Mormonism in the News
Recent new articles of interest discussing Mormonism
From Mormon Women, a Flood of Requests and Questions on Their Role in the Church - 3/6/14
New York Times article about women in the LDS Church
No full tax break for Mormon temple in England, court rules - 3/6/14
Salt Lake Tribune: European judges have rejected the LDS Church’s human-rights complaint against the United Kingdom, The Telegraph reported Tuesday, so now the Utah-based faith will have to pay property taxes on its Preston Temple. Read full article
Mormon Church Dispels Planet Afterlife Misconception Fostered By 'Book Of Mormon' Broadway Show - 2/28/14
Huffington post: The Mormon Church is pushing back against the notion that members of the faith are taught they'll get their own planet in the afterlife, a misconception popularized in pop culture most recently by the Broadway show "The Book of Mormon." Read full article
Controversial LDS Article Raises Concern of 'Rape Culture' - 2/19/14
KUTV- (KUTV) There is controversy stirring over an article in the LDS Church publication the "Ensign." The featured article for the March issue tackles "What is the Lord's Standard for Morality," The article just released has fired up LDS marriage and family therapists, some who say takes women back 35 years with this one simple article. Read full article and watch news clip
Recent changes in the Church - 2/12/14
Ganesh Cherian of Wellington, New Zealand is currently a Stake High Counselor and has served as a bishop for five and a half years. Please read his very insightful blog: A Former Bishop’s Doctrinal Dilemmas
Is change coming to Mormon temple wedding policy? - 2/12/14
Salt Lake Tribune article by Peggy Fletcher Stack
Mormons to build 32-story tower near Center City - 2/12/14
Philly Inquirer article
Treating Sensitive Issues in the New Church History Seminary Manual - 2/11/14
This article by Meridian Magazine introduces the new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History manual for seminary students. The new manual includes a discussion of several sensitive topics in church history. These include such things as the various accounts of the First Vision story, Mountain Meadow Massacre and polygamy.
Unfortunately, the lesson manuals don't address many of the most serious problems of each issue. They often only bring up one or two minor critics's problems of each issue and ignore the hardest-to-explain problems.
For example, the Book of Abraham section only brings up one issue which is that the papyri only date to about 100 BC vs the time of Abraham at 2000 B.C. BOA pg 524-527 (go to unit 31, lesson 152)
The lesson manual doesn't say anything that addresses the real problem with the BOA which is that Egyptologists state that Joseph Smith's translations of the facsimiles and papyri are completely wrong.
The manual sums up the BOA problems with a simple:
Although we do not know the exact method Joseph Smith used to translate the writings, we do know that he translated the book of Abraham by the gift and power of God.
The lesson also has a major contradiction. On page 525 it says:
The Prophet Joseph Smith never claimed the papyri were indeed the writings of Abraham.
Yet, on the same page right it states:
In a statement dated 5 July 1835, Joseph Smith, declaring the importance of these ancient Egyptian writings, recorded: ‘I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham.
With these types of superficial answers that don't really address the critics's issues, the next generation of seminary students that use this manual will still be unaware of the most serious problems of Church history. Read full article
Newsweek - When the Saints Go Marching Out - 1/31/14
This was actually a less-than-flattering article on Mormons leaving the LDS Church. It seems to want to appeal more to what non-Mormons might find entertaining and does not focus on why Latter-day Saints are leaving the Church in such high numbers. It's over-emphasis on alcohol is poor journalism as alcohol is not a factor in the vast majority of people leaving the Church. Many former LDS don't drink alcohol and have no desire to. The article shows the worst characteristics of those that leave the Church and not typical. There were some interesting things mentioned like how DNA casts doubt on the Book of Mormon and the effect of Google on the Church but overall the article misrepresents the majority of members that choose to leave the LDS Church in this editor's opinion. Many of the comments following the article were worth reading. Read full article
Daily Herald - LDS Church adds second temple film - 1/17/14
This week, thousands are watching films at the Sundance Film Festival, and millions are glued to the TV to learn the Oscar nominations, but perhaps the most watched new release film in Utah County was untitled, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and reserved for LDS temple patrons.
The LDS Church has quietly added a second film remake for temple instruction that is being distributed throughout the world. It released its first remake in July. Read full article
Salt Lake Tribune - LDS essay: Mormons practiced polygamy after Manifesto - 12/17/13
Just days after a federal judge struck down parts of Utah’s anti-polygamy laws, the LDS Church published an official essay about its historic ties to plural marriage, including an acknowledgment that the practice persisted even into the early 20th century.
The carefully worded article, "Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah," was posted Monday on the gospel topics page at lds.org, the faith’s website, and spells out Mormonism’s experiment with polygamy.
It comes in the wake of federal Judge Clark Waddoups’ decision issued Friday that the "unlawful cohabitation" statutes of Utah were unconstitutional. The essay also follows the LDS Church’s release the previous week of an article about "Race and the Priesthood," repudiating theories behind its former ban on blacks entering the all-male priesthood.
Most of the details in the piece on plural marriage are well-known to historians, but some of them may be news to longtime Mormons or new converts in the 15 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Read full article
KUTV article - LDS Church Releases Sensitive Documents To Address Information Age Findings - 12/12/13
(KUTV) Recently we addressed a new statement released by the LDS church concerning Race and the Priesthood. Now we take a look at why the church is making a practice of releasing statements on sensitive topics long debated by its members.
The first discussed was multiple versions of the "First Vision" as told by Joseph Smith. There will be more on sensitive topics in the coming months likely including the history of Polygamy.
If you're asking why the LDS church is making the move to dig into its past now, the answer is fairly simple. Bottom line, the internet has changed the world as a whole and that includes the LDS church and how its members study their faith and its beginnings.
A new generation of Mormons is going online to find answers to historical questions long avoided in Sunday school classes. The new statements slowly being released by the church are the official answer to those searches. If you talk to Historians that have spent their lives studying the LDS faith you will hear different ideas. In the end there is one consensus, some members of the LDS faith are "becoming convinced that they have been betrayed, or they believe they have been lied to.
"It causes a crisis of faith, and some of them are leaving," said Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah Paul Reeve, who can understand why the church is making a move now. "For a church that puts so much emphasis on missionary work and growth --- losing those already in the flock is not a good thing." Read full article
Salt Lake Tribune - Mormon church traces black priesthood ban to Brigham Young - 12/10/13
In the past, the LDS Church has said history isn’t clear on why blacks were banned from its all-male priesthood for more than a century. Apparently, it now is. The reason, according to a newly released explanation from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is rooted more in racism than revelation. Read full article
The First re-Vision of Joseph Smith - 12/4/13
This is an insightful blog on the prophet Joseph Smith's First Vision: The First re-Vision of Joseph Smith
Orlando Sentinel - Mormon church-owned company buys huge swath of Florida land - 11/8/13
The Mormon church stands to own nearly 2 percent of Florida by completing a deal to buy most of the real estate of the St. Joe Co. for more than a half-billion dollars.
The megapurchase was announced jointly Thursday by a corporate representative of church, which owns the nearly 295,000-acre Deseret Ranches in Central Florida, and by the real-estate and timber business, which has built several communities along the Panhandle coast.
According to the announcement, a church entity, AgReserves Inc., will buy 382,834 acres – the majority of St. Joe's timberlands – in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties for $565 million. Full Article
TheBlaze article: Why Is a Prominent Baptist Preacher Claiming That Mormons and Evangelicals ‘May Go to Jail Together’? - 10/23/13
Salt Lake Tribune - Atheist group says Utah billboard companies fear Mormon church - 10/17/13
New York Times headline - A Top Mormon Leader Acknowledges the Church ‘Made Mistakes’ - 10/7/13
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency made some startling admissions during the October 2013 conference. From the New York Times:
One of the top leaders in the Mormon Church acknowledged in an address to the church’s global membership on Saturday that past leaders had “made mistakes” that had caused some Mormons to have doubts, an admission that amounts to a significant change in tone in the leadership’s approach to Mormons who question, dissent or defect from the church.
“We respect those who honestly search for truth,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church’s top governing body, the first presidency, said in the speech.
The church has in the past excommunicated prominent scholars and even low-profile members who publicly voiced doubts about its history or theology, and many Mormons who have lost their faith have been shunned by their friends and family. But recently, with some Mormons taking to the Internet to share their doubts, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which now claims 15 million members, have been confronted with a bigger problem they could no longer ignore.
“We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of church history — along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable and divine events — there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question,” Mr. Uchtdorf said, speaking to 20,000 Mormons gathered for the 183rd semiannual general conference in Salt Lake City, and millions more watching telecasts and over the Internet.
Full article: New York Times
Women and the Church - 10/7/13
Several recent articles discussing women and the LDS Church:
Mormon Women Knock at the Door, Are Turned Away
Mormon women line up to protest their faith’s exclusion of women from the priesthood
LDS Church Membership Hits 15 Million As Mormon Women Question Gender Inequality
Gay Mormons: Wendy And Tom Montgomery Lead Push To Change LDS Church Stance On Homosexuality - 10/7/13
Liahona - An experimental documentary feature film about Mormonism - 10/1/13
The New York Film Festival premiere of a new film by Talena Sanders about Mormonism is on October 6, 2013.
Liahona is an experimental documentary examining the culture, history, and lived experience of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The film creates a portrait of Mormonism through documentation of LDS cultural dominance in Utah, the suppressed history of folk magic in the early church, accounts from the settlement of the American west, landmark Mormon life experiences, and my own history and connection to the church.
Liahona shifts through perspectives on the faith - from reverence to questioning, presenting the complexities of the vast institution of Mormonism contrasted with the tenuity of individual faith.
The film includes a short interview with D. Michael Quinn about folk magic in the early church.
Also premiering: The Relief Mine Co.
Updated information: Liahona
BYU devotional discusses historical issues - 9/29/13
This 30 minute BYU devotional by D. Todd Christofferson seems to be setting the stage for members to receive potentially troubling information from the Joseph Smith Papers Project. The speaker cautioned members to not study Church history too little. Corrected link: BYU-I Devotional on Joseph Smith (Sep. 24th 2013)
Church funds apologetics - 9/19/13
The apologists at FAIR have denied for years that they were funded at all by the LDS Church. However, the website Futuremissionary.com has uncovered how the LDS Church has funneled $450,000 over the last 3 years to the MoreGood Foundation (MGF) which in turn donates funds to FAIR and pays the salaries of other apologists working for the MGF. On the MGF website it clearly states:
“We support The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in every way, but we are not owned or operated by the Church.”
How is the Foundation Funded?
While the Foundation is fully supportive of the Church and its mission, it is not directed by or funded through the Church; no Church funds are used for the Foundation. Our funds come through the good graces of individual donors who are interested in seeing us fulfill our goals and make a positive difference with LDS information.”
Yet the tax records show the LDS Church gave them $450,000 over the last 3 years.
Read the insightful blog by Mormon Disclosures
Council of Fifty minutes to be published - 9/9/13
Elder Steven E. Snow, the Church Historian and Recorder announced that the First Presidency “has approved the Church History Department staff to use the Council of Fifty minutes as reference and footnote material in upcoming Joseph Smith Papers books and to eventually publish the minutes in full as a separate volume.” Article
Slate article - The Case of the Mormon Historian - 8/14/13
What happened when Michael Quinn challenged the history of the church he loved.
Deseret news - Mormons navigate faith and doubt in the digital age - 7/29/13
New temple endowment video - 7/18/13
Several temple sealers have confirmed the rumor that there will be a new temple video in the temple endowment ceremony coming out soon. Faithful Latter-day Saints are curious what will change. Review of the new temple video
LDS apologist defends the Book of Mormon translation - 7/2/13
LDS apologist Michael Ash defends the Book of Mormon translation process in this article in Meridian Magazine. Translating the Book of Mormon by Michael Ash. An editor responds to his article.
Blog - The Spirit Testifies of All Things, Except Financial - 6/28/13
This is a very interesting blog where the author used public documents to show evidence that the Church gives substantial property to its apostles. Also interesting that many General Authorities, that spent their entire careers as church employees, own multiple homes worth millions. Read the blog: The Spirit Testifies of All Things, Except Financial Secrecy
Mormons to use technology in missionary work - 6/26/13
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The common image of Mormon missionaries has long been two young men wearing white shirts and ties walking through neighborhoods, knocking door-to-door.
But in a few years, that image may be replaced by one of young Mormons sitting with an iPad, typing messages on Facebook.
Recognizing the world has changed, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders announced Sunday night that missionaries will do less door-to-door proselytizing, and instead, use the Internet to recruit new church members.
LDS Church and Boy Scouts being sued - 6/24/13
The lawsuit alleges that the LDS and Boy Scout officials did nothing to remove pedophile scout leaders from their posts and notify law enforcement as well as inform parents of the problem. Read Article
Church to release answers to troubling issues - 6/3/13
MormonThink has learned from multiple reliable sources that the LDS Church will soon begin publishing on the official Church website a series of at least 13 essays addressing controversial historical Church topics. The rising tide of accurate, first-hand historical source documents available for faithful members to research on the internet has forced the LDS General Authorities to move beyond giving shallow answers to the issues these documents raise.
The essays addressing historical concerns will provide more extensive details and will attempt to re-contextualize the first-hand source documents regarding topics that the Church deems most problematic for its members. Among the first essays approved by the First Presidency and slated for release at this time will be the multiple, differing accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision -- a subject that will undoubtedly catch many lifelong members by surprise as most will learn about these alternate, conflicting First Vision accounts for the first time.
We are encouraged to hear that the Church leadership is finally acknowledging the reality of the varying historical accounts, and is making what appears to be a good-faith effort to share this factual information with the general Church membership. It is our hope that the growing availability of information that contradicts the Church's depictions of historical events will encourage the Church to break its pattern of marginalizing and trivializing accounts that challenge official Church versions (e.g., Book of Abraham translation issues, Book of Mormon historicity, polygamy). We hope that Church leaders will be forthright regarding all aspects of the historical record and do not merely summarize the issues and quickly dismiss them. As always, we encourage faithful members to explore the information and source documents objectively to determine if the interpretations the Church provides are the most probable or likely interpretations.
We at MormonThink will be certain to examine these essays for historical and contextual accuracy and provide the most relevant and accurate information to our readers for a balanced review of the topics addressed. We are hopeful that the Church, with its vast resources, will provide full and complete detail on each topic. If it falls short on this, you can be assured that MormonThink, with its small team of volunteer contributors, will correct any misrepresentations and fill in any identified gaps.
More on this story: Mormon Disclosures Blog
Ensign Article "Balancing Church History" - 6/3/13
The June 2013 Ensign has an interesting article about Church History. Some quotes are encouraging such as:
We should seek sources that more objectively describe our beliefs and our history. Some websites are very mean-spirited and can be sensational in how they present the information. Look for sources by recognized and respected historians, whether they’re members of the Church or not.
We totally support that members should look much more closely at Church history and from a variety of credible sources. We do, however, object to the constant use of the term 'anti-Mormon' used in the article which implies that anything that is critical of the Church is 'anti-Mormon' and therefore something evil from Satan and full of lies. Many things written by credible critics of the Church are completely factual even if they are not faith-promoting for the Church.
Exit Narratives Sought - 5/27/13
A volunteer research group is looking for exit stories from those who lost faith, or are losing faith, in the LDS church. This is your chance to let church leaders know about the emotional pain and difficulties experienced by those who no longer believe. Exit narratives are to be 700 words or less and remain anonymous. A short survey and the submission form is found here: https://faithcrisis.wufoo.com/forms/faith-crisis-stories/
A Mormon mystery returns: Who is Heavenly Mother? - 5/10/13
The Salt Lake Tribune article:
On Sunday, Mormon speakers may share stories of supermoms who run marathons, home-school their 10 children, help out at the homeless shelter and sing Bach cantatas — all while leading daily prayers, scripture study and blogging about it.
Few members, however, will hear about the greatest mom of all: Heavenly Mother.
To read entire article
Mormon church pleased with Boy Scouts proposal - 4/28/13
The Mormon church has given its blessing to the Boy Scouts of America on its latest proposal to lift the gay ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders. Read complete article.
Huffington Post article on religion - 3/14/13
Religion Among Americans Hits Low Point, As More People Say They Have No Religious Affiliation. Read article
LDS Church announces new scripture edition - 3/1/13
Book of Mormon Musical coming to the UK - 2/20/13
A modern-day Martin Luther for the LDS Church - 1/25/13
Read about one man's vision to reform the LDS Church through honest portrayal of its history:
95 LDS Theses: http://mormonreformation.blogspot.com
Mentioned in the Huffington Post
KSL - LDS Church to lay off employees from 2 departments - 1/24/13
Salon - Religion may not survive the Internet - 1/17/13
Huffinton Post article - Mormon Women Wear Pants To Church, Get Threatened - 12/23/12
Proclamation to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve - 12/21/12
Several prominent members of the LDS Church in the UK have sent a proclamation to the Church in an effort to get the church to respond to the concerns of its members. Read Proclamation
NY Times article - Mormon Women Set Out to Take a Stand, in Pants - 12/20/12
The Pew Forum - 12/17/12 - Americans Learned Little About the Mormon Faith, But Some Attitudes Have Softened
America’s“Mormon moment” is over, and public opinion appears to be little changed. Eight-in-ten Americans (82%) say they learned little or nothing about the Mormon religion during the presidential campaign, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Most Americans still are unable to correctly answer basic questions about the history and sacred texts of the Mormon Church. And three-in-ten Americans continue to consider the Mormon religion a non-Christian faith, though there appears to be some warming of attitudes toward Mormonism, especially among religious groups that voted heavily for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Full article
Salt Lake Tribune article - Kirby: Mormon dress code restricts men, too. - 12/17/12
Mormons in the UK send pleading letter to UK Area Presidency - 12/15/12
Twelve concerned Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the UK recently wrote to the Europe Area Presidency of the Church asking for Full, Open and Honest answers to some deeply troubling questions which threaten to undermine the authority of the Church itself.
The Plea for Honesty comes a few months after two Open Letters detailing the questions were sent to the Europe Area Presidency by Chris Ralph, which to this date remain unanswered.
The complete story, as well as the two letters can be read here: Steve Bloor's Blog
Sister in Pants Day at Church - 12/13/12 FaceBook also
How To Make $71 Billion A Year: Tax the Churches - 12/11/12
Mission Presidents and paying taxes -- 12/9/12
This blog discusses the rules for Mission Presidents and interesting things like how they treat taxes.
Huffington Post - Mormon Church Calls For Compassion Toward Gays, Says Homosexuality Is Not A Choice - 12/7/12
Huffington Post - Romney As Angel Moroni Receives Backlash From Mormon Church - 11/20/12 OC Weekly Photo
The Mormon Missionary Revolution - 11/19/12
Wall Street Journal: It has been quite a year for Mormonism in America. Outside the faith, the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney sparked unprecedented levels of interest and attention. Meanwhile, church leaders have transformed how young Mormons start their adulthood, affecting everything from education to dating and marriage.
Though you might not know it from Broadway's "The Book of Mormon," 12% of Mormon missionaries are women—a number that is about to skyrocket thanks to an unexpected change in official Latter-day Saint policy. The church announced last month that Mormon women are now eligible to begin serving missions at age 19 instead of 21, and that Mormon men may serve at 18 instead of 19.
The response was immediate. Within two weeks, the number of missionary applications jumped an astonishing 471%, from the usual 700 per week to more than 4,000. Slightly more than half of these applicants were women. Read full article.
Youtube Mormon videos getting attention in the last week - 11/8/12:
Tactics of a Mormon Apologist
This excellent 18 minute video by FlackerMan analyzes methods used by typical Mormon apologists who try to devalue claims made by those questioning the LDS religion or expressing doubts. FlackerMan takes apart a presentation that Scott Gordon, president of the Mormon apologetic group FAIR, gave at Utah Valley University in 2012. Gordon presents two lists of references that he claims proves the church is being open and honest about Joseph Smith's polygamy and the translation method of the Book of Mormon. Do these lists show what Gordon claims, or are they simply obfuscation?
The Way of the Mister: Mormonism is Racism. Six minute video done professionally by Mr. Deity on racism in the Book of Mormon.
Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained
This 1 hr+ video has increased dramatically in the past few weeks. It is an excellent overview of major problems in the LDS faith that most Mormons don't know about. Over 375,000 views.
BeliefNet article - Why Are Mormons the Third-Most-Hated Religious Group in America? -11/12/12
When Christianity Bites Back - 10/29/12