Mormon News, August 25–29

In the News

The LDS Church announced a European “Sisters Meeting” to be held in Offenbach am Main, Germany, on September 9. It will broadcast via satellite throughout the continent in 35 languages. However, the advertisements sent out by the church announcing the meeting featured lillyonly three speakers, each with an accompanying photograph, all of whom were white males from the United States. While it might be asking too much to feature a European speaker, the omission of a woman to advertise the women’s conference struck some as odd.

LDS Church Apostle M. Russell Ballard, writing for the Ensign, reinforced current LDS belief that while men and women have different roles, they are equal in the sight of God. Even so, Ballard strongly affirmed the status quo, invoking the familiar argument that if God wanted things to be different, he would have made appropriate changes, but since women do not hold the priesthood it must be God’s will. Jana Riess, writing at her Religion News Service blog, “Flunking Sainthood,” summarized the article in three basic points: 1) Women have a role to play in the ward council, but only in an advisory capacity; 2) Equality is not sameness; and 3) If you don’t agree with this, you’re not thinking straight. Riess went on to argue that while women may be theologically equal, and equal in the eyes of God, they are clearly not equal inside the institutional church of Utah-based Mormonism.

On the Blogs

Ronan James Head, writing for By Common Consent, used a recent BBC interview with LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson and Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew to summarize the church’s attitudes towards excommunication and the Ordain Women movement. He noted that it’s difficult not to conclude that the church will not ordain women to the priesthood in the foreseeable future, that a self-fulfilling prophecy of “if God wanted to change it, he would” attitude prevails; however, there will likely be some positive changes for women in Mormonism in the near future. His entire summary is well worth a read.

Steve Fleming shared his remarkable story of depression and suicidal tendencies at the Juvenile Instructor blog. He explained that a series of events devastated him during his freshman year at BYU, including the “raise the bar” expectations for missionaries. Steve believed that suffering from depression precluded his service. He visited his bishop expecting to be told no, he could not go on a mission, and that this answer would contribute to a downward spiral that would conclude with suicide. Fortunately, things did not turn out that way.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor