Latest from Mormon Land: Is BYU bluer — politically — than many think?

Also: What we can learn from baseball legend Jackie Robinson; a new book explores the LDS Church’s evolution on race; and art winners are named.

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 ‘Democratic’ BYU?

A 2020 survey found that Brigham Young University’s liberal students, unlike their conservative classmates, might be more inclined to sit on their hands than to raise them.

Why? Because they worried their left-learning views might not be welcomed — more so by their peers perhaps than by their professors.

Maybe those fears were unfounded or at least overstated.

Numbers nerd Stephen Cranney examined Federal Election Commission data and learned that — by at least one admittedly narrow barometer — BYU workers made three times as many donations to Democratic causes and candidates as Republican ones.

“Over the past two years, BYU employees made 789 contributions to ActBlue [a Democratic fundraising site],” Cranney wrote in a Times and Seasons blog post, “and 252 donations to WinRed [a GOP fundraising platform].”

By comparison, Cranney noted, University of Utah employees made 36 times as many contributions to ActBlue as WinRed.

According to FEC records, ActBlue is the group the family of apostle Dieter Uchtdorf sent two $100 contributions to in 2020-21.

[Receive the full Mormon Land newsletter free in your inbox each week.]

The game of life

(AP) This is an April 18, 1948, portrait of Brooklyn Dodgers baseball player Jackie Robinson.

Next up for life lessons we can learn from the baseball diamond:

Second inning • Jackie Robinson breaks baseball’s color barrier.

On April 15, 1947, at New York’s Ebbets Field, Robinson brought integration and an exciting brand of play to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the major leagues.

“It was Robinson’s style as much as his statistics or his color that made him a star,” write Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns in “Baseball: an Illustrated History.” “The fast, scrambling style of play Negro Leaguers called ‘tricky baseball’ had largely been absent from the big leagues since Ty Cobb’s day.”

Yes, bigots booed Robinson’s arrival. But true baseball fans cheered, and the cheering has never stopped.

So the lesson for us: Celebrate everyone and discriminate against no one.

We may tolerate going to the dentist or waiting at the Division of Motor Vehicles. But tolerance is far from enough when it comes to people. We must applaud diversity, encourage it, embrace it. To do less is a sin.

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Race and priesthood

(Tribune file photo) Early Latter-day Saint black convert Elijah Able, sometimes spelled Abel, was ordained to the priesthood during Joseph Smith's era as church president.

Latter-day Saint historian W. Paul Reeve states flatly in his new book, “Let’s Talk About Race and Priesthood,” that he doesn’t believe the former priesthood/temple ban was of “divine origin.” He explores how and why the church shifted from an inclusive approach on race to a restricted one and, ultimately, back to its original universalist theology. Listen to the podcast.

The art of winning

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Michelle Franzoni Thorley, with her painting "Making Space for Us."

View the winning entries from the Church History Museum’s 12th International Art Competition. Under the theme “All Are Alike Unto God,” the works have been on display since June.

The exhibit closes March 4 but will remain available online.

One winner, Michelle Franzoni Thorley’s painting, titled “Making Space for Us,” depicts Christ emerging from a floral arch covered in, yes, hot pink. He’s surrounded by a desert landscape, with robes and skin “the color of the earth,” she writes. “This is how I see Jesus. … He will make a space for me, even in the desert of my life.”

From The Tribune

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Tribune's Peggy Fletcher Stack interviews then-President Gordon B. Hinckley in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998.

• Our own Peggy Fletcher Stack has been awarded a lifetime achievement prize from the Religion News Association for her exceptional long-term commitment and excellence in faith reporting.

• A light fight is bubbling up in Utah as some locals — hoping to protect their night skies — take a dim view of the church’s desire to illuminate the planned Heber Valley Temple.

• The Tribune, which she labeled an “abominable sheet,” questioned her courage. But Belle Harris, one of the few Latter-day Saint women imprisoned during the federal crackdown on polygamy, fired back, “I dared to brave the terrors of a felon’s den.” Now you can read her words.

(Church History Library) Isabelle Maria Harris and her son Horace Merrill were photographed at the Salt Lake City studio of Charles R. Savage around the time of their confinement in the Utah Territorial Penitentiary. Harris was imprisoned from May 18 to Aug. 31, 1883, after being convicted of contempt of court; young Horace was allowed to stay with his mother in the penitentiary and spent his first birthday there.

• The church already has enough billions for a “whole lot of rainy days,” tax law professor Sam Brunson says. So when it comes to its money, the faith needs to tell more about it, spend more of it and help more with it. Read these excerpts from last week’s “Momorn Land” podcast. Join Patreon to get the full transcript. Relisten to the podcast.

• Tribune columnist Gordon Monson suggests that next month’s General Conference would be a good time and place for the church to reveal more about its wealth.

• Read for yourself what federal regulators found in the church’s stock filings to justify a $5 million fine.

• How do Latter-day Saints view abortion? See the latest poll results.