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Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

All Stories by Jana Riess

Mormon kids can’t wear Halloween masks to the trunk-or-treat … or can they?

By Jana Riess — October 19, 2021
(RNS) — The LDS church's ban on face masks at activities has quietly disappeared from the official Handbook, at least for now. Bring on those Chewbacca costumes!

The battle lines around the word ‘Mormon’

By Jana Riess — October 13, 2021
(RNS) — ‘Mormon’ has become a shibboleth, an immediate shorthand for Latter-day Saints to size up one another’s obedience and orthodoxy.

Mormons make strides in discussing mental illness. Is it enough?

By Jana Riess — October 4, 2021
(RNS) — When we emphasize that the Lord can’t abide any unclean thing and his acceptance of us is predicated on all the dazzling feats of self-improvement we’re going to perform, we’re hurting those who struggle with mental illness.

Outgrowing your religion

By Jana Riess — September 29, 2021
(RNS) — 'If God is really God-sized, as we say God is, then God is OK with our vacillation and our doubt and our inconsistencies,' says North Carolina pastor John Pavlovitz. 'So we should be, too.'

We owe it to the vulnerable to get vaccinated

By Jana Riess — September 21, 2021
(RNS) — Dr. Tyler Johnson says his Mormon religion ‘teaches me I have a moral obligation to seek out facts and to seek to understand the world as it is,’ which means rejecting vaccine conspiracy theories and misinformation.

LuLaRoe and the shadow side of Mormon gender roles

By Jana Riess — September 16, 2021
(RNS) — A new docuseries shows how a Mormon couple recycled anti-feminist ideas to stay-at-home moms for profit.

Blocklisting at Brigham Young University

By Jana Riess — September 10, 2021
(RNS) — The erasure of historian Benjamin Park's involvement from the Maxwell Institute's website reflects poorly on the institute and on BYU, particularly since he says he hasn't been told why it happened.

Elder Holland’s BYU speech is for a university of yesteryear

By Jana Riess — August 25, 2021
(RNS) — As BYU looks forward to the second half of its second century, erasing difference and implicitly upholding one particular social location as normative for everyone won’t equip students to succeed in a diverse world.

New Mormon YA novel explores both faith and feminism

By Jana Riess — August 23, 2021
(RNS) — ‘I wanted to write a story that allowed for some degree of comfort with having questions,’ said novelist Rosalyn Eves.

Rising numbers of young adult Mormons in the US are gay, lesbian or bisexual

By Jana Riess — June 21, 2021
(RNS) — So far, Gen Z Mormons look like millennials in their sexual orientation, only more so, according to the largest dataset we’ve ever had about Latter-day Saints in America.

Summer hiatus

By Jana Riess — June 1, 2021
I plan to be back in early September with renewed energy and some fresh perspective. Until then, God bless you.

Gen Z lost touch with faith communities during pandemic but kept the faith, says study

By Jana Riess — May 31, 2021
(RNS) — Half of young people (ages 13 to 25) thought their faith communities had done well managing the COVID pandemic even though 90% reported receiving no personal contact from clergy.

A Mormon walks into a megachurch

By Jana Riess — May 26, 2021
(RNS) — Five things Latter-day Saints can learn from Crossroads, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America.

Why so many new Mormon temples when LDS growth is flat?

By Jana Riess — May 20, 2021
(RNS) — If yesterday’s temple was a prize bestowed on area members when they had achieved certain milestones related to growth, today’s temple is a jumper cable, a tool to re-energize the sputtering engine of the LDS Church.

If Mormons could just hang out in the church building

By Jana Riess — May 14, 2021
(RNS) — LDS leaders want members to view the church building as a genuine 'third place' in their lives. But it's hard for the church to surrender control and let organic community activities develop outside the chain of command.
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