Week in Review for October 28–November 1
In the News
The New York Times ran a story on Navajo reservation converts to Mormonism. The article briefly addresses the complicated past of Mormonism and Native Americans over the ongoing tension with Book of Mormon interpretations. However, the overall theme is that converts feel as if they’re reconnecting with Navajo values by joining a faith with a heavy emphasis on self-reliance and community.
The LDS church has quietly stepped up its efforts to oppose gay marriage after remaining on the sidelines following Prop 8 in California. According to the liberal news site, Mother Jones, in the wake of the Hawaiian state legislature considering marriage equality, the church hierarchy sent a tame letter to Hawaiian Latter-day Saints encouraging them to be active in local politics and support church values. A more forceful letter was later sent that made the church’s position on gay marriage clear, as well as its expectation that members join the fight. Hawaii’s state Senate has already passed legislation legalizing marriage equality, the governor backs the measure, and the bill is currently in the state House of Representatives.
On the Blogs
Joni Hilton, a writer for the conservative online LDS magazine, Meridian, created a firestorm on the internet when she posted an article titled, “Are You a Liberal Mormon?” The short piece, which has since been taken down by Meridian (full text available here) ran through a checklist of things the author believed qualified one as a “liberal Mormon,” including watching R-rated movies, not reading the scriptures daily, and otherwise just not being up to snuff with Ms. Hilton’s preconceived expectations for faithful LDS behavior. Numerous bloggers responded, and multiple Facebook conversations exploded. The response suggests that the internet has emboldened people to speak out and insist they are just as much a part of the church as more orthodox or traditional members.
J.B. Haws, LDS Church history professor at BYU, has a new book out through Oxford, The Mormon Image in the American Mind. It traces the public perception of Mormons from George Romney’s Presidential campaign in 1968 to Mitt Romney’s failed campaign in 2012. Julie Smith offers a balanced review at the Times and Seasons blog, noting that Haws offers some excellent framing, but he also fails to address feminist issues and presents an inaccurate portrait of LDS attitudes toward race in the 1970s.
—News updates by John Hatch, acquisitions editor