The Cultural Hall News Report – Click Here

1.) The news stories of Mormons getting involved in refugee activities are starting to come in more and more, as many Mormons “on the front lines of the global refugee crisis made presentations Monday during the annual conference of the LDS International Society at BYU’s Hinckley Alumni and Visitor’s Center,” according to Tad Walch of the Deseret News. The piece does a great job of covering many of the real-life stories of those volunteering on the “front-lines” of the different refugee humanitarian efforts, but also has this quote from Elder Bruce A. Carlson (emeritus Seventy and retired four-star Air Force general) concerning President Uchtdorf’s emotional response to Elder Patrick Kearon’s talk during Sunday Afternoon’s General Conference: “I was very touched at the end of Elder Kearon’s remarks with the emotional response of President Uchtdorf..This is a sensitive subject with him…and I will tell you it is a sensitive subject with all the (senior leaders of) the church. They are very concerned about this building problem around the world and what our response will be.”

2.) There are rumblings in the FLDS community, and whenever I hear rumblings I get worried for them. Fox 13 reports today that, ahead of the federal court hearing for FLDS bishop Lyle Jeffs, imprisoned brother Warren Jeffs is pronouncing apocalyptic messages from jail. Tonia Tewell, director of the non-profit group Holding Out Help, which works with people leaving polygamous communities, said she has heard similar rumors about Jeffs pronouncements: “April 6 is supposed to be the end of the world and only the most righteous will be saved. I’ve also heard that’s when the prison walls are supposed to crumble and only Warren and Lyle will be let go,” she told FOX 13. Tewell said she had a teenage boy her group was helping who wanted to get back into the church recently because he wanted to get to heaven before the end of the world. Of course, when the apocalypse comes and goes, Tewell said, followers are told it’s another test — and they must do more to stay worthy.

3.) A lawsuit filed in a Navajo Nation District Court last week from two individuals accuse the LDS Church of doing “nothing to protect two children from sexual abuse in the 1970s and early 1980s” during the Indian Placement Program. According to Brandy Zadrozny’s report in the Daily Beast, “The plaintiffs are asking for unspecified damages, as well as a letter of apology to them and to the entire Navajo Nation; a change in church policy requiring church members to report charges of sexual abuse to the police; and the creation of a task force that would help to restore the Navajo culture that some participants say the program effectively erased.” The now-adult siblings RJ and MM (The Daily Beast does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse) allege that they were sexually molested by members of their foster family. “During his year in the program, RJ says he was sporadically sexually molested by members of his foster family. When he told an LDS Social Services caseworker—a paid employee tasked with overseeing the safety and well-being of Native children in their new homes—RJ was moved to another foster family. But the alleged abuse continued, both for him and for his older sister, MM. According to the complaint, MM was raped by a friend of her foster family and later molested by her foster father…The LDS Church did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. In a statement released last week, it said: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and works actively to prevent abuse. The Church will examine the allegations and respond appropriately.””


  • There have been a rash of LDS church vandalisms happening in various parts of the world recently, the latest coming in town of Hillboro, Oregon. Interestingly enough, this has a happy ending. According to news station KATU 2, Hillsboro police arrested two teenage boys, 15 and 16 years old, early Tuesday morning after receiving a tip Monday night for the break-in and vandalism that happened on March 25th. The boys have targeted a few churches in the area. And then there’s this: “Rob Fotheringham, Hillsboro Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says he met with the boys and their parents before they were taken into custody. “They explained that they had some struggles in life,” Fotheringham said of their conversation. “It was being revealed in angry ways.” Fotheringham says he offered support to the boys and their families once they were through their judicial process. “They had no real purpose in doing it,” he said. “This could be a starting point for them to make a change, to turn their lives around and to make a better start of it…If anything, a church might have been an ideal place for them to learn that kind of lesson,” Fotheringham said.” President Fotherhingham sounds like a pretty decent guy. I like having leaders like him in the news. KSL has the coverage of the vandalism here.
  • Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator, GOP Presidential Candidate, and arch-nemesis to Donald Trump won the Republican Primary last night in Wisconsin, and cited Utah as a “turning point” in his campaign (according to a KUTV 2 report by Chris Jones). And then there’s this: “Cruz also promised to protect religious institutions, including Brigham Young University, against what he see as increasing intolerance of faith. “Catholic schools and Jewish day schools, Brigham Young and the Little Sisters of the Poor will see a Supreme Court that protects their religious liberty,” said Cruz.”
  • Paul Matzko, a history professor at Penn State University who covers 20th century American Politics and Religion has a post today on his website with a very interesting title: “Why Mormons Love Ted Cruz.” Based on some statistical analysis, Matzko finds “It doesn’t take more than a glance at the Utah data to see that Ted Cruz did best in places with the most practicing Mormons. Indeed, Cruz earned a significantly higher share of Mormon voters than he did evangelical voters in any other state.” Written as an outsider, I found it to be not just an objective overview of Mormonism in America over the last 200 years, but also does a great job connecting dots between the current Evangelical and Mormon movements. Great outsider objective academic takes on Mormonism. This is the equivalent of a Christmas gift to me.
  • From the “Mormons Behaving Badly” files: Russell Millsaps, a retired Mesa (AZ) police sergeant, was charged with 28 counts of sex crimes against children, including child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor, and sexual exploitation of a minor. Prosecuting attorney Erin Pedicone claims manipulation played a big factor in Millsaps alleged misdeeds, whether it be through “his victims, church members, and authorities with his position in the community to keep his perverse actions from being exposed.” It appears Millsaps is a Mormon, based on this sentence in AZ Central: “Pedicone said detectives found suggestive photos of children on Millsaps’ phone. The prosecution also included a January 2015 report from a 30-year-old man who said Millsaps molested him when he was 12 to 14 years old. According to Pedicone, the man said the abuse occurred when Millsaps volunteered to drive him to collect tithes from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Millsaps has pled not guilty to the charges.
  • Sean Means of the Salt Lake Tribune reports today that “Saturday’s Warrior” had a good opening weekend, taking in $96,041 in its first three days on nine Utah screens. “”Saturday’s Warrior” brought in plenty of money on Friday and Saturday, but dropped off sharply on Sunday — a reflection of the movie’s target audience, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are discouraged from engaging in commerce on the Sabbath. However, according to the box-office compilation service Rentrak, “Saturday’s Warrior” made another $34,828 on Monday — perhaps reflecting the Mormon tradition of Family Home Evening, when LDS families reserve time for a shared activity.”
  • Uncomfortable…from “What if the General Authorities were Disney Characters.” It’s a thing.
  • For your information – the LDS Church website has updated their General Conference page with the text from talks occuring two weeks ago at Women’s Conference plus this past weekend’s addresses. You can find the entire rundown of talks here.
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