Swing State: Mormonism in Athens, Ohio

A friend of mine, photojournalist, and fellow product of the College of Charleston religious studies department, Priscilla Thomas, has produced a really interesting multimedia look at one Mormon family, the Crawfords, in the town of Athens, Ohio. “Raising Faith” is one story in the larger Swing State project produced by the Soul of Athens at Ohio University. Swing State attempts to give Ohio voters a voice on four major sets of issues: land, liberties, health, and the economy.

“Raising Faith” falls under the liberties category of the project and consists of an article about the Crawfords and the larger place of Mormonism in American culture and two brief videos that try to take an intimate look at the small community of Mormons in Athens. For those looking for a quick way to address the “Mormon Moment” and/or the election, this story and the site as whole can be a great resource. Below is a taste of the article and the accompanying video.

I encourage you to check out the entire project. It’s a fascinating look at the diversity of a swing state and a model for creative multimedia journalism. Ohio is more than a blank outline on electoral college maps.

Recent transplants to Athens, Ohio, Cory and Rebecca Crawford previously
lived in larger urban communities in Massachusetts and Utah. Their
transition to small town life has come with some surprises. After moving
into their home, the Crawfords began extensive renovations to the
property. Understanding of their situation, church members offered to
open their homes to the family until major repairs were completed.

“We would come home covered in dust and dirt from working and this neat,
wonderful lady would say ‘Eat dinner with my family,’” Rebecca recalls.
“She’d treat us like we were one of the family. And feed us dinner. And
they loved our kids and they spoiled them like they were grandparents.”


But Could You Vote For THIS Mormon?

Politico reports that the NAE is trying to make nice with Mormons and that this is good news for Mitt Romney and Jon Hunstman:

The National Association of Evangelicals is holding its semiannual board meeting in Salt Lake City on Thursday — the first time the group has met in Utah. The association chose to gather in Utah precisely to open the door to improved relations between the religious groups.

The board plans to meet with a Mormon leader, in what the evangelicals are framing as an opportunity for “dialogue” that will “deepen our understanding of the Mormon faith and contribute to the ongoing work of evangelicals in Utah.”

The gathering also has clear implications for 2012 presidential politics, with two leading Republican White House contenders still facing the prospect of influential Evangelical Christians in key early-voting states viewing them warily.

At the bottom of the piece Republican strategist Brett O’Donnell claims that less and less conservative evangelicals are dissuaded by a Mormon candidate. I’m not so sure, but it will take an election to find out.


Things Sacred & Profane: Sacred Constitution, Jerry Brown, Mormon politics, and an atheist Bible reader

The recitation of the Constitution in the House renews the debate over Founders’ intentions.

Peter Berger on “Conservative Christians and the Sexual Revolution”

Romney and Reid: Does Mormonism matter in politics?

An atheist who is spending a year reading through the King James Bible.

California’s new (but not completely new) governor, Jerry Brown, trained with Jesuits, studied with Zen Masters, and hung out on the streets with Mother Theresa. He also inspired this great Dead Kennedy’s song.


Things Sacred & Profane: Natural Theology, Islam’s Billy Graham, and Mormons on Immigration

Why Stephen Hawking’s attempt to banish natural theology only shows why we need it.

Amr Khaled’s TV preaching has made him Islam’s answer to Billy Graham – and he’s mounting a direct attack on the terror camps of Yemen

Among Mormons, a deep divide on immigration

Catholic Hospitals vs. the Bishops

The “Business” of Being Christian: The Ethics of Usury


Shariah-Approved Sex Aids, Abstinence-Only Goes to China, and Abercrombie Hijab…The Week in Religion, Poetically

Ramadan is not only a time for fasting, it’s also a time for the best television around the Muslim world. A television serial in Egypt has stirred controversy: The Group explores the world of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition movement. Similarly, a Syrian serial, What Your Right Hand Possess (it sounds better in Arabic) has drawn furiouscriticism for allegedly distorting Islam. A Malaysian TV station has axed a commercial wishing Muslims a happy Eid al-Fitr because viewers complained the commercial was too Christmas-y.

In France, halal food is going upscale.

Christian morality meets communist population control: evangelical group Focus on the Family has partnered with Chinese officials to bring its abstinence program to Chinese teens. Muslim couples can find “shariah-approved” products for “sexual health” at El Asira—an online shop attracting 30,000 visits a week.

Teetotaling Mormons in Idaho grow barley for beer brewers.

A Muslim mason who worked to rebuild the Saint Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France, has been immortalized as a winged gargoyle on the facade of the church. The inscription beneath his stone image reads “God is great.” In Germany, a team of researchers have built digital models of synagogues destroyed by Nazis on Kristallnacht in 1938.

Continue Reading at Religion Dispatches>>>


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