Latest from Mormon Land: Your dream General Conference headlines; are more anti-BYU boycotts coming?

Another push for LGBTQ-religious liberty protections — this time in Florida.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) President Russel M. Nelson arrives for the morning session of General Conference on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

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Generally speaking

General Conference, it seems, is the stuff dreams are made of.

Our Mormon Land readers had no trouble crafting and sharing “dream headlines” they’d like to see emerge from next month’s gathering.

As expected, they ranged from silly to sober, hopeful to woeful and everything in between. We received more than 340 responses, and we’ll be trotting them out between now and the opening conference session on Oct. 1.

Here is the first batch. See what you think:

— New two-member First Presidency announced: Kirton & McConkie.

— Conference Center to be repurposed for storage of gold bars.

— Apostles to retire at 80.

— Garments are only to be worn in the temple.

— Biden won the election; everyone stop lying about it.

— If you plan to vote for Donald Trump becomes a temple question. If yes, no recommend.

— We’re building a temple in Jerusalem.

— Salt Lake Temple renovations will now include solar panels.

— Counselors in bishoprics to include women for the first time.

— Women priesthood leaders, sisters called to Quorum of the Twelve.

— Coffee or tea? Church relaxes Word of Wisdom hot beverage stance to ‘in moderation.’

— LDS health law updated — Coffee is in; sodas are out (except root beer).

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

— Church asks for your prayers in how to bring gays and lesbians back into the fold.

— Monument announced to honor church’s first lady, Fanny Alger.

— BYU rescinds waiver of clergy confidentiality, vows to stop mistrusting faculty.

— ‘We apologize.’

— ‘I would like to apologize to the LGBTQ+ community, Oaks says in historic talk.

— A full disclosure of how tithing money is spent. Annual budgets and holdings are made public to all members via church website.

— Real estate holdings revealed. Church owns everything now.

— Church builds homeless centers in several major world cities.

— Abuse hotline moved to social services, hosted by social workers; church ends hotline relationship with lawyers.

— ‘It’s all been said before,’ Nelson declares. ‘Let’s just party.’

— Church reconfigures all buildings for ‘drive-up’ tithing.

— ‘Multilevel Mormonism’ plan revealed. Members to receive back 2% of future convert tithes.

— Donny Osmond called to serve in the Seventy because ‘any dream will do.’

— Church adds family proclamation to its standard works.

— Nelson says changing the Book of Mormon’s name to the New American Testament is a victory for Jesus.

— First gay apostle is announced.

— Church to donate half of Ensign Peak fund to help end world poverty.

— Other charitable group donations accepted as tithing.

— Women able to heal and bless as they were at the founding of the church.

— Latest revelation: No more cleaning chapel toilets is necessary.

Speaking of conference

In-person attendance for the Oct. 1 and 2 sessions again will be limited in downtown Salt Lake City’s Conference Center, according to a news release, due to the construction on and around Temple Square.

How limited? That has yet to be announced. In April, tickets were capped at 10,000 per session, or about half-capacity.

In addition, the Saturday night meeting will be a general session.

Back to the future with anti-BYU stances?

(Gary McCullough | AP) South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, shown in 2020, has postponed her team's series with BYU.

The decision by defending NCAA champion South Carolina to cancel its home-and-home women’s basketball series with Brigham Young University after reports of a racist outburst at a recent BYU volleyball game harks back to previous sporting protests against the Provo school.

Most notably, perhaps, a football game 53 years ago.

Fourteen African Americans on the University of Wyoming’s team planned to make a play for civil rights on Oct. 18, 1969, when the Cowboys hosted the Cougars. Their game plan: Sport black armbands to protest the church’s racist policy, which, at the time, prevented Black men from holding the priesthood and Black women and men from entering temples.

But the players were kicked off even before kickoff. Their coach booted them from the team on the eve of the game.

Today, the church’s priesthood/temple ban is history, the Cowboys and the Cougars aren’t in the same league, and surviving members of the “Black 14″ have traded those armbands for linked arms with the Utah-based faith.

The Cowboy alums — with their “Mind, Body and Soul” initiative — united with the church two years ago to deliver tons of food to vulnerable communities across the nation.

(You can read more about the “Black 14″ here and listen to a “Mormon Land” podcast with one of the players, whose son ended up converting to Mormonism.)

Other demonstrations and boycotts against BYU erupted during the civil rights era, according to the Utah Historical Quarterly, including in Fort Collins, Colo.; San Jose, Calif.; and El Paso, Texas.

In recent years, advocates lobbied to keep BYU out of the Big 12 because of the school’s — and, by extension, the church’s — opposition to same-sex marriage and its positions on other LGBTQ issues. The Cougars have since joined the Big 12 and are scheduled to begin league play next year.

But could South Carolina’s pullback be just the beginning of a fresh round of postponements, protests and boycotts? After all, Dawn Staley, South Carolina’s women’s basketball coach and the first Black coach, male or female, to win two Division I basketball crowns, is an influential voice.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: BYU fallout continues

• On this week’s show, BYU alum Darron Smith, who teaches sociology at the University of Memphis and is the author of “When Race, Religion & Sports Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond,” talks about the volleyball match episode, the resulting fallout, the school’s history with Black athletes, and why BYU and Latter-day Saint leaders need to do much more to combat racism on campus and within the faith — starting with an apology for the church’s former priesthood/temple ban for Black members.

Listen here.

Call for peace in the Sunshine State

Similar to its efforts in Utah, Arizona and Georgia, the church has joined with community leaders in Florida calling for legislation that protects LGBTQ individuals from some discrimination, while safeguarding religious freedom.

“We are extremely concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious rights and LGBTQ rights are poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse people of goodwill from living together in peace and mutual respect,” states an “open letter” in the Tampa Bay Times signed by area Seventies Victor P. Patrick and Daniel P. Amato and dozens of other faith and civic leaders (using language parroting much of the Georgia effort). “...We join a growing number of faith and community leaders from around the country in support of nondiscrimination legislation that protects all people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, while also protecting important religious rights.”

The letter asserts that “LGBTQ rights and religious rights do not have to be in conflict” and urges the parties to “set aside political motives, malice and misrepresentations and commit to respectful dialogue and good-faith engagement.”

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, advocated a similar path in a landmark speech last year at the University of Virginia.

From The Tribune

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A volunteer walks among pride flags at a Back to School Pride Night for BYU students in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

Christian nationalists threaten the separation of church and state upon which the U.S. was founded, writes Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson.

• Anti-LGBTQ protesters rallied against a “Back to School Pride Night” in Provo for BYU students.

• The Tribune provided links to significant stories and podcasts about the strides and stumbles on race relations in the past decade at BYU and in the wider church.

• Read excerpts from last week’s “Mormon Land” podcast about how BYU is trying to stay in the mainstream yet keep itself distinct from “the world.”

• Federal officers are investigating a July arson fire at the Latter-day Saint temple under construction in Orem.

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