LDS Perspectives #49: Mormon Education with Casey Paul Griffiths

Schooling and Being Schooled in Religious Education with Casey Paul Griffeths, interviewed by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen

Casey Paul Griffiths is an expert on LDS Church education and its globalization efforts.

The formal foundation of education in the Mormon Church began in 1888 when the church board of education was established. Around this time, the United States initiated a free schools program. Wilford Woodruff, president of the church at that time, became very concerned that the federal education system was exclusively secular. Starting in the 1890s, he instructed every stake to launch their own academy. In the early 1900s the academy system was discarded for the more affordable seminary model. But this led to a whole new problem — training religious instructors in a lay church. By the 1930s the the existence of professional theological scholars created tensions the church is still grappling with.

Stephanie Dibb Sorensen (in her inaugural LDS Perspectives interview) talks with Griffiths about what this first generation of scholars faced when they came back to Utah to teach after studying in the liberal classrooms of the University of Chicago, as well as how the Church’s Pathways program is continuing this legacy of uniting secular and religious education.

Stephanie Dibb Sorensen is a mother to three and teaches Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She blogs about finding faith in motherhood at her blog, Diapers and Divinity, and is the author of Covenant Motherhood.

Church issues statement on white supremacy

The Church issued the following statement today:


It has been called to our attention that there are some among the various pro-white and white supremacy communities who assert that the Church is neutral toward or in support of their views. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). The Book of Mormon teaches “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).

White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a “white culture” or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.



On Sunday the Church made the following statement:

It is with great sadness and deep concern that we view the violence, conflict and tragedy of recent days in Charlottesville, Virginia. People of any faith, or of no faith at all, should be troubled by the increase of intolerance in both words and actions that we see everywhere.

More than a decade ago, the late Church President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) addressed the topic of racism when speaking to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He powerfully and clearly taught this principle: “No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.” For members of the Church, we reaffirm that teaching today and the Savior’s admonition to love our neighbor.

Our prayers are with those who are suffering because of this intolerance and hatred. We pray for peace and for understanding. Above all, we pray that we may treat one another with greater kindness, compassion and goodness.


Bottom Line: No Mormon has any doctrinal basis for racial violence, hate speech, or in any way teaching that one racial group is somehow more beloved of God than any other. As those who love God, we ought to be active in working towards peace and reconciliation between those who are at odds.


Years ago we had a child’s history teacher over for dinner. As we talked, I mentioned that I didn’t know much about Virginia history in the last 100 years.

The teacher looked at me, then started referring to Virginia’s shameful past with respect to race.

It was a high school play in 2014 that helped me to better understand the racial strife associated with Virginia’s refusal to integrate White and Black children in schools.

Virginia is a place where many are proud to fly the Confederate flag. Continue reading

Making Babies… And Math

Recently I wanted to find out the probability that an average woman would get pregnant at any given age.

I was really surprised by what I found. In my family going back in time, people tended to get pregnant whenever it occurred to them to try. So I had this model in my head that likelihood of getting pregnant after puberty (menarche) was close to certainty in any given month when an attempt would be made, until the time when one’s body stopped wanting to deal with pregnancy.

But it turns out that the first several years of being a woman we females aren’t particularly fertile. It’s possible to get pregnant, as all too many teens can attest. But for most in that early period of time, there’s not reliable ovulation to accompany the outward signs associated with monthly ovulation. This anovulation seriously messes with likelihood of getting pregnant in the early teen years, which is awesome, since risk of maternal death is significantly elevated for folks who get pregnant before age 16.

The peak timeframe for fertility is in the early twenties. Across multiple studies, it appears a person who wishes to become pregnant at this stage of their life has a 97% chance of achieving their goal, with a 25% monthly probability of getting pregnant. Continue reading

LDS Perspectives #48: Ardis Parshall, Dime Novels, Churchill, and LDS Women

The Mormon Image in Literature with Ardeth Parshall

Ardis Parshall is one of the most prolific LDS historians. Her blog, Keepapitchinin, has been running for over ten years now and includes over 6,000 posts, almost all written by Ardis.

Ardis has teamed with Michael Austin to republish literature related to Mormonism that is rare, fragile, and soon could be lost. Dime Novel Mormons, their current offering, presents four novellas featuring Mormons as villains.

The way Mormons were portrayed in dime novels was remarkably consistent. The authors played on common stereotypes and themes such as Danites, polygamy, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. As we read these novels, we can better understand what was happening in the minds of those meeting Mormon missionaries for the first time, or the fears Mormon families had as they sent loved ones to serve missions in a world filled with such distorted fiction. The outrage associated with one such Anti-Mormon novel was so great that English citizens called for a removal of all Mormon missionaries. This prompted Winston Churchill to look into Mormon activities, luckily only to confirm actual Mormons were good and sweet.

Laura Harris Hales also talks with Ardis about her forthcoming book, She Shall be an Ensign. In this eagerly anticipated work, Ardis provides us the history of the Church through the eyes of the women who participated.