Mormon News, November 17–21

In the News

The New York Times recently profiled BYU students protesting the university’s anti-beard rule stipulating that male students can wear a moustache but no chin hair. The rules, according to the article, date from the 1970s when Mormon Colonizationadministrators wanted to distinguish Mormon students from young people with counter-cultural leanings. While the notion may seem silly, bloggers were surprised that the school recently took the substantive step of doing away with the religious exemption for Muslims and others. Sam Brunson, writing at By Common Consent, noted that Sikhs and orthodox Jews are also called on by their faith not to shave and that for a church speaking about religious freedom, “it is malicious, hypocritical, immoral, and damaging” for the church to insist on one standard for people of all faiths.

The pope and a member of the LDS Church’s highest governing body met for what is believed to be the first time this week. Elder Henry Eyring traveled to the Vatican as part of a summit on marriage. Although Eyring spoke at the conference, he did not mention the LDS faith’s history of polygamy or longstanding opposition to same-sex marriage. Pope Francis did not attend Eyring’s speech.

In Books

The Church Historian’s Press, the imprint of the LDS Church History Library, released the Joseph Smith Papers: Documents Volume 3 this week. It covers the period from February 1833 to March 1834. Unlike the previous two volumes in the documents series, volume three contains fewer revelations and more letters, minutes, and even a warrant ordering the Smith family and others to leave Kirtland, Ohio. The volume does include the revelation received February 27, 1833, that became known as the Word of Wisdom, and the editors provide context for it with a lengthy discussion of how the temperance movement and shifting attitudes among members at the time influenced the thinking about the use of coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor