Friday, November 6, 2015

The Washington Post, 5 Nov 2035

Mormon Church makes doubting couples apostates, excludes children from blessings and baptism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new policy in its handbook stating that children living in an skeptical or inactive family may not be blessed as babies or baptized until they are 18.

The policy change, which also states that those in a semi-active household are to be considered apostates, was confirmed Thursday by church spokesman Orson F. Packer.

"Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the church in many varied circumstances throughout the world," Packer said in a statement.  "The church has long been on record as opposing non-Mormon lifestyles.  While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not condone or accept doubt or halfheartedness within its membership."

The LDS Church, popularly known as the Mormon Church, teaches that the Church is an institution created by God to facilitate complete and unquestioning devotion.  Before this week's change, the church's policy was that doubt or inactivity may require discipline.  Now that evidence of the Book of Mormon's fraudulent claims is readily available throughout the internet, the church decided to identify those who lend any credence to anti-Mormon criticism as apostates, or people who have renounced their faith.

Mormon children are normally blessed as infants and entered into the LDS Church records.  Most Mormon children are baptized around age 8, an act that Mormons believe is a covenant with God and essential to salvation.

The new policy says that once natural or adopted children living in a skeptical, scholarly, "New Order Mormon," "cafeteria Mormon," or any otherwise incompletely committed household reach 18, they may disavow the practices of anti-Mormonism, non-Mormonism, and casual Mormonism and stop living within the household.  If the individual follows those two rules, they may request approval to be baptized, confirmed, ordained to the church priesthood and recommended for missionary service with the permission of the faith's highest leaders, the First Presidency.

The LDS Church has been vociferously active on issues related to skepticism, secularism and anti-Mormonism.  Earlier this year, Church Apostle Neil L. Andersen even went so far as to proclaim, "Everything you have ever been told by anyone about Joseph Smith that didn't make him sound like he was the greatest man to ever live other than our Savior was an irresponsible and bald-faced lie hissed forth by the amoral, bitter, and loathsome enemies of God's church."  Later, in the same address, he added, "Give the Book of Abraham a rest."

The church, which has expressed fears that cultural secularism could trump traditional brainwashing, received national backlash after it fought to remove courses covering logic, critical thinking, and analytical research from public universities in California in 2028.  Last month, David A. Bednar, the President of the Church, said that "the more we teach our children to weigh so-called evidence and find their own so-called solutions to modern-day issues, the more we teach them to ignore the tried and true methods of living that have satisfied generations of righteous tithe-payers."

Salt Lake City, where the LDS headquarters are based, just elected Ronald Domitrowicz as the city's first openly anti-Mormon mayor this week.  As religious groups, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists and Mormons are the most opposed to different lifestyles.  About 54 percent of Mormons oppose having non-Mormons in their neighborhoods while 16 percent favor it, according to Pew Research's 2034 Landscape Study.

The changes to the LDS handbook were first published online, but Packer reluctantly sent the same changes to the Washington Post.

[The article this post is based on can be found here.]


  1. They can't say you didn't see it coming! But 20 years from now? Do you really think it will take that long?

    1. I don't know, the future's funny like that! I mean, I think they've been laying the groundwork for this kind of stuff for a while, but who can tell when it will actually become official policy?

      What do you think? Ten years? Five?

  2. Article of Faith 2: We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression...unless your parents are gay.

    Love the Joseph Smith comment!

    By the way, Salt Lake hasn't had a Mormon mayor since 1985, and some of them, especially Rocky Anderson, have not been friendly at all to the church. He was anti-Mormon. The current mayor, Ralphy Becker is rumored to be gay, and the woman who has most likely won the recent election, Jackie Biskupski, is openly gay. So some of your predictions have already come true.

    1. Yeah, I admit to being too lazy to do enough research about the mayors. I know the recently elected one is openly gay (which was made reference to in the original WP article). But I also know that SLC is not as Mormon as the rest of Utah and it has a pretty healthy gay movement, so I'm not surprised to learn that Salt Lake has had its share of mayors who weren't LDS-friendly.

      I'm happy to see the attention this is getting. Washington Post, New York Times, CNN...Twitter, Reddit, Facebook...hopefully the exposure will help stunt the church's already failing missionary efforts. And it looks like the church could lose more than a few previously faithful members over this too.

  3. I think this attention the church brings on itself is not helpful to its cause. Your comments on critical thinking are dead right as well. The Internet has made it possible for people who are open to the church but sceptical to find answers much more easily. I think missionary baptism rates will continue to slide, retention rates of children born in the church will continue to drop, and more and more former faithful members will leave the church. Some good friends of mine just resigned. They are a married couple, both returned missionaries. They will not be baptizing their children.

    Finally, sending out Christofferson to clarify their announcement is pretty sad. I guess they think that since he has an openly gay brother that he has more understanding of the issue. It just makes him look like more of a bigot to me. Here's a quote of him from a article:

    "We recognize that same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States and some other countries," he said, "and that people have the right if they choose to enter into those, and we understand that, but that's not a right that exists in the church. That's the clarification."

    He said the new policy restricting children of same-sex couples from baptism until they are 18 originated from "a desire to protect children in their innocence and in their minority years."

    1. I don't think the Christofferson video is sad...I think it's downright pathetic.

      First of all, the church is still trying to control the story. Instead of letting Christofferson talk to the press, they allow him to be "interviewed" by a member of the church's public affairs department, who pretends to ask some deep questions, but never pushes anything too hard and basically lobs him softball after softball.

      Christofferson seems to think that he's protecting the children from issues that arise when the church teaches them one thing and their parents teach them another. If the parents are that opposed to certain church teachings, it's likely they won't send their kid to Sunday school anyway. And even if they do, differences of opinion are something the kids are going to confront anyway, especially when they go to school after being taught how wicked the world is. There may be some confusion, but confusion is part of growing up. What psychological torture is the church saving them from?

      Christofferson repeatedly tries to compare same-sex marriages to polygamous marriages. They're not the same thing. A lot of polygamist marriages, especially in Utah, come from devout Mormon background. It's a tradition that jives with church doctrine, even if it doesn't jive with church policy, so for a lot of polygamists, it's important for them to be able to be involved in church meetings, church ordinances, and church culture. Not so for same-sex marriages. That's never been supported by the church and the overwhelming majority of same-sex couples have no cultural connection to Mormonism. I would guess that the number of same-sex couples who actually want to participate in the church pales in comparison to the number of polygamist families who do. Christofferson just wants to appeal to political conservatives by trying to point out that his church doesn't like either one.

      He also tries to flip around the "disavowing" that adult children of same-sex couples need to do by referring to it as "accepting" the church's doctrine instead of "disavowing" the legal marriage that unites their parents. Doesn't matter what you call it, it's still a dick move.

      And because he was getting the easy questions, we haven't heard a response to why murder, rape, and abuse are less deserving of church discipline than being married to someone with the same kind of genitals.

      Honestly, I think the Christofferson video made me even angrier than the policy it defends.

    2. You're right.

      What the church is really trying to do here, in my opinion, is "protect" the primary children in member families from the conflict of seeing happy, well-adjusted children raised by gay couples.

    3. Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head, here. They're not trying to protect children of gay couples so much as insulate children of straight couples.