Monday, November 30, 2009

In Utah, Down syndrome is more prevalent

Utah babies are more likely to be born with Down syndrome than in nine other states studied by the federal government.

The study, published online today in the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal Pediatrics , showed one in 730 babies born in Utah had the genetic disorder, compared with one in 848 among the 10 states studied.

The study didn't explore why. But a Utah expert on birth defects says it's likely because of Utah mothers' ages and attitudes.

Many continue to have children into their late 30s and 40s, which increases the risk of the chromosomal disorder, said Lorenzo Botto, a medical epidemiologist at the Utah Birth Defect Network, which provided data for the study.

And Utah women are less likely to have abortions once the condition has been detected prenatally, he added.

The higher prevalence is "not because there is something wrong with Utah," he said in an e-mail, "but is basically a function of family choices."

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Evolution and Mormonism: An internal debate

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles's Darwin's On the Origin of Species.  It has invoked vigorous discussion about science and the creation in Mormon thought.

In 1930, LDS General Authority B. H. Roberts submitted the copy of a manual he had been assigned to write for adult men of the church containing a chapter attempting to reconcile the scientific understanding of the origin of life to Mormon teachings.  It included a discussion of  "pre-Adamites," human-like beings that lived before Adam and Eve.  It also taught that death had occurred for millions of years before Adam's fall.

Junior apostle Joseph Fielding Smith disagreed .....

Continue reading here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mormon church leaders presented Barack Obama a family tree

Mormon church leaders presented U.S. President Barack Obama a detailed family tree Monday during a private meeting in Washington.

The meeting was the first time Obama met with Thomas Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  Monson was escorted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the highest ranking Mormon in the government, and accompanied by Dallin Oaks, chairman of the religious organization's genealogical committee.

"I enjoyed my meeting with President Monson and Elder Oaks," Obama said in a statement after the meeting. "I'm grateful for the genealogical records that they brought with them and am looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters. It's something our family will treasure for years to come."

Church leaders have traditionally presented presidents with genealogical breakdowns, giving similar reports to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the Tribune reported. However, church officials said none of their previous genealogical reports was as varied Obama's, whose mother was from Kansas and whose father from Kenya. Previous ancestral examinations uncovered Irish and German lineage, too.

The meeting was arranged by Reid.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Forthcoming: Hearken O Ye People: The Historical Setting for Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations

Overview of Hearken

The book Hearken is a history of Mormonism in Ohio that focuses primarily on the decade from 1829-1839 but includes elements from the larger Mormon experience. It examines the theolological, social, economic, and histrical context in which Joseph Smith, leader of the movement, received revelation. The book is divided into four parts with each part seeking to explore the historical roots of a specific aspect of the Ohio experience in depth. Hearken begins with a Forward written by Lachlan Mackay, Community of Christ Historic Sites Coordinator, and a Prologue that introduces Kirtland, Ohio through the perspective of those who were forced to leave their religious community. It ends with an Appendix that includes nine sermons addressing elements of Ohio's Latter-day Saint experience as recalled by George A. Smith and Brigham Young in November 1864. LaJean Carruth, an expert in Pitman shorthand, has transcribed these sermons.

The book's four sections are:

Part One: Ohio's "Mormonites"
This is an examination of the Morley Family religious community in Kirtland, Ohio and its transition to the "Mormonite Family" organizations that developed between November 1830 and February 1831 in northeastern Ohio. "Mormonite" was a term first applied by newspaperman Eber D. Howe to the nascent religious community that grew out of the original Morley Family commune. This section looks at the early revelations dealing with religious enthusiasm and the gifts of the Spirit through the eyes of Black Pete, an early member of the Morley Family who became part of the movement.

Part Two: Consecration
Newel K. Whitney, an early merchant active in Michigan and Ohio exemplifies the concept of consecration as it developed in Kirtland. This section examines the development of the concept of consecration as exhibited by N. K. Whitney. Whitney became an Overseer or Bishop of the Kirtland community where he helped distribute offerings consecrated by others and consecrated his own businesses to help build Mormonism in Ohio.

Part Three: "It Came from God": The Johnson Family, Joseph Smith, and Mormonism in Hiram, Ohio
The Johnson family played a pivotal role in Mormonism during the Ohio experience. This section explores their influence on Joseph Smith. It examines the "Plan of Salvation" as understood and preached by Reformed Baptists in the community and how The Vision, an experience had by both Joseph Smith and his scribe Sidney Rigdon, responded to current doctrine by reshaping and refining it in significant ways. This experience led to a violent attack on the two men that culminated in their attempted murder.

Part Four: Kirtland's Economy and the Rise and Fall of the Kirtland Safety Society
This section explores the beginnings of Kirtland's economy that eventually led to the organization of a quasi-banking, money-lending institution known as the Kirtland Safety Society. The institution encountered severe and sustained opposition from both within the religious community and without. Those involved in the community recalled that virtually the entire membership refused to follow Joseph's direction in financial matters as he sought to create a "Zion" community in Kirtland. It eventually led to the "excommunication" of Joseph Smith by a renegade part of the Mormon community and the mass defection of large numbers of members. Understanding the major issues of this economic battle helps place the widespread collapse of the Kirtland community within its historical context.

Book Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
A Selective Chronology of Significant Events in Ohio's LDS History

Part One: Ohio's "Mormonites"
Chapter 1 Black Pete
Chapter 2 The Shout Tradition and Speaking in Tongues in the Black Community
Chapter 3 Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell, and the Foundations of Black Pete's Religious Involvement in Ohio
Chapter 4 Freedom and Authority
Chapter 5 Owenites and the Morley Community
Chapter 6 The Morley Family in Kirtland
Chapter 7 The Book of Mormon Comes to Ohio
Chapter 8 Black Pete and Early Mormonite Religious Enthusiasm
Chapter 9 Dissension in Ohio's Mormonite Family
Chapter 10 The Law of the Church
Chapter 11 Joseph Smith and the Gifts of the Spirit
Chapter 12 The June Conference and Authority to Discern Religious Ecstasy
Chapter 13 A New Understanding of the Gift of Tongues in Kirtland and Missouri

Part Two: Consecration
Chapter 14 "To Manage the Affairs of the Poor": N. K. Whitney and Company
Chapter 15 Sidney Gilbert as an Independent Entrepreneur
Chapter 16 N. K. Whitney & Co.
Chapter 17 The Whitneys and the Latter-day Saints
Chapter 18 Whitney's Role as Bishop
Chapter 19 At the Whitney Store

Part Three: "It Came from God": The Johnson Family, Joseph Smith, and Mormonism in Hiram, Ohio
Chapter 20 From Vermont to Ohio
Chapter 21 Hiram Township in Portage County
Chapter 22 Ezra Booth and the Johnson Family
Chapter 23 The Apostasy of Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder
Chapter 24 Joseph Smith at the Johnson Home
Chapter 25 Continuing Revelation and the Seeds of Violence
Chapter 26 Reactions to "The Vision"
Chapter 27 The Mobbing of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon
Chapter 28 Last Days in Hiram
Chapter 29 The Johnson Family's Epilogue

Part Four: Kirtland's Economy and the Rise and Fall of the Kirtland Safety Society
Chapter 30 The Foundation of Kirtland's Economy
Chapter 31 The Lyman and Loud Mills, Arnold Mason's Tannery, and the Means to Build a House of God
Chapter 32 A Plan to Get out of Debt
Chapter 33 The Kirtland Safety Society
Chapter 34 The End of Kirtland's Banking Experiment
Chapter 35 Epilogue

Appendix: Sermons
George A. Smith      November 12, 1864
Brigham Young        November 12, 1864
Brigham Young        Two Sermons, November 13, 1864
George A. Smith      November 13, 1864
George A. Smith      November 14, 1864
Brigham Young        November 15, 1864
George A. Smith      November 15, 1864

Mark Lyman Staker, Senior Researcher, Historic Sites Division, Church History Department, LDS Church

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Textual versions of D&C 8 (Rod of Nature Revelation)

Early copy of D&C 8, (Manuscript Revelation Books, April 1829-B)

Shortly after Joseph Smith met Oliver Cowdery, a revelation was received regarding a gift belonging to Oliver Cowdery, referred to as Section 8 of the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C).

Revelations Book 1 (circa 1831) was a handwritten copy of revelations primarily assembled in 1831 by John Whitmer. It contains earlier versions of revelations than published in the Book of Commandments (1833) or the Doctrine and Covenants (1835).

Here is the text of four versions of D&C 8, a revelation with one of the more interesting textual histories.

Keywords: Rod of Nature, Rod of Aaron, Sprout, Gift of Aaron

Utah 2nd healthiest state

Excerpts of Utah ranked No. 2 healthiest state, by Carrie A. Moore, Deseret News
New data released in the United Health Foundation's 20th annual America's Health Rankings rate the Beehive State second only to Vermont in a broad measure of health and overall physical well-being. Utah ranked fifth last year, so the newest rating is a significant boost, health officials said.

The yearly report credited Utah with the lowest rates in the nation for smoking, cancer deaths, infant mortality and binge drinking, but found the availability of primary care physicians here limited compared with other areas.

It also noted a high "geographic disparity" regarding access to health services for those in remote rural areas, and cited a low rate of funding for public health as significant health challenges.

Utah's spending was $60 per person for public health last year, compared with a national average of $94 per person and $150 per person in Vermont.

Sundwall was particularly pleased that the boost "comes at a time when the state is increasingly diverse."

"We can't just say anymore that those white Mormons are healthy people," he said. "We have to assume some of these improvements are due both to public health practices and state policies," including a legislative mandate that children in Utah who meet the income guidelines qualify for government-funded health insurance.

Though Utah's rate of obesity continues to increase at about the same rate as the rest of the nation, "we have a lower rate overall and a much lower rate than some parts of the nation, especially in the Southeast," Joy said.

Sundwall said he takes no comfort in the fact that Utahns were fifth best in the nation in the percentage of obese residents, noting 23 percent of Utahns still fall into that category.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Church support of gay rights raises anti-gay sentiment

Apparently the photo did not make it through in my last post -- so I'm resending. 

With the recent support by the church for gay rights in Salt Lake, thousands of these are being sent to fax machines around Utah . 

Larger photo at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Conservative Group surprised at LDS support of gay rights

From Off the Agenda: Gay-rights bombshell blew up in Sutherland's face, Salt Lake Tribune

Note:  The Sutherland's full statement against gay rights can be read here,  Many are anxiously awaiting the ultra-conservative Eagle Forum's reaction to the LDS church's new moderate view.

Minutes before the LDS Church's startling announcement of support for Salt Lake City's anti-discrimination laws, one of Utah's conservative mouthpieces insisted it would not happen.

Standing in the City Council Chamber, the Sutherland Institute's Jeff Reynolds told reporters rumors of the church's support were both ridiculous and a glaring case of "journalistic fraud." The church, Reynolds said, simply would proclaim non-opposition to the ordinances.

Then church spokesman Michael Otterson strode to the lectern to deliver the bombshell. Soon after, Reynolds skedaddled to write a response that showed up two hours later. Blindsided by the news, Sutherland nonetheless reiterated its call for the Legislature to kill the ordinances, which outlaw firing or eviction in Utah's capital based on a person being gay or transgender.

Sutherland's argument: Such measures mean "marriage will die by a thousand cuts."

"As a public-relations opportunity, the LDS Church's statement before the Salt Lake City Council may assuage the minds and soften the hearts of advocates of "gay rights" in Utah, the think tank argued. As a policy statement, it is problematic.

"The approved ordinances," Sutherland continued, "are vague, dangerously broad and unjust to the parties they seek to regulate."

But in light of the church's position, it remains to be seen whether this conservative stalwart or another -- the Eagle Forum -- influences any lawmakers.


Bias knows no bounds » According to participants of the secret meetings between gay leaders and church officials, personal anecdotes describing discrimination proved a powerful tonic in the negotiations. And at least one former state employee says such bias is not uncommon in the ranks of state workers.

On Tuesday, John Bennett, grandson of former U.S. Sen. Wallace Bennett and nephew of current Sen. Bob Bennett, told the City Council he was fired in 1986 from the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development because he is gay.

"Coming from a very politically powerful family does not protect you," he said as he urged the council to pass the anti-discrimination measures.

Now an employee of Salt Lake County, which has nondiscrimination protections in place for its work force, Bennett laments that many employees across Utah still are not so fortunate.


How will the church communique play on Capitol Hill? » Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, said he is thrilled with the church's declaration of support. And he predicts the rare public stance will have an impact when state lawmakers convene early next year.

"It makes a huge difference," McCoy said moments before Tuesday's announcement at City Hall. "The church does not run what happens on Capitol Hill. But it would be ridiculous to suggest that the leaders on the Hill would not sit up and take notice of what's happening here tonight."

Salt Lake County Council Chairman Joe Hatch says he is not convinced the church endorsement will sway conservatives at the Legislature.

"It might actually hurt," Hatch said, explaining that the long-held perception is that when the LDS Church says jump, legislators ask how high. "Here's a way for the Republican Mormon leadership to say, 'We don't do what the church says.' "

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Utah ranks last in attitude to pro-gay policies

A recent study ranks Utah last in pro-gay policy attitudes. By these criteria, Utah's percentage who favor gay protections and rights (38%) is 5% lower than the next lowest state - Oklahoma; and 30% below the highest ranked state - Massachusetts (68%). Utah's ranking for each category is as follows:
  • 50th ∙Adoption—Do you think there should be adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples?
  • 50th ∙Hate Crimes—If a hate crime law were enacted in your state, do you think that homosexuals should be covered?
  • 50th ∙Health: Should there be health insurance and other employee benefits for gay spouses?
  • 50th ∙Housing: Should there be laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination in housing?
  • 50th ∙Jobs: Should there be laws to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in job opportunities?
  • 46th ∙Marriage: Do you favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?
  • 45th ∙Sodomy: Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal?
  • 50th ∙Unions: Do you favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to form legally recognized civil unions, giving them many of the legal rights of married couples?
  • 50th: Overall

From Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips, “Gay Rights in the States: Public Opinion and Policy Responsiveness,” American Political Science Review, p.41. Estimates of explicit pro-gay policy support are shown by state as a percentage, ordered by average opinion.


State2nd Parent Adoption Hate CrimesHealth BenefitsHousingJobsMarriage SodomyCivil UnionsMean Opinion


mean43705975 6239454955


st. dev.86 656999 7


total congruent43 3116202246 3237245


Utah22554157 4025333138


Oklahoma2659 4965502532 35 43


Arkansas27 6551685025 30 3444


Alabama 2961546853 23 283444


Mississippi29645571 5523283445


Tennessee316554 7053262935 45


Kentucky3263 5269532835 3946


Idaho33 5951675334 424047


South Carolina 3366577359 28334249


Louisiana36675876 6230344051


Georgia3668 5874603039 43 51


North Carolina36 6858746031 344050


Wyoming 3759547058 36454551


Texas37655974 6132384351


Nebraska3962 5372603239 43 50


Kansas39 6554736136 41 4652


South Dakota 40 6555736035 404451


Missouri 4069547357 34444552


North Dakota41635573 6233414451


Indiana4166 5474603542 45 52


West Virginia41 6757756233 384452


Montana 4366587361 41515256


Alaska43665975 6242495056


Virginia4371 6277643744 45 55


Arizona44 7062766444 52 5458


Wisconsin 4473567762 42 515057


Florida45716376 6439495257


Iowa457258 7662384451 56


Ohio4673 6078643942 4656


Pennsylvania 4673617866 43 475258


New Mexico47736178 6545525359


Michigan477460 7864394449 57


Minnesota47 74 6078644249 5158


Oregon47 7561776345 545660


Nevada 4873637865 46515560


Colorado48746178 6647555661


Illinois487764 8066425053 60


Delaware4976 6681684146 5460


Maryland49 7967826941 505561


Hawaii 5076627865 49565762


Washington51766179 6549565762


California5178 6581685058 58 64


Maine52 7564796749 52 5862


New Hampshire 5275668068 51536163


New Jersey53766781 7048536164


Connecticut5477 6881705256 62 65


Vermont55 7966816953 56 6265


Rhode Island 5579678270 53576466


New York56797182 7052586366


Massachusetts5781 6882705661 69 68

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Polygamy: What Love Is This?

Polygamy: What Love Is This? is the only broadcast television program dedicated to exploring the subject of polygamy from a biblical perspective. Since June of 2008, this call-in program has been broadcast live from Salt Lake City on KTMW TV-20 on Thursday nights at 8:00 PM. (The show is re-broadcast on Boise's KCLP TV-18 on Sunday nights at 5:00 PM). In addition, all episodes of the program are also available for online viewing from this website, and are also available as a free video Podcast through iTunes™. (Click here to subscribe to the Podcast!)

Polygamy: What Love Is This? is production of A Shield and Refuge Ministry a weekly talk show hosted by Doris Hanson, a former Mormon Fundamentalist.

Episodes from 2009:

Description Link
  2.01 08 Jan 09 Doris interviews a former polygamist husband.
  2.02 15 Jan 09 Doris interviews Sandra Tanner.
  2.03 22 Jan 09 Doris interviews former polygamist Mary Mackert & Christian wife Dorothy Catlin.
  2.04 29 Jan 09 Doris interviews Brian Mackert, author of the book, Illegitimate on the special needs of those exiting polygamy
  2.05 5 Feb 09 Doris addresses recent and new questions and comments from viewers
  2.06 12 Feb 09 Doris interviews Bill McKeever
  2.07 19 Feb 09 Doris addresses early Mormon polygamy myth #5, and answers viewer questions.
  2.08 26 Feb 09 Doris addresses another polygamy myth #6, and discusses David's polygamy--is it from God or man?
  2.09 5 Mar 09 Doris interviews guest Russ East concerning his family's polygamist heritage.
  2.10 12 Mar 09 Doris interviews Shawn McCraney, host of TV20's "Heart of the Matter" watch online
  2.11 19 Mar 09 Doris addresses polygamy myth #7, and discuss "faith without works".
  2.12 26 Mar 09 Doris interviews Kathy Jo Nicholson, formerly of the FLDS group.
  2.13 2 Apr 09 Doris "interviews" two of Joseph Smith's wives! (Part 1)
  2.14 9 Apr 09 Doris addresses viewer calls and emails.
  2.15 16 Apr 09 Doris "interviews" two more of Joseph Smith's wives! (Part 2)
  2.16 23 Apr 09 Doris interviews Susan Ray Schmidt, formerly of the notorious LeBaron group, about the powerful testimony of Rena Chenowyth, who had participated in this group's "blood atonement" killings.
  2.17 30 Apr 09 Doris "interviews" two more of Joseph Smith's wives! (Part 3)
  2.18 07 May 09 Polygamy Myths: Myth #9
  2.19 14 May 09 Doris interviews pastor Ross Anderson concerning the reliability of the Bible.
  2.20 21 May 09 Doris addresses polygamy myth #10; also, do we really "bash" Mormons?
  2.21 28 May 09 Myths of Polygamy, part 11; Doris adddresses viewer letters, emails, and calls; Polygamy in the Old Testament.
  2.22 04 June 09 Doris interviews pastor Ross Anderson on the reliability of the Bible (part 2)
  2.23 11 June 09 Anatomy of an escape: told by one assisting a successful rescue.
  2.24 18 June 09 Doris interviews Danielle Pimentel, a former polygamist
  2.25 25 June 09 Doris interviews Pastor Hartog about the religious culture of Utah
  2.26 02 July 09 Doris talks about polygamy in the news, and addresses viewer calls and emails.
  2.27 09 July 09 Doris interviews Kay Brown, on how the subject of polygamy contributed toward her exit from Mormonism.
  2.28 16 July 09 Doris interviews former polygamist Mary Mackert, about her ministry to those trapped in polygamy.
  2.29 23 July 09 Doris interviews Bill McKeever of Mormon Research Ministry, on "contending for the faith".
30 July 09 Interview with Joseph Smith's 2nd plural wife, Lucinda Pendleton (dramatization by Dorothy Catlin).
  2.31 06 Aug 09 Doris addresses polygamy myth #12; The United Order
  2.32 13 Aug 09 Doris reviews the LDS film, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration together with guests Tracy and Quentin Ferguson
20 Aug 09 Doris interviews Bill McKeever, who continues his discussion on "contending for the faith."
  2.34 27 Aug 09 Doris interviews Beckie Whittaker, who explains the reasons behind her leaving the LDS Church.
  2.35 03 Sept 09 Doris interviews Kay Brown, who shares more of her story and testimony.
  2.36 10 Sept 09 Doris interviews Sandra Tanner, on the re-defined terminology that tends to confuse mainline and Fundamentalist Mormonism.
  2.37 17 Sept 09 Doris interviews Rauni Higley, to discuss the question of whether Joseph Smith believed the Book of Mormon.
  2.38 24 Sept 09 Doris discusses Polygamy Myth #13, as well as so-called "Christian" polygamy, and addresses viewer calls and questions.
  2.39 01 Oct 09 Doris interviews Susan Schmidt and Kathie Jo Nicholson (prerecorded episode).
  2.40 08 Oct 09 Doris dedicates this show to the memory of the late Charlie Kingston, whose moving testimony of leaving fundamentalism and finding freedom in Christ will be an encouragement!
  2.41 15 Oct 09 Doris discusses polygamy myth #14, and "Is Jesus the Christ?"
  2.42 22 Oct 09 Doris interviews childcare specialist Karen Holder on how abuses within the polygamist lifestyle affects children.
  2.43 29 Oct 09 Doris interviews Rauni Higley a second time, and examines the contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants.
  2.44 05 Nov 09 Doris interviews Kay Brown, who looks at the journals of early polygamists.