In 2009, the LDS Church added a fourth emphasis to its mission statement. It added “to care for the poor and needy” to its threefold mission which was previously only to:
- teach the gospel to the world,
- strengthen the membership of the Church, and
- perform saving ordinances for the dead.
This was an excellent addition that I applaud, although I wish caring for the poor had been placed above performing ordinances for the dead.
None of the voices is identified specifically as liberation theology–arguing from the perspective of the poor. Considering liberation theology originated in Latin America, this is a significant and fascinating absence in a church with a majority of Spanish speaking members.
Jason K. commenting on JJ’s review:
Your point about liberation theology is interesting and has me curious as to whether anyone in Latin America is doing a Mormon liberation theology.
JJ’s response to Jason furthers the issue:
I don’t know anyone Mormon doing liberation theology, I suspect they didn’t just exclude those voices. Especially considering our American Mormon cultural forays into something that looks like prosperity gospel and the demographics of international church membership–this absence is really intriguing to me.
Kristine A adds:
Gina Colvin did a podcast with Faltimah Salleh (Duke University) and Janan Graham-Russell (Howard Divinity) on LDS liberation theology, although neither of them are from South America.
I suspect that liberation theology is better handled in a book other than the one reviewed by JJ. Although since women and children are disproportionately effected by poverty, it was important to note its absence in the reviewed Mormon feminist book.
The LDS Church needs to continue to strengthen its emphasis on helping the poor and the needy. There needs to be an overt Mormon liberation theology. We need to emphasize Christ’s mission for what it was and is.