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Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Gay support group issues challenge: Read Book of Mormon daily

Starting this week, more than 100 LDS believers have accepted the challenge to read a chapter a day from the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon.

At this pace, they will complete the entire text in 239 days.

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What makes this challenge different, though, is that it was issued not by LDS Church headquarters but from Affirmation, a support group for gay Mormons that many church members presume is opposed to the faith.

The instructions on Facebook for reading together are clear: Read a chapter every morning as part of your routine; think about it; say a prayer; and, if you want, share your thoughts with the group.

This is not the place to debate LDS history or to discuss the Book of Mormon text, organizers says, "from a scholarly, apologetic or critical point of view."

"Our approach is studying it for spiritual and personal growth," Affirmation President Randall Thacker writes in an email, "versus ‘Is the book true?’ ’’

Like any religious text, the Book of Mormon can be viewed through individual experience and being gay likely colors how a person interprets certain passages.

One man writes on the Facebook page: "I’ve been a hot-mess these past few months dealing with my sexuality and trying to help my parents understand, to not being able to find a job in my field, and FedLoans reminding me I need to pay up in a few months.

"But reading the Book of Mormon this morning gave me a peace I needed to feel in my heart. I was reminded to give thanks for the things I do have, and to look at what I have accomplished thus far. I need to trust him and continue moving forward with faith. (1 Nephi 2:7, 19-20.)"

Lisa Torcasso Downing, a Mormon blogger in Texas, is not gay but has joined the Affirmation challenge.

She feels "called," she writes on her blog, "to increase my understanding and love for scripture and toward my fellow man."

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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