“The Bishop’s Wife” was received positively outside church channels, including a review by Janet Maslin in The Times. HuffPost asked Ms. Harrison to write a column about Mormonism. She did, and her essays drew the attention of a group called the Strengthening Church Members Committee, she said.
Ms. Harrison’s local bishop called her in to discuss the articles. The conversation was friendly, she said, and she was not threatened with discipline. But she found it unsettling that her writing had been flagged by a church committee. A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declined to comment for this article.
In 2015, the church passed its so-called November Policy, which declared members in same-sex marriages apostates and barred their children from being baptized. At that time, Ms. Harrison had close family friends in the church community who had a child who had come out as transgender. To signal that she was in mourning over the church’s treatment of L.G.B.T.Q. members, Ms. Harrison started wearing black clothes and a rainbow ribbon to church.
Although the November Policy was later reversed, Ms. Harrison stopped attending church in 2019.
A ‘Forced Innocence’
It’s unclear how often fiction writers are pressured by the church to change their work. When it happens, it happens in private. But one fiction writer, Brian Evenson, did have a public confrontation with B.Y.U. in the ’90s.
Mr. Evenson was teaching creative writing at the university when his first book, “Altmann’s Tongue,” a collection of horror stories, came out. A student objected to the violence in the stories on moral grounds. “I feel like someone who has eaten something poisonous,” the student wrote in an anonymous letter to church leaders. This prompted a review of Mr. Evenson’s book.
He was informed that he could not publish another book like “Altmann’s Tongue” and keep his job at B.Y.U. He resigned. “The pressure was, if I want to keep on writing and not have to constantly be thinking about these people who want me to be writing in a different way, I’ve got to leave,” Mr. Evenson said by phone from his home in Santa Clarita, Calif.