Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" - now available

Nauvoo Polygamy
"... but we called it celestial marriage"

Nauvoo Mormon Polygamy

From Signature Book news website:

In his book, George Smith carefully traces the beginnings of polygamy among some 900 of Joseph Smith's closest followers (196 men and 717 women), all of which took place in the 1840s city of Nauvoo, Illinois. A 65-page chart at the end of the book lists each individual's vital statistics, including marriages. Alone worth the price of the book, the chart just scratches the surface of what else this volume contains.

Nauvoo Polygamy is a highly engaging and thoughtful narrative that draws from original sources; discusses the strengths and weaknesses of primary source documents; examines the characteristics of Mormon polygamy including mother-daughter brides, sister-sister brides, brides with current husbands, and adult-adolescent relationships; and produces the results of extensive research from the annals of history regarding other parallel polygamous innovations.

This is a fresh look at a very old topic. It is full of surprises and hard to put down, although also hyper-rational and clear. It should put to rest any remaining question anyone in the world might still have about whether Joseph Smith was a polygamist (he was—with thirty-eight wives) or if polygamy began with his successor Brigham Young (it did not; it had nearly 1,000 practitioners before the Saints left Nauvoo for the West). It also demonstrates that the current fundamentalist Mormons are not far removed in assumed excesses from what was considered normative in the early days of the LDS Church.

Reviews available here.
Introduction here.
More information here.

Major works on Mountain Meadows

Excerpts from "Nailing down the nightmare of Mountain Meadows Massacre" by Gary James Bergera
  • Beginning in 1950, with the pioneering work of Juanita Brooks, historians have attempted to grapple with the causes and personalities at the center of this tragedy. Brooks concluded in her Mountain Meadows Massacre that "the complete—the absolute—truth of the affair can probably never be evaluated by any human being." Despite the modesty, Brooks provided what has become the generally accepted narrative of the massacre.
Brooks, a native of southern Utah, was the first to propose a scholarly, balanced interpretation. She was followed by brief treatments in The Story of the Latter-day Saints (1976) by James Allen and Glen Leonard; Establishing Zion (1988) by Eugene Campbell; Ronald Esplin and Richard Turley in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992); Morris Shirt in Utah History Encyclopedia (1994), and in Forgotten Kingdom by David Bigler (1998).
  • Then in August 2002, Utah historian Will Bagley published Blood of the Prophets. A narrative tour de force, Bagley's analysis pointed to, as probable precipitating causes, the May 1857 assassination of an LDS apostle and the so-called oath of vengeance once administered in LDS temples, charging believers to avenge the deaths of God's prophets. Though Bagley did not explicitly say Brigham Young ordered the massacre, he insisted that "claiming that Brigham Young had nothing to do with Mountain Meadows is akin to arguing that Abraham Lincoln had nothing to do with the Civil War."
  • The next year, Sally Denton's engaging but controversial American Massacre appeared nationwide. 
  • And the winter 2005 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly included "Pursue, Retake, and Punish," Ardis E. Parshall's eye-opening account of an ambush in Santa Clara, Utah, in 1857. Parshall's discussion, detailing Brigham Young's involvement in the deadly assault on a small group of outsiders making their way through the Utah Territory only months before Mountain Meadows, is as insightful as it is illuminating.
  • Finally in August 2008, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints historians Ronald Walker, Richard Turley, and Glen Leonard released their eagerly awaited account of the tragedy entitled Massacre at Mountain Meadows. Some seven-plus years in the making, and drawing upon the full resources of the LDS Church (including access to the First Presidency archives), Massacre offers a straightforward, spartan narrative couched in nuanced language more focused on explaining than on blaming. Though its sympathies toward their church and its pioneer members are apparent, the book's objectivity is sobering. The massacre was not so much the result of one or two immediate precursors, but the frenzied culmination of out-of-control psychological forces, including a culture that encouraged blind obedience, conformity, and the "dehumanization" of outsiders.  "For the most part," Walker, Turley, and Leonard write, "the men who committed the atrocity at Mountain Meadows were nether fanatics nor sociopaths, but normal and in many respects decent people."
  • A companion volume treating the cover-up of the massacre is planned.
  • Following the Walker-Turley-Leonard book, Bagley and David Bigler last month produced a compilation of "essential narratives" of the massacre, Innocent Blood.
  • Bergera also recommends Polly Aird, "'You Nasty Apostates, Clear Out': Reasons for Disaffection in the Late 1850s," in the Journal of Mormon History;
  • William P. MacKinnon, At Sword's Point: A Documentary History of the Utah War of 1857-1858; and
  • Shannon Novak, House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

The Joseph Smith Papers: The Manuscript Revelation Books

Exerpts from Marlin K. Jensen's,  "The Joseph Smith Papers: The Manuscript Revelation Books,"  Ensign

The volumes in the series titled "Revelations and Translations" will reproduce the earliest manuscripts of Joseph Smith's written revelations and translations, together with the official editions of these documents as they were published during his lifetime. These publications include the first edition of the Book of Mormon (1830); the first publication of a collection of Joseph Smith's revelations, called A Book of Commandments (1833); and the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835).

One of the Prophet's priorities after the organization of the Church in 1830 was the recording and preservation of his revelations. Although more comprehensive record keeping did not emerge until 1832, Joseph Smith and John Whitmer began in the summer of 1830 to assemble the revelations the Prophet had received to that point. By at least March of 1831, John Whitmer began copying this early collection of revelation manuscripts into what he titled the "Book of Commandments and Revelations." This manuscript book, which Papers editors have designated as Revelation Book 1, contains items that were copied from around March 1831 to the middle of 1835.

Commissioned during a November 1831 Church conference in Ohio to publish the collected revelations, John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery carried the "Book of Commandments and Revelations" to Missouri where they, along with W. W. Phelps, set about publishing A Book of Commandments (see D&C 67). By early 1832, with the first book of revelation manuscripts in Missouri, Joseph and his scribes procured another book in which to copy revelations. Known as the "Kirtland Revelation Book," this second book has been labeled as Revelation Book 2 by the Papers editors. It was created from late February or early March 1832 to the end of 1834. The first volume in the Revelation and Translation Series features these two books of revelation manuscripts.

Through careful study, Joseph Smith Papers Project scholars have determined that the "Book of Commandments and Revelations" served as the principal source for the 1833 publication of A Book of Commandments and that both the "Book of Commandments and Revelations" and the "Kirtland Revelation Book" became the basis for the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. These manuscript books were no longer used after publication of the Doctrine and Covenants but were safely stored with other Church records. Later revelations were recorded in Joseph Smith's journals and record books, as well as in the papers of bishops, Apostles, and other followers.

Following the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, these two manuscript books were largely ignored because the published volumes were available. However, scholars in recent years have gained a strong interest in examining early manuscripts of Joseph Smith's revelations. Revelation Book 2 had not been readily accessible until the Church published images of the original manuscripts as part of its 2002 Selected Collections from the Archives DVD collection.1 Also, only in recent years have scholars begun to assess the value of Revelation Book 1, which had been in the possession of the First Presidency.

Revelation Book 1 contains the earliest known copies of many revelations and, in some cases, the only surviving early manuscript copies and was the source for the revelations published in the first issue of the Church periodical The Evening and the Morning Star. Four leaves that had been removed from the book at some point are currently owned by the Community of Christ Library-Archives in Independence, Missouri, and are being reproduced with permission in The Joseph Smith Papers.

Revelation Book 1 is a near comprehensive collection of early revelations, containing 64 of the 65 items published in 1833 in A Book of Commandments2 as well as 95 of the 103 sections published in 1835 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Only 10 items from the manuscript book do not appear in either A Book of Commandments or the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.

Preparing the Manuscript Revelation Books for Publication during Joseph Smith's Time

One of Joseph Smith's tasks in reviewing the manuscripts prior to their publication was to "correct those errors or mistakes which he may discover by the Holy Spirit." Joseph knew from experience that the human process of writing down revelations, copying them into manuscript books, and then passing them through various hands in preparation for publication inevitably introduced unintentional errors. Sometimes changes were required to clarify wording. Occasionally, later revelations would supersede or update previously received revelations, necessitating the editing of documents to alter previous versions. Various other changes were also made from time to time. Most [but not all] of these, such as dividing the text into verses or clarifying meaning, did not involve substantive corrections.

Joseph seemed to regard the manuscript revelations as his best efforts to capture the voice of the Lord condescending to communicate in what Joseph called the "crooked, broken, scattered, and imperfect language" of men.

Joseph and his associates were appointed by the actions of Church conferences to prepare the revelations for publication by correcting the texts. Recent analysis of both manuscript revelation books reveals how and when many of the changes were made. For example, some changes were made before selected items were published in Missouri, while others were made in Ohio before the 1835 publication of the Doctrine and Covenants.

One common example involved changes made by Sidney Rigdon. He often changed the language in the revelations from the biblical "thee," "thy," and "thine" to the modern "you," "your," and "yours." Many of these changes were later reversed. He also corrected grammar and changed some of the language to clarify and modify words and meaning.

In a few cases, more substantive changes were made as revelations were updated for the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. For example, section 20 was originally received in 1830, before much of the leadership structure of the Church as we know it today was revealed to Joseph Smith. By 1835 Joseph had organized many offices and quorums by revelation. To include this newly revealed ecclesiastical order, several text changes and additions were incorporated into section 20. Our current verses 65–67 on ordaining men to priesthood offices, for instance, had been revealed after the 1833 publication and were subsequently added to the 1835 publication.

Joseph Smith reviewed many of his associates' editorial changes and made slight alterations in his own hand before A Book of Commandments was published in 1833. He made additional changes, including adding surnames to individuals mentioned in the revelations, just before the Doctrine and Covenants was published in 1835.

Sometime around 1834–35 in Kirtland, Ohio, Revelation Book 2 was used for the preparation of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, and all but eight items in the manuscript book were published in that 1835 volume. In contrast, just three of the revelations copied into the book were published in A Book of Commandments in 1833. Two of the manuscript book's revelations were first published in the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants.

Subsequent editing changes through the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants involved occasional word changes, but the major substantive changes occurred under the Prophet Joseph's guidance for the 1835 edition.

New Information

In editing these manuscript books, Papers editors have uncovered new information. For example, scholars interested in the chronology of Joseph Smith's life have long relied upon the generic month-only dating of many early revelations. Revelation Book 1 provides the specific dates for many of these revelations. In addition, John Whitmer's brief historical introductions to many of the revelations also provide historical context for scholars.

Another interesting development from work on the Revelations and Translations Series has been the identification of a previously unpublished revelation on securing a copyright for the Book of Mormon in Canada. David Whitmer, after he left the Church, recalled that the revelation promised success in selling the copyright, but upon return of the men charged with the duty, Joseph Smith and others were disappointed by what seemed like failure. Historians have relied upon statements of David Whitmer, Hiram Page, and William McLellin for decades but have not had the actual text of the revelation. Revelation Book 1 will provide that.

Although we still do not know the whole story, particularly Joseph Smith's own view of the situation, we do know that calling the divine communication a "failed revelation" is not warranted. The Lord's directive clearly conditions the successful sale of the copyright on the worthiness of those seeking to make the sale as well as on the spiritual receptivity of the potential purchasers.


The editing and updating of revelation texts in the early years of the Church demonstrate the process of continuing revelation to Joseph Smith. The revelation manuscripts reveal how men grappled in trying to make certain that the ideas and doctrines Joseph received were transcribed and printed accurately, a process that for the publication of any work risks the introduction of error. In some instances, when a new revelation changed or updated what had previously been received, the Prophet edited the earlier written revelation to reflect the new understanding. Thus, as his doctrinal knowledge clarified and expanded, so did the recorded revelations. They were characterized by the changing nature of his understanding of the sacred subject matter. The Prophet did not believe that revelations, once recorded, could not be changed by further revelation.

The preservation and publication of these manuscript revelation books provide a significant resource for students of Church history. This project will lead to a greater understanding of how our printed revelations were organized and published, as well as greater insight into the mind and intent of Joseph Smith. A study of these books of revelations will increase not only our knowledge but also our testimony in recognizing the Lord's plan of continuing revelation that provides for the ever-changing needs of the growing Church.

Today in Church History 11/30

--1834 November 30
Having learned from the first No. of the Messenger and Advocate, that you were, not only about to "give a history of the rise and progress of the church of the Latter Day Saints;" but, that said "history would necessarily embrace my life and character," I have been induced to give you the time and place of my birth; as I have learned that many of the opposers of those principles which I have held forth to the world, profess a personal acquaintance with me, though when in my presence, represent me to be another person in age, education, and stature, from what I am.

--1834 November 30
Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery, MA 1, no. 3 (Dec. 1834): 40. Also available at the Center Place website.

--1834 November 30
Most likely in response to the publication of Mormonism Unvailed.

--1834 November 30
While reflecting upon the goodness and mercy of the Lord, this evening, a prophecy was put into our hearts, that in a short time the Lord would arrange his providences in a merciful manner and send us assistance to deliver us from debt and bondage. Diary-1
Papers 2:35.

--about November 30, 1834
Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith and the brethren received a prophecy by revelation that the Lord would deliver them from their current financial troubles and debt.

--November 30, 1835
Kirtland, Ohio. In his journal, Joseph Smith referenced an extensive treatise that he wrote to the elders of the Church between September and December.

--1838 November 30
Joseph and his fellow prisoners are taken to Liberty jail. HC 3:215.

--about November 30, 1838
Liberty, Missouri. Joseph Smith and five other brethren were en route to Liberty Jail.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Today in Church History 11/29

--1832 November 29
Frederick prophecies that next spring Joseph will go to Pittsburgh "to establish a Bishopwrick" and go to New York City within a year. Joseph's journal in PWJS, 21-22.

--29-Nov 1832
Joseph Smith goes to Chardon to see his sisters Sophronia and Catherine [per Smith].

--29-Nov 1832
Joseph Smith writes that Frederick G. Williams prophesized that he should go to Pittsburgh in the spring to establish a bishopric, then go to New York a year later

--1833 November 29
A. S. Gilbert writes Governor Daniel Dunklin that church attorney Doniphan has seen Attorney General Wells, who apprised him of the governor's intention to convene a court of inquiry in Jackson County to investigate mob action against the Mormons. Under current circumstances church leaders would be unable to assemble witnesses in the immediate future in that County. TS 6, no. 1 (June 1, 1845): 913.

--1834 November 29
Joseph and Oliver give thanks for a loan of $430 from brethren in the East. They covenant with the Lord that if he Diary-1
Papers, 34-35.

--1834 November 29
will prosper us in our business and open the way before <us> to pay our debts … that of all he shall give us we will give a tenth, to bestowed upon the poor in his Church, or as he shall command … and that our children after us shall remember to observe this sacred and holy covenant … And that our children and our children's [children] may know of the same we here subscribe our names with our own hands before the Lord: [signed].

--29-Nov 1834
Tithing introduced.

--November 29, 1834
Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith said that he had never been more “busily engaged” than he was during the month of November.

--November 29, 1838
Richmond, Missouri. After being abused and enduring an unjust hearing, Joseph Smith and five of the other brethren were committed to Liberty Jail in Liberty, Missouri, by Judge Austin A. King.

--1839 29 November
[Joseph Smith] Visits United States president Martin Van Buren.

--29-Nov 1843
Joseph Smith reads a letter to be sent to the Green Mountain Boys, with an appeal and detailing part of the Mormon's history. Parley P. Pratt apologizes for not killing all or being killed in the Missouri battle. Joseph Smith apologizes for preventing the brethren from fighting and would not do so again; says "...when the mobs come upon you, kill them." Brigham Young apologized for restraining Hosea Stout.

--Nov 29,1893
Presidents Wilford Woodruff and George Q Cannon meet with three apostles and James E Talmage: "That there will also be daughters of Perdition there is no doubt in the minds of the brethren."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Today in Church History 11/28

--28-Nov 1838
Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and others sent to Liberty Jail, Missouri.

--November 28, 1839
Washington, D.C. Joseph Smith arrived in the capital to present the Saints’ petition to the United States federal government seeking redress for losses in Missouri.

--28-Nov 1841
Joseph Smith tells the 12 Apostles that The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book and the keystone of our religion. [per Joseph Smith].

--November 28, 1841
Nauvoo, Illinois. At a meeting with the Twelve Apostles, Joseph Smith told the brethren “that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

--November 28, 1842
Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith held a trial at his house that lasted all day concerning the unequal distribution of provisions among the temple workers.

--November 28, 1843
Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith and the brethren prepared a “memorial” for the United States Congress that included an account of their history and grievances with the state of Missouri.

--1869 28 November
Young Women program initiated under the title Young Ladies' Retrenchment Association.

--1869, November 28
Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association organized, forerunner of Young Women program.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today in Church History 11/27

--Between 20-Jul 1832 and 27-Nov 1832
Joseph Smith writes (in a ledger) that when he was 16, the Lord appeared and said his sins were forgiven.

--about November 27, 1832
Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith wrote a letter to William W. Phelps in Independence, Missouri, about consecration, an extract of which appears in Doctrine & Covenants 85.

--November 27, 1835
Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith and his scribe Warren Parrish healed each other of severe colds through the laying on of hands.

--November 27, 1839
En route to Washington, D.C. Just before arriving in Washington, D.C., the horses on the stagecoach ran off at full speed while the coachman was getting a drink. Joseph Smith climbed outside the door of the coach and regained control of the horses after a two to three mile run, saving the passengers from injury.

--1919 27 November
Heber J. Grant dedicated Hawaii Temple.

--Nov 27,1967
New York Metropolitan Museum of Art gives to LDS church the original Egyptian papyri upon which Joseph Smith based "Book of Abraham" in Pearl of Great Price. Scholars and church officials authenticate papyri as the same used by Smith. Apostle N. Eldon Tanner states the discovery of the papyri will finally prove Joseph Smith could translate ancient documents. Unfortunately, Egyptologists, LDS and non-LDS, verify that these papyri are typical "Book of Breathings" in form and content. Church officials begin repressing the story that the original papyri have been discovered and are in their possession.

Book of Abraham manuscripts turned over to the Church.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LDS Film Festival

You have until Monday, December 1, to submit your films to the 8th

LDS Film Festival 2009, and be part of a festival that celebrates

films made by LDS filmmakers.


Prizes totaling around $3,000 will be awarded to the best films and

screenplays. Besides prizes and awards, the LDS Film Festival

offers all filmmakers valuable exposure to their work. For 2009, we

anticipate a total audience of around 7,500!


Look up the entry information and submit your film today:


Short Film Competition

Films 20 minutes and under


Special Screenings

Films 20 to 60 minutes in length


Feature Film Exhibition

Films 60 minutes and longer


24-Hour Filmmaking Marathon

Become an award-winning filmmaker in 24 hours

Sign up on January 16 at the Scera Center for the Arts in Orem







The 8th Annual LDS Film Festival 2009 is looking for volunteers.


Each year volunteers play an integral role in making the festival a

great experience for audiences and filmmakers. Take part in this

exciting experience. Volunteers take tickets, offer technical

assistance, usher, greet filmmakers and guests and more.


The festival will take place at the SCERA Center for the Arts in

Orem from January 21-24, 2009.


For more information or to apply to volunteer, go to:







The Best of LDS Film Festival 2007 DVD is now available for

only $12. Own 13 of the best short films of 2007, including the

short film competition winners, "A Theory Toward the Evolution of

the Turkey," "X-Mas Change," and "Peach Baby."


Comedy, drama, animation, experimental, and documentary film styles

are all represented in this exciting compilation. The total running

time is over 90 minutes.


You can order the DVD at:


To view the list of films, go to:



Today in Church history -- 11/26

--November 26, 1841
Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith presented and passed a bill at the Nauvoo City Council meeting for “an Ordinance in relation to Hawkers, Peddlers, Public Shows, and Exhibitions, in order to prevent any immoral or obscene exhibition.”

--November 26, 1842
Nauvoo, Illinois. For six hours, Joseph Smith attended to Brigham Young, who was sick with a severe fever.

--Nov 26,1923
Corporation of the President is incorporated, becoming the successor of the Trustee-in-Trust as center of church financial operations.

--Nov 26,1984
First Presidency announces that as of 1 01uary mission service for young men will return to 24 months.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Three FLDS men face charges

Excerpts from Polygamist ranch leader indicted:
A 72-year-old elder of a breakaway polygamist Mormon sect and two other church members surrendered to authorities Monday to face felony charges relating to the underage marriage of girls to older men.

Fredrick "Merril" Jessop, a leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who oversaw the sect's West Texas ranch, faces one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor on July 27, 2006 — the same day one of his daughters was allegedly married to jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs. She was 12 at the time and is now the only child from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in foster care after her mother refused to cooperate with child welfare authorities.

The two other men who turned themselves in Monday are:

_ Wendell Loy Nielsen, 68, charged with three counts of bigamy. The indictment includes few details, but church records released as part of a separate child custody case list 21 women married to Nielsen in August 2007.

_ Leroy Johnson Steed, 42, who is charged with sexual assault of a child, bigamy and tampering with evidence. Church records show Steed married to a 16-year-old girl in March 2007.

One of Merril Jessop's wives, Carolyn, fled the FLDS community on the Arizona-Utah line with her children in 2003 and wrote a best-selling book, "Escape."

In all, 12 FLDS men have been indicted since Texas authorities raided the ranch in April looking for evidence of underage girls forced into marriages and sex with older men.

Child welfare authorities have dropped most of the cases involving the 439 children taken from the YFZ Ranch; only about three dozen remain under court oversight.

The FLDS, which believes polygamy bring glorification in heaven, is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon church renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Today in Church History -- 11/25

--November 25, 1833
Kirtland, Ohio. Orson Hyde and John Gould arrived from Missouri and told Joseph Smith and the other brethren about the expulsion of the Saints from Jackson County, Missouri.

--November 25, 1834
Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith received Doctrine & Covenants 106, a revelation calling Warren Cowdery as a high priest in the Church.

--1952 25 November
Ezra Taft Benson appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (served 1953-61).

--1989 25 November
Church announced discontinuance of stake and ward budget assessments; budgets to be funded entirely by tithing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

FPPC will proceed with investigation of LDS church Prop 8 involvement

Excerpts of a Salt Lake Tribune article By Jessica Ravitz, "Probe into LDS Church's Prop 8 donations going forward"

California commission » Panel looks into nonmonetary contributions

California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) confirmed Monday that it will investigate allegations that the LDS Church failed to report nonmonetary contributions to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

An independent nonprofit organization, Californians Against Hate, called for the investigation after the measure passed earlier this month.

Karger, a retired political consultant, alleged in his complaint that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to report money invested to organize phone banks, send out direct mailers, provide transportation to California, mobilize a speakers bureau, send out satellite simulcasts and develop Web sites as well as numerous commercials and video broadcasts.

The LDS Church did not comment on Monday's latest development but said earlier that Karger's complaint had "many errors and misstatements," that the church had "fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act" and that "any investigation would confirm the church's full compliance with applicable law."

If the FPPC determines fault, the commission could fine "up to $5,000 per violation," and in some cases might also file a civil lawsuit, which could lead to remedies amounting to "three times the amount of unreported or misreported contributions."

Bishops receive list of Prop 8 Donors

I've heard rumor that Bishops in California are receiving lists of those who donated to proposition 8. I haven't heard that they received any specific instructions about what to do with those lists.

If anyone has additional information, drop a note in the comments.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dialogue, Vol 4104/Winter 2008

Vol 4104/Winter 2008


    Seeking a "Second Harvest": Controlling the Costs of LDS Membership in Europe
      by Armand L. Mauss, pg. 1
    "Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats": Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 2
      by Gary James Bergera, pg. 55
    Modernism and Mormonism: James E. Talmage's Jesus the Christ and Early Twentieth-Century Mormon Responses to Biblical Criticism
      by Clyde D. Ford, pg. 96
    How to Worship Our Mother in Heaven (Without Getting Excommunicated)

Edward Kimball on the 1978 revelation

New material has been published in the past few years providing additional information on the revelation allowing black men to have the priesthood and temple privileges, and black women to have temple privileges.  The latest issue of BYU Studies has a great article on the topic from President Kimball's son, Edward Kimball, who recently published a biography of his father's years as church president.  BYU Studies says of the ariticle:

Edward L. Kimball presents a marvelous account of the 1978 revelation granting the priesthood to worthy men of all races. Beginning with a brief history of the priesthood ban, the article then traces President Spencer W. Kimball's personal support of the Church's longtime position until, at the death of President Harold B. Lee, it suddenly became his problem. The subsequent process by which President Kimball became convinced that the time for change had come, and how he involved his counselors and the Twelve in preparing for the divine manifestation that followed, is one of the finest examples of leadership in Church history.
More information about this issue of BYU studies can be found here.

LDS Church: Measured Voices Provide Reason, Support Amidst Proposition 8 Reaction

In a November 21st statement, the LDS churchpoints to additional third-party voices that provide useful insights into the reaction following the vote. Some of these individuals supported Proposition 8, and some were against it [to help present a] broader view of the aftermath of the Proposition 8 vote. "

The article quotes various individuals from organization making statements decrying vandalism (although the church quotes one article that incorrectly says a Mormon temple was trashed), extreme reactions, the missionary video ( and focusing on the Mormon church because of the proposition 8 outcome.

The church statement can be read here.




Anti-Defamation League Condemns Criminal Activity Targeting Religious Institutions That Supported Proposition 8

"Although we strongly opposed Proposition 8, its passage does not justify the defacement and destruction of property. We urge Californians to channel their frustration and disappointment in productive and responsible ways to work towards full equality for all Americans. To place anyone in fear of threat to their houses of worship or their personal security because they have expressed deeply held religious views is contrary to everything this nation represents. Our Constitution's First Amendment protects freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion for all of us."


Dallas Morning News Editorial: Protest and Civility in a Democracy

"But a vicious minority is not satisfied with that. Some gay rights protesters have voiced sentiments about Mormons, whose church was active in advocating Prop 8's passage, that if said about gays would be condemned as hate speech. Vandals have struck a number of Mormon temples. Bash Back, a pro-gay group in Olympia, Wash., trashed a Mormon temple there, then issued a statement saying, 'Let this be a warning to the Mormon church: Dissolve completely or be destroyed.'

"Gay rights extremists should ask themselves the same question. A cause, no matter how just, can only be harmed by thuggish tactics. Our pluralist democracy depends on a citizenry committed to working out differences with civility."


Michael Barber, Professor of Theology, Scripture & Christian Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University

"… we found it appalling that in the final days of the campaign, opponents of Proposition 8 ran an ad in which Mormon missionaries were presented as barging into a same-sex couple's home, gleefully rummaging through their personal possessions and violating their rights. The ad attempted to ridicule people of the Mormon faith, even implying that it was wrong that they contributed money to the election. As a Catholic school, we stand beside our friends in the Mormon Church and of people of faith who work tirelessly to preserve the freedom of religion in America. We also strongly oppose any attempt to ridicule another person's faith, even faiths with which we have strong historical and theological disagreements."


The First Amendment Center — Charles Haynes: When the Marriage Debate Turns Ugly, No One Wins

"Mormons are taking the biggest hit from the opposition. But as protests, boycotts and blacklists targeting Mormons proliferate, it's worth pausing to think about where this collision is headed. … Before this clash escalates further, both sides should exercise caution and reconsider their battle plans going forward."


The Christian Post — Chuck Colson: So Much for Tolerance

"Two days after the election, 2,000 homosexual protesters surrounded a Mormon temple in Los Angeles chanting 'Mormon scum.' Protesters picketed Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, holding signs reading 'Purpose-Driven Hate.' Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills was spray painted. Church members' cars have been vandalized, and at least two Christians were assaulted. Protesters even hurled racial epithets at African-Americans because African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us!" — Rod Dreher: Stand By the Mormons

 "Now is the time for traditional Christians — Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox — to come to the aid of our Mormon friends. They put themselves on the front line of the traditional marriage battle like no other church group. And now individual Mormons are paying a terrible price for standing up for something we all believe in. I don't know how we can stand with them from afar, but at least we can thank them, and speak out when we see them being abused. We might also think again about how we view them. … I have deep disagreements with Mormon theology. But they are our friends and allies and fellow citizens, and they deserve our thanks and support."


John Mark Reynolds, Philosophy Professor at Biola University  – California and Thank-a-Mormon Day

"In the battle for the family, however, traditional Christians have no better friends than the Mormon faithful. It would be wrong if that support were taken for granted. We are intolerant of the false attacks on Mormon faith and family. We stand with our Mormon friends in their right to express their views on the public square. We celebrate the areas, such as family values, where we agree. A heart felt thank you may not win points from other friends who demand one hundred percent agreement from their allies, but it is the decent and proper thing to do. Thank you to our Mormon friends and allies!"


The Volokh Conspiracy — Dale Carpenter: An Alternative to Anti-Mormon Protests

"Here's my advice to righteously furious gay-marriage supporters: Stop the focus on the Mormon Church. Stop it now. We just lost a ballot fight in which we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion. So now some of us attack a religion? People were warned that churches would lose their tax-exempt status, which was untrue. So now we have (frivolous) calls for the Mormon Church to lose its tax-exempt status? It's rather selective indignation, anyway, since lots of demographic groups gave us Prop 8 in different ways — some with money and others with votes. I understand the frustration, but this particular expression of it is wrong and counter-productive."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

California State Supreme Court to hear challenges to Prop. 8

Excerpts from "State Supreme Court to hear challenges to Prop. 8" by
Bob Egelko at the San Francisco Chronicle

The state Supreme Court plunged back into the same-sex marriage wars today, agreeing to decide the legality of a ballot measure that repealed the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed in California.

At the urging of both sponsors and opponents of Proposition 8, the justices voted 6-1 to grant review of lawsuits challenging the Nov. 4 initiative.  However, the court refused, 6-1, to let same-sex marriages resume while it considers Prop. 8's constitutionality.

The court agreed today to review two related arguments by opponents of Prop. 8 - that the measure exceeds the legal scope of a ballot initiative by allowing a majority to restrict a minority group's rights, and that it violates the constitutional separation of powers by limiting judicial authority.

The justices also asked for arguments on whether Prop. 8, if constitutional, would nullify 18,000 same-sex weddings performed between when the court's marriage ruling took effect in mid-June and Nov. 4. 

The justices asked for written arguments to be submitted by Jan. 21. The court could hold a hearing as early as March, with a ruling due 90 days later.

Opponents of Prop. 8 argue that it is a revision because it deprives a historically persecuted minority of fundamental rights and leaves courts powerless to intervene. A ruling upholding the measure would leave any minority group vulnerable to repeal of its rights by majority vote, the lawsuits argue.

Supporters of Prop. 8 say it is merely a constitutional amendment restoring the traditional definition of marriage and leaves the structure of state government unaffected. They contend a ruling overturning the measure would strike a blow at the people's power to change their Constitution by initiative.

Obama wins Salt Lake County vote

Excerpts from Matt Canham article in the Salt Lake Tribune

Updated election results released Tuesday show that Salt Lake County voters favored Barack Obama over John McCain -- but just barely -- marking the first time in decades that a Democratic presidential hopeful won the state's most populous county.

With the addition of more than 29,000 provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots, President-elect Obama scored a come-from-behind victory over McCain. The county's official election canvass didn't change the outcome in any other race.

Obama trailed McCain by about 1,900 votes before the provisionals, cast mostly by people who moved but didn't change their voter registration, and absentees were added.

The final result gave Obama a 296-vote victory, which equates to less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

The race was so close that if McCain wanted a recount in Salt Lake County, he could get one. But no one really expects that to happen.

"It is a huge step for us," said party Chairman Wayne Holland.

He has studied the major strides Democrats have made in surrounding western states like Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, all of which went for Obama. Holland said the shift from Republican elected officials to Democrats only occurred after Democrats started winning in the major metro areas of Denver, Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

He said seeing Obama win Salt Lake County was "our grand hope."

He also won three counties -- Salt Lake, Grand and Summit -- while that last two Democratic candidates didn't win even one.

Democrats also claimed three new state House seats in the Sandy area, including one held by the sitting House Speaker, and one state Senate seat.

Election Night results

Obama : 161,696 or 47.9 percent

McCain: 163,579 or 48.4 percent

Final results

Obama: 176,988 or 48.17 percent

McCain: 176,692 or 48.09 percent

Percentages do not add up to 100 percent because of third party candidates

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'South Park' Creators': 'Mormon Musical'

Excerpts of an article By Kyle Buchanan,

Just as the passage Proposition 8 ignited a gays vs. Mormons clash so intense that only David Archuleta can mediate a resolution, word has leaked about the next project from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, a Broadway-bound show entitled Mormon Musical. The two have set openly gay Xanadu alum Cheyenne Jackson to star, and Jackson opened up to Pop Wrap about what to expect (besides, obviously, the angel Moroni slathered in gold body glitter):

"It's hilarious - very acerbic and biting. It offends everybody but does what 'South Park' does best, which is by the end it comes around and has something great to say," Cheyenne told Pop Wrap.

Ca. Attorney General urges court to let Prop 8 take effect,0,3163076.story

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown urges high court to let Prop. 8 take effect
Brown's office, which has the responsibility of defending the initiative, said it's in the 'public interest' to let the gay-marriage ban take effect while lawsuits are reviewed.

SC priest: No communion for Obama supporters

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mormons feeling heat from Prop 8

Excerpts from a Los Angeles Times time article "Mormon Church feels the heat over Proposition 8" by Nicholas Riccardi

The church, which has long sought to be seen as part of America's mainstream, joins with other religious organizations to back California's ban on gay marriage. But now it has become a political target.

In June, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a fateful decision. They called on California Mormons to donate their time and money to the campaign for Proposition 8, which would overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that permitted gay marriage.

That push helped the initiative win narrow passage on election day. And it has made the Mormon Church, which for years has striven to be seen as part of the American mainstream, a political target.

Protesters have massed outside Mormon temples nationwide. For every donation to a fund to overturn Proposition 8, a postcard is sent to the president of the Mormon Church. Supporters of gay marriage have proposed a boycott of Utah businesses, and someone burned a Book of Mormon outside a temple near Denver.

"It's disconcerting to Latter-day Saints that Mormonism is still the religious tradition that everybody loves to hate," said Melissa Proctor, who teaches at Harvard Divinity School.

As an indication of how seriously the Mormon leadership takes the recent criticism, the council that runs the church -- the First Presidency -- released a statement Friday decrying what it portrayed as a campaign not just against Mormons but all religious people who voted their conscience.

"People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights," the statement said. "These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America."

Jim Key, a spokesman for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said barbs by gay marriage activists were directed at church leadership, not individual Mormons.

"We're making a statement that no one's religious beliefs should be used to deny fundamental rights to others," he said.

Proposition 8 opponents estimate that members of the Mormon Church gave more than $20 million to the effort to pass the measure.

For years, church leaders have tried to blunt the assertion that Mormonism is somehow out of the political and cultural mainstream. The backlash over gay marriage carries risks and rewards toward that goal.

To support Proposition 8, the Mormon Church entered into a coalition with other religious organizations, including evangelical groups that have tended to view Mormons warily. It was a Catholic bishop, Mormon officials said, who requested the Mormon Church bring its members into the fight. Now those groups are rallying behind the embattled church.

"Being against gay marriage puts the church right in the mainstream of American religious behavior," said Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

But the outrage directed toward the church could hurt its efforts to expand.

"The backlash is going on all over the country," said Jan Shipps, a prominent scholar of modern Mormonism who is an emeritus professor at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis. "There are people who had a lot of respect for the Mormons who now say, 'Well, they're just like the Christian right.' "

That's ironic, Shipps said, given that the Mormon Church has a more tolerant stance on homosexuality than some evangelical groups. The church has pointedly declined to state that homosexuality is a choice. And it has cautioned against programs that purport to "cure" same-sex attraction, even though Mormon theology holds that marriage is a divine relationship between men and women that continues into the afterlife.

Some have suggested that Mormons might have been eager to cement partnerships with other churches, especially because evangelical voters were particularly distrustful of Romney's faith.

But Otterson dismissed that possibility. "That kind of thinking would never even factor into the thinking of church leadership," he said. "The church couldn't remain silent on a pivotal issue like this."

More Vandalism to LDS churches

Here is an sample of vandalism that is occurring across California and other areas, this from the Sacramento area.  Excerpts from "Feds investigate vandalism at Mormon sites" by Jennifer Garza of the Sacramento Bee.

Federal officials have launched a preliminary inquiry into whether recent acts of vandalism against Mormon temples and meeting houses are hate crimes, a department spokesman said Friday.

"We are looking into whether these acts are intimidating people into not going into houses of worship," said Juan Becerra, of the Salt Lake City FBI. "The right to worship is a basic civil right."

Since the Nov. 4 election, seven houses of worship in Utah have been vandalized, according to Becerra.

Becerra said federal agents are working with Salt Lake City church officials and local law enforcement.

Sacramento church officials have stepped up security at the Rancho Cordova temple.

Ten church buildings in the region have been vandalized since the election, said Lisa West, spokesperson for the church in the Sacramento area. "That's more than we usually get in an entire year."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Clayton on disciplining members of prop 8,5143,705260852,00.html

When asked about whether Latter-day Saints who publicly opposed Prop. 8 would be subject to some kind of church discipline, Elder Clayton said those judgments are left up to local bishops and stake presidents and the particular circumstances involved.

"All we can say is that the LDS Church gives way to the spiritual discernment of local leaders in the handling of any matter that might involve the kind of question you have raised."

A vocal minority of Latter-day Saints opposed the measure, organizing Web sites and protests that involved church members in California and beyond.

Mormons investigated for hate crime after three hospitalized

NYT: Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage

Excerpts from A New York Times article by Jesse McKinley and Kirk Johnson 

 Less than two weeks before Election Day, the chief strategist behind a ballot measure outlawing same-sex marriage in California  called an emergency meeting here.

"We're going to lose this campaign if we don't get more money," the strategist, Frank Schubert, recalled telling leaders of Protect Marriage, the main group behind the ban.

The campaign issued an urgent appeal, and in a matter of days, it raised more than $5 million, including a $1 million donation from Alan C. Ashton, the grandson of a former president of the Mormon Church. The money allowed the drive to intensify a sharp-elbowed advertising campaign, and support for the measure was catapulted ahead; it ultimately won with 52 percent of the vote.

As proponents of same-sex marriage across the country planned protests on Saturday against the ban, interviews with the main forces behind the ballot measure showed how close its backers believe it came to defeat — and the extraordinary role Mormons played in helping to pass it with money, institutional support and dedicated volunteers.

"We've spoken out on other issues, we've spoken out on abortion, we've spoken out on those other kinds of things," said Michael R. Otterson, the managing director of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "But we don't get involved to the degree we did on this."

The California measure, Proposition 8, was to many Mormons a kind of firewall to be held at all costs.

"California is a huge state, often seen as a bellwether — this was seen as a very, very important test," Mr. Otterson said.

First approached by the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco a few weeks after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May, the Mormons were the last major religious group to join the campaign.

Shortly after receiving the invitation from the San Francisco Archdiocese, the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City issued a four-paragraph decree to be read to congregations, saying "the formation of families is central to the Creator's plan," and urging members to become involved with the cause.

Jeff Flint, another strategist with Protect Marriage, estimated that Mormons made up 80 percent to 90 percent of the early volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts.

The canvass work could be exacting and highly detailed. Many Mormon wards in California, not unlike Roman Catholic parishes, were assigned two ZIP codes to cover. Volunteers in one ward,  had tasks ranging from "walkers," assigned to knock on doors; to "sellers," who would work with undecided voters later on; and to "closers," who would get people to the polls on Election Day.

Suggested talking points were equally precise. If initial contact indicated a prospective voter believed God created marriage, the church volunteers were instructed to emphasize that Proposition 8 would restore the definition of marriage God intended.

But if a voter indicated human beings created marriage, Script B would roll instead, emphasizing that Proposition 8 was about marriage, not about attacking gay people, and about restoring into law an earlier ban struck down by the State Supreme Court in May.

"It is not our goal in this campaign to attack the homosexual lifestyle or to convince gays and lesbians that their behavior is wrong — the less we refer to homosexuality, the better," one of the ward training documents said. "We are pro-marriage, not anti-gay."

Leaders were also acutely conscious of not crossing the line from being a church-based volunteer effort to an actual political organization.

"No work will take place at the church, including no meeting there to hand out precinct walking assignments so as to not even give the appearance of politicking at the church," one of the documents said.

By mid-October, most independent polls showed support for the proposition was growing, but it was still trailing. Opponents had brought on new media consultants in the face of the slipping poll numbers, but they were still effectively raising money, including $3.9 million at a star-studded fund-raiser held at the Beverly Hills home of Ron Burkle, the supermarket billionaire and longtime Democratic fund-raiser.

It was then that Mr. Schubert called his meeting in Sacramento. "I said, 'As good as our stuff is, it can't withstand that kind of funding,' " he recalled.

The response was a desperate e-mail message sent to 92,000 people who had registered at the group's Web site declaring a "code blue" — an urgent plea for money to save traditional marriage from "cardiac arrest." Mr. Schubert also sent an e-mail message to the three top religious members of his executive committee, representing Catholics, evangelicals and Mormons.

"I ask for your prayers that this e-mail will open the hearts and minds of the faithful to make a further sacrifice of their funds at this urgent moment so that God's precious gift of marriage is preserved," he wrote.

On Oct. 28, Mr. Ashton, the grandson of the former Mormon president David O. McKay, donated $1 million. Mr. Ashton, who made his fortune as co-founder of the WordPerfect Corporation, said he was following his personal beliefs and the direction of the church.

"I think it was just our realizing that we heard a number of stories about members of the church who had worked long hours and lobbied long and hard," he said in a telephone interview from Orem, Utah.

In the end, Protect Marriage estimates, as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised on behalf of the measure was contributed by Mormons.

Even with the Mormons' contributions and the strong support of other religious groups, Proposition 8 strategists said they had taken pains to distance themselves from what Mr. Flint called "more extreme elements" opposed to rights for gay men and lesbians.

To that end, the group that put the issue on the ballot rebuffed efforts by some groups to include a ban on domestic partnership rights, which are granted in California. Mr. Schubert cautioned his side not to stage protests and risk alienating voters when same-sex marriages began being performed in June.

"We could not have this as a battle between people of faith and the gays," Mr. Schubert said. "That was a losing formula."

Advertisements for the "Yes" campaign also used hypothetical consequences of same-sex marriage, painting the specter of churches' losing tax exempt status or people "sued for personal beliefs" or objections to same-sex marriage, claims that were made with little explanation.

Another of the advertisements used video of an elementary school field trip to a teacher's same-sex wedding in San Francisco to reinforce the idea that same-sex marriage would be taught to young children.

The "Yes" campaign was denounced by opponents as dishonest and divisive, but the passage of Proposition 8 has led to second-guessing about the "No" campaign, too, as well as talk about a possible ballot measure to repeal the ban. Several legal challenges have been filed, and the question of the legality of the same-sex marriages performed from June to Election Day could also be settled in court.

For his part, Mr. Schubert said he is neither anti-gay — his sister is a lesbian — nor happy that some same-sex couples' marriages are now in question. But, he said, he has no regrets about his campaign.

Mr. Otterson said it was too early to tell what the long-term implications might be for the church, but in any case, he added, none of that factored into the decision by church leaders to order a march into battle. "They felt there was only one way we could stand on such a fundamental moral issue, and they took that stand," he said. "It was a matter of standing up for what the church believes is right."

That said, the extent of the protests has taken many Mormons by surprise. On Friday, the church's leadership took the unusual step of issuing a statement calling for "respect" and "civility" in the aftermath of the vote.

"Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues," the statement said. "People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal."

Mr. Ashton described the protests by same-sex marriage advocates as off-putting. "I think that shows colors," Mr. Ashton said. "By their fruit, ye shall know them."

Jesse McKinley reported from Sacramento, and Kirk Johnson from Salt Lake City.

Son Yes on 8 Leader Quits Mormon Church Over Prop 8

Matthew Lawrence, 28, of Santa Ana, California is just one of approximately 500 people who have contacted Signing for Something ( )in the last few days to announce his resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of the Mormon Church's handling of and involvement in the gay marriage issue.  Matthew is gay and is the son of Gary Lawrence, 67, who is the "State LDS Grassroots Director for the Yes on 8 Campaign" for the state of California.  (See ).

Matthew Lawrence, in an e-mail interview with this diarist, said that although he is "extremely upset and frustrated" with his family and that he has "cut off communication with them," that "at the end of the day, I do love them."  The elder Lawrence was also the Mormon Church's point man for the Prop 22 campaign in 2000.  Matt says, "I love my family so much, but it's hard to not take this personally.  We had a brief falling-out over Prop. 22, but that got mended.  But two anti-gay initiatives in eight years, it's impossible not to feel attacked."

Matthew was particularly hurt when "my father said that opponents of Prop. 8 are akin to Lucifer's followers in the pre-existence."  .."We can all agree to disagree and respect each other's informed opinions and decisions, but don't put me and Satan in the same sentence please."

"This issue isn't about gay marriage," writes Matthew. " This is about certain religious factions that believe homosexuality is disgusting, immoral and wrong and needs to be stamped out. . . .  It's a problem to be 'fixed.'" Matthew writes that his family sent him to multiple counselors during his youth, and even sent him to live with relatives in Utah which he writes was an attempt to "straighten me out" .."  He said while in Utah it wasn't unusual for his cousin to call him a "faggot" at school and that his "aunt and uncle did nothing to discourage his behavior."

Matthew is at least a third or fourth generation Mormon, and said that even after he stopped attending church (about the time of his return from exile to Utah) that "I even found myself defending the church for years and trying to dispel the notions that polygamy was still practiced or any of the other misconceptions. And deep inside, I still believe certain truisms that can be found in nearly any religion, such as treating our earthly brothers and sisters with love and respect."

Gary Lawrence served as a Mormon bishop while Matthew was a child, and is the President of Lawrence Research, .  Matthew said that from his father he learned "the value of hard work and not making excuses. My father has worked hard his entire life and has done whatever it takes to provide for his family. He truly was a loving husband to my mother, which is why it saddens me he would work to deny others the same happiness that his family provided for him."

Matthew says that about 95 percent of his family supported Proposition 8, but that "a few cousins that are strongly opposed to this Proposition and have let me know that they support and love me" and have insisted "that they get a wedding invitation if I ever marry in the future."

But, as for his father, Matthew says, "My dad keeps telling me it's not too late to 'change.'"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Talks shut down between Jewish group and Mormon church over Baptism for the dead

Excerpts of an article "Jewish group wants Mormons to stop proxy baptisms" by DEEPTI HAJELA and JENNIFER DOBNER

Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said talks with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which were held as recently as last week, are over.

"We do not ask for, or want your love," Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz, said in a statement released ahead of a news conference Monday, the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.

"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," he said. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."

The church denied the charge. The 1995 agreement says the church will not perform baptisms or other rites for Holocaust victims, except in the very rare instances when they have living descendants who are Mormon.

Church spokesman Mike Otterson said Michel's decision to publicly denounce the church seems like a unilateral termination of the discussion.

"Those steps by Mr. Michel on behalf of the American Gathering were both unnecessary and unfortunate and belie the long and valued mutual respect that we have had in past years," Otterson said in an e-mail.

Only the Jews have an agreement with the church limiting who can be baptized, though the agreement covers only Holocaust victims, not all Jewish people. Jews are particularly offended by baptisms of Holocaust victims because they were murdered specifically because of their religion.

In May, the Vatican ordered Catholic dioceses worldwide to withhold member registries from Mormons so that Catholics could not be baptized.

Otterson said the church has kept its part of the agreement by removing more than 200,000 names from the genealogical index.

But since 2005, ongoing monitoring of the database by a Salt Lake City-based researcher shows both resubmissions and new entries of names of Dutch, Greek, Polish and Italian Jews.

The researcher, Helen Radkey, who works for the Holocaust group, said her research suggests that lists of Holocaust victims obtained from camp and government records are being dumped into the database.

She said she has seen and recorded a sampling of several thousand entries that indicate Mormon religious rites, including baptisms, had been conducted for these Holocaust victims, some as recently as July.

"I've seen a steady procession of Jewish Holocaust names, especially names with camps linked to them, going to the International Genealogical Index," said Radkey, who acknowledges that she has limited access to the records. "There's no possible way of knowing exactly how many names, but it's substantial."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

White powder sent to Mormon temples in Utah & LA

 Letters containing a suspicious white powder were sent Thursday to Mormon temples in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City that were the sites of protests against the church's support of California's gay marriage ban.

The temple in the Westwood area of Los Angeles was evacuated before a hazardous materials crew determined the envelope's contents were not toxic, said FBI spokesman Jason Pack.

The temple in downtown Salt Lake City, where the church is based, received a similar envelope containing a white powder that spilled onto a clerk's hand.

The room was decontaminated and the envelope taken by the FBI for testing. The clerk showed no signs of illness, but the scare shut down a building at Temple Square for more than an hour, said Scott Freitag, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Fire Department....

Read the entire article here.

Complaint against Mormon church filed to the California Fair Political Practices Commission

Excerpts of an AP article titled "Mormon aid on gay marriage ban generates complaint" by Lisa Leff

A California gay rights activist filed a complaint Thursday accusing the Mormon church of failing to report the full value of the work it did to support the state's new ban on same-sex marriage.

Fred Karger, the founder of Californians Against Hate, submitted the complaint to the enforcement division of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the agency that regulates campaign activity.

Karger alleges that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ran out-of-state phone banks, produced commercials and provided other services that must be reported as contributions to the Proposition 8 campaign.

Karger also notified the attorneys general of California and Utah, where the Mormon church is based.

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said the church has complied with all campaign finance laws and is confident an investigation would prove that.

Last month, the church reported making an in-kind donation of $2,078.97 to the coalition of faith organizations and conservative groups that sponsored Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that overturned the state Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. It's the only donation listed under the church's name in support of the measure.

The Fair Political Practices Commission has 14 days to respond to Karger's allegations. The agency could decide to open an investigation, to warn the party named in the complaint or conclude no action is needed, according to commission spokesman Roman Porter.

Mormon Artistic Director Resigns Over Prop 8

Excerpts of

Gay, Lesbian Artists Sought Boycott Against Venue

The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre resigned Wednesday, after gay and lesbian artists threatened a boycott for his support of a ban on same-sex marriage.

"I am leaving California Musical Theatre after prayerful consideration to protect the organization and to help the healing in the local theatre-going and creative community," Scott Eckern said in a statement.

Campaign records show Eckern contributed $1,000 to a campaign supporting Proposition 8, which wrote a ban on same-sex marriages into the California state Constitution.

In a statement, Eckern said one of his family members is in a same-sex relationship and that he is sad that his personal beliefs were taken with offense:

"I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction. I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come with the same rights that come with marriage. My sister is a lesbian and in a committed domestic partnership relationship. I am loving and supportive of her and her family, and she is loving and supportive of me and my family. I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear. This is a highly emotional issue and the accusations that have been made against me are simply not true. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues, and I am deeply saddened that my personal beliefs and convictions have offended others. My choice to support the Proposition was personal, and does not represent the views and opinions of California Musical Theatre or the many people associated with the organization. I was required by law to identify my employer and occupation at the time of my donation."

Lisa West, regional spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Eckern is a member "in very good standing" and the Mormon church supports his decision to resign.

Eckern said he will be making a $1,000 comparable donation to the Human Rights Campaign.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gay couples start marrying in Connecticut

Gay couples began marrying in Connecticut on Wednesday after a judge
cleared the way.

With a final order entered, couples marched to New Haven City Hall to
get marriage licenses, and less than two hours after the final court
hearing, Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery were married in a brief

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Oct. 10 that same-sex
couples have the right to wed rather than accept a civil union law
designed to give them the same rights as married couples.

Mormon town goes to US Supreme Court over free speech

Excerpts from an article By Tom Leonard

Followers of Summum, a bizarre Ancient Egyptian cum New Age religion practised inside a pyramid, are demanding the right to erect a large monument listing their guiding "Seven Aphorisms" next to an existing stone inscribed with the Ten Commandments in a public park.

When officials in Pleasant Grove City refused, the sect sued, arguing that a town that accepted one donated monument had to accept others.

A federal appeals court agreed, ordering the town to erect the Summum monument.

Pleasant Grove City appealed the decision and the Supreme Court will on Wednesday consider what experts say is the most important significant free speech debate of its term.

The case, which hinges on whether a public park open to some donations must accept others as well and whether freedom of speech is guaranteed in such places, is being followed closely across America.

Many of the country's most famous memorials were donated and veterans' groups are worried that theirs may soon be twinned with anti-war ones. The Boy Scouts and atheist groups have expressed similar fears.

Lawyers for Summum counter that the government cannot take sides in a "theological debate".

The Summum religion was founded in 1975 by a former Mormon, Corky Ra, who claimed he learned the aphorisms in telepathic conversations with divine beings.

The religion won similar cases against two other Utah towns, which chose to take down their Christian monuments rather than have to put up a Summum one.

Marriott on Prop 8

The Facts About Marriott and California's Proposition 8" by Bill Marriott,.

As many of you may know I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some might conclude given my family's membership in the Mormon Church that our company supported the recent ballot initiative to ban same sex marriage in California. This is simply untrue. Marriott International is a public company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and is not controlled by any one individual or family. Neither I, nor the company, contributed to the campaign to pass Proposition 8.

The Bible that I love teaches me about honesty, integrity and unconditional love for all people. But beyond that, I am very careful about separating my personal faith and beliefs from how we run our business.

I am personally motivated to speak now because Marriott was built on the basic principles of respect and inclusion. My father, who founded this company along with my mother, told everyone who would listen: "Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your customers, who will come back again and again."

For more than 80 years, our company has grown and changed, but that basic principle still holds up. We embrace all people as our customers, associates, owners and franchisees regardless of race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Our principle is backed up with a formal diversity program, which we established more than 20 years ago. Our Board of Directors has also focused on this priority and helped us be a leader and a better company. We were among the first in our industry to offer domestic partner benefits, and we've earned a perfect 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for two years in a row. Many of our hotels have hosted LGBT community functions and events for years.

I am very proud of all of our associates at Marriott. And I want all our associates and guests, whom we welcome into our hotels, to know that we embrace your talents and thank you for your many contributions and your business.

I'm Bill Marriott, and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Church statements give hope for gay rights in Utah

Excerpts from an AP article
Gay-rights activists see opportunities for their cause in Utah thanks to Mormon church officials, who strongly supported California's proposition denying same-sex couples the right to marry but said they did not object to granting those couples certain other rights.

The advocacy group Equality Utah is asking The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to support several bills that will be submitted to the Legislature supporting rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Just last week, Elder L. Whitney Clayton stated the LDS Church does not oppose 'civil union or domestic partnerships,'" said Equality Utah Chairwoman Stephanie Pappas on Monday. "We are taking the LDS Church at its word."

In a statement issued following the approval of Proposition 8, church officials said they do "not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights."

A church spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it would have no comment.

Equality Utah said Monday it will help draft five bills for the 2009 session, which starts in January. Three of the bills seek equal treatment for domestic partners on hospitalization, medical care, housing, employment and probate rights.

A fourth bill would create a domestic partner registry. The fifth would repeal a part of Utah's marriage-defining constitutional amendment that Equality Utah Public Policy Manager Will Carlson said has been "misinterpreted to avoid any recognition of gay couples."

"They hadn't said any of that yet. They've said that now," said state Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City. "This is an invitation to make a reality of what's been said by the church. ... (The church) has said some things that are very encouraging to us, and we're here to say 'Hey, let's see if we can't move forward and get to a place where we are in a more fair and just Utah, outside of the marriage discussion.'"

"Special Comment" on Prop 8

MSNBC's Kieth Olbermann  "Special Comment" on Prop 8.

Democratic legislators ask state Supreme Court to void Prop. 8

Excerpts from an article by Dan Morain in the Los Angeles Times

Opponents contend that a ban on gay marriage can only be done by a revision of the state Constitution involving the Legislature. The Prop. 8 campaign leader calls the effort 'a Hail Mary.'

Forty-three Democratic legislators, including leaders of the California Senate and Assembly, filed a brief Monday urging the California Supreme Court to void Proposition 8.

No Republican legislator signed the petition, though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, denounced the anti-gay marriage measure over the weekend.

Prop 8 protests planned in each state next Saturday states:
On November 15th at 10:30am PST /1:30pm EST, our community WILL take to the streets and speak out against Proposition 8 and all of the other pro-equality losses that we have faced in our lifetimes, in our parents' lifetimes, and for many generations before us.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Arnold Schwarzenegger adds support to gay marriage

Schwarnegger on Prop 8

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage. He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative.

"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," Schwarzenegger said in an interview Sunday on CNN. "I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."

Tens of Thousands protest the Mormon Church

Here are some details from major protest locations.  There are many others around the country.

Los Angeles

Police estimated that 12,500 boisterous marchers converged about 6 p.m. at Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards.  Police guided the demonstrators through the streets for more than three hours without major confrontations. Other demonstrations, including one that attracted up to 10,000 people in San Diego

A handful of counter-protesters were also on the scene, separated from the marching crowds by police on horseback. One man held up a large sign: "God does not love you just the way you are."

A smaller demonstration in the late afternoon near Pierce College in Woodland Hills attracted a crowd of about 300, police said. Some of them hopped aboard buses to join the Silver Lake rally.

The demonstrations across the state "are all pretty spontaneous," said Jason Howe, a former spokesman for the No on 8 campaign. "This is all pretty grass-roots stuff. They're just going out on Facebook and MySpace and Craigslist. . . . People are angry and frustrated."

The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center announced a campaign to raise money towards efforts to invalidate Proposition 8, which included sending a postcard to Mormon President Thomas Monson. The announcement sparked a near-spontaneous protest that gridlocked traffic for hours as it nosily spilled into the streets with chants of "Separate church and state" and "What do we want? Equal rights."

On Thursday in Los Angeles, thousands of protesters snarled traffic and picketed in front of a Mormon church because of its support for the measure. The night before, about 1,000 people blocked traffic in West Hollywood.

San Diego

Frustration and outrage over the passing of a ban on same-sex marriage intensified in San Diego yesterday as thousands of protesters took to the streets and vowed to continue the fight for equal rights. An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people marched from Hillcrest to North Park behind a giant rainbow flag in protest of Proposition 8.

San Francisco

A crowd of 1,000 protesters gathered on Friday at San Francisco's Civic Center and marched down Market Street during rush hour. And in Long Beach, another 2,000 protesters joined in support of gay rights, where three people were arrested, report The Associated Press.

Sacramento Protests
A couple thousand people gathered outside the Capitol in Sacramento this afternoon to rally for the legalization of same-sex marriages just days after voters imposed a constitutional ban.  That gathering prompted the Highway Patrol to shut down two Highway 13 ramps to protect pedestrians.