LDS History, Faith, and Culture

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

The LDS Church yesterday released its latest essay on contentious issues within the faith. The article concerns Joseph Smith’s claims to have translated a book of scripture from Egyptian papyri. Some Mormons believe the Book of Abraham is a literal translation, while others say modern translations of the papyri don’t jibe with Smith’s rendition. The new essay makes room for both sides. Thursday, we’re talking about the essay and the questions it raises about belief and the difficulty of literalness.

Ordain Women

Earlier this week, Mormon feminist Kate Kelly was excommunicated from the LDS Church. Leaders in her former Virginia ward said her ongoing effort to secure women's ordination to the all-male priesthood constituted "conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church." Wednesday, we're asking what her excommunication means, not just for Kelly personally, but for all women and activists in the LDS Church. Kelly will join Doug. He'll also talk to Mormon commentator Neylan McBaine and historian Amanda Hendrix-Komoto.

<a href="">Micah Sheldon</a>, CC via Flickr

Tuesday, we're continuing our conversation on discipline and excommunication in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doug's guest for the hour is Ally Isom, Senior Manager of Public Affairs with the LDS Church. Two high-profile, progressive Mormon activists have been called before their local leaders and are being threatened with excommunication. It's raised a lot of questions about what makes a faithful Mormon, the disciplinary process and what all this reveals about the modern LDS Church.

Last week, two prominent voices in the progressive Mormon community were notified they face possible excommunication from the LDS Church. John Dehlin is creator of a popular podcast discussing Mormon issues and an advocate for LGBT rights. Kate Kelly is founder of Ordain Women, the group seeking access to the all-male priesthood. Monday, Doug sits down with each to talk about what excommunication would mean to them personally and the reaction they've been getting from their communities.

American Crucifixion

Jun 9, 2014

Tuesday, Doug is joined by journalist Alex Beam, who's in Utah with his new book about the murder of Joseph Smith. Beam says whether you believe his teachings or not, the LDS Church founder is an important historical figure because he was so successful. But the same charisma that drew thousands of people to his faith also made him a target. We'll talk about the dramatic events of his death and tell the very American stories of exploration and invention - and of intolerance and mob violence.

New Order Mormons

May 6, 2014
Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">Howard Ignatius</a>, CC via Flickr

Over the last decade, there's been a small group of Latter-day Saints carving out space for themselves in the Mormon community. They are often called "New Order Mormons." They don't believe everything the Church teaches, but they stay because they love the culture and are spiritually nourished by their involvement. Wednesday, Doug sits down with John Dehlin, co-founder of They'll talk about this progressive strain of Mormonism and what it means for a church so defined by orthodoxy.

Friday, we're rebroadcasting our conversation with writer and scholar Joanna Brooks, known for her progressive but generous observations of Mormon culture. She was raised devout, but left the LDS Church for a time when she couldn't reconcile her feminism and intellectual curiosity with the faith of her childhood. Her story is somewhat unique for this plot twist though, she went back. Brooks joins Doug to talk about her memoir, "The Book of Mormon Girl." (Rebroadcast)