Signs that your LDS stake is ‘liberal’; TikTok influencer Nara Smith says she’s not a ‘hardcore Mormon’

Also: Model Nara Smith talks religion; church buys Kirtland Temple; Giving Machines donate millions.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in downtown Salt Lake City in 2022. A blogger has pointed to a list of how one can tell if a stake is “liberal.”

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Is your stake ‘liberal’?

Wheat & Tares blogger Bishop Bill unearthed a gem written some three decades ago listing “30 indications you live in a liberal Latter-day Saint stake (a cluster of regional congregations).”

Among the entries:

• “The flagpole hasn’t been painted since Ezra Taft Benson was prophet.”

• “The flag hasn’t quite made it up the flagpole since Ezra Taft Benson was prophet.”

• “Portraits of past Relief Society presidents are prominently displayed in the foyer, but no apostles.”

• “The red punch actually tastes good.”

• “The General Handbook of Instructions is supporting the broken leg on the bishop’s desk.”

At No. 1:

• “Members prefer to be called ‘Mormons’ rather than ‘Latter-day Saints.’

Yes, the more things change, the more they ….

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Lawsuits and loot

Tribune reporter Tony Semerad provides an update on the church’s growing wealth and the rising number of tithing lawsuits it faces.

Listen to the podcast.

Giving machines, Ballard video, TikTok star

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Individuals gather around the Giving Machines in Mexico in November 2023.

• Those red Giving Machines delivered a lot of Yuletide green to charities across the globe in 2023, racking up $10.4 million in donations from some 600,000 individuals.

M. Russell Ballard’s voice and visage were heard and seen once again in a video at RootsTech 2024 that featured the apostle, who died in November, discussing his family legacy, including his wife, Barbara, and his great-great-grandfather Hyrum Smith, brother of church founder Joseph Smith. View the highlights.

Rolling Stone featured model Nara Smith, a TikTok influencer with nearly 3 million followers, who is married to fellow model and Latter-day Saint Lucky Blue Smith. She said in a video this week that she is “not in any way a hardcore Mormon or anything like that. I don’t wear garments. I didn’t get married in the temple.”

From The Tribune

• In a major purchase, the church buys Mormonism’s first temple, Ohio’s Kirtland Temple, along with a number of historic Nauvoo properties and historical documents from the Community of Christ for $192.5 million.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Utah-based church has bought the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio.

• Tribune columnist Gordon Monson sees a not-so-veiled message for members in a letter from Utah Area church leaders — and it’s one Trump and his MAGA legions may not like.

• The church won a round in its legal fight with James Huntsman over tithing. Next stop: a rehearing before a full set of judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

• The head of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the church’s popular online education program, once led a “restorative justice” company that a California judge determined had violated civil law.

• It’s OK with the church if the puck stops here, in Salt Lake City. With its downtown headquarters, the global faith gave its blessing to the Utah capital’s pursuit of a National Hockey League arena in the heart of the city.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Mack Jared Chappell of Sugar City, Idaho, has died while serving a Latter-day Saint mission in New Jersey.

• Mack Jared Chappell, a 19-year-old missionary from Idaho, died from a “yet-to-be-determined” medical condition while serving in New Jersey. This was the first publicly reported death of a full-time Latter-day Saint missionary this year in the wake of seven known deaths in 2023.

• Art in a new earthly exhibit puts the spotlight on Heavenly Parents.

• Have floods, will sandbag. That volunteer spirit, writes Tribune guest columnist Eli McCann, seems to be the Utah way.

• President Russell Nelson is molding a church that has always been shaped by culture wars, historian Benjamin Park tells Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess.

(Jordan Miller I The Salt Lake Tribune) Kristin Chenoweth talks to reporters at RootsTech 2024 in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

• RootsTech 2024 included a repeat performance, of sorts, from “Wicked” star Kristin Chenoweth, who sang with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square at Christmastime in 2018.

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