Mormon News, June 27–July 1

In the News

There were online reports of at least three and as many as six LGBTQ Mormon youth suicides in the past several days. The news spread on social media as obituaries and stories were shared (Signature Books is not linking to these obituaries or publishing the names of the deceased because of the suicide contagion phenomenon). Natasha Helfer Parker put the news in context at her Mormon Therapist blog and offered suggestions and resources. The reports came at the end of Pride Month, when cities across the United States host parades and celebrations to support LGBTQ causes. The New York Times reported that a group of Mormon and ex-Mormons marched in the New York City pride parade, and Salt Lake City’s parade featured dozens of LDS members from the group “Mormons Building Bridges.”

Sharp-eyed observers spotted wording in a new LDS Church manual this week that seems to suggest the racial priesthood and temple ban, overturned by the church in 1978, Mormon Newswas divinely inspired and the will of God. The new manual, “Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Manual,” has a chapter titled “Prophets and Revelations” that cites the ban as an example of a “revealed” policy. The manual seems to contradict the spirit, if not the letter, of the 2013 Gospel Topics essay “Race and the Priesthood,” which went farther than any previous church statement at disavowing the priesthood and temple ban. As Aaron Brown writes in a blog post examining the new manual, “the [Gospel Topics] essay takes you all the way up to the edge of the cliff of ‘no divine origin’ but then declines to push you off. You have to decide to jump yourself … or not.” In addition to Brown, Margaret Blair Young blogged on the new manual and said she was “disturbed” by it because it leads the church down a road that “we as a church have been divinely invited to leave it behind.”

Stephen Fry, the well-known British actor and stage performer, shared a story this week of a past visit to Salt Lake City when he was asked to leave a Mormon-led tour group on Temple Square after he joked that no sane person would want to spend eternity with their family. In a two-minute video, Fry went on to observe that it is only women “of a certain age” whose children have grown up and left and whose parents have passed on but who still have a nesting instinct who find the idea of eternity with one’s relatives attractive.

Call for Papers

The Mormon History Association announced its call for papers for its annual conference next year, to be held in St. Louis, Missouri. The conference theme is “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History” and the deadline for proposals is October 1, 2016. Signature Books will, as always, be at the conference and we hope you can join us in St. Louis in June 2017.

News update by John Hatch