Week in Review for November 4–8
In the News
The ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), which creates protections for LGBT employees, passed the Senate with the help of LDS legislators, the New York Times reported. Five of the U. S. Senate’s seven Mormons voted for the act, including Harry Reid and, perhaps most surprising, Orrin Hatch. In the wake of reports like this that say the LDS church is changing its stance on homosexuality, the church issued a statement insisting nothing has changed; it has always supported sensitivity to everyone but that it will continue to support only “traditional” marriage. The church also noted it has taken no position on ENDA.
Meridian, a conservative online Mormon magazine, was the talk of the blogs again this week when an essay by Larry Eastland appeared lecturing young women about on how tempting they are to men (including references to the story Beauty and the Beast), how they should dress, and their responsibility to help keep men pure. Many LDS bloggers continue to push back against traditional Mormon purity culture, which they insist is toxic for reinforcing the message that women are nothing more than sexual objects. Last week, Meridian apologized and removed a post criticizing “liberal Mormons” after widespread criticism.
An LDS ward was criticized for creating a Google Map with negative descriptive labels of the inactive members in the area. Mormons have long kept track of less-active members and brainstormed ways to reach out to them. The exact ward is unknown, but the map was found online and posted to Reddit and other discussion boards. One entry, for example, identifies someone as “Indian (dot not feather). Doesn’t come because she feels bad she is not married.” Other entries identify individuals by their sexuality and their Facebook posts. People posting comments noted that in some ways this is just the online manifestation of the kind of unfortunate labeling and discussions that have occurred behind the scenes in LDS local leadership meetings for years.
A letter by BYU student Jeffrey Stott, published in the Student Review criticized the university’s practice of expelling students who convert to a different religion. The letter, which generated over two hundred comments and spawned Facebook spin-off comments, noted the incongruity of fighting for religious freedom while simultaneously booting students who choose a different faith.
—News updates by John Hatch, acquisitions editor