The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted an official statement on Friday denouncing its previous theories that black skin color is a sign of a divine curse, or that black people are descended from the biblical figure Cain, and said that its past ban on black priests stemmed from an announcement from former church president Brigham Young in 1852.
"The Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else," the 2,000 word statement on the official church website read. "Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."
While the ban on black priests was lifted in 1978, The Associated Press and other sources have pointed out that there had never been much in the way of explanation from the church for its past stance. more >>
Hoping to challenge his congregation's beliefs on poverty, a Mormon Bishop transformed himself into a homeless man and loitered outside the church before service started last Sunday.
With the help of a makeup artist friend, the Utah-based David Musselman adopted a disguise that added mutton-chops, dark bags under his eyes and disfigured teeth. He added a crutch and then waited outside to see his church's response.
While Musselman had braced himself for a mean response from passerbyers, "what surprised me the most was the reaction of indifference." more >>
A prominent atheist organization has said that the state of Utah is afraid of the Mormon church after the group had significant trouble having pro-atheist billboards posted in Salt Lake City.
The American Atheists organization recently tried to have three to five billboards posted near Salt Lake City's downtown area to notify residents of the early bird September rates for its upcoming conference, taking place April 17 to 20 at the Salt Lake City's downtown Hilton hotel. Although the organization reportedly called nine locally-based advertising companies to help with the billboards, they only received two call backs.
"What this really communicates to us is the stranglehold that the Mormon church has on the community in Utah," Dave Muscato, the American Atheists public relations director, told The Salt Lake Tribune. "It reminds me of the Mafia in Italy. They don't even have to make threats. People just know that they're supposed to be afraid." more >>
The state of Utah defended its ban on same-sex marriage in court on Friday, arguing that the 2004 constitutional amendment recognizing only traditional marriage proves the state's interest in promoting "responsible procreation." The state also argued that its "child-centric" culture grants it the right to assert the "age-old and still predominant" traditional definition of marriage.
The comments were made Friday by lawyers for the state to U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby of Salt Lake City. The state is requesting that Shelby grant a summary judgment in the federal court case Kitchen vs. Herbert, in which three same-sex couples are charging that the state's 2004, voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs, including Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity; Karen Archer and Kate Call; and Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, argue that the ban, known as Amendment 3, practices discrimination against same-sex couples in the state as it denies what they see to be the basic, fundamental right to marriage. The state's Amendment 3 not only constitutionally bans same-sex marriage in the state but also refuses to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Supporters of the Amendment have argued it does not discriminate against anyone as all people have the "right to marry," but simply that marriage, by definition, is a union between one man and one woman. more >>
Defying orders from the country's largest Boy Scouts council, members and adult volunteers of the youth organization chose to wear their Boy Scouts uniforms while marching in Utah's gay pride parade last Sunday.
The Utah Pride Festival Parade took place 10 days after the Boy Scouts delegates voted by 61 percent to lift the organization's ban on openly gay members at its annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
The Great Salt Lake Council had forbidden Boy Scouts members from wearing their uniforms in the pride parade due to the organization's guidelines, which prohibit advocating a political or social agenda. more >>
As it prepares to vote on its ban of openly gay members in May, the Boy Scouts of America youth organization recently rejected an application for troop sponsorship by the Utah Pride Center, an LGBT advocacy group based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Boy Scouts of America said in statement to multiple media outlets that it is currently focusing on an "internal discussion about its membership standards," and did not believe the Utah Pride Center's chartering of a troop would be beneficial to the organization.
"The BSA is engaged in an internal discussion about its membership standards policy and is working to stay focused on Scouting's mission," Deron Smith, public relations director for the century-old youth organization, said in an emailed statement to The Salt Lake Tribune. more >>