Religion

Islam in America is growing exponentially. From 2000 to 2010, the number of mosques in the United States jumped 74 percent.

Today, there are more than 2,100 American mosques but they have a challenge: There aren't enough imams, or spiritual leaders, to go around.

For the past two decades, in a small town in southern Italy, a pianist and music teacher has been hunting for and resurrecting the music of the dead.

Francesco Lotoro has found thousands of songs, symphonies and operas written in concentration, labor and POW camps in Germany and elsewhere before and during World War II.

By rescuing compositions written in imprisonment, Lotoro wants to fill the hole left in Europe's musical history and show how even the horrors of the Holocaust could not suppress artistic inspiration.

She calls herself the "Mormon Sexologist."

While Dr. Melissa Jones self-proclaimed title may seem like a paradox, Jones says her studies in sexology has strengthened her faith in the LDS religion.

Many signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet. The men and women sitting in the cafes are speaking Russian. The shops sell vodka, black bread, pickled herring and Russian-brewed Baltika beer. You have to pinch yourself to remember where you are.

This scene, with all its echoes of the former Soviet Union, is not in St. Petersburg or Vladivostok, or anywhere else in that vast sweep of bleak northern lands. It is in Ashdod, Israel, a palm-lined, pastel-colored port city that sprawls along the mild shores of the Mediterranean.

This week, an ancient and largely inaccessible treasure was opened to everyone. Now, anyone with access to a computer can look at the oldest Bible known to humankind.

Thousands of high-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls were posted online this week in a partnership between Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The online archive, dating back to the first century B.C., includes portions of the Ten Commandments and the Book of Genesis.

Hear the word "prophet" and the names Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus or Mohammed may come to mind. While these are figures from the distant past, Rabbi Shmuel Fortman Hapartzi is training a new generation of prophets for a new age.

Fortman runs the Cain and Abel School for Prophets in Tel Aviv. It's named for the sons of Adam and Eve who, in the Bible, were the first human beings born of woman to speak directly to God and therefore, Fortman says, the first prophets.

They are called "crypto-Jews" or "lost Jews," and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

Mormon Women Dare To Wear Pants To Church

Dec 16, 2012

Sunday morning could see a pants revolution at church, at least if you're Mormon. A group of women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inviting all sisters to shed their skirts and dresses, and wear slacks or pantsuits in an attempt to change the conservative dress code.

Proponents of reparative or conversion therapy say it can help people transition away from unwanted homosexuality, while opponents believe the therapy is not only harmful, but flawed in its premise. California recently prohibited licensed therapists from using reparative therapy on patients under 18 years of age. 

A U of U student and three other gay men are suing a New Jersey center under New Jersey's Consumer fraud act.

The Carousela cafe in West Jerusalem is one of a handful of restaurants and cafes in Israel staging a bit of a rebellion by defying Jewish religious authorities who claim they are the only ones who can certify restaurants as kosher, or in compliance with Jewish dietary laws.

LDS Democrats Growing in Influence

Nov 5, 2012

"I am."

"I am."

"We are. And Elder [Jay] Jensen is. And President [James] Faust. And Silvia Allred. Brigham Young."

What do all of these people have in common? First, they're Latter-Day Saints. What is less known is that they're also Democrats.

Crystal Young-Otterstrom, the LDS Democrats Caucus vice chairperson, says the combination is actually more common than you might think.

"We're not that small of a minority, as people might think."

At this past weekend’s 182nd semi-annual Church of Latter-day Saints General Conference in Salt Lake City, Church President Thomas S. Monson announced new age requirements that allow LDS youth to start their missions earlier. While this is good news for young missionaries, some Utah universities could see a dip in enrollment.

On Saturday Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison issued a proclamation welcoming the Moab Pride Festival:

"I think it’s a good event, I really do, and I think the community thinks it’s a good event. These are our neighbors, these are our friends, these are the people who live here, so, you know, we’re all in this thing together. And why not celebrate that?"

About a dozen men prayed recently at Darkei Shalom, a Hasidic Jewish synagogue in the working-class neighborhood of Otradnoye in north Moscow.

Except for the Star of David on its squat tower, the building is as plain and utilitarian as the linoleum on the floor. It sits — along with a Russian Orthodox church and a mosque — on a leafy stretch of land surrounded by towering apartment blocks.

Muslims have been demonstrating from North Africa to Southeast Asia, often violently, over the film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. But, in America, Muslims have been virtually silent over the video Innocence Of Muslims.

Why the subdued response in the U.S.?

For the past year and a half, every Friday in Syria has been given a name. That's because every Friday, people protest against the government, and those protests get a title. This week's title? "Syrian sons and daughters of the Prophet Mohammed are being slaughtered." In other words: "To all you Muslims who are angry about the denigration of the Prophet Mohammed in some YouTube film? Don't forget about us."

A Look At Islam And Free Speech

Sep 21, 2012

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, we'll dig into our digital mailbox to hear from you about stories and interviews that caught your attention or provoked some push-back this week. That's BackTalk, and it's in just a few minutes.

Mormon Scholar Terryl Givens on AU Thursday

Sep 20, 2012

Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion at University of Richmond, is one of the country's most prominent Mormon scholars. He has appeared on PBS, NPR, and CNN to comment on the LDS faith and is author of many books, most recently When Souls Had Wings: a History of the Idea of Pre-Mortal Life in Western Thought. Givens is in Logan and will be giving the 18th annual Arrington Mormon History Lecture tonight at the Logan LDS Tabernacle.

More than 500 people presumed to be university students today broke through police barricades and got into Islamabad's diplomatic enclave as they protested against the anti-Islam video that has sparked sometimes deadly demonstrations in many Muslim nations, NPR's Jackie Northam reports from the Pakistani capital.

A national society focused on the philosophy and theology of Mormons will meet in Logan this weekend. Kerry Bringhurst speaks with Philip Barlow, Utah State University's Director of Religious Studies, about the increased interest in the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the pre-dawn hours today the wife, two sons and daughter of the man most prominently linked to the anti-Islam video that has sparked violence in many Muslim cities fled their home in Cerritos, Calif.

Ryan Cunningham

The newest LDS temple in Brigham City has drawn a lot of attention. It can be seen from afar as you enter the city in northern Utah. Its alabaster appearance draws your eye directly to a structure considered sacred by members of the LDS faith. Each day as many as 18,000 guests enter the doors during a public open house that concludes Saturday, giving those interested a rare opportunity to peek inside before the official dedication on September 23. At that time the doors will close to general entrants.

The past 24 hours have produced a few answers — but many more questions — about the anti-Islam film that became a flashpoint across North Africa and the Middle East this week.

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports on Morning Edition that The Innocence of Muslims was shot in Los Angeles County last August, under the title Desert Warriors. It's full of "choppy dialogue, bad acting and scenes of a buffoonish Muhammad," she says.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.

For many Muslims, the film that sparked at least some of the anti-American violence in Egypt and Libya was breathtakingly offensive. In a moment, we'll look into the mystery behind who made the film.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So we've heard the film clips. A bigger question is who is really producing that film. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The movie was shot in Los Angeles County sometime last August, under the name "Desert Warriors." It's full of choppy dialogue, bad acting and scenes of a buffoonish Muhammad.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And this shall be the first Muslim animal. His name is Yafour. No, Yafour does not like the women.

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