Mormon News, May 5–9

In the News

Mormon News

John Taylor, third president of the LDS Church, was in jail with Joseph and Hyrum Smith when the brothers were killed in Carthage, Illinois. Now, thanks to the work of LDS Church History Department employee and shorthand expert LaJean Carruth, a sermon Taylor gave on the tenth anniversary of the martyrdom is available for researchers. Taylor’s sermon was recorded in Pitman shorthand, a rare form that only a few people can decipher. Carruth has been specially trained for this and is working on transcribing several other important documents. Taylor says that after the Smiths were killed, their associate Willard Richards dragged Taylor into a neighboring cell and hid him under a mattress. Taylor thought of Xerxes’s immortals, who had backups to replace them if they fell, and he said he felt confident the same would apply to him.

LDS Church apostles M. Russell Ballard and Jeffrey R. Holland have joined Twitter and both have shared one tweet each. Whether they themselves composed and sent their messages or not is unknown. Perhaps they had assistants do it for them, for example. U.S. President Barack Obama specifies that messages sent by him are signed “B. O.” Other prominent people have adopted similar conventions to indicate whether they themselves have tweeted. LDS leaders have participated in Facebook and other social media platforms, but this is the first time for them to enter into Twitter territory. Twitter is notorious for its defense of the right of anyone to post a message or reply in any way, in an environment where LDS leaders, if they are paying attention, will see a variety of encouraging and dismissive (even profane) reactions from an array of people.

The Mormons Building Bridges group—LDS members who support LGBT issues—was denied a float entry into the Days of ’47 Parade for being too political in nature. The Twenty-fourth of July celebration in Utah, or Pioneer Day, is a grand fete celebrating the arrival of Mormon settlers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. The festivities include a parade with floats from religious, business, and non-profit organizations, including always a heavy contingent of politicians. Parade organizers compared their rejection of Mormons Building Bridges to how they would respond to a request from the NRA and said they could not accommodate anything that controversial.

On the Blogs

Andrea Radke-Moss, blogging at the Juvenile Instructor, offered a marvelous approach to gender equality issues that she has adopted in teaching a class at BYU-Idaho. It has been difficult, she acknowledged, to walk the tightrope of institutional and personal landmines she encounters at the school. As Radke-Moss wrote, “I am limited in certain ways by my audience, my employer, my colleagues, and my own desire not to undermine foundations of faith.” But from there, she presented the framework she developed for broaching the subject with students in a way that is both academic and accessible, complete with charts she uses to visualize the history of gender inequality and the questions she has composed to challenge students to think more deeply about the issues. Her comments are well worth any reader’s time.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor