Mormon News, March 14–18

Latter-day Saints are now considered the most reliably Republican voters in the country, edging out even Southern Baptists and other conservative Christian groups.scroll But when it comes to Donald Trump, the current Republican US Presidential front runner, Mormons have overwhelmingly rejected him, opting instead for Ted Cruz or John Kasich (Marco Rubio, once an LDS member in his youth, dropped out of the race this week). Results in Idaho show a stark divide: Trump won in non-Mormon regions, while he lost badly in Mormon-dominated counties. Polls in Utah and Wyoming show similar results. Pundits and political scientists offer a variety of reasons for Trump’s poor showing, including his profanity and crudeness, his numerous marriages, and his reality TV persona that might appear immoral to Mormons.

In the wake of rulings legalizing marriage equality and outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, many religious believers, including Mormons, have called for bills allowing for religious exceptions. But one Mormon in Kansas learned that these proposed exceptions can harm minority religions. Daniel Arkell, an LDS teacher at a Christian Bible study group at Washburn University in Kansas, was denounced for his belief in the Book of Mormon. The study group lost public funding when Arkell complained, but the Kansas legislature stepped in and crafted an exceptions bill. The bill would allow college religious groups to restrict membership based on personal beliefs, potentially barring Mormons, Jews, Muslims, and others from participation.

Alex Cooper, a gay Mormon who came out to her parents at age fifteen, has detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of a couple practicing gay conversion therapy. After Cooper told her parents she wanted to live with her grandparents, they sent her instead to the St. George, Utah, couple who forced her to wear a backpack full of rocks and who verbally and physically abused her. Her “therapy” took place over an eight-month period beginning in 2010. She eventually won her legal freedom and has recently reconciled with her parents who apologized and explained they thought they were doing what was best for her. Cooper’s book, Saving Alex, was coauthored by Joanna Brooks and published by HarperCollins to positive early reviews.

News update by John Hatch