MORMON NEWS, FEBRUARY 20–26

In the News

SURPRISING ANCIENT-AMERICAN ANCESTORS FOUND
Inspired by recent research published in Nature and Science Mormon News magazines, geneticist Oleg Balanovsky conducted a larger study than previously undertaken involving some 24,000 indigenous people from 90 nations. The DNA results confirmed that Native Americans came from Siberia, But he also found what he called “puzzling” additional evidence of indigenous Australians and Melanesians in the Americas. No trace yet of Jewish ancestry except for the post-Columbus era involving Spanish explorers.

MORMONS ARE THE MOST REPUBLICAN
More than any other US religious group, according to a new Pew Research Center report, seven in ten American Mormons are Republican, a full 7 percentage points more than the next most Republican-leaning denomination, the Southern Baptists. Interestingly, when asked about voting habits, more evangelical Protestants (79%) voted for Mitt Romeny than Mormons (78%). The most apolitical group proved, not unexpectedly, to be Jehovah’s Whitnesses, 75% of whom claimed no political affiliation.

FEDS CRACK DOWN ON POLYGAMIST FRAUD
A little more than a week after federal agents raided several Salt Lake businesses owned by the Kingston polygamist clan, they indicted and arrested 10 FLDS polygamist leaders in southern Utah and South Dakota including Lyle Jeffs, brother of Warren Jeffs, the sect’s leader who is presently serving two life sentences for aggravated sexual assault on children. The defendants face conspiracy charges to defraud the government through manipulation of its food-stamp program (SNAP), amounting to millions of dollars in undeserved benefits per year.

In the Blogs

BISHOP DEMANDS LESBIAN COUPLE DIVORCE
Recently a Mount Pleasant, Utah, bishop confronted a woman returning from work and told her, standing there in her driveway, that she needed to divorce her spouse of eight years or face church discipline. Blogger Jana Riess featured the woman’s story on her Flunking Sainthood site, with a guest editorial from the unnamed woman. Riess has sent out an invitation to any other couple affected by recent changes in LDS policies to recount their experiences so they can be documented and perhaps play a role in future discussions for change.

Signature Books

SUNSTONE GOES EURO
Several Signature Books staff members are attending the first-ever international Sunstone symposium held this weekend in Birmingham, England. Presenters include Mormon Stories host John Dehlin, speaking on the challenges of modern Mormonism; Community of Christ Seventy Robin Linkhart, considering the relationship of the two main Restoration communities; and locals Mark Johnson and Sally Norton discussing the UK Mormon social scene. Signature Books authors are also there. Devery Anderson is presenting a paper on Mormon apostle Willard Richards’s time in England. George Smith is speaking on the British participants in Mormon polygamy. John Hatch is explaining the British origin of the famous Mormon theology, “As man is, God once was.”

—News update by Tom Kimball