LDS History, Faith, and Culture

A collection of RadioWest conversations about LDS history, faith, and culture.

The First Vision

May 16, 2016
CC via The LDS Life on YouTube

Joseph Smith claimed that God and Jesus appeared to him in 1820 to tell him all churches were wrong, which led him to found the Mormon faith. Late LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley once said the Church’s “whole strength rests on the validity of that vision.” Smith told multiple versions over the years though, and critics say discrepancies are proof he made it all up. Monday, we’re talking about the “First Vision,” the role it’s played in Church history and what it reveals about Mormonism today.

Saving Alex

Mar 31, 2016

Alex Cooper was 15 when she told her Mormon parents she was gay. She knew that it would be difficult, but she couldn’t have expected what happened next. They sent her stay with a couple in St. George who promised to “save” Alex from homosexuality. What the “treatment program” relied on though was verbal, psychological and physical abuse. Thursday, our guest is scholar Joanna Brooks. She co-authored Alex’s memoir, and joins us to talk about how this happened and what it really took to save Alex.

  Utah Senator Steve Urquhart says the LDS Church “effectively snuffed out” his bill to strengthen the state’s hate crime laws. Last week, the Church criticized any legislation that would upset the “careful balance” Utah achieved between LGBT rights and religious liberty with last year’s anti-discrimination law. Wednesday, Urquhart and others will join us to talk about the timing of his bill, what balance should look like it, and why proponents argue the state’s current hate crime law falls short.

Last week, an advocacy group made headlines when they said there’s been a startling increase in suicides among LGBT Mormon youth. They blamed LDS Church policy which labels members in same-sex marriages as apostates. It’s hard to get a line on those statistics though, and while the anecdotal numbers are problematic, they still raise serious concerns. Tuesday, we’re asking what we know about depression and suicide in gay Mormons and whether the Church’s vocal stance contributes to that risk.

Bundy-style Mormonism

Jan 14, 2016
Gage Skidmore, cc via Wikipedia

Thursday we’re asking if the occupation of a federal office in Oregon is a Mormon enterprise, and if so, what kind of Mormonism? The Bundy brothers leading the group are LDS, and they use Mormon theology to talk about motives and dealing with “tyranny.” The Church has condemned the tactics, and while the Bundys’ views aren’t mainstream, historian Patrick Mason says they didn’t come out of thin air. He and others join us to talk about the groups’ politics and faith in relation to Mormon orthodoxy.

The LDS Church recently made headlines with new guidance for lay leaders in dealing with same-sex couples and their children. Critics call it a step backwards in the Church’s efforts to show compassion to the LGBT community. Defenders say it’s simply a reflection of Church doctrine. The LDS Church has declined to join us. So Thursday, historian and Mormon scholar Russell Stevenson takes us through the doctrine that under-girds the Church’s religious policies towards its LGBT members.

via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/1XVcKVC

News broke last week that the LDS Church was adopting new policies aimed at married same-sex couples and their children. Mormons in a same-sex marriage will now be considered apostates and could be subject to disciplinary hearings and excommunication. Their children, meanwhile, will be barred from many of the faith’s sacred rituals, unless they get permission from church’s highest leaders. Monday, a panel of guests will join us to discuss the impacts and ramifications of these new church policies.

Evolving Faith

Oct 28, 2015

Wednesday, we’re talking about the complicated and surprising relationship between Mormonism and science. Brigham Young University boasts a highly regarded biology department, and while the LDS Church has no official doctrine on evolution, many members view the theory with suspicion. It’s that tension that BYU Professor Steven Peck addresses in his new book Evolving Faith. He joins Doug to explain why he says religion and science are simply two different ways of knowing.

Sunday night and Monday morning, a total lunar eclipse will give the moon a blood red appearance, a sign some say heralds the apocalypse. September 28th is also the anniversary of Julie Rowe’s near death experience. She’s a Mormon who’s gotten a lot of attention for her personal visions of the end times. So Monday, we’re talking about end of the world predictions: what inspires them, how different Christian groups imagine Jesus’ return, and how these ideas have played out among Latter-day Saints.

LDS Missions

Aug 24, 2015

Two men with white shirts and name badges may be *the* stereotype of Mormons. 85,000 missionaries are currently proselytizing for the LDS Church, but that’s not all a mission is for. The scholar Patrick Mason says it’s a rite of passage, as much about making and keeping the missionary a member of the church as it is recruiting new converts. Monday, Mason and historian Greg Prince join Doug to discuss the history of LDS missions, what’s changing and what it all means for the young men and women who serve.

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