Philanthropy Roundtable featured a detailed article about a private welfare program that is succeeding at changing lives and helping people achieve self-sufficiency. This program is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are often called Mormons. It helps Mormons to get through temporary difficult times and to give them the skills and resources to become independent. Additional programs serve people who are not Mormon world-wide.
For Mormons, the program is detailed. Although it is called a welfare program, it bears little resemblance to government welfare. Recipients do not receive a check to spend as they choose. They first meet with their ecclesiastical leader, a lay pastor who is called a bishop, to assess the family’s needs. These needs may be fairly comprehensive and so each program is completely personalized to meet those individual needs.
To cover the costs of this particular program, Mormons who are healthy are asked to fast for twenty-four hours the first Sunday of each month. They go without food or drink of any kind, including water, skipping two meals and all snacks. They then donate at least what they would have spent on food and drink to a special fund called the fast offering. This money funds the food and other commodities a person in their own congregation needs. If a congregation has few needs, their excess is used to help those congregations with greater needs and fewer who can provide it. (more…)
Robert Stephen Beecroft has been nominated by President Obama to be the ambassador to Iraq. Beecroft, a Mormon, served as the ambassador to Jordon from 2008 to 2011. Robert S. Beecroft served a two-year mission in Venezuela for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are often called Mormons, when he was a young adult. He graduated with a B.A. from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkley. Brigham Young University is owned and operated by the Mormons. He was a lawyer prior to joining the Foreign Service.
He has served in the Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Executive Secretariat and at the U.S. embassies in Riyadh and Damascus. He has served as Executive Assistant to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and as Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Beecroft received the Department of State’s Meritorious, Superior, and Distinguished Honor Awards.
Beecroft has been running the embassy since 2011 and therefore is already in place. He must await confirmation hearings, however. President Obama has previously named two other former Mormon missionaries to ambassadorships—Matthew Tueller, also a BYU graduate, was ambassador to Kuwat and Jon Huntsman was ambassador to China and learned to speak Chinese while serving his Mormon mission. (more…)
Near the small town of Palymra in upstate New York, there is an unusual gathering of Mormons each summer. Palmyra is the modern birthplace of the faith, whose actual name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon is merely a nickname some people use to describe the people who belong to it.
Every summer, hundreds of Mormons decide to spend their family vacation participating in a unique pageant celebrating the Book of Mormon and the modern origins of the religion. 750 are in the cast and many more work behind the scenes. They participate as families, so many children are in the program as well. The challenge of organizing a group this large, even children, into a well-run pageant in just one week would baffle most Broadway producers, but the Mormons do it every year. Of course, many of the participants have done this before, but many more are new. Casting assignments are made the first day and rehearsals are quickly underway. The music and voices are already recorded, so the actors do not need to be able to sing. (more…)
It’s not often that you’ll find the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and CNN simultaneously and very suddenly begin publishing dozens of articles on a common and largely uncontroversial religious practice. Yet, as Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign released tax records showing Romney’s participation in paying tithing, these and other news outlets have been buzzing with explanations and possible implications. Everyone seems to want to know what tithing is and why it is so important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes nicknamed “Mormons.”
The answers to those questions are in the Old Testament. Mormons join Jews and fellow Christians in their belief that the teachings and doctrines in this great book are the word of God. (more…)
It seems that one of the greatest challenges that Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) face today is public opinion surrounding the historical but long-discontinued practice of polygamy. Those who oppose the LDS Church use this topic as often as they can to try and paint the church and its members as anything but good people. The reality is, when there is a genuine interest to understand and learn about the history of polygamy, a better assessment can be made about Mormons and what they believe. The Deseret News has finished up their five part series on the recent Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life, ‘Mormons in Ameria’ survey results, which were recently released. In this their final article, “Mormons say Polygamy Morally Wrong, Pew Poll Shows,” not only is polygamy addressed, so are some other very sensitive and important topics.
If there is one thing that many can agree on it is that Mormons seem to be clean-cut, innocent people with very high moral standards. We saw this most recently on the past season of NBC’s “The Sing Off” when the BYU acapella group Vocal Point displayed their amazing talent for the world to see. During the comments from the judges, there was often reference to “clean-cut”, “pure”, “innocent” and “warming.” So there seems to be one fairly strong opinion about Mormons. However, there are also other opinions that may not cast the LDS faith in the best light. When discussions about polygamy, morality and homosexuality are brought to the forefront, it seems that negativity and misperceptions abound. (more…)
There should be no real surprise to find out that the majority of those who identify themselves as Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are politically and morally conservative. After all, they are a religion that teaches things like not to drink coffee or tea, not to smoke, not to date until you are at least the age of 16, that every life counts and that families can be together forever. The recent Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life, ‘Mormons in America’ survey results were recently released, and the Deseret News has put together a five part series looking at different aspects of this research. In this their fourth piece called, “Mormons’ immigration attitudes set them apart,” we find out some of the areas where Mormons are seen as questioning, challenging or supportive in response to the current political cycle.
The article begins by stating, “U.S. Mormons are more conservative (66 percent) compared to the general public (37 percent), and on most issues, they closely track white evangelicals. But immigration is one issue that sets Mormons apart from their evangelical counterparts.” There is some very good information presented and the Desert News presents this hot topic in a way that can help all readers get a clearer picture about what Mormons believe concerning immigration. (more…)