In the News: Prisons Churches, Museums, and, of course, Hobby Lobby

A round-up of recent religion and media stories in the news. Continue Reading →

Give Us This Day Our Daily Links

A small parade was held in Philadelphia this weekend, made up of area Muslims.  Their objective was to counter media representation of Muslims as terrorists and to bring awareness to the fact that about two thirds of Muslims in American cities are black.  There are about 100 mosques in the Philly area. || A New Jersey mother and her roommate are being held for the death of an 8 year old.  The family claims that the women were under the influence of a local pastor who enforced extreme fasting on church members, encouraged them to avoid family, and to not hold jobs, even preaching that swallowing one’s own saliva is a sin. || Indian doctors have advised that Baba Ramdev, the Indian yoga guru on hunger strike to protest goverment corruption, should be force-fed. ||  Iranian journalist Hoda Saber has died in prison from a heart attack brought on by a 10-day hunger strike he began in protest of the death of a fellow journalist dissident.  Both were members of the Nationalist-Religious movement in opposition to the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. || Mark Oppenheimer writes for the NYT about a recent picnic in Utah that aims to close the door on the Mormon Church’s racism.  The picnic featured members of the Genesis Group, a social organization for black Mormons that was founded in 1971. || Meanwhile, the Mormon Church has issued a statement on immigration. ||  Despite much skepticism that conversion of Anglican’s to Catholicism will catch on en masse under guidelines recently instituted by the Vatican, an Episcopal congretation in Maryland has become the first to do so. ||  The current “Mormon Moment” is, of course, not without some push-back. || An art handling agency is looking for a miracle in Encinitas, California.  A mural of a surfing Madonna, the Virgin of Guadalupe, has caused a stir there, with some collectors offering to buy the piece as the city searches for a way to have it removed from where it suddenly appeared, on the side of a train bridge support.  Because of regulations that qualify the mural as graffiti, the city must find a way to remove it. Continue Reading →

JFK Loved LDS, You Should Too!

Kelly Smurthwaite at writes that while prominent news outlets are citing the Mormon faith of two GOP hopefuls, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr., as a potential “weakness,” “prominent politicians and presidents of the United States have spoken in favor of members of the LDS faith, stating the good that members of the church have done in the world, their country, their communities and their homes.”  Take John F. Kennedy for instance (who famously received criticism for being Catholic and disavowed any desire to govern like one).

Smurthwaite’s article is quite accurate, of course, if not a bit earnest in it’s effort to give a good account of the unnecessarily persecuted Mormons as upright, good Americans.  I would speculate that a majority of Americans would agree, when you get down to it.  Funny undergarments, maybe.  But hell, they’re pioneers.  Just like the rest of us — or perhaps better, if you watch the LDS ad campaign from last year. Continue Reading →

Assessing the Culture Warriors

From Tim Muldoon’s article at WaPo’s On Faith blog, “Faltering and Leading: The Conservative Moment,” in which Muldoon assesses David French’s fawning assessment of the state of the Conservative movement (only evangelicals need work harder!) and finds it almost very satisfactory:

If there is a hopeful note in this ancient and new story of the relationship between faith and culture, it is this: no longer is the story limited to a single narrative. There are three strands (Catholic, Evangelical, and Mormon) that French points to in his article, but there are surely others. Many contemporary Jews and Muslims, for example, are equally concerned that American laissez-faire attitudes toward sex, and therefore toward abortion, marriage, and many other social issues are toxic to a society. Further, the convergence of these narratives around social issues offers fruitful directions for interfaith conversation, when once upon a time those conversations foundered on the rocks of doctrinal disagreement.

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U.S. Senators Ask Switzerland to Let Mormons In

U.S. Senators are petitioning the Swiss government to change a rule that will prevent Mormon missionaries from working in that country after 2012.  The new Swiss law came out of a renegotiation of visa regulations that allows greater access to European Union workers but places new limits on access for those from other countries.

Fourteen U.S. senators have written a letter to the Swiss government urging them to change the regulations.  The article at, excerpted below, neglects to ask why fourteen U.S. senators are lobbying on behalf of the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Continue Reading →