Mormon News, July 11–15

In the News

Video of noted Mormon historian Richard Bushman was posted on YouTube this week showing the scholar candidly discussing the LDS Church’s challenges for the future. Bushman spoke at a small gathering on Sunday in Salt Lake City. In response to a question, he explained that for the church to “remain strong” it must change its traditional narrative because “the dominant narrative is not true.” Bushman’s broader comments make it clear he was not questioning Mormonism’s foundational claims but was saying that the scholarly history that has emerged in the past several decades is at odds with the way the LDS Church has traditionally chosen to represent its past. Bushman continued to say the current story “can’t be sustained. The church has to absorb all this new information. And that’s what it’s trying to do.”

Jana Riess, an author and Mormon scholar, has recently launched a Kickstarter project to study the beliefs, behaviors, and activity rates of LDS young adults, aged 18-35. Riessscroll has aligned with social and political scientists to create a survey for young Mormons and will have the data scrutinized by a “leading research firm” to ensure as scientific approach as possible. The results and her own observations will be published in a forthcoming book, The Next Mormons.

The LDS Church will keep its missionaries in Russia, even after President Vladimir Putin signed a law that limits missionary work inside the country. Missions in Russia are already minimally staffed due to “hurdles” the government has put into place since officially recognizing the church in 1991. The new law, a counter-terrorism measure that also increases state surveillance, “makes it very difficult for religious groups to operate.”

One of the pieces selected for the 10th annual International Art Competition sponsored by the LDS Church History Museum was the piece, “Early Morning with the Savior,” by Cambodian artist Sopheap Nhem. Mormons used to seeing a white, European Jesus might be surprised at the Savior in the painting, complete with Asian features and surrounded by Asian children in pink and orange hues. The work is currently on display at the Church History Museum.

News update by John Hatch