Monday, September 8, 2014

Will The LDS Majority Affect The Upcoming Plebiscite On Cardston's Ban On Sale Of Alcohol?

The city of Cardston in the extreme southern part of the Canadian province of Alberta was founded by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1887 after traveling the Macleod-Benton Trail to Alberta in one of the 19th century's last wagon migrations. The Cardston Temple, dedicated in 1923, is the sixth oldest operating LDS temple. And Mormons continue to predominate in the community; as of 2012, an estimated 80 percent of the city's 3,500 residents are LDS members. As expected, some of the local laws reflect Mormon cultural preferences as well as the LDS Word of Wisdom favoring abstinence, including a longtime ban on the sale of alcohol within the city limits.

However, a growing number of community members believe that legalizing the sale of alcohol will bring in more revenue; Darren Atwood, the founder of Cardston Citizens for Positive Progress, says he thinks it’s time people had some options for buying alcohol in the town. So on October 6th, 2014, Cardston residents will vote on a plebiscite to determine if the ban on alcohol sales will be overturned, although Mayor Maggie Kronen says the results will not be binding upon the city council since it's up to the province to amend Cardston's liquor laws. A CJOC audio interview indicates that Mayor Kronen not only is LDS (she refers to "our" faith), but that she is personally open to changing the law for the sake of non-Mormons. The ban would only be lifted on the sale of alcohol at restaurants with a meal, at the golf course, or the recreation facility; it would not legitimize liquor stores. Despite the community's LDS majority, the LDS Church has not officially weighed in on the debate.

A second related question on the ballot is whether sports tournaments should be allowed on Sundays. The current ban on Sunday sports also reflects the city's Mormon heritage, since Latter-day Saints take honoring the Sabbath more seriously than many other Christians.

The debate over alcohol has been simmering on the Cardston Values Alliance website for nearly a year. Both sides weighed in. First, the following quote attributed to Grant Hunter:

“We moved our family to Cardston because of the strong family values that we felt this community represented. This community is not 100% LDS but there are a majority of LDS members present in the community. This was a huge drawing point to us as we felt our values would be front and centre, and not be slammed on every front. Unfortunately, there seems to be pressure to change those points that make Cardston wonderful, (ie, no Sunday sports, alcohol free town). I will support any organization that promotes maintaining these wonderful aspects of Cardston. I have heard both sides of the argument, how serving alcohol in Cardston would help restaurants make it here, or how it would make the golf course profitable. I don’t want to see these core aspects of our community changed. I have seen how detrimental these aspects are to other communities that I have lived in. Keeping things as safe and LDS friendly in this community are a high priority for me and one that I am willing to fight for. I support with all my heart the Cardston Family Values organization. I am so happy that they desire to bring to light and stop issues that will destroy the high standards Cardston presently espouses.”

This attracted a counter-response by Tonnia, which I broke into paragraphs to improve readability:

"I think what this group fails to see is that you want to make your religious views the law which is wrong. Natives have enough problems with the 'Mormons' here even though not everyone is. And do you know why? One reason is they feel 'Mormons' are acting superior to them by implementing their religion as law onto them. How can we expect to bridge the gap? Would you like living somewhere where another religion’s beliefs controlled the laws? I agree this is a great place to live, but in order for our children and our citizens to feel they have choices, we have to allow choices. Taking our choices away create more rebellion. Believe it or not, Cardston is not immune to drugs, sex and alcohol.

I solemnly believe if Sunday sports and alcohol were not banned, NO ONE would choose to use either anyways! No liqour business will see a profit, any restaraunt serving would get boycotted, and no one wants to play organized sports on Sunday anyways! Do you see what I mean? But it’s the principle that’s important! We need to show that we are accepting of others beliefs, religion, values, etc.

Being a true LDS member you will understand that we have certain unalienable rights and free agency! It is up to the individual and families, parents, etc to teach their children right from wrong and let them choose! it is not governments’ responsibility to create “values”. It is their responsibility to protect our rights to live and worship how we wish without infringing upon other people’s rights!"

Tonnia's remarks about "Mormons acting superior" have also been echoed at times in another Mormon-dominated area; namely, Utah, and it serves as a reminder that we must better strive for the middle ground between faith and fellowship. Defend our faith without sacrificing fellowship with non-Mormons. But Tonnia also needs to understand that religion impacts culture; a Mormon-dominated area will invariable have the type of laws reflecting LDS values to some degree. Residents of Cardston would do well to avoid appeals to anti-LDS demagoguery when going to the polls on October 6th.

It's one thing to permit alcohol to be sold with meals at restaurants and country clubs. But Cardston needs to avoid the plague of liquor stores vexing so many other communities. Liquor stores, by their very existence, attract too many unsavory elements. This should not be allowed to become a Trojan Horse for the ultimate establishment of liquor stores.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Revisiting LDS President George Albert Smith's 1946 Prophecy; Why It Is Unlikely To Be Fulfilled In Its Specified Format

The deteriorating international situation, with the wars, rumours of wars, pestilence, and drought have triggered a renewed interest in prophecy among some within the Mormon community. Among the prophecies discussed is one reportedly given in 1946 by Church President George Albert Smith while visiting with a family in Utah. The person recording the prophecy was a neighbor of President Smith.

Here is the most important excerpt:

Pres. Smith said, "I have had a troublesome vision of another great and terrible war that made the war just ended look like a training exercise World War II and people died like flies. It began at a time when the Soviet Union's military might dwarfed that of the United States, and we [that is, the United States] would have missiles in Europe that carried an atomic bomb. I saw the United States withdraw its missiles to appease the Soviet Union, and then the war began." He also said that we would have big missiles in deep holes he described like grain silos which the Soviets would try to destroy with their own missiles. They would hit military installations and some cities also. He said that the president at that time would be of Greek extraction.

Until then all the presidents would be of British or northern European ancestry. He continued that the U.S. would be bound by numerous entangling alliances and would take away weapons owned by the people. He talked some about the initial attack and the ground warfare, but I can't remember enough to document all their tactics and in which countries various things occurred. One tactic, especially in Europe, was to transport tanks in thousands of big trucks like semi-trailers on the super highways to have them located where they wanted them when the war was to begin. During that explanation I asked, "What about the Atomic Cannon?" to which he answered, "I didn't see anything like that." Then he said, "The aftermath was dreadful. Think of the worst, most difficult times of the Depression." He turned to us children and said, "You won't remember the Depression," which was true. I didn't know there was a depression as I was growing up - the sun came up every morning, flowers bloomed, we went to school, and there was church every Sunday. But he repeated to our parents, "Think of the worst condition of the Depression. Can you think of something?" Our father answered, "Oh yes!" Then Pres. Smith continued, "You know how Sunday school picnics are complete with salad, chicken, root beer, and dessert, and everyone has a wonderful time. The worst time of the Depression will seem like a Sunday school picnic when compared with conditions that will exist after that great war." When he finished speaking he turned around and went to the front door.

Post-analysis reveals the most likely time of fulfillment of this prophecy would have been 1988-1989. The U.S. had just reached agreement with the Soviet Union on intermediate range nuclear forces in 1987. The key to preventing fulfillment may have been President Ronald Reagan's courageous refusal to accept Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's proposal to ban all ballistic missiles at the Reykjavík Summit in 1986. The subsequent American Strategic Defense Initiative convinced Gorbachev that the Soviets couldn't hope to outspend the U.S., leading to the transformation of glasnost and perestroika from a ruse designed to hoodwink the West into a serious initiative that led to the so-called "Evil Empire" voluntarily disbanding in 1992.

Nevertheless, the threat of this prophecy's fulfillment in this form didn't completely recede until after the 1988 Presidential elections. The Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis, was of Greek origin, and in July 1988, right after the Democratic national convention, a Gallup poll showed Dukakis leading by 17 points. But this proved merely to be a post-convention bump as George H.W. Bush clawed his way back to a six-point victory in November after successfully portraying Dukakis as soft on crime.

Some people wonder if George Albert Smith used the term "Greek" as a substitute for "non-White", and claim Barack Obama is the President under which the attack will happen. However, Obama is mixed-race, and on his maternal side, his mother, Stanley Ann Durham. is of English origin. So Barack Obama at least partways continues the tradition of American Presidents holding either British or other Northern European ancestry. By the way, a short list of 2016 Presidential hopefuls reveals no one of Greek ancestry, although Bobby Jindal is of Asian Indian origin and has no European ancestry.

In addition, Russia's current military might, while improving, does NOT dwarf American military might, even though Russian bombers and submarines are behaving provocatively worldwide and Russia is bullying its immediate neighbors (Georgia and Ukraine). While the U.S. is still hogtied by entangling alliances and there are increasing infringements upon the right to bear arms, the U.S. government has not, in the general sense, taken away all weapons owned by the people yet. Consequently, I don't believe George Albert Smith's prophecy will be fulfilled in its specified format, although some of the individual events could still take place. Too many people have had visions of a physical invasion of the United States by international forces led by the Russians and Chinese for us to dismiss this possibility. Another LDS blogger echoes the possibility of at least a partial fulfillment.

Anklebiters and naysayers will complain about George Albert Smith giving this prophecy to one individual family rather than announcing it at General Conference. But there are two good reasons why President Smith did not announce this churchwide. First, it could have precipitated some panic. And secondly, most people might have scoffed at him. After all, Noah warned the people of the antediluvian world for 100 years that the earth was about to be baptized by full immersion in water, backing this up by building an ark, but in the end, only eight people survived the Flood. Noah and his immediate family. The rest of the world laughed at Noah.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Two More Missionaries Give Their Lives In Service To The Lord: Elders Connor Benjamin Thredgold And Yu Peng Xiong

Just one day after Sister Nancy Vea passed away, two more LDS missionaries made the ultimate sacrifice. Elders Connor Benjamin Thredgold and Yu Peng Xiong were found dead in the apartment they shared in Taiwan after police conducted a welfare check when other missionaries reported them missing. Authorities have not yet determined the official cause of their deaths, but LDS Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said no foul play is suspected at this point. According to a comment posted on KSL Channel 5 by Brent B., a gas leak resulting in carbon monoxide in the apartment is unofficially suspected. Both missionaries were assigned to the Taiwan Taipei Mission. They are, respectively, the sixth and seventh missionaries to give their lives in service to the Lord in 2014.

Elder Connor Benjamin Thredgold, 19, hails from Springville, UT. He began his mission in March 2014 and had been specifically deployed to Taiwan since June. Elder Thredgold was critically acclaimed by his mission president for being particularly hardworking; he reportedly worked tirelessly to earn money for his mission, working 24-hour shifts at times for a disaster cleanup company and repairing computers and remote control cars to resell. Blake Rapier, who was Thredgold's stake president in Springville, also paid tribute to Elder Thredgold. A missionary is formally set apart for a mission by the hometown stake president prior to deployment.

Elder Yu Peng Xiong, 24, hails from the Kaohsiung Taiwan West Stake. He began his mission in March 2013.

An updated story from Focus Taiwan now states that police found a faulty indoor gas water heater, which they determined as the cause of the carbon monoxide leakage. There were no suspicious circumstances and the case has been closed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

LDS Missionary Sister Nancy Vea Critically Injured In Oklahoma Traffic Accident, Passes Away In Hospital

Update August 23rd: Sister Vea passed away from her injuries while in hospital. The family issued a statement in which they disclosed their intent to donate her organs. Sister Vea is the fifth missionary to give her life in service to the Lord in 2014.

A missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was critically injured in a traffic mishap in Oklahoma. Sister Nancy Vea, originally from the the West Jordan Cobble Creek Stake in West Jordan, UT and currently serving in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission out of Charleston, AR since May 2014, is reported to be on life support as of this post. The Tulsa World has a better account of the accident. KSTU Channel 13 also published an informative story. FOX 23 in Tulsa has a photo of the accident scene.

The mishap occurred on August 22nd, 2014 at around 8:30 A.M. CDT. Sister Vea was part of a group of three other missionaries and two regular LDS members heading southbound in a 2002 Dodge van on the Muskogee Turnpike from Greenwood, AR to Tulsa. A comment posted by Becky Bowman to the World implies they may have been enroute to a "conference", quite possibly a zone conference. The driver of the van, identified as 53-year-old Duane Carter of Greenwood, had missed an exit. Spotting an emergency cutout or barricade turnaround in the center median at mile marker 7 near Coweta, Carter abruptly slowed down to use it. The driver of a tractor-trailer immediately following the van jammed on his brakes. However, a 16-passenger VA van following the tractor-trailer did not react in time and struck the eighteen wheeler in the rear, propelling it into the Dodge van. The collision ejected Sister Vea from the van, since she was not wearing a seat belt.

Sister Vea was flown to St. John Medical Center in critical condition. Eighteen-year-old missionary Brady Osborne, originally from Las Vegas, was admitted to the hospital with head and internal trunk injuries. Three other passengers, including 19-year-old missionary McKell Peterson from Brigham City, and the driver from the Dodge van were treated and released from St. John Medical Center. The truck driver declined treatment at the scene. The driver of the VA bus was uninjured, and the five passengers were all treated and released from the VA hospital in Muskogee. FOX 23 says Duane Carter is likely to be ticketed for the illegal U-turn after toxicology reports are received.

A local church member, Gary Hughey, was quite impressed with Sister Vea's spirit:

"Just a beautiful, beautiful spirit, had just a very flowing personality. She had a certain sparkle in her eye. In Hawaii they would call it the ohana, which means the family. The mana about her, her spirit, her spirit was just so vibrant. You could just feel that she had a great love for, for everybody and for everything."

There's a comment posted to the Deseret News by Brent T. that leads me to believe there'll be an update to this story before long. And apparently Brent T. learned of Sister Vea's death through another channel.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Here's Why The LDS Church Continues To Counsel Young People To Marry Within The Same Racial Background

Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long left its Priesthood ban against otherwise worthy black males behind, there's a passage within one of its manuals that has been used as grist for the propaganda mills of anti-Mormons and that progressive Mormons have used to occasionally speak evil of the Lord's anointed. Counsel given in Aaronic Priesthood Manual #3, Lesson 31, makes it appear that the LDS Church opposes interracial marriage. The manual cites a 1976 devotional speech by Spencer W. Kimball, the same President Kimball who received divine authorization to lift the Priesthood ban just two years later:

“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).

A post on Feminist Mormon Housewives by a biracial Mormon validates the wisdom of President Kimball. Kalani, who identifies as half Tongan and half Swedish white, writes of the challenges she's faced in being accepted, particularly by Tongans. Here's the critical excerpts of her post:

I suppose I should start by saying that I am half Tongan and half “palangi,” or “white” (specifically Swedish). In Tongan, they call biracial people “hafekasi” or “half cast,” and can I just say that being biracial is freaking hard?! Author Lani Wendt Young said it best in her novel "Telesa: The Covenant Keeper", when she said that the biracial lead character was “too brown to be white but too white to be brown.” It’s a very strange feeling to be an “insider” and an “outsider” at the same time. All my life, I’ve been told by the Tongan community that I am “too white to be Tongan.” I can honestly say that I’ve never felt uncomfortably different around any group EXCEPT for Tongans. It’s so weird and hard to explain. I feel like I can walk into a room full of people of all ethnicities and feel like I can fit in, but if I walk into a room full of Tongans I’m like a fish out of water. I’m different. And not “different in a good way.” Different in a “look at her...she doesn’t act right” kind of way.


And so, when the time came for me to graduate from high school and venture into the big bad world all alone, I was very ill-prepared to deal with the incredible disapproval I received from the Tongan community because I “didn’t know how to act.” Being biracial felt a lot like walking through a mine field where other people knew where the landmines were, but they were not very forthcoming about that knowledge. Amongst Tongans, I’ve often felt “damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.” If I did or said the wrong thing, other Tongans talked about me and my family, and said I wasn’t taught right. If I asked what the right thing to do was, other Tongans talked about me and my family and said I wasn’t taught right because I had to ask. It felt like a lose-lose situation every time.

A commenter weighs in with a similar experience:

anonymous "palangi" says:
July 31, 2014 at 11:51 am

I can say that marrying into the culture I have never felt more inadequate or discriminated against then when I’m with my husband’s Tongan family. Luckily it’s becoming so much more common to be biracial so I’m not too worried about my kids trying to fit it. Plus my half white kids are way beautiful and that cannot always be said about full white or full Tongan kids…

For the record I believe in gender roles to a point, but to each their own.

This is exactly what President Kimball anticipated. And since people still experience this type of discrimination in 2014, it shows the wisdom of the LDS Church in continuing to caution young LDS members against interracial marriage. The intent is not discrimination, but awareness. Marriage and family can be challenging enough as it is without further cluttering it up with racial issues. But most important in the mind of the Church is for members to marry within the faith.

Too many young people find it difficult to distinguish between being in love and being in heat. In the same lesson, President Kimball gave some principles that should guide our selection:

“In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that, of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as of hearts. Emotions must not wholly determine decisions, but the mind and the heart, strengthened by fasting and prayer and serious consideration, will give one a maximum chance of marital happiness” (“Marriage and Divorce,” p. 144).

In the final analysis, seek the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit, and let that Spirit be your guide.