Mormon News, Week 4

January 20–24, 2014

In the News

A leaked email sent by attorney Gene Schaerr, the counsel hired by the state of Utah to defend its same-sex marriage ban, showed that Schaerr saw the issue as a religious duty. Schaerr went on to quote the Bible and News Updatesaid he was invested in defending the “constitutionality of traditional marriage” and his Mormon faith. The statement was excoriated by the Human Rights Council and others as an example of what’s really going on in Utah. The state frames its legal arguments around other issues, but the bottom line is, the HRC argued, it is nothing more than an attempt to impose the religious beliefs onto those who do not share those beliefs.

The LDS church released a statement, including a promotional-style video interview with Apostle D. Todd Christofferson, urging Utah lawmakers to leave the state’s liquor laws alone. Although Utah-centric in nature, the statement received widespread national attention. While the statement itself is not surprising, it drew criticism in some online corners as an example of misplaced priorities within the church. Why, some wondered, isn’t the church making a statement about Salt Lake City’s air pollution, currently the worst in the nation? Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley also made reference to the issue, complete with a blanket of smog just below the top of the temple and state capitol.

 On the Blogs

Jana Riess has an interesting blog post about a new book focusing on Mormons as one of eight groups with traits that correspond with greater socioeconomic success. The book, Triple Package, by controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother author Amy Chua, lists three key traits that, when present in a delicate balance, can predict success: 1) Superiority Complex, 2) Corresponding Insecurity, and 3) Impulse Control. Mormons might immediately recognize themselves in those three traits, believing they are called to serve, and also placing strong emphasis on values and boundaries, but simultaneously fretting over public perception and acceptance. Riess highlights the strength of these traits, but also cautions that there can be downsides, such as higher depression rates among some of the groups discussed in the book.

 In Books

Paul Putz, writing for the Religion in American History blog, offered a superb overview of books due out in 2014 examining themes in American religious history. Putz’s stated goal is to make your already too-long reading list even longer, and this ought to do the trick.

News updates by John Hatch, acquisitions editor