Mormon Land explores the contours and complexities of LDS news. It's hosted by award-winning religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack and Salt Lake Tribune managing editor David Noyce.
Women are gaining a higher profile in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at both the local and general levels. But having women in the room — and usually vastly outnumbered by men when issues are discussed and decisions are made, often by the faith’s all-male priesthood — doesn’t necessarily mean these women are being heard, let alone heeded.New research from three Brigham Young University professors — Olga Stoddard, Jessica Preece and Chris Karpowitz — sheds light on these group gender dynamics.On this week’s podcast, two of those researchers, Preece and Karpowitz, discuss their findings, and how women’s voices and views can be elevated not only in business, government, politics and academia but also in the LDS Church.
May 27, 2020
A week ago, top leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints directed that all displays in foyers and entryways in the faith’s meetinghouses across the globe be reserved exclusively for artwork that depicts Jesus. They even included a list of 22 paintings for such use.While the push to focus on Christ won wide praise, some observers questioned the approved pieces, suggesting they lacked gender and cultural diversity while offering only a narrow, Eurocentric vision.In this week’s show, Utah artist Brian Kershisnik, whose works have become increasingly popular in Latter-day Saint circles, discusses the church’s directive, the difficulties in depicting Jesus, and the role of art in sacred spaces.Kershisnik says would like to see the church draw from a wider palette of paintings from across the world and across generations, including pieces that challenge as much as comfort their viewers.
May 20, 2020
Back in mid-February, Brigham Young University set off shock waves when it quietly removed from its Honor Code the section forbidding “homosexual behavior.”Many students believed — and had been told by school officials — that the shift meant the prohibition against such actions as same-sex hand-holding, kissing and dating was no longer in place. The LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated.Two weeks later, however, the Church Educational System, which oversees all BYU campuses for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did an about-face, stating that “same-sex romantic behavior” remained incompatible with the school’s rules.The reversal resulted in anger, frustration, protests and questions about what may happen to LGBTQ students when classes resume on campus.Michael Austin, a BYU alumnus and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Evansville, a Methodist school in Indiana, discusses the issue on this week’s podcast.
May 13, 2020
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled a new symbol last month as part of President Russell M. Nelson’s continuing efforts to emphasize — to insiders and outsiders alike — that the faith is centered on Jesus Christ.Does this logo, from a design perspective, help accomplish that aim?Yes, says Randall Smith, a Salt Lake City graphic designer who helped craft a previous logo for the church. But the new symbol, while “safe and expected,” he adds, is “not very progressive” and its complexity may make it difficult to use in some mediums.Smith discusses the new logo and his work for the church on an older one, which began springing up as part of the “welcome” signs now found on Latter-day Saint meetinghouses across the globe.
May 06, 2020
Richard E. Turley Jr. retired recently after nearly 30 years working for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most of that time in the History and Family History departments.He has co-written or penned several books, including the acclaimed “Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy” and “Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case.” Most recently, he served as the managing director of the faith’s Public Affairs Department.He reflects this week on his career, the highs, the lows, the memories and the milestones.
April 29, 2020
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released guidelines to help members and lay leaders navigate various religious rites during the coronavirus pandemic.Virtual sacraments are out, a decision that has deprived some women and other members of regular communion. Baptisms, where permitted, are in. Priesthood ordinations and baby blessings still can take place. Temple recommend interviews can be conducted via video, even though the temples themselves remain closed. As for online worship services, well, some areas are holding them; others have been instructed not to.On this week’s podcast, Neylan McBaine, founder of the Mormon Women Project, discusses how these functions of faith are operating amid all the COVID-19 restrictions and how some changes could boost the equity and efficacy of Latter-day Saint worship. McBaine’s 2014 book, “Women at Church,” challenged members to think outside the box when it comes policies and practices within the faith — something a lot of leaders now find themselves doing.
April 22, 2020
During its recent General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported that its global membership has topped 16.5 million, with nearly 249,000 new converts in 2019, a substantial increase from the previous year.Here to help drill down on those numbers — and other recently released church statistics, including country-by-country breakdowns — is independent researcher Matt Martinich, who tracks church growth on his website, ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com, and is project manager for The Cumorah Foundation.
April 15, 2020
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just concluded one of the most unusual General Conferences in its history.Due to crowd restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, the sessions took place in a small auditorium in the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City. While no more than 10 people were in that room, the conference may have never had a larger audience — transmitted online and on TV to millions around the world, many of them forced to hole up in their homes and eager to view a gathering that church President Russell M. Nelson long had promised would be unlike any other.Nelson marked the bicentennial of founder Joseph Smith’s “First Vision” with a new proclamation. He unveiled a new church symbol. He announced new temples, including firsts for the Middle East and mainland China. And he called for another worldwide fast to pray for relief from COVID-19.On this week’s podcast, Joseph Stuart, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Utah and a contributing editor to the Juvenile Instructor, a Mormon history blog, discusses the conference, its impact, its memorable moments and how it ultimately will be remembered.
April 09, 2020
It’s been several weeks since our latest “Mormon Land” podcast. Thankfully, not much has happened in that interval.OK, let’s just say the world has turned upside down.For The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its fundamental operations, programs and plans have been upended by the coronavirus. Services have been canceled. All temples are closed. And tens of thousands of missionaries have been recalled, released or reassigned. All of this coming in front of an online spring General Conference that will mark the bicentennial of Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s “First Vision” but will have no public attendance.Here to sort through these astonishing developments and look forward to this weekend’s conference is Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University.
April 01, 2020
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a major shift recently when it published online, in full, its updated General Handbook, which spells out policies, practices and procedures in the worldwide faith.Previous handbooks were for leaders only. Now rank-and-file members and even outsiders can be on the same page when it comes to church governance. The guidelines include, for instance, new nomenclature for church discipline and a new section on transgender individuals. It even urges Latter-day Saints to “partake” of the sacrament, or communion, “with their right hand when possible."Discussing these developments and other changes in the new handbook is Jonathan Stapley, a scientist and historian whose recent book, “The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology,” won top honors from the Mormon History Association. He also is a popular blogger for By Common Consent.
March 04, 2020
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may think they know all about Nauvoo, the Illinois city on the banks of the Mississippi River that blossomed into their faith’s headquarters from 1839 to 1846.There, Mormons built a fast-growing city-state that rivaled Chicago. There, they established a militia. There, they built their second temple. And there, they buried their beloved prophet.But few know that during those Nauvoo years, church leaders worked to rewrite the U.S. Constitution even as Mormon founder Joseph Smith ran for U.S. president. Few know how polygamy emerged even as Smith worked to conceal and control it and how he struggled even mightier to win converts to these unorthodox unions, especially in his own household. His brother Hyrum, who was slain with him at Carthage, for instance, went from a vehement opponent of plural marriage to a zealous proponent almost overnight, while Joseph’s first wife, Emma, only occasionally veered from her disdain for the practice.Historian Benjamin Park, author of the newly released “Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier,” sheds new light on those subjects and more in this week’s podcast.Listen here:
February 26, 2020
A printed Sunday school manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contained a disavowed racist teaching that referred to “dark skin” in the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, as a “curse” from God.The church has acknowledged the error and corrected it in the online manual. But is that enough? Some Latter-day Saints say it isn’t. They want the faith’s top leaders to issue a statement to members worldwide and use the mistake as a teaching moment to help combat persistent bouts of racism.And what about the overall curriculum? Does it fulfill its stated goals of helping members “deepen [their] conversion” and “become more like Jesus Christ”?Religion News Service senior columnist Jana Riess addresses those questions and more in this week’s podcast.
February 19, 2020
In September 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released its first authorized, in-depth look at the faith’s history in nearly a century.The four-volume set, known as “Saints,” will explore Mormonism from its humble birth to its current global presence. The first volume, “Saints: The Standard of Truth,” examined church history from 1815 to 1846. The second book, “Saints: No Unhallowed Hand,” which came out Wednesday, covers 1846 to 1893. It includes, for example, Brigham Young’s presidency, polygamy, the priesthood ban, the Mountain Meadows Massacre and lesser-known but equally meaningful moments in church history. The 700-plus-page volume ends with the Salt Lake Temple dedication.Discussing the project this week are Matthew Grow, managing director of the church History Department and general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, and Angela Hallstrom, a writer in the History Department and literary editor for the series.Listen here.
February 12, 2020
Next week, Utahns will celebrate the Beehive State as the first place an American woman voted under equal suffrage laws.Feb. 14 is the 150th anniversary of that first female vote, cast by Seraph Young (Brigham Young’s grandniece).Discussing the suffrage movement, what led up to the vote, and the role of Latter-day Saint women in the effort is Katherine Kitterman, co-author of a book with Rebekah Ryan Clark that has just been published by Deseret Book called “Thinking Women: A Timeline of Suffrage in Utah.”
February 05, 2020
This week’s podcast takes listeners to the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, it travels back to the earliest day, the moment that gave birth to the Mormon movement.Latter-day Saints know it as the “First Vision,” in which church founder Joseph Smith said he saw God.As members around the globe prepare to mark the bicentennial of this event this spring, the “Joseph Smith Papers” project has released a series of six podcasts that explores this reported 1820 encounter with deity through the eyes of historians.Discussing the “First Vision,” which gave rise to a world religion of more than 16 million members, and the various accounts Smith and others gave of the experience are Matt Grow, managing director of the church History Department and general editor of the “Joseph Smith Papers,” and Spencer McBride, a historian with the project and the host of the “First Vision” podcasts.
January 29, 2020
This year, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are studying the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon.A printed Sunday school manual accompanying the course caused a stir recently when news broke that it contained outdated teachings about “dark skin” referred to in the text as being a “curse” and a sign of divine disfavor.The church corrected the reference in its digital manual and an apostle even told a Martin Luther King Day gathering of the NAACP that he was “saddened” by the error. But the uproar has revived questions about race in the Book of Mormon and the Utah-based faith as a whole.Discussing those issues on this week’s podcast is Michalyn Steele, who teaches at Brigham Young University’s law school and is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. She grew up in a small Latter-day Saint congregation on the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York.
January 22, 2020
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are studying the Book of Mormon this year. This has focused renewed attention on the faith’s signature scripture and how it came to be — with stories of angels and gold plates and rocks called “seer stones.”Discussing the text’s origins is Richard Bushman, author of the highly acclaimed Joseph Smith biography, “Rough Stone Rolling.” He is working on a book about the gold plates, which Latter-day Saints believe tell the religious history of peoples in the ancient Americas and which Smith said he translated into English. That translation now is known as the Book of Mormon.
January 15, 2020
Questions persist inside and outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the $100 billion reserve the faith has amassed in an investment account.In this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, historian D. Michael Quinn says the church’s reserves are actually much steeper than has been reported. But, he adds, so are its expenses, especially in supporting its global presence.Quinn, a scholar who has done the deepest dive to date into the history of Latter-day Saint finances — his 2017 book, “Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power,” remains the definitive volume on the subject — discusses the issue.
January 08, 2020
Nearly 50 years ago, France Davis arrived in Utah, where he became the pastor of the state’s most prominent black congregation.For 46 years, he led Calvary Baptist Church. But Davis is more than a preacher. He’s an educator, who has taught communication and ethnic studies at the University of Utah; a civic activist, who has served on numerous boards and commissions; and a civil rights icon, who marched for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery.During his decades in the Beehive State, his words have carried a resounding moral clout and clarity that belie his small stature and soft-spoken nature.As Davis retired at year’s end from the pulpit, he joined the podcast to talk about his time leading a Baptist church in the heart of Mormondom.
December 31, 2019
Recent news reports of a $100 billion investment portfolio amassed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have focused attention once again on the subject of Mormon wealth.Whether the Utah-based faith may have violated tax laws — as some allege and church officials deny — is just one issue. The deeper questions may be: How much is too much for a church to hold in reserve? How much should members and others know about the faith’s finances? And should all churches be required to be more open about their money?Nathan Oman, the Rollins Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School who is writing a book on Mormon legal history, addresses those questions and more in this week’s podcast.
December 26, 2019
When Utahns recently rallied for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, there was Gayle Ruzicka vowing to oppose it.Considered one of the most powerful people never to have held elected office, Ruzicka, the conservative activist and president of the Utah Eagle Forum, can be counted on to be in the midst of high-profile fights — from abortion to sex education, gay marriage to conversion therapy, hate crimes legislation to medical marijuana.She talks about her activism and how her Latter-day Saint faith informs her lobbying — even when it stretches beyond the church’s positions.
December 19, 2019
From its earliest days, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has emphasized community. But the global faith of 16.3 million members may be shifting somewhat from that collective approach.Sunday services have been trimmed from three hours to two with a new emphasis on home-centered, church-supported gospel study. Scouting is on the way out, replaced by a more individualized program for young children and teens.By most accounts, members are excited about and eager for the new direction, but could something be lost in the process? Matthew Bowman, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, discusses that question and more in this week’s podcast.
December 11, 2019
This has been a remarkable year of change in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.It started way back on Jan. 2, with the introduction of gender-inclusive temple ceremonies, and continued throughout the year.The about-face on the LGBTQ policy, a widened stance on civil weddings, weekly calls home by missionaries, female witnesses at baptisms and temple sealings, a new program for children and youths — and that’s just the beginning.Blogger Jenny Dye, co-host of the “Mormon News Report Podcast,” has been tracking and commenting on the developments. She joins this week’s show to talk about the deluge of church adjustments, announcements, rescissions and reforms.Listen here.
December 04, 2019
Latter-day Saints pride themselves on being a “peculiar people,” and they have their own peculiar parlance to reinforce that image.Stake centers, active, inactive, investigator, Primary, callings, sealings, fast Sunday, Word of Wisdom, baptism for the dead, garments, manifesto, the block. These terms all have specific meanings for members but can be head-scratchers for outsiders.Zandra Vranes, co-author of "Can I Get an Amen?,” was raised in the church but is comfortable in black denominations, where women wear big hats and shout out their “amens.”She joined this week’s podcast to talk about Latter-day lingo — how it can be funny, unifying, confusing, misleading, even off-putting.Listen here.
November 27, 2019
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expressly forbids polygamy and has done so for more than a century. But plural marriage remains a part of its theology, enshrined in its scripture and practiced, at least through so-called sealings, in its temples.Add to that the renewed chatter about legalizing polygamy in the U.S. and the question becomes: What if the church reinstituted plural marriage?Melissa Leilani Larson, who wrote the screenplays for the movies “Jane and Emma” and “Freetown,” explored that notion in her play “Pilot Program.” She discusses that play, her views about polygamy and its place in the Utah-based faith’s past, present and future in this week’s “Mormon Land.”
November 20, 2019
When nine U.S. citizens were killed in a brutal attack in northern Mexico last week, much of the world learned for the first time about that area’s past and prevailing ties to Mormon polygamy.Those ties include a complex cast of characters and creeds — both mainstream Latter-day Saints and breakaway believers.Helping to untangle and understand this web is historian Barbara Jones Brown, executive director of the Mormon History Association who has studied and written about post-1890 Mormon plural marriage.
November 13, 2019
A recent Pew Research report reaffirmed a rising trend: Americans, especially younger ones, are abandoning organized religion. It’s a phenomenon that cuts across denominations and is expected to continue.But what about in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How is this missionary-oriented faith faring in its efforts to recruit and retain members?Turns out, says independent researcher Matt Martinich, the Utah-based church is still growing, though the rate has been dropping for decades. He says the faith continues to boom in West Africa, for instance, but growth is stagnating in Northern Europe.Martinich’s latest survey shows retention of new converts is improving — 50% in the U.S. and 49% outside of it — but country-by-country rates vary wildly, ranging from 80% in Congo to 33% in Uruguay.Martinich discusses those findings and more in this week’s “Mormon Land.”Listen here:
November 06, 2019
Individuals with same-sex attractions certainly can — and do — sometimes choose lives of celibacy to adhere to religious convictions, but, without an intimate partner, says a University of Utah psychology professor, they may find those lives lacking.Lisa Diamond, an expert on gender issues, discusses that issue — along with questions of sexual fluidity and gender identity — as Utah regulators consider rules banning conversion therapy for minors — a proposal that, in its current form, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes.Listen here.
October 30, 2019
During the recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reyna Aburto, a high-level women’s leader in the faith, gave a widely praised sermon about depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness that has members talking more openly about those issues.Jane Clayson Johnson has contributed to that conversation. A journalist known nationally for her work at CBS News, ABC News and NPR, she faced her own battle with clinical depression.In her book, “Silent Souls Weeping: Depression — Sharing Stories, Finding Hope,” and in this week’s podcast, she describes her own experience as well as what she learned from more than 150 other Latter-day Saints who have dealt with depression.Johnson emphasizes why these stories must be told and how Mormonism poses some distinctive challenges for those suffering emotional afflictions.Listen here:
October 23, 2019
When historian Quincy Newell was researching 19th-century African American Mormons, one name kept popping up: Jane Manning James.This African American convert, who worked in church founder Joseph Smith’s household and eventually was “sealed” to him as a “servant,” probably still ranks as the most famous black female member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this side of Gladys Knight.So Newell wrote a full-fledged biography of this pioneering black woman. Titled “Your Sister in the Gospel,” it was released earlier this year by Oxford University Press.Newell, associate professor of religious studies at Hamilton College in New York state, joined “Mormon Land” this week to talk about the remarkable life and legacy of Jane Manning James.Listen here:
October 17, 2019
This week we revisit and discuss — what else? — the recently completed General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Besides the usual prayers, songs and sermons, the weekend’s sessions included, as church President Russell M. Nelson promised, a number of momentous changes.There were overhauls to programs for the Young Men and Young Women (with a heavenly, gender-inclusive twist in the latter’s theme). Eight new temples, including two more in Utah, were announced. Newly tweaked temple recommend questions were unveiled. Historic and memorable talks (such as the first by an African American general authority) and another controversial speech by Nelson’s first counselor were delivered.Examining these events and the impacts they may have on the faith are Emily Jensen, a Latter-day Saint writer, editor and blogger, and Joseph Stuart, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Utah and co-chair of the Mormon History Association’s 2020 Program Committee.Listen here.
October 09, 2019
To mark the 100th episode of our “Mormon Land” podcast, an expert panel will discuss how a 95-year-old leader is reshaping The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, overhauling prominent policies and sacred ceremonies, loosening some rules while tightening others, even changing how people refer to the religion.
October 04, 2019
Debbie Cole was sexually assaulted in 1989 at age 19.Thus began a 30-year emotional and spiritual odyssey for this Irish Latter-day Saint — days of agony, anger, reconciliation, recovery, resolve and reform — all which culminated earlier this year with the passage of “Debbie’s Law,” which allows for tougher penalties for repeat sex offenders.Cole discusses her journey and how her faith helped see her through it.Listen here.
September 18, 2019
The Salt Lake Tribune just concluded a special three-part series on the challenges Western faiths, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, face in Russia — a nation dominated by the Russian Orthodox Church. One of the biggest — if not the biggest — obstacles is the government’s ban on public proselytizing by these so-called outsider religions. Latter-day Saint missionaries, for instance, are called “volunteers.” Here to talk about the status of Mormonism in Russia is David Stewart, an independent demographer who co-founded The Cumorah Project, which tracks, among other things, Latter-day Saint growth around the world. Stewart also served a mission in Russia. He joins us today from his office in Las Vegas.
September 11, 2019
Award-winning KUER reporter Lee Hale said his new religion podcast, called “Preach,” would be a “different kind of faith conversation.”A two-minute promotion for the show, which debuts Friday, Sept. 6, provides a clue. It begins with Hale briefly describing his time knocking on doors in Minnesota as a Mormon missionary and how, a decade later, he finds his own beliefs are “evolving.”Yes, Hale is opting to be open about his identity as a Latter-day Saint. He talks about that choice and his podcast, which will focus on, in his words, “the messy middle” of faith on this week’s “Mormon Land.”
September 04, 2019
Child-safety advocate Ed Smart recently came out publicly as gay and revealed that he and his wife, Lois, are divorcing.Such announcements from prominent newsmakers make headlines. But what about the straight spouses left behind? Some say they are the forgotten ones — that when their partner comes out of the closet, they go in.Lolly Weed knows about this experience personally and professionally. A marriage and family therapist associate, she and her gay husband, Josh, ended their 15-year marriage last year, something they talked about on a previous “Mormon Land."She returns to this week’s podcast to talk about the challenges these straight spouses face — the heartache, the betrayal, the damage to their self-esteem, the faith trials and, for Latter-day Saints, the reality of a Mormon theology that, in essence, continues to encourage mixed-orientation marriages, no matter how misguided.
August 28, 2019
The Tony-winning “Book of Mormon” musical is in Utah’s Zion for the third time, bringing its own brand of raunchy, raucous, yet oddly reverential satire back to the Salt Lake City stage.But there may be more at play than meets the ear and eye when Elder Price joyously sings about getting his own planet and Elder Cunningham lovingly lies his way to convert after convert in the jungles of Uganda. In fact, Mormonism’s ties to musical theater — both from within the faith and without — run deep.Jake Johnson, an assistant professor of musicology at Oklahoma City University, explores those connections in his new book, “Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America.” He shares his insights this week on “Mormon Land.”
August 21, 2019
ERA.Forty years ago, those three initials set off strong conversations and sparked national headlines. The Equal Rights Amendment — the proposed constitutional measure guaranteeing equal legal rights regardless of sex — fell short of ratification among the states.Now, it’s back, and, by some counts, needs just one more state to reach ratification and become the law of the land.So where does the church — which vehemently fought the ERA for years — stand on it today? It isn’t saying. When asked earlier this year by The Salt Lake Tribune, the institution declined to comment.Some advocates say church leaders have told them the faith is now neutral on the issue, emboldening their push for ratification. Anissa Rasheta, a national organizer for Mormons for ERA who is pushing for ratification in her home state of Arizona, discusses the measure — the need for it, the status of the fight and the reception it is getting from today’s Latter-day Saints, young and old, male and female, leaders and laypersons.Listen here.
August 13, 2019
For nearly two decades, Elder Steven E. Snow has served as a general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.The past seven or so years, he has been the church historian, overseeing the faith’s history department. During that time, he has led the release of “Saints,” the first in a planned four-volume narrative history of the church, and the production of landmark essays that tackle some of the pricklier points of Latter-day Saint history and teachings.Snow, who is poised to receive official emeritus status in the coming fall General Conference, talks about his tenure and some of the issues he confronted, including:• How to explain Brigham Young’s role in the former race-based priesthood ban.• How to detail the early days of Mormon polygamy and Joseph Smith’s plural wives, including one who was 14.• The much-publicized news conference showcasing the so-called “seer stone” that historians say Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon, the faith’s signature scripture.• His reaction to the controversial 2015 policy on LGBTQ couples and their children, and the subsequent reversal.• His relationship with former Church Historian Marlin Jensen, a fellow Democrat in a religion dominated by Republicans.• His commitment to the environment and his hopes for more eco-friendly policies from the faith.• His excitement over the dynamic changes taking place under church President Russell M. Nelson.Listen here.
August 07, 2019
Stories of members walking away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are legion. And plenty of books have been written in recent years documenting and addressing the concerns of these disaffected members.But what can loved ones and leaders still in the faith do to help, to serve, to embrace these onetime believers?That’s what David Ostler explores in his new book, “Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question.” A retired business executive, Ostler, who has lived on several continents and has served as a bishop, stake president and mission president, discusses his findings in this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast.
July 31, 2019
Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed the NAACP’s national convention this week.His appearance came in the wake of a new partnership formed between the church and the country’s oldest civil rights organization and a year after the faith celebrated the 40th anniversary of the end of its centurylong ban on blacks holding the priesthood and entering temples.No, Nelson did not apologize for that prohibition. Such words could have been a powerful moment, said LaShawn Williams, an African American Latter-day Saint and an assistant professor of social work at Utah Valley University. But actions count for something, too.So what did this event signify, and what is the state of race relations within the Utah-based faith?Williams addresses those questions and more. Listen here:
July 25, 2019
It has been almost a year since Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, launched his push to get members, the media, scholars and others to stop using the nicknames “Mormon” and “LDS” when talking about the faith and its followers.Since that time, the Utah-based church has made a number of changes. Some have been high profile, renaming the renowned Tabernacle Choir, for one; others have been less noticeable, like rejiggering website domains.Historian Matt Bowman, the newly installed Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon (there’s that word again) Studies at Claremont Graduate University shares his thoughts on the progress of this sweeping campaign.
July 17, 2019
Retired Columbia University professor Richard L. Bushman is best known for his biography of Mormon founder Joseph Smith and as an expert in early American history.In the past few years, though, he and his historian wife, Claudia Lauper Bushman, have taken a keen interest in the arts — specifically those associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.This week, the two talk about what prompted them to help organize the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts in New York City, which just completed its third annual festival, and what they see as the faith’s aesthetic.
July 10, 2019
Best-selling author Steven Waldman calls it “America’s greatest export."Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discussed it in March with Pope Francis in their historic meeting at the Vatican and again this week with visiting Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan. It has become practically the go-to subject for Nelson’s first counselor, Dallin H. Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice. And it was a major force in the so-called Utah compromise, which brought housing and employment protections to LGBTQ individuals.That topic, of course, is religious freedom, and Mormonism’s role in its evolution is part of Waldman’s new book, “Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom.”As the nation celebrates its independence this week, he sheds light on the issue in this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast.
July 03, 2019
With foundational beliefs in prophets, modesty, fasting and family values, Islam and Mormonism share some deeply rooted faith traditions.And this week’s guest, Carolyn Homer, knows more than a little about both religions.Homer is a civil rights attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
June 25, 2019
For 52 years, the Mormon Miracle Pageant has been a dramatic staple in central Utah, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the grounds of the historic Manti Temple.But come Saturday night, when the spotlight goes dark, it will mark the last time the pageant will ever light up the summertime night.This week’s guest, Merilyn Jorgensen, sang in the choir at that first performance in 1967 and eventually became the official historian, even compiling a 600-page book about its history.She discusses the pageant’s roots, its memorable moments, its evolution, the sadness of seeing it fade away, and the tiny “miracles” behind the Mormon Miracle Pageant.
June 19, 2019
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 16.3 million members worldwide, but it still is seen by many as an American, even Utah, religion.How does the faith become truly global and allow cultural differences in its congregations and worship while still maintaining unity?Latter-day Saint scholar Melissa Inouye not only thinks and writes a lot about that challenge, she has lived it as well.A teacher of Asian studies at the University of Auckland, Inouye has lived in Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Southern California, Boston, Utah and, of course, now, New Zealand, so she knows a thing or two firsthand about how Mormonism functions in the world.She addresses that topic, the place of women in the patriarchal faith, church as a “safe setting,” LGBTQ issues and more in this week’s “Mormon Land” and in her new book, “Crossings: A Bald Asian American Latter-day Saint Woman Scholar’s Ventures Through Life, Death, Cancer and Motherhood (Not Necessarily in That Order).”
June 12, 2019
Abortion — always a hotly disputed, highly divisive topic — is back in the headlines.Several states, including Utah, have passed laws severely restricting the procedure in hopes of setting up a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court, where a new conservative majority would have the chance to strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.Where does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially stand on the issue? Is it more “pro-life” or more “pro-choice.” And do rank-and-file members understand the nuances in their faith’s position?“I hear a lot of rhetoric from church members … who I don’t think are giving an accurate view of what the church’s actual stance is on abortion,” says Angela Clayton, who recently wrote about the issue for By Common Consent.The church’s policy, she argues is “enabled by Roe v. Wade,” and those Latter-day Saints who call abortion murder are resorting to a “theological hyperbole” that stretches beyond the faith’s doctrine.Clayton discusses those issues and more in this Tribune story and on this week’s podcast.
June 04, 2019
A little more than five years ago, the Mama Dragons burst onto the scene. Since that time, the group has grown into a respected and vital support organization for families and their LGBTQ loved ones, especially in the Latter-day Saint community.Now, a new play — titled “The Mama Dragon Monologues: Mormon Mothers of LGBTQ Kids Speak Out" — chronicles these women who often are torn between devotion to their faith and love for their queer children.As Utah celebrates Pride Week, Sue Bergin, who co-wrote the play tapping the real words of Latter-day Saint women, discusses the budding production, which has already had a staged reading in San Jose and is scheduled to have another next month in New York.
May 29, 2019
The Hinckley Institute Morgan Lyon Cotti discusses why the LDS Church is using “specialists” to help members become more politically active.
May 23, 2019
As Salt Lake City prepares to host a June 6-9 Afterlife Awareness Conference — “where shamans break bread with scientists” — we focus on end-of-life care and research along with near-death experiences.Our guests are Jeff O’Driscoll, an emergency room doctor, author and Latter-day Saint who talks about his observations and insights, and Terri Daniel, a hospice chaplain, ordained interfaith minister and grief adviser who founded the annual Afterlife Awareness Conference nearly a decade ago.
May 15, 2019
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took another giant leap toward inclusion this week, eliminating the yearlong waiting period between a civil marriage and a temple “sealing.”This means couples can marry civilly and invite all their loved ones to witness the wedding and then be sealed in a private temple ceremony without a long delay.Until this change, which took effect immediately, practically every Latter-day Saint family has had to exclude at least someone from a temple wedding, leading to awkward explanations and hurt feelings that sometimes last for generations.Crystal Young-Otterstrom knows that firsthand from her family. She joins the “Mormon Land” podcast to talk about her experience and share her thoughts on this historic change.
May 08, 2019
Matt Easton made headlines around the world after stating during his recent valedictory speech at Brigham Young University that he is “proud to be a gay son of God.”The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its flagship school aren’t the easiest places to be an LGBTQ member and student. Belonging to those institutions can be especially challenging for transgender individuals, for whom the rules are even muddier.Andy Winder knows that firsthand. He started undergoing hormone-replacement therapy during his sophomore year and lived, worked and studied in near-constant fear that he would be expelled.Winder made it to graduation — in 2018 — but the path to a diploma didn’t come without bumps and bruises, twists and turns. The 21-year-old writer discusses his journey on this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast.Listen here:
May 01, 2019
Latter-day Saints are taught time and time again that sexual relations are absolutely forbidden — before marriage. But after couples wed, all that changes, immediately. Sex becomes not only acceptable but also encouraged, even exalted.Making that transition isn’t always easy for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.That’s where Jennifer Finlayson-Fife steps in. A Chicago area Latter-day Saint and a licensed therapist who specializes in working with member couples on sexuality and relationship issues, she joins the podcast to talk about, well, sex in Mormonism.
April 24, 2019
The world watched in horror this week as Notre Dame burned.Now, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints poised to announce Friday the details of a massive renovation project for its iconic Salt Lake Temple, perhaps Mormonism’s Notre Dame, thoughts turn to the Utah-based faith’s sacred structures.Allen Roberts, a Utah architect who specializes in preservation, including work on Latter-day Saint chapels, tabernacles and temples, discusses the church’s historic buildings, their place in the design world and the faith’s high points and low points in preserving them.
April 17, 2019
Nearly 3½ years ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stunned insiders and outsiders with a new policy labeling same-sex married couples “apostates” and generally barring their children from baptism until they turn 18.Last week, Latter-day Saint leaders delivered another shocker by reversing those rules.What happened? And why? And where does the Utah-based faith go from here?Discussing those questions and more about the church’s evolution and, some say, devolution on LGBTQ rights is historian Gregory Prince, author of the newly released “Gay Rights and the Mormon Church: Intended Actions, Unintended Consequences.”
April 10, 2019
After surveying thousands of returned missionaries, independent researcher Matt Martinich decided “urgent reform” was needed to help The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints achieve real growth.He offered his suggestions in a recent post on his website, ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com, and discussed them further in a Salt Lake Tribune story and this week’s podcast.
April 03, 2019
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the ultimate ordinance is eternal marriage between a man and woman. It preaches the importance of rearing righteous children. It even published a proclamation to the world extolling the virtues of the so-called traditional, nuclear family. Although many, if not most, members do not have that at home, it still is pointed to as the “ideal.”So it’s not the easiest faith in which to be single.Rosemary Card, who worked as a teenage model in New York, later graduated from Brigham Young University and served a church mission, addresses that topic and more in her book, “Model Mormon: Fighting for Self-Worth on the Runway and as an Independent Woman.” She also is the founder of Q.NOOR, a temple dress company for Latter-day Saints.Listen here:
March 27, 2019
The recently completed session of the Utah Legislature appeared poised to ban so-called conversion therapy, barring therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors. The bill had not one but two Republicans championing it and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — seen as a potential stumbling block — had taken a neutral stance on the measure. But conservatives hijacked the bill and watered it down beyond recognition.The clash highlighted once again the divisions on LGBTQ issues.Discussing those issues on this week’s podcast are psychologist Lee Beckstead, a gay former Mormon who testified against conversion therapy in a prominent court case, and therapist Ty Mansfield, an active Latter-day Saint who has written about his same-sex attractions and his marriage to a woman.Both Beckstead and Mansfield are involved in a united undertaking known as the Reconciliation and Growth Project, a joint effort that includes a far-reaching study, to find common ground within the LGBTQ community.
March 20, 2019
Thirty-three minutes. That’s how long President Russell M. Nelson’s private audience with Pope Francis lasted at the Vatican.But the first-ever face-to-face meeting between a Latter-day Saint prophet and a Catholic pontiff was months — if not longer — in the making, and its impact might be felt for years to come. Or will it? Was this historic encounter more about symbolism than substance? Or is that symbolism, ultimately, more important than any substance?Patrick Mason, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, discusses why this meeting and the recent events in Rome mean so much more to the 16 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church.Listen here:
March 13, 2019
Knowing who ordained whom to the priesthood in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seldom of interest to anyone beyond curious descendants and detail-obsessed researchers.But a recent discovery solving the mystery surrounding the ordination of Elijah Able (sometimes spelled Abel), one of the most famous black converts in the faith’s fledgling years, excited historians and helped shed additional light on a religion with a tortuous track record on the issue of race.W. Paul Reeve, professor of Mormon studies at the University of Utah and author of the award-winning book “Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness,” documented the discovery and discusses what it means and why it matters.
March 06, 2019
For months, Latter-day Saint leaders, scholars and rank-and-file members — not to mention a fair share of outside observers — have looked forward to the release of Jana Riess’ book about her groundbreaking Next Mormons Survey, a sweeping study of 1,156 members and 540 former members, young and old, male and female, across the U.S.Well, that day is near. Her book, “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church,” comes out next week.Riess, a Religion News Service senior columnist, discusses her findings — covering everything from changing orthodoxy, shifting politics, softening LGBTQ views and a surprise or two (think coffee) — on this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast.
February 25, 2019
This week, Latter-day Saint parents got an early Christmas — or Mother’s Day — gift: The chance to talk to their missionary daughters and sons outside of those two holidays.These young sisters and elders now can call, video chat or text their families weekly in yet another major cultural shift under the administration of Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While you can imagine the rejoicing among missionaries and their families, some fear the relaxed rules go too far.On the latest podcast David Cook, a former mission president in Chile, and Susie Augenstein, whose son is serving in Poland, discuss the change.
February 21, 2019
Latter-day Saint temples have been in the news a lot lately. New temples are opening. Some older ones are closing for renovation. And groundbreakings are taking place around the globe.Capturing the most attention were the recent changes that brought more gender equity to the religious rites that take place inside these temples.So how has temple worship evolved throughout the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Historian and author Devery Anderson, who edited the volume, “The Development of LDS Temple Worship," shares his insights.
February 13, 2019
A state lawmaker is proposing a measure that would prevent Utahns from changing the sex designated on their birth certificates.Such a move would set a “very dangerous” precedent, argues Laurie Lee Hall, a former stake president and temple architect who was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for living as a transgender woman. “ … It would ultimately wind up, without hyperbole at all, erasing transgender people from existence.”Hall, who appears on this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, also notes that she has no issue with the faith’s so-called family proclamation, which declares that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." She “relates” to it. After all, Hall says, she always has been — and forever will be — a woman.“But I don't seem to relate to that in the way that most in the church interpret it,” she adds. “What they're really thinking, I think, when they read that is that biological sex determines who you are and that at the end of the day you will always be whatever your biological sex was.”Hall shares her thoughts on the proposed bill, President Dallin H. Oaks' October sermon on gender issues and more.
January 30, 2019
For years, David Matheson, a Utahn who was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and married to a woman, was a prominent advocate and professional practitioner of so-called “reparative therapy,” an effort that essentially seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.Matheson came to renounce that type of treatment and instead focused on therapies intended to reduce, in his words, the “shame, anxiety and effects of trauma” experienced by LGBTQ individuals in society.Now, Matheson is divorced and making news by coming out as a gay man seeking a male partner. He also is expressing remorse for the pain he may have brought to men he was trying to help along the way.Matheson discusses his past, present and future on this week’s “Mormon Land,” especially now as he strives to navigate a new place for himself in the faith he loves.
January 24, 2019
Latter-day Saints are full of jokes, jabs and judgments about so-called “Utah Mormons” — how church members who live in the heart of the faith are somehow different than those who live elsewhere.New survey findings from writer-researcher Jana Riess show that’s true, especially when it comes to orthodoxy and some cultural influences.Latter-day Saint scholar Patrick Mason, who grew up in Utah but has lived in the Midwest, Eastern Europe and now Southern California, has noticed the differences, too. For instance, in those places away from the Intermountain West’s Mormon Belt, he said, when members attended church, it didn’t matter how they were dressed."The overwhelming feeling, at least that we experienced, was ‘thank goodness you’re here,’” Mason said in this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast. “Who cares whether you’re wearing a dress or pants or what you think about the Book of Mormon? If you’re willing to walk in that door, you know, thank you for being here.”There were, he added, “fewer litmus tests for what makes a ‘real Mormon.’”By the way, Mason, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, soon will become a “Utah Mormon” again. In July, he takes over as the Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University.He said his family values diversity and “a lot of things that we found outside of Utah. But ... I was raised there, and I’m I don’t think I’m too screwed up. ... I can’t wait to get back there.”
January 17, 2019
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made historic changes last week to its temple ceremonies, drawing widespread attention and praise, especially from women, for its use of gender-equitable language.Neylan McBaine, author of “Women at Church” and founder of the Mormon Women Project, joins this week’s podcast to discuss what these changes mean for women, men and the wider church.
January 09, 2019
If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seemed to be dormant during the waning years of enfeebled President Thomas S. Monson’s tenure, that inactivity ended in 2018.After Monson’s death at age 90 two days into the year and the ascension of apostle Russell M. Nelson to the presidency, the deluge of changes, adjustments, announcements, rescissions and reforms came at a dizzying pace and show no signs of letting up.We recap the historic headline-making year in this week’s podcast.
January 02, 2019
In Christian homes around the world this holiday season, families have dusted off their Nativity sets and carefully arranged the pieces in their living rooms. There are wise men, shepherds, barnyard animals, Joseph, perhaps an angel, all paying homage to the baby Jesus. But what about one woman in every Nativity: Mary.Where does the mother of the Lord fit in Latter-day Saint theology and the wider Christian world?Cristina Rosetti, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at the University of California Riverside and an expert on the intersection of Mormonism and spirit communication, examines that question and more. A convert to Catholicism, Rosetti, who is a also an archivist at Sunstone and a former Mormon studies fellow at the University of Utah, explains the prominent role Mary plays in Catholic worship and her more-subdued part in Latter-day Saint teachings, along with the doctrine of Heavenly Mother and how together they affect women’s places in the world of faith.
December 19, 2018
Salt Lake County is home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also boasts the faith’s famous tabernacle and its landmark temple.But the county is no longer populated mostly by Mormons. The latest membership numbers, supplied by the church itself, show that Utah’s most populous county is now 48.91 percent Latter-day Saint.In fact, the Latter-day Saint tally statewide has fallen below 62 percent.This continuing demographic shift is more than a statistical footnote. It carries with it sweeping implications for schools, politics, neighborhoods and the church itself.Jim McConkie, a Salt Lake City attorney, former Latter-day Saint bishop and an ex-congressional candidate, has witnessed this transformation and sees opportunities for the area to become more cohesive and inclusive even as it grows more diverse and increasingly becomes a place for non-Mormons.
December 12, 2018
Two days before Election Day, Marty Stephens, a Latter-day Saint stake president and the church’s chief lobbyist on Utah’s Capitol Hill, took to the pulpit and urged his congregations to “Follow the prophet” and, in so many words, vote against the ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana.Although most Utah voters ultimately bucked the church’s position and approved Proposition 2 anyway, Stephens’ sermon and the public and behind-the-scenes actions of Utah’s predominant faith during the campaign have revived questions about the separation of church and state and whether Latter-day Saint authorities wielded inappropriate influence on politicians, policymakers and rank-and-file church members.McKay Coppins, staff writer for The Atlantic and a graduate of Brigham Young University, shares his views on Prop 2, the midterm elections, Mitt Romney, the church’s forays into public policy, its clout in Utah and Washington and the intersection of religion and politics.
December 05, 2018
The federal government recently released a sweeping scientific report filled with dire predictions if climate change is left unchecked, but President Donald Trump is doubting his own administration’s findings.The White House’s perplexing response set off fresh conversations this week about the perils of a warming climate. As that debate, like the planet itself, heats up, we invited Ty Markham, a co-founder of the Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, to discuss her grass-roots activism and how her Latter-day Saint faith informs it.
November 28, 2018
It’s Thanksgiving week, and Americans’ thoughts — and stomachs — turn inevitably to food.What better time, then, to explore whether Latter-day Saints have any special connection to food or, at least, certain foods? After all, we’ve all heard about funeral potatoes and green Jell-O. But the faith also has a health code that counsels members on what they should and should not eat or drink. What role does it play?Here to discuss this topic is Christy Spackman, who holds a doctorate in food studies and teaches at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.
November 21, 2018
So-called Middle Way Mormonism is generating a lot of chatter online, in homes, at churches and elsewhere. While a clear definition of the term remains elusive — even among self-proclaimed middle wayers — this approach is gaining traction, especially among millennial members, more and more of whom are seeing themselves as neither all-in nor all-out of the faith. By Common Consent blogger Sam Brunson argues all members, at some level, are middle wayers.
November 15, 2018
Three years ago this month, word leaked out of a new policy from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one that deemed members who enter a same-sex marriage “apostates” and barred their children from baptism and other religious rituals until they turn 18.The policy made international headlines, setting off a wave of protests and rallies, public resignations and private resentments.That furor has faded but, for many, the questions and the pain, like the policy itself, persist.So, three years later, what is the state of LGBTQ relations within the faith?Kendall Wilcox, an openly gay Latter-day Saint filmmaker and co-founder of the group Mormons Building Bridges, would like to see improvement, but under the church’s new leadership of President Russell M. Nelson and given recent sermons by his first counselor, Dallin H. Oaks, he isn’t hopeful.He talks about that and more on this week’s podcast.
November 07, 2018
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints surprised many when it announced that large church pageants are now “discouraged.”That same day, leaders of the mother of all Latter-day Saint pageants, the Hill Cumorah Pageant, said that it would end its 81-year run after the 2020 season.On this week’s podcast, Gerald Argetsinger, who served in the pageant presidency for 12 years and worked as its artistic director for most of the 1990s, laments the loss of this iconic piece of Latter-day Saint dramatic history, discusses the pageant’s storied past and highlights the impact the show had through the decades on members and nonmembers alike.
October 30, 2018
For several decades, Colleen McDannell has taught religious studies at the University of Utah. She has written books about heaven, Catholic reforms and Christianity’s place in popular culture.In her latest volume, she turns her attention to the faith that calls Utah home with “Sister Saints: Mormon Women Since the End of Polygamy," which punctures the stereotypes attached to Latter-day Saint women and reveals them as, at times, outspoken and progressive and, at other times, as insular and conflicted.Either way, McDannell writes, “it will be women who determine whether the next generation remains committed in their faith — and precisely what shape that faith will take.”
October 24, 2018
It’s the toughest assignment a member can get in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — bishop.It’s a lay calling that brings with it no pay but heavy demands. The bishop is responsible for the spiritual and even temporal well-being for hundreds of families and individuals in his area. All of this on top of the needs of his own loved ones and full-time job.Ross Trewhella has been serving in this taxing but rewarding task for nine years, shepherding his Latter-day Saint flock in Cornwall, England. Hear his thoughts on the shift coming in January from three hours of Sunday services to two hours, the appeal to stop using the word “Mormon," the challenges his faith faces in the United Kingdom and more.
October 17, 2018
President Russell M. Nelson and his colleagues did it again. They pulled off a momentous General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.They shortened Sunday worship services. They announced a dozen new temples. They gave sermons that made news. They even have members and outsiders talking about how they are supposed to be referring to members and their faith.For this week’s podcast, Patrick Mason, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, and Emily Jensen, a Latter-day Saint writer, editor and blogger, discuss what did — and did not — happen at the two-day gathering and what its impact will be.
October 11, 2018
In some respects, the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City is a 28-story monument to a program called “correlation.”In the 1960s, authorities in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced in earnest a more consistent approach to the faith that came to be known as correlation. The sweeping effort attempted to make every congregation, class and calling the same across all regions, climates and cultures.These days, critics see correlation as a hinderance. It made the church more patriarchal, they argue, and more bureaucratic. Supporters counter that the undertaking helped the church achieve and accommodate phenomenal growth. It did more to unite the members than divide them, they say, and the fruits of it will be evident at this weekend’s General Conference.Few historians know as much about correlation as Matthew Bowman, an associate professor of history at Henderson State University and author of the critically acclaimed “The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith.” Bowman, who is researching a new book about correlation, discusses his findings on this week’s “Mormon Land.”
October 03, 2018
Mormon Land is alive with the sound of rumors.Probably the only thing on the Latter-day Saint calendar as reliable as General Conference is the buzz, the chatter, the leaks in the weeks before about what will happen at the upcoming sessions.On this week’s podcast, we’re going to unashamedly indulge the love for such gossip and talk about what members are talking about. Latter-day Saints may not know what’s going to occur at the Oct. 6-7 conference, but that never stopped an entertaining debate about the possibilities.Is the three-hour block toast? Will temple changes be announced? What about the missionary program, medical marijuana, women’s issues, the church’s name and more?Here to help us with this conversation is Mormon writer, editor and blogger Emily Jensen.
September 26, 2018
In March, Religion News Service senior columnist Jana Riess joined us to talk about Latter-day Saint millennials, part of her groundbreaking multigenerational survey of Mormons and former Mormons.Now, with her new book — “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church” — due out in less than six months, she’s back with us to discuss more specifically what her research revealed about women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
September 17, 2018
Sam Young is a Mormon on a mission.He wants bishops’ one-on-one interviews with Latter-day Saint youths to end. He wants the sometimes sexually explicit “worthiness” questions they are asked in these private sessions to cease. To propel his cause, he formed a group, Protect LDS Children, launched an online petition and led a march to church headquarters to deliver tens of thousands of supportive signatures. He even staged a three-week hunger strike to draw attention to the issue.This past Sunday, however, this former bishop appeared at a “disciplinary council” before his local lay leaders, who argue his actions have crossed a line by opposing not only church policy but also church policymakers.As he faces the prospect of excommunication, the question now is: Will Sam Young remain a Mormon on a mission?In this week’s podcast, Young discusses what took place at his hearing, how the accusations against him, to his mind, misinterpret his actions, why he undertook this fight, and why he will continue to work for change, preferably with the church’s help, whether he is in the faith — which is his hope — or out of it.
September 12, 2018
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made history this week — with its own history.For the first time since 1930, it released an authorized, in-depth book that explores the faith’s past. “Saints: The Standard of Truth" is part of a four-volume set that will explore Mormonism from its humble birth to its current global presence.On this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, Benjamin Park, who is a Latter-day Saint and a history professor at Sam Houston State University, discusses this first installment, its strengths, its weaknesses and its potential to shape members' views about their own religious heritage.
September 06, 2018
Soon after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its opposition to a Utah ballot initiative on medical marijuana, emails began appearing in the inboxes of Mormons across the state. In them, the church stated that while it “does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana,” it is dead set against this particular ballot measure.Will the church succeed in defeating what, to this point, has been a popular proposal? Will the email blast prove effective or could it backfire? If the initiative passes, is it evidence of the church’s waning influence in Utah? If it fails, would it reinforce the notion that the state is essentially a theocracy, governed not by elected leaders but by a sustained religious hierarchy?Morgan Lyon Cotti, associate director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, discusses those issues and more on this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast.
August 30, 2018
Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued a one-paragraph statement last week directing members, the media and others to use the full, formal name of the Utah-based faith and urging them to do away with the shorter but more widely known terms “Mormon” and “LDS.”His statement totaled only 71 words, but it prompted tens of thousands more to be published on the topic because the implications could be wide-ranging and long-lasting.In this week’s podcast, Latter-day Saint scholar Richard Bushman looks back at the historical uses of the term “Mormon” and the evolution of the church’s name along with the opportunity members now have to engage in a deeper conversation about their religion. And Stuart Reid, a former Utah lawmaker who used to work in the church’s public affairs department, discusses the reasons for this and past naming campaigns but with a particular focus on the future. In short, he says, Nelson is preparing the church and its followers for Christ’s eventual return.
August 22, 2018
Emma Smith stands alone as the most famous woman in Mormon history. The wife of church founder Joseph Smith is mentioned in histories, journals, even LDS scripture.Less known is her enduring and endearing friendship with the early church’s most noted black woman, Jane Manning James.A forthcoming film, titled “Jane and Emma,” documents and dramatizes that friendship.The movie’s director, Chantelle Squires, and its screenwriter, Melissa Leilani Larson, discuss the film, its title characters and their hopes for what it might do for race relations within — and without — the LDS Church.
August 16, 2018
You probably read about a woman who secretly recorded an interview with her former Missionary Training Center president about alleged sexual misconduct he committed. Or maybe your heard that Mormon general authorities are paid more than $120,000 a year in salary. Perhaps you wonder about the LDS Church’s vast wealth. You swear you’ve seen that it has at least $32 billion in stock holdings.Well, if you know those newsy nuggets, it’s probably because of a website called MormonLeaks, which posts documents, recordings and videos secretly provided by church leaders, employees, sources, whistleblowers or other moles from within the Utah-based faith.So how did MormonLeaks get its start? What is its goal? Which leaks have been the biggest? And how does it navigate often-tricky ethical waters?We put those questions and more to the forces behind the website, Executive Director Ryan McKnight and technical director Ethan Dodge.
August 07, 2018
The northern Utah mother at the heart of a spat about public breastfeeding has reached a “compromise” with her LDS bishop: She’ll now wear two tops to help hide her breast from above and below while nursing her 19-month-old daughter at her Mormon meetinghouse.But the dispute isn’t dead. The woman is “not quite ready,” she said in her first audio interview on the matter, to meet with the LDS leader who denied her a “temple recommend” unless she covered up.“I would like to see [LDS authorities] put out a policy worldwide, throughout the whole church, to protect mothers, to make it so that women can breastfeed their babies however is comfortable for mom and baby — whether that’s covered or not covered,” the woman said Wednesday on The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Mormon Land” podcast.The woman, who agreed to go by the initials S.D. because she hopes to resolve the impasse with her clergy, also addressed misinformation that has sprung up in the viral venting since her story surfaced.“[One misperception] is that … as soon as [my daughter] is done nursing, I leave my breast hanging out for the world to see, which is, again, completely inaccurate,” she said. “As soon as my daughter unlatches, I put it away immediately because I don’t want people seeing my breast. The only person I want seeing my breast is my husband.”Carrie Stoddard Salisbury, the Exponent II blogger who exposed the controversy, said on “Mormon Land” that hundreds of women have agreed to write letters to the faith’s top female leaders calling for a consistent, female-friendly policy on breastfeeding.
August 01, 2018
This week, Utahns are celebrating the 1847 arrival of Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.By all accounts, the Mormon migration from Illinois to the Great Basin was a monumental journey, one that helped shape the LDS Church and the American West.But, as with many historic events, the truth about the trek can get twisted and turned through the years. Did Brigham Young, for instance, really say “this is the right place”? Did sea gulls save crops from marauding bands of crickets? Did no handcart pioneer ever leave the faith?In this special Pioneer Day edition of “Mormon Land,” LDS historian Ardis Parshall helps separate the fact from the fiction.
July 23, 2018
The LDS Foundation recently made a historic contribution of $25,000 to Affirmation. That sum may not be a big amount, but symbolically it is huge.It marks the first significant collaboration between the Mormon church and the independent LGBTQ support group.President Carson Tueller and Executive Director John Gustav-Wrathall discuss that donation, the resulting fallout, their group’s diverse membership and whether Affirmation is getting too cozy with the LDS Church in the latest edition of “Mormon Land.”
July 18, 2018
Art expresses and evokes deep human emotions, which makes it intimately connected to spirituality. It makes sense, then, for LDS artists to explore their faith through their creativity. In 2017, such links prompted a group of Latter-day Saints in New York City to launch the Mormon Arts Center Festival, which LDS author Terryl Givens called "a seminal event in Mormonism's coming of age artistically."A year later, the festival has grown larger and even more international, says one of the organizers, Richard L. Bushman, the famed Mormon scholar and emeritus history professor at Columbia. Before the festival gets underway on June 28, Bushman explains why a rigorous look at Mormon arts is crucial to the Utah-based faith.
June 27, 2018
For years, a standard Mormon refrain has been “give us a new hymnbook.” Well, the pleadings from that chorus have been answered.The LDS Church has announced that it is developing a new hymnal for use by Mormons across the globe along with a new songbook for children.So which hymns should stay? Which should go? And which new ones should be added?Writer Kristine Haglund, a former editor of Dialogue and a self-professed “serious amateur” singer and musician, discusses those questions and the vital role music plays in LDS worship services in the latest edition of “Mormon Land.”
June 20, 2018
Islam and Mormonism share some religious traditions. Both have histories rooted in a prophet. Both tout modesty and family values. And both embrace fasting and shun alcohol.As we approach the end of Ramadan, we explore those Muslim and Mormon ties with Shuaib Din, imam at the Utah Islamic Center, and Kristen Ullrich Hodges, a Latter-day Saint who last year organized an iftar, or break-the-fast meal, for her LDS and Muslim neighbors on the latest edition of “Mormon Land.”
June 12, 2018
On the latest episode of “Mormon Land,” University of Utah professor Paul Reeve offers insight on where the LDS Church's ban on giving black men and boys the priesthood and black women and girls entrance into temples originated.
June 06, 2018
In the latest episode of “Mormon Land,” Cathy Stokes describes her conversion to Mormonism, what it means to be a black Latter-day Saint and what's next for the church after it celebrates its 1978 decision to end a centurylong ban on black men and boys being ordained, and on black women being allowed in Mormon temples.
May 31, 2018
In 2015, the LDS Church issued a short essay matter-of-factly affirming its belief in a Heavenly Mother. Some argue whole books should be written about her. And that’s precisely what Rachel Hunt Steenblik did with her volume “Mother’s Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother.” She discussed her writings and research on the latest “Mormon Land” podcast.
May 24, 2018
This breakup is sure to have a profound impact not only on the faith — which was Scouting’s largest chartering sponsor, especially in Utah and the Intermountain West — but also on the longtime youth organization itself.How much smaller will Scouting get? Will LDS boys and girls stick with or join the program? How much will it cost? What happens to all those camps? Will Scouting even survive?Mark Griffin, a Scout executive with the Great Salt Lake Council, answers those question and more on this week’s “Mormon Land.”
May 17, 2018
They decide which Mormon missionaries should be teamed up together. They make sure the young proselytizers stay healthy and safe. They shepherd these eager elders and sisters through any faith, physical or emotional crisis. In the end, LDS mission presidents can rank among the most influential church leaders in individual lives.This week on “Mormon Land” — and in the wake of recent revelations about misconduct by a couple of former mission presidents — Jim and Jeanne Jardine, who oversaw the California Sacramento Mission from 2008 to 2011, discuss the roles of LDS mission presidents.
May 09, 2018
In her 2014 book, “Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact,” Neylan McBaine examined the roles of Mormon women in their congregations and suggested paths toward more gender equity within the global faith.Why not, for instance, have teenage girls hold the microphone at testimony meetings? How about letting young women take part in what was then called visiting teaching? Why shouldn’t mothers be allowed to hold their infants during formal baby blessings at church? And why aren’t husband-and-wife teams who oversee LDS missions co-presidents?Well, some changes have occurred since her book’s release. Lots of others, McBaine says, are needed. Hear her thoughts on feminism, Ordain Women, the Mormon #MeToo moment and more in the latest edition of “Mormon Land.”
May 02, 2018
On the latest installment of “Mormon Land,” Clinical social worker and therapist Marybeth Raynes discusses the relationship between apologies and forgiveness — both of which were discussed at the latest General Conference.
April 18, 2018
On this episode of “Mormon Land,” independent demographer Matt Martinich discusses how the LDS Church is faring in the countries Mormon President Russell M. Nelson plans to visit on his international trip.
April 12, 2018
In the latest edition of ‘Mormon Land,’ historian Matthew Bowman reflects of the changes announced at the most recent Mormon General Conference.
April 06, 2018
In the latest episode of “Mormon Land, ” LDS relationship and sexuality counselor Jennifer Finlayson-Fife discusses the repercussions of the latest sexual abuse scandal to hit the Mormon church.
March 28, 2018
LDS professor Andrea Radke-Moss discusses her own experience with raising a young son and daughter to overcome gender stereotypes — especially within the LDS Church.
March 14, 2018
In this edition of “Mormon Land,” author, scholar, researcher and senior columnist for Religion News Service Jana Riess discusses a massive survey she did of current and former Mormons.
March 07, 2018
In this edition of ‘Mormon Land,’ BYU biology professor Steven Peck discusses why all Mormons should believe in evolution.
February 28, 2018
One of the nation's most respected legal scholars, former Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham talks about her Mormon faith, the intersection of law and religion, and her relationship with LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks. The Salt Lake Tribune's Peggy Fletcher Stack and David Noyce host.
February 23, 2018
Mormon bishops and the counsel they give spouses in abusive marriages are in the news.What should — or should not — these lay leaders say and do in these confidential conversations?David Cook, a former LDS bishop, stake president and area Seventy, and Alice Faulkner Burch, president of the all-female Relief Society for the Genesis Group of black Mormons, discuss those questions and more in the latest edition of “Mormon Land.” Listen here.
February 14, 2018
If any gay man and a straight woman could make a marriage work, Josh and Lolly Weed could. But after 15 years, the two are divorcing. In this edition of “Mormon Land,” Josh and Lolly Weed discuss their divorce and how it will affect their family dynamics and their relationship with the LDS Church.
January 31, 2018
Drawing inspiration from Martin Luther's action 500 years ago, Mormon blogger Liz Layton Johnson recently wrote 95 ways to improve her church. Johnson joined Tribune senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce to talk about her wide-ranging, practical ideas.
January 26, 2018
Mormon historian Ardis Parshall sits down with The Tribune's Managing Editor Dave Noyce and Senior Religion Reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack to discuss the woman's role in the Mormon church and the new First Presidency.
January 19, 2018
For 22 years, Don Harwell served as branch president of the Genesis Group, a support group for black Mormons. Don and his wife Jerri Harwell visit with Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce about the group, race in the church and President Monson's special relationship with Genesis.
January 15, 2018
What is the relationship between faith and doubt? Author Adam S. Miller describes his take on reconciling personal belief with LDS Church doctrine in a new edition of his book, "Letters to a Young Mormon." He talks with Salt Lake Tribune senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce.
January 11, 2018
How will LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson be remembered? Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce discuss Monson's 50-year imprint on the faith with Henderson State University history professor Matthew Bowman, author of "The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith."
January 03, 2018
While reporting in Hong Kong, Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack discovered a Mormon congregation that only serves domestic workers. Stack spoke about the group with a woman known as Ling Ling, a former Relief Society president of the Everyday Branch.
December 23, 2017
BYU religion professor Eric Huntsman describes Mormon history, cultural tradition and his personal observance of Christmas with Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce.
December 19, 2017
How much does a Mormon bishop need to know about a person's sexual behavior during a worthiness interview? Former LDS bishop Richard Ostler and therapist Julie de Azevedo Hanks discuss the issue with Salt Lake Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce.
December 12, 2017
President Donald Trump plans to visit with Mormon Church leaders when he comes to Utah on Monday. Morgan Lyon Cotti, deputy director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, and BYU political science professor Kelly Patterson join Salt Lake Tribune senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce to talk about LDS encounters with U.S. presidents and why many Utah Mormons still like Trump.
December 02, 2017
Jim McConkie, co-founder of the Refugee Justice League which provides pro bono legal help to Utah refugees, explains how his Mormon faith influenced this effort to Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce.
November 28, 2017
Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack talks about Mormon life, practices and cultural influences in Indonesia, Vietnam and other southeast Asia sites she recently visited.
November 20, 2017
Authors Fiona and Terryl Givens argue much of contemporary LDS thought has been contaminated by Protestant rhetoric and is inconsistent with the theology articulated by Mormon founder Joseph Smith's original vision. They discuss their new book "The Christ Who Heals" with Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce.
November 14, 2017
Salt Lake Tribune religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack interviews Lewis Hassell, an LDS mission president based in Hanoi, Vietnam.
November 06, 2017
Salt Lake Tribune humor columnist Robert Kirby says he lied in order to serve a Mormon mission years ago. Now he offers his take on the LDS Church's new set of questions for prospective missionaries.
October 30, 2017
Historian D. Michael Quinn discusses money and finances throughout Mormon Church history and theology with Salt Lake Tribune editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce and managing editor David Noyce.
October 25, 2017
Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce talk with Laurie Lee Hall about her transition from a former stake president and LDS temple architect to a transgender woman.
October 17, 2017
Mormon Church-owned Brigham Young University recently changed its policy to allow Coke to be sold on campus. Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack and managing editor David Noyce talk about the reversal and the Mormon health code called the Word of Wisdom with Philip Barlow, Arrington Chair of Mormon Studies and a Religious Studies professor at Utah State University.
October 09, 2017
Salt Lake Tribune senior religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack talks about her fascinating career, from encounters with Mormon prophets to the Dalai Lama. Recorded before a live audience at the City Library in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 06, 2017
Blogger Steve Evans of By Common Consent and Darius Gray, former president of Genesis Group, join Salt Lake Tribune managing editor David Noyce and senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack to discuss October 2017 General Conference.
October 04, 2017
Tom Christofferson describes his life as a gay man, his complicated relationship with the LDS Church and the unwavering love of his parents and brothers in his new book, "That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon's Perspective on Faith and Family."Each week, Mormon Land explores the contours and complexities of LDS News. Award-winning Salt Lake Tribune religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack, managing editor David Noyce and editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce host.
September 24, 2017