Mormon News, April 27–May 1

In the News

No matter how you slice it, Mormons are the most likely demographic group to align themselves with the Republican Party in the United States. A new study conducted by the Pew Research uteCenter shows that Mormons top all groups, whether categorized by religion, gender, age, sexual preference, ethnicity, race, or location. Mormons are 70% likely to identify as Republican, compared to only 22% who identify as Democrats. Latter-day Saints bested other groups who typically identify as politically conservative, like white evangelical Protestants, southern whites, people older than 65, and white men.

The Daily Universe, the official student newspaper of Brigham Young University, published a story this week that said Mormons have a “skin-texture glow” that distinguishes them from nonbelievers. Citing a study done by Nicholas Rule of the University of Toronto, the article said that the study proves “something is different about Mormons.” Rule collected online images of Mormons and non-Mormons and asked viewers to try and identify the Mormons, and was surprised to learn they were overwhelmingly successful. While some commenters praised the story and attributed the “glow” to the presence of the Holy Ghost, most commenters on the story’s website and the Daily Universe’s Facebook page took strong issue with the experiment. More than a few said the methodology was sloppy and others said it was more a case study in confirmation bias than in identifying Mormons. The Daily Universe has deleted several of the more critical comments.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the LDS Church’s First Presidency, was the keynote speaker at a symposium at the University of Southern California that kicked off a new Mormon studies program at the school. The gathering was the first of four to establish the proposed John A. Widtsoe Chair of Mormon Studies. The chair will be part of USC’s School of Religion, housed on the main campus in Los Angeles.

David Howlett, a historian with the Community of Christ, spoke recently on the Kirtland Temple and the divisions between the Utah-based branch of Joseph Smith’s church and the Midwest branch in Independence, Missouri. Howlett shared his experience as a tour guide for the temple, where some Utah Mormons would be surprised to learn he was not LDS and that the Community of Christ owns the temple. Howlett used the example of the Kirtland Temple to highlight the importance of sacred spaces in all religions and how they are inevitably contested by diverse believers.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor