Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Charity never faileth

From da Trib:

Text of LDS statement on anti-bias proposal

"Good evening. My name is Michael Otterson, and I am here tonight officially representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The nondiscrimination ordinance being reviewed by the City Council concerns important questions for the thoughtful people of this community.

"Like most of America, our community in Salt Lake City is comprised of citizens of different faiths and values, different races and cultures, different political views and divergent demographics. Across America and around the world, diverse communities such as ours are wrestling with complex social and moral questions. People often feel strongly about such issues. Sometimes they feel so strongly that the ways in which they relate to one another seem to strain the fabric of our society, especially where the interests of one group seem to collide with the interests of another.

"The issue before you tonight is the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against. But, importantly, the ordinance also attempts to balance vital issues of religious freedom. In essence, the church agrees with the approach which Mayor [Ralph] Becker is taking on this matter.

"In drafting this ordinance, the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations, for example, in their hiring of people whose lives are in harmony with their tenets, or when providing housing for their university students and others that preserve religious requirements.

"The church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage. It is also entirely consistent with the church's prior position on these matters. The church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.

"I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree -- in fact, especially when we disagree. The church's past statements are on the public record for all to see. In these comments and in our actions, we try to follow what Jesus Christ taught. Our language will always be respectful and acknowledge those who differ, but will also be clear on matters that we feel are of great consequence to our society.

"Thank you."

The proposed ordinances would:
» Forbid housing and employment discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity in Salt Lake City.

» Exempt religious organizations, businesses with fewer than 15 employees and some small landlords. (The exemptions mirror those in state and federal laws.)

» "Not create any special rights or privileges," the ordinances state, because "every person has a sexual orientation and a gender identity."

» Create a complaint and investigation process. The complaint could be resolved through mediation or a fine of up to $1,000.

» Not create a "private right of action" to sue over alleged discrimination.

» Require annual reports by the city's Human Rights Commission on the effectiveness of the statutes.

Source: Salt Lake City

Friday, June 12, 2009


Some church critics are upset that we all jumped to the conclusion that a church critic was behind hacking in to the church's Twitter account.

Forgive our uncharitable assumption. It was obviously a bitter former church critic, who wanted to make the church critics look bad.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Publicity Dilemma

Here's the Church's classy response to the upcomging Big Love episode featuring their depiction of our sacred temple content:

The Publicity Dilemma
SALT LAKE CITY 9 March 2009 Like other large faith groups, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometimes finds itself on the receiving end of attention from Hollywood or Broadway, television series or books, and the news media. Sometimes depictions of the Church and its people are quite accurate. Sometimes the images are false or play to stereotypes. Occasionally, they are in appallingly bad taste.

As Catholics, Jews and Muslims have known for centuries, such attention is inevitable once an institution or faith group reaches a size or prominence sufficient to attract notice. Yet Latter-day Saints – sometimes known as Mormons - still wonder whether and how they should respond when news or entertainment media insensitively trivialize or misrepresent sacred beliefs or practices.

Church members are about to face that question again. Before the first season of the HBO series Big Love aired more than two years ago, the show’s creators and HBO executives assured the Church that the series wouldn’t be about Mormons. However, Internet references to Big Love indicate that more and more Mormon themes are now being woven into the show and that the characters are often unsympathetic figures who come across as narrow and self-righteous. And according to TV Guide, it now seems the show’s writers are to depict what they understand to be sacred temple ceremonies.

Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding. Last week some Church members began e-mail chains calling for cancellations of subscriptions to AOL, which, like HBO, is owned by Time Warner. Certainly such a boycott by hundreds of thousands of computer-savvy Latter-day Saints could have an economic impact on the company. Individual Latter-day Saints have the right to take such actions if they choose.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an institution does not call for boycotts. Such a step would simply generate the kind of controversy that the media loves and in the end would increase audiences for the series. As Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Robert D. Hales of the Council of the Twelve Apostles have both said recently, when expressing themselves in the public arena, Latter-day Saints should conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness.

Not only is this the model that Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated in his own life, but it also reflects the reality of the strength and maturity of Church members today. As someone recently said, “This isn’t 1830, and there aren’t just six of us anymore.” In other words, with a global membership of thirteen and a half million there is no need to feel defensive when the Church is moving forward so rapidly. The Church’s strength is in its faithful members in 170-plus countries, and there is no evidence that extreme misrepresentations in the media that appeal only to a narrow audience have any long-term negative effect on the Church.


* During the Mitt Romney election campaign for the presidency of the United States, commentator Lawrence O’Donnell hurled abuse at the Church in a television moment that became known among many Church members as “the O’Donnell rant.” Today, his statements are remembered only as a testament to intolerance and ignorance. They had no effect on the Church that can be measured.

* When the comedy writers for South Park produced a gross portrayal of Church history, individual Church members no doubt felt uncomfortable. But once again it inflicted no perceptible or lasting damage to a church that is growing by at least a quarter of a million new members every year.

* When an independent film company produced a grossly distorted version of the Mountain Meadows Massacre two years ago, the Church ignored it. Perhaps partly as a result of that refusal to engender the controversy that the producers hoped for, the movie flopped at the box office and lost millions.

* In recent months, some gay activists have barraged the media with accusations about “hateful” attitudes of Latter-day Saints in supporting Proposition 8 in California, which maintained the traditional definition of marriage. They even organized a protest march around the Salt Lake Temple. Again, the Church has refused to be goaded into a Mormons versus gays battle and has simply stated its position in tones that are reasonable and respectful. Meanwhile, missionary work and Church members in California remain as robust and vibrant as ever, and support for the Church has come from many unexpected quarters — including some former critics and other churches.

Now comes another series of Big Love, and despite earlier assurances from HBO it once again blurs the distinctions between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show’s fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices. Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints.

If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I hesitate to post this because, well, these people need a slap. But here goes anyway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

LDStivus (Christ's Church for the rest of us)

Once again, the relevant scripture says
...and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some friends make themselves heard is gathering signatures to "express our deep gratitude to you and the entire LDS community" for contributing to CA and AZ marriage initiatives, and also "to express our outrage at the vile and indecent attacks directed" at us.

This is good to hear. It's open to the public, but here are some of the names on the letter:

Maggie Gallagher President National Organization for Marriage
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
Dr. Jim Garlow Pastor, Skyline Church Director, CA Pastors Rapid Response Team
Donald E. Wildmon Chairman, The Arlington Group Chairman & CEO, American Family Association
James C. Dobson, Ph.D. Chairman & Founder Focus on the Family
Charles W. Colson Founder & Chairman of the Board Prison Fellowship
Tony Perkins President Family Research Council
Paul Weyrich Chairman & CEO Free Congress Foundation
Dr. Gary Bauer President American Values
Bishop Harry Jackson Chairman High Impact Leadership Council
Richard Land President Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Ron Shuping Exec. VP of Programming The Inspiration Networks
Maurine Proctor President Family Leader Network
Peter Knobloch Executive Director Family Leader Foundation
Ron Prentice CEO CA Family Council
John Stemberger President Florida Family Policy Council
Keith Wiebe President American Association of Christian Schools.
Dean Nelson Executive Director Network of Politically Active Christians
Phil Burress President Citizens for Community Values
Kelly Shackelford President Free Market Foundation
Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq. President and General Counsel The Family Policy Council of WV
David E. Smith Executive Director Illinois Family Institute
Kathleen N. Benfield Director American Family Association of New Orleans
Regina Griggs Executive Director Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX)
Kris Mineau President Massachusetts Family Institute
Tom Shields Chairman Coalition for Marriage and Family
Colin A. Hanna President Let Freedom Ring
Diane Gramley President American Family Association of Pennsylvania
Micah Clark Executive Director American Family Association of Indiana
Steve Noble Chairman Called2Action
Molotov Mitchell President Illuminati Pictures, LLC
David Crowe Director Restore America
Wendy Wright President Concerned Women for America
Janice Crouse, PhD Senior Fellow Beverly LaHaye Institute
John Atkinson Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel North Long Beach
Pastor Gregg Barnes Set Free Pacific Beach
Jim Garlow Senior Pastor Skyline Church
Pastor Chris Clark East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church
Miles McPherson Senior Pastor The Rock Church
Jim Franklin Senior Pastor Cornerstone Church
Jim Barry 14th Ave Baptist Church
Wade Cabitac Bethel Assembly of God Church
Pastor Steve DeNicola Calvary Chapel Foothill Ranch
Pastor Nick Triveri Calvary Chapel Placerville
Pastor Jerry Foster Calvary Chapel South Lake Tahoe
Manuel Gonzales Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel Winnetka
David A. Skates Lead Pastor Christian Church of Lemon Grove
Bishop Steve Perea Christian Worship Center
Bill Jens Pastoral Care Church of Glad Tidings
Pastor Timothy Jones Community Lutheran Church
Craig Garbe President Cornerstone Christian School
Ron Sukut Pastor Cornerstone Community Church
Pastor Scott Wood Crescenta Valley Community Church
Larry Peltier M.Div. Senior Pastor El Camino Christian Fellowship
Rev. Brian L. Polston Family Life Center
Dr. Walter Price Fellowship of the Pass Church
Pastor Bill Mellinger First Baptist Church
Dave Beckwith Senior Pastor First Baptist Church
B. Wade Estes Senior Pastor First Baptist Church
Rev. Scott Pearson First Baptist Church
Dr. Glenn Edward Layne Lead Pastor First Baptist Church
Pastor Bubba Lipscomb First Southern Baptist Church
Brian Chock Pastor Foundation Christian Fellowship
Terry Long Pastoral Administrator Horizon Foursquare Church
Pastor Netz Gomez Houses of Light Church
Jimmy Salya Pastor Mission for Christ Church, Broadway Christian Center
John Andersen Elder Monte Vista Presbyterian Church
John Erwin Senior Pastor Moorpark Evangelical Free Church
Pastor Blayne Corzine Mt. Zion Assembly
Pastor Jim Ortiz Senior Pastor, My Friend's House, Assembly of God President, Whittier Area Evangelical Ministerial Alliance
David Berg Pastor New Covenant Ministries Christian Fellowship
Cecil Lucas, Jr. Pastor New Hope Community Church
Enrique Mulgado Pastor Pilgrim's Progress Chapel
Pastor Mark Pitcher Porterville Church of the Nazarene
Pastor Rick Bassett Santa Rosa Nazarene Church
Lee Huddleston Senior Pastor SeaCoast Church
Bishop Henry Alexander Shield of Faith Fellowship of Churches International, Inc.
Howard Haupt Respect Life Ministry Coordinator St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
Anthony L. Dockery Pastor St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church
Pastor Jeff Kerkhoff The Lord's Grace of Downey
J. Larry McCain Pastor Trinity Baptist Church
Gina Vegar Leadership Team Member Vista Assembly of God Church
Pastor Willie Williams Wellspring Christian Center
Rev. Brenda J. Wood Pastor Word of Life Ministries International
Joanne Abel Ms Faith in Action Team- Co-Chair
Merritt Adams Chaplain Jail Chaplaincy of Racine County

Here is the letter's text:

November 15, 2008

President Thomas S. Monson
Office of the First Presidency
Church Administration Building
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

Dear President Monson:

We write firstly to express our deep gratitude to you and the entire LDS community for the large and impressive contributions of your church and its members in protecting marriage in California and Arizona.

Anyone who participated in this process has come to admire the competence, diligence and moral courage that so many members of your faith community displayed as part of this coalition effort—as Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, and people of other faith communities all came together to fight this great battle for marriage.

But we write for an even more important purpose: to express our outrage at the vile and indecent attacks directed specifically and uniquely at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members because of your courage in standing up for marriage.

It is deeply unfair, and contrary to the best American traditions, that any faith community, much less a minority one, should be singled out and attacked in this way by powerful, well-funded political forces determined to “make them pay” for participating in the normal political processes of democracy.

These attacks include:

Large organized protests designed to disrupt places of worship; [1]
Public calls to investigate and “dig up dirt” on Americans of a particular faith who donated to a political cause; [2]
An outrageous television ad campaign crudely and deliberately designed to incite fear and hatred of a minority religious community. [3]
None of these things should happen in America, but they are happening right now to the LDS faith community.

We urge more and other responsible voices to say “enough.” These attacks are shameful. This is not the way Americans behave towards each other.

The coalition for marriage in California and across the country includes people of different theological views. But let us here make one thing absolutely clear:

We, the undersigned, utterly condemn and reject the ongoing unprecedented efforts to incite religious hatred and bigotry towards members of the LDS Church because, as American citizens, you have courageously exercised your core civil rights to speak, to vote, and to donate to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

We pledge to work with you and for you not only to protect marriage, but to protect the rights of all religious citizens, including the LDS Church, to participate freely (without threats of retribution or retaliation) in the political processes of this country in defense of the Judeo-Christian values—and the common good—we hold so dear.



Monday, November 24, 2008

Yes On 8 Blowback

Some News:

SLTribune: "More than mischief: Are recent acts of church vandalism tied to bigotry?"
Recent Prop 8-related charges

Assault » A Torrance, Calif., man is charged with a felony hate-crime assault for allegedly using an anti-gay marriage lawn sign to attack a gay man wearing a "No on 8" button.

Vandalism » San Jose, Calif., police were called to a house in the southern part of town after homeowners reported their garage had been spray-painted with "No on 8" messages. The homeowners had signs on their lawn supporting the measure.

Theft » Police in a Sacramento suburb arrested three teens after finding 53 stolen "Yes on 8" signs in their car.

Vandalism » A Utah man reported his lawn sign, opposing the LDS church's role in politics, was set on fire outside his home near 900 East and 900 South.

SLTrib: "More than mischief: Recent activity on Proposition 8"
Highlights of recent proposition 8-related crimes:

Lansing, Mich. » Services at an evangelical church were disrupted by members of an extremist group called Bash Back! An affiliated group claimed it poured glue into the locks of an LDS church building near Olympia, Wash., and spray painted its walls.

Riverside, Calif. » Forty to 50 signs supporting Proposition 8 were found arranged in the form of a swastika on the front lawn of a Roman Catholic church.

San Luis Obispo, Calif. » Vandals poured adhesive on a doormat, key pad and window at two LDS churches and peppered a nearby Assembly of God church with eggs and toilet paper.

Sacramento » Ten area church buildings were vandalized, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Orangevale, Calif. » An LDS chapel sign and walkways were tagged with the phrases, "No on 8" and "hypocrites."

Arapahoe County, Colo. » The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office is investigating a case of a Book of Mormon that was set on fire and left burning on an LDS church's doorstep as a bias-motivated arson.

Wasatch Front » More than seven LDS churches have had glass doors shattered, six of them by BB gunshots.

LDS temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles » The temples, along with a Catholic Knights of Columbus printing press in Connecticut, all received packages with white powder substances in the mail.

Syracuse » A Syracuse Junior High seminary was evacuated after a mysterious letter was sent to the building

Weber State University » A plastic plant was lit on fire inside a Weber State University Institute building after an evening talk given by LDS Apostle Elder Boyd K. Packer.

Farmington » Farmington police are looking for a person who spray painted "Nobody is born a biggot" (sic) on a concrete wall outside an LDS church.

A Torrance, Calif.» A man is charged with a felony hate-crime assault for allegedly using an anti-gay marriage lawn sign to attack a gay man wearing a "No on 8" button

San Jose, Calif.» Police were called to a house in the southern part of town after homeowners reported their garage had been spray-painted with "No on 8" messages. The homeowners had signs on their lawn supporting the measure

Sacramento suburb » Police arrested three teens after finding 53 stolen "Yes on 8" signs in their car

Salt Lake City » A man reported his lawn sign, opposing the LDS church's role in politics, was set on fire outside his home near 900 East and 900 South

Sources: The Associated Press and Salt Lake Tribune reports

Some Opinions:
National Review's "Liberal Fascism" blog: "The Kulturkampf Reborn - This time it's Mormons."
To date, 30 states have voted on initiatives addressing same-sex marriage, and in every state traditional marriage has come out on top. But somehow the fact that Mormons got involved during the latest statewide referendum constitutes a bridge too far? In truth, Mormons are a target of convenience in the opening salvo of what is sure to be a full-scale assault on much of America’s religious infrastructure, which gay activists perceive as a barrier to their aspirations. Among religious groups, Mormons are not the biggest obstacle to same-sex marriage — not by a long shot. But they are an easy target. Anti-Mormon bigotry is unfortunately common, and gay-rights activists are cynically exploiting that fact.

There are no websites dedicated to “outing” Catholics who supported Proposition 8, even though Catholic voters heavily outnumber Mormons. And the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not remarkably strident in its beliefs on the subject. So far, no gay-rights activist has had the brass to burn a Koran on the doorstep of a militant mosque where — forget marriage! — imams advocate the stoning of homosexuals.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another story from the LA temple

As always, take such stories with a grain of salt. I got it from one of the regulars on an LDS message board, who got it from a friend, who documents where he got it in the message. The bolding is mine.


My dear family, brothers and sisters, friends and leaders:

My heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His tender mercies and mighty miracles in our behalf. I just have to share this with you. As most of you know, I am a Temple ordinance worker and work the morning shift in the LA Temple every Saturday.

Today, I had the privilege of translating the new assistant Matron's message during our devotional. She started like this: "The prophet Joseph Smith said that no unhallowed hand would be able to stop this Work from progressing. These past few weeks when mobs have combined and armies have gathered against the saints, the Lord has protected His house." She went on to say that those, like her, who were inside the Temple when mobs were surrounding it, did not realize how scary and terrifying this looked on TV to the rest of us, because inside the House of the Lord all was calm and there was peace abundant.

After Proposition 8 passed, the Temple began receiving threatening calls and mail from those opposing it. They were warned that more than 5000 people would come to the Temple and burn it to the ground, and stop its work. The first Thursday when the mob came, the new LA Temple President called the Salt Lake City Temple Offices for instructions. He was instructed to call the local police and to insure the safety of those attending the Temple by closing the gates. The assistant Matron said today, that it was a tender mercy from the Lord that the mob chose that Thursday to come since they had only one person coming to receive his own endowment that day, which he received in time to leave before trouble started. The LAPD and the FBI responded quickly to the Temple Presidency's summons and patrolled the grounds and kept the mob from entering the same. Most of them had never been there before and expressed their surprise at how beautiful and peaceful it was all around. They were invited to come back during the Christmas season to see the lights, and they promised they would.

On Thursday, November 13th, sister Campbell, a secretary in the Temple, was opening the mail and upon opening a large manila envelope found inside a smaller one. When she opened this one, a white powder flew all around her desk. She thought this could be related to the demonstrators and feared the worst ANTHRAX. She contacted the President, who in turn called the Salt Lake City Temple office again for instructions. The FBI, the LAPD, and even the SWAT teams were once again in the grounds to investigate, and the Temple once again had to close from around 11:30 AM to 5PM. They closed the gates and were instructed to keep all the people there wherever they were found at the time. Those in the parking lot had to remain in the parking lot. Those entering the Temple had to remain in the first floor and those already upstairs were taken to the Celestial Room. Then, the miracles began to happen: A brother serving as a recorder that day is a Microbiologist by profession and used to deal with hazardous substances every day. He was the first to say the white powder in the envelope was only talc, and put every one at ease. Then the sister coordinator upstairs was impressed to call upstairs to the sealing area, and said "They said we can't go down but no one said we can't go up, and I have many people in the Celestial room with their ceremonial clothes on ready to work. Could they do some sealings?"

As it happened, there were four sealers present that day, and they ran four sealing sessions non stop while the Temple was closed. Downstairs, someone else thought to invite those in the Lobby to do some initiatories, which they promptly did for all those hours too, brothers and sisters alike.

Among those waiting in the parking lot there was a large group of young men and women with their leaders who had come to do Baptisms for the dead, and who waited patiently all those hours and decided when the Temple was reopened to go ahead and fulfill their assignment instead of driving back home. The Temple reopened in time for the 5:30 PM session. The next day when recording the ordinances, they discovered that they had performed 2000 sacred ordinances on Thursday, only one less than the day before when three stakes had been visiting the Temple. Once again the assistant matron reminded us of the words of the prophet Joseph Smith, "No unhallowed hand can stop the Work from progressing...". But, this is not all, a prophecy was also fulfilled. When the new LA Temple President was set apart by President Uchdorft of the First Presidency, he received a blessing, and these words were pronounced: " The time has come for the LA Temple to come out of obscurity and become an ensign for Righteousness to the world under your presidency." The pictures of the Temple have been shown on TV, newspapers and the internet, not only in this country but worldwide.

People of other faiths have called and sent letters to the Temple thanking the Church for defending marriage and protecting the family, and commenting how impressed they are by how beautiful and majestic the Temple looks . One minister of an African American church, who by his own admission had harbored ill feelings against the Mormons before said "I am impressed by your integrity and Christ like behavior, and even if I am not ready to consider you my brothers and sisters in Christ, we can be first cousins!"

I asked the assistant matron if I could share her comments and she said to go ahead. I can only add my own testimony that I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the power and authority of God on earth. God Lives and Jesus, His only Begotten Son and our Savior is coming soon to redeem His people. I am grateful to know this and I pray we stand firm, steadfast and immovable while the prophecies of the signs before His Coming are fulfilled. "Be not afraid, only believe" He has said, and also " What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

I testify that this is true and testify it in the Holy Name of Whom I strive to serve, even Jesus Christ. Be faithful and safe is my humble prayer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Polynesians rock.

Found on a message board by a guy who claims to have received it via email. I don't know who Ben is.


As additional information for those who missed the news, Mormons have been targeted by the gay community in California as having been the main impetus behind the passing of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in the state. Although the population of the state voted on the passing of the constitutional amendment, I will proudly agree that most of footwork was carried out by us. It's funny that our opposition knows where the credit is due, but that's another topic for another day.

In light of the gay community's frustration in the passing of the proposition, our temple came under attack. I was at the Los Angeles Temple assisting in the security efforts and it was quite an experience. Our temple is safe and no damage was done on the grounds. It was a sight I never expected to see. At one point we had let in about 20 police vehicles through the gates because they were afraid their vehicles would be damaged as civilian cars were being vandalized. I removed the Utah plates from my truck just so I could drive through the mess and park blocks away. My roommate and I traveled on foot after we had changed out of our dress shirts and ties so as not to be targeted.

Two full squads of LAPD in riot gear set up their base inside the temple grounds while SWAT vehicles and hundreds of officers followed the crowds run up Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. I've heard that the crowd was estimated to be over 2,500. When I arrived, all of the gates were shut and a small group of members had to remain outside the grounds as the direction was to turn away others who had come to assist.

After about a half an hour two sister missionaries ran up the drive to the East gate. I would have made more jokes with them, asking them trivia questions to prove they were LDS before opening the gate, but they were obviously nervous and had left on their name tags as they wandered the streets. When the crowd turned back towards the temple from West Hollywood , we opened the gate to those members still outside so they would not be trapped in the crowd. The officers inside the temple grounds made a line on the front lawn by the fence. At one point, with 7 news and police helicopters overhead, the crowd began to climb the fence and it looked like there was going to be a lot of trouble. We had it seemed a good fourth of a Polynesian ward there so it could have gotten very interesting very fast.

With lines of motorcycle cops with sirens wailing up and down the street with the latest outbreak, helicopters continually circling with spotlights cutting through the sky, and the crowd roaring being led my megaphones shouting every synonym they could think of that went along with "evil" almost seemed like the very end was at hand. My dad called me every few minutes to give me updates from live news through the Internet because we did not have TVs and the police did not even seem to be informed on the movement of the crowd up and down the streets. I relayed these updates directly to the head of temple security so we could anticipate when to be ready. My friend and I joked about what would happen if we were caught in the middle of the crowd rushing up the lawn. We decided that because we were still single without much luck in finding wives, it might be to our advantage to go without a fight and die as a martyrs. If I remember correctly, that's a free ticket to the Celestial kingdom and I'm sure there's plenty of girls there to chose from without the dramas of dating.

While I was there, I was not aware of anyone actually breaching the fence, but we were asked to move far across the parking lot as they were anticipating the need to shoot tear gas canisters. I never thought I would see the day when police officers would sit perched on the spire of our temple as lookouts. All of this happened at about 7:30 pm. It should be remembered that most likely many of the law enforcement were not in favor of our stance on Proposition 8, but nevertheless, the men and women were there doing their duty and protecting our property. For that we are grateful.

And yes, there was an incident with some of our members who had gone to remove the protest signs from the front fence. One of the protesters did initiate physical contact with one of our sisters so the details are uncertain as to whether the response was fully justified. The lesson to be learned is that it's important to anticipate and avoid such confrontational situations. Remember the world is watching our reaction and the media is everywhere. In the end, when we keep our cool, the video footage speaks the truth regarding which side is really intolerant and appears hateful when we simply do not respond or do so in a loving and controlled manner.

In all the commotion, I had the chance to sit alone by the side of one of the fountains and take in all that was happening. It may seem strange to say, but despite the adrenaline rushing in my blood ready for the next incident or next bit of news from my dad; I felt a tremendous peace. It came over me in a wave as I looked up at the spire topped with Angel Moroni. I can testify that I felt the presence of others protecting the temple tonight..those we could not physically see. I would even go as far to say that I felt the presence of someone personally related to me who was there for my safety. We were not alone. We were protected and our Father in Heaven is mindful of our efforts and willingness to withstand persecution.

As I later read a quote from Brigham Young, it made more sense why this did not have to be a fearful experience- exciting yes, in a urgency sense, but very clarifying as we were able to glimpse into things as the really are, truth as is really exists, the adversary's war as it really is raging. I wish everyone of you reading this could have been there just to be reminded as I was how real this war is. The great sadness is that so many of our brothers and sisters are unknowing participants, manipulated and deceived by the grand schemer of it all. The issues may be presented as complex, but the adversary's agenda was as clear as day. Be prepared friends and family, it's bound to get much worse before it gets better, but take council from a prophet:

"You that have not passed thro' the trials and persecutions, and drivings with this people from the beginning, but have only read them, or heard some of them related, may think how awful they were to endure, and wonder that the saints survived them at all.-The thought of it makes your heart sink within you, your brain reel, and your body tremble, and you are ready to exclaim, 'I could not have endured it.' I have been in the heat of it, and never felt better in all my life; I never felt the peace and power of the Almighty more copiously poured upon me than in the keenest part of our trials. They appeared nothing to me." ( Deseret News Weekly, 24 Aug. 1854, 83). (L. Aldin Porter, "'But We Heeded Them Not'," Ensign, Aug 1998, 6) -Brigham Young


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

More square peg rejoicing:

This is SuperDell doing his Tomas Murphy impression (or vice versa)

There really is nothing wrong with looking at this picture.

This is Joseph Smith, according to a Jack Chick tract on Mormons:

Something I got out of an LDS CD compendium of sources. It didn't come with any context.

This guy is our buddy:

You're just jealous because I got one of these:

Move LDS Zig!:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Updated video. The only thing anyone needs to know about avoiding debt.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Name That Hymn...

This version features a missionary sneaking into the bell tower on P-day:

And I think this one would be my favorite if I knew any of these people:

Monday, February 25, 2008

My proclamation

A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (Ezra Taft Benson, November 1988.)

1. He didn't clarify or elaborate,
2. He never really said anything else about it in the remaining 5 years of his presidency,
3. No prophet in the almost two decades that came after him said much of anything of that nature,
4. We can assume that the leadership of the LDS church has not been subverted by said secret combination,
5. Not everything that comes out of a prophet's mouth, even in a General Conference address, is scripture, or even inspired counsel,
6. The former Soviet Union remains weakened, fragmented, at each other's throats, and most of last era's communist/socialist/facist elements in American society have retooled themselves into weaker forms of militant environmentalism and far leftist progressives,
7. Rhetoric set forth by people these days, trying to convince me that the bad guys won and I currently have no freedom, is severely lacking in many foundational building blocks of common sense and logical reasoning,

As a completely free, rational, thinking individual, in mostly full posession of his wits and sanity;

With no short list of examples of hearing things I don't want to hear, and dealing with things I don't want to deal with, and refusing to ignore things I've desparately wanted to ignore;

I hereby declare that I am not only free to, but supported by common sense when I, interpret his counsel in one of the following ways:

1. We beat that particular evil, whatever it's nature, and won.
2. It was some non-sensational, non-xfilesesque, non-melodramatic secret combination along the lines of the porn industry swiftly moving into the internet, or the rise of militant Islamic terrorists, or any number of real, well understood, well documented evils that have indeed attempted (and sometimes succeeded) in robbing us of some of our freedoms.

Let the entire online community of approximately two and a half dozen people who read my blog or this thread bear witness that this is my official proclamation on the matter, and it ain't likely to change any time soon, no matter how good the x-files music is at awakening my emotional state.

L the heck M

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

4 decade old example of interfaith efforts

Got this story from the Mormonapologetics board, about something that happened 30 or 40 years ago in Utah.

I had the opportunity to talk with a Lutheran minister in our area a few weeks ago, and it turned out that he had spent some time working in Salt Lake quite a number of years ago. He had an interesting story about President McKay that I'll paraphrase.

He and another pastor were in the process of trying to determine if there was enough interest among Lutherans in Salt Lake to set up a congregation and a school. They canvassed an area and located about 60 Lutheran families who expressed interest in doing so.

The next step was to try to locate a plot of land for the church and the school. They found several possibilities, but apparently once the owners found out what the land was going to be used for, the properties suddenly were pulled off the market.

Finally in exasperation, the other pastor said that they were going to figure out a way around this, and were going to go to the top to get it resolved. So the both of them headed down to the LDS Church office building and went up to President McKay's office, where they found a secretary who told them that the prophet was not currently in.

They explained to her that they needed to get an appointment with President McKay, but when she looked at his schedule, she indicated that it would be several months before there would be an opening.

As they were getting ready to leave, it just happened that President McKay walked into the reception area, and upon seeing two ministers standing there, became curious and asked what they were doing there. They explained shortly what the problem was, and President McKay ended up inviting them into his office.

The pastor telling story to me said that President McKay had a big map of the Salt Lake area on the wall, and asked the two ministers what area they were looking at to build the church and school. They pointed it out to him, and after President McKay looked at the map for a few minutes, he told them that he thought that they could work something out, and asked them to come back and see him the next day.

The next day, the two Lutheran ministers were presented with a parcel of land in the area they were looking at, donated for free by someone in the Church. In addition, construction for the Lutheran church and school were also donated by another contact in the Church that President McKay had. When construction was completed on the buildings, the dedication was attended by representatives from the LDS Church, and it didn't end up costing the Lutherans a cent.

And here I was, decades later, talking to that Lutheran minister in Pennsylvania, and hearing about something wonderful that a prophet of God had done. I ended up talking with an adult discussion group of 40-50 people at that minister's church about the Mormons, and it was a great experience.

President McKay had a particular kind of Perspective that only comes from one who truly loves the Lord. It is a humbling thing to be touched indirectly over the years by the actions of a man who was truly a prophet of God.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Recent press

The average American, from what I can tell, has some half-formed back-of-the-mind notions about Mormons, and these notions aren't good. They involve words like cult, polygamist, liar, lockstep, unquestioning loyalty, and occasionally horns. (Yes, I've heard that last one from someone being serious.)

So, the average American, being a decent sort of person, understands you can't trust everything you hear. But decent people also find it hard to walk up to someone and say: "So, are you really as bad as people say?"

Fortunately, Mitt's run at the presidency is an ice-breaker. It gives people excuses to ask. This is a good thing, because it broadens our audience when we answer, which many of us are always doing anyway in some limited fashion.

Here's a spat of recent articles that actually bothered to find a Mormon and ask them questions. (Got this list from FAIR, looks like the president Scott Gordon is interviewed for all of them.)

Los Angeles Times: A look at Mormon theology and practice December 16, 2007

New York Times: "Huckabee Is Not Alone in Ignorance on Mormonism"
(December 14, 2007)

The Los Angeles Times: "Mormon theology is striking in its
(December 7, 2007 - Subscription required)

The Alan Colmes Radio Show. (December 6, 2007)

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Golden Compass - spoilers

Beware - there be spoilers here.

I just saw the Golden Compass. I haven't read the book, but from where I'm standing, the "protect your poor innocent children from this evil movie" hype over the movie is sorely misguided and unnecessary.

Random thoughts:
* This is a good vs. evil movie, just like any other good vs. evil movie. And the evil people are not Catholic in this movie. Maybe they severely watered down the book, but there is no anti-religious message I could detect.

* The Magesterium bad guys seem a bit one dimensional to me. They're bad because they want to control everyone and have all the power, and that's pretty much it. They try to keep aspects of reality quiet, because it would spread dissent, and people would be harder to control, and they dress up their efforts as attempts to help people be happy. The evil chick that beats up her own daemon, cuz when you're evil, you got issues, and that's about as deep as it goes. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't figure out why they were performing the Nazi-like experiments of cutting children away from their daemons.

* When a person is killed, their daemon dissapears in a gentile shower of sparks. But if this is athiest propaganda, they need to get themselves a better PR person, because there isn't any accompanying message about a lack of an afterlife. The movie allows a rational conclusion to be drawn that souls move on, just like we religious folk believe they do here. Just like Harry Potter, there just isn't much spirituality or anti-spirituality to be found. The closest thing we seem to have to a genuine faith belongs to the witches - and the only thing we really know about their faith, is that their prophecy about the little girl seems to be coming true.

* There is pretty clear message on the topic of out of wedlock births. Any resultant pain or discomfort in the parent's or children's lives as a result of not having married parents, is the fault of the culture that frowns on such an arrangement.

* The movie definitely considers itself the first installment. The cool battle at the end is a clear portent for bigger things to come.

I wont' be taking my 6 yr old to see this movie, for the same reason I won't take her to see Harry Potter or LOTR. A bit too violent, with confusing plot twists that would go over her head.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" Speech

Delivered Thursday, December 6, 2007 at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.


Thank you, Mr. President for your kind introduction.

It is an honor to be here today. This is an inspiring place because of you and the first lady and because of the film that’s exhibited across the way in the presidential library. For those who have not seen it, it shows the president as a young pilot, shot down during the Second World War, being rescued from his life raft by the crew of an American submarine. It’s a moving reminder that when America has faced challenge and peril, Americans rise to the occasion, willing to risk their very lives to defend freedom and preserve our nation. We’re in your debt, Mr. President. Thank you very, very much.

Mr. President, your generation rose to the occasion, first to defeat fascism and then to vanquish the Soviet Union. You left us, your children, a free and strong America. It is why we call yours the greatest generation. It’s now my generation’s turn. How we respond to today’s challenges will define our generation. And it will determine what kind of America we will leave our children, and theirs.

America faces a new generation of challenges. Radical violent Islam seeks to destroy us. An emerging China endeavors to surpass our economic leadership. And we’re troubled at home by government overspending, overuse of foreign oil, and the breakdown of the family.

Over the last year, we’ve embarked on a national debate on how best to preserve American leadership. Today, I wish to address a topic which I believe is fundamental to America’s greatness: our religious liberty. I’ll also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my presidency, if I were elected.

There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation’s founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams’ words: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. ... Our Constitution," he said, "was made for a moral and religious people."

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate’s religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I’ll answer them today.

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.

Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution — and of course, I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.

As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America’s "political religion" — the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it’s more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect respecters — excuse me — believers of convenience.

Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world. There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.

I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.

It’s important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. And where the affairs of our nation are concerned, it’s usually a sound rule to focus on the latter, on the great moral principles that urge us all on a common course. Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It’s as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation "under God" and in God, we do indeed trust.

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from ’the God who gave us liberty.’

Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: Does he share these American values — the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another and a steadfast commitment to liberty?

They are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They’re the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.

We believe that every single human being is a child of God — we’re all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are "thrown into the world all equal and alike."

The consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one another, to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of God. It’s an obligation which is fulfilled by Americans every day, here and across the globe, without regard to creed or race or nationality.

Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government. No people in the — No people in the history of the world have sacrificed as much for liberty. The lives of hundreds of thousands of America’s sons and daughters were laid down during the last century to preserve freedom, for us and for freedom loving people throughout the world. America took nothing from that century’s terrible wars — no land from Germany or Japan or Korea, no treasure, no oath of fealty. America’s resolve in the defense of liberty has been tested time and again. It has not been found wanting, nor must it ever be. America must never falter in holding high the banner of freedom.

These American values, this great moral heritage, is shared and lived in my religion as it is in yours. I was taught in my home to honor God and love my neighbor. I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. I saw my parents provide compassionate care to others, in personal ways to people nearby, and in just as consequential ways in leading national volunteer movements. I am moved by the Lord’s words: "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Naked, and ye clothed me."

My faith is grounded on these truths. You can witness them in Ann and my marriage and in our family. We’re a long way from perfect and we have surely stumbled along the way, but our aspirations, our values, are the self-same as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency.

Today’s generations of Americans have always known religious liberty. Perhaps we forget the long and arduous path our nation’s forebears took to achieve it. They came here from England to seek freedom of religion. But upon finding it for themselves, they at first denied it to others. Because of their diverse beliefs, Ann Hutchinson was exiled from Massachusetts Bay, Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, and two centuries later, Brigham Young set out for the West. Americans were unable to accommodate their commitment to their own faith with an appreciation for the convictions of others to different faiths. In this, they were very much like those of the European nations they had left.

It was in Philadelphia that our founding fathers defined a revolutionary vision of liberty, grounded on self evident truths about the equality of all, and the inalienable rights with which each is endowed by his Creator.

We cherish these sacred rights, and secure them in our Constitutional order. Foremost do we protect religious liberty, not as a matter of policy but as a matter of right. There will be no established church, and we are guaranteed the free exercise of our religion.

I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I’ve visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired, so grand and so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ’enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.

Infinitely worse is the other extreme, the creed of conversion by conquest: violent jihad, murder as martyrdom, killing Christians, Jews, and Muslims with equal indifference. These radical Islamists do their preaching not by reason or example, but in the coercion of minds and the shedding of blood. We face no greater danger today than theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and groups could inflict if given the chance.

The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue, has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed.

In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be — You can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: We do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.

Recall the early days of the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. "They were too divided in religious sentiment," what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.

Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.

And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God, they founded this great nation.

And in that spirit, let us give thanks to the divine "author of liberty." And together, let us pray that this land may always be blessed, "with freedom’s holy light."

God bless this great land, the United States of America.

Monday, December 3, 2007

In the "something for the rest of us" file

...and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

2 rare important events

Two very important things happened.

First, Georgia Wahlin Bello, 83, died Monday, Nov. 5, 2007. You know her as the lady who wrote "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree"

Second, they removed the word "Principal" from the introduction to the BoM, ensuring every armchair critic and apologist out there gets absolutely no work done at their real jobs today.

"After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."

"After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians."

Less than a footnote to most LDS, I'd wager. Maybe a bit of a re-paridigming for those of us who grew up in a culture that taught us Mayans were Lamanites. A bit of a blow to those who insist that every word spoken forth from the mouth of Elder McConkie is scripture.

A fatal blow to those who'se DNA-themed criticisms of the book hinged on the word.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Disturbance at conference

Apparently, there was a bit of a scuffle at conference this last weekend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Old criticism takes a hit

Book of Mormon Criticism: The BoM mentions horses. Archaeology tells us that a prehistoric horse once occupied the Americas, but went extinct long before the BoM timeline (including the Jaredites from tower of Babel days.) Horses didn't show back up in the Americas until the Spaniards and other European explorers and immigrants came on the scene, a few centuries after the BoM timeline ends.

General tenet behind the criticism: If archaeologists haven't discovered it by now, it never existed.

A recent story out of California challenges that tenet.

Centuries-old bones of horses unearthed in Carlsbad

By: PHILIP K. IRELAND - Staff Writer

CARLSBAD ---- Archaeologists working against the clock in Carlsbad have unearthed another nearly intact skeleton of a horse that may have lived and died 50 years before the Spanish began their conquest of California.

Last week's discovery, high on a hill overlooking the Agua Hedionda lagoon, follows the discovery in June of the skeletal remains of another horse and a small burro, said project manager Dennis Gallegos of Gallegos and Associates, the contractor hired to explore the site.

The finds are significant because native North American horses were thought to have been extinct more than 10,000 years ago, and the remains are older than the recorded conquests by the Spanish, who reintroduced horses to the New World.

"This is a story untold," said Mark Mojado, the cultural representative for the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians.

Why the animals were buried at all, why they were buried together, and why they appear to have been buried in a ritualistic way is a matter of academic conjecture, according to archaeologists, paleontologists and others who have seen the site.

Radiocarbon dating of 340 years, plus or minus 40 years, puts the death of the horse sometime between 1625 and 1705, Mojado said. Therefore, the horses died at least 50 years before San Diego Mission de Alcala, the first of the California missions, was founded in 1769. The other horse and the burro were buried at the same level, suggesting that they were buried about the same time.

The bones of the horses and the donkey showed no signs of having been shod, an indicator that the horses were not brought by the Spanish, who fitted their horses with iron shoes, said Larry Tift, a researcher with Gallegos.

The site

The three animals were unearthed within a few feet of one another on a hilltop overlooking the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Gallegos said.

The 900-square-meter site has also revealed several "shell middens" ---- or layers of disturbed shells. A pile of small 2- to 3-inch river rocks 20 feet away may have been a part of a cooking pit or perhaps a sweat lodge, Tift said.

Shell beads, flaked cutting and scraping tools, grinding tools such as metates and manos, even relatively recent pottery shards found over the last seven weeks, tell the story of constant habitation over 5,000 years on the hilltop, Tift said.

Possible explanations

The radiocarbon date, if corroborated by more elaborate tests, may be remarkable since North American horses were thought to have been extinct by the late Pleistocene era more than 10,000 years ago, said Bradford Riney, a paleontology specialist with the San Diego Natural History Museum.

"That would make (the site) extremely important," he said Thursday. "It would be an early example of domestication."

Alternately, Mojado postulated that the horses may have been Spanish in origin, perhaps from an ill-fated exploration that never returned and so was lost to history. Perhaps the lost Spanish explorers offered the horses and donkey to the American Indians as a gift, Mojado said.

"There were no horses here then," he said. "They didn't know what a horse or a donkey was. They would have seen them as big deer or antelope."

As a gift, and an unusual gift at that, the animals most certainly would have been revered, which could explain why they were buried high on a hill in the same way some Indians buried their own, Mojado said.

One horse and the donkey appear to have been buried ritualistically with their heads to the north, faces to the left, and their bodies "flexed" in the fetal position, an American Indian method of burial. The newly discovered horse, its ocher-colored bones already fading to yellow from exposure to sun and air, was not similarly posed.

Researchers said they know horses were deliberately buried because they can see definite lines where someone cut into the shell layers to dig a burial pit.

"I've been doing this for 16 years and I've never seen anything like it," Tift said.

The bones show no signs of cutting, splitting or crushing that would indicate a violent death, Piek said. Researchers see no signs the horses were butchered for meat.

Carlsbad then

Taken together, the features of the site suggest that the hilltop was used by American Indians from about 5,000 years ago.

At that time, the region now called Carlsbad was much wetter and more lush, with an average annual rainfall of about 350 inches. Although sea level was lower than now, lagoons ---- fed by freshwater springs ---- reached deeper into inland valleys, providing a ready food and water source for its people, said Gallegos archaeologist Lucas Piek.

The hilltops provided an ideal place to live, Tift said. The ocean breezes would have helped cool dwellers and keep insects away, as well as providing security. Inhabitants could watch the approach of other humans and animals. The vantage point was also ideal for observing the movements of game animals.

The site is one of more than 300 in the Carlsbad area, Mojado said. A stone's throw away, researchers found the 8,000-year-old remains of a human. Down in the valley, archaeologists uncovered glass beads ---- trinkets brought from Spain ---- to trade with the natives.

California's Prehistoric State Artifact, a stone that some believe is shaped like a bear, was found on the Kelly Ranch property on a nearby hill to the north. Radiocarbon dating of artifacts at that site suggest that humans occupied the area more than 9,000 years ago.

Why was this site studied?

The cultural exploration is required by law as part of a study of the environmental impacts the project will likely create. The study examines traffic, noise, threats to indigenous plants and animals, as well as potential damage to historically significant sites. Gallegos said his work should conclude within two weeks.

Grand Pacific Resorts plans to break ground on a 700-room resort on the hill on Aug. 1, said Tim Stripe, Grand Pacific Resort Inc.'s co-president. The company plans to build 350 hotel rooms, 350 time-share units, two restaurants, four pools, tennis courts and conference rooms on a 50-acre site between Cannon Road and Hidden Valley Road. The $150 million, Mediterranean-style complex will become Carlsbad's third large-scale resort.

After Gallegos and Associates has documented the site and removed the animal skeletons and other artifacts, a portion of the hilltop site will be capped with sand and soil to preserve any remaining archaeological artifacts. A small park, planted with native flora, is in the planning stage to preserve the site as open space, Mojado said.

Contact staff writer Philip K. Ireland at 901-4043 or

Now, the Spanish conquest started around 1520, and the horse died somewhere around 1625-1705, so the criticism isn't quite dead yet. This news story is interesting for the following reasons:

* Although the Spanish brought horses to the Americas around 1520, they wouldn't actually be in the area THESE horses were found for another 64-144 years. The San Diego Mission de Alcala, the first of the California missions, was founded in 1769.

* Stories like this provide constant proof that the general tenent is flawed. Just because we ain't found something, doesn't mean it never existed. Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Learnin' from dem evil Marminz

Free September Dawn clips!

From the August FAIR Journal:
The film director claims no anti-Mormon bias, but it seems that one organization by the name of "WingClips" offers clips from the movie to "use in your church, school or other non-profit organization for FREE." Along with these allegedly inspirational clips they write,

"The film is primarily driven by a Romeo and Juliet-type love story, which helps to better understand the disparity in values and ideals between the Mormons and the Christian settlers. The filmmakers pull no punches in exposing the violent and immoral foundation that the Mormon religion was built upon."

If you would like to get a taste of what is described as "Movie clips that illustrate and inspire" you can view them here, but be forewarned that you will be watching an example of anti-Mormon bigotry.

Link to September Dawn clips

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chris Cain challenged

Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt had Cain and Voigt on his show for two full hours. I was the second caller Hugh took, during the 3rd hour of his program. During the hour I was on hold, Hugh read them a section of the September Ensign article - the letter Brigham Young wrote basically saying "leave them alone and let them go". Cain dismissed it as insufficiently sourced - claiming the letter itself has been lost to history, we only know about it from 2nd hand accounts. Voigt also talked about how sourced everything was on the internet and how easy it was to tell what happened.

My call:

LM: Before I take issue with ya, I want to say that I agree with you folks that it is important to search out the roots of stuff like this when they happen, even if they happen to one of your own. I am a Mormon, and coming to grips with this has been quite a challenge.

The issue I want to take, is when you look at the trailer, the scene opens with a Brigham Young comment, something to the tune of "I am the Voice of God, and anyone who doesn't like it will be hewn down". Where did that quote come from?

HH: Chris Cain?

CC: I don't have the quote in front of me... I can't tell you exactly... I should have brought the quotes with me, but I didn't bring them.

HH: But you're certain it's a quote from a published and reputable source?

CC: Yes.

LM: Well, let me tell you where I'm coming from. I participate regularly in an apologetic message board where the critics and the apologists come together, and both 'sides of the aisle' have tried to search the source of this quote, and we can't find anything older than a couple of years. It seems to have not existed until a couple of years ago.

HH: Chris, will you send me what you believe to be the source of that, and I'll make sure I post that at (CC says yes) I hope that works for you, Rob, because we can't get to the bottom of that now, but I'll look up, and I will follow up on it.

Hugh's Website
Interview audio
Ensign Article can be found in the September 2007 Ensign.


[edit - of course, Cain never produced any evidence, and Hugh never put anything up on his website. The issue was carried forward here: MADB thread

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reviews of the movie 'September Dawn'

[Edit - $11,000,000 production budget, abysmal reviews, click here to see how much money the film is making!]

Terence Stamp as Brigham Young (who always wore black and preferred to be looked at from waist level.)

John Voigt as Bishop Jacob Samuelson - fictional creation of Director Christopher Cain. (Apparently he also always wore black and preferred to be looked at from waist level.)


Well folks, unfortunately, I'm not in the habit of financially supporting those who are critical of my church. So I haven't seen the movie. But here are some reviews from people who have:

Paul Asay, formerly the religion writer at The Gazette in Colorado Springs.
The Christians in Fancher's caravan are shown with nary a blemish, the Mormons as the blackest of pits. Samuelson, played with relish by Jon Voight, is so nasty that, in the sequel, he'll likely be tying young damsels down to railroad tracks. Brigham Young's villainy has the depth of a sheet of onion paper. Only two Mormon characters—Jonathan and Micah—manage to peer out from beneath the Darth Vader mask Cain places on Mormonism's head: Jonathan is redeemed because he leaves the faith, his virtue incompatible with his family's beliefs; Micah literally crumbles under the weight of blood and duty. The Christians in Fancher's party may ask God to bless the Mormons, but the film bestows no such blessings itself.

Nick Schager: 1 star
Forget Grindhouse. September Dawn is the year's first honest-to-goodness exploitation flick, utilizing its "inspired by true events" yarn about the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre for tear-jerking, righteous indignation-stoking melodrama. Christopher Cain's portrait of the Utah region's Mormons as insane-in-the-membrane zealots, as well as its depiction of their successful plot to kill (with the help of local Native Americans) 120 immigrants passing through to California, is reportedly based on the official 27-page confession of convicted Mormon John D. Lee. Yet the clunky, heavily skewed means by which this tale is presented is nothing short of egregious, with its Mormon characters demonized with such laughable gusto, and its Christian victims cast in such a holy, noble light, that the project quickly feels less like an attempt at historical truth-telling than like shameless anti-Mormon propaganda.
The narrative is given specious modern parallels by the highlighted fact that the massacre took place on September 11th, and its schematic good-vs.-evil structure is fortified by Cain's camera set-ups (low for the wicked Mormons, eye-level for the benevolent immigrants). Also, it's virtually impossible to take seriously a film whose main contentions can be wholly gleaned from its characters' facial hair—of which Voight's bushy arch-villain goatee is surely the cheesiest.

Frank Swietek: D-
Clearly “September Dawn” is constructed as an anti-Mormon diatribe disguised as a historical narrative, with some sappy romantic elements added as a sort of “West Side Story” in chaps. But even if one were appalled by such a concept for a film, he would still have to recognize any technical proficiency exhibited by the result. In this case, however, that’s not necessary, because the movie is a clumsy, amateurish effort.

Richard Nilsen, The Arizona Republic
There will be many who will see September Dawn as an anti-Mormon film. And there's no question that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is portrayed in the film as a cultlike religion of fanatics. Mormons no doubt will feel personally attacked, and they should.

But the filmmakers probably have no anti-LDS agenda, but instead simply use the church as a stand-in for their real enemy - self-righteous certainty as justification for pogrom. Perhaps they feel Mormons are fair game, like lawyers in lawyer jokes or Germans in World War II movies or the ubiquitous "drug kingpins" that function as villains in so many modern action movies.
As it is, September Dawn is an unfocused botch. What was meant as tragedy sinks to the level of melodrama.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

George P. Lee

It's not every day you hear about someone who was once a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy, getting arrested for hiding from the cops.


Ex-LDS leader George P. Lee booked for allegedly not registering as sex offender

Ran twice for Navajo Nation presidency

By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 07/31/2007 07:19:18 AM MDT

George P. Lee, a former member of the LDS Church's First Quorum of the Seventy and candidate for Navajo Nation president, was arrested Friday in southwest Utah on suspicion of failing to register as a sex offender.
A spokesman for the Utah Department of Corrections on Monday said it had been three years since keepers of the state's sex offender registry knew Lee's whereabouts.
For a sex offender to fail to update his contact information is a felony punishable by as much as five years in prison, though Lee has not been formally charged. Lee, 64, was released Friday from the Washington County jail on $5,000 bond.
Lee's last known address was a 2001 listing in Santa Clara, according to the department of corrections.
"He's moved a couple of times since then and he's just failed to register," said Stephanie Coots, a spokeswoman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Lee has been unaccounted for since July 19, 2004, said Jack Ford, a spokesman for the department of corrections.
The state's sex offender Web site on Monday listed Lee's address as "Not Available."
Detectives from the Washington County Sheriff's Office found Lee while searching for unregistered sex offenders in that county, Coots said.
Detectives found an address that Lee gave to St. George police, who had questioned him earlier about a minor traffic issue, she said.
In 1975, Lee was named to the First Quorum of Seventy, the first and only American Indian among LDS general authorities.
He served until 1989, when he was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 1 for what Mormon leaders called "conduct unbecoming a member of the church." It was the first excommunication of a Mormon general authority in 46 years.
Judge Kenneth Rigtrup placed Lee on 18 months probation and ordered him to pay a $1,850 fine, complete sex-offender counseling, write a letter of apology to the victim and pay costs of her counseling.
Ford said Lee is scheduled to remain on the registry until November 2011.

You don't stop being fallible, error-prone, sinful man just because you hold church office.

Other links:
(Lee Bio)
(State of Utah's Sex Offender Registry Page for Lee)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Woo-hoo! We finally got dirt on Romney!

25 years ago, Mitt Romney drove around with his dog (an Irish Setter named Seamus) in a kennel tied to the roof of the family station wagon.

"He scrambled up there every time we went on trips," Romney said at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh Thursday. "He got it all by himself and enjoyed it."

It will be interesting to find how many Mitt-opponents actually think there is some traction here. It will be fun asking them to compare Mitt's dirt to the dirt of candidates they support.