Damon Linker always writes interesting stuff. His latest: “The Republican lies about election fraud are a ticking time bomb.” I’m going to spend a paragraph or two reviewing his observations about the consequences of “the lies of Donald Trump and the self-serving gullibility of millions of Republican voters,” then ask whether there is a Mormon equivalent of a ticking time bomb lurking in our doctrine or history or culture. Or maybe it’s the same (metaphorical) time bomb.
The Republican Time Bomb
Linker argues that the sudden Republican embrace of lying as a political strategy is “hands down the most dangerous political development in recent American history — a civic time bomb placed smack dab at the center of American democracy.” In particular, the problem is “spreading the lie that elections in the United States are systematically untrustworthy and rigged ….” That’s sort of a high risk strategy to employ for politicians who each hold office because they won an election. In terms of legitimacy, they are sawing off the branch they’re sitting on. They think they are throwing rocks at their opponents but they’re throwing boomerangs. Either they are too stupid to realize they are hurting themselves and the political culture of the country as a whole, or else they do realize it but that doesn’t matter as much to them as securing some short-term political advantage from throwing shade on the American electoral system as an institution.
Apart from undermining confidence in the US electoral system, there is a chance that the Republican base might eventually figure out they are being played. Linker observes that “indulging and amplifying grassroots fury can backfire.” Or that base might decide that if the system is rigged, there’s no point in voting, not the response Republican politicians are hoping for. One would think that, sooner or later, this whole approach will fail. That at the end of this road there is a brick wall, not a finish line. Sooner or later, we’ll reach the point where the jig is up.
Is There a Mormon Time Bomb?
At some level, I think every reader will accept Linker’s argument: the current Republican strategy is not sustainable. It’s possible there will be a mild retreat and a different emphasis by Republican politicians after the 2022 election, but it’s possible it will just blow up. Small bomb or big bomb, something’s gonna blow.
Here’s the question: Is the LDS Church following a similar arc? Is the Church facing an institutional challenge that will force some sort of significant change in business as usual (small bomb) or that might result in serious reverses for the institution (big bomb)? I’ll bet I’m not the only one that has the sense that the Church has moved into an institutional time of troubles, quite different from the relatively quiet period from 1978, when the priesthood and temple policy change removed a significant PR problem, to roughly the first decade of the 21st century, when the Internet emerged to make information about LDS history so accessible. Shortly thereafter, social media emerged to make everyone upset about something, whether real or fictitious. LDS leadership is still struggling with how to respond to these developments.
Instead of inviting readers to trot out the usual set of gripes, let me sketch three broad responses to the question. See which one resonates with you.
There really isn’t a big problem. The Church will muddle through. It’s possible that in a year or two, the Covid problem will subside and all church units will go back to meetings as normal. The Trump problem will subside and the political divisions that seem to suddenly be so visible in the Mormon community will recede. Mormon life will go back to its normal weekly cycle of church, Sunday School, and seminary, and General Conference will go back to having a live and reverent audience. The membership will soldier on. The Church will muddle through.
Same bomb: Covid and Trump have degraded the Church. Maybe you think that it’s the disruptions caused by Covid and the inflamed political climate in the wake of Donald Trump that is troubling the Church. Certainly Covid has been a disruption, with in-person meetings on hold for many months in most places and thousands of LDS missionaries called home in 2020. Maybe not everyone comes back to church post-Covid. Certainly the Trump approach to political discourse, combined with the habit of coarse and nasty rhetoric in some online discussions, has changed how Mormons talk to each other and especially about those they disagree with, whether inside or outside the Church. Maybe that’s a permanent change and it makes a certain percentage of Mormons suddenly uninterested in attending church on Sunday. Maybe most Mormons, often seen as the proverbial nice guys, just aren’t very nice anymore. When Mitt Romney gets booed at a Utah GOP convention, you know something has changed.
Different bomb: The Internet and social media have degraded the Church. Here’s where the usual suspects get trotted out. Because of the Internet, more Mormons now know there are problems with the Book of Abraham or Book of Mormon translation. Because of the Internet, everyone knows the Church has hundreds of billions of dollars hidden away in its investment portfolio. Because of social media, more Mormons are aware that the Church sometimes protects sexual predators and pedophiles, and that BYU is often tougher on victims sexual assault than on perpetrators. And so forth. Either collectively or as one single item that is a make-or-break issue for some people, this rising tide of troubling issues, the details of which are now more accessible than ever, will slowly sink the Mormon ship.
Which category describes your response? I think there’s a chance the Church will just muddle through. But it sure seems like the combination of the Covid affair (and it’s not over yet) and the Trump phenomenon (not over yet, either) has spilled over into the Church and the Mormon community in a very negative way. So, personally, I lean toward the second category. I think blog writers and readers overestimate the impact of the third category of responses. Most Mormons don’t read books, much less books on Mormon history or doctrine. What you or I think of as a serious issue is probably just more noise to 99% of Latter-day Saints. If the Book of Abraham problematic “translation” or Book of Mormon historicity problems haven’t sunk the Church yet, they likely won’t do so in the future.
Since I have come to the conclusion that the average (whatever the may mean) church member is not inclined to look intensely at time bombs, then probably little will result. Often times organizational death occurs by multiple small cuts, not necessarily one fatal wound.
There is a theological “bomb” if you will that I’ve never heard a satisfactory answer to: if Heavenly Father had a Heavenly Father and so-on-and-so-forth, where have all the “Fathers” gone a long long time ago? And where are they today? And where will all the Fathers be when somewhere down the road new ones arrive. This theology makes no sense at all.
Isiah 1:18 says: “Come and Reason together.”’
Some Church theology if reasoned out, really makes no sense.
Maybe each God drives one galaxy only. With between 100-200 billion galaxies in the universe and a universe that is only 14 billion years old, I don’t see it as an issue. Especially if there is a council of Gods in each galaxy of say 12 Gods and Goddesses, with 70 pairs of Gods and Goddesses under them, we are talking 16.4 trillion pairs Gods and Goddesses. This isn’t even including the idea of “alternate:” universes.
I am more interested in the theology that exist around the belief that there will be an absolute end to the universe where all stars go cold. If we believe in a God who is part of the universe, does this mean eternity will actually have an absolute end in 22 billion years?
These issues will not divide the church, but there is a division coming.
I think it is strange that you echo the actual lie that there was no problem with the 2020 elections. There are many evidences that a fraud was committed. The Arizona audit that will soon be released will start the process of fully exposing how bad the election was. Until we fix the election process, we can’t trust any elections.
Sorry cachemagic, your claims are simply untrue. This is a timely post. Speaking of the Republican leadership gaming their followers, it also strikes me that another example is COVID; Republican leaders are enacting policies (see the craziness of DeSantis in Florida, e.g.) like not mandating masks, etc. that actually ensures that Republican voters will fall sick and die in greater numbers than Democrats and Independents. These idiots are literally killing the part of the population that would most likely vote for them. I’ve never witnessed this level of insanity. Ever.
To the main point of your post, I think the church will muddle through in some ways, but I do think there will be a cost. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of more progressive members who have generally stuck around will likely diminish. I know that after seeing how many members of my ward embraced Trump (not just tolerated him) and haven’t gotten vaccinated, I’ve felt more and more like at least my ward doesn’t offer me much in the way of edification or community. It’s one thing for us all to be benignly tolerant of others whose views we don’t hold, but it’s another thing to look around one’s ward and realize that there just aren’t any people I’d want to be friends with besides the ones I already have. That’s how alienating the last four years have been for me. Of course, my beliefs and my faith are my responsibility, not anyone else’s, but it sure isn’t fun sitting in church with people who interpret the gospel so differently from the way you do.
I think Garee has a point about institutions dying from multiple small cuts. What’s going on now won’t finish the church, but I do think it’s made a fair amount of people wonder what church actually does for them, what role it plays, etc., given the last year-plus without in person church. And as is frequently mentioned, the democratization of information and its availability has already caused significant harm and will continue to do so. But since the church’s main truth claims can’t be disproven with absolute certainty, the church will have enough members adhering to it so it will limp along for a generation or two. But according to the latest numbers, we’re already down to about 40 percent of members being active, so if we lose, say, another five or ten percentage points, I do think there will come a tipping point.
Speaking just for myself, I find that my relationship with the Church has changed because of the gullibility of Republican Mormons. Before the First Presidency’s recent plea to members to get vaccinated and to mask in meetings, my ward had about 5 percent wearing masks to meetings, despite the fact that I live in Utah County, where the vaccination levels are abysmally low, and the fact that the delta variant was causing a spike in infections. The Sunday after the FP message, about 50 percent of my ward wore masks, but the bishop got up in meeting and said, basically, “You all received the email from the First Presidency. I just want you to know that you have your freedom to choose.” And he chose to not wear a mask. Ouch. Never thought I’d hear that from the pulpit in a Mormon ward. No encouragement to follow the prophet. Just by word and example the message, “You’re free to ignore the prophet.” Well, duh, but that’s not the message local church leaders should be spreading. No “As for me and my house . . .” Since that day, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I no longer trust my fellow Latter-day Saints to do the right thing. And it’s because they are mostly Republicans, and Republicans have bought into the lies, the disinformation, and the shallow thinking that passes for political tribalism in today’s world. For a long time I have had questions about doctrine and history that there are no easy answers to. But I always had my ward family. No longer. I find that I simply cannot trust them. Now, trust is not something that has to be earned. Generally, we give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove untrustworthy. But once that trust is lost, it is very difficult to regain. So that’s where I am. I cannot trust my fellow Latter-day Saints. And it’s all because they have started believing the lies. They are more Republican than they are Mormon. I don’t know what to do about that. It doesn’t seem fixable. And it does say something depressing about the meaninglessness of the gift of the Holy Ghost, which theoretically helps us distinguish between truth and untruth. What does this say about the Church?
“Every nation has the government it deserves,” the French writer and diplomat Joseph de Maistre declared in 1811. Since the primary function of government is to make laws, it follows that every nation has the laws it deserves.
The words of de Maistre are no less true today than they were in 1811. The reason we have a federal government that has been running amok is because the great mass of the public has become lazy and indolent. Indeed, the masses have rejected self-sufficiency and self-reliance and instead, have devoted their lives to seeking immediate gratification.
That goes for both sides of the political aisle. Neither has a monopoly. As Abraham Lincoln famously stated: If people vote for self-centred reasons, they will get a closed government for the few. If instead they vote for the collective good of the country they are more likely to get a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”
IMO, the Mormon ticking time bomb is likely the fact that since 2015 (POX) the memberships view of the infallibility and batting average of the Prophet has dropped. In spite of that, the calls to “Follow the Prophet” are seemingly amplified, and General Conference is bordering on Prophet worship lately. Those two statements don’t sustain each other for long. They are going to smash into each other more and more frequently. The alternative? Reduce the calls to follow and elevate the Prophet, or claim that everything he says is from God. I bet the majority of the members will move towards the latter. But a divide will occur. Not much room for nuance exists lately.
I think the church has lost a lot of its authority over just the last couple of years. The recent First Presidency letter, for example, has been almost entirely ignored in my area. The stake presidency refuses to mask up at church and over 95% of the members of the stake follow their example. Had church leadership taken action sooner–had they done a better job warning about right-wing media and leaders like Trump–they likely would’ve been able to hold on to more of their authority. Now, I think it’s too late.
Brain drain and intellectual isolation from the rest of humanity (see Holland & BYU) may be acceptable to most of the remaining membership, but will prove fatal to the Church long-term. Difficult tasks like institutional adjustment to a non-historical BoM should already be well underway, but are nowhere on the horizon. More basic tasks like figuring out what homosexuality is lag far behind. From my own admittedly limited perspective, the Brethren seem to languish in a 19th Century fantasy land – but maybe they’re just waiting for the right moment and will surprise us all. Hope so.
I agree that the second category is the most problematic because it has made Church communities less, well, community-like. I think that actually increases the relevance of (3) because people will care more about the truth claims and history if they aren’t particularly enjoying participating. Whereas if people are still enjoying and benefitting from their participation, they may be more inclined to stay engaged *even if* they know all of the history and other problems.
I don’t know how many people are leaving over (2) overall. But I personally know a bunch who either aren’t returning post-Covid or who are returning with significantly less engagement and commitment.
I don’t think anything historical is going to be a timebomb for the church. Will it gradually erode the church’s growth as it clearly has been for the last couple of decades? Of course, but I highly doubt something is going to come out of the woodworks about the Book of Abraham or Joseph Smith that we haven’t heard before that is going to completely undermine the church at a more rapid speed. But there is a deep cultural shift that is going on in the US that is bleeding into the church, that I think will affect the church overtime. And cachemagic’s comment is perfectly exemplary of this. For it seems that the older generation and white rural folks, many of whom run the church at local levels in the Mormon belt, are pushing more conspiracy-minded stuff that is extremely off-putting to the younger generation and urban dwellers. It used to be that if you believed in conspiracy theories, such as the idea that 9/11 was an inside job or that a second shooter was involved in the JFK assassination, that 1) you were in a minority and 2) you knew your views were considered loony and would keep quiet. What Trump did is mainstream conspiratorial thinking among Republican voters. He made the loons more confident to express themselves. He made them more brazen, more loud, more insane, and these loons took over conservatism and the Republican Party. He also taught his fans how to dig in their heels in the face of logical counterpoints. Trump helped turn Alex Jones from a fringe person to a mainstream voice among GOP voters. Overtime that is going to kill the Republican Party. Maybe not quite yet, but overtime, oh yes, it is going down. Republican politicians are all held hostage by the loony base, but a loony base that isn’t winning the younger generation, minorities, or urban dwellers. Democrats are still working on the pivot to accommodate the Romney Republicans and create a fusion with progressives, but it will take time. The same issue in the church. The older generation are alienating younger, college-educated, urban folks. They can barely speak about current events without marking themselves as insane. And just like cachemagic. Any time a political topic comes up, he for some odd reason feels the need to express his views on here, and, well, it gets downvoted to oblivion, and he marks himself as an extreme thinker. Not extreme in the Republican Party. No. His ideas are mainstream there. But outside it, yes. Thanks to Trump.
As for cachemagic’s delusional comment (and it is attitudes like these expressed collectively that are a danger to the US constitution and the very republic upon which the US stands, which even more dangerously are expressed by people trying to drape themselves in patriotic garb, but are nothing of the sort, nothing more than fake patriots), I doubt he will be convinced otherwise, but it is worth pointing out what some high-ranking Trump-appointed officials had to say on the 2020 election after copious investigation of claims of fraud.
William Barr, US Attorney General – “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Chris Krebs, US Director of Cybersecurity – “2020 election was most secure in US history.”
Justice Brett Ludwig, Federal Judge in Wisconsin – “This is an extraordinary case, A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for re-election has asked for federal court help in setting aside the popular vote based on disputed election administration issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred. In his reply brief, plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed.’ It has been.”
There is a timebomb that threatens the Church and the fuse is the Internet. Think where you would be personally without Internet-based research, podcasts, social media, etc. We’ve come a long way since the simple days of Sunstone and Dialogue.
The deconstruction will accelerate based on emerging applications (think how effective Tik Tok is now). And based on generational behavior: I first started using the Internet in 1995. Let’s assume 1995 as a starting date. That means every 15-year old, starting in 2010, had daily access to the web. This has been going on for around 10 years. Mormon Stories was born in 2005. The Gospel Topic Essays were born in 2013. There are many other web sites and podcasts and applications that are competing for membership time. Those kids born in 1995 are now 26 years old and this is the future leadership of the country / Church. There is no way the Church can continue to hide the truth. And then it blows up
Elisa described my family’s situation pretty well. Mostly COVID, but also politics a bit, gave us a chance to really look hard at what participation in the Church had done for us, and ultimately made us less eager to participate. With that change in the outward, behavioral side it’s been easier (safer?) to talk openly amongst ourselves about the way the Church’s truth claims line up with our values and beliefs. I have a hunch we’re not the only ones who have experienced that.
I think generational differences will play into the time-bomb effect. I would guess that older members of the Church will feel the effects of the bomb less acutely than younger members will. And my money is on the “different bomb” scenario. It’s been ticking a lot longer than the “same bomb.”
I think the issue that is a ticking time bomb for many, many Church members is equality for women. I think more and more women will not tolerate a male-dominated and male-led church, and if they (both young and old) are not “full members of the club”–in every way– they will walk away. Just yesterday my very faithful wife (who is 60 years old) commented that she is tired of General Conferences where there are 3 female speakers, sacrament meetings where men dominate the stand and the proceedings, and cultural markers about females that are just no longer acceptable in today’s world. I think a younger generation of women are already walking away.
I see a combination of all of these. The church WILL muddle through, just significantly changed. The changes looming are because of large numbers of members experiencing the second response. The muddling will be supported by members who have the perspective of the third response and blame the internet, which is a lot like shooting the messenger.
I appreciate your citation of the Damon Linker essay, and the analysis of lying as a political strategy, even though the portents a depressingly grim. However, I see the statement about the Republicans “sudden embrace of lying as a political strategy” is misleading, because lying has always been a political strategy, of all parties. It’s just that in the past, there could be severe consequences of being caught lying, if the publicity was widespread enough.what the GOP is embracing is blatant, egregious lying as a political strategy. In this climate, we seem to have embraced the predictable practices of toxic narcissism, where a lie is espoused and doubled-, tripled-down, etc. ad infinitum. People clutch it with all the willful delusion they can muster. Significant numbers know it smells bad and don’t care because it seems to work. And you’re correct, that is stupid, and no way to build a community; stupid because it’s actually an effective way to start a war. And yes, the looming end game is scary.
But this has been done in the church and it’s found in scriptural and historical accounts, dating back as early as accounts were kept. We’ve all heard of “lying for the Lord” amirite?
If someone desires from their government (or church) truth, accountability, and healthy community for everyone, these are sobering times.
And one sidebar- I live in AZ and the 2020 election audit conducted earlier this year by the state senate (and some shadow supporters) lost a suit brought against them in a high court, and were ordered to produce the report of the findings of the firm they hired, Cyber Ninjas. They were given a 2 week deadline, but the state supreme court, stacked about 4 years ago by our Trump-supportive governor, overturned the ruling and deadline. It’s painfully clear that they don’t want to make the Cyber Ninjas’ activities openly public, and there is nothing that indicts our elections department, who ran a thoroughly fair and secure election. And the people in oversight of that department are angry at the expense and ruined equipment, but more so about the ruined confidence of way too many voters in the balloting process in Arizona. I’m angry too, because it’s clear that the Republicans’ goal of undermining voter confidence has been met.
Edit: “ …has been met. With lies. Blatant, transparent ones.”
@faith over fear. That’s a good point. I hope you’re right. I am so sick of women settling for (and defending) second-class citizenship. Women absolutely have the power to force a change by simply refusing to participate on unequal terms. We just don’t know it.
I should add – I know a ton of women who are just halfway participating at church. They don’t wear garments. They don’t do temple recommends. They march in Pride parades. They find much of their spirituality outside of the Church. They participate for husbands or community but they are NOT all-in. I wonder if the Church even realizes this because some of the leading indicators like tithing might not be as easy to spot for women (*because* we are second-class citizens – the fact we are invisible to Church leadership also means our declining participation is also invisible). A good chunk of these women are also pretty big influencers on social media and I can imagine (hope) that’s giving other women permission to do the same and radically renegotiate their relationship with the Church in a way that preserves their personal authority.
@John W – I think your comment about the conservative conspiracy-minded people running the local church was spot on. The conservatives will muddle thru. People who are willing to shrug and ignore stuff they don’t agree with will muddle thru. But more and more, people will get alienated as those with right-wing ideology speak up and assume everyone agrees with them.
Personally, I think the Book of Mormon Belt will muddle thru. BYU will still have plenty of applicants (even if loses respectability). Multi-generational families living in Provo will grieve the loss of one of their children to apostasy, but the other 7 children and their collective 38 offspring will remain strong. (I went to a 25-yr mission reunion in Utah County just before Covid and was astounded at how many of my fellow missionaries had families with 6+ children.) Salt Lake County suburbs like West Jordan will continue to have a chapel on every corner. For many, Church is the social center, even if it gets more boring. You stay in the hall and talk to your friends instead of going to Sunday School. Kids are friends with the kids in the ward, so that carries over to school. Maybe it’s just my experience – but I’ve always lived in wards where I’m fairly sure I’m the only one who even knows about historical problems.
I think the effects of the time bomb and the degradation will be more prominent outside of the BoM Belt. Tradition takes a long time to erode. Maybe in 100 years, the Mormons will be like the Mennonites, with 90% of the active ones living in the BoM Belt.
My three brothers and my parents are vaccinated, generally agree that the election was not stolen, and frankly don’t really understand why coffee is verboten even while they refuse to touch it. They all also attend church regularly, pay tithing, give at least cursory attention to general conference, and think Russell M. Nelson is a prophet. For people middle-aged and older, there is no ticking time bomb. Some will leave, but most will not, and the church can paper over many rumors with the devout members by building more temples and buying shares of Game Stop and hotels in Hawaii. The ACTUAL time bomb, in my opinion, is the perspective on LGBTQ issues held by most younger members. It seems like that one will eventually blow up. Will anyone notice? The church doesn’t provide accurate membership figures and releases no financial information, so maybe not. It will muddle along, yes, but it’s already a much less vibrant and dynamic organization than it was two decades ago, so it seems more like they’re preparing for famine, not feast. The metaphorical use of a ticking bomb implies a dramatic event that causes many, many members to leave. I think the demise of the church is happening with such a plaintive whisper that most can’t hear it, but they do feel that this is not the church they attended earlier in life.
I think the time bomb was the legalization of same-sex marriage. As time goes by, the likelihood of any Mormon kid knowing a happily married gay couple climbs and climbs and it becomes increasingly clear that this thing that the Brethren fought tooth and nail is actually a wonderful net positive for society. We are all surrounded by living reminders of the prophet’s wrongness.
I’m in my mid-thirties and every few weeks I hear that another old friend or acquaintance from my age group has left the church. Maybe it’s someone I went to BYU with, someone I worked with, a former roommate, or a kid from HS. They’re often people I never would have expected to leave—former EQPs and RS presidents. What they all seem to have in common is that the church’s teachings don’t mesh with their conscience any more. LGBTQ issues and the treatment of women in the church are often at the heart of their decision to leave.
Historically, church has always been a hard place to be, but many of our ancestors stuck it out because it was easier to believe that “the world” was an even more painful place to be and that the moral high ground was to be found inside the church. Today the church has lost the moral high ground and is now a more sexist, more racist, and more homophobic place than “the world” outside of it. And people are noticing.
I hope that people realize that love is stronger than justice (thank you Brother Sting) or stronger than however we have chosen in our church to interpret Matthew 10:35-37 (man against his father etc). I will always love my kids no matter their choices. I no longer really believe anyway. Not sure if spouse is ready to hear this – the collateral damage of the different bomb sometimes is broken marriages.
@FaithoverFear and @Kirkstall share what I’m observing. Over my past seven years of teaching early-morning seminary (at a private school in Utah), I’ve tried to keep track of the kids, and we lose about half of them to church activity between freshman year of high school and freshman year of college. Every grade starts out with potentially 20 or so attending seminary (and these are the more educated, affluent, committed families who are already doing the cost and effort of private school, and the extra work of early-morning seminary over the default neighborhood option)–there are more who are members at the school, but not active enough to care about seminary. Four years later, we usually have 6-8 who serve a missions, a couple girls who stay active but don’t serve missions, and the rest have left the church. Mostly over social/womens/LGBTQ issues, some just for more “worldly lifestyles” (living with significant other, W of W); some leave by themselves and others with their entire family. I see this hemorrhage as possibly representative of what’s happening on a larger scale in other church congregations, and it’s really terrifying for the future of the church–because these are the educated, committed kids, the girls who are reading their scriptures and trying to understand gender issues in the church and create a place for themselves there, not just the lackadaisical types. If you lose them (and often their moms too), we’re chasing out our best hope for the future.
@anitacwells my parents’ stake is doing a “pilot program” to start seminary in 8th grade. My guess is because they see a lot of attrition between 9-12th.
Personally I don’t think that’ll fix the problem but what do I know.
I think Dave B‘s post and most of the comments are quite valid. I enjoyed reading them, and to me, they are spot on. The Pandemic and Trump have degraded the Church. Many Mormons‘ identity is now based more on political rather than religious belief. The Internet and social media have also clearly degraded the Church. The LGBT issue is hurting the Church, particularly among younger members, whose attitudes on these issues are much more tolerant.
I would like to focus on another area that I think is causing problems for the Church. I sense an obsessive need on the part of Church leaders to control, to keep everything in line. Organizations become so focused on keeping what they already have, that they lose steam and energy, and settle into holding patterns, rather than thinking about new paths for growing. They become brittle and Stiff. I have always thought of DOMcK, SWK, and GBH as forward-looking and positive leaders. But we are now in a period of retrenchment, led by leaders who are trying to minimize damage, rather than finding positive ways to go forward. This is how organizations wind up dying on the vine.
I am pleased someone is addressing the trump problem. So 80% of members voted for trump and 59% still believe he won. So that just under 50% of members believe trump is the rightfull president. And those more conservative members are the ones most likely to be called to positions of power.
Before and after the election Pres Oaks gave talks about the dangers of voting for trump. It will be interesting to see if he does something similar in October.
Not only do they believe trump is the rightfull president, but that Biden is a pedophile, and all sorts of evil. You have to be pretty hard core to still believe trump won.
To me voting for trump raises moral questions. His policies were in opposition to Christs message of loving our neighbour, and particularly the poor. He redistributed wealth to the rich increasing inequality and poverty. His personal morality was also a problem.
The other problem is that he undermined trust in institutions, the press, the government generally, health authorities, climate authorities, international bodies that need to unite others to combat climate change, and maintain the rules for peace.
At present it is not clear whether the republican party can break away from trump?
It is not clear how the 59% of republicans who believe he won will respond if they do?
It is not clear who the other 40% of republicans will support in 22 and 24. Do they understand the damage already done to US democracy?
If a portion of those who voted for trump realise how close to destroying democracy they came, and refuse to vote republican again, does the republican party reform, or continue to claim they won with a reduced vote. At what point do they become irrelevant?
If trump runs again in 24 the insurrection will be better planned. More is coming out about the last one, but of course it is not believed by trumpers.
The republicans are continually showing they do not respect democracy. They attack vote counting, gerrymander the boundaries so they can win with a minority of votes, they make it harder for people not likely to vote for them to vote. They no longer believe in democracy. And yet the majority of members continue to support them?
Can the US be a democracy if there are two parties but one does not believe in democracy. The free world was much diminished when trump was president, but if the US were no longer a democracy the free world may find it hard to stand against china and russia.
Can the leader of the free world be a one party state?
As for the church. The US constitution came close to hanging by a thread, and the majority of mormon elders were encouraging its destruction. The numbers say moral judgement is in short supply in the membership. The leadership who claim to be prophets also failed to prophesy or lead.
The unvacinated, could die out? If not they will probably stay in the church. The church with its present leadership mantra of the 14 all following the prophet wherever he leads will no longer spread to fill the whole earth. With their conservative values of sexism, ageism, homophobia, they have lost the plot, and are becoming increasingly irrelavent.
As stated above some unquestioning members will stay, which will include the trumpers unless Oaks offends them, and most others will leave, not wanting to associate with or be associated with those who stay.
The restored gospel I put so much of my life into, is likely to be destroyed by trump, and made irrelavent/unbelieveable by lack of leadership.
I have 12 grandchildren. Two adults are active and 3 youth for now. The other 7 are not interested.
In Australia there is much discussion about equality/justice for women. Gay marriage is accepted by all political parties and is a fact of life. The fact that the under 40s have little representation in government is becoming an issue. All these issues when applied to the the church show how irrelavent and behind the times by a long way it is.
Thinking about time bombs on a personal level – you could say we all have one. My daughter who has left was taught something at church one day and simply said to herself, “I don’t have to believe that.” Boom. Suddenly everything was on the table.
I think if kids manage to find a spouse who also wants to stay attached, the chances of retaining them are pretty good. But not for lack of trying, many don’t find that. There’s more time and space for some serious self-discovery and a re-examination of how church doctrines and practices jibe with their values.
For my kids, all of this was happening Trump or no Trump.
I think we have seen a huge shift in perspective and outlook that for me spells the beginning of the end of the Church as we know it (and ironically, more of a return to how the Church used to be). Liberal members have long been criticized for being cafeteria Mormons and not falling in lockstep with the prophet. With the vaccine and mask statements, we have seen many orthodox members decide that the brethren can be wrong and they would like to decide for themselves. To me this is a huge shift. As more people are exposed to messy Church history, and attitudes shift, I see there being fewer members who follow the prophet at all costs and more cafeteria Mormons who participate at some level, but say no and pick and choose. My perception is that the leadership are trying to fight this as hard as they can, which is why most of General Conference is on following the leaders. It will be interesting to see how hard they keep trying and at what point the institution shifts to accommodate this attitude among most members.
All of the above statements could be true and happen to some extent, or even a great extent. However I take comfort in the following statement from President Nelson:
“Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory”
I don’t know how that will play out. Miracles in and of themselves don’t seem to traditionally build faith, but I suspect the miraculous events that will transpire will at least give those who are at best indifferent and drifting out of the church a reason to pause and consider a course correction.
I recently gave a talk on “prophets.” I included just enough nuance to keep my sanity. I omitted a long list of latter-day prophetic actions that the orthodox would call acts of “revelation.” I wonder if anyone in my Utah ward even noticed or contrarily, thought I was still being too laudatory.
The time bomb of materialism went off decades ago and it’s still exploding. It’s the time bomb prophesied of in the BOM, the time bomb of the pride/wealth cycle. It was inevitable. And yet, no one in conference ever talks about it. It’s as though the last part of the BOM has been taped shut. We have a massive blind spot. We have Disney Princess syndrome- we read everything in scriptures as the heroes, the princes and princesses, never as the sinners. And yet, we have money, power, privilege. We re the Pharisees and Sadducees if anything.
Brother Brigham said the one and only thing the saints (who were rag-tag refugees back then) couldn’t overcome was materialism and wealth. And here we are. Decades of wealth. We hear from the pulpit “money is GOOD, it allows you to do good things.” How could mostly big time CEOs leading a $100B org say anything else?
This love of power and possessions dulls our empathy and compass, and leads us away from the poor and needy, from righteous causes. (Ayn Rand and Birchers, anti-environmentalism, and prosperity gospel has been NORMAL in the church for such a long time now. Resultantly, we suffer a poverty of spirit.)
Nothing, in all of scriptures, cuts a people off from God and brings about really bad consequences, as a lack of compassion and health and wealth disparities. And we’ve got all that in spades. Love is the # 1 commandment, and to the degree we fail love and even hurt and marginalize others, amen to our PH.
Bernie talks about – the 1% in the world being disconnected from the masses. The church isn’t immune from this! We have an elite pharisaical “caste” which (with the church’s globalization and with the sinking US economy) is rapidly distancing itself from the plight of and experience of the rank and file, from the poor. We no longer have a plowboy prophet- we’ve had generations of rich and powerful executives. And, our blind spots are growing.
At the end of the day, our value rests in our ability to share living waters. Members tell us with their feet- whether their jugs were filled.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Read Mormon and Moroni. It’s all prophesied there. Not that we listen.