I am sure that some of you have seen Peggy Fletcher Stack’s report about Peter and Mary Danzig who felt that they had to resign from the LDS Church to follow their conscience. Those of you who know a little bit about me, will not be surprised to learn that the Danzig’s experience strikes a chord in me, since I was motivated by similar concerns to question my persuasion regarding Mormonism.
However, I have to admit that I was surprised by the response of Bill Bradshaw to Peggy Fletcher Stack’s enquiry. Bradshaw, a retired BYU biology professor said:
“Now I can’t sit in church next to Peter and Mary and their kids and I can’t sit next to gay members of the church who they were defending. The bottom line is I don’t have the fellowship of loving people and that’s a hurt for me.”
Attempts by the Brethren to punish speech, be it by scholars or aggrieved members, is not only illiberal but rents the fabric of our community. When we fear sharing our experiences of God’s creation and our feelings for our neighbors then our community becomes dysfunctional. Silence shelters abusers. Denial leads to suicide.
Sadly, too many children have been exposed to rape and self-destruction at church. Had people not been intimidated to speak out, some of that might have been averted. Less sensational but much more prevalent are self-censorship and loneliness in Mormon meetings.
As if Mormonism were trapped in a Greek tragedy, our leaders are trying so hard to protect themselves and the church that they are bringing out the worst in Mormonism. In the process, they are damaging the Saints more than any enemy ever could.
Thank God for the Danzigs and Bill Bradshaw who love their neighbors more than they fear the powerful. Their integrity gives me hope for Mormonism.