Profile in Courage: Matt Easton

Watch this video of Matt Easton, valedictorian of the Political Science Department, giving the convocation speech for BYU graduation in the Marriott Center and announcing, “I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.” 

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Thank You, Sisters: an Honor Roll of those who made the temple changes possible

Today, women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints greeted the news of long-awaited changes to the temple with a range of emotions–rejoicing, contemplation, grief at pain past and ongoing. I respect and hold space for all these reactions. I have many thoughts, many things to say, many aspects of the new version of the temple ceremony to analyze, celebrate, and critique. But I will say those things another day.

Today, my thoughts keep returning to women. Returning to all my Sisters whose lives were touched by the temple experience, and especially those whose courage, sacrifices, and vision played a role in shaping that experience. These changes are not a man’s gift to us. We always knew they were ours, a gift of our Heavenly Parents. So tonight in this post I want to offer words of gratitude for the women who knew. The women whose vision, writing, pleading, and work made this day possible.  [Read more…]

Browser plugin replaces word “Mormon,” to block victories for Satan

Following the announcement by President Nelson that use of the common nickname for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its people was “a major victory for Satan,” I thought it would be helpful for Mormons members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have a way to avoid participating in wins for the devil. I’ve made a Chrome browser extension that replaces all instances of the word “Mormon” on a web page with [VICTORY FOR 😈]. [Read more…]

New YW and RS boards include two black women, “Common Ground” LGBT inclusion advocate

Photos of three new RS and YW board members.The Newsroom announced new leadership on the Young Women and Relief Society general boards yesterday. There is plenty to celebrate here! I wish I knew more about all of the women, but I love what I see and what I know behind the scenes about some of these picks. They include two black women, and a leader in BYU’s athletics department who has been part of NCAA’s efforts to improve the experience of LGBT student-athletes at religious schools.  [Read more…]

A Heart in Tune

I need to say some things to my fellow saints about the family separations at the border, but to explain it we need to first talk about music for a moment. Whether you sing or play an instrument yourself, or have only seen others perform, you know the familiar ritual of tuning the instrument. Here is a video of the cacophonous yet strangely beautiful process:

It begins with a loud, clear note from an accurate source: an oboe, piano, tuning fork, or the most trusted vocalist in the ensemble holds a single reference note. Everyone else tunes up and down until all converge to match the source. Until all are in tune. In church, we often use this as a metaphor, speaking of being “in tune” with the Spirit, meaning that we need to listen to the source of truth, and adjust ourselves until our hearts produce the same notes, that is, the same responses, judgements, and actions that Jesus would produce. So far so good.

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Why the hoax isn’t courageous, and isn’t allyship

Last week, on the day the church met with the NAACP, someone created a detailed replica of the church’s newsroom website and posted a fake statement of apology from the church for the priesthood and temple ban and racist teachings. Many people were tricked into believing the apology was real, and many tears of joy were shed, especially by black LDS. The whiplash of discovering it was fake was crushing for many. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many in the “progressive Mormon,” post-Mormon, and ex-Mormon communities hailing the hoax’s creator as a hero or even a good ally to people of color, for “calling attention” to the need for a (real) apology. I can’t understand thinking that, and I certainly can’t understand persisting in that view even after learning of the pain it caused, or after watching this raw, required viewing from Tamu Smith or Zandra Vranes, or reading these incisive critiques by LaShawn Williams. So although, in a just world, Tamu, Zandra, and LaShawn would be the last word on this, I’m going to try to reach out to some of my fellow white people who seem unmoved and explain step-by-step exactly why the hoax was so abhorrent.  [Read more…]

Saint Mary the Protectress

Gold-plated spires of Lavra's main church.

Cathedral at Lavra

I recently returned from a business trip to Kyiv (Kiev) Ukraine, including two days of just being a tourist. My tour guide was Olga, a well-informed host overflowing with love for her city and country. One of the most impressive places I visited with Olga was Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Києво-Печерська лавра in Ukrainian and Киeво-Печерская лавра in Russian). More like a small city than just a church, it is a historical center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and includes a magnificent cathedral, smaller (though still magnificent!) churches, an active seminary, monastery housing, and a historical underground cave monastery containing relics of saints.  [Read more…]

Gerrit Gong and Susan Gong, my marriage, and why #RepresentationMatters

Image result for gerrit gong wife

Susan and Gerrit Gong (Church News photograph)

There are any number of reasons I couldn’t be happier about the newly-called Elder Gong and Elder Soares. Elder Soares, a Brazillian, brings long-overdue representation from the southern hemisphere. I know several members of Elder Gong’s extended family, and they couldn’t be a more dynamic, talented, kind family. But if you would indulge me for a moment, I want to focus on one area of very specific, personal appreciation: the marriage of Elder Gerrit Gong, as an Asian-American man, to his wife Susan Gong, a white woman.

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Church Governance: Guidance and Gaps in the Monson Era


M.C. Escher’s meditation on presence, absence, and negative space.

It is difficult to know how to write a remembrance of a leader whose tenure was marked much more by absence than by any clearly identifiable action or agenda. In their eulogy, NPR called Monson “The Private Prophet.” The Salt Lake Tribune writes that “[t]he Mormon president remained silent [as] the…battles raged on.” [Read more…]

The redemptive power of Leia’s love for Luke [#TheLastJedi SPOILERS]

YourMyOnlyHopeThis post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi, starting right in the first sentence below the fold. You’ve been warned.

One thing I haven’t seen talked enough about is the redemptive power of Leia’s love for Luke.

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Being a gracious host to Trump doesn’t require throwing Muslims under the bus

There are a bunch of scolds out there on Twitter and on Russell’s post trying to say that nobody can criticize what happened in the church leadership’s meetings with Trump because it was part of a longstanding tradition of being gracious hosts to sitting presidents, regardless of deep disagreements that might exist between them on policy and other matters. When it comes to Eyring and Nelson “express[ing] their appreciation to the president for the efforts by his administration to protect religious freedom,” the scolds are completely wrong.

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Business networking at church: a guide for Mormon women

In a recent conversation in the Aspiring Mormon Women Facebook group (which, by the way, is a great employment support resource for Mormon women), the topic of networking came up. Networking is especially important–and especially difficult–for women looking for an on-ramp into the labor force after a period of being a SAHM, but it’s difficult to know where to start. Meetup-type activities billed as “networking events” are often far inferior to more organic forms of networking around genuine shared interests. But how many Mormons (especially Mormon women and moms) have time to join local hobby clubs or hang out at the golf clubhouse?

At the risk of stating the obvious, I would just add that for Mormons, church is often the best place to do networking, simply because we spend a lot of time there. Of course, women often have a disadvantage in this sphere, because men often have career-related conversations at church and church activities while women tend not to, and women and men don’t often cross over in conversations. This post is a guide for women on how to engage in friendly, natural career networking at Mormon in Mormon social circles, and in particular how to seek networking conversations with men.

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Lesson help for June: Come, Follow Me Youth Sunday School (“Priesthood and Priesthood Keys”)

Post-It Notes on ChalkboardThe first two weeks of June’s Sunday School topics are “How can I participate effectively in councils in the Church?” and “How do women and priesthood holders work together to build the kingdom of God?” I’ve been teaching 14 year olds for several years now, and these lessons often lead to questions about their (YM and YW) real budding concerns around gender in the church. I wanted to address this rather than avoid it, but in a way that would be me surfacing their priorities and feelings and not me projecting my concerns on them and speaking to that. I decided to use a trendy “Design Thinking” teaching technique and have them do an activity with post-it notes.
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Memorial Day 2017

I thought of the three Portland men as we sang America the Beautiful today:

O Beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

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Welcome Carolyn Homer!

Carolyn Homer portrait by the Golden Gate bridgeBCC extends its warmest welcome to new Permablogger Carolyn Homer! As the non-priesthood holder presiding at the welcome, I now have the opportunity to open our Carolyn testimony meeting by roasting Carolyn bearing my own testimony of Carolyn’s many virtues.

I first met Carolyn at a Stake Relief Society Super Saturday activity, where we fatefully chose the same session from a menu of parallel speaker tracks. The session we chose was a town hall discussion of issues around women’s roles in the church, hosted by a member of the stake presidency. Pop some popcorn, you know I wouldn’t miss that! And of course Carolyn felt the same way. (Y’all should try churching in a Blue State–that session was real, and it was spectacular.)

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Share your stories: refugee talks in my stake conference, how about your wards?

Our stake conference meeting today was on the topic of caring for refugees. It included a talk by an ethnically Korean member of our stake who was raised in Iran, where his family investigated and joined the church. During the upheaval of the Ayatollah’s regime, his family came to the United States as refugees. They were taken in by an American family, who cleared their own children out of one of their home’s bedrooms to make room. Other speakers drew on the scriptures and the church’s recent strong statements in General Conference and its media channels on the topic of our responsibility to care for refugees. During his remarks, the Stake President clarified that they had decided on the theme and began finding speakers 5 months ago.  That’s before Election Day, let alone the Executive Order. The Stake President testified that before any of this happened and before any of them could have known how relevant it would be, they felt a spiritual witness that this should be the theme of the conference.  [Read more…]

Thought experiment about baby blessings


Sassoferrato (1609-1685)

I heard over the weekend from a friend who wanted to hold her baby while her husband blessed him. She would not be, or even appear to be, participating in the ordinance itself in any way. She simply wanted to cradle the child while it was blessed, like any mother would do during a sick baby blessing and anointing by priesthood holders. She and her husband told the bishop of their plans to bless the baby at home at an extended family gathering, and for her to hold him. Up the chain the news went, to stake president and area authority. The message came back down the chain that she was not to be allowed to do this.  [Read more…]

Stuff they told me

They told me that it was a gosh darn shame that Prop 8 and the policy make gay people feel sad, which certainly was the furthest thing from their intention! You see it’s not that they hate gays, they just love family values so much, and the Divine Institution Of Marriage is so crucial that other things must be sacrificed, even when those sacrifices are painful and unfortunate. That’s what they told me. They told me during Prop 8 that they knew that California law already granted all rights and privileges to domestic partnerships that were granted to marriage, so they were really just fighting over a word, a symbol–the word marriage. But they told me that symbols are important, that what symbols the government symbolically holds up matter so much that we need to prioritize that even over the lives of our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters. Because should even the tiniest tarnish come to the image of the sanctity of the institution of marriage, all of society would collapse. So you know it’s just awful what the gays are experiencing but you see their hands were tied. That’s what they told me. [Read more…]

Pokemon Go Family Home Evening (FHE)–a whole month of theme lessons!

Pokemon Go has taken over my Facebook feed, the local parks and downtown streets, and hearts of kids and adults alike. Our family did Pokemon Go as our FHE last night, and I’d say conservatively that 75% of the people out on the streets were playing Pokemon Go. Here is a quick guide to letting it take over your Monday nights for the rest of summer, by hosting an entire month of Pokemon Go-theme FHE!

  • Week 1: Gifts of the Spirit (Gotta Catch ‘Em All!…sort of)
  • Week 2: “All these things shall give thee experience [points] and be for thy good”
  • Week 3: Noah’s Ark and collecting each kind (just like Pokemon!)
  • Week 4: Family History (Ancestors: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!)

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May is #BikeToChurch Month–even on Mother’s Day!

Bike to Church Month continues here at By Common Consent blog. This week we feature the completely car-free Farley family of Oakland, CA, @maryaagard of Boise, ID rocking her Mother’s Day corsage, and BCC’s own Sam Brunson of Chicago, IL. Keep biking to church all month long in May (and beyond!), and send us your pics on Twitter @bycommonconsent #BikeToChurch, Instagram (I’m sisterblah2), or email


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May is #BikeToChurch Month at BCC

Happy May Day, and welcome to ByCommonConsent’s 2nd annual Bike To Church Month!

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On KUER: Sexual Assault in the Mormon Context

This morning I appeared on KUER’s Radio West with Doug Fabrizio, alongside Erin Alberty of the Salt Lake Tribune and Prof. Andrea Radke-Moss of BYU-I. We discussed sexual assault in the Mormon context. You can listen to a podcast on KUER’s website, and I welcome further discussion of the issue here.

KUER: Sexual Assault in the Mormon Context

This month, The Salt Lake Tribune has been following the story of BYU students who say they’ve been punished under the school’s honor code because they reported sexual assaults. Some of the questions these women are facing have been experienced around the country: will they be believed, shamed or blamed for being a victim? Tuesday, we’re asking how LDS culture and theology of chastity complicates this, and if there are lessons from the Mormon experience that might help challenge assumptions about rape in America.



ICYMI: Friend magazine encourages girls to be engineers

I hope each of you takes a moment to look at the February 2016 Friend magazine, which includes an article encouraging girls’ interests in engineering. The spread on pp. 34-36 includes the title “Savannah the Engineer” and a picture of a girl (possibly Latina?) driving a blueprint car:

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We are as the Army of Helaman

Rational Faiths has posted a conversation between Mormon author Greg Prince and an anonymous friend. The friend writes:

I never expected being a Mormon to be easy either but I always expected that being Mormon would mean standing up for what’s right amid voices outside the church telling me otherwise. And even though that would be difficult it would be worth it because I would know inside that what I was standing for was right. I never dreamed that I would be in the church standing up for what I felt was right amid the voices in the church telling me that I am wrong.

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Despise Not the Revelations

This guest post comes from Jon, who is a friend of the blog. He’s a student of statistics and son of parents who follow the admonition of Paul.

I saw this phrase first on the door of a Catholic parish in Santa Fe, Argentina: “Every child that is born is proof that God has not yet given up on human beings.” The idea appealed to me at the time, both because babies are adorable and because as a missionary I had a daily habit of giving up on humanity. An element of that phrase has been working on me in the nearly 10 years since: the idea that people enter the world bearing divine information—that we are each a revelation. [Read more…]

“The Holy Ghost as Your Companion” (Pres. Eyring) #ldsconf

I recently made a brief visit to Utah. I’ve never lived in Utah, not even briefly for school or a stint in the MTC. But there is a sense of being among my people that has always imbued my visits with a deep soul sense of returning home. Tracy M described it well. On this trip, I was so focused on business and rushing in and out that I didn’t have much time to soak in that feeling. Just about 24 hours after arriving, I was dashing back to the airport to leave again. As I handed the keys to the rental car return attendant, he saw the BYU logo throw blanket I carried, and the BYU institutional charge for my rental, and asked me cheerily if I was a member of the LDS church. He was older and a little stooped, but very spry in doing his job. I said yes. Suddenly his mad rush of handling the many arriving customers stopped, and he gazed directly into my eyes with an intense earnestness. He told me about his wife. He told me about how he lost her. And he told me how every minute of every day he makes decisions conscious of a striving for total righteousness, to return and join her one day. “I know she’s going to the Celestial Kingdom!” I can’t imagine anyone having more intense focus and determination than he had to join her.

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Youth Sunday School lesson help for July: Ordinances and Covenants

2009 Inauguration of Barack ObamaI thought it could be helpful to others to post a few resources for how I approached this month’s topic, Ordinances and Covenants. I want to both normalize Mormon high church liturgy, and also highlight what is unique and special about our approach. (If you aren’t sure what those words mean, feel no shame because we don’t use them in our day-to-day, though they do nicely describe us. Click the words for simple definitions.) To do this, I showed a series of videos of formal oaths taken in secular contexts.
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Obergefell impact on church members, by the numbers

This is a post examining the number of members living in jurisdictions where the legal status of marriage changed due to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Among members of the church in the U.S., Obergefell triggered celebration from some, angst from others, and plenty of Facebook conflict between the two. It also triggered an unusual, highly visible step by the brethren: sending a letter to all U.S. bishops, accompanied by lengthy member education talking points, to be read to all teen and adult members of the church. The impending reading of the letter unleashed a wave of concern among members at variance with the church’s position, questions about whether to attend or skip, and worry about emotional harm to LGBTQ members. The primary message of the letter is that a change in the nation’s laws does not affect church doctrine, to correct any notion some might have had that Obergefell would cause or force a change.
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Amazing Grace

On a day when many will say “secularism” is winning (both those who think that is a bad thing, and those who think that is a good thing), we have an absolutely overwhelming demonstration of the power of God and the power of shared religion:

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Join us: 5th Sunday of #biketochurch month


May is Bike to Church Month here at By Common Consent. See our previous weeks of celebration here, here, here, and here. Today we have pictures from readers Lori, Jon, Lisa, and Mark, biking to church in Valencia, Spain. Thanks for sharing your fun family commute with us! Keep reading below the fold to see BCC writer EmJen and her kids enjoying a bike ride to church in Farmington, Utah, USA. I hope this inspires you to #biketochurch. Snap a pic and share it on Twitter and/or add a link to Instagram here in the comments. Happy biking!

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