LDS History, Faith, and Culture

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

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.

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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.

Seer Stones

Aug 11, 2015

Tuesday, we’re talking about seer stones, the instruments Mormons believe Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon. Last week, the LDS Church published a photo of one stone, likening it to Biblical objects that helped people “communicate spiritually.” Historians Matthew Bowman and Benjamin Park join us to explain how these types of objects were used in early 19th century America (it wasn’t just the Mormons). We’ll also ask what role these stones played in the development of Mormonism and what they tell us about the idea of revelation.

As a lifelong servant of the LDS church, apostle Boyd K. Packer was admired for being a bold speaker, a dedicated teacher, and a protector of conservative doctrine. However, his outspoken condemnation of feminists, LGBT people, and intellectuals, among other actions, brought him plenty of scorn and controversy. His passing late last week leaves a glaring hole in the church’s upper administration. Tuesday, we’re taking stock of Packer’s life and legacy and asking how his impact will continue to be felt.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thursday, Doug is joined by Mormon scholars Richard Bushman and Gregory Prince for a conversation about the Presidency of the LDS Church. President Thomas S. Monson is 87 years old, and there are unconfirmed rumors that he may be suffering from some form of dementia. There have been similar issues with past Presidents, and with an average age of 80 for the highest offices, it's likely to continue. We’ll talk about what this means for the Church, its members, and for the leaders themselves.

There have always been questions about the role of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah politics. Many say the Church’s influence is indirect, but former state lawmaker Carl Wimmer is questioning whether Church lobbyists on Capitol Hill go too far. Last month, he wrote that he was bullied when his stance on immigration diverged from his then Church’s position. Monday, we’re asking Wimmer and others how lawmakers decide whether to vote with their politics or with their faith.

  Monday, we’re focusing on one of the most talked about bills of the 2015 legislative session: the LGBT anti-discrimination bill. Republican Representative Brad Dee called it the “Utah solution.” It was crafted with careful negotiation between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LGBT community, and clarified exemptions for religious organizations. We’ll talk about the role the Church played in getting it passed and what the legislation does or doesn’t do for LGBT people and people of faith.

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