Columns General story Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

On Mormon teens, sex, and closed-door ‘worthiness’ interviews with middle- …

Front page of the Protect LDS Children website.

The LDS Church has been sharply criticized in recent weeks for its longstanding policy of requiring teenagers to be interviewed by male church leaders. These one-on-one conversations have ranged widely to cover not only spiritual topics but also intensely personal issues and sexual behavior, recounted in the stories many individuals have uploaded to the website “Protect LDS Children.”

The site is the project of Sam Young, a former LDS bishop who has recently engaged in a hunger strike to draw attention to the problem of LDS leaders being alone behind closed doors with teens and even children. One such girl was only eight years old when she was molested by her bishop at a baptismal interview, as recounted in this heartbreaking video.

Young says the LDS Church does not have adequate measures in place to guarantee that bishops and other male leaders cannot take advantage of youth. Such abuse may be rare, but it happened to one of Young’s own daughters; she was just twelve when she started getting sexually explicit questions in her “worthiness” interviews with the bishop.

In response to the growing concerns about its policy on youth interviews, the LDS Church earlier this year updated the guidelines for local church leaders to use when interviewing youth (which happens once or twice a year). I’ve had a chance to compare the new guidelines from section 7.1.7 of Handbook 1 with that same section in the 2010 Handbook to see what is different . . . and the answer is that a few things have changed, but not enough.

What’s new:

  1. The new guidelines are actually available to the public. This in itself is huge. Handbook 1 is restricted to bishops and stake presidents, so the fact that this particular section has been made publicly available (see here) means that the Church is taking transparency more seriously. Parents and youth have a right to know what the expected content of a worthiness interview ought to be. In fact, parents might consider devoting a Family Home Evening or two to going over the guidelines and discussing what is, and what is not, fair game.
  2. A parent or other adult “should” be nearby. In the 2010 Handbook, an allowance was made for the possibility of having “a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall.” Now, that language has been updated to become more gender inclusive and to introduce more of a mandate. The new material is in italics: “When a member of a bishopric or stake presidency or another assigned leader meets with a child, youth, or woman, he or she should ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to be present during the interview. Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood.” While this is obviously a step forward, the burden is on the youth to know he or she has a right to have another adult present in the room, and that this does not have to be a parent. Is that a fair self-advocacy burden to place on, say, a twelve-year-old? I don’t think so.
  3. The list of five matters for discussion has been replaced with the questions for a limited-use temple recommend. Under the 2010 policy, bishops had wide latitude to discuss five topics of conversation, one of which was “being modest in dress and action, refraining from any kind of sexual activity, and refraining from viewing, reading, or listening to pornographic material.” That language is absent from the new policy, which instead refers bishops to stick with the 13 standard interview questions, one of which is simply “Do you live the law of chastity?” But before we go celebrating the notion that this might finally bring an end to bishops asking teens deeply shaming questions about masturbation and dating, we should note that bishops are still directed to make “appropriate use” of the “standards and explanations” in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. And that leaves the door wide open for far-reaching, open-ended conversations about modesty, dating, media usage, and what the pamphlet calls “sexual purity.”
  4. The new guidelines soften the sexism around Mormon women serving missions. This is not related to the topic of bishop interviews, but it’s still worth noting: whereas the 2010 Handbook directed its advice about mission preparation primarily to teen boys and stated that “the bishop and his counselors encourage young women to support young men in accepting mission calls” (yes, really!), the 2018 update is more balanced. Leaders should “give special attention to preparing youth to serve a full-time mission (see 4.2). Young men are encouraged to serve (see 4.3.1), and young women may be recommended to serve (see 4.3.2).” Also new: a mention that circumstances sometimes exist in which young men “are honorably excused” from the expectation to serve a mission.

All in all, the changes are minor and do little to address the systemic problem of middle-aged male church leaders being alone in a closed room with a teenager, potentially to ask sensitive and probing questions about the teen’s sexuality.

As a final note, last week when I was reading about Sam Young’s hunger strike I happened to receive an email requiring me to check in with Virtus, the Catholic Church’s online safety education program for anyone who volunteers in a parish or other Catholic setting. Since I teach English two mornings a month to refugees, I have to go to the Virtus site every few weeks whenever there is new content about protecting kids, and take a little quiz to show I’ve mastered the new content. (The overkill aspect of this is that I only teach adults, never children, but it’s better to require too much oversight of volunteers than too little.)

This month’s article was especially interesting to me because it began with the kinds of objections I hear all the time in Mormon circles: local church leaders are good people, abuse could never happen here, adults need to be one-on-one with youth or they’ll never find out what’s really going on in kids’ lives, etc. (I’ve even used that last excuse myself.)

But what the article pointed out is that even if we have, by some miracle, created a 100% safe situation for youth, and every single leader among thousands of local clergy would never abuse their power, our refusal to enact protections puts youth at risk in other contexts outside of church:

“When you do the things you are talking about, you become part of the problem. Those actions that you are justifying condition young people to accept more intimate touch from adults. You may not have bad intentions, but the next person who interacts with the young person may have a different purpose, and now that person will have an easier time of it. You just helped that predator break down the barriers that keep children safe. In addition, your actions condition the community to accept these behaviors as part of ministry and that also opens the door to predators.”

It’s time for Mormonism to heed this advice. If we care about youth as much as we say we do—and I believe we do care, deeply—then we will raise the bar to adopt a “no conditioning” standard.

 

 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

112 Comments

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  • The changes made are appropriate and endeavor to strike a better balance between competing, but important values, like protection of the youth from the interviewer, behavioral accountability, promoting chastity, protecting privacy, protecting the purity of temples, ordinances, and the youth, and ensuring parents have primary responsibility for moral training of their children, etc., etc. The balance may not be perfect, but at least the changes seem to recognize there are values to balance and are a reasonable effort.
    A related issue is the level of discipline or teaching bishops apply when there is an issue like pornography or masturbation. Having lived in numerous stakes and wards it seems like bishops have been all over the map. Some seem to teach and counsel and encourage, but do not withdraw privileges. Some ignore the issues altogether. Some withdraw temple privileges. Some restrict young men from being able to assist in the sacrament for a week or two, and some withdraw the privilege of even taking the sacrament for weeks or months since the last occurrence of viewing pornography or engaging in masturbation. Most discipline seems directed at young men, but rarely a young woman, which makes one wonder a bit. There are youth (young men) with addictive behavior to these things that will result in months without taking the sacrament even if they are trying to overcome them–and they become discouraged. It is almost as if they are disfellowshipped without ever having a disciplinary council or any formality other than the bishop placing them on informal probation that could last as long as formal discipline. It seems there should be some greater balance for youth in considering their immaturity and need to be nurtured and encouraged towards better choices with less emphasis on discipline (or more, depending on the ward) and some greater consistency.

  • Old non-related men in a closed room with prepubescent girls talking about sex. What could possibly go wrong?

  • You miss the key point. The bishops are there to help safeguard the youth from the onslaught of immorality that is so pervasive in today’s society. In the vast and overwhelming majority of “interviews” it works quite well. The youth feel free to talk to their bishop about things they can’t or won’t talk about with others – even parents. Moreover, questions are often needed to empower or enable the youth to speak up and be candid about immoral conduct. Such confessions are necessary for the youth to repent/change their lives and very likely stop a further deterioration in immoral conduct. Ultimately – such confessions lead to forgiveness from the Lord – which is the most important thing. These interviews thus PROTECT THE CHILDREN. The problem is that some individuals – perhaps you – do not believe that God cares about morality or does not insist on a defined repentance process. These interviews help teach the youth that certain conduct is quite wrong – despite what the rest of the world believes. Clearly – some bishops make mistakes – but the answer is not to stop the process – its to deal with the individual situations.

  • Considering the long association with Boy Scouts of America, the LDS Church has had a model of what youth protection could be. I’m glad the LDS Church has finally added some things like the interviewee can bring another adult into the room with them, but still has a ways to go.

    Here’s what the Boy Scouts of America requires of adult volunteers:
    * two-deep leadership (i.e, always two adults in a room)
    * background checks
    * online training that has to periodically be renewed
    *report people who are violating the youth protection policies
    * required reporting of abuse or suspected abuse to local authorities and also to scout executive

    The scouts are also trained on what’s appropriate and the 3 R’s (Recognize anyone could be a molester, Respond when someone goes against the safety guidelines or feels wrong in your gut, Report activity you think is wrong to a parent or another trusted adult)

  • The LDS church is all about power (for the bishops et al) and control (of the sheeple)–nothing more. If it were not about power and control, the church would operate in an entirely different way–for starters, not giving bishops the amount of control they have over sheeple, removing things like the tattle-tale-ism that characterizes the church, and so on.

  • Randall,

    Your response presupposes the notion that there is some divine authority in Mormon bishops. Many of us reject that notion, or any notion that there is anything at all to the LDS church’s claim that any of its leaders are divinely led. And I offer as an example incidents of abuse perpetrated on children by LDS bishops.

    The LDS church teaches that the god Mormons believe in can see all things past, present, and future.

    The LDS church teaches that its prophet speaks on Earth for that god.

    All callings to the office of bishop are approved by the First Presidency.

    So in the cases of child abuse by a Mormon bishop, one of these has to be true:

    – Either the Mormon god cannot foresee what will happen in a case of child molestation by a Mormon bishop

    or

    – The Mormon god is okay with cases of child molestation

    or

    – The Mormon prophet doesn’t really speak for the Mormon god.

    How else can you explain a case where a Mormon bishop, approved for his calling by the First Presidency, sexually abuses a child?

  • Maybe you missed the end of the article:

    “This month’s article was especially interesting to me because it began with the kinds of objections I hear all the time in Mormon circles: local church leaders are good people, abuse could never happen here, adults need to be one-on-one with youth or they’ll never find out what’s really going on in kids’ lives, etc. (I’ve even used that last excuse myself.)

    But what the article pointed out is that even if we have, by some miracle, created a 100% safe situation for youth, and every single leader among thousands of local clergy would never abuse their power, our refusal to enact protections puts youth at risk in other contexts outside of church:

    ‘When you do the things you are talking about, you become part of the problem. Those actions that you are justifying condition young people to accept more intimate touch from adults. You may not have bad intentions, but the next person who interacts with the young person may have a different purpose, and now that person will have an easier time of it. You just helped that predator break down the barriers that keep children safe. In addition, your actions condition the community to accept these behaviors as part of ministry and that also opens the door to predators.'”

    The idea that these interviews are necessary, must be one-on-one, and have to cover sexually explicit topics are the problem.

  • It amazes me that people think that the leaders of THEIR church are somehow not human. MY church doesn’t have any predators, fraudsters, or con men in leadership. MY leaders are special and would never hurt anyone.

    Predator protecting churches count on this tribal mentality. You can tell predator protecting churches when their first reaction is to protect the reputation of the church over protecting children. Predator protecting churches move predators from position to position, city to city to protect the institution. A predator protecting church, when it discovers abuse by its leaders or members, might have a hotline for leaders to call to connect with attorneys rather than instructing all leaders to immediately call law enforcement, protective services, and counseling services.

  • If you reject that the LDS church is the Lord’s only church on the earth then go make your own church.

    I’m sure you could make your church of sodom into a carbon neutral reality, worthy of ellen’s praise.

  • Alexander,

    So your response to my argument is “go make your own church”? Not much of a defense there. How do you explain the existence of child molestation by bishops who are approved by a prophet who claims to be led by a god who sees all things past, present, and future?

    And to be clear, do you believe “the LDS church is the Lord’s only church on the earth”?

  • One on one conversations with adult leaders are an essential part of any youth development program, spiritual or otherwise. Yes, we should absolutely take steps to ensure that these situations do not turn into something harmful, but the notion that there should be no one-on-one interviews between youth and their bishops is absurd. Those conversations absolutely should include sexual topics as appropriate, even though they should be dealt with delicately. I would even support allowing or requiring such conversations to occur with someone of the same gender, but youth who are constantly bombarded with mixed messages from their peers, media, and even their own parents need a trusted and confidential place to go to discuss such matters.

  • “The LDS church teaches that its prophet speaks on Earth for that god.” This is where your logic breaks down. The LDS Church does not teach that the prophet is infallible (no matter what some members may in practice believe) or that every act of the Prophet is equivalent to an act of God.

    In other words, your conclusions don’t follow your premises, either as you’ve stated or as actually taught by the LDS Church.

  • It’s possible to have youth-adult interactions that are personal and private without becoming “grooming”. We can’t let the horrors that some adults have committed prevent us from letting adults be mentors to children and youth.

  • Zampona,

    So if the Mormon prophet gets some things right and some things wrong, what makes him any different from Mother Teresa, Ghandi, President Trump, or you and me?

    And more to the point, what good is it for every calling to the office of bishop to be approved by a fallible group of men?

    It sounds to me like there is nothing special at all about the Mormon prophet.

  • Yes, I know that I want to send my teenager to go talk about sexual issues with somebody, likely a stranger, that’s 30 or 40 years older….Yep, I want my kid to come clean with a 60’ish cleric about masturbation, birth control, erotic fantasies…all the stuff that LDS is so concerned about.

    Because we know how responsible LDS has always been about these issues…after all Brigham Young had 56 kids with 16 wives…there is a great example for the LDS youngsters !!

  • “So if the Mormon prophet gets some things right and some things wrong, what makes him any different from Mother Teresa, Ghandi, President Trump, or you and me?” Authority, for one thing. For another, acknowledging the reality that a prophet is fallible is not equivalent to saying that a prophet does not get things right more often than average.

    “And more to the point, what good is it for every calling to the office of bishop to be approved by a fallible group of men?” What good is the judicial system if it sometimes convicts the innocent or lets the guilty go free? What good is going to the doctor if doctors sometimes make mistakes? Perfection is not a necessary prerequisite for utility.

  • A bishop should not be stranger to ward members of any age.

    A bishop’s interest is much broader than the things you’ve listed. They are rarely a primary concern.

    Young was married to the mothers of all of his children. That’s more than can be said of most of today’s worldly role models.

  • What “authority”? The LDS church’s claim to divine authority is based on a 19th century con man’s claim that he and two of his colleagues were visited by dead apostles. Despite no report of a requirement to keep the encounters secret, the episodes weren’t reported or recorded for five full years. If the restoration of the authority was such a seminal event in LDS church history, why in the world wasn’t it mentioned in the Book of Commandments in 1833, but was only included in the re-written D&C two years later?

    And seriously, you’re offering as evidence of divine inspiration that the Mormon prophet “gets things right more often than average”? How remarkable. The IRS is right 99% of the time.

    Neither the judicial system nor doctors claim to be a god’s mouthpiece on Earth. The LDS prophet makes that claim.

    There is a far simpler explanation here: The LDS prophet is a man who has no special powers or insight at all. And there is no credible evidence to the contrary.

  • Zampona, you are being deceptive here. The Church has taught many times the prophet never gets things wrong. While they now say he is fallible, very few members believe it. Ask a member when a prophet got something wrong and you get this blank look come over their face.

  • If you don’t believe, that’s fine, but don’t you have better things to do than troll Internet articles mocking something you don’t believe in?

    PS If you have to resort to demonstrably false statements clearly lifted straight from the CES letter, maybe just leave the argument at home. Newspapers in the area were reporting that “Jo Smith” and Oliver “Cowdry” claiming divine authority and visits with angels and apostles as early as 1830.

  • Ultimately, the LDS and other denominations depend on an appeal to authority. The problem being they usually believe their authority is the only valid one…..without any factual basis for such a conclusion.

  • True enough. But, with a yawning gap in power, authority, and experience, robust safeguards must be in place. The greater the gaps, the greater the safeguards. That protects the mentor as well.

  • Agreed. My point is not that safeguards aren’t important or that the LDS Church doesn’t need to do anything different, but that in the focus on safety, we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

  • LOL. I’ve never read the CES letter, so that would be a miss. But maybe I will now.

    You have still failed to explain why the “restoration” of the priesthood wasn’t mentioned in the Book of Commandments but was included only when it was rewritten as D&C. How can it possibly make any sense to you that such a defining moment would be omitted?

    You are correct. As 99%+ of the population, I don’t believe in the fraud of Mormonism. And what you term trolling is commenting. It’s what people do here. If my comments make you uncomfortable (and I can understand why they would), please do not read them.

  • You have a habit of lying, don’t you? You said you’ve never read the CES letter, but 24 days ago you linked to the website in reply to a Disqus user named Devon. Tsk tsk.

  • It’s possible to be a mentor and a guide without meeting one-on-one behind closed doors. Somehow scout leaders are able to do so.

    I’d argue that it’s *not* possible for it to be anything but grooming as long as they’re asking sex questions.

  • Nope. Never read it. I may have linked to it, and may have looked for a specific reference, but have never read it. Care to apologize for accusing me of lying on even that point?

    Call it trolling if you care to. I could not care less. Sorry you are trapped in a cult.

  • Zampona,

    I can only assume you are joking when you suggest anything you provided supports that there were any credible reports of Smith and Cowdery’s ordination immediately following the supposed events.

    Seriously, “Called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ,” “commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ,” or “that Jo Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose” hardly qualify as reports of an alleged very specific event.

    Mormonism is a con. I am sorry you are trapped in it.

  • Not possible to be anything but grooming? So no father-figure of any kind can talk to a kid about the birds and the bees and it not be grooming? You are very, very wrong.

    Scout leaders do meet one-on-one with kids; they just do so within sight of another adult. I’m all for putting windows in bishop’s offices, or allowing another adult if the kid wants it. My point is that if we eliminate one-on-one confidential communication between youth and trusted adults, we cut out immensely valuable lines of communication.

  • Valuable for what – exactly? Parents are there for that very reason. Scout leaders shouldn’t be outside earshot of another adult. Maybe you should go take that YPT again.

    And bishops are not father’s of the kids they’re talking to – they’re ecclesiastical leaders. In the case of the LDS church they’re ecclesiastical leaders with no training in counseling or providing guidance around sex.

    Windows aren’t good enough. What the hell good does a window do when a bishop asks if an abuse victim felt good while he/she was being abused? That’s why another person needs to be in the room – not a window to the outside.

    As a youth, I’d much rather have had another trusted adult present, and not talking about sexually explicit topics, than having a window into the office so everybody can watch me cry.

  • Torny, my boy, you’ve got to be kidding me. “Ordained by an apostle of Jesus Christ” doesn’t exactly fit the later more detailed accounts? Are you suggesting that if you can’t track down every detail of an event written and published immediately afterward, then it didn’t happen? There is absolutely no written account detailing the name of the man who officiated at my wedding. In this context, that person was very significant, and his name is known to those around me. If, for some reason, that detail became important to publish later on, would you question that detail? In fact, there’s no written account of my wedding day at all, since I am a terrible journal writer. Your apparent standard that significant events must be recorded in great deal very near the time they occurred or else the account loses credibility is ignorant of human nature and even academic standards used by historians.

  • So you regularly link to things you don’t read? You are a liar. I will not apologize for calling someone a liar who shows every indication of lying.

    Yes, it’s trolling by any standard. That’s not my problem, but you should at least recognize it for what it is. You are trapped in an unhealthy obsession. Find a new hobby.

  • “Parents are there for that very reason.” And even good parents quite often fail to communicate with their kids.

    “Scout leaders shouldn’t be outside earshot of another adult.” Ahem: “Each conference should be a private discussion between the Scoutmaster and a Scout, but it must be held in full view of other people in accordance with the BSA’s Youth Protection policy.” https://scoutingmagazine.org/2014/12/understanding-scoutmaster-conference/

    “As a youth, I’d much rather have had another trusted adult present, and not talking about sexually explicit topics, than having a window into the office so everybody can watch me cry.” Good for you. That option is now available. I would never have preferred to have anyone else in the room during my confidential discussions with my bishop as a youth. People like me should still have that opportunity.

  • Zampona,

    Your wedding isn’t presented as a seminal event in the formation of a church. The supposed restoration of the priesthood presents itself as such.

    My “apparent standard” is just a reasonable expectation that an event presented as a defining moment in the history of humankind would be regarded as sufficiently important to actually record and broadly proclaim and report. “Human nature” applies to weddings. It doesn’t apply here.

    Joseph Smith was a con man. His biggest con was the creation of the Mormon church.

  • As I’ve said before, if my posts trouble you, please do not read them.

    You are free to call me anything you please. But people regularly post links to websites they haven’t read from beginning to end. I regularly refer friends to Wikipedia. I’ve not read every page of it,either. Have you?

    I do hope you escape what you are trapped in.

  • Again, you are being deceptive. You mention one example that occurred over a hundred years ago. You know very well of all the quotes where members are told prophets never lead astray and all you have to do is look to the prophet.Don’t look to God, look to the man.

  • Mike, you are the one being deceptive. I mentioned one example because one example is all I needed to overcome your assertion. Your characterization of LDS teachings on “following the prophet” don’t reflect reality. In an LDS meeting you’re just as likely to hear about learning for yourself by asking God directly as you are to hear about following prophetic counsel (probably moreso, in fact).

  • If Mormonism troubles you, why not just ignore it? Isn’t that the same advice?

    And you didn’t say that you hadn’t read all of the CES letter, or that you hadn’t read the part I mentioned. You said you hadn’t read it, and that maybe you would now, which implies you haven’t read any of it. You were lying and you know it.

    I do hope you can set aside your unhealthy obsession.

  • Tornereedoo,

    My wedding is the most important event in my life. Years later, I don’t always know which facts I should record for posterity, and which are best left out.

    At the time of the founding of the Church, there were only a handful of members and the Church was more focused on establishing itself and publishing the Book of Mormon. There’s a difference between proclaiming something (which newspaper reports, other documents, etc., indicate occurred) and making a written record of something. The Gospels in the New Testament weren’t written until long after the death of Jesus. Very few people dispute the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth, or that he had a following of people. Important biographies are often not written until years after the important events, even for very important people.

  • “I also don’t understand the apparent assumption that formal training is somehow protective in these situations. Catholic priests go through years of study and dedicate their entire profession to training, and yet that doesn’t appear to have protected youth.”

    There’s simply no evidence that Mormon bishops are any more or less likely to abuse. That not as many have been accused could be attributed to many factors including the smaller size of the active LDS membership. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 5M *active* members of the LDS church worldwide. There are 70M Catholics just in the US.

    Do you really want to stand on the argument that “it’s not that bad”? Really? What’s the number of kids you’re okay with being abused when this policy change could prevent it? What if it was your kid? Is that different for you than if it’s my kid?

  • No, like I said, anecdotally, abuse by Mormon bishops is quite rare. I’m just not aware of any data that demonstrates that, so I can’t say that with certainty in this context. So I believe a policy barring all individual bishops interviews would do very little to prevent abuse and would prevent bishops from discovering abuse by others and would deprive church members of a valuable aspect of church life.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Lord’s only church on the earth.

    I invite all who disbelieve that and yet feel the need to try and force the Lord’s only true church to change into some flea pit den of sin church to instead, simply go make your own church.

    Seriously, you want gay marriage and gay sex then go make a church that condones sodomy. The fans of the insane clown posse made their own religion and so did fans of the big lebowski so I’m sure a smart individual like yourself can make a church that performs whatever sick perversion you’re into.

  • Nah. These discussions are a hobby of mine. I dabble in it whenever I please.

    You, unfortunately, can’t walk away from sacrament meeting, Gospel Doctrine class, priesthood meeting, presidency meeting, bishopric meeting, stake training meeting, stake conference, ward council, ward welfare committee meeting, general conference, temple trips, youth temple trips, PPIs, home teaching assignments (sorry, “ministering” assignments), journal writing, and on and on. And while you give your money to an institution that provides you no financial transparency, I give my money to charities that actually show me financial statements.

    And seriously, you are making me chuckle. If any reasonable person has looked up references in “War and Peace,” but has never read it cover to cover, they would never say “I’ve read it.” To say you haven’t read a document isn’t to say you’ve never referred to it. It’s unremarkable that you are trying to create an issue with that inane point in the face of all that is wrong with Mormonism.

    The LDS church (sorry, as of yesterday I guess that’s no longer an okay term) is the creation of a 19th century grifter. You are trapped in a cult. And as you vociferously deny that, surely you recognize that people who are trapped in other cults would never admit they were, either.

  • If I had read chapters of War and Peace, I would say “I’ve never read it all the way through” or “I’ve only read excerpts”. I wouldn’t say “I’ve never read it”. You know you were intentionally being deceptive in order to make yourself look like your arguments are original and not recycled crap from a largely debunked source.

    And I will gladly continue to engage in activities that bring me joy. No problem there.

  • Your example points toward the bait and switch the Church likes to do. They will admit some prophet in the past MIGHT be mistaken but not the current living one. Benson said, “Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.” (Fourteen fundamentals in following the prophet, Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Feb 26, 1980. Ask a member where Nelson is wrong and 99% will have a stupefied look and say, “I can’t think of when he was ever wrong.” Fast forward a 100 years and they will say.”well he was wrong about the policy on LGBT people but our current prophet has corrected that so we are all good.” Do you ever get tired of being a deceptive apologist?

  • First, I don’t think you know what a bait and switch is, because even from your perspective, it’s not a bait and switch. Second, there are plenty of active Mormons who disagree with current decisions. The most recent that I can think of is yesterday’s emphasis in the Chuch’s style guide. I will continue to refer to myself as Mormon and to the Church as the LDS Church when context requires it. A lot of active members also disagree with a number of current policies.

    Do you ever get tired of deceptively making up statistics?

  • We all think the waters we swim in are normal and right, so I doubt if you can understand how utterly creepy those questions are that the Bishops ask of the youth. The cult-like nature of them just leaps off the page and the emphasis on “chastity” to teens whose sexual urges are awakening as the hormones flood the body are truly disturbing. Yes, all of us want our teens to emerge from this time unscathed, but these kinds of questions force them to lie and are guaranteed to evoke fantasies from this all-male and untrained group of men who have been granted the title of Bishop. I am just simply horrified that any parents would permit these types of questions.

  • Alexander,

    Wow. Just WOW! “Flea pit den of sin church”? “Whatever sick perversion you’re into”?

    I think it’s amazingly arrogant to suggest the LDS church is “the Lord’s only church on the Earth.” There are billions of people who will have been born, lived, and died without ever having access to it. And billions of people will have never had a birth record or death record, making the LDS church’s genealogy work for vicarious ordinances totally inaccessible to them. How is that possibly fair for “the Lord’s only church on earth”?

    I am aware that the answer from faithful Mormons is “Don’t worry, it will all be taken care of.” Well, that’s a cop out.

    And why is your “one true church” any more valid than the hundreds of other religions that claim THEIRS is the “one true church”?

    The LDS church (sorry, guess as of yesterday that’s no longer acceptable terminology) is a sad fraud perpetrated by a 19th century grifter.

  • To say that the prophet speaks for God is not equivalent to saying the prophet is infallible. Tornogal is correct in the premise that the church teaches leaders are called by divine authority. If so, then where did that inspiration go wrong when a child is molested by that same divinely-called leader?

  • The scriptures are full of examples of people being “divinely-called” and then betraying that calling (e.g. Saul, David, Moses to some extent, etc.). A divine calling is no guarantee of proper behavior, and there is no guarantee that a calling made by another leader is not itself an example of some other leader rejecting divine inspiration. Mormons and non-Mormons alike try to eliminate ambiguity and fallibility from these things when they shouldn’t.

  • Lol. So have you read the Encyclopedia Britannica? Have you referred people to it? Your argument sounds desperate to me.

    Feel free to cast aspersions all you care to. I do not care. You are clearly bothered by our discussion here. I’m not.

    As for your “gladly continuing to engage in activities that bring you joy,” I’m sure Scientologists, Branch Davidians, Moonies, or members of any number of similar groups would say exactly the same thing.

    Mormonism is a sad hoax. I am sorry you or anyone else is trapped in it. But I am sure the Big 15 appreciate your funding their “living allowances.” But don’t ask to see a financial statement.

  • Let’s take the encyclopedia example to show why your statement was misleading. If you accused me of getting all my information from Wikipedia, and I said “I’ve never read Wikipedia”, would you really think that I was saying “I’ve never read all of Wikipedia”? That’s an absolutely ludicrous idea. And you know it. You know you are lying. [Edit] You’re trying to hide the ball by focusing on a variation of what you said cast in the positive, not in what you actually said, which was cast in the negative. There’s a world of difference between statements that start with “I have” and “I have never”.

    “You are clearly bothered by our discussion here. I’m not.” I’m not the one trolling articles on a religion I disagree with. You clearly have a bee in your bonnet over the whole idea of Mormonism.

    “I’m sure Scientologists, Branch Davidians, Moonies, or members of any number of similar groups would say exactly the same thing.” I’m sure they do. And I don’t have a Disqus account dedicated to spending my time telling them why they’re wrong for that very reason.

  • You are correct! I should not have used the term “bait and switch.” I should have used the term”The Long Con.”

  • GO MAKE YOUR OWN CHURCH instead of hanging around like a gossiping busybody.
    Truly, go make your own church- I want you to make your own church of maggots or whatever you decide its name should be and show us all how much better it is. Right now you whine and carry on like a sook yet you show us nothing better because all you do is talk about how you know everything.

    *If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the manure you claim it is then that makes you a blowfly, buzzing around, intoxicated by its scent.*

    If you’ve got the answers then go make your own church instead of nagging about how much better it would be if you were in charge… I suspect you lack the courage to make your own church though.

  • LOL. You are shouting at me to “GO MAKE [MY] OWN CHURCH.” How amusing.

    I am not interested in starting a church.

  • Feel free to define “I’ve never read…” as you care to. The fact is, I have never read the CES Letter. I doubt I’ve read an entire page of it. I have happily referred other people to it, but that doesn’t mean I’ve read it. People in Gospel Doctrine refer to the Book of Mormon. But some would admit they’ve never read it.

    But you are deflecting because you can’t address the core issue here: Mormonism and the fraud that it is.

    And your last paragraph in this post is fascinating. “And I don’t have a Disqus account dedicated to spending my time telling them why they’re wrong for that very reason.” What a remarkable statement. To not engage them is certainly your prerogative. But your rationale for not engaging them is because you are “sure they do [make the same claim of the authenticity of their churches].” And then you assert passively that you don’t tell them they’re wrong for that reason.

    So you admit they would claim (as would hundreds of churches) that theirs is the the correct belief system.

    Why is your claim to truth any better than theirs?

    Mormonism is a con created by a con man.

  • I can’t speak for when certain things were included in the handbook, but I know that for many years in my own stake we have asked another person to be in an adjacent area when women or youth are interviewed. The part about a former handbook encouraging “young women to support young men in accepting mission calls,” the intent probably has something to do with some young women wanting their boyfriends to stay home with them – and possibly get married – rather than them fulfilling their priesthood duties. That’s not an unreasonable concern. In all, however, I am absolutely thrilled that more young women are serving missions. My wife and mother both served, and I would be over the moon if any of my daughters were to serve. As for the very concept of worthiness issues, that’s life in the restored church. If leaders follow the guidelines properly, there shouldn’t be problems. When they don’t, as is always bound to happen somewhere, it needs to be remedied immediately.

  • Tornogal, the interview practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are primarily a matter for believing Latter-day Saints to worry about. The opinions of those who reject that it is TRULY the Restored Church of Jesus Christ and that it is divinely led really don’t matter a whole lot in this context. I believe and have trust, and it makes me and my family happy. Good enough for us.

  • A fundamental premise of the Church is that Peter, James, John, and John the Baptist personally restored the priesthood authority, so yeah, it is pretty much a requisite of believing Latter-day Saints to believe that the church’s authority is rather exclusive. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I am happy it’s “good enough” for you, Tom. That doesn’t mean it is for many of us, nor does it mean others aren’t completely within their rights to comment on the interview practices of the LDS church even if they do not belong to it.

    And by your reasoning then, Tom, are you suggesting the predatory practices of Warren Jeffs should have been of concern only to those in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

  • So Tom, are all the other (many) religions that believe _theirs_ is the exclusive truth simply wrong, but you are right?

  • “I have happily referred other people to it, but that doesn’t mean I’ve read it.” Is this supposed to boost your credibility? This is worse than you lying about not having read it, since you have implicitly lied to the people you’ve recommended it to. For all you know, the letter could be full of fallacious arguments about Book of Mormon place names, have many factual errors, and criticize the Book of Mormon for claims it doesn’t make (like pre-Colombian American honeybees). All of which, it does, by the way.

    I’m not interested in debating the whole of Mormonism with you on this forum, which is what you appear to want. Entire volumes have been written about the topic on both sides.

    Evidently I was unclear about what “that very reason” referred to. What I meant was that I don’t want to be the guy wasting his time trolling other people for their sincerely held beliefs. I have better ways of spending my time. I’m sure you do to.

  • Of course you’re not interested in debating “the whole of Mormonism.” It’s indefensible.

    And not-so-sadly, more and more people are recognizing that, leading Mormon leaders to acknowledge members of the LDS church are “leaving in droves,” and leading to the collapse of units in formerly surging missionary areas.

    The internet is a wonderful thing.

  • Again, volumes have been written defending that which you call indefensible.

    By putting “leaving in droves” in quotation marks, you imply that you’re quoting a church leader, but I am unaware of any church leader who has used that language or characterized the situation in any equivalent. Again, you are parroting anti-Mormon propaganda that you read somewhere else (although, given that you apparently have a habit of quoting and citing sources you haven’t read, this shouldn’t come as a surprise). For a fuller discussion, see here: https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2013/01/15/reports-of-the-death-of-the-church-are-greatly-exaggerated

  • No, Zampona. I’m stating that a church leader _acknowledged_ members are leading in droves. Please read my post again.

    And here is the source:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mormonchurch-idUSTRE80T1CM20120131?irpc=932

    And from it:

    “Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are ‘leaving in droves?’ a woman asked.

    “’We are aware,’ said [Elder] Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. “And I’m speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church. They really do know and they really care,’ he said.”

    And yes, PLEASE send more people to fairmormon, LOL. Its convoluted logic has led several people to leave the Mormon church.

  • Look, if you think you’re too good for FairMormon, I can’t help your arrogance. All I can say is that I anticipated this very discussion by posting the link, which you evidently didn’t read. If you want convoluted logic, look no further than the CES Letter that you refer people to but haven’t read.

  • “Look”?? Lol

    I never said I’m “too good” for fairmormon. I said it uses convoluted logic, and that has led several people to leave the LDS church. See the difference?

    (And I just chuckled wondering if it will get a new name now given Russell Nelson’s latest missive.)

    I can’t help but notice you didn’t comment on the “leaving in droves thing.” Are you now acknowledging I was correct?

  • Read. The. Link.

    That is my response to the “leaving in droves” argument. Elder Jensen did not use or acknowledge the “leaving in droves” language, and later noted specifically that critics of the church exaggerate the rates at which members leave.

    You apparently do think that you’re too good for FAIR because you won’t read the link. After you’ve done that, you can tell me how, specifically, the logic is convoluted. It’s certainly no more convoluted than your inane “I haven’t read the CES letter, but I still refer people to it as though I have” argument.

  • I. Read. The. Link.

    From it:

    Q: Is the Church aware of that problem? Is there anything…I mean, the new manuals would help, I guess, “inoculation” within terms of youth would help. What about people who are already leaving in droves?

    A: We are aware. Maybe I’ll just say this: You know what, I often get this question, “Do the brethren really know?” They do.

    People. Leaving. In. Droves.

    How. Can. You. Deny. Elder. Jensen. Acknowledged. That.

    Fairmormon is comical.

  • Clearly you haven’t read the whole thing, because you haven’t responded to any of the actual arguments and explanation in the link. To save you the trouble, let me sum it up. You conclude that Elder Jensen “acknowledged” the characterization that people are leaving in droves because Elder Jensen responded to a question that contained that characterization. In fact, Elder Jensen was responding to a question from someone who had acknowledged that “maybe I’m overstating what’s going on” who was asking if Church leaders were aware of people leaving the Church after reading anti-Mormon content on the Internet, and he answered that they were. Elder Jensen himself clarified: “Jensen insists critics overstate the LDS exodus over the church’s history. ‘To say we are experiencing some Titanic-like wave of apostasy is inaccurate,’ he said.”

    It’s a big leap to conclude that someone accepts all assumptions in a question by responding to the question. You yourself have fallen victim to answering a question with certain assumptions, only having to clarify later. You built an argument based on reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, implying that you may have read portions (certainly more than a page or two), but not the entire thing, while claiming you haven’t “read” it because you haven’t read all of it. You later walked back even that by claiming that you’ve read less than a page of it. While you were making the Encyclopedia Britannica argument, it sure sounded like you were acknowledging that you had read enough portions to confidently refer people to it, which you later clarified.

    This, of course, is from a source that, you claim, has led “several” people to leave the Church, so do with it what you will. I personally know “several” people who have joined the Church after reading the CES Letter that you refer people to but have never read. One who put it this way: “I realized that the people attacking the Church consistently resorted to lies, while simultaneously claiming they were about exposing truth. If they have to knowingly lie, then there must be something to this church.”

  • Clearly you’re wrong. I have read the whole thing. And you are conveniently omitting this validation of my premise:

    “And they realize that, maybe, since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of—I’ll call it apostasy—like we’re having right now, largely over these issues.”

    So even if one accepts that Elder Jensen did not acknowledge that people are leaving in droves (which I very much believe he did), he also said “since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of—I’ll call it apostasy—like we’re having right now, largely over these issues.”

    Cut it either way you care to, this is a period of people leaving in a way unseen since Kirtland.

    The LDS church is now trying to rebrand itself with Russell Nelson’s recent missive on the LDS church’s name. But that won’t work either. A Yugo is still a Yugo, no matter the name it claims.

    From Mormon Stories a year ago:

    “Yesterday a closing was announced, and the Stake President stated there are 800 units in Europe which are considered too weak and would need to merge. We have 1163 units in Western Europe according to Cumorah.com.

    “Holland with 34 wards will close 5 at least this year. In Holland the Church is phasing out all wards which don´t have a purpose-built Chapel.

    “Temple-attendance here is down 60% compared to 2000. However the amount of recommend holders went up 200%. So what do we make of this? A temple is a way for the Church to increase revenue. So even with less people, the Church can make a higher turnover.”

    The following is from “Dialogue”:

    In 2000, Mexico’s census reported 205,229 Mormons five years of age and older. Yet for December 31, 1999, the LDS Church claimed 846,931 members.

    In the spring of 2003, Chile published the results of its 2002 census. For the last day of 2001, the LDS church claimed 520,202 members in Chile while the new census identified only 103,735 members age
    fifteen and older.

    The LDS church is, of course, including people in its count who were baptized and no longer regard themselves as LDS.

    I have often wondered if one were to map LDS membership growth and reduction against internet access what one would find. My guess is where people have limited access to the internet, the product can be sold and where people have ready access to it, it can’t.

  • If you have to start your statement with “clearly”, and finish it without an explanation, then maybe it’s not as clear as you think.

    Yes, Church growth has slowed, but that growth started slowing long before the rise of the Internet. The world is becoming increasingly secular, for a lot of different reasons. But it’s still growing, unlike other Christian denominations. http://cumorah.com/index.php?target=countries&cnt_res=2&wid=231&wid_state=&cmdfind=Search

  • So you’re now ignoring Elder Jensen saying “since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of—I’ll call it apostasy—like we’re having right now, largely over these issues,” right?

  • No. I’m saying that, like the Kirtland period, despite relatively high levels of apostasy, the Church continues to grow.

    Tell me, Tornogal, what belief system do you embrace? I’ve been under the impression this entire discussion that you are an atheist or agnostic, but it has just occurred to me that I may be wrong, which is relevant to my next response.

  • So you’re finally admitting that this is a period of relatively high apostasy. So what was all the kerfuffle about Elder Jensen acknowledging (or not) that people are “leaving in droves”? Isn’t that the very definition of “relatively high apostasy”?

    Nah. This article and the comments are on Mormonism. What I may or may not believe is irrelevant here. But if you find me commenting on other articles and topics and if my beliefs are relevant there I’ll be happy to lay them out.

  • “So you’re finally admitting that this is a period of relatively high apostasy.” I never denied that.

    “Isn’t that the very definition of “relatively high apostasy”?” No, it isn’t.

    “What I may or may not believe is irrelevant here.” That’s not true at all. If you believe in any organized religion, then your insistence that the slowed rate of growth of Mormonism reflects its truth claims, then you are being disingenuous. I assumed that you were an atheist until I realized that you had no rebuttal when I pointed out that the Gospels were written long after the miraculous events they described.

    If you insist on cultivating an obsession with Mormonism online, then you should be able to make sure your criticisms hold up when reflected in the mirror.

  • LOL. Then how WOULD you define a period of relatively high apostasy, if not “people leaving in droves”? People leaving “almost in droves”?

    Oh it is absolutely irrelevant here. How does what I believe (or not) bear in any way on the truthfulness claims of Mormonism? Its historicity (e.g.–Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham) is either accurate or it’s not. That Smith was visited by angelic figures/Christ/God (whichever version you pick) is either true or not. My beliefs have no bearing on those being fact or fiction.

    One need not offer an alternative reality to disprove a false assertion.

  • Your beliefs sure do have a bearing on whether your arguments are disingenuous. If Mormonism is false because Joseph Smith waited a few years to publish the detailed account of the restoration of the Priesthood, then Christianity is also false for the same reason. If Mormonism is “clearly” false because people are leaving it (leaving aside all of the fallacies that are inherent in that argument), then nearly every other religion is false for the same reason.

    You yourself have appealed to relative standards in order to attack the strength of arguments: (“I’m sure Scientologists, Branch Davidians, Moonies, or members of any number of similar groups would say exactly the same thing.”) I’m not trying to make a tu quoque argument or attack your beliefs, but point out that you (likely) don’t hold yourself to the same standards of proof as you do when you engage in your unhealthy obsession with Mormonism.

    “Then how WOULD you define a period of relatively high apostasy, if not “people leaving in droves”?” I would define it as a 64% retention rate vs a 72% retention rate. People leaving in “droves” implies a net loss, which is not the case. Approximately 100,000 people leave the Church due to death, failure to be baptized by age 8, excommunication, or formally removing their name from the records of the Church. That represents a fraction of a percent of members of record. Droves would imply something substantially more than a fraction of a percent of members (See Jana Reiss Article from April 2016 and ldschurchgrowth(dot)blogspot(dot)com 2017 Statistical Report, published March 31, 2018).

  • My beliefs have no bearing on the question of the authenticity of Mormonism. Its claims either stand as truthful or they don’t. My beliefs don’t affect whether Book of Abraham is what it claims to be. My beliefs don’t affect whether Book of Mormon is what it claims to be. These aren’t “relative standards.”

    The Book of Mormon claims to be a historical record of ancient people of the Western Hemisphere. It either is or isn’t.

    The Book of Abraham claims to be a record written by “his own hand.” It either is or isn’t.

    LOL. Okay, we’re all calibrated now. 64% isn’t leaving in droves. Even if Elder Jensen acknowledged as much.

  • “My beliefs have no bearing on the question of the authenticity of Mormonism.” True. They are, however, relevant to your arguments attacking Mormonism. If you are too afraid to expose your beliefs to criticism, what standing do you have to engage in this unhealthy obsession?

    Please, respond to my argument that one cannot simultaneously hold that Mormonism is false if Joseph Smith did not publish the details of the priesthood restoration until a few years after the event and the belief that the Gospels in the New Testament record actual events, given that they were not published until many years after the events.

    “Even if Elder Jensen acknowledged as much.” He didn’t. Again, it’s a fraction of a percent of Church members leaving (setting aside slipping away from activity, which is another ball of wax). I cannot think of any standard by which that qualifies as “droves”, even if it is a higher number than it has been in the past.

  • I am commenting. I could not care less if I have “standing” with you or anyone else.

    The discussion isn’t on the “Gospels in the New Testament.” The discussion is Mormonism…which is false.

  • I’m also commenting, and my comment is that your arguments are bogus. Strictly speaking, this is a discussion of youth bishopric interviews. You turned it into a generic attack on Mormonism. Now, I am simply examining the authenticity and validity of your arguments by examining your standard of proof, which, as I pointed out, is something that you did earlier in the argument. So, please address my argument.

  • How and where was the authenticity of the Gospels the standard of proof for Smith’s claims regarding the supposed restoration of the Mormon priesthood?

  • It’s the standard you imposed on Smith’s claims. You said that the fact that a detailed account was not published until 1834 was evidence that the event didn’t occur. The same criticism can be made regarding the Gospels. They were not written until long after the events they describe (much longer than the delay between the Priesthood Restoration and the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants). I’m wondering if you apply the same standard to other contexts. The validity of the standard that you imposed on the events you criticize is relevant to this discussion.

  • Nope. The discussion is Mormonism, which is burdened with many other evidences of its falsehood; the timing of Smith’s reports is only one of them. Whether other claims in other religions have similar problems is not relevant to whether Smith’s claims were valid or not.

  • “Nope. The discussion is Mormonism.” No, the discussion is whatever you make it. You opened the door; I’m simply stepping through.

    “Whether other claims in other religions have similar problems is not relevant to whether Smith’s claims were valid or not.” Again, true, but I’m not basing the truth claims of Mormonism on the truth claims of related religions. I’m asserting that your line of reasoning falls apart if you are unwilling to apply that same reasoning to other contexts.

  • And I decline to extend the discussion to other claims of other religions. Mormonism has SO many problems with it, and Smith’s curious timing of reporting his supposed priesthood is just one of them. You admit as much when you say “again, true.”

    Because one, a few or all other religions have similar problems has no bearing on Mormonism’s falsehood.

  • Wow, you’re really going to stick your fingers in your ears on this, huh? So can we safely put to rest your baseless claim that started this whole discussion? You seemed so interested in debating the whole of Mormonism, but you’re not willing to see how your own criticisms stack up to your own beliefs?

  • My fingers are in no way “in my ears.” If anything, it is you who ignores the world of evidence that Joseph Smith was a con man, that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction, that the Book of Abraham is a common document, and on and on.

    My claim(s) absolutely stand. Smith was a con man. Mormonism is a hoax.

    If the LDS church were not what it presents itself to be, would you want to know?

  • I don’t ignore any of that. I have, in fact, addressed the vast majority of it, both in my own head and in my conversations with others. I expect remaining uncertainties to be resolved in the future. “I decline to extend this discussion to” the whole of Mormonism. But I would like you to address my counterargument to an argument that you brought up.

  • LOL. I’m not afraid of anything here. But feel free to call it “cowardice” if you care to. Your doing so means nothing to me.

    And I would ABSOLUTELY want to know if what I believed were false. That’s why I read as much as I do and try to discover as much as I can. Based on the references you have provided, they appear to be consistently from one source: fairmormon. Does that not suggest something to you?

    Which leads me to this question: Can you point to a single non-LDS archaeologist agrees the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be? Or a single non-Mormon Egyptologist who agrees the Book of Abraham is what it says it is?

    The notion that you acknowledge there are “uncertainties” is to your credit. (Unless you will now argue the point that you did not acknowledge that you have uncertainties.) Mormonism is overwhelmed by “uncertainties.”

  • I have provided one FAIR source. One. FAIR is one of many sources I consider.

    You are “clearly” afraid of disclosing your own beliefs. I wonder why that is.

    I decline to extend this conversation to archeology until you disclose your own beliefs (it’s relevant to know what standard I’m working with).

  • It’s absolutely your prerogative to discuss archaeology and the Book of Mormon. I would also decline to discuss archaeology and the Book of Mormon if I was trying to defend it. Nor would I try to defend the Book of Abraham.

    Read this from Science Magazine earlier this year:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/how-mormon-lawyer-transformed-archaeology-mexico-and-ended-losing-his-faith

    I wonder why so many people have agreed the Book of Mormon is bunk.

  • “I would also decline to discuss archaeology and the Book of Mormon if I was trying to defend it.” So, am I to take from your statement that your refusal to discuss your own beliefs is because the evidence against them is overwhelming?

    You STILL have not addressed the Gospels/Priesthood Restoration question.

  • Not at all. I am posting on an article about Mormonism. Not one on whatever I may believe in.

    To your second point, please see the above. I do not intend to try to refute or justify one belief system’s doctrine or texts by comparing it to another’s. They should each stand (or fall) on their own.

  • “I am posting on an article about Mormonism.” But you’re not posting on an article about Mormonism in general. You’re posting on an article about a specific set of circumstances within Mormonism. You can’t choose to expand the topic, then limit the topic when it’s inconvenient for you.

    Again. For the hundredth time. I’m not asking you to compare belief systems. I’m testing whether your line of reasoning stands up by applying it to other circumstances. If you don’t want to “try to refute or justify one belief system’s doctrine or texts by comparing it to another’s” then you shouldn’t have made comparisons to Scientology, Moonies, etc. earlier in the discussion.

  • The article is about Mormonism. I choose to comment on the article.

    If you find my comments not sufficiently broad, then don’t respond. If you want to respond, please do.

    When I choose to comment on an article regarding what I may believe I would welcome your engaging on that topic then.

  • Nah, man. You’re employing a double standard. You demand a response to your own unrelated questions, otherwise it’s conclusive proof in your own mind that you’re right, but then you refuse to answer a question based on a rhetorical device that you employed yourself earlier in the conversation. I’m not even asking you to address your own belief. I don’t know whether you believe in the New Testament. I’m simply asking whether your logic applies in other circumstances in order to explore whether your own reasoning is tenable. It appears that it is not.

  • Man, I haven’t “demanded” anything here. Please show me otherwise.

    You can judge my reasoning based on my posts. If you find it as lacking as I find your belief system, so be it.

    Facts:

    Smith was a con man.

    Smith claimed to be visited by dead people who allegedly bestowed a priesthood on him.

    Smith didn’t testify to members of his church or record anything about the appearances of “John the Baptist” and “Peter, James, and John” in any publications prior to 1834 (five years after the events purportedly took place).

    For such a profound moment in the history of the LDS church, one would (reasonably) expect him to be all about telling everyone in the LDS church it had happened as soon as it it occurred. But he didn’t.

  • The reason I appeal to the New Testament argument is to question your assertion about reasonable expectations. First, there is plenty of evidence that Smith told people about it, which I have already set forth. Second, your real point is that the account wasn’t published, which is where the New Testament analogy comes in. More than a billion people don’t find the delayed publication of the accounts of Jesus’ life to be unreasonable at all.

    And yes, I do find your reasoning incredibly lacking.

  • So you are admitting that I demanded nothing. That’s a remarkable admission that your earlier post was hyperbolic.

    No, you sent a reference that in no way validated your claim. I pointed that out, but you ignored my rebuttal.

    Again whether people accept the New Testament as factual or not is irrelevant here.

  • No, you’ve made a variety of demands in this conversation.

    I did validate my claim; your rebuttal consisted of essentially no more than “no it isn’t!”

    And yes, it’s relevant for precisely the reasons I have already explained repeatedly. You have said nothing other than “no it isn’t!”

  • Show me where I “demanded” anything.

    Nope. You may think you validated your claim, but think link you provided was weak Mormon apologetics with little substance. But that pretty well describes Mormonism, doesn’t it?

  • Couldn’t agree more. In fact, I would say questions and discussion of a sexual nature in one-on-one interviews is not uncommon at all. While I was a teenager in the 1990s, my own experience is that leaders revert to whatever their experience was. Unless the Church hammers these changes home, I still expect many leaders to ask questions beyond, “Do you keep the Law of Chastity?”

    Also, I would be shocked if these changes affect more than 2-3% of youth interviews. Most will carry on as they did before.

    Lastly, because we have seen no changes locally, we sat our 2 youth down to discuss what should and should not happen in an interview and how they should respond if they are asked something that is inappropriate. And let me say that it is impossible to have a discussion of this sort that does not spark some curiosity or risk experimentation that the new policy cautions against.

    The solution is simple. No one-on-one interviews and no sexually explicit questions. Teach the Law of Chastity in classroom settings, not behind closed doors. I’m even amenable to a youth requesting a one-on-one interview if desired, but this should be rare and not offered by the leader and should have specific protocols for the safety of both parties.

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