This week in Mormon Land: Gender gap in LDS songs, dreams of a two-hour block, wins and losses on the LGBTQ front

(Courtesy LDS Church) Latter-day Saints in the Plumerillo Ward in Mendoza, Argentina, sing a hymn in church.

The Mormon Land newsletter is a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether heralded in headlines, preached from the pulpit or buzzed about on the back benches. Want Mormon Land in your inbox? Subscribe here.

This week’s podcast: Donation, diversity, division in Affirmation

The LDS Foundation recently made a historic contribution of $25,000 to Affirmation. President Carson Tueller and Executive Director John Gustav-Wrathall discuss that donation, the resulting fallout (the LGBTQ support group’s vice president stepped down in protest), Affirmation’s diverse membership and whether their organization is getting too cozy with the LDS Church. Listen here.

(Courtesy of the LDS Church) Two girls sing from a Latter-day Saint hymnbook.

Woman, where art thou — in Mormon songs?

When Mormons sing their favorite hymns or children’s songs, they may — or may not — notice something routinely missing: women.

In fact, a recent Exponent II blog crunched the numbers for the children’s songbook. It turns out that men are named are 55 times and women nine times. That’s an 86 percent to 14 percent gender gap.

And when it comes to gendered language such as pronouns, males outpace females to the tune of 81 percent to 19 percent.

As for mentions of Heavenly Mother (a doctrine the church is more openly embracing) and Heavenly Parents, try none, zero, zilch.

Something to keep in mind as members offer input for the new hymnbook and children’s songbook the church plans to publish.

“I’m desperately hoping for more female representation in the pronouns, names and words of our new songbooks,” writes the Exponent II blogger ElleK. “... We have the opportunity and the responsibility to rectify the oppressive errors of the past.”

| Courtesy Jana Riess Jana Riess, Mormon writer and editor.

Blockbuster change in the offing?

’Twas the night before Sunday, when all through the house,

the dark suits were all cleaned and every white blouse.

The Mormons were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of a two-hour block danced in their heads.

Call it the rumor that won’t die: the dream (the prayer) that some how, someday, some way the LDS Church will reduce the current three-hour block of Sunday services to two.

Writer Jana Riess shares that sentiment, but her recent Religion News Service commentary, with the help of a leading Mormon scholar, questions the wisdom of such a switch.

The long and short of it: Less church doesn’t automatically mean better church.

(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, speaks during an event on May 17, 2018, in which LDS and NAACP leaders emphasize a need for greater civility and call for an end to prejudice. President Russell M. Nelson is at the left.

LDS-NAACP teamwork takes another step forward

That May summit between LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson and NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson was hardly a one-off.

Two months later, the institutions announced an education and employment initiative on the East Coast with plans to undertake more unified ventures.

“We envision joint NAACP and LDS activities and projects all over this nation,” Mormon general authority Jack N. Gerard said at the civil rights group’s national convention. “We do not intend to be a flash in the pan; that is not our style, and we know it's not yours.”

BYU to appeal ruling in records clash

Four days after a Utah judge deemed the Brigham Young University Police Department a governmental entity subject to open-records laws, the LDS Church-owned school announced that it would appeal that ruling.

The case grew out of a public records request submitted by The Salt Lake Tribune in 2016 amid allegations that BYU had disciplined students who reported sex crimes if they were violating the school’s Honor Code at the time of the assaults.

The Provo school has since revamped its Honor Code and implemented an amnesty policy for victims and witnesses of sexual attacks.

Robert Kirby

Kirby’s take on the ‘religion police’

Cop-turned-columnist Robert Kirby worries about any religion having its own police force enforcing secular law.

But if the LDS Church or any other denomination has its own cops, he said, they should abide by all the transparency rules of regular police and not be cracking down on religious offenses.

Richard Ostler, founder of Listen Learn and Love, a new Mormon LGBTQ support organization.

Sexual orientation ‘part of God’s plan’

Richard Ostler, an unofficial LDS ambassador to the LGBTQ community, keeps delivering this message: You can love your Mormonism and your LGBTQ friends.

A devout Mormon and former singles ward bishop, Ostler launched Listen, Learn & Love, a Mormon LGBTQ support organization. And, in a recent Q&A with Salt Lake City Weekly’s Kelan Lyons, he emphasized that sexual orientation is not a choice.

“Everybody’s created as God wants them to be created. And no one’s broken and no one needs to be fixed,” Ostler said. “Somehow, this is part of God’s plan.”

This is not the place for Mormons Building Bridges

Mormons Building Bridges remains persona non grata at the Days of ’47 Parade.

For the fifth straight year, Bridges, the pioneering group seeking to improve ties between the LDS and LGBTQ community, has been turned down from appearing in the Pioneer Day procession.

| The Salt Lake Tribune Erika Munson of Mormons Building Bridge during a Trib Talk.

Quote of the week

“This parade has become actively divisive. People who do not consider themselves mainline LDS, and plenty of us who do, do not consider this their parade.”

—Erika Munson, co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges, after the Days of ’47 again rejected her group’s admission into the parade

Mormon Land is a weekly newsletter written by David Noyce and Peggy Fletcher Stack. Subscribe here.