Mormon News, June 6–13

We were at the Mormon History Association conference this past weekend, so the usual Friday news was delayed until Monday.

The Mormon History Association held its annual conference this past weekend in Snowbird, Utah. In addition to hosting several sessions and prominent speakers on Mormon history, the association gave out its annual awards. The Leonard J. Arrington Award for distinguished and outstanding service was given to Signature Books author D. Michael Quinn. His work includes articles on post-Manifesto polygamy, books on the Mormon hierarchy and on early Mormonism and magic, as well as biographies of J. Reuben Clark. Quinn’s next book will be his third and final volume in the Mormon Hierarchy series, Wealth and Corporate Power. A full list of winners is available here.

According to Ugo Perego, Joseph Smith was not the biological father of Josephine Lyon through his polygamous wife, Sylvia Sessions Lyon. Perego, presenting at the Mormon History AssociationKate Kelly, John Dehlin this weekend, revealed the results of DNA testing that he says shows Smith could not have been the father of Lyon. Sylvia Lyon reportedly told her daughter in 1882 that she was the child of Joseph Smith, a revelation that has both excited and frustrated Mormons and historians. Smith’s sexual relationships with his plural wives has been fiercely contested, and this newest revelation will likely only deepen the debate. On the one hand, the DNA results make the search for a child of Smith’s through a plural wife all the more elusive. On the other hand, that Sylvia Lyon believed her daughter could have been a child of Smith points to an intimate relationship between the two.

A new poll out of Utah shows Donald Trump tied with Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential race. Utah, sometimes called “the reddest of the red states,” has consistently supported Republican party candidates for the past several decades. What is more, Mormons in the state have been vocal about their dislike of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, making the results even more surprising. McKay Coppins, an LDS political reporter for Buzzfeed, examined the Trump/Mormon phenomenon in a new editorial for the New York Times this week. While Utah will likely not be competitive for Clinton in the long run, Mormons will factor importantly into voting in swing states such as Colorado and Nevada.

The LDS Church was sued by a fourth member of the Navajo nation after he claimed he was sexually abused while part of a past church program. The man, identified as L.K. in court records, said he reported the abuse while he was part of the Indian Placement Program in the 1970s but was told to stay with his foster family. The church started the Indian Placement Program in the 1940s as a way to place endangered children with LDS foster families. While church spokespeople have said they do not tolerate abuse and work hard to protect children, the church has quietly fought the lawsuits.

News update by John Hatch