Prop-8-imonies

I’m really jealous of Mark.

Three of the testimonies from today were lengthy discussions of Prop 8 (topics covered included the need to help the amendment pass; the awful consequences for years to come if it doesn’t pass; the joy of Prop 8 volunteer work; the idea that depression about doing Prop 8 work is sent from Satan to try to block the work; and satisfaction that we Mormons are pulling the laborer’s oar and doing a lot more door-knocking than the Evangelicals).

I didn’t keep precise count, but I’m pretty sure that testimonies of the Savior and of the Atonement outnumbered Prop 8 discussions by perhaps two to one. That’s good. I can understand the church’s move into politics here, but I think it would be really problematic if we started to hear more about Prop 8 in testimony meeting than we did about the Savior.

(Interestingly, two of the three Prop 8 testimonies also stated that homosexuality is not a choice, it’s something people are born with.)

Comments

  1. And to think I got uncomfortable every July when all the “Pageant testimonies” started filling the church meetings….

  2. I’m glad this stuff wasn’t going on when I was in Cali. I wonder how my ward would’ve handled it…if it would’ve turned into a conservatives vs. liberals thing or if it would’ve been mostly ignored. I do think the wards in the San Francisco area might handle the issue differently from the San Diego wards.

  3. tim, we moved from la to san diego not long ago and the difference just between those two has been striking enough. i imagine our liberal la ward would look awfully red to the bay area folk.

    strictly by coincidence, we’ve missed almost every big prop. 8 to-do in our ward… a kid was sick, we were out of town, we attended a blessing. it’s worked out well. our ward is quite excited about easily surpassing the $7k ward goal set. families who live not far from poverty wear their $1k contributions as badges of faith.

  4. I wish all members understood what the leaders have said about what constitutes a testimony – and what is appropriate for Sacrament Meeting. ‘Nuff said.

  5. Prop 8 gets mentioned in Sunday School, usually by a commenter, on the order of every other week or so in my Texas ward. The comments generally have the same tenor as what you mention above. It’s enough to make me want to scream…I can’t imagine what I would do if it actually made it into Sacrament meeting.

  6. I can honestly say that I have not heard a single reference to it in our ward in Oregon. (Admittedly, since I juggle kids, I miss a lot of what is being said.)

  7. My California-residing father sent me following in an email:

    Yesterday I went out for the first time to campaign for Prop 8. There are a few folks out there who want it defeated, and they are all angry people. I ran into one neighbor who was very threatening. Scary. But as one person on the HC [stake high council] said this morning, “I have been out three times and I have to tell you it is not my favorite thing! But there is comfort in knowing you are following the Prophet.” I felt the same way.

    Consider this a report from the front.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m glad I live in Illinois. It’s very far off the radar screen way over here.

  9. Vesper Holly says:

    I live in San Diego and I have been ditching SM but still have not been able to avoid prop 8. It is mentioned in every meeting, donation sheets are passed around in RS and there are pleas for donations and volunteers in the announcements as well as impromptu testimonies during classes. It is EVERYWHERE!!!! I can only imagine what we could do if we directed our efforts towards our local homeless population or something.

  10. Cringe-worthy. I hate it when religion makes me cringe in embarrassment. It happens a lot.

  11. It’s interesting to see the donation patterns in different areas. It seems that in areas where leaders are pushing for action and donations regularly, people are responding with large donations of money.

  12. Meredith C says:

    What #9 said.

    And #10.

  13. interesting site, ldsmomma. my theory about our la ward versus our san diego ward hold true according to that site… 15 members of our stake in san diego are listed as contributors, but i don’t recognize any of the names from where we lived in los angeles.

  14. How sad that a fast and testimony is used for anything other than to give thanks for the love of our Savior Jeus Christ and the Restoration of the fullness of the Gospel.

  15. What a colossal waste of resources. I wonder how many of these people have contributed an equivalent amount to the Perpetual Education Fund, or Humanitarian Relief.

  16. Testimony meeting is not open mike night.

    (someday I hope to be as disciplined and loving as Ray.)

  17. Soliciting contributions in wards and by quotas is a big mistake.

    Obviously, local leaders think they are helping by doing such things. Instead, they are showing a tremendous disrespect for those with different views in the LDS community.

    That kind of behavior is downright dumb.

    It will hurt the proposition, helping the opposition. You will see news stories that the LDS church (ie. some stakes and wards) are setting quotas and soliciting contributions in the church houses. Very, very stupid.

    Sad that some take the prophet’s call and then proceed to undermine the very cause he asked for help.

  18. Vesper Holly says:

    Holy Crap. Two people in my ward have given $1000! I had no idea they had that kind of money (this is not a wealthy area).

  19. Steve,

    There are different views in the LDS community?

  20. While most members will be in favor of the Proposition it is critical to show respect for those with differing views.

    This feels like it has been very poorly run. I sense a disaster in the making.

  21. I just moved to California a week ago. Some friends told me things were pretty bad out here, but today with two testimonies of prop 8 in a row (one by the visiting stake presdident), it finally dawned on me.

    However, I think I found a loophole that will allow me to not support prop 8.

    The first testimony bearer was our stake president who concerning prop 8, we should be willing to go against what is popular for the world.

    The second testimony was of a guy who said that as he has been knocking on doors, almost everyone he met was supportive of prop 8.

    Thus:

    1. I ought stand against what is popular in the world.
    2. Prop 8 is popular
    C. I ought to stand up against prop 8.

    Today I was especially thankful for testimony meeting.

  22. Hey, Kaimi, we have a couple of law schools here. C’mon over! The humidity prevents wrinkles and real estate is relatively cheap.

  23. LiberalSlayer says:

    I really feel for the designers of BCC.
    In spite of all of their hard work, Mormons are still following the Mormon prophet, and not the mutinous BCC bloggers.
    Sorry, Kevin, I guess you won’t convince church leaders to allow gays to exercise their homosexuality within a covenant relationship after all. Who’d have thunk?

  24. “Mutinous”?

  25. Amen, #10 and #15.

  26. LiberalSlayer — I actually support the proposition. I just think that the over-the-top aggressiveness will end up hurting that effort.

    The local leaders must show respect for those with differing opinions. Setting quotas is definitively the wrong way to go.

    Practically, the only way to win on such issues is to have a very broad-based coalition, target your arguments very carefully (remember you are trying to win people who probably aren’t big on morality issues — thus point out how gay marriage will impact them without using morality language), and avoid in appearance of force or anti-gay motives.

  27. #23 – There is a BIG difference between supporting or opposing Prop 8 and supporting or opposing using Testimony meetings to talk about Prop 8. You can support one and oppose the other without being opposed to the prophets and apostles in any way whatsoever. You can oppose both and not be “mutinous”.

    Oh, and slaying liberals is still killing people. Just something to consider.

  28. slaying liberals is still killing people.

    “Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive . . . “

  29. For some perspective on LDS folks who oppose Prop 8, there are at least three sites. The first two are less strident than the last:
    http://www.mormonsformarriage.com
    http://www.ldshomosexuality.com
    http://www.signforsomething.org

  30. Kaimi, it would have been hard for me to sit through that meeting, too, but I would rather hear about what people are really thinking, what moves them at any given moment, than perfectly crafted setpieces that seem to be occasionally prescribed–the ones where every sentence begins “I know…” and there are only 4 or 5 acceptable predicates.

    And while I would join you in wishing for a broader range of allowable opinions on many issues, listening to political sentiments I dislike seems to me like a small price to pay for a moment of authentic communication (or at least a moment of striving for it) and a chance to learn to know and love another human being.

    (Also, may I recommend laminating a copy of “Why the Church is as True as the Gospel” and keeping it in your scriptures for such moments? And I find Lamaze breathing far more helpful in church meetings than it ever was during childbirth)

  31. In the spirit of linking to other sites, I would like to mention that at M* we support Prop. 8.

    http://www.millennialstar.org

    Kaimi, all kinds of cringe-worthy things happen in testimony meetings all the time. At least the people in your ward are trying to follow the guidance of their leaders and feel inspired to share that with fellow ward members. I’d rather hear about that — whether I agreed with their perspective or not — than about some of the many, many other things we often hear in testimony meeting.s

  32. I haven’t seen action like this since the Church went after the Communists in the 1960s. I still have my copy of *The Naked Communist* from the Church rally in the LA Colosseum.

  33. Steve Evans says:

    Geoff B, I appreciate that spirit of linking to other sites! heh heh.

    I have no problem with people bearing their testimony of following the Brethren. I would think that in terms of what will best bring us all closer together in our worship of Christ, talking about such things seems natural. It would probably be a mistake to dive too much into the various rationales/pseudoscience for Prop 8 one way or the other, but certainly it’s appropriate for people to talk about how the Church has engaged them in this task and how it has affected their lives.

  34. the people in your ward are trying to follow the guidance of their leaders and feel inspired to share that with fellow ward members. I’d rather hear about that — whether I agreed with their perspective or not — than about some of the many, many other things we often hear in testimony meetings.

    Ditto.

  35. Kristine, good point. I’d just like to point out that, at least in my experiences in TX sunday school, the Prop 8 comments rarely communicate any real depth of consideration. This is why I appreciate views like Julie Smith’s–she manages to express the kind of sincerity that I would hope for from everyone trying to sound off on Prop 8.

  36. What a colossal waste of resources. I wonder how many of these people have contributed an equivalent amount to the Perpetual Education Fund, or Humanitarian Relief.

    Statements like this one drive me nuts, largely because I rarely think people actually mean what they’re saying. The tacit gravamen here is that the Church can’t spend any money on any controversial cause unless and until it permanently eliminates poverty worldwide. Under that rubric, the Church wouldn’t be able to do much at all, period.

  37. [Sorry to swim so far back upstream, especially on a tangent, but... BrianJ, are you talking about a Utah pageant or do you live in Western New York? I know what you're talking about: "I'd like to stand and bear my testimony, I know that pageant is true..." (I'm not joking.) Also, in my ward in the Rochester, people would regularly refer to a BoM story not as a passage of scripture, but as a scene from pageant.)]

  38. jimbob,

    In this case it isn’t “the Church” spending money on humanitarian vs. political causes, it’s individual members donating to a political cause.

    I think the question is a valid one: How many of the people who have donated $1,000 or more to support Prop 8 have donated as much in the past to a humanitarian cause?

    I think the answer to that question will determine what percentage of people are driven to donate by hope or by fear.

    (Based on the emails I’ve received from Latter-day Saints warning of the dire consequences to society if Prop 8 fails, I put that in the “fear” camp.)

  39. The tacit gravamen here is that the Church can’t spend any money on any controversial cause unless and until it permanently eliminates poverty worldwide.

    No no, jimbob. The church is free to support controversial issues, as long as it takes the position that I agree with. But if the church takes a position that I _disagree_ with — well, that’s when I have to point out: hey, poverty hasn’t been resolved yet, has it?

  40. Nice, Kaimi – and so true way too often.

  41. mpb, would God that all the Lord’s people were more like Julie Smith!

  42. Based on the emails I’ve received from Latter-day Saints warning of the dire consequences to society if Prop 8 fails

    I don’t think this is inconsistent with the way our leaders feel about it, actually.

    I think the question is a valid one: How many of the people who have donated $1,000 or more to support Prop 8 have donated as much in the past to a humanitarian cause?

    This to me is a really tired argument. (I also never see it flipped around. There are plenty of folks spending money to oppose Prop 8, but I have yet to hear their financial motives or choices questioned.) I also think this kind of question is entirely inappropriate, even if CA law makes the numbers available. How someone spends his/her money is none of our business.

    but certainly it’s appropriate for people to talk about how the Church has engaged them in this task and how it has affected their lives.

    I appreciated this comment.

    I think people in CA taking action to support Prop 8 feel they are asked to do things that are VERY difficult, even scary (as quoted above). It’s not surprising to me at all that some feel the need to talk about it and find strength by sharing their feelings about the importance of what they are doing. I don’t live in CA and yet feel the intensity of what is happening, and have found comfort in talking about it with people, although admittedly, I haven’t done so in a testimony. But I can understand why people have done so, and I think we ought to cut them some slack. This is hard stuff. (The fact that many people say, “I’m so glad I don’t live in CA” underscores that point, imo.)

  43. Just want to offer a slightly different perspective on this.

    I live in West Hollywood, which is a largely gay municipality (Think of it as Homo Provo). People here are very aware of Prop 8, and lots of gay couples have rushed to get married before the vote (apparently most believe these marriages will remain valid regardless of the outcome– Kaimi??). There’s definitely a sense that the vote could go either way, and people are making contributions. Gays tend to be affluent, and the anti-Prop 8 organizations are committed to matching the other side dollar for dollar. I don’t know how that’s going.

    All that said, I don’t see anything at all like the (obsessive?) zeal described in this thread. Gays aren’t going door-to-door. People seem to know this vote could go either way, but there’s also an underlying confidence that the fairness argument will ultimately prevail and the tide of history is on their side. Certainly there’s no big panic over it. If Prop 8 passes, there will be an attempt to reverse it. With the CA consitution being so easy to amend, this may go on for a long while.

    Are there any “Yes On 8″ TV ads yet? Can anybody here link to some (if they exist)? This anti-Prop 8 ad has been on TV here a lot.

  44. 31 “I find Lamaze breathing far more helpful in church meetings than it ever was during childbirth.” Amen.

  45. 15:

    What a colossal waste of resources. I wonder how many of these people have contributed an equivalent amount to the Perpetual Education Fund, or Humanitarian Relief.

    39:

    How many of the people who have donated $1,000 or more to support Prop 8 have donated as much in the past to a humanitarian cause?

    I think the answer to your questions is: nearly all of them.

    Whilst I have chosen greener [literally] pastures, my family remains in CA and many have donated to the cause. I know them and other acquaintances on the big donor list to be otherwise free with their time and resources to many a good cause.

    What I wonder is how many Mikes and Bills are suggesting supporters are really hypocrites if their tithing receipts don’t outweigh their political contributions.

  46. Andrew Callahan says:

    Testimonies about politics are to be expected. Bearing testimony to strengthen one’s own belief and that of others isn’t limited to actual gospel topics, and never has been. My favorite testimonies are the seemingly endless supply of weeping young mothers who get up to bear testimony of Heavenly Father helping to find little Billy’s shoes (they were under his bed) because otherwise the family would have been late to church.

    In my opinion, discussion of political events belongs places like this and Mormons for Marriage and Signing for Somethingrather than in fast and testimony meeting. But, I don’t think it is at all surprising that these kinds of “testimonies” are shared there.

    Now, what WOULD be somewhat surprising would be for someone to bear a testimony, for example, that “Hatred is not a family value, and therefore I can’t support Prop 8.” That would be kind of interesting.

  47. It would be interesting to see how quickly the person that bore that testimony became ostracized in the ward.

  48. I’ll see your Prop-8-imony, and raise you a capital punishment-imony.

    First Sunday = never boring!!!

  49. Peter LLC,

    I’m glad to know that you have relatives who are free with their time and money. I’m certain they are not alone.

    It’s rather unfair to compare this to tithing, however. Many of us who pay tithing (including myself) do it “off the top,” before paying other bills. When I’ve covered my obligations, I then have a limited amount of discretionary income to spend as I choose. Donations to political campaigns come from this fund.

  50. “What a colossal waste of resources. I wonder how many of these people have contributed an equivalent amount to the Perpetual Education Fund, or Humanitarian Relief”.

    My gut reaction is to agree with this statement and then jump on the wagon calling foul to all of the members, and the Church generally, for lack of priorities. Thankfully, before I do that logic and experience settle in.

    Logic: Why the urgency, therefore the apparent gusto, in the way this campaign is executed? Because laws and bills have time tables, and a lot must be done within those timetables. Homelessness and poverty will always be around.

    Experience: I have been a Ward Clerk both in an affluent ward, and one in high poverty. In either case, month after month I wrote out thousands of dollars in behalf of generally inactive or non-member individuals within our boundaries, for rent, utilities, medical, etc. We also got many of them setup at the Bishops Storehouse. So, while it would appear that donations for pet issues are substantial (and they probably are), the price tag on welfare is equally substantial, and it will be around long after voting season is past.

  51. As Kristine points out, fast and testimony meetings are an institution that welcomes some opinions more than others. Therefore, I am skeptical about the notion that testimonies constitute “authentic communication.”

    People might be talking about Proposition 8 for a number of reasons. Many Saints will do so in fast and testimony meeting to demonstrate their obedience to the prophet and their compliance with their community’s values.

    Testimonies reveal how the speakers think about their obligations and how they want to be received by their community. In that sense, testimonies are sincere but they are shaped by social constraints rather than autonomous motives and deliberation.

    It is difficult to know how the Saints would feel about marriage equality in the absence of social pressures. Therefore, we cannot know whether or not testimonies constitute authentic communication.

    May be, Kristine and I agree in one respect. The cure to discouraging heterodox speech (and by implication sincerity) is not prohibiting orthodoxy.

    There is nothing wrong with advocating for Proposition 8 in fast and testimony meeting. The problem is the lack of debate, which has had fatal consequences in the past when gay children had no one to turn to before they engaged into self-destructive behavior.

  52. Andrew Callahan says:

    Hellmut,
    I think you are exactly right when you say the problem is lack of debate. While Fast & Testimony meeting might not be the place for “debate” there should be some forum whereby members can discuss issues freely and openly and not worry about being censured for their thoughts and comments.

  53. there should be some forum whereby members can discuss issues freely and openly and not worry about being censured for their thoughts and comments.

    There is. Among others, BCC is such a place. However, such open and unfettered debate can be a dicey, and possibly life threatening endeavor.

  54. It’s rather unfair to compare this to tithing, however. Many of us who pay tithing (including myself) do it “off the top,” before paying other bills. When I’ve covered my obligations, I then have a limited amount of discretionary income to spend as I choose. Donations to political campaigns come from this fund.

    I think the IRS has a similar rule when writing off charitable donoations. If the person budgeted before-hand for the donation, no matter how worthy the cause, it cannot be considered charitable. If, however, the person just did it one day before having a chance to budget, then–and only then–can the donation be seen as charitable.

    Wait, wait…I think I’m making that up, because that seems to make no sense at all.

  55. I’ll see your Prop-8-imony, and raise you a capital punishment-imony.

    I’ve heard capital punishment-imonies from BYU religion professors — in class!

  56. Andrew/Hellmut:

    The Church does not want a forum of debate. Have you ever wondered why there are no group bible studies in anywhere in the Church, independent of the CES sponsored seminaries and Church Sunday School. Have you ever found yourself holding your tongue in Sunday School when someone has made a comment endorsing the practice of polygamy within the confines of the time, which shows they clearly know nothing of the way it was practiced, actual accounts, or the way it was taught. We hold our tongues because we are taught not to rock the boat, it may damage another persons faith. Faith is more important than the truth in the Church, which means conformity over autonomity of thought.

  57. #56 – “Have you ever found yourself holding your tongue in Sunday School when someone has made a comment endorsing the practice of polygamy within the confines of the time, which shows they clearly know nothing of the way it was practiced, actual accounts, or the way it was taught.”

    “Faith is more important than the truth in the Church”

    Sweeping generalizations really are fun, aren’t they, cowboy? If we are going to condemn them from others, it’s probably a good idea to avoid them ourselves.

  58. Something I find interesting about all of this is that the storm and stress of it all is primarily about our self-definitions. A variety of different polls have shown that Proposition 8 is in bad shape; the “yes” vote that would make same-sex marriage illegal is about 10-15 points behind the “no” vote that would make such marriage legal. This margin has held reasonably steady through the summer and shows in even the most recent polls; it is replicated in surveys conducted by very different houses. This makes sense in light of the survey data suggesting that Californian public opinion has shifted more rapidly in the direction of favoring same-sex marriage than has been the case for the country as a whole.

    What this suggests is that Mormons’ efforts in favor of the proposition, and indeed Mormons’ decisions about whether or not to work in favor of the proposition, are quite unlikely to have substantive effects. This does not seem to be an issue where people are generally uninformed or have weakly held opinions, so large-scale persuasion or activation of preferences is perhaps unlikely. And large-scale persuasion is just what the proposition would need in order to pass.

    This doesn’t mean that the decisions people are worrying about, and the testimonies they express, aren’t important. But it does mean that the importance these expressions have is mostly about defining ourselves and our community, and not much about the future of marriage. Whatever the consequences of allowing same-sex marriage in California will be, the overwhelming likelihood is that we will live them.

  59. Jimbob, most donations to political campaigns are not charitable contributions and not tax deductible. I don’t know, however, how donations to Mormorns for 8 are classified. Although, if they’re not deductible, I guess they represent an even greater sacrifice than run-of-the-mill charitable contributions.

  60. Your criticism of Cowboy may well be correct, Ray, but you are merely ridiculing him rather than criticizing the argument substantively.

  61. Steve Evans says:

    Hellmut and cowboy, no church is an open forum for debate. None. Religious communities do not work that way. They exist for entirely different purposes. You may find that fact unsatisfying.

    But let me suggest, for your immediate purposes, that mocking testimonies as inauthentic forms of communication, or repeating the frankly stupid refrain that the Church cares more about faith than the truth, are the types of comments that are not welcome at BCC and will likely get you shown the door.

  62. I have a hard time understanding how people can go to church, acting as though they agree and sustain the prophet and then turn around and slam it every chance they get. Of course the Church does not want a debate in class. That does not bring the Spirit! While I agree that testimonies should not be used to push Prop. 8, the Prophet has asked us to support it. To me, it is a simple issue… do you have a testimony of the prophet or not? It is standing for what our church is based on- the organization of the family. The Church has always encouraged us to pray and find out for ourselves. Stating that the Church wants conformity and doesn’t allow us to think for ourselves is completely false and misleading. As a member, I do not feel forced to conform. That has never even been an issue. We are free to choose. I choose to follow the prophet. It’s what we teach our children to do. We teach them “Follow the prophet, He knows the way”. Here is our chance to teach our children that we are not hypocrites and that we stand by what we know is right regardless of whether or not it is popular, which I assure you where I live it is not.

  63. I am not aware of mocking anything, Steve. I can only be responsible for my text, not your imagination.

  64. Steve, what if I were to argue that the church does indeed care more about faith than about (at least some kinds of) truth, and that such a situation is right and proper? Knowledge of facts without some form of devotional or otherwise transcendent experience strikes me as a religious dead end. By contrast, real transformative spiritual experience, even when not in possession of a complete collection of all relevant facts, has the power to change lives. So maybe it’s okay to put the experience of faith as a higher priority than the discussion of evidence in some contexts. But it’s also okay to see evidence and analysis as a form of faith in others.

  65. Hellmut, the entire comment was a suggestion. I ended by saying, “If we are going to condemn them from others, it’s probably a good idea to avoid them ourselves.”

    Also, I didn’t mean my comment as “ridicule” at all. I meant it only as a suggestion that we not condemn others for what we ourselves are prone to do. I think that is particularly important when dealing with such an emotional issue as gay marriage and testimony meetings.

  66. Steve Evans says:

    Jay, I think that would be a highly interesting discussion. Certainly we could look to various general authorities who speak of facts vs. faith in the way you indicate, and in some contexts the community and faith take precedent. But by the same token I think it’s obvious that such is not always the case, and in my own experience my faith has been at times tested but ultimately renewed and strengthened by my study of Church history.

  67. Stacy (#62),

    Yours is a position held, I believe, by the majority of members of the Church. It is a black-and-white, either-or position that I personally find dissatisfying because it does not account for times when the leaders of the Church have been wrong on certain issues, or have made mistakes. These range from significant doctrinal errors like Adam-God down to administrative mistakes like the 18-month mission for men in the early 1980s.

    The real world has many shades of gray in between the the black and white areas you see. One of these is how to sustain the brethren when one fundamentally disagrees, with good reason, with a position they have taken.

    BCC can be an outlet to discuss such conflicts, where a Sunday School class or a fast and testimony meeting would not.

  68. Mike,

    I agree tithing belongs in a different category; by way of clarification, when I wrote “tithing receipts” I should have written “those donation slips hanging outside the bishop’s door you use to pay tithing and make donations to the church.”

    I guess my point was that that donations to the church should not be used in any way to criticize others if they choose to donate to a political cause, even if it is unpopular.

  69. Ray:

    Sorry for the sweeping generalization. I felt comfortable making it because the generalization itself was not my point. My point was that the Church does not welcome debate. Hence, no independent group bible studies. When these things do creep up from time to time by good intentioned members, the leadership quickly and quietly request that they disband. It is this need for conformity that is much stronger in our Church than in others.

    Steve may be partially correct, but I have attended other faiths weekly study groups and found the atmosphere to be much more conducive to the liberal exchange of ideas than in our official Church settings. And that was really my point, that when we do have times in say a Sunday School setting, where we may want to make an individual point that is not entirely on par, we feel compelled to hold our tongue and if possible tow the party line. Those who disagree with Prop – 8 are allowed to do so, just not publicly. Those who would clarify points of fact, must be cautios regardless of whether they are right or wrong. My concern about this is that it breeds the black and white right/wrong perspectives demonstrated by Staci.

  70. Sorry for mispelling Stacy’s name.

  71. Steve Evans says:

    Stacy (#62), thanks for that. I agree that it would be hypocritical for us to say at Church that we sustain the brethren then act all week as if we don’t.

  72. #69 – I understand and respect that response, cowboy – even if I am not bothered by it, since I probably see the purpose of church meetings differently than you do. That’s cool.

  73. #71 – Steve/Stacy:

    Sustaining the Brethren comes in many shades, and as you will no doubt argue, degrees. There are plenty of posts and comments on this site which discuss points of conflict regarding the infallability of Prophets, none of which have come to universal consensus. Having shades of interpretation here from person to person is entirely reasonable, and addressing those interpretations is reasonable also. I am very cautious of suggestions which imply that we should not speak about these conflicts. The truth can stand on its own, and therefore can stand to be discussed, and everyone is better for it.

  74. cowboy, I’m not really sure about some of your empirical claims. I know of dozens of independent study groups of various kinds set up by Mormons that haven’t been shut down by leaders. Indeed, in some cases, bishops and stake presidents participate. Certain kinds of study groups, certainly, attract restrictive attention.

    Stacy #62, I agree that ideas about coercion are out of place in these discussions. People freely choose whether to follow church guidance or not. I’m uncomfortable about your assumption that sustaining is equal to obedience, but that’s a very complex topic.

  75. Andrew Callahan says:

    #62 Stacy wrote: “The Church has always encouraged us to pray and find out for ourselves.” and also “We teach them ‘Follow the prophet, He knows the way.'”

    This is the issue, isn’t it. For many of us, we have prayed and found our for ourselves. We asked God directly. God did NOT tell us that the prophet is right this time. What are we supposed to do now?

    If we “Follow the Prophet” when we have not received confirmation or even received disconfirmation, we are being disobedient to God himself. Which is worse, being disobedient to an infallible God, or being disobedient to a fallible human?

    Unfortunately, sometimes prophets actually do make mistakes. We readily admit this by everyone agreeing that our prophets are not infallible. But then, no faithful member seems to ever willing to say what those failings or mistakes made are. Why is that? If we can’t actually talk about mistakes or failings, it seems we are de facto declaring our prophets to be infallible. I’m uncomfortable with that.

  76. I just looked at that list published on Mormons for Prop 8 that someone linked above, and I realized my fathers name is on it. For a lot of money. That makes me really sad. Looking at that list, his ward alone has given well over 30k and thats just from the names I recognized. This is the same father and same ward that wouldn’t donate money to a childrens home in a third world country when I was doing a service project there. Honestly, I am really upset about this whole thing. If I didn’t live in in another country I don’t know how I would be able to handle this.

  77. Steve Evans says:

    Andrew, even if you allow for failings and mistakes, something like this massive Prop 8 effort is a little large to write off as a failing or mistake.

    If I were Frank McIntyre, I’d say that the safer course is certainly to be found in following the Prophet even without confirmation. If am to follow a fallible human, I would rather it be a prophet of God than some dude running a website.

  78. Is now the right time to reintroduce the debate about Iron Rodders vs. Liahonas? [g]

  79. Andrew Callahan says:

    #77 Steve,
    Well, the “massive Prop 8 effort” is quite large to write off, but then so was the entire Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The prophet and all his apostles consistently told us to oppose civil rights because that was just the first step toward the sin of interracial marriage.

    How am I to know that this is different? It certainly feels very similar to me.

  80. Andrew,
    In your case, I would suggest that the best you can do is simply not publicly oppose the Brethren on this issue.

  81. Julie,
    I also see a close relative’s name (and many of that person’s ward members) on the list. That’s the same ward where the Bishop and another member donate lung lobes to the daughter of another member, a ward whose members sheltered fire victims. My relatives give a lot of money to good causes, both through and outside of the Church. I believe that other members of the ward (some of whose names are on the list) also donate money to good causes (although they don’t talk about it, so I can’t know for sure). I do know for sure that a number donate their time to serve in the community (cleaning parks, schools, etc.), because that’s harder for them to hide.

    Which is to say, I may choose to use my finances differently. But the people I know who are donating money to Prop 8 are also donating time and money to far less controversial public organizations, and I doubt their Prop 8 donations are taking away significantly from their other charitable pursuits. My charitable and public policy inclinations may rest in different directions. But don’t go suggesting that people who are giving to pro- (or, probably, anti-) Prop 8 causes aren’t also giving to the places you or I wish that they would give.

  82. Andrew Callahan says:

    Roman,
    Who should publicly oppose the Brethren on issues such as civil rights and in this case civil marriage rights? If we as members don’t do it, who will?

    If it is in fact the Brethren who are wrong, who are bringing about greater pain, who are fostering harsh feelings through their actions, why should I sit quietly by and not speak up.

    If Catholics were trying to get condoms banned because they felt a religious obligation to do so, I would oppose them. If Hindus tried to get beef banned in the US because of their religious views, I would oppose them. Now when OUR religion tries to aid in the first ever constitutional reduction of rights in American history, I am opposing them.

    Churches and religions shouldn’t be working toward taking away the rights of others. Hindus feel that eating beef is a “moral” issue. Contraception is a “moral” issue to Catholics. It’s too easy for a religion to play the “moral issue” card as an excuse to try to get its own flavor of religion mandated by law.

    This is a dangerous precedent. If this coalition that the church joined succeeds, how long do you think it will be before a very similar coalition finds a way to target the Mormons, and legislate against us?

  83. Andrew,
    For various Bill of Rights reasons, Mormons aren’t going to be legislated against successfully, so that argument’s pretty much a non-starter.

  84. Steve Evans says:

    Andrew, how about this: because there is a likelihood that you are the one who is wrong? Seriously, the odds are not in your favor.

  85. Fair enough Andrew, but just be aware of the consequences.

  86. Andrew Callahan says:

    Sam
    A non-starter, really?

    Isn’t it a church teaching that polygamy wasn’t illegal in the US, but that it (and by extension we) were legislated against after the Church started up the practice. So, if it’s happened before, it can happen again.

  87. #85. Very true, particularly in light of the church’s latest shot across the bow.

    http://mormon-enigma.blogspot.com/2008/09/and-they-shall-be-ignored.html

  88. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 61

    I’m not sure that’s accurate, Steve. There are some churches (and other faith communities — Judaism comes to mind) where vigorous debate and disagreement are part-and-parcel of spiritual life together. Even Catholics exhibit a lot more open disagreement about significant doctrinal/moral issues than we see in the LDS community. Why this is, I don’t know.

  89. Andrew,

    Well put! For the last two months I have endured listening to the fear-mongering from the pulpit in my Southern California Sacrament Meeting, Stake Conference, Gospel Doctrine and in my High Priests Group Meetings; this in spite of our Stake President’s instructions to “not discuss this issue in our meetings”. I have respected his counsel (I oppose prop 8), but those in favor of prop 8 have not. The lobbying goes on.

    In each case, the ultimate appeal is to “follow the prophet”. And the message I’m getting is quite clear: If I do not support, campaign for, give money to and vote for of Prop 8, I do not sustain the brethren. Really? And if I disagree – they don’t want to hear about it.

    This isn’t the kind of “persuasion . . with gentleness, kindness and meekness” spoken of in the D & C 121:41. There has been no “long suffering” – no opposing opinion or hard questions on the issue have been allowed. The “Hypocrisy” of our past efforts to redefine marriage and family in the 19th century is swept under the berber carpet. The “Guile” of being asked to conceal our identities as members of the Church while canvasing the neighborhoods seems to be lost on everyone. Section 121 has been turned on it’s ear.

    No member of this great Church should feel obligated or “influenced” to do anything “by virtue of a Priesthood (office)”. If you can’t persuade people with pure knowledge (the facts please) and love unfeigned (stop trying to scare us into it) none of us should feel compelled to support this. It doesn’t get more clear cut than that.

  90. Hellmut and cowboy, no church is an open forum for debate. None. Religious communities do not work that way. They exist for entirely different purposes.

    And this is a real shame. In fact, I think I may have to step into this market niche. So, nothing against Mormonism, but I’m going to found The Church of Debate. I can probably get Brad to help me out.

    Our marquee will read:

    “Sunday school at 10, Bible study at 11, Debate at two-thirty. Bring it.”

  91. “Sunday school at 10, Bible study at 11, Debate at two-thirty. Bring it.”

    LOL! Sign me up!

  92. Andrew asks,

    “Isn’t it a church teaching that polygamy wasn’t illegal in the US, but that it (and by extension we) were legislated against after the Church started up the practice. So, if it’s happened before, it can happen again.”

    No.

    It’s possible that some random Sunday School teacher says this. However, it’s not correct as a matter of law or of history.

  93. If am to follow a fallible human, I would rather it be a prophet of God than some dude running a website.

    Sure, but you seem to forget — this is a _group_ blog.

  94. Eric Russell says:

    Andrew Callahan,

    I think it is awesome that you are more in tune with God than the leadership of the church. I just wish you had told us earlier so we could start following you instead of old Tommy.

    What is your church called and at what time do you meet?

  95. Aw man, is this turning into a shouting match? Let’s try not to insult each other, please.

  96. Andrew Callahan says:

    Eric,
    I actually find it SAD that I am more in tune with God than the leadership of the church.

    I don’t have my own church. I don’t take people’s money and not tell them what I’m doing with it. I don’t tell them how they MUST live their lives or they will suffer eternal consequences. I try to live a Christ-like life, and live and let live. I do find it objectionable, however, when my church leaders seem incapable of reading their own scriptures and their own history and taking the simple straightforward lessons from the past.

    But thank you, I’m glad you find me awesome. And, for the record, I find it disrespectful of you to refer to President Monson as “old Tommy.”

  97. Steve Evans says:

    Good-bye, Andrew. Your open disdain for the Church and for its leadership make it clear that your continued participation at BCC is not welcome.

  98. So sad. I’m sorry that Andrew felt like ratcheting up the conversation to say things that get him blocked from the BCC, but you have to admit that his comments weren’t without provocation. I think we can do better. Andrew made some good points, imo, before saying things he might not have otherwise said.

  99. I find it inexpressibly sad that Steve has booted someone who is more in tune with God than the church leaders (and who is sad about it). I expect Evans to be hit by Biblical plagues any moment. Swallowed by a giant fish. Turned into a pillar of salt. Hell, he’s already been spoken to by a talking ass or two. Clearly, the last days are upon us.

    In expectation of Steve’s quick and gruesome demise, I’m going to temporarily shut comments in this thread, for a cooling off period of a day or so. I’ll reopen them after, and hopefully a more productive discussion will ensue. Also, we will be able to mourn Steve’s sad demise of being torn apart by bears.

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