Mormon News, October 13–17
In the News
LDS DEMOGRAPHICS PUBLISHED, THEN SCRUBBED BY DESERET NEWS
The LDS Church-owned Deseret News posted an article discussing LDS demographics, with information drawn from a presentation by Blaine Maxfield, chief information officer for the church. Maxfield had spoken at a University of Utah conference called LDSTech and shared some interesting statistical information: that 5% of Latter-day Saints are illiterate, for instance, that 21% live in environments of extreme poverty, and only about 36% attend weekly sacrament meetings. After the Deseret News published the article, it removed some of the figures and added a disclaimer that “some of the statistics originally reported in this article have been removed because they have not been verified by the LDS Church. The information was removed at the request of the speaker.” But sharp-eyed reader Kyle Pederson caught the numbers before they disappeared by taking screenshots and uploading them to Facebook. He kindly gave us permission to share them here (click on the image to enlarge).
MEET THE MORMONS NOT A CRITICAL DARLING
Meet the Mormons, the documentary film produced by the LDS Church for general theatrical release, was poorly reviewed after its October 10 premiere, as summarized by the review site Rotten Tomatoes, www.rottentomatoes.com, which found that only one out of nine critics liked the film. The journalist who positively reviewed it was writing for Utah’s St. George Spectrum. Most critics labeled the film an “infomercial” and suggested that it responded to what Mormons think people think about Mormons rather than what outsiders actually think about the faith. While critics were polite but not awed, moviegoers were the opposite. Some 92% of over 3,500 users at Rotten Tomatoes liked the movie and scored it well. It is unclear if that reflects a general consensus or some defensiveness on the part of Latter-day Saint viewers. At least some Mormons were happy to see the church showcase diversity and thought such a film would not have been possible in the past.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY BECOMES THE NORM
According to the Associated Press, there is a growing Mormon acceptance of homosexuality, apparently not because of an organized effort but more through uncoordinated efforts by individuals and loosely affiliated groups who want a safer space at church for gay family members and friends. Erika Munson, interviewed for the article, stated that the church is struggling to keep young people in the pews in part because of the LDS stance on gay marriage. Munson said that as more people have come out, barriers separating Latter-day Saints from gay people have begun to fall. Since the deeply divisive days of Proposition 8 in California, the church has softened its stance; this is evident not only in official statements but also at a grassroots level. Although Mormons might still hear some negative rhetoric around homosexuality on Sunday, during the week, surrounded by gay friends and colleagues at school and work, they find that, according to Munson, gays “are not scary…they are just like them.”
Brent Metcalfe, one of Signature’s longtime authors, was just interviewed by John Dehlin for the Mormon Stories podcast. The lengthy, five-part series covered Metcalfe’s Mormon childhood, his mission, his time working for LDS security, his friendship with document-forger Mark Hofmann and employment by Steven Christensen, his work on New Approaches to the Book of Mormon and resulting excommunication, and his views on the Book of Abraham. It is a thought-provoking and at times emotional interview, well worth seeing.