Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mormon Book Event

Eborn Books 2nd Annual Mormon Book Event

Invitation to attend:
Location: E Center — Salt Lake City
3200 South Decker Lake Drive
West Valley City, Utah 84119
When: Saturday, October 18, 2008
Time: 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM
Tickets: $29 — All Day Pass
$35 — All Day Pass — Includes Lunch
Questions: Eborn Books — Valley Fair Mall — 801-965-9410
Please RSVP if you plan to attend: 801-725-3131
9:30-10:20 AM -- Glen Leonard & Ron Walker --
— The Massacre at Mountain Meadows —
10:30-11:20 AM — LeGrand Baker & Stephen E. Ricks —
— The Temple in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon
11:30-12:20 AM — Brent Ashworth —
— Mormon Book Collecting
— Lunch — View "Picturing Joseph—A Documentary" by Nick Galieti
1:20-2:10 PM — Jason Thompson —
— The Unpublished Wilford Woodruff Autobiography
2:20-3:10 PM — Jeffrey Needle —
— Mormon Book Reviewing from a Jewish Perspective
3:20-4:10 PM — Jim Birrell —
— The Mormon-Evangelical Relationship
4:20-5:10 PM — LeGrand Baker, Bret Eborn, Nick Galieti —
— Focus Group for "Murder of the Mormon Prophet" Documentary
5:20-6:10 PM — Michael Rice —
— The University of Jesus Christ
6:20 PM — S. Michael Tracy —
— The Joseph Smith Photograph — Encore Presentation

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First Presidency video conference on proposition 8

I've heard rumor the First Presidency has scheduled a video conference to California members on Proposition 8, FYI.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Secret Handshakes?

Take a close look at the handshakes.

Dick Cheney and Gordon B. Hinckley

Thomas S. Monson and George W. Bush (attached)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Emma's Blessing

Zenaida at the-exponent.com posted this blessing to Emma, penned by Emma at Joseph Smith's suggestion when he was unable to personally give her a blessing while in Carthage Jail.

"First of all that I would crave as the richest of heaven's blessings would be wisdom from my Heavenly Father bestowed daily, so that whatever I might do or say, I could not look back at the close of the day with regret, nor neglect the performance of any act that would bring a blessing. I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting. I desire a spirit of discernment, which is one of the promised blessings of the Holy Ghost.
"I particularly desire wisdom to bring up all the children that are, or may be committed to my charge, in such a manner that they will be useful ornaments in the Kingdom of God, and in a coming day arise up and call me blessed.
"I desire prudence that I may not through ambition abuse my body and cause it to become prematurely old and care-worn, but that I may wear a cheerful countenance, live to perform all the work that I covenanted to perform in the spirit-world and be a blessing to all who may in any wise need aught at my hands.
"I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side, and I ask my Heavenly Father that through humility, I may be enabled to overcome that curse which was pronounced upon the daughters of Eve. I desire to see that I may rejoice with them in the blessings which God has in store for all who are willing to be obedient to his requirements. Finally, I desire that whatever may be my lot through life I may be enabled to acknowledge the hand of God in all things." (Peterson and Gaunt, Faith, Hope and Charity, pp 18-19)


Genome indicates polygamy has been the norm

Excerpts from a New Scientist article, Polygamy left its mark on the human genome by Ewen Callaway.

Tens of thousands of years of polygamy has left a mark on our genomes that is a signature that small numbers of males must have mated with lots of females.

Over time, such a pattern will spawn more genetic differences on the X chromosome than other chromosomes. This is because women have two copies of the X, while men only one. In other words, the diversity arises because some men don't get to pass on their genes, while most women do.

"Humans are considered to be mildly polygynous and we descend from primates that are polygynous," says Michael Hammer, a population geneticist at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Hammer's team discovered more genetic differences in the X chromosome than would be expected if equal numbers of males and females tended to mate, over human history. The only explanation for this pattern is widespread, long-lasting polygyny, he says.

His team's analysis reflects all of human history, and modern monogamy has not even left a blip in our genomes. "I don't know how long monogamy has been with us," Hammer says. "It seems it hasn't been around long, evolutionarily."

Besides, "most societies practice some form of polygamy", he says. Even if most Western men don't take multiple wives, men tend to father children with more females than females do with males, a practice called "effective polygamy".

"It's not unexpected," says Dmitri Petrov, an evolutionary geneticist at Stanford University in California. "Polygany is something you would expect to find." Petrov and his colleagues uncovered the same genetic pattern in fruit flies.

Monday, September 22, 2008

High Priest Threatened with Excommunication in Marriage Row

Excerpts from an EDGE article by Kilian Melloy

A Hastings, Neb., Mormon man has been threatened with excommunication by his bishop for working against an anti-gay amendment in Calif.

Andrew Callahan, who says that he is "a high priest in good standing" in the Mormon church, contacted the media by means of an email, dated Sept. 21, in which Hastings claimed that his efforts to counter the Mormon leadership's instruction had included co-creating a Web site "where Mormons, former Mormons, and friends of the Mormon Church could write letters and post them online to state their opposition to the Mormon Church's political stance."

The result, Callahan said, was a visit from his bishop that amounted to a threat of excommunication from the Mormons.

Callahan recounted, "In late June the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... issued a letter to its members in California encouraging them to support Proposition 8, an amendment to the California constitution that will eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.

"The letter asked members to do all they could to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating both money and time."

Continued Callahan, "Although I'm a resident of Hastings, Nebraska, not California, I almost immediately began trying to get the Mormon Church to change its position on the issue.

"This just reminded me so much of the racial bigotry that Mormon leaders have historically been so famous for.

"Our past leaders insisted that racial bigotry against blacks was God's divine idea," Callahan continued, adding, "now current ones are promoting this same kind of bigoted nonsense about gays and lesbians."

Stated Callahan, "I'm a Mormon high priest in good standing and have served in many local leadership positions in my more than 20 years in the Mormon Church."

In that capacity, Callahan not only helped to create the Web site where pro-marriage equality Mormons could speak out, he "also wrote hundreds of letters to middle level church leaders stating this opposition to the plan put forth by top leadership in the Mormon Church, and invited the middle level leaders to join with me in that opposition."

The church's leadership seemingly took note of Callahan's efforts; claimed Callahan, "On August 18, the Mormon Church headquarters in Salt Lake City disseminated a 'Notice' to virtually all of the Mormon ecclesiastical leaders in the United States, directing them to 'disregard' communications from me.

"The Notice also directed that the lay membership of the Church be told to disregard me."

Nonetheless, Callahan recounted, "I continued my efforts, contacting lay members directly in several states, and also starting a petition online that asks the Mormon Church to immediately discontinue its political organizing activities and financial support of the California amendment."

Callahan's continued efforts on behalf of preserving marriage equality seemingly led to a visit from his bishop.

"On September 11, 2008, my bishop, Bryan Woodbury of Clay Center, Nebraska visited me stating that he was there by assignment of higher authorities in the church," Callahan recounted.

"Bishop Woodbury offered me a chance to resign my membership in the Mormon Church, and when I declined, the bishop stated that there would be disciplinary action and that my membership in the Mormon Church was 'not mandatory.'

"Bishop Woodbury indicated that he would be back 'pretty quick' with a letter from the next higher level ecclesiastical leader," Callahan continued.

"This was clearly a threat of excommunication, because bishops have full authority to discipline high priests in the Mormon Church with every form of church discipline except excommunication, which must be done at the next higher level."

Continued Callahan, "Bishop Woodbury stated that the reasons for the excommunication would be that I am 'going in a different direction' from the church, and I am in 'opposition' to the Mormon Church."

Added Callahan, "The bishop gave the analogy that if I were a member of a gay and lesbian organization and collected signatures on a petition supporting Proposition 8, that organization would probably kick me out, and suggested that the Mormon Church was about to do that to me now."

The entire article can be read here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wall Street Journal: Mormons Boost Anti-gay marriage Effort

Excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article by mark Schoofs.

Mormons have emerged as a dominant fund-raising force in the hotly contested California ballot fight to ban same-sex marriage.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have contributed more than a third of the approximately $15.4 million raised since June 1 to support Proposition 8. The ballot initiative, if passed, would reverse the current right of same-sex couples to marry.

The tally of Mormon contributions was provided by Frank Schubert, campaign manager for ProtectMarriage.com -- Yes on 8, the initiative's primary backer. A finance-tracking group corroborated Mormon fund-raising dominance, saying it could exceed 40%.

The Mormon Church decision to enlist members on behalf of the same-sex marriage ban has given supporters of Proposition 8 a fund-raising lead. The campaign to defeat the initiative has collected around $13 million so far, said Steve Smith, a top campaign consultant for No on 8, Equality for All. Both sides raised roughly equal amounts in the early stages, said Mr. Smith, but "all of a sudden in the last few weeks they are out-raising us, and it appears to be Mormon money."

Mormon donors said they weren't coerced. "Nobody twisted my arm," said Richard Piquet, a Southern California accountant who gave $25,000 in support of Proposition 8. He said Mormon Church leaders called donating "a matter of personal conscience." Some Mormons who declined to donate said their local church leaders had made highly charged appeals, such as saying that their souls would be in jeopardy if they didn't give. Church spokesmen said any such incident wouldn't reflect Mormon Church policy.

The latest statewide poll, taken at the end of August, shows that 54% of the state's likely voters oppose the initiative while 40% support it.

The battle has drawn in money from around the country. The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic group, has given $1 million to support Proposition 8. Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization composed mainly of evangelical Protestants, has given more than $400,000. The Yes on 8 campaign has received "more proportionally from the Latter-day Saints Church than from any other faith," said Mr. Schubert, 35% to 40% of the total.

The Mormon Church encouraged its members to send their donations to a separate post-office box set up by a church member, said Messrs. Schubert and L. Whitney Clayton, a senior Mormon Church official involved in the campaign. Mr. Clayton said the church didn't keep track of how much individual Mormons donated, just the cumulative total. He said members bundled the donations and forwarded them to the campaign.

A Web site run by individual Mormons, Mormonsfor8.com, has tracked all donations to the Yes on 8 campaign of $1,000 or more listed on the California secretary of state's Web site. The site's founder, Nadine Hansen, said they have identified more than $5.3 million given by Mormons but believe that donations from church members may account for far more than 40% of the total raised.

Robert Bolingbroke, a Mormon who lives near San Diego, said he and his wife decided on their own to donate $3,000 in August. Later, he was invited to participate in a conference call led by a high church official, known as a member of the Quorum of Seventy. Mr. Bolingbroke, a former president and chief operating officer of The Clorox Co., estimates that 40 to 60 Mormon potential donors were on that call, and he said it was suggested that they donate $25,000, which Mr. Bolingbroke did earlier this month. Mr. Bolingbroke said he doesn't know how he or the other participants on the call were selected. Church leaders keep tithing records of active members, who are typically asked to donate 10% of their income each year to the Mormon Church.

Same-sex marriage hits at the heart of Mormon theology, said Terryl Givens, a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond. According to scholars and documents on the Mormon Church's official Web site, couples married in a Mormon temple remain wedded for eternity and can give birth to spirit children in the afterlife. Most importantly, Mormons must be married to achieve "exaltation," the ultimate state in the afterlife. Mormons also believe they retain their gender in the afterlife.

"This all explains the Mormon difficulty with homosexuality," said Mr. Givens. In a theology based on eternal gender, marriage and exaltation, "same-sex attraction doesn't find a place."

The church, which typically stays out of political issues, has occasionally entered the fray. In the 1970s, for example, it opposed the Equal Rights Amendment.

Asked if working on Proposition 8 might improve the standing of Mormons in the eyes of evangelicals, Mr. Whitney said, "That's just not been on our radar."

The entire article can be read here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Changes in the Doubleday Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus ChristAbout a year ago a small, but significant one word change was identified in the introduction of the new Doubleday version of the Book of Mormon. Later other changes were found. Now Christopher at Juvenile Instructor has identified modifications to chapter headings that remove links between dark skin and sin. However, some chapter headings still link white skin to righteousness (see the last example). The text has not changed and still contains racial implications. Below are comparisons provided by Christopher between the 1981 standard LDS version and the Doubleday version.
2 Nephi 5 (1981 version) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites. 2 Nephi 5 (Doubleday version) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.
Mormon 5 (1981 version) The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy, and loathsome people... Mormon 5 (Doubleday version) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them
3rd Nephi 2 (1981 version) Converted Lamanites become white and are called Nephites. 3rd Nephi 2 (Doubleday version) Converted Lamanites become white and are called Nephites.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mormons & Gay Marriage in Arizona

Excerpts from an Arizona Daily Star article By Daniel Scarpinato

Mormons now issue in gay vows
Ariz. supporters of amendment charge 'bigotry'

PHOENIX — The campaign over whether marriage should be defined — and limited — in the state constitution could soon start to look like a fight between two politically polarizing groups: gays and Mormons.

Those who want to define marriage as between one man and one woman will try to convince voters that without the constitutional amendment, courts could overturn Arizona's law banning on same-sex marriage and allow gays to wed, citing such an occurrence in California.
Meanwhile, opponents are crafting a strategy to label the amendment an attempt by the Mormon church to clean up its image after a series of polygamy scandals by fringe groups that are not actually affiliated with the church.

Backers of the amendment call that claim "religious bigotry" and a political "scare tactic," pointing to support from other denominations — although members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do appear to be providing much of the cash fueling the campaign.
The injection of two often uncomfortable subjects for some voters — religion and sexuality — into the public policy debate portends a campaign even more divisive than the 2006 battle over a similar, though much broader, amendment.

Arizona Together, which opposes Proposition 102, has begun framing the ballot referendum as a mostly Mormon-backed attempt to rectify what it calls a "polygamy problem" in the eyes of voters.

The opponents' argument against the ballot measure also rests on convincing voters that Mormons and other religious groups are seeking to "impose their views on people."

But the measure on this year's ballot is significantly different from the one Sinema helped defeat in 2006 in that it would not limit unmarried couples' partner benefits offered by local governments.
With that change, the opponents lost their most effective campaign point from 2006, when they characterized the ban as an attack on opposite-sex couples who might lose benefits, while largely ignoring the potential effect on gay couples.

Past polling has shown that on the singular issue of marriage, Arizona voters support such an amendment. So opponents are trying to focus the discussion elsewhere, notably on the Mormon church.

Sinema said the ballot measure is a reflection of the Mormon church "working hard to convince the public that they are mainstream." She said her background, being raised Mormon in Tucson, gives her the credibility to make the charge.

"I don't think Arizonans are interested in having the Mormon religion dictate public policy to them," Sinema said.

Sinema contends that at least three-quarters of the individual donors to the campaign are with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based on her group having Googled donor names along with "LDS" or "Mormon."

While that method of verifying the religion of donors may be questionable, Sinema points to top backers with ties to the Mormon church: $100,000 from philanthropists Rex and Ruth Maughan, and $40,000 from Kristen Cowley, an organizer of the LDS Easter pageant.

And Baer wouldn't comment on where the bulk of the funding is coming from, calling that "campaign strategy."

"I can't share," she said. "They can look at public records."

Asked why same-sex marriage should not be allowed, Baer answered: "We're not against anyone; we're for marriage.

The measure's backers have $3.34 million.

Read the entire article here

38% for proposition, 55% against

SFGate reports the numbers of a new poll regarding a proposition to amend the California state constitution to prevent marriage of homosexual couples.  The church is heavily involved promoting this proposition.

Opposition to a California ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage is mounting following Attorney General Jerry Brown's move to change the language on the initiative, according to a Field Poll released today.

The poll found that just 38 percent of likely voters support the measure, while 55 percent intend to vote no. That compares with 42 percent in support and 51 percent opposed in July.

Brown amended the Proposition 8 summary language after the state Supreme Court's decision on May 15 to overturn California's previous ban on same-sex marriage.

The pollsters found the amended language played a role in that growing opposition, especially among the 30 percent of likely voters interviewed who had never heard of Prop. 8.

Those voters were much more likely to oppose the measure when read Brown's wording (58 percent against it and 30 percent for it) than those in the same category who were read the old version of Prop. 8 (42 percent against and 37 percent for it), according to the Field Poll.

The Brown language reads, in part: "Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry." The original version read, in part: "Limit on marriage."

Brown's revision makes it clear that voters are taking away someone's rights and that made the difference, said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo.

"People are generally in favor of rights for individuals," said DiCamillo.

The entire article can be read here

Mormon Theology Seminar

MORMON THEOLOGY SEMINAR -- The Mormon Theology Seminar will present the fruit of months of collaboration, taking a scholarly approach to scripture by intersecting faith and study in a conference -- six scholars with six viewpoints. The conference is the culmination of an online seminar aimed at a focused, sustained and collaborative reading of Alma 32 in the Book of Mormon. Friday. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Joseph F. Smith Building, room B-192.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Osmonds final performance

After five decades of performances, the Osmonds decided that they would not perform again as a complete group. With tears flowing, they performed their final concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir -- the first time that the choir has allowed cameras backstage.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Mormon turned away from Christian fraternity

Freshman John Bundy wanted to join Kappa Upsilon Chi, a Christian fraternity on campus.

But he was denied admission because he is Mormon.

"They did all the things fraternities do, but they're centered around Christ," he said. "I was really interested in the student organization because they did retreats and services in the community."

Mark Nelson, president of the UNM chapter of Kappa Upsilon Chi, said Bundy's faith doesn't fit with the fraternity's members.

Read the entire article here

Panel on Mountain Meadows Massacre

I was able to attend the Salt Lake Public Library panel discussion on the book, Massacre at Mountain Meadows.  Apparently the book is very popular and has already gone through several printings. This scholarly panel seems to have indirect-church sanctioning, as the church issued a news release about the presentation.

The presenters seemed to agree the reason behind the massacre was blind faith and blind obedience.   One of them added that demonizing by church leaders creating an "other" that was then denounced and demonized.  Another added the violent rhetoric by the church as another catalyst.  These ingredients led everyday people to commit this atrocity..

John Mack Faragher, a historian from Yale  felt there was not enough emphasis on the role of obedience by the church.  There were no confirmed accounts of any Mormon refusing to go along with the massacre.  He also felt the Springville blood atonements (anyone have info on these?) received too little attention and that the relationship to violence in the west should have been explored more.

Faragher points out that sociologist Max Weber notes that part of the definition of of a state is that it has a legal and moral monopoly on the use of violence.  When a state is firmly in control, public violence drops.  When that control is contested, or weak, public violence increases.  Utah had two states contesting for power over the same people; the Mormon theocratic state of Deseret and the U.S. appointed governor of the territory.  Because state control was not firmly in place, it opened the way for more violence.

Violence is learned.  John D. Lee, who largely headed the massacre  had a mother who "beat him senseless" more times then he could recall.  He also participated in an Indian massacre, and was accused of domestic violence.  Interestingly he and other Mormons used the same phrase used at Hauns Mill, and at the Indian Massacre by those perpetrators when killing children.  Also coupled with the experiences of the church in Missouri, they had learned how to do violence.

Phillip Barlow, head of the new Mormon studies program at USU felt this was a major milestone in the history of doing Mormon history.  The decision to write a frank, complete, honest history about a very difficult subject was made at the highest level with the understanding that the "chips would fall where they may."  They were given full material access including materials in the 1st Presidency's vault, and the church made a monumental amount of human and financial resources available to the authors.

He felt this book would be painful for members of the church to read, but in the long run good for the church by being cathartic.  He compared the Cedar City Mormons to the early American Puritans (witchcraft trials), 20th century Germans (holocaust) and the 21st century guards at Guantanamo Bay & in Iraq (prisoner abuse).  They were all ordinary people in a bad situation with the wrong ingredients.

He notes that this may cause some to shift to a new paradigm of understanding the relationship of God and the church where it may be inverted from it's current view of God directing the church, to instead imperfect humans striving to follow God.  He  notes the problem of absolute obedience ("1st law of heaven") and  blind faith (the continual emphasis that not enough faith is bad, and more faith is good), noting that terrorists have plenty of this.  Proper faith requires thought.  Well though out faith is much better than blind faith.  The emphasis of thinking and personal conscience are also important and could be more integrated into Mormonism.  Few truly understanding a system of thinking or belief, be it secularism or theism; and rely on an authority figure.  Few can articulate what they believe in and why.  More thinking and understanding needs to take place.

The creation of an "other" has occurred repeatedly in Mormon history.  The current "other" are homosexuals and those lobbying for homosexual marriage rights.  Barlow suspects the demonization of this new "other" will cause difficulty for the church in the future.

Richard Turley, one of the co-authors said he and his co-authors felt that if they could tackle this difficult topic, which they subjectively considered to be Mormonism's most problematic issue, the church could tackle any other.  They hope this might be a standard for future topics, such as blacks and the priesthood or polygyny.  They have made all their research materials open to researchers and a new website has been put in place about the book.  He invited researchers to continue to explore the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Here are  partial typescript/summaries of the evening's proceedings from The Juvenile Instructor.  These pages contain links to more of the evening's discussion.


BYU Law Professor Edits Book Questioning Same Sex Marriage

What's The Harm : Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families or Society?

Edited by Lynn D. Wardle
Lanham  MA : Univeristy  Press of America, 2008.  393 pages.

  • What's the harm" and why it matters / Lynn D. Wardle
  • Conjugal marriage fosters healthy human and societal development / A Dean Byrd
  • Alleged Harms of recognizing same-sex marriage / Mark Strasser
  • "Who's my Daddy?"  How the legalization of same-sex partnerships would further the rise of ambiguous fatherhood in America / Jason S. Carroll & David C. Dollahite
  • Unintended consequences:  the flaws in "It doesn't affect anyone but us" argument in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage / Marianne M. Jennings
  • What's the harm to women and children?  A prospective analysis / Lynne Marie Kohlm
  • Same-sex marriage and the rights of the child / Lynne Marie Kohlm
  • Principles of justice in procreative affiliations / Scott FitzGibbon
  • Dwelling among us / Martha Bailey
  • Meaning, morality, and sexual attraction:  questioning the reductive and deterministic assumptions of biologism and social constructionism / Edwin E. Gantt & Emily Reynolds
  • Sexual virtue, Sexual vice, and the requirements of the Good Society: lessions from ancient Rome / Charles J. Reid, Jr.
  • Morality of marriage and the transformative power of inclusion / Lynn D. Wardle
  • Case for treating same-sex marriage as a human right and the harm of denying human dignity / Vincent J. Samar.  
  • Equality or ideology?  Same-sex unions in Scandinavia / Allan Carlson
  • Sam -sex "marriage" as veribicide:  reaffirming hte linguistic and cultural heritage that once made "marriage" a vibrant word of substance and hope / Bryce Christensen
  • Erosion of marriage:  a pyrrhic victory? / Seana Sugrue
  • Unconservative consequences of conservative opposition to gay marriage / Dale Carpenter
  • Or for poorer?  How same-sex marriage threatens liberty / Roger Severino
  • Same-sex marriage and public school curricula:  reflections on preserving the rights of parents to direct the education of their children / Charles J. Russo.
  • Redefinition of marriage and the Rule of Law / William C. Duncan.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Church contributions to Proposition 8 strong

Church contributions towards Proposition 8 in California seem to be strong.  Mormons For Proposition 8 (http://mormonsfor8.com/) is gathering data on LDS donations to proposition 8, and notes:

In the areas where we have more complete information, LDS church participation is very high. For example, see Carlsbad, CA ... 68%, was from Mormon donors....in some smaller areas, ALL donors in a particular town are LDS.  Clearly the LDS church push to support the amendment has had an amazing effect.

Apparently you can check to see which of your California Mormon friends and relatives are donating $1,000 or more.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monogamy gene found

Below are excerpts from a NewScientist article by Priya Shetty titled "Monogamy gene found in people."  The entire article can be read here.
There has been speculation about the role of the hormone vasopressin in humans ever since we discovered that variations in where receptors for the hormone are expressed makes prairie voles strictly monogamous but meadow voles promiscuous; vasopressin is related to the "cuddle chemical" oxytocin. Now it seems variations in a section of the gene coding for a vasopressin receptor in people help to determine whether men are serial commitment-phobes or devoted husbands.

Hasse Walum at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues looked at the various forms of the gene coding for a vasopressin receptor in 552 Swedish people, who were all in heterosexual partnerships. The researchers also investigated the quality of their relationships.

They found that variation in a section of the gene called RS3 334 was linked to how men bond with their partners. Men can have none, one or two copies of the RS3 334 section, and the higher the number of copies, the worse men scored on a measure of pair bonding.

Not only that, men with two copies of RS3 334 were more likely to be unmarried than men with one or none, and if they were married, they were twice as likely to have a marital crisis.

RS3 334's social effects extend beyond bonding in couples. Earlier this year, the same gene section was shown to affect signalling in people's amygdalas, linked to trust. Another study found that people with autism, which is characterised by unusual social behaviour, often have multiple copies of RS3 334.

Walum's colleague Paul Lichtenstein says the team's next task is to test how a nasal vasopressin spray affects altruism and jealousy.