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: Sam Young awaits his fate
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.
LoveLoud envisions roadshow
LoveLoud, the LGBTQ fundraising concert hatched and nurtured in Utah, is ready to leave the nest.
Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, a Latter-day Saint and the driving force behind LoveLoud, told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he hopes to stage the 2-year-old show — which debuted in Orem in 2017 and drew even larger crowds this year in Salt Lake City — in as many cities as possible.
“We’re already making phone calls trying to find headliners for next year,” Reynolds told the paper’s George Varga. “ … We have a strong desire to bringing this festival to places other than Salt Lake City. Because this isn’t just about Mormonism. This is about all orthodox religions. And there are many other places, not just in the United States, that desperately need this and to face the realities of religious guilt, high suicide rates and depression, and how they’re directly related to religious faith.”
Reynolds also said that, for now, he wants to work for change from within Mormonism on LGBTQ issues.
“I may change tomorrow,” he said. “But, today, I know I need to remain inside and speak and plead with the leaders of the church, and work with both sides as much as I can to try to bring people together.”
From Nauvoo to the world
In 1846, early Mormons turned their backs on their beloved Nauvoo Temple and marched forward toward a new future in the West.
Now, more than 172 years later, apostle Quentin L. Cook sat before the reincarnation of that Illinois edifice and urged today’s Latter-day Saints to look back and study the church’s past to gain a better understanding and appreciation of their faith in the present.
“I believe we will discover that even though times have changed, the same principles that helped the early church members overcome their trials of faith will be equally valuable for us today,” Cook told a crowd of 250-plus young adults assembled Sept. 9 near the Mississippi River in a face-to-face devotional that was broadcast across the globe.
The church leader invited his listeners to read the recently released “Saints: The Standard of Truth,” the first of four narrative volumes that will tell the church’s history from its humble beginnings to its current status as a worldwide religion of more than 16 million members.
Joined by church historians Kate Holbrook and Matt Grow, the trio answered questions from the young adults on various Mormon history topics including polygamy, the various accounts of church founder Joseph Smith’s “First Vision” and how he brought about the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon.
“The early church was really a church of young people. The converts were often in their teens or their 20s," Grow, director of publications in the church’s History Department, said in a news release. "And it was these people who built the church. So it's exciting to be able to talk to the young adults of the church about early Latter‑day Saint history because there's so much for young adults today to identify within that history and see their own mission and role.”
Holbrook pointed to the attention “Saints” gives to the vital roles women played in the faith’s founding and maturation.
“The way women have shaped the church, their stories, their experiences, their contributions matter,” she said, “and they're well represented in this new volume.”
An early review
Chad Nielsen gives “Saints” a thumbs up in a Times and Seasons blog post.
“I have to say that it is fantastic,” he writes of the first installment. “ … There are a lot of controversial issues ... but the book tackled most of them head-on.”
The Rx for fighting the pot proposal
The church stepped up its campaign against a Utah ballot initiative that would legalize medical marijuana, sending three high-level authorities to discuss the issue on KUER’s “Radio West” program.
• Card-carrying, temple-going members are free to push for the legalization of medical marijuana without fear of reprisal from church leaders.
• Same goes for Latter-day Saint physicians who recommend cannabis to patients.
• But members who use recreational marijuana, even in states or nations where it is legal, are violating the church’s Word of Wisdom health code.
The church has stated that it “does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy.” It opposes, however, the Utah ballot proposal, saying the measure needs more safeguards.
Rising hoops star scores a comeback
Mosiah MacDonald is back in the game.
The teenage Mormon basketball star, who lost his roster spot on an elite New Zealand team because Sunday practices were infringing on his Sabbath observances, has been invited to a selection camp next month for another national team.
"I was pretty happy," the 15-year-old told Stuff.com. "Even though I had setbacks I was still able to achieve what I was hoping for.”
Next up: ‘Next Mormons’
Good news for those eagerly awaiting the release of Jana Riess’ book about her groundbreaking Next Mormons survey: The type is set, the website is up, the cover is out, and the publication is … still six months away. Sorry.
But Riess, a senior columnist for Religion News Service, offered some more tidbits in a recent post. For example:
• Young Latter-day Saint adults “exhibit some of the most devotion to the scriptures of any generation.”
• They showed the “highest rates of home and visiting teaching.” Remember those programs?
• They are “almost equally likely to be Democrats as Republicans.”
• And most younger Mormon women report being “bothered” that they don’t hold the priesthood.
Look for “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church” in March.
An artist rendering of Idaho’s sixth Latter-day Saint temple, this one in Pocatello, has been released on the church’s newsroom website.
Meanwhile, public tours will begin Sept. 15 in Concepción, Chile, of the faith’s second temple in that South American country.
Construction of the Pocatello Temple is set to start in 2019, the release said, and will take two to three years to finish.
The Concepción Temple will be dedicated Oct. 28, the church announced.
Quote of the week
“We’re a global church, we’re a global organization, and yet we’re part of this community. This has to do with our community and our children.”
Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, on why the church is fighting Utah’s medicinal marijuana ballot proposal
Mormon Land is a weekly newsletter written by David Noyce and Peggy Fletcher Stack. Subscribe here.