Mormon News, August 1–5

In the News

Although Mitt Romney is not a candidate for the US Presidency this year, Mormons continue to figure prominently in some analyses of how the election will play out as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton square off. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who has a real shot at competing in Utah where both Clinton and Trump are deeply unpopular, raised eyebrows with his comments on Mormons and religious freedom. “[In regards] to Mormonism, why shouldn’t somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead?” Johnson sarcastically asked. He later apologized and wrote an op-ed for the LDS Church-owned Deseret News to clarify his comments.

Max Perry Mueller wrote an article in Slate this week that continued to examine the Mormon aversion to Donald Trump. Mueller echoed thoughts by other commentators, suchMormon News as McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed, that Mormon distaste for Trump’s personal moral character and their own history contribute to a wariness for the Republican candidate. He cautioned, however, against overstating the case: “Let’s remember that most Utah Republicans’ first choice for president was Ted Cruz, who is no champion of religious pluralism or immigration reform.”

Remains of some LDS pioneers living at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the mid-nineteenth century may have been uncovered. The bones were found at a construction site last week and will be examined by the University of Iowa. Grave sites of Mormon pioneers in Council Bluffs and in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, are important symbols to modern Latter-day Saints of what they believe their ancestors sacrificed.

On the Blogs

Tracy McKay-Lamb guest-blogged at Flunking Sainthood this week on temple sealings and the spiritual practice of polygamy among Mormons. She talked about her own personal experience in getting divorced and remarried, and the real struggles Latter-day Saints face in trying to navigate disparate sealing policies for men and women. Divorced men are often are sealed to two living women at once, where women are not given that option. She also highlighted a massive disconnect in LDS discourse: on the one hand, temple sealings are portrayed as the single most important thing the church does; on the other, Mormons are often told not to worry about their relationship status, God will sort it out in the next life. “So which is it? Is it the most important thing we do? Is it so indispensable that our agency—paramount in Mormon theology—is denied? Or is it no big deal, and we should stop making a fuss and let God work it out after we die?” Mckay-Lamb wrote.

In Books

Signature Books released An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, edited by George D. Smith, this week. It remains one of the most important documentary history titles in Mormon studies. Joseph Smith’s own diary for the Nauvoo era was kept by scribes and often contains only rote entries. Clayton, a close confidant of Smith, in contrast, has lengthy insights in his journals into Nauvoo polygamy, theological development, and the Mormon prophet’s last years.

News update by John Hatch