Mormon News, September 22–26

In the News

Two Latter-day Saint politicians were criticized in separate incidents in September for derogatory public comments about gays and women. Jacob Dorsey, a nineteen-year-old candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly, withdrew from the race after homophobic comments surfaced on his YouTube page and Twitter feed. The pages, now deleted by Dorsey, included statements like “fags need 2 leave my favorite state [Utah] alone,” and, “I hate your gay, fag videos.” Dorsey said that lion headhe was leaving the race because it “has been extremely hard on my family and myself.” Instead, he is returning to BYU-Idaho to finish his degree.

In Arizona, Republican Party vice-chairman Russell Pearce resigned after stating that women should be force sterilized in order to become eligible for Medicaid. Pearce, a Latter-day Saint, first became prominent as the state senator who sponsored Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law. On a radio show, Pearce said that if he were in charge of Medicaid, he would require “Norplant, birth-control implants or tubal ligations.”

Neither Dorsey nor Pearce are spokespeople for the LDS church; however, their controversial statements come at a time of increased scrutiny of the church in the national media over treatment of the LGBT community and women. News stories covering the two men and Mormon-themed Facebook groups and blogs were quick to note their connection to the LDS church.

Essays posted at on issues such as polygamy, African Americans and the priesthood ban, DNA and the Book of Mormon, and violence in nineteenth-century Mormonism have garnered much attention in the Mormon studies community and have created a flurry of online discussions. However, it is unclear how familiar the rank and file membership is with the essays, or if many members even know they exist. The essays have not been publicized, apart from quietly showing up on the church’s website. But now the church is directing its leadership to use the Gospel Topics essays as a starting point for members who might be struggling with some of the difficult issues covered in the articles. According to a September 9 memorandum from the Priesthood Department, “The purpose of the Gospel Topics section is to provide accurate and transparent information on church history and doctrine within the framework of faith.”

In Books

At the Juvenile Instructor blog, Ben Park has a largely complimentary review of Michael W. Homer’s, Joseph’s Temples, a book that explores the relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry. Park notes that “much of the book can be safely categorized as a useful condensation of broad swaths of historiographical literature—both masonic and Mormonism.” The review, as well as Homer’s book, are well worth a read.

Congratulations to Signature Books’ author Elizabeth Anderson for winning yet another award for her book, Cowboy Apostle: The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875–1932! Beth was awarded the best documentary history award at a banquet Wednesday evening hosted by the Utah Historical Society. She previously won the best documentary history award from the Mormon History Association in June.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor