Mormon News, January 25–29

In the News

Wendy Williams Montgomery, an advocate for LGBT Mormon youth, reported this week that as many as thirty-four Latter-day Saints, between ages fourteen and twenty, had committed suicide since lillyNovember. The suicides come on the heels of a fiercely debated policy change barring children of gay parents from baptism and labeling gay couples as apostates. Peggy Fletcher Stack, reporting for the Salt Lake Tribune, struggled to confirm Montgomery’s figures and wrote of the challenges in pinpointing causes of suicide. But she also included stories from Mormons who say family members struggled with depression following the policy change and ultimately took their own lives. The LDS Church responded to the reports saying that “we mourn with their families and friends when they feel life no longer offers hope.”

A formal complaint was filed this week with the American Bar Association against BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. FreeBYU, a group that argues the university should not be able to discriminate based on religion or sexual orientation, said in the complaint to the American Bar Association that BYU does not meet ABA standards because it currently expels students who leave the Mormon Church or who enter into an LGBT relationship.

The FBI put an end to the seizure of an Oregon wildlife preserve this week by armed militiamen, including several Mormons, after they arrested eight of the occupiers. One, LaVoy Finicum, was killed by agents when he reached for a gun. The occupation and the unorthodox beliefs of the men has put W. Cleon Skousen back in the spotlight. Skousen, a far right-wing Mormon conspiracy theorist and anti-communist, has found a new fan base thanks to the promotional efforts of LDS radio host Glenn Beck. The pocket-sized copies of the US Constitutions often displayed by the militiamen include annotations and commentary by Skousen.

It has been just over thirty years since Mark Hofmann’s bombs murdered two people and maimed himself, all in an effort to cover up a growing forgery scandal. Now a film studio has acquired the rights to one of the many books written on the subject and plans to produce a movie about Hofmann and the bombings. Catch & Release Films will base their production on A Gathering of Saints by New York Times reporter Robert Lindsey.

In Books

Signature Books released the Kindle version of D. Michael Quinn’s acclaimed book, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View this week. The ebook is the expanded and revised second edition of Quinn’s work.

In Memoriam

A familiar face in the Mormon studies community and a kind soul passed away this week. Fred Buchanan was a seventeen-year-old Scottish convert when he immigrated to the United States. After getting his PhD from Ohio State, he was an award-winning historian and a long-time professor at the University of Utah. For Signature Books, he authored Culture Clash and Accommodation: Public Schooling in Salt Lake City, 1890–1994, available for free at our library site.

News update by John Hatch