Latest from Mormon Land: President Nelson seeks peacemakers, and does Romney trump Trump?

Also: Reexamining the killing of Joseph Smith; revisiting LGBTQ stories and podcasts; rejoicing in Juneteenth; and reconstructing the Provo Temple.

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.

Mitt vs. The Donald

Amid all the buzz of late about political neutrality, let’s pose a patently partisan question: Mitt Romney or Donald Trump?

Romney, the only Latter-day Saint ever to head up a major U.S. presidential ticket and a chief Republican antagonist of Trump, remains the church’s most prominent politician. But does the Utah senator best represent the views of his constituents or does that distinction favor the former president?

Well, a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll sends a mixed message: Romney wins the nod over Trump among all Utahns, 44% to 31%. But within his party, Trump prevails, 47% to 39%.

The first-term senator, facing a decision of whether to run for reelection next year, fares better among younger voters, moderates and “very active” Latter-day Saints, the church-owned Deseret News reports, while Trump, under indictment on multiple criminal counts over his handling of classified documents, has the edge among self-described “very conservative” Utahns.

If you had to choose, who gets your vote? Romney, Trump or neither.

Prizing peacemakers

In his passionate plea from April’s General Conference, church President Russell Nelson called on members to be peacemakers. Now, he’s asking them to name names.

“Many of us have been the beneficiary of peacemakers in our own lives,” he wrote recently on Instagram. “Who is someone in your life who has built peace? Please let me know.”

They have been. Here are some of their responses:

• “I love watching my children be peacemakers. They do it in such a beautiful way. It always brings tears to my eyes.”

• “My 10-year-old daughter is such a peacemaker. She makes peace in our family and among her peers. She is thoughtful, always making cards and doing drawings for people she cares about.”

• “My sweet special-needs son. He may not talk or walk, but he is full of peace.”

• About “2.5 yrs ago, our entire family got in a severe car accident. … The scenes from after the wreck flash back to my mind randomly still. One of these scenes was my husband angrily rushing towards the people who had caused the accident. As you can imagine, his world almost collapsed in a matter of seconds. As he was walking up to this couple, the lady was saying, ‘Please stop yelling, please stop yelling!’ My husband was able to calm himself down and hugged the lady and said a prayer with her.”

• “My mom is a peacemaker. I remember our piano teacher asking us as kids if we ever heard our mom yell. After thinking for a moment, I remember saying: ‘Sometimes when she says, time for dinner!’”

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Deconstructing Carthage

(Library of Congress) A lithograph by artist C.G. Crehen depicts the killing of Joseph Smith.

What many Latter-day Saints and others either don’t know or fail to recognize is that the slaying of church founder Joseph Smith was not only a religious martyrdom but also a political assassination. Historian Benjamin Park revisits the ugly episode that took place 179 years ago this month just outside the “City Beautiful.” Listen to the podcast.

Honoring Pride

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) At BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, shown in 2018, adjunct instructors were let go after failing to obtain “ecclesiastical clearance.”

As Pride month continues, we bring you more Latter-day Saint LGBTQ stories and podcasts from The Tribune worth rereading or rehearing:

• A number of instructors at Brigham Young University-Idaho lost their jobs after failing to gain “ecclesiastical clearance.” Some suspect LGBTQ issues were at the heart of their dismissals.

• Queer Latter-day Saints increasingly wonder if they can date and remain in good standing with the church. Can they, for instance, kiss or hold hands? Ambiguity, it turns out, does exist.

• Leaders of Affirmation, the oldest support group for LGBTQ Latter-day Saints, joined our “Mormon Land” podcast to discuss, among other topics, diversity, senior apostle Dallin Oaks and the future for queer Latter-day Saints.

• Soon after top church leaders dumped the controversial exclusion policy, our podcast featured a historian who detailed the faith’s evolution and, some argue, devolution on LGBTQ rights.

• In one of our most listened-to podcasts, a former bishop, stake president and temple architect talked about her transition to a transgender woman.

Celebrating Juneteenth

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Lynn Archibald, a Latter-day Saint service missionary, cradles a newborn during a MyBaby4Me meeting on Saturday, June 17, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn.

On Juneteenth, the federal holiday celebrating the freeing of enslaved Americans, the church touted its ongoing partnership with the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, the NAACP.

A news release noted the church has given $2 million for 116 scholarships through the United Negro College Fund, sent dozens of students to study in Ghana, helped create a water-wise community garden in San Francisco and planted trees in Black neighborhoods.

On Monday, the church also gave $500,000 to help renovate the NAACP’s Memphis Branch to boost a MyBaby4Me program and its fight against infant mortality.

Later this month, the Utah-based faith will open a Center for Family History at the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C. In 2019, the church donated $2 million toward the project commemorating what has been called African Americans’ “Ellis Island.”

From The Tribune

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf helps a young Latter-day Saint girl place mortar securing the cornerstone of the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple in March 2013.

• During temple dedications, white-suited church leaders will no longer exit the services and, with trowels in hand, apply mortar to a cornerstone — often with the assistance of young children. The governing First Presidency has announced an end to those symbolic “cornerstone” ceremonies.

• A former congressman says top church authorities, including apostles, can help send a message of political neutrality by registering as “independent,” or unaffiliated, voters.

Temple updates

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The current Provo temple, left, and a rendering of the reconstruction.

• Utah’s Space Age-designed Provo Temple will shut down at day’s end Feb. 24, 2024, according to a news release, to undergo a previously announced overhaul similar to the one its architectural twin in Ogden underwent a decade ago.

• The Orem Temple will be dedicated Jan. 21, 2024, after an Oct. 27-Dec. 16 public open house. The single-spired, three-story, 70,000-square-foot edifice is one of 28 existing or planned temples in the Beehive State.

• A ceremonial groundbreaking Saturday officially launched construction of Idaho’s Montpelier Temple. The single-spired, two-story, 27,000-square-foot building will be one of nine existing or planned temples in the Gem State.

• A site has been selected for the Wichita Temple. The single-story, 9,950-square-foot building (no exterior rendering has been released) will be the first Latter-day Saint temple in Kansas.

• A city planning board has given the go-ahead to the church’s planned temple in Cody, Wyo., the Cowboy State Daily reports, save for the 77-foot steeple rising from the roof (making the edifice 101 feet high overall). That spire still needs an OK.