You Make the Call #3: The Legal Academic Paper that Someone Actually Read

From my mystery correspondent: Angie Academic is a constitutional law scholar at a state law school. She is also the temple preparation teacher in her ward. Angie wrote an academic paper, recently published in the Harvard Law Review, in which she takes the position that the constitutional and statutory protections of religion are too strong and that measures should be taken, including a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to allow the federal government to force churches to ordain women and otherwise enforce anti-discrimination measures against churches. In one section of her paper, she gives the example of the LDS church as one that would be improved by the forced ordination of women, stating that otherwise the “out-of-touch, gerentocratic nature of the church hierarchy” made it unlikely that that church would voluntarily extend the priesthood to women for another 50 years or so, which she viewed as “unacceptable.” She also stated that without the priesthood, LDS women were currently “second-class citizens in the church.”

Angie’s stake president reads the article and is concerned by it. He asks Angie for an interview, and she agrees. He tells her that in his view her paper constitutes apostasy, and invites her to recant and repent. She refuses to do so, and adds, “Legal scholarship is my job, and when I’m at work I call it like I see it. I can’t imagine that you’d like it if someone from church told you how to do your day job.”

The stake president then asks Angie if she has publicly taken the position espoused in her Harvard Law Review paper anywhere else. Angie says that she restated the main thesis of the paper, but omitting the specific example of the LDS Church for space concerns, in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Further, she adds that just that morning she was offered $1,500 for the right to republish the piece in its entirety in an anthology, but that she had not yet made a commitment to the publisher. The stake president told her not to accept the offer. Angie then said that she intended to accept the offer, which she did the next day.

The stake president then convenes a disciplinary council. There are three charges of apostasy leveled against Angie, based on the following actions: 1) the publication of her paper in the Harvard Law Review ; 2) the publication of the New York Times op-ed; and 3) the republication of her paper in the anthology. Conviction on any one of the charges will result in her excommunication.

You are a high councilman serving on the disciplinary committee, and you are required to vote either “convict” or “acquit” on each of the three charges. How do you vote on each?

Comments

  1. Pop culture ark steadying gets her a conviction.

    Fault-finding self-promotion is not what the gospel is about. Why people who hold such views maintain their membership and activity in the LDS Church is bewildering to me. I have heard all of the rationalizations, and they all fall short for me. I have more respect for people who voluntarily leave on their own, no matter how much I may disagree with their positions, for being honest within themselves.

  2. I guess it depends on what is the purpose behind disciplinary action for apostasy. If it is more concerned with the personal spiritual state of the individual, then I would want to be assured that Angie still has a testimony of the fundamental principles of the gospel and acquit.

    If, however, the purpose of disciplinary action for apostasy is more concerned with the affect that the statements have on others, then it’s hard to see how she shouldn’t receive disciplinary action.

  3. Acquit. Her statements, in my view at least, are not heresy. They may be unorthodox, sure, but not heretical.

  4. In my humble opinion, since this person is not in a leadership position nor is writing in any official capacity, this paper is her opinion. She should not receive any church sanctions for it.

    However, I would ask her in her interview if these are actually her beliefs, or if she is taking this opinion (as is done in “debate classes”) merely to have something to talk about. If they are her beliefs, I would council her and remind her that even though womon do not hold the priesthood in the Church, they do hold a much more valuable position (IMHO), Mother.

  5. If I were her, I think my best argument would be that I’m not advocating that the church do anything different, but instead that I was advocating that government do something different. That is, she is not arguing that the church should change it’s doctrine, or even that the doctrine is wrong, she’s only arguing that the federal government should treat churches like hers in a certain way. I’m not sure I buy that difference, but there it is.

    Also, while I like this hypo, I wonder if someone is ever going to discuss the real world issue of what you would do if you were a SP and you saw one of your member’s names on that “I think Julie Beck should never tell women what to do” web site. It seems that that would have several facial similarities to this hypo. I’m not trying to threadjack, just suggesting it as a topic for a later date.

  6. Extreme Doritos (#1):

    Thirty or forty years ago, one could have asked the same question about a person who believed there was no basis for withholding the priesthood from blacks. Why would a person who holds such views maintain their membership and activity in the church? And yet, I hope that I would have been such a person if I was an adult back then.

    Alternate views about women and the priesthood, or homosexuality, may seem like they are tremendously out of step with the range of possible changes in the church. But would they be any bigger than change in policy for blacks and the priesthood? I don’t think there have been statements about women and the priesthood, or gay marriage, that are any more strident than pre-1978 statements about blacks and the priesthood (think “one drop of Caananite blood” or “death on the spot”).

    To me, the real question is whether a lay member has the right to publicly advocate a position that is against church teachings. I’m not sure what to think about that. But I firmly believe that a faithful church member can have alternate beliefs about a subject and still be a member in good standing. There were general authorities who opposed the priesthood ban and its rationale for a couple of decades prior to the ban’s reversal, and yet they apparently remained in good standing.

  7. It’s hard to see how it doesn’t reach the level of apostasy.

    WRT jimbob’s comment in #5 – I noticed one former BYU administrator (at the college level, not campuswide) on the WWK site. I’m sure she’s retired now, but would signing it justify losing one’s job at BYU?

  8. Last Lemming says:

    Angie’s argument that she should allowed to pursue her day job as she sees fit is disingenuous. The “day job” of constitutional law scholars is to expound on what the Constitution says, not on what it should say. The latter is political advocacy.

    Now excommunicating somebody for political advocacy is dicey business and should not be undertaken lightly. Certainly advocating for women’s equality in the political arena should not be grounds for excommunication, nor should advocating priesthood for women as long as it is done in positive terms (e.g., “I think the priesthood should be extended to women” vs. “The brethren need to repent for not extending the priesthood to women.”)

    But what we have here is advocacy for government interference in forms of worship, some thing that violates both the 11th Article of Faith and Section 134 of the D&C. If the proposal were to force churches to do something that the LDS Church already does (e.g., meet for at least 3 hours every Sunday), it would be just as objectionable. In the end, I am ambivalent on the first two counts because they were not in violation of specific counsel. The third count, however, did violate specific counsel, so I would vote to convict.

  9. Kevin,

    Its to limited on the choices for conviction. As you know there are 3.

    I would vote for probation or disfellowshipment as a HC member on probably all three due to the public nature of the whole affair.

  10. Because her argument is obviously not different from her beliefs. In fact I found the whole, work seperate from real life to be difficult at best to argue. Combine that with the obvious desire for media coverage says you almost have to convict.

    Difficult to do but probably in this case you are going to be forced to deal with her that way because there is she does not appear to be willing to see another side.

  11. “The ‘day job’ of constitutional law scholars is to expound on what the Constitution says, not on what it should say.”

    Hogwash. Well-reputed con law scholars opine on how the constitution is wrong on all kinds of issues, including life tenure for article 3 judges and the electoral college. Whether or not one agrees with them, no one but you has suggested that they’re doing something other than their job. They’re not judges.

  12. 1) the publication of her paper in the Harvard Law Review

    Acquit. Who reads the HLR besides incorrigible laywers?

    2) the publication of the New York Times op-ed

    Convict. Way too many folks toying with liberalism read the NYT and such an op-ed might push ‘em over the edge.

    3) the republication of her paper in the anthology.

    Acquit. Audience is too limited to worry about.

  13. Kevin, forgive me for making this a little personal. I find your post especially interesting because you yourself have publicly stated the beliefs that we should not oppose gay marriage and that we should ordain women to the priesthood (see this recent comment [#15] for example). And I believe that you consider yourself an active, faithful church member. So the main difference in Angie Academic’s case is that she published her views in the Harvard Law Review and the NYT, and not just in the Bloggernacle. If Angie gets excommunicated, would that suggest that Mormons can discuss these issues among friends, but not with the greater public?

    (I am absolutely not suggesting that Kevin’s beliefs deserve attention from the stake presidency . . . I made it clear in my post #6 above that I think a person should be able to hold whatever belief they want.)

    I also like that your title includes what appears to be a personal lament that nobody actually reads legal academic papers . . .

  14. I don’t believe this is Kevin’s hypothetical. He said that it came from a correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous.

  15. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how I’d ‘vote’. The whole high council and both couselors in the stake presidency can vote to aquit, but the decision remains soley with the stake president. The vote is just a formality that makes it look somewhat democratic.

  16. CE #6, superficially, there might be some comparison between the two, but when you dig into the history of Blacks and the Priesthood there are compelling reasons to question it doctrinally without resorting to insubstantial accusations like “out-of-touch, gerentocratic nature of the church hierarchy”. There is no parallel track for Women in the Priesthood.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    CE, anon is correct that these “You Make the Call” hypotheticals were not written by me. You’re quite right that I would favor giving women the priesthood, and I have said so publicly, including by this comment. So even though I haven’t engaged in any kind of advocacy of this position beyond simply expressing my opinion, I am very interested in how this one turns out, because it does have some personal resonance for me.

  18. bbell, as usual, brings up a salient point. Conviction doesn’t necessarily mean “excommunication”.

  19. Last Lemming says:

    Hogwash. Well-reputed con law scholars opine on how the constitution is wrong on all kinds of issues, including life tenure for article 3 judges and the electoral college. Whether or not one agrees with them, no one but you has suggested that they’re doing something other than their job. They’re not judges.

    OK, I should have worded that as something like “the irreducable job of constitutional law scholars.” Certainly con law scholars engage in political advocacy and get paid for it, but one can also be a fine con law scholar without engaging in political advocacy, particularly of the type that undermines an institution to which one claims some loyalty.

    Similarly, some OB/GYNS perform abortions, but they can’t claim that it is a part of their job that the church should keep its nose out of. Plenty of other OB/GYNs manage to follow the church’s injunction against it.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    #15 is correct that your vote isn’t binding on the SP, who is the one who gets to make the ultimate call. But you still have to vote, even if the SP might override the vote of the HC. So the question remains: how will you vote?

  21. #1–I used to think like that. Some people don’t want to leave the church for family reasons. Certainly you’ve heard about people being treated badly by family when they leave their chruch and join the Mormon church. Well, it happens the other way as well. So sometimes these people end up staying, but not being very happy about it. Maybe if we were a little more understanding / less judgemental of different people’s opinions, these people would just leave. Would that be a good thing or not?

  22. Extreme Doritos (#16):

    I am not aware of anything in the standard works that specifically prohibits women from holding the priesthood. It could be argued that our current practice is largely influenced by the culture of the period during which the church was restored.

    But as a disclaimer, I have not researched this topic very thoroughly, and do not have very strong feelings on the subject. Mostly, I think that if men treat the priesthood as a great responsibility and with no presumptions of personal power or authority, then there is much less potential for inequality between men and women in the church. But I don’t see any major theological or doctrinal obsticles to changing our policy on ordaining women. There is much less doctrinal interpretation on this subject than there was on blacks and the priesthood. Leaders would have to inquire and seek inspiration on the subject.

  23. I vote to acquit on all counts. While I do not wish the government to intervene and force the church to ordain women, I DO wish the church would do so of its own volition, or rather, that God would tell the prophet to do so.

    I am aware that there are guidelines the stake president and high council are supposed to follow, regarding public damage to the church. I don’t think of this as damage, I think of it as change, and long overdue. I would welcome the opportunity to vote on it as a high councilman.

  24. It feels like Angie was trying to showboat a little for her professors. It’s a political powderkeg to suggest the government tamper with religious doctrines, short of human sacrifice. How did the SP get wind of it– did she submit it to BCC?

    I’d acquit for the HLR & NYT publications. This was a legal argument, not a crusade. HOWEVER… since she’s now taking money for the piece, I feel it’s suddenly moved from academic position to a more official position. I’d urge the SP to present it that way to her and invite her to recant again. If she still refuses, then I would vote to excommunicate.

  25. “…the ‘out-of-touch, gerontocratic nature of the church hierarchy’ made it unlikely that that church…”

    These are fighting words likely to draw highlight marks from a SCMC bureaucrat.

  26. It isn’t clear to me that this person is doing damage to the church, so I say acquit. Do we really think the church is not big and tough enough to withstand this sort of academic ping pong? The stake president should just ignore it, and I think it would be a huge error of judgement on his part to make this a matter of obedience to counsel.

    For crying out loud, if it appears in the NYT, everybody just assumes it was made up anyway.

  27. Steve Evans says:

    I always tend to err on the side of mercy, but it’s clear that’s just me. The HLS article is just an opinion, no real harm done. The NYT piece did not mention the Church. The anthology is more problematic IMO but I still don’t see too much going on here. The real issue for me is the systematic disregard for the SP’s instructions and counsel. But I wouldn’t strip someone of the blessings of membership for such a thing. Given that disfellowshipping and other discipline are not given as options, I would not vote to excommunicate.

  28. #26 , Exactly my point. Do we excommunicate merely for opinions? Would we then have to excommunicate Harry Reid (just kidding). I agree that the SP should ignore but also counsel Angie. Just make sure she pays her 10% of the $1500.

  29. How is her disregard for the stake president’s counsel “systematic”? As I read the hypo, she met with him once, and rejected one demand (apart from the invitation to recant and repent). Seems to me that her disregard was discrete, rather than systematic, and that the decision to discipline her or not on count 3 rests largely on whether the action itself of allowing republication of the article was apostasy.

  30. gst (again, with the serious??), fine by me if you don’t characterize it as systematic, that just makes the case for mercy a little stronger.

  31. Michael Horn: “Do we excommunicate merely for opinions?”

    Well, if the opinion in question is that the government should force the church to change a practice that it would not willingly change, and if that opinion is expressed in the New York Times, then the answer is “probably.”

  32. I would ask my wife’s opinion and do what she suggests.

  33. …she takes the position that the constitutional and statutory protections of religion are too strong and that measures should be taken, including a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to allow the federal government to force churches to ordain women and otherwise enforce anti-discrimination measures against churches.

    This statement stymied my objective reading of the rest of the piece. I don’t want government in my religion, and to amend the constitution to do so is to open the floodgates in an irreparable way.

    All that aside, I have no idea what I would do with the woman as SP.

  34. Do we excommunicate merely for opinions?

    #28: Your comment about the tithing made me laugh. :)

    On topic: I’m so, so terrified of the Church deciding that opinions are grounds for disciplinary action. There’s a reason I post as “Bro. Jones”: I realized awhile back that I didn’t want people in church to associate my bloggernacle postings with me. Just this past Sunday in SS, when asked for examples of “false teachers in the latter-days.” A sister gave the example of the web petition disagreeing with Sis. Beck’s conference talk. She also added, “But I have no idea what’s actually wrong with this people. I don’t *have* the Internet, I just heard about this.”

    Whether or not you agree with any particular opinion on Sis. Beck’s talk, it’s the second part of the volunteering sister’s commentary that scares me. All we need in this church is for leadership to convene disciplinary hearings because “I heard from a concerned member whose friend said you posted on a blog saying that you’re not opposed to gay marriage.” That doesn’t mean I’ve made a public call on Church leaders and membership to change policy, just that I’ve spoken out loud with an opinion.

    So frankly, unless Angie Academic’s post was deliberately targeted at Church members in an attempt to lead astray, confuse, or speak ill of the Lord’s annointed, I’d chalk it up to a mere difference of opinion rather than outright apostasy. Acquit on all charges, especially to deny her any attempts at academic martyrdom.

  35. Er, “post” = “paper,” and kindly ignore all typos.

  36. Excommunication is such a harsh sentence. Even Catholicism (for whom excommunication is not a revocation of baptism) does not apply the ultimate sanction to figures such as Hans Küng who dared to suggest papal infallibility was hogwash.

  37. Voting No, plus... says:

    What if the article was by a conservative family law professor at BYU that argued on the other side of the conservative-liberal coin? For example, suppose he argues that to follow Mormon doctrine, emphasize traditional family values, and increase social goods, BYU and other church employers should not hire female faculty or female professionals (that part isn’t much of a hypo, I guess), and, moving beyond that, that there should be no restrictions on any employer’s ability to discriminate in making employment decisions.

    I wouldn’t vote to excommunicate either Angie or our BYU law prof.

  38. Steve Evans says:

    Amen to what Ronan said.

  39. For me, the level of publicity of the statement is largely irrelevant. My decision to convict or acquit would rest largely on whether Annie still has a testimony of revelation. The thing which disturbs me about her position is not necessarily the idea of women getting the priesthood, but that church policy should be dictated by social norms rather than revelation. If she doesn’t believe such integral church policies as the priesthood are controlled by revelation, I find it difficult to say she should be part of the church.

    Of course, my answer is inconsequential, since I’m a woman and wouldn’t be on the council anyway.

  40. History strongly suggests that the woman would be excommunicated. However, such an act would be baseless and indefensible. If the woman is wrong, so be it. But being wrong, even in public, is not a sin.

  41. The Excommunication vs Acquittal scenario just does not work for me. That is why there is always the option of disf… and probation.

    Also how old is Angie? Is she endowed? Temple married? RM? Mother of any children? Recent convert? These factors will play into how her Church court goes.

  42. called #21, yeah, I have heard this one before, and I still dont buy it. Maybe if people stood up for what they believed in, whether it was pro or con, and honestly spoke about these things then the families, and all the rest of us, wouldnt be so judgmental.

    CE #22, there are plenty of statements in the Scriptures that necessarily imply the Priesthood is male only: first-born sons of Aaron, all clear and unambiguous priesthood holders in all the Scriptures are male, ancient apostles picked by Jesus all male, all early LDS Church priesthood holders were male, all D&C sections on priesthood explicitly state male, and so on and so on. People who argue in favor of Women getting the Priesthood bring up Deborah the prophetess and Iounias and various female deaconesses, but none of those cases require Priesthood, they all rely on ambiguity in the text, and that is weak. This has been hashed out repeatedly in the Bloggernacle ad nauseum.

    But, even setting this aside, anyone who’s attitude is to fault the LDS Church leaders as “out-of-touch, gerentocratic” is someone who is appealing to pop culture and little else. This is nothing but a substanceless ad hominem, and it rejects fundamental precepts of the Church that the leadership are chosen by inspiration and lead by inspiration. When I sustain President Hinckley I do so because I believe the Lord also sustains him and His hand works providentially to support him. Stating the Church is “out-of-touch, gerentocratic” is saying they arent trendy, hip and down with the world. Good. I am glad they arent. This is why I just dont understand why people who believe this stay in the Church.

    Michael Horn #28, “Do we excommunicate merely for opinions?” No, we dont. But, she has gone beyond opinion in her actions. She has published in direct contradiction of leadership, accepted money for it, and was possibly motivated by notoriety.

  43. Further to my #36, when you’re to the right even of Josef Ratzinger it’s time to call the Spanish Inquisition and give them their torture rack back.

  44. Steve Evans says:

    SCMC – nobody expects the Mormon inquisition! Our chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and navajo tacos.

  45. Last Lemming says:

    For example, suppose he argues that to follow Mormon doctrine, emphasize traditional family values, and increase social goods, BYU and other church employers should not hire female faculty or female professionals

    Apples and oranges. If the conservative scholar advocated a constitutional amendment forbidding churches and their extensions from hiring women, then you have a comparable situation. And I would still vote to convict.

    Incidentally, I have some sympathy with the view that a lesser punishment than excommunication would be appropriate, but that wasn’t part of the hypothetical.

  46. Oh, Ronan, get off your rhetorical high horse or I’ll waterboard you.

  47. Extreme Doritos (#42):

    You mention that the first-born sons of Aaron, the apostles picked by Jesus, the early LDS church priesthood leaders, and all other clear unambiguous priesthood holders in the scriptures were all male. I would add that none of them are known to be black, either. But that’s poor justification for withholding the priesthood from blacks. So why does this represent a valid basis for withholding the priesthood from women?

    I’m sure that this has been hashed out repeatedly in the Bloggernacle, and I don’t have real strong feeling on the subject. My only point here is that the basis for withholding the priesthood from women seems no stronger (to me) than the basis for withholding the priesthood from blacks. And the policy on blacks was able to be changed with a little questioning and inspiration . . .

  48. Frankly, the mere proposition that Angie could be disciplined for her paper disturbs me.

    I just don’t see what is to be gained by disciplining those who voice opinions that are at odds with the institutional stance. This sends a very clear message that alternative views are not engaged or discussed in an open dialogue, but are met with punishment and intimidation. In other words, if you are sympathetic to any dissenting views, you’d better toe the line, or at least keep quiet about it.

    In my opinion, Church discipline, particularly excommunication, should be reserved for only the most extreme of situations. That discipline is even in the cards for Angie is remarkable.

  49. CE #47 “But that’s poor justification for withholding the priesthood from blacks.”

    Keep it in context. It wasnt meant to address the B&P issue, it was means to address the W&P issue.

    There were Blacks ordained to the Priesthood in the Early LDS Church, there werent women ordained to the Priesthood in the early LDS Church.

  50. #42–Your comment, ‘I still don’t buy it’ only furthers my point in #21. It doesn’t sound like you’d be very understanding of someone’s differing opinion.

    Maybe if people stood up for what they believed in, whether it was pro or con, and honestly spoke about these things then the families, and all the rest of us, wouldnt be so judgmental.

    This is an interesting comment given that the larger discussion is whether or not to excommunicate someone for simply standing up for what they believe in.

  51. There are IMHO two questions here. The first is what is best for Sister Academic. That is, assuming she desires to retain fellowship with the Saints, is she “so far gone” that releasing her from her covenants is in her best interest? Granted, I’m disturbed by her confrontational tone and the specific point she’s advocating, but I think we’re still in a “let’s talk this through” stage. In particular, she needs to feel that her disagreements with current Church practice are at least listened to seriously.

    (BTW, I would agree with her that we have a gerentocracy, and that to an extent it’s out-of-touch. And I don’t think that the Brethren themselves would disagree, really, they just see it differently. Gerentocracies have advantages, after all, such as experience and hopefully wisdom; and they certainly don’t feel it their job to be blown to and fro with every gust of popular opinion.)

    The second question is what is best for the body of the Church. In this case, creating another cause célèbre over a scholar is just not in the Church’s best interest.

    So I’d suggest perhaps probation, with part of her probation be meeting with someone in stake leadership to listen to her concerns and help her work out more effective strategies for having them addressed.

  52. Convict on all accounts.

    This is how change happens, through sacrifice.

  53. I’d acquit. I don’t think the Church needs protection from its members. If the hypothetical author were misrepresenting the Church’s position, I’d be more inclined to determine whether the author knew that she was getting the facts wrong. If she did, then I think there’s a reasonable argument for excommunication.

    But excommunicating someone for having and expressing a different opinion about the way things should be done? No way. Who would want to be a part of a community in which thinking were so constrained?

  54. Edit: the second sentence should read, “I don’t think the Church needs protection from its well meaning members.

  55. greenfrog,

    Is she indeed a “well meaning” member? She is trying to upend church doctrine through secular governance. Something about that just doesn’t sound right at all. Fry her.

  56. called #50 “This is an interesting comment given that the larger discussion is whether or not to excommunicate someone for simply standing up for what they believe in.” No, the discussion is over whether to discipline someone or not, not whether to excommunicate or not. There are varying levels of discipline. I personally wouldnt be in favor of excommunication in this particular case. I would be in favor of disfellowship.

    I can understand people all day long, but when people act contrary to the tenets of the Church, the Church has to act in a manner that is self-regulatory. That is explicitly required in the D&C, and universally endorsed in all the canon. The Church should be hyper tolerant of differing viewpoints, but should be intolerant of bad behavior. There is a big difference between ideas and acts. It is the latter that has to be clearly regulated.

  57. This is a tricky position for me because I often worry that the line “what happens at work stays at work” is used to justify egregiously immoral behavior by devout Latter-day Saints in the workplace (Marriotts as killer porn distributors is only the best known of myriad examples).

    On the other hand, I think that we don’t need to be excommunicating people who disagree, even if we all could stand to be less self-promoting. I would acquit, but I would invite Angie (and the rest of us) to think through what the “what happens at work stays at work” line really means.

  58. I’m not saying this is a definite, but as I’m reading Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, I get the feeling this is the kind of thing for which JS and/or his contemporaries would have excommunicated.

  59. #56–

    No, the discussion is over whether to discipline someone or not, not whether to excommunicate or not.

    Actually I’m correct. Re-read the original post–it says, ‘You are a high councilman serving on the disciplinary committee, and you are required to vote either “convict” or “acquit” on each of the three charges.’ and ‘Conviction on any one of the charges will result in her excommunication.’

    The distinction between disfellowship and excommunication hardly helps your case anyway.

    The Church should be hyper tolerant of differing viewpoints, but should be intolerant of bad behavior.

    What is the ‘bad behavior’ here? Expressing an opinion? So the church should by hyper tolerant of differing viewpoints as long as you don’t ever express them to anyone. Is that your definition of ‘hyper tolerant’?

  60. I’ve been giving this further thought in the light of Ed Firmage’s book Zion in the Courts (which I heartily recommend), and I think the fundamental problem here is that the entire premise of the question is wrong.

    The premise of the question is that the purpose of Church “courts of love” ought to be the same as secular courts. An individual is accused of a crime. A trial is held to determine guilt or innocence, and to impose an appropriate punishment.

    The fundamental goal of a Church court (IMHO) ought not to be guilt or innocence, but the state of the individual’s relationship with God and their willingness/ability to maintain the covenant obligations entered into at baptism. There can be secondary goals, of course, but this is where I think the focus should be.

    My own sense of moral outrage ought not enter in. Nor should the level of my agreement or disagreement with the “accused.” I should see the court as an occasion where an individual has exhibited cause for concern regarding their spiritual life, and to determine how best to help them with the problem(s) they’re having (if any).

  61. Antonio Parr says:

    Why are so many of you so focused on kicking people out of the Church? Why not try to work with such individuals with love unfeigned, instead of being so rabid about punishing a fellow child of God who may be stumbling?

  62. All those in favor of kicking Antonio out of the church, say “aye.”

  63. Yeah, beat it Antonio. You and your Christian love for all. Didn’t JNS’ post make it clear? WE’RE NOT CHRISTIANS.

  64. count 1)not guilt. Let her slide.
    count 2) guilty. Even if the church isnt explicity mentioned it is implied.
    count 3)Guilty. She was calle dto repentance, aske dnot to publish it anymore and she went riught ahead and did it.

    My verdict: Guilty

    ps. If she would have simply refused to have the paper published in the anthology then I would have let count 1) and 2) slide.

    I would even let them all slide if she would repent and promise never, ever, ever, ever,ever publish on the toipic again.

  65. Kyrie eleison.

  66. David T., #58, it absolutely is.

    called #59 “Actually I’m correct. Re-read the original post–it”, um, yeah, if you ignore the intervening comments about dis v. ex, then you might have a point. The reality is Kevin’s original premise is unrealistic. Conviction on any of these points does not necessarily result in excommunication, except in unrealistic hypotheticals. Forgive me for trying to keep the discussion in the realm of reality.

    “What is the ‘bad behavior’ here?” Go back and read my previous comments, try last paragraph of #42.

  67. Antonio Parr says:

    “Did you hear that Antonio stopped coming to ‘bycommonconsent.com’? Probably the same old story of him feeling ‘offended’ by someone.”

    To which Antonio replied “damn straight!”

    Bycommonsenters called for a double secret excommunication of Antonio for swearing, to which Antonio replied (with apologies to J. Golden):

    “You can’t excommunicate me for swearing — I repent to damned fast.”

  68. Antonio Parr says:

    too damned fast”

  69. The differences of opinion on this and previous installments of “You make the call” bring up the issue of how just the disciplinary system of the church really is. I guess it should be obvious that you may get different disciplinary action depending on who your stake president is.

    Is it right that different stake presidents decide matters differently for identical cases? Does this lady go to heaven if she lives in one stake, but go to hell because she happened to reside in a different stake?

  70. called,

    absolutely!

  71. #66-

    She has published in direct contradiction of leadership, accepted money for it, and was possibly motivated by notoriety.

    I still don’t see the ‘bad behavior’ here. This is only bad behavior if you live in some country ruled by a brutal dictator. Why would the church have a problem with this?

  72. Antonio, repeating to me the words of J. Golden hath warmed my heart. I beg forgiveness.

  73. I guess it should be obvious that you may get different disciplinary action depending on who your stake president is.

    Interestingly, I’ve found this to be true as to judges, wardens, parol boards, administrative boards, police officers, court coordinators, and a variety of other persons of authority as well. Any system which requires judgment calls will not be administered in an identical fashion.

    Does this lady go to heaven if she lives in one stake, but go to hell because she happened to reside in a different stake?

    A disciplinary council can only make decisions as to a person’s standing in the church. It lacks the ability to decide things like whether an individual goes to heaven or hell. Which is probably good.

  74. There is a huge difference to me between saying “I wish the Church would change its policy” and saying “The government should force the Church to change its policy.” That difference, together with her description of the current Church leadership as out of touch is the basis of my vote to convict.

  75. “Frankly, the mere proposition that Angie could be disciplined for her paper disturbs me… In my opinion, Church discipline, particularly excommunication, should be reserved for only the most extreme of situations. That discipline is even in the cards for Angie is remarkable.”

    I’m shocked that this even might be excommunicable, and that so many people here think it should be. If having a spoken opinion that the institutional church should change in a certain area is so incredibly serious as to revoke membership and all blessings, then me an a hundred of my blogernacle friends ought to go hide under a rock until the inevitable day when a SP or overzealous ward member finds our musings and turns us in.

    and if that did happen, I’d feel pretty hurt to have joined the church of ongoing personal revelation, of having a direct witness from God of the truth, and of developing my own path back to my Father, step by individualized step under His care, only to be cut off by that same institutionalized church that I already wished would change in one area or another. That’s not good for me, for my kids, or for anybody watching.

  76. Can we aquit on all charges but convict on the write-in charge of having a stupid legal opinion?

  77. Cchrissyy,

    I could not agree with you more. I read this post last night and was thinking about it all morning not sure what I would write. First, I’d acquit on all charges and wonder what the Hell we were doing in a court to begin with. Second, it somewhat sickens me how we in the church excommunicate others so readily and easily. Talk about stifling experssion and healthy debate within the church. It’s all so Big Brother and appalling to me. My dad who is in the bishopric sometimes says “I’ve got to go to a church court tonight” and when he does, I just cringe a million times over. The whole thing is disgusting. We should be a church that embraces people and accepts others, not shuns them for showing a difference of opinion. And for those that sin, I still don’t like the whole “excommunicated” thing. The church has done studies on excommunication and (though I can’t find sources now since I’m at work) they found that a huge majority of those being excommunicated didn’t find it a loving or cathartic process at all and a majority didn’t come back to the fold. Church courts are so arbitrary and are based on one’s own experiences and prejudices. Oh, sure, they say they all pray about it and it’s done lovingly but come on– I don’t believe for one nanosecond that one’s personal opinions, biases and the like don’t form the overwhelming “impression” when voting to convict or acquit (gosh, even those words sound horrid).

    I say “acquit” and let’s all go home so we can have dinner with our families and not waste another minute on it all.

  78. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Whether to convict or acquit is simple – I let her walk, and have stern words for the SP who wasted my time adjudicating the issue. But letting her continue as the temple prep. teacher is another issue. I probably speak to her Bishop and have her promoted to teach Gospel Doctrine – at least I won’t fall asleep as often.

  79. PS: And how many times have I read that some SP or bishop was found to be molesting their kids/grandkids, or having an affair or embezzling money. How many of those “holier than thous” were voting to convict others and work towards excommunicating someone when they then went home to steal from their company or fondle their relatives. I’m not saying this is commonplace but it’s happened more often than we like to think.

  80. Lulubelle,
    I don’t mean this to be offensive, but where are you that your dad goes to Church courts on a regular basis and you read, on a regular basis, of stake presidents and bishops molesting or embezzling?

    I’m not suggesting that Church courts don’t happen, or that there aren’t bad leaders out there, but in my experience, such things are rare. I have heard of an excommunication in a Stake where I lived (second-hand) once. In more than 30 years of Church membership.

    Which doesn’t answer Kevin’s question (although, if pressed, I could go with Jacob J’s ((76) response).

  81. Lulubelle, I’m not suggesting that your comments are a complete fabrication, but it’s obvious that you are stretching things a lot in both of your comments.

  82. Including the claim that last night she read a post that didn’t go up until this morning.

  83. Can we get off of the “Bishops and Stake Presidents are human too, and some of them commit horrible sins, so let’s let anyone do whatever and not discipline them and love and hug and smile all the time” diatribes?

    Lulubelle, I don’t want to ask the question that comes to mind when I read your comments, but as someone who has sat on disciplinary councils your “Church courts are so arbitrary and are based on one’s own experiences and prejudices. Oh, sure, they say they all pray about it and it’s done lovingly but come on– I don’t believe for one nanosecond that one’s personal opinions, biases and the like don’t form the overwhelming “impression” when voting to convict or acquit (gosh, even those words sound horrid)” was about as insulting a comment as I have read on this blog – and I have read some highly offensive comments here. Unfortunately, there are disciplinary councils that produce what I believe are questionable decisions, but it is a MUCH more complicated, heart-wrenching, painful process for ALL sides (including those who must vote) than you understand.

    Please, if you have not experienced multiple such courts, and if you have not seen BOTH the bitter AND the sweet, keep your condescending stereotypes to yourself.

    I’ll give my opinion on the actual hypothetical in a minute. First, I have to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

  84. My dad live in Utah. I didn’t imply that he goes to them every day, but there are a few church courts per year. In my ward growing up in a very small town in California, there were several ex-communications there and everyone knew about them (as much as they are supposed to be private, the word gets out). I have three friends that I’ve met over the years who have been ex-communicated. One came back, the other two didn’t. The one who came back… it took her 15 years before she would step foot inside a church again. Now she’s as active as they come. She was ex communicated for a moral sin while the RM on the other side was barely reprimanded. You’re very lucky to have only known one person in 30 years who was excommunicated. I assure you, they’re more common than that (at least in my experience). As for SP or Bishops… read the papers in Utah. I never said it happens all the time but it does happen to a tune of a few per year that make the news and who knows how many other times that don’t? My former uncle was a 1st counselor in the bishopric and he was extremely physically abusive to his young kids (one who has mild retardation as most likely a result of getting knocked in the head too many times). You can disagree with my opinion but I think it’s a sorry day when you call me a liar (in not so many words).

  85. Nick Literski says:

    #74:
    There is a huge difference to me between saying “I wish the Church would change its policy” and saying “The government should force the Church to change its policy.” That difference, together with her description of the current Church leadership as out of touch is the basis of my vote to convict.

    The LDS church has been active in lobbying the federal government to change its policy (via the Constitution, no less) in order to require that non-LDS citizens live according to LDS teachings. Therefore, it should hardly disturb LDS members to see someone lobby the federal government to change its policy in order to require that LDS citizens live according to the larger society’s expectations. Other than declaring that deity is on the LDS church’s side, I can see no reason to differentiate between the two behavior patterns.

  86. I don’t think this is punsihable by excommunication. Having watched a brother in law only get probation for committing adultry, giving my sister an STD, and having a baby with the other woman, I see this offense as much less. If she is punished then why aren’t we punishing others? What about the business man/woman who cheats on their taxes (I had a priesthood leader admit they did in the course of a conversation)?

    If we are worried about the harm done to others then we are going have to convene courts for every time a person shares a Mormon “urban legend”. That does damage as well.

    At worst, she is guilty of not having good judgement. She should have never told her priesthood leader about the upcoming publication. He couldn’t tell her not to do it if she hadn’t let him know…

  87. Can’t help but chime in with the actual process of a High Council disciplinary committee, as it is now called, and then toss out my worthless opinion.

    High Council DC’s operate on the basis of hearing the evidence, usually from the individual accused, and that after the accused individual has already been through a pretty thorough counseling and interview process by her bishop and SP.

    At the DC meeting, the individual is given the chance to object to any members of the committee, and then presented with the specific charges. They are then allowed to respond, to explain, to present any evidence of their choosing, including their own witnesses. After that, the members of the DC are allowed to ask questions. After all questions have been asked, the member is excused to a waiting room, while the members of the committee discuss the evidence and questions. My personal note is that it is usually a lively and spirited discussion, often with extreme differences in opinion expressed. However, NO VOTE is taken at this time. The SP and his two counselors then excuse themselves and consult in private. The SP makes a decision, and then the members of the SP pray for confirmation. After that, they return and announce the decision of the SP, and allow for questions and discussion, and finally the SP asks for a sustaining vote. I have seen sharp divisions even at this stage, but ultimately, unanimity is sought, and usually obtained. Otherwise, no decision is handed down. The member then returns, and the decision is announced. HC representatives then state whether or not the interests of the individual and the church have been fairly represented, and the decision becomes formal.

    So, then, even though I don’t actually get to vote, my hypothetical is that she doesn’t get ex-ed for counts 1 or 2, although a reprimand may be in order. For the third charge of refusing to follow the SP’s counsel, and publish for money anyway, I would have to lean towards that being an apostate act. However, there are always other responses besides excommunication, such as informal discipline which might be to refrain from publishing on that topic again, or to refrain from using inflammatory language, or temporarily surrendering your TR.

    Long winded, but I felt a need to set this down for your consideration.

  88. GST: I stand corrected. I read this post this morning. I was on feministmormonhousewives last night and was mulling over a topic there, too. My gosh, not lying, just running a million miles a minute and juggling multiple things at once. I post consistently on all blogs. Call me opinionated, call me whatever… but I am not a liar.

  89. 77 – It’s all so Big Brother . . .

    Uhm. . ., isn’t Christ our Big Brother? He also has a full-time surveillance system (He knows all we do).

    I have a feeling that term for big government doesn’t apply to the church.

  90. I think the only issue is the name calling of the church leadership, but surely they’re thick-skinned enough for that? (There’s a dinosaur joke there, but I’m too tired to think it out.)

  91. I don’t mind being judged by God or Christ. Gosh, they see the whole picture (and are probably a lot more forgiving than many of us… me included, by the way). But I’m refering to Big Brother as in the right we should all have to privacy and the ability to have thoughts and air them without fear of reprimands such as losing church membership. Apples and oranges.

  92. She should be excommunicated for advocating getting the government more involved in telling ANY religion how to worship. Stupid.

    Stupid and Dangerous.

  93. Nick (#74),
    I don’t find it disturbing that someone would petition the Government to force the Church to do things their way, I only find it disturbing that a member of the Church would. Okay so that isn’t entirely true, I guess declaring civil rights as the state religion is disturbing to, especially when argued by supposed Church and State separationists. However, it seems to me this person has a very different definition than the church in defining the word member.

  94. Lulubelle,
    I’m afraid I don’t read the Utah papers; other than the occassional Robert Kirby column, I have limited interest in what’s going on in Utah (just as I have limited interest about what’s going on in Missouri and North Dakota, among other states). Calling you a liar? No; in fact, everybody was pretty careful not to (except gst, as is his wont). But the tone of your subsequent comments doesn’t match with your initial comments, which, at least in my reading, suggested that your dad was going on a weekly basis, that every month we should be seeing abusive bishops, etc. Even if that’s not what you intended, that’s how it came across.

    Your amendments still seem high to me, from my experience, but closer to the realm of possibility. That fact that three of your friends have been ex’d, and your uncle is abusive, has probably colored your perception as much as the fact that none of my friends have, and my uncles are all pretty good guys, has colored mine.

  95. Interesting post and discussion. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about disciplinary councils manifest here. bbell #41 may be an exception, partly, along with some others.

    “Court”, “convict”, “acquit” are not terms I have heard used in those I have attended. The main point in a disciplinary council is whether the individual needs restriction of church participation to assist in the repentance process and secondarily whether the Church/members need to be protected from their teaching or behavior because it is false or dangerous. Most of that cannot be determined by the outline of the question as given.

    The outcome in the hypo should be dependant on a lot of facts/feelings/attitudes that are not presented. Given the possibilities, it could be no action, formal probation, disfellowshipment, or excommunication.

    That said, there is almost no limit to what one can personally believe and still be in the Church. Only when one persists in teaching as church doctrine things that are not church doctrine after having been corrected does a problem arise. The other issue relevant in this case could be to have repeatedly acted in clear, open, and deliberate opposition to the Church or its leaders. I leave it to the legal minds in this “moot” case to determine whether the hypothetical behavior rose to that level.

  96. Adam Greenwood says:

    she takes the position that the constitutional and statutory protections of religion are too strong and that measures should be taken, including a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to allow the federal government to force churches to ordain women and otherwise enforce anti-discrimination measures against churches.

    I think folks are overlooking this part of the hypothetical. Either that or people really don’t think that legally forcing the church to adopt their desired doctrinal change is a big deal. Inside every rebel there’s a dictator waiting to get out.

  97. It strikes me that there’s another problem with the hypothetical; unless I misunderstand the nature of stake disciplinary councils, the high counsel members don’t “vote” — six are assigned to argue in favor of the (for lack of a better word) accused, while six are assigned to argue against the accused, and it is the stake president (with his counselors) who makes the actual decision. If that has changed or my original understanding is wrong, someone please correct me.

    I have little sympathy for the trouble that the woman finds herself in. Our (canonized) 11th Article of Faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” She is advocating a Constitutional amendment to impose her idea of ‘equal rights’ upon all religious organizations; the base slur against the leaders of the Church is just icing on the cake. Her sheer arrogance is breathtaking and represents the worst and ugliest aspect of the liberal impulse (and I say that as a lifelong registered Democrat).

    At the same time, I think the stake president is being, ah, counterproductive in holding a disciplinary council. The council itself — and the inevitable media storm afterwards, regardless of the outcome — will do far more damage to the Church than her article ever would. Were I in his position, I think that I would have stopped with counseling her, perhaps with an additional talk to her bishop that she not have a teaching calling nor speak in sacrament meeting.

    And, of course, there is the simple question of her temple recommend (assuming she has one): given what she has said and advocated in print, how can she in all good conscience answer ‘Yes’ to the 4th question:

    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?

    If she answers, “yes”, then she’s a hypocrite one way or the other — that is, either she’s lying to her bishop and stake president, or she’s lying in her writings.

    She is free to have her opinions and (IMHO) even free to have them and remain an active member of the Church. On the other hand, I’m not sure she’s free to advocate these opinions and retain the privilege of teaching and attending the temple, any more than I would be if I chose to smoke. But I do think that disfellowshipment or excommunication are not the right course in the name of ‘protecting the Church’. ..bruce..

    savage misogynist To a Mormon feminist, this is an all-purpose term of abuse which can be applied to men whose sins range from thinking it is better to wait to give women the priesthood until after God has given his OK, to thinking that women should get the priesthood right after men are given the power to have babies and suckle their young. — Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary

  98. I got back to comment and saw that kevinf and tns, particularly, have outlined my major points already. I will add two things only.

    1) Lulubelle, Based on your clarifications, my comment probably was a bit harsh. Frankly, I read it as slanderous toward men I have loved and admired and respected, so it definitely hit a nerve. I have participated in multiple disciplinary councils, and your characterization simply didn’t match any of them. Also, my father-in-law was on the High Council for over 13 years while my wife was growing up, and she remembers vividly how much he fasted and prayed prior to every council he attended – and how exhausted he was when he returned. He was well aware of the possible effects of those meetings, and it was a burden he would have rejected if it hadn’t been part of his calling. I have not known a single High Councilor who looked forward to these councils. I know I dreaded them – even when I was pretty sure the outcome would be positive, simply because of the possibility that the person would react badly.

    2) Nobody should assume that someone is giving an accurate portrayal of a disciplinary council in which s/he was a participant. Again, there are decisions that might or might not be understandable, and certainly some that simply aren’t inspired or “correct,” but the vast majority of those who are affected directly are FAR from objective throughout the process. Relatively few instances are so cut-and-dried that the decision is easy. Many people – on both sides – are at various stages of denial. What they say afterward often is very different than what others who participate would say – but those on the administrative end generally keep the confidentiality better than many of the participants who try to justify or complain about the decision. Therefore, the only versions that often are heard do not include those that would be offered by the SP and the HC.

    3) There is a HUGE difference between a *member* believing that the Brethren are wrong (and even sharing that belief with others) and publicly attacking the Church and agitating for a change in doctrine or practice. This example is only worthy of discussion in this context specifically because her attitude and actions actually might cross the line between the two. I couldn’t make that call without hearing her explanation and intent, but I would only agree with excommunication if it seemed obvious to me that she intentionally was fighting/aligning herself against the Church and trying to force a change through public pressure and was totally unrepentant in that attitude – particularly if she was participating with an organized group with that agenda. If she was taking into her own hands to force the issue and make it happen, and she was committed to that course of action, I would have no problem accepting excommunication as an appropriate response.

  99. bfw,
    She’s only a hypocrite if you invest the word “sustain” with some degree of infallibility doctrine. For me, sustaining these men sometimes requires deep thought and sacrificed pride because I do sometimes disagree with them. But even when I do, I still believe them to be the people God wants managing the affairs of the Church.

    Adam,
    There is a strain of totalitarianism in any philosophy that seeks to use any violence (even threatened, monopolized legitimate violence) to alter the Hobbesian state of nature. But I think that equating all dissenters with Godbeites is a bit problematic in a Church where people who still reject the Godbeite’s program of reform/change (abandoning polygamy, market economics, separating civil and ecclesiastical authority) in Mormonism are caste as either fundamentalists (in the case of the first and third examples) or freedom-haters (in the case of the second).

  100. Nick Literski says:

    #97:
    Actually, none of the high councillors are assigned to “argue for” or “argue against” either position. Rather, half are assigned (by drawn lots) to protect the interests of the church, and half are assigned to protect the interests of the accused. Their role is to ensure that the proceeding has been handled fairly, not to influence the decision for “their side.”

  101. Stupid and dangerous, yes, but bfwebster makes a salient point in suggesting the council and inevitable media attention will be even more dangerous to the Church. Then there’s the collateral damage to her family and friends. Not only do excommunicants sadly not often return, but it seems from my limited experience with the excommunicated that their families are also too often lost. (I have also observed little “showing forth greater love” to the excommunicated so perhaps we are partly responsible for these losses, but I hope you have witnessed frequent and active compassion toward the disciplined.)
    At this point it’s a stupid and dangerous view publicized in a professional context. Counsel with her if you like but don’t punish unless this becomes a viable campaign.

  102. She’s only a hypocrite if you invest the word “sustain” with some degree of infallibility doctrine. For me, sustaining these men sometimes requires deep thought and sacrificed pride because I do sometimes disagree with them. But even when I do, I still believe them to be the people God wants managing the affairs of the Church.

    I disagree; there is no issue here about infallibility. The issue is that she has publicly and in print called for a Constitutional amendment to change, via government sanctions and mandate, a profound and integral aspect of LDS doctrine and practice. I can see no way to square that with a ‘yes’ answer to the 4th question in the temple recommend interview. (I also see no way to square it with a belief in the 1st Amendment, which is why she advocates a new Amendment — and with that door open, who knows where the winds would blow.) I refer you to Nibley’s famous article on ‘Sustaining the Brethren’ on the difference between private disagreement and public avocation of overthrow. ..bruce..

  103. typed “two” – meant “three” – oops.

  104. The purposes of church disciplinary councils are threefold:
    1- Aid the sinner in the process of repentance
    2- Protect the interests of the church
    3- Safeguard members and others from predatory individuals

    The decision to even have a DC is pretty flexible except in certain categories defined in the handbook, primarily involving a combination of how well known the sin or the sinner is, and the severity of the act. Hence, a congress man who is stealing campaign funds for personal use, or a missionary who gets involved with an female investigator, or a SP/Bishop/GA who commits a felony are all much more likely to suffer excommunication than a member who commits adultery.

    Issues of abuse or sexual predators are also considered serious, but often are harder to prove. Also, the willingness of the accused party to participate also plays a part. I have known stake presidents who have a tendency to think that someone who is inactive, who is not in a repentant state, perhaps may be overlooked unless they cross over into public criticism, or otherwise bring public attention to themselves and the church. Hence, an inactive adulterer who won’t go see his or her bishop in the first place is much less likely to face a DC than a member in good standing who admits a transgression, and starts on the path to repentance willingly.

    Interesting to consider apostasy, as I think it actually is a pretty rare charge, IMO. It would almost always involve some sort of publicity or attention-seeking activity or status to qualify. Most of us may have held what could be called an apostate opinion or two from time to time, but we (and the church) get over it.

  105. Arrrghh, # 104 should read “Congressman or woman”

  106. Adam Greenwood says:

    #99,
    I doubt that “all dissenters” want to use the law to force the Church to adopt their pet program. Sis. Hypo. does. Nice try.

  107. Eric Russell says:

    What is this? A community of people who regularly voice opinions on the internet that contradict church statements and policies think she ought to be acquitted?

    Next on ESPN: Columbus residents share their thoughts on whether OSU deserves to play for the national championship.

  108. Adam, not quite. The hypothetical says “a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to allow the federal government to force churches to ordain women…”, which isn’t quite the same thing. A fine distinction, but an amendment permitting government action is pretty different from one that mandates government action.

  109. Adam Greenwood says:

    And her purpose in advocating for such an amendment is?

    Can you send me your bank info, Steve E.? I don’t promise that I won’t rob you blind, but I’m not explicitly saying that I mean to do so.

  110. Adam, perhaps it’s a distinction only meaningful to lawyers — I agree with you that her purpose is likely as you say — but that’s reading into the hypothetical. There are lots of personal freedoms I want to keep in existence without ever intending to make use of them. I don’t think you necessarily have to add that layer of interpretation to the hypothetical for purposes of your analysis.

  111. Adam Greenwood says:

    Forcing religions to adopt certain tenets is a personal freedom?

  112. Adam Greenwood says:

    “In one section of her paper, she gives the example of the LDS church as one that would be improved by the forced ordination of women”

  113. Adam, see my #108. The right for the government to do something does not mean the government will inevitably do it. I was attempting to reason by analogy.

  114. Yes — good. On that basis I think we can speak more clearly as to her personal intent. But not on the sentence re: the content of the constitution amendment in question.

  115. Adam Greenwood says:

    Even disregarding the context supplied by #112, one doesn’t usually advocate for the government to have some power one wishes it not to use in at least some circumstances.

  116. #97-

    I can understand what you’re saying regarding the DC causing more harm to the church than her work itself (because the DC would likely be a media spectacle), but is a DC convened only when it won’t arouse the local newspaper? I guess if you’re gonna be one, it’s better to be a newsworthy apostate.

  117. Adam,
    Nonetheless, the Church was forced by the government to enact roughly the very changes the Godbeite program advocated for. Given the fact that commitment to monogamous, largely Victorian family ideals, market economics, and robust engagement in secular (read: divided religious and political authority) politics have become markers of orthodoxy among LDS, it’s a bit hard to impute authoritarian motives to the con law scholar in question given the reasonable probability that what she advocates (or something roughly like it) will in fact at some point take place.

    Then again, if I remember correctly from my reading of Wayward Saints a few years back, William Godbe, with some retrospective regret, ascribed the failure of a movement designed to challenge Brigham Young’s authoritarianism to said movement’s own lack of authoritarian enforcement mechanisms.

  118. I can understand what you’re saying regarding the DC causing more harm to the church than her work itself (because the DC would likely be a media spectacle), but is a DC convened only when it won’t arouse the local newspaper? I guess if you’re gonna be one, it’s better to be a newsworthy apostate.

    Actually, there’s something to be said for that. :-) The typical justification for action such as that described in the hypothetical above is due to active, public harm to the Church; lots of people apostatize from the Church without a DC ever being held. Given, for example, the (IMHO) inordinate attention still given, over a decade later, to the September Six suggests that the action itself may do more ‘harm’ to the Church than the individuals themselves — which is why, I believe, there are have been few repeats of such cases since then. ..bruce..

  119. Adam Greenwood says:

    So your motives aren’t authoritarian if there is some reasonable probability that you will succeed in forcing folks to adopt your program?

    Ah.

  120. I was just talking about a similar subject with my wife the other right re: the September Six. Last week, I said on my blog that if i were the President of the Church, I would reopen the cases of the Six and reinstate them if they so desired (and contingent on a few limitations). In my opinion, the hypothetical scholar in this post as well as the Six could legitimately be restricted from using any official Church forum to discuss or push their ideas. But if they publish these ideas in non-Church fora, such as HLR, Sunstone, Signature Books, etc., I think the Church should butt out. If you want to prohibit those kinds of activities (ex. M. Toscano claims she was told never to speak about her ideas on the Divine Feminine, either in or outside of the Church), it does not seem far before you cannot speak about them within your own family or to your own children. And it is only another small step before some Church leader tells you that you are not allowed to even believe your own ideas. That kind of thought control would be totally antithetical to Mormonism and the work of Joseph Smith.

  121. Jonathan K says:

    Because of the publicity involved, there would be no local choice on this one – the GA’s would have told the local leaders to get rid of her. (Remember the 3 enemies of the church are feminists, academics, and gays.)

    IMO why on earth would you excommunicate her? She has a right to express her dissenting opinion wherever and whenever she wants to. “Let’s deny her all blessings of exaltation because she disagrees with the current policy of the church and is actively striving to improve things.” This sounds like an abuse of power to me. She is simply lobbying for change.

    There are many ways the church can and should improve in, and, as members, we shouldn’t sit back and passively take prejudice or intolerance when we see it in the church. Nothing good in this world has ever changed without someone speaking up about it. Unfortunately, because of the current climate in the church, most members are scared to say or do anything when they disagree. As a result, the church has silenced many people who are scared of a disciplinary council.

  122. Authoritarianism is usually in the eye of the beholder, and beholders are always historically situated actors. What smacks of authoritarianism in 1880 may just seem like common sense a century down the road. I suspect most Mormons would have viewed efforts to use the government to punish churches who discriminate in ministerial ordination based on race as authoritarian 40 years ago, but would feel much less strongly about it today. Let’s remember that the professor in question here is advocating democratic processes as a means to her desired ends. Granted, there is such a thing as majoritarian authoritarianism, but I somehow doubt that with this line of reasoning you’re staking out a uniformly libertarian position.

    WFIW, I don’t agree with her legal or moral position. I’d be fine with the Church ordaining women; I’d even like to see it. But I personally would not support an amendment that forced our hand in the process. I’d definitely like to see the Morrison Waite/Antonin Scalia position on Free Exercise returned to its pre-Smith doctrinal status.

    I guess I’m having a hard time not viewing an argument disfavoring state intervention in religious practice coming from someone who is both familiar with the finer points of Mormon history and, simultaneously, a dyed-in-the-wool social conservative as being slightly disingenuous. Unless you believe that authoritarian means (cf. Utah Territory circa 1870-1890) can reasonably bring about desirable ends (Protestant family values, capitalism, secular politics), in which case your disagreement with Angie Academic could be reduced to disapproval of her desired ends.

    Would you assess her authoritarian impulses differently if you felt like the survival of the Church was threatened by its refusal to ordain women in the same way that its institutional survival was threatened by recalcitrance on the question of plural marriage?

  123. 122 was in response to Adam, #119.

  124. Mormons would probably be the teeniest of the religions affected by her proposal. Catholics (all male priesthood), some versions of Baptists and other fundamentalist-type Protestants (no women ministers/preachers), Orthodox Jews (no women rabbis) would all be affected profoundly by her proposal.

    Because this isn’t an attack on the LDS church specifically, and because the LDS church is just (small) one of many that would be affected, I don’t see this as attacking the church.

    I vote no, all three times.

  125. I would not vote to sustain a proposal of the SP to excommunicate her (and probably shortly thereafter be released from the HC). The handbook, though, pretty clearly states that unanimity of the HC is not required.

    Change the facts slightly–what if she wrote to advocate the adoption of some of England’s laws (correct my inaccuracies please, Ronan) in the U.S.: 1. the law that requires legal marriages to performed in a public place (among other things so that nontemple attending people could witnesses legal marriages) and 2. the law that requires public disclosure of the finances of organizations, including churches. I would personally support both such proposals–would it be sanctionable apostasy to publicly do so? (Or sanctionable apostasy not to advocate repeal of such laws in other countries?)

  126. I would vote to ‘acquit’ her.

    Based on President Hugh B. Brown’s words:

    “We are grateful in the Church and in this great university that the freedom, dignity and integrity of the individual is basic in Church doctrine as well as in democracy. Here we are free to think and express our opinions. Fear will not stifle thought, as is the case in some areas which have not yet emerged from the dark ages…”

    “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.”

  127. Keep her membership. No teaching, talking, or praying, though, and serious inquiry into whether she should hold a temple recomend. And certainly get her out of that temple prep class before she does serious damage to people preparing for one of their most important experiences in the church.

  128. the ‘no praying’ refers to public praying, in church settings (Sacrament, RS, Sunday School).

  129. TMD, that seems a little harsh don’t you think? But I’m not Jesus, so I could be wrong, here. It happens sometimes, I mean being wrong, not that I am Jesus. Glad I got that cleared up.

  130. I think the following is relevant to the conversation. I am not sure how much advocacy is really going on here in this post’s example, but I think if she continued strident and public behavior declaring that the Church is wrong, I’d probably start being concerned. I don’t see this as a one-strike-and-you’re-out kind of thing, though. If this person’s name started being regularly associated with things that undermined the Church as it is, and she continued to preach her “doctrine” as she has begun to do, there might be something to address.

    From Elder Holland:
    “I think this church has a history of being very, very generous. There are some lines — I’d probably say “lines,” plural. The chief among these is the issue of advocating against the church. Personal beliefs within the give-and-take of life and associations and whatever you choose — there are lots of people who carve out their life in the church all the way out to the edge and beyond. I guess that’s always the way it’s been, and that’s always the way it will be. But I think where the church will act is when there is an act so decisive or so glaring, and…so much cast in the spirit of advocacy, that the institution itself cannot retain its identity and still allow that.”

    It sounds to me like action is taken when things become pretty consistent, loud, and public. An article here and there, maybe not so much grounds for excommunication.

    That said, I think this kind of behavior is inappropriate. If we truly are to put all on the altar, I don’t see justifying public criticism of the Church and undermining its teachings and functioning as a good thing. The Church isn’t an organization that is structured to change via lobbying. Such behavior, IMO, shows a lack of understanding about the order of things.

  131. “I don’t see justifying public criticism of the Church and undermining its teachings and functioning as a good thing. The Church isn’t an organization that is structured to change via lobbying. Such behavior, IMO, shows a lack of understanding about the order of things.”

    Compared too:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most democratic institution in the world.”

    Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era, December 1917, p. 100

    “Sometimes revelation comes from the bottom up to the brethren.” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell

    “One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we should all exercise our God-given right to think and be unafraid to express our opinions, with proper respect for those to whom we talk and proper acknowledgment of our own shortcomings.”

    “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed there seems to be little time for meditation.”

    “And while all members should respect, support, and heed the teachings of the authorities of the church, no one should accept a statement and base his or her testimony upon it, no matter who makes it, until he or she has, under mature examination, found it to be true and worthwhile; then one’s logical deductions may be confirmed by the spirit of revelation to his or her spirit, because real conversion must come from within…”

    -President Hugh B. Brown

    Yeah so I am a Hugh B. Brown fan, somebody shoot me…jk

  132. ”More thinking is required, and we should all exercise our God-given right to think and be unafraid to express our opinions, with proper respect for those to whom we talk and proper acknowledgment of our own shortcomings.” That’s not an easy standard to reach, but it is worth the effort.

    I also like Pres. Brown’s comment that all dissent should be informed and spoken with modesty.

  133. I posted my first comment before reading all the others. Now having gone back to take a look at some of them, it seems like folks are really concerned that she is advocating government intervention in matters of Church doctrine and practice. That’s all well and good I guess until you remember that the likelihood of someone in Washington picking this up and deciding to make a legislative proposal out of it are absolutely nil. This is the kind of scholarship that has little to no practical impact, but is merely a hypothetical exercise of the mind. I don’t mean that as a criticism, since I think exercising the mind is something we do all too infrequently to begin with. As a law student myself, I could see a legitimate argument that churches/religious orgs get treated differently in matters of employment, etc. in a way that is unjustified. I don’t think it is a good argument, but thats the way you get rid of bad arguments- you publish them and have the rest of the academy respond it to death. But it is one worth saying.

    Given that the chance of this suggestion ever becoming a real piece of legislation is practically 0, I don’t see how you could call this “harming the Church” with a straight face. I vote to acquit, over and over again, and loudly.

    If you left this whole issue alone, chances are that this sister will move on in her life and write many other articles that affect absolutely nothing that the Church is doing in any meaningful way to its detriment. She may even come around to a more orthodox view of this principle in time (whether thats a good thing or not is for you to decide). If you excommunicate her on such a flimsy basis, you have created an enemy of the Church for life. She will probably make it part of her life’s work to tear down and denigrate the Church at every opportunity.

  134. the evil foxjones says:

    Wait a darn second are we talking about a woman lawyer? Shouldn’t she be in the home tending the babies not writing these anti-Mormon Harvard Law articles. I change my vote to GUILTY! Hang her high gentleman!

    (this is my super alter-ego evil side talking)… jk :)

  135. I’m with Adam. Her idea to have the government force churches to change in this way is reprehensible and dangerous. That said, I don’t know if disciplining her would really accomplish anything, it might be counter-productive.

  136. foxjones,
    Never assume that someone who advocates following and supporting leaders in their teachings does so without thinking and all that Hugh B. Brown talked about.

    As to how the Church works, I think if people want to go pray about things they want to see change, that is fine. But to consider that change will happen like it does in politics (“lobbying for change” through public writing, etc.) seems a bit far-fetched to me. (But I realize I may be in the minority in this crowd on that topic.)

    I’m not saying that we as members never have any impact at all. I think our leaders get a lot of input as they travel and ask questions and interact with people. I don’t think they are ignorant of the topics that are discussed here and elsewhere. I have said this before, but I think our leaders are a lot more plugged in to issues and concerns than people think they are. And I think some people might be surprised to find out that all their “lobbying” left them with their ladder against the wrong wall. Things of God rarely make sense in an academic vacuum. I think too many people analyze the gospel through their academic (or professional) lenses instead of the other way around. In my mind, if one takes on the prophets and thinks one is right and they are wrong, one is on shaky ground.

    And I say this because of the conviction through the Spirit that I have about what they teach and how things are…just what Pres. Brown talked about. :)

    Incidentally, I couldn’t find that Elder Maxwell quote anywhere. Do you have a reference? I see him preaching quite the opposite of what you seem to want him to be saying.

    For example, quoting President Wilford Woodruff, saying that he “urged the Church flock to follow the Brethren because…’the very moment that men in this kingdom attempt to run ahead or cross the path of their leaders, … they are in danger of being injured by the wolves.'”

  137. Elder Maxwell quote in his bio…

    Now, as to the other stuff, I disagree with you about “lobbying” for change. It’s a wonderful tool for change in the church. When I got my p. blessing from the Eldred G. Smith the first thing he explain to me as General Authority is that people think politics is not in the church, but he said that was a “myth,” politics is what runs the movement of revelation and discussion in the church, this is where much of the change takes place. I see the Church the way Elder Maxwell saw it with revelation “bottom” can effect the “top.”

  138. foxjones, I guess to me it all depends on how it’s done. I think there is a time and place for feedback, but there is a lot of feedback that can be out of order and inappropriate in method and content.

    I am not suggesting, however, that I think revelation happens in a vacuum. I know for a fact that it doesn’t, and it involves people at all levels of the Church at different times. And perhaps you should know that I am one who is vocal and involved in my stewardships and I believe we can and should let our voice be heard within those stewardships. I think our involvement there can sometimes have an impact as discussions move their way up. We don’t have to be silent, but we do have to be respectful of the order of things, imo.

    So, for example, I still don’t think that someone publicly criticizing the leaders and assuming he/she knows better than the prophets what should be is the type of ‘politics’ that runs the Church and revelation. There is an order to things, that’s my key point. I think there is lots of room for our involvement within that order without having to outside of it. And perhaps if we feel we have to go outside of it, that might be a good time for some of that respect for others and recognition of our limitations that Pres. Brown talked about. :)

  139. As was said so long ago on Monty Python’s Flying Circus:

    And now for something completely different.

    Interesting post, Kevin, but I’m amazed. All the stuff the old U of C has sent me over the years made me think Cass Sunstein was a man, not a woman. And I would have never picked him for a temple prep class teacher!

  140. But to consider that change will happen like it does in politics (”lobbying for change” through public writing, etc.) seems a bit far-fetched to me. (But I realize I may be in the minority in this crowd on that topic.)

    m&m, that’s the kind of thing that someone who’s interested in promoting civil dialogue does not throw in as an aside. Besides being unkind, it is useless as an argument. Nobody thinks the church works like a political organization, or that “lobbying” in any conventional sense is efficacious, and no one has made such an argument on this thread.

    All we’re really disagreeing about is the nature of the caveats that apply to how one expresses discontent. And that is a disagreement that won’t be solved either by an appeal to authority (I see your Neal Maxwell and raise you a George Albert Smith!) or by insinuating that your more deferential mode of expression is more righteous (i.e. more informed by the gospel than by academic or other criterion) than “this crowd’s”. In fact, there are very strong arguments on both sides of the question from within the Mormon tradition. A well-informed argument would acknowledge the internal tension around these questions that has long existed in Mormonism, rather than proceeding by vague accusations that people think they “know better than the prophets.” You know very well what an incendiary charge that is for believing Mormons.

  141. Adam Greenwood says:

    122,

    As a matter of fact, I would be horrified by a government edict that forced churches to stop discriminating in matters of race, or marrying gays, or anything else that churches shouldn’t do but should be free to do.

    I don’t think you’re making a coherent point about Deseret, unless you feel that the ends always justify the means. If not, then its perfectly sensible to be glad that we don’t practice polygamy (the ends) but think the US Government overstepped its bounds in some of the means it used to achieve that ends.

    In effect, you are taking the position that its incoherent to favor the Prof’s ends (ordination of women) but not her means (government gunpoint). But if you believe in religious liberty as a principle with any force I don’t see that it is incoherent.

  142. Kristine, the phrase about knowing better than the prophets was meant to be pretty specific to the person in the post, and I hold to what I said about ‘her.’ I think it’s wrong to publicly denounce and fight against what our leaders preach and uphold, even in the name of professional duty.

    As a separate point (my second comment you address), I have been in the minority before on this point (on the hows of ‘lobbying for change)’ so I was basically anticipating the fact that people would probably disagree with me on the ‘hows’ of expressing opinions and hoping for change. As you have acknowledged, there is a range of opinions on the ‘how’ and my aside was simply to say that I realize that not everyone here shares my view of what is and isn’t appropriate. That seems to be well within the realm of civil discourse to recognize.

    I’m sorry if you felt my comments came across as incendiary, but I think you are reading a bit too much into what I said. You have helped me see where I could try to be more clear in the future, but please, in the future, try to give me the benefit of the doubt as you read what I say.

  143. Am I the only person who thinks the church is a bit player in this story? This person is advocating for a broad change that would affect the LDS church among many other much larger ones, not against church policies specifically.

  144. I’m not sure why the overbreadth of someone’s attack on the Church ought to matter.

  145. Adam Greenwood says:

    Would Hitler be an anti-semite if he tried to exterminate everyone, GST? No? Well, there you go.

  146. Adam,
    I think we actually see pretty eye to eye here and were just talking past each other. I am curious to know how (or if) your assessment of her chosen means would be altered if it was relatively clear that the Church’s refusal to ordain women threatened its tax-exempt status, its property holdings, or its very survival as an institution in the United States (the way polygamy did).

  147. Adam Greenwood says:

    I don’t see any way that the Church’s tax-exempt status, its property holdings, or its very legal existence as an institution could be at stake unless the government was seriously contemplating coercing the Church. So I would be even more opposed to a so-called member of the church calling on the government to use coercion under those circumstances.

  148. Doesn’t your confidence presuppose a kind of circular causality in which the only thing that threatens the Church is government coercion itself, as if the government acted in a vacuum? I guess I’m trying to say that given the fact that, in this case (as in the late 19th century American West), the government is more or less constrained by democratic processes (of the kind advocated by Angie) coercive acts on the part of the state may not in themselves comprise the totality of the threat to the Church; state coercion might just be a symptom of larger, less reducible to capricious totalitarianism, threatening forces.

    Neither the 1890 Manifesto nor the 1978 revelation came out of the blue.

  149. Adam,
    What if, rather than looking to coerce the Church into acting in some way, Prof. Academic thought that, from a tax policy perspective, the charitable deduction (or, maybe more specifically, the charitable deduction for payments to churches) was a bad idea? That is, to entirely change the hypothetical (and to ignore some recent scholarship that questions whether the government could constitutionally tax churches), what if an academic were advancing an idea that would directly hurt churches, and the LDS church in specific, but not accusing the Church of gereontocratic (or whatever) badness?

  150. Let he/she who is truly innocent of the following crimes cast the first conviction vote. :)

    1. Having a really stupid legal opinion.

    2. Disobeying a stake president.

    3. Observing that the church leadership gerentocratic (perhaps slipping in a phrase like “out of touch”).

    4. Observing that women lack the priesthood (perhaps slipping in a phrase like “second class citizens”).

    Come on! Angie has some issues with the church and may not be temple worthy, but you’d have to be crazy to _excommunicate_ for nonsense like this. The stake president should have a heart to heart discussion with Angie about whether she wants to remain in the church and, if so, why. But if she wants to remain, he should honor her wish.

  151. Timer, quite a few people (like myself) have said that this *could* end in an excommunication IF she is actively aligning herself against and publicly fighting the Church. The unspoken point is that it should NOT end that way if she isn’t doing so. What we have simply doesn’t provide enough to make that determination.

  152. One final point that I think is VERY important:

    As others have mentioned, there is a stipulation about convening a disciplinary council if the reputation of the Church is threatened by not doing so. There is NO such stipulation for avoiding a council because holding it might damage the reputation of the Church. Such a stipulation would constitute a loophole for those who are willing to go to the press – or even just threaten to do so, and I, for one, despise that possibility.

  153. “There is NO such stipulation [in the handbook] for avoiding a council because holding it might damage the reputation of the Church.”

    This principle may be part of the unwritten order of things.

  154. Oh Timer, you say “observe” and “have an opinion” when the argument is about publishing those opinions in public fora. That is the issue. It is not holding a private opinion, it is preaching or publishing that opinion. How many people do all 4 of the things on your list in so decidedly public a manner? Very few. And, come to think of it, some of them, at least, have been excommmunicated.

    As to the actual question, I have no comment as I don’t have the slightest idea what are the proper grounds for excommunication on the grounds of apostasy.

  155. Hercule Poirot says:

    Perhaps, Frank, you could add a couple of lines to show the same kindness to Timer that you give to GAs.

  156. Adam Greenwood says:

    Monsignor Brad, I’m not seeing threats to the Church’s existence absent legal action either today or in the 19th Century.

    Sam B., that would be wrongheaded but it wouldn’t be trying to coerce the Church into adopting one’s private doctrinal preferences.

  157. Hercule, Hah!

    I _disagreed_ with Timer. Timer likes that. It’s what he comes here for. Thus it is the height of kindness.

  158. Jean-Claude Van Damme says:

    There was a great sigh of condescension to be heard in your “oh,” Dr. Frank.

  159. Oh Jean, timer _loves_ condescension!

    Okay, maybe not. So your complaint is that “Oh” is deeply offensive? Then I gladly revoke it. Of course, I’ll almost surely use it again, because I don’t agree with you. But perhaps you are more familiar with timer’s feelings than I am :)

  160. Steve Evans says:

    Oh Frank.

  161. Adam Greenwood says:

    Frank M., you’re an offender for an Oh.

  162. Only I get to “oh, Frank.”

  163. Steve,

    I prefer Frank-Oh.

  164. But I bet Steve doesn’t prefer Steve-Oh

  165. Steve Evans says:

    Solid bet, Jake. Did you take that kick in the nuts yet?

  166. Adam Greenwood says:

    It’s all about the Oh.

  167. Call me Jake-oh, Steve. In other words, like Steve-o, from a show that will not be named, I graciously accepted it. With a lot of whining. :)

  168. All this talk about “Oh, Frank” reminds me of a scene from M*A*S*H.

  169. Adam (147),

    I’m curious about your use of the adjective “so-called member” to describe a possible member of the church who would favor government regulation. The adjective is one of denigration, implying that that person is not a real member. (This seems to be a common delegitimization tactic among some church members.)

    I wonder — What about that person’s actions would make them anything less than a real member of the church? Church membership is a function of baptism, the underlying principles (faith and repentance), and being placed on membership rolls. That’s it, really. There isn’t a political test that I’m aware of. A baptized member of record who believes that government should be more broadly able to regulate religious organizations (including our own) is as much a member as you or I or President Hinckley. You might as well call President Hinckley a “so-called member.”

  170. Adam Greenwood says:

    Nonsense on stilts, KW. President Hinckley is not fighting the Church to my knowledge. Do you claim differently?

  171. Adam Greenwood says:

    I notice that the sidebar here is trying to spread the liberal propaganda that traditional marriage laws prevent two guys named Steve and Aaron from tuxing it up and going through some campy ‘wedding’ in the UU church of their choice. In fact, religious freedom means anybody can have themselves ‘married’ to anybody for any reason. For all you know, I just did a voodoo ceremony marrying myself to the third great-granddaughter of an alternative-universe Marilyn Monroe and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    The law is unlikely to give any legal standing to my voodoo wedding, however, and God and the US electorate willing will not do so in the future.

  172. Adam,

    In Utah, it is a crime for a married person to cohabit with or “purport to marry” another.

    So in some cases, “voodoo” marriages can get people in real trouble. Ask Tom Green.

  173. Adam Greenwood says:

    True.

  174. Adam Greenwood says:

    Thanks for stopping the presses, btw. Keep ‘em stopped is my advice.

  175. If you had a choice, why not take the real alternative universe Marilyn Monroe instead of settling for her third-great granddaughter?

  176. Adam G.,

    What exactly transforms someone from a member into a mere so-called member, then? I tend to be of the opinion that a baptized member of record is a member. You seem to be suggesting that there are ways that person could not really be a member. For example, publishing an article about legal enforcement of antidiscrimination laws.

    How far does this idea go?

    Would just thinking that antidiscrimination laws should be enforced differently make me a so-called member, as long as I didn’t publish in the NYT? What if I published it, but in a tiny newspaper no one read?

    How about having a beer? Sleeping with a girlfriend (or boyfriend)? Being angry with my neighbor? Not doing my home teaching?

    And who gets to decide when a baptized member of record should be viewed as no longer sufficiently genuine?

  177. Sorry, Kaimi, but I think Adam is right on this one.

  178. Adam Greenwood says:

    The alternative universe Marilyn Monroe is dead, Mark B. I’m not into that kinky stuff.

  179. Aaron Brown says:

    Adam — Steve and I share a love that is strong enough to endure even the oppressive, heterosexist legal restrictions you would place on it.

    Aaron B

  180. “I also see no way to square it with a belief in the 1st Amendment, which is why she advocates a new Amendment — and with that door open, who knows where the winds would blow”

    I agree, she should be called before a judge and stripped of her citizenship.

  181. Adam Greenwood says:

    Whatever, Aaron B. I happen to know that Steve E. cheats on you every chance he gets. He says you’re cold and frigid and just don’t understand him.

  182. Steve Evans says:

    It’s true. That’s why the protest phrase is “Adam and Steve, not Aaron and Steve.”

  183. Adam Greenwood says:

    Its a little early to be talking about commitment, Steve. Don’t queer the deal.

  184. Kevin – I’d be interested in reaction to a similar scenario – but replace academic law professor with mormon politician. Would those who voted for excommunication here have the same view?

  185. adcama, I couldn’t care less about the occupation.

  186. Tenure Faculty says:

    Ahh, I see the true test of this hypothetical — there is no way that a state law prof is getting published in the Harvard Law Review on this topic. And last I checked, we’ve got only a handful of female lds law profs in the country (unfortunately).

  187. Acquit the girl and dropkick the bishop.

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