No Discipline Cases Elder Oaks?

 

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By Jenny

Listening to Elder Oaks and Elder Christofferson yesterday on Trib Talk, I came to a sudden realization.  I think they genuinely don’t understand what is happening to thousands of members of their church.  I guess that’s bound to be the case in a church of millions.  Yet I can’t help but expect more from someone who holds the title of “apostle.”

They were asked a complex set of questions stemming from multiple online sources about whether members of the church would be disciplined for speaking out about opposing beliefs and supporting groups like Affirmation and Ordain Women.  The multiplicity of these questions suggested that this kind of discipline has taken place quite rampantly and many people share a strong fear surrounding this issue.

Elder Christofferson took the first stab at an answer. “It doesn’t really become a problem unless someone is out attacking the church and its leaders.  If that’s a deliberate and a persistent effort and trying to get others to follow, trying to draw others away, trying to pull people, if you will, out of the church or away from its teachings and doctrines.  That’s very different for us than someone who feels one way or another on a political stance or a particular action to support a group, Affirmation or any others that you named.”

So apparently you can support say, Ordain Women, so long as you are not attacking church leaders and trying to get people to leave the church.  What constitutes attacking leaders?  If I think that they are wrong about LGBT issues and women not holding the priesthood and I speak up about that, am I attacking them?  Elder Christofferson seems to be suggesting that it’s okay to speak up and to disagree with them.  So who’s to be the judge whether your vocal opposition is an attack or not?  Oh, right, that’s what we have Judges in Israel for.

According to Elder Oaks, “Questions you ask are not resolved at church headquarters, they’re resolved by prayerful consideration of a bishop who’s been taught the principles of love, and the limits that apply.  And I find it quite significant that despite all the worry along the lines that you mentioned I haven’t heard of a discipline case.”

Yes, Elder Oaks, there was a lot of worry in that line of questioning, wasn’t there?  Perhaps there’s a reason for that.  Perhaps we can look at some real life scenarios for a moment to see how well our bishops have been taught the principles of love.  Side note: I don’t remember Christ teaching us about limits that apply to love.  I’m pretty sure that true charity is limitless.  Since Elder Oaks has not heard of a single discipline case, I will start with mine.

Was I attacking the church?  No.  Was I telling people to leave?  No.  Here’s what I was doing.  I was faithfully fulfilling my calling as a counselor in the primary presidency, teaching the children that they had a Mother and Father in Heaven who loved them.  In the online world I posted about an interfaith fast for equality in religion sponsored by Ordain Women.  And when my friends posted anti-ordain women stuff, I defended them.  That resulted in multiple meetings with my stake president and bishop, lots of counseling and well, attacking.  They attacked my intelligence, my testimony, my faith, my understanding of the gospel.  They told me I was on a slippery slope to apostasy, if I wasn’t already there.  They told me that there was little chance that I could renew my temple recommend if I continued down this path.  All of this they did in a condescending tone.  Believe me, love was not a word that I would use to describe the principle my bishop and stake president were acting on.  After two and a half hours in a meeting with my stake president and bishop while my kids went crazy in the foyer, I had finally had enough attacking for one day and I walked out.

The next thing I knew, I was being publicly shamed at church.  Do you know what happens when your bishop publicly shames you at church?  You start to have random visitors at your house calling you to repentance.  You are shunned and you become an outcast to your community.  And no one will ever know your story because they trust the man in authority, and he has told them his own version of the story.  I lost my calling and everything that makes me want to stay at church.  So tell me, Elder Oaks and Christofferson, who was it here that was pulling people away from the church?  In my case, my bishop and stake president were the offenders.

What’s that you say Elder Christofferson?  “They’re in a position, the local leadership to really way what’s going on…they’re in a position to understand what’s really in a person’s heart and where they’re coming from.”

That’s not what I experienced.  And I’m not alone.  Now that you’ve finally heard of one case of discipline for merely believing differently and being vocal about it, let me tell you about my friends.  Many many people have been in meetings with their local leaders like the one I have described.  They have been harassed by endless phone calls, emails, and texts.  Their faith has been ripped apart by heartless words.  They have been coerced to go against their conscience in order to attend a family event in the temple.  They have been publicly shamed by someone in authority, mocked, ridiculed, and cast out by their communities.  And a few have even faced the full disciplinary process.  Tell me who is pulling people out of the church?

I think our leaders genuinely don’t know that this is happening.  Perhaps they place too much trust in local leaders.  Perhaps they are trying to follow the principle of not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing.  But here’s the problem with that.  They aren’t a hand, they are the head.  And the head should know what the hand is doing.  If it doesn’t, then we belong to a rather dysfunctional and volatile body.  Like I said before, I guess I just expect more from men who bear the title of apostle.  Jesus taught his apostles to walk among the people, to listen to them and understand them.  He taught them not just to understand those in the center, but also the people on the margins, the outcasts, the publicans and sinners, the Samaritans.  If Elder Oaks and Elder Christofferson would do that, I think they would understand the worry behind that interview question.  I think they would understand that people are being disciplined simply for following their conscience and speaking out about their differing beliefs.

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What Two Little Jewish Girls Taught Me about Being a Mormon Male Leader

by Miki Yoshihito through Creative Commons license on Flickr

by Miki Yoshihito through Creative Commons license on Flickr

I used to teach piano lessons in my house. Every day after school, I had five to six kids coming in and out. These kids were great—thoughtful, well-behaved, if not the most diligent at practicing the piano.

In the month of December, we always did a Christmas recital. After all, the majority of my students came from my LDS network, and once my oldest started a Church of Christ preschool, I thought it was still a safe bet that everyone was Christian.

In November, we began picking our music, and I gave two sisters who were also relatively new students their songs. We found and agreed to go with “O Christmas Tree” and “Silent Night.” They returned next week having not practiced their songs…at all.

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Feminist Church, in Haiku Form

Wearing pants to church.
Getting shifty eyes from the
RS President.

Girls, we need to talk.
Modesty is not only
About your shoulders.

Watching Conference.
Whenever they say “virtue,”
I eat M&Ms.

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I recently had a conversation about conversations.  I wondered aloud if there was a (safe) place in a church-sponsored environment where members could have open, honest conversations about hard Mormon topics – such as homosexuality, women’s priesthood, birth control, chastity for older singles, excommunication, temple marriages, etc.

I maintained that it could happen, but the 5 other people in my group said, “no way”.

What do you think?

 

 

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A round-up of interesting news and links for your weekend!

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Because We Preach Repentance

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by Akls Meteo

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon as I sat on the hill at the south end of BYU campus.  The grey clouds reflected the storm that raged in my heart.  My thoughts turned, as they often did during these tumultuous college years, to taking my life.  I thought I would find peace in meeting with my bishop.  I thought repentance would heal me and help me to forsake my sins.  I had just walked out of his office, and my burden only seemed a hundred times heavier.

I was in my mid teenage years when I had discovered something new that no one had ever told me about before.  I didn’t even have a name for it.  I had a sexual energy that no one had told me I would experience.  All I had ever learned told me that I must be the only one experiencing this.  Sex was something to be overcome, vanquished with the natural man.  Not only that, but it was a man problem.  Women didn’t have sexual energy.  So I must be the only one.  Now I had an outlet for that energy.  It felt good, both physically and emotionally.  For a brief moment, it made me happy.  But then I discovered the name.  There it was in the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet, listed underneath the category deemed the sin next to murder: masturbation.

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A Spiritual Hiatus

“Will you be moving your records into the branch?”

“….Maybe.”

The YSA Branch Relief Society President was happy and cheerful enough–– not yet jaded by New York City (for now). With a pleasant grin on her face and sincerity in her voice, she asked if I would be joining their motley YSA crew here in New York. I told her an honest “maybe”. I attended my local Young Single Adult branch this past Sunday, made new friends, and felt pretty much at home. It didn’t hurt that the Relief Society lesson was not from the Ezra Taft Benson manual, but instead, on supporting and encouraging ourselves and other women. I also took comfort in the fact that the aforementioned Relief Society President said things like, “Welcome to Brooklyn! Where you can wear pants to church and no one will blog about it!” and then cursed in her lesson–– without the sister missionaries, senior sister missionary, or branch president’s wife blinking an eye. It was the most subversive and uplifting church experience I’ve ever had in recent memory. It felt so good being in church that day.

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