Mormon News, October 12–16

In the News

Thirty years ago this week, three bombs ripped through Salt Lake City and sent a wave of panic among its citizens. earthWhen the smoke cleared, Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets were dead and Mark Hofmann, a rare documents dealer, lay wounded. Hofmann would later plead guilty to the crimes and an unbelievable tale of forgery unraveled and exposed the cracks in Mormon history. But for people in the Mormon studies and rare book community, many who called Hofmann their friend, the story was not international news; it was personal and painful. In a variety of reflections, Mormon scholars, book dealers, and Hofmann’s ex-wife, Dorie Olds, have spoken on those difficult years. Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote about the impact to Mormonism and the immense shift in how the church handles its history. While many documents at LDS archives remain restricted, others, previously unimaginable for public consumption, are available through the church.

According to a column by Fred Karger at Huffington Post, the LDS Church is “bleeding” members since the church’s aggressive efforts to pass Proposition 8. Prop 8 passed in 2008 and repealed marriage equality in California. Karger claims as many as one million members of the Mormon church have abandoned the faith since then. Karger’s claims are impossible to verify, but anecdotal accounts in the news and social media suggest that the church has suffered a loss of numerous longtime members over the marriage equality issue. Karger wrote, “These formerly loyal Church members decided to side with their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family members and friends instead of their Church.”

In Books

David Pace’s new novel, Dream House on Golan Drive, is coming out October 23rd from Signature Books and is already garnering excellent reviews. Catherine C. Peterson, who reviewed the book for the Association for Mormon Letters, wrote “Don’t expect to read this book unscathed or untouched. … Thought provoking, and at times humorous and heart wrenching, Dream House on Golan Drive is a multi-layered and artfully presented story.” The book will be available in paperback and Kindle editions.

At Signature Books

Congratulations to George D. Smith and Gary Bergera for being presented with the Outstanding Contribution in History awards from the Utah State Historical Society! The awards were given at the society’s annual conference on Friday, October 2, 2015. George, Signature’s president and publisher, is a long-time contributor to Mormon history through his many books and articles on polygamy and editions of popular diaries. Gary, the director of the Smith-Pettit Foundation, has authored numerous books and articles on a broad range of Mormon history topics covering the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor