Behind the Zion Curtain

After a decade of hiatus, we have brought back a feature on Titled “Behind the Zion Curtain,” we will highlight stories that have an effect on Mormonism.

Associated Press changes style book on LDS Church

SALT LAKE CITY, UT. The Associated Press, which published a journalistic style and guide book, has decided to make changes in light of the request made last year by President Russell M. Nelson. The news organization says that the full name of the church (“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”) should be used for the initial reference in an article, with “the church,” “church members,” and “members of the faith” preferred on second and later references. However, the AP did not agree to refer to the church as “the Church of Jesus Christ” or “the Church” on subsequent references, which Nelson requested. In addition, the AP said that the use of the adjective or noun “Mormon” can be used when “necessary for space or clarity or in quotations or proper names.” (Salt Lake Tribune, March 8, 2019)

Missionaries now allowed to call home weekly

SALT LAKE CITY, UT. Effective immediately, 65,000 full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be allowed to communicate with their families each week on “preparation day” (usually Mondays). Phone calls, text messages, online messaging and video chats can be initiated by the missionaries who are being asked to use “good judgment” in determining the length of the calls. Previously, the missionaries were only allowed to call home twice a year, on Mother’s Day and Christmas. “Regular communication with their families is an important part of a missionary’s service,” said the First Presidency in a statement. “One of the major purposes of this adjustment is to encourage families to be more involved in their missionary’s efforts and experiences.” Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “We communicate with our Heavenly Father every day, and we would like to have our families communicate with the missionaries every week — maybe by letter or maybe by email, or now maybe by video chats or phone calls. This is an addition which brings more confidence, more peace.” Some may think this will make for weaker missionaries, but Utchdorf said, “Our missionaries are pretty tough. They receive rejection every day. They have tough weather conditions. They have to learn a lot. They have to work with new cultures, with new circumstances. But above all, they know in their hearts and minds that they are servants and representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (The Church News, February 15, 2019).

Another Missionary Training Center to close

SALT LAKE CITY, UT. The missionary training center in Buenos Aires, Argentinia will be shut down in July, which is the fourth training center to be closed in the past year. (The others were in Dominican Republic, Chile and Spain.) These centers are used like “boot camps” to train the missionaries in doctrine and languages before heading out to the assigned fields. According to a news release given by the church, “the future use of the facilities will be determined in coordination with local leaders. The decision comes as church leaders continue to seek the best use of resources worldwide.” Those who would have gone to the Argentine center will now head to the centers in Mexico or Brazil. While the church would certainly never admit to it, these closings must mean the church forecasts fewer missionaries going to the field. Just a few years ago there were more than 85,000 missionaries, but the number dropped last year to 68,000. The new number will be announced at the April General Conference. Salt Lake Tribune, February 9, 2019 

Veils no longer needed for LDS female burials

SALT LAKE CITY, UT. Although they were required, veils are no longer a mandate for females who are being buried. The change was announced in a January 24th letter by the First Presidency, stating in part, “Veiling the faces of deceased, ‘endowed’ [members who have been through a temple ceremony] women prior to burial is optional. This may be done if the sister expressed such a desire while she was living. In cases where the wishes of the deceased sister on this matter are not known, her family should be consulted.” Salt Lake Tribune, January 29, 2019