Mormon News, May 30–June 3

In the News

Vietnam extended official recognition to the LDS Church this week, further legitimizing Mormon missionary efforts in the socialist nation. The church also created the Vietnam Hanoi Mission earlier this year with missionaries designated as “branch builders” to help support local congregations. The official recognition opens the door to more overt proselytizing efforts in the country, though leaders from both Vietnam and the LDS Church stressed that the missionaries would obey all local laws, which may include some restrictions on traditional recruiting methods.

After Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recently announced a nationwide push to legalize same-sex marriage, the LDS Church has now instructed its members to oppose the initiative. The church has a large presence in the country and may be able to influence, at least initially, the outcome of the legislation. The church’s rhetoric has shifted since its News Updateopposition to Proposition 8 in California in 2008, however. In Mexico, as it has recently done in the United States, the church has framed its opposition as one of religious freedom and liberty instead of one as a moral issue or need to defend “traditional marriage.”

Paul Huntsman, son of Utah businessman Jon Huntsman, finalized his purchase of the Salt Lake Tribune this week. The purchase also includes increased profits for the Tribune under the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with the church-owned Deseret News, and a change in the wording that had previously given the LDS Church veto power over future sales and owners. The church owns a large media presence in Utah, including the Deseret News and KSL TV and radio, and the Tribune has been the largest independent voice in the state, often covering issues the church-owned outlets neglected or ignored. Huntsman wrote an open letter to Tribune readers in which he candidly addressed his own LDS faith and his commitment to keeping the newspaper “responsible for fairness, accuracy and independence.”

In Books

Gregory Prince, a Signature Books author, saw his long-awaited biography of LDS historian Leonard Arrington released this week. The book, Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History, has already generated attention on social media as readers swap stories of Arrington’s clashes with LDS Church leaders. Signature Books will publish Arrington’s diaries under the title Confessions of a Mormon Historian, edited by Gary James Bergera, available in October.

News update by John Hatch