Mormon News, July 14–18

Two former Utah attorneys general and active Mormons were arrested this week after a years-long investigation on charges of bribery and corruption. Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow were taken into custody on Tuesday,glass July 15, and face up to thirty years in prison. This story further frustrates supporters of Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women, in that she was excommunicated for her support of women’s ordination while men like Shurtleff and Swallow remain members in good standing. Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who staged an armed rebellion against the federal government, apparently remains in good standing as well. It is true that, as Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune, people who are arrested need to be considered innocent until proven guilty (as the Church Handbook of Instructions emphasizes), but it is also true that feminists have been found guilty in church courts for being contrary.

In a final twist of irony, John Swallow’s Democratic opponent in the AG election, Reed Richards, was just called to the Ogden temple presidency. Swallow trounced Richards 57 to 40 percent in the overwhelmingly Republican state.

An op-ed published in the New York Times by Cadence Woodland argued that the LDS Church slammed the door on its own “Mormon Moment” with the excommunication of Kate Kelly. The op-ed gained significant online traction and was much discussed in the bloggernacle and on Facebook. Woodland stated that the so-called “Mormon Moment” involved much more than increased media attention during Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign; it led to more open discussion within the church itself. However, that time is past, and in the face of unpleasant interactions with family, friends, and fellow congregants, Woodland decided to stop attending LDS worship services.

Prominent Mormon and successful businessman Jon M. Huntsman Sr. was profiled in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago for his charitable giving. Huntsman has given away some 80 percent of his total wealth, around $1.5 billion dollars. When asked about donations to his church through tithing, he said, “I don’t consider that to be philanthropy and I don’t consider it to be part of my philanthropic giving. I consider it as club dues.” While Huntsman gives to a wide variety of causes, he has donated around $250 million to funding the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

—News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor