Yesterday I read in the Salt Lake Tribune the sad story of Peter and Mary Danzig, a Utah couple who have resigned their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ rather than face Church discipline.
The Danzigs were both volunteer members of the Orchestra at Temple Square, a Church-operated orchestra that is the instrumental equivalent of the Tabernacle Choir. In June 2006 the Salt Lake Tribune published a letter from Peter Danzig opposing the Church’s effort to pass a federal Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman only. Danzig’s letter also expressed support for Jeffrey Nielsen, a BYU adjunct professor whose contract had not been renewed after he had publicly opposed the Church’s support for the amendment. In his letter Danzig accused Church leaders of exercising “intellectual tyranny” in the Nielsen case, and called Church efforts an “injustice.”
Following the publication of his letter, Peter Danzig was suspended from his position in the Orchestra at Temple Square, apparently at the behest of Church leaders. Mary Danzig later resigned; the Tribune article says she “felt unwelcome in the orchestra.” Over the next year and a half the situation apparently rose to the level of local Church discipline. Rather than face that, the Danzigs resigned their membership in December 2007.
In the wake of this tragic event, I’d like to make a few comments about Church discipline and how stories like these are portrayed in the media. Continue reading
Arriving late at a venue whose existence I was unaware of until just a week ago, I joined a standing room only crowd to listen to the pioneering Book of Mormon archaeologist speak. The atmosphere at the Olivewood bookstore in Provo was electrifying for a student of all things FARMS like myself. There was nary a saccharine, fluff-filled book to be found on any of the shelves, in contrast to the typical fare offered at Deseret Book. Art depicting scenes from the Restoration riddled the walls and was a welcomed relief to the poor quality stuff I have been subjected to from a recently publicized antagonistic website. What caught my attention most was the very enticing Neil A. Maxwell Institute reading room.
We’ve recently posted some new videos to our YouTube channel, including clips from forthcoming FAIR productions, Hugh Nibley talks, and previous FAIR Conference talks.
If you haven’t seen our YouTube channel (or haven’t seen it lately), please take a look!
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In what some undoubtedly view as a hard-hitting video on YouTube—complete with sinister music—a critic of the Church asserts that Mormons belong to a cult because we teach that “DEATH is better than any form of immorality.” (Yes, the capital letters are in the video. Perhaps the video’s producer is doing his best to channel Jerald Tanner.)
It appears that “Finn” may become the GOP nominee for vice president of the USA.
Such a ticket, though, would lose to the Democratic nominees–big. To some Evangelicals, those “bigoted Mormons” would be the scapegoats, since they don’t see “Finn’s” anti-Mormon cracks as the reason for the lack of LDS enthusiasm. Moreover, I imagine that these and other Evangelicals would see this loss as yet another instance of being persecuted.
Unlike militant Evangelicals who claim that Latter-day Saints lie about being persecuted, I categorically affirm that Evangelicals are also victims of persecution. As Glenn Beck might put it, “Here’s how I got there:” Continue reading
Recently Menachem Wecker contacted FAIR, at the referral of the Church’s PR department, for a reaction to a blog that has re-envisioned scenes from Church history through a critical lens. A lens that focuses on the sensational and weird under the self-justifying guise of correcting mistakes that have cropped up in Church published art. Scott Gordon, myself, and others provided Wecker with our individual takes on the revisionist blog’s artwork. Greg Smith created an illustrated wiki article that combined the contributions of FAIR members and his own to treat the subject with much more clarity than my own response to Wecker**, a portion of which is included below. First let me note that Blake Ostler and I (more Blake than me) addressed this topic on the Mormon Stories blog as well.
**Update 2/26/’08: See Greg Smith’s comment below. My original wording is in error. Greg had already had most of his article independently conceived/written to respond to general art-based criticism levied much before being aware of the art blog in Wecker’s article.
Heretic that I am, I regularly read the Skeptic and the Skeptical Inquirer (2 magazines that regularly attempt to debunk anything that seems to be unscientific). Although I don’t agree with everything in their magazines (much of it is atheistic), I do like a lot of what they print.
The other day I picked up the latest copy of the Skeptical Inquirer and found that the first article I read tied neatly into LDS apologetic efforts. The article is entitled “Difficulty in Debunking Myths Rooted in the Way the Mind Works,” by Shankar Vedantam. Here are some quotes, paraphrases, and summaries of the article.
There has been much talk both in publications and on the internet about the existence of two Cumorahs with relation to the location of the Book of Mormon culture.
It never ceases to amaze me that critics insist that the Book of Mormon read like a doctoral dissertation with an extensive introduction and massive references explaining all of the details relative to the culture and environment in which the history takes place.
Brant Gardner explains something about this in his introductory chapter to volume one of “Second Witness” He references Bible scholars who point out that our modern culture is what is called a “low context environment” culture. This means that we expect the writer to explain every detail of the environment in which the story takes place. An example is the need for an extensive introduction to a doctoral dissertation with massive amounts of references and extensive explanations of what has already been done in the field. The Bible and other ancient writings, however, are written in what is classified as a “High context” environment. In this environment the reader is expected to have a broad and concrete knowledge of the common cultural context of the culture that the writer is talking about.
If, indeed, the Book of Mormon is an ancient document then one should not expect it to explain every detail of the culture and environment related to the recorded history. In fact, the lack of detail is a hallmark of an ancient document and gives further support to the historicity of the book.
One thing many anti-Mormons have managed to convince the general public is that Latter-day Saints allegedly think that all non-members are “anti-Mormon.” Why is this?
When we point out bad deeds from SOME non-Mormons, do we leave an impression that we condemn EVERY non-Mormon, even those who commit no such bad acts? Could this impression be why non-Mormons think we refer to them, too as “anti-Mormon,” when we are not? If so, then, of course, we must be more clear.