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Mormons & Media: Gators and BYU 'bait'; Brit praises Utah Compact

Published: Wednesday, March 23 2011 10:45 a.m. MDT

A pair of recent press e-clippings highlighting Mormon-related coverage touch on two hot buttons — BYU's Sweet 16 run in the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the LDS Church's involvement in the Utah Compact and its role in immigration reform.

With BYU to play the University of Florida in tournament action Thursday, Florida's student newspaper — the Independent Alligator — called on UF fans in an editorial to leave religion and beliefs out of cheers and jeers come game time.

That's a far cry from student crowds in Laramie, Albuquerque, San Diego and points in between that have for years taken potshots at the private university and its sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In its editorial titled "With Honor: Gator fans should avoid religious jabs," the Indy Gator says fans shouldn't pile on, especially in the wake of BYU player Brandon Davies' suspension following an Honor Code violation.

"While this development provides a favorable matchup for the Gators' frontcourt, it also gives the insensitive and the asinine more mud to throw around in their pigpen. We ask you, the Gator faithful, not to take that head-first dive into the slop."

It continued — with a Jimmer-inspired sign-off more commonly heard in and around BYU's own Marriott Center:

"While lighthearted swings at the Mormon faith may not come close to the same dirt-high level of burning scriptures or using a higher power's name to justify the desecration of the memory of fallen soldiers, it's still religious bigotry. These are human beings, some of whom you may be cheering alongside with on Thursday (yes, there are Mormons in The Gator Nation). It's fine to have qualms with their doctrine, but leave it in the pews come tip-off time.

"Otherwise, you can just Fredette about it."

Meanwhile, from across "the pond," The Guardian's Stewart J. Lawrence wonders in "The Latter-Day Saints come marching in" if the LDS-backed Utah Compact — and the recent Utah immigration legislation it helped foster — may be key in U.S. immigration reform.

His gratuitous asides about the LDS Church notwithstanding (Lawrence must not have read the aforementioned Independent Gator article) Lawrence acknowledged the church's missionary involvement in Latin America and the resulting awareness of poverty and injustice there as well as its "bridging" role — between conservative values and openness to diversity and inclusivity.

He also saluted the Compact-encouraged, state-based guest-worker program, a balance between total amnesty for illegal immigrants and an Arizona-style crackdown.

"By combining expanded enforcement and a conditional legalization process into a single set of bills, Utah has adopted, in effect, the very 'comprehensive' immigration reform mode that so many have pushed the U.S. Congress to adopt, but without much success," Lawrence wrote. "This could turn out to be a powerful state-based model — but it's also an enormous challenge."

Elsewhere, ground has been broken in Mukilteo, Wash., for the building of a new meetinghouse to replace the one destroyed by arsonists last fall.

The Everett, Wash., Herald here reports on the efforts of local LDS members to not only heal from the fire that caused $4 million in damages but look forward to having a new building in place by the end of the year.

The Seattle Times provided a brief summary of the same here.

And MSNBC found a Mormon missionary from Idaho to feature in providing a first-person look at the fallout from Japan's earthquake/tsunami/radiation catastrophe.

Serving in nearby Sapporo, Pocatello's Patrick Hiltbrand spoke about his determination to stay in Japan and his anxiousness to aid in recovery and relief efforts.

e-mail: taylor@desnews.com

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