. The book
was subsequently returned to Butler by Elvis' father, Vernon, two days
after Elvis' death. Much of his life and career are retold in
flashback sequences. Elvis will be portrated by Matt Lewis. Robert
Starling is associate producer. Tara Starling is the makeup artist.

- * Another Singles Ward: The follow-up to 2002's "The Singles Ward"
had an open casting call for video auditions in October 2006. The
plans are for "Another Singles Ward" to have a new cast of characters
whose lives intertwine with one another in humorous, touching, and
unexpected ways. John Lyde will direct as well as produce along with
Jed Ivie and Scott Champion. The screenplay is by Champion. Dave
Hunter and Kurt Hale will executive produce

- * Money or Mission: A new movie from John Lyde is based on an
article from the Ensign Magazine with the same name. As Patrick Gill
prepares to serve a mission, he is offered his dream job--a manager at
the local skateboarding shop. Now Patrick is faced with the hard
decision of taking the job or serving a mission. Written and Directed
by John Lyde (Take a Chance); starring Nick Whitaker (Joseph Smith:
Prophet of the Restoration), Sheryl Lee Wilson (Take a Chance), and
Rick Macy (Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration). Dhylan Meyer
will be playing the role of Max, Patrick's little brother. The 35
minute film will be distributed on DVD August 29, 2006, by HaleStorm
Entertainment. Premier in Utah, August 29, 2006. at the Noni Theater
in Provo at 7 Money or Mission

- * American Mormon in Europe: Daryn Tufts and Jed Knudsen flew to
Rome, Italy, on October 17, 2005, to film a sequel to American Mormon.
This time they found out what people in different countries know and
think about the Mormons, and they also talked to LDS people to find
out what it's like being a Mormon in Europe. This documentary was
filmed throughout Western Europe, including Rome, Paris, London, and
Berlin. The documentary also includes hilarious and touching looks
into the experiences of being LDS outside of the United States. LDS
interviews include the first LDS Patriarch in Rome, Italy, and an LDS
family that lived in East Berlin before and during the historic fall
of the Berlin Wall. "American Mormon in Europe" is longer and more
in-depth than the original because it explores the humorous and
spiritual experiences of Latter-day Saints, and takes some time to
visit sites of LDS history in Europe, including the oldest LDS chapel
on Earth.

- * States of Grace: Richard Dutcher's film "States of Grace" was
scheduled to be shown in Los Angeles the week of June 16th. DVD
release October 10, 2006.

- * Falling: Richard Dutcher's latest drama/suspense feature-film
"Falling" is in post-production as of 12/14/2005. Dutcher stars in it
along with Virginia Reece ("50 First Dates"). He also wrote, directed,
and is the editor. Dutcher describes it as his most personal film to
date. It tells the story of Eric Boyle, who captures a brutal gang
murder on tape. The killers pull Eric into their violent world as they
attack anyone with a connection to the incriminating footage. Film
festival releases are planned for 2006.

Mormon cult leader executed

Ohio Executes Lundgren

by Bob Priddy

The state of Ohio executed Jeffrey Lundgren this morning for murdering
5 members of his cult.

He split from the RLDS (now Community of Christ) Church in 1981 and
formed his own group based on the teachings of the Bible and the Book
of Mormon as he interpreted them. Among his followers were Dennis and
Cheryl Avery.

Lundgren led his group to Kirtland Ohio, where Mormon founder Joseph
Smith had established an early temple, claiming he was directed by the
scriptures to take his group there. They arrived in August of 1984 and
Lundgren and his wife were given jobs as tour guides at the temple. He
claimed to have found the buried plates of the Book of Mormon in
nearby Chapin Forest. It is thought that he stole about $25,000 from
temple while working there and living in a nearby house provided by
the church. He began to form a new group in his home. In 1986 he said
he had gotten revelations for the return of Christ. When those visions
were faulty, he announced a vision had told him his group had to seize
the temple on May 3, 1988 and execute ten RLDS leaders and anyone else
who got in their way.

Dennis and Cheryl Avery moved to Kirtland from Independence in April
of 1987. They gave him $10,000 of the money they'd gotten from the
sale of their Independence home. Lundgren, however, was critical of
them for liberal tendencies.

In Sept, 1987, the RLDS church revoked Lundgren's ministerial
credentials because of his radical teachings. He withdrew from the
church membership and moved to a farm near Kirtland and became even
more militant.

In February, 1988, a deserter from his cult told the FBI about the
planned temple takeover. The FBI passed information along to Kirtland

During this time, Lundgren apparently had a vision that he had to
sacrifice the Avery family because it was becoming increasingly
sinful. He enlisted the rest of his followers in his plan. A large
hole was dug in the floor of the barn at Lundgren's farm and on April
17 the entire Avery family--the parents and three children--were shot
to death and their bodies were buried in the hole.

The Lundgren group went to West Virginia and established a compound
but stayed only a short time before Lundgren decided to return to
Missouri. After the group stayed briefly in a barn near Chilhowee,
Lundgren decided the group needed to break up for the winter, earn
some money, then reassemble in the spring. On December 31, 1989, one
of the group went to the FBI in Kansas City, told the entire story,
and information was sent to Kirtland where the bodies were found on
January 3, 1990. A few days later, five Lundgren followers were
arrested in KC. Three more surrendered later. Lundgren was tracked to
southern California and arrested.

Lundgren was pronounced dead at 9:26 a.m., central time, today in
Ohio. Several of his followers, including his wife, remain in prison.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Daily Drink or Two Cuts Healthy Men's Heart Attack Risk

Daily Drink or Two Cuts Healthy Men's Heart Attack Risk
10.23.06, 12:00 AM ET

MONDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Research has shown that a drink or
two per day can reduce the odds of heart attack in people at risk.

Now, a new study suggests this benefit also extends to healthier men
who eat right and exercise.

The finding may help doctors feel a bit better about recommending
moderate drinking to a wider range of patients, experts say.

"Most of the discussion about moderate drinking has tended to say that
there are better ways to lower one's heart disease risk than drinking
alcohol," said lead author Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate in
medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. "But what
about men who are already doing those other things?" he said.

His team published their findings in the Oct. 23 issue of the Archives
of Internal Medicine.

In the study, Mukamal's team collected data on alcohol and heart
attacks among nearly 9,000 healthy men enrolled in the Health
Professionals Follow-up Study. During the study, the men completed
questionnaires about their diet and alcohol use. All these men were
nonsmokers, ate a healthful diet, exercised at least 30 minutes a day
and were not overweight.

From 1986 to 2002, 106 of the men had heart attacks. Of these men,
eight were among the 1,282 who drank about two drinks a day, nine were
among the 714 who had over two drinks a day, and 28 were among the
1,889 men who did not drink at all.

The men who had two drinks a day had the lowest risk for heart attack,
while those who didn't drink had the highest risk, the researchers
found. Twenty-five percent of the heart attacks were among men who
drank less than 5 grams of alcohol a day.

Given these findings, Mukamal thinks that guidelines about drinking
and heart disease need to be rethought to take into account the
benefit of alcohol on healthy men. He also believes the same benefit
will be seen among healthy women.

Still, Mukamal is cautious about recommending that nondrinkers start drinking.

"I don't think people should begin drinking based on a finding like
ours," he said. "Heart disease is only one of the diseases that people
can develop. This study doesn't take into account cancer or any other
illness," he said.

Two other experts say they have begun recommending moderate alcohol
use to their patients, however.

"Physicians have been leery about suggesting to people that they
drink," said Dr. Richard A. Stein, a clinical professor of medicine at
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City. "What I ask
patients is: 'Do you drink routinely?' If so, then I would continue to
drink the equivalent of two drinks for a man and one drink for a
smaller woman."

Stein does, however, routinely recommend a drink a day to people who
have already had a heart attack. "Generally, I have begun to do that
because the studies have been very powerful in suggesting that alcohol
reduces risk of heart attack," he added.

"There now have been numerous convincing studies showing that alcohol
consumption lowers the risk of having a heart attack," added Dr. Byron
K. Lee, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of
California, San Francisco, Division of Cardiology.

However, doctors are reluctant to recommend it to their patients, Lee
said. "Nevertheless, patients should be informed of the facts. I tell
all my patients that, in terms of preventing heart attacks, a moderate
amount of alcohol is probably good," he said.

Letters to Sheri Dew regarding generating support for Romney

October 22, 2006
To: Sheri L. Dew
From: Don Stirling
Date: Friday, Sept. 8, 2006


1. A great meeting. Thanks so much. There is much that you can do, and maybe even more, outside of a formal MVP chair position. I will try and frame some things ASAP.

2. I had a positive meeting with Kem Gardner this week. Josh Romney was also there (one of Mitt's sons, who lives in UT). Kem said he had met prior with Elder Holland i n regard to how the efforts to help Governor Romney could move forward amongst the LDS community while not creating undue heartburn. (According to Kem, Elder Holland has been designated/assumed the role of coordinating these matters.) Elder Holland surfaced the idea of using BYU Management Society, and its locally-based organizations as a starting point to rally and organize the troops on a grass-roots level. Elder Holland subsequently surfaced the idea with Presidents Hinckley and Faust, who voiced no objections.  When I laid out the MVP program to Kem, the lights started to go off that it could be the BYUMS that provides foundational leadership at the State, Community or Neighborhood level. Also, Kem mentioned that he "had been chatting with Cathy Chamberlain, and that she wanted to organize local events and gatherings among women, which seems like a good idea, too. And these events could include Sheri Dew, among others, as well."

Kem then called Elder Holland's office while we were there and set up a meeting for Tuesday, September 19 at 4:00 PM to discuss the use of BYUMS, the MVP program, and to discuss, generally, what might be appropriate to do within the LDS community.

Would you feel comfortable in joining us for that meeting with Elder Holland? It would be Kem, the gentleman who manages BYUMS, myself, and Josh Romney. If you attended, my thought is it gives us a chance, as well, to explore with Elder Holland some things that Deseret Book/LDS Living might be able to bring to the table. If you don't, I would like to at least be able to reference that we have been also exploring ways that Deseret Book might be able to help (database/events/). Or, if you want me to remain silent on all things DB, I can do that, a well. Let me know.

3. Let me know if you can work things to join us in Georgia. I think you would be energized by the gathering. I have also put a note into Blake to see what if he is confirmed to attend, and what his travel (private or commercial) is going to be.

Thanks, Sheri.
Don Stirling
Managing Partner
Rainmaker Sports & Entertainment
To: Sheri L. Dew
From: Don Stirling
Date: Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006


Hope you are well. You'll enjoy the blog not below. I will confirm with Kem tomorrow the Tuesday meeting with Elder Holland (4:00 PM).  Will you be able to join us? Also, Spencer Zwick may be in town Saturday for a "discussion dinner" with a handful of key people (would love to have you join), including his father, to explore and identify names in as many of the states as possible, who could lead the MVP (Mutual Values & Priorities) amongst the LDS community. Gov would like to have Rick Eyre join that meeting as a source of names throughout the country, which is probably a pretty good call.

Do you think Ardeth might join a dinner meeting of this type? Again, informal group to explore and identify names of folks through the country. I would have Cathy join but I think she will be back in AZ.  Need to talk soon. Boston remains thrilled and excited that you are on the team. . . . No worries at all in passing on the chair position. At the end of the day, you are right . . . you can be of more help NOT having the title.


The Reddest Place in American

The reddest place in America

There may be no spot in the U.S. more Republican than Madison County,
Idaho. But even in this overwhelmingly white, Mormon enclave, the
doubts are creeping in.

By Tim Grieve

Oct. 24, 2006 | Billboards outside the apartment buildings advertise
"Approved housing for young ladies." A sign on the door to the student
union thanks you for "obeying the dress and grooming standards." The
local multiplex shows only family-friendly fare. And when you ask if
you might have a beer with your burger at a restaurant next to the
movie theater, the hostess looks puzzled, thinks for a bit and
suggests that there may be a place way on the other side of town where
a guy could get such a thing.

You've heard of Jesusland, but Rexburg, Idaho, is something more. It's
not just a small town in rural Eastern Idaho. It's a small town in
rural Eastern Idaho completely dominated by a fast-growing Mormon
college, Brigham Young University-Idaho. Through this conservative
convergence, Rexburg and surrounding Madison County may well be the
rosiest place in all of red America. Need numbers to prove it? In the
2004 presidential election, 93 percent of Madison County's votes went
to George W. Bush or minor-party conservative candidates -- arguably
the reddest result of any county in the entire country.

Opinion polls show that a blue wave may be rolling across the country
now, but it would have to become a flood of biblical proportions
before it could make a meaningful difference in this county of 31,000.
In November, Republican C.L. "Butch" Otter will probably win Idaho's
governor's race easily, and a recent poll put the four-term Republican
who represents Madison County in the U.S. House up 42 points over his
latest Democratic challenger. But there is a potentially competitive
race going on next door in Idaho's other congressional district, where
a Democrat might win the seat for the first time since 1992. And even
here in Madison County, people are starting to think a little
differently about the GOP.

Rexburg Mayor Shawn Larsen, a Mormon and a Republican who once worked
for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, admits he wouldn't vote for
George W. Bush if he were on the ballot again next month. The war in
Iraq is part of it. "Even as we juggle the justification," Larsen
laments, "the everyday reality is that we are losing men and women and
we don't seem to be progressing toward that ultimate." But Larsen is
also concerned about the way the Bush administration has treated rural
America. "Some of the policies that have been put forth by the
president have hurt a small town like Rexburg," he says. "Whether it's
dealing with community development block programs, issues dealing with
housing, those types of policies -- when you're a small community,
those are important."

The mayor checks himself. He wants to make it clear that he's not
speaking for everyone in his city. He says he's sure that a majority
of Rexburg's residents still support the president.

You hear that a lot in Madison County. Even residents who express
concerns about the direction of the Republican Party seem pretty
certain their fellow citizens are still on board. Tom Kennelly, a
74-year-old retired mortgage banker, says that although he voted for
Bush in 2000 and 2004, he wouldn't do it again unless the president
"literally puts the lid on the Mexicans coming across the border" and
announces a plan to keep a permanent U.S. military base in Iraq. He
makes his views known in letters to the editor of the local newspaper.
When he's out talking with his friends, however, he doesn't "hear
dissension around Bush." In Madison County, he claims, "It's hard to
find a spot that isn't red."

Why is that true? More specifically, why is it still true, given the
collapse of support for the Bush administration and the GOP Congress
nationwide? "Republicans are afraid to admit that they're wrong,"
Kennelly explains. "They just can't admit it when they do a stupid
thing." It's also an Idaho thing, he adds. "If something's wrong, just
pretend you don't even know about it: 'Let these things go on by.
Don't want to get my nose into other people's business.'"

You get a glimpse of that driving around Madison County. Pass through
Nebraska or Kansas and you'll see a succession of bloody billboards
equating abortion with murder. Around the country, "W '04" bumper
stickers may be growing scarce, but plenty of cars still sport those
multicolored ribbons urging support for the troops. It's not like that
here. In a couple of days in Rexburg, I didn't see a lot of houses
flying American flags, and I didn't see a single "Support Our Troops"
sticker. I asked the mayor if maybe people here don't feel the need to
show off their views because it doesn't occur to them that any of
their neighbors might have different ones. "I think that's probably an
accurate statement," he replied.

It's not that the residents of Madison County aren't political. You
don't get such an overwhelming Republican majority by accident. But
when the results are always preordained, there's not a lot of point in
making a fuss. A local newspaper editor says the only real political
dust-up of late came when one Republican challenged another for a seat
on the local county commission.

And perhaps the results are preordained because of the monolithic
influence of the Church of Latter Day Saints. As BYU-I English
professor Dawn Anderson tells me, it's important to understand that
most voters in Madison County are Mormons, and that "everything of a
political nature" has to be understood in that context.

"The climate surrounding faithful membership in this organization is
not always conducive to challenging authority," she says. "People here
are reluctant to openly criticize the president and his
administration, even if they privately disapprove of his job." And
many of them don't disapprove, even privately. "After 20 years of
teaching Mormon students, I've learned that the majority of them have
little knowledge of issues outside the Republican platform. They only
know that Democrats are lesbian baby-killers."

Maybe folks in Madison don't know more about Democrats because they
don't know many Democrats at all. When I go looking for the local
Democratic Party in Madison County, I hit a dead end because the woman
who ran it has moved away to Hawaii. The closest substitute seems to
be the group Anderson advises, the College Democrats at BYU-Idaho, so
I make my way to campus in hopes of learning more.

At this booming, bucolic un-Berkeley, female students wear shapeless
dresses, high-waisted pants and T-shirts under their tank tops in
order to comply with BYU-I's dress and grooming standards: A coed's
clothing must "reflect modesty and femininity becoming a Latter-day
Saint woman." Forget fraternity keg parties; you can't even buy a
caffeinated soda at the student union, and the pop music selection in
the bookstore features CDs from Neil Diamond. Unless they're married
-- and a lot of them are -- students here are required to live in
"approved housing" that provides for the "appropriate separation of
single male and female students." In a column in the student
newspaper, a young female student suggests that the best way to
attract men is to make sure that you've always got a plate of brownies
ready to share.

When I arrive at Dawn Anderson's office, she closes the door behind me
before we sit down to talk. She's a Mormon and a Democrat, and she's
plainly torn about living in Madison County. She says the political
homogeneity can be isolating and depressing and sometimes a little
scary. She remembers the time when a group of classmates followed her
third-grader home, shouting out "baby-killer" all along the way. She
took it up with the teacher, who didn't seem to mind.

And yet, Anderson says, she tries to remind herself that the
conservative lifestyle that bothers her so much also makes Madison
County "a safe community to raise kids -- low crime rates, very little
problem with gangs, things like that. We have high graduation rates,
high literacy rates, clean streets, and the stores still close on

That's the warm and fuzzy Mayberry RFD version of Madison County. One
of Anderson's BYU-I colleagues, a conservative professor of humanities
named Rick Davis, offers a different sort of testament to the appeal
of the area and the politics of its residents. Davis has lived in a
lot of different places, he says, and he knows that people are
different all over. Even Mormons are different. Davis contrasts his
neighbors with Massachusetts Gov. and potential GOP presidential
candidate Mitt Romney. Romney is a "Boston Mormon," notes Davis, not
to be confused with "Rexburg Mormons," who, he says, are "so red that
you just bleed."

Davis is definitely a Rexburg Mormon. I ask him about his thoughts on
George W. Bush, and he launches into an explanation about how much
worse off we'd all be if Al Gore had moved into the White House six
years ago. "Oh, heaven help us," he says. "No leadership, zero, which
is the way Clinton was, too." Clinton got away with a lot because the
press is so liberal, Davis insists; Bush is "damned if he does and
damned if he doesn't" because people just don't understand that we
could all be at the mercy of nuclear-armed terrorists if the United
States doesn't prevail in Iraq.

People in Madison County? They get it, Davis says. He's been around,
after all, and he's come to understand that "anything that's
cosmopolitan is liberal, and anything that's small is conservative."
But why is Madison County so overwhelmingly conservative? "There's
more Mormons here, and they're better educated," he says. "We have a
very high education level in this town, a very high income level in
this town. Now, that equates with being conservatives. We're fiscally
aware of where the money comes from, and that it doesn't grow on the
great tree in Washington. We don't have any welfare state in this area
at all. We don't have blacks in this area to speak of. We've had them,
and they've come and gone. Not to say they were driven out; they've
just felt uncomfortable because there aren't enough of them -- like
you and me moving to Montgomery, Alabama."

Davis may overestimate Madison County's standing on the income and
education fronts. According to 2003 data from the U.S. Census Bureau,
the county's median income is substantially lower than the median for
Idaho or for the nation as a whole. Its educational accomplishments
are pretty average: 24.4 percent of the county's adult residents have
at least a bachelor's degree -- a number that's exactly equal to the
national one. As for Madison County's racial breakdown, Davis is
pretty much spot-on. According to the Census Bureau, 97.7 percent of
the county's residents are white; just .3 percent, or fewer than 100
of them, are black. That may explain a lot about the county's
political proclivities. The residents of Utah's Salt Lake County voted
for Bush in 2004, too, but the relative religious and ethnic diversity
there -- whites comprise "only" 92 percent of Salt Lake County's
population -- made the Bush-Kerry outcome far less lopsided than it
was in Madison County.

Could things change here? Demographically speaking, probably not, at
least not anytime soon. Brigham Young-Idaho is growing fast, and more
and more LDS families are following their kids to Rexburg. If
anything, Madison County is likely to get less diverse, not more. But
politically? Things do change. This part of Idaho hasn't always been
so bright red; a Democrat, albeit a conservative, pro-life one,
represented the district for much of the 1980s and into the 1990s
after his Republican predecessor was censured for ethics violations.

As Salon noted the other day, many moderate Republicans in Kansas, fed
up with the direction of the GOP, have switched parties and are now
running for election as Democrats. And over in Idaho's 1st
Congressional District, the one that covers the western part of the
state, Democrat Larry Grant is actually making a run of it this year.
In part, that's because of the national turning of the tide, in part
it's because of support from the Democratic netroots, and in part it's
because the Republican in the race, state legislator Bill Sali, is one
of the weaker GOP candidates on the ballot anywhere in America.
Idaho's Republican House speaker once said of Sali: "That idiot is an
idiot." Mike Simpson, the Republican who represents Madison County and
the rest of Eastern Idaho in Congress, once threatened to throw Sali
out of a window.

Simpson has endorsed Sali now, and it hasn't seemed to hurt Simpson in
his own race. Neither, says Simpson's spokeswoman, has the Mark Foley
scandal. The Foley case may have given Democrats "some momentum,"
Nikki Watts concedes, but she insists that people in Idaho realize
that it's an "isolated" incident. "They're not willing to throw away
their core values, values that are the same as the Republican

She's probably right about that. While there may be a lot of Madison
County Republicans who are thinking twice about George W. Bush, I
didn't come across any who seem ready to hand over the House to the
Democrats. "People are content," Mayor Larsen told me. "They're busy
taking care of everyday needs, making sure that they're making a good
living, that their children are safe in their neighborhood. We live in
a great community. Safe streets. Great schools. It's hard to say,
'Let's change course.' People feel like things are going well."

-- By Tim Grieve

Monday, October 23, 2006

Church faults Mitt story

Deseret Morning News, Friday, October 20, 2006

Church faults Mitt story

Article called inaccurate; church asserts neutrality

Deseret Morning News

The LDS Church is taking issue with a Boston Globe story on an attempt to organize some BYU alumni into a grass-roots program supporting Mitt Romney's anticipated presidential candidacy.

The church on Thursday posted a statement on its Web site, saying it "takes issue with The Boston Globe on their 19 October 2006 story suggesting the Church is institutionally supporting a political campaign."

"In light of articles appearing in the media, we reaffirm the position of neutrality taken by the Church, and affirm the long-standing policy that no member occupying an official position in any organization of the Church is authorized to speak in behalf of the Church concerning the Church's stand on political issues," the statement said.

Boston Globe deputy managing editor over local news, Carolyn Ryan, said Thursday night the newspaper stands by its story.

Romney, Republican governor of Massachusetts and former head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games, has yet to formally announce a presidential bid. But he is widely known to be considering a run for the White House.

The Globe story Thursday was headlined, "Romney team consults with Mormon leaders" and reported on discussions by the Romney camp on forming a political organization using nationwide alumni chapters of Brigham Young University's business school.

Church spokesman Mike Otterson provided the Deseret Morning News with a transcript of his e-mail interview with the Globe, suggesting some of his responses were mischaracterized by the newspaper in its story.

The Globe story said documents show that President Gordon B. Hinckley "has been made aware of the effort and expressed no opposition" to the so-called Mutual Values and Priorities, or MVP program, to get support for Romney from prominent Mormons.

But Otterson's transcript states he told the Globe that President Hinckley was never made aware of a Sept. 19 visit by Josh Romney, one of Mitt Romney's sons; Don Stirling, a paid consultant for Romney's political action committee, Commonwealth PAC; and Salt Lake City developer Kem Gardner with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church's Council of the Twelve.

According to the transcript, the Globe asked, "In his communications with Presidents Hinckley and (President James E.) Faust prior to the Sept. 19 meeting ... how much detail did Elder Holland share with them about the effort, and did they voice any opposition?"

According to the transcript, Otterson responded: "There has been no communication whatever with Presidents Hinckley and Faust on this matter. They were unaware of the visit. Elder Holland's secretary simply responded to a request from Kem Gardner to come by his office, and she set up the appointment. Kem Gardner asked if he could bring Mitt's son Josh and Don Sterling, (sic) a Romney colleague dating back to Olympic days, for a handshake and a chat literally a courtesy call. This was simply a response to an appointment requested by an old friend."

Also, the Globe story reported that, "Holland, a former BYU president, suggested using the alumni organization of the university's business school, the BYU Management Society, to build a network for Romney, according to the documents."

But according to the transcript provided by Otterson, Elder Holland did not advise Romney's people to use the BYU Management Society.

"He told them what they already knew that neither the Church, nor BYU, nor any other direct arm of the Church would or could ever sponsor or publicly support a political candidate, and that our position of institutional neutrality was well-known and of long standing," according to the transcript.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, churches and other tax-exempt organizations "are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." Those organizations risk losing their tax-exempt status if they violate that rule.

Otterson's transcript also states that Elder Holland said any use of BYU alumni associations for Romney's campaign would have to be cleared through the university.

European Mormon Studies Association

The European Mormon Studies Association (EMSA) is an independent
scholarly organisation that supports the academic study of Mormonism
in Europe, both European scholars interested in studying Mormonism in
general from various perspectives and any scholars interested in
studying the European manifestation of Mormonism in particular.

EMSA has launched a new website announcing its genesis. The EMSA
Website (, catalogues scholarly activities
relating to Europe and Mormonism.

In summer 2007, the European Mormon Studies Association will host the
first annual EMSA conference. Exact dates and location to be decided.
It is hoped that the conference will take place at a location near the
Mormon Three Counties sites (Gadfield Elm, Benbow Farm) in England.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Romney camp consulted with Mormon leaders

Romney camp consulted with Mormon leaders
Eyes nationwide network to aid White House bid

By Scott Helman and Michael Levenson, Globe Staff | October 19, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY -- Governor Mitt Romney's political team has quietly consulted with leaders of the Mormon Church to map out plans for a nationwide network of Mormon supporters to help Romney capture the presidency in 2008, according to interviews and written materials reflecting plans for the initiative.

Over the past two months, Romney's political operatives and church leaders have discussed building a grass-roots political organization using alumni chapters of Brigham Young University's business school around the country. More recently, representatives of BYU, which is run by the church, and Romney's political action committee have begun soliciting help from prominent Mormons, including a well-known author suggested by the governor, to build the program, which Romney advisers dubbed Mutual Values and Priorities, or MVP. The president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, has been made aware of the effort and expressed no opposition, the documents show, and at least one other top church official has played a more active role.

Church officials and Romney advisers downplayed the discussions. Church officials say they have a position of strict neutrality on political matters and are not supporting Romney's candidacy.
But documents indicate that Jeffrey R. Holland, one of 12 apostles who help lead the church worldwide, has handled the initiative for the Mormons and that he hosted a Sept. 19 meeting about it in his church office in Salt Lake City with Josh Romney, one of the governor's sons; Don Stirling, a paid consultant for the Commonwealth PAC, Romney's political action committee; and Kem Gardner, a prominent Salt Lake City developer who is one of Romney's biggest donors. Globe reporters observed Romney's representatives enter and leave chuch headquarters for the meeting.

Prior to the Sept. 19 meeting, Gardner had already met with Holland at least once to discuss the initiative, documents show. Holland, a former BYU president, suggested using the alumni organization of the university's business school, the BYU Management Society, to build a network for Romney, according to the documents. Such a plan would give Romney an established infrastructure -- the alumni group has 5,500 members in about 40 US chapters -- for raising money and generating support.

Eight days later, Stirling, Spencer Zwick, a top political aide to Romney, and the governor's brother, Scott Romney, held a dinner at a private Salt Lake City club for other prominent Mormons, where they discussed the effort further. Among those invited were Steve Albrecht, associate dean of the BYU business school, the Marriott School of Management.

On Oct. 9, Albrecht and Ned Hill, the business school dean, sent an e-mail to 50 Management Society members and 100 members of the school's National Advisory Council asking them to join them in supporting Romney's potential bid for the presidency. Hill and Albrecht signed the message with their official BYU titles, sent the e-mail from a BYU e-mail address, and began the message ``Dear Marriott School Friend."

``We are writing to you as a friend to see if you have any interest in helping Governor Romney by volunteering to serve as a Community or Neighborhood Chair," Hill and Albrecht wrote in the e-mail, which was reviewed by the Globe. ``Governor Romney's chances for success are significantly enhanced and energized by people, such as you, who are willing to help him at the grass-roots level throughout the United States."

Anyone interested in helping Romney was asked to send a note to Albrecht at his BYU e-mail address.

Federal restrictions

Both the church and BYU, as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations, are prohibited by federal law from advocating on behalf of a particular candidate or political party.

The church's director of media relations, Michael R. Otterson, called ``nonsense" the suggestion that church leaders were working to promote Romney.

``The Church goes to considerable lengths to emphasize to its members the institutional neutrality of the Church on partisan matters," Otterson wrote in an e-mail to the Globe Tuesday.

Otterson insisted Hinckley knew nothing about the effort by Romney's team to build a network of supporters.

Otterson said the Sept. 19 meeting that Holland hosted for Gardner, Stirling, and Josh Romney was merely ``a handshake and a chat, literally a courtesy call."

Gardner, an acquaintance of Holland's, requested the meeting, Otterson said. ``This was simply a response to an appointment requested by an old friend," he said. But in an earlier interview Monday, Otterson said Holland held the meeting to ``make sure that they were doing this properly and to inform them of the church's political neutrality." Holland expressed the view at the meeting, Otterson said, that the BYU Management Society would be a ``perfectly reasonable" vehicle to help Romney.

BYU, though run by the church, is incorporated as a separate nonprofit entity. The BYU Management Society is officially part of the business school, according to Rixa Oman, the group's executive director. That means the society is subject to the same prohibition against advocacy for a particular candidat. (Some local chapters have registered separately as tax-exempt nonprofits and  have the same restrictions.)

In interviews this week, Romney advisers acknowledged there have been discussions with church officials, but said they were informal and not part of a coordinated effort. The Commonwealth PAC, they said, respected the limits, set by the Internal Revenue Service and the church itself, on what the church is allowed to do politically. Stirling, in an interview, initially said the Mormon Church had ``absolutely no connection whatsoever" with the MVP program. But when asked about the Sept. 19 meeting with Holland and pressed about church  leaders' involvement with the initiative, Stirling acknowledged the discussions but downplayed their significance.

Like Otterson, Stirling said that discussions with church leaders have focused on making sure the MVP effort did not run afoul of rules against political activism. He acknowledged, however, that the e-mail from the BYU deans was part of the MVP initiative. Albrecht, in an interview this week, said he and Hill sent the e-mail after Gardner asked him to reach out to friends on Romney's behalf. Albrecht said that he should not have sent it in his capacity as a BYU dean.

``It wasn't something BYU did, it wasn't something I probably should have done, and it was bad judgment," Albrecht said. Carri Jenkins, a spokeswoman for BYU, said Albrecht and Hill's e-mail ``did not have the university approval." She said BYU's general counsel told Albrecht to halt his activities last week after learning about the e-mail from a recipient. As a result, Albrecht said none of the responses he and Hill have received back has been forwarded to Romney's political team. ``Any response I get I am just printing them out and putting them in a pile," he said.

The MVP effort, Stirling insisted, is designed to target more than just Mormons, and he suggested the PAC would hold similar discussions with other religious organizations interested in supporting Romney.

``Is it really something that the Latter-day Saints or the Catholic community or the Jewish community or the evangelical community could say, yeah, let's get involved? Absolutely," he said.

But when asked if Romney's team had met with the leadership of any other denomination about the MVP program, Stirling, who said he is leading the effort, said he didn't know of any.

Focus on Mormons

In fact, Romney operatives, in their campaign to identify people in each state to serve as MVP leaders, appear to be focusing solely on members of the church. Documents show that at least two Latter-day Saints have already been tapped to help lead efforts in Utah and in California.

In addition, the PAC has turned to several prominent Mormon figures for help in shaping the initiative, including Sheri L. Dew, the chief executive of church-owned Deseret Book Co., a best-selling author of Mormon books, and a Romney donor.

Others approached by the PAC include Mac Christensen, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Richard Eyre, a well-known writer, former Utah gubernatorial candidate, and speaker on family issues whom Romney asked be consulted, the documents show.

While Spencer Zwick, a former deputy chief of staff in the governor's office who manages fund-raising for the Commonwealth PAC, has been a key player in shaping the effort, others involved, according to the documents, include his father, W. Craig Zwick, who is a member of the church's Seventies, a group charged with implementing church policy around the country.

The governor's brother Scott Romney, a lawyer in Michigan who is assisting the effort, also sits on the board of the George W. Romney Institute of Public Management at BYU, which was named for his father.Romney aides declined to make the governor available last night to discuss the initiative.

Romney advisers also gave conflicting accounts of the current status of the MVP program. On Monday, Stirling described the MVP program as active and forward-looking.

``We are just looking to gather those who would be interested in helping the governor now and should he decide to move forward in the future," he said in an interview.

But on Tuesday, Spencer Zwick said the MVP initiative has been abandoned. He said the effort ``never materialized into a specific program."

Zwick, asked how his description of the MVP program squared with Stirling's description and recent e-mails and meetings, said Stirling  is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Commmonwealth PAC and attributed the other recent activity to ongoing efforts by Romney backers to build support for him. The Mormon community nationwide, at 5.7 million and growing, carries tremendous potential for a Romney candidacy, in terms of both donors and political activists.

But the discussions among church officials and Romney's political operatives come just as the IRS has stepped up warnings to religious organizations to stay out of political campaigning or face sanctions.

Federal tax rules aside, the church takes pains to publicly reaffirm its own historic commitment to what it calls political neutrality, most recently in a pre-election advisory the leadership sent last week to congregations nationwide. The discussions among Romney's nascent presidential campaign and Mormon leaders also come at a delicate time for the governor politically. By most accounts, Romney has catapulted himself into the top tier of GOP hopefuls, in part by appealing to conservatives on immigration, national security, and other leading issues.

But many conservative Christian voters view Mormonism as non-Christian, and the more Romney gains in prominence, the more he confronts questions about his relationship with the church.

Scott Helman can be reached at; Michael Levenson can be reached

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Exodus Commemoration

A Very Special Exodus Commemoration - February 2 and 3, 2007: We are
excited to announce this first-time-ever event. You can travel by
horse-drawn carriage from the Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center to four
historic sites where you will step back in time to watch Church
leaders and families as they prepare to leave their beloved homes and
city sooner than expected. Then we'll gather at the end of Parley
Street for a moving ceremony at the Mississippi River and to say
farewell to that first group of Saints as they leave Nauvoo. A special
fireside program and other unique events will combine to make this a
weekend you and your loved ones will always remember. This event is
free, but space is limited and you must have a reservation; please
call or check our web site on October 23 for details on how to reserve
your spot -

Monday, October 16, 2006

LDS Film Friends on Myspace


We have currently 132 friends on our newly created myspace page.

If you want to add your name as a friend or check out if you know any of
our friends, here's our link:


As we approach the fall election season, I am reminded how important
it is for progressive Mormons to speak out in favor of the issues
and policies important to us. In this era of christian conservative
spin, it is crucial that Mormons on the left side of te political
spectrum unite.

Many MESJ members are familiar with the LDS-Left Yahoo! group. And
quite a few participate in our rigorous discussions. For those who
have not, I invite each of you to join our lively discussions.


recently I decided to look back at the first message posted
to our group. Ironically, it came from a group member named Jean
(who I believe has long since left the group) asking if the group
was real, or were we just poking fun at more left-leaning Mormons
like her. I assured her that we were serious.

Since those days, much has changed. Other groups similar to LDS-LEFT
and Mormon_Congress have been formed (ie Mormonsfordean,
mormonsforkerry,)including the most recent, LDS-DEMS. Today almost
200 people call LDS-Left their online home for liberal Mormon

But not everything has changed. Our group is still the most active
group for left-leaning Mormons. We continue to post and average of
15 messages per day. And we are still fulfilling the goals the group
was founded upon -- namely to unite members and friends of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with political
leanings "left-of-center".

Thanks to those of you who are already memebers for your meaningful
contributions to the forum. I hope it has been a least partly as
meaningful to you, as it has been to me.

Now lets unite and tell America, and our elected officials that they
must earn our votes.


Ryan J. Roberts
Washington D.C.

"Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought" celebrates anniversary

Mormon mavericks mark milestone
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

As a fresh-faced Mormon missionary in 1962, Ross Peterson had to
inform an African-American Air Force sergeant that neither he nor his
son could ever be ordained priests in the LDS Church they had just
joined. At the time, blacks were banned from the church's all-male
It was an agonizing moment for Peterson, whose deepest sympathies
lay with the burgeoning civil rights movement.
Six years after that night, Peterson discussed his dismay and
growing frustration over his church's priesthood ban with then-Idaho
Sen. Frank Church who offered this advice: "You won't change it if you
leave it. . . . Live your lives in such a way as to be examples for
equality, but never shirk from action."
Such dual loyalty to the LDS Church and to honest scholarship was
what spawned Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40 years ago, said
Peterson, a former editor, at a Salt Lake City dinner commemorating
its anniversary. And that is as true today as it was then.
In the past four decades, Dialogue has had nine editorial teams,
which have included almost as many women as men. It has published
scores of significant articles, including groundbreaking work on
blacks and the priesthood. It dedicated an entire issue to women's
stories, history and concerns, explored the church's positions on
evolution and looked candidly at Mormon scriptures and history. It set
the standard for all future independent Mormon publications.
Contributors would eventually include Dallin Oaks, then a law
professor at the University of Chicago (now an LDS apostle); Chase
Peterson, future president of the University of Utah; and Richard
Bushman, emeritus professor of history at Columbia University.
"Dialogue has been, over the last 40 years, a great gift to the
[LDS] Church," wrote Frances Menlove, one of the founders, in a recent
issue. "Dialogue has helped the church avoid the sin of
self-idolization, the temptation of certitude . . . [It] and a variety
of other unofficial publications are indispensable to the church's
sacred mission."

A heady time: Mormon students at Stanford University launched
Dialogue in 1966 amid the era's optimism and idealism. G. Wesley
Johnson was writing his doctoral dissertation on modern European
history, Eugene England was pursuing a doctorate in English and
Menlove was completing her doctorate in psychology. Johnson, who had
been the editor of Harvard Lampoon during his undergraduate years, and
England, a charismatic teacher and leader among young Latter-day
Saints who died in 2001, became co-editors. They enlisted the help of
other Mormon students at prestigious colleges across the country.
The group modeled its new publication after The Paris Review,
maintaining a rigorous review policy to ensure quality. Though copies
were sent to LDS general authorities, the project had no official
connection to the church.
"This was the 1960s, civil disobedience was beginning and every
person who was the maverick was in the spotlight," Johnson, who lives
in Provo, said this week. "We were invited to be on TV and we
declined. Our goal was not to reform or criticize the church. We were
all active Mormons. We just wanted to provide a Mormon perspective on
the issues of the day."
The New York Times and Time magazine heralded Dialogue's launch.
Time said the journal was "the first unabashedly highbrow publication
in Mormon history."
The first issue included two pieces by non-Mormon scholars, an
essay by University of Utah political scientist J.D. Williams, who
reported that the Mormon hierarchy nearly endorsed the John Birch
Society, and an exploration of a civil-rights project in Tennessee.
"Cautious as such criticism is," the Time piece said, "it
represents something so unusual in Mormonism that one church leader
has ominously declared: Dialogue can't help but hurt the church."
Through the years, some critics agreed.
From 1993 to 1998, for example, Dialogue took up some particularly
sensitive topics, including what it deemed to be cases of
"ecclesiastical abuse" in which church leaders treated members in a
harsh, unfair way. It also used Mormon artist Trevor Southey's nudes
on several covers.
"We weren't really intending to be controversial," said Allen
Roberts, co-editor during those years with Martha Sonntag Bradley. "We
just wanted to deal with important subjects in a reasonable way."

The graying of Dialogue: The need for continued comment and action
is just as urgent today as it was 40 years ago, Peterson said at the
anniversary dinner Sept. 22.
The journal's approach to the priesthood issue set an important
Dialogue published a number of articles, examining the ban's
history as well as personal perspectives on its painful consequences
and critiques of the policy.
Finally, on June 9, 1978, LDS President Spencer W. Kimball
announced that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was
opening its priesthood to "all worthy male members . . . without
regard for race or color."
"Those brief, magnificent and long-awaited words cut, like a
blowtorch, the theological chain that choked the moral soul of the
church," said Peterson, now president of Deep Springs College in
California. "The organization could now move into a new era of
fulfillment of inclusive Christianity."
No one will ever fully know what prompted Kimball to seek divine
confirmation for the change, he said, but surely Dialogue "played a
role in creating an awareness of the problems, inconsistencies and
blatant discriminatory policy evolving toward a doctrine."
Since then, the journal has continued to probe important topics in
a timely and even-handed way.
For years, Dialogue focused attention on Mormon history, racism and
feminism, among other issues. It is now also looking at such
contemporary topics as the church's international growth,
homosexuality and fundamentalism.
Its readers are just as educated (fewer than 8 percent without
college degrees) and active in the church as ever (67 percent say they
go to church weekly), but their numbers are dwindling.
At the anniversary dinner, the gray-haired attendees far
outnumbered young participants.
Current editor Levi Peterson, a retired Weber State University
English professor, is well aware of the problem. He and the editorial
board are doing everything they can to attract younger writers and
readers. To that end, Dialogue has formed a partnership with a blog, Its editors and writers regularly post
articles and their thoughts about contemporary issues on the site,
which draws thousands of readers and dozens of comments.
"Mormon blogs are where young people have gone," Peterson said from
his home in Washington. "It's where they get their intellectual
Unlike their predecessors at Dialogue, these bloggers reject terms
such as "liberal" and "feminist," he said. But the nature of their
discussions is inescapably "liberalizing."
And that has been Dialogue's goal from the beginning - to open
minds, debate, discussion and, ultimately, help build a more
thoughtful Mormon faith.
"A man need not relinquish his faith to be intellectually
respectable," England told Time in 1966, "nor his intellect to be
* PEGGY FLETCHER STACK can be contacted at or
801-257-8725. To comment on this story, write

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New Book: How the New Testament Came to Be

How the New Testament Came to Be: The 35th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium

Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr.

Who wrote the New Testament? Did Matthew really write Matthew? Who
decided which ancient Gospels to include and which to reject? How were
the New Testament's books written, and how did they make their way
into the Bible? Who decided which ancient books were scripture, and
who decided the sequence that we have today? How the New Testament
Came to Be, the papers of the 2006 Sperry Symposium, explores these
questions and others in the light of ancient history, the earliest New
Testament texts, and modern revelation.

Mormon Group To Re-Open Jerusalem Center

Mormon Group To Re-Open Jerusalem Center

16:00 Oct 11, '06 / 19 Tishrei 5767

( The Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution
often accused of missionary aims, plans to re-open its Jerusalem
Center overlooking the Mount of Olives (Har Tzofim) next January.

The American-based institution said it has scheduled to re-open its
Jerusalem branch in June but delayed it because of security concerns,
which have kept it closed since 2001. Brigham Young encountered fierce
opposition when it began building its Jerusalem Center and vowed it is
not involved in any missionary activities, which Israel law forbids.

"The Missouri Mormon Experience: From Conflict to Understanding" conference

Mormons reflect on rocky past

In 1838, Missouri Gov. Liburn Boggs issued an extermination order expelling Mormons from the state. Misunderstandings surrounding that order have, in the interim, contributed to an already painful episode in Mormon history.

G.J. McCarthy photo
U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., speaks Sept. 8 at the Missouri Mormon Experience in Jefferson City. As governor of Missouri, Bond rescinded an 1838 order expelling Mormons from the state.

In an effort to heal those past wounds and facilitate future dialogue between Mormons and non-Mormons, a historical conference last weekend addressed some of the issues that led to the clashes between two cultures in the 1830s.

The event at the Capitol in Jefferson City drew an audience of about 300 to hear a range of historical perspectives and scholarly papers on the period. "The Missouri Mormon Experience: From Conflict to Understanding" was co-sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Missouri State Archives, under the direction of Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

Missouri State Archivist Kenneth Winn offered an overview of the period at the conference. Winn, who is not Mormon, is the author of "Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1830-1846." For the past 12 years, the Missouri State Archives has cooperated with LDS church members to preserve Missouri documents from the period for genealogical research.

"I think the conference helps to bring a new level of awareness," Winn said. "Many Missourians don't know about the extermination order." Even so, members of the LDS church have not forgotten this American equivalent of a pogrom.

Mormons in Missouri timeline


● March: "Book of Mormon" published.

● April 6: Church of Christ organized. Later becomes Latter-day Saints.


● July 20: Jackson County is designated as Zion.


● November: Mormons expelled from Jackson County; many settle in Clay County.


● Zion's Camp, a military organization, leaves Ohio to come to Missouri to help restore Saints to lands in Jackson County; camp disbands in failure.


● Caldwell County founded as Mormon reserve.


● March 14: Joseph Smith leaves Ohio Mormon settlement to settle in Caldwell County.

● October-November: Mormon War in Missouri; Joseph Smith is imprisoned in Liberty.


● Winter: about 10,000 Mormons forced to leave; they settle in Illinois.


● Joseph Smith escapes and joins Latter-day Saints in Illinois.

- Compiled by Kenneth Winn of the Missouri State Archives

"Whenever you have a people who have been persecuted, there are" continuing "ill feelings." They continue "through generations," said Michael Reall, president of the Columbia stake of the church. Reall is a member of the steering committee that helped to spearhead last weekend's events. "I wanted to get past this blot on" Missouri "history and look at the good that has come," he said. "I wanted to see healing."

Reall and the other committee members approached Winn about a year ago in hopes of getting the State Archives involved in the conference. Carnahan "thought it was a good thing. She got on board," Winn said. In addition, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond was honored at the opening ceremony Friday evening. While he was governor 30 years ago, Bond signed a proclamation rescinding the extermination order. "We had never thanked him for that," said Dale Whitman, chairman of the steering committee.

"Nothing like this conference has been done before," said Whitman, a church member and professor of law at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Whitman and his sister, Jean Pry, co-wrote a paper on Mormons in Boone County, where Mormons were treated "kindly" during the period in question.

"It is a mixed picture. But it is clear that, in western Missouri, Mormons were pretty badly persecuted," Whitman said.

"This is a historically injured people," Winn said of the Mormons. "So they have a longer memory. About 10,000 people were expelled from the state in the middle of winter in 1838 and 1839. They lost everything - their land and all their belongings."

The source of the Mormon exile is multi-layered, Winn explained, but it began with the Mormon immigration to Missouri from New England and New York into what was then the far-western reaches of settled America. The new settlers "believed that Jesus' return was imminent. They followed their prophet like his word was the word of God. They were from a different culture with strong religious views that differed greatly from the people who had migrated from Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky," Winn said.

Missourians were further threatened because the Mormons were becoming a growing voting block, voting only for Mormon candidates, Winn said. By 1833, the independent frontier settlers clashed with the clannish Mormons; their battles came to a head five years later with the so-called Missouri Mormon War. Mobs had formed against the Mormons, and the Mormons had taken up arms, he said.

As a result of all the violence, Gov. Boggs formed a militia, intending to keep the peace, Winn said. But the militia "was filled with people who didn't like the group." That militia didn't wear uniforms, "so, when the Mormons came upon them, they assumed they were just another mob and therefore attacked a duly-authorized militia created by the governor to create peace."

The troops took some Mormon prisoners but then were routed, he said. The governor got word that the militiamen had all been killed. "Turns out that wasn't the case." Based on false information, the governor decided Mormons were in open defiance of the law, and he gave the extermination order.

Unfortunately, Winn said, when the truth came out, no one bothered to rescind the order.

Among the worst atrocities of the period was the 1838 Haun's Mill massacre in Caldwell County. Renegade militia members attacked a Mormon settlement, Winn said. Women and children fled, but 16 men and a boy were killed when they took refuge in a blacksmith shop. Some of the land was later taken over by the attackers, according to documents gathered by a presenter at the conference.

Still, not all Missourians were hostile to Mormons. Alexander Doniphan, brigadier general of the state militia, was jailed for refusing to execute Joseph Smith, the founder of the church. Doniphan was moved to a jail in Columbia, and a Boone County sheriff "probably connived to help Doniphan escape," Winn said.

In 1852, the steamboat Saluda exploded in Lexington, and many died, Reall said. "Latter-day Saints were killed, and certain non-Mormons turned out to be the saints. They took care of the injured and orphaned Mormon children. "And they did it lovingly," he said.

The public should learn more about the failures of the past, Reall said, "but also be aware that people are basically good. The extermination order was an anomaly. Emotion shouldn't drive us as much as loving principles."

Today, more than 56,000 Mormons live in Missouri, and the church continues to grow in the Midwest, Reall said. "When I came to Columbia 14 years ago, there were only three units" - wards or congregations. "Now there are six."

For Whitman, this conference shed light on many issues pertaining to the origins of the conflict, ranging from cultural differences to disputes about land.

"The Mormons were not always the good guys, and the Missourians were not always the bad guys," said Whitman, who has reached a "tentative agreement" with the University of Missouri Press to publish some of the scholarly history presented at the conference in a single volume.

"Understanding the past lends to a growth of community," Winn said. "As long as events and persons remain stereotyped, misunderstanding is easy. People remain cartoons."

Whitman looks to the future. "Maybe just knowing about this part of history will help us be more tolerant of other religions in modern times."