Christian California

Christian California February 29, 2024


The L.A. Temple
The Los Angeles California Temple by night.  During my years growing up in California, and again while I was in graduate school, this was “my” temple.  It still holds a special place in my heart:  It was where my family was sealed together after my father’s baptism at the age of nearly sixty.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

I would like to call your attention to a few articles by Latter-day Saint social scientists whom I find consistently interesting and worth reading.  One of them is Stephen Cranney:

“How many churches still favor traditional marriage?  Have most American churches accommodated by now the sea change in public attitudes about marriage? Not really”

Recently, Dr. Cranney has written three fascinating articles with Josh Coates, who heads up the B. H. Roberts Foundation:

“We sent out 80,000 postcards to Latter-day Saints in the U.S. Here’s what we learned: Our representative survey found high percentages of self-identified members agreeing with church teachings on historical questions and sexuality”

“New survey shows strong cross-generational faith among Latter-day Saints: After we sent out 80,000 postcards to Latter-day Saints in the U.S., we dig deeper into their responses”

“Applying Moral Foundations Theory to current and former Latter-day Saints: While listening to what current and former Latter-day Saints say about their lives, it can be valuable to also understand what they tell us about core values and what matters most to them.”

Another of my favorite Latter-day Saint social scientists is Jacob Hess:

“Church education is promoting an endangered species: Dating: In the face of global relationship trends away from marriage formation, the Church Educational System is taking steps to re-instill a courtship culture”

“‘Make keeping covenants cool again’: Exploring the stories of ex-ex-Latter-day Saints: Inside the increasing numbers of reconversion stories being shared online”

While I’m listing articles that I think worthy of your attention, I want to share these links by and about a legislative initiative sponsored by my friend Utah Senator John Johnson:

I really feel strongly about this issue, and I’m proud that Utah might be potentially taking the lead on so important a front.  Of course, the Utah Senate bill directly concerns only the state’s public colleges and universities, but the Utah university about which I care the most is a private one.

The San Gabriel Mission in California
The Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, shown here in 2005, was visible from my high school. For my first seventeen years, I typically saw it multiple times each week.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

Flying yesterday from Honolulu to Los Angeles, I sometimes had my personal screen on the “My Flight” channel, or whatever it’s called.  As we neared California, I was seeing the names of various towns and cities and trying to figure out where we were.  We came in from the north, flying between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands and then eastward over greater Los Angeles until we executed a great turn right over the skyscrapers of downtown for an approach to the airport from the east.

Seeing the place names made me think.  (Few things do, of course, but I promise that it really happened this time.)  I occasionally run into atheists who profess to be offended (or even, sometimes, somehow injured) by any overt presence of religion in the public square.

I was wondering how such folks must handle the place names in California, which so often reveal not only its Hispanic heritage but its religious history.  They probably simply haven’t noticed them or haven’t paid attention to them.  But they’re almost everywhere.  Almost, one might say, inescapable.

Santa Barbara is an obvious example.  But scores of other specimens can be supplied, including San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ynez, Sacramento (both city and river), Santa Maria, San Diego, San Fernando, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo (the last word being needed in order to distinguish it from San Luis Rey), San Onofre, Mount San Jacinto, San Clemente, Santa Catalina, San Ysidro, the San Joaquin Valley, Mount San Gregorio, San Bernardino, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Gertrudes, Santa Monica, my own home town of San Gabriel, and on and on and on.  And then, of course, there is the literal queen of them all: El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, ‘The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels” (aka Los Angeles).

If anybody ever really seeks to do so, it will be very difficult to erase the legacy of Hispanic Catholicism from the history — and from the map — of the state.

California's very first temple. Now, I believe, there are eleven that are either operational, under construction, or announced.
Another view of the Los Angeles California Temple (
This was the first temple in California.  Now, if I’m not mistaken, there are eleven of them that are either fully operational, or under construction, or newly announced..
I close with a modest little item from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™:  “Help for Job Seekers”

I have had some limited experience with the services provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for people seeking employment.  I was very, very impressed.

However, I note that at least a few of the linked articles with which I opened this blog entry might also be found in the almost infinitely capacious Hitchens File.

Posted from Los Angeles, California



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