For some time, the Church has been upgrading the Gospel Topics section of LDS.org (topics.lds.org) to provide an enriched experience for personal and family gospel study. This has included upgrading some pages and adding new topic pages to provide more doctrinal and Church history resources.
Three weeks ago, the Church completed a series of essays on the topic of plural marriage (polygamy). Much of the information in those essays had been published in various sources and had been known among long-term and well-read members, historians, and Church leaders for many years. To facilitate the study of Church history and doctrine, the Church gathered this information into a single location.
This has attracted the attention of the media, which has recently published many stories about it. The Church’s newsroom site just published the following commentary to give context to the various essays in the Gospel Topics section:
For many years the Church has had a reference section on its main website for various “gospel topics,” listed in alphabetical order. Beginning in November of 2013 the Church began supplementing the material there by publishing in-depth essays on topics of special public interest, including accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Book of Mormon translation process and many more (see complete list below). The Gospel Topics page on LDS.org was then redesigned to better serve as a personal study resource for Church members.
Three weeks ago, the Church completed a series on the topic of plural marriage (polygamy), which has recently been the subject of a large number of media stories. Below is additional context for those essays.
Much of what you’ll find in the essays on polygamy has been published in diverse sources and known among long-term and well-read members, historians and Church leaders for many years. The Church has now gathered this information into a single location as a convenient means of placing these resources in the hands of all members.
The fact that Joseph Smith had plural marriage relationships is not new, of course. Indeed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly asserted Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy—over a century and a half ago, especially in debate with other faith groups who traced their origin to Joseph Smith and who asserted that he did not practice plural marriage. But although polygamy was practiced among early Church leaders and members, its practice was officially discontinued more than 100 years ago.
The Church recognizes the wide interest in many of these topics. Recent research like the Joseph Smith Papers Project, has gathered more information than ever before about early Church doctrine and practice. The Gospel Topics pages are meant as a personal resource for members as they study and teach about the history and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We live in a world where there is so much information available on every topic. And particularly in the age of the Internet, there are both good and bad sources of information. As a Church, it’s important for us to research and provide official, reputable, historically accurate information about our history and doctrine.
A complete list of the in-depth essays is listed below:
Are Mormons Christian? November 20, 2013 [See my summary of this page.]
First Vision Accounts November 20, 2013
Race and the Priesthood December 6, 2013 [See my summary of this page.]
Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah December 16, 2013 [See my summary of this page.]
Book of Mormon Translation December 30, 2013 [See my summary of this page.]
Book of Mormon and DNA Studies January 31, 2014 [See my summary of this page.]
Becoming Like God February 24, 2014
Peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints May 13, 2014 [and Mountain Meadows Massacre]
Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham July 8, 2014
Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo October 22, 2014
The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage October 22, 2014
I wonder why they left the more in-depth look at Mountain Meadows Massacre off the list. There must be a reason?
Who actually authored the essays? Are they considered official Church statements or doctrinal? Who approved them? Many questions remain.
The essays were authored by Church employees and Church history scholars and carefully reviewed and approved by the Church and posted on LDS.org, the official Church website. As such, they represent official Church statements.
I don’t know why the essay on Mountain Meadows Massacre was left off the list. Must have been an oversight, because it’s published and available for anyone to read.
They didn’t leave off the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It is under the heading of “Peace and Violence among 19th Century Latter-day Saints” and should redirect there.
There are actually two entries in Gospel Topics about the Mountain Meadows Massacre:
I’ll add the links above.