Mormon News, March 7–11

In the News

A federal jury ruled that FLDS polygamists in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, discriminated against non-believers and targeted them by withholding essential services, such as water News Updateand power. The FLDS Church controls both communities, including law enforcement, according to the Department of Justice. The defense attorney claimed the group was targeted for religious persecution, but the jury disagreed and awarded $2.2 million in damages to six victims.

Two Mormon parents were charged this week in the death of their son after they refused to take him to a hospital and instead treated his meningitis with “natural” supplements, such as maple syrup. David and Collet Stephan operated an alternative medicine company out of their home in Canada and say they are being targeted for promoting natural healing, while critics argue there is no evidence for the efficacy of their products. Mormons throughout the western United States have a much higher involvement in the alternative medicine movement than the national average. Utah has several multi-level marketing companies aimed at selling products like “essential oils” and nutritional supplement. Utah Senator and active Mormon Orrin Hatch has pushed hard for laws deregulating the nutritional supplement industry.

On the Blogs

Following news reports of Andrea Radke-Moss’s paper arguing that Eliza R. Snow was assaulted in Missouri, several bloggers weighed in on Radke-Moss’s claims specifically, as well as on sexual violence in Mormon history generally. Many readers on social media and in blog comments questioned Radke-Moss’s source—an account written decades later by a woman who heard it as a child—and methodology. Others said they were persuaded by Radke-Moss’s explanation. Kristine Anderson wrote at By Common Consent about other accounts of violence against women, including historian Joseph Johnstun’s documentation that his ancestor was raped. Anderson concluded that she hopes “that we can work to remove the scales of shame and secrecy that have so long silenced the survivors.” Eliza N. blogged at Feminist Mormon Housewives more broadly about the “shared, vicarious, inherited trauma” women experience over sexual violence and the unity that terrible trauma brings.

In Books

Signature Books released The Mysteries of Godliness on Kindle this week for $6.00. David John Buerger’s book is a comprehensive look at LDS temple worship that draws heavily from primary sources, many of which are not available elsewhere.

At Signature Books

Signature Books publisher George D. Smith will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Utah at its May 2016 commencement. In addition to his award-winning work in Mormon history, George has sat on the boards of NPR, the Kenyon Review, and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. The degree will be given on May 5 at ceremonies at the Huntsman Center on the U of U campus.

News update by John Hatch