I quote from a Church News story released today:
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland pleaded with BYU faculty and staff on Monday, Aug. 23, to do their part to ensure the university “stands unquestionably committed to its unique academic mission and to the Church that sponsors it.”
“From one who owes so much to this school and has loved her so deeply for so long, keep her not only standing but standing for what she uniquely and prophetically was meant to be,” he said.
The address came one week before the start of the 2021-2022 academic year and as the campus community continues to discuss important issues — including LGBTQ issues — that can be “more divisive than unifying at the very time we want to show love for all of God’s children.”
The story continued:
Elder Holland said he asked BYU President Kevin J Worthen for a sample of the good things happening at BYU and was delighted to learn about the academic recognitions, scholarly rankings and athletic success.
But, he added, “the real successes at BYU are the personal experiences that thousands here have had, personal experiences difficult to document or categorize or list.”
Elder Holland also shared a few lines from another memo. “ ‘You should know,’ the writer says, ‘that some people in the extended community are feeling abandoned and betrayed by BYU. It seems that some professors (at least the vocal ones in the media) are supporting ideas that many of us feel are contradictory to gospel principles, making it appear to be about like any other university our sons and daughters could have attended. Several parents have said they no longer want to send their children here or donate to the school.
“ ‘Please don’t think I’m opposed to people thinking differently about policies and ideas,’ the writer continues. “I’m not. But I would hope that BYU professors would be bridging those gaps between faith and intellect and would be sending out students that are ready to do the same in loving, intelligent and articulate ways.’ ”
While Church leaders don’t get many of those type of letters, Elder Holland said the one he shared isn’t unique.
“Now, most of what happens on this campus is wonderful. … But every so often we need a reminder of the challenge we constantly face here,” the Apostle said.
Referencing a talk he gave at BYU 41 years ago while serving as BYU president, Elder Holland told the BYU faculty and staff that because the university is an extension of the Church supported by sacred tithing funds, “our integrity demands that our lives be absolutely consistent with and characteristic of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The story continued:
“We have to be careful that love and empathy do not get interpreted as condoning and advocacy, or that orthodoxy and loyalty to principle not be interpreted as unkindness or disloyalty to people. As near as I can tell, Christ never once withheld His love from anyone, but He also never once said to anyone, ‘Because I love you, you are exempt from keeping my commandments.’ We are tasked with trying to strike that same sensitive, demanding balance in our lives.”
Referencing “musket fire,” Elder Holland said the Church will always need defenders of the faith but “friendly fire” is a tragedy.
“From time to time the Church, its leaders, and some of our colleagues within the university community have taken such fire on this campus. And sometimes it isn’t friendly — wounding students and the parents of students who are confused about what so much recent flag-waving and parade-holding on this issue means. Beloved friends, this kind of confusion and conflict ought not to be. There are better ways to move toward crucially important goals in these very difficult matters — ways that show empathy and understanding for everyone while maintaining loyalty to prophetic leadership and devotion to revealed doctrine.”
One commenter on Facebook wrote the following after Elder Holland’s address:
”I am grateful for this (and felt the talks the last couple of years have been similar in tone). I work on campus and there is a very powerful subculture currently among faculty and students to malign, mock, disprove, and disavow church teachings, particularly if they feel it bolsters their progressive political views. It is not something many of us feel comfortable even addressing, and it is campus-wide. Even working there, with the tuition discount for my kids, I have struggled and questioned if they would not be better off spiritually at another university out of state where nobody cares about church doctrine. It seems too common on campus to have doctrine be ignored while the philosophies of men are revered, and the other Utah universities house faculty who openly mock and seek to tear down testimonies…higher education once had BYU as a fail-safe for faithful members and in recent years it has become an even more insidious threat because believing students may become indoctrinated by faculty who are not believing and who are manipulating gospel principles to tear down the prophets, gospel doctrine, etc. That kind of spiritual manipulation is abuse and so destructive coming from someone held in high esteem as a scholar. I would protect my kids from the latter at all costs.”
What is going on at BYU?