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Renowned historian speaks about LDS Church PR problems

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - With the passage of Proposition 8 in California - the one banning gay marriage - the LDS Church is now facing a "perfect storm" of negative publicity.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - With the passage of Proposition 8 in California - the one banning gay marriage - the LDS Church is now facing a "perfect storm" of negative publicity.

So said one of the nation's leading historians on the LDS Church.

Dr. Jan Shipps has been studying and writing about the LDS Church for decades and decades.

She was also the first non-Mormon to be elected president of the Mormon History Association.

She now suggests the Church is facing a Prop 8 backlash, one which may take years to heal.

"It’s a perfect storm. It’s a perfect PR storm"

That's how Shipps described what the LDS Church has dealt with this year.

Specifically, questions about Mitt Romney's religion, the FLDS polygamy crackdown and now Mormon backlash from Prop 8.

Shipps said, "I would wager that the LDS Church has not faced this kind of negative publicity all at once."

The 78 year old Shipps is respected and revered as a historian not just outside Utah, but in Mormon circles here as well.

She said 'surprised' is probably too mild a word to describe the LDS Church's reaction to what happened since Prop 8 passed two weeks ago.

"I think they are really astonished that there are demonstrations at temples all over the nation."

Shipps noted this wasn't simply a case of the LDS Church saying it opposes gay marriage, but it also actively encouraged members to work for Prop 8's passage.

Shipps: "By talking to the Latter-day Saints outside of California that could come back to haunt them."

Shipps, a Methodist, also seemed worried about what Prop 8 and its aftermath are doing to LDS wards.

She even used the word trauma.

"It will take many, many, many months, maybe years to get this division healed."

Dr. Shipps also noted that this perfect storm of negative publicity comes just six years after Utah’s 2002 Olympics.

This was a time, she said, when the image of Mormons around the world couldn't have been higher.

Shipps is currently working on a new book about the LDS Church and Mormonism.
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