Religion | KUER 90.1


The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that two private companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. It’s the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  The top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement on the issue of women’s ordination to the priesthood over the weekend.  But it hasn’t deterred those who are hoping the church will still make that change.

Kelly Says Ordain Women Movement Will Continue

Jun 23, 2014
Dan Bammes

Even though she’s no longer a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the founder of Ordain Women says she’ll continue in the leadership of the movement to gain the priesthood throughout the church.

Kelly Excommunicated from LDS Church

Jun 23, 2014
Dan Bammes/KUER

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have decided to excommunicate Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly.  Earlier this month, Kelly received a letter from the bishop of her former ward in Vienna, Virginia stating that she had been accused of apostasy and that a disciplinary council would decide the fate of her Church membership.  That group met last night, though Kelly did not attend the hearing. She was informed of the decision today via email by Bishop Mark Harrison.

Hundreds Support Ordain Women Founder at Vigil

Jun 22, 2014
Dan Bammes

The founder of the group Ordain Women is waiting to find out whether she’ll be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But hundreds of people gathered to support her yesterday near church headquarters, promising to stand by her no matter what a disciplinary council decides.

LDS Church Will No Longer Operate Adoption Agency

Jun 17, 2014

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it will no longer operate a full-service adoption agency. LDS Family Services will instead shift resources toward counseling for unmarried, expectant parents.

LDS Family Services Adoption Manager David McConkie says the Church will still be working to promote adoption.

Dan Bammes

Only men are allowed to hold the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Advocating for a change in that policy is the reason Kate Kelly is facing possible excommunication.  But because she’s a woman, the rules for church discipline are different than they would be for a man.

Margaret Toscano knows what the experience is like – she was excommunicated 14 years ago for her public statements on ordaining women to the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dan Bammes

  The founder of the group Ordain Women and the creator of a podcast on Mormon issues are facing formal discipline from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Both face the prospect of excommunication from the church.

Kate Kelly led members of Ordain Women through the gates of Temple Square during the last two general conferences of the church, asking to be admitted to the session reserved for only those men and boys who hold the priesthood.  Each time they were turned away, but the demonstrations drew a lot of media coverage.

Mormon Podcasters Reaching Out With New Book

Jun 10, 2014

  Two African-American Mormon women who’ve gained a following with a popular podcast, Sistas in Zion, are out with a new book about their experiences in the LDS church.

Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes say their book Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons addresses spiritual topics as it bounces back and forth between uniquely Mormon culture and the urban dialect they grew up with.  They say it’s helping them find a new audience.

Patrick Lee

  It’s been 20 years since hundreds of thousands were murdered in attacks against the Tutsi people of Rwanda.  They were remembered at a service on Sunday at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City.

A representative of the Rwandan embassy and survivors of the genocide were asked to tell their stories as part of the service.  As many as a million people were killed in months of attacks by the country’s Hutu majority against the Tutsi minority.

  The Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Medical Center has chosen a new contractor to provide sweat lodges and other Native American healing ceremonies.  That’s disappointed supporters of Arnold Thomas, who’s been doing it for the past ten years. 

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  The head of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has responded to criticism that the church is not engaging with women seeking to change its practices.

Dan Bammes

  Priesthood ordination is available only to men in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But a group of women seeking ordination is trying a new tactic to persuade Mormons to change their minds.

Ordain Women is publishing a series of six discussions on its website, covering the history and doctrine of the LDS church and hoping to persuade more women to join the effort to change church policy.

Mormons Building Bridges

Mormons Building Bridges was last year’s largest entry in Salt Lake City’s annual Pride Parade. But the group’s request to have a modest presence in the Days of ’47 Parade this year has been turned down. 

St. George Russian Orthodox Church

  It’s been a big week for Utah’s only Russian Orthodox parish.  It dedicated a new church in West Jordan last weekend – and its leader has been honored with a new title as well. 

Michael van Opstall was ordained as a Russian Orthodox priest about ten years ago, and since then he’s guided the growing community of believers in Utah.  Last weekend, the parish dedicated the new St. George Russian Orthodox Church in West Jordan, made possible by an anonymous donation of a million dollars.

Dan Bammes

  A group of parishioners at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay are looking at future options for their church after a letter from the church’s national leadership asked them to suspend any talk about dividing the parish.

St. Vincent de Paul School Celebrates 50 Years

Apr 25, 2014
Dan Bammes

  Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic School is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week.

Irish dancers were among those participating in the celebration in the gymnasium at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Holladay.  The school began with a kindergarten class in the basement of the old parish church in Murray, and from the very first, there were more students hoping to attend than it could accommodate.

Dan Bammes

  The American Atheists national convention is underway in Salt Lake City, with its leadership promising to take their message to other cities with a strong religious presence. 

American Atheists is the group started by Madalyn Murray O’Hair in the 1960’s following the Supreme Court decision that banned Christian prayers in public schools.  Its president is David Silverman, who told a crowd of several hundred people in a hotel ballroom they’ll continue the fight to keep government from endorsing religion.

LDS Apostle: Freedom of Religion Under Attack

Apr 17, 2014
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  A top leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says religious freedom is under attack in the United States.  Elder Dallin Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies on Wednesday. 

Oaks said the inability of conservative scholars to publish in some academic journals and campus speech codes are examples of organizational restraints on both free speech and religious expression.

Dan Bammes

  Once again, members of a group of women seeking ordination to the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were denied the opportunity to attend the priesthood session of the church’s General Conference.

Ordain Women gathered for a devotional service in a city park two blocks from Temple Square  in the afternoon before the priesthood session on Saturday.  Gina Colvin came from New Zealand.  She says the church’s patriarchal structure disempowers women.

Reporters Excluded from Temple Square

Apr 4, 2014
Dan Bammes

Temple Square is typically crowded with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other visitors during General Conference sessions twice a year.  But reporters and media cameras or recorders won’t be allowed on the square this weekend.

  Members of the church public affairs staff say they’re just reiterating a long-standing policy about media access to Temple Square, though reporters with cameras have often taken pictures and interviewed visitors on the square in past years.

  Last year, the Atheists of Utah held an event in conjunction with the LDS General Conference, inviting disaffected Mormons to quit the church.  They’re planning a similar event this year with some national leadership. 

New Rabbi Chosen for Park City Synagogue

Apr 1, 2014
Chicago Sinai Congregation

  Temple Har Shalom in Park City has announced the selection of a new rabbi.  David Levinsky will be coming to Utah from a much larger synagogue in Chicago.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans its general women’s meeting on Saturday, a week before its twice-a-year general conference.In the past, church leaders held annual meetings for its auxiliary organizations, the Relief Society, Primary and Young Women.  These have been combined into a single meeting that will be broadcast by internet and satellite around the world and translated into 55 languages.

Dan Bammes

  Some members of the Greek Orthodox parish in Salt Lake City are rejecting an effort from the church’s national leadership to settle some long-standing disputes.

Calling itself “Protect Our Clergy,” the group of about a dozen members says the plan proposed in a letter from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is not a viable one to restore peace and order in the parish.

  Members of Salt Lake City’s Greek Orthodox parish have received a letter from the national leadership of the church that hopes to resolve some of the issues that have divided the parish.

courtesy photo

  A group pushing for the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is urging its members to wear purple to the church’s general women’s meeting this weekend.

SLC Greek Orthodox Parish Will Stay Together

Mar 21, 2014
Dan Bammes

A national newspaper serving the Greek community says the Greek Orthodox parish in Salt Lake City will not be divided. 

The National Herald reports the decision to keep the parish together was made at a meeting of church leaders in Denver last week.  The parish includes Holy Trinity Cathedral in Salt Lake City and Prophet Elias church in Holladay.

Episcopalian Monk Visits St. Mark's

Mar 19, 2014
Dan Bammes

  St. Mark’s Cathedral in Salt Lake City is hosting a rare visit from an Episcopalian monk this week.  Among other things, Brother Jim Dowd will be overseeing a Lenten retreat on Saturday. 

Dan Bammes

  A group of Mormon women asking for ordination to their church’s priesthood is planning to stage another demonstration at the LDS General Conference in three weeks.  But they may not get as far as they did last October.