Mormonism 101: FAQ

The LDS Newsroom’s new FAQ has a somewhat defensive tone. This is probably due to scandals as of late for the Church, an annoyance that certain issues won’t go away. The Newsroom has created paragraphs of text perhaps in hopes to roundly cut off future scandals at the pass, but I don’t think it’ll help that much.

There are a number of answers that are worth responding to, but I’ll just respond to three here:

Do Mormon women lead in the Church?

Yes. All women are daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. Women and men are equal in the sight of God. The Bible says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). In the family, a wife and a husband form an equal partnership in leading and raising a family.

From the beginning of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints women have played an integral role in the work of the Church. While worthy men hold the priesthood, worthy women serve as leaders, counselors, missionaries, teachers, and in many other responsibilities they routinely preach from the pulpit and lead congregational prayers in worship services. They serve both in the Church and in their local communities and contribute to the world as leaders in a variety of professions. Their vital and unique contribution to raising children is considered an important responsibility and a special privilege of equal importance to priesthood responsibilities.

So, basically, what they’re saying is, Mormon women lead in the Church, but they cannot lead the Church. This will continue to be a sticking point for anyone interested in female ministry.

Do Latter-day Saints practice polygamy?

No. There are more than 14 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not one of them is a polygamist. The practice of polygamy is strictly prohibited in the Church. The general standard of marriage in the Church has always been monogamy, as indicated in the Book of Mormon (see Jacob 2:27). For periods in the Bible polygamy was practiced by the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, as well as kings David and Solomon. It was again practiced by a minority of Latter-day Saints in the early years of the Church. Polygamy was officially discontinued in 1890 122 years ago. Those who practice polygamy today have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church.

I’ve written on why stripping a Mormon identity from the FLDS is wrong. There are Catholics who engage in voodoo, but you don’t see the Catholic Church going to great lengths to ensure such people don’t get to identify as Catholic.

Why does the Church act so immaturely about polygamy and the polygamy of its past? Do they fear it makes Joseph Smith’s vision less believable when people think about how many wives he had? If the Church wants to fully shed the albatross of polygamy, it’ll have to shed Joseph Smith and the rest of the 19th century. Otherwise, historical honesty requires mentioning the fact that Emma wasn’t Smith’s only wife.

Also, the sentence — “Those who practice polygamy today have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church” — strikes me as having an Islamophobic tone if a person were to read it without any knowledge of what context the FAQ is addressing.

What is the position of the Church regarding race relations?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, Black and white, bond and free, male and female; all are alike unto God (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Churchs official teaching.

People of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed slavery. During this time some black males were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining male members of African descent, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. Church leaders sought divine guidance regarding the issue and more than three decades ago extended the priesthood to all worthy male members. The Church immediately began ordaining members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world.

The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.

We’ve discussed this subject at length recently given the scandal with the BYU professor of religion who stated blacks weren’t “mature” enough to hold the priesthood.

It is known precisely why, how or when this restriction began, but to speak of it would require vilifying a Mormon prophet: Brigham Young. Smith is already potentially made a “bad guy” with polygamy, so the Church is interested in saving Young from similar mass scrutiny, since all the Church’s prophets have to be maintained as honorable or else their prophet status is chipped away at.

Unlike the ban on polygamy, which has time on its side, the ban on black ordination ending more than “three decades ago” is not as significant as the fact that it was in place for thirteen decades, more than half the life of the Church. But then, that language wouldn’t be as flattering.

“Welcoming and baptism for all races” immediately followed by “In fact, Smith opposed slavery” is a little odd. The suggestion is that Smith was somehow before his time in terms of morality. But black slaves were often baptized in white churches (“bond and free”); if you put Christianity in the context of colonialism and the slave trade, the stripping of “dark” indigenous theologies, one can see how baptism and slavery have been hand-in-hand in some respects. Mormons chose a unique route during the Civil War era, solidifying with theology that freed black men couldn’t be priests in their church. I say “theology” because the ban couldn’t be removed without top-level revelation over a century later. Plenty of scholars have written on how this fits into the overall story of American race relations. If indeed the Church were in a post-racial place (which I’m not even sure what that means as a goal), it would be comfortable with exploring its racial past, rather than trying to erase it with vagueness and feigned ignorance. It seems the Newsroom still has a lot to learn about “whiteness.”

32 thoughts on “Mormonism 101: FAQ

  1. Mormon doctrine is fungible but its top people are forever. At this point, does anyone think Otterson could ever be fired? After all the lies he’s told for them, this is one Otter the suits can’t afford to release into the wild.

  2. Thanks for reminding me, Chanson, that I need to post this notice here at MSP:

    To any COB employees who might be reading along… You really can quit your job and make more money working from home (writing a whistle-blowing expos) … In addition to a generous financial grant, we’ll supply a ghost writer to help with organization and style. If you’ve got a story to tell, we’ll help you tell it. Interested parties pls contact me any time for confidential discussions @chinoblanco

  3. The answers to the “become gods” and “own planet” questions are deceptive. I’ve heard the “no, we don’t believe we’ll get our own planets” answer defended on the basis that “we will get our own planets” is not, in so many words, taught by the church. Although that is correct in my experience, the standard by which I judge it to be deceptive is that it has the effect of giving a false impression of Mormon beliefs, and that appears to be the intended result. The “become gods” answer is just a plain lie (and what’s with the horror quotes?) For this audience, I presume it’s unnecessary to provide citations, but it is easily demonstrated that LDS teaching is that the highest degree of salvation does, in fact, involve becoming a god.

    I’m not sure what is going on here. I can understand not wanting to incur public mockery for avowing the belief, and why a Mormon might reasonably feel at risk for that outcome. I don’t suppose the church or its newsroom feels any compunction at resorting to falsehood as a defense, but do they think it will work? Anyone who cares can easily check that it is untrue. It seems foolhardy as a PR strategy.

    Is this really the best they can do? At this point in my life, I don’t feel a need to explain this belief to outsiders in a faith-promoting way, but when I did, I could have (and did) put together an answer, using some of the same ingredients, that didn’t leave me uneasily waiting for the cock to crow. With some emphasis on awe and reverence for God, the vastness of the gap between our present status and His, and our lack of understanding in this life, I think it is possible to acknowledge the belief while distinguishing it from the sort of pure wish-fulfillment ego trip that invites mockery.

    What can’t be done is to explain it honestly in a way that is consistent with non-LDS Christian beliefs. Is that what the problem is here, that (in LDS terms), the newsroom has chosen to profess false doctrine in an effort to secure the World’s favor? I suppose that seems like the most likely possibility to me. The runner-up is that an overdose of group doublethink has blinded the newsroom to the shortcomings of their cover-up strategy. Any other ideas?

  4. On another topic, I don’t care for the infographic in general, but it’s like stubbing my toe repeatedly to look through it and see so many incorrectly scaled figures. In the “family faith” art, the 81% man is well over twice as large as the 50% boy; the 73% Mormon wedding ring is four or five times the size of its public 34% counterpart, etc. This sort of scaling error is common among amateurs (it arises because doubling both length and width quadruples area instead of just doubling it), but it is, or should be, well known to and avoided by professional creators of “infographics”.

    It’s entertaining to see Jesus placed next to the big “100%”, though.

  5. The FAQ has come out on the heels of Otterson’s recent piece that a shoehorned “Mormon Moment” should be replaced with nonmembers doing things like “dropping into our services, talking to our people, having dinner with a local leader, spending a family home evening with a family, being present when a young soon-to-be missionary opens his or her ‘call letter’,” etc. Nonmembers should learn about Mormons “properly,” Otterson says, by pretty much becoming non-Mormon Mormons (who might choose to become baptized themselves after being surrounded by so much LDS joy and happiness!)

    I read the FAQ as intending to have a populist feel to get over certain hurdles/caricatures that might prevent a person from befriending a Mormon to begin with. I guess for me, though, all the answers just beg more questions — namely, about why what is said is said (content and tone) and why what is not said is not said. Perhaps I’m not the intended audience… but basically, it seems like the FAQ is out of interest to grow the Church some more rather than actually answer the questions.

    You’re right…the infographic is pretty amatuerish. But then, I guess that’s supposed to be part of the appeal?

  6. I dont suppose the church or its newsroom feels any compunction at resorting to falsehood as a defense, but do they think it will work? Anyone who cares can easily check that it is untrue. It seems foolhardy as a PR strategy.

    This is where I take a bit of a cynical interpretation of their PR strategy..

    People who care to check aren’t really the target audience. People who care to check can be dealt with through the usual ad hominems: “You’re taking it so literally!! You’re just using simple-minded black-and-white thinking!” or “Why are you even looking this up? Just trying to find ways to contradict the Brethren and the Newsroom? You must be really angry and bitter!”

    Then, being on the receiving end of that makes people angry which just proves their point! 😉

    The disinterested bystanders (i.e. the intended audience) assumes that the truth must lay somewhere between the two, and maybe the Newsroom is right that anyone who would dare to contradict the Newsroom is angry, bitter, too-literal-minded, ant-Mormon, or whatever.

  7. Well, there are disinterested bystanders, and then there are uninterested bystanders. Most people aren’t interested at all in what the newsroom has to say. Of those who are, most have enough experience with Mormonism to form an immediate opinion of their answers; I’ll call these, in this comment only, pro- and anti-Mormons for short. The third group, wanting answers but not already well informed, is presumably made up of journalists and others for whom Mormonism is something that has recently turned up on their list of topics to deal with.

    Anti-Mormons can receive the treatment you described; it’s the same old thing for both parties, so nothing really changes.

    Pro-Mormons are provided with the spectacle of the newsroom hiding its one talent in the earth like the unprofitable servant who was cast into outer darkness. They’re in a position to appreciate some of the motivations, and their commitment to the church is, in general, not so fragile as to break under the strain, but the entire episode is a net loss as far as this group is concerned.

    The “new” audience of journalists will probably react (or not react) as you say, and the gain is that they are left with a diffuse “no Xenu here” message, I suppose. Only if the matter becomes journalistically relevant enough will they start to ask for opposing views, and in that case the false answers will have done more harm than good. The risk of a bad outcome is small, but very little seems to have been achieved by incurring it. They could have just not included the question.

    Otterson’s article that Alan linked to is an interesting counterpoint. While the newsroom issues statements designed to be adopted uncritically by journalists who don’t have the time or inclination to follow up, Otterson tells the same group that unless they make an impossibly high time commitment, they aren’t qualified to report on Mormons. First they need to attend church, get and accept dinner invitations, etc., etc. Reporters don’t do this for any other group, for obvious reasons, and they aren’t going to see why Mormonism requires special treatment. All of them have long since come to terms with having to report as non-experts.

  8. People seem to be assuming that whoever wrote the FAQ is lying, but I’m wondering if it was actually written by someone who simply doesn’t understand the doctrine.

    Twenty-five years ago, ‘most any Mormon would have said the “become gods” answer is blatantly false doctrine and the “get your own planet” answer is close, but my sense is that there are plenty of Mormons today (youngish ones especially) who would have no idea that there’s anything wrong with those answers.

    So my first questions would be, who writes that stuff, and who checks it? Is it fully “correlated,” or does the newsroom work independently?

  9. Badger @11 — Good points.

    I think the COB would like it if everybody — Mormon or non-Mormon alike — would always respond: “Hey, don’t ask me — go to lds.org or the LDS Newsroom if you have questions about Mormonism!” whenever there’s the slightest possibility of being publicly quoted. But that strategy kind of breaks down when you have disinterested bystanders who need to report on Mormonism.

    I think Otterson’s article is another attempt to bolster the same old strategy: “Hey, you journalists — you’re not qualified to report on Mormonism, so just shut up about Mormonism, except to relay our official press releases!” It’s just one more attempt to discredit anyone (outside the official sources) who would dare speak on Mormonism — this time painting them as unqualified, rather than as biased/bitter/anti.

    But, since (as you point out) reporters constantly have to report on a variety of subjects as non-experts, Otterson’s argument comes off as a little nutty.

    Kuri @12 — It’s very possible that the writers in the Newsroom weren’t intentionally lying, and were simply reporting their own understanding of the doctrine. As I’ve said before, one of the effects of correlation is that even the most faithful Mormons dont know what Mormons believe.

  10. So my first questions would be, who writes that stuff, and who checks it? Is it fully correlated, or does the newsroom work independently?

    If the infographic is any indication of authorship, I’d say there are Newsroom interns whose material gets correlated only if it has significant (or perhaps even noticeable) public effect. Authors aren’t specifically named on many pages (like that FAQ), so it’s hard to tell what’s intended as correlated and what’s intended as “this view only represents the author’s/s’.” The Newsroom needs to be careful to be consistent.

    Interestingly, articles as broad as that FAQ would probably be deemed as inappropriate to not be anonymous, but without named authorship, people are going to assume it’s correlated content.

  11. Do Latter-day Saints believe they can become gods?

    I do love those quotation marks they put around the word “gods.” It’s sounds as if they’re breathless with shock that someone should accuse Mormons of harboring such bizarre notions!

    Yeah, it’s pathetic. But also kinda cute. Like a little kid who indignantly denies Mom’s charge that she’s eaten some cookies because — as she discreetly fails to mention — she ate only one.

    This reflects the lingering provincialism of Mormonism. But it’s been a while now since everything that Mom and Dad and Buddy and Sis knew about religion is what they learned after piling out of the Studebaker and heeding the sermon at the Methodepiscopapresbyterian Church. It’s the twenty-first century, and most Americans have had some exposure to Hinduism, Wicca, and other polytheistic religions.

    So be cool, Newsroom Guys. Why not just own Mormonism’s beliefs, rather than indulging in such easily exposed dissembling?

  12. I agree it’s possible that some individuals involved in producing the answer were merely ignorant, but the newsroom, and the church whose agent it is, should not be exonerated on the basis that the found a sufficiently naive dupe to do the writing, even if that were the case. They issued a press release that included false statements, and there has been enough discussion on the internet to bring it to their attention. An honest newsroom would issue a retraction or clarification. If that happens, we can all reassess.

    In the meantime, we have their answer. It’s not the answer of a young person who has no idea. We’ve all seen those (“Kolob? Ridiculous! Where do you come up with this stuff?”). Here they say yes, we know what you are referring to, and the actual belief (a) is set forth in the Bible, and (b) consists of a couple scraps of the New Testament which would have no special significance to a Mormon ignorant of the true doctrine. Yet the newsroom has chapter and verse (2 Peter!) at its fingertips. Given the intended journalistic audience, I don’t see how to avoid concluding that the intention was to convey the falsehood that Mormon belief on this topic is a lot like what other Christians believe and based on the same texts, and if you do hear anything resembling the truth it is misrepresentation and caricature.

    So I don’t see how the answer given could be the product of ignorance. Even if I’m wrong, this is not the Adam-God doctrine; it is spelled out unambiguously in current lesson manuals. At some point, willful ignorance and reckless disregard for the truth have to be distinguished from innocent mistakes.

  13. Well, I’m a fan of the saying “Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.” But besides that general principle, I find the Bible verses they used to be suggestive of an error.

    Those are the right verses to use to defend the actual doctrine, but they’re used wrong. It should be “The Bible says this, so it’s OK to believe that we’ll become gods,” not “The Bible says this, so we don’t believe we’ll become gods.” And that reminds me a lot of the way students back when I used to teach would regurgitate half-baked mixed-up versions of what they were supposed to know on tests when they hadn’t prepared. So I could see an intern doing that, and whoever was supposed to be checking it noticing the right verses were used and not really paying attention to what the answer actually said.

    That’s not a defense of the newsroom at all, BTW. Letting false doctrine slip through accidentally would be almost as bad as doing it on purpose. Back in the day, McConkie would have had their heads.

    Anyway, Heinlein tweaked my favorite saying by adding something to it: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity… but don’t rule out malice.” So I could be completely off base. As you say, an honest newsroom would retract or clarify. A less honorable newsroom that doesn’t want to spread blatantly false doctrine might fix the mistake without saying anything. We’ll see if any of those things happen.

  14. The Bible says this, so its OK to believe that well become gods, not The Bible says this, so we dont believe well become gods.

    I don’t follow the contention here. They don’t definitively answer “Yes” or “No” with regards to verbatim use of the word “gods” (unlike other questions where they do begin with a straightforward “yes” or “no”). Are you saying that they should begin with a resounding “Yes”? That all Mormons believe they will become gods? That seems just as problematic to me.

  15. I agree its possible that some individuals involved in producing the answer were merely ignorant, but the newsroom, and the church whose agent it is, should not be exonerated on the basis that the found a sufficiently naive dupe to do the writing, even if that were the case.

    Naturally. If you’re going to hire a spokesperson, it’s only reasonable to expect that person to know what they’re talking about, and not just let them spout “honest mistakes” out of ignorance.

    Still, it reminds me of so many stories I’ve heard about LDS missionaries confidently dismissing “anti-Mormon lies” (actually, true statements) out of ignorance. (eg. “Joseph Smith never married other men’s wives!”) Ignorance allows them to “honestly” spread rosy falsehoods. It’s not necessarily an intentional strategy on the church’s part, but if it is, it clearly doesn’t scale well to the public arena…

  16. Joseph Smith’s polygamy is a much better example than one I gave about Kolob. At one time I knew of no wives except Emma, and could have said it myself. In fact I may have, though I have no specific memory. My problem with this newsroom answer is that I just can’t imagine thought processes consistent with both ignorance and the details given in it. It’s as if the polygamy denier said “Critics maliciously accuse Joseph Smith of marrying other men’s wives, but Vilate Kimball was only a test of faith, and the actual marriage was to Helen Mar Kimball.” Whatever such a person believes, their statement is not a product of naivety.

    So, Kuri, it’s surprising and interesting to me that you can imagine the answer arising more or less inadvertently. Even with the benefit of your description, I can’t see how to get from point A to point B without leaving the realm of normal brain function. I’ll have to give it some thought and see if I can make it work in my imagination.

    Alan, in reply to your …should [they] begin with a resounding Yes?, I would point out that they wrote the question as well as the answer. I’m with Kuri in thinking that they should, but in this case the dilemma is entirely of their own making.

    As a Mormon by birth, I was raised on “shoot and be damned” stories whose moral was that you never, ever, denied the faith. The church was, and is, a missionary church, and I believe that all Mormons who take the membership seriously are sometimes faced with a strongly felt obligation to stand up for the church and its teaching in situations that are embarrassing, difficult, and frightening, or even when an individual believes the church is in the wrong. As many of us can attest, it is not easy and can take a toll on one’s sense of integrity. What I find so contemptible in this instance is that the newsroom appears to have created, and then taken, the opportunity to tell a lie in order to deny a doctrine that many individual members find troubling, but that is part of what they are called upon to defend.

    If I can find a way to see things in the light Kuri described, I suppose I’ll see things a little more favorably. In the meantime, I’ll close with these words of the Apostle Paul [1]:

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ [2]; for it is the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth [3]…

    [1] words in footnotes not attributable to Paul
    [2] some exclusions apply
    [3] terms of salvation subject to modification from time to time without prior notice

  17. I just cant imagine thought processes consistent with both ignorance and the details given in it.

    That’s a good point, especially when considering the black ordination question. A claim of not knowing “why, how or when” is ridiculously unstable as an “official” answer. Still, regardless of whether the writers “know” more, GAs have final say on matters of Mormon theology, and the GAs have not explained the cosmology behind Official Declaration2. The Newsroom could turn to scholars’ inputs, but this would not be acceptable in the context of those FAQ.

    Basically, those FAQ give a good impression of the correlated level of historical detail for this generation of Mormons. Go beyond that level, and the faith starts to question itself. Mormons in positions of power and influence (like Newsroom writers) end up protecting the people’s faith more than the faith itself (IOW, they have a lot of trouble seeing how others see Mormonism, and may not understand why not knowing “why, how or when” is incompetent). It’s same ol’ potatoes-before-meat dynamic, except it’s hard to tell whether the potatoes are getting meatier, or if the meat is getting potatoier.

  18. @22 Alan:

    That’s “theology” in this case, not “cosmology.”

    I like your description of how others see it as “incompetent.” I think “spineless” is another good word for it.

  19. Badger @21 — you have really put your finger what has really bugged me about the CoJCoL-dS’s new direction since the tenure of President Hinkley (the “I don’t know we teach that” prophet). It’s also one of the reasons I love the song “I Believe” from the Book of Mormon musical. Now there’s this atmosphere that nobody is allowed to boldly proclaim what Mormons believe (not even Mormons themselves), lest they be chastized by the PR wagon (eg. “That’s not official doctrine!!!” (because nothing is anymore)). The song captures the boldness that you describe, and that I remember myself from growing up Mormon.

  20. I dont know we teach that

    When I was Mormon kid, the two main 19th-century personalities that came up in church were Smith and Young. Only certain aspects of their lives are brought into the material so that kids receive an idealized version of these men (Smith’s polygamy isn’t mentioned, nor is Young’s racism). It’s kinda like the founding fathers or all those European explorers. Whether it’s appropriate to teach more of the truth about, say, Christopher Columbus, in schools is an ongoing debate, but what is abundantly clear is that there should be no “Columbus Day.”

    The same will never be said about Smith and Young, because even Mormon adults idealize these men…upholding them as tied to the divine regardless of their flaws. When I read those FAQ answers and get a sense of how the prophets-of-old are protected at the cost of historical realism, I’m struck by what could be interpreted as dishonesty, but is probably just a form of manufactured childishness.

    Mormon history is treated as if it were a PG movie. Mormons try to stay away from R-rated movies with all their mature themes, so they only know a sanitized version of themselves. Obviously, there are Mormon scholars who do good work, and the blanks can be filled, but the Church is not interested in the real history unless it “helps” the current system. I really don’t think a wholesome spirituality should treat history in such a way.

  21. Related to Badger’s comment @21: have a look at this post. It’s kind of a funny/sad detailed overview of how exaltation went from being one of the key doctrines of the Restoration to being some kind of crazy folk doctrine that somebody seems to claim Mormons believe, but nobody really knows where the idea came from…

  22. Chanson, that’s a very good link. Thank you. I wonder what was going on in the missionaries’ minds, but there’s no way to tell. Unlike the newsroom, these are individuals speaking off the cuff, in response to a question they were not expecting. Some of those who answered “no” may well have thought it was the correct answer. I’m reminded of a missionary return talk I once attended where the speaker admitted that he really, really hadn’t paid attention in church before his mission, and was completely surprised to find out at the MTC that Lamanites were not “somewhere in the Bible”.

    I just ran across this BCC post from the beginning of the year. It is a defense of Hinkley’s famous “I don’t know that we teach it” “little couplet” interview responses, on the grounds that he downplayed only the “as Man is, God once was” half, which, it is argued, is more doctrinally uncertain. Implicit in the approach is a presupposition that a denial like the newsroom’s of “as God is, Man may become” would have a presented more serious problem. I was very interested in reading the post and, even more, the comments in light of the newsroom’s answer.

    Among other highlights, there is a discussion that follows Nick Literski’s mention of Mormons who lost faith because of Hinkley’s comments. In responses, others write of “anti-Mormon twisting” of Hinkley’s words to attribute to him what the newsroom has just said. BHodges, the post’s author, sums up: So next time anyone hears the claim that President Hinckley denied the church teaches progression to godhood…they can point them to this post. If people still want to include this in their exit narratives or criticisms of the Church…thats their prerogative. I think its worth being clear about what Pres. Hinckley was and wasnt trying to say. This all makes sense as far as Hinkley’s statements are concerned, but of course BHodges and the others could not know what the newsroom would do in the near future, so they don’t address the specific situation presented by this FAQ press release. Nevertheless, it is fair to say there are strong indications that many of the faithful BCC commenters would have found it unexpected and unwelcome.

  23. In responses, others write of anti-Mormon twisting of Hinkleys words to attribute to him what the newsroom has just said.

    Those “anti-Mormons” are everywhere!! Now they’ve taken over the LDS Newsroom! 😉

  24. p.s. @27 — That BCC thread (especially the discussion that follows Nick Literskis mention of Mormons who lost faith because of Hinkleys comments) is really interesting!!

    On the one hand, it illustrates the problem with believing “the CoJCoL-dS speaks for God and will never lead me astray” — when you don’t really know in advance what’s going to come out of the COB next.

    OTOH, it shows the advantage of having the Newsroom define the church’s position and doctrine. The church can (sort of) “officially” reposition — and if it seems to contradict what members have been taught, then it’s easy for the members to ignore/dismiss it as just the opinion of some anonymous COB staffer. The same repositioning coming from the Prophet would be far more shocking and upsetting to the members, so the simple solution is not to have the prophet speak for the church on any issue that the church doesn’t want to clarify.

  25. Thanks for the reminder — quite relevant to this discussion, and, really, it would be fun to get back on the ball and add to that series!! 😀

  26. For a religion that could turn on a dime if revelation required it, you’d think that its followers might be more charitable towards those of us who wonder out loud about its current direction. There’s an absurdity at the heart of Bloggernacle prickliness about criticism of the LDS leadership that I suspect any intellectually honest Mormon would acknowledge.

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