Mormon News, February 29–March 4

In the News

A BYU ward asked its members to post five-star reviews of the Book of Mormon on as a way to “do missionary work,” but the effort quickly backfired. Hundreds of other reviewers who noticed the spike in positive comments swarmed the site and gave the book one-star reviews with notes like “WARNING: May cause drowsiness and occasional eye-rolling. Go watch the musical instead,” and lilly“complete waste of trees.” Nearly 400 of the 595 reviews were written in the past week and are overwhelmingly negative.

Apostle David Bednar said in a conference in Chile last week that Latter-day Saints “do not discriminate” against LGBTQ Mormons because “there are no homosexual members of the church.” Bednar’s comment was in response to a question asked by a Chilean youth. On social media, some Mormons immediately compared Bednar to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president of Iran who once famously said there are no homosexuals in his country. Gay Mormons stood up and said they refused to be vanished or erased. Other church members suggested reading Bednar’s words as charitably as possible.

In a paper at the Church History Symposium at BYU, professor Andrea Radke-Moss presented new research that Eliza R. Snow was so brutally gang raped by Missourians that she was unable to have children. Snow biographer Jill Mulvay Derr had previously suggested that an assault may have occurred, but Radke-Moss made it the focus of research for several years and said she teased out details from other sources. She also argued that the traumatic events in Missouri impacted how Mormon women thought about men, marriage, and relationships, thereby influencing later beliefs about the practice of plural marriage.

In Books

The Church Historian’s Press released a volume this week documenting the early years of the LDS Relief Society. The First Fifty Years of Relief Society is edited by historians Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew Grow, and contains “key documents” relating to the founding and growth of the Relief Society. The book traces the origins of the Relief Society, its members’ denunciations of polygamy, its disbanding at the hands of Brigham Young, and its reconstitution in Utah territory.

At Signature Books

Gary James Bergera, former Signature Books employee and current managing director of the Smith-Pettit Foundation, recently received the 2015 Clarence Dixon Taylor Historical Research Award from the Charles Redd Center at BYU. The award was established by the Taylor and Dixon families to “foster and encourage research on Provo and Utah County history.” Bergera was recognized for the following three articles on BYU history in the Utah Historical Quarterly: “The 1966 BYU Student Spy Ring,” “Student Political Activism at Brigham Young University, 1965-71,” and “‘This Time of Crisis’: The Race-Based Anti-BYU Athletic Protests of 1968-1971.”

News update by John Hatch