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.
Your conference wish list
General Conference is a month away. Please share with us your “dream headlines” you’d like to see coming out of the two-day gathering.
They can be plausible or absurd, serious or silly, aspirational or inspirational.
Here, we’ll help get this started. Try these on for size:
• 5% tithing is enough for now, says President Nelson.
• OK, sisters, now you too can go on missions at 18.
• Forget Missouri, says First Presidency, let’s gather in Hawaii.
• Church reveals new details about Heavenly Mother.
• Latter-day Saints to lead global fight against climate change.
• President Nelson gives Tribune a pass on “Mormon Land” name.
OK, surely you all can do better. Give it a go.
Historian Kate Holbrook’s legacy lives on
Scholar Kate Holbrook helped nurture Latter-day Saint women and elevate their voices in life — and will continue to do so in death.
The beloved historian, who died Aug. 20 at age 50, and her family have set up an endowed scholarship fund to ensure her legacy lives on.
“It was Kate’s wish as she departed mortality,” her website states, “that these funds serve to help the women of the church to flourish.”
The scholarships at BYU will go to primary caregivers of young children pursuing graduate work in the humanities.
“Kate wanted her work to be trailblazing, but even more she wanted to make it easier for future generations of trailblazers to follow and expand on her work as they move in new and exciting directions at the intersection of the Latter-day Saints and the humanities,” her brother-in-law Peter Conti-Brown wrote in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune. “She wanted to target primary caregivers to children because she didn’t want parents to have to choose between having a rich family life and having an abundant intellectual and professional life.”
Go here to donate.
No more tithing?
Turns out, there was a time when the church nearly shelved tithing.
It came during Brigham Young’s tenure after the federal government determined that the Utah-based faith had to pay taxes on the contributions.
To forestall having to cover that tab, “church leaders instructed bishops to stop collecting tithing,” tax law professor Samuel Brunson explained in a recent “From the Desk” post. “From the records I’ve read, they hadn’t figured out what to replace it with, but they were ready to stop a practice that the Lord called a ‘standing law unto them forever.’”
The church never ended up forking over the assessment, Brunson noted, when a new federal administrator determined tithes were tax-exempt “voluntary donations.”
Tithing has stuck ever since. Read Brunson’s scholarly article “‘To Omit Paying Tithing’: Brigham Young and the First Federal Income Tax.”
The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: BYU’s rough ride
• Brigham Young University has found itself at the center of a number of unwelcome headlines in recent days surrounding topics ranging from race and LGBTQ issues to religious freedom. Patrick Mason, a BYU alum and chair of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, and LaShawn Williams, a Duke graduate and faculty member in social work at Salt Lake Community College, discuss those developments, how they have affected the school’s reputation, and what they may portend for the faith’s flagship university.
From The Tribune
• At a time when the church is loudly defending the right to clergy confidentiality for suspected child abusers, it is quietly requiring BYU’s new hires to give up theirs. See also columnist Gordon Monson’s commentary.
• A Utah senator plans to seek legislation requiring background checks for all church leaders and volunteers who work with children and youths.
• BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe urged fans to “treat everybody with respect” after a visiting Duke University volleyball player reported enduring a barrage of racist slurs in a match with the Cougars the previous night at Smith Fieldhouse. An investigation was continuing.
• Church President Russell M. Nelson offered the dedicatory prayer Saturday at a groundbreaking for the Ephraim Temple, noting his mother was born in the small central Utah city and that his father was born in nearby Manti. Gov. Spencer Cox also attended the ceremony.
• Removing religion’s “God-given” right to confessional confidentiality for clergy may do more to harm than help child abuse victims, warns a former bishop and Utah state senator.
• BYU removed LGBTQ resource pamphlets from welcome bags that were to go to new students at the Provo campus.
• The portfolio of the church’s investment arm lost more than $10 billion during the first half of this year as inflation and rising interest rates hammered stock markets.
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