Several hundred people with roots in the Mormon faith gathered in Salt Lake City on Saturday to renounce the church’s new policies targeting gays and their children in an event that marked the latest illustration of the fervor the rule changes have caused.

gaySeveral hundred people with roots in the Mormon faith gathered in Salt Lake City on Saturday to renounce the church’s new policies targeting gays and their children in an event that marked the latest illustration of the fervor the rule changes have caused.

Billed as a mass resignation by Mormons, people filled out paperwork and dropped off the resignation letters at a church building. The large majority had stopped attending church years ago. But they said the new policy that bans baptisms for children of gay parents until the kids turn 18 and disavow same-sex relationships spurred them to come and formally cut ties and have their names removed from the faith’s membership rolls.

“We’re supposed to love our children like God loves us,” said Teresa Schofield, a former Mormon who stopped attending more than a decade ago. “To ask someone to turn their back on their own child or for a child to turn their back on a parent, that’s unnecessary.”

The rally came one day after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stood behind the policies issued on Nov. 5, while providing more explanation and clarifications.

Officials said the rules are intended to prevent children from being caught in a tug-of-war between teachings at home and church. They clarified that the rules apply only to children living primarily with a same-sex couple.

They also said that while the children of gay parents won’t be given the full spectrum of ordinances, they aren’t barred from attending worship services.

Mormon church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement that officials hope the expanded clarification issued Friday will provide understanding and context to Latter-day Saints who were considering leaving the faith.

But the new guidance didn’t sway those in attendance at the rally, attended by at least 500 people. Speakers harshly criticized a new set of rules that also make gay marriages a sin worthy of expulsion.

“If you are hurting today, you are not alone. If you are angry today, you are not alone,” said Lauren Elise McNamara, one of the event organizers. “We are here for you and your families. Today we expand from members of a church that excludes to members of a world community that embraces. A world that is choosing love.”

The crowd included gay and lesbian couples as well as straight couples. Many came with children. They held signs such as, “Standing on the side of love,” and “These policies harm all of us.”

Connie Walker of Orem held a sign that read, “I’m resigning today because Jesus says love everyone.” She is a straight mother of three kids who hadn’t been attending church for about eight years.

Coco Barth and Nichole Jensen, a lesbian couple who were both raised in the faith, said they have been thinking about formally renouncing their membership and were compelled by the policy changes to finally do it.

Barth, 19, said she came out as lesbian last summer and stopped attending church nearly two years ago. But she said the rule changes still stung her.

“My family is still all really Mormon,” said Barth, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah. “It’s going to affect my life a lot. Maybe my kids will want to go to church with grandma and grandpa? They will be treated differently.”

Across the street from the park where the rally took place stood one counter-protester who defended the church: Brandon Robertson. Dressed in a suit, the 20-year-old gay Mormon from Orem, Utah, held a sign with Bible verses and a picture of Jesus Christ and said people should stand behind what church leaders say.

About the new policies, he said, “It’s coming out of place of love for these children. It’s giving them a grace period to make a decision on their own.”

The rules, issued to local leaders around the world, prompted a flurry of discussion on Mormon websites, with the idea of targeting kids ruffling even conservative Latter-day Saints who rarely question church decisions.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last summer to make gay marriage legal nationwide, church leaders wanted “to draw a firm line and encourage consistency among local leaders,” the Friday news release said.

In addition to providing a forum for people to renounce their membership, event organizers wanted to show people there is life after Mormonism, even in a place like Utah where more than half of the state is estimated to be practicing Latter-day Saints.

Micah McAllister runs a website with resources for ex-Mormons. He and his wife Sandy Newcomb, also an ex-Mormon, came to show their support. Like many attendees, they come from families where nearly everyone is still devout Mormons.

“There is community and other things out there that is better than what the LDS church is offering them,” McAllister said.

They said it’s not fair that children of gay parents are being singled out when the church commonly baptizes kids who have parents who aren’t following church doctrine and rules.

“They’re treating the gay community like they are criminals, and they are not,” Newcomb said.

Corrupt Mormon Judge Scott Johansen removes lesbian couple’s foster child based on his Mormon beliefs

Imagine an Islamic judge exercising sharia law in a U. S. court of law, he would be hung or shot dead (we would hope).

Now we have Mormon judges’ exercising “Mormon Law” is U.S.courts… Hang the fucker.

Scott Johansen as he REALLY is - a penis with ears

Judge Scott Johansen

Last year, Utah couple Beckie Peirce and April Hoagland decided to get married. Last summer, in a decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, the Supreme Court confirmed that this was okay. Then, Peirce and Hoagland wanted to take in a foster child. So, because the Supreme Court had signed off on gay marriage, Utah child services officials licensed the couple earlier this year. And, in August, Peirce and Hoagland welcomed a 1-year-old girl into their home, where she joined the couple’s two biological children. Plans for adoption, approved by the baby’s biological mother, were in place — soon, this would be a family of five.

But on Wednesday, a Utah judge decided to end this plan, ordering the girl removed from her foster home because he said she would be better off with heterosexual parents.

Hoagland said the decision was “heartbreaking.”

“I was kind of caught off guard because I didn’t think anything like that would happen anymore,” Hoagland told KUTV. “… It’s not fair, and it’s not right, and it hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

A copy of the court order by Judge Scott Johansen, a juvenile court judge in Utah’s Seventh District, was not immediately available, but the Salt Lake Tribune confirmed its contents. Hoagland told KUTV that Johansen said that “through his research he had found out that kids in homosexual homes don’t do as well as they do in heterosexual homes.” She added that, when the judge was asked to show the research, he wouldn’t.

“I believe it’s a religious belief,” Peirce said.

No information about the judge’s faith and what impact that might or might not have had on his decision was immediately available. However, the region is heavily Mormon, and last week the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known as the Mormon church, confirmed it had made a change to its handbook saying children of same-sex couples cannot be blessed or baptized until they are 18. The decision is now facing wide protest from LGBT Mormons and their advocates.

[Mormons plan to quit over church’s new policy banning baptism in gay families]

Although they had yet to see Johansen’s order as the couple talked to the media, Utah child services officials were in a bit of a pickle. They won’t be able to ignore the order, but it may not be a legal one.

“On the one hand, I’m not going to expect my caseworkers to violate a court order,” said Brent Platt, director of the Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), “but on the other hand, I’m not going to expect my caseworkers to violate the law.”

Indeed, Johansen seemed to be the only obstacle to a resolution everyone else wants.

“We have a lot of support,” Peirce told the Tribune. “DCFS wants us to have the child, the guardian ad litem [a court-appointed representative for the child] wants us to have the child, the mother wants us to have the child, so the only thing standing in the way is the judge.”

Judge Scott Johansen. (utahcourts.gov)
Judge Scott Johansen. (utahcourts.gov)
This is not the first time one of Johansen’s decisions — and personal behavior — has been in headlines. In 1995, at the courthouse in Price, Utah, where he served, he slapped the 16-year-old son of a friend who thought the teenager was stealing.

“I knew immediately it was the wrong thing to do,” Johansen said at the time. “This was just a friend of mine who brought his kid over. … It was different than if I was acting with the authority of the state, but it was still not the right thing to do.” After the incident, Price was reprimanded by a judicial conduct commission for “demeaning the judicial office.”

In another unusual case, from 2012, Johansen pondered the fate of a teenager facing assault charges for cutting off most of a toddler’s hair. It was eye for an eye that day: Johansen ordered the teenager’s mother to cut off her daughter’s ponytail in exchange for a lighter sentence. Here’s how the Deseret News reported the exchange:

“I’m going to give you this option: I will cut that by 150 hours if you want to cut her hair right now,” Johansen said.

“Me, cut her hair?” [Valerie] Bruno asked.

“Right now,” the judge said. “I’ll go get a pair of scissors and we’ll whack that ponytail off.”

[Mindy] Moss, the victim’s mother, was in the courtroom and fully supported the penalty. She even spoke up when she didn’t believe Bruno had cut enough of Lopan’s ponytail off.

“Satisfied? Is it short enough?” Johansen asked Moss.

“No,” she replied. “My daughter’s hair that had never been cut, that was down to [the middle of her back], was cut up to here.”

“Take it off clear up to the rubberband,” the judge told Bruno, who protested that the scissors he’d given her weren’t up to the task.

Three years ago, the Tribune, in an editorial, took Johansen to task for his harsh sentences after he sent a boy on probation to jail for stealing a pack of gum. The reason? The boy had violated his probation by getting a poor report card.

“Seventh District Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen has a reliable recipe for turning an underperforming student into a juvenile delinquent, or worse,” the Tribune wrote in 2012. “And, unfortunately, Johansen follows his own recipe far too often when sentencing young offenders.” It added: “That was the beginning of a pattern of incarceration for the boy.”

Johansen’s exploits even led to the short-lived blog “Judge Scott Johansen is a tyrant” after he challenged home-schoolers in Utah to enroll their kids in class, or possibly lose them to the foster system.

“Scott Johansen is out of line,” read a post from 2007 that called him “out of control.” “He hates homeschooling so much that when a school lost a mother’s paper stating she will be homeschooling her kids the judge ordered the mother to enroll her kids in school within 24 hours or go to jail and lose her kids.”

After Johansen ordered the baby removed from Peirce and Hoagland, the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, condemned the decision, which will take effect in seven days.

“Removing a child from a loving home simply because the parents are LGBT is outrageous, shocking, and unjust,” Chad Griffin, the group’s president, said in a statement. “It also flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that children being raised by same-sex parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as those with different-sex parents. At a time when so many children in foster care need loving homes, it is sickening to think that a child would be taken from caring parents who planned to adopt.”

“We’ve been told to care for this child as a mother would,” Hoagland said. “And I am her mother. That’s who she knows, and she’s just going to be taken away.”

This story has been updated.

Mormon Nevada judge Robert Clive Jones in trouble again with 9th Circuit – behaved in a way to suggest “the appearance of justice” is imperiled in his courtroom.

Nevada judge in trouble again with 9th Circuit

It looks like the workload of U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones will be a little lighter than it was last week.

That’s because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reassigned a voting-rights case to a different judge because of mistakes Jones made.

“The errors made by the district judge [Jones] may suggest to a reasonable outside observer that reassignment ‘to maintain the appearance of justice’ is necessary,” a three-judge panel wrote.

And this isn’t the first time Jones’ conduct has come up for scrutiny before the 9th Circuit, either. In cases covering issues from gay marriage to election law, he’s behaved in a way to suggest “the appearance of justice” is imperiled in his courtroom.

This time around, the National Council of La Raza and two branches of the NAACP sued Nevada, claiming social welfare agencies were not signing up clients to vote as required by federal law.

Jones initially balked at allowing non-Nevada attorneys to practice in his courtroom, although the state didn’t raise any objections. Instead, he said the lawyers were representing their own interests rather than their clients’ interests.

Then Jones ruled the plaintiffs lacked standing without allowing them to amend the original complaint. “Such an action by the district court, it hardly needs saying, was unusual,” the 9th Circuit concluded.

Oh, it needs saying, your honors.

Finally, Jones ruled the plaintiffs failed to provide adequate notice to the state before filing the lawsuit. The 9th Circuit said this didn’t even make sense: “It hardly serves plaintiffs’ voter-registration purpose to delay notification of the state, for the sooner the state comes into compliance, the more voters will be registered.”

Exactly.

Although the 9th Circuit acknowledged cases are only reassigned in “rare and extraordinary circumstances,” judges concluded this was one.

But is it rare or extraordinary, really?

In 2012, Jones handled the case of Sevick v. Sandoval, in which several same-sex couples challenged Nevada’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. Jones had no problem hearing the case, or signing his name to a ruling that rebuffed the plaintiffs and upheld Nevada’s constitution.

Of course, the 9th Circuit overturned his ruling and sent the case back, with orders to Jones to allow same-sex couples to marry in Nevada. But instead of following the law, instead of fulfilling the duty of his office, Jones chose that moment to recuse himself.

Robert Jones was Kim Davis before it was cool, apparently.

Jones is also the judge who engaged in a war of words with 9th Circuit judges over a case involving Nevada’s unique ballot option, “none of these candidates.” Republicans sued to remove that choice from the 2012 ballot, fearing disaffected members of the GOP would choose “none” over real person Mitt Romney.

Jones ruled in favor of removing “none” and ordered the state not to print ballots with that option on them. The state was ready to appeal, but with the printing deadline fast approaching, Jones still hadn’t entered his order.

Jones had “deliberately attempted to avoid entering any order that would allow an appeal before that [ballot printing deadline],” wrote 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt. “His dilatory tactics appear to serve no purpose other than to prevent the state from taking an appeal of his decision before it must print the ballots.”

Once Jones entered his order, the 9th Circuit quickly reversed, but not before Jones in writing objected to Reinhardt’s characterization of his actions. It was — what’s the phrase? — rare and extraordinary.

So perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that Jones’ docket is a bit lighter these days. At least, to maintain the appearance of justice.

— Steve Sebelius is a Las Vegas Review-Journal political columnist. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.

Mormon founder had 14-year-old bride, church says

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon church founder Joseph Smith had a teenage bride and was married to other men’s wives during the early days of the faith when polygamy was practiced, a new church essay acknowledges.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says most of Smith’s wives were between 20 and 40 years old. One of them, however, was a 14-year-old girl who was the daughter of Smith’s close friends.

The essay posted this week on the church’s website marks the first time the Salt Lake City-based religion has officially acknowledged those facts, though it also has not denied them.

It’s part of a recent push by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to open up about sensitive issues within the faith, many of which are unflattering or uncomfortable to discuss.

Other articles posted in the past couple of years have addressed sacred undergarments worn by devout members; a past ban on black men in the lay clergy; and the misconception that Mormons are taught they’ll get their own planet in the afterlife.

The new article about Smith’s wives during the 1830s and 1840s in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois, comes about 10 months after the church acknowledged polygamy was widely practiced among its members in the late 19th century.

“As a collection, these are remarkably revealing articles, continuing the new open and transparent philosophy of historical writing,” said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

The information will be surprising to many Latter-day Saints who either didn’t know or were encouraged to dismiss speculation as anti-Mormon propaganda, Mauss said.

Mormons don’t practice polygamy today. Splinter groups who call themselves fundamentalist Mormons still practice plural marriage, including Warren Jeffs’ sect on the Utah-Arizona border.

Latter-day Saints began practicing polygamy after Smith received a revelation from God. He took his first plural wife in 1830 in Ohio, three years after he married his first wife, Emma, the article shows. He and his first plural wife separated, but he renewed the practice a decade later in Illinois. That’s where he married the teenager.

The essay noted that while inappropriate by today’s standards, marriage among teen girls was legal and somewhat common during that time.

The article acknowledges that many details about polygamy in early Mormonism are hazy because members were taught to keep their actions confidential. But, research has indicated that Smith’s marriage to the young girl might not have involved sex.

Some plural marriages were designed to seal the man to the woman for eternity only, and not life and eternity as Mormons believe, the article says. Those types of marriages didn’t seem to involve sex.

Little is known about Smith’s marriages to the already-married women, the article says. They also might have been the type of unions that didn’t involve sex.

Plural marriage was an “excruciating ordeal” for Emma Smith and confounding for some men, too, the article says. Some people left the faith, and others refused to take multiple wives while remaining Latter-day Saints.

When Latter-day Saints trekked cross-country to Utah in 1847, nearly 200 men and more than 500 women were in plural marriage, it says.

“Difficult as it was, the introduction of plural marriage in Nauvoo did indeed ‘raise up seed’ unto God,” the article says. “A substantial number of today’s members descend through faithful Latter-day Saints who practiced plural marriage.”

source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/religion/mormon-founder-had-14-year-old-bride-church-says

Cliven Bundy’s views ‘far on the fringes’ of Mormonism, says BYU prof

BundyIlloWEBBy Peggy Fletcher Stack | The Salt Lake Tribune

Mormon cattle rancher Cliven Bundy takes an idiosyncratic stance on his church’s 12th Article of Faith, which calls for “being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

Bundy, who owes the federal government more than $1 million in grazing fees, supports the U.S. government only when it doesn’t interfere with what he views as his rights.

At a glance

Mormonism’s 12th Article of Faith

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

“We are to be ‘subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates’ as they honor the Constitution,” he told KUER “RadioWest” host Doug Fabrizio on Wednesday.

“But if they don’t honor the Constitution, we don’t have no obligation to ’em. Only as they honor the principles of protecting liberty and freedom of individual rights do we honor them and their government. It don’t say we honor them and their laws.”

Bundy’s view of government is “far on the fringes,” said Quin Monson, a political scientist at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University. “It is not something I see or hear among people at BYU or at church. It has not made its way into mainstream Mormon websites or quasi-church material or affiliated sites.”

In a 1994 speech at America’s Freedom Festival in Provo, LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks rebuked the notion that Mormons can break laws they think are unjust.

Oaks pointed to church policies reminding Mormons in any nation that they are “obligated by the 12th Article of Faith to obey the tax laws of that nation (see also Doctrine & Covenants 134:5) . … A member who refuses to file a tax return, to pay required income taxes, or to comply with a final judgment in a tax case is in direct conflict with the law and with the teachings of the church.”

In the speech, Oaks said “Latter-day Saints affirm that God gave the power to the people, and the people consented to a Constitution that delegated certain powers to the federal and state governments and reserved the rest to the people.”

That does not mean, Oaks said, “that each citizen is free to determine which laws he will obey or that one or more citizens are free to redefine the concept of sovereignty … [which] would result in anarchy.”

There are even rules in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for disciplining members “who don’t obey the law,” Monson said. “It depends on the severity of the situation and the person’s prominence in the church community.”

Such discipline “may not be applied consistently,” the BYU professor said, but “at least there’s a provision for it.”

A recent LDS Church statement noted that “church discipline may be required for [members] guilty of serious criminal offenses.”

Bundy has talked with his LDS bishop, he told KUER, and said he is not in any trouble.

Source: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58268821-78/church-bundy-honor-byu.html.csp

Article of Faith 12: Obey the Government. Always?

October 17, 2008

By Brian Johnston

Article of Faith 12:

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in obeying the laws of the country in which they live. Members of the Church are counseled to be good citizens, to participate in civil government and the political process, and to render community service asconcerned citizens.” reference: Mormon.org

Obeying the law and being good citizens in the larger community is a foundational principle of our Church. In the 20th century, our consistency with this principle opened surprising doors in countries closed to other religious denominations.

The former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) allowed the LDS Church to build a temple in Freiburg in the late 1980’s. It was still a communist, cold-war, Soviet satellite nation. The peaceful and obedient example set by members of the LDS Church trapped behind the Iron Curtain after WWII gave the East German government the level of confidence they needed to accept such a religious structure in their land. The Freiburg temple was actually the FIRST temple built on German soil. The West German temple was built a couple years later.

The positive aspects of being engaged with, and supportive of governments, being obedient to the laws of the land, and honoring our communities has been a great tool to reach out with the Gospel.

I would like to pose this question: Where do we draw the line?  When do we have to say “no?”

There certainly has to be a point where we can not obey the law. Jesus answered the Pharisees and Herodians “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” At some points in history though, “Caesar” crosses the line.

Is it acceptable to go to war and kill other people for our rulers? I’m not talking about defending ourselves from direct attack, but to “protect our international interests.”

Is it ok for members to actively support a government that represses basic freedoms?

Is it noble for members to actively support a government that imprisons and tortures political dissidents?

At what point do faithful LDS members have an obligation to actively oppose their rulers?

What is your personal line in the sand?  I would love to hear what you all think about this personally.

[Please note, I will actively moderate rants about specific countries or political parties that do not add to a constructive and positive discussion.  Thank you in advance for that cooperation!]