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Mormon Media Observer: A Mormon connection?

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It's always fascinating how the LDS Church and Mormons get pulled into news stories around the globe. At times the connection is tenuous at best, odd at others and, in some cases, it really is an important story.

\"Twilight\" and Mormon themes

There seems to be no end to recent stories about just how much Mormon themes influenced the \"Twilight\" series of books and the subsequent movies. Stephenie Meyer, who is LDS, said she hasn't consciously inserted her faith's themes into her books. As Religion News Service writer Angela Aleiss writes, intentional or not, Mormon themes emerge in the \"Twilight\" books and movies. A writer at USC's Media and Religion Blog, Jennifer Hahn, says journalists have missed the spiritual undertones of the \"Twilight\" series and encourages them to mine the spiritual and Mormon themes in Meyer's work. She writes: \"Seen in this light, the 'Twilight' phenomenon is fueled not (just) by teen hormones and melodrama, but also by spiritual longing. While it is no doubt true that many 'Twilight' fans are active in traditional religious settings, an increasing number of spiritual-but-not-religious Americans feel that traditional religious organizations are failing to satisfy their spiritual needs. If this trend continues, we will likely see more pop culture offerings that address spiritual needs through supernatural storytelling.\"

Ironically, some journalists and bloggers continue to suggest that \"Twilight\" is veiled Mormon propaganda, but I can't help but agree with a column from the Scottish Sunday Express. \"The books have been criticized for being veiled propaganda for beliefs held by the Mormon church. The central characters must remain chaste because losing control could have fatal consequences. Yet it's an odd world we live in where chastity is seen as the grounds for reproach.\"

Officials reject huge LDS-backed project in Florida

Florida's Orange County commissioners recently shot down the proposed Innovation Way East development, in a split 3-3 vote. The project's developers — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — used a full-court lobbying campaign that included millions of dollars in pledges for job-creation efforts and help paying for a new BeachLine interchange in the same area, but to no avail.

Here's a couple of takes, one in an Orlando Sentinel blog and the other in a Sentinel news story that started this way: \"A tie vote Tuesday night killed a controversial proposal to build 6,343 residences in the sensitive Econlockhatchee River region, closing a chapter on one of the most heated growth battles Orange County has seen.\"

A strange news angle

They must be hard up in Australia for another way to report the story about LDS rugby star Israel Folau's decision to change teams. The Australian reported: \"Folau's multi-million-dollar defection from rugby league may not only be a boon for the AFL — his beloved Mormon church may also be a beneficiary. The football boy wonder is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Along with promoting clean living and family values, it encourages its parishioners to donate 10 per cent of their pre-tax salary to the church for charitable works. So, since Folau signed a four-year deal reportedly worth $3.6 million with the new Greater Western Sydney AFL franchise last week, is the church expecting a slice? Bishop John Sietu, who leads the congregation at Folau's church at Karawatha, in Brisbane's southern suburbs, just smiled when asked that question. 'That's up to him,' Bishop Sietu told The Australian.\"

Former congressman tries to rebuild his reputation

John Doolittle, a former California congressman embroiled in the Abramoff lobbying scandal in Washington, was featured by Roll Call newspaper as he tries to rebuild his life. He said his faith has offered him strength. The paper writes: \"The Congressman, a Mormon, says his faith carried him through. 'It was the biggest part,' he said. 'It gave us the strength to hold our heads up.' And there has been an upside to the professional downfall. 'For Courtney's (a daughter) whole senior year, we've been able to have dinners together,' John Doolittle said. 'We've had a lot of family time,' Julie Doolittle added. 'We really depend on each other.'\"

Illinois and Missouri history

Early LDS history has been recognized by an Illinois newspaper and a book chronicling the \"Mormon War\" in Missouri has gotten some ink in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.