Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Church place signs at plaza warning that anyone can be barred for any reason

New signs at Mormon plaza say anyone can be barred

(AP) – 6 hours ago

SALT LAKE CITY — New signs at a Mormon church-owned plaza in downtown
Salt Lake City put visitors on notice: Anyone can be asked to leave
for any reason.

The change follows a much-publicized incident this summer in which two
men were cited with trespassing on the plaza after sharing a kiss.
City prosecutors did not pursue the charges, saying signs at the plaza
failed to adequately warn the couple they were entering private

Church spokesman Scott Trotter says the new signs include extra text
at the suggestion of the Salt Lake City prosecutor's office. They now
say the church reserves the right to refuse access to anyone.

City prosecutor Sim Gill says the new signs provide clarity. He says
with the new signs in place, visitors who refuse to leave could be
prosecuted for trespassing.

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

"Nauvoo Polygamy" receives "Best Book" award

A book on Mormon polygamy was given the "Best Book" award by a conference of Mormon scholars earlier this week. The John Whitmer Historical Association held its annual conference with historians presenting their latest research on Mormon history... Read more »

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"First Aid Kit" released in response to Elder Hafen's Evergreen talk

Media Release: September 27, 2009
Media Contact: Peter Danzig cell (801) 865-9029 home (801) 322-2972


Most Utah residents know about the Wasatch Fault, which has the
potential for producing  large earthquakes. The last major earthquake
there was about 300 years ago, and it changed the face of the valley,
rerouted rivers, and changed the contours of the land. Constant
pressure from internal and external forces build to the point where
the earth suddenly has to shift.

Pressure of another kind is building as Gay and Lesbian groups and
concerned LDS members react to the recent speech by Elder Bruce C.
Hafen of the First Council of Seventy.  (See the complete text of his
speech at http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/elder-bruce-c-hafen-speaks-on-same-s
)  The speech, which was given at Evergreen International
on Saturday, September 19, 2009, reaffirmed the more conservative
views regarding homosexuality that many members had hoped were a thing
of the past—beliefs such as homosexuality not being inborn;  that
changing sexual orientation is a possibility to be hoped for and
worked toward;  that up to 80% of Lesbians were molested as children
and  that advocates of LGBTs are part of an aggressive political
movement, motivated by a desire to promote the gay lifestyle, rather
than to respond to legal and medical considerations.   He also
criticized the 1973 removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder by
the American Psychiatric Association.

To counter these assertions, the Foundation for Reconciliation at
www.ldsapology.org has compiled a list of medical and scientific links
that should set the record straight (no pun intended).   They refer to
this list as a "First Aid Kit" for those who have been injured by
these latest pronouncements from the LDS Church.  While Hafen quotes
such experts in the field of sexual orientation as Boyd K Packer ,
this list relies  on real experts in the fields of human sexuality.
To access the First Aid Kit, go to

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, an evening with the editors



3269 So. Main Street, Suite 250

Salt Lake City, UT  84115

Phone: 800-486-3112, (801) 486-3111

Email: benchmarkbooks@integra.net






           We are thrilled to announce the publication of the long-awaited THE JOSEPH SMITH PAPERS: REVELATIONS AND TRANSLATIONS, MANUSCRIPT REVELATION BOOKS, edited by Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, published by The Church Historian's Press, 2009. Two of the volume editors will be speaking about the Joseph Smith Papers project and this volume in particular during a special book signing event. Due to the large number of people expected to attend, this event will NOT be held at our store, but rather at the Columbus Center*, 2531 South 400 East in South Salt Lake, on Thursday, October 1, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The editors will speak at 6:00 and answer questions from the audience, signing books before and after that time.

                This new volume is the second overall in the Joseph Smith Papers, but is the first of the Revelations and Translation series which will provide transcripts of many of the earliest manuscripts of Joseph Smith's written revelations and translations, together with reproductions of editions of these documents that were published during his lifetime. This beautiful oversize book (xliii + 707 pp., 9" x 12," weighing 8 pounds!) contains, for the first time ever, the full texts of the original manuscript books, "Book of Commandments and Revelations" and "Book of Revelations" (more commonly called the "Kirtland Revelation Book"), now renamed "Revelation Book 1" and "Revelation Book 2." They are presented in their entirety in full color facsimiles of the original documents, as they appear today, with complete transcriptions in parallel columns. These manuscripts served as most of the original source material for the earliest publications of Joseph Smith's revelations in The Evening and the Morning Star, the 1833 A Book of Commandments, and 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, and in most cases, are the earliest extant revelation texts. The facsimiles clearly show the manuscripts and all corrections and revisions of any kind made to them, and the editors identify the handwriting of the various scribes. Introductions to the series and this volume provide helpful background information on how Joseph Smith received the original revelations and how they were recorded, transcribed, compiled, and finally published.

                James H. Hutson, Chief of Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, calls this volume "a model of documentary editorial practices. . . . The editors have taken pains to present the subject matter with objectivity, with the result that the volume will be a valuable resource for non-Mormon scholars and readers as well as for Joseph Smith's present followers and admirers." Philip Barlow, Professor of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, notes that "in certain respects this is analogous to our hypothetically gaining access to copies of first-century versions of the earliest biblical manuscripts. With the appearance of this new volume, serious students of the Mormon prophet and of Mormon scripture are more free than ever before to contemplate the development of the revelations' composition and publication."

                We hope you will be able to attend this exciting event which is sure to be fascinating and informative, but, if you can't and would like to have books signed or personalized, we will be happy to take prepaid orders and either hold or ship them to you. Please note that all of our copies of the "Revelations" volume are first printings, signed by all three volume editors.


                JSP: Revelations and Translations, Manuscript Revelation Books                    $99.95

                JSP: Journals, Volume 1 (not 1st printing, not signed)                                                 $49.95

(Note: those who subscribe to the series through us may deduct 10% discount on the prices shown, $10 and $5 respectively; please inquire if you are not already a subscriber.)


Because of the hefty size and weight of this book, the shipping and handling charges are more than normal, as follows: (1) Media mail: $8 for 1st copy, $4 for ea. add'l (add $1 for delivery confirmation). {2) Priority mail: $12 (1 copy—add'l, inquire). (3) UPS: $14 (1 copy). Insurance extra and recommended.


*The Columbus Center (adjoining the Columbus Branch Library) can best be reached by going east on 2700 So. (entering from State Street) to 400 East and turning left (north), parking in the large parking lot at 2531, just west of the Columbus Center. Enter the west door, walk down the hall, turn left and enter the auditorium on your left.

Benchmark Books
3269 So. Main Street, Suite 250
Salt Lake City, UT  84115
801-486-3452 (fax)
800-486-3112 (orders only)
Hours:  Mon. - Fri., 10-6; Sat., 10-5

12% of country are Deists

Deism -- It's Back!

Wednesday September 23, 2009

benjamin franklin.jpgWhen historians refer to some of the Founding Fathers as "Deists," it's as if they're talking about an extinct philosophy, like alchemy or phrenology. Very few Americans go around describing themselves as Deists.

Perhaps that ought to change. A new study reveals that a rapidly growing number of Americans hold the belief system that used to be described as Deism.

Deism was a philosophy, especially popular in the 18th century, holding that God had created the universe and its laws but then receded from the action. It was treated as heretical -- akin to atheism -- because Deists rejected Biblical authority. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, wrote that the authors of the canonical Gospels were "ignorant, unlettered men" who laid "a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications." He famously crafted his own Bible sans miracles.

And this brings us to a new study about the rise of "Nones," Americans who profess no religious affiliation. Trinity College analysts now conclude that None's make up 15% of the population and that, given their rate of rapid growth, they might surpass the nation's largest denominations.

The rise of the Nones is usually decried by religious leaders as a sign of secularization or atheism's ascent but get this: 51% say they believe in God.

Now some of those folks might just be religious people in between churches. So the Trinity folks asked them to describe what kind of God they believed in. 24% say they believe in "a higher power but no personal God."

That would mean about 3.6% of Americans could be considered Deists, making them more common than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, or Mormons.

[UPDATE: Barry Kosmin, one of the authors of the study, points out that an earlier study that looked at Nones as well as those who did "affiliate" with a religion found that 12% were Deistic. That would make Deists bigger than all of the aforementioned groups combined, and one of the largest spiritual groupings in America]

And that's if you use a pretty narrow definition of Deism. In my book, Founding Faith, I argued that even the so-called Deists of the 18th Century were a bit more religious than we think. Both Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin believed that God intervened in history. A recent study by the Pew Religion Forum, revealed that 35% of Nones pray weekly or daily.

I suspect that some modern American Deists are actually quite like Jefferson and Franklin. They don't believe in Scripture, or cotton to organized religion. But in the privacy of their home, they think that the distant, aloof God occasionally checks in to listen to their prayers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Joseph Smith's Copyright Revelation now available

With the publication of the 2nd volume of the Joseph Smith Papers, a new revelation from Joseph Smith, founding Mormon prophet has been made available for the first time.  ... Read more »

Monday, September 21, 2009

Elder Hafen's facts questioned

Excerpts of "Elder Hafen Needs To Correct His Citations" by ECS at Feminst Mormon Houswives regarding Elder Hafen's September 2009 speech to Evergreen.


[I]t was a surprise to find that Hafen misrepresents source documents to support his assertions about homosexuality.  Hafen's article does not provide hyperlinks to the source documents, and in many cases, the citations are incomplete.  

In one case, Hafen directly quotes a Dr. Jeff Robinson and I found many inaccuracies and typos in the article, but two in particular caught my attention. First, Hafen says that the A.P.A adopted a resolution stating that it may be "beneficial" to "help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions".  Here's the quote from Hafen's article:

   Just last month the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.  But in what the Wall Street Journal called "a striking departure" from that Association's earlier hesitation about encouraging such therapy, the same resolution also stated that "it is ethical—and can be beneficial—for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions," especially clients with a strong religious identity"

It's a bit strange that Hafen quotes a paraphrase of the resolution written by WSJ reporter instead of quoting the A.P.A. resolution itself.  I read the APA's report, and I tried to find this quote.  It didn't appear in the official APA Resolutions or anywhere in the APA report.   Then I noticed that the WSJ article doesn't say the quoted language is an APA resolution.  The WSJ article doesn't say anything about a resolution - yet Hafen claims that the paraphrased language written by a WSJ reporter  (that is not a resolution) is a resolution sanctioned by the A.P.A.  More importantly, the WSJ paraphrase of a non-Resolution does not accurately characterize any A.P.A. Resolutions.  This is what the WSJ article said:

   But in a striking departure, the American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.

This is what the A.P.A. said in one of its Resolutions:

   BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth

You may find this a small citing error. Yet Hafen's citation to the WSJ article instead of to an actual APA resolution misleads the reader into believing that the APA stated in a resolution that it is ethical and beneficial to help clients reject same sex attractions.  Even worse, Hafen's selective quoting seems to indicate that the APA endorses reparative therapy, or at least doesn't oppose it.In the second major error, Elder Hafen claims that homosexuality is a psychological disorder.  He then says that the A.P.A removed homosexuality from the official list of psychological disorders under pressure from political activists and not due to any scientific research:

   In the early 1970's, the public and most lawyers, doctors, and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder.

   In 1973, in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations removed homosexuality from their official lists of disorders. Significantly, they took this action by simply putting the issue to an open vote in their professional meetings–not because of any change in actual medical findings.

Hafen misrepresents the facts here.  This is what the A.P.A. said about its controversial decision to list and de-list homosexuality as a psychological disorder:

   In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder. Almost immediately, however, that classification began to be subjected to critical scrutiny in research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. That study and subsequent research consistently failed to produce any empirical or scientific basis for regarding homosexuality as a disorder or abnormality, rather than a normal and healthy sexual orientation.   As results from such research accumulated, professionals in medicine, mental health, and the behavioral and social sciences reached the conclusion that it was inaccurate to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder and that the DSM classification reflected untested assumptions based on once-prevalent social norms and clinical impressions from unrepresentative samples comprising patients seeking therapy and individuals whose conduct brought them into the criminal justice system.

In other words, the APA states that classifying homosexuality as a psychological disorder was based upon prejudice and was never confirmed in any scientific study.   Yet Hafen says that the APA voted to de-classify homosexuality as a psychological disorder in its annual convention without consulting any scientific evidence.  He holds this up as an example of political activism promoting homosexual lifestyles to society's detriment.

Elder Hafen misrepresents the APA's position on reparative therapy, and he claims that homosexuality is a psychological disorder despite the absence of any scientific evidence.

The A.P.A. directly addresses some of Elder Hafen's misconceptions here:

   On the basis of these findings and the clinical literature on this population, we suggest client-centered approaches grounded on the following scientific facts:

   •Same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality—in other words, they are not indicators of mental or developmental disorders.

   • Same-sex sexual attractions and behavior can occur in the context of a variety of sexual orientations and sexual orientation identities.

   • Gay men, lesbians, and bisexual individuals can live satisfying lives as well as form stable, committed relationships and families that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects.

   • No empirical studies or peer-reviewed research support theories attributing same-sex sexual orientation to family dysfunction or trauma.

Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and sexual preference does not result from family dysfunction and child abuse. Yet, these harmful stereotypes are frequently repeated by LDS leaders.  

Grunder, "Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source" (reviewed by Joseph Johnstun)


Title: Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source
Author: Rick Grunder
Publisher: Rick Grunder Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Year Published: 2008
Number of Pages: 2088
Binding: n/a (CD-Rom Included)
ISBN13: 978-0-9814708-0-1
Price: $200.00

Reviewed by Joseph Johnstun

In his February 1831 review of the Book of Mormon, Alexander Campbell famously wrote, "This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies;—infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of free masonary, republican government, and the rights of man." ("Delusions." Millennial Harbinger, 2 [7 February 1831]: 93.) Many Mormons today who read this statement from Campbell can readily see several of his statements as true, but because of unfamiliarity with what was going on in the backwoods of New York in the 1820s, Campbell is often chuckled at and then dismissed. A new work seeks to show that such is not only the case with the Book of Mormon, but with early Mormon doctrine, as well.

After 25 years of collecting and selling rare books, manuscripts, maps, and images,  and using what he calls his "short but sumptuous catalog of my quarter-century club" (10), Rick Grunder (www.rickgrunder.com) has published notes from five hundred of the most significant items he has personally handled related to the development of Mormonism. Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source is an astounding 2088 pages of 8.5 x 11 inches, including introduction and lengthy bibliography. It has hundreds of 18th and 19th century illustrations, daguerreotypes, maps (with a few 20th century ones mixed in), to which the author spared no expense. It has been printed in a limited edition of only 400 copies, sold exclusively through Bear Hollow Books (www.bearhollowbooks.com) of Salt Lake City, Utah for $200. While the limited edition and the price are nothing new to Mormon scholars and collectors, the format is: Mormon Parallels is an e-book.

Squeezed onto one disc, every Mormon Parallels CD-ROM is signed and numbered by Grunder. It is organized as one large .pdf document, rather than numerous smaller ones, to allow the end user to search the entire text for key words or phrases. The entries are alphabetical by author, rather than topic, because, as Grunder notes, "many entries individually treat a variety of subjects." (48)  Also to assist in this, the author seems to have taken special awareness of phrases that would be looked for that might not necessarily be mentioned as such in the text, and provided a sub-heading in the document for that topic (i. e., "baptism for the dead," or "word of wisdom"). In doing so, Grunder has done away with the need for an index at the end, instead allowing the reader to go from reference to reference. The reader is also assisted by numerous, albeit very subtle, hyperlinks throughout the text to related items within the e-book. Using either Adobe Acrobat's Bookmark panel, or, for Mac users, the Sidebar pane in Preview, breaks down the 500 items in groups of 25, alphabetical by author, and a quick click reveals the 25 within any group. Another click on a title will instantly put the reader on the entry. One of the greatest benefits to publishing this work as an e-book is the images. They are many, and they are beautiful. And while many are small, the resolution is high enough that it is not until zooming beyond 300% that there is any distortion.

Stating his thesis as "a very large part of what many of us have thought comprised the essence of Mormonism actually appeared in Joseph Smith's immediate world before it became part of Mormon language or thought" (16), Grunder produces a staggering amount of evidence that leaves no doubt in his reader's mind that such is the case.

Citing everything from Adair's History of the American Indians to Masonic exposés to Zion's Herald, the scale of Grunder's work is overwhelming, and completely demolishes the hypothesis that Joseph Smith received revelation ex nihilo. "The ready presence of Joseph's very real, inescapable culture", he writes in the introduction, "is too overwhelming to ignore, yet we have not acknowledged it like we should. . . . True faith deserves a full spectrum, and it is entirely appropriate to pursue its origins from all periods of history. Yet wherever modern parallels negate claims to exclusively ancient origins, one must be willing to see that fact, and to consider modifying one's claims without feeling that faith is necessarily compromised. Such intellectual adjustments have succeeded well throughout Mormon history." (25) When writing of what the meaning of these numerous parallels are, Grunder holds, "Many statements which appear in Mormon studies are incorrect or insufficient because the writers overlook extensive environmental data which have always been available in many hundreds – ultimately thousands – of original, primary sources." (26) "[I]s it any more righteous, or ethically and economically justifiable to beat the bushes of past millennia for parallels to Mormonism, than to observe seriously the surprising things which flourished in the immediate, sacred splendor of Joseph's personal grove?" (25)

The biographical and bibliographic work alone is a a masterpiece. His four entries on Lorenzo and Peggy Dow (entries 118-121) not only show their importance to early Mormons, but also provide a small biography of this neglected 19th century couple. "Lorenzo had a tremendous effect upon grass-roots American religion of the early nineteenth century" Grunder writes. "Countless children were named after this monumental revivalist, including Brigham Young's brother (Lorenzo Dow Young) and future Church President Lorenzo Snow." (487-488) As an aside, EarlyLDS.com lists 13 different men named Lorenzo Dow, with another 48 named Lorenzo. To illustrate the prominence of this all but forgotten man, Grunder quotes a sermon from later Lorenzo Snow in 1838, wherein Snow said that he preached in a town in Missouri, and all that was required to obtain the largest chapel to preach in was to give his first name. "Such was the power," he concludes, "of the name 'Lorenzo Dow,' even in Missouri, four years after the famed evangelist had died in the District of Columbia." (488)

Among the most interesting of Grunder's entries is his work on Lehi's dream related to Rochester, New York in the late 1820s ("Reynolds Arcade", entry 350). While modern-day visitors might have no difficulty viewing Rochester as a dark and dreary wasteland, the author begins his Mormon parallels in a series of articles, reminiscences and histories on the Rochester area's reputation as a major fruit growing region. He quotes an 1838 account of the area, stating "that the various kinds of hardy fruits, such as the apple, pear, plum, quince, cherry, &c., are the best varieties and easily cultivated; and that many of the more delicate fruits, such as peaches, apricots, nectarines, grapes &c., attain a size and richness of flavour rarely equaled in our northern latitudes. Of these facts a visit to the Rochester fruit-markets at the proper seasons will convince any observer, and show that the southern shore of the Ontario is emphatically A FRUIT COUNTRY." (1371, Emphasis in original.) As travelers from the east on the Erie Canal approached Rochester, they crossed over the Genesee River on an 802-foot stone aqueduct. The horse towpath became very narrow at this point, "so narrow that horses had to be hitched one in front of the other." (1375) The danger at this point became very real, and the Laws of the State of New York determined that this path should be "protected on the out side by a substantial, but plain iron railing" to prevent horse and rider from tumbling into the churning Genesee. (1375) A few blocks downriver from the iron rod-protected aqueduct roars the 100-foot drop of the Genesee Falls. One visitor to the falls in 1812 described "beholding this mighty sheet of water take its awful leap of nearly one hundred feet, far below the common level of the surrounding country, into a deep channel excavated by its own power through a bed of limestone for more than three miles, running smoothly along in a surpentine [sic] course until it passed beyond our vision." (1381) Grunder states that according to an 1824 dictionary, a "gulf" "was not a flash-flood desert canyon or wadi of Lehi's Arabia, but more appropriate to Joseph Smith's immediate world, 'a bay; a whirlpool.'" (1383) "I have stood at this very spot after heavy rains", Grunder writes, "when the river was dirty and full, the color of coffee and cream. I have exclaimed to myself in an unguarded moment, 'Truly, this is the fountain of filthy water in Nephi's dream!'" (ibid)

While these are all very interesting comparisons, the image of the brand new Reynolds Arcade will convince even the most stout believers of Joseph Smith's prophetic calling that the image of that structure could not but have been present in his mind a few weeks after visiting it when he translated the portion of the Book of Mormon dealing with the "great and spacious building". (1399) Grunder writes that the building was "nearly ninety feet tall, nearly a hundred feet wide. The Arcade, described in the pamphlet at hand as 'the most magnificent structure west of Albany . . . ,' was built by Abelard Reynolds, politician and Freemason, one of the ten wealthiest men of Rochester, at a cost of $30,000." (1395) Taller than any other building in Rochester, it was only two blocks from the Erie Canal aqueduct across the Genesee, and "the Arcade was indeed all doors and windows by the standards of that time. Its tower atop four stories of offices and shops commanded a view not only of 'the farms and forest in the vicinity', but – more to the point – of the poorest laborer tenements in town, across and down the adjacent Genesee. The city's underprivileged looked up from their 'jumble of shacks and cheap rooming houses' on Water Street to the tall structure crowning the richest block of the business district on the other side of the river – filled with entrepreneurs, clothiers and the most stylish merchants – and they came to understand that they were no longer part of 'better' society as a whole." (1397)

There are occasions when Grunder gets carried away in telling the history of a book or manuscript, and readers can almost see him in their mind's eye lifting his fingers from his keyboard to pause for a moment, and then type something similar to the line that he does for Peggy Dow's Vicissitudes Exemplified: "However, the more tedious tome which you are presently reading is supposed to focus on Mormon parallels, so on to business . . ." (1399, ellipsis in original.)

In the process of reading this work, I found myself wishing for two main things: a table of contents listing each entry, and that it were a physical book. The table of contents would serve two purposes; first, it would allow for a more thorough perusal of the work, and secondly, it would provide a shopping list for bibliophiles that could be copied, pasted, and printed out, instead of having to be retyped. Regarding the physical book idea, Grunder anticipated that not all of his readers are as adept at reading from a computer monitor, and some would wish to back-up so expensive a digital object, and has thus provided that each purchaser is licensed to make one back-up digital copy, either on their computer or on a disc (no word on an iPhone app), and also to make a printed copy. Using a print-on-demand service, each purchaser can then have his or her own multi-volume copy to sit down with on a Sunday afternoon.

Alexander Campbell's statement regarding the Book of Mormon discussing "every error and almost every truth discussed in New York" during the 1820s is completely validated by Mormon Parallels. "It really does not matter whether Joseph Smith actually read any specific manuscript or book," Grunder concludes, "because an entire culture is on display. No single one of these writings was essential to the work of Joseph Smith, and this Bibliographic Source hangs upon no individual concept – upon no particular text. It is, rather, the very existence of the Mormon parallels which these sources display – in such great number, distribution, and uncanny resemblance to the literary, doctrinal and social structures which Joseph formed – which may command our attention." (37-38)

Mormon Parallels is so large, so deep, and so thorough, that it becomes nearly impossible to decide what to read first, what to quote, or what to use in a review. A bound copy could help on those Sunday afternoons by letting it flop open to any given page. But taken as a whole, Rick Grunder's magnum opus is always interesting, occasionally wandering, but absolutely amazing. It is one of those rare works that should excite both followers and detractors of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. Clearly, "'Joseph Smith could not have known,' is no longer a reasonable option." (39)

The Lost Symbol, Mormons and Masonry

Since 2003, Dan Brown's book "The Lost Symbol" has been on the mind of many Mormons. Rumors and clues on the dust jacket of The Da Vinci Code led some to believe that elements of the church's relationship with masonry would be emphasized... Read more »

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Elder Hafen: Homosexuality is not genetic, inability to change is a Satanic idea

Excerpts of Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction, an address by Elder Bruce C. Hafen at the Evergreen International annual conference.

You are literally God's spirit child. Having same-gender attraction is NOT in your DNA, but being a child of God clearly IS in your spiritual DNA—only one generation removed from Him whom we call Father in Heaven.

So much individual variation exists with so many possible explanations that there is simply no scientific consensus about what causes homosexual tendencies. As the American Psychological Association has stated, "[N]o findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any factor or set of factors… [N]ature and nurture both play complex roles." [xvi] So, even though natural personality traits do influence one's inclinations, the idea that there is a "gay gene" has little scientific support. ...

A second misconception the activists promote is that therapy cannot treat, let alone change, same-gender attraction. This false assumption is linked to the first one: if you're born gay, there is no need to change; and since you have a permanent condition, you can't change anyway. ...

But as President Packer said, "The angels of the devil convince some that they are born to a life from which they cannot change and are compelled to live in sin. The most wicked of lies is that they cannot change and repent and that they will not be forgiven." [xxii] If you believe that no change is possible, you have only two options, neither of which is acceptable to a believing Latter-day Saint—you must either give in or give up. ...

The new culture of divorce began with no-fault divorce in California in the late 1960's. That concept essentially gave any married individual the right to just walk away from a marriage as a matter of personal freedom, regardless of fault or consequences. Both no-fault divorce and same-gender marriage allow personal adult rights to trump the best interests of society and children. The radical personal freedom theory on which the Massachusetts same-gender marriage case is based is actually the logical extension of the same individualistic legal concept that created no-fault divorce. Think about it. When the law upholds an individual's right to END a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happened with no-fault divorce), that same legal principle can be used to justify the individual's right to START a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happens with same-gender marriage).

Read the the entire article here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Elizabeth Smart going on a mission

SALT LAKE CITY -- Elizabeth Smart's father is talking about her mission call for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ed Smart says Elizabeth has been called to serve a mission in Paris, France. He says she has talked about serving a mission her whole life


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Does DNA disprove Lehi story?

Excerpts of Does DNA disprove Lehi story?  by Michael De Groote,  Deseret News / Mormon Times

Ugo Perego tries to look with a scientist's eye at the controversy surrounding DNA and the Book of Mormon. He is a bit impatient with some of the strong conclusions of some critics and LDS apologists. There is too little data. We need to be cautious.

"I see that from both the critics' side and the LDS side there is quite a bit of misunderstanding on the subject," Perego said.

The first rumblings about DNA and the Book of Mormon came about 10 years ago, according to Perego, a senior researcher at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. Critics cobbled together data from a variety of early DNA studies and came to the unsurprising conclusion that the studies indicated an Asian origin for Native Americans.

However, for about 50 years most LDS scholars have argued that the Book of Mormon took place not in vast empty continents, but in a limited-geographical area in Mesoamerica.

If Lehi's group came to a crowded continent, then Perego says the critics' arguments fall apart.

The types of answers you receive depend upon the questions you ask, according to Perego. "If the question is, 'Are Native Americans of Asian origin?' The answer is, 'Yes.' (If the question is), 'Are Native Americans of Israelite origin?' The answer is, 'No.' "

Perego says the critic will then say, "OK. I've got my answers. I'm happy! Thank you! I'll put it in my book. The Book of Mormon is incorrect."

But, according to Perego, there are other questions to ask which bear more directly to the plausibility of the Book of Mormon narrative.

"Try to ask this question to a population geneticist: 'Is it possible that a small family from Israel could have arrived in America, to a largely populated continent, and that no genetic evidence would survive after 2,600 years?' " Perego says. "Why don't they ask that question? That is exactly the question they need to ask."

For [critics] criticism to be correct you have no choice — you must believe the continent was empty ... you must believe they are right about their narrow interpretation of the Book of Mormon and statements by select general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Cleon Skousen's influence on Glen Beck

Excerpts of Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck's life by Alexander Zaitchik, Salon.com

Cleon Skousen was a right-wing crank whom even conservatives despised. Then Beck discovered him

Glenn Beck, Fox News host [the organizer] of the 912 Project [has his life changed by]  the late W. Cleon Skousen, Beck's favorite writer and the author of the bible of the 9/12 movement, "The 5,000 Year Leap." A once-famous anti-communist "historian," Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience.

Anyone who has followed Beck will recognize the book's title. Beck has been furiously promoting "The 5,000 Year Leap" for the past year, a push that peaked in March when he launched the 912 Project. That month, a new edition of "The 5,000 Year Leap," complete with a laudatory new foreword by none other than Glenn Beck, came out of nowhere to hit No. 1 on Amazon. It remained in the top 15 all summer, holding the No. 1 spot in the government category for months. The book tops Beck's 912 Project "required reading" list, and is routinely sold at 912 Project meetings where guest speakers often use it as their primary source material.

 "Leap," first published in 1981, is a heavily illustrated and factually challenged attempt to explain American history through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology. As such, it is an early entry in the ongoing attempt by the religious right to rewrite history.

"Leap" argues that the U.S. Constitution is a godly document above all else, based on natural law, and owes more to the Old and New Testaments than to the secular and radical spirit of the Enlightenment. It lists 28 fundamental beliefs -- based on the sayings and writings of Moses, Jesus, Cicero, John Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith -- that Skousen says have resulted in more God-directed progress than was achieved in the previous 5,000 years of every other civilization combined. The book reads exactly like what it was until Glenn Beck dragged it out of Mormon obscurity: a textbook full of aggressively selective quotations intended for conservative religious schools like Utah's George Wythe University, where it has been part of the core freshman curriculum for decades (and where Beck spoke at this year's annual fundraiser).

But more interesting than the contents of "The 5,000 Year Leap," and more revealing for what it says about 912ers and the Glenn Beck Nation, is the book's author. W. Cleon Skousen was not a historian so much as a player in the history of the American far right; less a scholar of the republic than a threat to it. At least, that was the judgment of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, which maintained a file on Skousen for years that eventually totaled some 2,000 pages. Before he died in 2006 at the age of 92, Skousen's own Mormon church publicly distanced itself from the foundation that Skousen founded and that has published previous editions of "The 5,000 Year Leap."

As Beck knows, to focus solely on "The 5,000 Year Leap" is to sell the author short. When he died in 2006 at the age of 92, Skousen had authored more than a dozen books and pamphlets on the Red Menace, New World Order conspiracy, Christian child rearing, and Mormon end-times prophecy. It is a body of work that does much to explain Glenn Beck's bizarre conspiratorial mash-up of recent months, which decries a new darkness at noon and finds strange symbols carefully coded in the retired lobby art of Rockefeller Center. It also suggests that the modern base of the Republican Party is headed to a very strange place.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Willard Cleon Skousen was born in 1913 to American parents in a small Mormon frontier town in Alberta, Canada. When he was 10 his family moved to California, where he remained until he shipped off to England and Ireland for Mormon missionary work. In 1935, after graduating from a California junior college, the 23-year-old Skousen moved to Washington, where he worked briefly for a New Deal farm agency. He then began a 15-year career with the FBI, also earning a law degree from George Washington University in 1940. His posts at the FBI were largely administrative and clerical in nature, first in Washington and later in Kansas.

After retiring from the FBI in 1951, Skousen joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, the Latter-day Saints university in Utah. He then enjoyed a tumultuous four years as chief of police in Salt Lake City. During his tenure he gained a reputation for cutting crime and ruthlessly enforcing Mormon morals. But Skousen was too earnest by half. The city's ultraconservative mayor, J. Bracken Lee, fired him in 1960 for excessive zeal in raiding private clubs where the Mormon elite enjoyed their cards. "Skousen conducted his office as Chief of Police in exactly the same manner in which the Communists operate their government," Lee wrote to a friend explaining his firing of Skousen. "The man is a master of half-truths. In at least three instances I have proven him to be a liar. He is a very dangerous man [and] one of the greatest spenders of public funds of anyone who ever served in any capacity in Salt Lake City government."

During his stint as police chief, Skousen began laying the groundwork for his future career as a professional anti-communist. He published a bestselling expose-slash-history called "The Naked Communist." In the late '50s, America's far right began to bubble with organizations peddling stories about the true state of the Red Menace. Groups like the Church League of America and the John Birch Society organized to channel, feed and satisfy Cold War paranoia. Members of these groups were the original postwar "domestic right-wing extremist threat." Then as now, they were very much on the government's radar.

After his firing from the police force, Skousen became a star on the profitable far-right speakers circuit. He worked for both the Bircher-operated American Opinion Speakers Bureau and Fred Schwarz's Christian Anti-Communism Crusade. The two groups competed in describing ever more terrifying threats posed by America's enemies, foreign and domestic. As the scenarios became more and more outlandish, the feds grew concerned. In an internal memo, the FBI described Skousen's friend and employer Fred Schwarz as "an opportunist," the likes of which "are largely responsible for misinforming people and stirring them up emotionally ... Schwartz [sic] and others like him can only do the country and the anticommunist work of the Bureau harm." 

How did Skousen become an expert on communism? He claimed, as his apologists still do, that his years with the FBI exposed him to inside information. He also boasted that he worked closely with J. Edgar Hoover. But both claims are open to question. Skousen's work at the Bureau was largely administrative, according to Ernie Lazar, an independent researcher of the far right who has examined Skousen's nearly 2,000-page FBI file. "Skousen never worked in [the domestic intelligence division] and he never had significant exposure to data concerning communist matters," says Lazar.

When Skousen's books started popping up in the nation's high-school classrooms, panicked school board officials wrote the FBI asking if Skousen was reliable. The Bureau's answer was an exasperated and resounding "no." One 1962 FBI memo notes, "During the past year or so, Skousen has affiliated himself with the extreme right-wing 'professional communists' who are promoting their own anticommunism for obvious financial purposes." Skousen's "The Naked Communist," said the Bureau official, is "another example of why a sound, scholarly textbook on communism is urgently and badly needed."

Two years on the circuit made Skousen a nationally known figure. Aligned with the Birchers and Schwarz, he also founded his own Utah-based far-right organization, the All-American Society. Here's how Time magazine described the outfit in a December 1961 feature on what it called the "rightwing ultras":

The All-American Society, founded in Salt Lake City, has as its guiding light one of the busiest speakers in the rightist movement: W. Cleon Skousen, a balding, bespectacled onetime FBI man who hit the anti-Communist circuit in earnest in 1960 after being fired from his job as Salt Lake City's police chief ("He operated the police department like a Gestapo," says Salt Lake City's conservative Mayor J. Bracken Lee). Skousen freely quotes the Bible, constantly plugs his book, The Naked Communist, [and] presses for a full congressional investigation of the State Department.

By 1963, Skousen's extremism was costing him. No conservative organization with any mainstream credibility wanted anything to do with him. Members of the ultraconservative American Security Council kicked him out because they felt he had "gone off the deep end." One ASC member who shared this opinion was William C. Mott, the judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy. Mott found Skousen "money mad ... totally unqualified and interested solely in furthering his own personal ends."

When Skousen aligned himself with Robert Welch's charge that Dwight Eisenhower was a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy," the last of Skousen's dwindling corporate clients dumped him. The National Association of Manufacturers released a statement condemning the Birchers and distancing itself from "any individual or party" that subscribed to their views. Skousen, author of a pamphlet titled "The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society," was the nation's most prominent Birch defender.

Skousen laid low for much of the '60s. But he reemerged at the end of the decade peddling a new and improved conspiracy that merged left with right: the global capitalist mega-plot of the "dynastic rich." Families like the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds, Skousen now believed, used left forces -- from Ho Chi Minh to the American civil rights movement -- to serve their own power.

In 1969, a 1,300-page book started appearing in faculty mailboxes at Brigham Young, where Skousen was back teaching part-time. The book, written by a Georgetown University historian named Carroll Quigley, was called "Tragedy and Hope." Inside each copy, Skousen inserted handwritten notes urging his colleagues to read the book and embrace its truth. "Tragedy and Hope," Skousen believed, exposed the details of what would come to be known as the New World Order (NWO). Quigley's book so moved Skousen that in 1970 he self-published a breathless 144-page review essay called "The Naked Capitalist." Nearly 40 years later, it remains a foundational document of America's NWO conspiracy and survivalist scene (which includes Skousen's nephew Joel).

In "The Naked Communist," Skousen had argued that the communists wanted power for their own reasons. In "The Naked Capitalist," Skousen argued that those reasons were really the reasons of the dynastic rich, who used front groups to do their dirty work and hide their tracks. The purpose of liberal internationalist groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations, argued Skousen, was to push "U.S. foreign policy toward the establishment of a world-wide collectivist society." Skousen claimed the Anglo-American banking establishment had a long history of such activity going back to the Bolshevik Revolution. He substantiated this claim by citing the work of a former Czarist army officer named Arsene de Goulevitch. Among Goulevitch's own sources is Boris Brasol, a pro-Nazi Russian émigré who provided Henry Ford with the first English translation of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

"The Naked Capitalist" does not seem like a text that would be part of the required reading list on any reputable college campus, but some BYU professors taught it out of allegiance to Skousen. Terrified, the editors of Dialogue: The Journal of Mormon Thought invited "Tragedy and Hope" author Carroll Quigley to comment on Skousen's interpretation of his work. They also asked a highly respected BYU history professor named Louis C. Midgley to review Skousen's latest pamphlet. Their judgment was not kind. In the Autumn/Winter 1971 issue of Dialogue, the two men accused Skousen of "inventing fantastic ideas and making inferences that go far beyond the bounds of honest commentary." Skousen not only saw things that weren't in Quigley's book, they declared, he also missed what actually was there -- namely, a critique of ultra-far-right conspiracists like Willard Cleon Skousen.

"Skousen's personal position," wrote a dismayed Quigley, "seems to me perilously close to the 'exclusive uniformity' which I see in Nazism and in the Radical Right in this country. In fact, his position has echoes of the original Nazi 25-point plan."

Skousen was unbowed. In 1971, he founded the Freeman Institute, a research organization devoted to the study of the super-conspiracy directed by the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. (The institute later changed its name to the National Center for Constitutional Studies, which has offices in Malta, Idaho, and continues to publish Skousen's books, including Glenn Beck's favorite work of history, "The 5,000 Year Leap.")

By the end of the 1970s, the death of Skousen's biggest allies within the Mormon church hierarchy cleared the way for an official disavowal of his work. In 1979, LDS church president Spencer W. Kimball issued an order to every Mormon clergyman in the U.S. stating "no announcements should be made in Church meetings of Freemen Institute lectures or events that are not under the sponsorship of the Church. [This] is to make certain that neither Church facilities nor Church meetings are used to advertise such events and to avoid any implication that the Church endorses what is said during such lectures."

Skousen may have been too extreme for the Quorum of the Twelve in Salt Lake City, but he soon found rehabilitation on the intellectual margins of Reagan's Washington. In 1980, Skousen was appointed to the newly founded Council for National Policy, a think tank that brought together leading religious conservatives and served as the unofficial brain trust of the new administration. At the Council, Skousen distinguished himself by becoming an early proponent of privatizing Social Security. He also formed relationships with other evangelical church leaders and aligned the LDS church with an increasingly religious GOP.

"Skousen worked to change Mormonism from a new and unique American-born faith into an evangelical form of fundamentalist Christianity," says Rob Lauer, a leader of the Reform Mormonism movement. "By arguing that biblical principles were the basis of the U.S. government, he was among those most responsible for the LDS church becoming part of the religious right political establishment over the past 25 years." 

In 1981, Skousen published "The 5,000 Year Leap," the book for which, thanks to Beck, he is now best known. But it wasn't that Skousen book that made the biggest headline in the 1980s. Toward the end of Reagan's second term, Skousen became the center of a minor controversy when state legislators in California approved the official use of another of his books, the 1982 history text "The Making of America." Besides bursting with factual errors, Skousen's book characterized African-American children as "pickaninnies" and described American slave owners as the "worst victims" of the slavery system. Quoting the historian Fred Albert Shannon, "The Making of America" explained that "[slave] gangs in transit were usually a cheerful lot, though the presence of a number of the more vicious type sometimes made it necessary for them all to go in chains."

Skousen spent the 1990s in semi-retirement. He spoke occasionally around the country and welcomed visiting politicians to his Salt Lake City home on Berkeley Street. His death in January 2006 was little noticed outside Mormon circles. If LDS members debated his legacy, it was in mostly hushed tones. But by then, he was already poised for a posthumous revival.

Read the entire article here

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Church of the Firstborn and General Assembly of Heaven moved to Idaho

Former Utah-based religious sect stirs controversy in Idaho town

The Associated Press

Fort Hall, Idaho » A plan by a self-described religious sect to build a three-story dormitory in Fort Hall has drawn protest from local residents.

Roughly three dozen members of The Church of the Firstborn and General Assembly of Heaven moved to a home on Reservation Road from Utah earlier this summer, the Idaho State Journal reported. On Monday, more than 100 people packed the Land Use Policy Commission meeting for a public hearing on the group's dormitory proposal.
The sect hasn't made any formal statement about its move to Idaho. According to its Web site, the sect was started by Terrill Dalton, who was excommunicated from the Mormon church and now claims to be the Holy Ghost.

Friday, September 11, 2009

KSL branches off from Bonneville International

Excerpts of KSL-AM, FM & TV going its own way
Deseret Management Corp. (DMC), the company through which the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) owns its media properties, is reorganizing its home market of Salt Lake City. KSL-TV (NBC) and KSL NewsRadio will leave Bonneville International for a new KSL Broadcast Division – but that doesn't affect Bonneville's other two SLC radio stations.

The KSL Broadcast Division will be guided by Bob Johnson, who will serve as president and chief executive officer.

The other new division is the Deseret Digital Media Division (DDM), which will manage the websites and business operations for DeseretBook.com, DeseretNews.com, KSL.com, LDSChurchNews.com and Mormontimes.com. DDM will be led by Clark Gilbert, who will serve as its President and CEO.  

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Mormon Review

Out of the Best Books: Introducing The Mormon Review

August 28, 2009 ·

By Richard Lyman Bushman

Inscribed in steel letters in the stairwell of the Harold B. Lee
Library at BYU is the scripture that begins: "And as all have not
faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea,
seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom [D&C 88:118]." The
passage may have been Joseph Smith's favorite. He quoted it twice in
the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer, and made the study of the best
books the chief work of the Kirtland School of the Prophets. Since his
time, all who appreciate the wide compass of Joseph Smith's search for
truth have cited it.

We launch The Mormon Review, an online journal of cultural criticism,
in the spirit of seeking wisdom out of the best books. We ask: How do
we seek wisdom out of books today? Where do we find the virtuous and
praiseworthy? What are we called to criticize? The Mormon Review
offers a public forum where Mormons can teach one another by
exercising their critical powers on significant works.

The task, as we conceive it, is to pursue the meaning for Mormons of
the millions of items that constitute our larger cultural world. What
are we to make of the books, movies, art, music, politics, and
exhibitions swirling about in our environment? Contributors are
invited to examine films, plays, art of any kind, TV shows, children's
books, philosophical treatises, novels, histories, documentaries,
scriptures from other traditions, political speeches, poetry, popular
songs, video games, entertainment sites like Disneyland—any cultural
artifact that awakens their Mormon sensibilities. The only restriction
is that these items must not be by Mormons or about Mormons. We
believe the spirit of the best books scripture is to search outside of
Mormonism for wisdom.

We do not envision a single approach to Mormon cultural criticism. We
expect each response to be individual and idiosyncratic. In our view,
Mormon criticism is the sum of many variegated parts. When accumulated
and deposited, however, The Mormon Review essays will constitute, we
believe, a historic archive of twenty-first-century Mormons grappling
with the world.

Essays of any length (optimally four or five pages) should be
submitted using the instructions at the Review's website:


The editorial board will judge essays on their relevance to Mormon
culture, clarity of expression, and general interest.

Richard Bushman is the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at
Claremont Graduate University and Editor-in-Chief of The Mormon

Utahns are nation's most charitable

It is my understanding that tithing moneys given to the church are not used for charitable purposes by the church, but for "building up the kingdom of God" (i.e. new churchs, temples, operating costs, etc...)'  Tithing (10% of one's income) is a commandment to Mormons, and is required by the church to attend Mormon temples (which is required to return to live with God).  The church encourages "fast offerings," which are used by the church for charitable purposes, but they are not required.  The suggested donation amount for fast offerings is the equivalent of two meals per month.

Excerpts of Utahns are nation's most charitable by Lee Davidson, Deseret News. 

Utahns give far more of their income to charity than any other Americans, a Deseret News study of Internal Revenue Service tax data shows.

Utahns reported providing $2.9 billion to charity in 2006, or 5 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Nationally, Americans gave an average of 2.3 percent of their income that year -- or less than half of what Utahns provided.

Economists, politicians and officers of nonprofits say most Utah donations go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which tackles many of the state's charitable needs. Other Utah groups, from the United Way to political parties, say they raise less here than organizations similar to them in other states.

In short, they report tough fundraising among very charitable people.

How much Utahns give to charity varies greatly in different ZIP codes. It ranges from a high of 11.4 percent of income in a downtown Salt Lake City ZIP code surrounding Temple Square and LDS Church headquarters to a low of 0.07 percent in the ZIP code for the University of Utah.

Also, Utah taxpayers in richer categories do not always pay more of their income to charity than do less-fortunate brackets.

The church teaches its faithful to give 10 percent of income as tithing and to skip two meals the first "fast" Sunday of every month to give the money saved or more to help the needy. It also raises money for humanitarian work worldwide, for missionary work and for educating Mormons in Third World countries.

"One of the studies that I've seen in the past showed that if giving to religious organizations is excluded that we (in Utah) fall down pretty dramatically."

Giving the biggest proportion of their income were the 113 people who filed tax returns with addresses in ZIP code 84150 -- a small area including LDS Church office buildings and Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. That ZIP has no residences, so those filing likely work for or are officials of the church.

They gave 11.4 percent of their average adjusted gross income to charity.

Others in the top 10 ZIP codes were heavily concentrated in Utah County.

That top 10 includes: 84662 in Sanpete County's Spring City, 10.07 percent; 84604 in Provo, 8.74 percent; 84649 in Millard County's Oak City, 8.73 percent; 84004 in Alpine, 8.72 percent; 84042 in Lindon, 8.52 percent; 84664 in Mapleton, 8.5 percent; 84097 in Orem, 8.46 percent; 84710 in Kane County's Alton, 8.41 percent; and 84003 in American Fork, 8.24 percent.

A list of how much was given in each Utah ZIP code where at least some residents itemized deductions is available online at deseretnews.com.

On the other end of the spectrum, the ZIP code where tax filers reported giving the least of their income to charity was 84112 around the University of Utah. Of course, students tend to make little money and have less reason to itemize deductions on tax returns. (Several other ZIP codes had no one itemize deductions.)

Several ZIP codes where few charitable deductions were reported are on Indian reservations. Among them were 84026 in Ouray on the Ute Reservation, 0.29 percent of income; 84534 in Montezuma Creek on the Navajo Reservation, 0.31 percent; and 84512 in Bluff near the Navajo Reservation, 0.42 percent.

By sheer dollar amount -- not percentage of income -- the 1,850 people who itemized charitable deductions in ZIP code 84004 in Alpine reported giving the most, $25,495 each.

Behind them were 84150 (the ZIP with LDS Church headquarters), $18,827; 84781 in Washington County's Pine Valley, $16,192; 84604 in Provo, $16,112; and 84662 in Spring City, $14,987.

The bracket that pays the least, just 1.5 percent of income to charity, are those who make between $10,000 and $25,000.

But they are not the poorest income bracket. Below them are those who earn less than $10,000 a year. But they give more to charity, 3.2 percent of their income.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Church News: Book of Abraham not that important?

The Church News reported on the August 2009 FAIR conference presentation "The Book of Abraham: The Larger Issue" by John Gee, about defending the Book of Abraham. Critics have taken issue with the translation of the Book of Abraham from Egyptian papyri. 

Regarding the translation issue, Gee said it can be defended, but "it is simply not important to the Latter-day Saints."  and  "How the Book of Abraham was translated is unimportant. The Church does not stand or fall on the Book of Abraham." 

He also said the Book of Abraham is "not the be-all-and-end-all of ... the scriptures ... it is not central to the restored gospel of Christ."

These selections do not represent the full context of Gee's presentation. You can read the full report here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

[mormon-chronicles] Mormon missionaries to be deported from Guyana


US Mormon missionaries to be deported from Guyana, By BERT WILKINSON, Associated Press

At least 30 Mormon missionaries were detained Wednesday in the South American country of Guyana because they did not have updated travel documents, police said.

Most of them are U.S. citizens and will be given one month to leave before they are deported, Police Chief Henry Greene said. He declined further comment.

The missionaries were expected to be released late Wednesday to prepare for their departure, acting U.S. ambassador Karen Williams said.

"It does come as a surprise, but I don't want to speculate as to a reason" for the arrests, she said.

A lawyer for the missionaries, Nigel Hughes, said he filed a motion with the courts and a judge issued an injunction blocking police from expelling the missionaries Thursday.

It was unclear what prompted the arrests. No incidents involving the missionaries were reported prior to their detainment. They could be heard singing "We Shall Overcome" from their cells Wednesday night.

The church emissaries committed no known crimes and were simply doing missionary work, said attorney Leslie Sobers, a local spokeswoman for the Morman church.

Some 100 missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are estimated to work in Guyana. Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the Utah-based church, said church leaders hope they can reach an amicable solution with Guyanese authorities.

U.S. citizens traveling to Guyana need a valid U.S. passport, and immigration officials usually grant visitors a 30-day stay, according to the U.S. Department of State.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

NIV Bible gender corrections reconsidered

Excerpts of New International Version of Bible to be rewritten after row over politically correct language by Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Publishers of the New International Version previously tried to make the holy text of Christianity "gender accurate" by changing phrases such as "sons of God" to "children of God" and "brethren" to "brothers and sisters".

They also described the Virgin Mary as "pregnant" rather than "with child", and removed mentions of people being "stoned".

But after the 2005 update, called Today's New International Version, was criticised by scholars and traditionalists, all of the controversial editing decisions are to be reviewed in the first complete revision in 25 years.

Biblica hopes to bring out an all-new edition of the New International Version in 2011. This will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version, one of the earliest and most important English translations.Asked if he thought that introducing politically correct language had been a mistake, he replied: "We felt at the time it was the right thing to do. All that is back on the table again."