Mormon News, April 25–29

In the News

Tyler Glenn, the lead singer of the popular group Neon Trees, released a music video this week that uses Mormon imagery to criticize the LDS Church’s anti-gay policies. Neon Trees formed in Provo and has rocketed to commercial success in recent years. Glenn came out as a gay Mormon in 2014 and has celestialcalled himself a role model for other LGBTQ members of the church. But new interviews with Glenn suggest he was devastated by the November 2015 LDS policies targeting children of gay parents and gay couples that has since put his faith in a “tailspin.” His new video is an expression of that pain.

Richard Turley, an Assistant LDS Church Historian and Recorder, will succeed Michael Otterson as the managing director of the LDS Public Affairs department, the church announced this week. Turley is a familiar face in Mormon studies, appearing at conferences and authoring or coauthoring several books and articles. He has been integral in making more documents available through the LDS Church History Library’s scanning and online digitization.

In the cybersecurity community, where 10% of the workers are women, BYU has become an unlikely recruiting tool for female IT security professionals. At the recent National Collegiate Cyber Defense Championship, BYU provided more than 50% (only four) of the women competing. There are different theories why Mormon women might find a career in cybersecurity: they follow the rules, they listen to instructions, and, perhaps most importantly, they can work from home. The LDS Church has long had ties to government security: a larger-than-average number of Mormons work for the FBI and the CIA.

On the Blogs

Ben Park wrote at By Common Consent this week on the American tendency to appeal to the authority of the nation’s founders. Quoting the popular musical Hamilton, Park notes that it’s powerful to have “Washington on your side.” He also looked at a uniquely Mormon aspect of this, including two books that argue America’s two most famous presidents, Washington and Lincoln, aligned themselves with Mormon values. Park dismissed this kind of thinking as historically inept, but also said the idea offends him as a Mormon because it represents a need to associate all good with Mormonism. He concluded, “Our community needs to learn how to appreciate historical actors without first having to baptize them.”

In Memoriam

William A. “Bert” Wilson, a prodigious scholar of Mormon folklore, passed away this week. Wilson, 82, taught at Utah colleges for decades and became synonymous with LDS folklore, documenting tales of visits from the Three Nephites, miraculous missionary stories, and cautionary accounts of poetic justice for Mormons who break the rules. Wilson was a kind, gracious man who was universally liked and respected. He will be missed.

News update by John Hatch