Mormon News, May 26–30

In the News

A Utah school is under fire for digitally altering photos of female students by adding sleeves, erasing tattoos, and raising necklines. The decision to alter the photos in the Wasatch High School yearbook was made without the girls’ knowledge or permission. Parents criticized the choice, but the school stood by its decision. Other students later pointed out pages in past yearbooks show male students with their shirts off flashing their own tattoos. The decision to alter the photos comes at a time when Mormon feminists are raising questions about the damage of a “modesty culture” where women are told their bodies are powerful magnets for men and it is their responsibility to cover up, lest they tempt men or make themselves victims of sexual assault. The dominance of Mormonism in Utah culture, especially outside of Salt Lake County, often influences secular policies. The girls whose photos were edited felt the school had “shamed” them.

In an open letter directed at Mormon-themed blogs, the LDS Public Affairs director Michael Otterson broke down criticism of the church over the treatment of women into three main points. He said the objections have been: 1.  The church doesn’t want to hear from women about painful experiences, doesn’t talk to them unless they are “blindly obedient.” 2.The Alamo, circa 1900. Next week in San Antonio! Women who don’t feel safe in their wards have nowhere to go to talk about negative experiences without appearing to be subversive. 3. By not engaging with women who are critical, the church is not acting as Christ would. Otterson responded to each point, saying the first is not true, the second is worth investigating, and the third is an unfair characterization of the professional staff of LDS Public Affairs. Most people who commented on Otterson’s letter felt that he had included the third claim as a straw man in order to marginalize the Ordain Women group and make it appear that the church could not reasonably engage with it.

At Signature Books

Cheryl Bruno, writing at the Worlds Without End blog, gave a positive review to our latest publication, Lost Apostles. Thank you, Cheryl!. We’re pleased to see how well the book is being received. Kudos to authors Bill Shepard and Mike Marquardt!

Some of the Signature staff will be attending the Mormon History Association meeting next week in San Antonio. You can view the final program here. It’s not too late to make arrangements to attend—and we hope to see many of you there!

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor