Mormon News, August 15–19

In the News

LDS LOBBYIST JOINS AFFIRMATION
Bill Evans, a former LDS Church lobbyist who pushed for the church’s interests in Utah’s capitol, has joined the board of Affirmation, an independent Mormon LGBTQ advocacy group. Evans met with members of Affirmation and other LGBTQ groups as part of his efforts to promote LDS Church beliefs, such as limiting marriage between one man and one woman, to Utah state legislators and leaders. According to a statement by Affirmation, Evans “was astonished by the graciousness of those activists toward him even after acknowledging his role in the LDS Church’s Prop 8 campaign.” Evans joins Laura Skaggs Dulin and Justis Tuia as new members of Affirmation’s board.

ABA DROPS INVESTIGATION INTO BYU
The American Bar Association dropped its investigation into BYU’s policies this week, disappointing activists who had hoped for sweeping changes at celestialthe university. The complaint to the ABA was launched by FreeBYU, a group that argues that BYU’s policy of requiring ecclesiastical endorsements is tantamount to discrimination. At BYU, if a student leaves the LDS Church, they can be dismissed from the university even if they are just a few credit hours away from graduation. After BYU made minor changes to its policy, which allows students to appeal to the Honor Code office if they do not have an ecclesiastical endorsement, FreeBYU insisted its pressure led to the adjustments, something the university disputes.

CHURCH DEVELOPING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEBSITE
The LDS Church is developing a new website, religiousfreedom.lds.org, to help members combat what the church sees as anti-religious sentiment growing with the rise of secularism. After several legal defeats in the church’s effort to limit marriage in the United States, it has pivoted to talking about religious freedom. While proponents of LGBTQ rights say the church has fought equality and harmed gay Americans, LDS Church leaders have increasingly presented Mormons as victims of anti-religious agendas in the wake of protests against the church and legal rulings that have legalized marriage equality.

MORMONS REPRESENTED AT THE OLYMPICS
As the Summer Olympics wind down this weekend, World Religion News profiled several Mormon athletes participating in the games. The events they compete in range from rugby to marathoning to weight lifting and water polo. LDS Living also showcased some Mormon athletes competing from other countries.

News update by John Hatch