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 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 additional eco-friendly policies from the faith.
• His excitement over the dynamic changes taking place under church President Russell M. Nelson.