Mormons lift the veil on official “handbook”

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) — For Mormons – or anyone else – who might be wondering, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes no stand on drinking Coca-Cola.

The church opposes gambling, guns in churches, euthanasia, and hypnotism for entertainment.

These and other positions are spelled out in what Mormons commonly refer to as “the handbook” – a newly published two-volume set of instructions for regional leaders, bishops, and other local LDS leaders.

Until now, the handbook was available only to these church leaders. That still holds true for the first volume, but the church has put the second, red volume online for everyone.

Putting Handbook 2 on the Web “removes the veil of secrecy from a lot of the operation,” says Mormon sociologist Armand Mauss of Irvine, Calif. He sees the move as part of a “recent trend in the church to become more transparent.”

Many members hail this new openness and find several statements in the handbook to be surprisingly complex, leaving much decision-making to individuals or couples.