Cutting Edge Latter-day Saint Research, September 2023

A monthly piece summarizing all recent, peer-reviewed scholarly articles and books published on Latter-day Saints. 

Woods, Fred E., and Cheryl Jensen. “Picketing Against Porn in Mesquite: Community Values vs.” Satan’s Library”.” Nevada Historical Society Q 66, no. 1 (2023): 2-25.

  • History of a local 1990s battle between members of the Church and a pornographic bookstore. 

Simon, Hemopereki. “A Kauapapa Maori Intervention on Apology for LDS Church’s Racism, Zombie Concepts, and Moving Forward.” In Anthropological Forum, pp. 1-28. Routledge, 2023.

  • Abstract: This intervention paper, based on the Kaupapa Maori writing inquiry, aims to offer an alternative path forward to the idea that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should apologise for its racism. It argues that an apology is redundant to the Indigenous World. The goal is for better Church- Indigenous relations in the face of racism rooted in The Book of Mormon, Church Policy, doctrine, teachings, and theology. The author develops a positionality and outlines mahi tuhituhi as a Kaupapa Maori (post) qualitative writing inquiry. The Author then moves to contextualise these issues by framing them with what sociologists describe as Zombie Concepts. A brief overview of the Book of Mormon and its significance in Mormonism is provided. Following that, an understanding of the connection between Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s white possessive and Lamanitism is provided. Hagoth and his relationship with Tangata Moana (Maori and Pacific Peoples) is then addressed. Recent remarks by Thomas Murphy to help readers understand the racism in the Book of Mormon. Other issues for Indigenous Peoples are highlighted, with an emphasis on anachronisms and the Book of Mormon’s plagiarism. The investigation then shifts to provide Veracini’s commentary on settling to build relationality is discussed from the viewpoint of Aotearoa New Zealand. A discussion of the issues is followed by an outline of the research’s consequences, which include seven issues that need to be addressed as part of the relationality building in order to create a collaborative future values-based project to move Church-Indigenous relations forward in a positive way.

MacKay, Michael, and Daniel Belnap. “The Pure Language Project.” Journal of Mormon History 49, no. 4 (2023): 1-44.

  • Article that argues that the Book of Abraham documents such as the KEP had something to do with a “Pure Language” project that Joseph Smith was undertaking. 

Beshears, Kyle R. “Eunice Ross Kinney: Follower of Two Mormon Prophets, Fierce Defender of Polygamy.” Journal of Mormon History 49, no. 4 (2023): 82-123.

  • Behind paywall. 

Strate, Shane. “Sweeping the Nations: Mormonism, Colonialism, and Patron-Client Networks in the Indian Ocean World, 1851–1856.” Journal of Mormon History 49, no. 4 (2023): 124-150.

  • Behind paywall.

Decoo, Wilfried. “Altering Translated Scriptures: The Case of Familiar Spirit (as a Key Phrase of the Restoration and as an Inapt Product of Jacobean Demonology).” Journal of Mormon History 49, no. 4 (2023): 45-81.

  • Behind paywall.

Ruseishvili, Svetlana, and Giovana Miorim Teodoro. “Faith-based communities and migrant incorporation: Venezuelans in the province of São Paulo state, Brazil.” Religião & Sociedade 43 (2023): 61-86.

  • Abstract: This paper aims to explore how faith-based communities and its religious ethics determine pathways of migrant incorporation. The analysis focuses on the case of Venezuelan migrants transferred from Roraima by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as “Mormon”) to a medium-sized city in the province of the state of São Paulo. Through semi-structured interviews with Church members and migrants, participant observation in services, and ethnography in facilities of the Operação Acolhida in Boa Vista, the text addresses the organizational structure of the Church and its involvement in the reception of Venezuelans at the border and in the process of “interiorização” to other Brazilian states. By investigating the Mormon doctrine of “self-sufficiency” and the precarious nature of the labour incorporation of newcomers that it promotes, we argue that churches are important social institutions of arrival, although of limited reach.

Hale, Adrian. “Joking, prophetically: the use of humour in Mormon leaders’ sermons.” Comedy Studies (2023): 1-17.

  • Abstract: The use of humour in sermons may seem incongruous, or distracting, since the traditional sermon’s function is seriously didactic. Nevertheless, and unusually perhaps for a ‘new’ minority Christian denomination whose members have a reputation for being ‘rather dour and pious’, there exists a strong tradition in the Mormon1 Church for sermonic humour. Indeed, this tradition is officially sanc- tioned and modelled by Church leaders, who – regarded by the membership as modern-day prophets and apostles – thus lend the tradition ecclesiastical authority endorsement. This paper seeks to contribute to the emerging area of research into minorities and humour, by presenting the results of an analysis of Church leaders’ sermonic humour. To study one religious minority’s sermonic humour, is to add to our wider understanding of minorities’ humour practices, suggesting how they might intersect with each other in an increas- ingly multicultural-multireligious community such as the USA.

Handley, George B. Lowell L. Bennion: A Mormon Educator. University of Illinois Press, 2023.

Coyne, Sarah M., Chenae Christensen Duerden, J. Andan Sheppard, Sarah Ashby, Megan Van Alfen, Holly Harris, Ben Schilaty et al. ““I’ll Walk with You”: LGBTQ+ Individuals and Religious Belonging.” Journal of Homosexuality (2023): 1-23.

  • Research on LGBTQ+ individuals, belonging, and religiosity has been mixed. Some studies have illustrated the ways religion can harm LGBTQ+ individuals while others suggest religion has positive impacts. In the current study, we sought to understand this complexity by examining the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals who have been or currently are affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e. Mormon, LDS). A thematic analysis of 100 interviews with LGBTQ+ individuals currently or previously affiliated with the Church revealed various ways they feel belonging or the lack thereof in Latter-day Saint congregations and communities. These include sharing physical space, being invited to and included at events, receiving gifts or acts of service, seeing others’ safety signals, hearing accepting and character-affirming language, and having others listen to them and give them voice. With the intent of fostering belonging, we discuss implications of this research for church communities and propose the belonging in practice: LGBTQ+ and religion model.

4 comments for “Cutting Edge Latter-day Saint Research, September 2023

  1. Jonathan, it depends on the denomination. Some of the mega churches that I am slightly familiar with use humor, and they are Evangelical, for heaven’s sake. One mega church preacher even has a picture of a laughing Jesus in his office because he thinks too many religions are too serious and dour. Catholics are about the only ones that have zero humor, well and Puritans but I am not sure Puritans even exist anymore. But I think this idea that other denominations never use humor s part of Mormons wanting to feel special. And what about BKP, but was a real stick in the mud. He never joked, so not only does it depend on the denomination, it depends on the individual.

    My thought is that these books are very much into a small Mormon history hobby. I am not interested in any of them, because they are so specialized.

  2. Simon’s paper is essentially a demand to disband the church as it presently exists. In order to be forgiven for our transgressions against Indigeneity, we have to disavow more or less everything that we are, including the doctrine that salvation comes through Jesus Christ.

    Simon’s goodwill isn’t worth nearly that much.

  3. Hoosier,

    That’s way it goes nowadays. And apology isn’t good enough anymore–not that I believe the church needs to apologize. The church must remake itself in the image of those demanding the apology as proof that it (the apology) is authentic. In other words, it must be annihilated.

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