Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Claremont, the Church & Sunstone

An editorial by the church recently praised the development of the new Mormon Studies program at Claremont Graduate University, stating "the Church encourages a deeper and broader examination of its theology, history and culture on an intellectual level, and this is a wonderful opportunity to expand open dialogue and conversation between the Latter-day Saints and various scholarly and religious communities."

Sunstone recently announced that the new Mormon Studies program at Claremont will host the next Sunstone West symposium. This is interesting because the church has had an uncomfortable relationship with Sunstone, the premier sponsor of theological symposiums dedicated to Mormonism. In 1991, the First Presidency issued a statement against attending "certain symposia" that clearly implicated Sunstone. Church owned Brigham Young University (BYU) has had an unwritten policy that it's faculty not participate in Sunstone symposia. I know employees at BYU who are afraid to attend (let alone present papers) because of possible repercussions to their employment.

In the editorial, the church praises the increase scholarly attention, providing a list of recent conferences on the Mormonism, but fails to include any of the several Sunstone symposia that occur across the country in the past year.

With the church's praise of Claremont' Mormon studies program, and the announcement of Claremont hosting Sunstone (both announcements occurring within days of each other) one wonders if a change is occurring in the relationship between Sunstone & the church, or if the church's endorsement of Claremont was premature.

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