Dehlin and Bennett put on Notice

Now that the Kate Kelly excommunication is in the rear view mirror, apparently enough time has passed for the Church to move forward on John Dehlin.  The New York Times has reported that a disciplinary council is set for January 25.  The charges against John were posted on his website, Mormon Stories.  John was notified that the issues are:

He doesn’t want to be exed and feels compelled in his position.

While my family and I would prefer to be left alone by LDS church leadership at this time, I would much rather face excommunication than disavow my moral convictions.  In the coming weeks, months, and years ahead, it is my intent to provide increased support to Mormons who are transitioning away from orthodoxy.

Then, in a surprising announcement, April Young Bennett announced that she has been forced to (1) resign her position on the board of Ordain Women, and (2) delete posts she has written that raise the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood as a condition for renewal of her temple recommend.  April complied, but wrote

I do not believe that temple recommends should be used as leverage to censor ideas or silence advocacy, but if I hadn’t complied, I would have missed my brother’s recent temple wedding. Choosing between following the dictates of my conscience and being present for a family wedding has been heartbreaking. In the end, I concluded that while others may take my place as an author or an advocate, no one can replace me in my role as my brother’s sister.

I agree with April.  I thought that stake presidents and bishops had been instructed to stick to the question in the temple recommend interview, and not add to them.  I know in the past, some have asked about birth control, drinking Coke, or other questions.  While I was writing this, a news story on KUTV appeared in which April was quoted that temple recommends should not being used to censor.  One of my relatives responded to the news story, “of course it’s ok to censor.”

What are your thoughts?


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56 comments on “Dehlin and Bennett put on Notice

  1. My thoughts? Dehlin isn’t about to spit on his personal integrity, for some anal retentive group, of the Mormon brotherhood, out to gang-save him, from himself.

  2. Well, considering that there are specific questions regarding a temple recommend, to gage where the member stands in following the tenants of the Gospel, than yes, if you want to call that censoring, it is the right thing to do. It is one thing to have compassion for those who are in violation of God’s plan and a whole other thing to support them in their plight, to fight for them. April’s answers to her Stake President regarding her recommend obviously brought up concerns which would automatically include more questions to determine where she stood on a moral and spiritual level. Remember, no unclean thing should enter the temple. The very fact that she choose to lie to her Stake President just to attend her brothers wedding, so that she would have the embarrassment of defending her rebellious actions to her family, will now have consequences, that of course she will blame yet again on the Stake President instead of the real decision maker, herself. Dehlin states, “I would much rather face excommunication than disavow my moral convictions.” He has already made his stand against the teachings of the Gospel, he has already made his stand against his eternal blessings, so has April.

  3. I think they don’t know what “censor” means.

  4. According to dictionary.com, censor means 1) an official who monitors books, plays, news reports, etc. For the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political or objectionable grounds. 2) any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.

    I think the actions against April fit both of these definitions. Silver rain, do you?

    Ocean, I’ve never had any stake president add to the temple recommend questions, and I know they have been instructed not to add to them. Why do you think it is ok for her president to add to the recommend questions?

  5. So Heretic, you’re saying your Stake president has never had a conversation with you during your appointment? I find that hard to believe that you have gone in and have just said yes/no with no conversation. My first interview with the stake president, which was not that long ago, this question was asked, “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” My guess is that everyone is asked this question. IF she answered honestly, I would hope that more questions would arise to determine the severity of the situation. I know if someone answered “yes” to this question to me, I would have more questions. It is the job of the stake president to determine this. It is within his rights to council and to give guidelines. When I answered that question, I answered honestly and my stake president took the time to ask more about the way I felt. Obviously April didn’t care about what he asked of her, just as long as she could save face with her family and attend her brothers wedding. Now she has gone against her stake presidents advise and purposely made a spectacle. Posing with her recommend, daring the stake president to do something about it. People call her “brave” to do so, to go against counsel, I personally think her actions are juvenile, and fitting for a reprimand. If her temple recommend is taken away or she is disfellowshipped, or for that matter excommunicated, it will not be the stake presidents fault, it will be hers.

  6. I would say that falls under membership qualifications more than censorship, personally. If it was government, or if the Church had any power to actually control anyone’s actions, censorship might be appropriate.

    But dramatic vocabulary is a favorite of our culture these days, so I’m not surprised that it is used.

    Nevertheless, those are my thoughts when I hear about these things.

  7. Ocean, you are making some HUGE LEAPS and ASSUMPTIONS.

    “So Heretic, you’re saying your Stake president has never had a conversation with you during your appointment?”

    Where did you make this assumption?

    “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” My guess is that everyone is asked this question. IF she answered honestly, I would hope that more questions would arise to determine the severity of the situation. I know if someone answered “yes” to this question to me.

    More assumptions here. I think she probably answered no, and I DO NOT think that associating with Ordain Women is an act of apostasy. This is a group that not only believes in THE prophet, but is asking him to seek a revelation. But yet you answer like they do in the Book of Mormon “A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible and we need no more Bible.” Are you trying to say that we need no more revelation in 2015? If so, then you are the one guilty of apostasy.

    Obviously April didn’t care about what he asked of her, just as long as she could save face with her family and attend her brothers wedding.

    More ASSumptions. Did you crawl in her head to know exactly what she felt? Please, stick to the facts, not your ASSumptions.

  8. Silverrain, so a government is the only entity that can be guilty of censorship? According to you, Corporations and churches cannot be guilty of censorship?

  9. WOW….. you are the one that asked “What are your thoughts?” Two people stepped up to the plate and you don’t like what they said, and your “rebuttal” stated in a less than stellar way. Sorry to have struck a nerve with you, but hey, you asked.

    FYI, Aprils actions speak louder than her words. No assumptions needed, her behavior is easily ascertained.

    Really? OW “This is a group that not only believes in THE prophet…” I beg to differ. After being told no about obtaining seats for the General Priesthood meeting, they stood in line anyway, alerted the media, and acted like children because they didn’t get their way. Acts of defiance and you state they believe in THE prophet. Cracks me up, when they wore pants to church. Idiotic behavior. This is not a group of courageous women. Their behavior and acts of rebelliousness will cost them dearly. I know, it won’t be their fault, how could it be?

  10. Nope.

    Censorship is use of force to restrict speech. Churches obviously have censored via book burning, etc. But the LDS Church doesn’t have any power to forcibly remove Sister Bennett’s posts, nor exact physical or even financial punishment if she chooses not to comply. The only consequence for Sister Bennett continuing to act as she has been acting is loss of membership in the Church.

    It’s plumb crazy to think that any opt-in group like the Church has the obligation to let anyone and everyone opt-in who wants to, even when the individual’s actions are contrary to the group’s objectives. And it’s melodramatic to fling around the word “censorship” as if she’s actually being censored. It mocks all those people through the ages who have been victims of real censorship.

    If I were Sister Bennett (and I have been in similar situations, make no mistake,) I would take this opportunity to evaluate what is really important to me. In her life, she is being presented with a choice between two things she presumably values to decide which she values most. Either she values OW above the Church, or Church above OW. Not an enviable position, but one that will change the course of her life. It’s an intensely personal decision, one that deserves a great deal of pondering and energy. Seems to me, she has already made her choice.

  11. “I thought that stake presidents and bishops had been instructed to stick to the question in the temple recommend interview, and not add to them. ” In the early 80’s, leaders still had the question of whether an individual engaged in unholy and impure practices. This opened the door for many leaders to delve into the sex lives of members. But, by the mid-80’s, the First Presidency stepped in and said to limit the interview questions, but they still left wiggle room in the instructions:
    “Acceptable answers to the recommend interview questions ordinarily will establish worthiness to receive a recommend. ..When interviewing an applicant for a recommend, do not inquire into personal, intimate matters about marital relations between a husband and his wife. Generally, do not deviate from the recommend interview questions. If, during an interview, an applicant asks about the propriety of specific conduct, do not pursue the matter. Merely suggest that if the applicant has enough anxiety about the propriety of the conduct to ask about it, the best course would be to discontinue it. If you are sensitive and wise, you usually can prevent those being interviewed from asking such explicit questions….”
    So, for the most part, leaders don’t stray from the questions. However, they are not handcuffed. If a member could just answer and lie, that would be a self assessment and there would be no need for the interview process. If a leader knows for a fact that a person has a WoW problem, then there is going to be discussion. Same with chastity, tithing, and the affiliation question. If you’ve ever give a TRI to a youth, there is plenty of discussion because most teenagers don’t understand half of what’s being asked. I wish, once and for all, those on the bloggernacle would quit taking the position that a leader can only ask the questions proposed, and then has to accept whatever answer is given at face value. It just isn’t so.

  12. Ocean, you have your own “less than stellar” ASSumptions, and then continue unrighteous judgment calling wearing pants to church “idiotic.” Kettle, meet pot. You are unbelievably judgmental. Look, I”ve tangled with both IDIAT and Silverrain before, but you might want to look to them for examples of reasonable disagreement. Your unrighteous judgment needs to be called out. Look at the Parable of the Unjust Judge–it applies in the case of OW.

    Silverrain, I’m glad to see that you acknowledge that churches and corporations can be guilty of censorship, but I note that the dictionary.com definition does not add your qualification of “exact[ing] physical or even financial punishment.” The government can’t exact physical punishment either, but it can exact fines. So just as you think the charge of censorship in this case is “dramatic vocabulary,” and said April isn’t following the definition of being censored, it is you who don’t seem to be following the definition of ” suppressing parts deemed objectionable” and her Stake President is “a person who supervises the manners or morality of others.” You are being very dismissive of April, and you are creating a definition of censor that isn’t supported. Of course the church is trying to suppress April’s ideas and posts, and is “supervising the morality of others.”

    IDIAT, It is my understanding that the purpose of the question, “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” was to weed out polygamists. I will say in my conversation with the stake presidency, I asked specifically what groups were considered contrary or opposing the church, and was told it was polygamists. So, unless the Church wants to add Ordain Women to the definition, I don’t think it is appropriate to consider them an apostate group. Hence, I don’t think anyone should feel compelled to answer “Yes” to the question just because they support OW, or SSM, or Denver Snuffer, or whatever. If they are going to call OW or SSM or Denver Snuffer “apostate”, then they need to specify this. Otherwise, we get rogue bishops with differing opinions on these groups. They’ve made it clear about polygamy. Make it clear about these other groups. Without clarification, the correct answer is “No.”

  13. I tried to not embarrass you previously by glossing over your use of Dictionary.com to make your points, but since you seem very wedded to the idea, I will point out that your use is a “fallacy of definition.” Pulling a definition from such a source certainly doesn’t prove your point, nor help your understanding of mine. If you insist on solely using dictionaries over context, you might want to try Merriam Webster. They tend to have tighter, less ambiguous definitions.

    The Church has no power to suppress Sister Bennett’s objectionable posts. None at all. They are telling her that, in order to remain a full member, she must choose to take them down herself. That is not censorship…unless, of course, one wants to take the broadest possible definition of “censorship” and use the more dramatic implications of the word to support one’s own biases.

    For the record, I’m not being dismissive of Sister Bennett. I’m being dismissive of your use of vocabulary. But since it is clear that you want to believe what you want to believe, and you will descend into convenient logical fallacies and personal attacks in order to preserve your opinion, I have no interest in continuing the discussion. I try to spend my time where productive discussion is possible.

    I hope your paradigm serves you well in the end.

  14. SilverRain is absolutely right. Yes, we believe in freedom of speech. We also believe, however,

    “that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct,according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.” D&C 134

    Freedom is a two-way street.

  15. Jeff, “[Unlike the Latter-day Saints] Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled [sic]. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.”
    – Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 288)

  16. So your juvenile approach to reprimand me is to continue to call me an “ASS.” Again, you asked the question, I obliged. You didn’t like what I had to say so you lower your quality of verbiage to name calling. And I’m to look to others for guidance on “reasonable disagreement?” Yes, “Pot” I am calling you black. Yes, it is idiotic to be so juvenile to show rebellion to call on all the sisters to wear pants to church. Now I’m sure you will come back and say it doesn’t matter what we wear as long as it is the best that we have. I will concur with that. To call on the sisters to be rebellious in this fashion is a metaphor to be disobedient of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the sad thing here is you know this to be true, yet with a rebelliousness you applauded it and wonder why more people wouldn’t jump on the band wagon. All you are doing is looking for a fight. I don’t mind standing up for the truth. SilverRain nailed it when she/he eloquently stated, ” I would take this opportunity to evaluate what is really important to me. In her life, she is being presented with a choice between two things she presumably values to decide which she values most. Either she values OW above the Church, or Church above OW. Not an enviable position, but one that will change the course of her life. It’s an intensely personal decision, one that deserves a great deal of pondering and energy. Seems to me, she has already made her choice.” What is left to fight about?

  17. Silverrain, I find you never engage ideas and make no effort to EVER explain your position or try to persuade anyone to your opinion. You often disagree, but never can articulate why. Good riddance. I don’t want to talk to someone who never attempts to explain their position. (I’m not embarrassed by your inability to articulate your positions.)

  18. Ocean, I didn’t call you an ASS. I merely added some capitalization so you can understand the assumptions your are making, and hopefully remember the funny saying (which apparently you did.) Stop making assumptions. If you can’t recognize them, then I agree this isn’t a productive conversation, and should probably stop. I don’t need to talk to people who can’t seem to stop unrighteous judgment and are seemingly oblivious to their own assumptions and uncharitable judgment.

  19. The question is used in Utah as it is used in Japan, where the odds of polygamous groups is virtually zero. The question is wide open, and it rests upon the member answering to asses and answer honestly. And, if the leader believes the person is in fact not answering honestly, a discussion is likely to follow. We don’t have the handbook give detailed instructions on how the WoW may not be kept, or how one might abuse family members. I know you would like to excuse those who support, agree with or affiliate with certain groups and individuals whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church, but sometimes you can’t. That’s why leaders are called to be leaders. They have the burden of judgment. Let them bear it.

  20. Am I making assumptions? I see the facts for what they are, rebellious, juvenile actions. Such as your last two comments. People don’t want to play on your terms (or agree with you) so you will take your toy truck and go home (I don’t want to talk to you). Thereby pointing your finger and saying “it’s your fault,” just as you have done regarding the Stake President and the rest of the leaders in the church….”rogue bishops”……. seems to me you have no business lecturing me on “ASSumptions” when you are accommodating the very same thing. SilverRain was very clear on their position and articulated well on “why.” What is the point of persuasion when God has given us the ability to choose. Your comment, “I find you never engage ideas and make no effort to EVER explain your position or try to persuade anyone to your opinion,” reminded me of the portrayal of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Who’s work are you representing, because it sure doesn’t sound like the Christ’s.

  21. MH,

    Whereas you seem to see a contradiction between the scripture that I cited and the non-scriptural teaching, I see only consistency between them. Joseph was free to speak out against some Methodist policies he disagreed with and they were free to reject him from their membership. Just like Bennett. (Btw, nobody has been asked to change their beliefs.)

  22. Ocean, you have no idea what history I have with Silverrain. She often disagrees (usually with good manners), but then when questioned, she takes her ball and runs away. Fine. I am tired of it. She is still welcome here.

    I find it funny that people here usually comment when they disagree with me, but rarely comment when they agree. (See the lack of comments on my recent homeless in SLC post.) Whatever. It’s good to discuss, and perhaps Silverrain leaves when things get a little heated. Fine. It’s her thing, and maybe she is right to do so. But I think she runs away too soon. She is still welcome here.

    As for you, I’m not a fan of your uncharitible judgment. Perhaps if you used less incendiary terms, this would be a more pleasant conversation. Maybe we can discuss something else.

    Jeff, I guess we can agree to disagree.

    IDIAT, there are many polygamists in Utah (perhaps your comment just had confusing wording.)

    As for the WoW, some rogue bishops (including my mission president) thought it was ok to ask if members drank Coke, thinking it was a violation of WoW. Even Mormon Doctrine states that nothing should be added to the WoW, but recommends against Colas. This is the reason why they aren’t to add–because many were adding to the questions, thinking they were in the good graces of Mormon Doctrine, written by an apostle. So yes, there are rogue bishops.

    If OW is apostate, then it needs to be explicitly stated. I don’t think so, so I have no question stating “No” to whether I associate with apostate groups, and I think April is probably the same. (I am not a member of OW, for the record, though I support their efforts.)

  23. I was pointing out the idea that the affiliation question is asked the world over, where there are no polygamous off shoot groups. No where in TRI instructions or the handbook is there anything limiting the affiliation question “to just polygamous groups.” It may have started out that way 50 years ago, but that isn’t why it’s asked today. I understand you don’t think OW is apostate. I don’t know if it is or not. Is it a group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church? You would say “obviously not.” I would say “Maybe. Let’s discuss this at length and look at what OW teaches and advocates. Then I’ll make a decision.” But my original point stands. There is room for discussion as led by the Spirit. You will never be able to handcuff a leader to rote questions and answers, or define every term or confine discussion to certain topics. There is too much involved in ascertaining worthiness unless, of course, you want to open the doors wide and have every one self assess.

  24. MH, perhaps you are right and I run away too often. In that spirit, I’m going to try again, and this time not “run away” until we both agree to disagree, if you’re interested.

    I think we can both agree that we aren’t communicating. So I’m going to back up a little to try to explain. My purpose in commenting is rarely to persuade someone else to agree with me. I have too many stresses in my life to take on such a hopeless cause.

    Commenting when you merely agree with someone is boring, which is why people don’t do much of it, except maybe at FMH, M*, and BCC. I don’t participate online to be validated/agreed with. I participate to have my perspective widened, be entertained, get an idea of others’ points of view, and maybe occasionally give them a similar opportunity. This is why I read far more than I comment. If I comment at all, it’s because I feel like the other person may be interested in a different perspective, or I need clarification in order to distill mine.

    For this reason, I don’t like arguing, but I really like discussing. When it seems to be more the former than the latter, I lose interest.

    What interested me about your post was not the defense of Sister Bennett. I’d be interested in that, were she here, but I’m not terribly interested in what other people have to say about her situation. What interested me was the idea of “censorship,” and what it really means to be censored.

    I’ll give you that there are some vague definitions of censorship that apply in this circumstance. What I maintain is that the definitions of censorship which apply to this case don’t really warrant using the word, with all the historical baggage “censorship” carries.

    Ultimately, I suggest that if we persist in seeing Sister Bennett’s and similar situations as “censorship,” we are merely flinging poo at a problem we don’t like. We’re deliberately using loaded language to stack the deck of public opinion in our favor. (Not very different from using the word “apostasy” on the other side of the coin.) That might serve to soothe our egos, but it doesn’t help us progress, understand, nor learn.

    I decided to leave the conversation because I realized my desire to discuss the meaning of censorship and whether or not it applies was aimed at learning, rather than what the point of the OP actually seems to be on further discussion.

    I almost never comment on LDS blog posts, because they are 99% attempts to soothe the in-group’s egos, whatever that in-group might be. I’m not interested in doing that publicly. I rely on personal friendships for my own validation. Though I admit there is a need for seeking online validation, and there is nothing per se wrong with doing so. There is a LOT wrong with me traipsing in there with my desires to understand and trampling all over other people’s feelings. I sensed I was doing that here, so I withdrew.

    Granted, I was a bit of a snothead when I did that, and for that I apologize.

  25. Wow, it seems my opinion is not far off the mark. You can publically chastise me on a post you are still “moderating” for everyone to see, yet full disclosure seems to be beneath you. It’s ok, but your actions are no better than what you claim is happening to April. You want the flow of ideas, but only on your terms, only if you agree. I didn’t come here to fight with you, I merely produced my thought as you had openly suggested. I am direct, I don’t mince words, for that you are offended. Ok, I can live with that. You call me uncharitable, my question to you is, can I arrive at the same conclusion for you?

  26. Silverrain, thanks for coming back. I do like to discuss ideas. I guess everyone has a different hot button. For me, it is surprisingly simple to press yours. I remember a discussion about the temple at W&T, and you responded that it wasn’t the time or place to discuss the issue (I can’t remember what the issue was exactly), and I responded, “yes it is the time and place” to which you responded “Well, I’m not going to do it anyway.” It felt dismissive to me, even if it wasn’t intentional.

    Anyway, I didn’t think I’ve been pushing you very far at all, but you seem to withdraw from a lot of discussions at the drop of a hat. I admit it is frustrating to me, because I do like to hear your perspective, and I feel you abandon things before I can fully understand where you’re coming from.

    As to the issue of “all the historical baggage “censorship” carries well the term doesn’t seem to have baggage to me. When conservatives or moderates (or liberals) get together to discuss issues, frequently the arguments come to a difference in opinion on appropriate word choice. Conservatives object to being called racist, bigots, sexist. Moderates and liberals object to being called apostates, wicked, etc.

    I don’t have a problem with using the word censorship in April’s case. To me, the Church is attempting to suppress information (specifically her blog posts) and is using coercive tactics (removing temple recommends, excommunication in the case of Kate Kelly, which I view as spiritually violent.) I don’t need to associate censorship with Nazi book burning in order to call something censorship. If you think that censorship is only book burning, then I guess I can see your point of view, but I don’t agree with it. “Censorship” doesn’t contain baggage for me as it does for you. I think censorship (as in suppressing information) is an appropriate use of the word. Similarly, I don’t think someone has to kill a black man to be called racist. Discrimination, in any way, is racism. I know many conservatives seem to think that to be racist, one must be a member of the KKK. They view racism as an emotional loaded term. I think one can be racist for much more minor infractions, and I do think that there are many unintentional racists out there (myself included.)

    Since your initial comment said “I think they don’t know what “censor” means”, that’s why I started quoting dictionary definitions–to refute your comment. Now, I’m sure you viewed that as argumentative, but I felt your comment was equally dismissive. I was trying hard to understand your opinion (even though I did–and still do–disagree with it.) Are we at a meeting of the minds?

  27. Ocean,

    You call me uncharitable, my question to you is, can I arrive at the same conclusion for you?

    I was under the impression you already thought that of me.

    As I said to Silverrain, the word “apostate” is a triggering word for me. I’ve been accused of that countless times, and I object greatly to its use. If you want to call Ordain Women or me apostate, then, as Pope Francis said, you can expect a punch in the mouth. You have never commented here before, and your first comment said that April was lying in her temple recommend interview about associating with apostate groups. For that, I punched you in the mouth.

    If you want to avoid the fisticuffs, then please use a more respectful tone. You might want to learn the lay of the land before picking fights. As you can see, I don’t mince words either. Maybe if you minced your words a little, you won’t get punched in the mouth. (Most people call it common courtesy.)

    It reminds me of a story my boss told me.

    A man was set up on a blind date. When he got to the door, the woman there was so ugly, her face could stop a clock. But rather than say that, he said, “When I met you, time stopped.”

    I would appreciate it if you would mince your words. Otherwise, I won’t mince words when I disagree with you, and will be just as offensively direct as you are. Deal?

  28. I think we’re closer.

    Perhaps it merely comes down to perspective. Some people seem to see the Church as a social construct, the basis for being able to be a full member of the family, etc. I can see that, especially in some families. Losing full membership means losing a host of other things they don’t want to give up. At that point, being asked to stop supporting OW or lose the recommend is going to feel coercive, as you say. As if they are holding the rest of it hostage to good behavior.

    As someone who has never really had the benefit of being part of an “in crowd,” due to my frequent moving and natural inability to fit in anywhere, let alone the benefit of living in a place where the Church is such an integral part of social functions (until recently,) I was raised to separate all of that from my faith.

    I submit that the problem isn’t the Church’s actions in asking people to refrain from working against them so long as they wish to remain members (such as in Sister Bennett’s case,) but in integrating social functions with the Church. It is something I fight against in my real Church life, and have been labelled a borderline apostate myself for doing so. So thoroughly have we blended our social lives with our Church membership in some places of the world.

    Can you agree that, from the perspective of the institution’s officials, the goal may not be to threaten/coerce/use force against Sister Bennett, but to preserve the institution’s integrity? They may not be trying to use her desires to participate in her family’s functions to control her behavior, even though that is the ultimate effect.

    I think when we apply nefarious motivations to Church leadership, we further cloud our ability to work with them. We get caught in this mutual collusion of “us vs. them” that ends up destroying any chance we have to forge Zion.

    As far as backing out of discussions goes, it is truly an attempt on my part to offend as little as possible. I’ve done a good job of making myself a bit of an enemy in almost every online LDS platform. Not many people can claim to being banned from M* AND from BCC. I’m trying to be better at not causing more hurt feelings in a place where there are plenty to go around, so as soon as I sense I’m causing offense, I try to back out.

    If you call me on it when it frustrates you, I can promise to be more flexible with you. I appreciate that you’re willing to give me a chance to explain. That’s also pretty rare.

    The temple discussion you refer to simply approached things I felt were too personal-revelation-ish and non-mainstream-doctrinal for me to have any right to share them in a public forum. I wanted to inspire you to be patient, knowing there were other ways to see it, but wasn’t able to just give you the answers you wanted.

  29. Let’s see, I gave you my thoughts because you asked for peoples thoughts. In my original “thought” I didn’t call you or OW apostates. I simply felt that April didn’t present herself appropriately after stating she would comply with her Stake President. She promptly turned around and posted her plight to the world because she put herself in a position of rebellion and because of this, I felt she lied. It’s ok that you side with her. That is your cross to bear. I do not side with her and I’m ok with that. My tone was respectful until you called me an “ASS” and pointed your finger. It goes both ways. If you’re going to ask people their thoughts, be prepared for them.

    So why not post the pending post?

  30. What pending post? Are you referring to Silverrain and my conversation about the temple? I’ll have to find it at W&T, but I don’t think it was my post, and it will take me time to find it. At any rate, the conversation is at Wheat and Tares, not here (if memory serves), and it was probably more than a year ago.

    I’m not going to keep arguing about tone. I’ve explained myself. You’ve explained yourself. Let the issue drop. I think we’re at a meeting of the minds now. If you’re not going to mince words, then be prepared for a backlash.

  31. No I wrote a post this morning and it says it’s awaiting moderation.

    “If you’re not going to mince words, then be prepared for a backlash.” Back at ya!

  32. Not sure why it hit the spam filter (usually it is because of too many links), but I released it.

  33. Can you agree that, from the perspective of the institution’s officials, the goal may not be to threaten/coerce/use force against Sister Bennett, but to preserve the institution’s integrity?

    I am sure the church’s desire is to preserve institutional integrity, but I also think it is coercive. I also don’t know why they won’t say “Hey OW, we asked God and he said No.” What’s so hard about that for a church that claims to receive modern day revelation? Once again, the Parable of the Unjust Judge seems to apply in this case. And aren’t the Brethren supposed to be Just Judges? They should be able to do better than the Unjust Judge, but instead are spiritually executing the asker (Kate Kelly.) Even the Unjust Judge didn’t do that.

    I think when we apply nefarious motivations to Church leadership, we further cloud our ability to work with them.

    I agree, but calling this censorship is not nefarious, it is descriptive. I’m not saying the brethren are bad (I sustain them every GC), but I don’t think this action against Bennett is appropriate, and I do think it is an example of unrighteous dominion, which every man, as soon as they get a little authority (including me) seem to exercise. That doesn’t make me or them bad, but we shouldn’t be so defensive that we can’t take a little criticism. And when members are asking them to pray, for heavans sake, what is so nefarious about that?

    As for M* and BCC, they have a heavy moderation, and I suspect that lots of people have been banned at both (like Andrew S for example.) I’m not fans of either blog, so I don’t frequent them very often. You won’t see that type of moderation at W&T. I think we’ve banned a total of 3 people in 4 years. You’ve got to be REALLY obnoxious to get banned at W&T.

  34. Another reason why there should be discussion: To flesh out the affiliation question, one has to understand the teachings and practices of a group or individual and then understand the teachings and practices of the church, then make a comparison, and alson understand what it means to support, agree with or affiliate with an individual or group. (All words that have common sense meanings) For instance, you just implied the simplistic notion that all OW is doing is asking leaders to pray, but you’ve left out the discussions they’ve developed, the attempts to attend priesthood sessions of conference, etc. Neither the member nor the leader in the TRI should shy away from discussion. It ought to be sought out so that both people understand one another.

  35. MH, I can think of a dozen reasons why “no” might not be the answer. OW is trying to force a yes/no answer to something that most likely isn’t a yes/no situation. “Yes,” wouldn’t be right, and neither would “no.” The real answer has much more to it, but we as a people aren’t yet ready to receive the actual answer. That is my feeling on the matter. Personally, I’ve received some instruction on it because it has been an issue near and dear to my heart. But, like with the temple situation, I’m not free to teach it. There’s a good chance it’s worded in a way I can understand and hear, but wouldn’t make sense or would be misinterpreted on a larger scale. It’s not something I’ve been authorized to teach.

    I could concede that perhaps the local leaders of the Church are being coercive, if you can also concede that so is OW. Any definition of “coercive” that applies to the Church leadership also applies to OW’s use of political tactics to force the issue.

  36. IDIAT, without any direction from GAs, I fear that one bishop will think there is nothing wrong with OW, while another is convinced OW is Satan’s spawn and should be excommunicated. And both bishops will claim to be following the Spirit. They can’t both be right. So I agree that a discussion needs to be had, but it shouldn’t be a local discussion. I think that even 70s and Apostles disagree about what to do with OW. And all are supposedly following the Spirit. This is exactly why we call it leadership roulette.

    Silverrain, I can think of a dozen reasons why “No” isn’t the answer too. But I picked “No” in my question above because so many “orthodox” on the bloggernacle seem to think that No is such a foregone conclusion that it isn’t even worth asking God about the issue. If it is a foregone conclusion, then it should be easy for the prophet and apostles to state No explicitly. There’s a message for these orthodox: perhaps the answer ISN’T “No” and that’s why the GA’s won’t actually answer the question. I think the question is worth asking, no matter whether the answer is yes, no, or something more complex.

    At least throw us a bone. Say, “We asked, but aren’t ready to tell you what God has said yet.” Instead, the GA’s use the Strengthening the Church Members Committee to surreptitiously order excommunications, all the while claiming it is merely a “local matter” (and leadership roulette.) It is the same behind the scenes politicking and political maneuvering that the orthodox object to with OW, but are silent when L. Whitney Clayton or Malcolm Jeppsen do it.

    There is no doubt that OW is using many tactics that are distasteful to church leaders, and were drawing lots of attention to the issue. I think the NAACP did this as well in the 1960s regarding the issue of blacks and the priesthood/temple. I’m not sure what you mean by coercive, so I decided to check dictionary.com to see if this word fits OW.

    1. to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, especially without regard for individual desire or volition:

    2. to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; exact:
    to coerce obedience.

    3. to dominate or control, especially by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.:

    (1) I’m not seeing OW compelling by force, I don’t think they are intimidating the Twelve, they have no authority, so I’m saying definition 1 doens’t apply to OW.

    (2) This essentially repeats (1), so definition doesn’t apply to OW.

    (3) I don’t see OW dominating or controlling the Twelve. Perhaps it can be argued that OW is exploiting fear of the Twelve, fear of public humiliation for being sexist with regards to priesthood. Maybe this definition applies, but it seems like a stretch to me. Is this what you view as coercive by OW?

  37. They may not actually be intimidating/dominating the Twelve, but they are certainly trying to. They are trying to use the “larger power” of public opinion and the media, knowing that the Church cares about their public image, to force them to comply.

    There is a strong parallel between that and the Church using an individual’s desire to participate in family functions to force them to comply with requests to take down certain material.

    Because OW chose to use certain tactics, my personal feeling is that they have proved unwilling to receive any answer given. The Church doesn’t owe them an answer. That they believe they are owed an answer shows a level of hubris that makes pointless any answer the Church might give short of what OW wants.

    If the Church gave them any answer short of complete compliance, do you honestly believe that OW, the organization, would be satisfied?

    For what it’s worth, I don’t doubt that it is possible there may be some unsavory politicking behind the scenes in the Church. I would be willing to bet it’s more a matter of different parts of the Church being unaware of each others’ actions. But unless I’m able to ask the people involved directly, I don’t think I can make any comment on it. All we have to go on are suppositions and guesswork by those who are not directly involved, or information that is decades old and not free of personal bias.

    I will say that the analogies to the NAACP and previous civil rights fights are utterly unwarranted. A voluntary organization such as the Church, particularly a religious organization, is not the government. This is not anywhere near a matter of civil rights. Such analogies qualify as logical fallacies in argument, again calculated more for their emotional baggage than their logical value.

  38. Having recently been associating with a wide variety of groups I asked the counsellor in the stake presidency that interviewed me for my last temple recommend to give me some examples of groups that fit the bill for questioning whether I associated with them. Maybe cause I’m from Australia the answer to the question was different than it would be if I was in the States. His answer was to avoid groups that are at the extremes of the Left- right political spectrum. eg KKK ,Violent Anarchists. He said my associations with the Greens and Labour were nothing to worry about.

  39. AstralLDS, thanks for your comment. It is always interesting to hear an international perspective.

    Silverrain, I guess I can see where you are coming from, but of course I see it differently. For me the problem is that the communication with church leaders is one-way communication. There is no feedback loop, no “How are we doing?” suggestion box.

    Obviously when the church was smaller in the days of JS, the leaders were more accessible and more open to feedback from members. It’s why we have so many revelations in the D&C, often revelations that were requested by Joe Blow members. That access is gone now. So when a member asks for a revelation now, the response is, as you said, “The Church doesn’t owe them an answer.” This is a shame to me. Because such a response as this implies the heavens are closed, yet there is so much rhetoric about the ability that we can have constant revelation. Such a response seems to say that revelation occurs only extraordinarily, but that certainly wasn’t the case for Joseph Smith. It was much more routine.

    As to my comment about the NAACP, I think you are conflating things a bit, and I think it does apply, but I didn’t mean to make it so broad as you interpreted my statement. In my old post Events Leading Up to the 1978 Revelation, Newel Bringhurst cites many protests against the church about male priesthood that parallel quite well with OW actions–except OW pales in comparison. The NAACP was protesting the ban. I mentioned it briefly in that post.

    Another militant Mormon dissident who directly confronted the church on the Mormon-black issue was Byron Marchant, a Latter-day Saint Boy Scout leader. Marchant was the scoutmaster of the Mormon Boy Scout troop that was the focal point of the 1974 NAACP controversy over the eligibility of blacks for leadership positions in Mormon-sponsored troops. Even though this issue was settled, Marchant continued to express his opposition to the general practice of Mormon priesthood denial.

    Maybe I should pull that book out again to give more details, but the Church was fearful about some of these protests, and issued a statement (read in GC by Hugh B. Brown) about blacks and priesthood that mollified the NAACP so they didn’t protest. It seems that protest tactics are the only way to give feedback to the church. You call this coercive. I guess I can see that point of view, but I don’t know how else to raise an issue without them ignoring it. Certainly, it is the only way to weary the Unjust Judge into granting some sort of concession. And the GA’s seem to be acting like the Unjust Judge with only minor concessions. So OW keeps asking. Will the Unjust Judge continue to spiritually execute (excommunicate) the askers? Time will tell.

  40. “So OW keeps asking. Will the Unjust Judge continue to spiritually execute (excommunicate) the askers?”
    When you have a minute, you might read the recent post at FairMormon Blog by DeeAnn Cheatham entitled “Questions and Apostasy.”

  41. The leadership are just as accessible in many ways as they were then, but it’s Stake presidents and bishops who are the ones authorized. That’s part of my point. If a member asks for revelation now through the channels that have been structured, the response varies depending on the leadership. Again, that’s a feature. It may be frustrating not to have the “higher echelons” to speak with, but when we understand and believe in God’s power, it becomes clear that the heavens are no more closed than they were in Joseph’s day. We just don’t have the shiny gold sheen of storytelling overlaying it all.

    I don’t doubt that what you say about the NAACP is true. But I firmly believe the revelation was in spite of, not because of them. I happen to know by personal experience that OW’s behavior has slowed progress regarding women in the Church WAY back. Perhaps it has sped up other things, but there has been a high cost, too. If women are ever granted the priesthood, it will be in spite of OW, not because of them. It will be because of humble, patient women endlessly counseling with local leaders, pleading before God, and changing hearts and minds. THAT is the parable of the unjust judge. Nothing in that parable suggests the widow gained public support and gathered her friends around her in order to force the issue.

    I have yet to see the Church excommunicate anyone just for asking. Ever. And as long as people who support OW continue to proclaim that that’s the issue here, they will never access the channels of real change.

  42. SilverRain, the more I read your posts, the more impressed. Your thoughtful responses are intelligent and fair. I do think that the church is not hurt by these individuals so the mini witch hunt at the stake seems unneeded and will not be that useful in maintaining the spiritual health of the church. The church is also full of saints that believe urban legends and false doctrine…what….excommunicate anyone that stands by their beliefs?
    It is also fair to point out that the Church has at times declared something true doctrine only to reverse those statements later on. I would think that if a woman believes she should hold the priesthood, the smart answer from a stake president would be “not now at least.”

  43. Silverrain, while your points play well among people like Richard, I have a really hard time accepting anything you say in your last comment as legitimate. I know you don’t like to argue, so I will try to be as gentle as possible with my disagreement.

    “The leadership are just as accessible in many ways as they were then, but it’s Stake presidents and bishops who are the ones authorized.”

    Are you saying that bishops and stake presidents can start ordaining women? We all know that the only way women can be ordained is by a new revelation, of which bishops and SPs have no jurisdiction to issue a revelation. As soon as a bishop did issue a revelation, like Hiram Page in the D&C, he would be put in his place and removed from his position. I find that statement completely unjustifiable.

    “it becomes clear that the heavens are no more closed than they were in Joseph’s day.”

    This is simply not true. In the D&C, if we include OD1 and 2, then Joseph had 120+ revelations, Brigham had about 2, Woodruff 1, Joseph F Smith 1, and Spencer Kimball 1, and John Taylor gets 1 for writing the section about Joseph’s martyrdom (which I’ll let pass as a revelation, but it reads more like a eulogy.) The heavens are MUCH more closed than in Joseph’s day. This statement is rhetoric, not backed by any objective evidence.

  44. I’m not at all surprised you don’t agree.

    Nevertheless, I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed revelation alive and well in my own life as I’ve counseled with local leadership and beyond. What I’m saying is that local leadership is authorized to receive revelation for stakes and wards. They are also authorized to escalate their concerns up the chain. What would happen if every woman with questions patiently, humbly, persistently, and frequently talked with their bishops and stake presidents about their concerns? If my experience is anything to judge by, they eventually raise those same concerns with those over larger stewardships.

    If the ordination of women is truly the Lord’s will, their hearts will be changed over time by careful entreaty. I don’t doubt it, because I’ve seen it happen with other things in the Church.

    Your definition of revelation is so very narrow. Of course you don’t recognize the flow of it today. It is a far different matter to receive revelation for a small group of people clustered in Missouri than for a church that spreads from horizon to horizon. It is very likely that the ordination of women to the priesthood would be detrimental on a global scale. Most of those who petition for it can’t seem to see past their own personal desires and experience. All they want is what they deem their right. But the priesthood never was a right, and the power of God does not operate on those premises.

    The power of God is not a civil right: it is a spiritual birthright.

    Fortunately for those of us in the Church, the bulk of leadership IS local, and given time for the power of the Spirit to work, changes are made in a way which benefits the Church as a whole.

    Frankly, you plainly have zero idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Just because you aren’t seeing the exact effect you want to see, you assume there is none. Well, I can’t convince you otherwise, nor will I try any harder than I already have. But I can say that I have been fortunate enough to catch a few glimpses. There is no doubt in my mind that revelation is just as robust as it ever was. We just have quite a few more people who must be moved by it before the effects are readily measured by the outside observer.

    The Church is not what it was in Joseph’s day. Expecting living revelation flowing through the Church today to look exactly like the romanticized, simplified story-told version of what it looked like in Joseph’s day is not very logical.

  45. Russell Stevenson got a lot of crap last year (even from me) when he said on a Radio West interview that the reason that blacks didn’t receive the priesthood was because the members (rather than the leadership) weren’t ready for it. I’m beginning to think he might be partially right. Having said that, I do agree with you that “if every woman [and MAN] with questions patiently, humbly, persistently, and frequently talked with their bishops and stake presidents about their concerns?” That will help, but it is ALSO the NAACP protests, the OW actions that will spur enough MEN and women to speak with their bishops. But, I’m afraid that many of the current group of GA’s must die off, most notably conservatives like Elder Packer before the brethren will listen to the members. Just like Moses never entered the Promised land, I don’t think Elder Packer will permit such a revelation so long as he is alive.

    To that end, I do think OW is changing hearts and minds, and more effectively influencing these, as you said, to “patiently, humbly, persistently, and frequently [talk] with their bishops and stake presidents about their concerns.” So yes, to me it is a two-pronged approach, and OW is acting much like the ancient prophets Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah who are speaking truth to power, and the current GA’s are acting much like the Pharisees in Jesus day.

    Contrary to popular LDS perceptions of a smooth transition between prophets (from teh Pres of the 12), The prophet Amos didn’t have the priesthood. He wasn’t a Levite. He wasn’t a priest. He wasn’t an apostle. He was just a poor farmer from Judah who went and told the Northern Kingdom to repent. Isaiah was sawn in half. Jeremiah was jailed and died there. These prophets bear remarkable similarities to Kate Kelly, not Thomas Monson. I think God works in mysterious ways, and if we truly understand the scriptures, we see that God often calls people outside the chain of command to help effect change, especially when the current leaders seem incapable of listening. I do think OW is part of God’s uncorrelated plan. (And it’s these types of opinions as to why I am a heretic, just as Galileo and Luther were heretics.)

  46. There’s no way to prove either your assertion nor mine to whether or not public agitation helps or hinders Church-wide revelation. I know what I’ve observed to be true, and it is not what you claim.

    Even if what you say were true, I certainly would not want to be the OW prong of the approach, not with the high cost of such hubris. Nor would I be willing to account for the lives affected by those tactics.

    I’ve never heard your “popular LDS perception” before. I don’t know of many who think that, though I don’t doubt they exist. But if you’re claiming Kate Kelly is a prophet, I beg to differ. The only altar she’s been sacrificed on is one of her own making. There were many less flashy ways she could have handled her situation, and she chose not to. She was a willing and eager martyr, based on her public actions. There are many like that in history, as well. I don’t venerate Kate Kelly as you do, and that is because of what I’ve seen of her actions. I don’t find them impressive.

    So while I agree with you that the power of God can be manifest outside the chain of command, by reason and by revelation I do not believe that Kate Kelly represents the power of God. You are of course entitled to your opinion, though only time will tell the truth.

    Are you ready to agree to disagree at this point?

  47. Sure, I don’t really have anything new to add, and I think we understand each other’s point of view, but I will add that there were many Jews who didn’t agree with Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and they found their preaching more distasteful than anything we’ve seen from Kate Kelly.

  48. I’ll have to correct you on Jeremiah he didn’t die in jail the Babylonians freed him. Because he’d been so pro Babylonian. they gave him some funds and wished him well. No one really knows what happened to him after that. But it does seem that he spent some time in Egypt.
    My wife questioned me about women in the priesthood. I told her to humbly petition the lord for a response. the answer that she got was that it would happen in the lords due time. That she’d need to wait until the lord raised up a younger generation of apostles that were more open to the idea.
    That was many years ago. now that we have 5 kids. she feels that she has enough to deal with with out the added responsibility of having the priesthood.

  49. Do you belong to a group or affiliate or support a group that works against the doctrine of the church? Ordain Women and Supporting “marriage for all” is against the tenets of the church. You can not affiliate with this and go to the temple, it’s that simple. It’s a case of “eating your cake and having it too”

  50. I guess you missed the press conference 2 days ago when Elder Christofferson (an apostle) said

    What does the LDS Church think of members who back same-sex marriage?

    “There hasn’t been any litmus test or standard imposed that you couldn’t support that if you want to support it,” Christofferson said, “if that’s your belief and you think it’s right.”

    Any Latter-day Saint can have a belief “on either side of this issue,” he said. “That’s not uncommon.”

    See http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2108746-155/we-all-can-be-more-civil

    If OW is an apostate group, then the church needs to specify it. Even though Bennett was forced to resign from the board as a condition of her rogue stake president, she is STILL A MEMBER of OW, and her profile is still up. None of the other board members have had any action taken against them (except of course, Kate Kelly.) So once again, it’s leadership roulette, and your assertions may be your opinion, but they are NOT church policy, and don’t even line up with Elder Christofferson’s position. I suggest you quit judging people unrighteously.

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