Religion news in brief
The Messenger. 02.28.08
By The Associated Press
New imprint for Mormon church promotes their history projects
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church will launch a new imprint for publishing works that detail the faith’s early history and growth, beginning with a massive series cataloguing the papers of church founder Joseph Smith.
Marlin K. Jensen, an elder with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the establishment of the Church Historian’s Press underscores the value church leaders place on history.
The Joseph Smith Papers, to be released later this year, is a collection of “journals, diaries, correspondence, articles and notices,” Jensen said, “everything of a written nature Joseph Smith generated, or over which he had oversight.”
Between 25 and 30 volumes are expected in the series.
Project editor Ronald Esplin said the Smith works will provide a greater opportunity for historians and will lift the overall standards for Mormon historical scholarship.
Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller and his wife, Gail, created an endowment to help fund the Joseph Smith Papers project.
Iowa prison to end religious program that prompted legal fight
NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — State officials say they will end a Bible-based treatment program at Newton prison that has been the subject of a five-year court battle.
The Iowa Department of Corrections has notified Prison Fellowship Ministries in Virginia that the program, called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, will end by mid-March, prison spokesman Fred Scaletta said in a copyright story in The Des Moines Register.
Prison Fellowship had a three-year state contract that ended in June to work with inmates. Prison officials had granted the group a one-year extension with donations covering expenses.
A provision in the agreement allows the prison to cancel the program if its enrollment drops below 60 inmates.
That is expected to happen after a March 14 graduation ceremony for 27 prisoners, Scaletta said.
The program has been the subject of a protracted legal fight with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C.
In December, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled that the program advanced religion at government expense and that taxpayer money could not be used to finance the program.
The program, in place in Newton for eight years, has operated solely on donations since July 1, 2007, when Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, signed legislation eliminating a state appropriation for the project.
Prison Fellowship has contended the program is voluntary and produces secular benefits such as improving inmates behavior, reducing the number of people returning to prison and protecting public safety.
Inmates in the InnerChange program spend seven days a week in work, education and prayer.