Latest from Mormon Land: How many Latter-day Saints own guns? The answer may surprise you — or not.

Also: For Pride Month, revisit some of our past LGBTQ podcasts.

The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content, extended newsletters, podcast transcripts and more.

Who owns guns?

Amid all the talk about firearms and gun violence in the wake of recent mass shootings, a question springs to mind: How many Latter-day Saint households in the U.S. have guns?

Turns out, nearly half.

That answer comes courtesy of Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University, who tweeted the results of a 2020 Cooperative Election Study.

That survey found 47% of Mormon households across the nation have a gun, the second highest of any faith group studied, behind only white evangelicals at 49%.

The third highest were mainline Protestants at 40% and white Catholics at 36%.

The lowest religious group to have guns in their homes, according to the survey, were Hindus at 7%, Jews at 19% and Muslims at 23%.

Nearly a third (31%) of atheist households reported having a firearm.

Burge conceded that asking about gun ownership on surveys can be “tricky,” while noting that in “no [faith] tradition does household gun ownership rise [above] 50%.”

Though a couple, including Latter-day Saints, come close.

LDS and LGBTQ on our podcast

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Demonstrators at a rally about BYU's changing position on “romantic behavior” by same-sex couples gather in front of the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Starting with our debut podcast — an interview with Tom Christofferson, a prominent gay Latter-day Saint — and continuing for the next five years, “Mormon Land” has paid special attention to LGBTQ issues within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Whether examining the 2015 exclusion policy and its 2019 reversal; Honor Code rules at Brigham Young University and their effects on campus; pronouncements from the pulpit by top church leaders and the fallout in the pews; or heartfelt personal journeys, including those of a transgender former stake president who used to design temples and the openly gay son of a current apostle, the “Mormon Land” podcast has provided conversation, context, commentary and compassion on a topic of vital interest in the contemporary church.

During Pride Month, we invite you to tune in again to these podcasts, see how conditions were then and how they may have evolved (or not), and what the future may hold.

We also invite you to support our ongoing coverage of the intersection of LGBTQ and LDS issues by joining us on Patreon.

This week’s podcast: Are guns a moral issue?

Though church President Russell M. Nelson has made at least one comment suggesting that gun laws are too lax, and apostles David A. Bednar and Jeffrey R. Holland have lamented school shootings, the Utah-based faith has not made any official statements about the recent rampages specifically or gun violence generally.

Is it a moral issue for Latter-day Saints? Should it be? What does their theology have to say about the issue?

Discussing those questions and more on this week’s show are Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University and the author or editor of several books, including “Mormonism and Violence: The Battles of Zion,” and “Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict,” and Janiece Johnson, historian of American religion and the author of books on Latter-day Saint women and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, including the forthcoming “American Punishment: The Mountain Meadows Massacre and Mormon Transgressions.”

Listen here.

A novel look at Emma Smith

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A new novel explores the life of times of Emma Smith, wife of church founder Joseph Smith.

Last year brought us “First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith,” church historian Jennifer Reeder’s deep dive into the marvels, mysteries and myths of Mormonism’s first first lady.

This year, we have “The Prophet’s Wife,” Libbie Grant’s piece of historical fiction exploring the life and times of church founder Joseph Smith’s beloved bride.

“While the Mormon religion finds its feet and runs beyond the grasp of its founder, Emma struggles to maintain her place in Joseph’s heart — and in the religion that has become her world,” states the Amazon description of the 480-page novel. “...For Emma, things take a more personal toll as Joseph brings in a new wife — a woman whom Emma considers a sister.”

Grant knows the Latter-day Saint world. Though no longer a practicing member, she was raised in the faith, according to the Amazon blurb, and has roots in the religion’s culture.

The New York Times touts her book in its summer reading roundup, saying it “probes the emotional maelstrom that engulfs this guileless woman as she watches her husband evolve from a charismatic small-town preacher into the embattled leader” of a rapidly expanding religion.

Even with the pain of polygamy, the newspaper notes, Emma realizes it’s “too late to change course. Joseph is ‘a fixture of her life. She wouldn’t have known who she was without him.’”

So, if you read “First” first, you may want to read this book second.

From The Tribune

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Latter-day Saint apostle David A. Bednar addresses members of the National Press Club at a luncheon in Washington on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

• President Russell M. Nelson is on the record as having preached that life begins at conception. So if Roe v. Wade is overturned, might the church’s abortion policy change?

Read the story.

• For the first time in more than two decades, a top Latter-day Saint authority addressed the National Press Club. In his appearance last week, apostle David Bednar covered topics ranging from declining membership growth, same-sex marriage and church wealth to female leadership, the “Mormon” moniker and “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

Read the story.

• The Latter-day Saint Center for the Arts has closed its high-profile gallery near the Manhattan Temple in New York City, but it soon will showcase a diverse performance and exhibition near the church’s iconic temple in downtown Salt Lake City.

Read the story.

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