Mormon Church to accept gay Boy Scouts
In a major step regarding openness in the Boy Scouts of America, Mormon Church officials have approved the scout organization’s acceptance of gay scouts. Still, the new ruling remains controversial because it bans gay scout leaders.
By Mark Trumbull, Staff writer / April 27, 2013
The proposed policy by the Boy Scouts, announced recently, is to welcome youths into the organization, regardless of sexual orientation, but to maintain a ban on gay adults serving in the organization. The proposal must be approved by the Scouts’National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.
It’s an effort to quell rising controversy, but it comes with its own ability to stir passionate arguments.
On the one hand, an important ally of the Boy Scouts, the Mormon church, has given an important welcome to the move. Important because of the reiligion’s large involvement in Scouts, along with other churches.
On the other hand, many groups and individual Americans are voicing criticism of the Scouts’ proposal as not going far enough. If a young man earns his way to be an Eagle Scout, they ask, is it fair to bar him from becoming a troop leader later in life, based on sexual orientation?
The Boy Scouts of America is walking a line more difficult than many a woodland ropes course: Any position it takes will come in for significant criticism.
Among Boy Scouts members in the heavily Mormon Great Salt Lake Council, some 4 in 5 Scout leaders and parents said they’re opposed to lifting the ban on gays, the Associated Press reported. Nearly half of some 4,700 respondents to the survey said they would quit the Scouts if the ban on gays is lifted.
But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Thursday that “while the Church has not launched any campaign either to effect or prevent a policy change, we have followed the discussion and are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain ‘among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.’
The statement is significant, because of the strong role that Mormon churches and families nationwide play in sponsoring scout groups. The church sponsors 25 percent of all local Cub Scout and Boy Scout groups, and accounts for 15 percent of the Boys Scouts’ total membership of 2.7 million, according to a Saturday news report in the New York Times.
The Boy Scouts of America, defending its proposed policy, said in a recent statement that “while perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting.”
At the same time, many people involved in scouting nationwide are reluctant to change the current policy on adults in the group. The group’s current policy is that “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:22 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
by ALEXANDER COCKBURN
Mitt Romney will be the Republican to face President Obama in the fall. Tuesday night was the clincher, as the Mormon zealot won in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington DC. He may stumble on, but the Catholic zealot Rick Santorum is finished.
It’s hard to detect any alluring feature in Romney’s psychic or political make-up, and I’m none too sure about Ann Romney, who at this stage of the game is filling the role played by the late Elizabeth Edwards in the Edwards campaign on its upward trajectory back in early 2008.
The last Republican challenger to an incumbent Democratic president was Bob Dole in 1996. I always had a soft spot for the guy for his crack, which backfired on him, when he was Ford’s veep nominee in 1976, running against the Carter/Mondale ticket: “I figured it up the other day: If we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans — enough to fill the city of Detroit.” There was a lot of howling because Dole said “Democrat,” thus diverting attention from the substantive charge which was probably true.
When I was on the Village Voice, James Ridgeway and I went to interview Dole some time in the late 70s when he was one of the most powerful Republicans in the US Senate. I think we wanted him to denounce the New Cold War, then being launched, which he was happy to do because he was from Kansas whose farmers made plenty of money selling grain or corn to the Soviet Union. Though he had a reputation of being a savage conservative, we found him pleasant and very funny and he gave the Voice an hour of his time. Compared to Romney, or Obama for that matter, he sounded like Henry Wallace.
Santorum got roughed up for actually espousing conservative Roman Catholic positions. For some reason Romney is being given a pass as a Mormon, as though his religion is of no consequence, as inconsequential a piece of ideological baggage as Bill Clinton’s Baptist label. Columnists evidently feel it’s poor taste to suggest that a candidate’s religion might have some bearing on his conduct and that the candidate should be properly grilled on the matter.
No doubt in the upcoming campaign Romney will attack Obama for his associations with radicals, the lunatic idea — most recently promoted by the late Andrew Breitbart — being that ex-Weatherfolk Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn imparted to the eager Obama the left’s secret plan to take over the United States and put everyone in slave labor camps, have abortions and engage in unmentionable sexual practices.
Alas, the left never did have a plan – secret or overt — to take over the United States. Abortions and unmentionable sexual practices were a different matter. Ayers’ and Dohrn’s actual role was obviously to help hook up the eager Obama with big Democratic Jewish money in Chicago, directing the attention of the latter to this well-mannered Harvard-educated black politician as someone to watch and assist.
The left never had a secret plan or much discipline. But the Mormons really do have secrets and a lot of discipline. Does Romney espouse Mormon doctrines about gays or not? About obedience to the Prophet or not? If not, then isn’t he a fake Mormon, without a shred of principle. Why should be believe him about anything? If yes, then where does that put his loyalties and priorities as someone hoping to be President of the United States and supposed upholder of the Constitution? (Of course Obama has shredded substantial portions of the Constitution without even the excuse of being a Mormon.)
What about Romney’s associations? He is no ordinary Mormon. By lineage, upbringing and personal decision he’s about as dedicated a Mormon as you can be – which is very dedicated indeed. I urge you to check out the piece by a former Mormon in our current newsletter, which delves into Mormon practices and points out that Romney attends a Mormon temple. Temples are only open to those members who adhere completely to the strict standards of Mormonism, including unwavering loyalty to the president of the church.
“The level of secretiveness surrounding the temples is extraordinary, so much so that members of the Mormon Church who have not been to the temple have virtually no idea as to what they entail…Before Mormon are allowed to enter a temple, they must be interviewed by two separate tiers of ecclesiastical leadership to determine their worthiness to enter these edifices. These so-called temple recommend interviews are the first issue of concern regarding Mitt Romney. Among the various questions asked of a member, one particular question goes as follows: ‘Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?’ The very nature of this question, coupled with several others regarding complete obedience to the president of the church (or ‘prophet’), put into question the overall allegiance of Mitt Romney (and, indeed, all Mormons). If members are found to be in violation of this question (or any other from the list of questions), they will not be allowed to enter the temple. Being blocked from entering the temple is tantamount to being blocked from Heaven, albeit temporarily (they can always repent).
“Among the various ‘ordinances’ performed in the temples, none are more divisive than the Law of Consecration. This rite requires members to pledge all their time, money, and abilities to the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth (the Mormon kingdom). Couple this with the demand to sustain the president of the church as the only prophet seer and revelator on earth, a particularly troubling form of absolute obedience emerges.”
Mormonism aside, Romney’s opportunism in junking previous positions when under conservative pressure has been unremitting. Take the single biggest issue in American politics today, the minimum wage.
If you adjust for inflation, median personal income in America hasn’t moved for almost half a century. Nearly a quarter of US households have zero to negative net worth. It just takes one unlucky turn of the cards—an illness, an accident, a brush with the law—to put them under.
Even though the cost of living has gone up, the federal minimum wage hasn’t moved since 2009, when the last of a series of increases signed into law by George W. Bush kicked in. In 2011 dollars, the minimum wage was more than $10 in 1968, when jobs and pay were peaking for America’s workers.
The current minimum wage ranges between $7.25 and $8.67 per hour. Work a forty-hour week for $7.25 and you end up with $15,080 a year, just above the $11,000 federal poverty line for an individual but well below the $22,000 for a family of four.
In November 2008 President-elect Obama promised to “raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011 and index it to inflation to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing, things so many people take for granted.” It was a pledge to low-paid workers to give them a 30 percent pay hike. Of all Obama’s betrayals, this was one of the bitterest. He never really tried, skittish with fear that he’d be nailed by the Big Business lobbies and their creatures in Congress as an inflationeer.
If ever there was an issue on which Romney could get real traction with the blue-collar voters who liked Santorum it’s the minimum wage. As Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative put it:
“these days a crucial component of the Republican electorate consists of working-class whites, often strongly religious ones, who tend to live in non-unionized low-wage states or otherwise generally subsist, sometimes with considerable difficulty, on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Proposing a large wage increase to a socially conservative evangelical Christian who works at Walmart and currently struggles to pay her bills would be the sort of simple, clear message that might easily cut through an enormous amount of ideological clutter. That was in The American Conservative.”
Informally to me he adds,
“One of the more ridiculous aspects of the situation is that none of the rich banksters actually care about the minimum wage, and might not even have heard of it. After all, none of their friends or employees are anywhere near MW territory. None of their nannies earn WM. I even doubt that even any of their nannies’ nannies are paid anything like the current MW. On the other side, if the MW wage were raised to something like $12/hour, lots of Americans would use some of the money to try to catch up on their delinquent credit-card bills, which would make most of the banksters pretty happy. So they’d probably support a boost in the MW…except that the paid-ideologues in conservative DC thinktanks would warn them that it would totally wreck the American economy.” (As I’ve noted before, I count Unz as a friend, supportive of left ventures such as CounterPunch as well as of The American Conservative, whose tiller he took over in 2007.)
The left economist James K. Galbraith, picking up Unz’s suggestion of a hike to $12, writes:
“What would workers do with the raise? They’d spend it, creating jobs for other workers. They’d pay down their mortgages and car loans, getting themselves out of debt. They’d pay more taxes — on sales and property, mostly — thereby relieving the fiscal crises of states and localities. … Women in particular would benefit because they tend to work for lower wages…Working families would have more time for community life, including politics; Because payroll- and income-tax revenues would rise, the federal deficit would come down. Social Security worries would fade.”
Romney was well positioned. In January of this year he said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he favored raising the minimum wage automatically each year to keep pace with inflation. He could have built on this, just as Reagan did in his 1980 campaign with entirely factitious economic populism. But no. A couple of whacks from the Wall Street Journal and fears of being pilloried as a liberal saw Romney flop on the issue at the start of March. Now he wants the wage to stay at $7.25, with no indexing for inflation. In other words, he wants poor people to earn less every year.
In his first bid for the nomination in 2008 Romney’s foreign policy positions were relatively demure. This time he’s swerved into palaeolithic Cold War conservatism, rivaling McCain’s in 2008. Near the end of March he was bellowing that “Russia is America’s number 1 geopolitical foe.” He wants to keep troops in Afghanistan and bomb Iran – this last a predictable bow to the Israel lobby.
In February, president Obama trailed Romney in the top 12 swing states, 46 to 48 percent. Last week a USA Today/Gallup poll reported that in these same swing states a majority of registered voters now favor Obama by 9 points. According to the USA Today/Gallup pollsters the biggest change came from women younger than 50, where the president now leads Romney by 2–1. Not long before the poll was taken, Romney, fending of attacks from Santorum, said he wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood and endorsed the Blunt amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny coverage of contraception on religious grounds.
Romney has beaten off all challengers, but now he sports all their most unalluring features. The Obama camp is not unhappy. Most progressives watch with complacency the suicidal Republicans heading over the cliff. Let them step back and look at the desperation of millions of Americans today. Will they stay loyal and inert right through to November?
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:42 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Mitt Romney, the front runner in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination for the White House, is a devout Mormon, but his cousin, Park Romney, also in the past a committed member of the church, now denounces it as a cult.
"I became convinced that it’s a fraud," Park Romney told the BBC, explaining his reason for leaving the Mormon fold.
The two visions of Mormonism the Romney cousins present could not be more starkly opposed.
Park Romney, 56, is a former Mormon high priest, who turned against the church.
On the stump Mitt Romney, 65, has avoided mentioning Mormonism, instead talking generally about his faith, but he has been an active lifelong member of the church.
"If that is what they believe, it’s probably a good thing they leave, because we’re not a cult”
Mormon Church Elder
He was a Mormon missionary to France in the 1960s, studied at the almost-exclusively Mormon Brigham Young university and rose to become first bishop, then "Stake President" (diocesan leader) in his home state of Massachusetts.
He led Sunday services, ran Bible classes for children and looked after a 4,000-strong congregation in Boston for five years in the 1980s.
Like all Mormons, he is expected to give 10% of his annual income – no-one knows how much he is worth, but it is estimated at anywhere from $150 million to $1 billion – to the Church and not drink tea, coffee or alcohol.
Committed Mormons wear special under-garments, and Romney is believed to follow this tenet of his faith too.
Park Romney’s criticisms of the church are fundamental.
Along with other ex-Mormons, he questions founder Joseph Smith’s prophecies – for example Smith’s translation of an Egyptian scroll, part of the Mormon book of Abraham, which Egyptologists say is a fraud.
The Mormon faith
The church was founded in the 1820s in New York State before moving to Utah in 1860
Mormons believe their founder Joseph Smith found golden scripture plates buried by an angel
The church is estimated to have 14 million followers and to be worth $30bn (£18.9bn)
A recent poll said one in four Americans would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate
"There’s compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the Church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable," says Park.
Such accusations are rarely heard in the US, a nation founded on the principle of freedom of religion.
"It’s not something you’re supposed to talk about," says Prof Robert Putnam of Harvard Kennedy School.
"Whenever the issue of Romney’s Mormonism has come to the surface, there’s been lots of condemnation across the political spectrum for raising the issue of his religion," says Putnam.
"I’m not saying it’s not relevant, but it’s not talked about in polite company."
Mitt Romney’s biographer, Scott Helman, agrees.
"There are plenty of ways in which people try to cause alarm among some voters over it, but it’s not something you’re allowed to say explicitly," he says.
"But a certain function of reminding voters who might have some predisposed notion about Mormonism that maybe it is strange, maybe it’s weird."
Ex-Mormons tend to be the church’s most outspoken critics.
One thing that particularly agitates them is "shunning" – allegations that former church members are denied access to family members who remain in the church.
Park claims this has happened to him.
"I am alienated from my family," he told the BBC.
"Their doctrine, their protocol and their culture as enforced by bishops encourages the families to disassociate themselves from the apostate."
The Church has its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah
Mormon Church elder Jeffrey Holland denies shunning occurs.
"We don’t use that word and we don’t know that practice.
"If I had a son or a daughter who left the Church or was alienated or had a problem, I can tell you I would not cut that child out of family life," he states.
The Mormon Church maintains that it does a great deal of good. Its leaders say they have given more than $1bn in aid around the world since 1985.
The allegation that the Church is a cult, made by Park Romney and other ex-Mormons, is denied by Elder Holland.
"If that is what they believe, it’s probably a good thing they leave, because we’re not a cult.
"I have chosen this church because of the faith that I feel and the inspiration that comes, but if people want to call us a cult, you can call us a cult," Elder Holland says from behind his desk.
"But we are 14 million and growing."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:10 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com