The NY Times claims more than a dozen Mormons are being disciplined for on-line comments

Here is the latest from the NY Times on Mormonism and on-line comments.

Some key excerpts:

From California to Virginia and states in between, more than a dozen Mormons interviewed in the past week said they had recently been informed by their bishops that they faced excommunication or risked losing permission to enter a temple because of comments they had made online about their faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These members said their bishops had questioned them about specific posts they had made on their blogs, Twitter and Facebook, in the comment streams of websites or in conversations in chat rooms.

The kinds of comments that have attracted the scrutiny of bishops and stake presidents, who are regional supervisors, include support for the ordination of women; advocacy for same-sex marriage; serious doubts about church history or theology; and, as in Mr. Waterman’s case, protests that the church demands more in tithes than its doctrine requires.

Here is the Church’s response:

Michael Otterson, managing director of the church’s public affairs office, said: “There is no coordinated effort to tell local leaders to keep their members from blogging or discussing their questions online. On the contrary, church leaders have encouraged civil online dialogue and recognize that today it’s just part of how the world works.”

However, he said, church leaders do grow concerned when discussion is used to recruit others for campaigns to change church doctrine or structure.

“When it goes so far as creating organized groups, staging public events to further a cause and creating literature for members to share in their local congregations,” Mr. Otterson said, “the church has to protect the integrity of its doctrine as well as other members from being misled.”

The article says that several people who have posted profiles on the Ordain Women site have faced Church discipline:

Some supporters of the Ordain Women movement who have posted profiles and pictures of themselves on the movement’s website have also recently had their temple recommends withdrawn or been removed from church volunteer positions, according to Ms. Kelly and Ordain Women leaders.

Ms. Kelly’s parents, who live in Provo, Utah, were among those who lost temple privileges, as was a higher-profile leader, Hannah Wheelwright, who just graduated from the church’s Brigham Young University and founded a group called Young Mormon Feminists.

But there are also those who never sought the spotlight, like Dana, a member in the church’s Buena Vista stake in Virginia, who did not want her last name used because she has family in the church. She was very active in the church but supports the ordination of women and same-sex marriage, which church doctrine prohibits.

She said that soon after she posted comments anonymously in an online chat room, her bishop sent her emails quoting what she had written and questioning her about her beliefs. On June 1, she said, her bishop phoned and told her to stop posting or face a church disciplinary hearing. Instead, four days later, she and her family resigned their church membership.

“It was just bizarre,” she said. “I was trying to quietly leave the church because of doctrinal reasons, and I hastily left the church because of my bishop.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

83 thoughts on “The NY Times claims more than a dozen Mormons are being disciplined for on-line comments

  1. If my bishop or stake president were ever to express concern about something I wrote on-line, I would discuss it with him with full candor, explaining how I believe that my comments are furthering the work of the Church. And if my bishop or stake president were then to ask me to stop leaving such comments, I would say yes and immediately do what they ask. I believe my bishop and stake presidents were called to those positions by the Lord, and I support them in their callings. That show of faith to them as representatives of the Lord is much more important to my eternal salvation than anything I could write on-line.

  2. I can imagine all of us being asked to stop internet blogging for a time, like when we were told to not have ward websites about a decade ago or participate in symposiums two decades ago. Sometimes things get a bit out of hand, the saints have to step back, matters get sorted out, and normal living resumes later.

  3. I’m a bit amazed by all of this, but sadly not surprised. So many of the folks that fall into the Mormon Stories and OW camp have in reality left the Church a long time ago, and I believe that it is accurate to lump Kate Kelly into that group despite her protestations of piety. The simple fact that she views direct action as an acceptable methodology to affect change in the Church betrays, in my mind at least, that she does not view the Church the way I do.

    Oh, and Geoff, the same goes for me. Even if the leader was completely wrong, I would comply. It would be a small price to pay, and I would be glad to pay it. It reminds me of one of my favorite J. Golden Kimball quotes about leaders in the Church. “Some are sent to lead us and some are sent to try us.” If I was wrongly asked to take down some online content by a misguided bishop, I would take solace that I would be blessed for it and that he would get released someday.

  4. I might be a little more reluctant to take down content then the two of you I admit. I would probably at least try talking to my stake president about it and bringing it to his attention. I would probably then comply, but I admit I would drag my feet a bit. What I would not do for sure is contact the New York Times about it or attack the church.

  5. I agree that there is something different going on with the last vignette about “Dana.” Unless her bishop works for the NSA, her comments must not have been too anonymous, and I haven’t spent much time in “chat rooms” in the last decade but I always thought that the logs of such communications were trickier to come by than facebook threads or comments on a blog. Lastly, how “active” was she if she and her whole family resigned their membership within four days of the first time the bishop talked with her about these things? Very odd.

  6. This reminds me about the importance of anonymity when posting anything on the Internet.

    Don’t get me wrong. This is not important because the Church might start taking disciplinary actions against you. The Church has the right to do this and as a member of the Church I voluntary accept the authority of the Church to judge me for what I’m doing or saying. This is not about whether or not my bishop might find out what I did. If I hide before my bishop I certainly have more serious issues going on that I should deal with.

    No, what I mean is not the Church, it’s the state/government. Times can change quickly and so can constitutional amendments. What you post today can and will be remembered for ever. You can never be sure that you deleted every single copy of what you have posted long ago. The moment you post it it can and will multiply.

    I’m using the Internet since 1996 (do you remember modems and AOL?). I’ve learned a lot since then. I would never ever post anything on the Internet using my real identity and without obscuring my real IP address which could otherwise be traced back to me.

    I was raised in a communist country. That’s why I cherish freedom more than many other people might do. We too often take freedom for granted because we don’t know better (or worse for this matter). I also learned my lesson about never ever trusting the government. Government will change and can change quickly. The freedom you have today can be gone tomorrow. And then the seemingly innocent post of today might cost you your life.

    So while this has nothing to do with the authority of the Church to judge its members, I was reminded about this important principle while reading this article.

  7. @Michael Davidson:

    You asked, how the bishop would know it was her when she was posting anonymously.

    While I do not know the case details of course, it might have been something that she wrote. She might have written about some incident that only she could know. And her bishop maybe knew that only she could know it.

    Many years ago I published about some unfair and even illegal things going on where I worked. I wrote about it anonymously of course. A newspaper reporter contacted me (not directly of course since he did not know who I was) because he wanted to write an article about my story. Even before I gave him an interview my employer interrogated me more than two hours, because he had read what I wrote on the Internet. He couldn’t prove that I was the one of course. Being not a member of the Church at that time (long before my baptism) I lied and said that I do not know what he was talking about. He threatened to sue the one responsible without naming me directly. I was terminated the other day without any explanation. Luckily it was a second job and not my main job.

    So, how did he find out about me? I wrote about specific things that only I could know. I wrote about the content of a conversation my superior had with me. Only she and I could know about it. So it was easy for him to know it was me. BTW: My employer never sued me because he had no proof and the website I used to publish the story would not give away its logs without a court order.

    Maybe the same happened here with this woman and her bishop. Maybe she wrote about something only she could know. This is quite common and difficult to avoid. Ask any police investigator and he will tell you that suspects often give themselves away because they tell something only the perpetrator could know.

  8. @Steve, if that is your real name :), your comment goes to my point. It’s not anonymous if you can be identified. I am amazed at how many people seem to think that they should not be held to account for the things they say online. I think that we will all be held to account, one way or another, for what we say and do online in the final judgment. It can and does have real world impacts, even if it is only on ourselves.

  9. Twelve out of 15 million. I agree with Jan Shipps that it is boundary control. We’ve had a lot of things said on the Internet and in the media, and we sometimes have to draw lines in the sand, saying “you cannot cross this line.’ That it is on both sides of the line (liberals and consrvatives), we can see that it is drawing the boundaries on both ends of the spectrum.

    Still, it is a cautious move. There were 200 people who marched for OW last General Conference. We do not see that many being threatened with discipline.

  10. While I generally agree about the desire for privacy, there are some things worth putting your name to, regardless of the consequences. Before I posted under my full name, I posted a bit under just my first name. But I didn’t feel right testifying while not having the nerve to fully put myself out there

    So, to the NSA agents (present and future) reading this post, my name is Jonathan Cavender, and I stand with the Church and my Priesthood leaders, come what may.

    As to the issue of following leaders, it is amazing how wrong people can get about that. I know perhaps a dozen stories where a Bishop stepped in and told a Member to do or not do something, and the Member felt it was outside what the Bishop should have been advising about (feeling it was a matter of personal choice). In those situations where the person humbled themselves and followed the Bishop’s counsel, they all can show how they were greatly blessed by doing so. For those who did not, it is likewise clear that the Bishop was right and each suffered greatly for ignoring his counsel.

    I think, more and more, that this whole situation comes down to testimony – is your faith strong enough to follow.

  11. “It was just bizarre,” she said. “I was trying to quietly leave the church because of doctrinal reasons, and I hastily left the church because of my bishop.”

    It is amazing how many people think that they are quietly doing something when they are broadcasting it to the world via the internet. I am not sure that this meets the definition of “quietly.”

  12. “So, to the NSA agents (present and future) reading this post, my name is Jonathan Cavender, and I stand with the Church and my Priesthood leaders, come what may. ”

    I already knew.

  13. Sometimes anonymity is useful, even necessary, but many who think they are anonymous use it like a mask to avoid taking responsibility for what they say or post. It can foster rudeness. Those I most fear have already invaded my home and done real damage. In some ways this has been liberating. I don’t fool myself that I can avoid notice by using a pseudonym. I was also bemused by the final quote. If many of those in question were already on the verge of leaving the Church, is it not just as well that it be done formally?

  14. It is inevitable that somebody will write about the “oppressive church” engaging in “censorship.” So in anticipation of that, I would like to remind people that the Church is a voluntary organization. You do not have to belong to it, and when you do you make covenants. As you proceed in the organization, and go to the temple, you make more covenants. You do this of your own free will and choice. If you no longer want to belong to the organization, you can leave.

    This concept is absolutely crucial. Just to give one example, the First Amendment applies to the government, which is not a voluntary organization, not to private organizations like the Church, which are voluntary.

    Your bishop and stake presidents are human beings who may or may not understand what it means to leave comments on-line. But as a member of the Church you are asked to support them in their callings, and if they were to ask you not to write something on-line you should assume, for your own salvation, that it is a request coming from the Lord. Even in the unlikely case that your bishop or stake president is completely wrong, I think it is important to to support them by doing what they ask. They will eventually be released, and perhaps in a few months they will even change their minds.

    I write about this crucial distinction between a private voluntary organization and the government in these two posts:

    http://www.millennialstar.org/it-is-morally-wrong-to-call-for-civil-disobedience-against-the-church/

    http://www.millennialstar.org/us-vs-them-2/

  15. “in Mr. Waterman’s case, protests that the church demands more in tithes than its doctrine requires.”

    Really? The institution of Tithing was given because we couldn’t live up to the Law of Consecration where we gave everything. Something we are actually asked to do in a particular place, although have no means of doing at this time as an organization.

    “She was very active in the church . . . ‘It was just bizarre,” she said. ‘I was trying to quietly leave the church because of doctrinal reasons, and I hastily left the church because of my bishop.’ ”

    Doesn’t compute. She was active, and yet was trying to leave. She just decided to leave sooner than later; an eventuality in either case. These people aren’t just oppositional. They are illogical Nuts. I don’t say that lightly.

  16. Technically, there is no such thing as “anonimity” on the Internet. Those who write with this idea are being naive at best. It is dangerous to think that anything you say or do on the Internet is private.

    I am not very skilled at it, but even I can trace almost anything back to a source. There are various “anonymisers” that make it more challenging, but they are not bullet-proof, to the really determined. And few are informed enough to even use them.

    Not even data encryption can stand too much scrutiny. The saving grace is that the Internet carries an unbelievable amount of data, and not even the NSA can look at everything.

    Word to the wise…

  17. I find the article interesting (well at least the excerpts, I haven’t read the whole thing) but it does bring up an important issue (at least important to me anyway). That is, what to do when you strongly believe the counsel/direction is wrong? Not just that you disagree on a personal level because it would be difficult, or it would affect your lifestyle, or require behavioral changes; but because one believes the direction/counsel/doctrine/practice being taught contradicts revealed scripture/truth.

    I think at that point one has two choices (in no particular order). First, obey/comply. This is generally the safe route because one is essentially saying: “I have been taught that obedience to Church authority is an overriding commandment. As such any sin involved in following counsel (sin from my perspective because I believe it is wrong) would adhere to the priesthood leader requiring the obedience, not to the member.” Second, one can chose to act on the truth as it has been revealed to himself. This is by far the more riskier approach as one then is explicitly relying on the concept that one has a clear understanding of what God wants in the situation. If a member is wrong on this point he or she has no excuse as their Church leaders made a statement directing the member to take a different path.

    Obviously the members mentioned in this article (and the other members the Bloggernacle has been discussing recently) have chosen the second path. Having chosen that path a member of the Church ought to ask themselves (in my opinion) how should I go about acting on truth as I (believe I) know? As has been pointed out many times in our Church’s history, by many general authorities, the Church rarely excommunicates (or even disciplines) members for what they believe. Rather, people usually get in trouble with the Church for their actions, and then only for actions which are pretty in your face in some fundamental manner (although the Church’s view of what constitutes “in your face” may be dramatically different than what a “regular” member might think of as “in your face”).

    In the final analysis there are basically only two ways to try to influence the Church’s policies and practices which are compatible with being a fully functional member. First, talk to local leaders and hope your concerns are passed on; and second, pray. The first is not likely to feel very satisfying, nor is it likely to have much (any) effect. Both however, will serve to allow one to know they have tried to effect change within the framework of the Church God has currently in place.

    The primary difficulty (from a “being true to one’s core beliefs” perspective) is whether one can be satisfied with the limited options available to attempt to effect change. The Blacks and the Priesthood ban is the on-point case study. Lucky for me I was not old enough to serve a mission until just after the 1978 announcement of the change in policy (I graduated from high school in 1979). Had I been born a year or two earlier I would have had a significant crisis of faith in try to decide whether I could serve a mission. I still have significant issues that the ban ever existed at all, but the fact it no longer does shows me that God actively works to move the Church closer to eternal truth over time – and that sometimes that movement requires one heck of a big lever. But what would have been the proper response to the policy at the time? Prior to the 1978 announcement I was struggling with the concept that “my” Church was a racist organization. It hurt, and I knew it was wrong. The idea that I would go out into the world and defend those specific policies as being “inspired and approved by God’s prophets on earth” was frankly not at all pleasant. Yet at the same time I had a strong testimony that the Church was God’s recognized organization on the earth. (I was active in the Church, held many leadership positions – at the ward and stake levels, fulfilled my priesthood duties and accepted assignments, attended seminary, and was generally trying to live according to the gospel standards). In short I had massive cognitive dissonance. I’m sure the same type of cognitive dissonance exists for those who read the scriptures about all are alike unto the Lord (male and female, bond and free, etc.) as they think about the women and the priesthood. It certainly exists for me, but I’ll admit at a much less dramatic level than it did for me with respect to the Black priesthood ban.

    We know from modern revelation that the Church will continue to thrive, that it will be here right up to the end, so it will survive the current issues (and the future ones we don’t even know exist yet), but I think the Church’s current behavior (from an institutional perspective) runs the risk of going a bit overboard with respect to “prosecuting” a member for that member’s beliefs. Not so much with respect to Kelly or Dehlin – they painted themselves into a corner for the most part – but for folks like some of the ones referenced in this article. I don’t think “witch hunt” type actions are a very good idea.

    It has been very interesting to me to read and watch the response various members of the Church are having to these stories. They range all the way from “good riddance/I told you so” to genuine sadness, and everything in between. I wish it all would have played out very differently, but given the choices and reactions on both sides I suspect both feel like they have little choice at this point.

    With respect to the privacy issue, I admit I am spoiled. I (like many here) live in the United States, where for well over two hundred years people rarely got in trouble with the government for what they said (trouble with their neighbors is a different story however). So unlike many places in the world I really don’t think I have to worry very much about whether my statements can be traced back to me, because the likely consequences are of a nature I am willing to deal with. In many other parts of the world people do get killed just for being any of a number of things (Christians, homosexuals, the wrong ethnic group or race, a dissident, etc.), none of those types of threats seem to apply to me. Further, I try to follow the rule that I don’t type anything I would not be willing to say in person (to my family, friends, neighbors, bishop, stake president, or government official). So I usually sign my full (and real) name to anything I write.

  18. I almost didn’t comment for fear of being discovered — but I’m doing it anyway:) I commented elsewhere that if Mormon Stories and OW were movements that were “good,” we should be able to see external fruits from them. They (in theory) should lead us to Christ, make us more involved with church, encourage us to love our leaders (as representatives of Christ) even more. They should encourage more and better home teaching and visiting teaching, more succor, more kindness, patience, etc. I know those are outward and somewhat subjective things, but the scriptures are full of the use of good fruits as being signs of goodness, light, and so forth. Instead of seeing that good fruit (at least in on line communities), all I see is an increase in cynicism, criticism, doubt, sarcasm, disrespect for leaders, and doubt about the church.

  19. I’ve had the personal policy for a few years now, that if I am not willing to comment or post something with my real, and full name attached, then I shouldn’t be commenting or posting that thing. It’s been helpful keeping me from fighting online.

  20. It looks like Hannah Wheelwright, another official spokeswoman for OW, has taken to the young mormon feminists blog to chose apostasy as well. Too bad.

  21. “I think at that point one has two choices (in no particular order). First, obey/comply. This is generally the safe route because one is essentially saying: “I have been taught that obedience to Church authority is an overriding commandment. As such any sin involved in following counsel (sin from my perspective because I believe it is wrong) would adhere to the priesthood leader requiring the obedience, not to the member.” Second, one can chose to act on the truth as it has been revealed to himself. This is by far the more riskier approach as one then is explicitly relying on the concept that one has a clear understanding of what God wants in the situation. If a member is wrong on this point he or she has no excuse as their Church leaders made a statement directing the member to take a different path. ”

    There is a third choice, although it is really a variant of the first with a different reason behind it. One that I think would have also been a viable option in your example on your situation about serving a mission pre-the 1978 declaration on the Priesthood.

    Just be patient and realize that the Lord’s time is not the same as ours. This is kind of akin to Article of Faith 9. It is also not unlike the people in the Book of Mormon pre-Christ:

    Alma 25:15 Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.

    2 Nephi 25:24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

    They knew that there was something better than the Law of Moses. They also knew that it was not the time for it and that they would have to wait, or even in this case, their posterity would have to wait.

    It is really hard for us mortals to be patient, especially now that we will in a time of near immediate gratification when it comes to the sharing of ideas and general communication.

  22. RE: Mike – I agree that patiently waiting is a variant of the first option (Obey/Comply). It is what I did. I did not resign my membership and I continued to serve in all capacities as I was asked. But that action does not resolve the underlying issue. It is simply is a statement that one is willing to live with the contradiction because of the commitment one has to the greater organization.

  23. “But that action does not resolve the underlying issue. It is simply is a statement that one is willing to live with the contradiction because of the commitment one has to the greater organization.”

    I am not certain that it really is a contradiction. It is simply saying that it is simply not the time, or does not meet with God’s current plan, or that we are simply not ready, or willing, to receive all that God has in store for us at the moment.

    This can be applied to any number of “issues” as has been already seen throughout the scriptures and other records. This is nothing new. It is just our impatience that clouds our view.

  24. The NY Times says “more than a dozen”, but only lists nine: Dehlin, Kelly, Snuffer, Waterman, Kloosterman, Wheelwright, “Dana”, and Kelly’s parents. Whence the other four?

    Two things that leap out at me, from Kloosterman’s claims:

    1) Do bishops understand that the Strengthening the Church Members Committee functions in an advisory, not a mandatory role? If the SCMC sends a dossier on a member to the member’s local leader, and that dossier is accompanied by a cover letter bearing the signature of a committee member who also happens to be a seventy or an apostle–does the local leader understand that he doesn’t HAVE to act on that?

    2) Isn’t there a difference between a situation where a bishop who was not independently disposed to administer discipline nevertheless receives and acts on an instruction (or even a “suggestion”) to initiate proceedings, versus a situation where a bishop who is already troubled by a congregant’s activities takes the situation to a higher-up and being told “yeah, that looks troubling to me, too, and you’re free to go ahead on this one”? The Times doesn’t explain which scenario applied in Kloosterman’s case.

  25. As I understand it, Church authorities ‘counsel’ with those who seem to be wavering from the strait and narrow path. The latest news is about institutional issues, but it is likely that personal issues are the basis of most calls for counsel ranging from bishop’s interviews to broader involvement. Sometimes there is false or missing information. As we know from our history, even particularly gifted prophets are sometimes ignorant of important facts (as in the case of John C. Bennett and Joseph Smith.)
    In one case I knew of, two different members of a bishopric received information about misbehavior of an individual, one of a sexual nature that had supposedly been resolved and the other about physical abuse of a spouse which was ongoing. The bishop and his counselor conferred in terms vague enough to leave them with the impression that there was only one issue and it had been properly resolved. The wife received counsel to forgive her repentant husband. She asked some questions that revealed the misunderstanding.
    In institutional matters it is unlikely that similar mistakes will happen, but even so there is an orderly procedure in place to allow for clarification. Some refuse to undergo the counseling process and leave before they face a ‘judge in Israel’ while at the same time protesting that they are victims. I wonder how they will act when confronted by the Judge who has full knowledge of their hearts.

  26. I figure if I really don’t want something known, I simply won’t post it at all. This is why I rarely post on Facebook, where the chatter betrays too much information, in my opinion.

    I wrote this following up in response to a recent post at BCC asking for restraint and hoping the Church will de-escalate. Which I thought was an interesting betrayal of where the author’s head lives.
    _________________

    The way I see this is Kate made a decision, possibly inspired by many good reasons not associated with her activism on behalf of female ordination, to relocate to Utah after meeting with her bishop and stake president on 5 May.
    When she received the letter conveying news of the planned disciplinary council, she had various choices:

    - Quietly comply with the terms of the letter and arrange to travel to Virginia.
    - Respectfully request the date change due to her personal circumstances.
    - Reach out to others for help in getting to Virginia and covering her Utah obligations.
    - Put out feelers to others to determine if the letter she received was part of a possible redux of September Six of a couple decades ago.
    - Contact a particular individual in hopes that the ongoing discussion with his leaders might include a letter felicitously proximate in time to the one she had received.
    - Call her contacts at prominent news organizations and make sure external force was brought to bear on Church headquarters.

    Since Kate’s decision to go to the media and cast this as an inevitable excommunication and grand conspiracy a la September Six, she has had the opportunity for subsequent choices:

    - Accept the offer(s) to pay for her travel to Virginia and cover her Utah obligations.
    - Continue or discontinue publishing the discussions that appear to have been the main point of contention.
    - Take down the website she has created or at least use it as a vehicle for conciliation. Or not.
    - Continue or discontinue her participation in the media coverage of the upcoming disciplinary council.
    - Call for or discourage candle-light vigils and other activism on behalf of her and others.
    - Call for de-escalation or alternately stoke the flames of discontent.

    Few people really care about this, when the news has delights like the events in Iraq and a USA win against Ghana and Miley Cyrus or whoever is gracing the front pages of popular magazines these days. But the academic community cares about things like this. Nearly a decade after the September Six, I was asked by professors if I didn’t fear for my status in the Church for my research into Joseph Smith’s life. So there is definitely an impact of public perception of the Church when things like this flare up.

    After Sunday, Kate will again have a wide range of choices.

    - She can choose to announce that she is going to refrain from commenting, allowing everyone to jump to their own conclusions.
    - She can publish her version of events and her written defense.
    - She can continue to stoke the media attention with interviews and documents and tales of the discipline being enacted across the Church (10,000s of such actions occur each year – surely there are some that align with whatever message she chooses to convey).
    - She could appeal this action (whatever it might be) up the chain. As this doesn’t involve legal costs, there is no material bar for her pushing this up the chain.

    The Church (writ large or small) similarly has choices. But they also have a well established process (recall the 10,000s of such actions that occur each year). So there is a significant precedence. Precendence with Kate, as a lawyer, should not be surprised by.

    It appears there are people claiming they will withdraw (or have withdrawn) their names from the roles of the Church or will resign on Pioneer Day or will perform some other kind of spiritual hari-kari.

    I know this kind of thing happened in the 1990s in the wake of September Six and David Wright, etc. A man I had dearly wished to marry at one point in my life decided with his wife that they no longer believed in God and withdrew their names from the roles of the Church when Professor Wright was disciplined.
    Each of us, in light of this current furor, have our own choices to make. For me and apparently my house, we choose to remain within the LDS faith community where we adjudge that we serve the Lord, Our God.

  27. “This concept is absolutely crucial. Just to give one example, the First Amendment applies to the government, which is not a voluntary organization, not to private organizations like the Church, which are voluntary.”

    Agreed. But perhaps then, as a Church, we should stop all the lip service we pay to the concept of liberty: that thing we teach was so necessary to bring about the Restoration in the first place.

  28. “But perhaps then, as a Church, we should stop all the lip service we pay to the concept of liberty: that thing we teach was so necessary to bring about the Restoration in the first place.”

    Really, bro?

  29. @Jim Cobabe on June 19, 2014 at 7:21 am said:
    “I am not very skilled at it, but even I can trace almost anything back to a source. There are various “anonymisers” that make it more challenging, but they are not bullet-proof, to the really determined.”

    Yes, technically you can trace back everything. The solution lies in using different .. well … judicial environments.

    Take for instance a service like TOR. When connected you’re using a three-step cascade. This means your data is channeled through at least three different servers in – at best – three different countries. Your real IP is only known to the first server in the cascade. And authorities will first have to fight the next two servers in the cascade for log files before they will know the first server. This forces the authorities to deal with the judicial system in three countries. Technically possible but in “real life” simply to complicated and time consuming.

    I’m using an offshore VPN. My VPN service provider knows my real IP. Since my VPN provider do not store any logs, even a court order couldn’t force him to hand over any logs and thus know my real IP simply because there are no logs. Of course I will have to trust my VPN provider and have to take him by his word that he does not store any logs. In this example getting my real IP is impossible.

    Even Edward Snowden said that there are indeed ways to communicate anonymously. But yes, it is not an easy task. That’s for sure.

  30. Geoff said, “the First Amendment applies to the government, which is not a voluntary organization, not to private organizations like the Church, which are voluntary.”

    I think this is certainly an appropriate distinction, but even as Elder Oaks has pointed out, private organization ought to honor the first amendment in their actions. Actively censoring ideas and then saying you ought to abide by the first amendment is a bit of a stretch.

    The good thing is that the church doesn’t approach the first amendment this way unless the speech itself actively conflicts with the direction of the organization. That’s an important distinction, because “we the people” in government don’t have a right to say your speech conflicts with government because they are also “we the people”.

    In the case of the church, the authorities represent the Lord, and if we start cursing up a storm in sacrament meeting, that kind of speech violates our values just as much as actively teaching others contrary to what the apostles are teaching as revealed by the Lord.

  31. jman, the concept of a private organization setting its own rules is very, very easy to understand and supported by almost all thinking people and has nothing to do with the concept of liberty against the government. To show one example, a voluntary HOA can set rules on political speech within the HOA (“no billboards in the front yard without HOA approval”). A voluntary organization of atheists could set up rules that no members go around telling people about Jesus and Heavenly Father without losing their membership. This has nothing to do with political liberty (people are still free to do whatever they want *outside of the organization*). Liberty has to do with liberty from government oppression, which is why the First Amendment starts out “Congress shall make no law…” It does not start out “No organization shall make no law..” or “In all cases and in all organizations, people shall have…”

    There is a crucial distinction between the behavior of private, voluntary groups and the government, as I explain in the two posts linked above.

  32. jman writes, “But perhaps then, as a Church, we should stop all the lip service we pay to the concept of liberty: that thing we teach was so necessary to bring about the Restoration in the first place.”

    Yeah, everything went so smoothly and easily with the Restoration with all that liberty around. No worries whatsoever. It has always been one big hug with the world.

    It seems to me that what jman is pointing at is that there should somehow be some sort of liberty from consequences that goes along with liberty to choose. That just never really works out.

    KK still has complete liberty to say what she wants. And I am willing to bet that she is fully aware of the consequences of her actions, and has been for some time. Quit pretending as if she is somehow being infringed upon when she chose this path knowingly.

  33. Re: Dana’s chat room. A plausible scenario is that another participant in the chat room, who knew Dana’s identity behind her alias/handle, turned on their logging feature, and sent the log to the bishop.

    And lets all keep in mind, one doesnt get exed for apostasy, one gets exed for advocacy of apostasy.

  34. *Agreed. But perhaps then, as a Church, we should stop all the lip service we pay to the concept of liberty: that thing we teach was so necessary to bring about the Restoration in the first place.*

    You should stop, anyhow, since you apparently don’t know what liberty means.

    Liberty means meaningful choices. Meaningful choices are choices with consequences.

  35. John Mansfield: i cant imagine church leaders asking the membership to stop blogging, not even temporarily. But i do believe there will be upcoming articles in the Ensign and gen conf talks containing guidelines and recommendations for blogging and online/social-media behavior in general. And as i’ve said elsewhere, since disciplinary councils have been in the public news, some generic info about those and apostasy will also appear in Ensign and gen conf.

  36. I’l’ bring it up again: Regional leaders vary greatly in my experience. I knew a bishop who added rated R movies and caffeine to the recommend questions. I know of another who apparently approved a non-believing John Dehlin to baptize his son not too long ago. I’m very uneasy about someone”s salvation being in the hands of a few human beings. No matter how hard they try to do the right thing.

  37. “Liberty means meaningful choices. Meaningful choices are choices with consequences.”

    That’s clever. I like that. Putin probably likes it, too.

    “It seems to me that what jman is pointing at is that there should somehow be some sort of liberty from consequences that goes along with liberty to choose. That just never really works out.”

    No, I am saying the Church can restrict speech all it wants. But we can’t also sing praises to our Bill of Rights. But I guess our freedom of religion gives us the privilege of punishing other people for exercising freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press.

    Of course there will be consequences to speech. I can’t control what my neighbor will do to me if I write a controversial opinion in a newspaper. But according to our national understanding of liberty, I shouldn’t face any legal consequences for my controversial opinion. Kate Kelly will face natural consequences (people will stop liking her, perhaps?), but if we really believe in free speech as a church, the fact that she faces legal consequences (official discipline from Church authorities) seems hypocritical.

    “KK still has complete liberty to say what she wants. And I am willing to bet that she is fully aware of the consequences of her actions, and has been for some time. Quit pretending as if she is somehow being infringed upon when she chose this path knowingly.”

    I am not saying she is being infringed upon. Yes, she probably knew this day was coming. I am saying that we are hypocrites if we believe in the Bill of Rights (which we are so quick to cite when it comes to our views on gay marriage), yet continue to punish those who exercise it.

    Maybe we only believe in the Bill of Rights in the political arena. It seems to look like that.

  38. Jman, if you didnt sleep through your history/civics courses, your teachers really sucked.

  39. Speaking of the consequences of speech, about an hour ago Kate Kelly posted on the OW page the following quote:

    “I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.

    I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’ Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

    Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.” ― Audre Lorde

    I responded:

    I find it a bit ironic that you would ask this question when you could be excommunicated in the next couple of days. I would think that it would be clear right now that merely irritating people and being called names is not anywhere near the worst thing that could happen. It almost seems that you are saying that excommunication would be a small price to pay in order to continue to say what you are saying.

    I suspect that my comment will be deleted fairly quickly, as she has been deleting a bunch of stuff today.

  40. Jman:

    Does your respect for the Constitution extend to freedom of association and peaceable assembly? If so, then you would be in support of the exercise of that right on behalf of the Church through Church discipline (including excommunication) when they determine it is necessary, correct?

  41. Hi jman,

    Your level of Constitutional understanding seems to be lacking.

    Church discipline is not a legal matter.

    As I’m unsure who you are or (therefore) why you are unable to differentiate between government and the Church, I’m not really sure how to help you see the fallacy in your perspective.

  42. Michael:

    And yet she spends her days fighting the fight she has chosen rather than standing up for women who get jailed or killed or disappear. Has she spoken up for them, rather than attacked the Church, what a difference she could have made and what a different result for her.

  43. I see that many of us had similar thoughts regarding jman’s reasoning and cross posted.

    As for the Audre Lorde quote, Kate clearly sees her crusade as one of freeing women from oppression. I find it interesting that Kate chooses to quote Audre Lorde.

    Certainly within the Church there are some women and a few men who share Kate’s perspective on her crusade. But these are individuals who apparently haven’t much studied the organization known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, particularly key process documents like D&C 28.

    Sigh.

  44. Christian J, Of course regional leaders vary. I wouldn’t say it’s kosher to add questions to the recommend interview, and to my knowledge, they’re not supposed to be added. Regardless, we strive to support and sustain our leaders regardless of whether we approve/accept their decisions/actions or not. That is the point. They are accountable to their leaders, and if they get away with it, then the Lord will hold them accountable.

    “I’m very uneasy about someone”s salvation being in the hands of a few human beings.”

    Though you are uneasy, that is a broad and uninformed statement. In the case of a few hands, such as a bishopric, they may administer various types of discipline, but never excommunicatation. Excommunication cases are conducted by a minimum of fifteen priesthood holders. Though a member’s salvation may be affected, the purpose of church discipline is to save the souls of transgressors, protect the innocent, and safeguard the integrity and good name of the Church.

  45. And yes, Jonathan, if Kate had expended this much energy in service of freeing women from actual oppression rather than hurt feelings, she could have made such a difference.

    But she would not have been able to become the darling of the New York Times and other media outlets for being a run-of-the-mill do-gooder. But if she manages things right, she will forever be able to get her cause du jour heard by the media.

    Brilliant. Not conducive to seeking repentance, perhaps, but as a means to an end, she appears to have managed this thing deftly.

    As for me, I believe in an omniscient God and final judgement. So I would not have felt comfortable treading the path Kate has trod. I value my membership in the Church.

  46. I read a comment somewhere that said KK is moving to Kenya. So maybe she’ll be fighting for women’s rights there.

    Btw, since a certain nfl football team no longer has exclusive rights to use “Washington Redskins”, i claim non-legally-binding “dibbs” to use it on any and all Mormon related blogs.

  47. Re: tiger’s comment abt excommunications being a stake pres and high council matter.

    I was under the impression that bishops can hold a council for those who do not hold the higher priesthood, and may excommunicate. Someone may appeal their excommunication by the bishop to the stake pres and high council. And, the bishop may decide to refer a case directly to the stake level without holding a council himself. Only in cases involving Melch Priesthood holders is it required to start at the stake level.

    Could someone with direct knowledge of the hand ooks please comment?

  48. Bishoprics can handle any discipline except excommunication of Melchizedek Priesthood holders. That can only be done in a full disciplinary counsel on the stake level.

  49. Regarding the Washington football team, it’s really too bad that there aren’t any local tribes whose names could be substituted:

    Natives (seems this would still be deemed pejorative)
    Comanches (fierce, but they didn’t live in the DC area)
    Apaches (ditto)
    Powhatans (not scary)
    Kiowas (doesn’t sound scary, though these plains indians killed the most, per capita)
    Chieftains (works for me)

    Then again, I see that many teams with indian names are up for censure at the moment (along with the mascot for the Coachella Valley Arabs).

  50. “Kate Kelly will face natural consequences (people will stop liking her, perhaps?), but if we really believe in free speech as a church, the fact that she faces legal consequences (official discipline from Church authorities) seems hypocritical. ”

    jman, careful reading of the Book of Mormon will help both you and KK better understand the typical consequences associated with certain types of speech, The pattern is pretty well laid out. Also, from what I read there the consequence rarely had to do with not being liked by many people. In fact, it seems like in many cases certain people made sure that their speech that was generally not favorable to the church was actually quite attractive to many people. And they seemed to enjoy that attention. The pattern is repeated often should you care to read about it.

    Church authorities seemed to take an active stance in those cases, too, from what I read.

  51. Michael D. is right. Bishops have authority for the discipline of all members in his ward, except the excommunication of a member holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. If there is evidence of possible excommunication of a MP holder, then the bishop transfers the matter to the stake president.

  52. In the odd chance that anyone is interested, my response to Kate Kelly’s Audre Lorde quotation has been deleted from facebook and I have been excommunicated from the OW facebook page. This has happened without an due process whatsoever, likely not helped by the fact that I am a man.

  53. Just a note that discipline can get messed up when the individual moves around.

    I am aware of a case that typically would have resulted in excommunication where the Melchizedek priesthood holder in question was merely disfellowshipped, albeit at the stake level. I suppose the idea was that the stake leaders felt it would be more appropriate to withhold the ultimate discipline.

    The individual then moved. The new congregation’s bishop thought they were dealing with a bishop-level discipline, since it was “just” disfellowhipment. And so they presumed they could simply counsel with the individual and easily restore them to their privileges. When the bishop went to attempt to restore the individual’s standing, however, they became aware that a stake-level discipline requires a stake-level restoration, even if the individual is now in a new stake.

    So if Kate appeals this all the way up to the first presidency and quorum of the twelve apostles, and she receives discipline, there would be no “moving away” from that discipline to a place where folks might be more sympathetic. However from studying the fifth of the discussions, Kate and her folks may believe that this high-level scrutiny of her case will bring about the doctrinal change her organization is seeking.

    Risky, in my opinion, but we’ve already clarified that my assessment of the risks would not have permitted me to act as Kate and her followers have done.

  54. The sermon on Pride by President Benson was a good way to start my day. Whatever those who have the spotlight have done, it is my own heart that needs examination. In reality it is the only area in which I have some semblance of control.

  55. “Bishops have authority for the discipline of all members in his ward, except the excommunication of a member holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. If there is evidence of possible excommunication of a MP holder, then the bishop transfers the matter to the stake president.”

    So, Sister Kelly’s case would receive more institutional weight, if only she held the Melchizedek Priesthood. A sad sad irony. And who says holding the priesthood holds no inherent benefits to the individual? hogwash.

    I actually can see the need for a Church to put boundaries on dissent. Yet, in this case, it seems that her particular critique is not at issue, but the way she’s executing it. I’m convinced Kelly could have been rallying in favor of a lower sister missionary age or baby changers in the men’s bathroom and met the same result. Because, desiring to hold the power of God and participate in the exercise of saving ordinances and blessings? That’s a great sin? No, its organized dissent against almost anything else.

  56. “I’m convinced Kelly could have been rallying in favor of a lower sister missionary age or baby changers in the men’s bathroom and met the same result.”

    I hope so. Because ‘rallying’ is not her place. It’s not my place. We don’t ‘rally’ in the church. We don’t belong to a political party with respect to our church membership.

    “Because, desiring to hold the power of God and participate in the exercise of saving ordinances and blessings? That’s a great sin? No, its organized dissent against almost anything else.”

    Why do you seem unable to understand that you can want good things and still sin in your wish? That particular nuance seems to escape folks on the ‘other side’ of this issue.

  57. Christian J,

    1. actually it gives KK another level of appeal by starting out at lower level with the bishop’s council.

    2. “I’m convinced Kelly could have been rallying in favor of a lower sister missionary age or baby changers in the men’s bathroom and met the same result.” Not a good comparison. First off, you’re comparing policy versus doctrine. Moreover, that ignores the greater points of how her public protests violated direct instructions not to do so, and her proselyting among members (their “lessons”) trying to getthem to defy the Brethren too. IMO, the latter was the final straw that forced leaders to rein her in.

    3. “Because, desiring to hold the power of God and participate in the exercise of saving ordinances and blessings? That’s a great sin?” Yes, it is. See Numbers 16, and that thing about Korah. Similar thing, but with lesser consequences happened with Aaron and Miriam.

  58. The thing to keep in mind is that the stakes are higher for a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, as a result of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. “But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.”

    As a result, I don’t see the requirement of the MP holders appearing before stake councils as additional protection, but a reflection of these higher stakes. Where there is more to lose, there is more to consider.

  59. Christian J, do you believe in the divine prophetic authority of Pres Monson and the Brethren? Do you believe in the foundational truth claims of the CoJCoLDS? If no to either of those, what other religion or church do you look to as “better”? Define better however you want.

  60. ” I don’t see the requirement of the MP holders appearing before stake councils as additional protection, but a reflection of these higher stakes.”

    Exactly. And again, it reveals a fundamental misreading that OW and their supporters have about priesthood: bearing it doesn’t give you greater prestige or worldly clout resulting from mere position or office. That’s just looking at it through the lens of Babylon. Bearing the priesthood probably curses more men than exalts.

  61. All these OW matter just brings this scripture to mind, 2 Nephi 9 :
    28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
    29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”

    It certainly has proven true that pride is the spiritual downfall of man.

    It’s so funny that in my 30+ years of church membership, it has never ocurred to me that I would want the priesthood for any reason. Here on earth. I always felt that eventually in the eternities that would be part of the plan in order for women to have the priesthood there to rule with their husbands over their eternal family. I just never felt to question God’s plan regarding it. Also I have never felt discriminated against or belittled by any man in the church, on the contrary I have always felt, loved, respected and appreciated by men in the church and I only have good things to say of the men that have been my leaders. There aren’t better men upon this earth than LDS men in my experience. That’s is not saying they are perfect men by any means, but the great majority of faithful ones are striving to do their best administering and ministering in the church and loving and taking care of family, friends and the rest of humanity, so KUDOS to them and my appreciation and love goes to all of you guys true godly men.

  62. This has probably been the most informative, uplifting and interesting discussion I have ever read on the Bloggernacle. I, too, am impressed by the good men who have participated. I love to hear intelligent, accomplished men say they would follow the Church leaders as they may be asked to give up their own desires. Just a good discussion with the anonymity information and warnings added in.

  63. Kris, do I detect just a smidgen of sarcasm in your comment? A little snarkiness, perhaps?

  64. Kris says, “I love to hear intelligent, accomplished men say they would follow the Church leaders as they may be asked to give up their own desires.”

    Kris,

    I do not know if you realize it, but we all are to give up our own desires, regardless of gender. Mosiah 3:19 is but one of many excellent references about this concept. We will be continually asked to give up our desires until our desires are completely in harmony with those of our Heavenly Father. Hopefully we are all striving to do so, even though the world continually tries to teach us that it is all about fulfilling our own needs first.

  65. There was that brief period when M* was actually considered a Mommy blog, because most of the posts came from women dealing with parenting issues. That phase seems to have passed, but it did lead to some odd exchanges where people talked trash about the conservative men who dominate M* while other sites were linking to us as one of the better mommy blogs.

  66. Strange, not knowing who ‘Kris’ is I took her remarks at face value. It was only the following post by MinJae Lee that hinted that ‘snarkiness’ was intended. In more than 50 years of adult life, lived mostly outside the center of Mormon culture I affirm that a man who honors the Priesthood restored by Joseph Smith is a good man. From New York to Florida, Los Angeles to Portland, from Spain to Hawaii, I have observed the difference between those who have centered their lives in the Gospel and other men. I have known many good men who were not members of the Church, and the worst men I have personally known were those who had abandoned their Priesthood covenants. Those who continue to try to align their lives with the Gospel have always impressed me, however humble or exalted their worldly status. Are they perfect? No, but at least the hope for perfection is part of their actions and thinking.

  67. “I’m very uneasy about someone’s salvation being in the hands of a few human beings”

    I don’t think anyone’s salvation is in the hands of anyone except their own and God’s. Yes, our leaders can have control over our church membership in the case of disciplinary councils. Thus, I see where this comment comes from (I believe). However, we are all imperfect people trying to help run the Lord’s church on earth. Mistakes are made and sometimes sin happens. Most of the time (I would hope), His servants deal lovingly, charitably, and most importantly by the Spirit in these councils. However, if someone is dealt with not according to the Lord’s will, even if that person is excommunicated, I have absolutely no doubt that The Lord will make things right. No human being other than self has any power and authority over our salvation. We work that out with The Lord.

  68. “Bearing the priesthood probably curses more men than exalts.”

    “Where there is more to lose, there is more to consider”

    I’m glad you all made this point. Now, please help me understand how a MP holder can have “more to lose” or how it “curses” them more than women ( and other non MP) if they do not have something that a woman does not. I keep hearing that holding the priesthood gives a man no inherent privilege or advantage or even a greater blessing than women. None. I haven’t seen anyone budge even a little bit on this at M*. Yet, men who hold the MP apparently have a greater curse with no greater responsibility? It just doesn’t compute. The Oath and Covenant of the priesthood makes that crystal clear.

    “The Pope is cleaning house too.”

    This also brings up a great contrast. The Catholic Church is taking action against an organized crime network that values human life the same as a dog. Our Church is taking action against a return missionary who wants women to do the same stuff as men. It just looks a little too sensitive to me. Remember, Sis. Kelly is apparently disfellowshipped currently. And that’s the same taken against members who commit adultery or commit serious crimes.

  69. Also, Its a little frustrating that having concerns about an issue puts you on “other side”. Depending on where you’re opinions are being heard. You won’t find my face on the OW site for a reason.

  70. To answer one of your questions, here is how MP holders can be under greater condemnation:

    A couple scriptures: “where much is given, much is required.” And “he who sins against the greater light is under the greater condemnation.”

    Also, a matter of detail, KK is not currently disfellowshipped, she is under an informal probation. Disfellowshipment requires a disciplinary council.

  71. “Our Church is taking action against a return missionary who wants women to do the same stuff as men.”

    False. The Church is taking action against a member who mobilized dissidents in an attempt to not only pressure the church, but change doctrine. She also set up a series of “discussions” to lead folks astray. You seem to think that these calculated actions are mere desire or belief.

  72. Christian J – “Remember, Sis. Kelly is apparently disfellowshipped currently.”

    Ah, no, she’s on probation. Disfellowshipment needs a court, the current one not having come to a decision yet.

    Probation tends to happen when there is initially a concern. It’s a chance for all sides to take a breath and consider what is actually going on.

    Disfellowshipment tends to happen when there is repentance and contrition, a change to step back and make sure that the repentance is taking hold, rather than a brief recant that is taken back when the pressure is off.

    Excommunication happens when there is no repentance, civil judgments that needs to be fulfilled (like jail time), or continued defiance of the direction given that is needed for repentance.

    I’m sure there are handbook instructions specific to all of these, but these are my gleanings from my own experiences on the petitioners side of the table.

    And yes, it’s frustrating that people insist on shutting out others they perceive as not on “their side”. I find Exponents recent post on open discussion with those you believe have hurt you to be timely and inspiring.

    Personally, I find Kate Kellys use of the media to show how much of a “good Mormon” she is to be self serving and disingenuous. Talking -at- someone is not the same as talking -with- someone. I find the whole mess, from the discipline to all the words thrust about this past week, to be rather depressing. I hope there can be reconciliation, but it doesn’t appear that everyone is willing to try yet.

  73. Christian J, you wrote: “Also, Its a little frustrating that having concerns about an issue puts you on “other side””

    Describing things as “sides” is always a bit problematic because people are on different sides of lots of different issues and of course nuances can exist.

    I would submit, however, that I do see where people can be on different sides, and this is on the issue of how you approach a Church-related controversy. As a latter-day Saint, I feel it is my duty and obligation as somebody following the prophets to assume that the Church is right and defend the Church first. My feeling is that KK and JD, for example, assume the Church is wrong first and approach all issues from this perspective. To the extent that you, Christian J, assume the Church is wrong and do not defend the Church, we are on different sides. Yes, there are nuances, but I would respectfully ask you to consider that this is the great dividing line: when you see a Church-related controversy, do you automatically assume the Church is wrong or right? Do you see it as your duty to defend the Brethren, yes or no?

    I am not speaking for you, not am I claiming that you do not defend the church or that you automatically assume the Church is wrong. But I will say that some of your comments appear to take a radically different approach towards issues that I would take, and that shows me you are more likely to see the Church as wrong than as right, and frankly I would be concerned about that if I were you because such thinking is likely to push you into a very dangerous position as far as your eternal salvation is concerned.

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