Mormon News, May 31–June 9

In the News

handshakeAt a session at the 2014 Mormon History Association conference in San Antonio, the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers project announced a forthcoming volume on the Nauvoo Council of Fifty. The volume will include an annotated transcription of the council minutes kept by secretary William Clayton. The document (three handwritten volumes) spent years in the First Presidency vault before being turned over to the Papers editors in 2010. The session featured project editors Ron Esplin, Matthew Grow, and Richard Turley. Historians have long anticipated these minutes. The Council of Fifty was a temporal, political quorum organized by Joseph Smith three months before his death in 1844 to help facilitate Mormon migrations to the west. The three historians downplayed the sensational aspects of the minutes for those who have expected theological or other bombshells. Jonathan Stapley, who attended the session, wrote his take on the presentation for the blog, By Common Consent. Although there will surely be “a lot of interesting details to be learned,” it looks like “there isn’t really anything sensational” contained in the documents. Time will tell. The volume is set to be released in late 2016. Meanwhile, history buffs will be able to feast upon Signature Books’s  Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, edited by Jed Rogers, due to be released later this year.

The Deseret News of the LDS revelation ending the ban that kept black men and women from the temple and black males from holding the priesthood. The article highlighted the experience of Darius Gray, a black convert who joined the church in 1964. Gray was honored at the recent Mormon History Association meeting in San Antonio.

Two groups of Mormon LGBT advocates, Mormons for Equality and Mormons Building Bridges, came out in full force at Utah’s 2014 Gay Pride parade on Sunday, June 8. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Mormons Building Bridges was the largest group to participate. During the 17-day window in which homosexual marriages were performed throughout Utah in December, over 1,300 gay couples took advantage of the new law, many of whom marched in the parade.  These included the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that challenged the ban,  as well as Utah’s first gay married couple, Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson.

On Thursday a comedy club at BYU called Humor U, which performs stand-up routines at the Maeser building on campus, accepted a challenge to appear with University of Utah comedians at Wiseguys comedy club in West Valley City. The BYU students made jokes about polygamous sex and Mormon pornography, which the official campus newspaper, the Digital Universe, wrote about in an online article titled “Was Humor U Over the Edge at the Wise Guys Comedy Club?” The piece was pulled from the site almost as soon as it appeared. It looks like someone doesn’t have a sense of humor.

—News update by Devery Anderson