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 the full newsletter, exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content and podcast transcripts.
A more colorful choir
Expect to see a more diverse choir at April’s General Conference.
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has announced that it will audition singers from Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, the Philippines and Asia to perform with the faith’s renowned troupe at the fall gathering.
“It is possible this will be a one-time event, or perhaps it will be something we will do periodically,” the choir’s president, Mike Leavitt, said in a news release. “The most likely outcome, however, is that through this pilot project we will gradually see new options and possibilities that will help the choir better represent the worldwide church.”
The release also noted the choir will perform in Mexico City on June 13–19, 2023.
When Leavitt, a former Utah governor and former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, was named to oversee the choir in August 2021, he conceded the group is “pretty white” and that the global faith “needs to reflect the entire membership.”
“More,” he added, will be said about that “later.”
Judging from this recent announcement, “later” has arrived.
Preaching the condom gospel
With her provocative new book out, Latter-day Saint influencer Gabrielle Blair is certainly in.
In demand. In the public eye. In The New York Times.
The newspaper profiled the popular “Design Mom” blogger and reviewed her new book, “Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion.”
“I’m trying to shift … the abortion conversations to prevention,” especially male accountability, she told The Times. “... It’s also a hard title to argue with. What are you gonna say, ‘I think people should have the right to ejaculate irresponsibly’?”
Blair delivered a similar message — calling on men to use condoms — in our “Mormon Land” podcast just before the book’s release.
The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: The ‘I’m a Mormon’ campaign
By Common Consent blogger Taylor Kerby harks back to the widely viewed and highly praised “I’m a Mormon” ads — what he liked about them, how they helped members and the church, and why something similar is needed today. Listen to the podcast.
Getting the ‘red’ out to give the ‘green’ away
• The church’s Yuletide Giving Machines debuted in Kansas City, Mo., last week and returned to downtown Salt Lake City this week — along with other locales stretching from the Philippines to Florida.
“[God] is asking us to care for those in need — and that is the core of Relief Society,” President Camille Johnson, head of the church’s global women’s group, said in a news release from the Missouri unveiling. “Sometimes those that are in need are right next door, and other times we have opportunities to care for those that are in need on a global basis. This offers us that opportunity. Local charities will be benefited. Global charities will be benefited.”
The large crimson vending kiosks will be set up in 28 cities this year, allowing givers to donate to various nonprofits with the simple swipe of a credit card. Since 2017, the machines have yielded $15 million in contributions.
From The Tribune
• Scholars from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ team up on a book that explores many of the two faiths’ most contested questions. “Of course we disagreed,” says a co-editor, “but there was always this commitment to civility.”
• The church’s evolution on the meaning of “reverence” and what type of music is appropriate for worship services, writes Latter-day Saint historian Matthew Bowman, may help change the nature and nuance of supposedly “boring” sacrament meetings.
• The church’s embrace of a federal measure designed to codify civil same-sex marriage means devout Latter-day Saints can openly back such unions, Tribune columnist Gordon Monson writes, and not have their allegiance to the faith questioned.
• The Tribune editorial board celebrates the church’s stance on the Respect for Marriage Act, saying the move may help heal some of the harm from its other policies on LGBTQ issues.
• We recently reported on musicians, singers and dancers preparing to perform at “Luz de las Naciones,” the church’s premier celebration of Latin American culture. You can now stream the show in Spanish (or with English or Portuguese subtitles).
• The Saratoga Springs Temple is scheduled to be dedicated by President Henry Eyring, second counselor in the governing First Presidency, on Aug. 13 after a public open house from April 15 through July 8. It is one of 28 existing or planned temples in Utah.
• Apostle Quentin Cook dedicated the Quito Temple on Sunday, Ecuador’s second Latter-day Saint temple.
• On the same day, apostle Dale Renlund dedicated the Belém Temple, one of 18 existing or planned temples in Brazil.