Response of Mormon Writers to CFI Controversy

Many of you may be unaware of what occurred recently in the smaller world of LDS Publishing, but I was among those appalled by the recent treatment of fellow writers by a particular publisher and so I put my name to a statement on the issue.

The statement reads as follows:

Mormon Writers Ask for Manuscripts to be Treated on Quality of Work not Content of Biography

In response to recent events and attention in local and national media, we authors, who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel the need to express our disagreement and disappointment with Cedar Fort in their dealings with David Powers King and Michael Jensen in regards to the manuscript, Woven. We appreciate that Cedar Fort has returned the rights to the work in question and want to note that there are many wonderful people working at Cedar Fort–staff members and authors–who strive to carry out their duties with professionalism and courtesy. Nevertheless we wish to offer our support to our fellow authors and feel compelled to speak out.

As writers, many of whom have published with Cedar Fort, we believe everyone should be treated fairly and with respect, regardless of political or religious affiliation, age, gender, or sexual orientation. We believe that degrading attacks are inappropriate in any business or personal relationship. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we understand our church to teach respect and encourage civility–even when we have differences of opinion.

While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor. If a publisher isn’t comfortable with an author’s personal choices, those concerns should be discussed clearly and respectfully upon signing a contract–not hours before the book goes to press.

We believe that all publishers should be clear and professional in their submission requirements, treat others with dignity and respect, and give all authors the right to be judged on the quality of their work, not the content of their biography.

Signed

Braden Bell
Abel Keogh
Rachelle Christensen
Liz Adair
Frank Cole
Jeff Savage
Daron Fraley
Steve Westover
Marilyn Bunderson
Donna K. Weaver
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
Matt Peterson
Heather Justensen
Tanya Parker Mills
Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Loralee Evans
Melanie Jacobson
Marion Jensen
Carole Rummage
Josi S. Kilpack
Sarah M. Eden
Jolene Perry
Michael Young
Carole Thayne Warburton
Chantele Sedgwick
Mette Ivie Harrison

I encourage those of my readers who are in agreement to go to the website where the statement has been originally posted and make a comment.

I also encourage those who also happen to be LDS writers in agreement with this statement to email writer(at)abelkeogh(dot)com and ask to have their names added (and linked to their websites, if so desired).

 

Originally posted 2013-08-23 11:18:19.

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6 thoughts on “Response of Mormon Writers to CFI Controversy

  1. The thing that saddens me about this story is that the publishers assumed that LDS readers would not buy or read a book written by a gay man. If they are correct, shame on us. If they are wrong, shame on them. I love a well written novel no matter who wrote it.

    • Exactly. Unfortunately, they’re probably both correct and wrong. There are those who will and those who won’t. Yet, as one of my author friends has pointed out, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has no compunction against singing songs written by gay men, and LDS families everywhere let their children perform Broadway shows and plays written and/or composed by gay men. A definite double standard.

  2. I just have a question about this. I’m not saying who is right or who is wrong, I’m just trying to figure it out. I’ve read several posts on this and it said that CF knew that he was gay when they signed him. It seems that the issue isn’t that they refuse to publish him because he is gay, because they signed the contract. It’s because he wants to put that he lives with his partner in the bio. Is it just an issue of not wanting to offend anyone or is it more that they as a business don’t want to be seen as supporting the gay/lesbian agenda? Does that make sense? Some companies proudly sponsor the GLBT movement and I’m just wondering if a concern was that CF would look like they were doing the same thing? Maybe not. Maybe the only issue is that they were worried about offending the LDS population (which I agree is stupid to refuse to read a book based on sexual orientation). It’s just that the petition everyone is signing seems to make the issue that CF refuses to publish because he is gay. They knew he was gay when they signed him so I don’t think that’s the case. I do believe in non-discrimination and that books, movies, music, whatever, should be judged based on content. I’m just trying to figure out what the real issue is in this case.

    • The issue is that when the manuscript was submitted, so was the bio (noting that he lived with a “boyfriend” at that time…he offered later to change the wording to “partner”), as well as Acknowledgments, etc., and they didn’t express any unease or dissatisfaction with the bio upfront. (CFI asks that authors submit an entire package at the beginning, I suppose to avoid exactly this kind of situation.) We know that CFI didn’t refuse to carry through simply because he’s gay; after all, the owner of the company was already acquainted with Michael Jensen and knew he was gay, yet a contract was offered.

      I agree that I don’t think the whole story is yet known, but it seems clear that the publisher did not behave in a professional manner, and took much more into consideration than the manuscript’s quality and commercial viability. It has given a black eye to LDS publishing and, by extension, has possibly cast a bad light on the LDS community. That is why I put my name to the statement. By so doing, I am not endorsing the gay lifestyle. The two issues have nothing to do with each other. I am endorsing honesty. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I believe a work of art should be judged on its merits–meaning content, quality, (and commercial viability in the case of a publisher). I understand the publisher’s need to worry about the bottom line, but if they thought the sexual orientation of one of the co-authors was going to affect sales adversely, those in charge should never have offered or approved the contract rather than appear to be sneaky by altering the bio later without informing said author.

      I hope that lends some clarification.

  3. Yes, that does clarify things a lot. I didn’t know that the bio had been submitted when the contract was signed. If they accepted it then, they should have followed through with publication. That was very underhanded of CFI.

    I thought that they had signed the contract for the manuscript and that the bio was something that had been turned in at the last moment. They had some issues with it but the author refused to work with them so they dropped the publication.

    Honesty definitely should be a top priority, especially from an LDS Publishing company. I also thought it was very inappropriate how the issue was handled by CFI (with aggression and spite).

    I do agree with you that a work of art should be judged based on its merits without discrimination of the author.

    The statement everyone is signing is very well written and professional. Hopefully it will offset this bad PR for the LDS Community and I truly hope the authors will find a good publisher for their book.

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