My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the tag “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”

The Newly Called Alabama Birmingham Mission President: Stanford C. Sainsbury

A photo of Stanford Sainsbury from the Daily Herald upon his retirement in 2012. Photo by Jim Mcauley

A photo of Stanford Sainsbury from the Daily Herald upon his retirement in 2012. Photo by Jim Mcauley

With yesterday’s exciting announcement of 3 new missions being created in the world, the Church also publicly listed nearly all of the 168 new mission presidents who will begin service this summer with their wives.

Here in the great state of Alabama we will be welcoming Stanford C. Sainsbury and his wife Sister Melanee Sainsbury.

Living on a 50 acre farm in West Mountain, Utah (Payson/Spanish Fork Area), President and Sister Sainsbury will be leaving behind their lives and trading in the Rocky Mountains for Appalachian Hills for the next three years. Sainsbury, who turned 60 just last month, with his wife Melanee, are the parents of seven children. President Sainsbury spent his professional life as an employee for the city or Orem, Utah. After graduation from BYU and earning a law degree, Sainsbury spent 10 years as a city prosecutor for Orem city, then deputy city attorney. During that time he became a certified planner. He then spent his final 16 years of employment as the director of development services. He retired in December of 2012 after 29 years of service for the City of Orem.

A graduate of BYU, President Sainsbury served a full-time mission as a young man in Sweden under the direction of President Paul Oscarson. President Oscarson, who was only 29 years of age at the time of his call as mission president, was known for his youth and enthusiasm in the Swedish Mission. Perhaps President Sainsbury will bring some of the same vigor of his full-time mission as a young man to Alabama as the mission president. His wife, Sister Melanee Anderson, is originally from Manassa, Colorado. According to an online profile from President Sainsbury he enjoys “[spending] time visiting children, working in the yard and garden, farming, following BYU sports, spending time in the temple, ward callings, traveling, reading,etc.”

President and Sister Sainsbury have served in a variety of church callings throughout the years, including recently as a ward mission leader for President Sainsbury.

As members of the Church residing in the Alabama Birmingham Mission we will deeply miss President Richard D. Hanks and his beloved wife Elizabeth. However, we recognize that with the hastening of the work comes a hastening of the years, and we are thankful to be have been blessed with the acquaintance of such fine saints here in Dixie. President Sainsbury will have very large shoes to fill, both figuratively and literally, but we have no doubt that with the blessings of the Lord he will do so exceptionally.

President and Sister Sainsbury. (Picture from one of their personal blogs - they also blogged here for a period of time.)

President and Sister Sainsbury. (Picture from one of their personal blogs – they also blogged here for a period of time.)

 

Mormon Apostle Linda Booth Recommends Gay Marriage

Approximately 2,000 people gather in the Auditorium of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri for meetings and worship.

Approximately 2,000 people gather in the Auditorium of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri for meetings and worship last week during the faith’s annual World Conference. – Photo from the Kansas City Star

Each spring the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, invites members and elected church delegates from throughout the world to their headquarters in Independence, Missouri for their annual World Conference. Held in the church’s spacious Auditorium (located next door to their iconic temple which to me looks like a giant ice cream cone), the conference held last week over a six day period attracted about 2,000 people, including about 1,500 church delegates. Considered a time of spiritual rejuvenation, the conference is translated into multiple languages, and in the past few years has been recorded and made available to view online later by followers of the faith.

World Conferences are made up of delegates elected to represent the church’s Mission Centers (roughly equivalent to a Catholic diocese or LDS Stake), meeting together to discuss and vote on the business of the church. Three years ago prior to World Conference, various Mission Centers throughout the church had passed resolutions calling on the church to embrace allowing gay members to be ordained to the priesthood (without any stipulations) and to end discrimination in marriage on the basis of sexual orientation. These resolutions then came before the sessions of the World Conference and were considered according to parliamentary procedures. Unlike General Conference, the semiannual meetings held by the Utah based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these meetings are conducted according Robert’s Rules, with motions, seconding, discussion, questions of privilege, calling the question, and the such. Historically, in the World Conference of 2010, the first business that came before the conference was whether or not to approve a new revelation brought to the church by President Stephen M. Veazey, the church’s leader and prophet. The approval of the World Conference would mean that the revelation (initially referred to as “prophetic counsel”) would be added to the Community of Christ’s Doctrine and Covenants. Like the resolutions referred to the conference by the Mission Centers, the prophetic counsel addressed the issues facing LGBT members of the church. The result of the procedural voting three years ago ended with the church leaders accepting the revelation “as the mind and will of the Lord”, and it was canonized as scripture as Doctrine and Covenants Sections 164 (the most historic change in church history since Section 156 approved in 1984 which allowed women to be ordained to the priesthood). But the steps made three years ago did not officially sanction gay marriages. That happened just a few days ago.

The Missouri Mormons of the Community of Christ are not to be confused with their doctrinally different cousins in Utah though. While this month’s General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City expounded on traditional values and marriage between a man and a woman, last week’s World Conference of the Community of Christ solidified and expounded just how glaringly the differences in practice and doctrine have become in the past 150 years.

Apostle Linda Booth reads the recommendation of the nearly 1,500 delegates to those gathered in Independence, Missouri last week for the annual World Conference of the Community of Christ.

Apostle Linda Booth reads the recommendation of the nearly 1,500 delegates to those gathered in Independence, Missouri last week for the annual World Conference of the Community of Christ.

The specific recommendations of the conference to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the two highest governing bodies of the church) last week were as follows:

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends the sacrament of marriage be extended, where legal in the USA, to persons of the same sex/gender. Thus the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA on the sacrament of marriage; and

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends that a church-recognized way for two persons of the same sex/gender to publicly express their covenant to each other be made available in places in the USA where marriage is not legal. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA regarding same-sex/gender covenant commitment services where marriage is not legal; and

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends allowing a priesthood call to be processed according to established procedures regardless of sexual orientation, including a person in a monogamous, committed, same-sex/gender relationship (e.g., legal marriage, civil partnership, covenant relationship) in the USA. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy on ordination for the USA.

Read by the church’s newly elected president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Apostle Linda Booth, and sustained with a majority vote by the church delegates present, the message was loud and clear: Gay marriage is okay.

Since gay marriage is only authorized in a small number of states in the United States (currently 9 with Rhode Island preparing to be the 10th), and since marriage is a state contract, the Community of Christ appears to be preparing official commitment ceremonies for those couples that reside in states without gay marriage. Also, the Community of Christ will acknowledge monogamous committed relationships as on par with marriage, in matters of priesthood calls, no matter whether they are labeled as legal marriage, civil partnership, or a covenant relationship. In other words, the legal difference between states will not impact how the Community of Christ approaches these relationships.

The Community of Christ in recent years has struggled not just to grow but to maintain their fledgling membership. With approximately 250,000 church members wordwide, the church just last year sold land to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a deal, that according to numerous sources, helped replenish nearly empty church coffers. Meanwhile, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to be among the fastest growing faiths in the United States and has over 14 million members wordwide.

For many members of the Community of Christ last week’s motions and resolutions may be accepted as “the will of the Lord”, and to many in the world the change will likewise be seen as a good and timely action. However, there are also those who are left wondering, “Just how far will a church stray from their original doctrine just to appear popular?”

While some groups of faith may change their beliefs with those of society, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to emphatically declare “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World). The Lord’s commandment to love everyone includes those of the LGBT community, and recently the church came out with an official website, MormonsAndGays.org, which adopts a more conciliatory tone toward gay men and women than many Latter-day Saints have heard in the past. Official Church doctrine has not changed, but with the realization that their are many among the faithful who struggle with same sex attractions, there is an outreach to love and rescue them like never before.

Only time will tell what may become of the Community of Christ with their watershed announcement on gay marriage, but for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nothing has changed, and few expect that it will.

The local NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri lead off their newscast on 21 April 2013 with the Community of Christ's announcement to allow same sex marriage.

The local NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri lead off their newscast on 21 April 2013 with the Community of Christ’s announcement to allow same sex marriages and commitment ceremonies.

Today I Will Be Taught the Word of God

President David A Bednar of BYU Idaho holding up his scriptures during a 2004 campus devotional.

President David A Bednar of BYU Idaho holding up his scriptures during a 2004 campus devotional.

Have you ever been invited to attend a church meeting by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?

Wouldn’t that be neat?! Imagine receiving an invitation from President Boyd K. Packer to attend some super awesome meeting where you’ll learn super awesome things. I know I wouldn’t want to miss a meeting like that.

And yet, so many of us often do.

In the Church’s Handbook 2: Administering the Church we find these words regarding stake conferences,

Each stake holds two stake conferences during the year as scheduled by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. In most parts of the world, the stake president presides at one stake conference and an assigned Area Seventy or General Authority presides at the other.

In some stake conferences, a satellite broadcast may be incorporated into the Sunday general session. This broadcast will include instruction by General Authorities. When a satellite broadcast is used, that conference takes the place of the stake conference at which an Area Seventy or General Authority would have presided.

When a new stake president must be called before a regularly scheduled stake conference, a special stake conference may be held.

The primary purpose of stake conference is to strengthen faith and testimony. All talks and music should be planned with this purpose in mind.

Did you catch that first sentence? Let me quote it again.

Each stake holds two stake conferences during the year as scheduled by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Ahhhh…

Well that’s pretty nifty then. And it is definitely something to think about the next time you consider skipping church because it’s not your usual block of Sunday meetings.

This week my stake will be holding its third, or seventh, or fifteenth (I lost count after the first two) stake conference since November. It seems like we’ve had a lot going on with a new unit being created here in the Bessemer Alabama Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then we had a new stake president called, two members of the former stake presidency being called as mission presidents, and other stake business occurring. Just last month we were honored to have Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the First Quorum of the Seventy come with Elder Fred A. Parker, an Area Seventy, to reorganize our stake and provide us with some tremendous training. As President Richard Holzapfel of the Alabama Birmingham Mission summed up on the mission blog, it was “Another Historic Day“.

This weekend will likewise be historic.

The Birmingham Alabama Stake, the Bessemer Alabama Stake, and the Montgomery Alabama Stake are all holding stake conferences this weekend. Sent from Salt Lake City, under the direction of President Boyd K. Packer, to preside at our meetings will be Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric.

I’ve written before about how it would be improper for me to share the amazing things these brethren will be sharing over the course of this weekend on this blog. I’ve heard both Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder David A. Bednar discuss how it is difficult to teach local stakes and units the things which they need to hear because they are afraid their specific teachings would be shared with the world via Twitter, Facebook, or a personal blog. So I will not be sharing sacred teachings which are meant specifically for my stake this weekend. But I will say this: The Lord is hastening His work.

This July there will be 405 missions of the Church throughout the world. There are 168 temples operating, in construction, or announced throughout the world. Recently we have seen an influx in the number of missionaries serving full-time. The new youth curriculum Come Follow Me has been released to entirely revolutionize the way we teach and learn throughout the Church. And so much, much more.

The Lord is hastening His work.

I’m a fan of Joel Osteen. There is much good that we can learn from other Christians outside of our faith. And I am specifically a fan of how he begins each and every one of his church services. He will pick up his Bible, hold it in the air, and invite his congregation to do the same. Then he invites them to repeat after him, saying:

This is my Bible. I am what is says I am. I have what is says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert, my heart is receptive, I will never be the same. Amen.

I love that.

As the new President of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho in the fall of 1997 David A. Bednar invited all of the students to begin bringing their scriptures to Tuesday devotionals. In his first address to the student assembly President Bednar said, “[Y]ou should have received the word to bring your scriptures. I would like you to hold them up if you have them. Now, please put them on your lap. You may want to get a small piece of paper and a pencil or a pen to jot down some of the thoughts that will come to your mind and the feelings that may come to your heart.” And then he began to teach clearly from the revealed words of the Lord through His prophets. This began a tradition at Ricks College, which would soon become BYU Idaho under President Bednar’s direction, of beginning each devotional with everyone holding their scriptures high in the air. Later President Bednar would say of this new tradition, “[It is] a new tradition we started at our first devotional…and it is a tradition through which we will continue to encourage all students and faculty to consistently study and use the scriptures. As I am sure most of you recognize, the real significance of this tradition is not merely bringing and holding up your scriptures every Tuesday in devotional. Rather, this simple act is but a reminder and symbol of our collective appreciation for, desire to learn from, and commitment to consistently and conscientiously study the holy scriptures.” (See Ricks College addresses from 9 Sept. 1997 and 6 Jan. 1998)

As President of that college and university the future Elder Bednar taught his students how to prepare to receive the word of God.

This weekend my stake, and two of our neighboring stakes, will hear the word of the Lord through three of His holy mouthpieces. These General Authorities are inspired men who have consecrated themselves fully to building the Lord’s Church and Kingdom. Their words will without a doubt be uplifting, inspiring, and direct. However, their words will have meant nothing if I haven’t prepared myself to receive what the Lord has in store for me.

Today and tomorrow many of us Latter-day Saints here in Dixie will be taught the word of God. But even more awesome than that, we will continue to be taught the word of God as we continue in our daily scripture study, service to others, and serving in the Church.

The Lord needs us to assist in the hastening of His work.

Stake conferences are an awesome time and sacred experience. As the Handbook says, “The primary purpose of stake conference is to strengthen faith and testimony.”

I have no doubt we’ll experience that this weekend.

Stan

Popular Christian Pastor Joel Osteen holds up his Bible before a service.

Popular Christian Pastor Joel Osteen holds up his Bible before a service.

First Black Mormon Stake President in Alabama Took Winding Path to Leadership

Peter M. Johnson, president of the Bessemer stake and the first black regional leader for Mormons in Alabama, recently sat down for an interview with The Birmingham News. (Photo by Greg Garrison/ggarrison@al.com)

Peter M. Johnson, president of the Bessemer stake and the first black regional leader for Mormons in Alabama, recently sat down for an interview with The Birmingham News. (Photo by Greg Garrison/ggarrison@al.com)

From the Birmingham News and AL.com

By Greg Garrison | ggarrison@al.com 
on February 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM, updated February 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Peter M. Johnson took a winding path to become the first black Mormon regional leader in Alabama.

Johnson grew up in New York, was recruited to play college basketball for a Mormon university in Hawaii, later moved to Utah and worked as an accountant in Salt Lake City, before eventually taking a job at the University of Alabama.

Being chosen as the first black Mormon to serve as a stake president in Alabama caught Johnson somewhat by surprise.

“I realize it’s significant now,” said Johnson, president of the Bessemer, Alabama stake, who serves as a regional leader for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an area that covers central-west Alabama from the Mississippi line to Birmingham.

“I had no knowledge that I would be the first black stake president in Alabama. My goal is to invite all to come into Christ.”

He’d never served as a bishop of a congregation, or a branch president, which is often considered a stepping stone to regional leadership.

“I was awed, overwhelmed,” said Johnson. “It was definitely unexpected.”

Read the rest of the article at al.com by clicking here.

Where Will the Next Pope Come From?

In the days since Pope Benedict XVI announced his upcoming resignation the news media, and people in general, have had the opportunity like never before to speculate about who the next Holy Father could be.

This popular fad has not been lost on Latter-day Saint audiences. Last week Peggy Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote an article entitled “Could Mormon Prophet or Dalai Lama Resign Like the Pope?” A few Mormons have speculated that some Church Presidents did “step down” in a way by calling additional counselors in the First Presidency (McKay and Kimball), and the Bloggersphere has been filled with a cacophony of LDS/Catholic parallels. But with a Church President just a few months younger than Benedict himself, we Latter-day Saints can’t help but join in on the speculation of who the next pope might be.

Among my favorite papal speculations came from Omid Safi. Safi, a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined in on the foray of the next holy father by writing earlier this week that we should perhaps all look to a pope that we could all agree on. A pope perhaps like…

Yoda.

That’s right.

Yoda. The intergalactic green guy.

Professor Safi writes,

The focus of the discussion so far has been on the ethnicity of the next Pope, and the potential to expand the reach of the Church in new and exciting directions.

What about changing the nature of the office of the Pope itself?

How about a change to Yoda, to move from an embodiment of authority to one that emphasizes spiritual transmission?    Not one who embodies religious authority, but rather one whose mission is to instruct, to awaken, to help his followers become who and what they are destined to be.

What if the focus was not on a Pope to embody the religious teachings of any one religious tradition, but rather on the interconnectedness of all existence?

What if we had a Yoda Pope to help us see beyond a notion of a personal God (creating God in our own image) to seeing the sacred as the very connection of the whole Universe.

Now granted, I like Yoda as much as the next guy. Pope Yoda would really liven up Easter Mass with a pastel colored light saber, but isn’t Latin already confusing enough without switching around the sentence structure again?

I don’t know, I’m just more of a traditionalist.

When Pope Benedict XVI was elected by the College of Cardinals in early 2005 I was serving my final months as a full-time missionary. With what few news clippings I could get my hands on I quickly became a Ratzinger Man from the start. Traditionalist. Conservative. A scholar. Those were things I felt would help unite us as Christians fighting against the evils of the world.

But this go around?…

I haven’t chosen a man to root for yet. And that’s okay because we still have a few days of Benedict. But which cardinal should I be making a big foam finger for? What Catholic guy is going to look best on t-shirts, mugs, and those handy scented candles that all of the faithful Catholics have? And which guy is going to be cool enough as the pope to tour the Rome Italy Temple open house before the temple is dedicated in a couple of years?

These are all things flying through my Latter-day Saint mind as the conclave approaches.

With that in mind though, here is a nifty little infographic I saw on MSN yesterday. I hope you enjoy it.

And, in case you have any cardinal buddies who still haven’t made up their mind yet, go ahead and mention Cardinal Ouellet’s name to them. I figure the only thing that would be more awesome than Swiss Guards protecting the pope would be Canadian Mounties guarding the pope.

That’s right.

Canadian Mounties.

Not even Pope Yoda with his light saber could top that.

Where Will the Next Pope Come From Infographic Catholic

My Job Comes With Benefits

A snapshot of my Annual Charitable Cash

A snapshot of my Annual Charitable Cash Contributions Official Tax Summary Statement.

“The Church provided no goods or services in consideration, in whole or in part, for the contributions detailed below but only intangible religious benefits.”

Earlier today I came home to find a nifty little letter from Salt Lake City. It was a list of my contributions to the Church during the year 2012 which can be used for when I file my taxes.

I just liked that snippet at the top, and it brought this phrase to mind from The Book of Mormon:

“For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey…”

– Alma 3:27

My Master was very merciful when He hired me on to become His disciple. And although the work He’s called me to do is overwhelming in scope, relentless in in its demands, and truly leaves me physically tired at the end of each day, the wages I receive are literally out of this world.

Tithing, Fast Offerings, and a few bucks here and there to the other Church programs are monetarily nothing when compared to the monumental blessings I receive in return.

Malachi asks, “Will a man rob God?” when talking about those who don’t pay their tithing to the Lord. But I think the better question would be, “Will a man rob himself?”

For tax purposes I understand that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has to put “intangible religious benefits” on an official tax document. However, the blessings I see in my life are tangible, real, and endless.

My job as disciple of Christ comes with some real great benefits.

I’m already looking forward to my retirement.

Stan

Pro-Putin Youths in Russia Protesting Against Mormons

Activists from the Young Guard, which supports Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been protesting Mormons and the Church in Russia, calling it a “totalitarian cult.” – Photo from Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images

Earlier this month I wrote a blog post entitled “Russia to Kick Mormons Out?” (You can read it by clicking here.) In that post I detailed the recent developments in Russia among the Young Guard, a political group of Russian youth, and their targeting of Mormons as a “totalitarian cult”.

The response to that blog post was interesting because while no one really commented on it, I instantly saw a dramatic increase in website traffic from Russia and the Ukraine. On the 16th of this month I had 237 unique visitors to that one blog post alone in a 24 hour period, all of them from Russia. As the month has gone on, I have seen ever-increasing amounts of traffic to the post and last week even saw my blog translated into Russian and quoted in a Russian newspaper.

I’ve joked to a couple of friends that soon the KGB will be knocking on my front door.

In all seriousness though, the situation in Russia regarding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing more unique with each passing day. Earlier today I saw an article, which I have posted in its entirety below, which further details the continuing tensions.

Enjoy.

From National Public Radio:

In Russia, Pro-Putin Youths Protest Mormons As ‘Cult’

by COREY FLINTOFF from NPR

28 November 2012

Young supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin have staged several protests this month outside Mormon meeting houses, claiming that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an “authoritarian sect” with connections to the CIA and FBI.

The protesters are members of the Young Guard, a youth organization of Putin’s United Russia Party. They insist their actions have nothing to do with Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate and Mormon who called Russia the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the U.S.

Ekaterina Stenyakina, the co-chair of the Young Guard, says the group was inspired to protest by a recent directive that Putin gave to law enforcement groups and legislators, asking them for ways to regulate the activities of “totalitarian sects.”

Stenyakina says her organization decided to draw attention to some of the groups it considered to be totalitarian sects, and that the Mormons simply became the first on the list.

About a dozen protesters recently gathered outside a Mormon meeting hall in Moscow, holding hand-lettered signs that said, “No to totalitarian cults,” and “CIA — stop!”

Mormon Population Grows

While the Mormons are a very small fraction of Russia’s religious landscape, their numbers have grown steadily, from a few hundred in 1990 to just under 22,000 today.

Stenyakina says her group is relying on the research of experts to determine that the Latter-day Saints church is a cult. For the most part, however, that “research” just seems to repeat the claims found on anti-Mormon websites.

It includes charges that the Mormons are not really Christian and that they believe in multiple gods. The Young Guard’s twist on this anti-Mormonism is the claim that Mormons are promoting an American political agenda in Russia.

“This is absolutely wrong, false [and] not true,” says Andrey Filimonov, an LDS spokesman for Eastern Europe, based in Moscow. “The church in every country has nothing to do with political issues at all.”

Filimonov points to the church’s statement of political neutrality, which is published in every country where Mormons preach.

Stenyakina says the Young Guard sees the Mormon Church as an American enterprise, funded from the United States, with missionaries who act as American operatives. She says they would come under a recently passed Russian law that requires such groups to register as foreign agents.

Filimonov argues that the church is not American, but an international organization.

“The leaders in Russia of the church are Russians,” he says.

Filimonov says that most missionaries in Russia today are not Americans, but Russians and people from other countries. In fact, the Mormon Church now claims more than 14 million adherents worldwide, fewer than half of whom live in the United States.

The Young Guard contends that Mormon missionaries in Russia cooperate with the FBI and CIA. They repeat another theme that’s common on the Internet as well: that American Mormon missionaries go to work for the U.S. security agencies in disproportionate numbers when they return home.

The agencies don’t divulge the religious leanings of their personnel, and Filimonov says he can only offer his own observations.

“I personally don’t know anyone who went, and I’ve been in the church since ’93,” he says. “[And] it’s their personal choice if they even do because everybody is looking for whatever they want to do and it doesn’t mean they’re spies.”

Filimonov notes that missionaries’ language skills and the cultural knowledge gained from living abroad suit them for many kinds of international jobs.

The Young Guard’s Stenyakina says her group wants to alert young people in Russia not to get involved with the LDS church.

Still, she insists that the timing of the protests had nothing to do with the U.S. election or Romney’s religious affiliation. The Russian press labeled Romney as “the main American Russophobe,” she says, but that didn’t trigger the protests.

For now, Stenyakina is not saying whether the Young Guard will continue to target Mormon missionaries or pursue other religious groups deemed to be cults.

To listen to an audio version of this report please click here. To save it in MP3 format Right Click the link and click “Save As…” to save to your electronic device.

Post Navigation