Kirkko myöntää avoimesti aikovansa käyttää hyödykseen olympialaisia

Olympialaiset "tarjoavat tilaisuuden" kirkolle

Kirkko ei kuulemma aio osallistua vuoden 2002 talviolympialaisten lähettämiseen, sponsorointiin tai järjestämiseen. Kirkko oli kuitenkin mukana jo siinä vaiheessa, kun Salt Lake City haki oikeutta järjestää ne. Ei ole vaikea laskea, että heidän vahva motiivinsa oli juuri saada tällöin esitellä kirkkoa mielin määrin ja päästä "siinä sivussa" maailman valokeilaan.
    Kirkko on myös jo ehättänyt riidellä siitä, saako olympialaisten aikana normaalisti tarjota olutta, väkijuomia ym. ikään kuin heillä olisi oikeus määrätä vierailijoidenkin tavoista ja tarpeista. Voi olla mielenkiintoista nähdä, mitä tästä tulee.
    Tapahtuma alkaa vuoden kuluttua, 8. helmikuuta 2002. Kirkolla on silloin kotikenttäetu. Olympialaiset tarjoavat kirkolle tilaisuuden tiedottaa ja opettaa sekä "korjata väärinkäsityksiä".
   "Ehkäpä ilmiömäisin juttu tässä on se, että me olemme lähettäneet 150 vuoden ajan ihmisiä maailmalle. Ja nyt se vihdoin tulee meidän luoksemme," sanoo kirkon virallinen puhemies Bruce Olsen.

Kirkko haluaa päästä eroon kulttimaisesta "mormoni"-nimityksestä.

Voi vierailija- ja katsojaparat. He eivät luultavasti saa minkäänlaista mahdollisuutta tarkastella kirkkoa kriittisesti, vaan heille tuputetaan ainoastaan kaikenkarvaista pötyä kirkon viattomuudesta, totuudesta ja erinomaisuudesta.

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Off-site The Salt Lake Tribune

Olympic kingdom Games provide opportunity for Mormons
USA Today, Feb. 8, 2001 Story no longer online

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Mormon Church won't broadcast, sponsor or organize the 2002 Winter Olympics, which begin a year from today. The church will, however, have an extraordinary home-field advantage. Mormons founded this city as their own Kingdom of God, built the temple that is its visual icon and, while constituting more than 70% of Utah's population, largely sway state politics.
    And the fast-growing Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sends most of its 19-year-old boys on 2-year missions around the globe, isn't reticent about self-promotion. For the Olympics, it will ''try to tell the story of Mormonism in every possible way,'' says historian Jan Shipps, author of Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons and a leading non-Mormon authority on the church.

Now, she suggests, the church's central message will essentially drive home the point that church President Gordon B. Hinckley, considered a prophet, has made publicly: ''We're not weird.''

The church won't give the city an Olympic makeover, so don't expect Mormon blimps hovering over venues, say church officials, or proselytizing in the streets. ''We've heard references to these being 'the Mormon Games,' '' says Mike Otterson, a member of the church's internal Olympic Coordinating Committee. ''None of us want that. We haven't pushed things on (Games' organizers). We just want to inform, educate and correct misperceptions.''
    After all, church spokesman Bruce Olsen says, church research ''show lots of people know very little about us, if anything.'' But he sees a big opportunity: ''Probably the most phenomenal part of this is that we've spent 150 years sending people out in the world. And here, finally, it's coming to us.''

Every Olympics brings the possibility of protests. Ten thousand media people are expected, and they'll find potential controversy among the Mormons, which could prompt publicity the church wouldn't be able to control.
    Consider the church's position on homosexuality, which it can't condone because it bans premarital and extramarital sex as well as same-sex marriages. Mac Madsen, retired from teaching health science and golf at Weber State, says he's a faithful Mormon who sent letters to dozens of church leaders but got no response. Because of the church, he says, ''Our lives were turned upside down when our daughter came out as a lesbian.''
    But Madsen, in a group of Mormon parents of gays, says he can't even get church leaders to discuss it -- even after the group took out a local newspaper ad. ''We've tried to tell them how much turmoil, even suicides, this is causing in Mormon families,'' he says.
    Protests preceded the church allowing blacks to serve in the priesthood starting in 1978. But for now, Madsen says, his group doesn't have ''specific'' Olympic plans: ''We're a small army in righteous dissent, not trying to get booted out of the church.''
    Says historian Shipps: ''I don't think the church would try to stop a gay-rights protest. But they wouldn't talk to its leaders, either.''

Local writer delves into why LDS members become inactive
Deseret News, Feb. 2, 2001 Story no longer online

In a state where personal identity is often affected by one's relationship - or lack of one - to the LDS Church, many who were once active church members remain tethered to a faith they no longer feel a part of, according to a local author.
    Jim Ure told a group gathered at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics on Thursday that the reasons are cultural as well as spiritual. ''If you were born and raised in Utah, Mormonism is a part of your life whether you are Mormon or not.'' For many Utahns who were raised LDS but have become inactive, the church is ''almost like a kid brother that follows you wherever you go. No matter where you go, it shows up in your life in certain ways.''

Ure published a book last year called ''Leaving the Fold: Conversations With Inactive Mormons,''Off-site Link which chronicles his interviews with 17 well-known Utahns, along with former U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The project, Ure acknowledged, was part of his own decadelong ''coming to terms'' with the part that Mormonism no longer plays in his life, though he continues to be listed as a member on the church's records.
    Because his purpose was ''to create understanding . . . this is not an anti-Mormon book,'' Ure said he avoided what he termed ''evangelical Jack Mormons who foment against the church.''
    Those whose stories are chronicled were listed as members of the church, had never been disfellowshipped, excommunicated or asked to have their names removed from church records; and were not paying tithing or attending church.
    Ure, a former editor and writer for the Salt Lake Tribune who worked in advertising for 37 years, said he sought out intellectuals and professionals, watching ''which punch bowl people went to'' at public events to help determine whom to talk with.

The majority of those interviewed told Ure they left activity in the church gradually, unlike musician Ardean Watts, who said he had ''an epiphany one day'' that took him out of church circles.
    ''The intellectualizing of the church created it for a lot of the people I interviewed. They were just not able to accept some things.''
    As they placed the church within an intellectual framework, many mentioned a disbelief of the church's early history, particularly surrounding the Book of Mormon, he said. ''It's an intellectualized approach to religion, so that there is no room for faith.''
    Another common concern was ''the inadequate training of lay clergy. Maybe the bishop thinks he is doing the right thing, but maybe it's in a heavy-handed way. One woman felt the bishop was asking inappropriate questions and another had had the same experience. While you can have abuses of power in any religion, I did get the sense that lay clergy'' was problematic for many.


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 2001-02-09 — 2004-05-24