Mormon News Report, 24-September-2015

Mormon News Report Headline

Mormon News Report, 24-September-2015

Top Stories

1.) I mentioned yesterday I’m starting to see a trend of more national outlets picking up on the deaths of LDS Apostles. I’m not sure if this has always been the case, or always been the case since the internet, or is a relatively new trend. Here’s another trend I’m seeing regarding coverage of the deaths of Apostles – their children speaking candidly with the media about the memories and “humanizing” moments of their fathers. I love this. Mike Scott, the youngest son of Elder Richard G. Scott and a Houston-based mechanical engineer, spoke with both the ABC 4 Utah and the Salt Lake Tribune regarding his father’s life. To ABC 4, Scott says his dad had a passion for adventure that secured a strong bond between he and his children, recalling many times that they would hop in a car together and just drive. “Literally, we’d get there, and he’d say, ‘Should we go north or south?’ Then, we’d just start going! One time we went to Washington State!” To Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Tribune, Scott said his father was “a handyman who feared no project,” but also made some hilarious mistakes. ” such as putting in a new home circuit breaker and knocking out power to the whole neighborhood or hooking up a toilet with hot rather than cold water.” According to Scott, “When we lifted the toilet’s lid in the winter…steam would pour out.” I like this trend. Not of steam pouring out of toilets, but these great personal stories.

2.) The snark is strong with this one. Gizmodo looks today at the LDS Church, their history with race, and how the Boy Scouts of America helped to “foster racial equality in the Mormon church.” There are a lot of outsider theories in this piece concerning the ban (for example, in describing lifting the priesthood ban in 1978, writer Wes Siler notes “The actual motivations for this “revelation” appear to have been deeply rational. The church was trying to expand its presence in Brazil, a country with a large mixed-race population. Applying racist doctrines there was simply impractical.”) In 1974, Charlie Jones (a black Scout) wanted to become a Senior Patrol Leader. He was denied. The NAACP sued. In an Observer-Reporter article (from Washington, PA) on September 11, 1974, the paper alleges that Jones was denied from “a year-old Mormon directive…which reserved top youth scout positions in church-sponsored troops for priesthood quorum leaders. Blacks are denied the priesthood and so were denied the scout positions. The suit was settled upon the change in policy. Siler writes “It was a small, but important victory against church discrimination that preceded a total change of policy. Young church members were now learning — through Scouts — to think of their black peers as equals, or even leaders.”

3.) The University of Virginia announced on Monday that U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid will deliver the University of Virginia’s inaugural Joseph Smith Lecture on Religious Liberty on Sept. 26. According to a press release from the University of Virginia, “The afternoon event will feature an interview with Nevada’s senior U.S. senator, now serving his fifth term. Reid will answer questions from the audience about the Senate’s role in mediating rights of religious conscience following the interview.” No word yet if a live-stream will be available, or if video after the event will be available.

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  • The ASU Foundation today announced 2 new scholarships aiming to promote LDS graduation rates. “Through the support of engaged LDS investors, the university has established two scholarship programs, the Beus Family New American University Scholarship—generously funded by Leo and Annette Beus—and the Pioneer Heritage Scholarship—a pooled community scholarship fund. Though the two programs are distinct, they are similar in design and intention.” The scholarships will be available to incoming freshman or transfer community college students. “These scholarship programs are also designed to promote academic achievement in a group of students that demonstrate leadership and who are active in their church and communities, while also serving to balance their religious pursuits with rigorous academic study.”
  • The Family: A Proclamation to the World (a document that has a very interesting history…see the Amicus brief in Baehr v. Miike, the gay marriage case in Hawaii in the 1990’s, and some of the alleged history behind the Proclamation) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. LDS Daily has 10 facts about the Proclamation. Among them is this: “In the April 2015 General Conference of the Church, The Family Proclamation was referenced directly in 5 specific talks, compared to no direct references in the October 2014 General Conference.” Wait. That wouldn’t possibly have anything to do with the Supreme Court’s pending decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, right?
  • Tobin Grant, who writes for the Corner of Church and State (“a data-driven conversation about religion and politics”) looks at adult converts to the Catholic church. His leading sentence brings in the Mormons: “There are nearly six million Americans who have joined the Catholic Church as adult converts. As a group, these converts total about as many as all of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons). There are more Catholic converts than both the Assemblies of God and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) combined.” While the rest of the piece focuses on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), it’s always interesting to me when Mormons are brought up with other groups.
  • The Mormons aren’t the only ones asking questions about smartphone/tablet usage at church, as the Baptist Standard looks at different ministers and how they have handled the surge of cell phones. One of the suggestions? Live-tweeting sermons. ““More and more, if something doesn’t appear in a social media stream, it is as if it hasn’t happened,” Jay Kieve, state coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in South Carolina said. No doubt many preachers and churches have fully embraced social media. Everyone from Rick Warren, to Pope Francis, to the heads of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are tweeting and posting to Facebook.”
  • I’m surprised we haven’t come up with more resources for when this happens. This is a start. LDS.net has the great story today of Ashley Sargeant, an early returned missionary, and what she is doing to help others. When she first returned home, Sargeant said ” I experienced the deepest, darkest, scariest depression of my life. I didn’t think I could survive. In all actuality I thought I would die from it. I never want anyone to go through that.” So what did she do? She came up with a 30-day survival kit for early returned missionaries (ERMs) with different videos to watch, tasks to accomplish, and…essential oils? Wait. “The doTERRA essential oils I teach about in this guide and in the accompanying videos help to support my healthy lifestyle and influence my mood in a profoundly positive way but I do not claim them to be cures.” Ok. That’s not horrible. Anyways, I think this is the kind of stuff we should be supporting. LDS.net story is here, Sargeant’s website is here, and her 30-day survival kit can be found here.
  • From the “Wanna-be The Onion” files comes this, from the Beehive Bugle: “LDS faithful are left wondering whether or not they still have to repent. “When Elder Scott said ‘Repent… Now‘ did he mean, like right then since he would pass on soon?” said Miles Stapeley, a software developer from Springville. “Am I good to go, or what?”” Meh. Be more funny.
  • Michigan and Detroit are really working overtime in their BYU coverage in preparation for the BYU-Michigan game this weekend. The Detroit Free Press’ Mark Snyder talked with BYU QB Tyler Mangum about the role his mission played in his life. According to Mangum, “It was all aligned with the plan, all throughout recruiting, all throughout the decision process. I knew that I was going to do a year at school and then go on my mission…I wasn’t surprised. I knew it was the right decision for me, so when the time came, I followed through with that plan.”
  • With 3 vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and with the median age at 80 (not sure how that has changed since this article was published) Jennifer Napier-Pierce of the Salt Lake Tribune talked with Mormon podcaster Dan Wotherspoon, bloggers Gina Colvin and John English along with Tribune religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack to discuss turnover in the leadership ranks of the church.
  • Mangum also talked with national sports radio host Dan Patrick about his mission (so trendy and popular right now), and got into the role of BYU football and spreading the gospel (Ute fans are going to love this). From the Deseret News: “”We understand we’re also playing for something a lot bigger than us…It’s not just football. It’s not just us. We’re playing for something bigger than that. It’s something we want to use as a vehicle to get our message out there.”
  • The UK’s Daily Mail has a collection of rare photographs from the Victorian ages of “some of the most laughed at, and often reviled, members of Victorian society – female impersonators and transgender women.” While this is all well and good, you all are looking for your Mormon fix. How about this: “Amid the cache, two other pictures identify William Julian Dalton, better known to his audience as Julian Eltinge, and Brigham Morris Young, who went by the stage name Madam Pattirini. Brigham, who died in 1931 at the age of 77, was notable for being the son of Brigham Young one of the early Mormon leaders who has a Utah university named after him. He became a cross-dressing singer under his Italian pseudonym from 1885 to 1900 after returning from Mormon missions in Hawaii. Young’s falsetto singing voice was so convincing that many didn’t realise he wasn’t a woman. The vintage photo sees Young dressed as Pattirini in a wig, hoisting up a skirt covered in fringe, and wearing a floral choker and a floral bracelet.” More about Brigham Morris Young can be found here.
  • On Tuesday, Stephen Prothero of USA Today had an op-ed discussing Ben Carson’s comments that he “absolutely would not agree” with putting a Muslim in the White House. Prothero notes that “…none of this is new. Americans like to think of our country as a nation of immigrants and a nation of religions, but repeatedly we have failed to live up to our ideals, banishing fellow citizens from the American family because of their ethnicities or religious commitments.” And what of the Mormons? Bringing up different groups that have been targeted, Prothero writes “But anti-Catholicism was not the only culture war prosecuted by conservative defenders of faith and flag. Mormons, too, were targeted as slaves of a religious despot whose liberty was incompatible with our own. Before this culture war was over, Mormon leaders would be sued, jailed, beaten, stripped naked, tarred and feathered, and murdered. And rank-and-file Mormons would be chased from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois to the Utah territory.”
  • Ziff from Zelophead’s Daughters is the Mormon-version of Nate Silver, the stats geek who correctly predicted 49/50 states in the 2008 Presidential Election. Ziff has previously done work looking at the probabilities of current members of the Quorum of the Twelve and their possibilities of becoming prophet based on current age, time in the Quorum, and actuarial tables. Based on the passing of Elder Scott, he updated his tables. While there weren’t any major changes (Elder Oaks still stands with a 50% chance of ever becoming Prophet, Elder Holland with a 58% chance, and Elder Bednar with a 68% chance), only Elder Hales (+5%), Holland (+3%), and Eyring (+1%) saw their probabilities change.

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