Category Archives: News stories

FairMormon Questions: How can the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at the US Presidential Inauguration and put the stamp of religious approval on that event?

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FairMormon has a service where questions can be submitted and they are answered by volunteers. If you have a question, you can submit it at http://www.fairmormon.org/contact. We will occasionally publish answers here for questions that are commonly asked, or are on topics that are receiving a lot of attention. The question below has been rewritten to maintain confidentiality.

Question: How can the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at the US Presidential Inauguration and put the stamp of religious approval on that event?

Answer from FairMormon volunteer Craig Foster:

I am only a volunteer at FairMormon and, therefore, my comments are my own and do not represent either the LDS Church or FairMormon. Nor do I or any other member of FairMormon have access to convey messages to the First Presidency regarding the decision to allow the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing at the inauguration.

Still, I saw your message and decided to respond, hoping that I might at least give some thoughts that might prove helpful.

By now, I am sure that most of the country is aware that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has accepted an invitation to sing at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. There have been mixed reaction both within and without the LDS Church. These reactions have varied in the spectrum from whole-hearted approval to dismay and disapproval.

Some of the strongest disapproval has come from Latter-day Saints, active and inactive, believing and non-believing. While most of the criticism appears to have been from those politically liberal and/or Democrat-leaning, it has also crossed political boundaries with some I know to be conservative or Libertarian expressing disapproval. I myself was a Never Trumper and did not vote for Donald Trump. Nevertheless, I approve of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s decision to sing at the inauguration. Let me explain why. Continue reading

Stephen H. Webb, 1961–2016

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Stephen WebbDr. Stephen H. Webb, retired Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Wabash College, passed away unexpectedly on March 5, 2016. He was a speaker at the 2015 FairMormon Conference in Provo, Utah, where he delivered his remarks on “Why Mormon Materialism Matters.”

Dr. Webb earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and, since 2007, was a practicing Roman Catholic. In recent years he had become interested in the Latter-day Saint faith, and published two books on Mormonism through Oxford University Press: Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (2013) and, with Alonzo L. Gaskill, Catholic and Mormon: A Theological Conversation (2015).

FairMormon volunteers are deeply saddened by his passing, and express our sympathy to his family and loved ones.

You may read Dr. Webb’s obituary and sign the online guest register on the Legacy.com website.

Front Page News Review Podcast #9 – Week of May 24th, 2015

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FairMormon’s Front Page News Review is a podcast where we provide context and analysis of the past week’s media coverage of Mormons and the LDS church. Hosted by Nick Galieti and manager of the FairMormon Front Page news service, Cassandra Hedelius.

What we present is not to be understood as being the official position of FairMormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We speak for ourselves, and sometimes not even then.

This week’s news stories:

http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2015/05/mormon_temple_finally_emb.php

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2538827-155/boy-scouts-leader-says-ban-on

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/22/mormons-more-likely-to-marry-have-more-children-than-other-u-s-religious-groups/

DON’T FORGET! Get your Early-Bird FairMormon Conference Tickets now!

On August 6 & 7 we will be having our FairMormon conference at the Utah Valley Convention center.

To register click here http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/conf15a and scroll down the the conference registration.

Speakers this year include Margaret Barker, Ed Pinegar, Stephen Webb , Brant Gardner, Ron Dennis, Brittany Chapman, David Larsen, Jim Gordon, Laura Hales, Cassandra Hedelius, Paul Reeve, and, Dan Peterson.

Topics include:

History and Historicity in the Book of Mormon

Faith and Scholarship

How to help young Latter-day Saints

Why Mormon materialism matters

Joseph Smith Polygamy

Challenges to church legitimacy

And more.

We have both Mormon and non-Mormon scholars this year speaking about Mormon topics, so this conference is one that you don’t want to miss.

Sign up at this link: http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/conf15a

Facebook page hit 3,300 likes.

Plug FairMormon Front Page, signup at fairmormon.orgFairMormon-FrontPageNewsReview-Logo

Front Page News Review podcast #8

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This is FairMormon’s Front Page News Review podcast, where we provide context and analysis of the past week’s media coverage of Mormons and the LDS church. The show is hosted by Nick Galieti and manager of the FairMormon Front Page news service, Cassandra Hedelius.

We hope this will be an edifying and entertaining experience. What we present is not to be understood as being the official position of FairMormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We speak for ourselves, and sometimes not even then.

Links to the stories in this week’s episode:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417903/americans-have-right-insult-islam-rich-lowry

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21650153-some-lessons-practical-conservatism-desert-west-young-tolerant-and-surprising

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/mormon-church-issues-statement-health-president-30762026

http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2475803-155/mormon-bishop-dismisses-teacher-for-using

Get your Early-Bird Conference Tickets now!

On August 6 & 7 we will be having our FairMormon conference at the Utah Valley Convention center.

Lodging is provided at the Provo Marriott across the street.

Right now you can get early-bird pricing for your tickets so register now before the price goes up.

To register click here http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/conf15a and scroll down the the conference registration.

Speakers this year include Margaret Barker, Ed Pinegar, Stephen Webb , Brant Gardner, Ron Dennis, Brittany Chapman, David Larsen, Jim Gordon, Laura Hales, Cassandra Hedelius, Paul Reeve, and, Dan Peterson.

Topics include:

History and Historicity in the Book of Mormon

Faith and Scholarship

How to help young Latter-day Saints

Why Mormon materialism matters

Joseph Smith Polygamy

Challenges to church legitimacy

And more.

We have both Mormon and non-Mormon scholars this year speaking about Mormon topics, so this conference is one that you don’t want to miss.

Sign up at this link: http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/conf15a

Facebook page hit 3,300 likes.

Plug FairMormon Front Page, signup at fairmormon.org

Front Page News Review Podcast #6

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FairMormon’s Front Page News Review is a show that provides context and analysis of the past week’s media coverage of Mormons and the LDS church. Hosted by Nick Galieti manager of the FairMormon Front Page news service, Cassandra Hedelius.

We hope this will be an edifying and entertaining experience. What we present is not to be understood as being the official position of FairMormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We speak for ourselves, and sometimes not even then.

Past weeks Top Stories:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/13/a-great-utah-compromise-on-lgbt-equality-there-s-no-such-thing.html

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/utah-legislature-passes-mormon-backed-lgbt-nondiscrimination-law

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/11/us-usa-mormons-excommunication-idUSKBN0M705920150311

http://www.sltrib.com/home/2229999-155/new-mormon-mission-how-to-teach

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/03/07/258998/water-grab-pits-las-vegas-against.html

Facebook page hit 3,000 likes.

Plug FairMormon Front Page, signup at fairmormon.org

Front Page News Review Show #5

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FairMormon’s Front Page News Review is a show designed to provide context and analysis of the past week’s media coverage of Mormons and the LDS church. The show is co-hosted Nick Galieti with Cassandra Hedelius (via the internet).

We hope this will be an edifying and entertaining experience. What we present is not to be understood as being the official position of FairMormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We speak for ourselves, and sometimes not even then.

Top stories from this last week’s news:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865622777/Officer-in-parade-controversy-speaks-out-on-religious-liberty.html?pg=all

http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/southern-virginia-university-to-work-on-policy-after-gay-student/article_9bc6e37a-b22d-514b-a9ed-916e6baf9b5b.html

http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2015/02/mormons_hand_out_2400_copies_o.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/02/19/isis_is_islamic_but_obama_is_right_not_to_describe_it_that_way.html

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/utah.knocks.bible.belt.off.top.spot.in.us.churchgoing.thanks.to.mormons/48473.htm

Plug FairMormon Front Page, signup at fairmormon.org

FairMormon Front Page News Review Podcast #2

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Welcome to FairMormon’s Front Page News Review for the third week of January, 2015.  Here we provide context and analysis of the past week’s media coverage of Mormons and the LDS church. Front Page News Review is  hosted Nick Galieti and manager of the FairMormon Front Page news service, Cassandra Hedelius.

We hope this will be an edifying and entertaining experience. What we present is not to be understood as being the official position of FairMormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We speak for ourselves, and sometimes not even then.

This week’s top news stories:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/mormon-runs-site-faith-questions-faces-church-ouster-28253817

The Coming Crackdown on Mormon Liberals 

http://www.worldreligionnews.com/issues/mormon-marriages-between-mixed-sexual-orientations-are-more-likely-to-end-in-divorce

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/19/china-savvy-tea-partyer-leads-house-panel-on-asia/

To Vote for FairMormon in the Podcast Awards follow these instructions:

Visit www.podcastawards.com, and finding the “Religion Inspiration” category. Enter “Mormon Fair-Cast” under podcast name and blog.fairmormon.org as the url.

What Is Apostasy?

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The following definition of “apostasy” was penned by Elder George Q. Cannon, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and editor of the Deseret Evening News, in which paper the following was published on 3 November 1869.

Here Elder Cannon sets forth the difference between “honestly differing in opinion from the authorities of the Church” and “publishing those differences of opinion, and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife.”

A copy of the original publication is available through the Utah Digital Newspapers Program. Continue reading

Why Church Discipline?

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In our increasingly diverse and tolerant society, it can be quite jarring to hear about individuals who are being threatened with excommunication from a church. In order to better understand the disciplinary process of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is helpful to understand the way in which Church disciplinary action is viewed by the leaders of the Church.

Past President Gordon B. Hinckley made this relevant comment to the New York Times in 1994:

“Every individual in the church is free to think as he pleases,” …. “But when an individual speaks openly and actively and takes measures to enlist others in opposition to the church and its programs and doctrines, then we feel there is cause for action.” …. “There’s a great spirit of tolerance in our church,” Mr. Hinckley said, adding that church officials maintained “an earnest desire to work with” excommunicated Mormons and bring them back into the fold.”

More recently, the Church issued a statement in this regard, which reads, in part:

Sometimes members’ actions contradict Church doctrine and lead others astray. While uncommon, some members in effect choose to take themselves out of the Church by actively teaching and publicly attempting to change doctrine to comply with their personal beliefs. This saddens leaders and fellow members. In these rare cases, local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled. Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters.

It may also be helpful in this particular instance to refer to a statement that was issued by the Church in 1994, which reads, in part:

It is difficult to explain Church disciplinary action to representatives of the media. Considerations of confidentiality restrain public comment by Church leaders in such private matters.

We have the responsibility to preserve the doctrinal purity of the Church. We are united in this objective. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught an eternal principle when he explained: “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 67).

The statement continued:

The longstanding policy of Church discipline is outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants: “We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members … according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; … They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.” (D&C 134:10.)

Faithful members of the Church can distinguish between mere differences of opinion and those activities formally defined as apostasy. Apostasy refers to Church members who: “1, repeatedly act in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders; or 2, persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority; or 3, continue to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority.” (General Handbook of Instructions, 10-3.)

Finally, this article from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism sheds further light on apostasy in general and has this to say about a member who has been excommunicated for apostasy:

LDS scriptures establish a loving and hopeful attitude toward apostates. Latter-day Saints are strongly counseled to love those who have left the faith, and to encourage, plead, and work with those who have strayed, inviting “the lost sheep” back to the fold (Luke 15:3-7). Of the wayward, the resurrected Savior taught, “Ye shall not cast him out of your…places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them” (3 Ne. 18:32). The desire to return is motivated by the reality of repentance enabled by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:42-43).

For a more in-depth discussion of the purposes of Church discipline and the way in which it is administered, the Church has published this article.

Interested parties may also benefit from reading this article Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve, who addressed these issues in a 1990 article entitled “A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings.”

Mormon Fair-Cast 216: The role of women in the Church.

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MartinTannerIn this episode of Religion Today, Martin Tanner discusses some of the issues pertaining to the role of women in the Church. This episode originally aired on KSL Radio on November 17, 2013 and appears here by permission of KSL Radio. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FairMormon.

Listeners will note that the first part of this episode is missing. We apologize for this inconvenience.