Latest from Mormon Land: BYU’s new hires face a new hurdle, and why we’re talking about 1950

Church schools begin requiring temple recommends of employees, and family history buffs eagerly anticipate the release of records from a 72-year-old census.

These are excerpts from The Salt Lake Tribune’s free Mormon Land newsletter, a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Want this newsletter with additional items in your inbox? Subscribe here. You also can support Mormon Land with a donation at Patreon.com/mormonland, where you can access transcripts of our “Mormon Land” podcasts.

A new CES job requirement

Prospective new hires at Brigham Young University or any church school, seminary or institute — whether seeking work as a teacher, coach, cook, counselor or custodian — can expect a question that would be unexpected in virtually any other job interview:

Do you have a temple recommend?

The Church Educational System has announced that all of its new Latter-day Saint employees will be required to “hold and be worthy to hold” such a recommend, a card attesting to their devotion to certain principles and practices, including the payment of tithing and adherence to the faith’s Word of Wisdom health code.

“The CES institutions are unique among educational institutions. Central to the effort of CES is our mission to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, in the Church of Jesus Christ and in their communities,” general authority Seventy Clark G. Gilbert, the faith’s commissioner of education, said in a news release. “No institutional decision is more important to us than the selection of employees, including faculty, as it has the greatest potential to impact our students.”

Current employees and nonmembers need not have a recommend, but they “must continue to meet existing employment and ecclesiastical standards.”

A By Common Consent guest blogger, identified as John S., is not thrilled with the new rule.

“The process of getting a temple recommend, and going to the temple, should be part of a pastoral relationship between a minister and a congregant,” the writer states. “It was never designed to be an employment evaluation.”

A return to 1950

(U.S. Census Bureau) Family reading a census record, circa 1950.

There’s a new genealogical mountain to climb, and members are being asked to help reach the summit.

FamilySearch International, the faith’s genealogical arm, is inviting volunteers to help make the soon-to-be-released 1950 U.S. census searchable online.

“The 1950 census includes the records of 40 million people born during this era of baby boomers,” a news release notes, a time that “ushered in the civil rights movement, rock ‘n’ roll, suburban living and a wave of innovations.”

Digital images of some 150 million records are set to be released April 1. To volunteer and stay up to date on this massive undertaking, subscribe to FamilySearch.org/1950census.

This week’s podcast: The ‘last Mormon liberal’

(Courtesy) Kristine Haglund's new book about the work of Latter-day Saint essayist Eugene England.

Eugene England, a popular BYU professor who died 20 years ago, probably is best known as the founder of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

In her new book, “Eugene England: A Mormon Liberal,” author Kristine Haglund explores the scholar’s work and thought as one of the most influential intellectuals in the modern church.

On this week’s show, Haglund examines England’s important contributions to Mormonism, how he was both liberal and conservative, his embrace of church founder Joseph Smith and successor Brigham Young, his friendships and fights with Latter-day Saint apostles, his political views, his theological musings and more.

Listen here.

From The Tribune

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Robin Scott Jensen, co-editor of a new volume of the Joseph Smith Papers that focuses on the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, holds a page from the original manuscript in the Church History Library on Jan. 19, 2022.

• You could call it saving the best for last as the final volume in the “Revelations and Translations” series of the groundbreaking Joseph Smith Papers project delivers a real gem: photographs of the 232 pages left from the original Book of Mormon manuscript.

“It’s exciting to thumb through the manuscript to see how carefully it is written and how few corrections there are,” Latter-day Saint historian Grant Hardy says, “and to be that close to the core revelation of Mormonism.”

Read the story.

• Latinas, who do “much of the day-to-day service,” are vital to the faith’s future.

So says anthropologist Brittany Romanello, who has pored over membership data and conducted scores on interviews about this overlooked and underappreciated group of Latter-day Saints.

Read the story.

• “I will shew thee my faith by my works,” proclaims James in the New Testament.

That’s precisely what these Latter-day Saints have done, turning their ideas into idealism as they battle hunger, disease, racism, environmental abuses and more around the globe.

Read the story.

Kris Irvin was a quirky queer Latter-day Saint with an incomparable Twitter presence, a member who challenged the faith to be more accepting and showed up at church every Sunday wearing a bowtie in the colors of the transgender flag and a lapel covered with rainbow pins.

“I’m there to show queer LDS kids that it’s possible to be trans and be LDS,” said Irvin, who died Jan. 23 at age 35. “Even when things are hard and even when people are transphobic or negative or judgmental, this is one reason why I’m still there.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kris Irvin, shown in 2019, died last month at age 35.

Read the story.

• Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess explores the positives and negatives that come from a study of interactions between LGBTQ Latter-day Saints and their local lay leaders.

Read the column.

Temple updates

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Rendering of the Lindon Utah Temple.

• A by-invitation-only groundbreaking will be held April 23 for the Lindon Temple, the church announced this week.

The double-spired, three-story, 81,000-square-foot structure is one of 28 existing or planned temples in Utah (seven of them in Utah County).

• A week later, on April 30, a groundbreaking will launch work on the Farmington Temple.

The single-spired, single-story, 25,000-square-foot edifice will be New Mexico’s second temple.

• The Oz-like Washington, D.C., Temple — which has been undergoing major renovations since March 2018 — now will be rededicated Aug.14, the governing First Presidency announced last week.

The date has been pushed back so that the public open house, which begins April 28, can be extended beyond June 4 “as needed.”

Demand for viewing inside the revamped 160,000-square-foot edifice, which many say reminds them of the Emerald City from the “Wizard of Oz,” has proved extremely popular.

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