Thursday, February 28, 2008

Survey on switching religions

For some nice interactive tools on this story and the breakdown of religion in American, go to

February 26, 2008
Poll Finds a Fluid Religious Life in U.S., With Switches Common

WASHINGTON — More than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or none at all, according to
a survey of religious affiliation by the Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life.

The report, titled "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey," depicts a highly
fluid and diverse national religious life. If shifts among Protestant
denominations are included, then it appears that 44 percent of Americans
have switched religious affiliations.

For at least a generation, scholars have noted that more Americans are
moving among faiths, as denominational loyalty erodes. But the survey,
based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans, offers
one of the clearest views yet of that trend, scholars said. The United
States Census does not track religious affiliation.

It shows, for example, that every religion is losing and gaining
members, but that the Roman Catholic Church "has experienced the
greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes." The survey also
indicates that the group that had the greatest net gain was the
unaffiliated. Sixteen percent of American adults say they are not part
of any organized faith, which makes the unaffiliated the country's
fourth-largest "religious group."
Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and
Urban Life at Rice University, echoed that view. "Religion is the single
most important factor that drives American belief attitudes and
behaviors," said Mr. Lindsay, who had read the Pew report. "It is a
powerful indicator of where America will end up on politics, culture,
family life. If you want to understand America, you have to understand
religion in America."

In the 1980s, the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research
Center indicated that 5 percent to 8 percent of the population described
itself as unaffiliated with a particular religion.


In the Pew survey, 7 percent of the adult population said they were
unaffiliated with a faith as children. That segment increases to 16
percent of the population in adulthood, the survey found. The
unaffiliated are largely under 50 and male. "Nearly one in five men say
they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13
percent of women," the survey said.

The increase of the unaffiliated does not, however, mean that Americans
are becoming less religious. Contrary to assumptions that most of the
unaffiliated are atheists or agnostics, most described their religion
"as nothing in particular." Pew researchers said later projects would
delve more deeply into their beliefs and practices and would try to
determine if the unaffiliated remained so as they aged.

The other groups that have gained the most people, in net terms, are
nondenominational Protestant churches, which are largely evangelical
and, in many cases, megachurches; Pentecostals; and the Holiness Church,  also an evangelical denomination.

Continue Reading this article here

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Study: Mormons have biggest families among religions

Study: Mormons have biggest families among religions

Mormons have the biggest families of any religious group in the
country, according to a new study.

The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life's report says one in five
Mormon households has at least three children at home. Muslim families
are second in size to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hindus are most likely to be married, followed by LDS church members.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Mormon church press to boost publishing of history projects

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will
launch a new imprint for publishing works that detail the faith's
early history and growth.
Church elder Marlin K. Jensen says the establishment of the Church
Historian's Press underscores the value church leaders place on
The first project of the new press will be the Joseph Smith Papers, a
documentary series, later this year. Between 25 and 30 volumes are
expected in the series.
Project editor Ronald Esplin says the Smith works will provide a
greater opportunity for historians and will lift the overall standards
for Mormon historical scholarship

Association for Mormon Letters' 2008 annual meeting

The Association for Mormon Letters' 2008 annual meeting and conference
will be held March 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Ernest L.
Wilkinson Student Center at Brigham Young University.

Free to the public, the conference will feature papers and panels on
many aspects of Mormon literature. This year's focus is on scriptures
as literature and literature as scripture and featured speaker is
Harold Rawlings, noted Bible scholar.

In addition to regular conference sessions, there will be a reception
that evening at the Eugene and Charlotte England home starting at 6
p.m. during which the AML award winners will read from their own
works. The only cost will be $15 for the awards luncheon. Those
planning to attend the luncheon either use the Pay Now button at so a ticket can be reserved
or e-mail to reserve a ticket by March 4.

After March 4, a luncheon ticket at the door will be $20.

Tomas F. O¹Dea¹s _The Mormons_ Revisited Fifty Years Later

Tomas F. O¹Dea¹s _The Mormons_ Revisited Fifty Years Later
February 27, 2008
Utah Valley State College

February 27 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in SC 206 C. UVSC's Behavioral Science
Department, Religious Studies Committee, and The Center for the Study of
Ethics will host the conference "Thomas F. O'Dea's 'The Mormons': A
Reconsideration Fifty years Later."

The conference is to celebrate the publication fifty some years ago of the
classic sociological work on Mormonism by the noted sociologist Thomas F.
O'Dea, as well as the recent publication by the University of Utah Press of
"Revisiting Tohoms F. O'Dea's The Mormons" edited by BYU sociologists
Cardell Jacobsen, Tim Heaton, and John Hoffman. The latter book includes
essays by UVSC anthropologist David Knowlton and sociologist Lynn England.

This conference will consider the intellectual and social context of O'Dea's
work as well as thoughts on how his work stands up in light of new issues in
Mormonism, such as the massive growth of the Church outside the United
States, where more than 40% of all Mormons now reside, as well as the
appearance of important social actors little considered in the fifties, gays
and women. Important scholars of Mormonism from three universities, Brigham
Young University, Utah State University, and Utah Valley State College will
present their work as it relates to O'Dea's contribution.

This all day event will be an intellectual feast for those interested in the
drama of Mormonism's recent history, its present state, and the scholarly
issues involved in its study.

Contact: David C. Knowlton, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UVSC,, office 801-863-6196, cell 801 597-0256.

9:00 AM SC 206 C
"Tales from the Field: O'Dea among the Mormons"
Howard Bahr, Brigham Young University

10:00 AM SC 206 C
³Thomas J. O¹Deas The Mormons Revisited²
Tim Heaton and Cardell Jacobson, Brigham Young University

11:00 AM SC 206 C
"Mormonism and Homosexuality"
Richley Crapo, Utah State University

12:00 PM SC 206 C
"O'Dea and Women"
Marie Cornwall, Brigham Young University

1:00 PM SC 206 C
³Pacific Islander Mormons and O'Dea's Mormons:
Would They Recognize Each Other?"
Grant Underwood, Brigham Young University,

2:00 PM SC 206 C
³O'Dea and the Mormon Intellectual Tradition²
Lynn England, Utah Valley University,

³Mormonism and Global Society²
David Knowlton, Utah Valley State College

3:00 PM SC 206 C
³Early Frameworks on Mormon Community Solidarity²
Todd Goodsell, Brigham Young University

4:00 PM SC 206 C
³Are We Men, Mormons, or Lamanites?": Native American Mormons
and the Work of Thomas F. O'Dea²
Jordan Haug, Utah Valley State College

Organized by David C. Knowlton
Supported by the Center for the Study of Ethics

David Richard Keller, Ph.D.
Director, Center for the Study of Ethics
Utah Valley State College

Monday, February 25, 2008

Church responds to Danzig affair

A Chronology of events and other information by Peter Danzig can be read at
In a rare response to such matters, the church has responded to the Pater Danzig affair.

SALT LAKE CITY 24 February 2008 Church leaders are
always saddened when an individual, whether through
his or her actions or personal choices, decides to
leave the Church.  A welcoming hand of fellowship is
always extended to those who wish to return at

Every organization, religious or secular, has to
determine where its boundaries begin and where they
end. The Apostle Paul said that the original Church
was organized to help members to be "no more children,
tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind
of doctrine." (Ephesians 4:14)

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints are encouraged to study, learn and ask
questions in their quest for knowledge.  Gordon B.
Hinckley, 15th president of the Church said:  "This
Church came about as a result of intellectual
curiosity. We believe in education … we expect them
(Church members) to think. We expect them to
investigate. We expect them to use their minds and dig
deeply for knowledge in all fields."

However, it is not acceptable when their digging and
questioning leads to public opposition against
doctrine Church leaders are obliged to uphold.  That
doesn't mean that Church leaders don't listen and
consider opposing views.  Quite the contrary.  Local
bishops and stake presidents (congregational leaders)
love and are concerned about all members of the flock.
 This is the purpose of counseling provided by local
Church leaders who know and care for each individual
in their congregations.

Honest disagreements are not the same as public
advocacy of positions contrary to those of the Church.
When disagreements arise, the principle of the Church
is that local leaders discuss these matters with
members with love and concern.  This was the case with
Peter Danzig.

On 23 February 2008 The Salt Lake Tribune posted an
article about Mr. Danzig who was a member of the
Church's Orchestra at Temple Square.  According to the
story, in June of 2006 Mr. Danzig published a
letter-to-the-editor in the Tribune (and letters in
other local newspapers) encouraging members to oppose
Church leaders on the issue of same gender marriage.

In his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Danzig said
he "was troubled that my church requested I violate my
own conscience to write in support of an amendment I

feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel
of Christ." In reality Church leaders had asked
members to write to their senators with their personal
views regarding the federal amendment opposing same
gender marriage, and did not request support or
opposition to the amendment.

Initially Orchestra leaders met with Mr. Danzig to see
if his public advocacy of this issue could be
reconciled.  Finding no resolution, they contacted the
Office of the First Presidency, and were instructed to
refer the matter to Mr. Danzig's local Church leaders,
as Church protocol requires.  Mr. Danzig was asked to
take a leave of absence from the orchestra until the
matter had been resolved.

For more than a year and a half, Mr. Danzig counseled
with his local bishop and stake president regarding
same gender marriage and other Church doctrines.
Unfortunately he was not able to reconcile his
personal beliefs with the doctrine Church leaders are
charged to maintain by divine mandate.

In December 2007, Mr. Danzig voluntarily withdrew his
membership in the Church by his own formal written
request.  He was not officially disciplined by the
Church as the Tribune article indicated.

The Church normally keeps this type of communication
confidential.  However, the Church felt compelled to
defend its position when Mr. Danzig made this
information public and because of the blatant,
inappropriate editorializing by the Salt Lake Tribune
in what was purported to be a news story.

Mormon Chronicles / Mormon Issues

Danzig Chronology of events

A Chronology of events and other information by Peter Danzig can be read at

Mormon Chronicles / Mormon Issues

Danzig's original letter to the editor

Danzig's original letter to the editor, June 14, 2006:
    As a member of the LDS Church, returned missionary and member of the Orchestra at Temple Square, I am appalled at the intellectual tyranny that our leadership has exercised through the summary dismissal of Jeffrey Nielsen from his teaching position at Brigham Young University for speaking his mind in an op-ed published June 4 in The Tribune. I was troubled that my church requested that I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment (marriage) I feel is contrary to the Constitution and to the gospel of Christ.
    I am even more discouraged to see how they deal with an honest difference of opinion.
    I wish to express to Jeffrey Nielsen that I admire his courage and that I stand with him. I hope that rank-and-file members of the church as well as members of the lay clergy who also find this troubling will have the courage to step forward and let themselves be known. To do anything else would be to hide in the shadow of an injustice.

Mormon Chronicles / Mormon Issues

Saturday, February 23, 2008

LDS Church disciplines musician

Salt Lake Tribune article

ROSE PARK -- Peter Danzig did not set out to be a Mormon activist.
    The gentle musician spent his life serving the church he loved. He went on a mission, married in the temple, composed pieces for Mormon pageants, and taught hymns to children. He and his wife, Mary, also a returned missionary, were raising their three daughters in Levan, but driving to Salt Lake City each week to play in the LDS Orchestra at Temple Square - he on viola, she, the violin. Both believed their music was their gift to God.
    Danzig said nothing in 1993 when church officials charged six well-known Mormon scholars and intellectuals with apostasy for their writings or
speeches about LDS issues. He kept quiet when Brigham Young University fired history professor Steven Epperson, a member of Danzig's Mormon congregation, for serving the homeless rather than attending church.
    But in 2006, Danzig finally felt compelled to protest. BYU adjunct professor Jeffrey Nielsen lost his job for arguing in a The Salt Lake Tribune column that the LDS Church was wrong to oppose gay marriage and to enlist Mormon support for a constitutional amendment against it.
    The dismissal appalled Danzig, who had explored the questions of homosexuality while pursuing a graduate degree in clinical social work.
    "I wish to express to Jeffery Nielson that I
admire his courage and that I stand with him," Danzig wrote in a letter The Tribune published on June 14, 2006. "I was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ."
    What happened next is disheartening to many who believe the church should allow its members to express divergent political and personal views. While others wrote letters in support of
Nielsen without facing discipline, Danzig endured months of grueling attacks on his motives and membership.
    "There is room in the [LDS] Church for honest disagreement regarding church positions," LDS Spokesman Scott Trotter said. "Disagreement on doctrine only becomes an issue when a church member acts in open opposition to the church or its leaders."
    Deciding when a person is in "open opposition" varies among Mormon bishops and stake presidents. Clearly, someone at the top thought Danzig had crossed that line.
    In his Tribune letter, Danzig mentioned he played in the orchestra, which is open to Mormons in good standing. He wanted to make it clear he was not a
hurch opponent.
    Within a week, LDS officials contacted Danzig with concerns about the letter. They suspended him from the orchestra and for the next year, he and, ultimately his wife, defended their loyalty, faith and actions. No amount of persuasion or pleading could convince these ecclesiastical leaders they meant well.
    Ultimately, the Danzigs moved out of their Levan house and, in December, resigned their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than face excommunication.
    "Part of the reason for writing the letter was to find out if there was room for personal conscience in this church. I was very hopeful," Peter Danzig said. "But now I know there is none. This has been a painful journey for me."
    Set in motion: It began with a call from Michael Watson, secretary to the church's governing First Presidency, to Barry Anderson, orchestra administrator, and Mac Christensen, president of the Tabernacle Choir, which is associated with the orchestra. Danzig said Anderson told him Watson wondered whether "an enemy had infiltrated the orchestra."
    Eventually, the Danzigs' bishop and stake president in Levan got involved.
    All of the leaders declined to comment or offer any written accounts of their actions.
    "Communications of this nature between church leaders and members are considered confidential," Trotter said.
    Danzig wrote an outline of his version of events and sent it to several of the leaders, offering to correct anything they thought was inaccurate. He received no reply from the orchestra or choir reps, but local leaders said if he published any part of his outline, they would hold a disciplinary hearing.
    "In hindsight I could have used some different language, but what I wrote expressed the feelings of my heart," he said. "I have seen the church abuse too many, including my family, without anyone daring to speak out. It is important to me that the silence about this abuse end."
    Initially, Mary Danzig thought it was all a big misunderstanding. But soon, her own devotion to the church came into question. She, too, felt unwelcome in the orchestra. Her parents wrote letters to church authorities, begging for an audience or at least some understanding. They were unsuccessful.
    "I felt like my world had come crashing down when Peter told me he might be excommunicated," said Mary Danzig, at the time a member of the Primary Presidency in her ward. "What would happen to my family in the eternities, in our community, in our extended family? I found myself coming completely unglued every Sunday. I spent a great deal of time hiding in the bathroom crying with my little girls."
    Shifting approaches: Between June 2006 and December 2007, the LDS Church came out with several statements acknowledging homosexuality may be inborn and difficult to change, even with much effort and prayer. It was exactly the position Danzig had been defending.
    Many committed Mormons, including philosophers, psychologists and some politicians, disagree with the church on the Federal Marriage Amendment, said Nielsen, who now teaches at Utah Valley State College and Westminster College. Several members wrote letters to The Tribune defending Nielsen and sharing his view. He is unaware of disciplinary action taken against any of those letter writers.
    Nielsen could no longer teach "gospel doctrine" in adult Sunday school and has not been called to any other position in his Orem ward, but has suffered no other ecclesiastical consequences.
    Bill Bradshaw, a recently retired BYU professor of microbiology, has given several public addresses about the science of homosexuality, detailing published evidence that argues strongly for a biological origin. He is also the chairman, with his wife, Marge Bradshaw, of Family Fellowship, a support group for the LDS families with gay and lesbian children.
    After a relative complained to their bishop, the man invited the Bradshaws in for a discussion.
    "Our bishop responded very favorably to the conversation," Bradshaw said. "He was very sympathetic."
    Bradshaw doesn't entirely blame the Mormon leaders for what happened to the Danzigs. Human interactions like this are too complicated.
    But he does feel an overwhelming sadness.
    "Now I can't sit in church next to Peter and Mary and their kids and I can't sit next to gay members of the church, whom they were defending," Bradshaw said. "The bottom line is I don't have the fellowship of loving people and that's a hurt for me."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons fastest-growing 'churches' in US

Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons fastest-growing 'churches' in US
by Lillian Kwon, US Correspondent

The two fastest-growing church bodies in the United States and
Canada, according to a newly published report, are ones whose beliefs
are known to conflict with traditional Christian teaching.

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, regarded by many Christians as cults, reported the largest
membership increases in a year, according to the National Council of
Churches' 2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.

Although Jehovah's Witnesses currently rank 25th in size with over
1.06 million members, they reported a 2.25 per cent increase in
membership since the publication of the 2007 Yearbook. The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – also known as the Mormon church –
grew 1.56 per cent and is listed by the NCC as the fourth largest

Notably, however, both Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormon church are
not accepted within many Christian circles as part of the larger Body
of Christ over a number of controversial beliefs that the two
religions hold.

The identification of Jehovah's Witnesses as Christian is debated
largely due to their rejection of the Trinity, which most Christians
regard as a fundamental doctrine. Latter-day Saints, meanwhile, are
often criticised for their belief in "divine" books of scripture,
aside from the Bible, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and
Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Mormonism was formally listed under "cults and sects" by the Southern
Baptist Convention – the largest Protestant denomination in the nation
– but was more recently categorised among "newly developed religions"
on the North American Mission Board apologetics page.

Other bodies in the newly published top 25 largest churches list that
reported membership increases include the Catholic Church with a 0.87
per cent increase; the Southern Baptist Convention with a 0.22 per
cent increase; the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church with a 0.21
per cent rise; and the Assemblies of God with a 0.19 per cent growth.

The greatest losses in membership were reported by the Episcopal
Church, which dropped 4.15 per cent in members, and the Presbyterian
Church (USA), which decreased by 2.36 per cent. Both denominations are
currently wracked by theological differences and the issue of

American Baptist Churches in the USA and the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America also experienced large losses in membership,
dropping 1.82 per cent and 1.58 per cent, respectively.

"Some will wish to argue that the slowing growth rate is evidence of
an increasing secularisation of American postmodern society," said the
Rev Dr Eileen W Lindner, editor of the Yearbook. "While such an
explanation will satisfy some, caution in drawing such a conclusion is

Lindner also observed that churches are feeling the impact of the
lifestyles of Millenials – people in their 20s and 30s – who attend
church but resist becoming members.

The United Methodist Church saw a 0.99 per cent decrease but the
mainline group remains the third largest church body with nearly 8
million members.

Only three of the top 10 largest churches are mainline Protestant
churches; three of the top 25 are Pentecostal churches; and six of the
top 15 are historic African American churches.

Largest 25 Churches (ranked by membership)

1. The Catholic Church – 67,515,016
2. Southern Baptist Convention – 16,306,246
3. The United Methodist Church – 7,995,456
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 5,779,316
5. The Church of God in Christ – 5,499,875
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. – 5,000,000
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – 4,774,203
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. – 3,500,000
9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – 3,025,740
10. Assemblies of God – 2,836,174
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church – 2,500,000
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America – 2,500,000
13. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. – 2,500,000
14. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) – 2,417,997
15. Episcopal Church – 2,154,572
16. Churches of Christ – 1,639,495
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America – 1,500,000
18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. – 1,500,000
19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – 1,443,405
20. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. – 1,371,278
21. United Church of Christ – 1,218,541
22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International – 1,200,000
23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ – 1,071,616
24. The Orthodox Church in America – 1,064,000
25. Jehovah's Witnesses – 1,069,530

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Utah Historical Quarterly special issue on the Utah War

Volume 76, Number 1 (Winter 2008 Issue)
Winter 2008 Utah Historical Quarterly


One hundred and fifty years ago a federal army of nearly two thousand soldiers under the command of Col. Albert Sidney Johnston huddled in their makeshift quarters at Camp Scott near the ruins of Fort Bridger in southwestern Wyoming to wait out the bitter winter and prepare to march into the Salt Lake Valley later in the spring of 1858. Meanwhile, Mormon spies kept watch on the soldiers from the heights of Bridger Butte a few miles west of Camp Scott while the territorial militia continued preparation of defense fortifications in Echo Canyon and elsewhere along the trail in anticipation of battle with the federal troops when they moved into the Mormon stronghold.

The year 1857 had been an eventful and difficult year for Utah and the nation. The fight over whether Kansas would be a "free" or "slave" state generated national attention to "Bleeding Kansas,"—a prologue to what became a full-scale Civil War in 1861. At the same time the United States Supreme Court increased tensions in the landmark decision in the Dred Scott case, when it decreed that all African Americans were not citizens and that the sanctity of property rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution included the human property of slaveholders. As Kenneth M. Stampp wrote in his classic study of the United States on the eve of civil war, America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink, "1857 was probably the year when the North and South reached the political point of no return—when it became well nigh impossible to head off a violent resolution of the differences between them."

Tensions were no less severe in Utah as newly elected president James Buchanan acted in the spring of 1857 to replace Brigham Young as territorial governor with Alfred E. Cumming. Unconvinced that Mormons would accept the new governor, Buchanan directed the United States Army to provide a substantial and suitable escort for the newly appointed governor and in so doing precipitated what has long been known as the Utah War. As the Utah-bound expedition made its way along the well-traveled Oregon- California Trail toward Utah, approximately one hundred and twenty California-bound emigrants were killed by Mormons at Mountain Meadows in southwestern Utah on September 11.

This special issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly examines the background, issues, individuals, and consequences surrounding the Utah War. Not only did the North and the South stand on the brink of civil war in 1857, but so did the East and West as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, political upheavals, and the Utah War exacerbated tensions and hostilities in Utah, California, and surrounding territories that were no less volatile than those of slavery and states' rights in Kansas and the South.

Our first two articles offer differing, yet complementary views on the causes of the Utah War. They address such questions as how the decision was reached to send a federal army to Utah, and what roles United States President James Buchanan and Mormon leader and Utah Territorial Governor Brigham Young played in launching the impending conflict.

In an effort to give a visual understanding of important sites and events associated with the Utah War, our third article illustrates the landmarks along the more than eleven hundred mile journey undertaken by the federal army from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to Camp Floyd, forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Less than a decade later, Civil War photographers like Mathew Brady, would use the medium of photography to convey the death and horror of war to a shocked America.

Our fourth article, with its focus on Sam Houston, reminds us that statesmen of all generations have the right and duty to speak out on controversial matters and, as Sam Houston did with the Utah War, make their opinions and recommendations a part of the public discussion.

Although the Utah War saw no actual battles and few deaths, our final article, in recounting the thirty-year Spencer-Pike affair, instructs us that the threat of violence was real and that hostilities and animosity took decades to ease and disappear. There is no doubt that the Utah War was a significant event in Utah and American history.

In 1858 Abraham Lincoln said in reference to the United States and slavery, "a house divided against its self cannot stand." Just as the nation had to deal with the issue of slavery to insure its continuation, so did the Territory of Utah have to come to an understanding and acceptance of its relationship with the rest of the nation. That process was accelerated, if not begun, with the Utah War.

A Lion in the Path: Genesis of the Utah War, 1857-1858
By David L. Bigler

And The War Came: James Buchanan, the Utah Expedition, and the Decision to ntervene
By William P. MacKinnon

The Utah War: A Photographic Essay of Some of Its Important Historic Sites
By John Eldredge

Sam Houston and the Utah War
By Michael Scott Van Wagenen

The Spencer-Pike Affair
By Richard W. Sadler

Monday, February 11, 2008

LGBT Mormons reach out to church leaders

A group of gay Mormons is seeking an unprecedented meeting with the new church president and his counselors, hoping to begin a conversation and find ways to address the concerns of its members.

Affirmation, with more than 2,000 gay, lesbian and transgender members, is not recognized by the church, which at one time labeled homosexuality as a problem that required help.

"Although there are many areas of hurt and disagreement that have separated us, there are many more areas on which we can find agreement, and in doing so, become a blessing in the lives of many of the Saints, both straight and gay," the group wrote in its invitation to Thomas S. Monson last week.

Monson assumed leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last Sunday following the death of its previous president, Gordon B. Hinckley.

Such a meeting with Monson and his counselors -- a triumvirate known as the First Presidency -- would be unprecedented, said David W. Melson, the group's assistant executive director.

"This was something we've talked about for a while," Melson said. "With the death of President Hinckley and the installation of new church leadership, it seemed like the appropriate time."

continue reading  here

Friday, February 08, 2008

Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons:

Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons: Previously titled "The Eleventh Hour Laborers."

Few people, Mormon and non-Mormon, are aware that there has been an African American presence in the LDS Church from its earliest days, that the vanguard company of Mormon pioneers included three "colored servants" who were baptized Mormons, and whose descendants remained active in the Church for several generations. This documentary talks about that little-known legacy, and confronts the hard issues which surfaced in the most turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement, when the Church restricted its priesthood from those of African descent. It discusses how that restriction was lifted and what the lives and challenges of the modern Black Mormon pioneers are.

The project is headed by Margaret Young and Darius Gray, authors of several award-winning books and articles about Black Mormons, and by Danor Gerald, a promising new filmmaker. Executive Producer is Richard Dutcher; Editors are Jim Hughes and Danor Gerald.

"Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons" is sponsored by Independent Feature Productions, which makes all donations tax-deductible. See trailer at Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons Premiere at LDS Film Festival January 18, 2008 at the Scera Theater in Orem. Scheduled for release February 2008.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Missing at the revelation

Brad at BCC makes an interesting observation about those in attendance at the revelation giving black men the priesthood. Two apostles in particular had feelings against blacks; Elder Stapley (see here for example) and Elder Peterson (see here for example). Benson also had such feelings, but Brad suggests this may have been due more to his anti-communist feelings than feelings against blacks. These two apostles were the only two absent from from the meeting (due to sickness and an assignment to South America).

One wonders if this was by design.

Interestingly, something related happened the previous decade when 1st Presidency member Hugh B. Brown arranged a vote among the Quorum of the Twelve while Harold B. Lee (who also had such feelings) was out of town. The Quorum of the Twelve approved the measure to give blacks the priesthood. However, when Elder Lee returned to town, he was able to get the vote reversed.

British Journal of Mormon Studies

British Journal of Mormon Studies

The British Journal of Mormon Studies is a British based internationally focused, peer-reviewed online and printed scholarly journal, which is committed to the promotion of interdisciplinary scholarship by publishing articles and reviews of current work in the field of Mormon studies. With high quality international contributors, the journal explores Mormon studies and its related subjects. In addition, BJMS provides those who submit manuscripts for publication with useful, timely feedback by making the review process constructive. To submit a manuscript or review, including book reviews please email them for consideration in the first instance to

Vol 1, No 1 (2008): British Journal of Mormon Studies

Table of Contents

Front Matter

Front Matter PDF
British Journal of Mormon Studies i-iv


Editorial PDF
David M. Morris v-vi


Can There be a "Second Harvest"? : Controlling the Costs of Latter-day Saint Membership in Europe PDF
Armand L. Mauss 1-63
The Tide of Mormon Migration Flowing Through the Port of Liverpool, England PDF
Fred E. Woods 64-91
An LDS Soundworld for the Twenty-First Century: A Thesis Revisited PDF
Warrick N. Kear 95-103
The Patterns of Missionary Work and Emigration in Nineteenth Century Buckinghamshire, England PDF
Ronald E. Bartholomew 104-144
A Finnish Mormon Temple or 'America in Karakallio'? The Activation of a Stereotype at an Encounter of Cultures PDF
Kim B. Östman 145-162
The Rhetoric of the Gathering and Zion: 1831-1920 PDF
David M. Morris 163-181

Book Reviews

Book Review: On the Way to Somewhere Else: European Sojourners in the Mormon West, 1834–1930 PDF
Kim B. Östman 182-185
Book Review: Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History, Volume 7: The British Isles PDF
David M. Morris 186-194


British Journal of Mormon Studies Volume 1 Issue 1 2008 PDF
British Journal of Mormon Studies 195-196

Full Issue

British Journal of Mormon Studies Volume 1 Issue 1 2008 PDF HTML

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Reed Smoot hearings

Provided by Professor Nathan B. Oman, PDFs of the Reed Smoot Hearings.

" In January, 1903, the Utah Legislature chose Mormon Apostle Reed Smoot to be the State's new Senator.  The result was a nation wide protest, mainly organized through Protestant churches, against his seating in the U.S. Senate.  The main accusations were that Mormons continued to practice polygamy cladestinely, despite the 1890 Manifesto, and that the Mormon Church continued to dominate political and business affairs in Utah and the Intermountain West.  Smoot's election to the Senate was seen as part of a Mormon conspiracy to pollute the national councils with their theocratic influence.  Eventually a massive petition was presented to the U.S. Senate, which began what became a multi-year investation into Mormon and Utah affairs.  In the end Smoot retained his seat, and the investigative committee produced four massive volumes of hearing transcripts, which are one of our richest sources on Mormonism at the turn of the century.  The transcripts in their entirety are available below in PDF format.  These files are text searchable using Adobe Acrobat.  Enjoy!"

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Grant's Watershed: Succession in the Presidency, 1887-1889

With the succession of president Hinckley's presidency immanent, the following BYU Studies article by Ronald Walker sheds some light on the development of the succession process and earlier difficulties before the tradition became established.


Events during 1887‒89, during Elder Wilford Woodruff's succession to the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, remains an important but largely untold story—a time when differing views divided the Church's General Authorities and when the policies and procedures for installing a new president of the Church ere tested and confirmed. These years are also important for the insights they offer in understanding the life of Heber J. Grant, who himself regarded that time as a personal watershed. While it is clear that he acted with candor, energy, and idealism throughout the episode, with hindsight he believed that he had erred, especially in breaching a vital rule of the Quorum—collegiality—as he and other young members of the Twelve had tried too hard to make their views prevail. So deep his later anguish, he cut troubling passages from his diary, and on becoming a senior Church leader he either avoided speaking of the Woodruff episode or retold the incident without including much of its detail, a not altogether conscious handling of a painful memory. But clearly it was a lesson learned. For the rest of his life, unity among the "Brethren" was a cherished, if never fully realized, ideal.

Read the article here.