Nearing Kolob


BYU-Idaho Has Codified “Vain Repetitions” of the Proclamation

BYU-Idaho Has Codified "Vain Repetitions" of the Proclamation

Changes were made to the Foundations courses at BYU-I for th 2015-2016 year. A description for the “Eternal Truths” courses says (emphasise mine):

The Eternal Truths requirement is being modified to include three new courses: Foundations of the Restoration (FDREL 225), Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel (FDREL 250), and Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon (FDREL 275). The Family Foundations course (FDREL 200) will be renamed The Eternal Family. These cornerstone courses will comprise the core of the religion requirement. In addition to these four courses, students will take an additional six credits of religion courses for a bachelor’s degree.

What is this course now called “The Eternal Family”? Read a description here. The following is what the course entails:

BYU-Idaho Has Codified "Vain Repetitions" of the Proclamation

So, everyone that takes this course it required to memorized the Proclamation. And, as seen below, everyone has to take the course.

BYU-Idaho Has Codified "Vain Repetitions" of the Proclamation

So, every single who wants to graduate from BYU-I has to memorize the Proclamation and repeat it back a professor (memorization of the Proclamation in this course goes back to at last Spring 2012, cached version here) , essentially as a vain repetition. Remember what Jesus said about vain repetitions?

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

(Sure, Jesus is talking about vain repetitions in pray, but it’s a step towards that :) ).

And we don’t even know how the Proclamation was written.

Babbling With Those That Babble

Babbling With Those That Babble

Yesterday, Stephen Carter published a nice blogpost at Rational Faiths called Did You Keep Your Baptismal Covenants this Week? reminding members of their covenantal obligations to”mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” in the wake of the devastating, family-ripping policy that was silently put into Handbook 1 of the Church.

In response, Angela Peterson Fallentine of Mormon Women Stand published a piece titled Murmuring With Those That Murmur. The blogpost is as bad as you might expect (actually, it’s probably worse). The article not only includes errors and unsubstantiated claims, but it shows that the people of Mormon Women Stand are as much Cafetaria Mormons as they would claim John Dehlin is/was.

She writes:

All with very public criticism of “the Church” (aka the doctrine and policies set forth by prophets and apostles) via social media.  In a twist, those who are supportive of the prophets and apostles are now being asked to “mourn with those that mourn” — when they’re ultimately being asked to “murmur with those who murmur.”

That’s an interesting definition she give of “the Church”, one I’m sure chosen to avoid taking about “the Church” as the corporation sole that owns the trademark The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “the Church” as members, or “the Church” as the administrators that run the corporation and its holdings. In her blogpost, with a title that she likely thinks is a cute modification of scripture, she trivializes covenants that she herself considers sacred by likening mourning with those that mourn [over the new policy] as murmuring with those that murmur. Really, in the entire article she is babbling with the babblers of the hate group World Congress of Families.

Walking away from the Church is meant to be a form of public protest of what some see as injustice.  Yet do they truly understand that as they do so, they walk away from the Savior and their families?

It’s ironic that she the talks about walking away. If you remember the Parable of the Good Samaritan, there was a man beaten, stripped, and left for dead. Two religious men (a priest and Levite) walked by and did nothing, walking away. They let their interpretation of the Law act as a wall between someone suffering and themselves. I’m sure they were so proud of themselves, though, for keeping kept the Law. But remember, Jesus came to break down the “wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14). Fallentine, no doubt, is a modern-day priest, congratulating herself for re-building walls that Jesus broke down, walls that provide her comfortable distance from people that are suffering.

I am personally aware of fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers grieving and mourning because their sons or daughters or grandchildren have declared they are walking away from the truth (or distancing themselves from the truth) because of this new policy. Perhaps even right now there are husbands and wives who are contending between doctrine of marriage and eternal families and the philosophies of men. This is no light matter, especially for those who have made covenants with Heavenly Father in holy temples.

She does seem to recognize some mourning, but to her not all mourning is created equally.

There is contention in Zion, and Satan is gleefully wringing his hands together right now. As Elder Maxwell has said, “No one knows how to work a crowd better than the adversary.”

Yes, there is contention in Zion. Going back to Ephesians 2, the author explains that the walls of division were the Law and the source of hostility. Jesus broke down the was by fulfilling the law with the ultimate goal of ending the hostility. The irony of in her comment is that the contention she wants to blame on Satan is in fact the result of the walls she continues to build and support. She is actually acting against Jesus by building the walls he came to tear down.

Now, we get to an interesting part that show insight into the mind of the conservative side of LDS Church membership:

Perhaps one of the underlying reasons that isn’t really being mentioned much is those that have hoped for support for same-sex relationships in the Church now have a sudden realization that the door has been fully closed. Closed on the hope, albeit misguided, that in some future day, homosexual relationships, gay marriage or gay adoption will be accepted or condoned by the Church. Some have gone as far as to express the thought that the Church will eventually change the temple ceremony to accommodate homosexual relationships. Now that policy states with perfect clarity that those living in same sex relationships are acting in apostasy and face disciplinary council and potential excommunication, all hope of same-sex marriage being accepted in the Church are dashed.

I didn’t cite it earlier, but in the first paragraph Valentine claims “these policy updates come directly from The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” (unsubstantiated) and that it is proof of their ability to “prophesy, see and reveal”. Since she places such revelatory and prophetic weight on these secretly developed and released policy decisions, of course she views it as the end of an acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church. It confirms her hopes and desires: to exclude and build walls. It’s a good thing that policies “come and go.”

She ends with a plea (her emphasis):

Please avoid those posts and groups that feed on criticism, “loyal opposition” and dissent. They do not know or love you and your family the way Heavenly Father does.

I make the same plea. Avoid people, their posts, and their online groups that want to build walls that Jesus tore down, that support policy decisions that harm children and faithful members, that support hate groups and their agendas, and that trivialize their basic covenantal obligations from baptism to mourn with those that mourn.

Ironic Position on Protecting Kids

Ironic Position on Protecting Kids

In his October 2012 General Conference talk “Protect the Children”, Elder Oaks said (emphasis mine):

When we consider the dangers from which children should be protected, we should also include psychological abuse. Parents or other caregivers or teachers or peers who demean, bully, or humiliate children or youth can inflict harm more permanent than physical injury. Making a child or youth feel worthless, unloved, or unwanted can inflict serious and long-lasting injury on his or her emotional well-being and development. Young people struggling with any exceptional condition, including same-gender attraction, are particularly vulnerable and need loving understanding—not bullying or ostracism.

With the help of the Lord, we can repent and change and be more loving and helpful to children—our own and those around us.

In a bit of bad irony, Elder Christofferson recently said the following in an “interview” with Michael Otterson, managing director of Public Affairs for the Church (emphasis mine):

Well, in answering or responding to your question, let me say I speak not only as an apostle in the Church, but as a husband, as a father and as a grandfather. And like others in those more enduring callings, I have a sense of compassion and sympathy and tender feelings that they do. So this policy originates out of that compassion. It originates from a desire to protect children in their innocence and in their minority years. When, for example, there is the formal blessing and naming of a child in the Church, which happens when a child has parents who are members of the Church, it triggers a lot of things. First, a membership record for them. It triggers the assignment of visiting and home teachers. It triggers an expectation that they will be in Primary and the other Church organizations. And that is likely not going to be an appropriate thing in the home setting, in the family setting where they’re living as children where their parents are a same-sex couple. We don’t want there to be the conflicts that that would engender. We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different. And so with the other ordinances on through baptism and so on, there’s time for that if, when a child reaches majority, he or she feels like that’s what they want and they can make an informed and conscious decision about that. Nothing is lost to them in the end if that’s the direction they want to go. In the meantime, they’re not placed in a position where there will be difficulties, challenges, conflicts that can injure their development in very tender years.

The situation with polygamist families, for example, and same-sex marriage couples and families really has a parallel. For generations we’ve had these same kinds of policies that relate to children in polygamist families that we wouldn’t go forward with these ordinances while they’re in that circumstance and before they reach their majority. That’s the same sort of situation we’re dealing with here, so it’s something we have had a history with. It’s a practice that really is analogous that’s been the case over many generations.


Who is Hurt by the New Policy About Gay Couples and Their Kids? Part 2

Who is Hurt by the New Policy About Gay Couples and Their Kids? Part 2

In our first blogpost in this series we discussed how this policy hurts (doesn’t protect) children.

Who else is hurt by this policy? Straight parents formerly married to homosexuals.

Remember how the Church used to encourage gay members to deny their feelings and get married anyway? Well, that’s causing a huge problem now when many of those mixed orientation couples (with kids) have figured out that that’s now a sustainable lifestyle. Many of those couples have gotten divorced and HAVE MADE IT WORK in joint custody situations!

This policy specifically hurts the straight, faithful-to-the-Church member who was married (with the encouragement of the Church) to a gay person. The straight member did absolutely nothing wrong, but now their children (children of a gay parent) will be denied advancement and participation in church activities and be denied missions unless they disavow their gay parent’s lifestyle. The gay person that the straight member loves/loved and has successfully supported, affiliated with, and co-parented with are now apostates. This new label, now codified and officially applied by the Church, can no doubt be a source of great pain to the straight member.

Furthermore, it must be so difficult hearing that their children must disavow their gay parent’s lifestyle–a lifestyle that is part of their life as well since they share joint custody!

To be clear, the new policy sends a strong message that if your ex-spouse is gay married they are apostate. That means they were married to an apostate, their children have an apostate parent, their children likely love and care for an apostate, live part-time with an apostate, receive birthday and Christmas gifts from an apostate, watch BYU football games and go bowling with an apostate, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an apostate, do laundry with an apostate, discuss teenage problems and their current crush with an apostate. Their children now regularly do everyday things with a now officially declared apostate—and likely enjoy it.

So, what is the straight parent to do in this situation?

There is so much unnecessary pain in this situation from such a needless policy.


Who is Hurt by the New Policy About Gay Couples and Their Kids? Part 1

Who is Hurt by the New Policy About Gay Couples and Their Kids? Part 1

I’ve been collecting podcast episode, blogposts, news articles, etc. regarding the new policy change. I’ve also been following posts on Facebook and Twitter. What I’ve learned during the last 3-4 days is that a lot of people are hurting and that this policy has created huge amounts of unnecessary suffering, pain, and damage. Some of this is irreparable. I also believe more pain will be inflicted if this policy is not corrected and dealt with quickly (it’s the gift that keeps on giving pain). My onset of pain was delayed and only began to manifest itself Sunday morning preparing to go to church.

The damage caused by this new policy (and how it was implemented) is far reaching and has tentacles into nearly all areas of the Church and church life. I am upset that so many people are in pain and that so many church members are defending the policy rather than mourning with those who mourn (a covenantal obligation for members).

This is the inaugural post for a new series called “Who is Hurt by the New Policy About Gay Couples and Their Kids?”

There is a trending hashtag online: #sufferthelittlechildren (some people have used #sufferthechildren). This is being used when people choose to “share on their walls actual stories from children and families who are being affected by the policy changes”.

So, who is hurt?

Firstly, the little children are hurt. The most insidious part about this, though, is that the Church is choosing to defend this policy as a protective measure for those most harmed by the policy. This is harmful to children of gay parents on many levels. For example:

  • Children unable to be baptized under the new policy will undoubtably question why God will not grant them the opportunity to participate in this saving ordinance requisite to celestial glory with the Father
  • Children may begin to resent the choices of a gay parent because “they caused this policy”to apply to them
  • Children affected by the policy will feel alone and left behind by their friends when they are unable to participate in these Mormon rituals
  • Children will not be able to receive the Gift of the the Holy Ghost and the accompanying promise of constant companionship that can be so important during the formative and challenging teenage years
  • Most importantly, under Mormon Doctrine, eight is the age of accountability. Restricting baptism for children over the age of eight is essentially damning their souls out of the Celestial Kingdom

Just stop it. The new policy was a not to protect children. It was to keep them out of the church. It was to stop membership records from being created for them at their blessing. It was to stop those likely to be sympathetic toward gay people and “the gay lifestyle” from infiltrating the Church with with sympathy and approval of “sinful behavior”. It was draw a deep, wide line in the sand: you stand with us or you stand with your gay parents. It was to protect the Church legally. But, IT WAS NOT TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN. It hurts the children.

So, You’ve Heard Mormons Don’t Like Gay Couples and Their Kids? (or, The New Policy Sucks)

So, You've Heard Mormons Don't Like Gay Couples and Their Kids? (or, The New Policy Sucks)

Wikimedia Commons. Alterations by JJ Feinauer. Used with permission. (Originally published here)

So, you’ve heard Mormons don’t like gay couples and their kids? Want to know more about it? Want to read about the pain suffering many are experiencing? Want to read the lame (and just bad) justifications and defenses for the new policy?

Here is a list of some of the most popular and most shared podcasts, stories, and blogposts about the new policy/doctrine. Stay informed. (Sorry if my divisions are not perfect. I could not in good conscience put Gina Colvin’s and Daymon Smith’s blogposts in the same list as the crap from Well-Behaved Mormon Woman and If I forgot any important pieces, please put them in the comments below.



  • Infants on Thrones: “Smackdown: New LDS Policy Punishing Children If Their Parents Are Gay” (LINK)
  • Infants on Thrones (Songs): “Disney Songs for Alienated Mormon Kids” (LINK)
  • Infants on Thrones: “Family Under Attack – Man on Man Edition” (LINK)
  • Mormon Stories: “583: Changes to LDS Policy Regarding Same-Gender Relationships and Children” (LINK)
  • Mormon Stories: “585: Eric Reeves, Son of LDS Relief Society General Presidency 2nd Counselor Linda S. Reeves, Encourages Open Opposition to LDS Church SGA Policy Changes” (LINK)
  • Mormon Matters: “305: Church Handbook Change Regarding LGBT Men and Women and their Children. Part 1—Thoughts on How to Move Forward with Faith and Hope” (LINK)
  • Mormon Matters: “306: Church Handbook Change Regarding LGBT Men and Women and their Children. Part 2—Why? Why Now? Analyses and Possibilities” (LINK)
  • A Thoughtful Faith: “Church Policy Changes and their Legal Contexts: James Ord” (LINK)
  • A Thoughtful Faith: “Jacob Hess: Dialogues with a Conservative Friend” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “82: The Policy Amendment (that never should have happened)” (LINK)
  • The Cultural Hall Podcast: “Church Handbook Changes – Special Episode” (LINK)
  • Mormon Discussion Podcast: “Same Sex Policy Changes: My Thoughts” (LINK)
  • Mormon Discussion Podcast: “Reflections: Tyler Daniel” (LINK)
  • Mormon Discussion Podcast: “Reflections: John English” (LINK)
  • Radiowest: “The New LDS Church Policy on Same-Sex Families” (LINK)
  • Brokeback Mormon: “The Kids Aren’t Alright – Response to the LDS Same Sex Marriage Policy” (LINK)
  • Out in Zion: “#15 Handbook of Instructions Policy Changes” (LINK)
  • Trib Talk (Video): LDS policy on same-sex couples, their children (LINK)
  • Project Zion: “Episode 8: Supporting LGBTQ Individuals in the Wake of the LDS Church’s New Policy” (LINK)
  • This Week in Mormons: “Episode #301 – The Children Aren’t Alright” (LINK)

Blogposts (Against, Neutral)

  • Gina Colvin/KiwiMormon: “So what kind of church is this?” (LINK)
  • The Exponent: “If And Then” (LINK)
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: “Insight into the New LDS Church Policies on Gay Couples and Their Children” (LINK)
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: “To Resign or Not to Resign, That Is the Question” (LINK)
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: “This Doesn’t Feel Like God” (LINK)
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: “Please Fix This” (LINK)
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: “Eight Questions I Would Like to Ask Elder Christofferson” (LINK)
  • Daymon Smith/Uncorrelated Mormonism: “What Can I Call This?” (LINK)
  • Brian Whitney/Worlds Without End: ““Suffer the Little Ones”: The LDS Church’s Recent Policy Updates Regarding Same-Sex Families” (LINK)
  • Worlds Without End: “Pain and Suffering” (LINK)
  • John Larsen: “Mormon Criminalization of Parental Homosexuality: A Quick Guide” (LINK)
  • Natasha Helfer Parker: “Homosexuality tied to Apostasy?” (LINK)
  • Debrief Society: “Suffer the Children” (LINK)
  • “Mama Dragons Respond to Harmful Announcement” (LINK)
  • Kristy Money: “Healing from Institutional Actions” (LINK)
  • Jana Riess/Flunking Sainthood: “Mormon policy excludes children of same-sex marriages. And I am livid.” (LINK)
  • Jana Riess/Flunking Sainthood: “Mormon apostle stands by new policy barring children of same-sex marriages” (LINK)
  • Jana Riess/Flunking Sainthood: “Mormon boy denied priesthood ordination because his mom is living with a woman” (LINK)
  • Jana Riess/Flunking Sainthood: “A “mass exodus” of Mormons? Maybe. But here’s why I’m not among them.” (LINK)
  • Ardis Parshall/Keepapitchinin: “The Children of Married/Cohabiting Gay Parents [Expanded with Overnight Thoughts]” (LINK)
  • Ardis Parshall/Keepapitchinin: “Still Thinking about the Children of Married/Cohabiting Gay Parents” (LINK)
  • Ardis Parshall/Keepapitchinin: “Single Saints and the New Gay Family Policy: My Thought Experiment” (LINK)
  • Steve Bloor’s Blog: “Why the Mormons Targeted Children” (LINK)
  • Mormon Bandwagon: “Bogus Justifications Behind Church’s New Policies” (LINK)
  • No More Strangers: “A Difference of Opinion” (LINK)
  • Mormon Women Stand 4 All: “A Love Letter to my Sisters and Brothers” (LINK)
  • Insider Looking Out: “Thoughts on Elder Christofferson’s Interview: Cleansing the Church From “Gays”” (LINK)
  • Peculiar People: “These Arguments are Weak.” (LINK)
  • Reddit: “A lawyer’s analysis of the Handbook 1 updates” (LINK)
  • Wheat and Tares: “Preserving a Heteronormative Mormonism” (LINK)
  • Aestheism: “Do Not Suffer the Children” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “OxyMormons #1” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “All Children Are Alike Unto Me” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “Some thoughts, questions, and predictions regarding the new handbook policy” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “Flowers and Ashes” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “Hurting My Family to Save the Church” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “Polygamy Baggage vs Same Sex Baggage” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “The Good Son” (LINK)
  • Zelph on the Shelf: “What We Can Learn From Mormons’ Reaction to New Handbook Policy” (LINK)
  • Zelph on the Shelf: “Do What Is Right, Let The Consequence Follow” (LINK)
  • Zelph on the Shelf: “Why Justifications for the New Policy Don’t Work or Hold Up” (LINK)
  • Zelph on the Shelf: “History Vindicates the Dissidents” (LINK)
  • Faith Promoting Rumor: “Polygamy and Same-Sex Marriage: The Contagion Theory” (LINK)
  • Mormon Mentality: “Why the Mormon Church is Wrong on This” (LINK)
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: “Policy Affects People: Share Your Stories” (LINK)
  • Tyler Grow: “A Letter to Elder Christoffersen” (LINK)
  • Rational Faiths: “9 Facts About the Church’s New Policy Changes” (LINK)
  • Peculiar People: “Mistakes in Mormonism; or Why the Church Handbook isn’t Doctrine” (LINK)
  • The Exponent: “To My Friend Who Accepts The Church Handbook Changes” (LINK)
  • Jonathan Ellis: “Why Are the Children of Gay Parents Newly Unwelcome in the Mormon Church?” (LINK)
  • Natasha Helfer Parker: “A Family Affected by New Policy” (LINK)
  • Natasha Helfer Parker: Family Posts Series: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5
  • Mitch Mayne: “New Mormon Policy on LGBT: The Next Proposition 8” (LINK)
  • John English: “The LDS Church’s New Policy on Children of Gay Parents” (LINK)
  • LDS Church is True Blog: “Thoughts on the new same sex marriage policies” (LINK)
  • Buddha in the Beehive: “To the Wounded and the Weary…” (LINK)
  • C. Jane Kendrick: “Asterisk*” (LINK)
  • Zelophehad’s Daughters: “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled” (LINK)
  • Zelophehad’s Daughters: “Dear Church” (LINK)
  • Zelophehad’s Daughters: “To the Mormon LGBT+ Youth” (LINK)
  • Zelophehad’s Daughters: “Processing” (LINK)
  • Zelophehad’s Daughters: “Seeds (some personal thoughts on the recent policy changes)” (LINK)
  • Mark Koltko-Rivera: “The Recent LDS Policy Change Regarding Members in Same-Sex Marriages, and Their Children ” (LINK)
  • Peculiar People: “These Three Things Are True” (LINK)
  • “A Gay’s Response To The Recent Mormon LGBT Policies ” (LINK)
  • Seth Payne: “Membership in the Church” (LINK)
  • Kate Kendell: “Commentary: Why I’m leaving the Mormon church” (LINK)
  • Times & Seasons: “Consequences, Intended or Otherwise” (LINK)
  • Times & Seasons: “A Member of the Church” (LINK)
  • Discerning Lara: “Legal Perspectives…And Where Do We Go From Here?” (LINK)
  • Main Street Plaza: “The 8 things I’d like to ask”(LINK)
  • In Fide Scientiam: “A Few Things I Hope We Can All Agree About” (LINK)
  • Rational Faith: “Did You Keep Your Baptismal Covenants this Week?” (LINK)
  • Worlds Without End: “Critical Times Call for Critical Thinking: A Plea about a Policy” (LINK)
  • Worlds Without End: “In Memoriam: Big Tent Mormonism” (LINK)
  • Faith Promoting Rumor: “To the General Presidents of the Women’s Auxiliaries” (LINK)

Blogposts (For, Neutral)

  • Well-Behaved Mormon Woman: “Insight into new LDS Church policies on same-sex couples and their children” (LINK)
  • FairMormon: “A Look at the Church’s New Policy on Children of Gay Couples” (LINK)
  • “The 9 Facebook Myths About the Church’s New LGBT Policy” (LINK)
  • Danny Rasmussen: “Why The New LDS Policy Change Is Actually Pro-Gay Family” (LINK)
  • Mormon Women Stand: “I Am The Daughter of Lesbians, And I Am A Mormon” (LINK)
  • Dan Peterson Blogposts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Gay Mormon Guy: “Waiting on the Lord (Same-sex adoption. Families. Etc)” (LINK)
  • Flirting with Curiosity: “My question for people (more and more) convinced of inherent Mormon bigotry” (LINK)
  • Lemmony Things: “This much I know: My take on the LGBT Mormon controversy” (LINK)
  • The Cultural Hall: “So some kids can’t get baptized?” (LINK)
  • The Cultural Hall: “Practicing Empathy – Another Perspective on Handbook Changes” (LINK)
  • Times &  Seasons: “The Handbook Changes from the Institutional Perspective” (LINK)
  • Neylan McBaine: “Not Peace, But a Sword” (LINK)
  • Bad Facebook post by Jason Buonforte (LINK)
  • The Muttering Mormon: “The Church Did Something You Don’t Agree With: Now What?” (LINK)
  • I post this with hesitation. Meridian Magazine: “New Additions to the LDS Handbook: Do the Brethren Need to Check with Social Media?” (LINK)
  • FairMormon: “The Brethren are not Bigots” (LINK)

  • “Little Children (and Babies)” (LINK)
  • “No.” (LINK)
  • “All the More Jarring” (LINK)
  • “Yet I Have Hope” (LINK)
  • “Suffer Little Children” (LINK)
  • “Protectionism and Policy Failure” (LINK)
  • “Another Faithful Perspective” (LINK)
  • “Are We Listening” (LINK)
  • “The Turing Test” (LINK)
  • “Loving “The World”” (LINK)
  • “A Mirror Too Horrible” (LINK)
  • “Why I am not at church today, or, behold the broken camel” (LINK)
  • “4 Poems for Mourning” (LINK)
  • “An Open Letter To Latter-Day Saints: When A Gay Person Shows Up At Church” (LINK)
  • “How Abrahamic tests work” (LINK)
  • “Afflicted Saint, to Christ Draw Near” (LINK)
  • “Tend to the Child” (LINK)
  • “Possible Legal Justifications for the Policy Changes” (LINK)
  • “Smaller on the Inside” (LINK)
  • “Patience and Hope” (LINK)
  • “Staying, Again.” (LINK)
  • “Behold Our Little Ones” (LINK)
  • “It’s Different This Time” (LINK)
  • “Paths Forward” (LINK)
  • “Correlation and the Preference for Bright-Line Rules” (LINK)


  • Mormon Newsroom: “Church Provides Context on Handbook Changes Affecting Same-Sex Marriages” (LINK)
  • KIVI-TV: “Mormon family leaving faith following controversial announcement” Video (LINK)
  • New York Times: “Mormons Sharpen Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage” (LINK)
  • New York Times: “Gay Mormon Church Members Say New Rules Are Devastating” (LINK)
  • World Religion News: “Pope Francis Tells Priests Do Not Deny Baptisms” (LINK)
  • Deseret News: “Elder Christofferson explains updated LDS Church policies on same-sex marriage and children” (LINK)
  • ABC 4 News: “Jackie Biskupski responds to LDS Church policy change regarding children of same-sex couples” (LINK)
  • People Magazine: “Families Outraged Over Mormon Church Decision to Ban Children of Same-Sex Couples From Getting Baptized” (LINK)
  • CNN: “Mormon church labels same-sex couples apostates” (LINK)
  • KUTV : “LGBT parent speaks out on LDS policy involving children of same-sex couples” (LINK)
  • KUTV: “LDS church to exclude children of same-sex couples from membership” (LINK)
  • KUTV: “LDS apostle comments on new same-sex marriage policies” (LINK)
  • KUTV: “Family wonders what is next for faithful children in same-sex marriage” (LINK)
  • Washington Post: “Mormon Church to exclude children of same-sex couples from getting blessed and baptized until they are 18” (LINK)
  • Salt Lake Tribune: “New Mormon policy makes apostates of married same-sex couples, bars children from rites” (LINK)
  • Salt Lake Tribune: “What Mormons are saying about the new same-sex rules” (LINK)
  • NBC News: “Mormon Church Bars Children of Same-Sex Couples From Baptism, Blessings” (LINK)
  • Fox 13 News: “New LDS Church policy on same-sex couples, their children elicits strong reactions” (LINK)
  • KSNV News3LV: “LDS whistle-blower says truth behind policy needed release” (LINK)
  • KVVU-TV: “Ex-LDS member weighs in on policy change with same-sex couples” (LINK)
  • CBS Sacramento: “Mormon Church Facing Backlash From Policy Change On Children Of Gay Couples” (LINK)
  • Fox 13 News: “Policy change on same-sex couples prompts party for mass-resignations from LDS Church” (LINK)
  • KUTV: “Mormons and Non-Mormons Gather for candlelight vigil of LDS Church’s New Policy” (LINK)
  • KUTV: “LDS apostle’s gay brother worries for future of LGBT people in the church” (LINK)
  • Salt Lake Tribune: “New Mormon policy on gay families is dividing even the faithful; church clarifies stance” (LINK)
  • Huffington Post: “Explaining Reactions to the Mormon Policy Change on Same-Sex Marriage” (LINK)
  • Phoenix New Times: “LGBTQ Mormons Lose Faith in Church After Announcement of Anti-Gay Policy” (LINK)
  • The Christian Science Monitor: “Utah judge takes baby from lesbian foster parents. Is that legal?” (LINK)
  • Salt Lake Tribune: “New Mormon edict on gays is a ‘policy,’ experts note, and LDS policies ‘come and go’” (LINK)
  • KUTV Article: “LDS members with ties to polygamy say church’s new LGBT policy will protect — and divide” (LINK)
  • Huffington Post: “Mormons Plan To Leave Church En Masse After Harsh LGBT Policy Changes” (LINK)
  • MSN: “Mormons plan to quit over church’s new policy banning baptism in gay families” (LINK)
  • Washington Post: “Mormons plan to quit over church’s new policy banning baptism in gay families” (LINK)
  • Human Rights Campaign: “Report: Utah Judge Orders Child Removed from Home of Same-Sex Parents” (LINK)


  • Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Video: “A call for the Mormon Church to reconsider” (LINK)
  • Facebook posts by Ashley Gibby (LINK) and Devon Gibby (LINK)
  • Facebook post by Tiffany Hales (LINK)
  • Facebook post by Clair Barrus: “Stories of how the new church policy regarding Gay families are being posted to social media” (LINK)
  • Facebook post by Berta Marquez (LINK)
  • Facebook post by Lindsay Hansen Park (LINK)
  • Facebook post by Landon C. W. Buzelli (LINK)
  • Official Positions of MMHA (LINK)
  • “New Change to LDS Definition of Apostasy – Listing Same-Gender Marriage” Screenshot (LINK)
  • Transcript of D. Todd Christofferson’s “Interview” (LINK)
  • Changes to LDS Handbook 1 Document (LINK)
  • Affirmation: “Affirmation Responds to the New Handbook of Instructions” (LINK)
  • Wheat and Tares: “Tom Christofferson Adding Perspective to the Policy Change” (LINK)
  • Mormonfan Youtube Video: “Children of Gay Couples can’t be LDS members? A MormonFan Perspective” (LINK)
  • Casey Lee Moore’s Facebook Video (LINK)
  • Youtube Video: “Mormon Church Policy Change” (LINK)
  • Thinker of Thoughts Youtube Video: “Thoughts on new Mormon Policy on children of gay parents” (LINK)
  • Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed: “Letter: Hold off on all baptisms until adulthood” (LINK)
  • Youtube Video: “The Upper Room” (LINK)
  • Youtube Video: “Hitler learns about LDS policy changes” (LINK)
  • USGA at BYU: “Dear Straight Mormons” (LINK)
  • Dave Bartosiewicz Youtube Video: “Gays and Mormons Speak Out to the NO GAY LDS Policy.” (LINK)
  • Youtube Video: “For those struggling with mormon policy” (LINK)

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

I often hear people call the Church a cult. That doesn’t seem quite right to me and the term, in the end, the term is too loaded to be helpful and is just a conversation stopper. However, there are cult-like behaviors in the Church, just are there are cult-like behaviors in other religions, in the military, and to some extent in certain graduate school experiences.

I was taken aback though to see a very strange form of worship among the Sri Lankan saints during a recent visit by Q12 President Russell M. Nelson and new Seventy President Gerrit W. Gong. Elder and Sister Condie of the India Bangalore Mission reported on the recent visit (emphasis mine):

It was pouring rain on the way there. When we got to the church, the 3 branch presidents were just outside the entry way holding big umbrellas. Inside, there was a row of primary kids on both sides of the hallway, waving flags that had Pres Nelson and Elder Gongs pictures on them. The kids were singing songs as they came in. It was so touching. And here we were following them in and being part of it all! The people were waving, and crying, and so eager to see an Apostle of the Lord. Everyone was packed in that little hallway…just to get a glimpse!

The made flags with leaders pictures on them and had kids wave them as the leaders entered? Yeah, that seems too much like hero worship for my taste. Before I saw a picture of these flags, I imagined them to be like the pictures below.

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?


Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

Okay. The flags weren’t as extravagant as I had expected, but still!

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

The blogpost that reported on these flags said the children waves them as the leaders entered the building, but most of the other pictures from the event have adults holding the flags. Of course, the adults could be holding them because the kids don’t want to, but indeed adults were fully aware of the flags and seemingly didn’t think it was a strange thing to do. In the pictures posted in the blogpost, there seem to be lots of flags. Very strange and, in fact, disturbing. (Note: the picture above is of Elder Nelson, but the furthest left flag in the picture immediately below if of Elder Gong).

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

Hero Worship in the Church via Flags?

“Faith and Doubt” and Does Doubt Equal Defiance?

"Faith and Doubt" and Does Doubt Equal Defiance?

There has been a lot of discussion around faith and particularly doubt in

The phrase “faith and doubt” has occurred in General Conference just nine times:

  • “In a sense, Thomas represents the spirit of our age. He would not be satisfied with anything he could not see, even though he had been with the Master and knew his teachings concerning faith and doubt.”  (Howard W. Hunter, 1962)
  • “We can not know what faith is if we have never had it, and we can not obtain it as long as we deny it. Faith and doubt can not exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. If our desire is to discard all doubt and to substitute therefor an abiding faith, we have but to accept the invitation extended to you and to me in the Epistle of James.” (Thomas S. Monson, 1964)
  • “The Lord called Moses to lead them. It was not an easy assignment to lead people who wavered between faith and doubt, obedience and defiance.” (Howard W. Hunter, 1965)
  • “Long years ago the psalmist wrote: ” It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man: It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. ” (Ps. 118:8-9.) Recognize that faith and doubt can not exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.” (Thomas S. Monson, 1972)
  • “In the course of her struggle, a dear sister gave her a tape of a talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard. From that tape she learned that faith and doubt can not be in the mind at the same time. She firmly grasped onto this hope that the Lord would support her in her righteous desires if she would be faithful.” (Mary Ellen Smoot, 1997)
  • “Two heavenly personages were not yet seen when Joseph knelt and prayed. First came the test of faith–and then the miracle. Remember that faith and doubt can not exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt. Cultivate faith.” (Thomas S. Monson, 2000)
  • “President Stephen L Richards, who was a counselor in the First Presidency many years ago, was a profound thinker. He said, ‘Faith and doubt can not exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.’ My advice is to seek faith and dispel doubt.” (Thomas S. Monson, 2002)
  • “Remember, faith and doubt can not exist in the mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt. Cultivate faith. Strive always to retain that childlike faith which can move mountains and bring heaven closer to heart and home.” (Thomas S. Monson, 2005)
  • “As we daily confront a world full of negativity, doubt, fear, and even dread can creep into our hearts. President Thomas S. Monson has counseled us that ‘faith and doubt can not exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other ‘” (Steven E. Snow, 2009)

Reversing the two words, “doubt and faith” has appeared in General Conference twice (both times in the 1970s by the same speaker. Once quoting Joseph Smith, the other quoting the Lectures of Faith).

Two things stand out to me. First, most of the quotes of are some variation of Thomas S. Monson’s quote from 1964: “Faith and doubt can not exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.” It is also interesting that this quote was originally given without citation and is usually attributed to Monson. However, in 2002 (38 years after Monson’s first use of the phrase in General Conference) Monson gives credit for the quote to Stephen L Richards.

Second, the third use of the phrase in General Conference (by Hunter in 1965) is quite troubling. He says “The Lord called Moses to lead them. It was not an easy assignment to lead people who wavered between faith and doubt, obedience and defiance.” I wonder if Hunter (as well as his fellow apostles) consider leading a Church full of doubter as “not an easy assignment” and as a burden. He then seems to draw a very direct connection between faith and obedience as well as between doubt and defiance.

If faith is obedience (an argument can be made that many believe this) and if doubt is defiance, then it makes sense why the Church talks so much about obedience and asks you to put aside your doubts or to “doubt your doubts”. But faith is not obedience and doubt is not defiance.

Whenever you hear the phrase popularized by Uchtdorf in LDS culture “Doubt your doubts” remember that to some leaders what is really being said is “Defy your defiance”.

"Faith and Doubt" and Does Doubt Equal Defiance?

Problems with Institute and the Utah Utes Football Team (with Class Notes)

Problems with Institute and the Utah Utes Football Team (with Class Notes)

In May of this year, the Deseret News published the article “Utah Utes coaches tailor weekly religion class for LDS football players” describing the special LDS institute class taught to Utah Utes football players. They describe the class as “a special version of the church’s religious education program tailored to the demanding schedules of student-athletes.” The article claims that graduate assistant Sione Pouha and special teams coach Morgan Scalley teach the class, which “began five or six years ago.”

Fast forward to yesterday when the Deseret News published a new article saying that the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the University of Utah president “requesting that football coaches stop teaching LDS Institute classes to players.” For the record, I don’t know about support for (and I am agnostic on) the legalities of the request to stop teaching the classes.

Also yesterday, the Salt Tribune published an article in which he clarifies that neither Pouha nor Scalley teach the class, but instead University of Utah LDS Institute teacher Terry Baker does. This appears to be corroborated by a 2008 Deseret News article describing the new Institute class for the football players. However, the article claims the program began in 2005 when Whittingham became head coach (making it a ten year old program, not “five or six” as claimed above). Interestingly, the article says Whittingham is always in attendance and that the program “serves as a missionary tool for both nonmembers and less-active members.”

The Deseret News article above states:”head coach Kyle Whittingham said that Po’uha and Scalley “participate on a voluntary basis, but they are not the class instructors in the literal sense.” However, this appears to contradict the story published in 2008 (emphasis mine):

Scalley said all-America kicker Louie Sakoda has come to a few classes, as have several other players who are not LDS Church members.

“Everybody on the team is encouraged to come,” said Colt Sampson, a tight end from American Fork, who served a mission to Madagascar. “There’s a lot of people on the team who aren’t too familiar with the church, so it’s great if they have questions we can answer. I think it’s great to have this direction during the season.”

The Deseret News profiled the program’s teacher, Terry Baker, in May 2008. Baker was a former Ute football player himself. He served an LDS mission to Australia under then mission president Bruce R. McConkie. He received a Masters and Ph.D. from BYU in Family Studies and Marriage and Family Counseling. He taught seminary for 4 years and then institute classes for 41 years. He retired in 2010 (except, it appears, for this special class to Utah football players). He seems to have published a few books on dating and marriage.

So what does Terry Baker teach in these classes? At the bottom of this blogpost is a collection of quotes from news articles referenced above which describe what he teaches. Before you read those quotes, below I include Terry Baker’s notes that he shared with the football players in November 2012 right after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election (“Post Election Analysis”). I will post them without comment (please provide your thoughts about his notes in the comments below) except that I found a few of the comments inappropriate for a religious instructional setting.


Baker has anywhere from 15 minutes to a half-hour for the class because some players have regular night classes to get to and most have to study.

“There’s so much demand on our athletes’ time, there’s not a lot of opportunity for our players to take institute classes,” Scalley said. “It’s been a very popular addition to our routine.”

“It does two things,” Hill said. “It adds to team unity in a different light and gives you those 15 minutes that are important to your spiritual side as coaches and players.”

The class begins with prayer and a recitation of the class motto, which comes from 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Baker talks about a sound mind and tells the players they “can think more quickly” and “know what things to do” through the power of the Holy Ghost. He quotes from First Nephi, chapter 3, and tells the players not to be afraid of hard work.

“Laman and Lemuel wouldn’t have wanted to run wind sprints and work hard in the offseason,” he said.

Baker also talks about overcoming fear and relates some of his experiences in Vietnam when he worked as an Army chaplain and was blessed under trying circumstances.

“A sound mind is the optimism that comes from faith,” he tells the players and coaches.


He asks questions, sometimes directly of a player, sometimes in general. There are never a shortage of answers, as they discuss how being committed to the Lord’s work means more than just going through the motions.

The coaches use sports analogies because they said it is what the players understand best.

“One of the best things Christ did was teach in parables,” Pouha said. “I think an effective teacher would try to find something that the Savior did and think what do they understand? Then speak that same language.”

He points out how that day’s lesson discussed being a committed disciple of Jesus was something akin to being a committed member of a team.

“When you draw those parallels, they can connect it,” Pouha said. “And when they connect it, they better understand it.”

It may seem to some, that religion and football are incompatible. The ferocity of football doesn’t exactly seem to embrace the loving nature of Christianity.

Pouha grins as he admits he believes “God created football anyway.”


Ballard: Why Don’t You Baptize More?

Ballard: Why Don't You Baptize More?

Elder Ballard visited Japan in February of this year and asked the Area Presidency why missionaries weren’t baptizing more people. The Area Presidency gave several legitimate reasons to Elder Ballard: the strength of Buddhism there, the Japanese people don’t understand or know much about a Western image of God, language barriers, etc.

However, rather than listening and seeking to understand from the Area Presidency the actual situation on the ground, Elder Ballard refused to accept any of those responses (calling them “excuses”) and kept asking them why they weren’t baptizing until they gave the answer he wanted to hear: they didn’t have enough faith. Two missionaries recount this story as told to them by Area President (since August 2015) Elder Scott D. Whiting.

One missionary wrote (emphasis mine):

Anyway, what Elder Whiting related was an experience from a few months ago, when Elder Ballard visited. This was the same time that we had the special mission conference last February. But apparently Elder Ballard met with the area presidency and they gave a report about what kind of things were going on in the area. Once they had finished, Elder Ballard asked them why we aren’t baptizing people here. And the only answer that he would accept, is that we don’t have enough faith. So we started talking about faith and how we can exercise it and whether or not we have the faith to baptize.

A second missionary wrote (emphasis mine):

Elder Whiting came and toured our mission. As a zone leader I had an opportunity to go to three out of the four training sessions. The basics is that there is a lack of faith in Japan by all sides. Missionaries, members, and church leaders. Elder Ballard came to Japan earlier this year and asked the Area Presidency why we don’t baptize more? They gave him reasons such as Buddhism, no knowledge of God, language barrier…etc. Elder Ballard told them all of those are excuses, and he wanted a real answer. The answer the Area presidency gave was that “we don’t have faith that we can baptize more”.

The fact that Elder Ballard refused to accept answers he didn’t want to hear remind me of the episode of This American Life called Confessions. In it, the discuss the idea of false confessions: an admission of guilt for a crime for which the confessor is not responsible. False confessions can be induced through coercion or by the mental disorder or incompetency of the accused.

I sure hope this isn’t indicative of how all the apostles behave when talking about the problems of the Church on the local level.

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