Elder Holland’s university address reflects a failure of moral judgment that is endemic to the Church

A few months ago, there was a twitter thread about what it means to be an LGBT ally if you are a member of the church. Is it even possible? It gave me pause. I’ve never considered myself much of an ally because, believe it or not, I usually keep my mouth shut and roll my eyes. And it reflects in my friends. I have a few gay friends, but none who are particularly close. I’m sure I have some homophobic tendencies. I am who I am and I’m okay with that. But it made me wonder about why I’m in the church.

I could have left many times. I’ve had close family members actively encouraging me to leave. And, for a time, I didn’t attend. The reasons behind not attending were complicated, but it resulted in my longing for the church. I felt the loss of it intensely; the boring, monotonous, staid, appropriateness of church felt like a kind of lost paradise. I’ve had to fight for the testimony I have. But I also have to wonder if the reason I’m still in is because it isn’t actively harmful to me. And because of that, I’m not capable of imagining the active harm it does to others.

Some people revel in that harm. DezNat has been in the news of late and DezNat is all about harming others. They are also about sharing testimony with each other, but they’re goal has always been to winnow the church members and drive out those who disagree with them. Reading the tweets of Matthias Cicotte, former assistant attorney general of Alaska and active DezNat member, demonstrates the hate behind the movement, its corrosive influence, and the devilish glee with which he provokes outrage. It would seem to be a no-brainer to condemn him but, aside from a tepid Newsroom response claiming no affiliation, there has been no public condemnation of Mr. Cicotte (I don’t think I can consider him my brother at present).

Instead, we get Elder Holland, speaking to BYU yesterday, identifying the source of division in the church as gay folk. By simply being gay and unashamed of it, people are sources of strive and disunity.

I’ve had friends note the irony of people who insisted on prophetic infallibility during the Nov 5 policy era suddenly becoming heterodox at the notion of wearing a mask. Our fellow saints didn’t blink an eye when asked to mistreat our fellow human beings in god’s name (see also Prop 8), but they balked at the minor inconvenience of a mask which could literally save the lives of others.

This is, partially, a matter of how our religious divisions align with our political and other divisions. It is a matter of who we turn to for authoritative information, as Ben Park points out in today’s Washington Post. But it is also a matter of what we imagine a good person to be. Is a party man, loyal to the cause, what constitutes being a good person? Is that the kind of person that Christ was?

Cicotte obviously thought (and thinks) that he did nothing wrong. Since Elder Holland’s talk, he’s been posting musket memes and crowing on Twitter.

The truth is that the church has done this. It has raised men and women in it who believe that if they pay their tithing and pay lip service to the church’s doctrines, they can disparage the downtrodden, shut out the refugee, condemn the imprisoned, and shame the impoverished all as an expression of their faith. They hold up their bigotry, misogyny, and particularly their homophobia as an demonstration of their unity with God as they understand him. And Elder Holland’s speech confirmed their understanding, rather than disturbing it.

So I’m in the church and I’m staying in the church. But the church is not the unsullied force for good that I thought it was in my youth. Instead, it is just another human institution, trying to connect with the divine. I will strive, through my words and deeds, to strengthen that connection so that, one day, it will be Zion, filled with the light of the Lord, having set aside the pride, prejudice, and hate of the devilish world.

Comments

  1. capozaino says:

    AMEN

  2. J Charity Spring says:

    I believe that the sign of an enlightened mind is the ability to change one’s mind. I am saddened that far too few are able to do so.

    I have come to realize that what matters is not sexual orientation, it is the loyalty and commitment that comes with marriage. Those who are married and are faithful to a spouse are productive members of society. It is those who practice wanton, uncontrolled sexuality with anyone and everyone at any time who are the source of societal ills.

    I must add that the speech referenced above was terrible in terms of marketing. I cannot imagine students wanting to enroll at BYU when they are told that the university no longer cares about maintaining educational and professional certifications. Presumably, students want their degrees to count for something upon graduation.

  3. matthew73 says:

    Thanks John. We all wrestle in various ways with the dilemma regarding whether to stay or leave. This isn’t an original idea with me, but a couple of decades ago I realized that I felt the church was an overwhelmingly human institution, with perhaps/hopefully a touch of divinity in it. Accepting that framework is one of the things that’s allowed me to stay . . . not that it’s been an easy decision or path.

  4. It is those who practice wanton, uncontrolled sexuality with anyone and everyone at any time who are the source of societal ills.

    You just have to be brazen about it and you might even get the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing at your inauguration.

  5. “I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.” — Joseph Smith

  6. That’s an awful misreading of what Elder Holland said, or what the church teaches. Seeing everything as negatively as possible is not just inaccurate, it’s not at all useful.

  7. While I think there is real value in staying and being a force for good from the inside, there is also no reason for change to happen if the tithing money is paid and the callings get done. The letter Holland read included the statement that some parents don’t want to send their kids to BYU or donate to the school. Makes me wonder if that’s what he really finds alarming.

  8. Anon This Time says:

    The fact that the church leadership is doing nothing to counter the mormon embrace of fascism but taking the time to call out gay students at BYU is incredibly disheartening to me. I don’t know how to raise my kids in a religion that seems to think white nationalism is no big deal as long as gay kids don’t give commencement addresses at BYU.

  9. Nah C. Keen, this post was pretty generous to yesterday’s violent, vitriolic screed.

    It’s like the Church had its own (renewed) coming out yesterday, in which it reaffirmed that although that you might occasionally see some rainbow flags on campus and hear lip-service to (conditional) love, we stand firm in our commitment against the well-being, individual rights, and dignity of queer folks.

    I guess I have to thank him for his candor for at least it clarifies what we’re really dealing with when it comes to Church leadership.

  10. I have as a orthodox parent watched the recent decline in my view of BYU. If I wanted to send my kids to a toxic anti LOC college there are any number of local options.

    I welcome any attempt by the bretheren to rein in BYU.

    There is apostacy all around now. Satan has great hold on the hearts of men and is really good at mingling the philosophies of men with scripture.

  11. Your last two paragraphs deeply resonate with me and sum up my own feelings succinctly.
    As I read Holland’s message, I just kept asking myself why they are so obsessed with LGBTQ+??
    Can you imagine the brethren saying be careful about being kind to that neighbor who smokes, we don’t want that kindness to get interpreted as condoning and advocacy?
    Or be careful about loving that non-member spouse who drinks coffee, we don’t want that to get interpreted as condoning and advocacy?
    It boggles my mind!
    Of all the problems seriously threatening our spirituality in this day and age, it seems like “too much empathy” shouldn’t even make the top 10 or top 100.

  12. Dot, parents not sending their kids to BYU is such an empty threat.
    Where else are they going to send them, Liberty University? The students worried about their schools accreditation getting yanked are much more important to placate.

    For that matter, no amount of donors will compensate for the lack of funding from accreditation.

  13. your food allergy is real says:

    anubis9, they appear to be obsessed in part because of the letters they are receiving from angry right-leaning members. I would love to know more about the evolving demographics in the BYU students and their families. Are people on the left side of culture wars self-selecting out of BYU until we will be left with the University of DezNat? I have kids, need to make college decisions.

  14. So much has been made of Elder Holland’s remarks that I took the time to watch his entire message. He was very emotional. Elder Holland talked about how much they have wept for those concerning the LGBTQIA members of the church. He asked for unity and not division. The Brethren are called to teach the laws not make them. The prophets and apostles are loyal to the Lord. They testify for Him and of Him. Thank goodness I am more free to play with my grandchildren than they are.

  15. Roger Hansen says:

    I thank Michael Austin for his comments on sltrib.com. I totally agree his assessment of the situation.

  16. food allergy, I’m with you. The the right-wing gestapo tactics among students and parents that is gaining steam at BYU tells me it’s not the imagined take over of the left that is really the threat at BYU, but instead the facist right that wants so badly to make BYU into its image. I’m seriously considering actively lobbying my kids away from BYU at this point. I’m worried it would seriously weaken their future prospects for careers coming from the institution that its turning into.

  17. And another thing: if you’re going to go online to tear down the apostles and dismiss the church as just a human institution, why are you surprised that some members are dismissing the prophet’s counsel to get vaccinated as just his opinion as a man? It’s because of you, John. Somewhere out there is an anti-John C. who is reading your post and thinking, “See, the apostles are just people, so why should I take their vaccination kick seriously?” If you want the church to have moral authority so that members will listen, then you have to do your part. Instead you want “Follow the prophet for thee, but not for me.” Stop leaving the heavy lifting to everyone else.

    And you’re wrong to lump anti-vaxxers and prop. 8 supporters together. Prop. 8 passed with the support of 52% of Californian voters. Are you seriously telling us that the median Californian voter (2008 version) is now an anti-vaxxer? And you’re wrong to ignore the longtime anti-vax sentiment on the far left. You’re lumping all your varied ideological opponents into a faceless “them” and overlooking the issues closer to home. It’s lazy thinking and sloppy writing.

  18. As I read social media posts about this, few mention the chain of citation Elder Holland invokes for the quote about the muskets. Holland quotes a remark by Dallin H Oaks from 2017, who relied on a quote by Neil A Maxwell. To me, relying on a chain of authority like this either means he wants to distance himself from the statement (in which case, why include it at all, unless directed to address the topic), that he feels insecure in making the point himself, or that he wants to insulate himself from criticism by increasing the # of people to blame.

    While I don’t have any evidence for this, it would not surprise me if Elder Holland was directed to make remarks along these lines (by First Presidency). Any criticism is then directed against one of the most beloved apostles of intellectuals and left-leaning members. This insulates the FP. But Elder Holland knows he’ll have some musket shots aimed at him, so he cites other authorities to deflect some of the heat.

  19. anonymous says:

    Too many people are taking Elder Holland’s quotes out of context. He was speaking to BYU employees — no one else. These are people who are paid by the Church. He was asking that they not work against their employer, and used LBGT issues as an example. The only people the musket metaphor applied to were those employed by BYU. If I actively spoke against my employer, I would be spoken to (or worse) as well. Elder Holland did not attack the student that came out at graduation. He was addressing the administrators who allowed that to happen, and suggesting that such a thing was inappropriate in that setting. His was a call for unity, for avoiding the symbols of the culture war, and for trying to make BYU all that it can be. Those who have an agenda can twist and turn the remarks as they like, but I encourage all who are sincere to actually read the address a time or two and to pay attention to what was actually said.

  20. C. Keen,
    “why are you surprised that some members are dismissing the prophet’s counsel to get vaccinated as just his opinion as a man?”
    I’m not. What’s surprising is that people are admitting that this is what they do.

    I was referencing the fact that Prop 8 was treated as a test of obedience. That doesn’t have anything to do with yoga and crystal devotees in California. But have fun muddying the water.

  21. Amen anonymous.

  22. Somehow the church has skillfully managed to keep its right wingers, and lefties in the fold. At least to some degree. The church has sought to be apolitical, and for me that has been essential. I don’t think that I could tolerate a lot of overt political comments in church. Many of you will say that right sided political commentary is common, but in my little corner of Mormondom we have steered clear of that. Again, for the most part.

    Now the conservative leaning church membership appears to be tipping harder to the right, suddenly deciding that character doesn’t really matter in political leaders, or choosing to be blind to certain republican leader’s moral failings while emphasizing what they see as evil in Democratic leaders.

    Its all sort of scary. Can our church pull apart at the seams?

    I don’t think that this talk went anywhere towards healing the divisions; rather it will inflame them.

  23. your food allergy is real says:

    Preppy, interesting thought

  24. I am a stake auditor and when I was going about my business with another bishop in the stake, he mentioned to me that his daughter is a marketing major at BYU. She can’t find a job. All the major marketing firms that used to interview at BYU said they will no longer come on campus. I wonder why???

    My wife and I met at BYU. We had a great experience there in the late 90’s. But I really really hope my kids don’t go there for the reasons noted in Brian’s comment.

    Unbelievable that Holland called out Matt Easton’s convocation address like that. Matt has responded on social media that the university approved his remarks. Did anyone approve Elder Hollands? Because, really, in 2021, we are going to use a musket metaphor? Really?

    To C. Keen: You don’t get to gaslight and tell me I read this talk wrong. Your take is your take, and my take is my take. And to compare this somehow to Prop 8? Please. Let’s re-vote on Prop 8 in CA today. I guarantee you that, 12 years later, it would NOT pass.

  25. “He was addressing the administrators who allowed that to happen, and suggesting that such a thing was inappropriate in that setting. His was a call for unity, for avoiding the symbols of the culture war, and for trying to make BYU all that it can be.”
    When I was a BYU student they brought in Dick Cheney as the commencement speaker, so freaking spare me the “all they want is unity” nonsense.

  26. I was referencing the fact that Prop 8 was treated as a test of obedience.

    For the record, as a Mormon Californian, I just want to confirm that at least in my home stake support for Prop. 8 was framed as precisely this—a test of obedience.

    Also C. Keen, I know you like to tone police, so what do you think about an apostle with a global audience characterizing a vetted and approved commencement speech that shared personal experiences as “commandeer[ing] a graduation podium intended to represent everyone getting diplomas in order to announce [a student’s] personal sexual orientation”? Is that the kind of charitable reading you’d like to see here at BCC?

  27. I really Don’t buy the “hours of crying and praying” with those with same-sex “challenge”. First of all, they never come up with anything to actually help the SSA, just a sermon every so often causing harm. And I am not sure “challenge” is the right term, either, Jeff. Seems like those who accept who they are, as God made them, are doing just fine. It’s also disturbing that he is downplaying empathy towards those who are different than the mainstream LDS.

  28. Lee Williams says:

    “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

  29. Singling out and trashing a former student?
    Gross.
    Using that musket metaphor that’s got all the DezNat types positively tumescent, when a gay couple was just shot to death in Moab?
    Vile.

  30. Stephen Fleming says:

    Yes, the church is a good but imperfect institution. Hopefully we can work to improve ourselves and the church thereby.

  31. @stephen no one is asking for imperfection. Asking that we don’t incite violence against the least of our brothers and sisters is like, not a high bar. It really doesn’t clear the “good” bar.

  32. Elisa, it is obvious you did not listen carefully to Elder Holland’s talk. It was about “friendly fire”. The church has been symbolically “shot” by its own, “and sometimes not so friendly”. I have to agree that those who are hired by the church should stand with the church. If not, there are plenty of other universities to choose from. This is fair. It would be the policy and hope of any organization, business, or institution.

  33. “As such, I stand before my family, friends and graduating class to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God. I am not broken. I am loved and important to the plan of our great creator. Each of us are.”-Source, YouTube

    “If a student commandeers a graduation podium intended to represent everyone getting diplomas in order to announce his personal sexual orientation, what might another speaker feel free to announce the next year until eventually anything goes?” -Source, Church Newsroom

    To be precise in responding to those individuals here accusing others of taking these statements out of context, since E Holland specifically brings this up, and he was speaking to the BYU University Conference, I infer that means that he (and/or the 15 collectively) have an issue with:
    1) the topic being so publicly mentioned at this event, and more specifically,
    2) the faculty approving that part of Matt’s valedictory speech.

    If there is a concern from leadership with the above quoted statements being made at a commencement at BYU, then that is a symptom of a continual problem. It seems impossible to say on one hand that BYU specifically (and the Church generally) loves LGBT+ members, and yet on the other hand, scold a University for allowing the topic to be mentioned publicly (in a very supportive, Gospel consistent, and faith affirming way.)

    Did Matt mention orgies, fornications, and wanton and lascivious behavior? No.
    Did Matt mention that he was a son of God, not broken, loved and important to the plan of our Father? Yes.
    Isn’t that the message that they repeatedly want to convey?

    Perhaps the leadership is still concerned with anyone saying that they are gay. It may be okay to privately say it circumspectly, but perhaps the FP/Q12 still feel uncomfortable with anyone saying it so publicly, without shame. While this castigation from E. Holland has echoes of recent handbook changes forbidding individuals from coming out during Testimony Meeting, a University Commencement is significantly different from such a church meeting.

    To be blunt, I feel that the leadership wants to have it both ways on this specific issue. Elder Holland’s words here are still reminiscent of past teachings, that even mentioning someone is gay is cause for concern.

  34. “As such, I stand before my family, friends and graduating class to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God. I am not broken. I am loved and important to the plan of our great creator. Each of us are.”-Source, YouTube video of his Matt Easton’s Valedictory Speech

    “If a student commandeers a graduation podium intended to represent everyone getting diplomas in order to announce his personal sexual orientation, what might another speaker feel free to announce the next year until eventually anything goes?” -Source, Church Newsroom text of E. Holland’s Address

    To be precise in responding to those individuals here accusing others of taking these statements out of context, since E Holland specifically brings this up, and he was speaking to the BYU university conference, I infer that means that he (and/or the 15 collectively) have an issue with:
    1) the topic being so publicly mentioned at this event, and more specifically,
    2) the faculty approving that part of Matt’s valedictory speech.

    If there is a concern from leadership with the above quoted statements being made at a commencement at BYU, then that is a symptom of a continual problem. It seems impossible to say on one hand that BYU specifically (and the church generally) loves LGBT+ members, and yet on the other hand, scold a University for allowing the topic to be mentioned publicly (in a very supportive and faith affirming way.)

    Did Matt mention fornications and “wanton and lascivious behavior”? No.
    Did Matt mention that he was a son of God, not broken, loved and important to the plan of our Father? Yes.
    Isn’t that the message that they repeatedly want to convey? Perhaps the leadership is still concerned with anyone saying that they are gay. It may be okay to privately say it circumspectly, but perhaps the FP/Q12 still feel uncomfortable with anyone saying it so publicly, without shame. While this castigation from E. Holland has echoes of recent handbook changes forbidding individuals from coming out during Testimony Meeting, a University Commencement is significantly different from such a church meeting.

    To be blunt, I feel that the leadership wants to have it both ways on this specific issue. Elder Holland’s words here are still reminiscent of past teachings, that even mentioning being gay is cause for concern.

  35. @Amy thanks for the tip – I read the message, carefully, multiple times. I’m a pretty great reader.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it – DezNat took it the same way I did. You can see the gun-memes popping up all over the internet for yourself if you care to look.

  36. Elisa, it is not fair for anyone to distort the meaning of Elder Holland’s words.

  37. Holland suggests, via Oaks, that they would like to hear more “musket fire”; he also says we should “try to avoid — language, symbols, and situations that are more divisive than unifying at the very time we want to show love for all of God’s children.” And yet, “My Brethren have made the case for the metaphor of musket fire, which I have endorsed yet again today.” Cognitive dissonance much?

  38. anonymous says:

    Elder Holland did not mention Matt Easton by name or refer to his specific speech or specific commencement in any manner. This was not an attack on Matt or any individual. Elder Holland specifically used the word “if” — to refer to a contingent future occurrence. It is entirely appropriate for him to tell Church employees what the Board of Trustees deems appropriate going forward. Of course future policy is often responsive to past occurrences. Clearly, the Brethren don’t want commencement speeches to be the vehicle for individuals announcing their sexual orientation.
    But the discussion of future policy with those responsible for implementing it, does not mean someone is attacking individuals involved in past occurrences. it is disingenuous for anyone to claim that Elder Holland attacked Matt. Some of that seems designed to stir-up contention and division, which is precisely what Elder Holland’s message was intended mitigate.
    Simply put, some of you are reading things that are not on the page.

  39. What bad faith, gaslighting nonsense, anonymous.

  40. Anonymous, you are attempting to split hairs. Contextually and rhetorically, he attacked Matt’s speech, regardless of whether he grammatically did or did not.

  41. anonymous says:

    Brian, the only way your reading has any merit is if you mean to suggest that every time a Church leader denounces a particular behavior, they are specifically and personally attacking those who engage in that behavior. That is all Elder Holland did here. No names. No dates. No references to anything specific. If that’s your position, so be it. But there is no basis to assume that is what Elder Holland intended.

  42. anonymous says:

    Brian: The only way your reading makes sense is if you are suggesting that anytime a Church leader suggests that leaders or employees people not allow people to engage in a particular behavior, they are personally and specifically attacking anyone who has engaged in that behavior. There was nothing specifically addressing Matt or his specific commencement. Thus, you have to connect a lot of dots to assume that Elder Holland intended to attack him.

    L-dg: I think it is gaslighting to tell me that a written text says something that is nowhere to be found on the printed page.

  43. Anonymous, that’s not how language works. It has more context that than. That context matters. It communicates. It engages. I’ll wager my three graduate degrees in language on it. You are ignoring all the context for your preferred reading. That’s intellectually either dishonest or lazy.

  44. To several commenters: You know, if you want to disagree with some of the finer points of this speech, fine. While I mostly see the speech as a negative overall, even I’m willing to admit that some of the things Elder Holland said in a 40-minute speech are commendable. If you see it the other way (mostly positive, perhaps a few word changes would be helpful), I have no problem with that.

    But please. Do not come here and tell me I read it wrong. Do not come here and tell me I need to have my hearing checked.

    When I finally boiled down my own faith journey a few years ago, the issue wasn’t the history. The issue was trust. Based on some of the comments in this thread, it appears the way we talk to people in the Church we disagree with is to attack their intelligence and/or spirituality. That is really not cool. Stop with the gaslighting. I’m not crazy for reading a talk about musket fire and defending institutions over people as horrid.

    TL;DR: Respect other people’s point of view. I didn’t read this talk wrong. I read it in light of my life’s experiences. You don’t get to question that.

  45. Perhaps Elder Holland was attempting to avoid future catastrophe.

    I could envision a day where a much more conservative BYU commencement speaker says, “I stand before my graduating class to say I am proud to be heterosexual. I am not broken. I am an important part of God’s plan.” That would appropriately be called out as unnecessary and inflammatory and introduce a warm contention to the Church congregations.

    Frankly, sexual orientation is not a relevant topic at graduation commencement. The same way playing Metallica at my grandmother’s funeral doesn’t make sense, even if I like James Hatfield.

  46. Pontius Python says:

    Anonymous, it is common in rhetoric to refer to controversial things elliptically such that those who read or hear the message when it is delivered know from context what is referred to, without the need for unique identifying details. This gives the speaker or writer plausible deniability, and it can make it difficult to fully interpret the message once time marches on and context is lost. In context, it is easily believable yet plausibly deniable that Elder Holland had Matt Easton’s speech in mind when he crafted that line of his own speech.

  47. You must have heard a different talk than the one I heard, and I was sitting in the Marriott Center. I guess some people hear (or read into others words) what they want to.

  48. Thor:

    The case you make goes both ways dude. In a speech meant to instruct BYU professors about how to engage with students in a faithful way, Elder Holland talked about Elizabeth Taylor. What does that have to do with the price of beans? He also talked about his mother. What does motherhood have to do with the college experience? Frankly, neither Elizabeth Taylor nor motherhood is a relevant topic in a speech about teaching college-aged adults.

    We talk about ourselves in public settings to be relatable. That’s communications 101. That’s literally what happens every Sunday when people give a talk in Sacrament Meeting.

    And while it may not be appropriate to play Metallica at your grandmother’s funeral because YOU like them, it may make sense to play Metallica at your grandmother’s funeral if SHE liked them.

  49. Anonymous: You’re right. Elder Holland was not attacking Mark Easton. It could have any of all those other men who briefly discussed their state of being gay at graduation. I think there were dozens

  50. anonymous says:

    Look, I understand that feelings are raw on this issue. Everyone is entitled to read what they want into anything. Certainly, one’s background and experience colors how they read a text. But to read into a text that the author intended bad faith attack on an individual merely because the behavior the individual engaged in is mentioned in a speech seems to be a stretch.

    Matt Easton isn’t the only one who has used a public Church forum or a graduation speech to come out in the last two years. (Although, I admit he may be the only one who got publicity for doing so at BYU.) Thus, it may be “easily believable” (as Pontius) says that Elder Holland had Easton’s speech in mind. And, those who with certain experiences may have immediately thought of Matt. But the fact that is what the speech brought to their minds, doesn’t mean that Elder Holland had the same thoughts and intended to attack him. Perhaps, he remembered the incident, but not the individual. Perhaps, he had something else in mind. Because the text is at best ambiguous, none of those commenting on this page actually know what was in Elder Holland’s mind (unless someone here has discussed the speech with him).

    All anyone is doing is speculating.

    And, before I accuse someone of bad intentions and actions, I personally feel obliged to have more evidence than oblique references to a behavior that the Board of Trustees understandably does not want its employees to to make a part of every graduation ceremony. You all are free to think differently. But I am not gaslighting anyone for choosing to allow my conclusions as to Elder Holland’s intent to go no further than plain language of the text allows.

  51. Your admittance in the your second paragraph is the key.

  52. Pontius Python says:

    Anonymous, thanks for that level-headed long-form reply. Those are all good points. Thanks for stating your perspective clearly and courteously.

  53. I am disgusted by so many comments from members who will really say anything to defend the indefensible. I could not disagree more with Holland’s assessing of what the real dangers are at BYU. The real danger is those who continue to marginalize LGBT students out of a misguided sense of loyalty to wrong ideas. The real danger is the proliferation of right wing white supremacy on campus and students and parents who police the professors for any signs that they aren’t conservative Trump-supporters (and treating anything left of that as heresy). The muskets are clearly aimed at the professors and LGBT students and allies.

    That the Church is openly willing to give up its accreditation rather than allow LGBT students any dignity and equal consideration and respect is mind boggling. I could not be more thrilled that my kids aren’t attending my alma mater, even though I mostly enjoyed my time there, especially the great professors who cared about the students and tried to open our minds. That’s no longer the aim of the institution unfortunately. The professors are being told they can’t care for the students, and indoctrination is more important than critical thinking.

    Gaslighting jerks, please spare me.

  54. anonymous says:

    Ponitus – I appreciate your courtesy. One thing I hope we can all agree on is the need to discuss our differences with kindness and charity no matter how thorny the issue. We can be candid and vigorously defend our views. But there is no need for vitriol and name calling. That never convinces anyone or resolves any issues.

  55. Let me repeat/paraphrase a key paragraph:

    If there is a concern from leadership with (a future hypothetical) someone stating that they are gay in a gospel consistent manner, then that is a symptom of a continual problem. It seems impossible to say on one hand that BYU specifically (and the Church generally) loves LGBT+ members, and yet on the other hand, scold a University for allowing the topic to be mentioned publicly (in a very supportive, Gospel consistent, and faith affirming way.)

    @anonymous 1:24: If you truly believe that E. Holland was absolutely not referring to Matt Easton’s speech by stating “If a student commandeers a graduation podium… to announce his personal sexual orientation”, then I don’t know what you tell you. I don’t think I would ever think that it was purely a future hypothetical on E. Holland’s part. Also, E. Holland is very intelligent and has excellent rhetorical skills, and I doubt that he himself would think that anyone else would suspect his comment is only “to refer to a contingent future occurrence” and not to bring to mind Matt’s specific speech at commencement. Do you honestly believe that E. Holland specifically wrote those words describing that specific occurrence without reference to anything other than the future?

    @thor 1:44pm: I appreciate your comment because it illustrates a key difference. A heterosexual person at BYU may talk about their spouse and family (and children) in every talk, especially their commencement talk. They may talk about God’s Plan for them. It only is different with Matt specifically, or with “contingent future occurrence[s]” generally because it’s different, it’s a minority, it still makes people uncomfortable, and to many people it’s still a sin to admit publicly to being gay, even if they are speaking and even acting fully consistent with gospel principles.

    Question for all: Do we truly believe that gay people exist? Do we truly believe that God has a plan for his LGBT+ children? Not to threadjack, since there are many discussable points in E. Holland’s talk, but this is a key one represented by a current controversial issue at BYU and within the Church. Can we as a group, and as individuals, be comfortable with a gay individual fully consistent with gospel principles bearing testimony that they are not a mistake? Repeating the words of the General Authorities that God loves them and has a plan for them?

  56. @anonymous: You are correct, it is speculation on my part, and on everyone’s part, since we are not Elder Holland and did not discuss it with him personally. I disagree that “the text is at best ambiguous” since he describes a very specific action at a graduation podium at BYU, since there are so many other controversial issues E Holland could have mentioned. It is speculation. It is also very reasonable speculation.

    @Thor: If you can elucidate why it’s not okay at Commencement for an individual to mention that they are gay, and that they are loved and important to the plan of our great creator (repeating the words of the General Authorities on this) I would appreciate it.

  57. “Holland suggests, via Oaks, that they would like to hear more ‘musket fire’; he also says we should ‘try to avoid — language, symbols, and situations that are more divisive than unifying at the very time we want to show love for all of God’s children.’ And yet, ‘My Brethren have made the case for the metaphor of musket fire, which I have endorsed yet again today.’ Cognitive dissonance much?”

    Spot on, Brian.

    In keeping with the unifying, loving metaphor of balls of lead propelled with enough velocity to tear through a person’s body and cause death, I wonder at whom Elder Holland thinks the faculty of BYU ought to be aiming these muskets at? If he gave any indication, it’s “those hostile to the Church” or “those who oppose our teachings.” Shockingly, not ideas or teachings, but apparently people. And apparently specific people, like the individual student he called out and falsely accused of “commandeer[ing]” a platform. It won’t be long—and it’s already begun among the DezNat crowd—before Elder Holland’s muskets are aimed at anyone who dares say they’re proud to be an LGBTQ+ child of God.

    Once again, the church has its “friendly fire” tragically backwards.

  58. anonymous:

    The Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune both mentioned Matt in their coverage of the story. Most of the people here mentioned Matt as well. It is literally only you who thinks this isn’t Matt. But sure, continue to tell us how we are all wrong and you are right.

    The final point here is that we have a choice: We can protect institutions over people, or we can protect people over institutions. For those choosing the former, I sincerely hope you never find yourself in the position you place others.

  59. anonymous says:

    Chadwick: I didn’t say Matt wasn’t the one who came out at commencement. All I am saying is that it is speculation to assume that Elder Holland meant to personally attack and disparage him, as has been suggested. My issue is that people are assigning ill-motives to Elder Holland without any basis in the text or otherwise for doing so.

    I didn’t think of Matt when I read Elder Holland’s remarks. I had no idea who Matt was before yesterday’s internet fury. I recalled there was a highly publicized issue with a student coming out at commencement at some point, and also recall there being other similar but less-publicized episodes of a similar nature in other Church education-related venues. But not knowing who Matt was, and knowing Elder Holland was addressing administrators who were responsible for organizing commencement exercises, it never occurred to me that Elder Holland was laying a smack down on Matt.

    That is why I think it is perfectly reasonable to assume that Elder Holland may have recalled the episode and others like it but not the identity of the individual; and that he may not have intended his remarks as a personal attack on the student, but rather wanted the administration to prevent things like this from happening in the future.

    As I recognized above, we all read things based on our knowledge and experience. I would guess that most average Church members’ reading were closer to mine than otherwise. As evidenced by this thread, you and others read it differently. You are entitled to do so.

    If nothing else, in the face of a lack of hard evidence otherwise, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to a man who I believe has spent his entire adult life evidently trying to serve and lift others. I will try to judge as I would want to be judged. I wish you the best.

  60. Something I found interesting is that it sounds like the brethren have spent so much time and energy on the issue of homosexuality but God hasn’t responded for whatever reason

  61. @anonymous, your argument is bad. It’s not even close.

    The only people who didn’t understand Holland to be referring to Matt are people who don’t pay much attention to the Church’s relationship with / treatment of LGBTQ folks – I guess this means you. That’s your prerogative, but I don’t think you’re the standard for evaluating Holland’s meaning. You assume that everyone else is as ignorant as you are about what was a very significant event in BYU history. But Holland’s target wasn’t you – it was LGBTQ folks and their allies. I can assure you *that* audience had exactly the context needed to absorb his meaning. Indeed, if he did *not* intend for that example to refer specifically to Matt, he must be the actual worst communicator ever. He’s not.

  62. Is it really that courageous in the year 2021 to be an ally of the GLBT community? When both the government and private sector are desperate to demonstrate how “inclusive” and “accepting” they are. And still progressives have the idea that so called queer people are marginalized and in danger of being harmed. When in fact the true believers in Christ and His Church are the most at risk of losing a job or friends or other associations. I admire that the brethren are very courageous and are able to say unpopular things. From reading these comments and other posts about the actual hate filled bigots are the GLBT activists. The Church and many right-wingers would be happy to live and let live, but their opponents continue to fight and stir up contention.

  63. It felt to me like Elder Holland was out of character. The war metaphor didn’t seem like his prose style, even by giving it attribution he owned the words for himself. Rebuking Matt Easton’s approved valedictorian speech felt mean spirited; it was a mischaracterization. I can’t imagine Elder Holland would make a mistake like that knowingly. I can only assume there was purpose in every word he spoke.

    Was I surprised he would take aim at gay students? I was shocked and saddened—it seemed like it came out left field. After announcing the Office of Belonging, and in the face of a conservative standoff over the church’s counsel to fight the pandemic, it said to me a message wholly focused on inclusion, confronting and eradicating systemic racism in our own backyard, or working to end the pandemic took a backseat to the perceived creeping acceptance of LGBT students on campus and how wrong that is. I don’t know how else to understand the most elementary purpose of his message.

    If I look through this with a meta lens it is easier for me to understand reasons why he did this. The church is contracting. We see net negative growth in Europe, and if we aren’t tipping net negative in North America, we are right on the line. If we look at church attendance in North America, it is likely to be negative growth…before Covid19 and I can’t imagine what it is now. South America and the Philippines have slipped badly. Some argue the rash of temple builds are intended to distract from our shrinking numbers, or the church is making a gamble that temples are our new proselytizing tool. We seem to have a wandering missionary effort. Is it to keep young adults in the church, a two year EFY? Is it producing new converts anywhere outside of West Africa? Are we tiktoking and Facebooking our way into people’s living rooms to share our message? Our missionary efforts seem like they are searching for strategy and tactics and struggling to modernize, probably because the church more generally is struggling to modernize. For these reasons, it feels like as a church we are at a major inflection point. I don’t want to be dramatic, but I’ve never felt this way. And when I listened to Elder Holland, it seemed like I sensed some desperation, a man scrambling to assert his (fading?) moral authority so strongly that he steps outside of his more gentle, preferred and effective prose style to use war metaphors and to threaten to crash the ship on the rocks. Does he and others of his rank fear more backlash from Utah County and Southern Utah conservative members—I do believe the angry letters over the supposed liberalization of BYU and softness shown toward systemic racism over the past 18 months came to a head and the church decided to back off. A few BYU employees have shared with me what they thought would be a new and immediate openness and proactive focus on rooting out racism was cooled down by the administration despite the announcement of the Office of Belonging. This tells me the church segments its members, sees where the lines are, and is not willing to push their conservative base along the Wasatch front past its breaking point whether or not it is the moral thing to do, the right thing to do. After all, this is the heartbeat of the church, the tithing revenue headspring, the top of the leadership pipeline. And I guess that is what surprised me so much about Holland’s talk. It felt a little like an appeasement speech to ensure that base settles. To be clear, if this were true, I feel like the church is becoming more distant to me.

    Angela C, I too enjoyed my time at BYU as did my wife. In some ways we were there during garden days. As we left, Merrill Bateman came in and many things changed. Despite criticisms from letter writers, it feels like BYU has swung more to the right compared to our time on campus. My current college age children asked not to go to BYU, not so much out of protest but because they wanted to be at a university that was more diverse and with more academic freedom. But my children who are just a couple of years from college want nothing to do with the Y for these reasons and more. Frankly, I am relieved as it pains me to say that.

  64. anonymous:

    I too believe that Elder Holland does not have ill-motives towards Matt. I just think that the situation could have been handled better. If he (Elder Holland) didn’t like the convocation speech, perhaps he should have spoken directly with the dean that approved it (or all the deans privately) and not made it the subject of a talk that would be published to the world. Again, just my perspective.

    And yes I also recognize that my reading of the talk is probably going to be different than the average latter-day saint. I wonder whose reading of the talk would be more in-line with the average person who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t know. All I know is that the talk did not resonate with me. And sometimes we need an outlet to say so. In that respect, I’m very happy to have BCC and other blogs in my life.

    Pretty much all of the men and women in my life have spent their entire adult lives evidently trying to serve and lift others. Like 99+%. I think giving them the benefit of the doubt is important, as you note. I guess the question is whether you can give someone like a prophet feedback without it immediately branding you an apostate. I would be happy to share my thoughts with Elder Holland privately, but the Church doesn’t have a mechanism for me to do so.

  65. anonymous says:

    Elisa, you lose me when you claim that Elder Holland’s “target” was “LGBTQ folks and their allies.” His audience was BYU administrators, faculty and staff. This was not an address to the LBGTQ community. It was an address to people running a university. He wasn’t chastising a student, he was telling administrators to manage more carefully. This is what the text says. You are entitled to your opinions of Elder Holland’s motives, of course. As my lawyer friends say, however, the “record speaks for itself.”

    Everyone can speculate all they want about the nefarious intent behind Elder Holland’s words. But it is only speculation until someone produce evidence that he actually intended to harm Matt. Thus far, no one has done that. I don’t know how they can unless they have some type of relationship with Elder Holland.

    Thus, my speculation is just as valid as yours, and, in fact, is more closely grounded to what his speech actually says.

    I can sense this is an issue of concern to you, and wish you the best. I just think we should “stick to the facts,” and not go beyond them due to the sensitivity of the issue.

  66. I work for a well-known, private corporation in a liberal state. I just completed a “Preventing harassment & discrimination” annual training, as did all employees. I learned about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), etc. The training included a statement that the company “prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation of or against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, age, sex or gender, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, pregnancy, national origin, military or veteran status, marital status, political affiliation, genetic information, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, or any other status or characteristic protected by federal, state, and/or local law.” The company policies also prohibit making casual remarks or jokes that may be offensive. I support these policies.

    The LDS Church and BYU are not bound by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or EEOC rules as far as I know. Elder Holland does not work at my company. But if he did, then he would have been fired if he had made those remarks.

    My real point is that “all in” BYU students are going to be unprepared to interact with LGBTQIA+ colleagues if they go to work at a Fortune 500 company. Their BYU diploma may even be a hindrance to receiving a job offer.

  67. Oof, this was hard to hear. Just want to say I’ve struggled with my membership too. My kids are young, but if they come out as LGBT+ in life I don’t think I can stay a member. And I feel guilty, because if I am willing to leave for my kids, shouldn’t I leave for others? But I also believe in the good the church does – both in active service / humanitarian aid, and in the best message of the gospel, and I love it for its own sake.

    I think/hope/believe that I can be a part of something deeply flawed and also wonderful without harming others. But I honestly don’t know.

  68. Geoff - Aus says:

    “And while I have focused on this same-sex topic this morning more than I would have liked, I pray you will see it as emblematic of a lot of issues our students and community face in this complex, contemporary world of ours.”

    So how does he treat being gay? How do they want BYU employees to treat gays. Rather it is not mentioned, keep it suppressed? It is no longer illegal, so? Aren’t universities places of learning, and discussing of controversal ideas?

    What are the other unmentioned issues that should be treated similarly? (There are a lot of them he says). I only have 4 from my view, church history, sexism, homophobia, trust in leadership, and he doesnt seem be talking about them.

    I read the reference to the Alaskan des nat BYU graduate, who looks like he will be unemployed shortly. He was not singled out as a problem, and he is emblematic of a larger proportion of the student body than are gay. More than 50% of members under 40s voted trump.

    Are these other issues all trump attack points? Surely Elder Holland would have known this would be controversal, and public.

    As the original article says, no wonder members are morally confused, the leaders are too. If des nats or OK but gays, and lots of other issues are not, the moral compass or liahona are haywire.

    I thought of Elder Holland as one of the good guys, hope for the future, after this much less hope.

  69. Anonymous-

    You are trying to equate “target” and “audience.” Of course his primary audience was the BYU administration, faculty, and staff (with secondary audiences being the church and general public, which is why they released his full address).

    But he’s asking that audience to pick up their muskets and “target” various things. He is absolutely targeting the LGBT community.

    Then Elder Oaks said challengingly, “I would like to hear a little more musket fire from this temple of learning.”[11] He said this in a way that could have applied to a host of topics in various departments, but the one he specifically mentioned was the doctrine of the family and defending marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

    Audience: BYU faculty
    Target: LGBT
    Message: Please point your muskets against the LGBT community.

    If a student commandeers a graduation podium intended to represent everyone getting diplomas in order to announce his personal sexual orientation, what might another speaker feel free to announce the next year until eventually anything goes? What might commencement come to mean — or not mean — if we push individual license over institutional dignity for very long? Do we simply end up with more divisiveness in our culture than we already have — and we already have too much everywhere.

    Audience: BYU faculty
    Target: any student that uses a graduation podium to announce his sexual orientation (this broad category absolutely includes any member of that group, including Matt Easton)
    Message: Please point your muskets against any student that comes out publicly.

    Musket fire? Yes, we will always need defenders of the faith, but “friendly fire” is a tragedy — and from time to time the Church, its leaders and some of our colleagues within the university community have taken such fire on this campus. And sometimes it isn’t friendly — wounding students and the parents of students who are confused about what so much recent flag-waving and parade-holding on this issue means.

    Audience: BYU faculty
    Target: LGBT
    Message: Please point your muskets at any student participating in an LGBT parade or waving a pride flag.

    What harm can just a “little more musket fire” really have?

  70. Darn, I obviously messed up the formatting a bit.

  71. Seems like Elder Holland’s talk may be a modern version of Sidney Rigdon “Salt Sermon” from June 17, 1838. The sermon was a stern condemnation of Mormon dissenters. Instead of Danites, we now have DezNat. (See also Rigdon’s July 4th oration where he took a militant stance against Missourians). I am disturbed by Elder Holland’s tone. The modern “dissenters” in his eyes are those who support gay marriage or are actively LGBTQIA+.

  72. JD,

    “Question for all: Do we truly believe that gay people exist? Do we truly believe that God has a plan for his LGBT+ children?”

    You could as easily ask, “Do we truly believe that God has a plan for his brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra, and dalit children?” (Hindu castes)

    The point being that the people obviously exist, and they obviously believe things about themselves, but the real question we should be asking is: Do I believe those beliefs are actually true, and if so, why?

    Delve into the LGBT identities and you will find they are full of truth claims that are no more provable than my own truth claim to be a holder of the priesthood. We’re talking meaning of life, right and wrong, type stuff, topics that are completely outside the realm of science and squarely in the realm of religion. To take a quick example, the fact that you feel an attraction says nothing about what you should do in response to that attraction. And before sliding into the well-worn “celibacy!” argument groove, remember that according to a recent Gallup poll, over three times as many “Generation Z” adults identify today as bisexual versus gay or lesbian. So what does it mean when someone identifies as bisexual? What should members of the church believe it means? That is the “B” in LGBT after all, and it’s what you’re being asked to support in order to be a “LGBT ally”.

    The LGBT movement hinges on the belief that people should be able to self-identify their own reality, effectively making everyone miniature prophets whose prophecies about their own lives we’re told we have to believe.

    Except, we don’t actually have to believe. So why do so many of us choose to?

    I enjoyed reading Jared Cook’s recent blog post, “It’s not about masks, it’s not about vaccines” (https://bycommonconsent.com/2021/08/20/its-not-about-masks-its-not-about-vaccines/). I thought it was well-reasoned, and I couldn’t help but think how well its reasoning applied to progressive members of the church and their own pet topics. Go ahead and reread that post, replacing the anti-vax community with the LGBT community and see where that leads you. As Jared said:

    “What remains to be seen is how many members who are now facing this epistemological crisis will ultimately choose to realign with the church’s teachings, how many will reject or simply ignore the church’s teachings on this issue, and how many will rationalize the disconnect …”

    To conclude, if a BYU student chooses to publicly declare they are gay, you can reasonably infer that they feel same-sex attraction and feel little to no opposite-sex attraction, but what does that *mean*? And why do you choose to believe that that is what it means?

  73. Cam: “Something I found interesting is that it sounds like the brethren have spent so much time and energy on the issue of homosexuality” So they say. “but God hasn’t responded for whatever reason.” So they say.

  74. I do not see how standing in the great and spacious building as an advocate of any practice (belief) not in harmony with the plan of salvation and pointing the finger of shame at the church will lead one to Christ. See Nephi and less WIFI.

  75. Your final paragraph is filled with a truth that speaks to me, John. Thank you.

  76. For anyone who’s trying to claim that this address was only for BYU faculty and staff, please explain why it was printed almost simultaneously in its entirety in the Church News.

  77. I was in this meeting. I haven’t seen any reporting or analysis that rings true to me in terms of the intent of Elder Holland’s argument. In my freshman honors writing class twenty years ago, we were taught to be charitable towards those with whom we debate, so that we are engaging their real arguments rather than ginning up straw men. I think there are things to take exception with in Holland’s remarks, but the brouhaha over this is out of all proportion.

  78. It really doesn’t matter what you or anybody else thinks, Conway, in defense of this talk. It is never OK to use violent imagery in a talk about trying to silence the voices of a marginalized group which has been subject to great violence and murder over the years, including a murder just days ago not far from BYU.

  79. the brouhaha over this is out of all proportion

    Agreed, those musket memes are really gross.

  80. Jackson: proclaiming that God loves someone is advocating for practices antithetical to the church?

  81. Danyal Jamil says:

    You know that leftist LDS (LLDS) have lost the argument when they have to resort to claiming that moral positions and arguments they don’t like are “violent”, make people unsafe, or whatever snowflake/fragility assumption they make about so-called marginalized groups (which happen have the full support of the party that controls the legislative and executive branches, the news media, Hollywood, academia, sports, and virtually every large corporation).

    Holland’s and Oak’s references to muskets clearly pertain to verbal and written defense from attacks. LLDS are lying when they try to twist them into some sort of physical or mental violence references. Instead of addressing the substance of the Church’s view on sexual morality, they make an appeal to supposed violence/danger caused by that view. It’s a dishonest and slanderous position to take.

  82. Danyal, metaphorical calls to violence against populations who face real risks of violence are at the very best rhetorically negligent, especially given that the same point can be made in far less martial terms.

    And where the listeners include literal Mormon white supremacists who will take it as justification to threaten real violence, it’s even less justifiable than mere negligence.

    The thing is, his address wasn’t improvised. This wasn’t an improvident off-the-cuff remark. The rhetorical imagery was planned and prepared and, given the context surrounding it, shows an utter lack of awareness about how his words would be taken.

  83. A Snowflake says:

    Or maybe a good indicator that someone is scrambling for a good argument is when they start talking about “snowflakes,” use Church leadership’s favorite derogatory modifier, “so-called,” and complain about the libs in Hollywood.

    You can whine all you want that your political positions are losing steam in much of the United States (and you may use that as an indication that “the world” is going downhill; I’d argue that it’s because your political & moral positions are inferior), but it’s a fact that LGBTQ students aren’t safe – physically, emotionally, spiritually – at BYU or in this Church. There’s data to support that.
    And that’s what we’re talking about here.

  84. @CSC 7:50pm

    A belief in God within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a belief that God has a plan for all of His children in this life. Considering that we have over a century of evidence within the Church that the Lord has much more in mind for His children than the General Authorities have taught, I suspect those plans are often much different than we currently imagine.

    As personal feelings on an individual’s identity are not externally empirically provable, I expect individuals to believe them as they would believe anyone testifying of something- a range from full skepticism to full belief. Your personal belief is your ability and your right. To focus on the topic at hand, what isn’t appropriate is for the Church to say that it’s not a sin to be gay, and that God loves them, and that they are an important to His plan – and then consider that public statement by someone else a problem.

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when they say they are something or feel something as a core part of their identity. What individuals who publicly declare that they are gay do is fully up to them – some of them choose to be celibate, whether within or without the church. Others choose to seek a heterosexual relationship. Others seek a same sex relationship. Calling themselves gay or same-sex attracted is also their prerogative, regardless of the feelings of others on the inferred meanings of those terms. I don’t know how the Lord guides these individuals, we can only speak to our own experiences.

    Regarding your reference to Jared Cook’s blog post (and somewhat unclear comparison between the LGBT community and the anti-vaccination community), I suspect that a significant portion of individuals who wrestle with the intersection between the Gospel and “the gay” find too many parallels between “The SSA Doctrine” over the last 20-30+ years statements regarding “The Negro Doctrine” to simply take them as the direct words of the Lord on the matter.

    To attempt to answer your question on “what does it mean” – I suspect that these fine individuals like Matt, Charlie, Ben, and many others are the Lord repeatedly trying to tell families, leaders, and the Church that there is much more in the Gospel than what we yet know.

  85. Additionally, some of the best growth we have had in the Church has come from a thoughtful analysis pushing back against General Authority statements – either from within BYU or from an introspective and persistently evaluative tradition necessary for and consistent with an excellent educational institution. Where would we be without Eugene England or Lester Bush, and many many many others? While I cannot precisely determine someone else’s definition of “intellectual friendly fire,” previous statements by Pres. Oaks on the impossibility of a loyal opposition within the church concern me in a university context. Some of my best experiences at BYU happened during Bioethics or Evolution classes, where we learned and discussed things that Church Authorities, both General and local, had taught me were contrary to the gospel growing up, evolution being a chief example. Now, most of these positions the Church has either agreed with through the years, or simply ceased discussing.

    “As good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit.”

  86. Tonda Cody says:

    I love this. It really echoes my own feelings.

  87. As a parent of a recently, and barely out LGBT child, I can’t help but wonder what damage was done over time sending him into classes. I think most of the time, there is no mention of LGBT issues, but I do know that for these youth, who already struggle with understanding and accepting themselves, these messages resonate louder than any other. I don’t understand why the general authorities don’t see a graduation speech that in no way argues against the church’s own statements does anything but show the world and our kids that the LGBT community are loved as children of God. Speeches like this throw that all away.

    While I understand that this message was for BYU faculty it does nothing to help those faculty constructively move forward. I disagree deeply with the church’s doctrine on this and have for many years. I’ve (mostly) worked through my own cognitive dissonance. I imagine a lot of faculty that are “behaving” in ways that Elder Holland is calling out are doing so because they are trying to navigate the way to be truly Christlike and loving to kids they see as hurting. In fact, the faculty action is likely not about the students that are openly advocating for change, but for those that are silently trying to figure out how to navigate a world that is full of unknowns, potentially lost loved ones, lost identity and judgement of others. They are trying to reach the silent, overlooked kids as Christ did.

    If the church wants to be less divisive, then help the faculty that care find constructive ways to affirm the divinity of all God’s children. Simply calling to arms does nothing to heal, never mind the tone deafness of the times and weapon/violence filled memes my own children have seen from our own ward members. If you want these divisions to heal, lets put out tools to help people heal.

  88. JD,
    I agree with the truth that “thoughtful analysis” creates conditions in which church leaders can enjoy further revelation. But I am not sure a high percentage of what we see here constitutes that.

  89. Really well written, John — thank you!

  90. Amy, are the Latter-day Saint LGBTQ+ students who are being hit with the musket fire being hit with “friendly fire” or enemy fire?

  91. After reading these comments I rewatched Elder Holland’s address just to make sure I saw what I thought I saw the first time I watched it. May I say to those here who wish to steer their kids away from BYU, please do so, so my kids can attend there.

  92. truenorth says:

    You have completely distorted what Elder Holland said.

  93. To those saying I’ve misread Elder Holland, put up or shut up. I stand by my interpretation.

  94. Putting up says:

    Well, John, since you asked:

    You state the following in your OP (with insertions specifically to me):

    [The church] has raised [me] who believe that if [I] pay [my] tithing (which I do) and pay lip service to the church’s doctrines (which I don’t, as I try to model my life after the teachings of the Savior), [I] can disparage the downtrodden, shut out the refugee, condemn the imprisoned, and shame the impoverished all as an expression of [my] faith. [I] hold up [my] bigotry, misogyny, and particularly [my] homophobia as an demonstration of [my] unity with God as [I] understand him. And Elder Holland’s speech confirmed [my] understanding, rather than disturbing it.”

    Read, in that way, as I am likening your post unto myself, instead of referring to a nebulous “them,” not only are you wrong in the interpretation of Elder Holland’s talk which I have listened to twice today, (in addition to all of the other conference talks, BYU speeches, devotionals, and other messages that have been shared by the leaders of the church, male and female over the years), your rhetoric is the epitome of the friendly fire Elder Holland so desperately wants members of the church to stop.

    You could not be farther from the truth of my life as I imperfectly try to live it as you are in your second to last paragraph.

  95. Ah, I see. So you are unfamiliar with the DezNats then. Or you are haven’t encountered this with the frequency I have (thank goodness). But can you show me something from the address that would disturb this understanding, because I can show you material that would support it.

  96. The Q15 need to spend less time shedding tears over their LGBTQ flock, and spend more time wiping the tears from the eyes of that flock. They need to worry less about their own little scabs they have on this issue, and minister more to the LGBTQ flock who have suffered grave wounds over how they have been treated and excluded. If the demands and imperatives expected of gay Mormons (celibacy) were demanded of straight Mormons, none of them would take it. If the demands and imperatives expected of Trans Mormons (denying your inner core gender identity) were expected of cis Mormons, none of them would take it. That goes for Moses, Paul and all the rest who conflated their own cultural biases paradigms with commandments. The only real imperative that reveals discipleship is “if ye have love one for another.” What the church asks LGBTQ people to do causes real harm, pain, violence, shame, and suicidality. Don’t cry for me Elder Holland.

  97. People like “putting up” are demonstrating a woeful ignorance of history. It’s understandable. There are few places in current America where you or anyone else would be taught LGBT history.

    But if you’re going to speak or opine on the subject, even in what you might see as a low-stakes conversation like this, you should fix that so you are not speaking from a place of such great and willful ignorance.

    No one with even a basic understanding of the history would use a violent metaphor in context of speaking about gay people, unless they were trying to provoke violence.

    I would hope that Elder Holland is ignorant rather than attempting to provoke violence, but both possibilities are inexcusable at this late date.

  98. “The Q15 need to spend less time shedding tears over their LGBTQ flock, and spend more time wiping the tears from the eyes of that flock.”

    Thank you Lona Gynt. That is not only correct, but extremely poetic.

  99. The BYU-Golden-Goose just laid a Rainbow Valedictorian Egg.

    And nobody gave Elder Holland the memo. It was a well-executed announcement by a brilliant Valedictorian.

    But be honest: at any other university in the country, “coming out” at graduation would be considered tactless. Cringe. Only at BYU would such a thing be newsworthy.

    Elder Holland’s comments concede the brilliance of timing and execution of the Valedictorian’s announcement with the admonition that BYU graduation ceremonies not become launchpads for agendas.

    Fair enough, superfunny, no foul, play on.

  100. “But be honest: at any other university in the country, “coming out” at graduation would be considered tactless. Cringe. Only at BYU would such a thing be newsworthy.”

    Travis- this is true. I think that may say more about the institution than about any given individual. It would be nice to be in a world where humans can exist and be accepted for their best selves without having to come into conflict with institutions. Any other (nearly) University in the world, maybe “cringe”, maybe, “so what?” People who have spent their college years having to actively hide in order to avoid the proverbial hammer or even (proverbial yes, but impactful nonetheless) “musket,’ know a lot about butting up against an agenda.

  101. Wow! It appears so many people posting here did not even bother to listen to the entire speech given to faculty and employees. Not read, listen. There are so many hateful comments. Who is the source of that. So much mentioned here is taken completely out of context. There was much more spoken of than LGBTQ. That was simply an example of other issues perpetrated by “vocal” faculty and staff.

  102. Here’s BAF demonstrating unawareness about the kind of rhetoric used about gay boys and men, lesbian girls and women, and others not in the model of what the Church would prefer them to be. This discussion plus other discussions elsewhere are making it so clear that so many people not only don’t understand the issues, but also don’t realize the extent of what they don’t know.

  103. Every single one of us has passions beyond the bounds the Lord has set. We are, after all, given weakness(es) that we might be humble and recognize our dependence on God. To almost every person suffering in the world, our membership (at our best) endeavors to share and champion the direction from our Savior: “come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    How do we come unto Christ and receive this promised peace that surpasses mortal comprehension? Well, by doing what he asks of us – commandments and covenants, of course. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.”

    Ah, would that this straight and narrow path were applicable to all of humanity. Alas, there is a subset who is exempt. I speak, of course, of the saintly homosexual! Them whose out-of-bounds passions are currently socially acceptable. Yes, there is a slice of Church membership that really, deep-down-to-the-core believes that *true* love knows no bounds. That if you *feel* it, it’s real and requires full embracing of the passion, lest we fall victim to the dreaded cognitive dissonance. (Heaven forbid that coming unto Christ might actually be hard and require extended effort!) Many of this slice enjoys a certain moral superiority on full display in this comments section. “Poor, old-and-addled, straight-and-white Elder Holland. Sure hope he comes around soon to my superior understanding, for HIS sake!”

    And more than just feeling the feels, it’s incumbent upon every saintly homosexual to *identify* by the feels. Yes, you are not a daughter of God who struggles with same-sex attraction – you are a lesbian daughter of God whose out-of-bounds passions are beautiful, natural and integral to your core identity! You are not a son of God who struggles with same-sex attraction – you are a gay son of God whose passions are to be celebrated and widely accepted. And everyone who disagrees with you, of course, is a bigot and full of ignorant hate.

    One wonders how much modern-day blindness is self-inflicted.

  104. Bentsen, that is stupid and you are stupid. With that in mind, let’s wrap this puppy up

  105. Your assumption is lacking. I have been involved with the LGBTQ community for over 20 years. I have worked with, employed, befriended, and loved LGBTQ individuals and family members. But your response is very telling: “If you don’t agree with me, you can’t have a voice in the ‘discussion’ because you obviously don’t understand”.

    This interview and the comments completely miss the point of Elder Holland’s speech. Instead it is a self-centered interpretation that anything that doesn’t explicitly support my choice of lifestyle is attacking me.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Elder Holland’s university address reflects a failure of moral judgment that is endemic to the Chu… […]

  2. […] UPDATE: Here are two additional posts that offer nice discussions of Elder Holland’s talk. Highly recommended.By Jana Riess at RNS: Elder Holland’s BYU speech is for a university of yesteryear.By John C. at BCC: Elder Holland’s university address reflects a failure of moral judgment that is endemic to the…. […]