Dec 17, 2020

CultNEWS101 Articles: 12/16/2020

Covid, LDS, Vanguard Academy, Kingston Group, Jehovah's Witnesses, Legal, Australia,  Hillsong Church

" ... The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a video this week from apostle Dale G. Renlund in which he pleaded with members to put on masks and put off assembling in large gatherings in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Wearing a face covering," he said, "is a sign of Christlike love for our brothers and sisters."

Renlund, a former cardiologist, emphasized that he was speaking not as a physician, but as an apostle, a position of great respect within the Utah-based faith. His words were just the latest in a series of statements and actions by top church leaders in support of public health guidelines. Still, they triggered strong debate between Latter-day Saints who support mask-wearing and those who don't.

A key question: Are so-called anti-maskers among the church's membership guilty of not following their prophet?

The short answer is yes, according to Latter-day Saint writer Emily Jensen, the web editor for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Jensen discusses that question and the wider implications for the church in this week's podcast."

"Brooke Anderson is a data analyst who noticed something unusual about the student body at Vanguard Academy.

"It stuck out like a sore thumb," Anderson said. "Vanguard Academy has had millions of dollars in funding to run a school of entirely white students in West Valley City, and I wonder why that is."

Public data shows Vanguard Academy, a public charter school in West Valley City, has 463 students. Over the last five years, there has been only one enrolled student who is not white.

"That is still zero percent of their student body... There was a decision somewhere. That's not an accident," Anderson said. "The world is a wonderful place that is far more diverse than they're being allowed to see."

When asked by FOX 13 whether there's any effort at Vanguard Academy to increase minority enrollment, principal Suzanne Owen, replied: "There's not an effort to not."

"I think it would be nice" to increase minority enrollment, she added, "yeah."

According to the school's application for charter school status in 2014, Vanguard Academy set a goal for 20 percent minority enrollment.

Owens said, once the school is allowed to expand, Vanguard Academy will prioritize the siblings of current students instead of minorities.

Records show Vanguard Academy has ties to the polygamous sect known as the Kingston Group, also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society and the Order."

"The Jehovah's Witnesses are in danger of losing their tax exempt status in Australia because they refuse to play their part in addressing allegations of child abuse.

Here's the backstory: In 2013, the Australian government set up the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to look into the very serious issue. Rabbis were implicated alongside Catholic priests. Secular organizations weren't immune from wrongdoing.

One of the recommendations from that Commission was the creation of the National Redress Scheme, a formal way to literally pay back victims of child sex abuse for all they had suffered. It's not a perfect system by any means — could anything be? — but the idea behind it was that victims could fill out paperwork explaining what they went through, officials would calculate what that trauma is worth, and victims would receive a check. Among the many criticisms was that the NRS pushed a hierarchy of abuse; penetration was deemed more damaging than any other kind of abuse, for example. (That's a discussion for another thread.)

In order to receive any payment, though, the guilty organizations had to agree to be part of the NRS system. Those that refused to join were always going to be named and shamed. Even more, the government said that groups that chose not to join would no longer be eligible for any kind of federal funding and could even lose their non-profit status.

Back in July, six organizations were announced as having not joined the program. (One of them quickly signed up after that announcement.) These were groups that were responsible for cases of child sex abuse… but because they refused to take part in the NRS, their victims' applications could not be processed.

One of those groups was the Jehovah's Witnesses."
" ... A Hillsong director reportedly said that the church was negotiating a severance package for Carl Lentz and his wife Laura

At the time of his termination, Hillsong founder Brian Houston publicly cited "moral failures." In the newly leaked audio, Houston alleged that Lentz was unfaithful several times, according to Page Six. Reps for Hillsong and Lentz did not immediately return PEOPLE's requests for comment.

"When we talk about an affair, these issues were more than one affair. They were significant," a man reported to be Houston said. "And at least some bad moral behavior had gone back historically, but not necessarily those affairs."

Page Six reported that Houston said that a Hillsong staffer found "a very compromising chain of text messages" on Lentz's laptop, which prompted a confrontation that led to his firing."

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