Latest Mormon News and Events 2/27/2008

The following story, Mormon Missionaries Describe Lives in Bloomington published in the Indiana Daily Student reminded me of my time in Fresno, California. While I was serving out in a small town that covered Caruthers, Raisin City, and the southern tip of Fresno proper, my mission companion and I wrote an article that was published in one of the local papers. I'll have to find a copy of that article it's in my files somewhere. I do remember I included a ton of information thinking they would edit it, so I was embarrassed when they published the whole thing without editing. Overall though, it was fun to write.

In Sun City, California the Mormon youth were out and about helping the elderly. Great story Area Mormon youth help Sun City seniors tidy up community's ubiquitous rock lawns published in the North County Times. I think their service project was much easier than some of the ones I've been involved in recently. We cut down a huge tree in one of the good Sister's yard. We had 23 brethren and it took 6 hours, after which the High Priests cooked us up some delicious dutch oven food. Mormon service projects are awesome!

I don't usually post obituaries, but I found the services for Tom Lantos fascinating. He was a Holocaust survivor, in fact, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress. He was fiercely pro-Israel. His wife, also a Holocaust survivor, and his two daughters are Mormons. The article can be found at The Jewish Ledger titled Tom Lantos remembered. It's an interesting story. The Jewish Ledger serves Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

Another notice: This comes from KVOA television. Services for former governor Saturday in Glendale. The former Governor of Arizona Evan Mecham will hold memorial services this Saturday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building in Glendale. It appears he was controversial figure in Arizona politics.

Students of Brigham Young University reacted to the recent published study showing first born children get far more attention than the rest. Responses ranged from "it's only logical" to "my family was different". I wonder if the response varied by if the student was the first born or not?
More results of the study can be found here.

This was an interesting article detailing the 1882 congress of the United States of America. Harsh immigration laws echo 19th century anti-Mormon legislation is the title published in the Salt Lake Tribune. Who new the same year congress outlawed the vote of Mormons they also wrote the "Chinese Exclusion Act"?

I find it amazing what missionaries learn while serving, some learn a language or foods, I personally love Posole, but others learn culture. Elder Luis Castro learned about a dance called Bachata. Now eleven years after his mission he tours the country promoting the dance. This article is called Bachata: Utah DJ spins sultry sounds.

Black Mormons at Brigham Young University talk about some of their experiences and some of the difficulty of attending a school where 158 students are black out of 30,246. This article is titled Being a black student at BYU can be difficult. Written in the Deseret News by Amy K. Stewart.

Michael Otterson, the media relations director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints writes a blog. This last entry was called The American Quest and talks about President Hinckley and describes the "essence of a church is that it is a community of believers, requiring mutual support and encouragement as well as opportunities for service, and therefore for growth. People need other people. Disintegrating societal and familial ties and a profound sense of 'not belonging' pervade America, and churches can offer a home for restless souls." I like his thought on that one. I have friends that have met playing World of Warcraft and got married. Religion can be a commonality for people.

A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was invited to sing a Fort Walton Beach. International performer comes to Fort Walton Beach printed in The Walton Sun based in Florida. That's kind of cool. Reminds me of my brothers, we all sang together for a long time. We still do when we get the chance.

I don't think it comes as any surprise, but I want to let you in on a little secret about Mormons, they have big families. The Deseret News reports LDS have largest families in US. The report published by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life titled U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Found that Hindus (78%) were most likely to be found married followed by Mormons (71%) the average in the US is 54%. Muslims had the second largest families. Mormons were also more likely to have children than any other group. Jewish people had the largest proportion earning more than $100,000 a year at 46% while Mormons matched the national average at 16%.

The Kansas City has a blog that gives a hat tip to Salt Lake City claiming roads need to be named to help the visitor get around. What does the "corner of Lincoln and Mulberry tell you"? Absolutely nothing! Naming Streets is the title.

Testimony of a Cuban Latter-day Saint living in Cuba under Fidel Castro

This story was written way back in 1998 and I just stumpled upon it. My thanks to Larry Day who wrote about the story in Meridian Magazine with the title Havana Saint.

Dr. Verrier is second from the right.

It was in 1991 during a new assignment to West Africa--Guinea-Bissau--that Mormonism entered his life."This is my history, and I want to give a true account," he said."One day when I came to my room in the dormitory, there was a book on my bed."

It was a Portuguese language copy of the Book of Mormon. "The book just appeared there. I think God put it there, because my room and that building were kept closed. There's a lot of wind and dust over there, and we always kept things closed up." Afterward, no one ever approached him about the Church, or mentioned the book to him.

Verrier read the book sporadically, but circumstances seemed to conspire against his studying it closely. Side effects from an anti-malaria medicine affected his eyes. The book was printed in small type and in a language he understood, but which was not his own.When Verrier got back to Havana, he wrote to the LDS Church in Salt City asking them to send him a Spanish version of the Book of Mormon, and other literature about the church.

Nearly a year passed and nothing came.Then one day, Verrier's daughter heard voices outside in the street. The Verriers live on the second floor of a corner building on Calle Sol in Old Havana.A man, with a foreign accent was asking, "Where does Dr. Luis Verrier live?"

Standing on the sidewalk in front of Verrier's house were LDS Bishop Victor Montoya and his wife, Rebecca from Mexico City. They had come to Cuba on vacation, but had been asked to deliver the Book of Mormon Verrier had requested."Señor Victor and Señora Rebecca sat down in my front room and we talked for nearly three hours. I took advantage of them, keeping them so long, but I had so many questions in my mind for which I had no answers."

"That was a marvelous day in my life. I obtained so many answers to questions about the church that I had been inquiring about.

"All the answers to the questions which Señor Victor gave me were answers which I knew deep in my heart were true about the Book of Mormon and the church. These were not the rumors that people had told me about the church."

The Montoyas came back the next day. They were accompanied by a young woman, a 23-year-old Cuban-Ukrainian member of the church named Natalia Vasilievskaya Arias. The five of them talked for hours in Verrier's house and on a long walk through the streets of Havana.

Montoya also brought Verrier a Spanish copy of the book, "Search for Happiness," by LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard, and a testimonial letter sent by Montoya's brother-in-law in Mexico. When Verrier offered the Montoyas coffee and tea, during their first visit, they declined, and told him about the Word of Wisdom--the LDS health code that prohibits members from using tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco.

Verrier was a heavy smoker. He also drank quantities of coffee and tea, especially when he was on 24-hour shifts at the hospital.

"At the hospital we all used coffee, tea and cigarettes to keep us awake and functioning, especially on the night shift," he said. Verrier had never used alcohol because of the trauma of his parents' death in an alcohol-related car accident...

Verrier persevered. He quit drinking coffee and tea. He quit smoking cold turkey, and tried faithfully to keep the commandments he'd been taught. As he did, his desire to be baptized became a pulsating need. He said he feared he might die before he could be baptized.

The Montoyas made another visit to Cuba in March of 1997, but Bishop Montoya didn't have approval to perform the baptism. The church was not officially recognized in Cuba, and the political situation between the U.S. and Cuba was tense.

Verrier was deeply disappointed."People were asking me about the church, wanting to know why I quit smoking, wanting to know what had happened to me. I wanted to tell them about the gospel, but I wasn't a member. I didn't know how much it was right for me to say."...

Last January the Cuban government and the Cuban people welcomed the Pope with an outpouring of respect and affection.

The Cuban government let the genie out of the bottle, and Luis Verrier became a beneficiary of its release.

One day last March--Friday the 6th to be exact--Verrier was visiting at his neighbor's house. The phone rang. The call was for Verrier. It was Natalia, his Mormon friend.
"Luis,I have a surprise for you," she said.

"The only surprise that you could give me is that Victor is in Cuba," he replied.
"Yes, Victor is in Cuba," she said.
"And what about my baptism?"
"He didn't say anything about that."
"This can't be. I've got to be baptized."

Natalia said that Bishop Montoya would come to Verrier's house the next day at around 9 or 10 a.m. ...

"I was awake all night. I just couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and waited for morning," said Verrier. "All I could think about was that meeting with Victor."

When Montoya arrived at the house he told Verrier that the church had approved the baptism, and proceeded with a baptismal interview. Montoya brought a letter from Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve.

"It was a marvelous letter. A marvelous letter. I'm going to keep it all my life," said Verrier.

"The interview went well. There were no problems. I think I had been prepared for a long time. A long time," said Verrier...

Verrier spent another sleepless night, "Thinking and praying and communing with God and Jesus Christ," he said. "I think I felt the way Joseph Smith felt the night he was visited by the Angel Moroni."

Early the next morning Victor took a bus to the Irina Vasilievskaya's house.

The baptismal party consisted of Bishop Montoya and his wife, Rebecca; Irina Vasilievskaya and her daughter Natalia Arias; Marisol Vivo Loza, a woman who was investigating the church; Patricia Wara Mogrovejo Cerruto, an 18-year-old Latter-day Saint from Bolivia, who was in Cuba on a scholarship to study ballet, and Dr. Luis Verrier.

Finally, rounding a curve a long distance from where they had begun, the baptismal party came upon a stone outcrop that jutted into the ocean. Nestled there in the outcrop was a small tidal pool, protected from the crashing waves, and deep enough for a baptism by immersion.

As soon as he saw it, Verrier said, he knew they had found the right place. Dressed in white, the two men stepped down into the water. With the roar of the waves sounding in their ears, and ocean spray splashing over their bodies, Bishop Victor Montoya of Mexico City, Mexico, raised his right hand toward heaven, said a prayer, and baptized Dr. Luis Andre Verrier Almaraz, of Havana, Cuba, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...


While he was in Africa, Luis became ill, and at the same time became concerned about his little granddaughter. He returned to Cuba to recuperate. That was in January 2000. Coincidentally, or by inspiration, Elder Carl Pratt went to Cuba at the same time. It was then, Luis said, that he received the Melchezdek Priesthood and was ordained an Elder.

I went back to Cuba last December (2001) with my daughter, a Physician, who had spent time as part of her family practice residency in Matanzas. I went to sacrament meeting in Irina and Natasha’s home in La Lisa. An American attorney who was in Cuba for an AMA conference, attended the same morning. There were two elders, a deacon, an investigator at church that morning in the home of Irina and Natasha. It was sunny and bright.

Salt Lake Tribune article about Mr. Danzig's exit from the LDS Church

LDS Church Releases statement about article written by the Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY 24 February 2008

Church leaders are always saddened when an individual, whether through his or her actions or personal choices, decides to leave the Church. A welcoming hand of fellowship is always extended to those who wish to return at anytime.

Every organization, religious or secular, has to determine where its boundaries begin and where they end. The Apostle Paul said that the original Church was organized to help members to be “no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to study, learn and ask questions in their quest for knowledge. Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th president of the Church said: “This Church came about as a result of intellectual curiosity. We believe in education … we expect them (Church members) to think. We expect them to investigate. We expect them to use their minds and dig deeply for knowledge in all fields.”

However, it is not acceptable when their digging and questioning leads to public opposition against doctrine Church leaders are obliged to uphold. That doesn’t mean that Church leaders don’t listen and consider opposing views. Quite the contrary. Local bishops and stake presidents (congregational leaders) love and are concerned about all members of the flock. This is the purpose of counseling provided by local Church leaders who know and care for each individual in their congregations.

Honest disagreements are not the same as public advocacy of positions contrary to those of the Church. When disagreements arise, the principle of the Church is that local leaders discuss these matters with members with love and concern. This was the case with Peter Danzig.
On 23 February 2008 The Salt Lake Tribune posted an article about Mr. Danzig who was a member of the Church’s Orchestra at Temple Square. According to the story, in June of 2006 Mr. Danzig published a letter-to-the-editor in the Tribune (and letters in other local newspapers) encouraging members to oppose Church leaders on the issue of same gender marriage.

In his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Danzig said he “was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ." In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.

Initially Orchestra leaders met with Mr. Danzig to see if his public advocacy of this issue could be reconciled. Finding no resolution, they contacted the Office of the First Presidency, and were instructed to refer the matter to Mr. Danzig’s local Church leaders, as Church protocol requires. Mr. Danzig was asked to take a leave of absence from the orchestra until the matter had been resolved.

For more than a year and a half, Mr. Danzig counseled with his local bishop and stake president regarding same gender marriage and other Church doctrines. Unfortunately he was not able to reconcile his personal beliefs with the doctrine Church leaders are charged to maintain by divine mandate.

In December 2007, Mr. Danzig voluntarily withdrew his membership in the Church by his own formal written request. He was not officially disciplined by the Church as the Tribune article indicated.

The Church normally keeps this type of communication confidential. However, the Church felt compelled to defend its position when Mr. Danzig made this information public and because of the blatant, inappropriate editorializing by the Salt Lake Tribune in what was purported to be a news story.

You can read the Salt Lake Tribune article here.

Latest Mormon News and Events 2/23/2008

Here is some neat news from the past few days.

Arizona Easter Pageant on the Mesa Temple Grounds continues.
The Pageant began in 1928 and is considered the largest outdoor Easter Pageant. Read more at the EVLiving website. And note: metal chairs are strictly first-come, first-served.

Original Book of Mormon sold at auction for $103,500. The auction was held on Oct 11, 2007.

I had no idea the New York Times posted wedding announcements for Latter-day Saints. Congratulations Rachel and David. Although they did get two things wrong:
first "an elder serving in the Manhattan New York Temple" wouldn't be performing a marriage that would be a sealer,
and second, David didn't go on his mission to work "with the Creole-speaking community at a Latter-day Saints temple in Fort Lauderdale, Fla." He served in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla mission.

Thoughts on DNA evidence
Jason in DNA and the Family Tree: Some genetic testing companies are promising more than they can deliver

Pearl Awards and Music about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Quint Randle of Joshua Creek talks about Mormon Pop: What is 'Mormon Music' Did you know the Pearl Awards added five new catagories as a hat tip to Mormon Music?

New Mormon blog about Music
A new blog by Greg Hansen about Mormon Music just started. Check it out: He calls it Positive Music and Arts.

The San Francisco Chronical posted this article: POLITICS WITH A DOSE OF GOD
DEVELOPMENT: Hard-line Utah immigration reformers get a dose of religion (and mellow a bit).
WHAT IT MEANS: Congress is doing nothing to address immigration issues, so the states are breaking out on their own, often with a nativist, some might say racist, approach. Utah lawmakers are debating proposals that will be among the harshest in the nation, even making it a crime to transport or shelter illegal immigrants. But when a leader from the Mormon church stepped in and urged the mostly Mormon members of the state Legislature to take a more "thoughtful" and "humane" approach, the rhetoric and the bill were toned down somewhat. A similar dynamic is playing out in Colorado, where religious leaders have asked lawmakers to debate immigration with respect for "each other and all of God's children."

The Chicago Tribune has an article by Ron Grossman titled Cuts Both Ways
With all the campaign chatter about religion in politics, it's useful to recall that sometimes the reverse is true: History is full of occasions in which politics have trespassed upon theology...
More recently, the Mormons made a theological turnaround inspired more by something like Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code than by any chapter from the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once declared that an angel had approved of polygamy. But in the 1880s, the U.S. government confiscated the church's property over the illegal practice of multiple marriages. Whereupon a new Mormon leader announced that he had had a divine vision too: Polygamy, the word came down, was not worth the cost.These bits of realpolitik show that religion is sometimes suspended between two worlds: It's a search for things unseen; it speaks of a higher existence. Yet its prophets, preachers and priests, even if questing for ultimate truth, are not immune to human nature and the vagaries of earthly motivation—ambition, jealousy, shortsightedness and the instinct for self-preservation... Think of that when next in the church, synagogue or mosque of your choice. Even if you prefer to watch football on Sunday, you might want to offer prayerful thanks to our founding fathers for drawing a constitutional line between political power and religious commitment.

Mormons helping in storm ravaged areas

Clinton, Arkansas
The Log Cabin Democrat reports Latter-day Saints are helping storm victims.
Unusual winter thunderstorms and tornadoes took lives and caused much damage early in February, especially in the Clinton area. Individuals from the Conway First Ward, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, took their own chainsaws and tools on Feb. 9 to assist whoever they could with clean up.
Then on Feb. 16, a more organized crew of about 30 people from the Conway First and Second ward, along with members from Quitman and Russellville, were assigned to clear fallen trees from a local residence. This Saturday, the goal is to have 100 volunteers to assist.

Faaa, Tahiti
Mormons from Tahiti were released from a meeting to go assist after a fire broke out.

Accra, Ghana
Twenty-eight young missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently visited two orphanages in the Accra area to donate food and gifts to the children. LDS Charities provided the goods delivered to the orphanages.

LDS Youth, United States of America
One illustration is how seriously many high school-age Latter-day Saints approach education. Many Mormon youth are not only staying in school; they are also taking extra classes...

Researchers interviewed more than three thousand 13-to 18-year-olds across the United States and discovered that a high percentage of Latter-day Saint youth have no or few doubts about their religious beliefs and feel they understand those beliefs, and that Latter-day Saint youth are less likely than other teens to use drugs and alcohol and are more likely to abstain from premarital sexual relationships.

John Bartowski, who helped with the research, said that Latter-day Saint teens have their own problems, but they’re more knowledgeable about and more committed to their faith and have more positive social outcomes associated with their faith, as compared with their counterparts across the country.

The results of the study have caused many to wonder what it is about Latter-day Saint culture and doctrine that helps parents shape dependable, educated and well-adjusted young people. Part of the answer goes back to the emphasis on learning and an important rite of passage for most 14– to 18-year-old Latter-day Saints: graduating from what Church members call seminary.

Mormonism in the News Second Fastest Growing Church

Mollie talks about Mormonism 101 - the trend of more and more Universities to offer studies in Mormonism. One of her commentors mentioned this trend may be occuring because more and more Mormons are taking classes at these institutions.

Michael Paulson writes about how Colleges are scrambling to offer curriculum on the Mormon religion. Melissa Proctor will be teaching classes about Mormon history, theology, and culture.

The reports on a story about women in the Church, it is titled Mormon women look for greater role in the life of the church. It is interesting and I'd like to hear your thoughts. The article says, "The agency which Beck heads, the Relief Society, is one of three Mormon offices open to women. Billed as one of the world's largest women's groups, with 5.5 million members, it provides spiritual instruction to women and aids needy families, among other things." But it concludes with this statement, "'The church does repress women, but it really doesn't repress women as much as bring men forward,' Claudia Bushman said. 'From the time Mormons are children, boys get a lot more encouragement than girls because they are needed for leadership roles. Men need more encouragement, I think.'" What do you think, do men need more encouragement?

CNN reported that Utah is the only state that allows students to take guns on campus. The article is called Utah students hide guns, head to class. This report was delivered with interviews with students from the University of Utah and not students from Brigham Young University.

The Ilford Recorder in England has an awesome article about the family history program of the Mormon Church. The article is titled Latter-day Saints' role in nurturing family ties. The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints, well-known for its genealogical research, is bringing its free Family Search - On the Road exhibition to Ilford from March 6-8. The Church has been in the British Isles for 171 years.

The Economist published an interesting article titled Gnashing their teeth. It claims The latter-day saints are angry with the Republicans, but it should be noted Mormons participate in every political group. As we have already noted here in our blog. from the UK has an article about the fasting growing churches in the US. The article is titled Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons fastest-growing 'churches' in US. They mention these interesting items:
  1. "Mormonism was formally listed under “cults and sects” by the Southern Baptist Convention – the largest Protestant denomination in the nation – but was more recently categorised among 'newly developed religions' on the North American Mission Board apologetics page."
  2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – also known as the Mormon church – grew 1.56 per cent and is listed by the NCC as the fourth largest 'church'.
  3. Largest 25 Churches (ranked by membership)
1. The Catholic Church – 67,515,016
2. Southern Baptist Convention – 16,306,246
3. The United Methodist Church – 7,995,456
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 5,779,316
5. The Church of God in Christ – 5,499,875
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. – 5,000,000
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – 4,774,203
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. – 3,500,000
9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – 3,025,740
10. Assemblies of God – 2,836,174
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church – 2,500,000
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America – 2,500,000
13. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. – 2,500,000
14. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) – 2,417,997
15. Episcopal Church – 2,154,572
16. Churches of Christ – 1,639,495
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America – 1,500,000
18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. – 1,500,000
19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – 1,443,405
20. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. – 1,371,278
21. United Church of Christ – 1,218,541
22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International – 1,200,000
23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ – 1,071,616
24. The Orthodox Church in America – 1,064,000
25. Jehovah’s Witnesses – 1,069,530 included a note about a Mormon songwriter in their article titled Leap Year: Someone born on leap day is a 'leapling'.
1932 - Newel Kay Brown, wrote the children's song, "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission," which every child in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called Mormon) has sung since 1970. mentions Elder Ballard was there to speak at Stake Conference. The article is called Annual conference in Gig Harbor lifts spirits. Although the forecast called for grey skies and intermittent rain, there was a beacon of light and much warmth at the bi-annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Gig Harbor area.

Ghanan shares why he believes in the Mormon Church

A man from Ghana Africa talks about why he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His article published in is called Ghana: Why I Joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints He mentions,

"I had gone to visit my daughter in America in 1996 and happened to sit in on discussions she was having with two young men, who were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The things they said about the family, the love of God for His creatures, obedience to His commandments, the nature of Godhead, baptism and other gospel principles and doctrines interested me greatly.As I listened to these young men more and more, sincerity in them reached out to engage sincerity in me. Something out of this world hung in the air - something fresh and sweet and gentle and kind. I like to believe that God Himself, at that moment, spoke to me through the young missionaries of the Church who sat before me. And when they asked me to apply Moroni 10:3-5(in the Book of Mormon) which says, among other things: " Ask God if these things are not true, " I knew that sincerity was indeed the watchword. They were asking me to ask God myself, that I might learn from Him directly."

Some Churches grew, some stayed the same, and some shrunk in 2007

Religion News in Brief
By The Associated Press - New York

Most of the United States' 25 largest church bodies either lost members or experienced no growth in the past year, according to a 2008 yearbook produced by the National Council of Churches.

The Episcopal Church, locked in a conflict over the Bible and homosexuality, suffered the steepest decline, reporting a more than 4 percent drop to slightly fewer than 2.2 million members. Another mainline Protestant group, the 3 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), facing similar divisions, suffered a 2.4 percent membership decrease.

The figures are outlined in the 2008 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, which tracks membership and other trends from 224 national church bodies.

The yearbook's editor, the Rev. Eileen W. Lindner, said many churches' said many people in their 20s and 30s attend and support local congregations but resist becoming members.

Of the churches that reported growth, the Jehovah's Witnesses said their group had a 2.25 percent increase to 1 million members, while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it grew 1.56 percent to 5.8 million members in the U.S.

The Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church also reported membership gains under 1 percent each.

A dozen churches said membership remained steady, while seven reported declines.

The yearbook also reported a 4 percent increase in per capita giving from the 65 churches that reported contribution trends.

My comments: Those are some interesting trends in the USA. I am especially impressed by the 4% increase in giving, that's kind of nice.

So is this saying Jehovah's Witnesses grew the fastest and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was second highest? Wow, those Mormons must have a pretty good message.

Are Mormons Christian?

Are Mormons Christian?
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

There are multiple definitions of the word Christian in the Dictionary. Because there are multiple definitions of words, (and we have no way, while speaking, to indicate which definition we are using), people can argue on both sides of an issue about something and both be 100 percent correct.

For instance, the dictionary defines the word Christian in the following ways...


1-Pertaining to or derived from Jesus Christ or his teachings.
2-Of, pertaining to or adhering to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
3-Of, or pertaining to Christians
4-Exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ, as in having a loving regard for other persons.
5-A person who believes in Jesus Christ; An adherent of Christianity.
6-A person who exemplifies in his life the teachings of Christ.

According to these definitions, someone may be correct when he says that one particular member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not a Christian. (ie. Perhaps one specific Mormon they know, who seems to hate people and does not "have a loving regard for them." As required in definition number four.) On the other hand, a person might simply be confused if he makes the Statement that all Mormons are not Christians. Which definition is he using then?

Is Mormonism a Cult?

Is Mormonism a Cult?
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

There are multiple definitions of the word cult in the Dictionary. Because there are multiple definitions of words, (and we have no way, while speaking, to indicate which definition we are using), people can argue about something and both be 100 percent correct.

There are many people, who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus, that use the word "Cult" to describe religions that are different than their own.

Here is the definition of that word...


1-A particular system of religious worship, Esp. with reference to it's rites and ceremonies.
2-An instance of great veneration of a person, idea, or thing, Esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: A cult of Napoleon.
3-The object of such devotion.
4-A group or sect bound together by devotion to or veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5-A group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centered around their sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6-A religion that is considered or held to be false or unorthox.

I have realized that as I talk with someone who uses this term to label me, I could say to him, "My friend, we belong to the same cult. The cult of Jesus." According to definition number two, I would be 100 percent correct. This would likely shock my friend and make him extremely angry however, because the only definition of the word cult that he may be aware of, is number six. (Though, if I were to say this, I would be referring to definition number 4.) If a person feels that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints fits definition number 6, I would like to let this person know that I respect the right and privilege that you have to believe that the Mormon Church is a false religion.

Have Mormons been Decieved?

Have Mormons been Decieved?
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

The following comes from the book, History of Salt Lake City by Edward William Tullidge…

“When President Ulysses S. Grant, on his entrance to Salt Lake City (for the first time), in his carriage, passed the multitude of Sunday School children who, under their teachers, had gathered, arrayed in white to welcome him- in their simplicity of manner, emphasizing the greeting of Brigham Young, 'This is the first time I have had the honor of meeting a President of my nation' – he turned to Governor Emery and enquired, ‘Whose children are these?’ He was answered by the Governor, ‘Mormon children.’ For several moments the President was silent, and then he murmered, in a tone of self-reproach, ‘I have been deceived!’ It was in vain for any anti-Mormon, after that utterance, to tell him that those children had been arrayed to give him welcome, for the purpose of making a favorable impression on his mind in behalf of their Mormon parents. To a man of so strong a religious nature as that of Ulysses S. Grant… these Sunday School children, brought up in the fear of the Lord, were, on this Sabbath day of his entrance into our city, more powerful sermons than he had ever heard… (in his church) against the Mormons from his favorite pastor. And even the depreciatory expounding of the anti-Mormon – that this array of Sunday School children was “all gotten up for effect” – would have been entirely lost on a man of simple directness of mind, for Mormon parents, who could with so much natural sagacity conceive the plot of capturing the conqueror of southern rebeldom, by an army of their Sunday School children, were surely not wicked parents, nor unworthy of the regard of the representative ‘father of his Country.’ “

I am a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a Mormon) and as such, like every other Mormon, I have been encouraged by the church to search for and accept the truth wherever I can find it. I have read the sixty-six books in the bible through (several times) I have read all of the Biblical Apocrypha, I have read the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Pearl of Great Price. I’ve been told, over the years, by several people (Who have not read all of these things) that I have been deceived. I find it interesting that many of the people who call me deceived are, in truth, the ones who are in a deceived state about what I believe and what the LDS Church teaches. Many videos and much written information have been produced by former members of the LDS church, which are intentionally dishonest. Many of these materials are circulated vigorously by some of our friends of other faiths in a seeming effort to bring fear into the hearts of their people so that they will not investigate the “More” that Mormonism offers. I have read books given to me by my friends of other faiths regarding their religion. I have had the experience of seeing fear in the eyes of someone as they tell me that they will never read the Book of Mormon. This fear is unnecessary for all those who believe that God can speak to our spirits through the Holy Ghost and help us discern the difference between truth and error. Faith is a much better approach to finding truth and goodness than fear. I believe that there are many who more closely fit the definition of being deceived if they blindly accept what they are told about the LDS Church and the people within this faith without personally questioning and investigating the validity of what they are being told.

The crucible continues: Mormons and the Main Stream Media

Rachel Zoll writes an interesting piece about Mormons. Although she relates Mitt Romney's run for the presidency a crucible for Mormons, she can rest assured that Mormons are not afraid of the crucible. In fact, they've practically been in the crucible since the Church was founded in 1830. (My comments below are in parenthesis.)

Romney bid was a crucible for Mormons
By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion WriterSat Feb 9, 4:14 PM ET

Mitt Romney isn't the only casualty in his failed presidential bid. The Mormon Church, yearning for broad acceptance, also took a beating.
(I don't agree here. I think the disrespect that has existed in some quarters was brought to light, it’s nothing new. As an example, Zoll ignores the common courtesy requested by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to use its real name in articles in the first instance and avoid using the term "Mormon Church".)

Extremists denounced Romney's campaign as a Mormon plot to take over the country. Some Evangelicals feared that a Mormon in the White House would draw more converts to his faith.
Mormon practices were picked apart, even ones that had been abandoned long ago such as polygamy. Romney tried to focus on politics, but was often asked about sacred Mormon undergarments.
(Check out the Frequently Asked Questions.)

"It is prejudice," said Richard Bushman, an emeritus professor at Columbia University, who is a leading historian and devout Mormon. "Underlying all these questions is that these beliefs are basically crazy so you've got to explain them to us."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints anticipated some of the backlash and tried to get ahead of it. Well before the former Massachusetts governor officially announced his candidacy, Mormon officials started traveling the country, speaking with reporters and editorial writers about the LDS church and its political neutrality.

The goal was to protect the church. But nonpartisanship handicapped the denomination when it needed a vigorous defense.

"I'm not questioning the policy of neutrality. That's not in any doubt," said Michael Otterson, the church's media relations director. "But I think the very reality is that we've had to be very careful about choosing our words and not appearing to either be supporting or not supporting a particular candidate."

Before Romney ran, Mormons thought they were generally accepted in the mainstream, especially after their previous success in the world spotlight: the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.
Yet, in November, half of respondents to an Associated Press-Yahoo poll said they had some problems supporting a Mormon presidential candidate. Among white evangelicals, more than half expressed reservations about backing a Latter-day Saint.
(Most Mormons I know don't think we are generally accepted in the mainstream. You've got to compare the evangelicals acceptance to Mormons though, check out a little analysis here.)

"I was surprised at the level of intensity and sometimes flat out animosity," said Lowell C. Brown, a Los Angeles attorney who is Mormon. "I had no idea. I'm in my 50s, I've been a Mormon all my life, I've lived in L.A. for 25 years, and it floored me."

Many Christians said they were raising legitimate theological concerns, not Mormon-bashing.
The news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, which considers the LDS church a cult, ran a six-part series through December explaining why they don't consider Mormonism to be Christian. They also profiled a distant Romney relative who is Protestant and manages a Southern Baptist-affiliated bookstore in Salt Lake.
(I read an article on their site that said they needed to inoculate their members against Mormon missionaries. Are they angry because the Mormon definition of Christian includes them, but their definition of Christian excludes Mormons? Shouldn't the anger come from those excluded? Kind of interesting.)

In just one example of the practices that set Mormons apart, LDS church founder Joseph Smith revised — and in his view corrected — parts of the Bible.
(This is the kind of thing Mormons are refering to. Throw this statement in the middle of an article without any context and have it be a statement that requires an explanation. Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible. Joseph Smith did go through a little bit of the Bible and wrote down his notes - I suspect like most believers in the Bible. Anyway, we all know this statement will make others mad.)

Brown said it was "nonsense" to consider questions about Romney's faith simply a dialogue about religion. Mormons were especially outraged when GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, asked whether Mormons consider Jesus and the devil brothers. Latter-day Saints say Huckabee's question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith rather than clarify doctrine.

"If you're making a decision about whether or not to vote for someone because of their religion, you're flirting with bigotry," said Brown. He monitored the commentary on his blog Article VI, named for the constitutional provision barring any religious test for public office.

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif., said some Christian conservatives consider Mormonism not just a questionable faith, but also a rival political force. He lived in Michigan in the 1960s, when Romney's father, George, was governor there. At that time, evangelicals weren't deeply involved in politics. Many supported George Romney.
(This is what kills me, Mormons are not a voting block like evangelicals. Mormons actively participate in all political parties so although they have a strong voice in Utah, they are even more diluted every where else. Evangelicals have nothing to worry about from Mormons in politics, I do think they should welcome those that choose to be Republicans instead of saying, "Our party is too good for you.")

"What's going on when his son runs and all of a sudden there's this overt hostility that came out, which did not come out toward his father," said Mouw, who is part of a group of evangelical and Mormon scholars who meet to discuss their theological disagreements. "I'm kind of ashamed of the way that a lot of traditional Christians have handled this."

Yet, Mormons say some good has come from the attacks. Romney's candidacy pulled the church even further into the public square.

Mormon leaders posted videos on YouTube explaining their faith. A church elder, recently speaking to Mormon college students, urged young people to post about the Latter-day Saints on blogs — a major move for a denomination with a history of quietly answering its outside critics. After Romney's Dec. 6 speech in Texas defending his faith, a Mormon leader went on al-Jazeera television, the Quatar-based network, to discuss the church.

"Gov. Romney has, perhaps without intending to do so, rendered the church a service," said Robert Millet, a scholar of the church and professor at the LDS-owned Brigham Young University. "It's served as a kind of wakeup call for Saints themselves to the fact that we're not as well understood as we think we are. How can it be the case that Gov. Romney and his feelings about Christ and his feelings about religion have been so little understood?"
(I agree with Millet, it was a wake up call to me, I always thought I followed the evangelical thought on politics, but now that I see they don't want me in their party - maybe I'll be looking for something new.)

What Did You Do On P-Day? Or On a Regular Day Tracting

When you were a missionary, what was it like tracting and riding your bike?

Two Elders left to go on some visits and in less than five minutes they returned. They had tried to take a short cut across a field and one of them crashed on his bike. He ripped his suit coat, his pants, and had scrapes all over his hands. The joys of bike riding.

One of my embarrassing experiences occurred when we stopped to help some people move into their house. We were carrying things into the house and near the end of the load; I went to pick up a heavy load of boxed books. Well, my pants split right down the back! I guess too much bike riding isn't good for suit pants.

I thought this video was hilarious, just the kind of thing that some missionaries would do. This video reminded me of the stories above.

Video: Riding your bike across a puddle.

Now that Romney has Retired, Let's Talk Mormonism

Martin E. Marty: Mormons and Idiosyncracy

Source: Sightings, the newsletter of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School. (2-11-08)[Martin E. Marty's biography, current projects, upcoming events, publications, and contact information can be found at]

Now that Governor Romney is off the campaign trail—we don't do any Sightings of candidates on the trail—we can, without commenting on him or the part his church and faith played in his demise, do a retrospective on the Mormon-hate that blighted air waves, the internet, and some printed quotations while he was spotlit. The locus classicus of the hate, one that has plenty of company, is the on-air MSNBC spewing by Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr., "pundit and actor," on the McLaughlin Group TV show. I quote: "Romney comes from a religion founded by a criminal who was anti-American, pro-slavery, and a rapist. And he comes from that lineage and says, 'I respect this religion fully.' . . . He's got to answer." The other religion that gets treated that way with impunity is Islam. O'Donnell was not treated with total impunity; he was knuckle-rapped with a feather-duster suspension. That could change by the time you read this, but for now the remark was not treated with the seriousness that an anti-black or anti-Semitic comment by the merest sportswriter would elicit.

One needs hold no brief for (or against) the Latter-day-Saints or the Muslims and their founders to find occasion to ask what went wrong, what goes wrong, when in a United States where so many good things are happening on the inter-religious, racial, ethnic, and gender front, this underground of "anti"s so frequently emerges. I've had numerous Latter-Day-Saint Ph.D. students, know some leaders, have spoken at some of their scholarly gatherings, have learned and taught much about their history, and can't find anyone who can find something that would rule out a Mormon as Mormon from being Chief Executive. (Curiously, the issue did not even come up, so far as I can remember, when Mitt Romney's father ran for President in a generation that putatively was more prejudiced than our enlightened generation is.)

Let the O'Donnells rant on as they present their bill of particulars: The Mormons have secrets. So do the Masons, who met lethal prejudice one hundred and fifty years ago, but get a free ride now along with your friendly neighborhood fraternities and sororities. Mormons are too clubby and do favors for each other. So are the Notre Dame (or any other strong college of your choice) grads. Or they are too successful. That's not a blight elsewhere in capitalist America. Finally: their founding story is really weird. Let's stop right there: I like to quote George Santayana, who wrote that "every living and healthy religion has a marked idiosyncrasy. Its power consists in its special and surprising message. . ." One notices: Every religion looks "idiosyncratic" and its stories are "surprising" to all others. We Christians and Jews are empowered, motivated, and—hey! I'm a Christian!—are "saved" by those stories and messages. We spend decades and energies helping fellow-citizens and ourselves live creatively with people who, again in Santayana's terms, propound "another world to live in."

Taking testimony about the evils of Mormonism by ex-Mormons is likely to be as objective as it is if it comes against Catholicism by ex-Catholics. Were it our calling, we could find profound fault with many policies and actions of some Latter-Day-Saints or members and leaders of other faiths. My own company, that of historians, is in the business of telling stories about others' stories. No one is to be uncritical, where there is often much to criticize. But criticism is one thing; hate-speech and untruths are another.

Do Mormons Worship Joseph Smith?

In order to answer this question, I will now quote from a person named LDS Girl…

“Experiences that are out of the ordinary are common at the Referral Center, a call center for free items from the L.D.S. church, but one experience in particular has stuck in my mind. I spoke with a man who had many questions about the beliefs of church members and our stance on social issues, like abortion, stem cell research, etc (you can look on for an official statement). Questions are no problem and we spent a long time talking.

“During the conversation the man kept bringing up how we worship Joseph Smith and I had to correct him three or four times, telling him that just is not true. It bothered me a little that he seemed not to believe me. He seemed to think he knew better than I did what I believe. I have been a member of this church for 17 years and I've never been taught to worship Joseph Smith nor have I.

“Through this experience I can see that there may be a misunderstanding about the role of Jesus Christ and the role of Joseph Smith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is what we really believe: We believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. (We only worship Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.) We pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ. I have felt the love of God and the Savior in my life. I know they are aware of me and help me through life.

“Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. His role, just like the prophets of old (Moses, Abraham, etc.), was to reveal the will of Heavenly Father. Joseph was a great man like the prophets we read about in the Bible. He restored to the earth the truths that were lost after the death of Christ and His Apostles.

"Chirst is our Savior and is the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith was a man called to be a prophet in our day.”

The Passing of the Tourch - A Bishop Called, A Bishop Released

Today the Bishop/Pastor of my Ward/local congregation was honorably released from his calling. He had served as a Bishop for three years. He is an amazing man who shared great wisdom and knowledge with me about faith, time priorities, prayer, family home evening, and service.

An interesting aspect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its lay clergy, or in other words, its unpaid volunteer leaders. You see, Mormons don't politic for religious office, there is no vote, no bargaining for positions, not even any need to earn a theology degree; instead, Mormons believe in what Paul of the Bible stated, "No man taketh this honor [the calling of a High Priest] unto himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron." (Hebrews 5:4)

So how was Aaron called?

Well, Moses was invited up to the mount to talk with God. While conversing with God, Moses learns the specifications of the tabernacle in Exodus Chapters 25 through 27 - that is a lot of detail. And then in Exodus Chapter 28, while Moses is still conversing with God, Moses receives a revelation about who should be in charge of the house of worship. Exodus 28:1 says, "And take thou unto thee Aaron they brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office...". Aaron then was called to serve in the priest's office by inspiration and revelation by the head of the Church, namely Moses.

Mormons believe their leaders carefully fast and pray and seek out God to determine who the next Bishop/High Priest will be.

But how was Aaron officially given the office of High Priest?

Moses was commanded to make Aaron some garments and clothes, and then in verse 41 of Chapter 28, Moses takes Aaron and his sons and shall "anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office". In Mormonism, Moses will be placing his hands on Aaron's head and setting him apart (anointing and consecrating him) as the new Bishop/High Priest.

Having just witnessed one of the most divisive political campaigns in recent memory, I am awed at the simple, orderly, transfer of leadership from one Bishop to the next. No politicking, no back room deals, no name calling, no feisty debates, but a simple orderly transfer of the congregation from one Bishop to another.

Bishops usually serve from five to seven years in the Mormon Church; they are not paid nor compensated by man for their work. These good Bishops donate their Sunday's and one or two nights a week to caring for their flock. It's amazing that Mormon Bishops do just as much or more than full-time pastors of other faiths. It says a lot about someone by what they get paid for their religious services.

What is a Bishop?

Local Administration

Wards and Branches. Members of the Church are organized into congregations that meet together frequently for spiritual and social enrichment. Large congregations are called wards. Each ward is presided over by a bishop, assisted by two counselors. Small congregations are called branches. Each branch is presided over by a branch president, assisted by two counselors. A branch may be organized when at least two member families live in an area and one of the members is a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder or a worthy priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. A stake, mission, or district presidency organizes and supervises the branch. A branch can develop into a ward if it is located within a stake.

Each ward or branch comprises a specific geographic area. Different organizations in the ward or branch contribute to the Lord's work: high priests groups; elders quorums; the Relief Society, for women ages 18 years and older; Aaronic Priesthood quorums, for young men ages 12 through 17; the Young Women program, for young women ages 12 through 17; Primary, for children ages 18 months to 11 years; and the Sunday School, for all Church members ages 12 and older. Each of these organizations fulfills important roles in teaching the gospel, giving service, and supporting parents in their sacred duty to help their children become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These organizations also work together to help members share the gospel with others.

Stakes, Missions, and Districts. Most geographic areas where the Church is organized are divided into stakes. The term stake comes from the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied that the latter-day Church would be like a tent, held secure by stakes (see Isaiah 33:20; 54:2). There are usually 5 to 12 wards and branches in a stake. Each stake is presided over by a stake president, assisted by two counselors. Stake presidents report to and receive direction from the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.

A mission is a unit of the Church that normally covers an area much larger than that covered by a stake. Each mission is presided over by a mission president, assisted by two counselors. Mission presidents are directly accountable to General Authorities.

Just as a branch is a smaller version of a ward, a district is a smaller version of a stake. A district is organized when there are a sufficient number of branches located in an area, permitting easy communication and convenient travel to district meetings. A district president is called to preside over it, with the help of two counselors. The district president reports to the mission presidency. A district can develop into a stake.

Programs for Single Members. Many Church members have never married or are divorced or widowed. These members comprise two groups: young single adults (ages 18 through 30) and single adults (ages 31 and older).

There is not a Churchwide program for young single adults and single adults. Instead, when enough single members live in an area, local priesthood leaders are encouraged to call single-member representatives, who work under their direction. Single-member representatives plan activities such as dances, service projects, and firesides. These activities give single members opportunities to meet with and strengthen one another. Single members are also encouraged to meet regularly with their priesthood leaders to discuss their needs and their opportunities for spiritual growth and service.

See True to the Faith (2004), 34–37

Why did the LDS Church withhold the priesthood from Black Men until 1978?

Why did the LDS Church withhold the Priesthood from black men until 1978?
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

I was sitting in church last Sunday next to one of my Black brothers. He mentioned that he had a discussion recently with some of our Friends of other Faiths about the blacks not being able to receive the priesthood until 1978. He asked for my thoughts (Which I offer here in an expanded version) on this subject and so I explained to him my belief that it was the Lord, Jesus Christ who directed that the priesthood not be given to black men up until 1978. It was also the Lord who, in 1978 directed the Church, through his Prophet, to allow every worthy Male to hold the priesthood. The reason I believe that the Lord directed the Church to withhold the priesthood from black men until 1978 is the very same reason that the whole world did not have the priesthood for around 1,200 years (From somewhere around 500 AD to the early 1800s, - as Mormons believe). The wickedness of the world was the reason that the priesthood has been withheld at any time during the history of this world. I believe that it was not the wickedness or righteousness of black men, but the wickedness of the world in which they lived that caused the need to withhold the priesthood for a time.

Our Father in Heaven wants all of his children to know the fullness of his gospel, for all worthy males to hold the priesthood, and for all of his children to have access to temples. Our Father in Heaven does not change, he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The followers of God, however, change in their commitment level and willingness to follow Gods commandments. For this reason God must change the way that he interacts with his children. In the hopeless situation at the time of Noah the way our Heavenly Father chose to act was to Save only Noah and his extended family and destroy all of the other wicked people by the flood. After the death of Jesus and his Apostles the Authority to act in the name of God was taken from the earth because of wickedness.

The Book of Mormon contains an Allegory from a prophet named Zenos in which the restoration of the Gospel in the Latter days is described in the following terms, "And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard." As I contemplate the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it seems to me that those who led the church always wanted to give the priesthood to our black brothers sooner than the "strength of the good" would have justified it. As I understand it, the prophet Joseph Smith authorized a sealing to be performed for a black man in the early days of the Church. When he was the mayor of Nauvoo Joseph Smith gave one of his own horses to a Black man who had recieve a fine from the city. This black mand was a "freeman" who was trying to purchase the freedom of his son and without the gift of the prophet's horse he would not have been able to afford both the fine and the price of his son.

The sympathies of the prophets from Joseph Smith to Spencer W. Kimball seem to have been with their black brothers as when Spencer W. Kimball said, "Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God's eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance."

In the history of Israel we see that when Moses came down from the top of Mount Sinai the children of Israel had made bad choices and turned to Idolatry. Because of the wickedness of the people, the Lord only allowed the people to have only the lesser priesthood (Withholding the higher priesthood) and only allowed a small portion of the people (Those in the tribe of Levi) to hold the priesthood. In a similar way the United States of America allowed Slavery at the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This Christian Nation may have felt justified to some degree in holding slaves because of the words of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament regarding the Slavery that occurred in his day, "Whoever is a slave must make the best of it, giving respect to his master so that outsiders don't blame God and our teaching for his behavior. Slaves with Christian masters all the more so - Their masters are really their beloved brothers."

It is interesting to note that there were two slaves who came (as slaves) to the west with the Mormon Pioneers. These two slaves, a Brother and Sister, had been presented as wedding gifts to one of the families who came west. These slaves were treated like a beloved Brother and Sister by their Mormon Christian masters. One of these slaves was driving the wagon of Brigham Young when Brigham Young said to him, "This is the right place, drive on." These two Slaves were amoung a very small number of Black People in Utah for a long time. These two slaves eventually gained their freedom and were members of the LDS Church all of their lives and died firm in the faith of the restored gospel. In Paul's day and in the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young “the good” did not yet have enough strength to abolish the evil of slavery. Even after Abraham Lincoln had signed the emancipation proclamation there were still virtual slave situations and only after the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. and others did Slavery truly begin to end without the violence and murder that accompanied earlier efforts to stop it completely.

Once the world had conquered the evil and wickedness that existed in the form of Slavery, the “good” was sufficiently strong to overcome the “bad” and our Heavenly Father was able to reveal through the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball that the time had come for all Worthy Males to be able to receive the priesthood. In the early days of the Church the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Saints were persecuted very badly and if they had come out and pushed at that time to abolish slavery and emancipate every slave in the United States of America, the persecution would have multiplied tenfold. In my opinion, the Lord had to wait, to "clear away" the evil of slavery, only then did his church have sufficient strength to provided the "good" of the priesthood to every worthy male. Through the wisdom of the Lord the tree has been preserved and now the priesthood is available to every worthy man who has ever lived upon this earth. The ordinances of the temple are also available for all of the children of God in any age, through the work that is done in the temples, for and in behalf of those who have passed on. God's wisdom is truly over all the earth and his purposes will roll on until all his words are fulfilled.

New Mormon Prophet Thomas S Monson 16th President of the Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints selected a new President today.

Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson has served as the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008. He had served as a Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church since November 10, 1985. Most recently, on March 12, 1995, he was set apart as First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley. Prior to that, on June 5, 1994, he was called as Second Counselor to President Howard W. Hunter, and on November 10, 1985, as Second Counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson. He was ordained an Apostle and called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 4, 1963, at the age of 36.

President Monson served as president of the Church’s Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959 to 1962. Prior to that time he served in the presidency of the Temple View Stake in Salt Lake City, Utah, and as a bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in that stake.

Welcome, President Thomas S. Monson, I look forward to hearing and learing more from you.

Born in Salt Lake City, on August 21, 1927, President Monson is the son of G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson. He attended Salt Lake City public schools and graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in 1948, receiving a degree in business management. He did graduate work and served as a member of the College of Business faculty at the University of Utah. He later received his MBA degree from Brigham Young University. In April 1981, Brigham Young University conferred upon President Monson the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. He was given the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by Salt Lake Community College in June 1996. He received the Honorary Doctor of Business from the University of Utah in May 2007. He is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, an honorary business fraternity.

President Monson served in the United States Navy near the close of World War II. He married Frances Beverly Johnson on October 7, 1948, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of three children.

Professionally, President Monson has had a distinguished career in publishing and printing. He became associated with the Deseret News in 1948, where he served as an executive in the advertising division of that newspaper and the Newspaper Agency Corporation. Later he was named sales manager of the Deseret News Press, one of the West’s largest commercial printing firms, rising to the position of general manager, which position he held at the time of his appointment to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1963. He served for many years as chairman of the board of Deseret News Publishing Co. President Monson is a past president of Printing Industry of Utah and a former member of the board of directors of Printing Industry of America.

With his broad business background, President Monson served for many years as a board member of several prominent businesses and industries. He currently serves as a trustee of Brigham Young University and the Church Board of Education.
Since 1969 President Monson has served as a member of the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America.

President Monson has held membership in the Utah Association of Sales Executives, the Salt Lake Advertising Club, and the Salt Lake Exchange Club.
For many years, President Monson served as a member of the Utah State Board of Regents, the body which governs higher education in the State of Utah. He also served as an officer in the Alumni Association of the University of Utah.
In December 1981, President Monson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the President’s Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives. He served in this capacity until December 1982, when the work of the task force was completed.
President Monson was awarded the University of Utah’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1966. He is also the recipient of the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award (1971), its prestigious Silver Buffalo Award (1978), and international Scouting’s highest award, the Bronze Wolf (1993). In 1997 he received the Minuteman Award from the Utah National Guard, as well as Brigham Young University’s Exemplary Manhood Award. In 1998 he and Sister Monson were each given the Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award by the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph Villa.

President Monson's counselors are:

President Henry B. Eyring

President Henry B. Eyring was named as First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008. Previously, he had served as Second Counselor in the First Presidency to President Gordon B. Hinckley since October 6, 2007. He was named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 1 April, 1995, having previously served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 3 October, 1992.

President Eyring had served as Commissioner of Church Education since September, 1992. He previously served as First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric from April 1985 to September 1992 and as Church Commissioner of Education from September 1980 to April 1985, and also September 1992 to January 2005.

President Eyring was president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, from 1971 to 1977. He was on the faculty at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University from 1962 to 1971.

He holds a B.S. degree in Physics from the University of Utah and Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Business Administration degrees from Harvard University.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, 31 May 1933 he has served the Church as a regional representative, a member of the general Sunday School board, and as a bishop.

Elder Eyring is married to the former Kathleen Johnson, and they are the parents of four sons and two daughters.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008. He was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 2. 2004. He has served as a General Authority since April 1994, and served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from August 2002 until his call to the Twelve.

Elder Uchtdorf was born on November 6, 1940 in then Mährisch-Ostrau, Czechoslovakia, to Karl Albert and Hildegard Else Opelt Uchtdorf. He was raised in Zwickau, Germany, where his family joined the Church in 1947.

He studied engineering and later continued his education in business administration in Cologne, Germany, and international management in Lausanne, Switzerland. Elder Uchtdorf joined the German air force in 1959 and received his pilot wings in Big Spring, Texas, and fighter pilot training in Phoenix, Arizona.

In 1965, Elder Uchtdorf joined Lufthansa German Airlines as a pilot. He worked as an airline captain from 1970 to 1996, flying multiple types of airplanes and completing his career flying the B747. He held several executive positions, including head of the airline pilot school, director of in-flight services, and head of cockpit crews. At the time of his call as a General Authority, he was the senior vice president of flight operations and chief pilot of Lufthansa German Airlines. He was also chairman of the Flight Operations Committee of the International Air Transport Association. He has served as a board member for several government and business executive committees.

Elder Uchtdorf married Harriet Reich on December 14, 1962. They are the parents of two children. Since his call as an apostle, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf now have their permanent home in the United States.

Elder and Sister Uchtdorf love to travel. They have visited most parts of the world. They enjoy hiking, dancing, classical music, and spending time with their children and grandchildren, who all live in Europe.

This is the entire news conference announcing the new President and Counselors (about 45 minutes).

I've included a list of the questions, the video is below.
1. Bob Evans Fox 13 News
Describe to us the feelings that came over you when you realized this position was now falling on you?

2. Dan Rascon Channel 2 News
What's it like to follow President Hinckley?

3. Ekoyea Oyamata BYU Broadcasting
1971 created The Genesis Group to reach out to black converts and also to reactivate those descendants of black pioneers who felt disenfranchized... As a worldwide Church what are your thoughts on training leaders in diversity?

4. Carol Mikita KSL TV Channel 5 News
In 1985 temple dedication in Germany, talk about the bold statement The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made then and its connection to Europe?

5. Jessica Raffets Salt Lake Tribune
President Monson, how is your health and do you plan to travel as much as President Hinckley?

6. Howard Burkus National Public Radio
What would you say to a Mormon woman who wants an education for more than if her husband dies or she gets divorced?

7. Peggy Stack from the Salt Lake Tribune
An international Church, there may be some people that disagree with the Church on say the marriage ammendment. Can people disagree with the Church and still be in good standing?

8. Jenny Brundin KUER
Are you commited to continuing the openness and friendly relationships with the media?

9. Jerry Avant LDS Church News
Please comment on the welfare projects, helping those in need?

10. Eric Gorskie Associated Press
President Hinckley tried to bring the Church into the main stream of American life, but polls show people still have qualms about the faith. How do you view the Church is viewed, and what you think you should do?

11. Jennifer Dobner Associated Press
Where will the Church go, what are your greatest challenges?

12. Nate Eaton KDIT Idaho Falls
Do you plan to continue expanding Temple building across the world?

13. Daniel Carrio Univision
Perpetual Education Fund, what is your message of hope to third world countries?

14. Chris Van Oaker ABC 4 News
You have an affection for birds, burnt almond fudge ice cream, and the color yellow. Can you comment on those?

15. Carrie Moore Deseret Morning News
Concern whether Utah born leaders know enough about the international Church to work to include others?

16. John Hart LDS Church News
What is your comment on those that are less active?

17. Bob Evans Fox 13 News
There is a lot of work, what will be the first matter the First Presidency will need to address?

*If the video above does not work for you, follow this link.

Political Neutrality: Are Mormons a voting bloc?

Are Mormons told to vote for a specific candidate?

Some claim Mormons are blind followers. They say, "Mormons are like sheep who obey their leaders without thinking or questioning." When it comes to politics, Mormon voters firmly follow the direction of their ecclesiastical leaders. They do not vote as a bloc and the Mormon Church maintains one of the strictest separations between politics and influencing member's votes. Mormons are free to vote for any platform they think best represents their personal views.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not:

  • Direct its members as to which candidate or party for which they should vote
  • Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes (a strict rule)
  • Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms
  • Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does:

  • Encourage members to be responsible citizens, acquainted with issues and participating in voting
  • Expect members to be civil and informed about partisan political matters
  • Request that candidates do not imply their candidacy or platform is endorsed by the Church
  • Reserve the right to speak in a nonpartisan way about issues of moral consequence
And Mormon public officials fervently represent their constituency, not the Church:

Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.

One of Mormonism's Twelve Apostles explains, Mr. Ballard:

Knowing the truth by the Sprit of God

Knowing the truth by the Spirit of God
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

If we desire to gain the maximum amount of pure knowledge and to possess as much truth as possible, we must develop eyes that can make unbiased observations. We need eyes that see, not necessarily what we want them to see, but rather, the things God wants us to see. We need eyes that can see the truth in its purity. We must be willing to let go of even our most cherished misconceptions and be willing to change any or all of our current views. All truth comes from God, and therefore, we can have complete faith in the benefit of changing our perceptions in every way that will bring our understanding closer to the fullness of truth we receive only from God.

While it is essential to be open-minded, this does not require us to be ever learning and yet never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Conviction and certitude are not strangers to open minded theists. For, when the truths of God are confirmed in your heart and mind through the spirit of God, there can be no deeper certainty that you have received the truth in the center of your being.

We need to rely on God for a complete understanding of the truth.

A Correct Comprehension of Ourselves
By Appreciable

If there's a God in heaven, If there's a plan for me.
I know that I must find them, If my purpose I would see.

Unless I know why I am here, Upon this troubled earth.
I'll never know the reason, My soul has wondrous worth.

If there's a great creator, Why did he send me here?
What's the purpose of my life? To conquer doubt and fear?

What will happen after death? Why did we come to be?
Will I just stop existing? Or come back as a tree?

What's the greatest future, That I can hope to reach?
Are they only fiction? These words the prophets teach?

The answers to these questions, Are difficult to find.
I look but cannot find them, Recorded in my mind.

The mind alone can't find them, These answers that I need.
I need something to verify, These words I'm asked to read.

The theories of the scientist, Can't explain mortality.
These theories can't be proved, With facts my eyes can see.

I need a message straight from God, That speaks straight to my heart.
Where no one else has access, With all their cunning art.

The Holy Ghost alone can teach, The truths that God will share.
And God will guide me straight to him, With tender loving care.

Our decisions about gaining a knowledge of the truth have important consequences.

Standing in Line
By Appreciable

I'm going through this Life, Just the same as anyone.
Avoiding pain and strife, And looking for some fun.
A friend of mine, stood in a line, And I walked over there.
The company was so divine, I stayed, without a care.
The years flew by as we progressed, Not making any plans.
We thought we'd find some peace and rest, But left with empty hands.
For, when we'd reached the very end, We found, as others had.
We'd been distracted by a friend, We didn’t see the line was bad.
Please question the direction, The line is headed in.
To make a good connection, That the prize we all may win.
Do we want the things this line will give? Or will we later grieve?
Let’s ask ourselves, while we yet live, “Is there more I can receive?”
The moral of this story, Is there for us to see.
If we want to find God's glory, We must ask God where to be.