Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1 in 9 republican voters are Mormon

Note that this stat is based on 2008 exit polls. If Mitt Romney runs in the November election, it is likely this ratio will increase. Letters were read in Mormon wards this month encouraging political involvement.

Excerpts of "Mormon voters wary of too much public support for Romney" by  Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post
In 2008, Mormons made up about 11 percent of the Republican primary electorate, according to exit polls. Though they are not a large group nationally — about 2 percent of the U.S. population — they are overwhelmingly conservative and are more likely to vote than other groups.

Radical new theory of first Americans arriving by boat

Excerpts of "Radical theory of first Americans places stone-age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 years ago" by Brian Vastag, Washington Post
When the crew of the Virginia scallop trawler Cinmar hauled a mastodon tusk onto the deck in 1970, another oddity dropped out of the net: A dark, tapered stone blade, nearly eight inches long and still sharp.

Forty years later, this rediscovered prehistoric slasher has reopened debate on a radical theory about who the first Americans were and when they got here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Baptism for the dead continues to draw attention

Baptism for the dead continues to draw attention to the LDS temple practice allowing Mormons to be baptized for deceased individuals.

The latest parodies of the issue comes from Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, who performed a mock posthumous conversion of Mormons to Judaism.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Anne Frank re-baptized for the dead

Below are two stories related to baptism for the dead of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.  The Huffington Post story reports the baptism of Anne Frank last Saturday.  Also included is the strongest statement yet by the L.D.S. church, threatening discipline to any of its members who continue such baptisms.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mormon Conferences

Excerpt of "5 Mormon Studies Conferences," Jana Riess, ReligionNews

  • At the Crossroads Again: Mormon and Protestant Encounters in the 19th and 21st Centuries
  • Sunstone Ohio
  • "Circling the Wagons" conference for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, Their Families, and Friends --

Monday, February 20, 2012

Documents owned by the Community of Christ shared with Joseph Smith Papers Project

Manuscript containing Joseph
Smith's translation of the Bible (now
part of the 'Book of Moses')
Excerpts of Smith Papers Website Publishes Documents from Community of Christ Collection, Joseph Smith Papers
The Joseph Smith Papers Project released to its website a dozen Joseph Smith documents owned by Community of Christ, adding to the several hundred documents already available on the site. Researchers who formerly would have had to travel to repositories across the nation to access original documents are increasingly being served by the website,, which is collecting into one place images and transcripts of all extant Joseph Smith documents.

Hindus concerned over baptism for the dead

Excerpts of Hindus concerned at proxy baptism of Jews by Mormon Church, Baltic Review
 In view of reported proxy baptisms of some prominent Jews, concerned Hindus have urged The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to set-up a mechanism to avoid baptizing by proxy their deceased ancestors without their will.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement from Nevada (USA) today, said that although they had not received any reports yet of such proxy baptisms of deceased Hindus by LDS, but they were simply concerned after learning of posthumous baptizing of parents of a well known Jew, whose names were not submitted for baptism.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Church History Symposium: Joseph F. Smith

Church History Symposium 2012

Join us for the annual Brigham Young University Church History Symposium. The focus of this year's symposium will be the era of past President of the Church Joseph F. Smith.

Exploring Mormon Conceptions of the Apostasy

Exploring Mormon Conceptions of the Apostasy

Examining claims of historical apostasy is a pertinent task for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the last hundred years, the Great Apostasy narrative has shaped Latter-day Saint historical assumptions, contributed to the construction of Latter-day Saint social and theological identity, and impacted the ability of the Church to develop ecumenical relationships. The contributors want to raise awareness about the influence of this narrative as well as to reconsider some of the assumptions made by this narrative. We hope to cultivate scholarly discourse among the contributors as well as the Latter-day Saint community about the challenges and consequences of simultaneously acknowledging complexity, causality, and providence when interpreting history for theological purposes. We hope to develop a richer understanding of the definitions, connotations, social functions, and theological implications of Latter-day Saint conceptions of the apostasy.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Religious Mormons and Jews have highest "well being"

Survey: Very religious rate higher on "well being" scale by Dan Merica, CNN
Very religious people rate higher – compared to the moderately religious and nonreligious – on a Gallup "well being" survey released Thursday.

According to the survey, very religious people from all religious groups surveyed higher than their nonreligious brethren. Very religious Jews scored highest on the survey with a score of 72.4. Very religious Mormons finished a close second with 71.5.

Church leaders meet with Washington anti-gay marriage group

Less than 24 hours after personally filing Referendum 74 with the Washington state attorney general's office, Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and John Paulton of Focus on the Family met with "Mormon Church Leaders" in Washington.  A staffer at the Family Policy Institute initially disclosed the meeting by phone, the meeting was later confirmed directly by Joseph Backholm.

It is unknown what was discussed or agreed to at the meeting, or which "Mormon Church leaders" attended the meeting.  However given the church's pivotal involvement in Proposition 8, and the razor thin edge that gay marriage supporters in Washington have in the polls, it isn't a stretch to think that Focus on the Family is keen to have significant involvement from the Mormon church in the effort to gather 120,000 signatures by June.  ....

Nobel laureate condemns church over baptisms for the dead

Excerpts of Elie Wiesel Shines Spotlight On Romney Over Controversial Mormon Practice by Howard Berkes, NPR
Romney "should speak to his own church and say they should stop," said Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. "I wonder if as a candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing ... I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up."

Wiesel was reacting to news this week that his name, and the names of his father and grandfather, were found on a genealogical database kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and used to select deceased souls for a Mormon practice known as proxy baptism.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Focus on the Family leader says they're losing battle against gay marriage

Focus on the Family Leader Sees Likely Loss on Marriage by Editors
Jim Daly, the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, which funds attacks against marriage equality across the country, concedes in a new interview that his side has "probably lost" on the issue.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Introduction to Religious Freedom

Excerpts of Religious Freedom Series, Part 1: An Introduction to Religious Freedom,  LDS Newsroom
This article is a broad introduction for a forthcoming series of articles on religious freedom.

Contrary to what some may assume, religious freedom is not simply the freedom to worship or to believe the way one chooses. Neither is it just for religious people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mormonism and the Internet

Mormonism and the Internet: Negotiating Religious community and Identity in the Virtual World

March 29-30, 2012 UVU Library Auditorium

The internet has transformed the way we access information and express ourselves. Without the constraints that have shackled traditional media in the past, it allows information to flow more freely and more rapidly than ever before. This has not been lost among religious institutions which are increasingly adding the web to their communication strategies.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gay marriage legalized in Washington State

Below are excerpts of Washington governor signs gay marriage law, by Nicole Neroulias, Reuters.  For an article against gay marriage, see this Deseret News article, and and this rebuttle article from the Huffington Post.
OLYMPIA, Wash (Reuters) - Washington state became the seventh in the nation to put a law on its books recognizing same-sex marriage on Monday, as opponents of the measure signed by Governor Christine Gregoire vowed to try to prevent it from ever taking effect.

'Book of Mormon' wins Grammy for musical theater

Excerpts of Grammy Awards 2012: 'Book of Mormon' wins for musical theater, LA Times Blogs

"The Book of Mormon," the hit Broadway musical from the creators of "South Park," added to its stash of awards Sunday when it won a Grammy for musical theater album. The cast recording features the original Broadway ensemble, including Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells.
"South Park's" Trey Parker was on hand to accept the award during a pre-show ceremony at Staples Center. "Wow, Mormons are having a great year," he said in reference to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. "They have a Grammy now too."
Parker was joined on stage by Robert Lopez, a 2004 nominee in this category for "Avenue Q." They, with "South Park's" Matt Stone wrote the songs and the book for the musical.
"Mormon" beat out the albums for "Anything Goes" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." ...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Prop 8 declared unconstitutional by 9th circuit court

Below are excerpts of Prop. 8 declared unconstitutional by 9th Circuit Court; stay prevents same-sex marriages from resuming  by Michael De Groote , Deseret News.  A few items to note, not included in the article are:
  • Dissenting Judge Smith is a Mormon
  • The church spokesman says it has always had the view that "marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman," omitting the church's practice and belief in plural marriage 

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, but a stay remains in place preventing same-sex marriages from resuming in the state and the case of Perry v. Brown is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Book: Playing with Shadows: Voices Of Dissent In The Mormon West

9780870623806_Medium.jpgThe next volume in the "Kingdom in the West" series is available.  Playing with Shadows: Voices Of Dissent In The Mormon West was edited by Polly Aird, Jeff Nichols and Will Bagley; published by the Arthur H. Clark Company.

  • A review of the book by Kris Wray for the Association for Mormon Letters is available here.
  • Ken Sanders Rare Books will host a reading and signing featuring the book's editors, Polly Aird, Jeff Nichols, and Will Bagley at 7pm on Thursday, February 16th at the downtown Salt Lake City bookstore, 268 South 200 East. This event is free and open to the public.

  • H. Michael Marquardt has made available The Coming Storm: The Murder of Jesse Thompson Hartley. This was originally published as a Collector's Edition Keepsake for  Playing with Shadows
About Playing with Shadows:

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Comedian does an un-baptism for the dead

Bill Maher Performs Unbaptism of Mitt Romneys Dead Father | Edward Davies

Bill Maher ...  has officially performed what he claims is the world's first posthumous "unbaptism" of Romney's father-in-law, Edward Davies.

Following reports that Davies was an atheist (he died back in 1992) and that despite his non-belief (Romney's brother-in-law Jim denies that his father was an atheist), he was baptized [via the Mormon rite of "Baptism for the Dead"] into the Mormon faith following his death, Maher decided he would attempt to reverse this baptism on his television show.... "If you still insist atheism is a religion, then it's only fair that we get to do all the looney stuff you get to do. And I'm going to start tonight by unbaptizing Mitt Romney's dead father-in-law."

Pilot program for 'The Rescue' ?

Excerpt of The Mormon & Evangelical War for Disaffected Hearts, wheatandtares
Several articles quote Elder Jensen describing a novel effort to pull inactive members back into the fold: The Rescue. The Reuters article describes the basic gist of The Rescue:
With defections rising, the church has launched a program to stanch its losses. The head of the church, President Thomas Monson, who is considered a living prophet, has called the campaign "The Rescue" and made it his signature initiative, according to Jensen. The effort includes a new package of materials for pastors and for teaching Mormon youth that address some of the more sensitive aspects of church doctrine. "If they are not revolutionary, they are at least going to be a breath of fresh air across the church," Jensen told the Utah class.
What will The Rescue entail?

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes

An important new book, The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes makes available for the first time the minutes of the city and church high councils from the Mormon city of Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839-1845.  The minutes were edited into book format by John S. Dinger.  A number of interviews and presentations about the book are available to persue.

Mormon Media Studies Symposium 2012: "Mormon Moment(s) and the Media"

Mormon Media Studies Symposium 2012
"Mormon Moment(s) and the Media"

Sponsored by BYU Department of Communications
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA
November 8-9, 2012
Brigham Young University Conference Center, Provo, Utah, USA

About the Symposium

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Discussion of Mormon apostasy spreads

A number of articles have come out in the past few days regarding a large number of people leaving the LDS church. Apparently some Latter-day Saints who have learned about church history through the church's "correlated" curriculum of faith promoting stories are caught off guard when learning other aspects of Mormon history. Some Internet-savvy Mormons are struggling to reconcile the correlated views they learned in church classes with the history they find on the Internet.

A set of events, inadvertently, and perhaps symbolically started by the LDS Church Historian have been unfolding, bringing an awareness of this "crisis."  Below is a list of the unfolding events and articles: