Mormon News, April 6–10

In the News

The annual general conference of the LDS Church was held over Easter weekend. The news media took note of assemblyapostle L. Tom Perry’s talk warning against “counterfeit and alternative lifestyles,” widely seen as a denunciation of gay marriage and single-parent families. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT organization in the U.S., criticized Elder Perry, 92, for being out of step with recent cultural trends. Perry is in line to become president of the church behind President Thomas Monson and immediate successor Boyd K. Packer, both of whom are suffering increasingly poor health. Monson was unable to attend a short meeting last week with U.S. President Barack Obama a few blocks from Monson’s home.

In a rare sign of dissent, nine LDS men and women voted against the current church leaders when asked for a sustaining vote during the conference. Representing a group calling itself “Any Opposed?” the nine dissenters later said they had a few issues with church policies and procedures. These objectors received threats on social media, including a veiled threat from a BYU football coach and one woman who was mistakenly associated with the group reported that she received online threats and that people called her at home to harass her.

At the same time, the General Primary president, Rosemary Wixom, earned praise for speaking on tolerance. She told of a woman in her ward who quit church, not out of “bad behavior, spiritual apathy, looking for an excuse not to live the commandments, or searching for an easy out” but because of a yearning for deeper answers to legitimate questions. Although the woman in the story eventually returned to the fold, the theme was a departure from traditional depictions of faith crises.

A former Mormon who now identifies as an atheist makes over $100,000 a year for a Bible app he designed. Trevor McKendrick got the idea when a friend began designing mobile-phone applications. McKendrick’s first version of the app was a simple Spanish-language edition, but he has since expanded to include other languages and to offer an audio option. Although he sees the Bible as a literary standard rather than a manual for belief, something akin to a Harry Potter book, he says he is too invested in the project to walk away.

On the Blogs

Writing at Zelophehad’s Daughter’s, a woman calling herself Petra recounted the ghastly deaths of early Australian explorers Robert Burke and William Wills. The two men had enough to eat but died of malnutrition because they only had access to nardoo, an aboriginal food made from a water fern. She compared it to her own journey within Mormonism. She has not suffered any devastating loss of faith due to unexpected details in LDS church history. To the contrary, she grew up in a household with Sunstone magazine and where questions were encouraged. The problem, she writes, is that she hears the same oversimplified morality tales at church, over and over again. It’s nardoo every Sunday: fed plenty of food but still feels like she’s spiritually starving inside.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor