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Mormon podcaster Gina Colvin faces excommunication feeling “saddened and enraged …

Gina Colvin

Popular Mormon blogger and podcaster Gina Colvin has been called in to face a disciplinary council in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Although the hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. on December 20, that’s in New Zealand time; Utah Mormons can send a prayer Colvin’s way at 10:30 p.m. tonight Mountain Time.

Colvin herself won’t be attending, as she explains below. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

I should add a personal note here that I am not a neutral observer; I have long appreciated Gina’s unique voice and courage. She has interviewed me on her podcast and I’ve had the privilege of meeting her in person a couple of times. She is bold and unflinching in not only naming injustices, but doing what she can to put them to rights. If the Church does excommunicate her tonight it will be the institution’s loss.  — JKR

RNS: How are you feeling?

Colvin: I don’t know how I’m feeling. Anticipating a church discipline, I feel simultaneously saddened and enraged. I feel like saying, “How dare they? How dare they judge my life, which I feel has been a life of profound Christian practice and seeking, and turn it into something that’s sinful or unworthy?” It really bothers me out of principle.

How do I feel? I’m cross-hatched with a lot of feeling. Mostly I feel tired. To be honest, I try not to think about it much.

RNS: So I’m really not helping with that, by asking you to do this interview.

Colvin: Yeah, thanks, Jana!

RNS: Why do you think your bishop is doing this?

Colvin: I think he’s under direction from the stake president to do it, who assures me that he’s not under the direction of anyone else. I have to believe that because it’s what he affirms, even though I’m suspicious.

The trip wire was that I received a baptism in March and made that public. I think local leaders were willing to allow me some latitude, as long as the locus for my spiritual activity continued to be the LDS Church. The minute I took the locus of that authority away from the LDS priesthood, that tripped the wire and led to them assembling a dossier of charges against me.

I also think that local people had been complaining about me for years, and the stake president always felt that if there was some hope in my continued adherence he should hold off any action. But he understood this baptism as ending that possibility—that I was somehow ending my affiliation with the LDS Church.

But for me the baptism was never joining another church and going off in a different direction. As somebody who has been studying theology for a few years, I had a real desire to be a member of the larger body of Christ, which my LDS baptism does not allow me. In Protestantism, a baptism is a passport into many avenues of service and worship.  At heart I am deeply ecumenical.

In the LDS Church I’ve been a Relief Society president, Young Women president, Primary president and Gospel Doctrine teacher, etc. I firmly believe that to give service is just part and parcel of Christian life. But in Mormonism I’m being made constantly to feel like a contaminant and my roles and status have been reduced.  But, other communities have expressed a great desire to get me involved. They trust me and I just think, “Well, LDS Church, if you don’t want me, other people do.” Other communities have been profoundly embracing of me, which surprised me.

RNS: It doesn’t surprise me. You have a lot to give.

Colvin: For the last five years I’ve always hedged myself spiritually: the thing I do not want to lose is my desire to be a disciple of Jesus. I’ve been mentored by Baptists and Anglicans and Presbyterians. My spiritual director is a Roman Catholic Sister of Mercy.  Everyone has been insightful and kind and they have never once raised a voice of criticism against the LDS Church. That’s the irony. In the LDS Church I’m criticized for my love for the Christian faith, but not the other way around.

In terms of my baptism, it was never supposed to be either-or. I made that very clear in May when the subject of my discipline was raised in a meeting with my bishop and stake president. I intended both things to sit closely together. I’m not going to give up this safe spiritual refuge where I’m not confronted on a weekly basis with the idolatry of the church and Russell Nelson.

RNS: Explain what you mean when you use the word idolatry.

Colvin: What I mean is that in Mormon worship services, it seems to be more important to affirm the truth of the church and the prophetic role of Russell Nelson than the gospel of Jesus Christ, properly exegeted. It almost feels like there’s prooftexting from scripture in order only to affirm Mormon truth claims.

I’m a theologian, not a dogmatician. Theology is a living, breathing, recontextualized conversation over time that we have with many others in the tradition. I don’t even know what to do with doctrine. Doctrines are not porous; they’re just dropped down on us from Salt Lake City. And we are asked to believe them because someone in higher authority believes them. That’s not about spiritual growth, that’s about slavish obedience.  So, how do you deal with a tradition where the nature of God is explained to you, rather than something that you discern?

RNS: And what are you saying about Russell M. Nelson?

Colvin: As somebody who has long been concerned about spiritual abuse, the power posturing that has become such a feature of the Mormon faith is not spiritually forming; it’s spiritually diminishing. There’s far too much emphasis on authority and control and discipline rather than pastoral practices that allow for the people to feel spiritually free. This means that there’s always the possibility that a president might be seen as more spiritually important or even a substitute for Jesus Christ Himself.

Sometimes in our meetings “Jesus” and “the prophet” are used without distinction, in the same way that “The Gospel” and “The Church” are not differentiated.  That to me is theologically and spiritually problematic.

RNS: You wrote on your blog that the person you’re most worried about in this is your husband, who is very committed to the idea of a temple marriage. The excommunication, if it happens, will dissolve your temple marriage and sealings to family members as well as remove you from the rolls of the Church.

Colvin: This is what Mormonism sets up, right? It sets up an eternal expectation of togetherness. And this has always meant a great deal to my husband. A lot of people ask me, “Why don’t you leave the church, and just leave it alone?” They might as well say, “Why don’t you leave your husband?”

My heart is here; my heart is in this church. I won’t resign because the membership means more than just me as an individual; it means me as a wife, as part of six generations of a family.

It is also very dear to me. It began my spiritual formation and drew me into a relationship with the Divine. I grew up in a church that seemed to foster our inquisitiveness, a tradition in which prophets and presidents and General Authorities were secondary to our godly conversations. Maybe that’s because I was raised a Mormon in Christchurch, New Zealand. I’m terribly disappointed in how spiritually small my church has become.

RNS: You’re not planning to attend the disciplinary hearing. Why not?

This 2018 book, co-edited by Colvin and Joanna Brooks, explores the intersections between race, gender, and neocolonialism in Mormonism.

Colvin: I made that decision on principle that this isn’t my show. I don’t want to be interpolated and constructed as the subject. Because it’s not about me. It’s a patriarchal conversation where my worth and belonging is picked over by a group of men with a rule book.

Furthermore, when you’re a woman, all it takes to get excommunicated is that a bishop can have a knee-jerk reaction to a member of his ward. My bishop doesn’t know me; he’s from out of town. He has a knee-jerk reaction to the way I’m presenting myself. Before he even collected evidence, he was telling me that I was up for church discipline. Then he collected the evidence, and he’ll convene and preside and be jury at a church disciplinary council that he called. That is not the definition of a “council” if you have one man as investigator, judge, and jury. I can’t go on principle, because I can’t support it.

According to the Handbook I’m entitled to ask that my case be taken to the stake level, where the stake council would decide. But a man doesn’t have to do that; a man’s case goes to the stake automatically. So why should I have to petition for that?

RNS: If you’re not going to attend the hearing, what will you be doing instead?

Colvin: I’m having a group of friends over, because it’s Advent. So they’ll come by from my LDS tradition and my Anglican tradition. We’ll take the Eucharist together; there will be a priest there. So I’m having an ecumenical Eucharist! And afterward we will have an evening of intentional spiritual nonviolence—all of those good things about Advent that bring us joy and peace and love. And the word “Mormon” will not cross our lips.

RNS: Is it possible that your excommunication may not already be a foregone conclusion? That maybe the bishop will change his mind?

Colvin: The bishop has said on several occasions, “Don’t worry; it could be disfellowshipment.” I think he is concerned about Nathan [my husband]. But disfellowshipment is what you get when you have sinned and need space and time to repent before coming back. I have no intention of repenting, because I haven’t done anything wrong. So I would rather they excommunicate me entirely or just drop it.

I really hope they leave me alone. It would be so great if they left me alone.

RNS: How are your sons dealing with all this? [Colvin has six sons ranging in age from 12 to 25.]

Colvin: You can ask them; they’re home on break. Boys, do you want to come in and tell Jana what you think about my church discipline?

[Bedlam ensues, followed by a 14-year-old coming to the computer to say hello, and another son just off camera.]

Colvin, to son: Do we talk about it much?

Son #1: No. Only you and your friends on Skype . . . but it’s kinda unfair.

Son #2: It’s sad.

Colvin: We don’t really talk about it much with the kids, actually. [The kids head off.]

Excommunication is a horrible thing to have hanging over you. It’s so barbaric. I think a lot of Mormons console themselves that at least the Catholics still have excommunication, but Catholic excommunication is nothing like this.

I mean, I’m not surprised this is happening. When I started this gig as a blogger and podcaster, I knew the deal going in that excommunication could happen. But it’s spiritually immature and theologically shallow. It shows the LDS Church’s issues in dealing with distance and doubt. Excommunication is just an indication of an overblown autocracy and patriarchy and the vagaries of an unformed lay ministry.


Related post:

High-profile excommunications may harm Mormon retention rates in the long run


 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

71 Comments

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  • Do you really want to remain in that environment? They’re not liable to change anytime soon. It’s not so bad. I was disfellowshipped by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • Why is noted torturer Jay Bybee still a member in good standing with the LDS church, but this woman who has done nothing wrong is put under undue pressure?

  • I don’t know, Jim. Once, (after it was clear that we truly respected each other and would respect confidentiality), I asked a ministerial-rank JW during one of our Saturday sessions, about what disfellowshipping means, and what sort of behaviors might put a JW at risk. (Apparently if you’re caught voting on Election Day, you might be in spot of trouble?)

    But what gave me pause, was the realization that if my JW friend ever got disfellowshipped, well, his wife and his little kids were still active members of JW. And thus, well, maybe your FAMILY sorta wind up shunning on you too? (This was really serious, because we had introduced our wives and our little kids to each other, and we’d all had a good time. He had a loving family, and a DSF would cut like a sawtooth Bowie Knife on them. Sorta like this Mormon lady being afraid of damage to her family.)

    Obviously I’m not dissing either the JW’s or yourself. But does this situation sound accurate to you?

  • The betrayer is enraged
    His mask is gone his crimson hauberk cloven
    His brains they are arrayed
    Amongst the ruin of the lies he’d spoken ~Gwar, Immortal Corrupter.

  • Seriously Gina…you can only poke at the bear with a sharp stick in public so many times. Its one thing to disagree privately and work through it but to openly and publicly challenge, publish, philosophize and encourage others adopt your views. And then get baptized in another faith! Are you really surprised at this step by the church? When I read this, you don’t talk like a Mormon, think like one, act like one, reason like one…

  • It’s brutal and many marriages don’t survive it. The disfellowshipping is a last result and only occurs, however, when the person remains unrepentant.

  • “you don’t talk like a Mormon, think like one, act like one, reason like one ..”

    This is a compliment, right?

  • The first feeling that I had in reading this was sadness. I feel badly for Gina and her family and I wish them the best. To be clear, I don’t know Gina and am not familiar with her writings and so I may not have the whole story, but I wanted to ask a few questions and offer a few comments that I hope will add some perspective to the conversation.

    First, one thing that was unclear to me, but seemed to be mentioned passively in the discussion. Has Gina had been baptized in another faith? That was the impression that I got, but again, it was unclear. If that is the case then that would clearly be a reason for calling a disciplinary council.

    Apart from being baptized in another faith, I do not know, nor do I need to know, all of the reasons why Gina may be called in to a disciplinary council, but again, please allow me offer a few points that may help clarify for others who are unfamiliar with the process.

    1. Of all the many, many things that Bishops and Stake Presidents have to do a disciplinary council is by far one of the most unpleasant for a variety of reasons. They don’t want to participate any more than the individuals who may be the subject of the council. Leaders do, however, have an obligation to call for repentance and protect the good name of the church which is why they are necessary. Sometimes Bishops and Stake Presidents are depicted as gleefully waiting in the wings for the chance to convene a disciplinary council. That characterization could not be further from the truth.
    2. Disciplinary councils can have a variety of outcomes from nothing to probation to disfellowshipment to excommunication. The severity depends upon multiple factors, including the specifics of the situation and whether the individual has made temple covenants.
    3. The spiritual wellbeing of the individual who is the subject of the council is very important. While discipline may at times feel harsh, it can also be a very spiritual experience and can lead to meaningful change and true repentance. Leaders are counseled to be kind and merciful; I often think of the Savior’s treatment of the women who was taken in adultery as a good example.
    4. Regardless of the outcome, individuals are never discouraged from attending church. While members may not be asked to pray publicly in church meetings or to speak in church or teach classes, etc., during their disciplinary period, they are not shunned (or at least shouldn’t be) and are always welcome. If individual members treat an excommunicated or otherwise disciplined person harshly they are guilty of sin.
    5. Disciplinary councils are held at a local level. Bishops may confer with stake presidents and stake presidents may confer with area authorities on new or complicated questions (medical marijuana would be a good example), but the authority rests with them.

    I hope that helps to shed some light on the process.

    Gina, if I were you, I would do a couple of things. I would prepare a defense, attend the meeting in person and ask that it be handled at the stake level. I understand that this is a hassle for you, but if you feel that the council is not warranted then you owe it to yourself and your family to explain why. There may be factors that the leaders are unaware of that could change their thinking. Not all Bishops and Stake Presidents are created equally and in a lay ministry there may be some who needlessly take things too far; the more people that take a look at your case (which will happen at the stake level), the better. Lastly I would suggest that you go into it assuming the best intentions; while your bishop may not know you, I am certain that he cares about you and wants what is best for you and your family. Be open to feedback and disagree and defend yourself where you feel you must. Regardless of what happens, know that you are precious and loved and that the final judgment does not rest with your Bishop, but with God who has all the facts and loves you perfectly. Good luck.

  • ““How dare they? How dare they judge my life, which I feel has been a life of profound Christian practice and seeking, and turn it into something that’s sinful or unworthy?”

    It’s that type of Christianity, dear. You seem so very,very surprised. My only surprise is that you are surprised.

    Judge not, says Jesus. Judge away, say Christians— at least those of a certain type.

  • I get a lot of Sister Colvin’s frustration, but what amazes me is that she doesn’t seem to even acknowledge the viewpoint of her bishop or stake president. She was baptized in another church! That’s like becoming a citizen of another country. You may think that dual citizenship is a wonderful thing, but you can’t be surprised when you knew all along this was a consequence you might face.

    I also think it’s disingenuous to cite support from people from other Christian traditions. Catholics considering being baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rarely see support from their priests (and I certainly don’t blame the priests for taking that view!). It’s easy to welcome someone who appears moving toward your tradition. It’s much harder to support someone who is moving away.

  • If the Church began excommunicating public officials over legal or political opinions regarding matters of public policy, anti-Mormons would cry out very loudly against Church interference in the public square. One can imagine, for example, the howls if a judge were excommunicated because of his legal rulings on, say, abortion, or if Mitt Romney had been elected and the Church tried to control his foreign policy by means of threats of excommunication over his policies, especially in wartime. If Judge Bybee, a sitting federal judge on the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, is ever found guilty of a felony, that would be a different story. He has not even been indicted.

    Joining another Church is considered wrong if you are serious about religion, as was discussed at length in the previous post of this subject.

  • I don’t see how any Mormon could expect to be publicly baptized into another church and NOT expect at least the possibility of excommunication. That level of heresy is breathtaking.

  • Actually, Jesus gave some instructions on how to judge:

    “15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

    Matthew 18:15-17

  • Wow. I actually agree with Ben the Salty Sodomite. Yes, we judge. The Priesthood has that authority.

  • How dare they? How dare they not capitulate to my arrogance, selfishness and heretical disrespect.
    Jesus will judge; believer and non-believer alike.

  • This isn’t about policies per se. It’s about whether torture is right or wrong. Bybee not only thinks that torture is moral, he was the architect of a policy of torture when we was with the Bush administration.

  • The first feeling that I had in reading this was sadness. I feel badly for Gina and her family and I wish them the best. To be clear, I don’t know Gina and am not familiar with her writings and so I may not have the whole story, but I wanted to ask a few questions and offer a few comments that I hope will add some perspective to the conversation.

    First of all, one thing that was unclear to me but seemed to be mentioned passively in the discussion; has Gina had been baptized in another faith? That was the impression that I got, but again, it was unclear. If that is the case then that would clearly be a reason for calling a disciplinary council.

    Apart from being baptized in another faith, I do not know, nor do I need to know, all of the reasons why Gina may be called in to a disciplinary council, but please allow me offer a few points that may help clarify for others who are unfamiliar with the process.

    1. Of all the many, many things that Bishops and Stake Presidents have to do, a disciplinary council is by far one of the most unpleasant for a variety of reasons. They don’t want to participate any more than the individuals who may be the subject of the council. Leaders do, however, have an obligation to call for repentance and protect the good name of the church which is why they are necessary. Sometimes Bishops and Stake Presidents are depicted as gleefully waiting in the wings for the chance to convene a disciplinary council. That characterization could not be further from the truth.
    2. Disciplinary councils can have a variety of outcomes from nothing to probation to disfellowshipment to excommunication. The severity depends upon multiple factors, including the specifics of the situation and whether the individual has made temple covenants.
    3. The spiritual wellbeing of the individual who is the subject of the council is very important. While discipline may at times feel harsh, it can also be a very spiritual experience and can lead to meaningful change and true repentance. Leaders are counseled to be kind and merciful; I often think of the Savior’s treatment of the women who was taken in adultery as a good example.
    4. Regardless of the outcome, individuals are never discouraged from attending church. While members may be asked not to pray publicly in church meetings or to speak in church or teach classes, etc., during their disciplinary period, they are not shunned (or at least shouldn’t be) and are always welcome. If individual members treat an excommunicated or otherwise disciplined person harshly they are guilty of sin.
    5. Disciplinary councils are held at a local level. Bishops may confer with stake presidents and stake presidents may confer with area authorities on new or complicated questions (medical marijuana would be a good example), but the authority rests with them.
    I hope that helps to shed some light on the process.

    Gina, if I were you, I would do a couple of things. I would prepare a defense, attend the meeting in person and ask that it be handled at the stake level. I understand that this is a hassle for you, but if you feel that the council is not warranted then you owe it to yourself and your family to explain why. There may be factors that the leaders are unaware of that could change their thinking. Not all Bishops and Stake Presidents are created equally and in a lay ministry there may be some who needlessly take things too far; the more people that take a look at it (which will happen at the stake level), the better. Lastly I would suggest that you go into it assuming the best intentions; while your bishop may not know you I am certain that he cares about you and wants what is best for you and your family. Be open to feedback and disagree and defend yourself where you feel you must. Regardless of what happens, know that you are precious and loved and that the final judgment does not rest with your Bishop, but with God who has all the facts and loves you perfectly. Good luck.

  • Or not.

    Or not according to your standards.

    Or not what you think should be judged.

    That,s the thing about gods. They don’t always do what their believers tell them.

  • Let’s not forget that he also said to judge with righteousjudgment. But then, “there is none righteous. No, not one!” So what are you going to do?

    So we’re right back to judge not lest ye be judged, Motes and beams, and whited sepulchers.

  • “So we’re right back to judge not lest ye be judged, …” which, of course, does NOT mean “don’t judge”.

  • According to your standards, what you think should be judged.

    That’s thing about opinions. Everyone has them.

  • Ben, you spend an awful amount of time passing unrighteous judgment on these forums. But hey, you keep misrepresenting people’s beliefs. It must be nice to have no moral standards that you have to live up to.

  • You are certainly entitled to your opinions. I’m not a Christian, so, just like Christians of a certain sort, I feel perfectly free to judge. My judgment is however reserved for people who use their religions as a club, people who harm other people because of their religion, are people who hide behind God to justify their own bad behavior.
    I have plenty of moral standards, despite your rather nasty comment that I don’t. Most of the atheists I have known in my life have far more Morality In Their little fingers then your type of Christian has in the entirety of your so-called soul.

  • Ben,

    You’re a petty busybody with a superiority complex.

    And I also know plenty of atheists that have moral values. I just don’t think you have any. Otherwise, you wouldn’t waste so much time haranguing people on the Internet.

    Most of the Christians I know are also loving people whose religion pushes them to be better people.

  • In sure you have opinions, and lots of them. They’re not accurate, but hey, you have them. My lack of morals? Pray elaborate.

    I know Christians who are loving people as well. And as is clear on these very pages, there are lots of them who are not, and whose faith does not make them better.

  • Please point me to a source that indicates Jay Bybee thinks that torture is moral.

    I’ve read the Bybee memos. There are real deficiencies in the legal analysis (particularly with respect to executive power), but there’s not one place where Bybee advocates torture. Bybee’s analysis was strictly on whether those acts in those circumstances would be legal, not whether they are morally right. In doing so, Bybee relied on statements from the CIA that research had shown no threat of long-term mental harm, and that the techniques would be effective in extracting information. We now know that waterboarding in particular carries a risk of long-term mental harm, and that most of these techniques are not effective in extracting information, Bybee was not responsible for those conclusions.

    Bybee was acting as a lawyer answering a legal question, in the context of interrogating a high-ranking member of an organization that had just carried out the deadliest single attack on American soil in history. The morality of the question rested in part on how many lives could be saved, which was something that Bybee was not in a position to determine. Legality and morality are not always connected. It is illegal to cut off a terrorist’s fingers in an interrogation, but it would be manifestly immoral not to do it if you knew with 100% certainty that doing so would save thousands of lives and that there was no other option (that is, of course, a hypothetical, and in the real world torture rarely yields reliable information).

  • Zamp, I’ve never had a discussion about our ethical responsibilities as officers of the court, when legality and morality possibly conflict, at least where the issues are so weighty. This isn’t the forum, obviously. But your comment got me thinking about the issue. The Nuremburg trials eliminated the “just following orders” defense.

    It’s not that I never have to ponder it. I”m always counseling clients about “could” vs. “should”. But never with issues so profound. I’ve never taken the time to see officially what my state rules would say about that issue, if they say anything at all. Interesting.

  • To be clear, I’m not arguing that attorneys can or should remove purely moral or ethical considerations from their analysis. I have on multiple occasions advised clients that their proposed course of action is legal, but that there are important moral questions to consider. There are also some things that would cause me to withdraw representation regardless of the legality.

    With respect to Bybee and this matter, I think the moral question is complex and heavily dependent on the situation. I do think Bybee should have qualified his advice with some moral considerations and warned that, regardless of legality, the United States has a duty be an example of justice and human rights. My point is only that a) there’s a big gap between what the Bybee memos sanctioned and what the CIA actually carried out and b) Bybee should be judged based on his role, the circumstances, and the facts he possessed at the time.

  • Well, let’s talk about that, shall we?

    I’m highly respectful to people who are respectful. The people who are not I don’t really bother with very much. So I’ll mostly ignore Jose/bob/Robert/mark/Utah/Matt/dr/Draco. Perhaps you can explain how his comments, as wrong as he often is, as biased as he often is, are helpful.

    But you are confusing disagreement with disrespect, just like your fellow travelers confuse disagreement with hate. I offer comments occasionally with a bit of snark, but most often with facts, logic, and experience. Perhaps you can explain how it is that you don’t call out people who claim to be Christians who are constantly denouncing other Christians for not being the right sort of Christian, and ask why they are not being respectful. One of them continually refers to Mormons, among many others, as a cult, but you don’t seem to have any problem with her. And aren’t you Mormon?

    It’s funny, but I, the thorough going atheist, have many times told That Sort of Christian to stop trashing other Christians. Where were you?

    Or let’s take the dear Christians who constantly defame, slander, and revile gay people with demonstrable lies and obvious bigotry. That also doesn’t seem to bother you all that much. Nor did I see you commenting on the vicious antisemitism of Roy and Strongs, or anyone else.

    If you have something specific to say, I’d be happy to address it. I’ll even do it respectfully.

  • “I’m highly respectful to people who are respectful. The people who are
    not I don’t really bother with very much. So I’ll mostly ignore
    Jose/bob/Robert/mark/Utah/Matt/dr/Draco.”

    Let’s accurize that:

    “I’m highly respectful to people who are either ineffective arguing with me or agree with me. The people who can fight back I don’t really bother with very much. So I’ll mostly ignore
    Jose/bob/Robert/mark/Utah/Matt/dr/Draco.”

    And so on.

    You’re moderately amusing as an on-the-record over-the-top hater of the major Abrahamic religions super gay LGBT lobbyist, but that is about it.

  • All I ever see from you is smug superiority and misrepresenting people’s beliefs. You constantly employ a mocking tone, and you rarely have anything substantive to say. I’ve looked back on some of your prior comments to articles I’ve read here recently, and I can’t find anything offering anything new or insightful, and certainly not facts and logic. It’s just snark.

    “Perhaps you can explain how his comments, as wrong as he often is, as biased as he often is, are helpful.” I’m not familiar enough with your apparent feud with this guy to make an educated comment on that. If someone is being stupid and shares my opinion, my typical reaction is to roll my eyes and down-vote.

    “One of them continually refers to Mormons, among many others, as a cult, but you don’t seem to have any problem with her.” I don’t know who you’re referring to here, but I’ve had plenty of arguments with other Christians in these forums defending my faith.

    “Or let’s take the dear Christians who constantly defame, slander, and revile gay people with demonstrable lies and obvious bigotry. That also doesn’t seem to bother you all that much.” I honestly don’t see much defamation of gay people around here, and when I do, others usually have it covered long before I get there.

    “Nor did I see you commenting on the vicious antisemitism of Roy and Strongs, or anyone else.” Again, I don’t know who these people are. Perhaps if they had adorable cats in their avatar, I would remember them better?

  • Paragraph 1: I’m sure you’ll be able to give me a number of examples. I neither constantly mock, nor do I misrepresent what people say. Pointing out subtexts and unmentioned but present assumptions is not misrepresenting what they say, andthey are quite welcome to point it out to where I have. That they haven’t is another issue. And When I have misrepresented someone, I have apologized for it. You can find that in my commentary as well.

    Paragraph 2: since you are perusing my comment history, you might want to look at whoever it is that constantly, constantly, constantly on the attack. I 95% ignore him. It’s his feud, not mine. I’ll believe you, but I find it difficult to believe you haven’t noticed. And if you don’t believe me, you might just check out how many people he does it to.

    Paragraph 3: ditto.

    paragraph 4: ditto. I can think of easily a dozen regular posters whodo this regularly. In the past month or two alone, I have been called either directly or by implication, a pervert, a child molester, sick, disordered, a threat to marriage, a danger to children, a hater of god, a hater of religion, a hater of religious freedom, a hater of Christians, immoral, diseased, and easily a dozen more equally charming epithets. If you say you haven’t noticed it, I guess I’ll have to believe you.

    Paragraph 5: perhaps you wouldn’t remember them. I simply flagged the repeatedly, and eventually, someone noticed.

    So if you want to show me my constant mocking andmy even more constant misrepsentation, be my guest. Disagreement is neither hate nor mockery, or is pointing out bigotry wherever it rears it’s ugly head, ESPECIALLY when it pretends it is merely simply, sincere religious belief, as if that is some kind of an excuse. As both a secular Jew and a gay man, I’m quite familiar with THAT.

  • Why can’t people have more than one religion?

    Before becoming a complete Heathen, I was kind of a Catholic-Buddhist-Agnostic….it worked out well. The Catholics don’t chase you down for ex-communication as intensely the Mormons* do, and the Buddhists just don’t care.

    I think it would also lead to some much needed ecumenicalism…even at the personal level. Would do wonders for Mormons* !!

    * Colloquial for the official mouthful of a name — “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”

  • “1 Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?”

    “2 Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?”

    “3 Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?”

    “4 Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?”

    “5 Do you live the law of chastity?”

    “6 Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?”

    “7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    There are more of course…..

    A temple endowed member of the Church of Jesus Christ understands these standards. Having a personal struggle with any of them is not uncommon and the church works hard to help folks resolve their faith concerns in privacy and with dignity. Sometimes discipline is involved but not the majority of the time.

    Struggling personally with faith is normal and that’s what the church is for. To help build faith in Jesus Christ.

    Her mistake with her own struggles is that she went public and was actively impacting the faith of others. She was probably asked to stop and given reasons why she should stop. But she refused and kept doing it. In the Church that is the line you cross that makes you apostate.

    No mystery here. It’s the same standard that’s been applied during the entirety of my 47 years on the planet.

    One may not like the standard but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

  • I guess I am going to have to ignore my rule of ignoring you. But only just this once, because the opportunity is way too good to miss. I don’t want you to feel bad.

    The picture is one available courtesy of Ken Ham and His creationist Museum. You need only google “Jesus riding dinosaur creationist Museum” to see a pile of them.

    You have a nice day, dearie.

  • So, if you don’t mind, let’s continue our conversation. You want to accuse me of being a constantly mocking busybody. I disagree.

    If you look down thread a little, you will see an exchange between My Favorite Stalker and myself. He posted something I posted on a TOTALLY DIFFERENT BLOG as “proof” that I hate religion and Christians, an opinion that you share for no reason I can discern. I ignored my usual rule of ignoring what he has to say for one reason, and one reason only: to make a point to YOU.

    First, pretty much the only way he could have found that was to go looking for it— searching my quite open comment history in his quite obsessive manner— in order to prove a nonexistent point. And yet I am the bad guy and the busybody. I suspect that if you asked him about LDS and your theology, well, you could try it yourself.

    And what was it? A PICTURE OF JESUS RIDING A DINOSAUR. A picture and a “reality” maintained by a self described super duper Christian, who thinks that his particular and peculiar brand of Christianity is the only true one. A point that you, as a Mormon, would certainly dispute. And I support that dispute, but for different reasons than yours— the not quite hidden assumption that there is only one brand of Christianity: HIS. And it is a picture that I’m sure that you, as an intelligent man, would agree is quite silly and cringe-and-mock worthy.

    So, here I am, agreeing with you on at least two points, and yet somehow, I am the bad guy.

    Just something for you to consider.

  • Well, I was going to respond to a number of points on your last post, but since you got impatient, I’ll respond to this one instead.

    Apparently what I said has really gotten under your skin, seeing that you can’t wait more than a day for a response without writing another lengthy response. It also looks like your favorite stalker has gotten under your skin too, since you’re trying to drag me into your cat fight. I agree that searching someone’s comment history is creepy, which is why I won’t be doing it to drag up comments you’ve made that misrepresent and mock religion. (I will point to the one that started this conversation and another comment you made regarding circling the wagons on another article regarding Gina Colvin.)

    If I see this guy misrepresenting LDS theology, it’s likely I’ll call him out on it.

    I’m not following your Jesus-riding-a-dinosaur story, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. The picture you describe sounds like another in a long line of people mocking things others find sacred, which I think is extraordinary distasteful, whether the thing being mocked is Mohammed, Krishna, someone’s mother or a tragic event.

  • All of that doesn’t answer the question “why?”

    The answer to the question “why?” has to do with being “a hater of god, a hater of religion, a hater of religious freedom, a hater of Christians, immoral, (or) diseased”.

    Since you’ve posted 34,245 comments on Disqus since joining on May 30, 2013, I have few hundred more along the same lines and worse.

    You are on the record as a hater of religion, a hater of Christians who dare to disagree with you, a scoffer at god, a hater of religious freedom that involves acting in the Public Square in ways that you believe infringe on what you want, and there is simply no denying it or gilding it.

  • No, I simply thought it might be nice to continue the conversation. I’m glad to see you agree that Jesus on a dinosaur is mocking Christianity, because…

    The Jesus on a dinosaur was from Ken Ham, a Christian fundamentalist, creationist, and general super duper Christian as I said, not someone mocking Christianity. Well, at least not someone mocking Christianity that isn’t a Christian.

    As I said, I merely point out the subtexts and hidden assumptions. If you can show me where I wasn’t being honest or truthful, please do. I’ll be ready to apologize.

  • From BiO:

    “If you look down thread a little, you will see an exchange between My Favorite Stalker and myself. He posted something I posted on a TOTALLY DIFFERENT BLOG as ‘proof’ that I hate religion and Christians, an opinion that you share for no reason I can discern. I ignored my usual rule of ignoring what he has to say for one reason, and one reason only: to make a point to YOU.”

    “First, pretty much the only way he could have found that was to go looking for it – searching my quite open comment history in his quite obsessive manner – in order to prove a nonexistent point. And yet I am the bad guy and the busybody. I suspect that if you asked him about LDS and your theology, well, you could try it yourself.”

    You’ll note how incredibly difficult it is to find that BiO says one thing in one forum, and another in another forum, and different things in the same forum over time:

    https://disqus.com/by/disqus_EvywcWX4px/

    You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes.

    BiO is:

    – an atheist

    – a homosexual

    – an avowed enemy of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and any other religious organization which meets the same criterion. The reason he gives is that each of them have acted in the Public Square with both money and public statements to oppose those things he favors: same sex marriage, the elimination of religious objections to LGBT “rights”, and so on.

    He has every right to take that position to those churches.

    He should have no objection to having it pointed out.

  • I believe you’re referring to Ken Ham materials that portray antediluvian people riding dinosaurs, not Jesus. That’s not quite the same as illustrations of Jesus riding a velociraptor into Jerusalem, which is what I thought you were referring to. Of course, I think the notion of humans and dinosaurs living at the same time is totally unsupportable by both science and scripture, but I don’t think the idea is worthy of ridicule (few things are).

    I think you make assumptions about people and attribute motives and beliefs to people based on your own biases. Again, I’m not going to sift through old comments to find examples, but you can get that if I see it in the future, I will call you out on it.

  • Well the photo I provided says it was from ham, so I don’t know what else to say. I’m glad you agree that it is all insupportable nonsense. I disagree that it is unworthy of ridicule.

    We all of say everything in accord with our own biases.

    Please feel free to call me out whenever you feel like it. I will be happy to answer,

  • “We all of say everything in accord with our own biases.”

    And it is helpful to elucidate those biases, particularly when their existence is denied and a clear record of them exists.

  • It sure seems that way, given that somehow I’m now in the middle of something I never inserted myself into.

  • Can’t find any Ken Ham pictures that purport to portray Jesus riding a dinosaur, and it looks like your comment to Mark didn’t provide a link.

  • Something I (as an outsider) find striking is the high value that even marginally LDS people place on their ‘LDS’ identity and remaining formal members of the Church. As a Protestant, when a Protestant loses interest in our church, finds one that matches their beliefs or temperment better, or begins disagreeing substantially with things the church does or teachers: they leave for what they consider more fertile grounds and don’t look back. They are rarely hurt when taken off the membership rolls (fairly or unfairly). In the LDS tradition, however, it strikes me that people much much more reluctant to formally dissolve their church membership or self-affiliation, even when they are have largely left the LDS Church behind, or in other cases, where clearly being more fed by other Christians traditions. I wonder what causes that?. In Ms. Colvin’s case, she seems to think it will harm her family relationships –

  • Same typical, stale, liberalistic sob story, different denomination, different chapter…….”I totally dissed and denounced my church, and they disowned me…and I’m so heartbroken….blah blah, blah.” No news here – just another book advertisement.

  • “The excommunication, if it happens, will dissolve your temple marriage and sealings to family members”. Not quite right. Yes, it will dissolve your temple marriage, but not fully accurate on sealings to family members. The children remained sealed and have the full blessings of being in the covenant –>

    https://www.lds.org/new-era/2015/08/to-the-point/if-my-parents-were-sealed-in-the-temple-and-then-got-divorced-which-one-am-i-sealed-to?lang=eng

    https://www.lds.org/new-era/1975/12/q-and-a-questions-and-answers/what-happens-when-a-couple-gets-a-temple-divorce?lang=eng

  • Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. But this article is definitely skewed toward presenting it as such.

    Church courts, by themselves, are a public relations nightmare. Most churches don’t hold a court to decide whether somebody gets to stay in the flock. Having a church court is like signing up to look like a modern-day Salem.

    But it’s complicated, far more complicated than you’ll ever get in a propaganda piece meant to chuck rocks.

    Most churches don’t get this involved because most churches are run by a clergy. They’re the paid professionals who run the ministry. Everybody else is like a customer going through the drive-thru. They’re the patrons served by the ministry. Occasionally, somebody will be asked not to come back to McDonald’s, because they were truly abusive. Most of the time, they’re tolerated. If anybody’s going to get fired, it’ll be an actual employee.

    The LDS Church is different. Members help run it. Most of the ministry is done by the membership as they carry out lay callings. Because anybody could end up being your bishop, your primary president, your elders quorum president, your relief society president, there’s more of an expectation that a rank-and-file member is like an employee. It’s pretty hard to be get excommunicated but it’s a lot harder than it ever would be in the Catholic Church.

    You can be a pretty crummy human being – just a pain to be around in every way imaginable – and never end up in a church court. Those courts are really set up when somebody’s behavior challenges the integrity or mission of the LDS Church. Even teaching sketchy doctrine isn’t likely to come up on the Church’s radar unless the person teaching it has a lot of visibility, has been told this is contrary to Church teachings and refuses to stop. I’ve known lots of nitwits and nutburgers, over decades of Church membership, none of whom were in a position to have their membership reviewed.

    But if you’re famous, because you have a podcast, and you go out and tell everybody you just got baptized by another church, that’s a bright-line issue. To the LDS Church, the only legitimate baptisms are the ones done by the priesthood, operating under someone who has the keys. Joining another church, or doing something tantamount to being accepted into another church, are actions that go straight to things like church courts.

    I’ve known people who had trouble going to church, paying tithing, drinking, smoking, sleeping around, viewing pornography, swearing, doing who knows what on Sundays. Their behavior would affect whether they get a temple recommend or get to accept certain church callings but most of those people are at little risk of ending up in a church court, though some of those behaviors could trigger Church discipline. But joining another church or doing something taken as such – like getting baptized by someone from another church – is a fast track to a church court.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with Jesus getting really, really mad. I think it has to do with confusion, especially when you’re talking about a public figure (podcaster known nationally) and a big open revelation that somebody just got re-baptized (whoo whoo). At that point, the church court is a no-brainer.

    I don’t think Gina Colvin is a bad person (as if anybody cared what I thought, anyway). But the action of getting baptized by someone outside the LDS Church is a no-brainer as far as whether or not the Church would have issues, issues enough to summon a church court. The purpose of such a court would not be to tell Ms. Colvin she is going straight to Hell (Mormons don’t believe in Hell, anyway) but to basically distance the Church from whatever it is she is doing on the side. Essentially, they’re saying, “You do your thing, we’ll do ours. You’re not with us. We don’t want to be involved.”

    I’m tempted to ask why anybody would want to be LDS if they felt independent enough to make their own decisions, live by their own code and relationship with God, and felt confident enough to criticize LDS doctrine or practice. At that point, you’re not one of the sheep. You’re your own shepherd. You’re not in the flock and your mingling with those in the flock would be considered disruptive, so the Church will insist on your conformity to its teachings and practices or giving up your membership within it. It would argue that the latter just ensures that other people aren’t confused or led away from Church teachings and practices by somebody who wants to be labeled, identified, listed and numbered among the flock but who is, in fact, a free agent, marching to the beat of their own drum.

    It’s complicated in and around Utah, where those who grew up in the Church feel rejected or excluded if they can’t continue to call themselves Mormons. There may be a lot of pain involved in the separation. I joined the Church out in Florida, and only served in Utah as a missionary (and lived there while attending BYU). As nobody in my family is LDS, I wouldn’t feel the same pinch if some council were summoned and I were notified, in person or by mail, that I had lost my membership. Having never had that happen, I have no idea how I would actually feel, but it’s easy to see that people who grow up along the Wasatch Front may want to remain Mormons, at least on paper, even if they never come to church, have different ideas about doctrine and practice, and are insistently defiant in the face of priesthood counsel.

    If Gina didn’t see this day coming, she’s not as smart as she ought to be. We’ve seen a lot of this, where somebody gets a podcast or some other perch from which to loudly dissent from Church teachings and practices – sounds off for a season – only to end up in church courts eventually. And by the time, it becomes a public thing, where a person’s fame forces them to choose between their membership and their reputation among their following. They’re no longer anonymous so fame raises the stakes. In the end, you have to decide which path you feel like following.

  • She’s a nice enough person but she joined the Anglican Communion. When you join a different church, you lose your LDS membership. If that’s wrong, what’s the loss?

  • There are plenty of judgmental people in the LDS Church but if you join a different church – in this case, the Anglican Communion – you’ve left. It’s nothing personal. You can’t be Mormon and Anglican. They’re two different churches. There are some organizations that you can join and maintain simultaneous membership in. There are some that you can’t. You can’t simultaneously play for two different sports teams. You can’t simultaneously be on the board of two competing companies. You can’t be a senator and a president. Sometimes in life, you have to pick a side of the street.

  • I appreciate your long posting on this subject. I think it comes from someone who actually knows what he is talking about, and has examined the question pretty thoroughly. What I take away from it is that any challenge to the church as the church is going to be dealt with as harshly as the church can do it, but deviations from the church are tolerated. To me, it sounds like the basic Christian mantra of “believe or burn“ has been boiled down to a super concentrated solution. In fact, it sounds pretty much like the edict of a couple of years ago where an openly gay couple, married, would be declared apostates, no matter how otherwise faithful to church doctrine, and their children denied church ordinances, or whatever it’s called.

    It also sounds to me like they don’t really believe in the agency that they claim every person has. Not that I ever believe they actually believe that, either.

    Thanks again.

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