mormon church

LDS Leaders Add Top Female Officers to Three High-Level Councils

Image via RNS.

Installing Linda K. Burton, Bonnie L. Oscarson, and Rosemary M. Wixom to leadership councils could have far-reaching consequences in a denomination led exclusively by men.

When asked whether women are members of other key committees in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spokeswoman Kristen Howey said, "There are literally dozens of church committees. Women serve on many of them but we have no way of knowing that number without counting each of them."

The three principal, formerly male-only councils helping to run the 15 million-member faith include "four or five (male) general authorities," Howey said, plus the new female officers.

Small Band of Mormons Register Their Opposition to Church Leaders

Photo via Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints / RNS

President Thomas S. Monson (middle) at the 2011 general conference. Photo via Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints / RNS

For the first time in decades, a small band of Mormons who disagree with their church stood during the semi-annual General Conference on April 4 and publicly shouted “opposed” to sustaining the top Mormon leaders.

At least seven people rose in dissent as part of an action by a loosely organized group calling itself “Any Opposed?”

At the same time, thousands of Mormons gathered in the church’s Conference Center silently raised their hands to show their support for the governing First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which guide the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The opponents did not say more during the afternoon session, but one of those who stood, Don Braegger of American Fork, Utah, said the group has a variety of concerns, including the perception that LDS history is rife with disturbing episodes; that the faith does not treat LGBT persons fairly; and does not offer wide enough roles for women.

Unlike in the 1970s and ’80s, when opponents were removed from General Conference after voicing “no” votes, Saturday’s opponents remained for the rest of the afternoon meeting.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor to President Thomas S. Monson, noted the contrary votes each time they were cast by replying, “The vote has been noted.”

Rare Mormon Documents Go On Display for First Time

The first edition of the Book of Mormon, printed in 1830, on display in Missouri

The first edition of the Book of Mormon, printed in 1830, on display in Missouri. Image courtesy Sally Morrow/RNS.

For the first time ever, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has assembled some of its most treasured historical documents into a single exhibit and is inviting the public to view them.

Starting on September 4, 26 books, manuscripts and other papers that date from before the faith’s founding in 1830—including a manuscript page from the original Book of Mormon, a first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and the handwritten minutes from the 1842 founding of the women’s Relief Society—will be on display at the LDS Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City.

These artifacts go “to the roots of our foundational faith,” LDS Church Historian and Recorder Steven E. Snow said at a news conference Wednesday. “These four cases hold our most precious documents.”

Taken together, the documents are worth several million dollars, Snow said, so church officials waited to showcase them until their safety could be secured.

“This exhibit is not intended to silence critics” of Mormon history, Snow said. “But members will find it faith-promoting.”

Writer Sees Growing Gay Acceptance Among Mormons

Jerry Argetsinger gives a talk at the University of Missouri. Photo via RNS.

Jerry Argetsinger gives a talk at the University of Missouri. Photo via RNS.

Jerry Argetsinger never felt a twinge of tension between being gay and being Mormon.

Nobody talked about homosexuality in his Oregon congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was growing up in the 1960s. Nobody asked him about his attractions. Nobody made cruel or even not-so-subtle comments about him. Nobody made him feel guilty.

It came as a bit of a shock, then, when Argetsinger was beginning his sophomore year at LDS church-owned Brigham Young University in 1965 and heard university President Ernest L. Wilkinson say that the school didn’t want any gays on campus.

New Mormon Website Features Softer Tone on Gays

SALT LAKE CITY—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't changing its tune about homosexuality, but it has launched a new website to alter the tone.

The site — unveiled on Dec. 6 and called “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction” — includes video clips of Mormon leaders as well as gay members and their families promoting compassion and understanding toward homosexuals, and encouraging everyone to be “disciples of Christ.”

“Our hope with this site is that empathy will grow in families,” LDS apostle D. Todd Christofferson says in one clip. “We’re trying to communicate that our love is inclusive, that we want to have the family remain intact, and the relationships we’ve treasured over the years to remain and to grow.”

It’s important, the apostle says, “to recognize the feelings of a person, that they are real, that they are authentic, that we don’t deny that someone feels a certain way.”

Many gay rights activists, inside and outside the LDS church, applaud Mormonism’s latest effort.

Mormon Church Blocks Whistle Blower’s Access to Baptism Data

The Book of Mormon | braedostok, Shutterstock.com

The Book of Mormon | braedostok, Shutterstock.com

A technological crackdown has effectively blocked a prominent whistle-blower from accessing the Mormons' database that chronicles so-called baptisms for the dead.

Church officials said the move helps prevent overzealous Mormons and mischief-makers from violating church policy by submitting the names of prominent Jewish figures.

The decision to suspend the New FamilySearch accounts of anyone searching for Jewish Holocaust victims or celebrities also freezes out Utah researcher Helen Radkey, whose baptism discoveries have embarrassed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for decades.

"I have been effectively stopped," says Radkey, who shared a log-in screen shot that reveals a red box reading: "Your account has been locked temporarily. Please try again later."

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