Latest from Mormon Land: Why Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds is not raising his kids LDS

Also: Church lobbies for anti-bias bill and grading the faith’s response to crises.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dan Reynolds talks to the crowd at the beginning of the LoveLoud Festival in 2019. The Imagine Dragons' singer, who is a Latter-day Saint, says he is not raising his four children in that faith.

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Dan Reynolds: ‘I still claim Mormonism’

With the recently announced return of Dan Reynolds’ LoveLoud music festival — benefiting LGBTQ youths — the Imagine Dragons frontman is again in the news and speaking about his relationship with his longtime faith.

The rock star told Yahoo Entertainment he still identifies as Mormon, at least culturally.

“But I’m not raising my [four] kids Mormon,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of things that I disagree with, that I think is hurting our kids. And one of those things is this [LGBTQ] issue, which is anyone ever telling our youth that they are anything but perfect, and that loving who they love is wrong in some way, or that there’s some God that’s judging that. Because there is no ounce of truth to that.”

Reynolds explained that the rest of his family remains rooted in the church.

“All my family — I have seven brothers, one sister, tons of cousins. There’s 40-plus grandkids. They’re all Mormon, every one of them practicing Mormons, in fact,” he said. “I’m the only one, who, I would say, is a nonpracticing Mormon. I still claim Mormonism because it’s my culture, right? It’s my people.”

Church pushes nondiscrimination bill in Arizona

(Ross D. Franklin | AP) The Arizona Capitol in Phoenix in 2020. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is backing the Equality and Fairness for All Arizonans Act.

The church amped up its push for a bipartisan, multifaith nondiscrimination bill in Arizona that, while not “perfect,” seeks to “resolve conflicts between LGBTQ and religious rights in a balanced and respectful way.”

The Equality and Fairness for All Arizonans Act is the “result of good-faith efforts to work together in a spirit of mutual respect and accommodation to address issues that matter to every citizen in Arizona,” area Seventy Jonathan S. Schmitt wrote last week to state House Speaker Rusty Bowers. “Everyone should have a fair opportunity to obtain a job, a place to live, and public services.”

The Salt Lake City-based faith endorsed a similar nondiscrimination effort in neighboring Utah in 2015 that shielded LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in housing and employment while safeguarding some religious liberties.

The measure represented a compromise approach that apostle Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, advocated in a landmark November speech at the University of Virginia.

“While the [Utah] law gave neither side all that it sought,” Oaks said, “its reconciliations did grant both sides significant benefits — a win-win outcome — that could not have been obtained without the balancing of interests made possible by the dynamics of the legislative process.”

The church also has voiced support for the federal Fairness for All Act, which a number of prominent LGBTQ and civil rights groups oppose, arguing it would erode protections for women and people of color, while providing only substandard safeguards for LGBTQ people. They instead back the House-passed Equality Act.

The church’s crisis response

When tough times hit, many believers (Latter-day Saints included) turn to their faith to help see them through.

So how did the church answer the bell in recent years when troubles arose on a national, even international, scale?

Wheat & Tares blogger Dave B. took a stab at that question, assigning grades to the church’s response to three headline-dominating events:

• COVID-19, B-plus: “It waited a few weeks before taking action (so it’s not an A),” the blogger writes, “but then it took the almost unimaginable steps of (1) bringing most overseas missionaries back to their home countries, and (2) canceling in-person church for units all over the world.”

Top church leaders also modeled and advocated the necessity and efficacy of the vaccines. “Producing a safe, effective vaccine in less than a year,” church President Russell M. Nelson wrote on Facebook in January 2021, “is nothing short of miraculous.”

• 2020 U.S. election, C-minus: Church leaders “delayed the standard congratulatory letter or news release to the winning candidate Joe Biden for weeks and weeks, strengthening (in the minds of Republican-leaning members) the idea that Trump didn’t really lose,” Dave B. states. “… The LDS leadership was largely silent as most of those LDS Republicans got sucked into believing Trump’s big lie.”

The church did warn members against buying into “baseless conspiracy theories” in its updated General Handbook, and Dallin Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, counseled Americans to heed the Constitution above any political party or candidate. Even before the ballots were cast and counted, he urged voters to peacefully accept election results.

• Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, A-minus: “This is just the kind of humanitarian crisis that the church is equipped to respond to,” Dave B. writes. The Utah-based faith recently gave $4 million to two global relief agencies, for instance, to help Ukrainians — those remaining in the war-scarred country and those fleeing it.

From The Tribune

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hikers light the "Y" with flashlights in the colors of the transgender flag near BYU's Provo campus on Saturday, March 19, 2022.

• The late scholar D. Michael Quinn, who died last year, had an unwavering commitment to an honest telling of Mormon history. We explore his life and legacy on this week’s “Mormon Land.”

Listen to the podcast.

• Retired appellate federal Judge Thomas Griffith, Latter-day Saint convert, introduced his former colleague, Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, before the Senate Judiciary Committee and lamented the “dangerous hyperpartisanship” that has invaded debates about a “highly qualified jurist.”

Read the story.

• Deploying the colors of a transgender pride flag, LGBTQ+ allies lit up BYU’s iconic mountainside “Y” in pink, blue and white last week in apparent defiance of a school edict against such demonstrations.

Read the story.

• There was a time that Latter-day Saint-dominated Utah was at the forefront in the push for women’s rights and equality — and that time was in the 19th and early 20th century. Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess explores why that no longer is the case.

Read her column.

• Mormon Women for Ethical Government has joined with the League of Women Voters and others in a lawsuit alleging that the Utah Legislature’s newly drawn congressional boundaries were illegally gerrymandered.

“Our work at MWEG is dedicated to the idea that each of us has both the right and the responsibility to participate in government,” Wendy Dennehy, MWEG’s senior director of advocacy, voting rights and ethics, said in a news release. “To do that, we need our votes to matter. Everything flows from that. We hope this litigation will make it possible for all Utahns to be able to cast votes that matter.”

Read the story.

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