The Wider Implications of the Clergy Sex-Abuse Crisis

Baylor University historian Philip Jenkins has written a provocative essay on the wider implications of the clergy sex abuse crisis for American Catholicism. It’s not just that victims have suffered, that clergy have gone to jail, that the Church has paid billions of dollars in lawsuits, that charitable work has been curtailed, and that several dioceses have declared bankruptcy. The scandal has also diminished the Church’s voice on debates about law and religion. Where once people would have paid respect to the Church’s views, even if they disagreed with them, the crisis has so weakened the Church’s moral authority that people dismiss the institution and its arguments entirely. For example, in Jenkins’s view, the ineffectiveness of the Church’s voice has greatly influenced the debate on same-sex marriage:

One great “might have been” involves same-sex marriage. In light of present realities, it is hard to recall just how fringe and even bizarre an issue this seemed just a decade ago, and a large section of the American public is Read more

Turner, “Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet”

From John G. Turner (George Mason), a new biography of Mormon leader Brigham Young, who, at one point, was both President of the LDS Church and Governor of the Utah Territory: Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Harvard 2012). The publisher’s description follows.

Brigham Young was a rough-hewn craftsman from New York whose impoverished and obscure life was electrified by the Mormon faith. He trudged around the United States and England to gain converts for Mormonism, spoke in spiritual tongues, married more than fifty women, and eventually transformed a barren desert into his vision of the Kingdom of God. While previous accounts of his life have been distorted by hagiography or polemical exposé, John Turner provides a fully realized portrait of a colossal figure in American religion, politics, and westward expansion.

After the 1844 murder of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Young gathered those Latter-day Saints who would follow him and led them over the Rocky Read more