Mormon News, April 7–11
In the News
The week following the annual General Conference of the LDS Church, there is always plenty of news coverage, analysis, and comments. One story that got wide attention was the effort by the Ordain Women group to obtain tickets to the priesthood session. While participants insisted that they were quiet, respectful, peaceful, and complied with all church requests, the church’s “patience is wearing thin,” as Salt Lake Tribune writer Peggy Stack put it. The LDS Public Affairs department issued a terse statement complaining that the women ignored church wishes and did not leave Temple Square when asked, nor did they comply with ushers’ requests, something the Ordain Women group strongly contested.
Natalie Dicou, a Utah-based journalist writing for the Atlantic, also covered the Ordain Women event. Dicou wrote that while comparisons are often made between the LDS Church and the Catholic Church vis à vis female ordination, a key difference is that the Mormon priesthood is an integrated lay organization, not a separate order. As Dicou notes, most twelve-year-old boys receive the Mormon priesthood, which means that “little Bennie, the rascal who lives around the corner, has more power in the Church than the wisest older woman.” Dicou feels this is an important distinction that most media outlets fail to illuminate. The Ordain Women supporters “want equal footing with their seventh-grade sons.”
The Salt Lake Tribune announced this week they would be laying off eight more employees, as well as ending its weekend Faith Section. Peggy Fletcher Stack, former editor of Sunstone magazine and longtime Tribune writer, will remain a part of the newspaper and will still cover religion, but there will presumably be fewer stories that are not directly related to current news events. The cuts are disconcerting to those who see the Tribune as a balance to the LDS-owned Deseret News, where the coverage of religious topics is heavy. While the D-News can be subsidized by the church, the Trib has no such benefactor. Tribune stories on the LDS Church are often the catalyst that prompts more scrutiny and attracts national and international attention.
Historian Ben Park, writing for the Juvenile Instructor Mormon history blog, posted a list of twenty-five essential books that “every student of Mormon history should read.” Park offered his criterion and methodology and welcomed responses in the comments. The list emphasizes recent scholarship over classics; it includes one Signature Books title, Martha S. Bradley’s Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Religious Rights, and honorable mention for D. Michael Quinn’s two-volume Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power and The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power.