Finding Hope From The Westboro Baptist Church

A Westboro Baptist Church protest. (Wikimedia Commons, alterations by Cody Ray Shafer).

For years, the Westboro Baptist Church have been synonymous with bigotry. I learned this when they protested at my high school in 2004 over a production of The Laramie Project (documented by my embarrassing teenager blog). A large counter protest was organized, and an event originally sparked with hate turned into a largely positive, jovial affair. The Phelps clan were woefully outnumbered, and they left rather quickly, while the crowd left behind cheered and laughed and prayed together. As an … [Read more...]

Polygamy and the New LDS Policy: Two Thoughts

Wikimedia Commons. Alterations by Cody Ray Shafer.

 MichaelMany, including Elder Christofferson, have noted that the LDS Church’s new policy toward gay couples and their children is a carbon copy of the Church’s policy toward polygamous families, on the books since the 1920s. (If you’re curious, see Ardis Parshall’s post about it.) Most of these people have focused on how the Church is applying the old policy (re: polygamy) to a new situation (gay marriage).But there’s another arrow of influence. The Church is turning the attitud … [Read more...]

Sister Wives’ Madison Brown’s Mormon Baptism Rejection, Explained


Confession: I actually really love the show Sister Wives. It is a pretty remarkable snapshot of American life that is uncommon, but it is also kind of an anti-reality show, designed not to hype up mundane existence into needless drama, but instead to normalize the lifestyle of the polygamist Brown family, proving that not all polygamists are cultish creeps like Warren Jeffs.The problem, it appears, is that the mainstream Mormon church isn’t buying this show’s premise. The Browns are members o … [Read more...]

Celebrating Samuel W. Taylor, a Peculiar Person

Sam Taylor

Samuel W. Taylor was born, as we all were at one time or another, on February 5, 1907. But make no mistake, he was no ordinary chum. As it just so happens, Samuel had six mothers. That is to say, his father had six wives. Also, his father was at one time, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.I say at one time because two years before Samuel’s birth, his father resigned as member of The Quorum of the Twelve over the issue of plural marriage. In short, he was still l … [Read more...]

Jon McNaughton, the Obama Era’s Most Significant Artist


Gaze upon the works of Jon McNaughton, the most important painter of our time.*Undoubtedly, there’s an uncle, or a father, or a former bishop out there who has admired, shared, and maybe even paid for a painting by the Mormon artist and curmudgeon with a paintbrush. They may have it hanging in their study, or, God forbid, in their living room next to the red-robed Christ and a photograph of the Provo temple.McNaughton’s works are well known for their patriotism, and their subtle use of sy … [Read more...]

In Praise of Cafeteria Mormonism

It was both troubling and fascinating (something like watching a car wreck) to witness the dustup of the past few days over the unfortunate column by LDS author Joni Hilton excoriating what she dubbed “liberal Mormons.”  I’m sure that Sister Hilton is a wonderful person who may or may not regret at least some of both the tone and substance of what she wrote, not to mention the minor firestorm she set off.  I have no idea why she feels the way she does, or what prompted her to write the column in … [Read more...]

A Review of the Cover of Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A story of violent faith.

Under the Banner of Heaven (Doubleday, 2003)

Author’s note: Yes, I’ve read the book.Canaan Mountain is almost unbearably symbolic. … [Read more...]