Greetings, earthlings. We are us, the hosts of This Week in Mormons! Jared and Geoff sit down to hash out some excellent (and late-breaking) news this week. Let’s get into it.
FamilySearch is in our crosshairs! The venerable family history portal sent one of its usual email campaigns over the weekend to drive traffic, but this one said something peculiar and specific – that our ancestor crossed the ocean specifically for religious freedom. Clicking the button revealed a login page that change the wording to say the family member “might” have crossed for the sake of religious freedom. And then it turns out there is no evidence at all of that family member crossing the Atlantic in search of religious freedom.
So what gives? It turns out, this was to promote a new “Saints By the Sea” initiative, which is a completely cool cross-indexing effort on its own! Why was it labeled as an exercise in religious freedom instead of simply promoted as the cool effort that it is? We can only speculate (more on speculation in a bit), but it seems someone involved in marketing for FamilySearch either received direction from higher up or assumed higher ups would appreciate an effort to keep the religious freedom campaign hot in our minds. But your ancestor coming to America—even to join the Saints in Zion—is not exactly an exercise in religious freedom in the way the Church discusses it now.
Our friendly neighborhood COVID-19 continues to chew away at little bits of Mormondom, this time quite closer to that “M” word than you might think. Because of complications with the virus, production has shut down on the Book of Mormon film series, with some sections now being pushed to filming in 2022.
Those not in favor of wearing masks—for some, inexplicable, hackneyed attempt at fighting for “freedom”—are also the reason “we can’t have nice things,” according to blogger Jana Riess. The article is particularly interesting in that it has little to do with Latter-day Saints specifically, and everything to do with mask deniers. Hi, deniers. I also have a book on birtherism and a pamphlet on vaccines that might interest you.
But every cloud has a silver lining, and when God closes a door he opens a window. In this case the window, double-paned, is that of Geoff Openshaw being interviewed by KUER, Utah’s NPR affiliate, about the pushback against masks in Utah, even in the wake of the Area Presidency asking saints to wear them. Geoff’s wisdom will change your life.
This is the greatest Latter-day Saint meme of all time:
Oh yeah, about that speculation. The First Presidency has announced some changes to the endowment ceremony as 12 temples enter the much coveted, perennially ballyhooed, forever elusive Phase 2, which opens up a temple for all typical ordinance work. Out of respect for the sacredness of the temple, we’ve been asked not to speculate on what that might entail, but you can’t issue a press release about it and not expect Latter-day Saints to wonder! So we try to discuss the changes without too much speculation. It’s a fine line to a walk, a small needle to thread!
Brigham Young University’s Black Student Union wants to rename every building on campus. Yes, every single one. Why? Because in our new societal effort to listen to black voices, we are learning that while some might see the Ezra Taft Benson building as named for a notable Church leader and politician, others see it as named for a man who was against interracial marriage and the Civil Rights movement. We don’t have all the answers, but this is a compelling topic.