FaithWorld

from Photographers' Blog:

Portraying polygamy

Rockland Ranch community outside Moab, Utah

By Jim Urquhart

If patience is a virtue I am damned to burn forever but I've made some friends in the process.

Growing up in Utah, knowledge of polygamy has long been part of my experience. I can recall standing on the side of the residential road looking at a nondescript home with a large cinder block wall surrounding it. My friend leaned over to me to tell me that a polygamist family lived there. He tried to explain to me what plural marriage was in the best way a 10-year-old could explain to another. I was confused. I had a hard enough time trying to fully understand why my parents were divorced let alone trying to figure out how there could be a home with several moms and one dad.

As I grew up what I was able to glean from hushed overheard conversations was that the people living behind the walls were different and something to scrutinize whenever we caught a glimpse of them or that we should try to ignore that their home was even there.

It wasn't until I was older that I began to grab the concept of what polygamy was. But, until recently it was a skewed and unfair view.

I had grown up believing that those who practice polygamy were religious freaks living in an environment that oppressed women, preyed on young girls and didn't educate their children. What I found south of Moab, Utah blew my mind.

from Photographers' Blog:

Utah gets Holi, Photographer gets dirty

People throw colored powder during Holi, the festival of colors, at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah March 26, 2011.   REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

By Jim Urquhart

The Holi Color Festival is a yearly event in Utah that for years I have known of but never attended myself. I would be reminded of it after the fact when seeing it in images by other photojournalist friends. It is rooted in a Hindu tradition of celebrating the end of winter and beginning of Spring and takes place at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah.

What makes this festival so amazing is not just the crowds of people and the color but also that it is taking place in Utah County. The same county as the LDS Church's Brigham Young University. In my mind, Utah County is not known as a mecca of culture and was really only a melting pot of white bread, sugar and milk. I was about to have my stereotype blown away.

Revellers cover their faces as they stand in a midst of coloured powders during Holi, the festival of colors, at Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah March 26, 2011.   REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

It has always puzzled me and in the days before the event I was asked to speak to communication students at BYU. I asked the professor of the class, who is also a good friend, why it is that so many Mormon youth and young adults attend the event. It is not part of my picture of white Utah county. He explained that the event draws the students and families from the area because not only is it an experience in another culture's traditions but it also a safe fun outlet for them.

Bus tours journey into U.S. polygamist town run by breakaway Mormon group

colorado cityA peek inside a polygamist community and their isolated way of life is now just a bus ride away for sightseers from around the world.

Billed as the “Polygamy Experience,” the four-hour, $70 tour takes visitors through the middle of the polygamist enclave Colorado City on the Utah-Arizona border. Children play in yards, families picnic in parks and teenage boys gallop their horses away from the guests. Women with old-fashioned braided hair and pioneer dresses usher the little ones out of eyesight. (Photo: Colorado City, 9 Aug 2006/Ricardo630)

Holm says tourists have come from France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway and throughout the United States. He added that the tour idea is growing slowly as local people start opening up.

Mormon bean counting doesn’t always add up …

I just received my annual copy of the Church Almanac for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and am struck by just how precise it is when it comes to counting its worldwide membership.

Let’s start with the statistical profile at the start. It says total membership as of Jan 1, 2009, was 13,508,509. That’s pretty specific for a headcount that exceeds the population of many of the world’s countries.

mormonbook

Membership in the United States — the birthplace of the Mormon faith — was put at 5,974,041. Mexico has the second largest national membership at 2,092,389. It would seem no rounding up or down with these folks though total membership in South America was a nice roundish 3,278,400.