Mormon News, November 16–20

In the News

As the news media covered the LDS Church’s new policies on gay couples and gay parents, Mormon attitudes and divisions over gay rights bubbled to the surface. In some cases, the spotlight onbrickpants LDS beliefs and practices put pressure on individual members to rethink their choices. A Utah judge who removed a foster child from the custody of lesbian parents first reversed his decision then recused himself from the case entirely. Michael D. Williams, an LDS counselor, canceled a planned “conversion therapy” event at a BYU-Idaho LDS congregation after a backlash. Students at BYU-I reported that a flyer for the event was included as an insert in a sacrament meeting program. Finally, while progressive Mormons often garner a lot of airtime for their opposition to church policies regarding gay rights, there are signs that a silent Mormon majority opposed to equality have considerable power. After the Boy Scouts of America voted to accept openly gay scout leaders, donations to the program plummeted in Utah, forcing the BSA to layoff employees. Stan Lockhart, the local council president, said people may be mad at the Boy Scouts but that “the church has reiterated its support for Scouting 100 percent.”

After the terrorist attack on Paris last week, businessman-turned-Republican front runner Donald Trump has called for investigations into mosques and the possible registration of Muslim Americans in the United States. In an attempt to suggest there was a precedent for closing churches, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said the Department of Justice had “investigated Mormon churches and shut them down.” There is no evidence the DOJ ever investigated or shut down a Mormon church. Pierson appears to have confused the mainstream LDS Church with the FLDS Church—Warren Jeffs’s fundamentalist group that was investigated by the DOJ for child abuse. LDS Congressman Jason Chaffetz, himself a conservative Republican, said Trump’s plan to shut down mosques was “nuts.”

In response to the terrorist attack on Paris, LDS Church headquarters flew the French flag at half-staff around Temple Square last weekend. The church also released a statement that read, in part, “We pray for those affected, for their families and loved ones, for the leaders of nations and most especially for the people of France as they struggle to recover from the violence and loss they are feeling so deeply. … We ask members of the Church everywhere to join with us in our prayer that the peace of the Savior Jesus Christ will provide comfort, healing, understanding and hope.”

On the Blogs

Christopher Jones posted “Four Short Vignettes on Mormons and Refugees” this week at the Juvenile Instructor blog. As debate rages in the United States over immigration and refugees, Jones reminded his readers that Mormons have, throughout history, been refugees or have gone out of their way to assist them. In one case, a group of Mormons fled Antep, Turkey, and resettled in Aleppo, Syria.

News update by John Hatch