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Mormon In The White House And Sundry


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New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan recently tried to explain to her readers the ecclesiastical implications for Mitt and Ann Romney and their activity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints if the family ends up living in the White House.

Callahan cited several sources in her column, although there is nothing officially from the LDS Church. Too bad. Even if she had just gone to the church's Newsroom website, specifically prepared as a media resource, she might have avoided some glaring misrepresentations of LDS Church doctrine, policy, practice and procedure.

For example:

Callahan wrote: "There are 136 Mormon temples in the world, though most members worship at one of the thousands of smaller churches … " She erred by suggesting LDS temples and meetinghouses are functionally interchangable, going so far as to say that "there are rooms for Sunday services" in the temples – which is simply not true. In fact, LDS temples are closed on Sundays. On the Newsroom website Callahan would have found articles explaining Mormon worship services and the respective purposes of temples and chapels.

"Sunday services last three hours, and begin with the hour-long 'sacrament,' their version of communion, with water swapped in for wine," Callahan wrote. "That's followed by another hour of sermons, delivered by rotating congregants, and a third hour in which men and women split up to pray and converse in small groups." Close, but not quite, as Newsroom articles on how Mormons worship and what to expect at an LDS worship service would have clarified.

Callahan speculated that if Mitt Romney is elected president, he would "attend the same chapel as Harry Reid , located in a leafy, well-to-do suburb of Maryland, a 20-minute drive from Capitol Hill. The optics of a sitting president walking into an unassuming brick building, mixing with and being ministered to by fellow congregants from different backgrounds, would be the best free advertising the religion's had since the Osmonds." For the record, the LDS meetinghouse locator associated with the lds.org website indicates that the White House address – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. – falls within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the church's Washington D.C. 3rd Ward, which currently shares a meetinghouse with the Chevy Chase Ward, the ward that Sen. Reid attends. However, the DC 3rd Ward will move into a new meetinghouse on 16th Street in Washington, D.C., this fall. Church officials have indicated that until it is officially determined that an LDS family will be moving into that address, no decisions will be made as far as meeting attendance, home teaching, visiting teaching and other church assignments are concerned.

Callahan wrote about going to the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors Center, talking to young female missionaries who "wear calf-length skirts, flat shoes and an indefatigable air of energized piety." Then she added: "Less than two hours after my visit – despite giving staffers only my first name and filling out no paperwork – I was startled to get a voicemail on my cell phone from someone identifying himself as a prophet, saying that he'd like to 'start interceding for your life' and asking me to call an 800 number to join a prayer circle." Callahan blithely linked the two events, inferring that the phone call came as a result of her visit to the visitor's center. The Newsroom article on the LDS missionary program would have told her that missionaries are referred to as "elder" and sister," not "prophet," and that their work has nothing to do with "interceding for your life" or organizing "prayer circles." And common sense should have told her that there's no way the missionaries could have come up with her cell phone number based only on her first name.

There are other issues within Callahan's column, most of them similarly mixing a little truth with a lot of misunderstanding — most of which could have been avoided with a few clicks on the LDS Newsroom website.

http://www.deseretnews.com/m/article/865555596

First, I want to point out how the D-News correctly asserts that doctrine comes from an official publication, in this case, the LDS Newsroom which is an officially published Church site. Corollary to that is the absence of the notion that doctrine is confined to the scriptures.

Second, an interesting tidbit about what ward would be attended and speculation about home and visiting teaching etc. Would a Mormon POTUS hold a calling? Etc.

Third, the inaccurate descriptions of LDS worship and doctrine by Callahan. The LDS worship lifestyle is certainly a relative unknown and I wouldn't expect a nonmember to be very accurate. But such inaccuracies, especially in the media, can give rise to inaccurate perception.

A link to Maureen Callahan's four page article is found in the D-News article I link to and here:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/mormon_in_the_EVLJEgspa6o7Q0UD0Js8kL/0

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I want to know who the prophet was that called and was going to intercede on her behalf with a prayer circle. Does anyone know of a group that does this? I don't want to say "Balderdash", but this really sounds like a story out of whole cloth.

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I learned a long time ago to take what is said about our beliefs with a large grain of salt. Again if you want to know what I believe just ask me. I'll tell you. :)

I know you're right TSS, but it irks me no end when people like Callahan write such misrepresentations... just think how many people have a negative view of the Church and hence, Romney, when they read that someone called a "prophet" called her on her cell phone after giving only her first name and no paperwork... think of the image that gives of some vast secret system the Mormons have of identifying cell phones by a first name only... hopefully people will exercise a little common sense. But I learned a long time ago that people tend to believe most anything printed in the news like that column.

I can only hope that some letter to the Editor will point out that there were numerous misrepresentations in her column and refer people to the official Church news and other websites.

GG

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GG:

We could always send in the Danites. :lol: But seriously this article doesn't pass the smell test. Most first names, including Maureen, are common enough that it is virtually impossible to link a first name only to a specific individual.

Hopefully someone will, but I wouldn't count on it. It's even worse when it comes to politicians. How many of us believe anything said by or about a politician just because they are a politician?

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I'm really curious to see an LDS President doing his home teaching. Could he reasonably serve in a regular calling if he's able to come to Church most Sundays? Primary or SS or GD teacher? If not, since there is no activities committee, perhaps he's put in charge of the ward christmas party or is the ward employment specialist.

Would there be too much Secret Service for the ward to function? Perhaps the SS checks the building before the block and searches everyone entering but they themselves, for the most part, do not enter. Perhaps regular Church attendance is a security risk. Perhaps he just shows up to random wards each Sunday. I would hope he somehow would be able to find a way not to be inactive.

Maybe a new White House branch is established and all LDS personel associated with the WH hold small meetings there.

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If I am bishop of the Chevy Chase 3rd ward, and Brother Romney becomes president-elect Romney in November, I am working like crazy with the Secret Service to figure out how to do this. Not only does it put my ward and the church in what would probably be an excellent light, but with the cohort of Secret Service agents, the military guy with the football, and the posse of press that follows every move of a president, Sacrament Meeting attendance, and thus the wards budget allocation, would go through the roof.

On the other foot, hopefully that ward doesn't have the token crazy lady who bears her testimony of her cats every month. I can imagine how that would play on MSNBC.

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I read the article as linked in the OP... at the end there was a link to send a letter to the NY Post in regard to the article. So I did... I sent a letter listing some of the numerous inaccuracies in the article, stating that if Ms. Callahan would have bothered to take just a few minutes to do some research on the OFFICIAL LDS website (lds.org), that she could have written an article that was more accurate.

Get this: The picture that accompanied the article was of a brick LDS meetinghouse. The caption read "Romney will likely forgo the DC Temple for the more modest chapel in the White House's ward."

My comment was that if Ms. Callahan had utilized the Church's website, she would have had information on the difference between a regular meetinghouse and a Temple. In her article she talked about "Sunday Services" being held in certain rooms of the temple, some with mirrors. I pointed out that ALL LDS temples are closed on Sundays, and that regular Sunday services are NEVER held in the temple. And had she exercised journalistic integrity, she would have done just a little research and hence not made such misleading errors in her article.

Anyway, I probably should have just let it pass... but I get so tired of people like her who spew forth these erroneous statements when just a few clicks of the mouse would have taken her to accurate information for her article. Instead she wrote with a tone and enough errors to make us sound weird.

Sigh... GG

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My theory is a dependent branch in the White House, much like what is done in hospitals. The security risk of the president attending the same church at the same time with whomever wants to visit that week is too great. And one of the reasons that most Pres. don't attend church regularly is that whenever they attend their entourage interferes with members. Imagine visiting your uncle in the ward and showing up on Sunday with them andd being told you couldn't attend because you aren't cleared. (Same with the youth being able to bring their friends to YM/YW.) Imagine your toddler running towards the President when they escaped your control? Imagine the crazy person who complains about the incovenience in any way that might conceivably be seen as a threat?

The dependent branch would allow all those who are church members and anyone who wanted to attend a church service but have to be working to attend church. But another option might be if he attended church in a random fashion at any of the congregations within driving distance.

I can't see the president home teaching. I can't see him with any calling that requires he be in a specific place at a specific time each week, either. But I am sure he'd be assigned home teachers and Ann would get visiting teachers.

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There is also the problem with the press following him around. Would they have a problem with not being allowed to follow him inside? Could they be restricted from taking pictures of members who are outside the building?

What about the traffic in the neighbourhood? I can just see how that and security issues would make the local LDS meetinghouse not all that popular.

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I personally don't think a president meeting at a local Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran congregation (take your pick) has posed a significant problem in the past. I don't see why an LDS Church meeting would pose any different type of problems. Should the president ever seek to attend an LDS meeting I am sure it could occur just as it has for other congregations.

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Yes, I think Bush did. I also think that Ford and Kennedy attended their respective churches while in office.

I must of been talking about the first Bush, not W; you really don't think I was actually wrong do you? I seem to recall that happening once, but recently...? Nope, did not happen. :acute:

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If I am bishop of the Chevy Chase 3rd ward, and Brother Romney becomes president-elect Romney in November, I am working like crazy with the Secret Service to figure out how to do this. Not only does it put my ward and the church in what would probably be an excellent light, but with the cohort of Secret Service agents, the military guy with the football, and the posse of press that follows every move of a president,

I've always wanted a closer look at the football.

Sacrament Meeting attendance, and thus the wards budget allocation, would go through the roof.

They would have to have an extravagant Ward Par-tay.

On the other foot, hopefully that ward doesn't have the token crazy lady who bears her testimony of her cats every month. I can imagine how that would play on MSNBC.

Every ward does have one of those. In our case, it's not cats but water rights issues.

The speculation is fun but ultimately, it is a revelatory process. If he becomes president. Big if.

They must censor the news in Canada (as they do here too). At the moment Romney is moving ahead in the polls and has all the momentum on his side. No matter how it turns out in the end, the IF isn't any smaller than 50%. Switch to the online Drudge Report (a collection of news links) and the Rasmussen Report and you'll see the uncensored news. For example, Romney is now ahead with women and recently is 50 - 43 over Obama nationally. Obviously things can and will change on a dime, but his chances are no worse than anyone else's including the current incumbent.

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At the moment Romney is moving ahead in the polls and has all the momentum on his side. No matter how it turns out in the end, the IF isn't any smaller than 50%.

Well this is true, and Obama does not have the gift that Regan was awarded just prior to his second term. With Europe on the verge of financial catastrophe people here will blame Obama for the resulting recession. Still, for me it is a big if - perhaps because I just cannot believe that a mormon could actually be president. This was unimaginable just 6 months ago.

A church survey for New York reports that, although baptisms have not increased at all, the reception to the missionaries has greatly improved. People are starting to recognize the misconceptions in the media and are speaking out against it when the missionaries come to call. I think, perhaps, we may be turning the tide on public opinion as did the catholics. I have not seen the study myself but it has been given to mission and stake presidents.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As to which church calling a Mormon POTUS would be given? My understanding is that members who are elected to office are generally excused from callings, with the exception of home and visiting teaching.

But I imagine that a Mormon POTUS would also be excused from HT and/or VT.

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