This week in Mormon Land: Brazilian apostle’s big day, gambling cash pays off for pioneer move, Dan Reynolds foresees greater LDS-LGBTQ alliance

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Ulisses Soares, of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, meets with Brazilian Latter-day Saint youths, June 1, 2019, during a devotional on the eve of the dedication of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.

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 this newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

This week’s podcast: What about abortion?

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

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 “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. Listen here.

Big day for Brazil and its native apostle

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Rosana, exit the Fortaleza Brazil Temple to participate in the traditional cornerstone ceremony June 2, 2019.

There were the usual white suits, cornerstone ceremony and youth devotional, but for Ulisses Soares, this temple dedication was different. It was personal.

The Latter-day Saint apostle was dedicating the Fortaleza Temple in his native Brazil.

Members of the governing First Presidency “could have sent any other apostle, but they gave me the opportunity,” the 60-year-old Soares, the faith’s first Latin American apostle, said in a news release. “It means a lot. It is my own country, my own language and my own people.”

The temple, Brazil’s seventh, “touches my heart profoundly,” Soares added, “because I see the hand of the Lord blessing our country.”

Four more temples are in the works in the South American nation, home to nearly 1.4 million Latter-day Saints, the most of any country after the U.S. and Mexico.

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The baptistry in the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.

Pioneer grave to be moved

Funding to help move the Nebraska grave of a famed Mormon pioneer is in the cards.

Thanks to keno cash, county commissioners have approved tapping $2,100 toward relocating the remains of Rebecca Winters, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports.

“The new site at Legacy of the Plains Museum was selected by the Winters family,” Brenda Leisy, director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau, told the newspaper. “That’s where they want her to be relocated.”

Winters died of cholera near present-day Scottsbluff in 1852. Her current burial site, a popular landmark along the historic Mormon Trail, is near railroad tracks and a wastewater treatment plant.

A missionary reflects

Honor and success. Success and honor. Those terms often pop up when talking about Latter-day Saint missionaries.

Jaxon Washburn, who returned in May on an “emotional health release” from his mission in Armenia after eight months, shares his views on those topics in a recent By Common Consent post.

“I realize that my release wasn’t a dishonorable one, but all too often, missionaries have been inclined to believe that anything short of a normal full-term mission constitutes something less-than honorable,” he writes. “ … Though my return has been deemed an honorable one by my community, what I really value at the end of the day is the confidence I have in the success of the service I rendered. I didn’t baptize anyone on my mission and I served for a shorter period than I anticipated, but I know that I grew, I loved, and I served with all that I had. Ultimately, that knowledge has brought comfort, peace, and fulfillment as real as any that I could have obtained after a full two years.”

MTC accuser seeks new attorneys

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File) In this April 5, 2018, file photo plaintiff McKenna Denson speaks with reporters during a news conference in Salt Lake City.

The woman who accused the then-president of Provo’s Missionary Training Center of raping her 35 years ago is looking for new lawyers to take up her lawsuit against the LDS Church.

McKenna Denson has three weeks to find new attorneys after a federal judge allowed her previous counsel to withdraw from the case.

Denson alleges Joseph L. Bishop, who now lives in the Phoenix area, of raping her in 1984 at the faith’s flagship MTC when he was president there.

Bishop denied the allegations, and last year was dismissed as a defendant. A fraud assertion alleging a cover-up remains pending against the church.

This is CNN

(Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune) In this August 26, 2017, file photo, Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds performs at the LoveLoud Festival at Utah Valley University in Provo, Utah.

The CNN series “United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell” recently turned its lenses on the church’s up-and-down relationship with the LGBTQ community.

The “Out and Proud Salt Lake” episode is “an informative, touching, funny and heartfelt look at what it’s like to be LGBTQ in the city,” Salt Lake Tribune critic Scott D. Pierce writes. “ … The host allows his guests to express their feelings about Latter-day Saint policies, and he isn’t reluctant to express his own. But he defends the church in ways you don’t often see on TV.”

Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds — a Latter-day Saint and founder of the LoveLoud music festival — tells Bell that the church’s belief in modern revelation has the faith “primed and ready” to fully embrace the LGBTQ community.

“There are a lot of Mormons already talking about this,” Reynolds says. “And when enough do, then the prophet really has to face it and go talk to God. And I have a sneaking suspicion that God believes in love.”

Quote of the week

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy, wave to the crowd at the close of the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 6, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

“I always knew I was going to marry in my 20s and have 10 children. I actually married in my mid-50s, and I’m younger than my husband’s eldest of his 10 children. … I’ve never given birth, and I’m a great-grandmother. I’m loving this.”

Wendy Nelson, wife of church President Russell M. Nelson, in a Church News video interview

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