Mormon News, March 2–6

In the News

Kate Kelley, founder of Ordain Women, was told last Saturday that the LDS First Presidency had denied her appeal to be reinstated as a member of the LDS Church. Her stake president, Scott Wheatley, denied her request to let her see the letter from the presidency informingOrnamentation from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. him of their decision. Kelley’s husband,  Neil Ranson, responded to this news by resigning his own membership. Kelley said she found it odd the church had never taken action against him even though he said and did everything she did to convince the church to change its ban on women.

On Wednesday Utah lawmakers released a draft bill to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination while allowing for some civil disobedience by religious objectors. A press conference at the state capitol saw gay leaders cheek-to-jowl with Mormon apostles praising the bill as an acceptable compromise that everyone can live with. The bill quickly passed the senate on Thursday. Governor Gary Herbert has promised to sign it into law.

The fifteen men comprising the LDS First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are on average eighty years old, according to data gathered by Christian Anderson of Carlsbad, California, and reported in the Salt Lake Tribune. This is the oldest the leadership has ever been, Anderson pointed out. One blogger, John English of Utah Politico Hub, suggested that the Twelve adopt a mandatory retirement policy like the Quorum of Seventy, perhaps setting the bar at ninety rather than seventy years old, then provided some interesting scenarios as to what the results would be.

Historian and author Jed Rogers, editor of The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, recently discussed his book on the popular Mormon Stories podcast. The Council of Fifty was the entity organized by Joseph Smith in the spring of 1844 to oversee the church’s political interests such as Smith’s campaign for presidency of the United States. It later spearheaded the move to the Rocky Mountains and ran many of the day-to-day policies of early Utah. Looking beyond the West, the council believed it would eventually supersede all earthly governments. Its activities have been largely forgotten outside of scholarly circles, but it remained more-or-less active to 1887. During the course of the ninety-minute broadcast, Rogers talked about the meaning of this “political Kingdom of God,” as it was known, the coronation of Joseph Smith and his successors as king of the world, and other topics pertaining to the fifty. The book is available in hardback and on kindle.

—Devery Anderson, filling in for John Hatch who is attending the
Claremont Mormon Studies Spring Conference 2015