Mormon News, June 10–13

In the News

After news broke that Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, and John Dehlin, host of the Mormon Stories podcast, had been summoned to LDS Church courts, many new threads Kate Kellydeveloped, providing additional information about this.

For instance, Kate Kelly indicated that her parents’ temple recommends had been confiscated by their Provo-based bishop for supporting Ordain Women. Kelly’s father attends the temple once a week, but after he added a profile to the Ordain Women website, his bishop informed him he would have to remove it before he would get his recommend back.

Kelly further explained that she is being tried in absentia. She has lived in the Washington, D.C., area but has been temporarily in Utah, awaiting the family’s move to Africa as part of her work as a human rights attorney. The church apparently declined to transfer her membership records, so she will be unable to attend her church court. Because she is a woman, she will be tried by her bishop, while John Dehlin, a Melchizedek priesthood holder, will be tried before his stake high council.

At least two additional members have stated they are part of what looks like a coordinated offensive against high-profile activists. Alan Rock Waterman, creator of the Pure Mormonism blog, stated on his Facebook page that he was told to stop blogging or resign his membership. TheJohn Dehlin encouragement to resign is something new, mirroring the experience of John Dehlin, whose letter from his stake president made the same suggestion. A fourth person, Dana H., received a similar communication via phone call from her bishop. As she wrote on her Mormon Truth—Stranger Than Fiction blog, the message was clear: “Quit or be fired.”

The LDS Church issued a statement via its newsroom website that “decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters.” While at first glance this might seem to be a denial of any involvement, the statement restricts itself to involvement in the outcome of a hearing, not whether someone at headquarters may have initiated it.

The flurry of news articles and blog postings has been complemented by personal views on Facebook. More than one person has noticed an interesting coincidence, in that Kelly was notified by the church on June 8 about her upcoming trial. This is the same date the LDS Church granted black men the priesthood. Her offense has been to ask for the same favor to be extended to women.

In Books

In happier news, Signature Books was thrilled to see Beth Anderson awarded a Best First Book Award at the 2014 Mormon History Association meetings for her scrupulously edited work, Cowboy Apostle: The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875-1932. Beth has created a real gem, as anyone who has visited the Utah State Archives to squint at the faint pencil in Ivins’s diaries knows. By so carefully and thoroughly transcribing and annotating these diaries, she has provided a real service. The book is available for order directly through Signature Books or through Kindle at Amazon.com.

News Update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor