Laura Harris Hales, a scholar and founder of the popular Latter-day Saints Perspectives Podcast, passed away on April 13, 2022, from pancreatic cancer. She was 54 and her death was noted by an obituary in the New York Times. A faithful Latter-day Saint, she was also the author of multiple books about Church history and presented regularly at scholarly meetings.
“Laura might be called an intellectual mountain climber,” her obituary states. “She constantly sought new projects to complete—new mountain peaks to summit—even while surveying the landscape from the vantage point of a recently surmounted mountain top. She never lingered there too long, pausing just to enjoy the view, no matter how much effort it took to finish that journey.”
Some of Ms. Hales’ projects included maintaining Joseph Smith’s Polygamy website and compiling a book of essays entitled “A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS History and Doctrine.” She hosted the Latter-day Saints Perspectives Podcast for five years, hoping to “encourage deeper engagement with Latter-day Saint doctrine and history.” At the time of her death, the podcast had over 3 million downloads and counting. The last episode aired in May 2021.
“I have been the most unlikely of podcast hosts,” Ms. Hales shared in the final episode. Not only do I suffer from more social anxiety than average but also my vocal talents are limited. What I do have is a lot of questions. Fortunately, I was able to spend hours with scholars who have become my friends and have answered some of them. Thanks, listeners, for sharing this journey with me.”
“In 2016, there were not a lot of options for those seeking academic enrichment from a faithful perspective, but the landscape has changed over the last several years. Like me, individuals and institutions are doing what they can with their unique talents, gifts, and means to promote understanding and deeper engagement with our religion and faith. As I leave this venue, I know I leave it in good hands.”
Ms. Hales is survived by her husband Brian, five children and their spouses, her mother, and eight siblings.