This edition of "Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right" features a Salt Lake Tribune report on Latter-day Saint congregations for the hearing impaired, as well as a Washington Post dispatch that details the behind-the-scenes efforts that achieved fairness for all in Utah in regard to religious liberty and LGBT rights.
The Salt Lake Tribune: Hearing the Gospel With Their Eyes: A Look at Mormon Congregations That Speak ASL
With more than 15 million members around the globe, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nothing if not diverse. An article in The Salt Lake Tribune illustrates this fact in a unique way.
Writer Tony Semerad gives readers a glimpse of one of eight congregations in Utah (and there are many more around the world) catered specifically to the needs of the hearing impaired and their families who speak American Sign Language (ASL).
Semerad describes a Sunday service he attended in late March 2015:
Otherwise familiar LDS rituals draw heavily on assisting technology and decades of careful adaptation within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. A clear and strong sense of community unites the congregation, forged by shared experience and language as well as mutual faith. The rich history of deaf Mormons all seems to coalesce like a jewel as members join in on Sunday's first hymn. With captions flickering across a host of TV screens around the chapel, their hands and arms arc and weave quietly in unison as they sign instead of sing the lyrics to "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth"
Foreign language wards are not uncommon in Mormonism, but bonds among deaf members go beyond communicating without English. Jamy Reudter, a counselor in the First Ward's bishopric, says the congregation offers comfort and support to people often isolated and even looked down upon due to their disability.
The Church has been seeking to meet the needs of the hearing impaired since at least 1917.
Washington Post: "Gay rights, religious rights and a compromise in an unlikely place: Utah"
Reporter Niraj Chokshi details the behind-the-scenes efforts that resulted in the passage of bills in the 2015 Utah legislative session that bear on important principles of religious liberty and LGBT rights.
Chokshi describes the Church's role in helping pass the bills and says they can be a model in collaboration for the rest of the nation.
The day after the state’s short legislative session began in January, [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] held a rare news conference in response to tense fights in states such as Arizona and Georgia over religious freedom. Four senior church leaders urged passage of religious freedom and nondiscrimination protections, giving the campaign an unexpected boost.
When the Senate bill was finally unveiled, the Human Rights Campaign called it an “extraordinary moment” for Utah. The group said the measure represented progress because it offered gay men and lesbians the same housing and employment protection as other groups — but more important, it demonstrated how religious conservatives could collaborate with advocates elsewhere.
Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.