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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) Becky McKinnon, 33, a Federal Aviation Administration engineer, and her boyfriend Timmy Chou, 56, who was once a Mormon missionary, hand out cards wherever they go, even in Utah. The cards say, “Are you questioning the Mormon church? Thinking about leaving the Mormon church? Already left the Mormon church? YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE.” The cards list six websites, including PostNoemon.org, an online community for ex-Mormons that has 9,275 registered members. (Newsweek, 1/30/14) [IT 5.2] 
Speaking at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Senior District Judge Howard Riddle has ruled that Thomas Monson, president of the US-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will not appear in a British court over claims some of its teachings amount to fraud. The judge has called the case brought by former Church member Tom Phillips against Monson an abuse of court process, saying he was “satisfied that the process of the court is being manipulated to provide a high-profile forum to attack the religious beliefs of others.” Malcolm Adcock, the Church’s assistant director for public affairs in Europe, concurred with the judge’s views.

Phillips claimed Mr. Monson breached the Fraud Act by seeking money using “untrue or misleading” statements. Between February 2008 and December 2013 Mr. Monson allegedly induced two men to pay an “annual tithe” based on untrue teachings related to human history on earth, the source and accuracy of Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon translations, and the descendancy of Native Americans.

The summons, signed by District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe, ordered Mr. Monson to appear at Westminster and threatened arrest if he did not. But Judge Riddle ruled the threat of arrest was “wrong” and should not have been made. He described the attempted prosecution as “tenuous”, with no chance of ever making it to trial. “To convict, a jury would need to be sure that the religious teachings of the Mormon Church are untrue or misleading,” he said. And “no judge in a secular court in England and Wales would allow that issue to be put to a jury.”

BBC religious-affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said a court decision to pursue the case would have had “awkward implications” for other religions, and that a “ruling against the literal truth of Adam and Eve” could have been seen as the “start of a slippery slope” of legal challenges to religious beliefs. (BBC News/UK, 3/20/14) [IT 5.2] 

The [mainline] Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is coming to grips with the doubt and disillusionment felt by members who have found information on the Internet that contradicts important teachings of their religion. For example, the church teaches that founder Joseph Smith said the Book of Abraham, a core scripture, was a translation of ancient writings of the Hebrew patriarch, although Egyptologists now say the papyrus Smith used in the translation was a common funerary scroll that has nothing to do with Abraham. (The New York Times, 7/20/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Officials of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced last month that the practice of sending young missionaries door-to-door to proselytize should end. The church will rely more on social media and its website to communicate with people about Mormonism, and on direct referrals from other Mormons. The church says that today it deploys more missionaries worldwide than ever, some 70,000 since it lowered the minimum age for missionaries from 19 to 18 for men and 21 to 19 for women. (Beaumont Enterprise, 7/21/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 
The latest editions of the four books that constitute the Mormon scriptures employ new language about race and polygamy that the church says provides a more accurate statement of its views. The new editions say that founder Joseph Smith ordained several black men, and that it is not known when or why the church “stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent,” a prohibition that was officially rescinded in 1978. The new editions, however, do not deny myths that defend the denial of priesthood to blacks, saying only that Mormon leaders believed it would take a revelation to undo the ban. The head of a black Mormon support group is “thrilled” with the statements referring to blacks. As to polygamy, according to a Mormon political science professor at Texas A&M University, we see that “plural marriage” (notice, not a “plurality of wives”) is to be viewed as a principle and not as a commandment, and that the “standard” of marriage is monogamy… Small changes such as these can be momentous in their impact on the lives of current and future Saints [Mormons], which is no doubt why they are attended to with such concern and finesse. Mormon researcher Brian Hales says, “We are admitting our past better than we ever have before.” (Salt Lake Tribune, 1/3/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 
Rodney Stark and his colleagues studied the growth of the Mormon church in order to learn what factors, beyond those accounting for the typical exponential increase in membership over time, may explain the explosive growth of new religious movements historically. The researchers concluded that nearly all early conversions to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came through family ties and a few close friendship links. This style of growth continues in a church that now counts 13 million followers. (Washington County Observer, 10/27/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 
Billy Graham has been criticized by certain Christian evangelicals for removing language from a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Web site that characterized Mormonism as a cult. Removal of the offending language followed Graham’s meeting with presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), after which Graham told Romney, “I’ll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that.” One evangelical said a result of the episode “will be the acceptance and approval of Mormonism as a legitimate Christian ‘denomination’ or faith group. The blurring will only increase if Mitt Romney is elected president.” (Deseret News, 10/28/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 
Walter Kirn, in “Confessions of an Ex-Mormon,” tells of his father’s mental breakdown and how his family was brought to Mormonism. The popular image of Mormons as brainwashed robots is wrong. In fact, Mormonism is “our country’s longest experiment with communitarian idealism, promoting an ethic of frontier-era burden sharing that has been lost in contemporary America.” Providing insights into Mormon lifestyles and rituals, Kirn says that the Mormons are not “straight-laced.” Mormon mythology strained his belief, and he became skeptical of its doctrine; but the reason he left the church, after many years, was that he could no longer bear the responsibility of caring about other people and trying to help them, whether or not they were Mormons. After leaving, he happily became involved in a quasicommunitarian group in urban Southern California. (New Republic, 7/13/12) [IT 3.3 2012]

The American Psychological Association (APA) has apologized to the Utah Psychological Association for saying the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) uses “brainwashing,” “mind control,” and “powerful psychological techniques” to retain members and motivate missionaries. The statements about the major Mormon denomination in the U.S. were made to promote the documentary, “Get the Fire,” screened at the annual APA meeting last year. (Carrie A. Moore, Deseret Morning News, Internet, 4/30/04) [csr 4.2 2005]

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