solidarityOver the weekend I was part of drafting a statement that has been signed by more than five dozen Mormon bloggers, writers, and podcasters, emphasizing our concerns over the threatened excommunications of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly and our hopes for a more creative, constructive solution.

I am hopeful that our voices will be heard. We are encouraged by Saturday’s news that John Dehlin’s stake president has postponed his disciplinary council to the end of the month and expressed a “desire for de-escalation.” — JKR

Room for All in this Church

We face a difficult and pivotal moment in Mormonism as LDS leaders and church members wrestle more openly with complicated aspects of our faith, its doctrine, and its history—often in spaces afforded by the Internet. In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS “Bloggernacle” and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions.

May we all remember, as scripture teaches, the intricate intertwining of mercy and justice. May we all follow the admonition to seek understanding before judgment, even as we address matters that can be difficult to talk about.

Scripture and tradition teach us that excommunication is one way of maintaining the boundaries of a religious community. But we believe that excommunication is not the best way to address conflict over doctrine, policy, or tradition. We ask our leaders to consider other ways of maintaining boundaries, strengthening Church members, and encouraging them to grow spiritually within Mormonism’s large and embracing community without the fear and despair the threat of excommunication sows not only in those threatened but in their families, friends, and those who share similar concerns about LDS Church doctrine or history—even those who do so silently. We are deeply encouraged by the recent news about the prospect of de-escalation in at least one of the current cases and pray for positive steps towards reconciliation.

The issues in Mormon doctrine, history, and practice highlighted by those facing church discipline are much larger than any one individual. It is not only unavoidable that these issues will continue to be discussed; such discussion is good for the health of our religious community and faithful to the truth-seeking spirit of the Latter-day Saint Restoration. As bloggers, podcasters, and passionate contributors to good, healthy online discussion, we affirm our commitment to continue speaking openly and publicly, and encouraging others to do so as well. We will continue to use online spaces to grow in knowledge and faith, to attempt to present and see many sides of each issue, and to reach out to those expressing pain, heartache, and loneliness. It is our experience that these conversations can bear good fruit as Latter-day Saints mourn with those who mourn and reflect on, deepen, and renew their faith.

We are grateful for our membership in this Church and for the unique opportunities the Internet has provided us to share our Mormon experiences, questions, and hopes. We pray that a spirit of clemency will guide the words and actions of everyone—especially those who bear the heavy responsibility of ecclesiastical discipline of Church members—and that the words of President Uchtdorf will hold sway: “Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.”

Signed:

  • Dan Wotherspoon, Mormon Matters podcast
  • Jana Riess, Religion News Service
  • Natasha Helfer Parker, The Mormon Therapist blog
  • Paul Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
  • Michael Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
  • Mark Crego, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
  • Lisa Butterworth, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • Joanna Brooks, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • Gina Colvin, KiwiMormon blog
  • Lindsay Park, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • Jared Anderson, Mormon Sunday School podcast
  • Daniel Parkinson, No More Strangers blog
  • Bill McGee, Sunstone
  • Mary Ellen Robertson, Sunstone
  • Stephen Carter, Sunstone
  • Michael Stevens, Sunstone
  • Chelsea Shields Strayer, LDS WAVE
  • Tresa Edmunds, LDS WAVE
  • Chelsea Robarge Fife, Mormon Feminist Cooperative
  • Kalani Tonga Tukaufu, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • David Landrith, Mormon Mentality
  • Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Mormon Matters podcast
  • Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Rational Faiths blog
  • Spencer Lake, Clean Cut blog
  • Brittany Morin-Mezzadri, TheLadyMo blog
  • Katie Langston, Feminist Mormon Housewives blog
  • Hannah Wheelwright, Young Mormon Feminists blog
  • Erin Moore, Young Mormon Feminists blog
  • Kimberly Lewis, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • Nikki Hunter, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • Nancy Ross, Nickel on the ‘Nacle blog
  • Mark Brown, The Mormon Hub (Facebook)
  • Alicia Jones, LDS Left (Facebook)
  • Elise Villescaz, LDS Left (Facebook)
  • Emily Summerhays, Feminist Mormon Housewives
  • Mindy Farmer, The Inquisitive Mom blog
  • Jeff Krey, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
  • Lori Burkman, Rational Faiths blog
  • Laura Compton, Mormons for Marriage
  • Alison Moore Smith, Mormon Momma blog
  • Heather Olsen Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
  • Brent Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
  • Ed Snow, Doves and Serpents blog
  • Erin Hill, Doves and Serpents blog
  • Meghan Raynes, Exponent blog
  • Aimee Hickman, Exponent blog
  • Rachel Hunt, Exponent blog
  • Liz Johnson, Exponent blog
  • Libby Potter Boss, Exponent blog
  • Heather Moore-Farley, Exponent blog
  • April Young Bennett, Exponent blog
  • Deborah Farmer Kris, Exponent blog
  • Jessica Oberan Steed, Exponent blog
  • Carolyn Kline, Exponent blog
  • April Carlson, Exponent blog
  • Sariah Anne Kell, Exponent blog
  • Chelsea Sue, Exponent blog
  • Emily Clyde Curtis, Exponent blog
  • Emily Updegraff, Exponent blog
  • Dayna Patterson, Doves and Serpents blog
  • Cheryl Bruno, Worlds Without End blog
  • Katie Evans, Zelophehad’s Daughters blog
  • Mike Cannon, Zelophehad’s Daughters blog
  • Kristy Benton, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Lori LeVar Pierce, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Rebecca Reid Linford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Paula Goodfellow, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Cheryl McGuire, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Kay Gaisford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Lorlalie Pallotta, All Are Alike Unto God blog
  • Wendy Reynolds, All Are Alike Unto God blog

 

61 Comments

  1. Way to go, Jana and all. It almost makes me wish I were still a member. Sometimes it’s important to stand up for what’s right. Sometimes when you do, others rise with you. Sometimes when the brave have risen, you discover that perceived enemies may actually be friends.

  2. Many people pray for the difficulty of the leadership, as members themselves and the members. We pray for unity, to hold on together through these growing times.

    I think you could have received many more signatures if it were available.

  3. With all the hoopla and political correctness, (which today is a euphemism for spiritual incorrectness) surrounding the self serving revelations about pending disciplinary councils for Kate Kelly and others, it is now a good time to return to doctrine, true doctrine.

    Disciplinary Councils are councils of love: They are not directed by public opinion, but rather, like the church itself, they are directed by revelation from God. (a point the OW supporters still don’t get). Though the “purge” claimants would like to deceive the world into thinking that excommunication is a foregone conclusion, that is only because it suits their bias. However, that claim is simply not the truth. The results of disciplinary councils are determined by God, through revelation, and often contradict any preconceived notions members of the councils have carried in with them. Additionally disciplinary councils are love centered and focused on the eternal welfare of three groups. 1st, the individuals who are called before the council, which will attempt to reach their hearts, to determine if there is serious sin, and if so, if the sinner has a repentant and contrite heart, and can be saved. 2nd, the innocent victims of those who have committed serious transgressions. Interestingly the hue and cry from the sympathetic apostates is always centered on the person who is facing discipline, and never mentions, or even considers the precious and innocent souls being harmed by the sinner. 3rd, the church as a whole, whose mission and eternal purpose can be destroyed from the uncorrected, and unrepentant, actions of those who profess to belong to the organization, while actually working to destroy it. Disciplinary Councils are directed by God and he will determine the outcome. Those who oppose the use of councils, and who will no doubt challenge the outcomes, do so because as with the other aspects of their biased apostasy, they do not want to follow or submit to God, but rather they want to be God.

    • Steven Barringer

      Talk about bias. Your comment is riddled with it. You accuse the people you are criticizing of prejudging the outcome. You, in turn, prejudge the apostasy of the two people in question, and the people who are concerned about them. If you would work for a little more objectivity, your thoughts would be more valuable here, and more welcome.

        • Steven Barringer

          Brian: Not funny. The “petitioners,” as you call them, are speaking their minds about things that are important to them. One does not usually expect objectivity from advocates. The commenter I questioned here was critical of their “bias,” while openly but perhaps unconsciously expressing his own bias. Maybe it would have been better to call that hypocritical, or “unself-aware,” or fallacious, and not to expect objectivity.

          • Nice try, but nope. I think your bias might be showing. Can you show where of how FWJ was biased? He specifically noted that he cannot predetermine the outcome of the council, and according to LDS doctrine, it would be wrong to try to influence it (which is specifically what the petitioners are doing).

      • It is a lack of objectivity and clear bias on the part of Steve that renders his judgments of my post to be biased.

        That is the nature of the human condition. We all have bias, and that motivates all but the most honest, to see, or interpret in the way that best suits them.

        The only escape from this, the only valid way to know objective truth, even absolute truth, is by revelation from God, which is why Disciplinary Councils are a blessing and legitimate use of church authority. It is one forum, where no action is taken until God reveals his will, sufficient to overcome human bias, and to implement perfect justice, balanced by perfect mercy.

        As for comment being valuable and welcome, it is a fallacious and arrogant assumption by this poster that being welcome, pleasing others, or having my comments judged by him to be “Valuable” is the motivation for making them. That is not the case. We have enough men pleasers, whose underlying motivation is to never cause a ruffle, even at the risk of losing those who a ruffle might save!

        • Steven Barringer

          Of course everybody is biased. The difference between you and me is that you don’t any idea what my biases are on this subject. If you think they are perfectly aligned with the bloggers whose letter started this conversation, suffice it to say you are wrong. In contrast, I know exactly what yours are. They are embedded in your first post.

          One bias I am happy to reveal: I, like you, don’t like “men pleasers.” That’s why I’m thrilled that in recent years, Mormons who don’t engage in the typical groupthink that goes on in our culture feel empowered to speak their minds. That’s why I support what these people are doing. Since you say you don’t care much for men pleasers, I’m not sure why you don’t support them, even if you don’t agree with them.

        • Steven Barringer

          To Brian:

          1. I tried to excerpt the portions of FWJ’s comment that evidence bias, and couldn’t do excerpts. The whole second paragraph reveals bias. FWJ objects to the concept that people could speak openly in opposition to the use of discliplinary councils in the cases of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. He refers to these people — the bloggers who signed the letter — as “biased apostates.”

          2. FWJ himself (I assume he is male, which may reveal one of my biases) acknowledges the bias in his comments, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for you and me to debate whether it’s there (see his reply at 9:18 PM to my comment).

          3. Could somebody point me to the doctrinal citation that says it is wrong to offer support to somebody who is being subjected to Church disclipine? Kate Kelly was invited in the letter announcing the disciplinary council to submit evidence of support for her position — including letters and other evidence of support from members — before the council.

          • One of the indicators that a person is unable to see their own bias, is a pretense to omniscience, like Brain’s “… you don’t (sic) any idea what my biases are….. I know exactly what yours are.”

            In essence he can determine with exactness from other’s writings, what bias they have, while others cannot do the same for him. Amazing.

            On a deeper level, since my actual point is that truth cannot be known by flesh reliance, which is obviously Brian’s methodology, then his own biased perceptions about my biases, remain suspect.

            His second comment is based on the false premise that men pleasing only takes place if the persons you are seeking to please are fellow valiant Mormons. The fact is that the list of bloggers in the original post are a perfect example of groupthink. What Brian is saying here, is only those who speak out in accordance with his private bias, are supported in doing so, for they have been empowered to speak their minds. While those who express opinions contrary to his private bias, are victims of groupthink and so should be challenged by Brian as being biased.

            The last question is very revealing and shows how deeply held bias can affect the human reason. Brian: “I’m not sure why you don’t support them, even if you don’t agree with them.” Really? The answer of course is why would anyone support something they don’t agree with. For example, I can hear Brian asking: “Why don’t you support pornography, even though you don’t agree with it” “Why don’t you support apostasy, even if you disagree with it?” or best yet, “Why don’t OW supporters support the Church’s position on ordaining women, even if they don’t agree with it?” the list could go on forever.

            It is usually those who lack deeply held moral convictions, who make such statements and who are clearly the real men pleasers. Those who actually do support something that they really don’t agree with must have some other motivation in doing so..that motivation is often pleasing men.

          • Steven Barringer

            Specious arguments that avoid the actual issues. First, my name is Steve, not Brian. Brian was a commenter who came to your defense. A lot of good that did him. Second, the real bottom line is that you called the petitioners “biased apostates.” True, or not? The rest of your material is just trashing me, without acknowledging that you actually did what I accused you of doing.

          • With reference to 3., I’ve never been involved in a church court, but doesn’t the Doctrine & Covenants give instructions so that half the council speaks on behalf of the person accused? Look at Doctrine & Covenants Section 102, verses 13 through 16.

            We do not believe in the Catholic doctrine of infallibility, so much of what FWJ wrote simply did not make sense to me from an LDS viewpoint. Yes, we honor those who lead us and give them the benefit of the doubt, but they haven’t been translated and they do not spend their days in the presence of Heavenly Father engaged in lengthy theological discussions. Joseph F. Smith is on record as saying that he did not receive any revelation, period, until shortly before his death. Having the option to receive revelation is not the same as receiving it.

            We are here to gain experience and we often walk, if not in darkness, then certainly not in complete light. As Dieter Uchtdorf pointed out in conference recently, the leaders of our church are capable of making mistakes and have occasionally done so. Treating them like deity when they are not is idolatry, as in leaning on the arm of flesh, as in, not a good idea because it will get you into trouble. Heavenly Father (a mathematician if ever I’ve seen one) has made it clear we are to do our best to figure things out and double-check what we think against the best and most straight-thinking people we can find.

            Checking our conscience and our intelligence at the door in the name of obedience was never part of the plan, and implying otherwise is (at best) misinformed and (at worst) dangerous and apostate doctrine.

  4. Wow FJW, I hope you can get a glimpse of how harsh that can come across:
    “Those who oppose the use of councils, and who will no doubt challenge the outcomes, do so because as with the other aspects of their biased apostasy, they do not want to follow or submit to God, but rather they want to be God.”

    In my reading this statement doesn’t oppose the use of councils, it states the belief that “excommunication is not the best way to address conflict over doctrine, policy, or tradition.” We are always right to seek revelation and inspiration, but I believe we must also always be aware of our human state and as such our fallibility in reliably interpreting the divine will.

    • I am thankful that you understood my point and did not seek to impose censorship on it as other blogs have. I respect your honesty. The point is that excommunication cannot be imposed without a council, so if they are claiming that councils are OK but not excommunication, then they do not understand Disciplinary Councils. Those who have directed them, like I have, know that they are guided by God, and He clearly makes His will known or no action is taken. The alternate you offer is imposition of what is always flawed, reliance on human reason. Only God knows the heart, as much as others want to pretend to it, so the only way to correctly determine if apostasy exists, and if so how to respond to it in a way to save the apostate and their victims, is by revelation, the only unflawed source of truth.

  5. Do you think that people will get the wrong impression having John Dehlin’s potential council postponed with a “desire for de-escalation” and not Kate Kelly’s, man vs woman thing? I know the politics of John and Kate are different, yet the same in many respects- still I wonder if women will feel, once again, undermined because of it?

    What is your take on this, Jana? I sincerely would love to know. Thank you, Duck

  6. I like the article, just not what it is connected too. Neither person, from what I a can see, will face church disapline because of questions or expressions. Kate seem to be facing disapline because she has created an organization and taught to the world through the media what is not accepted by the church after multiple both private and public responses by the church and efforts to dialogue, explain and correct. She expressed these ideas for years without a problem The problem seems to be the power processes she is now using not the content and this artical makes no destination.

  7. President Thomas S. Monson, sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator, and a life long publisher, is no doubt familiar with the issues surrounding his predecessor, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the “Nauvoo Expositor.” The combined undersigned above come uncomfortably close to playing a role similar to a modern day Nauvoo Expositor. I’d say you have placed yourselves squarely on the stage of history. Many of us are holding our breath in wonder.

  8. For a while I was thinking I should just support the church’s actions, but then I realized that there are like, fifty or sixty bloggers on the internet who understand church teachings better than the apostles and prophets do. This is great!

    • I know right?? In the past, I would have mistakenly thought that there’s room for everyone in the church because everyone is capable of repentance. But now, because of the Bloggernacle, I realize that you don’t actually have to change yourself to fit the church. You can change the church to fit you! If this weren’t the case, how would you be able to do whatever you wanted to do?

    • No one is claiming to understand church teachings better than the apostles and prophets. Kate Kelly is not telling anyone that she knows better than they do. She’s just complaining about the way things are and asking leaders to seek revelation.

      Anyone who’s been a member for any length of time knows that change in the church most often comes from revelation spurred by protests/complaining. For example:

      1) The Word of Wisdom
      2) The end of polygamy
      3) Changes in temple garment design
      4) The priesthood made available to African-Americans
      5) Changes in the endowment to make it less violent
      6) Changes in washing and anointing to make it less uncomfortable for the sisters
      7) Sisters being allowed to pray in sacrament meetings
      8) Sisters being allowed to pray in General Conference

      I am sure there are more I’ve missed. There is clearly a pattern here: someone complains until the people in charge seek revelation; once they have revelation things change. I myself am thankful for those who complained, because I see all eight of those as positive changes.

      • “Kate Kelly is not telling anyone that she knows better than they do.”

        Sorry, you’re incorrect. From the Ordain Women Mission Statement:
        “Ordain Women believes WOMEN MUST BE ORDAINED in order for our faith to reflect the equity and expansiveness of these [LDS Church] teachings.” (Emphasis Added)

        And again in the FAQ:
        “Ordain Women asserts that priesthood must be re-envisioned as a power that transcends gender and is exercised by both men and women for the benefit of all.”

        . . . a little later in the FAQ . . .
        “As much as possible, encourage the Mormon community to coalesce around the goal of women’s ordination. Help them see that anything less is insufficient to address the gender inequality in the Church.”

        So, you see, this isn’t a group that is sincerely interested in having the leaders of the LDS Church just ask. They already have the answer and they want everyone else to get on board with it.

        Whatever your feeling is about the LDS Church or it’s leadership, I’m very surprised that no one has called out OW for being more than a little hypocritical in their messages. On the one hand they claim that they just want the leaders to ask, yet on the other they cry that anything less than ordination isn’t good enough.

        And they wonder why people are so upset.

      • Raymond Takashi Swenson

        None of those things happened because people tried ot invade church meetings to which they were not invited, or held demonstrations to encourage people outside the church to criticize the church. They happened when faithful members acted without publicity to communicate with their bishops, stake presidents, and general authorities.

        I was in the Church Office Building, doing research in the Church Archives, the day the announcement was made about ordainiing blacks to the priesthood. It was a bolt from the blue, because there was simply NO public event that had happened that year or in several years before that could be pointed to by the news media as the immediate motive for the change. President Kimball was simply a person of great compassion, manifestly for people who were American Indians, and Asian, and Mexican, and black. Furthermore, it was a change that 99% of the Mormons I knew were grateful for, many of us because we knew black Mormons who would be blessed by the change.

        I think there is a long way to go before you can persuade 99% of Latter-day Saints that women need to be ordained in the priesthood, over and above the authority they already receive when being set apart to serve as temple ordinance workers, and as full time missionaries, and as leaders in Relief Society, and Young Women, and Primary, and as teachers of boys and girls, men and women in Sunday School and in Seminary and Institute. In other churches, women who do those things are considered ministers. The LDS priesthood is not something magic that makes a man any more susceptible to inspiration from God than a righteous woman.

        The notion that having women pray in General Conference was a major achievement is ludicrous, since they have been giving talks in General Conference for years. Not to mention singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and playing the Tabernacle Organ in General Conference, and directing other choral groups that have performed during conference sessions.

        • I agree that most of those were the result of non-public complaints and concerns. Polygamy, of course, would be a major exception to that, with major pressure from both outside and inside the church (and lots of people excommunicated in the process).

          The revelation on the priesthood is also an exception. Maybe there wasn’t anything in the Church Archives related to protests, but protests were definitely happening. There’s the case of Byron Marchant, who was excommunicated in the fall of ’77 for his active protests. He was arrested for trespassing at the April ’78 conference while he was handing out literature in support of lifting the ban, and had announced a planned march on Temple Square at the October ’78 conference, which, of course, became unnecessary. You can find all of this in the Salt Lake Tribune archives. I’m not saying in any way that Marchant’s protests were responsible for the change–but the fact is the issue had not gone away.

          I agree that most members of the church don’t feel women need or should have the priesthood (I’m not sure I myself am there yet), and nothing significant will happen until they do. But I believe that most members of the church in the 20’s and 30’s (even the 40’s and 50’s!) did not believe that African-American men should have the priesthood. But things changed with time. And when they did, it helped the process of lifting the ban. So maybe as far as women getting the priesthood is concerned, it’s just too much too soon. There are too many other religions out there (including Catholicism) that don’t allow female priests. But will it possibly happen someday? I don’t see why not.

          And I wasn’t saying that allowing women to pray in General Conference was a “major achievement.” Just that it was a change brought about because somebody complained. But I, for one, am happy that that change–and all of the others–came. The doctrine of continuing revelation is truly a glorious thing.

  9. I don’t understand. I am a new member of the church and I thought that church decisions are made by God? Do you think God is wrong? Or you think you are closer to God than the church is?

    • Church decisions are made by God, yes. Leaders are fallible, but not more fallible than bloggers. But yeah, a lot of these bloggers have started to think they’re cleverer than the apostles, and that the apostles are only speaking the word of God whenever their words conform with modern progressivism. A little silly, I know.

    • Brilliantly said, Philippe. God is the one leading this church and knows all, and sees the beginning from the end, so He obviously knows what is best for us.

  10. nobody important

    Ironically, some of the signers have declared open season on the local LDS leaders who find themselves in the unenviable position of doing what they believe is their sacred responsibility in the face of harassment and public opposition.

    Jana, forgive me if I’m a little skeptical of the outstretched hand that had just pulled the pin out of the grenade.

  11. It’s one thing to coalesce around things you don’t agree with, ie. the common enemy. It’s a different thing to come together as a community of believers. It would be interesting to see this group of bloggers function together in their own progressive ward and try to determine what they actually believe in. There is much discrepancy in the above group as to what parts of the gospel they actually do claim. I wonder if there would be as many real hugs as the virtual ones going around now.

  12. This whole mess reminds me of a missionary in my mission. He became very focused on revelation, and needing to make his calling and election sure. Much of his time was devoted to receiving revelation. So much so that it became a form of obsession with him. He then was paired with a really new missionary for his last two months. He taught his new companion all about revelation and how important it was. So important that he had to take this young new missionary to see Star Wars to see all the parables to the gospel. So much so that when he left he mission he left this poor missionary paralyzed because he just wasn’t as inspired as this other missionary and he needed revelation to do anything. The older missionary went home, and the next month so did the new missionary because he was so messed up. All because someone, seeking something good, became over focused on that thing and forgot the rest. And he then led another down the same wrong path and into danger. This is Kate Kelly. I listened to her on KUER. She wants to push for this thing, to the point that she is now risking everything: covenents, inspiration, blessings. But not only risk to herself, but to those who are following her. She said in her interview how she thinks that if she could just sit down with the leadership of the church, the prophet, she could have a different outcome. Don’t we all wish we could have a personal sit down with the prophet? But in many ways we can… scriptures, General Conference, Ensign/Liahona articles. Its all there. In fact this last conference pretty directly answered her questions. We are invited to weary the Lord in supplication, but sometimes we need to be able to learn to accept no as an answer. I really hope she can remain a member. I also really hope she can start to again see all the other blessings that she has and not ignore them to the point of losing them.

        • Discipline hearings are hypocritical to Mormonism and Christianity. Mormonism and Christianity are suspicious as inventions of men, if also with some inspirational merit. Discipline hearings and excommunications make both look like obvious inventions of men.

          • Are you familiar with disciplinary hearings? I’ve several people rebaptized after being excommunicated (sometimes unbeknownst to their fellow parishioners), and I think they would disagree with your assessment.

  13. The plea for HQ to listen to its members is pointless. I’ve tried many times to offer advise, as a man with the “holy priesthood”, for things and most authorities wouldn’t even respond to my emails. It defeats the purpose of revelation, which is only given to the authority, and not the member. The Church has an authoritarian top-down style of leadership and nothing is going to change it. The “top” decides and the people “down” complies. That’s how it works. They are in another double-bind situation where if they listen to the members, they risk to lose face and credibility because only the people higher up is supposed to have the authority for revelation. But if they don’t listen to members, or at least negotiate and understand them, more and more members will see HQ as they really are: authoritarian and possibly dictators.

    • One of the weaknesses of human reason is the human penchant to employ the shallow reasoning of dichotomous thinking, (i.e. either the Church listens to every whiner among the 15 million Saints, or they listen to nobody). While trying to force the Church into either of those extremes serves the purpose of the agenda driven, it is simply not legitimate as there are a host of other possibilities.

      In fact, The Church does take in and ponder over input from members across the world. I have personal experience with writing to an Apostle only later to have my letter mentioned in General Conference along with teaching of doctrine which addressed my concern. Many others have had similar experiences. The issue comes when the so called suggestions from the (people) are actually the people trying to claim and enforce revelation for the church. There is a difference between making suggestions for improvements or seeing possible modifications, and suggesting them in the submissive, “nevertheless not my will but thine attitude”, and the radicalized seeking to force ones will upon the church in matters they have no real understanding of. When humble suggestions become arrogant, non compromising demands, apostasy is present.

      • One can only be impressed with how truly special you are, especially in your ability to tell everyone else the mind and will of God. How nice for you.

  14. I’m new to this conversation, but it seems to me that one of the problems is that people have forgotten that the church is not a social or political organization. It’s not governed by elected officials. It’s doctrines are not voted on. Other than the revelations on polygamy and the priesthood to the blacks, most of the changes that have been mentioned are minor changes in procedure, coming in response to various needs. I think this whole conversation detracts from the mission of the church which is to invite all to come unto Christ. Joseph Smith said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

    Elder Ballard said the following at BYU Education week last August. (BYU Speeches, Think Straight–Ballard)
    “Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ are perfect. They are omniscient and understand all things. Further, Their hopes for us are perfect. Their work and Their glory is to see Their children exalted—to bring about the immortality and eternal life of mankind.

    Surely if our eventual exaltation is Their essential goal and purpose, and if They are omniscient and perfect as we know They are, then They understand best how to prepare, teach, and lead us so that we have the greatest chance to qualify for exaltation.

    There are some questions about the Church’s position on sensitive issues that are hard to answer to anyone’s satisfaction. However, when we seek the Lord in prayer about how to feel and what to do in these situations, the impression comes: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ and do you follow Him and the Father?” I believe most everyone in the Church at one time or another will wonder if they can do all they are asked to do. But if we really believe in the Lord, the reassurance comes: “I believe Jesus Christ, and I’m willing to do whatever He needs me to do.” So we move forward. How powerful are the words “I believe Jesus Christ”!

    When all is said and done, each of us has the privilege of choosing whether or not we will believe that God is our Father, that Jesus is the Christ, and that They have a plan designed to help us return home to Them. This, of course, requires faith, which is why faith is the first principle of the gospel. Our testimonies and our peace of mind and our well-being begin with the willingness to believe that our Father in Heaven does indeed know best.”

    We hear God’s will through his prophets. I hope that Kate and John are not excommunicated, but I think both of them have decided that they know what is best rather than God. They are actively promoting others to follow their lead. They are fomenting opposition. It’s a dangerous path. I doubt John’s true motives, but I think Kate has crossed the line of righteous indignation to where she really believes she is right and the “church” is wrong. In her eyes, she is now the victim, and she is proclaiming her “victimhood” to the whole world. She has published that which should be private (her letter from the bishop). In so doing she has exposed the church to a great deal of negative publicity. (Excommunication is a difficult issue for those who are not members of the church to understand.) It puts one in a very powerful position to get the sympathy of so many. It’s a very difficult if not impossible line to cross back over.

  15. John Dehlin, by his own statement, does not believe Joseph Smith to be a prophet, the Book of Mormon to be a translation of an ancient document, the Church’s current leadership to be prophets or temple ordinances to have salvific effect. Yet he represents himself as a Mormon to the world. This is dangerous. He is not a Mormon, any more than someone, more broadly, that does not believe that Christ suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day is a Christian, and this needs to be made clear.

  16. Vilo Westwood

    I would plead for that mercy and charity to all involved–those who have the responsibility to decide if there should be a disciplinary action and those who are facing such an action. This church is a lay organization–we are all volunteers, equal, trying to follow God to the best of our ability. Trying to pressure each other or embarrass each other is perhaps not the best way to be brothers and sisters. (A few on all sides of these issues may be failing the expectation of charity.) Christ may not have used the words “excommunication” in the New Testament, but he was fairly pointed about people He knew had their hearts far from the Lord. Herod, for instance, that “fox,,” he wouldn’t even talk to. The rich young man went away sorrowing because he felt he couldn’t give away his riches–even for the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:22). Some Pharisees earned His scorn. In Numbers 22 Balaam the prophet has to tell a world leader that he “cannot go beyond the word of the Lord.” It is be hard to wait to find out what the word of the Lord may be. I have had friends who were excommunicated for various reasons, and it is not a shunning. Family and friends usually retain strong ties and leaders interact as much as an individual is willing.

  17. Jana, this goes back to your previous statement that you received revelation that women would receive the priesthood, but not in your lifetime. Why you are trying to push God’s timetable, I do not know but you seem to be asking to be excommunicated. Why not let it be a personal choice to walk away rather than be kicked out? I hope you have been praying about this and I’d love to hear any new personal revelation you have received. When I was frustrated with the Church (and I still am) I found your blog and I didn’t feel alone any more. Here was someone else that “got it.” The religion can be true while the church can be frustrating. But now you push your will over the Lord’s so I can not longer see you as someone that “gets it.” It should be the Lord’s will, and contention is not how to reach His goals.

  1. […] “In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS ‘Bloggernacle’ and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions,” the group wrote in a letter posted on Religion News. […]

  2. […] “In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS ‘Bloggernacle’ and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions,” the group wrote in a letter posted on Religion News. […]

  3. […] “In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS ‘Bloggernacle’ and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions,” the group wrote in a letter posted on Religion News. […]

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