Mormons embrace social media to push back against official church teachings

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Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon church because of her views on gender equality.

Creative Commons image by Katrina Barker Anderson

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon church because of her views on gender equality.

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BERKELEY, Calif. (RNS) “We are starting to see a significant disconnect between what the church is telling people to believe about same-sex marriage and homosexuality and what people actually believe and accept,” said LGBT activist John Gustav-Wrathall. “I think the Internet has a lot to do with that."

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  • Wander Woman

    I support the dialogue that is taking place because of pioneers like Mitch Mayne who strive to keep the commandments despite special circumstances that make it difficult.

    But the article’s title is a poor choice. Mormons don’t believe in “push[ing] back against official church teachings,” and I don’t believe that is what Mitch is doing.

    The article also claims that “Mormons attitudes toward social media are certainly in flux,” falsely conveying the idea that Elder Ballard’s remarks were not consistent with Elder Bednar’s remarks, when in fact the Church has always encouraged Church members to use social media for good purposes while avoiding all of the filth found on the Internet.

    The article also has a typo in stating that Mitch Mayne “became a bishop,” instead of “bishop’s executive secretary.”

  • Wander Woman

    Another error: this article perpetuates a typo about the cited survey in saying “the roles, responsibilities or therapy of females in the church”. Look at the original Tribune article, which correctly reports it as “the roles, responsibilities or treatment of women in the church.”

  • Dave

    Should women have the priesthood? We don’t know. Was Kate Kelly right in the way she tried to change the Church? No. But, she is as guilty as the Church of not going through the proper channels. Is the way the members of the Church treat homosexuals right? No, we should tread them with love and kindness, it’s the Christian way. Should the Church take legal action to stop other churches from marrying same-sex partners? No, our religion clearly forbids it.

    I don’t know who is running things out in Utah, but it’s not God. Until we start listening to Him again, this isn’t His Church. There is no point in fighting with each other over these 2 issues. It only proves neither side is willing to listen to God.

  • Your comment is spot on Wander Woman. The article brings up important issues, but has enough distortions and inaccuracies that it makes those issues more difficult to understand rather than easier.

    Perhaps the biggest problem, which you allude to, is that the article (in combination with it’s title) suggests or implies that many things are contrary to church teachings when, in fact, they are not. Using the internet to reach out to LBGT Mormons is definitely not against church teachings. In fact, the Church itself does it through its website.

  • The Church does advocate treating LBGT individuals with love and respect, it’s individual members who aren’t following Church leadership’s teachings. Those people who refused to take the sacrament from a gay Aaronic priesthood holder were the ones pushing back against church teachings, not the gay youth or his family.

    As for whether the Church should take legal action to stop other churches from performing same-sex marriages, our religion does not “clearly forbid” it. You could interpret the 11th Article of Faith that way, perhaps, but there are multiple possible interpretations of the scriptures and the doctrine. That’s why church members are asked to sustain the prophet and apostles: they are the ones with the calling to interpret God’s will for His church at this time.

  • Karla

    Mormons need to read the Bible because the Bible is clear that if anyone
    preaches somethin different they will be eternally condemned so by denying
    the Trinity and saying that only very few go to hell/outer darkness they
    are not teaching what the Bible says. Bible says even if an angel appears
    to you and preaches/teaches another Gospel don’t listen because the
    devil poses as an angel of light plus Joseph Smith was proven to be a
    liar/heretic/false witness who was full of immorality/followed his own heart
    and desires not the teachings of the Bible. Jesus said that many will say
    to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven so Mormons need to read the Bible.
    Jesus is part of the Trinity/was not a created being so when people deny
    the Trinity they seperate themselves from Biblical Christianity and are not
    followers of the real Jesus Christ/the Bible and will end up going to hell.

  • charlie

    The founding prophet of the LDS church was a libidinous con man and crackpot.

    The fact that Mormon religion survives attests to the strong influence childhood indoctrination has on believers of all stripes. What a shame these thoughtful and intelligent women are unable to break away from this cult.

    They might as well be arguing about the length of a unicorn’s horn. What a waste of valuable time that could be used productively if their minds had not been indoctrinated.

  • Jessica

    Considering their faith is totally made up, it only makes sense that they can change it as they see fit to adapt to the modern world.

  • If it’s all about childhood indoctrination, how do you explain converts to Mormonism? 40 years ago there were barely any Mormons outside the USA and now there are more Mormons outside the USA than in it.

  • A PEW survey found that Mormons tend to have more knowledge of Christianity and the Bible than Protestants or Catholics. Case in point: belief in the Trinity only became the official interpretation of the Bible several hundred years after the Bible was written. Many early Christians did not believe that Jesus, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost were all the same literal entity, which is why they needed to hold ecumenical councils in the first place. Mormons simply argue that the Council of Nicene got the interpretation of the Bible wrong.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    The article doesn’t say he became a bishop. It says:

    “Many credit Mayne, 43, with fostering this change when he became the first publicly gay Mormon executive secretary – a leadership position in service of a bishop –”

    See? It says “…in *service* of a bishop…”

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Dan the Mormon wrote: “The Church does advocate treating LBGT individuals with love and respect…”

    That is so not true.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a major force behind Proposition 8, which invalidated gay marriages and broke up gay families.
    If a group of people decided that Mormons don’t have the right to be married, and if they introduced a constitutional amendment to unilaterally divorce Mormon families, Mormons would be screaming bloody murder and howling (justifiably) about persecution.

    Given this background it is the ultimate in hypocrisy and dishonesty to say that the Mormon Church advocated treating LGBT people with love and dignity.

    Really! You guys need to either *repent* of the awful sins you have committed against the LGBT community, or you need to *own* what you have done and not lie about it.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Charlie didn’t say “it’s all about.” He says it “attests to.”

    Other things that attest to the church’s survival are basic human superstition and ignorance, along with the church’s long history of keep members in the dark about the origins of Mormonism and past behaviors of the church’s leaders.

  • There was an error in the first version – in second reference to Mayne’s position with the church I failed to catch an error. So the very earliest post had first ref as exec sec, the second ref bishop. We made the correx. Sorry for confusion!

  • gilhcan

    What has a lot to do with the change of attitude among Mormons, especially young Mormons, is the same as with everyone else. Their experiences with others, especially in these days when the closets of gay friends and acquaintances have been opened wide, sometimes by force, they have grown beyond suffering the closeted religious experiences of their “elders.”

    Gays are not the only ones who have been freed. The people who know them and care for them have also been freed, freed from ignorance and the prejudice that always ensues from ignorance. Young people have had the opportunity to learn more about all things, including gender orientation. And learning is the basis of attitude as well as knowledge.

    When it comes to the art of understanding others, including how they differ from us, nothing enables or promotes that understanding as much as personal experience, personal contact. You can thank the gays for bravely marching out of those dark and destructive closets that have smothered all of us for too many millennia, and you can applaud their straight friends and associates for continuing relationships that enable understanding, acceptance, and care.

  • gilhcan

    Indoctrination never stops with childhood! “Conversion” to ignorance and evil can take place at any time of life. It all depends on the mindset of each individual and the exposure to learning throughout life.

  • Wander Woman

    The author corrected the article after I posted my comment quoting the incorrect phrase.

  • gilhcan

    Anyone who has studied Pew results seriously and for a long time, especially as they concern religion, would learn to take them with a super-large grain of salt. Forget all polls. Concentrate on individuals you know personally. And get to know more and more individuals of varied backgrounds. That is what has liberated young people from the prejudices of their “elders” when it comes to religion and the varieties of sexual orientation.

  • gilhcan

    And a hundred years after any claimed original writings of the New Testament were written and lost. Be wary of basing too much faith on copies of copies of copies of lost and purposely destroyed writings and sayings.

  • You are mistaken, Debbie. You must separate the treatment of individuals from the actions against public policy. The two are not the same. Let me give you an example. The Church strongly advocates for abstinence before marriage and promotes the Law of Chastity as the standard of behavior for members. Its leaders speak out publicly against pornography and all its illnesses. However, leaders are taught to treat with kindness and respect and love those who find themselves caught up in fornication with the goal of helping those who repent and strive to come back to full fellowship.

    Fighting against same-sex marriage as a matter of public policy, while helping LGBT members of the Church feel welcomed is not a dichotomy any more than Christ teaching that adultery was sinful while eating with the harlots.

  • Jonathan

    You’re right- most Mormons don’t push back even when the Church’s leaders have said blatantly homophobic and harmful things… wouldn’t want them to stand up against their dictators- that would take some integrity. Thankfully there are some who do push back when they see bigotry and ignorance spewed from the pulpit- those are the truly decent people in the LDS Church.

  • john

    I wanted to say something about your first point Dan.
    I agree with you completely that any member who refused to take the sacrament from a Deacon because he had ‘come out’ is not living the gospel.
    The sacrament is passed under the direction of the Bishop. If the Bishop has determined that this Deacon is worthy to pass the sacrament then no member has the right to judge otherwise.
    Shame on them if it is true.

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  • Larry

    In that case the LDS are major offenders on both fronts.

    Both in silently encouraging individuals to ostracize and shun gays (including members of one’s familiy) and giving clear political and financial support to their discrimination under the color of law.

    Actively campaigning to have gays be treated inferior under the color of law and doing the same privately is not a dichotomy at all. Its perfectly congruent. The claims that LGBT members are welcomed is just PR nonsense.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Kelly Knight wrote: “You must separate the treatment of individuals from the actions against public policy.”

    It doesn’t matter whether you do evil things personally or by using an agent; whether you are personally destroying another person’s marriage and ruining their life or simply voting for public policy that accomplishes the same thing.

    It’s interesting how Mormons compartmentalize their ethics. It seems relatively common for them to think they can do all manner of evil to others as long as they do it through public policy, and not personally with their own little hands.

    Kelly Knight wrote: “However, leaders are taught to treat with kindness and respect and love those who find themselves caught up in fornication..”

    Mormons hardly treat fornicators with “respect and love.” The usual treatment is shunning in the form of excommunication or disfellowshipment.

    It seems that whatever evil they do, Mormons always view themselves as motivated by “love and respect.” Whether voting for laws that destroys families or shunning others for perceived “sins,” Mormons never see themselves as doing anything wrong. They always exalt themselves with a self image of doing the evil out of “love and respect.” It’s amazing the disconnect between your self perception and the perception of outsiders looking in.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Wander Woman, have you ever read the first edition of the Book of Mormon? I ask because you are so very, very critical of typos and other mistakes in the current article.

    If you read the first edition you will find (literally, no exaggeration) thousands of differences between it an the current edition (and I’m not talking about the footnotes and chapter headings, either — I’m talking about the main body text).
    Most of the changes correct spelling and grammatical errors (the kind you complain of in this current article) but many of the changes are to doctrines, while others correct internal inconsistencies (the kinds of inconsistencies that an author of fiction might make).

    Are you as critical of the Book of Mormon and its many mistakes/corrections as you are of the author of the present article?

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  • Debbie Snowcroft

    So close, and yet so far away.

    Yes — members shouldn’t be judging the young man, but neither should the bishop. One of the horrible things about Mormonism is the way it indoctrinates members with the idea that church officials have the right and duty to judge them.

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  • Monica Davis

    Your depiction is unfair. The appropriate headline should be: “Morons use social media to build connectedness and community inside a faith that views them as different”. It is time to embrace cultural change and love.

  • BigZav

    Well-written story. Glad to see someone writing objectively on these LDS issues.

  • Wander Woman

    Yes, Debbie, I am. I’m not nitpicking non-material typos. I noticed two material typos that I assumed the author would want to correct to make sure her article was as accurate as intended. And she did. I would have done the same with the first edition of the Book of Mormon if I had been so lucky to have had that opportunity.

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