Mormon News November 14-18

In News


Ally Isom, former spokeswoman for Utah Governor Gary Herbert and current director of Family and Community Relations for the LDS Church, announced her intent to leave the Republican Party in response to Donald Trump’s electoral victory. In an open letter to the GOP, the former lifelong Republican denounced the party for rejecting “that about which I care most—sound policy, principled leadership, fiscal responsibility, respectful dialogue and mutual respect, not to mention women, culture and faith. You celebrate spectacle over policy. You champion slogans over values.” While Isom indicated that she was not speaking on behalf of the LDS Church, she did reference her faith as a deciding factor in her decision: “I subscribe to a faith tradition that teaches, ‘By their fruits, ye shall know them,’ and your national outcomes scream inexcusable vulgarity.”Natural Born Seer

Isom is not the only Mormon conservative concerned with election results. Former Congressional worker Emily Ellsworth took to twitter last week to provide tips for citizens interested in contacting their representatives.  Writing based on her experience as an ex-Capitol Hill staffer to Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart, Ellsworth’s suggestions immediately went viral and were shared by multiple national news outlets. Her biggest tip? Get off social media and call your representative’s office on the phone. Ellsworth noted that the sheer volume of letters and emails were impossible to respond to individually, and that social media comments were largely ignored. But a phone call? “They have to talk to you there.”

At Church


LDS church leaders are mentioning the existence of “heavenly parents” more than ever before.  According to LDS researcher Christian Anderson, the term “heavenly parents” saw a 67 percent rise in usage over the past year. Anderson credits the shift to the recently released church essay, Mother in Heaven, which recognizes the crucial role both a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother play in LDS theology. Although the term “heavenly parents” is rising in church vernacular, Anderson notes that references to both heavenly parents and a Heavenly Mother remain minimal when compared to use of the term “Heavenly Father”— “The 74 references to Heavenly Parents (and two to Heavenly Mother) are dwarfed by the 4,415 references to Heavenly Father over the same period.”

Need some post-election levity? Try talking about this story with a straight face.  “To Young Men Only,” Elder Boyd K. Packer’s euphemistic advice to teenage boys on avoiding masturbation, can no longer be purchased for distribution from Packer originally addressed the topic during the October 1976 all-male priesthood session of General Conference, and described male reproductive anatomy as a “little factory” that shouldn’t be tampered with outside (heterosexual) marriage. The original sermon remains on the church website under the General Conference section, so Mormon boys concerned about possible factory malfunctions can still access the materials.

In Books


Responding to an increased desire for transparency regarding LDS Church history, Signature Books and the Smith-Pettit Foundation released the second book in a three-volume biography exploring the life of Joseph Smith. The latest, Natural Born Seer, navigates both the controversial and faith-affirming aspects of Smith’s rise to religious and political influence. Beyond venerating Smith as an inspired prophet or villainizing him as a duplicitous criminal, Van Wagoner’s insights create a delicate balance that humanizes Smith while allowing for the possibility of contact with divinity, reinforcing his belief that “truth can only be strengthened by serious-minded investigation.” Said investigation includes both historical context and a naturalist’s analysis of human behavior, offering theories as to why a quiet young man raised in economic uncertainty and familial tragedy might grow up to believe that “no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” Natural Born Seer is available for purchase via Amazon and at local bookstores.