NFL football is back. There were wins (hooray!) and losses (there’s always next week). But in the flow of a season and over the course of a decade or two or three, there are Big Wins. Ask any fan, they can tell you about the two or three games (come from behind win against a stronger team) or two or three moments (last-second field goal to win a key game) — Big Wins — that define the team for a generation.
But (transition here) it’s not just teams that have big wins. Companies have Big Win products. Ford Mustang. The iPhone. There are Big Win movies. Star Wars. Here’s the question for today. Can churches have Big Wins? Some event or doctrinal change or new leader that makes everyone feel great and defines that church for a generation? They can certainly have Big Losers. My sense is that lately (the past few years) the LDS Church has had some Big Losers but no Big Wins.
The last Big Win for Team LDS was probably the 1978 Priesthood Revelation (or policy change, depending on your point of view). What was remarkable about that change was that, after years of digging in heels and fighting the good fight, the reaction from the LDS population at large was 99.9% positive. It was almost jubilation. The results of the change in the years following 1978 were likewise uniformly positive. Has there been any similar Big Win for the LDS Church in the intervening 44 years? I think you need a Big Win once in a generation to keep the institutional momentum going. To give hope to the faithful. See if you can name one.
Some candidates? The Larry King interview of Gordon B. Hinckley? Moving the missionary eligibility age for women to 19? Two-hour church? Those are wins maybe, but not Big Wins. Anyone have a better candidate? Here’s my point: the LDS Church really needs a Big Win. It has been too long.
Plenty of options for Big Losers, and that’s the problem. What defines the LDS Church over the last twenty years? The sneaky rollout of the Handbook gay marriage policy in November 2015? The reluctant public disclosure of the Hundred Billion Dollar Fund a couple of years ago? It just seems like all of the Big Events of the last two generations have been Big Losers, with no Big Wins since 1978. That’s too long. At this point, even diehard fans are beginning to lose hope.
Let’s ride the hive mind here and see what we can come up with.
- Any better suggestions for an LDS Big Win since 1978?
- Any proposals for what could be an LDS Big Win in the next few years? I can think of a few.
- I’m sure there are a few contrarians out there who are going to say you don’t need a Big Win, that lots of little wins can keep things going indefinitely. Go ahead and make your case.
- What if there are no more LDS Big Wins to come? How long can the Church just keep lurching from bad PR story to bad PR story before even reliably faithful members start to wonder what’s going on?
I’d argue that Big Wins for churches are usually in the eye of the beholder. That said, from a progressive point of view, isn’t the obvious candidate for the next Big Win the ordination of women to the priesthood? I see President Oaks’ various pronouncements on women and the priesthood as wittingly or unwittingly laying the theological foundation for that coming revelation, though I expect it to be decades down the road. Whether such a big change will result in a significant schism of the membership, I can’t guess. Perhaps President Nelson’s attempts to enhance devotion to his office might pay unexpected dividends in that TBMs might be so “church-broke” by that point (assuming the reactionary membership will have largely died off or left the fold by then) that no schism occurs.
Two-hour church was simply pruning off what most acknowledged was unproductive. It was a gentle consideration of what was good for people. Any future wins will likely be similar.
Big win would allow gay couples to be sealed in the Temple!
Agree with NaC that ordaining women would be a Big Win, though I’m not sure I would want ordination, personally. Also agree it may be decades away.
Another Big Win would be expanded revelation that sanctions and celebrates gay couples in our theology. I think that could come even before women’s ordination, and also, I’m surprised how ready even people I would have thought were very conservative would be to receive and celebrate such a revelation, including older folks.
A further Big-gish Win would be to revert to the system of tithing being 10% of one’s surplus and to focus those dollars almost exclusively on improving the lives of the poor. As the church grows more among some of the poorest places globally, I don’t think we should pay lip service to how big that could be.
A final Big Win would be an apology for racist policies of the past along with an acknowledgment that they were a product of our own prejudices and not God’s will.
Timely topic. Besides sanctioning.gay marriage and ordaining women, candidates would include admitting the BoM is pure fiction and the temple rites are Masonism lite.
I say go big; Remove the name of a 19th century despot from the LDS college system, institute a mandatory Q15 retirement age of 70, and decanonize the D&C and Book of Abraham.
Or swing the pendulum to the right: Openly endorse polygamy, bring back wrist to ankle garments, and build the long awaited New Jerusalem in beautiful downtown Jackson County. Embrace our weirdness.
The big wins you are referring to seem to be oriented around PR. And these are often a reflection of the president of the Church. GBH was very successful with PR. RMN does not seem to have this ability. I don’t see this changing. And does anyone think that DHO (the next president) is going to do any better? So don’t hold your breath waiting for big PR wins.
The other way you get big wins is from changes in policy that the membership and/or public respect. And admittedly RMN made some initial changes that were viewed positively internally among members (no home teaching / 2 hour bloc). But external audiences don’t care about that kind of thing.
The Church has a big opportunity with women and the LGTBQ since they are so far behind. But we’d need a 1978-style “revelation” for that to happen. I wonder if the Bretheren will see the ongoing exodus of membership and find a way to get that revelation.
You need to entertain the possibility that a Big Loss can lead eventually to a Big Win.
Back in the mid-1980s when the then-RLDS Church approved ordination of women, many folks simply saw the mass exodus of traditional members from the church as a Big Loss. Eventually that perception turned around and today ordination of women is universally seen as a big positive. I see something of the same sort of thing now with growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ in the church, including priesthood. Of course, nothing is inevitable. The CofC faces a big issue right now with related components: long-term financial solvency brought on by an aging membership and decreasing contributor base. I find it interesting that last week’s Letter of Counsel from President Steve Veazey naming new members for the leading quorums of the church included having the current present of the Council of 12 become Presiding Bishop with specific tasks to find new income sources and direct new strategic mission initiatives. That, to me at least, was perhaps even bigger news than the great news that two more women (one from the Dominican Republic and the other from USA) would be called as apostles. All changes will take effect next April at World Conference. That says to me that top church leaders are open to wherever the Spirit is leading, even if it might mean great (and painful?) change ahead.
There have been a lot of wins you might have missed. In 1978, I remember thinking the revelation was nice for others but had nothing to do with me. Since then, our family adopted three children of color, including an African-American. So my perspective in 1978 was limited, flawed, wrong! It made a huge difference to me.
Here are some others (in my opinion). Some be big to me because I live far from Utah, where the church is small, spread out, travel is always an issue, and school and other activities do not take into account church time.
* Two hour church (made Sabbath more of a day of rest than a day of travel, sitting in meetings, etc.)
* Can get married in the temple right after civil marriage (this is HUGE, where people had to choose between turning their backs on their families for the most important family event, and being a faithful member of the church).
* Youth/children program goals – this allows families/children to make goals that make sense in the context of the rest of their lives, instead of additional, arbitrary check-offs to add to an already huge list of school, sports, music, drama and other time-consumers. You can set goals for church that fill your other requirements and have family participation.
* Bye-bye Scout program.
* Temple changes (wide ranging, includes all)
* General conference (and other meetings) on internet. We used to pack up the kids and spend two days at the chapel so we could hear all the sessions. On Saturday, we could go to a buffet to eat in between sessions, but Sunday we had to bring food (and of course, our time is two hours later than Utah time).
* Zoom church, stake conference, interviews. We attend church in person (I am accompanist) but it saves hours of travel for interviews, meetings, etc. – at least 2 hours of travel each time.
* On-line seminary option (some units don’t do this, but it is great instead of requiring early morning travel before school (when schools already have conflicting early morning practices scheduled). Actually, on-line courses for self-reliance, Pathways, etc. etc. (I grew up with home study seminary back when it was first introduced; it was marvelous and I knew as much or more than my early morning or released time peers. The original program was fantastic, had tons of materials and lots of elective options.)
Some of these changes may not seem big where the church is everywhere, but some (like eliminating the one-year wait after a civil wedding) are life changing. Probably as time goes on, we will realize more how much some of these small wins blessed us.
One big win happened last year with the Manti Temple. It was going to meet the same fate as Salt Lake, but enough people spoke out to the point where the First Presidency went back to the drawing board and found a better solution: build a newer high-capacity temple a few miles away in order to keep Manti preserved. Another win happened for the temple in Tooele. The Church was originally going to build high-density housing all around the temple in order to manage growth in the area, which would have been glaringly out of place for a rural community. Like with Manti, many people expressed their concerns and those plans were scrapped. The Church even acknowledged these local objections by releasing a statement:
“We acknowledge the efforts of those who have raised questions and sincere concerns about the Tooele Valley Temple project, including the residential development surrounding the temple. There is a sincere desire on the part of the Church to avoid discord in the community. Therefore, regardless of the outcome of a pending signature-gathering effort, we have determined to withdraw our rezoning request for the residential portion of the temple project. We look forward to working with local officials and community members to determine next steps to move forward with the construction of the temple. We hope those from all viewpoints on this matter will treat one another with kindness, civility, and Christlike love.”
People often forget how input is a vital aspect of the revelatory process. A president of any organization in the Church (from Elders Quorum to Primary) has two counselors to consult with on a regular basis. Whenever we sustain new or current leaders (whether local or general), there’s always an option to oppose. There’s a misconception that opposing a motion to sustain someone in a calling is “apostate show and tell.” It is not. The choice of opposition is allowed for this reason: it notifies the presiding officer of a meeting (Stake President, Bishop, etc…) if something is wrong. Then, after the meeting, the person can then meet with the presiding officer privately to candidly express their objections with genuine love and concern for the welfare of the Church. These concerns can include a serious sin that a specific leader is concealing, a certain policy that’s causing more harm than good, and many other things.
This is not to say that “if I yell loud enough, the Church will change.” However, continuous input can prompt leaders to keep seeking the Lord’s will in all things.
I think much of the membership has seen the Family Proclamation as a Big Win for much of the last 27 years. However, just as Rich Brown notes that a Big Loss can come to be seen as a Big Win over time, so can a Big Win come to be seen as a Big Loss over time. What was once a Big Win, boldly proclaimed support for the traditional family structure (for some value of “traditional”), is increasingly seen as a Loss lately.
Does BYU’s victory over #9 Baylor count as a Big Win?
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
Old Man, I agree that “little wins, long overdue” are better than no change at all, but we need a little more boldness.
josh h, yes PR has something to do with it, but I think for a Big Win both public perception and internal reaction need to be positive to some degree. That was certainly the case in 1978.
Rich Brown, thanks for the CoC perspective. I was thinking of other churches as well, and I think maybe the resignation/abdication of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 was a Big Win. It was a widely applauded and an apparently needed change of leadership. It was voluntary on Benedict’s part, not some sort of leadership coup. It allowed the Catholic Church to move forward in some areas. The successor Pope who was elected/selected was widely seen as a breath of fresh air. It was a courageous move by Benedict XVI.
Southern Saint, I agree that sometimes revelation is top-down. Sometimes it’s bottom-up.
If “you need a Big Win once in a generation to keep the institutional momentum going” what would be the last Big Win before OD2? What would be the list of Big Wins through the history of the church? I think it’s easy to identify a lot of Big Wins early on in church history, though that might just be us looking back on history with rose colored glasses. But some obvious candidates include: publishing the BoM, Kirtland Temple, Nauvoo Temple/Endowment. Since Joseph’s death, what are the Big Wins? We treat the exodus to Utah as a Big Win today, but I wonder that it didn’t feel like the Big Escape-with-your-life back then. So what would qualify? SLC Temple? OD1? D&C 138? I don’t think there has historically been Wins of the magnitude of OD2 that have happened once a generation. The historical rate might be more like every 50 to 75 years. Big Wins are once-in-a-lifetime events, not once-in-a-generation events.
OP proposed some candidates for Big Wins of the last 40 years: Larry King, missionary age change, 2 hour church. Other proposals in the comments include Manti/Tooele Temples (Southern Saint) and the Family Proc (with some caveats from Pontius Python). Larry King and the Manti and Tooele Temples are far too local to be Big Wins. For me, the biggest win of my lifetime (I wasn’t alive for OD2) is the explosion of temple building by GBH at the end of last century. I know some people feel like we’ve reached a saturation point with temples going in very 3 miles in Utah county right now, but the shift to small regional temples allowed members around the world to interact with the temple in ways they never dreamed they’d be able to. In my mission, the idea of building smaller temples throughout the world cut the total time for a temple trip by two to three DAYS. Instead of a once-in-a-lifetime, or maybe once-in-a-decade experience, many members could conceive of making a trip to the temple once or even twice each year.
I agree with Margie. Full inclusion of LGBTQ people. Priesthood and equal leadership opportunities for women. Less tithing and then use all of it to serve the poor. A sincere apology to black folks for past racism (that’s me, I’m still waiting) and massive donations to all HBCU’s to bring them up to the same funding levels as BYU. Win, win, win!!!
I am going to play devil’s advocate here, well because somebody has to and I am feeling a bit contrary.
Isn’t there a difference between fixing a serious problem and a big win. I look at giving the priesthood to blacks as fixing an over due problem. Right now, giving women the priesthood would be fixing a problem that people are leaving the church over. Some recognition that gays have a right to be married and still be obeying the law of chastity would be fixing a problem. Most of the changes Nelson has made are fixing smaller problems, but still fixing problems. A win would have been making changes before everyone else, or before the members had to write in and say, please don’t do that. A win should be more than changing things because members are leaving. You know, when the boat is leaking, you fix the boat or you sink. That’s different than winning races.
What would be a big win? The church announcing that it is discontinuing tithing and that all future donation will be used to feed the poor. Announcing that it will donate 10 billion a year to provide renewable energy sources in developing countries. Maybe finding archeological evidence of a culture in South America that had horses, elephants, and something called cummons, with writing telling about how Moroni fought this huge war with the Lamanites. Hebrew DNA among some long lost tribe in the Amazon. Just something more than playing catch up with society so we are not seen as bigoted and 50 years behind the rest of society, something more than patching the boat so members are not jumping overboard in record numbers.
I second Anna’s comment. I’m tired of being in an organization that’s simply behind the times. But even better than being part of an organization that’s with the times would be to be part of something that’s ahead of the times. Her comment is gold and should be hand-stitched and hung on the wall.
I live in California, and I get all the reasons to hate on the golden state. But I love that California is willing to bet big. For example, California consistently sets the fuel economy standards for the rest of the country. To wit, we just effectively outlawed gas powered cars starting in 2035 (I’m overgeneralizing but it’s a start). California also just required me to get a background check to serve in the Deacon’s Quorum. We need cutting edge wins, not wins that merely fix the past.
Personally, even a “Big Win” at this point would be too little, too late as far as my testimony goes. It would great, of course, for any good that comes of it, but it wouldn’t bring me back. On my mission I often used the analogy of getting baptized as joining the winning team, even if that mean winning in the long term, eternal sense. It ends up that I don’t think the Church is really the winning team anymore. For me, a winning team puts love first. They don’t do stuff like ask their gay son not to post pictures on social media of them eating together with their son’s gay interest (looking at you Gong); that’s literally the opposite of what we read in the New Testament. They reach out with love when others have been hurt (polygamy, for example; looking at you Oaks); they have humility and sincere concern for others (looking at you Nelson, Oaks (again), Eyring, Bednar); they don’t get all huffy and make completely ridiculous logical claims about the truth (looking at you Holland). Sure, I have faults too. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that when I look for truth and how to live my life, I’m looking for love as a motivating factor: not power, not demands of loyalty at all costs; not arrogance.
I hope the Church decides to produce a “Big Win” soon. But it looks like their conservative donors at BYU are the ones they’re responding to, and as long as they’re the ones running show, it will continue to be losses both the PR and the theological sense as far as I can see.
I imagine the leaders of the Church are caught in a sort of Gambler’s Fallacy; they are willing to accept mounting losses (big and small) because they just *know* the next “big win” is right around the corner.
As much as I would welcome women’s ordination and extending temple sealings to LGBTQ couples/families, by the time such changes are implemented, the losses will already be too great for the changes to compensate for.
Jack Hughes, I believe the “Sunk Cost Fallacy” is playing just as big if not bigger roll as the Gambler’s Fallacy for the Q15.
The only outside-the-Church Big Win that I can see in the past 2 decades was the nomination of an active Mormon man as the candidate for President of the United States, our nation’s highest and most powerful office. That is a significant public acknowledgement of the mainstream nature of the LDS Church.
As far as Big Losses, we need look no further than the leaders’ throwing-under-the-bus moves at BYU. That institution has become/will continue to become a national laughingstock or debacle, as our leaders continue their retrenchment efforts in that area.
What @Anna said.
The only big win that I think would actually be a big win both inside and outside the Church is spending billions of dollars on actual charitable things like world hunger, eradicating disease, etc.
Many of the other suggestions would still be controversial within and even outside the Church. That doesn’t mean they’re not the right thing to do, but there would be fallout.
@Bishop Bill, there are people who will think that BYU’s victory over Baylor is a direct result of the purging / cleansing of BYU being undertaken by Gilbert. Too bad. It was a really fun game though! And I don’t even like sports.
Yep. I like what others have said regarding equality of women and acceptance of the lgbtq+ community. My list of future big wins for the church would also include:
-Garments to be worn just in the temple (and maybe to church too).
-Updates to the Word of Wisdom (not by commandment or constraint).
-Keep the law of tithing, but have church members donate 10% directly to the poor or other good causes. (eliminate this from the temple recommend requirements)
-Re-vamp the temple recommend questions to be less about loyalty to the church and more about being a disciple of Christ.
Those would just be seen as big wins for the membership of the church and outsiders wouldn’t care too much, but that’s okay with me. I’d take those wins.
Big win: a fourth mission of the church, to serve the poor and needy. Oh wait
The next big win will be the completion of our (the church’s) responsibility to Gather Israel. This is THE main focus of the church right now. There are plenty of sideshows going on, many have been mentioned above, and while they are important, they are secondary to the “main show” called the Gathering of Israel. RMN defined this effort like this: “Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.”
I can’t believe no one mentions eliminating the word “Mormon” from our vocabulary as a big win.
Satan has been defeated for crying out loud!
@Call me Mark, banishing “Mormon” from our lexicon was a recent big win. A previous big win was the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. Unfortunately sometimes 2 big wins = 1 giant loss
@bwbarnett, I’m genuinely curious how you would measure “the completion of our (the church’s) responsibility to Gather Israel.” Like everyone in the world joins the Church or at least had had the explicit opportunity to join? I mean, if the “‘main show’ called the Gathering of Israel” as you put it is truly the Big Win, how does one define the win? Slowing new member baptism rates and children of record births and decreasing activity numbers doesn’t really seem like a Big Win to me. It’s a nice idea, sure. But we’ve moved from the ‘literal’ gathering to boasting about numbers to talking about individual lives.
Ward consecration: instead of paying 10 percent to Utah headquarters to fund shopping malls and Utah enterprises, we’d pay 10 percent into local Fast Offerings, which stays with the local ward fund, and from the local Ward Fast Offering, we’d pay 10 percent to headquarters. So money stays in the ward to take care of actual membership. Seems to me like the way Jesus would do it.
I wish I could be more optimistic a Big Win is anywhere in sight, but unfortunately I think many members are content with BYU football wins and more temple building site announcements as big wins–in many ways our North American church culture is vain that way. History shows us the church’s biggest wins were more or less compelled–the denunciation of polygamy under threat of the federal government and the 1978 revelation after extraordinary pressure was placed on the church for years are two examples. These Big Wins were not the product of vision, but of survival under pressure.
I listened to Elder Oaks’ devotional today (yawn) and it’s more of the same. We don’t do the world, hey look at me preach retrenchment, suck on a pickle with me to keep the smiles away. A devotional that certainly wasn’t an inspirational. Basically, it felt to me like a another talk where so many dreams go to die. No Big Win in sight.
Many commenters have offered up wonderful Big Win ideas, and I agree with most of them. @Elisa wrote, “The only big win that I think would actually be a big win both inside and outside the Church is spending billions of dollars on actual charitable things like world hunger, eradicating disease, etc.” I couldn’t agree more with her.
I grew up around a lot of Seventh Day Adventists. I didn’t mingle with them too much because they were historical Adventists, and insular. They had their own K-12 private school. They did participate in youth sports sponsored by my town and that’s where I became friends with many. I guess since I was one of the few weird religion members I was put with the other weird religion members; so I was always placed on the team with a dozen Adventist kids. It was the Mormon and the Adventists. I learned they are incredibly disciplined and devoted people who live, proactively, a far more disciplined health code (they focus less on the don’ts and more on the do’s) than we Mormons do. And all of them were committed to pursuing jobs in healthcare. The adult Adventists were oddly overrepresented in healthcare in my hometown. There were a score of Adventist doctors, dentists, nurses, radiology techs, EMS… All the friends I made wanted to attend the medical school at Loma Linda, I believe. (They all held a confidence in who they are and in what they believe that I don’t find in our church, and that has always intrigued me.)
I envy the positive impact the Adventists have because of their commitment to providing healthcare to the world. Do you know how many hospitals and clinics they run in developing countries? Hundreds. I think they sponsor over 1,000 schools too. The similarities between the Adventists and Mormons are kind of attention getting, except they seem to be more heads-down builders (I think they count around 22-25 million members globally). Growing up with Adventists makes me wonder why our church lacks this kind of long-term commitment to bettering the world by providing education and healthcare, as well as other charitable ventures.
But I already know why. We are run by businessmen and anyone who works at an executive level in business knows your enemy is fixed overhead costs, and the church knows this and avoids fixed overhead like the plague. It’s why we are far more comfortable giving money or in-kind resources, ad hoc, to charitable agencies–we don’t want to commit to infrastructure costs, to overhead. Hospitals and schools require a long commitment to fixed overhead. I think this is a mistake personally. I think if we were to commit to long-term charities, to healthcare, education, and food and water engineering infrastructure in developing regions, we would snap the attention of the world and our ability to influence the world for the better would increase manifold.
So I’ll join Elisa’s Big Win wish, but I’ll settle for financial transparency from the church as my Big Win. Financial transparency, I think, would lay bare what we could be doing, and start that ball rolling.
So the obvious Really Big Win is that the Q15 announces Jesus is returning to earth in 7 days and He actually does and He publicly accepts the CoJCoLDS as His kingdom on earth.
Conversely, the Really Big Loss is that Jesus returns and people like Pope Francis are told “well done thou good and faithful servant” and RMN and DHO get the “depart from me…I was hungry and you did not feed me…” speech.
But realistically, as much as I think it would actually still be a Big Win for the LDS church, even years after other churches, to make priesthood and leadership equally available for women and temple marriage and such available to LGBTQ individuals, that’s not going to happen as long as DHO breathes.
But a Big Win that could happen without RMN and DHO having an actual visit from God (or at least Peter, James, and John) calling on them to repent, would be for the Q15 to make a new policy that all full time missionaries will be asked to dedicate 30 hours a week to community service and that they would be asked to put themselves at the service of local community organizations rather than come up with the service projects themselves. Mission presidency couples would be called with the mission to help identify the best ways that young missionaries could serve within the region and Senior missionaries would act in a similar manner at more local levels. All of their service would be focused on sustainable long term projects where sustained commitments by volunteers could do the most long term good rather than short-term photo-op service projects. And then mission presidency couples would work with 70s to quietly back those community identified projects with financial resources from the LDS church.
10 years of that, the LDS church becomes an entirely different place and it starts to grow again instead of continuing to whither on the vine.
For me, the fun part is considering what constitutes a win from the leadership’s perspective. Is it something that excites the base or is it something that expands the church? I can think of plenty of prepper stuff that would cause the membership to just go bonkers with excitement looking forward to the second coming. Announcement of a new temple in Missouri with some hints towards pilgrimage, second anointing, and a special general conference. The president proclaiming the seer stone started working again leading to the canonization of new material kicked off by the proclamation on the family with new additions and the lost 116 pages that have been given again by revelation. Unfortunately we can’t count on scientific discovery to bolster the church and I doubt that they’ll go the route of being more main stream In regard to women and LGBTQ issues anytime soon, but if they decide to dive into the peculiarities of Mormonism and Bednar runs for president, it could get crazy!
“I’m sure there are a few contrarians out there who are going to say you don’t need a Big Win, that lots of little wins can keep things going indefinitely. Go ahead and make your case.”
Count me as one of those. I’m skeptical that there will be any big wins for the church in the foreseeable future or territory where there could be big wins. The church in 1978 piggybacked off of the big Civil Rights wins in the US during the 1960s. The church is in survival mode and plans only tweaks and slight and modifications to keep the machine oiled and running as the society around it makes transitions. A number of factors will make it so that the church aims for and only gets little wins:
1) political and cultural polarization in the US has filtered its way into the church. This makes it so that the church has to please a mostly conservative base in its ranks by not making huge transitions. At the same time, the church’s liberal population, who in many ways act as its best ambassadors to the non-Mormon populace, have to placated as well, but to a lesser degree.
2) The rise of anti-wokism has stalled progress on the LGBTQ+ rights front particularly over the issue of trans people’s rights and privileges in society. This has created a distraction and taken the pressure off the matter of conservative religions fully accepting lesbians and gays. The question of religions performing same-sex marriages has taken a backseat. The church simply isn’t under as much pressure to make such a change as it may have once been.
3) People have gotten used to a new reality in the US. When Trump ran for the presidency in 2015, both conservatives and liberals were in shock and laughed him off. What happened? Conservatives molded themselves around Trump and Trumpism. The shock and disgust of liberals only increased (and rightly so). But the fact remains that people have gotten used to Trumpism. Similarly, people have gotten used to the more conservative and seemingly distasteful elements of the LDS church. They accept the negative sides while trying to emphasize some positive aspects. This makes it so that the church doesn’t have as much of an impetus to change.
4) We live in an age of post-truth. Trump and his lies have distorted the picture of reality for tens of millions of people. What we once thought was a more clear picture has become increasingly blurry. Trump has taught the US how to engage in scandalous behavior and get away with it. The church uses this to their advantage. Someone attacks the church and its teachings, the church leaders invoke Trump tactics of deflection, obfuscation, assuming victimhood, and says “I know you are but what am I.” And that leads into the fifth point.
5) There are unlikely to be more bombshells like the CES Letter. When it came out in 2013, the CES Letter rocked Mormonism. It did what nothing else before it had done. It concisely packaged and juxtaposed a large number of issues with the church and its teachings. Time has passed, FAIR Mormon has built a counternarrative against it (it is an intellectually dishonest and poorly constructed counternarrative that passes no muster among the non-believing, but one that sells well with the already believing). Where do critics of Mormonism go now? So much has already been published, it is hard to think of new areas that critics could uncover to attack the church on.
The church will continue to change. But it probably doesn’t need the big changes to keep going. In all likelihood, it will maintain its conservative base for sometime to come. The liberals on the edges (which, again, the church actually needs for ambassadorship to the non-Mormons) are prone to fade away into inactivity, yes. But they will be replaced by a minority from within the conservative base who will question church conservative culture but be reluctant to fully question the church to full measure. The age of church growth in the US has stopped. Growth won’t come from conversion of teens and adults. It will mainly come from those born into the church. And it should be enough to keep the church operating for the foreseeable future.
Big Win. 2015 general conference sermon by First Presidency Counselor D Uchdorf admitting that church authorities had made mistakes in the past and needed to be honest about the same. Result: he got fired and sent back to the Q12. Big Win immediately turned into Big loss, adding to further loss of publication of 13 essays addressing controversial gospel subjects. Can,t stop digging the hole even deeper. Most unfortunate.
Most of the comments concern possible internal wins. I would argue with “your food allergy” and “sasso,” that the Church needs to use its financial and human resources to help the poor, refugees, etc. The Church does some now, but it needs to do a lot more. This would be a big win for those in need.
“In the midst of a seismic hunger crisis, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making the largest humanitarian donation in its history, giving $32 million to the World Food Programme.
The WFP will use the money to provide food and other critical support to 1.6 million people in nine countries — Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.”
@Pontius Python – I hope the $32 million will benefit all of those countries, but at some point it seems like there is simply not enough food to go around, regardless of money. A few articles I’ve read indicate that global food production is WAY down this year. Some people will be very hungry (starving) primarily those in poorer countries. So while I’m glad the church made the donation, I fear the issues coming may not be solvable with money.
$32 million divided by 1.6 million people equals $20 a person. That wouldn’t buy a family of four a Happy Meal.
Just not enough – good start, but they can certainly do more.
Fortunately, the WFP doesn’t buy Happy Meals. They can stretch a dollar pretty far.
But you’re also correct. That $32M could be a down payment from the $100B fund. Maybe it’s a matter of somebody deciding today is a “rainy day.”
@Brian – Great question… I don’t know how to measure its completion, but it stands to reason that at some point, it will be complete. Some have divided “the gathering” into 3 phases as described in the link below and suggest we are in the 2nd phase, the 2nd phase ending with the 2nd Coming of Christ.
Maybe Joseph Smith said it best when he said, “… till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
It’s great that the Church is donating $32M for food. I travel frequently to Eastern Africa and the food help is desperately needed. But I wish leaders would involve members more: missionaries, retirees, those seeking sabbaticals, vacationers, wards, etc. And obviously $32M is a minor fraction of the money they can afford to give. I figure Church can easily contribute $2.5B/yr. toward humanitarian aid. And
much more than that is within reach.
Roger that, Roger! Think of all the untapped energy and good will in our missionaries, our members, all ready to get on board with an inspiring and meaningful service opportunity like feeding the hungry. Then think of all the positive PR, recruitment, collaboration, and you have a recipe for the future viability and of this church. Why this is not absolutely obvious to the brethren is baffling to me.
I’d love to see better use of the full-time missionaries and the church turning toward Christian service in spite of the scary liabilities that now dictate building use.
Imagine if every LDS stake center around the world became a JustServe local headquarters and was staffed by the local missionaries who spent half their time in traditional missionary work and the other half on this new initiative.
According to local needs they could run a soup kitchen, provide school supplies, free tutoring, visits to the elderly or disabled, or whatever is most needed.
Serving as non-profit managers in this way would provide valuable professional experience to the young missionaries while also turning the church into a magnet for local good-hearted people looking for service opportunities.
“At the 46th Imperial Session in Portland, Oregon, Imperial Potentate W. Freeland Kendrick recommended the formation of the Shriners Home for Friendless, Orphaned and Crippled Children. The report, given on June 23, 1920, was not well received by those in the meeting.
“That afternoon, Kendrick took the floor again and proposed building a hospital for children with disabilities and recommended that the funding come from an annual $2 per capita tax to fraternity members, and that it would be called Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children. Many Shriners expressed doubts about the practicality and the responsibility that comes with starting and running a children’s hospital. The prospects of the plan were fading when a Noble stood up to address the crowd.
“That Noble was Forrest Adair of Yaarab Shriners in Atlanta. He addressed the concerns of the audience with an inspiring monologue that is referred to as the “Bubbles Speech.”
“ ‘I was lying in bed yesterday morning about four o’clock … and some poor fellow who had strayed from the rest of the band stood down there under the window for 25 minutes playing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,’ said Adair.
“ ‘I wondered if there were not a deep significance in the tune that he was playing for the Shriners … I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. While having spent money for songs and spent money for bands, it is time for the Shriners to spend money for humanity… I want to see this thing started… Let us lay aside the soap and water and stop blowing bubbles and get down to brass tacks… Let us get rid of all the technical objections… And if there is a Shriner in North America who objects to having paid the $2 after he has seen the first child helped, I will give him a check back for it myself.’
The Shriners’ legacy continues.