The national LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign is voicing its support for a Mormon Church-backed non-discrimination bill that was signed into Utah law last week, which is being touted by some as legislation that could be used as a "toolkit" for finding the middle ground between gay rights and freedom of religion in the workplace.
Last Wednesday, Utah lawmakers passed Senate Bill 296, which was inspired by a negotiated settlement between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah gay rights advocates. The law prohibits discrimination against LGBT persons in housing markets and in the workplace, while providing exemptions for religiously affiliated housing.
The law also protects people from being fired for any religious or political expression, or speech outside the workplace, and gives parity to religious or political expression inside the workplace. more >>
Matt Fairbanks, an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, warned a Utah senate panel considering a bill that would allow certain patients to be treated with edible forms of marijuana last Thursday that the decision to pass it could lead to severe environmental damage, including stoned rabbits.
"I deal in facts. I deal in science. I want the science studied and looked at, and specifically gone over. I appreciate the testimony that comes before us, I appreciate people's pain. My concern is with the growing of marijuana. How quickly the growing of a cash crop can get out of hand," said Fairbanks, in a recording of his testimony before the panel beginning at about the 58:30 mark below.
Fairbanks explained that, as a member of Utah's "marijuana eradication team," he's witnessed severe environmental damage caused by the growing of marijuana on public land. more >>
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, announced Tuesday it would back legal efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination along with religious freedom protections. This middle ground approach is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ, church leaders said.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the effort "well-intentioned but naive."
LDS leaders acknowledged that the LGBT community has faced discrimination and violence against them. LGBT people should be protected from discrimination in housing, employment and other places where discrimination exists, they said, but religious freedom must also be protected in such laws. more >>
A living nativity display in Utah has broken the Guinness World Record for the largest nativity in the world, with 1,039 people taking part in the display that was presented to the city of Provo Monday evening. Volunteers and YouTube stars played roles like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and numerous angels.
"Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, angels, shepherds ... and A LOT of angels, really," Austin Craig, one of the organizers of the record making living nativity scene, told KUTV. "It's a great way to bring focus to Christ and we wanted to spread that message as widely as possible."
In addition to the 1,039 human participants, there was also a camel and a donkey added to the scene, which was held at Rock Canyon Park from 2 to 8 p.m. MST. more >>
Mia Love, 38, a daughter of Haitian-American parents who became the first black Republican woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, celebrated and pushed back at critics who focused on the color of her skin.
At a Republican Tuesday night election party in her 4th congressional district in Utah, Love wrestled with tears as party officials told her that she had won a seat in Congress in a state that is 91 percent white, according to the Associated Press. And in her acceptance speech, highlighted in a YouTube video, she acknowledged the moment in her victory speech.
"This is a great night for our nation. And I have to tell you, it is especially a great night for Utah. Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress," she said to cheers. more >>
NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders joined adventurer Bears Grylls for a day of camping through Utah's southwest desert mountains where at one point Sanders began to pray in tongues while facing a challenging canyon ascent.
The "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" episode aired Monday night in which the former athlete is shown as he maneuvers through the wild while putting his athleticism, and mental and physical toughness to the test.
"I began to pray in tongues because it's a language between me and God that He knows. But I wanted a direct line, a direct contact, so God could expedite this process and give me the peace I needed," said Sanders in the episode. "I said, 'Lord, you didn't bring me way out here to end it. You've never forsaken me, never let me down.'" more >>