Is anybody willing to defend the people defending the Church?

I have been in the on-line latter-day Saint world for almost two decades now. And in that time, I have seen several trends. One trend is that the vast majority of people active in the on-line world tend to move left over time. There are exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of people I have interacted with in the on-line latter-day Saint world are more left-wing today than they were 20 years ago.

To define terms: by left-wing I mean more willing to criticize Church leaders rather than to support them. And I also mean more willing to criticize your typical traditional, conservative latter-day Saint. I personally have observed the sad process of more than 100 people on-line transitioning from active, temple-worthy Church members to inactive, open critics of the Church. And for these people, the bad guys are always some “conservative TBM” who offended them in some way. (TBM: “True Blue Mormon” or “True Believing Mormon.”)

One of the trends that I have noticed in the last few years is that there is a growing group of latter-day Saints who don’t care at all about the transgressions of the people opposed to the Church, but they really, really care about people who dare to criticize the people opposed to the Church. The people opposed to the Church deserve compassion and empathy, but this growing group of people I mention have almost no empathy for people who are trying their best to defend the Church.

For the purposes of this post, I will call this growing group that I refer to as “centrists.” These are not left-wing Church members and are usually active in the Church — for now. What is alarming to me is that the centrists have a huge amount of energy to expend criticizing small supposed indiscretions by their fellow Church members, but no energy at all to expend explaining why Church doctrine should be defended.

Please watch this video to better understand where I am coming from.

To summarize the video, it shows one man trying to read the Proclamation on the Family to a group of gay rights protesters at BYU. One young woman physically attacks the man, and several others stand in front of him with signs, and then the entire group begins chanting “gay rights, gay rights!” until the man cannot be heard. The anti-Church demonstrators want no dialogue with the man — they only express hatred and contempt. And this happened at a Church school in Provo just a few days ago.

Let me tell you how 99 percent of the people in my ward in Colorado see this situation: “Why are BYU administrators allowing this to happen? Why are there rainbow flags and gay rights protesters there? The students knew about the Honor Code when they decided to go there — if they don’t like BYU, why don’t they just leave and open up a spot for somebody who DOES want to follow the Honor Code? If this continues, the kids should all be expelled and the BYU administrators who allowed it to happen should be fired.”

But here is the interesting part: for the “centrist” commentator, the problem has nothing to do with people physically attacking somebody reading the Proclamation on the Family. No, the REAL culprits are the people in my ward who dare to wonder how BYU could allow this to happen. The real bad guys are those who point out that students should actually follow the Honor Code that they agreed to when they enrolled at the university. The people who need to be corrected are NOT the agitators — instead the people who must be corrected are those who dare to speak out in favor of the Church’s doctrine.

I hope fair-minded readers can see how this approach is completely upside-down. This is a classic case of calling evil good and good evil. Isaiah 5:20: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

As the end times approach, it is a sad reality that fewer and fewer people will stand up for those trying to follow the Savior. Most of the critics will not be religious at all, but there will be others, even inside the Church, who are fooled by rhetoric like “love is love.” They will not realize that encouraging people to sin does them no favor at all and is in fact one of the most heartless things you can do. You don’t tell the alcoholic to keep on drinking if you love him — you do what you can to help him to stop. But for the centrist Mormon, the alcoholic deserves a lot of compassion but the person telling him to stop is filled with hatred. As I said, they have it completely upside-down.

Now, to be clear, I don’t think anybody, and especially latter-day Saints, should go around accosting people who are sinning. This is not the Lord’s way. I probably would not have gone to the demonstration to read the Proclamation on the Family to this group. That is not my style at all — I really don’t like those types of confrontations. But I don’t necessarily think this young man’s motives were bad in any way (based on the video — I don’t know him). And at the end of the day I applaud him for standing up for his beliefs. I certainly don’t think he should be criticized — but the centrist Mormons you will hear from these days have nothing but contempt for this young man and others like him, and that is very sad to watch.

One of the other sad trends I have observed over the last 20 years is that activist centrist Mormons usually move to the left over time. And as they do so, they become more and more critical of Church leaders — and their fellow Church members. And a very large percentage of them eventually end up leaving the Church altogether, and of course it is the fault of some conservative TBM when they leave. Notice: it is never their fault. Not at all.

A few additional points:

–Some people I respect have asked me to point out that the whole BYU Honor Code situation has been painful for some students with same-sex attraction. On the one hand, you have members of the BYU administration saying that same-sex PDA is OK, and then you have a General Authority two weeks later saying it is not OK. If I were a person with same-sex attraction, this would be painful for me, so I can understand that point of view. I would point out that the students with same-sex attraction knew about the Honor Code when they entered BYU, and if they have been paying attention at General Conference they might have noted that the Church’s policy on same-sex attraction has not changed. But, yes, it would still be painful for them.

–I was unaware of this until today, Saturday, but apparently there is a group calling itself “DesNat” that is aggressively defending the Church. (Maybe it is not a formal group but instead a cause). Anyway, I have heard some negative stories about DesNat tactics that do not, in my opinion line up with how the Savior would want us to defend the Church. We should be firm in our defense of the Church, but we should not use overly aggressive tactics or threaten violence in any way.

–Having said that, I would like to re-emphasize the lonely position of a conservative member of the Church of Jesus Christ trying to follow the Brethren and trying to bring up children in a culture that celebrates everything the Church opposes. The conservative member is hated by left-wing Mormons, and now centrists Mormons (as described in this post) have decided to concentrate their ire on this member. And of course most of the world, from traditional Christians to atheists, does not have much sympathy for the conservative Mormon. It can be difficult, and I would ask the members of the Church who read this post to have some additional empathy for the conservative Church member.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

40 thoughts on “Is anybody willing to defend the people defending the Church?

  1. Excellent commentary. Those who preach “love is love” never take their assertions to the logical conclusion.

    This is why God gave us TWO great commandments. Only by ignoring the first can you justify the acceptance of sin under the guise of honoring the second.

  2. This entire debacle is an condemnation of BYU’s leadership. I think 99% of your ward (and 99% of mine) would be shocked how many BYU professors and administrators don’t approve the church’s stance on hot-button social issues. (I don’t think it’s a majority but it’s a good number. Just see some of their tweets on social media.) What BYU really needs is a good housecleaning. It will be interesting to see if/when that happens.

  3. This has been my point for a long time. The kids who are defending the Honor Code, and members of the church who defend the church and the brethren need to be acknowledged. You either defend the church and its doctrine or you are on the wrong side of the fence. Period.

  4. Thanks for a really important article. I find myself continually going back to these verses from Alma 1:20. Im finding I have to work hard at not being one of the members referred to in these verses that contends with those persecuting the Church and even “come to blows”. These are challenging times and the Book of Mormon is more relevant than ever. Thank you for posting this.

  5. I forgot to add the verses from Alma 1

    These verses from
    Alma 1 really apply today. I can see why many in the church contended with those persecuting the Church and even came to blows over it. It’s one of my biggest challenges to keep the love in my heart that Elder Ballard spoke of yet stand calmly and lovingly for truth.

    Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves.
    22 Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.
    23 Now this was in the second year of the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.
    24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.
    25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.

  6. You either defend the church and its doctrine or you are on the wrong side of the fence. Period.

    Well, maybe. I fully support the Church and its doctrine, but (like the original poster) I would not have gone to the demonstration to forcibly read the Proclamation to the other contrary demonstrators. To me, these matters are best handled by with patience, meekness, love unfeigned, and all that. Admittedly, the enemy takes advantage of our kindness. I would have ignored the contrary demonstrators, but that cannot mean I am on the wrong side of the fence.

    Regarding the effect off long-time posting: Yes, the effect noted in the original posting is probably true, even if not yet empirically proven. Sophistry and intellectualism and so forth are the playing ground of the adversary, who most skillfully uses those traps to ensnare many. For me, loyalty to our God and to His church come first, along with faith, hope, and charity, all centered on Jesus Christ — all internet discussions have to occur within that framework.

  7. I generally agree with your comments, Geoff.

    One thing we need to ensure, however, is a distinction between doctrine and theory. Even past Church leaders have discussed theories in a manner that sounds like doctrine (blacks and priesthood, is a classic example). There’s nothing wrong with theory, as long as it is kept as theory.
    In the above example, there’s nothing wrong with having a theory that includes that someday the Church could change its perspective on gay marriage (I personally do not believe that will happen). However, it is another thing to demand doctrinal change and protest, insisting that doctrine be changed to adapt to their personal theories.
    There’s nothing wrong with reading and considering theories. The problem lies in embracing the theories so closely that we forget we are led by prophets, and we require some humility to find a space for both prophetic declarations and our theories to exist. However, once theory turns into personal doctrine or placed in our truth cart, discussion ends and understanding dissipates.
    We need to learn to embrace those with struggles, whether it is alcoholism, sexual attraction, gender dysphoria, or etc. However, we also need to stand firm in the actual doctrines of the Church.

    One example of this is the hard course some people take on BoM location. Some of those involved in the Heartland Model are so insistent that theirs is the correct interpretation, they have called others apostate and not following Joseph Smith. The Church recently had to clarify (again) its stance as to there not being a specific model it accepts as doctrine. Still, some Heartlanders continue in the vein of separating themselves out.

    It is classic “looking beyond the mark.” Christ warned those who tithed, but left the heavier issues of the gospel behind. We are not saved by embracing theories. We are saved by embracing the few key doctrines enunciated by living prophets: God lives, Jesus is the Christ, follow the living prophets, repent and have faith in Christ.

    I have tons of theories. Some of them, other members may consider totally out of whack! However, as long as I keep them as theories, they do not lead me astray and away from the prophets.

    BTW, I am a TBM, but am centrist on several belief/theories! It is all about dealing properly with beliefs that are not doctrinal.

  8. Gerald Smith, I think it is a very good point that sometimes people get attached to theories rather than doctrine, and this is dangerous both for the Church and for the people involved. Just to name one theory that comes to mind, there was a theory for a long time that all native Americans today are descended from the Lamanites. The BoM never says that, and that false theory even made it into the Introduction of the 1978 version of the scriptures put out by the Church. So, it is a good corrective to point out that there is a difference between defending the Church and defending false doctrine.

    I would point out, however, that we both know a few “centrist Mormons” who are absolutely obsessed with castigating people who “promulgate false doctrines.” These people are supposed intellectuals who have supposed love and concern for people who oppose the Church, but they have nothing but hatred and disdain for people who might not support the Church the way they feel the Church should be supported. I can do nothing but role my eyes when I see yet another post filled with snarky hatred about how stupid TBMs are because they are not as enlightened as the supposed intellectuals. Note to the snarky intellectuals: there are good people who believe things you don’t believe. Get over it.

  9. This tweet, quoted over at JrG seems to nail it. If this is an accurate analysis, then the HC “adjustment/tweaking” was a stroke of genius on the part of the Brethren. I quoted this on another thread here at M*, this time I’m including the tweeter’s handle:

    —- begin tweet quote —-
    @tannerguzy
    The HC change is a beautiful call. It dares the rot to proudly present itself and will force the Mormies to take their heads out of the sand and choose a side.

    They just did more, in one move, to galvanize your average member than #deznat has accomplished in a full year.

    I’m also hopeful it will force the average male student to Chad up so he’ll avoid any confusion as to which way he swings.

    — end tweet quote —

    Urbandictionary tells me “chad up” means “shut up”, but in this context it appears to mean something else. Can some translate “Chad up”, please?
    —-
    (Specifically to M. T.: )

    When analyzing change, it’s better to use dynamic analysis than static analysis. The above protest and confrontation is a fulfillment of tannerguzy’s prediction, the rot has identified itself. This will allow the CES and Board of Trustees to take action.

    So, this matter is going somewhere, there is a dynamic or story-arc that has been initiated. We won’t know the true change, the true “delta” until things develop more.

    As long as CES is under the control of the Brethren, it’s going to work out okay.

    And, there certainly have been things said and done out of the public eye, and will be said/done, that will not be made known publicly until this story-arc plays out.

    As mentioned or hinted at in previous comments, this could be the beginning of a house-cleaning. And if so, what does the D&C say about the Lord cleaning the house of the church, specifically concurrent and immediately susbsequent events?

    Trust the Brethren. BYU is under their purview. This matter was not a fumble by the Brethren or other GAs.

    Like the prophet said, take your vitamins and buckle up! I think we’re in for some excitement.

  10. One side frequently admonishes us to “mourn with those who mourn” and yet they refuse to see the pain that attacking sacred doctrines and testamonies (often hard won after long battles with doubt) causes. They refuse to believe those who feel blessed by doctrines and polices they see as oppressive or outdated. They deliberately only see one side of the equation and purposefully and systematically see only the worst of the other side.

  11. I decided long ago that whatever opinions I had about what the leaders of the Church should or shouldn’t be doing were best kept to myself. If the Lord wanted me to to lead the church, He would have called me to the position. Since there is probably good and sufficient reason that he has not, my opinion is irrelevant. Sometimes it has been vindicated by subsequent events, other times it has been corrected, others…we shall see.

    Similarly with other members. I have not been called as a judge in Israel (again, probably for good and sufficeint reason) and I have enough trouble dealing with my own sins that I do not need to go about rebuking or criticizing those of other people.
    I have seen too many people I once liked and respected fall into criticism of either the church leadership or fellow members and soon afterwards out of the church. I don’t want to go there.

    I could share stories about how I, too, have been wronged and have been right,, but I sense that little or no good would come it. I could also share stories about how I have been wrong, and righted, but little or no good would come of that, ether. If, when, or how the Lord sees fit to cleanse his church (as per D&C 112:23-26) is not mine to determine. He can certainly do the job without any help…or meddling… from me. My job is see that that I am not one of those who fall on the wrong side of that judgment.

  12. The Family Proclamation was not “forcibly read”. Some students felt compelled to stand up for what they believed in, in the face of people engaged in open rebellion. The kid reading the Family Proc was not the one throwing punches. I see nothing wrong with going and actually defending truth and righteousness, in person, face to face.

  13. If this were the type of forum where you could do likes or loves I’d be doing a lot of them. I have experienced mild to severe persecution for ‘clinging to the rod’ from family members since childhood. All of my lineage came as pioneers, but I am the only member among my surviving siblings. We live in a time of great blessings and great challenges. Temples dot the Wasatch Front and our leadership is very evidently inspired but our desire to be compassionate and avoid unrighteous judgement have often been weaponized against us.

  14. From Elder Christofferson.

    Sometimes those who raise a warning voice are dismissed as judgmental. Paradoxically, however, those who claim truth is relative and moral standards are a matter of personal preference are often the same ones who most harshly criticize people who don’t accept the current norm of “correct thinking.” One writer referred to this as the “shame culture”:
    “In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels. In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you. … [In the shame culture,] moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; it’s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion. …
    “… Everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along. … 
    “The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in.”

    Elder Christofferson A Voice of Warning. April 2017 General Conference.

  15. Joyce, your comment reminds me of actions taken by the Mesquite, Nevada Stakes(?) in the 1990’s. Members were asked to picket (or at least the members who initiated the action were not discouraged from picketing) a newly opened sex shop. Let’s not call them “adult biokstores” here, since we understand that an adult, mature, and even Godlike understanding of sexuality is the exact opposite of what pornography offers. Anyway, this was before the internet really took off, and members of the church in the area, no doubt with support from the leadership, felt it necessary to picket the business in a Captain Moroni fashion until it packed up and left town. I was living in LaVerkin, UT, one hour away and we were asked to fill some of the 2-hour shifts in the 24-hour schedule (I never went but I would have in principle). Even with the hindsight of the rise of internet pornography, I feel like it was a valiant and worthy effort to keep an evil influence out of southeast Nevada and southern Utah, and showing the way to our young stripling warriors. It may seem like the Brethren (but we always say that Christ is leading the affairs of the Church and the Restoration, and He is) have “shifted” from supporting initiatives like Proposition 8 to more “subtle” ways of reminding the membership and the world of the doctrine in General Conference and through official statements as needs arise. The Proclamation is one BIG prophetic statement from the Lord as the need arose, for the 1995-to-the-end-of-days period.

  16. Yes, I agree with this. One thing I notice frequently is people saying things like, “it’s fine if you personally don’t have a problem with (women and the priesthood, not enough talk of Heavenly Mother, patriarchy, or whatever)—but you must acknowledge and validate the pain of others who DO find it painful.” I get what they’re trying to say (just because I don’t feel bad doesn’t mean I can dismiss everyone who does) but it seems to leave out the fact that no one is asking the disaffected people to try to understand what the _faithful_ people feel like! It’s so one-sided. I don’t like the whole idea of making it into a “pain” contest (whoever is in the most self-described “pain” wins; people with less angst and pain are held hostage by the ones with more)—but, if we were all truly being empathetic, the unhappy people might consider that it gives a great deal of pain to a faithful member to hear her church vilified. It causes me “pain” to hear of the contention and unhappiness and criticism of principles that I hold dear and which are so connected to the God and Church I love!! It causes me “pain” to have things that bring me joy, which I hope will bring others joy too, cast aside and made fun of. So it’s not as if they truly have a monopoly on “pain,” even if that WERE a good way to make decisions (which I don’t think it is).

    I know I have a long way to go in striking the perfect balance between compassion and bold defense of God’s truths, though. It’s hard.

  17. I find it a bit disconcerting that LGBTQ LDS students at BYU are suddenly shocked or experience pain when the Proclamation on the Family is read to them. First, they are LDS, so agree or disagree they have heard it before; and second, don’t LGBTQ BYU students realize that university is a place where one frequently hears or learns of opposing viewpoints?

    I am not concerned that there are LGBTQ students at BYU. Nor am I concerned that liberal political views are being expressed by students or faculty. What I am concerned about is that these LGBTQ students have no concept of free speech or civility. Sure express your views, and we will listen, but that does not mean no one is going to disagree with you. And free speech and free expression may mean that some of the responses… well, you may find offensive. If one can’t accept that, one should stay away from universities.

    FYI, this isn’t a BYU problem, it is an international problem. Students are closing their minds.

  18. I am reminded of my freshman days at BYU when the street between the old Deseret Towers and Heritage Halls belonged to the city of Provo. As such, street preachers would sometimes stand at the main intersection of students returning to DT between classes and call out Bible verses as we passed by. The selected verses were, of course, calculated to strike at various doctrines or traditions of the Church, and invariably the street preachers would attract an argumentative crowd of students.

    The problem wasn’t that the street preachers were citing biblical verses, but that they were intentionally trying to incite the passing students. However, I don’t ever recall picketing protesters trying to drown out the voices of the street preachers or any attempts at their physical restraint.

    We should not be ashamed of the Family Proclamation, but I wonder if this particular display wasn’t intended to create the reaction that it received.

    The students who tried to physically restrain the young man should have a visit with the Honor Code office and be put on some kind of probation; that is, if they are BYU students at all. I know for a fact that probation or expulsion would have occurred had a young male BYU student tried to physically intimidate or strike a young woman and I don’t think it should be any different just because the roles were reversed in this case.

    Cheers.

  19. why would hearing any part of the family proclamation cause any practicing member of the church to rage?

    Time to make it official declaration 3. It’s a pretty good deterrent against people who have no interest in defending Christ’s church

  20. Just putting this out there:

    It is March. This is the month when all returning students have to renew their ecclesiastical endorsement with their bishop, stating that they will abide by the honor code.

    I don’t like to speculate, or suggest what will happen, but the timing does seem interesting to me.

    Again: these same students who are picketing and protesting will have to sit in their bishop’s office *within the next week or two* if they want to stay at BYU.

  21. Geoff, I don’t understand how you can characterize a “conservative member of the Church of Jesus Christ trying to follow the Brethren” as anything approaching “lonely.” I truly don’t. (Maybe you are referring to only online spaces?) In my experience, living in the Intermountain West, a conservative member who prioritizes supporting the Brethren and defending the Church’s positions is firmly in the majority. Objectively, it is not a lonely position to be in. I wish you would clarify what population you are talking about. Again, I think you must be referring to online communities. Thanks.

  22. Hunter, I live in Colorado where LDS people are in a decided minority. Our neighbors are almost exclusively non-religious or evangelical Christians. I have several social groups outside of church. I am constantly the only one at social events not drinking or smoking pot. (Yes, older adults in their 40s and 50s smoke pot in Colorado. It surprised me too the first time it happened). My neighbors look at us very strangely because we don’t drink or bring a bottle of wine to social events. At social events, I find myself increasingly under attack regarding the Church’s position on everything, from traditional morality to opposition to drug legalization. Have you ever tried to defend the Church’s position on same-sex marriage to a group of 40-something non-religious people? They look at you like you are speaking a foreign language. You don’t get invited back to parties after that.

    And of course for on-line people, there are very few friendly places to go. The traditional Mormon blogs are all hostile to conservative Church members (with M* being a notable exception).

    Now having said that, I also understand that being a left-wing Church member or even a centrist Church member (as described in this post) can be lonely too. I am not discounting that. But I have found that almost all conservative Mormons are aware of the left-wing Church members’ potential loneliness, and they really try to go overboard at church to make them feel comfortable. My ward is very conservative, but we had a few very obvious left-wingers move in, and everybody went WAY overboard to make them feel comfortable. (I understand other wards may not be like this — I am relating my experience). To be clear: my wife and I have many friends at church, so we are not lonely overall, but increasingly we find that it is difficult to socialize with people outside of the Church. The left-wing church members who moved into our ward have a very active social life outside of Church. They have much more in common with people in Colorado.

    My experience is very common in Colorado. Perhaps it is not as common in Utah and/or Idaho.

  23. I think many of us have felt for a long time that the Proclamation belongs in the Holy Scriptures. Maybe it’s one of the big announcements at General Conference. If not, I will anticipate it at next Conference, and the next, and the next…

  24. Geoff, I hear Idaho might be turning Blue with all the folks fleeing California.

  25. I’m going to stick up for DezNat just a little bit. I’ve lurked on a few of the more prominent hashtag users for over a year. I’ve never used the hashtag, but I am grateful for its existence because someone needs to stand up for the 99% of us who aren’t progressive members.

    My first encounters with online members was scary. I started reading Joanna Brooks’ blog and thought that many members were like that. Her comment page was filled with Cafeteria Mormons. Anyone who was more orthodox was shouted down and shamed. Though I was a pretty solid member, the thought did enter my mind that maybe there was something wrong with me.

    I believe DezNat exists on Twitter so that people like me can see that there isn’t wrong with us. There has to be some pushback, especially for young people who are still trying to figure things out. I don’t think DezNat exists to change the minds of progressive members, it exists for the lurkers who read and wonder if everyone is as against the Brethren as the Progressives are.

  26. Anonymous, interesting post. Thank you. I might post again on DezNat and take a lot of different comments to see what people think about this movement. I have heard both good and bad things. I am not a big fan of people getting in the face of other people to share their testimonies, and I am not a big fan of people defending the Church in overly aggressive, rude ways, but on the other hand I AM in favor of defending the Church in general.

  27. Geoff,

    Good post. I’ve been posting on Twitter using the #DezNat for over a year and created the website TeancumsJavelin.com.

    I think people mistake not being ashamed of the Gospel with getting in someone’s face. Most of the time members feel like they’re always defensive, answering questions and justifying our history. It’s just as fair for one to ask questions and play offense…but that is seen by the “centrist” as being offensive in many cases.

    I wrote my own take on DezNat a little while after JP did, (https://teancumsjavelin.com/post/deznat-is-a-labor-of-love/) and we started a Podcast just last week. I think if you peruse the site, you’ll find it lines up with the beliefs of most members. I’d be happy to guest post for you or Visa versa anytime.

    Thanks,

    Dustin Turner

  28. I’m probably someone who you could reasonably consider DezNat (@backfromthat), so I’ll chime in (FWIW).

    There are some pretty disappointing comments that people make. Some of that is inherent in being in an online space where you sometimes get hop-ons (“and you’re gonna get some hop-ons”), and you get both ‘edge-lords’ and critics who post in bad faith causing issues. It’s frustrating. But there’s also some dancing up to (or past) lines of decorum, particularly with younger users.

    As a group, DezNat is pretty resistant to what they call “tone policing,” and their reason is reasonable enough – when ‘charity’ is so often confused with ‘being nice’ and honest disagreement can be thrown out the window for ‘causing contention,’ it’s not hard to feel pressure to be agreeable. And of course, different people draw that line in different places. There are times when they’ve crossed that line for me, but by picking who I follow and calling folks out, my experience with DezNat is largely positive.

    What they don’t do is make threats of violence. They’re not alt-right either, and there’s really no unifying political tilt. But ‘alt-right’ is useful media shorthand, and the label gets thrown around because traditional members of the Church hold predictable social positions. That bothers me a great deal, but what can you do.

    Because DezNat folks can get spicy at times, I wouldn’t hold it against anyone who decided to lurk rather than jump in and get lumped together with them. But they are unapologetic in their support for modern prophets. Whatever shortcomings they bring to the table, I’ve always counted it better than the nuance that others sometimes bring that leads away from the restored gospel. They’ve made some space in Twitter world for faithful folks, and for that I’m grateful. (I even write for the site – I hope nothing I’ve written would be found objectionable by this crew.)

    Anyway, that’s probably enough. I encourage you to find a DezNat Twitter account or two and lurk yourself if you’re interested in Twitter.

    btw, M* is great! I’ve been grateful to read you all for probably 9 years now. Keep it up. You guys are wonderful, and great examples of discipleship yourselves.

  29. Thank you for wording it this way, Geoff!! Especially how “centrists” don’t worry at all about “leftists” but only have criticism for defenders. That really hit home for me. I am active on Twitter in the #deznat crowd and what you described is my personal and online life exactly. I am a “bad guy” because I don’t pretend all is well in my public posts. I acknowledge where the rot is that is killing testimonies, and I’m unapologetic on less popular stances the church has (gay marriage, church history, etc). At first I was put-off by deznat because I thought it was just a bunch of trolls. I’m glad I gave the benefit of the doubt and was willing to look past the rough edges. Deznat has helped give space on social media for members who don’t portray the gospel in a pinterest/cutesy/vanilla/overly-simple manner, but in its real-life application in the face of aggressive opposition. Deznat is a breath of fresh reality for those who choose to remain faithful despite questions and outside pressure. President Nelson has asked the members and youth to step up to be the Lord’s battalion. #Deznat is simply a way to find those who are willing and ready to take on the role of defender in the Army of God.

  30. Geoff B. – as someone who has posted pseudonymously using the #DezNat hashtag, I think the people who use it are, in general, a positive influence. Before they rallied, the great majority of Latter-day Saint posters on #twitterstake were murmuring critics.
    Some of them are bold. Some of them are bold AND overbearing, but going gently into that good night had not seemed to be a successful strategy in dealing with dissenters. It feels good to have others who are unapologetically pro-Church, pro-prophets, and pro-Gospel standards.

  31. @ Laurent
    Mesquite wards in the 90s were a part of the Bloomington, Utah stake. I remember them organizing the anti- porn/adult store picketing in the stake.

  32. But all of this is based on the unconscious assumption of what the doctrine is. We unconsciously assume that just because this is the way it has always been, this is the way it will always be, which is NOT the same as God being the same yesterday, today, and forever. HE may be the same, but us humans, we’re like babies who take a lifetime of change to mature. We cannot attribute our immaturity to God’s eternal will–for decades blacks were denied temple/priesthood blessings under the false pretense that God willed it such. Is it so far fetched to think that our supposed doctrines on gender are as misguided as they were on race? I can’t shake 2 Nephi 28 from my thoughts through all of this. We delude ourselves about the pitfalls of the great and abominable church when we use it to measure others and not ourselves. If we don’t take 2 Nephi 28 more to heart and less to battle, we run the risk of losing what we have, and yet his arm is stretched out still, just waiting for us to prepare our hearts and our minds for promised land.

  33. Nichole,

    I appreciate your viewpoint, but I want to push back on a couple of points you raise.

    1. “for decades blacks were denied temple/priesthood blessings under the false pretense that God willed it such”

    Are you aware that David O. McKay, when he was president of the Church, went to the holy of holies in the Salt Lake Temple and petitioned the Lord as to whether the ban should be dropped and the priesthood extended to worthy males of African descent? He told his secretary and a few other trusted friends that the Lord told him that the time wasn’t right and stop asking.

    I would be very careful about adopting an assumption that the Lord had “nothing” to do with the priesthood ban. It’s an assumption that is very likely completely false.

    2. “Is it so far fetched to think that our supposed doctrines on gender are as misguided as they were on race?”

    The answer is, yes, it is absolutely far fetched. There are orders of magnitude of differences between distinctions based on mere skin color, melanin, and culture, and the fundamental differences that exist because of our sex (and the corresponding gender expressions thereof.)

    You conflate the two issues as if they belong in the same logical category. In this, you make a profound error. A common error, to be sure, found largely in progressive circles, but an error nonetheless. Our nature as human beings and as children of God are not dependent on skin color, nor are they a function of skin color. Not so with our sex and gender differences. I would advise you to think about these distinctions much more carefully and not be so cavalier about them. It’s a logical fallacy to assume that because the church changed a practice regarding priesthood eligibility, that ipso facto that means that a future change in fundamental doctrine is in store regarding gender.

  34. Regarding what James Stone said about BYU faculty.

    I dared to call out a BYU faculty member over politics. The BYU faculty member posted very wrong information as fact, along with their feelings, to push a specific political narrative and agenda.

    I posted links to true facts, truth and facts that could not be denied which destroyed their political narrative and lies. They had nothing to counter with and knew it. So this person launched into a tirade calling me vile names, making accusations against me, attacking my level of education and intelligence, etc.
    It surprised me that this person was so closed minded and supported hard left beliefs/views.

    People on the left always Deflect and verbally attack with vile names and accusations when they know they lost the argument and have nothing to counter with…..”Muh Feelings”.

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