Free Speech? Sure, As Long As You Agree With the Brethren
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Update: More on Church Harassment for Free Speech

The other day I posted the astonishing account of the harassment a faithful Mormon couple received at the hands of LDS church leaders in response to a letter to the editor the husband had written to the Salt Lake Tribune.  In that letter, he  expressed his displeasure at the termination of a BYU professor for publishing an opinion piece in support of gay marriage and opposing the LDS church's involvement in efforts to pass federal legislation on the matter.  One commenter here questioned the abbreviated version of the story written by the wife, and originally posted at postmormon.org.  The husband has since posted a more complete account at the postmormon site.  I find the story credible, and post it here so you can form your own opinion.  What follows is the story told in his own words:

This is an account of the events leading up to, and my discipline following, an expression of principled dissent to the LDS Church’s political campaign to limit the rights of homosexually oriented citizens of the United States. I have written the account anonymously for a number of reasons, including the desire to protect the privacy of many of the individuals involved. Although it is an anonymous account I welcome correspondence and reactions via email at <>TabernacleDissent@hotmail.com

Growing Up in the Heart of Zion
I grew up just a ten minute walk from the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My father was a Jewish convert from New York City and my mother descended from Utah pioneers. Both of them attended BYU and served full time Missions.


When I was a boy my father was head of maintenance at the LDS Church’s Vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was a job both he and I loved. I remember going to work with him occasionally on Saturdays to finish up some job or use the shop there to make an extra flashy pinewood derby car. I thought my Dad had the neatest job in the world.


The Investigation
When I was seven my father was falsely accused of stealing documents from the vault and selling them to enemies of the Church. The accusations were baseless, and were immediately disproved, but he was investigated for months. He was told that the Quorum of Twelve Apostles had ordered the investigation. He was threatened with immediate termination and excommunication if he revealed the nature of the charges to anyone, including his wife or bishop. Sadly, those conducting the investigation were not so silent. Rumors quickly spread that my father was an apostate and was going to be excommunicated.

My father eventually sought help from his bishop and also from the General Authority in charge of his department. That General Authority told him that he had been forbidden to speak with him. After months of struggle my father was eventually given a hearing before President Tanner in which he was cleared of all charges and promised there would be no further investigation or reprisals. Sadly this was not the case. My father was eventually forced from his employment with the Church by the same men who had baselessly accused him. Because he did not want to bring embarrassment to the Church he never insisted on a public apology so there was no official record of what had happened. Finding himself unable to resolve the matter privately he eventually gave up seeking for a resolution.


Church Service
Despite the pain of these events I grew up attending church weekly and accepted a mission call to serve in the Germany, Dresden Mission. Upon returning home I determined to study music composition and performance at the University of Utah. I was also an avid student at the LDS institute. I took all the classes required in order to become a Seminary teacher and for a long time this was my career goal.

My wife and I have been members of the Orchestra at Temple Square since its inception in 1999. At the time we were both just finishing degrees in music. She was getting a masters degree in performance, and I was getting a bachelor of music composition degree. We were thrilled with the opportunity to play in a professional quality orchestra devoted to bringing the spirit of God into the minds and hearts of all who heard us.

Playing in the orchestra was no small sacrifice, especially for a husband and wife. Much of our income at the time came from lessons and gigs. In order to meet the orchestra schedule we often had to give up some of these and make do with a little less. Once we had children (we had our first in 1999 and now have three) we discovered that we used up all our babysitting time in order to play in the orchestra. Rather than go out on dates, we went to play.

A New Career
In 2002 I decided to return to school and pursue a graduate degree in social work. In my first year of studies it became obvious to me that at some point I would have a client who was homosexual and that I needed to decide how I was going to deal with that as a faithful member of the Church. Accordingly I read a great deal on the subject. However, the more I read, the more concerned I became. It seemed to me that the way the Church had typically handled this issue was harmful rather than helpful. I assumed this was due primarily to ignorance and not malice; as society has not been particularly kind on this issue either.

My first practicum site was a residential adolescent treatment facility. Clients in the facility were usually admitted only if they were in severe danger of harming themselves. I was surprised to find that a large percentage of the clients there were struggling with issues of sexual orientation. The issue of how homosexual orientation is handled by the LDS Church has continued to bother me as I have gone on to become a fully licensed Clinical Social Worker. For those who wish to acquaint themselves with the issues a homosexual member of the LDS Church faces I suggest reading the book "Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation" or looking at the resources offered on these websites: http://www.ldsresources.info/professionals/bradshaw.shtml or <>http://www.affirmation.org

My Letters
I was very disheartened when the letter from the First Presidency urging us to write congress in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment was read from the pulpit. I have watched in the past few years with growing alarm as the LDS Church encouraged and funded laws opposing the rights of homosexual couples to define their own families. In specifically endorsing a piece of national legislation I felt that the leadership of my church had stepped far beyond the boundaries of what was appropriate.

I was also appalled at the way in which a successful and popular BYU professor (Jeffrey Nielson) was summarily dismissed for speaking his mind concerning this matter so in June 2006 I wrote several letters opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment and the dismissal of Jeffrey Nielson. The full text of these letters can be found at the conclusion of this document.

The Church’s Response
A response was not long in coming. I received a call from the Administrative Manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir asking if he and the Choir President could meet with me. They were to be in Provo that week on business and asked if we could meet at a local restaurant to discuss my concerns.

I was told that the Brethren (The First Presidency) were concerned about my letters and felt that perhaps an "enemy" had infiltrated the orchestra. The Administrative Manager knew my wife and I fairly well (we have been in the Orchestra at Temple Square since its inception) and said he had assured them that we were good people. Nevertheless Brother Watson (the assistant to the First Presidency who was assigned to handle the issue) had wanted to find out what was going on. They looked at my records and discovered that I had a new bishop. Fearing that he might not know me very well they decided to have the Choir President and Administrative Manager talk to me. Actually I knew my new Bishop quite well, and better than the old one. I later learned that the Choir President had called my Bishop to alert him to the presence of the letters before they ever set up the meeting with me.

I was also informed that the present administration (which I understood to mean President Hinckley) was marvelously forgiving to repentant people and that they had personally seen many things be forgiven that they thought would have cost someone their calling or job.

I was told that writing such letters was not a good idea and "looked like rebellion." The Administrative Manager said this sort of thing would cause me to be placed under "scrutiny." They spent some time asking me why I would write this and I spent the better part of an hour describing my background as a therapist and my very negative impression of the therapy for same gender attraction provided at LDS Family Services (I worked there as an intern).

It seemed to me that a great deal of the time they were looking for how far astray I was but I do give them credit for listening to my motivations. The Choir President appeared very upset and had the Administrative Manager do most of the talking. The Administrative Manager asked why I chose to write to newspapers instead of working through the Church. I explained that there did not seem to be any specific office or person to address my concerns to within the Church. I was informed that the Tribune was viewed as an "enemy" of the Church and that by publishing a letter critical of the leadership of the Church in the paper I had appeared to declare myself an enemy. I explained that I did not feel that I was an enemy and that was not my motivation. I merely wished to speak out about public injustices that were happening within the Church.

The Administrative Manager said he would return and report that I had not intended the letters to come across as attacks on the Church and that I was really a very sensitive person who was concerned about the issue. The Choir President still seemed very angry and when asked about this said he was thinking about an apostate grandson (this didn’t seem to me to be a very good sign). I was also told at this meeting that I was not to play with the Orchestra until this was resolved and that there was a potential that my membership could be in danger, particularly if I did not change course. I asked what I should do to resolve this and was not given a concrete answer. They were to report to the First Presidency and then proceed from there. The Administrative Manager promised to find out who I should address my concerns to in the future so that I could work on this issue within the Church rather than out in public. I was later informed by him that there were officials in the Church who dealt with this issue (I was not given names) and that they were aware of my concerns and did not need my input.

In parting the President of the Choir offered me his personal card and pointed out that it had his personal number with a direct line to his office on it that I could call should I want to talk.

Waiting and Wondering
I waited for a week or so for word on what had been decided. While I waited I sent a couple of emails to the two people who had interviewed me clarifying certain points of our conversation and expressing great anxiety about how to resolve this so I could resume playing. I offered to have them proofread any future letters of this nature, and offered to resign should I ever find it necessary to use the name of the Orchestra in such a letter again. I also expressed that I was extremely anxious about my membership status.

After getting no response by email or phone I decided to call the Administrative Manager and ask what had happened. He informed me that they had reported and that Brother Watson had told him "We do not stifle member’s voices" and that I did not need to worry that a church court would be held. He did however indicate that I could not yet resume playing and that I needed to wait until the matter was resolved. I asked what that entailed and he told me that my next phone call would be from the President of the Choir and that I would need to discuss that with him. He was not available at the time.

After another week of anxious waiting and a couple more emails asking for clarification I finally decided to use the number on the card and call the Choir President to talk to him about it directly. I asked him what I was to do to resolve this matter. He responded by telling me that "this conversation will now end."

Thinking I was going to be hung up on I quickly expressed that I was very confused about how I was supposed to fix this and asked why he wouldn’t talk to me. He responded by asking if I had been to talk to my Bishop yet. I replied that I was not aware that I was supposed to talk to my Bishop. He sounded flustered and had me hold while he put the Administrative Manager on the line with us. The Administrative Manager did most of the talking. He told me that it was a problem that I had chosen to oppose the brethren. Then he said he would be blunt and stated that "we have a word for opposing the brethren and that word is apostasy."

I indicated that I was confused about the information I had gotten. On the one hand it seemed as if Brother Watson, although not pleased had indicated that I was free to express my views on this matter, and on the other I was being told by the Administrative Manager that I was an apostate. The Administrative Manager sounded very angry that I suggested he had called me an apostate and said "if you are going to twist my words I am not going to be honest with you and try to help you."

I was very upset but politely thanked them for their time and hung up. In discussing this with my wife she suggested that maybe I had misunderstood them and they me. I called back and left a message on the Choir President’s voice mail apologizing for the tense tone of the conversation and explaining that my wife and I were very anxious about this matter and would like a meeting we could both attend where we could discuss what needed to be done to "resolve" this matter. I offered to drive to Salt Lake City anytime in the next week or so to meet with them in their offices.

A Meeting to "Resolve" the Issue
We received no response at all. We waited a few more days and eventually were contacted by our Bishop who explained that he had been asked by the President of the Choir to invite us to a meeting with him, the Administrative Manager, our Bishop, and Stake President to "resolve this issue" the next Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. at a hotel in Provo (approximately half way between us). We readily agreed. Later the time of the meeting was changed to 6:30 PM. As we arrived early to the meeting and all the other people invited were already in session I can only assume this was to give them a chance to confer with each other without us present.

At the meeting I was asked many questions about my views on homosexuality and why I chose to write such letters. The Choir President asked me to read my letter to the Tribune and asked how I could write such things. They were particularly upset by my use of the words "intellectual tyranny" I explained that by this I meant that it appeared to me that the Brethren had attempted to stifle opposing viewpoints through the use of punitive measures and asked if anyone at the meeting had a more gentle way to state this. I received no answer. I was told repeatedly that I was in "direct opposition to the Brethren."

At the outset of the meeting we were told that they cared deeply about us and were concerned about us and hence had decided to hold such a meeting. However, as the meeting progressed there were no kind words offered. My wife sobbed through most of the two hour ordeal and none of the men there offered her any words of kindness or solace. Not one of these men expressed any appreciation for our years of service in the Church or our service in the Orchestra at Temple Square. Not one of them spoke of hopes that we would soon return to perform with the orchestra. This meeting which had been stated to us to be held with the purpose of resolving this issue ended with President of the Choir turning the matter over to our local authorities who would counsel with me on the matter.

I cannot express how very unloving and punitive this meeting came across. My wife and I agreed that if this was what disciplinary councils felt like, it was a wonder anyone came back to Church at all after experiencing such an un-Christ-like and painful visit with those who ought to be their spiritual counselors. I should mention that following the meeting, our bishop, who was a personal friend indicated he thought the meeting had been a little harsh and that he thought we could soon come to some sort of resolution once we were counseling with him.

My Wife’s Dilemma
My wife left the meeting feeling that not only I but she was also unwelcome to play in the orchestra. She was feeling very hurt and determined not to call and ask if she was welcome to play for the time being. Her brother, who sings in the Tabernacle Choir was upset by this and determined to talk to the Choir President and Administrative Manager. During the course of his conversation with them (in which they divulged what should have been confidential details to him about our meeting) he discovered that they were unwilling to say whether or not she was considered welcome to play, stating only that it did seem she agreed with me in some points. My wife later asked the Bishop if he knew if she was allowed to play and he stated he saw no reason she should not be but would call the Choir President to inquire. We heard nothing for a couple of weeks. When she asked him about the matter again he indicated that he had immediately called and inquired and had been told that she was welcome to play. He asked The President of the Choir to contact her and let her know. He agreed that he would.

After finding out that my wife had not been contacted by the Choir our Bishop again called the Choir President and asked why this had not happened. He was told that the Administrative Manager had been asked to call and he would make sure this happened. The very next day we received an email from the Administrative Manager stating that he had been trying to call but the phone was always busy. He had reversed two of the numbers in our telephone number. It seemed strange to us that he has always been able to call us before, and only now had a wrong number. My wife called him and he stated that now that she had been "endorsed" by her Bishop she was of course welcome to play in the orchestra again. This felt like a slap in the face as she had never been unendorsed by her Bishop or anyone else.

Counseling with Local Authorities
After the matter was turned over to local authorities I was invited to a meeting with my Bishop. He and I talked for quite some time. He told me he felt I was choosing science over the statements of the Brethren. I indicated that I felt that it was not such a simple dichotomy. I pointed out how the Brethren had changed their stance on homosexuality and other issues over time, and how I felt that part of sustaining the Brethren was to point out when they were damaging or hurting those in their stewardship through their own ignorance on certain issues.

I was told that it appeared that I had only been studying the issue from the scientific side (despite the fact that I frequently cited the words of the prophets and scriptures on this issue during our conversation) and was asked as an assignment to study the scriptures and words of the prophets on homosexuality and meet with him the next week. I was also informed that I would not pass a temple recommend interview with my views as they stood.

I dutifully spent the next week studying approximately an hour each evening from the scriptures and the words of LDS general authorities on the subject. I found that there was not much in the way of scriptural support for the Church’s position, and I felt that even many of the official documents of the Church, such as the "Proclamation to the world" held significant room for a broader interpretation than I had realized. I went to my interview the next week with my personal views unchanged but feeling I had more support for them from the lack of official statements and scriptural support than I did before.

At this meeting I was informed that I needed to agree with some of the specifics of Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk "Same-Gender Attraction" given in 1995: Specifically that Homosexual orientation was not innate and that it was reversible. I informed my Bishop that this was not true in the experience of many individuals and that as such I could not support it. He informed me that he would need to turn the matter over to the Stake President and indicated that if I did not learn to moderate my views I would likely face a disciplinary court for acts of apostasy. I indicated that if such was the case I might rather resign and spare my family the embarrassment. He told me he had an appointment with the Stake President the next night and would discuss the case with him.

I later learned that the Stake President told him that two meetings was not sufficient counseling time before turning the matter over to him but I requested to work with the Stake President instead because the Bishop’s family and mine were close friends and I did not want this matter to come between us.

How the Matter Currently Stands
Despite the fact that the LDS Church clarified that members do not need to support the Federal Marriage Amendment and also softened their stance on the causes and duration of homosexual orientation in a recent statement from Elders Oaks and Wickman I remained barred from seeking a recommend or final resolution of this problem. Lacking any other grounds on which to declare me unworthy I was told that my letter to the Tribune was "mean" And that I "hurt the Brethren’s feelings" and need to apologize. The current stance is in stark contrast to the "apostasy" that I was accused of at the beginning. My wife and several friends have written to our area authority, Elder Merrill J. Bateman, expressing concern over how this was handled. He has declined to intervene in any way with the decisions of the local authorities. One letter sent by a sibling of my wife pled with him to at least listen to my father’s story and see if some apology could be offered to my family. In response my parents were called into their stake president’s office. They feel he had been asked to see what kind of trouble they were stirring up.

Ultimately the Stake President assigned me to write a letter of apology to the Brethren. I wrote two that were rejected. Finally I wrote one that the Stake President thought would do. He then told me that before I could be cleared on this matter I needed to mail it to him, the Brethren, the Orchestra President, and the Bishop. I was absolutely not (under any circumstances) to send it to the newspaper. As I pondered the letter I realized that it did not truly reflect how I feel about this and have chosen not to send it, even though this means I will remain unworthy of a temple recommend. I did not write the letter to the Tribune in an attempt to ruin the church. In hindsight I could have used some different language, but what I wrote expressed the feelings of my heart. I have seen the Church abuse too many, including my family, without anyone daring to speak out. It is important to me that the silence about this abuse end.

At the beginning of this account I referred briefly to the ordeal my family faced when my father was accused of stealing documents from the Church. He was accused of being an apostate. He was threatened with excommunication and the loss of his salvation. The men who did this said that they were acting on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve. This was never contradicted by anyone in authority. When this came to President Tanner’s attention he was offered a private apology but no one ever cleared his name or told anyone he worked with that he was not an apostate, that the rumors generated were untrue and should be stopped. The men who did this were kept in their positions and were able to soon discontinue my father’s employment. Despite pleas for help no General Authority ever came to his aid. Repeated attempts to resolve this experience have always led to disaster. I am left with no reasonable explanation but that the Brethren do not care about what has happened to my family. My father never had the same confidence again. He tried to justify what happened by saying that God didn’t want him working for the Church and that the Brethren must have been inspired to ignore his plight. My mother suffered terribly from prolonged depression which took a toll on the whole family. While many of the problems my family faced may not have been directly caused by the abuse we suffered, I believe it robbed us of the ability we may have had to deal with those problems.

I was baptized in the midst of this experience. I remember thinking that I really wasn’t sure it was a good idea to get involved in a place that treated people like this, but I knew my parents would be devastated if I didn’t get baptized so I did it. My father has had to endure the awful rumors that were generated during this investigation his entire life because he did not want to bring embarrassment to the Church. In return it has been repeatedly demonstrated that they do not value him.

I was horrified to see Jeffrey Nielson lose his livelihood for speaking his conscience on an editorial page. For speaking his conscience a man lost his job. At least Jeffrey Nielson had the solace that his ordeal was public and he could receive sympathy and support from likeminded individuals. My family endured this ordeal in awful silence. After abusing my father for months, the men who perpetrated the injustice were left in a position to take his employment. Because I chose to speak out about what I viewed as a public injustice, I found myself unable to renew my temple recommend and play in the Orchestra at Temple Square. I was told I had committed an act of apostasy and may need to be sent to a disciplinary court. Those who have perpetrated abuse on my family were never sent to a church court. Had I written a hateful letter condemning individuals with a Homosexual orientation I would not be in the predicament I am now.

As I have pondered my own experience my mind has often gone back to the many injustices I have seen perpetrated by Church leaders who seem determined to silence the voice of members who have ethical questions or concerns about church policies and teachings. I am convinced that the Brethren do not care about suffering they occasion in such instances as long as they are not bothered by abuses occurring within their ranks. They may publicly preach a gospel of love and compassion, but their actions speak volumes.

These are the men in whom I have been asked to put my complete trust. I am not to oppose them in any way. Indeed, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles recently stated that "It’s wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if that criticism is true." I cannot ethically agree to such a statement. To do so would truly be to ignore the teachings and example of Christ, who constantly challenged those in authority to face the injustices they had perpetrated.

General authorities have taught that homosexuals should marry to solve their problem (President Kimball). Although the Church has recently reversed itself they offer no apology to the people who were seriously hurt by this. Indeed they are scarcely willing to admit that this counsel came from a prophet. At BYU Homosexual members were told to submit themselves to shock therapy to try to "cure" their homosexual orientation. Now the LDS Church says this sort of treatment is abusive, but they do not apologize. The Church taught that homosexuality was caused by selfishness (Boyd K Packer: "To the One"). They no longer include his talk on the official website, but he does not apologize for the pain his teachings caused many people. Indeed this talk is still being sold at Deseret Book and I can only assume that he is collecting the royalties. This Church refuses to apologize for the injustices they have committed, and then insists that I apologize for speaking honestly about my concerns.

My membership has been called into question, my favorite calling suspended, my family thrown into great distress and anxiety. I have been told "the ball is in my court" but I am unable to say the nice things I am supposed to. This isn’t for lack of trying. I have loved the Church and dedicated myself to serving it for many years. Still, I cannot say warm fuzzy things about the Brethren when my personal experience has been so awful.

In my own life I have tried to live up to the standards that the Church expects of their members. I served a full time mission and obtained an education that enables me to support my family. I married in the temple and have been active in the Church all my life. I have always paid my tithes and offerings. I follow the word of wisdom, obey the law of chastity, served in multiple callings even while attempting to complete graduate school. I have been a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square since its founding, and strive to teach the love of God through service to mankind, as demonstrated by Christ, to my children.

Where is the example from the Church of mercy and love? The meeting my wife and I were called to with Orchestra and local leaders was awful. None of them said anything compassionate to myself or my wife the whole time past a perfunctory "we love you" at the beginning. What happened to "showing forth an increase of love lest you be esteemed an enemy?" I feel very much like the Church is my enemy. I feel like I will never be accepted unless I can be happy, or at least compliant, with blind obedience. I feel I would be safer if I stayed far away from the Church. I do not feel safe here, cared for, or understood. The burden for being loved seems to hang on my ability to not say anything to make anyone upset. Why is there no burden on the Church to follow the teachings of Christ and right the wrongs which they have done or even if I am wrong, to "turn the other cheek," and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Concluding Thoughts
There exists within the Church little in the way of procedure or doctrine to shield members from spiritual abuse by leaders. This has disturbed me. Attempts to discuss this with local leaders have not yielded results, and discussions with other members of the Church have only heightened my concern. Among the faithful, questioning the wisdom of actions of the leaders is often seen as an act of "apostasy." For those who are not members of the Church this word may not carry much stigma, but it is akin to being declared a traitor to one’s country and kin.

I have talked with many members who keep quiet not out of love for the Church, but out of fear. Members fear that thoughtfully questioning their leaders will lead to ostracism or punitive actions. I must say that this does often seem to be the case. Those seeking to question policy or doctrine must do so with utmost care or the consequences can be disastrous. It has been my experience that members who speak out with candor and concern are often abused or punished.

Although I find this incredibly disturbing, it helps me to remember that all of us are human. Surely those who react with such force to any perceived criticism of our leaders feel justified in defending the faith they love. Often our strong faith leads to blindness in seeing from another’s perspective.

I wonder why there is no room for those of us in this Church whose thoughts differ. Is not the majesty of creation a testament to the diversity of thought that exists within the Creator? We are created in his image. Our thoughts, alone, are not his thoughts. Only together, when we see the spark of divinity within each mind and soul can we begin to approach the throne of the Creator and see his form as it manifests within each of us.

I hope that what seems to be the persecution of those of us who cannot agree with every teaching or policy will come to an end. Inasmuch as I have come across as a persecutor I ask forgiveness not for being a persecutor, but for failing to communicate clearly enough the true concerns of my heart. I hope that dialogue can replace dogma and love replace anger and judgment. It is easy to forget, when one is being hurt, abused, or oppressed, that the perpetrator of the injustice is just as wounded, or the crime would not be committed. Only when we begin to look for that which is divine in each other each other will we be able to find the image of the Creator.

Through all these difficulties I have been sustained by a growing connection to and love for Judaism, the faith of my father’s ancestors. It has been a valuable support to me in a time of deep sorrow and pain. I was particularly touched while reading in a Jewish prayer book these lines.

I am a Jew because the faith of Israel demands no abdication of my mind.
I am a Jew because the faith of Israel demands every possible sacrifice of my soul.
I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears and suffering the Jew weeps.
I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair is heard the Jew hopes.


This so aptly described the religion I feel in my heart that I began to wonder if I might be worshiping in the wrong place.

I still feel in my heart the call to serve God. It seems that because of my personal convictions I will not be able to do that in the LDS Church. I wondered for some time if I should have my name removed so that I could go forward in my spiritual journey unencumbered with the specter of hypocrisy or dual allegiance. I hesitated only because this would be very painful for my wife and family.

I imagine that, like me, the leaders I have interacted with have a desire to serve God. Although we may disagree on the particulars of this, I think that we have at least this same deep desire in common. I have been blessed to see their hearts soften from the initial hard stance they took, and hope that someday they will be able to understand my point of view. I suppose they probably feel the same about me. I pray for them regularly and hope that they find joy in their service. I would like to find joy in serving God as well, and think that perhaps I can do this best as a Jew. I imagine the Church will roll along nicely without me. I hope that on their way they can be a little kinder and gentler to the next soul in their path.

Postscript
After writing this account I shared it with my Bishop and Stake President and offered them the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies in the account. My Bishop stated that he felt the Church had never actually requested its members contact their senators in support of the Marriage Amendment, but only to "express" themselves to their representatives on this matter. The Stake President offered no corrections or emendations. Both of them indicated that if I chose to share this account outside of my family I would be subjected to a disciplinary council. Rather than submit to a disciplinary council I decided to resign from the church. I have included my letter of resignation at the end of this document. I also sent the pertinent portions of this account to the Orchestra President and Administrative Manager requesting they let me know if they disagreed with my account of the events they were involved in. I received no answer.

Letters:
This letter was sent to the Quorum of 12 Apostles and the First Presidency.
Dear Brethren,

Let me begin by thanking you for your service to your fellow beings and to God. I have been inspired and uplifted by many of your sermons and been blessed in many ways by your example. The issue at hand is one that I care about deeply. Having worked as a substance abuse and mental health counselor I have seen firsthand the damage that is caused when one group of people attempt to force the values of their religion on others for whom those values do not fit.

I am deeply disturbed that you have chosen to add the official voice of the Church in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. If this amendment were passed it would restrict the right of a minority of our population to the "pursuit of happiness" by denying them the right to set up a legally defined family with those they love.

From its very conception our nation was founded on the idea that "all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." These rights were held, in the first foundation document of our fledgling nation to be "self-evident." Sadly however "we the people" have too often trampled on this fundamental principle. Initially only white men were held to be created equal. It took courage and dedication to win those same rights, first for men of other races, and later for women. Indeed, even in our church the struggle to ensure that those rights are protected from infringement is ongoing, as was indicated by President Hinckley’s remarks regarding racism at the last General Conference Priesthood session.

I realize that there is currently a heated debate surrounding same gender marriages. One thing however is clear. Our country is founded on the rights of an individual to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." How can we uphold that singular and profound purpose when we begin to restrict the rights of a minority out of fear, or religious conviction that they do not share? In marrying, if they so wish, they are not harming others. In areas where same gender marriages are permitted no societal upheaval has presented itself. Objective data do not support that any harm will come to those who do not approve of such practices if same gender marriages are allowed.

Not only has the church added its voice to the political debate, but in a recent letter to members from the First Presidency, you have asked us to contact our representatives requesting they support this legislation. I have indeed contacted my legislators to "express my views" and I felt I owed you the same courtesy. I hope that as more members who are educated and acquainted with this issue decide they can no longer sit in silence as the rights of their fellow beings are trampled you brethren will also soften your stance.

This church professes to believe that "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Brethren I urge you to reconsider this fight against the freedom of a minority population to live and worship in a way that their conscience dictates. The following three letters were published in several Utah newspapers.

The following three letters were published in Utah newspapers.

First Letter:
Congress is debating the federal marriage amendment.

If this amendment were passed it would restrict the right of a minority to set up a legally defined family with those they love.

From its conception our nation was founded on the idea that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

These rights were held in the first foundation document of our fledgling nation to be "self-evident." Sadly, however, "we the people" have too often trampled on this fundamental principle.

Initially only white men were found to be created equal. It took courage and dedication to win those same rights, first for men of other races, and later for women. Indeed, the struggle to ensure that those rights are protected from infringement is ongoing.

How can we uphold that singular and profound purpose when we begin to restrict the rights of a minority out of fear or religious conviction that they do not share?

Support the principles that have guided our nation since its inception by opposing the amendment on marriage.

Second Letter:
As a member of the LDS church, returned missionary, and member of the Orchestra at Temple Square I am appalled at the intellectual tyranny that our leadership has exercised through the summary dismissal of Jeffery Nielson from his teaching position at BYU for speaking his mind in an op-ed published June 4 in the Tribune.

I was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the Gospel of Christ. I am even more discouraged to see how they deal with an honest difference of opinion.

I wish to express to Jeffery Nielson that I admire his courage and that I stand with him. I hope that rank and file members of the church as well as members of the lay clergy who also find this troubling will have the courage to step forward and let themselves be known. To do anything else would be to hide in the shadow of an injustice.

Third Letter:

The Safe Space Coalition (<>www.ldssafespace.org) is an initiative that "works to ensure safety and respect for gay and lesbian Latter-day Saints." They have plans to send flowers and noncombative letters of support for the creation of more safe space in the LDS Church.


Stop by the Web site. Send a flower to a religious leader.


This is my letter of resignation from the LDS Church.
I am hereby resigning from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and withdrawing my consent to be treated as a member. This action has not been undertaken without some trepidation and pain on my part, but I feel the time has come that it is necessary. Throughout my life I have loved the LDS church, and for years donated professional services, most of my discretionary time, and more than ten percent of my income to this organization. However, I can no longer lend support to an organization that in my opinion institutionalizes abuse of authority by attempting to force victims into silence with threats of disciplinary action.

I had hoped to find, when I first began researching some of the problems I noticed, that they were but a few isolated incidences of human error in an organization truly run by God. Instead I found that the culture and hierarchy in this organization have created a web of endemic abuse that seems to be irreparable. My deepest concern is that members who speak out about abuses in the LDS church are often subjected to such abuses themselves, simply for speaking out. If we cannot face the truth about our own weaknesses then there is no hope that they will ever be overcome. My faith in the divine leadership has been shattered by my own relationship with God, which has taught me that each piece of God’s creation is of infinite worth. While this church has much to offer, the repeated disregard of the harm that is sometimes inflicted on its members makes it something less than the "one true church."

There is much about the LDS church and religion that is praiseworthy and I have loved it deeply for most of my life. I feel a great sorrow that the path that has been shown me by my truest self and my relationship with divinity is now parting ways with the church. I had hoped early on to be of service in healing the pain that had been caused by unwitting abuses in the church. I still hope that someday the leaders of this church (such as yourself) will be blessed with the ability to see the harm that is being inflicted on innocent souls and the willingness to openly confront and stop such harm where possible. In the meantime, I cannot sit silently as a member of this church and watch such harm being done without speaking. As this seems to be a condition of my good standing in the church, I have chosen to resign rather than submit to a disciplinary hearing.

I am blessed to have a deep connection to another spiritual path. As the water has drained out of the well of Mormonism for me, I have found solace in drinking deeply of the waters of Judaism, my father’s ancestral religion. I have found there a freedom I had never imagined for myself in Mormonism. The work of atonement that I dream of participating in there has not yet revealed boundaries such as the ones I have found in the LDS church.

It is with the deepest sorrow that I must now relinquish my ties to an organization that helped form me from my earliest years to follow the religion I feel in my heart. I wish to thank you for all the good that I have received at the hands of this church and wish you well in your future endeavors.

Comments

omi won kenobi

Funny, I just gave away all my journal of discourses! Rats!

It's Not Me

What seems to be lost in all these comments is this:

Either the church is true or it isn't. If it is not true, then who the crap cares??!! Leave the church and be grateful that God has shown you the light.

If the church is true, then it's head is Jesus Christ, with an anointed prophet in Thomas S. Monson. Who are any of us to arrogate to ourselves the authority to step into the shoes of Christ and tell President Monson what policies and/or doctrines to change? This is exactly what Danzig did. As genuinely hurt as his feelings may be, as nice of a guy as he may be, this is what it boils down to.

omi won kenobi

It's not for me...thank you

AMEN!!!!

omi won kenobi

As the comment posted, it looked like I said that the church is not for me...I meant to say to the person, "It's not me" that I agree with what you have said..and thank you

Omi Won

SML

Omi ~

I think it's very clear that no woman can be sealed to two men in the CK. The genealogy records you have are one of those "that'll work itself out in the millenium" issues so common in the church, no? No matter what, only one of those men will have her as his wife as it is set up now.

But according to the church, any man can be sealed to multiple wives, and can procreate in that capacity. And in this life, right here, right now, according to the gospel as it stands, my dad is sealed to two women at once. I recognize he wasn't legally married to both at once, but in the eyes of your God, he is married to two at once.

fh451

It's not me said: "Either the church is true or it isn't. If it is not true, then who the crap cares??!! Leave the church and be grateful that God has shown you the light."

We care for a lot of reasons. We care because members of our family are still heavily invested in the church and I would like to help mitigate any negative influence on them (and I acknowledge there are positive influences, too). Affecting church policies and behaviors, even in small ways, will be beneficial to them in the long run. We care because I live in a state dominated by church members (and hence indirectly, the church) both in the government and the economy. Calling out what I see as unethical behavior will be beneficial in helping create a better political and social climate that I have to live in every day.

Do I really hope to "change" the behemoth church? Not directly, and perhaps not even measurably, but I hope that with my small bit of input and thousands of others like me, the "good ship Mormon" might be nudged onto a different path. Like the kid throwing starfish on the beach back into the ocean, I hope it makes a difference to somebody. And sometimes, by small means are great things brought to pass (you might recognize this line from somewhere :-)).

fh451

Bob 21

...and the winner is... (drum roll please)....

DPC.

For being the most articulate, the best writer, and for having thought through his arguments the best.

To the rest of you, better luck next time.

bsas

I hope that such a blatant action against a member of the church who disagrees with a political issue in what is supposedly a politically neutral church can be used to do away with the tax free status this church enjoys. (political neutrality is key to enjoying tax free status)

I think if money is involved, the church will do another about face about as fast as it did with polygamy. Then maybe the prophet can speak with less ambiguity regarding important political issues of our day.

swl

Interesting banter, at least some of it. Mostly contestants jabbing at each other though and dodging in large part the core concern and issue. Any that are immersed in the faith and live along the Wasatch Front know full well there are a multitude of literary land mines galore that can land husbands, wives and individuals in a real murky mess with a bevy of low or higher level church officials. What folks most often though don't analyze is what path, impulses and evolving psychological underpinnings cause folk to wander into territory where the odds of a "blow up" are high. And one wonders what sense of identity some have, and how naive, sloppy or bold folk are when they wander into the open forum display of written discourse that is critical of the Church. When Danzig, musician, father and husband began his foray into the social sciences did he not look in the mirror and ask, where might he land, once he started penning his stories? And, what were the inner forces, insecurities, impulses, passion that allowed him to go public with his views, and then keep pushing. In my numerous outdoor ventures I always visualize, plan and adjust if necessary in order to return to my safe harbor of home (vehicle, camp, or lodging). With every action in the outdoors I ALWAYS keep this mantra in mind. With Danzig (who I don't know) I wondered when on his high wire, that kept getting higher, he actually conjured where he wanted to or possibly might locate or land, when he of course fell? Which he surely knew he would. And I wondered what psychological twists allowed him to begin calling most church officials the bogeymen and himself the shiny white knight. Personally I agree with much of the context and concern he shares. His writing though shows a youthful vigor that ramped up till he partially lost sense of direction and course. Criticism of the church's manners and then a steady effort to force himself into a corner where he could no longer retreat? Were the man 20 years older I could see him calling the church irrelevant and feeling little connection to it - he could complain loudly and easily take the consequence. But at his youthful age, a wife, three young children; yikes, the man figuratively jumped out of the plane and only then thought about where he was going to land. I feel deeply for this chap his wife and family. Hopefully they still have cheer, glee and optimism in their lives. And hopefully others, understanding or not, lend a hand, offer hugs and continue with friendship and love. I wish not to cast stones, I only imagine what some of this fellows impulses might be - my own experience with these matters is somewhat of a murky guide. I've written publicly in the past, had subsequent meetings and sessions and the experience, has had an altering impact on me. And then I moved on, down alternative paths (at times) and occassionaly kept in the current, with highly adjusted expectations, blinders and a bit of a muzzle in tow. Personally, I don't want to lose sight of home base, wherever that is - for that's where harmony still rings the bell for me. Danzigs, and to your three young children, best to you - yes, may many bright light guardian angels look over you, always.
Patriotism, revolt, anarchy...chasing principals; the consequences of the fight and battle can be disqueiting, emotionally disruptive, and psychologically challenging. Those walking into the fire, watch out, unless of course you/they were seeking out the flames and then a final burn, or better stated, burn out. Was/is this "family challenge" a precursor for more? Who knows? Line up at the Unitarian Church on 13th East and put on an illegal smile as a defrocked EX LDS Family. I know many that claim this is their new home (most I don't believe). There's a lot of mystery and chaos in life and always surprises to greet. Gosh, I wish the best for these folk I really do, I wish I could make it so.I wish we could make it so, that the Church could have made it so. Be carefully what you/we wish for in life, and for where you/we wish to land. We each have internal guides that hopefully lead toward some sense of fulfillment and inner harmony. I hear alternative "music", I've got to go.

omi won kenobi

SML,

it is church policy to seal every man a woman has married to her when we come across them in Genealogy work being done. Not just in one instance, but in all.

Does it mean that women will have more than one husband if she is sealed to them? Does it mean that the forty or so wives that were sealed to Joseph after his death will be his as well? I think not necessarily.

You are right that this will all be worked out in the next life.

Obviously you were a member of the church at one time, but you are not keeping up with current revelation.

But I think the core of issue for you and others who have written here, is that you are trying very hard to find loopholes in the gospel to make your case for the acceptance of a practicing homosexual within the boundries of the doctrines of the church.

The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is at the head of this church, the church will not "change it's mind" on this issue, no matter how good you might think the argument might be. With the proclamation on the family, it is like the brethren said...o.k. the argument is over, and we have the final say, and this is what the Lord wants for his people.

I think it is important to stand up against the rising dissident voices in support of the doctrines of the church.

You remember the parable of the wheat and tares? Now is the time of that great sifting, we are witnessing this a lot, and it is very painful and frightening. The Danzigs' are caught in that sifting, but it is never too late to come home. I am so very sorry for them, and others who have once loved the Gospel and left.

I love the brethren, their steadfastness, and firmness, it is of great comfort to me to have a sure foundation in the Gospel upon which to base the course of my life. If the brethren tossed to and fro with dissenting winds of thought, it would be difficult to trust in them. They have made their stand concerning homosexuality and that is where they will stay.

I have lived a very long time, and have seen much and have studied the Gospel a great deal, and I do know that I will not change anyone's mind concerning these issues.

Somehow in the confines of my home where I am bound, I can stand up for what I believe in.

SML

Omi ~

"But I think the core of issue for you and others who have written here, is that you are trying very hard to find loopholes in the gospel to make your case for the acceptance of a practicing homosexual within the boundries of the doctrines of the church."

I will tell you that I seek no loopholes for myself (you will note I was simply refuting one statement you made about marriage between one man and one woman being the *only thing* supported by the church ~ this is clearly not true), but rather I seek equality and fairness for those faithful homosexual members of the church who are expected to live their lives celibate and alone, or, worse, who are expected to find a way to make heterosexual marriage palatable to them, if they are to reach the pinnacle of their belief: Celestial Glory. The church is not a welcoming and accepting environment for those who don't fit the narrow, tiny scope of perfection as outlined in the Proclamation on the Family. I wish that it were.

Imagine theoretically if the church heirarchy suddenly brought forth a commandment from God that the only "righteous" and accepted practice is homosexuality. Could you accept that if it happened to you? Could you accept it if you were taught from the time you were very young that the desire and love you feel for your spouse is dirty, immoral, an abomination in God's eyes, etc. etc. etc. etc.??? Could you accept it if your friends, family, and loved ones were taught and believed the same things about you? Could you honestly just grin and bear it like it was your due??

My truth concerning the wheat and tares siftage: If God himself came to me right this second, in person, and said to my face that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is really his chosen church and the only path to return to his presence again, I'd still reject it based solely on the way the church treats homosexuals and women, with his blessing. No thank you.

omi won kenobi

We all have free agency. This was so important to our Heavenly Father that He lost a third of his children because of it. He would never force their way. But there are always consequences for our choices. I know that He has wept over them. They never had a chance to come to this earth to prove themselves in being obedient.

That free agency is vital in this life.

We have been taught which way is right and which way is wrong by our Heavenly Father, and his son Jesus Christ. He is the one! It isn't that the church is telling you that love between same sex is forbidden. The authorities of the church are just following the directives of our Heavenly Father.

It is o.k. to tell our Heavenly Father that you just can't be a member of His church. It is much too difficult. It's not fair. You can tell him that it would tear your heart out to live any other way. He does understand. So do I, so do those wonderful people who speak to us from the conference center who are given the responsibility to speak, and act under the direction of the Savior.

Our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ love you with a love that you cannot comprehend.

You may find a church that will honor and accept your lifestyle. They will wrap your arms around you, and tell you that it is ok. They will tell you that the Lord did not really mean it when he said that men lying with men is an abomination. You may find a measure of peace and comfort in that environment.

Those of us who speak out against this practice do so not because you all have quietly made your choice to live this way. We speak out because there are those who have made it a very public issue, and are trying to legalize the practice, and force the Christian world to accept this practice, and make it a criminal offense to speak negatively against this practice from our pulpits.

The Christians of this world now are fast becoming those who are persecuted. Some christian churches will acquiesce to this pressure. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will not.

swl

Once again, what's the trajectory, the impluse that pulled Danzig in the way that it did? Were he a closet gay, one might surmise his interests were being served via his protestations. But otherwise, assuming he's solid in his marriage and loves his children it's most quizzical as to how he protested and then arrived at the lonely victim heap that he did. The man is apparently talented, gifted musically and is a passionate soul. But his writing doesn't have the aire of an academic intellectual that tires of church practice due to it's (political or cultural) rigidity,conformity or robust support of some political cause. There are many articulate and caring family members that offer challenging commentary when it's announced that a son or daughter has joined or crossed the line in the gay fold. They push the envelope (church position on gays) so to say, but their mannerism and style conforms with a civil stance that doesn't bring prying eyes. My curiosity has got the best of me in this "public matter." I accept the offering of condolance by many, that's proper, and the statement of brotherhood and moral support, that's encouraging. But the guy's married, has young kids, both he and his wife served missions; and still he/they "knock head" and then walk away? And the spiritual connection - if it existed - does that wash away likewise? Just curious and a bit perplexed. My feathers were ruffled many a time in earlier years, and I pushed back, and but for a strong mentor (father) the cultural and spiritual connection may not have held. Possibly that's what Danzig lacked, a caring mentor with greater insight and perspective. The mentor may have offered/accepted that Danzig's leave or stay in the church - but I imagine the process would have been much more private and much less painfull for all included. Or maybe it was just his and his wife's destiny to breathe free of the "confines..." a new long and in out breath, the mantra of the yogi, buddism, zen...there's a safe harbor (for some.)And the kids, they will play at times with mormon friends and cousins and for a while wonder I suppose. The Church, it's a stifling chain and/or it's a quiet comfort. Too bad that often times, for many, it's too much of the former and not enough of the calm. Regardless, it's a very private matter. Danzig's, others, myself. We walk our own path, at times cast a shadow, and otherwise travel in our own private universe and identity. Blessed are the peacemakers...was that offered by a mythical or a real divine mentor?

omi won kenobi

The Savior

1.
Matt. 5: 9
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
2.
3 Ne. 12: 9
9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

omi won kenobi

The Savior

1.
Matt. 5: 9
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
2.
3 Ne. 12: 9
9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

Jordan F.

Is that what your role is here, Omi? Peacemaker? I think you need to work a little bit on your peacemaking skills.

lcd

Omi was not referring to his/herself, as the peacemaker. He/she was responding to the comment made by swl. Read the end of his last post.

I don't see any PERSONAL attacks till you Jordan F. we are not impressed. Everyone has a right to their opinion about issues. Personal attacks are undignified.

Jordan

I was not trying to get personal, lcd. Sorry to have caused any angst. I had not seen all of swl's post. I was just curious why that scripture was posted. Now I understand. Thanks for the clarification!

Jordan

"I think you need to work a little bit on your peacemaking skills."

and, apparently, so do I. Sorry again!

RJB3

The problem is that both sides of this debate are battling under false assumptions. Both sides believe that a group of people are defining and controlling marriage. This is false. The event of marriage has more in common with the events of birth and death than it does the events of legal transactions or religious ceremonies.

If we were to understand the true nature of marriage, we would realize that the event of marriage - or the event of becoming "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24) - does not belong to a group of individuals to define or control - no group of citizens, no body of legislators, no priesthood. Likewise, no third party has the authority to create a marriage - no Justice of the Peace, no reverend, and no priest. Each of these officials plays passive roles in this process. They have only the authority to represent their organizations, whether it is a government or a church, to recognize or to not recognize a marriage. They do not have the authority to create it or to destroy it for that matter once it has been created, and their organizations' recognition, which usually has significant consequences whether it be a church or a governmental body, does not alter the reality of the existence of the marriage. These officials only serve to solemnize the marriage that is created by the man and the woman. To solemnize does not mean to create - it simply means to make earnest.

The event of marriage belongs to Nature itself. It is how our species actually manifests itself in nature - male and female, and the act of marriage or becoming one flesh is actually the act of becoming the complete and singular manifestation of the human species - male and female. The authority to create a marriage, therefore, belongs exclusively to these two genders. It is how the two genders become the one flesh that they truly are - male and female. It is how man (male and female) fulfills the measure of its creation. (D&C 49:16)

Randy

Jenn, there's really no irony at all. I'm paraphrasing, but Gordon B. Hinckley pretty much said he didn't give a shit about what members believed, so long as they didn't openly oppose the party line. So people are welcome to draw opposing conclusions from their reading and have personal revelations about buying timeshares on Kolob; they just can't tell anybody.

Sister Mary Lisa

Omi ~

You wrote, "free agency is vital in this life."

I think this is exactly what advocates of equal rights are seeking. The agency for any person to freely choose to marry the person they love and have the same rights as you do to manifest their love in all the ways you are free to do now, while also enjoying the benefits that matrimony offers. Interesting how you find free agency "vital" in this life yet you seek to withhold it from the gay people who suffer under this inequality.

SillyNut

I really don't have anything insightful to add. I just want to say that I am so freakin' glad that I am where I am. Which is far, far away from the mess that is called The One True Church.

Maybe the Omi dude has it right, just backwards. People call the church good and well, I don't think it is. So, there is an instance of evil being called good in this day and age.

Equality, you might want to set an idiot test before people are allowed to post comments... That might cut down on some of the more nauseating crap....

Michael

While the account certainly is heartbreaking, I cannot escape the conclusion that the writer not only brought the entire matter on himself, but continued stubbornly to cling to his "position" without genuinely examining himself, his actions, and whether he should reconsider what he was doing.

There IS room in the LDS church for dissent, and for people who disagree with doctrines or positions. There is not, and in fact there SHOULD not be room in the LDS church (or any other church) for people who openly speak out against it.

I am a member of the church, and there are times when I have questioned a doctrine or a position. I have had conversations with family members or friends regarding my feelings on one issue or another which I questioned. There is nothing wrong with this.

I have NEVER written a letter to a newspaper stating that I was in opposition to a church policy, doctrine, or decision. Doing so clearly crosses the line between disagreeing about something and publicly speaking out against the church about something.

It astounds me that there are people, apparently the author included, who do not understand that fundamental difference.

Everyone in the church has a right to disagree with the church. In fact, everyone in the church has a right to speak out against the church. But if someone speaks out against the church, they have no right to then demand "mercy" or "words of kindness or solace" from that same church they spoke out against. To expect so is simply ludicrous.

Equality

"There is not, and in fact there SHOULD not be room in the LDS church (or any other church) for people who openly speak out against it."

Wow, Michael. You not only take it upon yourself to speak for the LDS church, but all other churches, too! Quite the authoritarian streak you have in you, eh? Of course you are right that if the LDS church wants to foster a system of spiritual fascism, it has every right to do so. As Hank said on another post, thousands are voting with their feet to express their disagreement with such a system. But it is decidedly untrue that the LDS church is simply doing what all other churches do. There are, in fact, religious organizations that value dissent--even public dissent. One is the Unitarian Universalist association. Those who value true freedom of thought--and expression--often find a home there. I know I did.

Michael

"Wow, Michael. You not only take it upon yourself to speak for the LDS church, but all other churches, too!"

I haven't spoken for the LDS or any other church. I have stated my opinion regarding what I believe churches should have room for. There should be no need to preface my remarks with a disclaimer that they are my opinion, and accusing me of speaking without authority, or accusing the LDS church of "spiritual facism" are red herrings which avoid the points which I made.

The LDS church does not silence anyone, including the original author (as evidenced not only by the fact that we have all read what he has to say here, but more starkly by the fact that he was never ex-communicated from the church - he left voluntarily).

If someone who claimed to be my friend openly and publicly spoke out against me, I would no longer consider him to be my friend. Why should a church act any differently?

Nevertheless, and repeating for emphasis - the church did not remove him from their fellowship, he removed himself and his wife followed.

More importantly on topic though: Why would someone who has spoken out against their friend (or their church) feel they have the right to expect friendship or fellowship from the entity which they have spoken out against?

Hank Rearden

"he was never ex-communicated from the church - he left voluntarily"

Michael - you know how some businesses/managers choose not to fire someone, but make it really unattractive to stay? That's how many of us feel about the church. Show me the members who raise important issues and are actually supported for giving enough of a damn to do something about it? Where are the people who confide their doubts to ecclesiastical leaders and then thrive? Who are the people who dare not to rubberstamp everything coming down from the SP, but then are rewarded for taking their callings seriously enough to point out (even rarely!) information that the SP did not have? Where is all that happening? That would be a pretty cool church. And is nothing close to the experience of thousands of us.

lcd

Free agency IS vital, you are free to do as you will, there are just consequences. There are laws in place to protect society. A church has the right to state what it will or will not allow or sanction.

You are free to practice whatever lifestyle you wish. No one takes that away from you. Not even the church. So go and do. Just don't expect the rest of us to say to you that we believe that it is a normal practice. Just because the church does not sanction this, doesn't mean that we say that you cannot do it! Remember, there are just consequenses if you do, ie: excommunication, if you are a member of the church. this is vital.

Do you think that free agency IS without consequences?

Yes, there should be an idiot test to post here. I cannot believe some of the twisted stuff that the pro gays speak.

lcd

Wow what a bunch of whiners!!! If you don't like the rules, just leave and shutup already!

The church will do what it wants, so if you don't like it just please leave, and go live how you want. Who cares!!!! Just stop whining!

Hank Rearden

"The church will do what it wants, so if you don't like it just please leave, and go live how you want. Who cares!!!! Just stop whining!"

Ah, hell. Everyone whines. Didn't you just do it? I'm hoping you're just having fun with your last comment.

"You are free to practice whatever lifestyle you wish."

Do you have even one gay friend? It's easy to "other" gays in the abstract, and harder than hell to do so when that other person is a friend. I'd love to encourage you to reach out, take a gay colleague out to lunch (go with a group to avoid evil appearances, of course), play out the thought experiment that this flesh-and-blood person just might not be "other" but amazingly similar to you, with as many hopes, dreams, insecurities, bodyaches, relationship concerns, etc. as you have. If, after doing all that, you can maintain your current stance, then I'd love to have an in-depth conversation with you to see how you managed to pull that off.

dpc

"As Hank said on another post, thousands are voting with their feet to express their disagreement with such a system. But it is decidedly untrue that the LDS church is simply doing what all other churches do. There are, in fact, religious organizations that value dissent--even public dissent. One is the Unitarian Universalist association. Those who value true freedom of thought--and expression--often find a home there. I know I did."

If thousands are voting with their feet against the LDS policy, then I guess by the same logic, thousands must be voting with their feet to get into the UU Association...oh wait, they're not...Is there something else going on that I'm not aware of?

What does the UU do with a person that stands up and tells everyone that the minister is a complete idiot every week during the services? Do they value that person's "true freedom of thought--and expression--" as part of church services? Or are there limits? I think so. Every religion puts a limit on the types of expression it allows. You can't argue that one limitation is more reasonable than another. Even the UU with its true freedom of thought wouldn't allow members to perform religious rituals and spread teachings of the Aryan Nations. Consider the following link from the UU Association website itself, which seems to be indicative of a limitation on 'free expression':

http://archive.uua.org/ga/ga01/2038.html

I think that the limitations that UU puts on free expression are reasonable within the context of its members' beliefs. Similarly, the limitations that the Mormon church puts on free expression are reasonable within the context of its members' beliefs.

Hank Rearden

"Every religion puts a limit on the types of expression it allows. You can't argue that one limitation is more reasonable than another."

I'm intrigued by the selective dip into extreme postmodernism that some apologists use. I think it's quite reasonable to argue that some limitations/degree of limitations on free speech are healthier and less healthy than others. I guess I have drunk too much Mill/ Brandeis swill on this point. More speech is almost always better.
One must be able to draw attention to true value hierarchies, or are you advocating the complete aperspectival madness that so many church leaders have warned against?

"the limitations that the Mormon church puts on free expression are reasonable within the context of its members' beliefs."

I would guess that you nailed that one, my man. There is a unique beauty in the symmetry of this particular logic structure.

dpc

"I'm intrigued by the selective dip into extreme postmodernism that some apologists use."

I wouldn't characterize it as a dip into extreme postmodernism. I'm taking elements of modernism and combining it with postmodernism. This may not be the proper forum to discuss it though.

"More speech is almost always better."

I agree with you, but only in a political sense. As far as social organizations are concerned, you have to balance free expression against the actual functioning of the organization. All social organizations exert social control over the speech of their members.

Hank Rearden

"you have to balance free expression against the actual functioning of the organization"

Balance? I see free expression as being *integral* to the actual functioning of the organization. The lack of open, honest dialogue has been, for me, the sign of dysfunction.

I wonder if we have different root metaphors operating here - machine vs. organism, perhaps.

"All social organizations exert social control over the speech of their members."

True, dat. The question on the table would seem to be what a healthy level of control is if the organization intends to remain a vital ongoing concern. No control at all, granted, does not even roll up to any sense of what an organization is. This is a danger that the church has not faced for at least a few generations.

No other organization I belong to exerts the degree of control that the church does. No other church (or any organization) that I would ever considering joining would demonstrate such a high level of control. IMHO, such a high degree of control is a vestige of an older value structure, and served its evolutionary purpose well in specific contexts, which are rare now.

lcd

Yea, Hank, it was late, just frustrated. The church absolutely does reach out to gay people, just read their official statements. I love all people, I do have gay acquaintances. I think they are educated, funny loveable, kind, caring, fun to be with etc...just like all people everywhere. I am not homophobic.

It is just that the hard thing is, whatever causes the condition, thought process, born this way etc...if you want to be a member in good standing with the church, you just cannot be a practicing gay person. Why can't everyone just understand that? I can sit next to you in church, work with you on projects, even attend the Temple with you!

The simple thing is, do you believe in God? Do you believe that there is a Prophet here on the earth today? Do you believe in the scriptures? If so, you would not have a problem with the church's stance on not allowing our gay members to practice their lifestyle.
Even if the world were to legalize gay marriage, it would not change the church's stance.

This hard for those who are gay. I can't imagine how difficult this must be. It is the same for those who do not have a chance to be married in this life. The church expects for them to be celibate, or they will not be in good standing with the church.

If you do not believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, or Heavenly Father, or our Prophet, it does not matter then, just go and live your life the way you wish. You can leave the church. It is your choice, you have the free agency to do that.

Those of us who wish to believe, cling to the gospel, and the teachings, and try to adhere to the commandments. How do you think we all would feel if suddenly our prophet would say to us, now we will allow the gays to be married in the Temple? We will permit gays to adopt our children, we will now have a gay bishop? When it is clear in the scriptures that the practicing of gay love is forbidden by our Savior, and that it is even an abomination to him.

Do you not think that we all would know that the Prophet is leading us astray!

So I say, if you want to be gay, go and be gay. Be happy. It just will never be sanctioned by the church, the Savior, our Heavenly Father. Don't expect it to be, they are very clear.

dpc

lcd:

"It [i.e. being 'gay'] just will never be sanctioned by the church, the Savior, our Heavenly Father"

I think that's a little presumptuous. At the current time, engaging in homosexual behavior is not sanctioned by the church, but that does not preclude some future revelation contrary to your position on the subject. God has reasons for doing things; he rarely reveals the 'why' to us, however.

fh451

lcd said: "Those of us who wish to believe, cling to the gospel, and the teachings, and try to adhere to the commandments. How do you think we all would feel if suddenly our prophet would say to us, now we will allow the gays to be married in the Temple? We will permit gays to adopt our children, we will now have a gay bishop? When it is clear in the scriptures that the practicing of gay love is forbidden by our Savior, and that it is even an abomination to him.

Do you not think that we all would know that the Prophet is leading us astray!"

How do you think the members felt when it was announced that polygamy was being abolished? You should read the sermons prior to 1890 if you don't understand what a core, vital concept it was to the LDS church at the time. How did some members feel about blacks receiving the priesthood in 1978? Some were quite sure that the church was being led astray, and maybe you are familiar with the sermons and doctrinal justifications for how prior to that time it was the way "the savior" wanted it.

There are many things in "the scriptures" (especially the Old Testament) that are clearly forbidden by The Savior (assuming you believe that Jesus is the Jehovah/God of the Old Testament, as taught in the LDS church), but practiced/allowed now. Times change. Announcements from the leadership can and will change practices (and even doctrine)in the LDS church. If you believe they come from God, then you will have to adjust your thinking. I think only a small part of the church would actually see him as a fallen prophet if Pres Monson made the above announcement - after all, there were/are a few splinter groups that still practice polygamy as the Celestial order of marriage.

Hank Rearden

"The simple thing is, do you believe in God?"

The god that I believe in doesn't lag his creations' biases - He royally kicks butt and challenges them to raise their game with respect to all his other creations. No god worthy of worship was behind a revelation to ban blacks from the priesthood - that was strictly human frailty at its weakest. I do not understand the wisdom of any understanding of god now that would deny gays the beauty of relationship that we get to enjoy as straight people.

And I'd love to bet a dinner on the church finally acknowledging gay marriage. Even I wouldn't slam the church that much - the church eventually catches up on civil rights! Because of past lagging behavior (blacks getting the priesthood 14 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1964!), this is a bet that will probably have to be written into my will, as I don't expect to see it in my lifetime, but who knows? Willing to redo your will? I'll even let you name the cuisine now for when I (or my heirs) win.

Sister Mary Lisa

Hank, you made me smile with your will-changing challenge. You're right, of course. At some point, if the church continues to be around, it'll change its stance on the gay issue. Sadly, it won't stand up and do so as a progressive thing, like one would assume a loving Jesus at the head of the church would do, rather it will change after it's obvious it can stall no longer.

But I look forward to that day, so that maybe, just maybe, my Mormon dad will finally treat my gay brother a bit better with God's permission. *eyes rolling*

Sister Mary Lisa

lcd ~

Why do you suppose the church likes to be so involved in what happens in people's bedrooms? Why does God care? It seems to me that less focus is placed on love and more focus is placed on laws and following them to the letter.

Dom

One of the difficulties I have with any organized religion is that they all cling to an antiquated dogma to some degree or another. The concerns of organized religion with regards to science were different in, say, the 16th century than they are today. Yet no one today refutes Galileo's assertion of heliocentrism.

A social example that has been brought up in this thread before regards withholding the priesthood from blacks. Social progress was the reason blacks were no longer barred from the priesthood, the church was just clinging to its dogma, and eventually the church leaders relented.

I think it is just a matter of time before the social stigma that exists for gays will evaporate, and we'll see changes in LDS doctrine that permit gay marriage, ordain women to the priesthood, etc. I say this because it will happen socially first, and religions --historically riding behind the curve--will follow.

I only hope that when the church reaches that point, the days of shaming members and discouraging free thinking will be behind them. Problem is, the church might still be 50 years behind social progress, and the same tactics will be used to shame members then too.

lcd

Go and argue with God. Your problem is really is with him.

Hank Rearden

"Go and argue with God. Your problem is really is with him."

No, this argument is with your particular concept of God. Why would you want to worship a god who comported himself in this particular way? Are you open to the notion that you might not understand the mind of god 100%? Didn't even Paul, while in the spirit, declaim that "we see through a glass darkly"? Does not a part of you feel that any concept we might have of god is at least a bit impartial, or do you feel you have a complete handle on the nature of God?

The oft-quoted-in-General-Conference C.S. Lewis had, IMHO, a moment of metaphysical clarity when he wrote this:

Footnote to All Prayers - C.S. Lewis

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskilfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolators, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.

Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

lcd

Then I guess the scriptures don't mean what they say.

lcd

So go find your way according to what you think the scriptures say. I will go mine. The church will go theirs. I will go in the direction of the church. So you and I can agree to disagree?

fh451

lcd: "Go and argue with God. Your problem is really is with him."

No, my problem is with people who are so certain of what God wants that they feel excused from presenting a rational argument. Instead, they appeal to bronze-age writings that also say it's OK to kill your children if they disobey, stone people if they say the name of God out loud, sanction the taking of slaves of your enemies, and say women should keep quiet. Wow, I'm convinced!

Equality

"Go and argue with God. Your problem is really is with him."

I would much prefer to argue with God than fools who think they speak for Him. I await God's visit to my blog. He has a lot of 'splainin' to do!

alicia

Mr. Danzig is very articulate and comes across to me as a sensitive person. However, I am so surprised that someone would turn to Judaism after being raised in a Church that places the Atonement and Salvation offered by Jesus Christ at the center of each and every one of its ordinances. I can see getting mad at the LDS Church and leaving it, but is he leaving aside his belief in the Savior Jesus Christ as well? If so, how deep was his previous commitment as a follower of Christ? I know that my feelings for my Savior are such that I could never stop believing in Him no matter how frustrated I became with any person or organization professing to teach His gospel.

Don't get me wrong, I think Judaism is an absolutely beautiful belief system. I have studied it for many years as part of my language training in Hebrew, and attended many meetings at my local synagogue. I love my many Jewish friends and respect their cultural heritage. However, I simply cannot understand how one goes from being a Christian to a belief that denies His divinity. I've known a couple of other former LDS people as well as Christians from other backgrounds that have made this decision and it completely baffles me.

Good luck to the Danzig family, I hope time will heal their hearts.

fh451

Alicia said: "However, I simply cannot understand how one goes from being a Christian to a belief that denies His divinity. I've known a couple of other former LDS people as well as Christians from other backgrounds that have made this decision and it completely baffles me."

Very similar statements have been made by LDS about those who reject the church but remain in Christianity - they are simply baffled that one could reject the divine calling of Joseph Smith. They know their feelings are such that they could never reject him as God's prophet, regardless what the church or people in the church have done. So what must you think of those who have rejected Mormonism and become agnostic, or even (horror of horrors) atheist? Regardless, for many people, once they have examined and modified or rejected some fundamental parts of their belief system, it opens up the whole structure for examination from top to bottom, including church organization(s) and participation, prophets, religion, Jesus, God, the whole ball of wax. It happens, and frankly I feel better off for it.

fh451

Vegas

1. This is terribly sad.

2. Sounds like he had been looking for a way out of the Church.

3. He misinterpreted the letter read from the pulpit! (No one has posted the content of that letter anywhere I've seen). Is it true it said, "expressing YOUR views"?. The Church always encourages participation is the democratic process. Show me a copy of that letter and I will admit I am a fool and Danzig was right. It never said what he heard.

4. As a representative of an organization (Orchestra, job, many entities) you can't just publicly attach yourself to a particular brand of anything. In most public roles, you can't stand up and endorse your favorite hamburger joint, much less a very controversial topic! It would have been very different had he not said in his initial letter "as a member of the Orchestra" or whatever. You know all those stupid disclaimers at the beginning of infomercials, "This does not necessarily reflect the views of this station"? Prime example.

5. We find whatever we're looking for. Look for injustice in Judaism and I know you will find it there, too. Life is like Google, whatever you're looking for, you will find it.

6. "Resigning" from the Church was the move of a self-made martyr. That's like being falsely accused of a crime and then committing suicide. Resigning only hurts the Danzig family.

7. He went from assertive to passive aggressive.

8. Boundaries always exist. Even Jesus kicked the money changers out of the temple. Should the philosophy be "anything goes"? In the Old Testament, God showed his wrath. People could only walk a certain number of steps on the Sabbath.

9. The entire WORLD has changed since Spencer Kimball (whom was quoted). We can judge past generations against today's knowledge and culture and wisdom.

10. How many people were helped and encouraged by these quotes. How many men, questioning their path, were courageous and bold against their same gender attraction and lived a life of discipline? We only seem to see one side of that, the "tyrannical" side.

11. On the path of Judaism, will you deny the Christ?

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