It Gets Better at BYU
April 9, 2012 1:03 PM   Subscribe

It Gets Better at Brigham Young Univesity (SLYT)

I was surprised that this existed, horrified by some of the stats embedded in the video, but then really happy to see that it is getting better even at Brigham Young University.
posted by alms (147 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a great heartening video. Just by honestly sharing their experiences, hopes, and aspirations - these kids are making it better for everyone.
posted by helmutdog at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2012


That was awesome, I'm glad that this is likely going to reach isolated Morman kids whose parents are unlikely to object to them going to BYU.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:18 PM on April 9, 2012


That said the Mormon Church's opinion on homosexuality is pretty clear: you aren't human beings.
posted by basicchannel at 1:29 PM on April 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yay!

The cynic in me thinks this might be about attracting more non-Mormons -- who pay double tuition -- to BYU. I'm sure they've probably had a bit of a drop-off since the Prop 8 debacle. I may be wrong about that. I hope I am.

But even if it is purely a PR move, and even though it's waaaaaay late, it's still definitely a good thing. I hope (I really, really hope) this means the church itself might be on the verge of coming around.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:30 PM on April 9, 2012


This as an act of extraordinary bravery on the part of the BYU students and other community members who participated.
posted by Nelson at 1:42 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw this video late last week and I thought it was great.
posted by bove at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2012


This video is brave, touching, and important. Thanks for posting it.

That said the Mormon Church's opinion on homosexuality is pretty clear: you aren't human beings.

I respectfully, and strongly, disagree. I am very sorry that you have, for whatever reasons, formed that opinion. But that's simply not the Church's opinion on homosexuality, and is, frankly, disrespectful and insulting to the myriad members and leaders in the church who absolutely do not hold that opinion or any opinion similar to it and who are actively and constantly fighting to change those within the church who are homophobic to varying degrees.
posted by The World Famous at 2:03 PM on April 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


I respectfully, and strongly, disagree. I am very sorry that you have, for whatever reasons, formed that opinion. But that's simply not the Church's opinion on homosexuality, and is, frankly, disrespectful and insulting to the myriad members and leaders in the church who absolutely do not hold that opinion or any opinion similar to it and who are actively and constantly fighting to change those within the church who are homophobic to varying degrees.

So, this need revision?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints

or is it that the members of the faith have a different opinion than the faith itself?

Because then, the faith needs revising.
posted by alex_skazat at 2:14 PM on April 9, 2012 [13 favorites]


Because then, the faith needs revising.

Every faith needs revising, always. The Mormon faith has been constantly revised since day one. It needs revising, will always be constantly revised, and will always need revising.
posted by The World Famous at 2:17 PM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


One of the things I most liked about the video was the way in which all the speakers stayed true to their Mormon faith and framed their struggles from a place of fidelity to their relationship with God and their religion as they experience it internally.

That's how religions --- like all social structures --- change. Not the only way, but a very powerful way. It was beautifully done in the video.
posted by alms at 2:21 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, alex_skazat, yes, the wikipedia article you linked is poorly written and should at least be edited.
posted by The World Famous at 2:22 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The World Famous: "I respectfully, and strongly, disagree. I am very sorry that you have, for whatever reasons, formed that opinion. But that's simply not the Church's opinion on homosexuality"

I know a lot of gay [and straight] ex-mormons who would like to have a word with you.
posted by schmod at 2:23 PM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


I know a lot of gay [and straight] ex-mormons who would like to have a word with you.

I'd be happy to talk with them.
posted by The World Famous at 2:26 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, alex_skazat, yes, the wikipedia article you linked is poorly written and should at least be edited.

Then, please revise it! :)

Because I agree, it's an awful article, but I'm concerned about the way it's written, because it follows this pattern,

"The Mormon Church allows for this behavior, as long as you not do, say or think about this behavior"

which is almost a form of doublespeak, and at the very least, hypocritical. As an example from the article:

Homosexuals are discouraged from opposite sex marriage unless they have overcome homosexual inclinations.

How would that be reworded?
posted by alex_skazat at 2:33 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


OneWheaton - A Community of LGBTQs and Allies of Wheaton College, Illinois
posted by straight at 2:39 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Folks - maybe don't use this thread for your anti-Mormon stance generally and discuss the links in the FPP? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:40 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, it would be nice if we could actually let The World Famous give us their generally awesome insight earlier in the thread rather then keeping them busy refuting bullshit until the usual suspects get bored.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:41 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: It's not getting better. That's the point. People are committing suicide over ex-communication for being gay. Athletes are thrown out of the school merely for having sex.

How is this getting better?

Oh, but I'm anti-Mormon. Also, nothing is stopping The World Famous from posting an actual awesome insight.
posted by basicchannel at 2:46 PM on April 9, 2012


I think this is fantastic. As a card-carrying Goddamned Atheist (TM), no religious person is ever going to listen to me on this issue. (Which is perhaps fair. I mean, I don't often look to conservative religious folks for moral guidance, so I can't really expect them to do the converse, now can I?) Change like this needs to come from inside the faith, and I'm glad to see there's some people trying to start a conversation.

Yay for acceptance over judgement, is I guess what I'm trying to say.
posted by jcreigh at 2:46 PM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


the wikipedia article you linked is poorly written and should at least be edited

Tellingly, the guys running The Church of Scientology probably feel the same way. Still, the nice thing about Wikipedia is that it's a democratic institution in the truest sense of the word, so sign up and get editing!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I watched the link.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:51 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yay for acceptance over judgment, is I guess what I'm trying to say.

No judgement, but you spelled judgment wrong. Also I agree.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:52 PM on April 9, 2012


"I get that there are nice Mormons with great values, but why must they contort their personal beliefs so much to fit with the Church's? It seems incredibly bizarre to me."

It might be incredibly bizarre to you because you are part of a relatively small demographic, as am I, that sees religious belief as something that one chooses, like food at a buffet or a chosen political party affiliation.

But for most of the world's population, religious affiliation is like ethnicity. In fact, it's an essential part of ethnicity for many people. And most people don't feel they can choose their ethnicity, they're born to it. Most people are born into a religion and that's that.

For them, working through the conflicts that appear between their own personal values and the (if any, though there usually are) authoritative values decreed by their religion is a fundamental part of both personal and spiritual growth. And, just as is the case with ethnicity or, in fact, many other affiliations of which one has great personal investment, for many people attempting to resolve those conflicts by reforming that institution(s) they are a part of is both quite natural and extremely important.

This is true for all of us. Even if it were the case — which it's not — that there were alternative affiliations available out there which conform perfectly to one's values to which one could switch, very few people have the kind of psychology for which this is possible except in unusual cases rather than in any or all cases. Most of us have emotional or social or familiar or other investments in our affiliations and at least some of us are inclined to act as reformers when such clashes of values exist. And I'm deeply thankful that this is the case because otherwise most reform wouldn't happen, ever, anywhere. Whether it's within a sect or religion or culture or political institution or whatever.

I'm an atheist with no other family who are atheists. I'm progressive with few other family members who are progressive. I'm an intellectual with no other family members who are intellectual. And with regard to my larger affiliations, for the most part I've chosen those. I've chosen my affiliations to correspond to my values but I'm well aware that this is the exception, not the rule, and I think it's both unrealistic and very unempathatic to expect others to similarly live their lives. And, in any case, even within the context of my chosen affiliations there are in every case examples where there are shared or institutional values which are in conflict with my own. I choose to act as a force for reform within those contexts rather than go on some quixotic quest to find the perfect fit.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:53 PM on April 9, 2012 [21 favorites]


"No judgement, but you spelled judgment wrong. Also I agree."

Judgment and judgement are both acceptable variants.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:55 PM on April 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


3:45 - "The heartbreak of me dying would be less than the heartbreak my parents would experience if I came out to them."

Jesus Christ. I'm not gay, but I never thought my parents would prefer my death to something about me they disagree with. Thank you Mom, Dad, Step-mom and Step-dad, for not sucking.

I really hope it gets better for these kids. And I'm glad they have one another (and some of their parents have turned out to be less shitty than they feared)
posted by DigDoug at 3:00 PM on April 9, 2012


Just to expand on my comment earlier, I am a Mormon and I liked this video for its honest portrayal of an admittedly difficult subject. While I disagree with the comment above that suggests that the church views gay people not as human beings, I do fully acknowledge that it would be very difficult to be gay and be a member of the church. The church has very strict standards regarding what type of sexual behavior is acceptable. However, I try to love and respect all people, even those who disagree with me.
posted by bove at 3:11 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The tidbit at 8:00 about BYU changing its honor code so glbt students could say they were queer without fear of expulsion is simultaneously wonderful and horrifying.

you aren't human beings.

I respectfully, and strongly, disagree.


Well, it's certainly indisputable that the official Mormon position is that we're not full citizens deserving of equal protection under the law.
posted by mediareport at 3:14 PM on April 9, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't know why everyone (hyperbole, but you should get what I'm saying) likes this video. (I've had it posted and reposted several times on Facebook, from many liberal/progressive Mormon friends)

For me, it all boils down to the guy who started the video. "“I know you expect me to say it gets better, but…if I’m going to be authentic, I can’t say that.”

And, in the end:

"…I know [my sister] loves me, and she tells me that it gets better…and I hope it does."

I don't think it's fair to say that the LDS church's position on gay people is that they are not human...however, I don't think it gives a whole lot of options. Basically, from a realistic perspective, in order for these students to remain in good standing with the church, they must be celibate. But it's even a different standing of celibacy than unmarried straight members of the church would face. For those straight members, if they had a friend of the opposite sex, could at the very least kiss, hug, hold hands, etc., But someone who was gay could not do the same for their same-sex boyfriend or girlfriend without having questions raised.

Now, i think that in some religious traditions, celibacy is valued as a meaningful theological alternative...but in Mormonism, it really isn't. There's too much devoted to marriage and families, so being single is always a less-than-ideal state.

And what does the faithful gay member of the church have to look forward to if they remain chaste in this life? Well, in the next life, they may become straight, and be able to find an eternal companion. Now, I don't know if that's doctrinal or if it's just a folk teaching, but whatever the case, it's not that comforting. So, in other words, I (or any hypothetical gay Mormon) can look forward to becoming an essentially different person in the afterlife...and that's a positive?
posted by subversiveasset at 3:40 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gay is okay to the mormons only if you're celibate.

I suppose if you're up for that and progress to you means that you can now officially be out without fear of being officially hated on by the school..... then yeah, it does get better.

Now, to step back into reality, celibacy is no life for a normal human being. Asking these poor self hating kids to love the church and be celibate for their entire lives so that god will love them is vile.

There's nothing to celebrate here. This is a publicity stunt by the church and these kids are being used. The only god is the one made up by men so that they can control other men.
posted by mikehipp at 3:49 PM on April 9, 2012 [15 favorites]


"By mentioning the reason this video even exists in the first place?"

The video exists because the LDS doesn't think that homosexuals are human beings? Since the latter isn't true, the former doesn't follow.

I can think of few things that any major religion has been responsible for in the US in the last decade that I'm as angry about as Prop 8 and the LDS. I'm extremely angry about bigotry against gays and lesbians and extremely supportive of opposition efforts against all such bigotry, especially when it's institutionalized as it is with the LDS and at BYU. And I understand the desire to make angry statement's such as basicchannel made.

But in many cases — far too many cases — there's a fine line between angrily speaking truth to power and engaging in a reciprocated bigotry that unfairly and negatively generalizes about entire classes of people, either directly or via their institutional affiliations. This is especially true with regard to institutions which are political, ethnic, or religious. And most especially true in the last — religious institutions and believers.

It's not that I can't think of, off the top of my head, many examples of various religions and sects that enforce deeply unjust and offensive beliefs and policies and practices that make me extremely angry and which I adamantly and outspokenly oppose. I won't even claim that religion is no more guilty of this stuff than other institutions, because I think that it historically has been and is. (Though I will argue that it also has in very, very many cases been the fertile ground and driving force behind social reformation against such injustices — of which the slavery abolitionist movement is only one, though a premiere, example.) But in every such case which comes to mind, I am aware that such beliefs and practices are not universal within those religions and sects; that there are many people working within those religion and sects to abolish those beliefs and practices; and, most importantly, that it's patently, even grossly, unfair to morally tar every individual member of said religions and sects for such beliefs and practices and to, intentionally or not, encourage a bigotry against all those individuals by making them into undifferentiated caricatures which are easier to vilify than, you know, actual individual persons.

And, to the specific comment in question, one of the ways in which this sort of reciprocated bigotry is accomplished is by making provocative and hyperbolic statements such as that one. The LDS doesn't even recognize gays and lesbians as human beings? Burn it to the ground! Were that true, the previous sentence would be a reasonable responsible, given that entirely dehumanizing people makes the most extreme atrocities possible. If I believed that all orthodox members of the LDS believed that gays and lesbians weren't human beings, I'd form very harsh judgments against them; which would, not coincidentally, make it more reasonable for me to speak and actually act harshly against them as people (as opposed to acting against the institution).

It's entirely possible to oppose and condemn the official LDS position on homosexuality without engaging in provocative hyperbole or outright bigotry. For some it's apparently quite difficult, but it's still not impossible.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:13 PM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


"The only god is the one made up by men so that they can control other men.

FFS, that is entirely gratuitous.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:14 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a publicity stunt by the church and these kids are being used.

Do you have some evidence to support this assertion?
posted by The World Famous at 4:14 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


subversiveasset, I guess I just assumed that the people who made this video oppose the church's stance and want to make it acceptable for gay Mormons to, you know, actually be a in a relationship. But they don't explicitly state that, so maybe that's just a poor assumption on my part.

Because otherwise, if their stance is "oh, you can be gay, but you can't actually have a relationship with anyone that you're attracted to", then yeah, that's still a really shitty thing to tell someone.

I tried to google around a bit to see if I could answer this with actual facts, but the only thing I could find was their Facebook page, which is unclear as to what extent they oppose the church's position, if at all. If indeed they just take the standard LDS position, then my warm fuzzies will be somewhat diminished.
posted by jcreigh at 4:26 PM on April 9, 2012


I've read that there's been an interesting response in the Mormon community about this video, and specifically at BYU. Anyone have some links?
posted by Nelson at 4:26 PM on April 9, 2012


What about this? Two men arrested for a kiss on the cheek near the LDS temple. I'm an ex-mormon, so things like this are a hot button issue with me. My brother and I had a long talk with my mormon sister after California Prop 8 thing, specifically about the lies that were spread from that six consequences document. She couldn't summon the critical thinking to debunk it, and perhaps it's apostasy to even question it. But that's the culture of Mormonism -- anyone questioning the leadership of the church is to be cut off from the church. (Go lurk on the ex-mormon subreddit a bit and see many heartwrenching examples of this.) I hope these brave students are able to do well there. There's coming out and then there's really coming out.
posted by Catblack at 4:27 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


This video seems to occupy the same cultural space as the blog entries by Single Dad Laughing, "I'm a Christian, unless you're gay" and the responses (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7), where it's a living, breathing struggle for people to attempt to step outside their background and creed to ask, "Is this really how we're supposed to live?"

I freely admit that I live in a geographic and socioeconomic bubble where the default trends toward secular humanism, so watching videos like the one in the main post, or reading blog entries where a teenager writes, in his coming-out essay, about living in a household where
"My mom and dad always are being angry about gay people and talking about how they are bad and going to hell and they also always talk about how all the gays should be shipped off to their own private island or something so that the rest of us could live God’s commandments in peace"
... well, I don't condone that mindset and I can't understand any creed that encourages anyone to think of sexual preferences as a "lifestyle" rather than an innate biological tendency. But as a California resident who is still shocked and furious that the LDS saw fit to throw money at my state's elections because they think it's appropriate to deny gay citizens equal rights under the law, I do appreciate learning about the mindsets and struggles outside the bubble.
posted by sobell at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


[basicchannel, if you want to have a conversation here, please try to talk to the other commenters and maybe wait til you're not posting from your phone? Otherwise MetaTalk is certainly your option if the post itself is bothering you.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:35 PM on April 9, 2012


jcreigh,

Yeah, I think the ambiguity is killer. Because I think a lot of people assume that the students here oppose the church's stance (I guess that's why they see this as such a positive thing)...but I can't help but feel that that may not be the case.

I understand why the students can't come out (pun only partially intended) and express disagreement with the church's stance in a public way...either in this video or on the FB page. It's because to the extent that they publicly start talking like that, they risk being shut down, or potentially being investigated by the church or their school.

But even if that's the case -- that they oppose the church's position, but they just are being ambiguous about it...I still think that's pretty sad.
posted by subversiveasset at 4:54 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't have a problem with the post. Everyone knows who I am talking to. I'm not on a phone. I have an issue with the response to this video and the likely repercussions the participants will face.

Also, I'll post from any device I want. Sometimes, albeit rarely, I'll make a spelling error. It happens.

I've read that there's been an interesting response in the Mormon community about this video, and specifically at BYU. Anyone have some links?
posted by Nelson at 4:26 PM on April 9 [+] [!]


This is the most interesting and, I think, salient part that hasn't really been represented here. I've looked on some LDS forums but can't find any reaction, although I'm not as familiar with where to look as someone in the church would be.
posted by basicchannel at 5:08 PM on April 9, 2012


This is the most interesting and, I think, salient part that hasn't really been represented here.

You didn't seem particularly interested in my reaction.
posted by The World Famous at 5:14 PM on April 9, 2012


That said the Mormon Church's opinion on homosexuality is pretty clear: you aren't human beings.

That's not true at all. Homosexuals are just as human as any other handicapped person who can't marry and therefore be sexually intimate with anyone.
posted by fleacircus at 5:21 PM on April 9, 2012


Unfortunately, The World Famous, your comments say a lot more about Metafilter than LDS. I appreciate your effort to share your opinions here, but I fear that despite the best efforts by the moderators there's no way this conversation can be salvaged. What I really want to read is what Mormons are saying to each other in an insider community where the conversation starts from a less defensive place.

I'm gay, not a practicing Christian of any stripe, and am deeply offended by the LDS stance and actions on homosexuality. I'm also fascinated by the LDS as a uniquely American religion and have a lot of respect for some aspects of Mormon culture and community. I'd like a bit of an inside view on how Mormons are reacting to this video. I'm not going to find it on MeFi.
posted by Nelson at 5:24 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I DO want your reaction, World Famous. As Nelson said, though, I doubt it would reflect the popular opinion amongst the faithful.
posted by basicchannel at 5:27 PM on April 9, 2012


It's very interesting to me that this video starts out with the guy saying that he doesn't really know whether things are going to get better. I've never seen anything like that in an It Gets Better video.

The people who put this video together clearly put a lot of thought and work into it. They had a reason for starting with that kind of depressing, off-putting note, almost a note of despair.

I wonder who that was directed to, and if it has something to do with their audience in the Mormon community.share here.

I'd also be really interested in hearing how the larger Mormon community is reacting to this video. If anyone finds links -- if any public discussion exists -- please
posted by alms at 5:36 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nelson,

I actually haven't seen much discussion. There has been a brief post at Feminist Mormon Housewives, but really, there seemed to have been more discussion on the last event that the USGA (the group that worked to produce this video) hosted: it was an event with a panel of gay BYU students speaking. The unofficial campus newspaper The Student Review live-blogged it. There were also Mormon forum topics about it.
posted by subversiveasset at 5:37 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


basicchannel, I'm not sure there is anything that could fairly be characterized as a popular opinion among the faithful of the LDS Church on any subject, given the sheer size and global reach of the Church's membership, as well as the generally very disparate doctrinal interpretations and opinions of even the most ostensibly homogeneous populations within the Church. I'm also not sure that there exists an online forum where "the larger Mormon community's" views are reflected, to the extent that there even exists such a community.

On a more personal note, I do find it disheartening that people on MetaFilter seem to have the impression that I am not among the faithful of my religion. I think that, rather than recognizing my views and opinions as evidence that Mormonism and its membership do not match the stereotypes and characterizations typically put forth, I am viewed as merely an outlier. On the other hand, I agree that I can only speak for myself, and that, in order to get a view of what others are saying, you'd have to find where those others are saying it. As I said above, I'm not sure there exists a forum where anything that could fairly be characterized as the "larger LDS community" would have its myriad and, no doubt, conflicting views reflected. I would say, however, that I have observed that most of the views of more politically conservative Mormons on homosexuality seem to come more from their political affiliation than from their religion, even though they may not recognize that distinction.

It's very interesting to me that this video starts out with the guy saying that he doesn't really know whether things are going to get better.

It is interesting. Having attended BYU in the 90s and knowing many gay current and former Mormons who attended BYU in previous decades, I can confirm that things have already gotten much better, and I think it's safe to assume that they will continue to improve, though very slowly. It is, of course, not very comforting to someone experiencing persecution to tell them that it used to be worse.

I have a ton to say on this topic, based on extensive personal experiences in the church related to the issue, including my own service in church leadership and my interactions with higher-level church leaders during the course of the terrible Prop 8. But I am growing increasingly weary of the disrespectful atmosphere on MetaFilter surrounding the topic of Mormonism and religion generally, which seems to manifest itself in a general refusal by those angry with or opposed to Mormonism to consider complex issues, closely examine facts and evidence, consider Mormonism as a heterogeneous, complex culture and religion, or discuss the issues in good faith. In these threads, I see a few people who want to have a discussion in good faith shouted down by a few people who, though justifiably emotional and opposed to certain things they observe about Mormonism, can't seem to resist making patently false assertions, hyperbole, and angry non-sequiturs - not to mention the general anti-religion sniping in the form of personal attacks about my ability or interest in evidence, logic, etc.

Basically, I can't really resist participating in discussion about Mormonism. And the issue of homosexuality in the Mormon church, the church's doctrines with regard to homosexuality, and the church's non-doctrinal policies and actions in that regard is one with which I have more experience than most and about which I sharply disagree with what are typically held up as the official church positions. But, at the same time, I'm reluctant to post anything detailed or nuanced, because I have seen the childish, dishonest responses already and I'm not interested in an internet fight.

I've met so many MetaFilter people in real life and none of them have been jerks in person. I have sat down to detailed, extensive, and respectful conversations about these issues with MeFites whose support of GLBT rights are as strong as I can imagine. And I have come out of those conversations knowing that I and they see eye to eye. I was just in Salt Lake over General Conference weekend and had a fantastic discussion about this stuff over a late-night dinner with a group of friends that included ex-Mormons who oppose the Church's position on these issues, one other MeFite, and "faithful" Mormons. Nobody accused anyone else of being uninterested in evidence or of thinking homosexuals are not human beings. I had lunch last week at BYU with one of my closest college friends, who is now a BYU professor, where we discussed these issues in the specific context of BYU and her role as a professor. Somehow we were both able to refrain from personal attacks or unfounded hyperbolic trolling.

So I'll save my commentary for a venue where I won't be heckled and where an intelligent, respectful discussion can actually be had. I wish MetaFilter was one of those venues. On some topics it is. This is my favorite place on the internet and a community of which I am proud to be a part. MetaFilter is important to me. But let me tell you: I was asked to give a 30-minute talk in Sacrament Meeting on Easter Sunday yesterday. I said things that I know were unpopular and with which I'm sure some people disagreed, including the Bishop sitting behind me as I stood at the pulpit and spoke. But nobody heckled me there, and after the meeting people only said nice things, including the ones who wanted to talk about the stuff they disagreed with. I feel more free to discuss my discomfort and disagreement with the Mormon Church's policies at church than I do on MetaFilter. And that's messed up.
posted by The World Famous at 6:20 PM on April 9, 2012 [16 favorites]


How could you be so confident your opinions would be so unpopular in a group you claim holds such diverse views?
posted by basicchannel at 6:35 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


How could you be so confident your opinions would be so unpopular in a group you claim holds such diverse views?

Are you asking how I could possibly be familiar with the religious views and opinions of people I talk to about their religious views and opinions all the time? I'm not sure I understand the question.
posted by The World Famous at 6:42 PM on April 9, 2012


Also, assuming you're asking how I can be confident that some people in the congregation disagreed with some things I said in my Easter Sunday Sacrament Meeting talk, at least some of that confidence comes from the fact that people talked with me respectfully about those things after the meeting.

It's a lot like the way that I know that many of my opinions are unpopular on MetaFilter: I participate actively in the community, pay attention to what other people say instead of just listening to myself talk, and I notice when other people say that they disagree with me.
posted by The World Famous at 6:49 PM on April 9, 2012


Basically, I can't really resist participating in discussion about Mormonism.

But, at the same time, I'm reluctant to post anything detailed or nuanced, because I have seen the childish, dishonest responses already and I'm not interested in an internet fight.

Taking those two statements together, you might understand that others may feel that you're trying to shut down critical discussion on this thread of an organization that has recently (actively) worked against equal rights for gays. Please tell me if I'm completely off base here, but this is the read I've gotten from your post above: you feel that such criticism of the Mormon church is unfair, because good people like you are trying to do something about the bigotry within the church, but you're not going to share "anything detailed or nuanced", because that could be used in a mean-spirited way against the church?
posted by amorphatist at 6:51 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


others may feel that you're trying to shut down critical discussion

Come on. If I don't post a treatise, I'm trying to shut down critical discussion? For crying out loud.

Please tell me if I'm completely off base here, but this is the read I've gotten from your post above: you feel that such criticism of the Mormon church is unfair, because good people like you are trying to do something about the bigotry within the church, but you're not going to share "anything detailed or nuanced", because that could be used in a mean-spirited way against the church?

You're completely off base here, in every conceivable way.
posted by The World Famous at 7:00 PM on April 9, 2012


The World Famous,

At the risk of stepping into something I will regret stepping into, I would suggest that perhaps what basicchannel was getting at was this:

Earlier, you said that you were not sure that there was anything that "could fairly be characterized as a popular opinion among the faithful of the church on any given subject". Your reasoning: the sheer size and global reach of the church's membership as well as the disparate doctrinal interpretations that members have.

But if this is the case, then how can you be certain that your own opinions are unpopular?

You say it's because you listen to people talk with you...but you have made an assumption here that cannot work with both of your statements. The assumption is that the people who talked to you about disagreeing with your statements were a representative body of people (e.g., there are enough of them so that you can say your statements are "unpopular." It's not that a few people dislike your statements...but that enough people dislike them that you would say you made some *unpopular* statements.)

But isn't it possible, even in a ward environment, to have a diverse membership, but not even be aware of it.

Trying to get back to the topic on hand, I think that's in part what videos like there are about. Gay BYU students walk around thinking they are the only ones, but then they realize they aren't. And then they start speaking out to point out to other people that they aren't the only ones.

I think the reason that people assume things about the LDS church (and that assumption isn't "diversity") is because, for whatever the actual diversity of the church is, the public face of Mormonism so often tends to skew a certain way. If you've ever heard of the term "TBM" or "True Blue/Believing Mormon" thrown around in a discussion, you should be able to understand the gist of what people are talking about -- because there definitely IS a stereotype of what it means to be an orthodox, faithful Mormon...even if that stereotype does not capture the reality of how expansive Mormonism can be.

Let me just throw another thing out there...isn't there research that shows that when someone likes a product, they may not say much about it to their friends...but when someone dislikes a product or service, they are far more likely to warn their friends, complain publicly, etc., Couldn't this also be true in the realm of ideas? So, when someone appreciates something you say, they may not necessarily be out there saying that they agree. But the people who disagree will definitely go out and make that known.

So...just from "participat[ing] actively in the community, pay[ing] attention to what other people say instead of just listening to [your]self talk," you can't really get an accurate view of whether you are popular or unpopular. You can't be sure whether the people who say they disagree with you are a consensus or simply a loud minority.
posted by subversiveasset at 7:02 PM on April 9, 2012


"How could you be so confident your opinions would be so unpopular in a group you claim holds such diverse views?"

You didn't ask this question in good-faith. You're just playing a "gotchya" game. Obviously, it's much easier for The World Famous to have a sense of the collective views of those who listened to his 30-minute talk at a Sacrament Meeting than the entire LDS membership, which is what his previous comment was referring to in the context of "a group which holds such diverse views".

"Taking those two statements together, you might understand that others may feel that you're trying to shut down critical discussion on this thread of an organization that has recently (actively) worked against equal rights for gays. Please tell me if I'm completely off base here, but this is the read I've gotten from your post above: you feel that such criticism of the Mormon church is unfair, because good people like you are trying to do something about the bigotry within the church, but you're not going to share "anything detailed or nuanced", because that could be used in a mean-spirited way against the church?"

I see nothing in what TWF has written in this thread that could be fairly construed as an attempt to "shut down critical discussion" in this thread. Yes, you're off-base because TWS has not, in fact, claimed that criticism of the LDS is "unfair". All TWF has complained about are comments such as basicchannel's first contribution to this thread — comments which are not merely critical of the church, but are in fact falsehoods that are intended to be provocative and which badly distort subsequent conversation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:02 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


TWF, while I understand that it's unpleasant to read disrespectful and not well informed opinions please don't forget that in a forum like this most of the people here are silent. I've always appreciated reading your thoughts on your church. I'm heartened to learn that many mormons have views on homosexuality that differ from the church's public stance. I'd love to hear more about what you're seeing from the inside. And I'd really like to hear more about how you see the beliefs that you and others have about homosexuals juxtapose with those of the church leaders in the future. the church has changed many times in the past but this particular issue seems trickier than most. my understanding is that the church teaches that our gender is eternal (we always were what we are and always will be) and that by far the most important thing we can do is to marry someone of the opposite gender and to progress together and start a new world as heavenly parents of new spirit children (I'm fuzzy on the details because I think the church also teaches that spirits/intelligences are eternal in that they've been around forever). obviously incorporating non heterosexual relationships would require a massive change in the fundamentals of the church's teachings and the heavenly plan. as I say, I'd love to hear more from church members who have thought about these issues. (apologies for any misunderstandings I may have about the church's teachings)
posted by sineater at 7:09 PM on April 9, 2012


[Seriously folks, some of you are being shitty. Go to MeTa if you can't really be decent to other members here.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:13 PM on April 9, 2012


You're completely off base here, in every conceivable way.

One would hope that a post like this would be an opportunity to learn about the developments on this topic; i.e. what's going on within the Mormon community wrt to homosexuality. Being that you appear to be informed on this topic, I for one would welcome the opportunity to gain a more detailed and nuanced understanding of what's going on. If I'm completely off base as you say, then I suppose I completely fail to understand your position about not sharing this information.
posted by amorphatist at 7:16 PM on April 9, 2012


Are you asking how I could possibly be familiar with the religious views and opinions of people I talk to about their religious views and opinions all the time? I'm not sure I understand the question.
posted by The World Famous at 6:42 PM on April 9 [+] [!]


That's what I mean, though. You DO know. I don't think you are being completely honest with us in this discussion. The global LDS community is ethnically, geographically, economically and culturally diverse but not as diverse as you claim with regards to beliefs about homosexuals and I feel like you know this. There are those fighting a good fight, you seem to be one of them. But the overwhelming majority at any stake you're likely to give a talk at for Easter would have reacted similarly.

I've gone to the aforementioned Quaker Meeting with many ex-LDS, I grew up in an area that is heavily LDS, had the pleasure of having a best friend throughout my younger years who is LDS (and his family as well, who I was also very close with...), have been involved in an LDS wedding at the SLC Temple (although I wasn't allowed to participate in most aspects of it), heard the Tabernacle and all that. I say this because, of course, I've known these PEOPLE. The individual is a human being and that comes with all the complexity a human being is going to have. However, as an organization, it is far less subtle and complex with regards to its intent towards the rest of the world.

I've heard an incredibly broad range of opinions from those self-identifying as Mormon in the situations I've mentioned. It never changes the fact that this religion is not rooted in acceptance of homosexuals and the passing of Proposition 8 during the last election cycle is a major recent example of this. I think the core of our disagreement about what the Church IS is, while you believe I am overstating the homogeneity of the Church, I am certain you overstate its diversity and popularity of opinions on homosexuality.

This isn't a case of someone using the laughable phrase "the black community" as if all black people think the same way. However, here we have a dogmatic church which literally tells you what to think... of course I would think there's a homogeneity of opinion.
posted by basicchannel at 7:48 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


However, here we have a dogmatic church which literally tells you what to think... of course I would think there's a homogeneity of opinion.

The thing is, Mormonism - as a religion - is expressly opposed to dogmatism. As a culture, however, Mormons are often extremely dogmatic. That creates some interesting and frustrating problems both in the way that members of the Church behave and in the way the Church is perceived. Nevertheless, I strongly disagree with your assertion that the church "literally tells you what to think," and I'd be interested in seeing the source of that assertion, if there is one.
posted by The World Famous at 7:54 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The World Famous:

Thanks for posting your perspective from inside the Church. I know a little from personal experience both how diverse and how difficult this conversation is in Salt Lake City. I don't know how much other commenters here know of the diversity within Mormonism.

One thing that strikes me as interesting, both about this video and your comments is that it highlights a conversation that IS happening within the Church but that is silent to many many ears. There is much below the surface in the Mormon Church (and is other fundamentalist faith communities) that reveals the depth of humanity. If we think of these religious institutions as Borgs, we do a great disservice to those who are exploring within, trying to break out or break down or trying to change them altogether. To confuse the power structure with the base is a mistake.

We almost all of us struggle with being a part of something that is powerful, isn't perfect and so requires differentiating ourselves from it. You (and these folks in the video) are reconciling that struggle within Mormonism (and who knows where you all will end up?) For some other commenters here perhaps, that struggle might have to do with being American, or being male, or being white. How do any of us reconcile being both privileged enough to post on the blue and aware enough to distance ourselves from the labour conditions that make such posting possible?

So allI am saying really is thanks. And for what it's worth, consider me an ally in trying to create a safer space where you can talk openly about this stuff. I think indeed that is what the OP is all about.
posted by salishsea at 8:05 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


The thing is, Mormonism - as a religion - is expressly opposed to dogmatism. As a culture, however, Mormons are often extremely dogmatic.

What about the church leadership? Where do they come into this equation?

From the outside the Mormon church certainly appears to be an organization that brooks very little dissent among its members. Is there not a requirement of obedience, and how does dissent on a subject like sexuality manifest in light of that?
posted by alms at 8:19 PM on April 9, 2012


Every faith needs revising, always.

Every faith needs revising, always, absolutely. But I don't think it's a sign of a lack of good faith to question aggressively why the hierarchies of faith traditions like the LDS, the Catholic Church, and so many other faiths are still so completely and implacably at odds with the lived convictions of many of their members who insist, as you clearly do, that gay people deserve respect. For better or worse, the "public face" of the church is also the face that makes the decisions: decisions about what resources to commit, for example, to legislation that has significant and measurable impacts on the lives of gay people. You say that you're weary of fighting against tendentious and ill-formed conceptions of what the mass of LDS members believe. Well, fair enough. I'm weary of picking up the paper and launching my browser and reading about the latest ill-conceived missile of hatred and ignorance from higher-ups in some organized religious community, often backed with buckets of cash -- the latest example being the effort by the LDS in Maryland to collect 200,000 signatures by the end of May to overturn that state's marriage equality law -- to make sure that the lives of gay people remain lives of inequality and second-class status. You say that there are many members of the church working to change the minds of "those within the church who are homophobic to varying degrees." That's fantastic. But for the time being, those within the church who are homophobic -- including, it should be noted, people in positions of power, including the church's (by far) most visible member, Mitt Romney -- are actively working and speaking with their dollars to undermine the meager gains that gay people have made legislatively in the US over the past ten years.

That said, this video is amazing. I watch videos like this and I think back to the time when I was in college -- terrified of coming out, yet living every single day on campus with feelings and desires that I couldn't ever possibly fully acknowledge, let alone identify to anyone around me -- and I feel happy that these students have the bravery to make such a profound statement of their identities in such a hostile environment. I don't know if It Gets Better or not, but I can't help but think that every time something like this happens, and it happens so often now that it's thrilling and stupefying, it makes it likely that real change -- the kind of change I never thought I would live to see when I was in college -- will happen more and more quickly and more and more inexorably.
posted by blucevalo at 8:24 PM on April 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


this religion is not rooted in acceptance of homosexuals and the passing of Proposition 8 during the last election cycle is a major recent example of this. I think the core of our disagreement about what the Church IS is, while you believe I am overstating the homogeneity of the Church, I am certain you overstate its diversity and popularity of opinions on homosexuality.

If you suspect a significant portion of Mormons and sufficient mass of leadership believe that homosexual behavior is a "sin", I think I would agree, but part of the problem here is that without knowing how to unpack that in the context of LDS (and some Christian) theology, it's easy to make the mistake of assuming that any expressed disapproval of homosexual orientation or behavior is equivalent to the idea that people involved "aren't human beings" as you say.

To be fair, there are certainly Mormons (among others) who experience the same confusion, and that certainly doesn't help matters.

But it's not hard to argue from an essentially currently orthodox Mormon position that the tribal policing and other problems that stem from that confusion unjustified (or even itself a sin), and I think on this front, TWF is fairly justified in saying both the range and quality of the opinions out there is much broader than you seem to be entertaining.
posted by weston at 8:44 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


alms

From the outside the Mormon church certainly appears to be an organization that brooks very little dissent among its members. Is there not a requirement of obedience, and how does dissent on a subject like sexuality manifest in light of that?

Keep in mind that obedience is in a different sphere than dissent. One is about actions, while the other is about words/beliefs.

So it is very possible for someone to dissent on a subject like sexuality, but still be obedient to all commandments and expectations of the church.

The tricky parts are where orthodoxy and orthopraxy cross over...for example, how can you define what right practice is without having a set of right beliefs about that practice?

...and the crossover works in the other direction as well...you may be able to disagree about right beliefs, but at some point, the expression ("advocacy"/"teaching") of those different beliefs falls into the area of practice.
posted by subversiveasset at 8:49 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about the church leadership? Where do they come into this equation?

Assuming you're asking about the 12 Apostles and the three members of the First Presidency, and maybe also the 140 members of the First and Second quorums of the Seventy, it depends entirely on the individual. Some church leaders can tend to be a bit dogmatic. But most, in my experience, are not at all. They are opinionated. But it is common for church leaders to differ in opinion on all but a very small handful of core doctrinal issues. Unfortunately, the more dogmatic church leaders tend to be the ones who publish and say the most popularly-quoted things. For example, people still love to get up in arms about things Bruce R. McConkie said in the 1960s, when he was a dogmatic Seventy, but nobody ever seems to quote David O. McKay, the not-dogmatic President of the Church at the time, or, for that matter, James E. Faust, Apostle and member of the First Presidency who was the chair of the Utah Democratic Party and was appointed by John F. Kennedy to the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights (and whose quotes about social justice, easily found on the Church's website, really should have resulted in Glenn Beck leaving the church if he had followed his own advice).

From the outside the Mormon church certainly appears to be an organization that brooks very little dissent among its members.

What do you mean, exactly? I've seen - on MetaFilter, no less, someone loudly and angrily complaining that the Mormon Church would not excommunicate or disfellowship him, in spite of years of open dissent against the church, clear disobedience to its tenets, and refusal to participate in any church activity. On the one hand, people seem to think the Mormon church has a hair trigger excommunication policy (it does not). On the other hand, people seem to think the Mormon Church refuses ever to take anyone off of its rolls. It's actually neither.
posted by The World Famous at 8:56 PM on April 9, 2012


bluecevalo

Although I doubt that this post will be received very well, I'll push back on a few things that I think are happening in your latest comment.

As an aside, I think that there are some words that don't really move discussions forward. For example, whenever people ask if Mormonism is a cult, I think that nothing more can really come from that discussion. Once someone has used that word, you really can't go anywhere with that. (I'm not saying that anyone is doing that in this thread.)

I think that "homophobia" has a similar conversation-stopping effect. And that's what I think happens a lot of the time when people talk about the LDS church's positions on homosexuality. Since the church officially doesn't support gay marriage, then the only possible reason that could be is because they are homophobes! And because they don't support gay marriage, that means that they do not officially believe"that gay people deserve respect."

We've got to untie a bunch of assumptions here...firstly, the different parties are at very different places as to what "respect" looks like. And because of that, they are at very different places when it comes to what actions should be taken to respect someone. Since everyone isn't starting from the same starting axioms, it's begging the question to conflate respect for gay people with support of gay marriage.

I think that's why I'm not exactly as positive about things like this video. I know enough Mormons -- gay and otherwise -- who simply buy into different axioms about human purpose, eternal goals, etc., etc., and so even if they come to acceptance that homosexuality is a thing...they will continue to believe that gay relationships are not something that's OK. Are the gay Mormons who think this way "self-loathing"? Are the straight Mormons who think this way "homophobic?" Well, throwing these terms around will do nothing to change those attitudes, wherever they exist.
posted by subversiveasset at 9:00 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


On dogma:

The President of the Church is the only man empowered to receive revelation for the entire church and to clarify doctrine.
Gordon B. Hinckley, late president of the church, officially welcomed gay people in the church,[33] and affirmed them as good people in an interview "Now we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action against such people – provided they don’t become involved in transgression, sexual transgression. If they do, we do with them exactly what we’d do with heterosexuals who transgress".[34]

Although there is no official policy to this effect, some church leaders have stated that homosexual, lesbian and gay should be used as adjectives to describe thoughts, feelings or behaviors, and never as nouns to describe conditions or people.[2][36][37]
So the only person in the church who can receive revelation and leads the church isn't de facto dogmatic leader? Come on. And when that man and the leadership underneath him call homosexuality a "condition" what effect do you think that has on the flock? A grassroots anything pales next to the influence of God's Word.
posted by basicchannel at 9:00 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the only person in the church who can receive revelation and leads the church isn't de facto dogmatic leader? Come on. And when that man and the leadership underneath him call homosexuality a "condition" what effect do you think that has on the flock? A grassroots anything pales next to the influence of God's Word.

I think you can historically see how both true and untrue is your assertion as it applies similarly to the Catholic Church and the Pope. Such leaders can and do have immense influence; but that varies by time and circumstance and, regardless, the overall evolution of a religious orthodoxy is more driven by its cultural environment than it is by any individual, even one who is institutionally most powerful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:08 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the only person in the church who can receive revelation and leads the church isn't de facto dogmatic leader?

Well, first, the scripture you linked does not say the words that you present as if they're a quote. And you're offering your own interpretation of my religion's scripture as if your interpretation is somehow authoritative. I'm sure you can understand why I don't put a whole lot of stock in your interpretation of scriptures you don't even believe in in an effort to tell me what you think I'm supposed to believe.

Second, the President of the Church is not a de facto leader. He's the de jure leader.

Third, you added the word "dogmatic" simply in an attempt to prove a point that is unsupported logically by the information you offered to support it. Of course, lots of Mormons make the same mistake you did, and that's why I pointed out that, as a culture, Mormonism can be quite dogmatic.

And when that man and the leadership underneath him call homosexuality a "condition" what effect do you think that has on the flock?

I'm not following you. Nowhere in the block of text that you pasted does it say that GBH called homosexuality a "condition." In fact, your block of text explicitly says that some church leaders have stated that it should NEVER be described as such.
posted by The World Famous at 9:10 PM on April 9, 2012


Also, basicchannel, I would add:

1. Not only does Mormonism not consider the Prophets, Apostles, etc. to be infallible, but their fallibility and the importance of constant re-examination and revision is a critical part of Mormon doctrines.

2. Did you read the entire Doctrine and Covenants section you linked? If you did, you might have noticed verse 13, which provides that "all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith."
posted by The World Famous at 9:15 PM on April 9, 2012


First, here's a report from the local (to BYU) NPR affiliate. (Copying from a reddit comment here:) "The report includes an interview with producer Kendall Wilcox who says this video could not have been made two years ago. Recent changes to the honor code policy allowed the students to come out on these videos without fear of being disciplined for merely stating that they were LGBT."
posted by Catblack at 10:06 PM on April 9, 2012



Now for some other things I'd like to say.

I really wish there was a mirror of this 2009 video of an LDS church member questioning the use of LDS church funds to support proposition 8 and having the mic cut off by his bishop. I remember watching it and found his tone to be reasonable, and that he was stating his moral objection to the use of church funds for this political cause.

Then there was the clip of the author of the Six Consequences document, Gary Lawrence and his "we want negative buzz" clip, (which has somehow been taken down for multiple copyright violation notifications by the same person, but is transcribed at the link.)

I bring these items from 2009 up because to me, they are still relevant, though the videos have been taken down. There was even a whole documentary made about the large contribution the LDS church made towards the passing of Proposition 8.

I bring this up because though unlikely, if I was to attend an LDS church service again, and was to bear testimony, I'm sure the bishop would cut my mic, too. Because what I'd say is what I've found in my path as a Saint -- as a self described one, but the church does have me on it's rolls, and my ancestor was one of the 40-and-3-colored-slaves who walked into the Salt Lake valley: That it isn't the plumbing of your partner -- the same as yours, not the same as yours -- that matters, it's about the love you have for them. Sex is sex, it's a basic human need. Clearly the early LDS founders liked sex, they had plenty of wives (though not all of the wives were down with the bigamy.) It's wrong to tell people that they are free to love whom they wish, but if it's someone of the same gender than it's a transgression (aka sin) to consummate that love. What matters, what really matters, is that sex with love is more fulfilling. I'd call it more holy, but I'm probably speaking way to much apostasy for the True Blue Mormons already. Loving your neighbor "as I have loved you" includes respecting your neighbor's love, even if that love is for someone of the same gender as they are. They'll respect your love, whomever you love, in return; take that reciprocal respect as an act of faith. Acknowledging gay marraige isn't going to violate anything about the sanctity of your marriage. Giving gays and lesbians the same respect and rights for their love, their relationships as you have is what's important, and what's sacred.

To me, from the basis of this Mormon morality I was raised with, the true evil is bearing false witness (as in the Six Consequences document), and true evil is denying the love inside another person. Denying that their heart beats as yours does, that their eternal soul shines like yours does. True evil lies in rejecting their right to love another as you do, and can.

My "still, small voice" tells me that this is what's right, and it still guides the path I follow.

My best to the brave students at BYU who made this video; it gets better.
posted by Catblack at 10:51 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since my response was deleted, I'll instead change my response: Tithing supported Prop 8, and what's more they lied about it.
posted by basicchannel at 12:06 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not seeing any mention of tithing in that linked article. Can you point me to the paragraph that you believe indicates that tithing funds were the source of those expenditures?
posted by The World Famous at 12:24 AM on April 10, 2012


The World Famous, I can't say I haven't had issues with your defense of the church, but I truly appreciate your thoughtful responses in these threads, and I too am irritated with the noise that prevents real conversation, despite my views.

I hope that you can ignore that which is not in good faith or is simply not addressable, and have a good conversation with those who are willing to. I haven't had much useful to contribute, so I keep it to myself, but I have learned a lot from reading that I would not have anywhere else.
posted by flaterik at 12:30 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"FFS, that is entirely gratuitous."

BYU is a religiously sponsored university. Therefore, a statement of fact about the god that the religion in question reports to support is no more gratuitous than talking about the university itself.

Once more, these kids are being discriminated against (yes, they still are being discriminated against, no matter how far the church feels it has come) soley because of the religion that they so sorely want to be a part of. This is another reason that a simple statement of fact is not gratuitous.
posted by mikehipp at 3:59 AM on April 10, 2012


Since the church officially doesn't support gay marriage, then the only possible reason that could be is because they are homophobes!

There's a world of difference between "doesn't support gay marriage" and "actively campaigns to destroy existing gay marriages". As it openly did for non-Mormons in California with Proposition 8.
posted by Francis at 5:29 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that "homophobia" has a similar conversation-stopping effect. And that's what I think happens a lot of the time when people talk about the LDS church's positions on homosexuality. Since the church officially doesn't support gay marriage, then the only possible reason that could be is because they are homophobes! And because they don't support gay marriage, that means that they do not officially believe"that gay people deserve respect."

I'm not going to get drawn into a debate about whether the LDS hierarchy's positions are homophobic or not, let alone whether "homophobia" is an appropriate word to use. But I will point out that "homophobic" was a word used earlier in this thread to describe some members of the church by The World Famous -- not me -- and I was responding to his comment.
posted by blucevalo at 5:44 AM on April 10, 2012


BYU Official: Mormon Students in 'It Gets Better' Video Won't Be Punished Unless They Act on Their Gay Feelings.
posted by ericb at 6:26 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not seeing any mention of tithing in that linked article.

Well, this is ancillary, but I think the point is that church funds - almost $200,000 more than the pittance they first reported - were used to fight equality under the law for everyone in California. The assumption is that some of that money either came from or was freed up by member tithes. That assumption may not be accurate, but neither the use of church funds to fight legal equality nor the lying about it is in dispute anymore, is it?
posted by mediareport at 6:29 AM on April 10, 2012


I suggest watching the documentary, 8: The Mormon Proposition (referred to above). It shows how the LDS works hard to 'keep in the background' and basically 'buy' allies, especially the Catholic Church, funneling money to them to finance media campaigns, etc. The Mormons were/are also behind the formation and funding of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

New York Times:
"The film dives angrily into the fray. It uncovers the classified church documents and the largely concealed money trail of Mormon contributions that paid for a high-powered campaign to pass Proposition 8. The Mormon involvement, the film persuasively argues, tilted the vote toward passage, by 52 percent to 48 percent, in its final weeks.

That involvement was concealed under the facade of a coalition with Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians called the National Organization for Marriage. Mormons raised an estimated $22 million for the cause. In the final week of the campaign, the film says, $3 million came from Utah. The money financed a sophisticated media barrage that involved blogs, Twitter and YouTube videos, as well as scary (and, according to the movie, misleading) television ads, and an aggressive door-to-door campaign whose foot soldiers were instructed on how not to appear Mormon."
NOM Exposed -- Follow The Money:
NOM Closely Aligned With Mormon Church In California And Through Board Members
NOM’s mission and organizational secrecy fits with a pattern of behavior by the Mormon Church, which has been trying to influence policy related to same-sex marriage since the mid-90s while keeping its name not only out of headlines, but entirely out of campaign finance reports. Additionally, one of NOM’s founding board members has close ties to the Mormon Church’s leadership and was replaced by well-known Mormon writer and anti-equality columnist Orson Scott Card. Maggie Gallagher also sits on the board of the Marriage Law Foundation, which is Mormon-founded and Utah-based. And one of the academic advisors to the Ruth Institute (now a NOM project) has been deeply involved with the Church’s opposition strategy to same-sex marriage from its earliest days.

NOM’s Largest Known Donation Is From A Catholic Group, And Has Ties To Powerful And Secretive Opus
Another cornerstone of NOM’s emergence is the Catholic Church. The three main founders of NOM – Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, and Robert George – are all Roman Catholic, and have been comparatively open about the fact that the group is backed by “well-off Catholic individuals.” A September 2010 Washington Independent article identified the largest known donation to NOM as a $1.4 million bundle from the Catholic fraternal organizations Knights of Columbus in 2009. The prior year, the Knights gave $500,000 to NOM. Another board member, Luis Tellez, is a high-ranking official in the American branch of the ultra-conservative and secretive Catholic anti-gay organization Opus Dei.

NOM Received Funding From Right-Wing Evangelical Groups And The Bradley Foundation
NOM has acknowledged that it has received funding from evangelical right-wing anti-gay organizations Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. NOM board chairman emeritus Robert George, who served on FRC’s board, also has ties to groups like the Bradley Foundation. Moreover, NOM has connections to the Arlington Group, a collection of 75 religious right groups that poured $2 million into passing gay marriage bans in states during the 2004 presidential election."
posted by ericb at 6:43 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Francis,

Said world of difference doesn't equate to the difference between "non-homophobe" and "homophobe."

blucevalo,

But I will point out that "homophobic" was a word used earlier in this thread to describe some members of the church by The World Famous -- not me -- and I was responding to his comment.

In response not to the idea of people campaigning against gay marriage, but in response to the idea that there could be some in the church who do not consider gay people as human beings.

We don't have to get into a debate about whether someone is homophobic or not to at least realize that calling anyone who campaigns (actively even) against gay marriage a homophobe isn't really going to help anything.
posted by subversiveasset at 6:46 AM on April 10, 2012


You're making two different arguments, subversiveasset: 1) "homophobe" as a strategic move is not useful and 2) "homophobe" is not an accurate word for describing people who actively campaign against gay marriage and believe "gay relationships are not something that's OK."

The first one is debatable, and I tend to agree. The second, though, is bonkers.
posted by mediareport at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Internal LDS Memo Demonstrates Mormons Had Been Planning Prop. 8 Referendum Since 1997.
posted by ericb at 7:00 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not seeing any mention of tithing in that linked article.

PBS: Religion and Ethics --
"In the year 2000, a majority of California voters approved a proposition stating that only a marriage between a man and a woman was valid. Eight years later, the California Supreme Court ruled that the ban on gay marriage violated the state’s constitution, and that’s when the drive began to amend the constitution with Proposition 8, and that’s when church leaders sent out a letter to its members calling on them to donate their time and money to an unequivocal moral cause. Although many churches and a majority of Californian’s supported Proposition 8, Mormons were probably the most organized and donated almost half the $19 million generated for the campaign."
posted by ericb at 7:08 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Salt Lake Tribune:
The LDS Church's campaign to pass Proposition 8 represents its most vigorous and widespread political involvement since the late 1970s, when it helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. It even departs from earlier efforts on behalf of traditional marriage, in which members felt more free to decide their level of involvement.

This time, LDS leaders have tapped every resource, including the church's built-in phone trees, e-mail lists and members' willingness to volunteer and donate money. Many California members consider it a directive from God and have pressured others to participate. Some leaders and members see it as a test of faith and loyalty.

... "Our doctrine affirms that marriage is important to Heavenly Father's plan of action on Earth," [L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS Quorum of the Seventy] said. "It is the center of religion. We also believe [traditional] marriage is good for society."

In 1999, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined other churches in California to promote Proposition 22, which also prohibited gay marriage. Mormons canvassed their neighborhoods and completed other assignments in support of the initiative, which passed. The California Supreme Court overturned it in May, however, and the move to up the ante with a constitutional amendment took hold.

At that time, Catholic Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco wrote LDS President Thomas S. Monson enlisting LDS support for the amendment. Niederauer had a good relationship with LDS leaders developed during his 11 years as bishop of Salt Lake City, and Latter-day Saints enthusiastically jumped on board.

The LDS First Presidency announced its support for Proposition 8 in a letter read in every Mormon congregation. Since then, California LDS leaders have prompted members to sign up volunteers, raise money, pass out brochures produced by outsiders and distribute lawn signs and bumper stickers. Bishops have devoted whole Sunday school classes and the weekly Relief Society and priesthood meetings to outlining arguments against same-sex marriage. Some have pointedly asked members for hefty financial donations, based on tithing. Others have even asked members to stand or raise their hands to publicly indicate their support.
posted by ericb at 7:17 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Wall Street Journal | September 20, 2008:
The top leadership of the Mormon Church, known as the First Presidency, issued a letter in June calling on Mormons to "do all you can" to support Proposition 8.

... Some Mormons who declined to donate said their local church leaders had made highly charged appeals, such as saying that their souls would be in jeopardy if they didn't give.

... The Mormon Church encouraged its members to send their donations to a separate post-office box set up by a church member, said Messrs. [Frank] Schubert [campaign manager for ProtectMarriage.com -- Yes on 8] and L. Whitney Clayton, a senior Mormon Church official involved in the campaign. Mr. Clayton said the church didn't keep track of how much individual Mormons donated, just the cumulative total. He said members bundled the donations and forwarded them to the campaign.

A Web site run by individual Mormons, Mormonsfor8.com, has tracked all donations to the Yes on 8 campaign of $1,000 or more listed on the California secretary of state's Web site. The site's founder, Nadine Hansen, said they have identified more than $5.3 million given by Mormons but believe that donations from church members may account for far more than 40% of the total raised.

Robert Bolingbroke, a Mormon who lives near San Diego, said he and his wife decided on their own to donate $3,000 in August. Later, he was invited to participate in a conference call led by a high church official, known as a member of the Quorum of Seventy. Mr. Bolingbroke, a former president and chief operating officer of The Clorox Co., estimates that 40 to 60 Mormon potential donors were on that call, and he said it was suggested that they donate $25,000, which Mr. Bolingbroke did earlier this month. Mr. Bolingbroke said he doesn't know how he or the other participants on the call were selected. Church leaders keep tithing records of active members, who are typically asked to donate 10% of their income each year to the Mormon Church.
posted by ericb at 7:36 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


BYU student video on homosexuality is not in violation of honor code, says administrator

Jenkins went on to say that for the video alone, the students would not be punished. The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling, and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”

All BYU students sign on to the honor code upon enrollment. The code outlaws premarital sex and breaking the code “may result in actions up to and including separation from the university.”

“Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the honor code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” reads the honor code.


So it gets better, as long as you keep it to yourself. Got it. Fuck that noise.
posted by blucevalo at 7:55 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


blucevalo,

hence why I don't really see why a lot of people are so positive about this video.
posted by subversiveasset at 8:08 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The World Famous, I can't say I haven't had issues with your defense of the church, but I truly appreciate your thoughtful responses in these threads, and I too am irritated with the noise that prevents real conversation, despite my views.

I hope that you can ignore that which is not in good faith or is simply not addressable, and have a good conversation with those who are willing to. I haven't had much useful to contribute, so I keep it to myself, but I have learned a lot from reading that I would not have anywhere else.


On the flip side, what is addressable is substantial and well-cited. So The World Famous can choose to participate in a conversation, or not, but what is not in question at this point is that Mormons have played significant and insidious monetary and organizational roles in making gays and lesbians into legally-ordained second-class citizens — subhumans — whether they are Mormon or non-Mormon, alike (but particularly gay and lesbian Mormons, as the aftermath of this video has shown).

Those facts can no longer be in dispute, no matter how bad some might feel about that personally. If there is something he cares to add that somehow addresses this reality, that would be welcome, but that doesn't mean that those whose comments hold his church in an embarrassing light are acting in bad faith, and it is disingenuous to suggest that is so, just because what is reported is so truly unfortunate.

And it's really tiresome to read these accusations. Either step up and address the facts, or don't — either way, stop being emotionally manipulative just because the facts don't go your way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:21 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think some people don't understand this, so let me make it clear. It's not OK to tell gay people "I love you but hate your sin". It's not OK to say "You can say you're gay as long as you don't act on it". It's not OK to say "I don't hate gay people, I just don't want them to be able to get married". All of those positions are offensive and demeaning. Any organization that takes them is actively hostile to gay and lesbian people.

I know many people who belong to churches that demean the lives of gays and lesbians. I don't hold their religion against them. But I have a lot more respect for the folks who are working actively inside their congregations to change them.
posted by Nelson at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


"...but that doesn't mean that those whose comments hold his church in an embarrassing light are acting in bad faith, and it is disingenuous to suggest that is so, just because what is reported is so truly unfortunate."

The suggestion what someone was acting in bad-faith happened when someone asked a question of TWS in bad-faith, not merely because numerous comments hold his church in an embarrassing light. TWS's own comments in this thread have been critical of his church.

"And it's really tiresome to read these accusations. Either step up and address the facts, or don't — either way, stop being emotionally manipulative just because the facts don't go your way."

It's really tiresome to read totally bullshit and needlessly insulting comments like this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:22 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


hence why I don't really see why a lot of people are so positive about this video.

I'm positive about it because despite adversity (which many of them acknowledge) these wonderful young people are still directing their energies toward positive change. My comment was directed at the administration of BYU, not at the students.
posted by blucevalo at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2012


There is still nothing to confirm that these students believe in the value and worth of gay relationships. Just that they do not deny that they are gay.
posted by subversiveasset at 10:18 AM on April 10, 2012


The Salt Lake Tribune article and comments from readers (currently 400) regarding the video and Mormon attitudes regarding homosexuality.
posted by ericb at 10:20 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just recently ...

The Salt Lake Tribune | March 29, 2012: Gay and Mormon: BYU Students Speak on Panel -- "Group claims 'soul-destroying' event violates school’s Honor Code."
posted by ericb at 10:23 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say, when I watched this video it didn't occur to me that the definition of "better" could include lifelong celibacy. That would put it in somewhat of a different light.
posted by alms at 10:36 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll post this blog post as another data point.

Originally, the author of said post was unhappy with the video (and many of the comments are responding to his ORIGINAL article which had those frustrations)...he thought that by association with the It Gets Better Project (which, as he stated in the original post, isn't *just* about preventing suicides), it would perhaps be advocating for gay relationships, which is contrary to church doctrine.

Now, he's in agreement with the video, but read how he phrases it:
That's why there isn't a distinction or any doctrinal teaching in the video... because it is designed only for the people who already know. It speaks to them, and even if everyone else doesn't understand, it still speaks to their hearts. Yes, there is a distinction between living the gospel and breaking it - and that's where the video lays. Staying in the Church, staying in life, staying on BYU campus, it gets better, and staying in the Church or on campus means staying morally clean.
The "distinction" he alludes to that made him uneasy with the video at first is the distinction between "gay" to describe feelings, and "gay" to describe actions (see this comment that he had made before editing his post). The reason he doesn't feel uneasy anymore is because he feels confident that the video comes from an orthodox, orthoprax position: "people who already know" know that you can be same-sex attracted, but stay in the church as a morally clean (READ: celibate, or perhaps in a mixed-orientation relationship) Mormon.

It seems that different groups who watch the video are getting VERY different signals as a result. So even though two different people can like what the video says, they like it for very different (perhaps mutually exclusive) reasons.
posted by subversiveasset at 10:51 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thinking about the video in retrospect, it's striking what wasn't said. No one said anything about having a family, getting married, raising children. No one said anything about boyfriends or girlfriends. No one said anything about having their family accept their same-sex life partner.

They just dodged the whole question of what it means to get better. How does it get better? They don't say. I feel like I've been conned.

How very strange. At a certain level it's an awesome exercise in sending two entirely different messages to two different groups of people. That filmmaker should go into politics.
posted by alms at 12:52 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


How does it get better?

Mormon culture gradually - incredibly slowly - changes from within, increasing in acceptance of gay members of the church as individuals and as a community. The doctrine also changes, also incredibly slowly. There are notable precedents for huge changes in principles presented and accepted as doctrine in the Mormon church, and frank admissions by church leaders that the prior doctrinal positions were based in ignorance and that they should be discarded. The church's position on civil unions changed 180 degrees on a dime, to give just one example. BYU's so-called "Honor Code," which is in no way doctrine but which is treated as if it is by those who enforce it, also incrementally and slowly "got better" recently, as evidenced by the university's reaction to this video. It also gets better for gay Mormons who might not have realized that they are not only not alone, but that there is a community of gay Mormons at BYU who, maintain faith in the religion in spite of deep disagreements about doctrine.
posted by The World Famous at 2:02 PM on April 10, 2012


subversiveasset: The reason he doesn't feel uneasy anymore is because he feels confident that the video comes from an orthodox, orthoprax position: "people who already know" know that you can be same-sex attracted, but stay in the church as a morally clean (READ: celibate, or perhaps in a mixed-orientation relationship) Mormon.

Huh. I guess I didn't pay close enough attention to this aspect. Thanks for the closer read.

If the "getting better" that these students are referring to is the notion of living gay while not acting on same-sex desire, then that puts quite a different spin on things. There's a place for that notion, and I'm not comfortable with condemning it. It's not my life, it's not what I learned that living as a gay person ever meant, and it seems retrograde to me. But then again, I'm not at that stage of my life anymore. My concern with the notion of living gay without acting on same-sex desire, apart from the above, rises from the suspicion that folks who live their lives this way would be more likely to be amenable to rolling back the rights of people who haven't made that choice. The point is that church doctrine (and not just LDS doctrine) promulgates the idea that (as Nicholas Bamforth and David Richards have written about the Catholic Church) a publicly affirmed gay sexuality (one that lives sexually and not celibately) cannot be the basis of what the church considers a good and ethical life. That, in my opinion, is erroneous.

alms: They just dodged the whole question of what it means to get better. How does it get better? They don't say. I feel like I've been conned.

Maybe they don't know. I sure as hell didn't know at that age. At that age, my only conception of what gay life would be like if I lived it publicly was that it would end in tears, pain, isolation, and premature death. I admit that I had a warped view of gay life, but in the 1980s, it wasn't that far off from the general widespread view of gay life that we were fed by the mass culture.

So maybe they don't know. That's not conning, that's questioning. I don't feel comfortable calling what they're doing a con act.
posted by blucevalo at 2:45 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a much simpler way for it to "get better" for gay Mormons. Leave the church that's actively hostile to who you are. It's not easy, but I know a few ex-Mormon gays who are quite happy and only wish they'd left earlier.
posted by Nelson at 5:06 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nelson, that's not actually a particularly effective solution for those who have a strong personal conviction in the central tenets of Mormonism in spite of their conflict on that one issue.
posted by The World Famous at 5:18 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


for those who have a strong personal conviction in the central tenets of Mormonism

Well, in my experience (my own and that I've learned from friends), what the "strong personal conviction" usually amounts to is an emotional link to religiously committed family and friends that has almost nothing to do with "central tenets" of the religion itself. I'm sure your mileage differs, but emotional need, guilt and shame at rejecting those you love plays a much bigger role than any commitment to dogma, and the sooner the person recognizes that those things are oodles less warm, loving and spiritual than true acceptance of who they are (from themselves as well as from others) the sooner the person grows into their true humanity.

In my experience.
posted by mediareport at 7:59 PM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Just leave the church" is also not particularly helpful advice to those who do not actually have a strong personal conviction in the (very few) central tenets of Mormonism but who are reluctant to leave the church because of an emotional link to religiously committed family and friends or emotional need, guilt and shame at rejecting those they love. That's one reason why I'm encouraged by this video and similar recent developments in the church, which bring out in the open the personal struggles of gay Mormons and help gay and straight Mormons alike to understand the terrible harm done by those who hold their loved ones emotionally hostage and to understand how important it is to communicate openly and to be mindful of the actual needs of their friends and family members.

I have spent an enormous amount of time acting as a mediator between emotionally-hurt gay Mormons who left their families and the church on one side and loving-but-hurtful parents and family members on the other side in order to try to help those families to accept their loved ones and be part of their lives, regardless of their sexuality or, indeed, their interest in the religion. I can tell you this: There are certainly situations in which the best thing is for someone to cut all ties. But those situations are few and far between, in my experience. It is far better for people to find ways - either within or without the church - to communicate, respect, and love one another and to completely respect and honor the identity and decisions of their loved ones.

But I can assure you that there are, in fact, members of the Mormon church who actually do believe in the central tenets of the religion, in spite of what your experience may have led you to believe.
posted by The World Famous at 8:28 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nelson, that's not actually a particularly effective solution for those who have a strong personal conviction in the central tenets of Mormonism in spite of their conflict on that one issue.

Do you have a better solution?
posted by amorphatist at 8:38 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you have a better solution?

A better solution than abandoning the faith that an individual believes in because of a disagreement over a single point of non-canon doctrine that appears to be evolving? Yeah, I can think of a few. If you're in that situation, I'd be happy to talk with you privately about it, as I have with many others.
posted by The World Famous at 8:41 PM on April 10, 2012


What's really tiring about all this?

Read about the history of Mormonism. Basically, a dude said he found some gold tablets in the woods, and from there it sprung. It holds all sorts of nonsense to be true.

That's not to say it's any more or less nonsense that other belief systems, but it becomes a particular problem when people who believe this specific nonsense advocate against the civil rights of gay people.

In short--Mormons can save a lot of time by just learning about the nonsense and leaving it. I know that's easy to say and hard to do, but that's what ought to happen.

I'm fine with people believing whatever they want, as long as they don't enforce their unsupported beliefs through law and social pressure. As many posts above show, the Mormon church has been doing just this.
posted by 4midori at 8:55 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


because of a disagreement over a single point of non-canon doctrine

That's... well, that characterization is just staggering to me.
posted by amorphatist at 8:55 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's... well, that characterization is just staggering to me.

Why?

I'll tell you what. You go ahead and recharacterize it however you want, explain to me the basis for your characterization, and I promise that no matter what your characterization is, I'll still have better solutions for gay Mormons with strong testimonies of the religion than "just leave the church." Deal?
posted by The World Famous at 9:07 PM on April 10, 2012


Read about the history of Mormonism. Basically, a dude said he found some gold tablets in the woods, and from there it sprung.

Yeah, no, that's not basically it.
posted by The World Famous at 9:08 PM on April 10, 2012


Why?

Because it trivializes the suffering of young gays. A "disagreement over a single point of non-canon doctrine that appears to be evolving" is something that two Anglican bishops have over tea and crumpets. This particular single point has implications; it guides the behavior of some Mormon parents wrt their gay children, and it has affected the civil rights of non-gays in California. 'staggering' is about the most neutral term I could muster.

I promise that no matter what your characterization is, I'll still have better solutions for gay Mormons

I will promise any young gay Mormons listening that you do not. For you have offered no solutions here (but we're supposed to trust that you have them?) If you have solutions, open them up for discussion.

Here's a solution: Leave the Mormon church until it accepts you and your sexuality as equal. In short time, the leadership of the church will recognize that polite society no longer considers this "point of non-canon doctrine" even remotely respectable, and the church will have another 1978 moment for fear of becoming a pariah again. The more young Mormons that do this (and you don't have to be gay to do so), and are outspoken about it, the sooner this Revelation will come. At that time, re-join your church, and you will surely be welcomed for the righteous sacrifice you made to instruct your fellow Mormons.
posted by amorphatist at 9:32 PM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Because it trivializes the suffering of young gays.

That's not my intention. My intention is to point out that, far-reaching as it is, the doctrine in question is, frankly, one that is susceptible to evolution and reconsideration, as evidenced by the attention that it has received in recent years in terms of analysis and reconsideration by church leaders. The church's position remains hurtful, and I do not mean in any way to trivialize the suffering of gays - young or old - in or out of the church.

I will promise any young gay Mormons listening that you do not.

You're speaking from a position of ignorance. You don't know me and you clearly do not know the breadth and variety of experience in the church. You're suggesting that the best option of a faithful, gay Mormon is to betray their beliefs, act contrary to their personal moral convictions, and amplify the scope of their suffering, rather than seeking out ways to communicate with their loved ones and seek out individuals and congregations within the church that understand them and will embrace them. Your suggestion is ignorant, outrageous, rash, and would inevitably cause increased suffering at a time when there is an ever-increasing willingness among Mormon church members and families to reduce that suffering. You're attempting to impose your own beliefs on them because you think their beliefs are wrong - without you even knowing what their beliefs are.

But, actually, your last paragraph does propose a solution other than "just leave the church," so clearly you can conceive of the possibility of other such solutions. If you could come up with that solution on your own, why would you promise any young gay Mormons listening that I couldn't possibly have such a solution? If you acknowledge that such a solution exists and go so far as to set it out in detail, why do you insist that I couldn't possibly come up with it or any other? Your disrespect is outrageous.
posted by The World Famous at 9:43 PM on April 10, 2012


Read about the history of Mormonism. Basically, a dude said he found some gold tablets in the woods, and from there it sprung.

Man, anything sounds bad if you say it like that. Buddhism? Basically, some dude saw some shit go down, and got all sad about it.
posted by jcreigh at 9:50 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't know me and you clearly do not know the breadth and variety of experience in the church.

I find it fully credible that you are heavily invested in the Mormon church as an institution. But an appeal to authority does not succeed here. The Mormon church is not the first organization that has had to revise its doctrine and practices due to societal evolution, and it won't be the last. This issue is generic; it's even generic within the Mormon church, e.g. the Revelations on polygamy and racism. If there is something unique to the Mormon church such that one must be a senior member of the Mormon church to be able to comprehend what is required to reform the Mormon church, I'd love to hear what it is.
posted by amorphatist at 10:09 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I may have been unfair to say that you've offered zero solutions, perhaps you're hinting at one. You've used "evolution" and "ever-increasing willingness" and similar terms. Is it a solution of the form "wait it out (and meanwhile take solace in open-minded Mormons); another 1978 is at hand"?
posted by amorphatist at 10:13 PM on April 10, 2012


That's not my intention.

But it's the effect.

I have spent an enormous amount of time acting as a mediator between emotionally-hurt gay Mormons who left their families and the church on one side and loving-but-hurtful parents and family members on the other side in order to try to help those families to accept their loved ones and be part of their lives, regardless of their sexuality or, indeed, their interest in the religion

I would love to be a fly on the wall during those conversations. In the absence of that possibility, I offer two quick points:

1. "Just leave the church" is a drastically over-simplified characterization of the difficult, painful, extended process by which many folks free themselves from the rigid limitations of the doctrine they were born into. "Go easy on yourself as you discuss and explore comparative religion, take time to listen to secular arguments about the historical specificity of every religious organization and how you came to associate your personality with one of them and go out of your way to try to understand where your relatives are coming from as you dissociate yourself from the more ridiculous - and outright toxic to you - elements of the faith you happened to be born into" is probably a better way to put it.

2. I am very curious to learn what you think are the "central tenets" of Mormonism, The World Famous - the elements of the religion without which one cannot consider oneself Mormon. Is it the belief that Joseph Smith was the restoration on earth of the priesthood authority of Jesus Christ? I imagine that's got to be one of them. Is it the belief that Jesus Christ visited the Native Americans? Is it the chance to reject Satan even after death, so you get another chance at heaven even if you die a terrible sinner? Is it food storage? What are the core elements of Mormonism you've been talking about in this thread?
posted by mediareport at 10:19 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


But an appeal to authority does not succeed here.

I have made no appeal to authority. You made an unsubstantiated, false personal attack against me and then went on in the very next paragraph to prove yourself wrong.

The Mormon church is not the first organization that has had to revise its doctrine and practices due to societal evolution, and it won't be the last.

Yes. Exactly. This is a huge part of exactly what I've been saying throughout this thread.

If there is something unique to the Mormon church such that one must be a senior member of the Mormon church to be able to comprehend what is required to reform the Mormon church, I'd love to hear what it is.

I have made no such assertion. However, I do believe that someone who has served in church leadership positions and had ongoing contact on this and other issues with people at high levels of church leadership is in a far better position to assess the likelihood and direction of such change than someone who is not. That's not, as you suggest "unique to the Mormon church." Someone who has been an NBA referee is in a better position to assess likely changes in professional basketball officiation than someone who has never even been to a game.

Also, I may have been unfair to say that you've offered zero solutions, perhaps you're hinting at one.

You didn't say I've offered zero solutions. You said that I am incapable of even suggesting any. You said that you will promise any young gay Mormons that I do not have any solution better than "just leave the church." Then you promptly offered your own solution better than "just leave the church."

You've used "evolution" and "ever-increasing willingness" and similar terms. Is it a solution of the form "wait it out (and meanwhile take solace in open-minded Mormons); another 1978 is at hand"?

I think there are certainly numerous, varied solutions depending on the needs, beliefs, and situation of each individual. Frankly, I don't think your suggestion is half bad. But I think the most important part of any solution for a faithful gay Mormon is open, honest, heartfelt communication with loved ones about that faith, their identity, and other issues. The more members of the church and the church as an institution are helped to understand what the real issues actually are, the better off everyone will be. I also think it's critical for people to find a path in life that is consistent with their own personal convictions, whatever they are, and that attempting to impose a solution that belittles or is dismissive of an individual's deeply-held beliefs is harmful.

Anyway, sorry to get a bit heated there.
posted by The World Famous at 10:21 PM on April 10, 2012


You're suggesting that the best option of a faithful, gay Mormon is to betray their beliefs, act contrary to their personal moral convictions

These are very, very simplistic ways of thinking about how people believe, how they develop and change moral convictions, and grow.
posted by mediareport at 10:21 PM on April 10, 2012


2. I am very curious to learn what you think are the "central tenets" of Mormonism, The World Famous - the elements of the religion without which one cannot consider oneself Mormon.

Is it the belief that Joseph Smith was the restoration on earth of the priesthood authority of Jesus Christ? I imagine that's got to be one of them.


Yes.

Is it the belief that Jesus Christ visited the Native Americans?

Not at all.

Is it the chance to reject Satan even after death, so you get another chance at heaven even if you die a terrible sinner?

No.

Is it food storage?

I don't have food storage, so I hope not.

What are the core elements of Mormonism you've been talking about in this thread?

I'll quote Joseph Smith here: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1938], 121).
posted by The World Famous at 10:25 PM on April 10, 2012


I'll still have better solutions for gay Mormons with strong testimonies of the religion than "just leave the church."

You've offered nothing, not in this thread, nor in threads past. No one should take your appeal to authority on face value.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 PM on April 10, 2012


You've offered nothing, not in this thread, nor in threads past. No one should take your appeal to authority on face value.

Oh for crying out loud. See what kind of garbage I have to deal with when I participate in these discussions? Why do I even try?
posted by The World Famous at 10:28 PM on April 10, 2012


I'm gonna leave this by stating that I, too, appreciate the effort you put in here, The World Famous, to help us understand where you're coming from. I happen to think you're terribly misguided, and truly hope the work you do with young glbt Mormons and their families is as hopeful and forward-thinking as you suggest.
posted by mediareport at 10:30 PM on April 10, 2012


May I ask what, specifically, you think I'm misguided about (aside from just my general faith in the central tenets of my religion, of course)?
posted by The World Famous at 10:33 PM on April 10, 2012


Leaving aside Blazecock for the moment, I've said the main point already: I think your understanding of "just leave the church" is extremely simplistic, and see a clear alternative that's just as open and loving but doesn't reinforce the necessity of believing that Joseph Smith is the return of Jesus' priestly authority on earth - a belief I'm sure you already know I find ridiculous (certainly not worthy of the soul-crushing insult of enforced celibacy). I'd rather see questioning glbt Mormons given thoughtful information about how religions evolve and the joy possible by embracing the spiritual without absurd doctrine.

That's what I think you're seriously misguided about. But again, I do appreciate your amazing patience here. I certainly couldn't do it.
posted by mediareport at 10:41 PM on April 10, 2012


You didn't say I've offered zero solutions. You said that I am incapable of even suggesting any.

I apologize if the tone was upsetting there. I don't mean to say that you can't think of any, more that you haven't been capable (maybe 'willing' is better?) of specifying the solutions succinctly in this thread. And yes, I caveat that with the understanding that you consider it a complex situation. But, being succinct: The problem is: what's a gay mormon to do being that the church (and a portion of its members) don't treat me as a first-class citizen? Here's a set of possible "solutions" that I can think of, do any of them describe your position?

1. Boycott to apply pressure to reform, then rejoin (my solution above, but may not work for some Mormons who consider that being outside the church is spiritually untenable)
2. Suppress your sexuality, wait it out, and try to reform from within (which may not be a practical solution for some Mormons owing to the well-documented mental health dangers of sexual suppression)
3. Ignore that non-canonical teaching, live your sexuality and act as an equal, but try to reform from within (which may not be a practical solution for some, being that you're now living in sin according to the church, and you risk ostracization)

There are obviously issues with all of the above for a "faithful gay Mormon". I sympathize that it's a tough situation. "Faithful gay Mormon: pick two".
posted by amorphatist at 10:47 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


See what kind of garbage I have to deal with when I participate in these discussions?

If you have something to add to this conversation, then by all means, do so. You can choose to leave or stay, but so far, you have not done much more than proclaim yourself the victim (or, alternatively, an authority) when people confront you with various facts. And that's not participation, that's manipulation.

Your situation is unfortunate and I don't envy you your seeming desire to resolve your faith, your morality and your church's very obvious and very public hatred of minorities, but you either use rhetorical tricks to sidestep well-understood truths about this subject matter, or simply ignore them altogether. No one should be made to feel bad about pointing out your chosen method of participation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"If you have something to add to this conversation, then by all means, do so. You can choose to leave or stay, but so far, you have not done much more than proclaim yourself the victim (or, alternatively, an authority) when people confront you with various facts. And that's not participation, that's manipulation."

You're pretty much the only person who is making this claim, or at least this strongly and rudely. It's you who is behaving inappropriately here. You've added nothing constructive to this thread. Absolutely nothing except three personal accusations and one snark about Scientology.

You're not the only person here who strongly opposes the LDS's policies, or is very angry about their concerted support of Prop 8, or about BYU's policies. Indeed, the person you are accusing has himself has made it clear that he's like-minded.

The only difference between he and you with regard to this is that you expect him to denounce his own religion, or possibly self-flagellate to satisfy your desire that the Mormon in front of you personally is punished and humiliated for what every person, including him, in this thread is criticizing.

And the difference between most of the angry, critical non-Mormon critics in this thread and you is that you're not even making any effort whatsoever to be productive or empathetic or contribute in any positive way to the discussion whatsoever.

Just stop it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:55 AM on April 11, 2012


so far, you [TWF] have not done much more than proclaim yourself the victim...

I disagree. It's been fascinating for me to hear TWF's perspective on this, even if he's spoken obliquely a lot of the time. I really appreciate his persistence in sticking with this thread and helping it be something more than a bunch of people patting themselves on the back for agreeing with each other.
posted by alms at 7:58 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Blazecock Pileon, cut it out. Stay out of the thread if you can't participate without making it personal or trying to shut down conversation. ]
posted by taz at 8:14 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing that I think needs to happen is that people need to feel more comfortable negotiating their religion (e.g., their Mormonism) outside of institutional contexts. In a Hirschman-esque calculation of exit, voice, and loyalty within Mormonism, I think an issue is that "exit" really has little value to the institution. But unfortunately, people do not use their "voice" in a big enough way to put any real pressure on church leadership.

In some of the internet circles I run in, there are a lot of people who hold strongly to their Mormon identities, but they do so in precarious ways. I mean, some people are excommunicated, some people don't have temple recommends, whatever, but they are still in the pews, participating to the greatest extent that they can. They are unapologetic in the things that they have done (e.g., getting married to their same-sex partner or whatever) that have led to their excommunication, but they are also just as unapologetic about their testimony in the church.

The problem really is that this sort of thing takes a burden on people. I mean, if your excommunication means that you lose the support of your family, then trying to salvage the best of that situation still is a sucky situation.

But I think that at least on a grassroots level, people in the pews on Sunday are more likely to be affected by a ward member who they know and interact with on a weekly basis. When they ask, "Why aren't you a member?" (because from all interactions, this person seems like an integrated part of the community), they can then draw for themselves whether they think it is fair that they cannot be a member of the church that they love without giving up something (someone) else they love -- their significant other.
posted by subversiveasset at 8:46 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing that I think needs to happen is that people need to feel more comfortable negotiating their religion (e.g., their Mormonism) outside of institutional contexts

I've lived in Utah county (Provo/Orem/Lindon area) for the last few years. Around 90% of the population here is LDS. I've seen lots of evidence that for Mormons here anyway, the religion is inextricably combined with the institution. Maybe in other parts of the world Mormons could "negotiate their religion", but I don't see how it would be possible here (where the video that is the subject of this post was filmed.)

But I think that at least on a grassroots level, people in the pews on Sunday are more likely to be affected by a ward member who they know and interact with on a weekly basis.

This is a nice idea, but based on my experience living in Utah, I don't believe it works that way. From what I've seen, LDS people pretty much do what the church says to do - whether it's which day one is allowed to go shopping, what movies one is allowed to watch, what beverages one can consume, how much facial hair one can have, how much wheat one must keep stored at all times, etc. etc.

The church exercises an incredible amount of control over the lives of its members. I was truly shocked by it when I moved here.
posted by JeffL at 11:25 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


That said the Mormon Church's opinion on homosexuality is pretty clear: you aren't human beings.
--
I respectfully, and strongly, disagree. I am very sorry that you have, for whatever reasons, formed that opinion. But that's simply not the Church's opinion on homosexuality, and is, frankly, disrespectful and insulting to the myriad members and leaders in the church

Here's the thing--and I say this as a formerly active and believing Mormon for something like the first 40 years of my life, whose entire family as Mormon going back umpty-dump generations, and so on:

Regardless of whether all members and all leaders of the LDS Church believe a certain thing about gays and gay marriage, and regardless of whether tithing money was spent on this or that, and regardless of all the other blah-blah-blah that one can or could say about Mormon church members, Mormon church leadership, and Mormon church doctrine in relation to this issue, the fact remains that the LDS Church has just spent and lent its very considerable institutional muscle and grass roots organizational assets in a very serious, determined, well organized, and successful effort to defeat gay marriage in California.

And though the Church membership and leadership may learned some lessons from that experience, there is also some pretty good indication that Church leadership is moving against gay marriage in other states and in other ways--just a little more circumspectly.

And I have friends and relatives in the Mormon Church who were very active in the Prop 8 fight. And they were very impassioned about it. And they did hear messages from the pulpit and through (what they considered) official channels urging them to do everything they could to defeat gay marriage. And to be fair there are certainly some church members who were appalled by that and some who did not participate, but the anti-gay sentiments clearly had the majority voice and the institutional support. And the whole effort very clearly had a polarizing effect on Church members in California (and elsewhere), where the vast majority joined the gay marriage contingent, and it was an active point of discussion among church membership for a very long time.

And when the Church membership becomes that active and polarized on a certain issue, it is bound to have an impact on the Church's relationship with the larger world.

And I know you are frustrated now, The World Famous, but what you are seeing now is blowback--and blowback that is very, very well deserved.

The LDS Church burns a lot of bridges when it takes naked political action like this. It alienates a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't be alienated and don't need to be alienated. People who would otherwise be neutral or perhaps a bit curious become hostile. And you're reading their alienated and hostile reactions right here on the Blue.

And you can defend and explain and mitigate and so on, until you're blue in the face. (And you're doing a very nice job, if I may say.) But the fundamental fact is that the Church used its institutional and organizational muscle in a very powerful way on a hot-button political issue. And one where the Church is, quite frankly, not on the side of the angels at all. And that action speaks louder than any words or doctrine or belief, whether held by members or leaders, written or unwritten.

"By your works ye shall know them."

The LDS Church's "works" in this case stink to high heaven and that is what people are judging them by--as well they should.

And it's not like this is the first time something like this has happened--the LDS Church took a strong and active stance against the Equal Rights Amendment, very similar in many ways to the Prop 8 campaign, playing a key role in its defeat.

Before that was the whole quagmire of African-Americans' secondary status as members of the church and the Church's stance on interracial marriage (questionable statements in official Church manuals used as recently as 2011).

And then of course there is the LDS Church's own historical form of non-traditional marriage, which many of my own ancestors practiced and were thrown in prison for. One would think that the Church's experience in being practically exterminated over its own non-traditional marriage beliefs would give it some extra institutional charity and understanding in being accepting of other's similarly non-traditional marriage beliefs, but apparently there is some wacky Freudian thing that happens to cause the exact opposite result instead.

If the Church would just mind its own business and work its own policies internally with its own members however it likes, the conflict would be much lower. But when it attempts to project it's own idiosyncratic doctrines outward on a national level--as it particularly did with the ERA and gay marriage--it opens itself up wide to well-deserved criticism.

And also, when it allies itself closely with extreme and fundamentalist-type Christian beliefs and political movements* in an attempt to mainstream itself within American society, you can expect people who don't like those beliefs to not like your beliefs, either.

*As classic an example of politics making strange bedfellows as could possibly be--historically the two groups are bitter enemies.

posted by flug at 11:34 AM on April 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is a nice idea, but based on my experience living in Utah, I don't believe it works that way. From what I've seen, LDS people pretty much do what the church says to do - whether it's which day one is allowed to go shopping, what movies one is allowed to watch, what beverages one can consume, how much facial hair one can have, how much wheat one must keep stored at all times, etc. etc.

I find that very interesting coming from someone who live in Utah County. I go to Utah County a few times a year, usually because I have musical collaborators there. Nearly all of them are LDS - active to one degree or another. One of our common jokes is that I don't fit in in Utah County because I don't have a huge beard. As far as I know, nobody I know under the age of 50 in Utah has adequate food storage, the only ones who grind their own wheat are the hipsters who would be doing that regardless of their religion, one of my BYU professor friends has a coffee machine in her office on campus, and my regular informal reunions in Utah of friends from the mission and BYU include same-sex couples and self-proclaimed apostates alike. And some of my Mormon relatives in Utah County brew their own beer, justifying it in part based on the text of the Word of Wisdom.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, yeah, I hate Utah County, too, but there's stuff going on there that maybe you're not seeing.
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on April 11, 2012


The World Famous, I'm not denying your Utah County experience, of course, but the differences are striking.

I experienced a drastic culture shock from the day I first came out to find a place to live, and virtually everyone I met asked me the same initial question: "Are you LDS"? I was astonished that strangers would consider this an appropriate question to ask.

Later I got a job at the local office of a large multinational software company. Once again, people asked The Question. I was one of only a few non-Mormons at work: Me (an agnostic), a Muslim, and an Ex-Mormon. Almost all office conversations were about Missions, Wards, etc. I had coworkers with 7 and 10 children, and it was not considered unusual. There seemed almost a competitive aspect to it, at times.

In the office, there was almost no facial hair, and the coffee pot was very rarely used. There was an odd surface politeness that I've never experienced in any other workplace in the male-dominated software development field - it seemed like a cultural aversion to conflict or disagreement. (I'm not necessarily complaining about this, but it seemed really odd and at times actually counter-productive.) I never heard ANY profanities except from the ex-Mormon guy, and that was only when no one else but me was around. Again - not complaining about that, but it was odd in an office full of young and middle-aged men.

Most of my coworkers did do the food storage thing, and although there were occasional mild complaints (and comparing of notes about how to use so much wheat), they all did it. My boss was a thirty year-old (with several children already), and he talked about much time he spent grinding the wheat and making bread.

When the King's Speech movie came out, several people in the office complained about not being able to see it because of its "R" rating (for a few seconds of profanities). I asked one of them about the logic of the church's blanket prohibition on R rated movies, and his only response was something along the lines of "they don't want us to see them." Similarly, I asked a (few) theological-type questions, and I got the distinct impression that my coworkers did NOT have strong critical thinking skills, at least not about their religion. (And these were otherwise pretty smart people.)

Outside of work, the church is mentioned constantly in the media (of course, the church owns one of the network tv stations and one of the two major daily newspapers.) The major mall in the area, and national chain stores like Macy's and Nordstrom's, are closed on Sunday, along with several local supermarkets. The liquor laws are truly bizarre, and are obviously dictated by the church (I don't want to hear arguments to the contrary about this - despite any official pronouncements by the church to the contrary, it is quite obvious.)

I will grant you that there are probably cool and/or normal pockets of Utah county, but frankly I haven't found them. It sounds like your circle of friends here are very different than my coworkers and suburban neighbors.

Living here has really been, in many ways, like living in a different country.
posted by JeffL at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds like your circle of friends here are very different than my coworkers and suburban neighbors.

If I'm guessing correctly about where you work, I think you actually work with a couple of my friends there. But they don't have 7 kids and they definitely watch rated R movies and don't have any food storage.
posted by The World Famous at 2:17 PM on April 11, 2012


The place I worked was an independent Utah-founded company for years before it was bought by the gigantic California-headquartered company. I'm not there anymore in any case.

It's possible that I was struck so much by the strong LDS cultural/religious influences here because I knew nothing of the church until I moved here. I've never been around so many people for whom religion is such a major aspect of their lifestyle. When we were shopping for a house last year, almost every place we looked at had the dedicated and stocked food storage/"cold storage" area, and there were usually calendars on the wall showing how each day was to be spent doing church-oriented activities.
posted by JeffL at 2:35 PM on April 11, 2012


Who is this world famous guy and why are you all paying him such deference? He appears to be a religious bully that has nothing better to do than to argue with anybody that dares say the first bad word about a 'church' that some wacko made up 100 years ago instead of the more typical thousands of years ago.

The very simple fact of the matter is that the mormon, or any fundamentalist church for that matter, is poison to any gay person's self respect. These kids are beating themselves up over something that does not exist.

They would be better off stepping away from religion all together.... and no, this small step is not better than nothing.... no matter what some blow hard megalomaniac says (i'm looking at you world famous... who names themselves something like that anyway?)

This religion nor any religion deserves or will get any respect from me. You don't deserve it, you've ruined too many lives.
posted by mikehipp at 4:04 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


sigh
posted by The World Famous at 4:25 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who is this world famous guy and why are you all paying him such deference?

First off, they're a long-time, active, and well-respected member of our community. Secondly, I don't see a whole lot of deference. Yes, there are some people engaging in respectful conversation, but nobody is walking on eggshells and giving TWF special treatment. And there's been a lot of things said upthread to TWF that I wouldn't classify as deferential, to put it mildly.

Also, The World Famous opposes anti-gay doctrines and practices, and seems to have basically the same views on this issue as the average mefite, with the exception of having the gall to believe that Mormonism should be reformed instead of destroyed.

And I really don't see anything that The World Famous has said in this thread that would classify them as a "bully".

This religion nor any religion deserves or will get any respect from me. You don't deserve it, you've ruined too many lives.

Not every religious person is the same, nor is every religious person somehow responsible for things done by other religious people. I don't know exactly who you mean when you say "you've ruined too many lives", but if you mean The World Famous, that's a pretty extreme thing to say to someone you don't even know simply because of a religious disagreement.
posted by jcreigh at 5:08 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with you almost completely, jcreigh, except I'm a little unclear on this part:

The World Famous opposes anti-gay doctrines and practices

I haven't been following all of The World Famous' previous defenses of Mormonism, but it has not been made clear to me here exactly how s/he counsels young gay people who find their orientation in conflict with the church and their family's beliefs. If The World Famous does, for one off-the-top-of-my-head example, counsel celibacy as the solution for remaining in the Mormon faith, then that's about as anti-gay as you can get.
posted by mediareport at 6:29 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


mediareport, when I wrote that, I was thinking of this comment, where The World Famous says:
I have sat down to detailed, extensive, and respectful conversations about these issues with MeFites whose support of GLBT rights are as strong as I can imagine. And I have come out of those conversations knowing that I and they see eye to eye.
From that I inferred (I hope correctly) that The World Famous doesn't, eg, take the "gays must be celibate" position.
posted by jcreigh at 8:02 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously, if someone asks me what the Church's position is on the issue, I'm not going to lie to them about it. I always tell people that the most important thing is to be true to themselves, to be introspective about what their own belief system is, independent of official statements of doctrine or the beliefs of others, and to find their own path that will be true to who they are and true to their own moral compass.
posted by The World Famous at 11:01 AM on April 12, 2012


If The World Famous does, for one off-the-top-of-my-head example, counsel celibacy as the solution for remaining in the Mormon faith, then that's about as anti-gay as you can get.

Not that I do, but come on now. It can get a lot more anti-gay than that.
posted by The World Famous at 11:43 AM on April 12, 2012


Mormons working to overturn Md. marriage law.
posted by Nelson at 3:26 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It can get a lot more anti-gay than that.

I'ts pernicious and deeply insulting at a core emotional level. It's among the more vicious things you can say to someone struggling with their sexual orientation. We'll just have to disagree on that.
posted by mediareport at 9:40 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mormons working to overturn Md. marriage law.

Gangsters, the lot of them. Like I said before, the only way to deal with them is the same way we had to deal with gangsters like Al Capone: tax evasion. They won't obey the law, and if they get put in jail they can pretend to be martyrs, so just hurt them in the pocketbook. Bankrupt them, just like the KKK.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'ts pernicious and deeply insulting at a core emotional level. It's among the more vicious things you can say to someone struggling with their sexual orientation. We'll just have to disagree on that.

We don't disagree on that.

Blazecock Pileon, we've discussed your position on the tax issue before in depth, so I don't think there's any point in discussing here the legal basis for what you propose. But, in the context of the linked article on which you're commenting, I'm curious to know your thoughts on a couple of things.

According to that article, some unidentified person sent an email to a bunch of members of the church telling them about two members of the church who, according to the email, have interpreted the church's stated neutrality on partisan issues (which I don't believe any more than you do) and its encouragement of members to be active in civic duties as a basis for them to collect signatures for a ballot measure in Maryland.

According to the article: "In an email to the Blade, Schaerr said she’s organizing against the Maryland marriage law not out of any guidance or pressure from the church, but on her own accord."

The article goes on to say "Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, said she isn’t surprised that Mormon Church officials are playing a role in the effort to rescind the Maryland marriage law." But there's nothing in the article about Mormon Church officials playing such a role. Now, I'm not denying the possibility that they are. But the article doesn't report it, and as far as I can tell, Carrie Evans doesn't know whether they are or not, and is simply responding without surprise to someone speculating about it. Again, I would share her lack of surprise if it is the case, but I don't see anything in the article even remotely alleging any such role.

This raises an interesting - and troubling - issue both from the perspective of someone within the church and, I expect, for those outside the church with an interest in marriage equality and equal rights in general. Specifically, there is a strong tendency of Mormons (and I assume that other religious and non-religious groups are this way, as well) to act enthusiastically on their own well beyond the specific directives or instructions of the church itself - culturally interpreting, re-interpreting, over-interpreting, and even misinterpreting what comes from Salt Lake, and then taking the ball and running with it, as it were.

According to the article, the email in Maryland came from an unknown sender not alleged to be affiliated with the church and is in relation to a political effort being made by two members of the church without any direction from the church itself.

When I first moved to DC 15 or so years ago, there was a ward e-mail group run by the bishop of my ward or one of his counselors or something. It wasn't huge, because e-mail was not the huge thing it is now. It was used for telling people about church meetings and church activities and that sort of thing. And if someone had a room for rent or furniture to sell or whatever, they could use it for that, too. But then the polarized political nature of DC started to creep in and people would occasionally send an e-mail that was political in nature and, generally, that assumed that every LDS person on the list must agree on political issues. The bishop wanted none of this, so he shut it down. The message was that the church e-mail list was just for notification of church activities, and that, at the risk of it looking like the church supported or was somehow involved in all the other stuff that people want to put on an email list, he would not longer do it at all. So the list became a Yahoo group or something like that. And by the time I left DC in the early 2000s, the list (and this was just the list for LDS single people) was thousands and thousands of people, and it was literally hundreds of emails a day of all sorts of stuff, because anyone could email anything to it and, unless they got banned for something, put whatever they wanted in front of a community of thousands of LDS people who, at one time or another, had been in one of the numerous singles wards in DC. I stayed on the list for a year or so after leaving DC, but then took myself off.

So, based on that experience, the Maryland article looks to me like a group of members of the church that still interpret the Prop 8 letter as a call to arms or whatever and who used one of those giant e-mail lists to send their message out, alongside people renting rooms and selling furniture and organizing potluck dinners and all that. And that's despicable and wrong and I totally disagree with their political goal and their stated beliefs about the issue and all that.

So, first, when you talk about dealing with "them" through tax evasion like Al Capone, who are you talking about when you say "them," in the context of this article? Martha Schaerr and Teressa Wallace?

Second, and more importantly, let's suppose that your legal theories about taxes and the Mormon Church are totally correct and you or someone else succeed in having the Mormon Church declared legally not a religion and not tax exempt. What, exactly, would that accomplish in terms of preventing discrimination against homosexuals by Mormons? What, exactly, would that accomplish in terms of stopping efforts by the Church or its members to prevent same-sex marriages from being legally recognized in the United States or anywhere else?

Do you think that it would change the minds and religious beliefs of the Mormons on any significant scale? If so, why?

Do you think that changing the status of the Church to that of an organization that can legally influence politics on the same level as any other non-church would somehow deter the church from doing exactly that? If so, why?

I guess I'm just trying to figure out why you think that your proposed approach is better than, for example, working to help the Mormon Church to understand that the fundamental assumptions about homosexuality upon which it has based its doctrines are incorrect.
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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