To all the stupid people

Elder Marlin Jensen will be released as Church Historian in an upcoming General Conference. The timing of his release has nothing to do with comments Elder Jensen made recently (cited acontextually here, among other places). To suggest otherwise is to perpetuate a false and damaging gossip.

Mormons covenant not to speak ill of the Lord’s anointed, but apparently this does not prevent us from gossiping about them if the agenda suits us. It makes me sad when this happens, whether it’s about Elder Jensen, Pres. Packer or any of the brethren. So, to all the stupid people: shut your stupid faces.


  1. Of course when I saw the title of this post, I rushed on over.

    Well said, Steve.

  2. Amen. But aren’t you living in a great and spacious building now? ;-)

  3. I thought it was pretty clear that his (routine at 70 for a seventy) emeritus status was set and announced before his visit to USU. However, I am still interested in what happened between him saying that “Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now” to “I have heard that our overall activity, especially in the United States, is as good as it’s ever been.”

    Of course these two statements aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but I still wonder if there was a discussion that occurred between the two, perhaps being alluded to in his “hearing” something different.

  4. how do you know what the timing of his release does or does not have to do with?

  5. Do you need a hug Steve?

  6. Jesse, I get fired up about some topics!

  7. > Of course when I saw the title of this post, I rushed on over.


    >Do you need a hug Steve?

    And another one.

  8. I’m good on hugs for now, thanks people.

  9. > how do you know what the timing of his release does or does not have to do with?

    Tom, because it was already scheduled years ago.

  10. Bro. Jones says:

    #8 Well have a fist bump then, my non-stupid buddy.

  11. On behalf of stupid people everywhere let me voice my displeasure that your edict does not allow for a very important exception – the Lord’s anointed who happen in fact to be stupid. In which case I happen to agree with you even more.

  12. Jeff, I apologize, but to my knowledge the injunction against evil speaking doesn’t contain an exception for when said anointeds are stupid. I suppose in that scenario you could rely on Joseph Smith’s maxim that “a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such,” and say that nobody’s acting as a prophet when they do something stupid. But I certainly wouldn’t advise it as a general matter.

  13. Don’t worry, Steve. I’m not going to start a rumor that the Lord set the standard retirement age at 70 based on foreknowledge that Elder Jensen would need to be released due to comments made at that exact age.

  14. I’m not giving you no damn hugs.

  15. As #1 and 11 said, what does it say about me that I only clicked on this article because it was addressed to stupid people?! lol. On a serious note, I appreciate the sentiment behind your post Steve.

  16. Ben Carlsen says:

    I think he made those comments right before he knew he was going to be released just to cause an uproar among stupid people.

  17. It is equally stupid to suppose that only leaders of the LDS Church are the Lord’s anointed.

  18. This sounds exactly like something an apologist who’s hiding the truth would say. Also, someone who possesses basic common sense. In lieu of being able to tell between the two options, the former is much more fun.

  19. .

    People are stupid after all. He’s seventy. We’ll miss him. People being stupid won’t affect any of that.

  20. Is it just me, or does the picture on the article Steve linked to look like an homage to the Abbey Road album cover? Someone is clearly missing (or dead)

    It’s unclear to me, after reading the article, what all the fuss is about. Where’s the controversy? Church attendance attrition?

  21. FHL, I suppose Steve linked to the Reuters piece rather than linking to/promoting the mormonish sites that are rejoicing in reports of apostasy and who have been making up this speculative drivel about Elder Jensen having been fired for letting the cat out of the bag. You know — the stupid people.

  22. I find the title of this post totally offensive. Nobody should ever be called stupid. After all, we should love our neighbors and our enemies.

  23. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, i didnt have access to such mormonish links at the time. Drivel indeed.

  24. I agree with Steve!

  25. Stan Beale says:

    I find it somewhat ironic that one day after having a lesson on George Albert Smith and about how he treated others we have a brother label some people stupid. I even remember a recent post where some in our midst consider that word a swear word.

  26. Steve Evans says:

    Stan, I missed that lesson! It’s like rain on your wedding day.

  27. Steve, maybe you should change the title. “To all the asinine, idiotic, moronic, bigoted, imbecilic people” has a better ring to it. That way you wouldn’t be swearing – and you’d be addressing everyone in the target audience, not just the stupid ones.

  28. Steve Evans says:

    I’ll come right out and say that considering the word “stupid” to be a profanity is, well, stupid.

  29. MikeInWeHo says:

    It makes my day when Steve calls someone out for stupidity. His rhetorical Taser is always fully charged.

  30. I should mention that I was kidding. Stupid is likely too nice.

  31. Hmm. I’ve always figured that “the Lord’s Anointed,” without further clarification, meant Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed. Or perhaps it meant the Prophet, who Section 132 calls “mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this [sealing] power … and there is never but one on the earth at a time.” I’m not sure why it would mean Marlin K. Jensen.

    Perhaps it means everyone who’s been washed and anointed in the Endowment, which would likely include Elder Jensen, and a lot of other people, in which case, perhaps we should just covenant to avoid speaking ill of others in general. It could mean people who’ve received a second anointing, but that would make it a difficult covenant to keep, since, apparently, those people covenant not to disclose that they’ve been anointed in that manner. Also, I’m unaware of any reason to think Elder Jensen has received that ordinance since apparently, there have been times when not even all of the 12 have. done so.

    False and damaging gossip is bad, but why tie it to a Mormon covenant about “the Lord’s Anointed” in this case?

  32. Mike, the rumor is that he is being pushed out as part of some cover-up by the 1st Presidency and the Twelve. So this is not bad talking him but the higher leadership.

  33. Whuut? Higher leadership kicking people out of the group? Who has ever heard of such a thing! Blasphemy I tell ya.

  34. Steve Evans says:

    Mike’s overall discussion is valuable but a bit tangential for present purposes (Mike, you’ll see this is a topic we’ve addressed in past posts).

  35. Steve Evans says:

    Watch it, NH.

  36. Of course his pending emeritus status wasn’t precipitated by his comments! But can you confirm that it isn’t the other way around?

  37. Frankly, I love the word “stupid.” I have used it on occasion to describe Laman and Lemuel. On the other hand, I also hate the word “stupid,” and get quite annoyed when my older son calls my younger son “stoop.”

  38. Leadership is so overrated.

  39. Look whatever you think about the exact wording is probably irrelevant. I think what many of us are responding to is how venomous this post feels. Obviously, this is a subject dear to Brother Evans’ heart and anger has its place. It’s not that he shouldn’t feel angry. What I wish is that Steve could have used his opinion in a more controlled manner. Name calling (whatever names you choose) simply has no place in thoughtful, intelligent discussion which I have come to expect from BCC. To be perfectly honest, I am disappointed in By Common Consent for lowering itself to the point of disrespectful name calling in place of honest, sincere and civil remarks which could have been more edifying.

  40. I mean “voiced his opinion”. It’s been a loooooong day.

  41. Mike (31 not 37) says:

    Steve, I had no idea how much you had previously addressed my tangential questions — and I took no thought save it was to ask. Thanks for pointing me to the archives; it’s amazing what a quick search for “Lord’s anointed” brought up.

  42. Nicky, some forms of idiocy are so willful and virulent that they deserve to be strongly denounced and then dismissed with ridicule. Civil discourse requires harsh policing at the margins. It would be different if the people Steve is talking about were sincerely or innocently mistaken.

  43. Don’t worry, Steve. I’m not going to start a rumor that the Lord set the standard retirement age at 70 based on foreknowledge that Elder Jensen would need to be released due to comments made at that exact age.


  44. nominate #13 for BCotW.

    (Also, I’m a bit of a tone-prude when it comes to being acerbic as well, FWIW, but since Steve signs all my paychecks as owner of BCC I have to be really passive aggressive about publicly calling him out.)

  45. “To be perfectly honest, I am disappointed in By Common Consent for lowering itself to the point of disrespectful name calling in place of honest, sincere and civil remarks”

    Lemme just take a second to break this one down, Nicky. I’m pretty sure you don’t mean to say everything you’re saying here.

    “To be perfectly honest” — are your comments normally dishonest?

    “disrespectful name calling” — not really. It’s calling a spade a spade. Disrespectful implies that there is some level of respect I should carry for such gossip, and there isn’t.

    “in place of honest, sincere and civil remarks” — well, you got two out of three in this post at least. You should consider yourself fortunate!

    Those who object to my tone: why do you take offense? Either you engage in the gossip I describe, in which case yes, you are stupid, and you are taking the truth to be hard, or you don’t engage in that gossip, in which case my post does not apply to you and you should be dancing in the streets. If you’re simply offended at the presence of the word “stupid” in a blog post, my advice to you is to stop surfing the internet, stop watching TV and listening to the radio, and only talk with trusted enclaves.

  46. Also, happy valentine’s day!

  47. To paraphrase a great lesson learned in an ESPN commercial about twenty years ago: There are no stupid questions, only stupid people who ask questions.
    Another great quote, allegedly from John Wayne: Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.
    If you can’t hold your tongue unless you know most of the facts, you’re stupid. Deal with it.

  48. Dan Peterson recently started a blog; here’s a selection from one of the first posts:

    Al-Ghazālī (d. AD 1111), who was one of the most significant figures in the history of Islamic thought, a legendarily brilliant philosophical theologian and legal thinker who spent most of his life in Iran and Iraq but also sojourned for a significant period in Jerusalem, is talking about extremely poor students, and, in that context, attributes the following remark to Jesus:

    “Even though I managed to raise the dead, I have never been able to cure an idiot!”

    (See al-Ghazālī, “O Son!,” trans. David C. Reisman, in Classical Foundations of Islamic Educational Thought, ed. Bradley J. Cook [Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2010], 103.)

  49. Dan rules.

  50. Steve, I just hope you don’t run into any of those stoopid people on the way out to the parking lot later today…. You realize they outnumber the rest of us, don’t you?

    As it is, stupid is more exciting and thought provoking than just a boring retirement announcement. Why think that Al Qaeda brought down the towers, when Steven Jones can teach us how the feds were involved?

  51. Amen, Ram.

  52. Love Marlin K! He was the one who comforted my sister when my father passed away while she was serving her mission. She said he was extremely Christ-like.

    We practice the ‘Inoculation Theory’ in our home so that our children–hopefully–won’t encounter situations like Elder Jensen described his youngest daughter experiencing with polygamy.

    Never sure how far to take that theory while teaching a youth SS class in the church, though….

  53. BTW, I was told once that anyone who has ever been endowed is “one of the Lord’s anointed” so we shouldn’t talk ill of anyone. I’m confident that covers the brethren–whether big or small B. However, it doesn’t say anything about those who have never been endowed….

  54. Christian J says:

    Do the stupid people read BCC? (that’s not a zing, just a concern that the message is delivered efficiently) Don’t the stupid people have a comment section?

  55. I actually thought because Elder Jensen knew he was going to retire he felt more at liberty to speak freely. Not sure if that’s true, but that did go through my mind when I listened to his recent remarks.

  56. How many people have you actually heard suggest that the timing of Elder Jensen’s release has something to do with his comments? I don’t keep up with the types of blogs that might make such a suggestion, but I have many bullheaded family members (and I think bullheaded is more accurate than stupid) and none of them has suggested such a thing. The 70-years-old general rule is well known. Are you sure this isn’t a case of making up the other side’s argument based on your low opinion of them?

  57. MikeInWeHo says:

    Maybe these speculators aren’t all just stupid, Steve (although I have no doubt most are, since most people are stupid albeit not in here). The reality is the Church is an opaque organization. From non-disclosure of financials to persistent obfuscation of well-known historical problems in official publications, it just doesn’t provide all the info. Take your choice whether that is good or bad.

    Given human nature, such an environment always generates endless rumor and speculation about what is “really” going on. It’s by no means unique to the Church.

  58. RobL, Google “marlin jensen” “emeritus status” — you don’t even have to click through to any website, just scan the squibs that show up on the Google search screen. You’ll note an obvious sense of glee, and the widespread assumption that Elder Jensen is being fired for his candidness at USU. The other side makes its argument without any help from Steve’s low opinion!

  59. #58 – The first 2 are an exmormon site, and the rest just seem to be passing on the info as usual without controversy?

    Is the topic of this post to encourage exmormons not to slander and perpetuate false and damaging gossip of the Lord’s anointed (that they don’t regard as being anointed by the Lord)? (that seems to be a large purpose of exmormon sites in general)

  60. #55 – Carey, Elder Jensen has been open and candid throughout his tenure as Church Historian. What he said at USU isn’t unique in the slightest for him.

  61. Yeah, remember that time when the Church made him emeritis for saying that more Mormons should be democrats? Or when he said Mormons were at fault for Mountain Meadows? Or when he apologized to the LGBT community for the hurt caused by Prop 8? Yeah, they really put a muzzle on him.

  62. #53, As a missionary, I was once chided by a senior missionary sister for referring to “new missionaries” as “greenies”. “Elder,” she said, “we never refer to the Lord’s annointed as ‘greenies’.”

  63. Name calling in a religious context has good precedent:

    But a stupid person will get understanding when a wild ass is born human. (Job 11:12 NRS)

    For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.” (Jer 4:22 NRS)

    Do not be ashamed to correct the stupid or foolish or the aged who are guilty of sexual immorality. Then you will show your sound training, and will be approved by all. (Sir 42:8 NRS)

    Looking forward to something on the aged who are guilty of sexual immorality. Prolly will arise from the ready availability of viagra in Obamacare or similar.


  64. The best part about this post is that it can be recycled indefinitely.

  65. I admit, when I read the title, my first thought was, “oh, THOSE stupid people. Over *there.* Not over here, with me.” But then I read the bit about Packer and I thought, “oh, THAT stupid person. Right *here*. Me.” So, while the reminder to not be stupid was not fun to receive, it nevertheless was received, and I learned from it. Thank you for this post.

  66. Raca…

  67. Th,

    I ran the article in your link and the Reuters article by my bishop brother last week. According to the training he has received The Rescue has nothing to do with helping members who are troubled by church history, nor is it aimed at stemming any defection tide of youth and young adults. He says it is a reactivation plan, plain and simple, and not directed at any specific problems or issues. This was reinforced at the world wide training over the weekend.

    I’m curious if that is what others are hearing as well.

  68. I’ve know for a long time that Elder Jensen was scheduled to be released, and that he was rather eager to resume his “normal” life. It was still very hard news. But anyone ascribing his upcoming emeritus status to some sort of conspiracy is…well…you know.

  69. Steve Evans says:

    Erin, you’re good people.

  70. Well this is was an incredibly condescending post! I don’t know anything about the vitriolic or “gleeful” anti-Mormon posts referenced above that must have set Steve off, but the thought that Elder Jensen’s release might have something to do with those comments certainly did cross my mind (I don’t really keep track of when Seventies are due to go emeritus–so sue me), and that independently of anything I read, but I feel like I was certainly “sincerely or innocently mistaken” (comment #42), so I must not be one of “the people Steve is talking about” (same), right? Well, how am I to know that? I didn’t, and I was rather offended at the tone and unqualified name-calling of this post. It seems far below the standard that I’ve come to expect from BCC since I began lurking here about a year ago.

    And also, how is conjecturing about reasons for release “speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed?” I listened to the recording of Elder Jensen’s remarks in that class and thought he was sincere and well-spoken. Does wondering if the releasing of one of “the Lord’s anointed” was connected in some way to something he said NECESSARILY mean I am “speaking ill of him?” Even if I thought the remarks were tasteful, interesting, and productive to discussion? Where’s the “ill speaking” there?

  71. eilasajarred says:
  72. “It seems far below the standard that I’ve come to expect from BCC since I began lurking here about a year ago.”

    You folks must be reading a different BCC than I have been.

  73. So for the last 20 hours or so I’ve had Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” stuck in my head, with the lyrics of “All the stupid people.”

  74. Glass Ceiling says:

    How are we missing the forest for the trees? Gossip seems to be a real problem in the Church in general, particularly with the social network craze many of us involve ourselves in. And as insufferably snarky as Steve is choosing to be through this thread, he is right. Obviously. Gossip of the Lord’s annointed IS stupid, but so is gossip of any soul, annointed or not. There are better terms like, I dunno, cruel, utterly careless, and socially [backwards] to name but a few.

    But maybe the word “stupid ” is quite sufficient. It worked swimmingly for Deep Purple one time, lest we forget : “Some stupid with a flare-gun burned the place to the ground. ”

    –changed a word to save Glass Ceiling from firebombing — ed.

  75. Trev, maybe you should stick with the lurking?

  76. P.S. high five to Glass Ceiling, who really gets it.

  77. “Erin, you’re good people.”


    The title of this post reminded me of the expression, “you can’t help the stupid.” I hope in this case, it isn’t true.

  78. I don’t understand any of this.

  79. I’ve been involved in three similar conversations related to the OP this week. Repetition is good for stupid people like me.

  80. @UtahMormonDemoGuy says:

    The more important question: How are they ever going to replace Elder Jensen! I will miss him.

  81. I agree that gossip about Elder Jensen is inappropriate. I also assert that “stupid” is playground rhetoric, and is a barrier to communication and discussion.

  82. Steve Evans says:

    Jeremiah, that presumes that one is interested in communication and discussion around such gossip. I’m not. It’s dumb and needs to stop, period.

  83. Today’s entry at Today-in-Mormon-History seems is related to the discussion at hand:

    30 years ago today – Feb 15, 1982.

    A story by Kenneth L. Woodward, religion editor of Newsweek, reports the Packer/Quinn conflict, pointing out that Quinn “violated the Mormon taboo that proscribes the faithful from publicly criticizing `the Lord’s Anointed’ by name.” Elder Packer’s address, originally scheduled to appear in the February issue of the Ensign, is withdrawn but is later published in Brigham Young University Studies.

    [Source: Anderson, Lavina Fielding, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology,” Dialogue, Vol.26, No.1]

  84. #76, Yeah, Steve, I generally don’t trust myself to comment on these things, but, honestly, I had a surprisingly strong reaction to the tone of this post and felt I should say something about it.

  85. Trev, srsly, go listen to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)” and replace the words, “All the stupid people,” and it will feel a bit more light-hearted and a helluva lot more catchy. I’d link to the video but, hey, thems some really short shorts.

  86. ClairB, what precisely how does your spamallicious comment relate to the discussion?

  87. Steve Evans,

    I recognize you’re having an emotional reaction to this, and you might have a hard time seeing it from someone else’s viewpoint, but…

    There are people in the world who aren’t interested at all in any part of the “Elder Jensen gossip.” Yet they also don’t feel the need to designate either the topic, nor those interested in at, as stupid.

    It may because those people are confident individuals who don’t care what “the gossipers” think. It may be because they think Elder Jensen is a big boy whose feelings aren’t going to be hurt. It may be because they have heard worse… I dunno, but I hope you find some peace about this. I hope you can learn in the future, to find peace regardless of those who seek to inflict pain, around you.

    Sometimes we have to lead by example…

  88. Steve Evans says:

    If you’re not interested in the topic, then why did you bother reading this at all? Talk about wasting valuable time! H_Nu, I appreciate your condescending advice. I hope you can learn in the future, to not leave comments that seek to preach.

    Sometimes we have to lead by example…

  89. Steve, maybe you should talk to a therapist about these self-esteem issues that H_Nu has pointed. I hear that John Dehlin specializes in dealing with Mormons. You might also consider joining a Mormon Stories Support Group.

  90. Steve Evans says:

    There’s no question that I need therapy.

  91. I personally prefer a medley of Prozac and Diet Coke…and blogging.

  92. J., both this “stupid people” thread and the Woodward article explore the question of speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed.

  93. Wow, touchy touchy.

  94. My understanding of this post was not that Steve was responding to anti-Mormon or ex-Mormon conspiracy theorizing about how Elder Jensen was released for leaking word about falling activity but rather that he was responding to self-righteous over-zealous Latter-day Saints who are critical of Elder Jensen’s openness and alleged that Elder Jensen spoke out of turn, was disciplined and are happy about that.

    Is that correct, Steve, or did you mean the former?

    In any event, the issue of ceasing to find fault and speak ill of each other is important and one that is essential to the project of Zion.

  95. Wait, did you mean “stupid” or “stüpid”? Big difference.

  96. Steve Evans says:

    John, I’m referring to both, actually, though I think the latter group is far more culpable as they have undertaken specific obligations regarding such behavior.

  97. Butch Bowman says:

    Is speculating about a public figure in a public forum truly gossip? It may or may not be stupid, but I’m not sure it’s gossip.

  98. This post is full of win. The truth of this is so obvious that to think otherwise does seem rather stupid to me. It seems to me that you have to be purposefully looking for a sinister motive that really isn’t there. I’m not sure why so many people are getting their feelings hurt though especially when it is they who are purposefully looking for the worst in others.
    Also I absolutely love Elder Jensen, I’m going to miss him.

  99. Steve Evans says:

    See now JTB, that would have been a lot nicer way to have put it.

  100. Steve,
    I have a feeling I would have written the exact same post had I had the chance. More power to the anti-stupid crusade (of course, it will eventually come for me too, but my family would possibly appreciate my spending less time online).

  101. re: 91
    You’ve never been to therapy? It’s great, like getting a personal trainer for your mind.

  102. I disagree, Steve. Church leaders are public features who accept stipends paid by the tithing of faithful members. Both members and leaders need to be less thin-skinned about how rough and tumble they find things to be in mass media and social media. I believe that it’s destructive (and perhaps not altogether honest) to use the notion of “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” as a club with which to beat members who don’t conform to cultural expectations. Sure, it’s a temple covenant, but so is avoiding loud laughter. How are you doing on that one, Steve?

  103. DKL, Loud laughter is OK, as long as you don’t laugh at stupid things.

    OTOH, I’ve heard the speculation that the Danites at COB “got to” Marlin Jensen and forced him into retirement. That is a pretty stupid proposition, and I laugh loudly at it without shame. Maybe I’m the worst of all.

  104. DKL is back!!!!

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