June 21st, 2012
10:56 PM ET
By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
Washington (CNN) - Two communities dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its jailed leader Warren Jeffs have been sued by the federal government for alleged religious discrimination against citizens who don't belong to the polygamous sect.
The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department filed suit against Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and their local utility companies for taking actions including denying or delaying water to nonmembers of the FLDS faith.
The government says over time some actions have been taken by the communities under state pressure to end the discrimination but that federal authorities are seeking a court order to prevent future discrimination by the defendants. The government also is demanding monetary damages be repaid to those harmed by the discrimination.
The government stressed the fundamentalist offshoot has no relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which ended polygamy more than a century ago.
June 4th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - A gay pride parade in Mormon-heavy Salt Lake City drew thousands of participants, including a few hundred Mormons, whose church has been criticized by gay rights activists for its activism against same-sex marriage.
The Mormon contingent for Sunday's parade wasn’t made up of gay members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but rather straight Mormons who want to show support for gay and lesbians, according to CNN affiliate KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City.
The Mormon group marched near the front of the parade, just behind the event's grand marshal, Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter ("Milk") who grew up in the church, according to KSTU.
April 17th, 2012
12:25 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Kevin Kloosterman, a former Mormon bishop, said he “came out” last year - just not in the way that many people associate with coming out.
“I came out and basically made a personal apology to (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) folks for really not understanding their issues, not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework,” Kloosterman said in an interview with CNN.
Though not speaking on behalf of the church, the then-bishop stood in front of a crowd of gay and straight Mormons at a November conference on gay and lesbian issues in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered.
Donning a suit and tie, Kloosterman was visibly shaken, struggling to find the right words as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry - deeply, deeply sorry,” Kloosterman told the group in a speech that was captured on video. “The only thing I can say to those of you who have been so patient, and have gone through so much, is for you to watch and look for any small changes with your loved ones, with your wards (Mormon congregations), with your leaders. And encourage them in this repentance process.”
March 9th, 2012
07:50 AM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) - In response to recent media reports that well-known Jewish Holocaust victims and slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl were baptized by proxy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is renewing and revamping efforts to crack down on the practice and, some believe, stop the attention.
The church said this week it had implemented a “new technological barrier” to prevent abuse of its massive genealogical database, parts of which have been used to carry out – as well as expose - proxy baptisms.
"The church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy baptism,” spokesman Michael Purdy said in a written statement.
July 13th, 2011
08:46 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - The stars of TLC's "Sister Wives" reality show sued Utah's governor Wednesday, asking a judge to block the state's long-standing law against polygamy.
The suit, filed in federal court on behalf of Kody Brown and his four wives, argues that Utah's restrictions are unconstitutional.
"By criminalizing religious-based plural families and intimate relationships under the criminal bigamy law, Utah officials prosecute private conduct between consenting adults," the lawsuit says.
July 12th, 2011
01:26 PM ET
By Joe Sterling, CNN
Kody Brown and his four wives - the stars of the reality TV show "Sister Wives" - will soon be the subjects of another real-life drama, this one at the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Browns plan to challenge the state's anti-bigamy statute Wednesday, when attorney Jonathan Turley files a complaint on behalf of the family's fight for the rights of "plural families."
"There are tens of thousands of plural families in Utah and other states. We are one of those families," Kody Brown said in a statement posted on Turley's website Tuesday. "We only wish to live our private lives according our beliefs."
June 29th, 2011
03:39 PM ET
By Padmananda Rama, CNN
(CNN)– The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is reminding its leaders to stay away from endorsing political candidates or offering political statements.
In a letter dated June 16. LDS President Thomas S. Monson provided LDS members with "further clarification of the church's position on political neutrality."
The letter comes at the early stages of the 2012 presidential campaign in which two Republican contenders - former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman - both have strong affiliations with the Mormon church.
April 15th, 2011
05:08 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
The scene played out like many other Seders at Jewish campus centers, but in Provo, Utah, there was a twist. This traditional Passover celebration was hosted by Brigham Young University.
As Gabrielle Birkner writes in The Jewish Daily Forward, about 160 people packed into a hall at the Mormon college a few Fridays ago to dip the bitter herbs in salt water and remember the tears shed when the Israelites fled Egypt to escape slavery.
According to the university, Birkner reports, only three Jews are enrolled there; 99% of the students identify as Mormon.
The premier college of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is hosting seven Seders this spring, Birkner writes. FULL POST
March 4th, 2011
10:42 AM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
Brigham Young University officials on Thursday stood by the decision to dismiss a standout player on the Cougars' highly ranked men's basketball team, saying they are treating Brandon Davies just like they would any other student.
The school's athletic department announced Tuesday that Davies - a starting forward from Provo would no longer be part of the team this season. The university came into the week ranked third in the nation in the Associated Press Top 25 and Coaches polls.
Officials did not specify why, exactly, Davies was being suspended during a press conference Thursday.
But the Salt Lake Tribune, citing "multiple sources," said that the sophomore violated the honor code provision prohibiting premarital sex among students.
March 3rd, 2011
04:59 PM ET
Sticking to principles appears to carry a steep cost for the nation's third-ranked college basketball team.
A day after Brigham Young University dismissed center Brandon Davies from the team for violating the school's strict honor code, the No. 3-ranked Cougars were throttled Wednesday by unranked New Mexico.
"The honor code really reflects who we are as a university. It defines us and it does make us different," BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins told CNN affiliate KSTU-TV.
Davies, a 6-9 sophomore from Provo, was the team's top rebounder and third-leading scorer. He received the Cougars' Academic Excellence award last season, according to an online profile.
BYU had been gunning for a high seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, but the team's fortunes took a tumble with Wednesday night's 82-64 loss to New Mexico.
University officials said Davies admitted violating the honor code at BYU, which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.
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