Predictions: LDS General Conference will be same old, same old

The 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is just around the corner. With the local and national media coverage that has recently surrounded the Church, it’s high time General Conference gets its own preview and predictions like any other big event. What used to be an exclusively Mormon event is now front page news in papers like the Salt Lake Tribune and is even mentioned in the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. While they have covered various aspects of General Conference, what these publications choose to cover is typically pretty selective — hence the need to preview what will be covered by the media this coming weekend. To those of you who are unfamiliar with the church, let this preview be your guide on what may or may not occur at the conference. As for you Conference-going Mormons, well, you already know what to expect — it’s the same thing every six months.

Thanks to the well-publicized Mormon support of Proposition 8 and Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential runs, the LDS Church has had their “Mormon Moment,” and for better or worse the mainstream media has jumped on the bandwagon. General Conference has more media interest than ever, though what is actually covered remains strategically selective. Hence the need for a few predictions of my own.

As the prognosticator of prognosticators I will make the very safe prediction that at some point a talk will be given reaffirming the LDS Church’s support for traditional marriage. How can I be so sure? Because they always give the same talk about the importance of traditional marriage — and have been doing so since long before Proposition 8. I also predict that even though there will be nothing new about this long-standing doctrine, it will make the front page of the Tribune and be referenced in national newspapers.

For my next bold prediction, I’m going to go out on a limb and make the claim that another LDS temple will be announced during the Saturday morning session — and it won’t be the long-awaited White Plains New York temple that was announced in 1995 and has yet to see the light of day due to opposition from the local community in Harrison, New York. Curiously, the LDS church has been able to get approval to build a temple in the notoriously secular Paris, France and one in the Catholic stronghold of Rome and yet somehow has been denied in New York. Now that’s a story worth gracing at least the fourth or fifth page of any newspaper. Instead, most media organizations will cover any conference talk that reminds the world that Mormons still believe homosexuality is a sin.

For my next trick I will peer into my crystal ball and make the prediction that there will be talks about charity, faith, giving service to others, avoiding pornography, respecting spouses and honoring commitments, all of which will not be covered by any media organization with the lone exception of the Deseret News (which, due to its affiliation with the Church, doesn’t really count as an unbiased news source ).

Now it’s time to predict what won’t happen this weekend. There will most certainly not be a talk on the benefits of shopping at the sparkling new City Creek mall as opposed to, say, the outdated Gateway mall. I highly doubt there will be a talk expounding on the reasons why college students shouldn’t grow beards, which would disappoint the BYU students who are petitioning the university to drop its no-beard policy. Finally, I predict that members of Ordain Women will not be attending the priesthood session this weekend, and even if they were allowed to attend, their recently excommunicated leader Kate Kelly would be barred from entering anyway. But at least it will give her something to blog about, and I can guarantee that will make the front page.

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