Mormon News, June 16–20

In the News

The response to the impending church court of Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, and the experience of other Mormons “called in” over their public statements, continued to dominate the news this week. More celestialpeople stepped forward to say they had been contacted, even as the church continued to imply these events are not part of a coordinated effort by church headquarters but without explicitly denying involvement either. At least one news outlet independently confirmed that local leaders were in touch with general LDS authorities, and some of those contacted were told by their bishops that they (the bishops) were acting on orders from higher ups.

Word leaked out that others besides Kelly and John Dehlin (the two reported on in a New York Times article) had been called in or had been asked to resign their membership. Laurie Goodstein, following up in the Times with a report on Kevin Kloosterman being among those whose temple recommends were rescinded due to their support of gay marriage. Kloosterman stated that his bishop explicitly informed him that an area authority had reviewed the case.

Hannah Wheelwright, a key member of the Ordain Women movement, was called in by her stake president at the same time Kate Kelly was contacted by hers. She was put on informal probation and told she could not take the sacrament in her new ward. Wheelwright recorded her experience on her blog, Young Mormon Feminists.

As the story grew, more national outlets discussed developments or hosted op-eds from Mormons and non-Mormons alike. John Turner, author of the much-lauded biography Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, covered the story for the Wall Street Journal (may require a subscription to view).

The LDS church has reiterated its ownership of the name “Mormon” in a court case involving Jonathan Eller, a single Mormon father living in Texas. Eller created a Mormon dating site and called it Mormon Match. The LDS church objected, saying the word “Mormon” is a protected trademark. This raises curious questions, since many churches trace their roots to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and the church itself has previously rejected use of the term as derisive. But recently the church also told the LDS Booksellers Association to not use the name “Mormon” in advertising its annual trade show.

The Point Foundation awards scholarships to LGBTQ students, and the recipients of the 2014 awards included two students with LDS backgrounds. Erin Armstrong was born into a Mormon family in Utah and transitioned from male to female in 2005. She was rejected by her family and community, moved to New York, and began a series of YouTube videos on her experience. It inspired others to tell their stories, and now there are thousands of videos available online from the transgender community. Samy Galvez was born in Guatemala to a Mormon family, attended BYU, and served a mission to San Francisco. He learned to accept his identity as a gay man and has continued to speak out about LGBTQ issues.

On the Blogs

Ardis Parshall, on her marvelous blog, Keepapitchinin, highlighted a new feature of the LDS church’s history website, “Church History Daily.” The site will feature a “this day in church history” story culled from articles, diaries, and other sources.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor