Mormon News, July 13–17

In the News

DONATION EXPLAINED
After the LDS Church donated to the Utah Pride Center, an LGBT outreach group, some accused the center of selling out for working with the church, while others accused the church of the jonathansame sin. An op-ed by the Pride Center’s board president, Kent Frogley, shed light on how the donation was made and argued that the cynicism on both sides was unwarranted. Frogley wrote that, after the Pride Center requested a food donation, the LDS Church’s first response was “Are you sure you don’t need more?” He insisted that “declining the goodwill of the LDS church for the sake of ideology or to nurse past wounds denies us the chance to help the hungry and those at risk.”

NELSON TAKES THE HELM
Russell M. Nelson, 90, was officially set apart this week as the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Based on tradition, Nelson is next in line to succeed President Thomas S. Monson, 87, as head of the church. Nelson and the next senior member of the quorum, Dallin H. Oaks, were both ordained apostles in 1984, fourteen years after Boyd K. Packer, who died on July 3, joined the quorum.

FEMINIST PROFILED
Hannah Wheelwright, founder of YoungMormonFeminists.org, was profiled this week in the Salt Lake City Weekly. Wheelwright was confronted in 2012 by her home teachers at BYU who warned her that her feminist tendencies would lead her astray. In response, she founded a Facebook group to create a space for Mormon women to share their beliefs and discuss feminism and faith. Today, Young Mormon Feminists has nearly one million page views and Wheelwright is a fierce public voice for Latter-day Saint women and feminists.

KRAKAUER DISPUTED
Some thirteen years after it was published, Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven remains the number one selling book on Amazon.com under the “Mormonism” category. This is a problem, Max Perry Mueller argued, because Krakauer sacrificed accuracy for thesis. Mueller, a PhD candidate at Harvard, first established Krakauer’s influence among the general populace and even non-Mormon scholars, and then took issue with Heaven’s methodology. Krakauer, by claiming that violent fundamentalists like Ron and Dan Lafferty share much in common with mainstream Latter-day Saints, created a distinction without a difference between the abusive FLDS community and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mueller noted that Krakauer’s influence stems from his captive writing that makes for crackling page turners.

On the Blogs

April Young Bennett, writing at The Exponent, asked this week if Mormon women can count money. She listed church callings that handle LDS finances and noted that all of them are required to be male. Bennett also explained that some policies banning women from handling church funds are surprisingly recent, including a 2010 rule that requires only men be called as stake auditors. An important LDS principle, she concluded, is that financial wealth and spiritual well-being are inseparably intertwined, and denying women access to assist with church finances excludes “women from participating in God’s work.”

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor