Mormon News, July 20–24

In the News

For years, Spencer W. Kimball’s treatise on repentance, The Miracle of Forgiveness, was seen as a Mormon classic and aNews Update must-read. Now, according to reporting by Peggy Fletcher Stack, the book is “fading” away and losing its once-powerful influence. The publisher, Deseret Book, said the hardcover edition is out-of-print and the paperback is “out of stock indefinitely,” although an ebook edition remains for sale online. Forgiveness had harsh words for gays and lesbians and famously called sexual immorality “the sin next to murder.” Kimball’s son and biographer, Edward Kimball, wrote that his father later seemed to regret his abrasive tone, one that by all accounts was much harder than Kimball used in person.

Don Heaton, aka, the Mormon Giant, is being honored after retiring from professional wrestling thirty-five years ago. The 84-year-old, originally from Utah, had to retire in 1980 after hurting his back body slamming 550-pound Andre the Giant. Before his retirement, Heaton went by the nicknames Don Leo Jonathan and the Mormon Giant. He is being inducted into the All-Star Wrestling Hall of Fame on July 24th.

When Mitt Romney ran for president in 2008 and then again in 2012, one elephant in the room was whether Americans would vote for a Mormon. Now a new Gallup Poll shows that the answer is, increasingly, yes. Eighty-one percent of Americans would vote for a Mormon, compared to 60% who would vote for a Muslim, 58% for an atheist, or, at the bottom of the list, only 47% who would vote for a socialist. Although Romney did not win, his candidacy appears to have opened the door to a future Mormon president.

Operation Underground Railroad, or OUR, sets up sting operations across the globe to catch human traffickers in the act. OUR is run by Tim Ballard, a Mormon who founded the organization after becoming frustrated with the challenges of coordinating between varying governments and groups. Although Ballard says one need not be LDS to be a part of the group, he does say they pray frequently and that if someone isn’t “comfortable praying they’re not going to be comfortable working with us.” Ballard took up the cause after believing God called him to “find the lost children.” Recent estimates put human trafficking victims at nearly 21 million people, 5 million of whom are sold for sex.

On the Blogs

Jeff Turner, a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, explored the growing use of the First Vision in missionary discussions at the turn of the twentieth century this week at the Juvenile Instructor blog. Turner, building off of the research of Kathleen Flake and James Allen, asked what kind of a role missionary work might have had in creating a “pure” Joseph Smith, one that influenced new converts and increased the visibility of the First Vision in Latter-day Saint discourse.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor