Mormon News, February 1–5

In the News

The LDS Church reposted its policy for handling child sexual abuse this week, calling it a “gold standard” and touting its record in preventing abuse. The policy, assemblyfirst written in 2010, immediately generated some angry online responses as members shared first-hand experiences, including details of harrowing abuse, that directly refuted some of the claims in the church’s post. The statement that “preventing and responding to child abuse is the subject of a regular lesson taught during Sunday meetings” especially baffled some members who say they have never received such instruction. The policy may have been reposted in response to a report of high abuse rates in Utah, as well as questions about how the church handled accusations of abuse within a San Diego congregation. The church later said the reposting was a “technical error” of their website.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, shared his story of being a German refugee this week. The interview with Uchtdorf was filmed by LDS Public Affairs and posted to the Mormon Newsroom website, reinforcing previous official statements of concern and sympathy for migrants and refugees. The church also announced it is donating an additional $5 million to aid refugees fleeing war torn regions to Europe.

In Films

Kristine Stolakis, an independent filmmaker, is documenting the experience of Ordain Women and Mormon feminists in her new short, Where We Stand. The movie primarily follows Abby Hansen, a stay-at-home Mormon mom who becomes an advocate for Mormon feminists and is called in to see her bishop. Stolakis is currently raising funds on Indiegogo to finish the film and submit it to festivals around the world.

The PBS series Independent Lens recently featured the documentary “In Football We Trust,” a look at Polynesian football players in Salt Lake City. Utah has become the center of the so-called “Polynesian Pipeline” to the NFL, thanks to the LDS Church’s success in gaining converts in Tonga and Samoa. The film follows four Polynesian men who turn to dreams of making it in the NFL as a way out of poverty and gang violence.

In Books

Dan Vogel, editor of the new eight-volume series History of Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: A Source-and Text-Critical Edition, from the Smith-Pettit Foundation, recently sat down with the Mormon Book Review podcast to discuss the project. Vogel talked about the genesis of B.H. Roberts’s History of the Church and the development of Joseph Smith’s history since the 1830s.

News update by John Hatch