Mormon News, April 18–22

In the News

A week after reports alleged that BYU students who report sexual assaults were at risk for punishment by the Honor Code Office, the university said it will review its policies. The Salt Lake Tribune interviewed several women who said they were investigated by the school after they informed the BYU Title IX office that they had lazylionbeen sexually assaulted. The Tribune’s reporting garnered international attention and sparked a student protest at the school. Mormons online have been grappling with the news, with some defending the church and the Honor Code investigations. Michael Austin shared several such online comments made at By Common Consent and argued that it is this kind of response that make rape a chronically under-reported crime.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution this week declaring pornography a “public health crisis.” The largely Mormon state legislature passed the resolution in March but provided no funding or further efforts to tackle the “crisis.” Some people applauded the move, arguing that the internet provides a warped sense of what sex is, especially to teenagers. Others said the idea that pornography is addictive is a myth and labeling it a health crisis does more harm than good. Still others complained that the state has done nothing to help its citizens with more pressing health issues by refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

LDS Church growth slowed to 1.7% this year, the slowest in nearly eighty years. Jana Riess interviewed Matt Martinich of the LDS Church Growth blog this week to find out why. Both agreed that, while the lower numbers might distress some Mormons who took pride in the church’s expansion in past decades, the slow down is natural and not necessarily a bad development. According to Martinich, in the 1990s the church implemented a “centers of strength” policy that requires the church to become more established and rooted in city centers before it will increase missionary work in that area. It is part of a transition by the church to focus less on baptisms and more on retention and activity.

News update by John Hatch