There’s a petition going around SUU to get the school to revoke their invitation for Elder Holland to speak at the upcoming commencement. This is in response to his anti-LGBT rhetoric at BYU, specifically his comments that BYU employees needed to apply “musket fire” on the Church’s behalf in their fight against gay rights. This puts Elder Holland in a category with many conservative, particularly those with anti-LGBT views, who have been in the line of fire when campuses invited them to speak and students protested their presence.
Those who are rallying to cancel Elder Holland as a speaker are animated by two complaints: 1) his anti-LGBT rhetoric at BYU, and 2) his role as a leader in the Mormon Church. Because SUU (Southern Utah University) is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these students are baffled at why the school would invite him to speak. According to Mindy Benson, current President of SUU:
“We are delighted to welcome Elder Holland as our commencement speaker this year. His southern Utah roots and dedication to education and learning are timely as we wrap up our 125th anniversary year. His address will offer inspiration to our graduates to embrace lifelong learning and give back to their communities as they leave SUU and continue to build their lives.”https://www.suu.edu/news/2023/03/commencement-speaker-jeffrey.html
Southern Utah Univerity has a student body of just over 13,000. 80% of the students are somehow affiliated with the LDS Church (e.g. members or former members). Yet there are already 5,700 signatures protesting Elder Holland’s engagement as speaker. That’s almost a signature for every two students which indicates a significant level of outrage.
I’ve listened to many political opinions about this trend of cancelling or protesting or heckling conservative speakers who are associated with anti-LGBT views, and while I do see both sides of this issue, I’m frankly not sure which argument is more compelling. Are we creating more division by refusing to listen to “both sides”? Does cancellation only result in further retrenchment among conservatives? Or are some ideas (e.g. that are a call to repeal basic human rights) just too wrong and harmful to entertain?
Conservatives would defend the types of things Holland said as free speech that is protected by law. You’re allowed to hold an opinion, even if that opinion is controversial or not a majority viewpoint. They would claim it is just an opinion, ideas, not incitement to harm others. Detractors would say that it crosses the line into hate speech because it’s an attack on hard-won equal rights, usually for LGBT people, minorities, or women, that are in the cross-hairs. Of late, the anti-trans rhetoric has reached a fever pitch in which some conservatives are calling for the eradication of transgenderism. Their claims that they mean the concept but not the people is prima facie ridiculous. You can’t eliminate transgenderism without harming trans people.
Free speech refers to the right to express any opinion or idea without censorship or restraint. In the context of university campuses, free speech means that students, faculty, and staff have the right to express their views on a wide range of topics, including controversial ones, without fear of censorship, punishment, or retaliation.
Hate speech, on the other hand, refers to any form of speech that attacks or dehumanizes a particular group of people based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. Hate speech is often used to spread discriminatory and prejudiced attitudes and can have a harmful impact on individuals and communities.
The difference between free speech and hate speech on campuses is that while free speech is protected, hate speech is not. Universities have an obligation to create an inclusive and respectful environment for all students, and hate speech can undermine this goal. However, it can be challenging to determine when speech crosses the line into hate speech, and universities must strike a delicate balance between protecting free speech and preventing hate speech.
As I’ve said on Twitter, part of the disconnect is that people on the right are prone to minimize violence by calling it speech. Storming the capital, which resulted in actual deaths, has been characterized by some as “free speech.” But on the left there is a trend to refer to speech as violence–that speech is harmful and hurts people, that listening to opposing views is creating trauma and requires a trigger warning. We are probably not creating resilience with this type of narrative, and we need resilience to have the stamina to defeat bigotry. Speakers are not actually indoctrinating students with their ideas, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t attend a commencement if the speaker was someone whose ideas I found reprehensible, or if an invited speaker was on record communicating that an entire category of graduating students were unequal and deserved to be treated as second class, whether that speaker understood the impact of her words or not.
Some of this feels like a timing issue. Maybe we need another twenty or thirty years of bigots dying off, of science catching up, of religions getting less patriarchal. One of the podcasts I listen to, Left, Right and Center, included a statement by the conservative commenter that the view that gay marriage is invalid is still a “mainstream” view. Both the “center” and “left” commenters were taken aback by this assertion, pointing to the high approval rates for gay marriage (roughly 70%), but she stuck to her guns (I mean, probably also actual guns, not just rhetorical guns) and said that if 30% of the public think something, that’s still mainstream; it doesn’t have to be the majority viewpoint to be commonly held.
Students should be exposed to a variety of ideas and viewpoints, and they can disagree or agree as they see fit. Some speakers who’ve either come under fire with protests or been disinvited are those who hold views that women should not be in the workforce, for example. Is that a good message for students? Does having this person speak to students feel like an endorsement of their viewpoints? While hearing these types of viewpoints is probably useful in higher education, ideas can be discussed without elevating them as speakers. We can and should talk about white supremacy, but we don’t need to invite David Duke to speak at commencement for those discussions to happen, do we?
Elder Holland’s qualifications to speak go beyond his church roles, according to the statement by SUU, but it doesn’t alter the concerns of LGBT students and allies at the school who saw what Holland said at BYU and thanked their lucky stars they didn’t attend there and weren’t subject to the open bigotry espoused. From comments on the petition:
- “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, this makes me question what SUU is really about. No student should feel uncomfortable or disrespected. This is not ok, we are better than this.”
- “I want all of my students to feel welcome and safe on SUU’s campus, especially during an important and celebratory milestone in their lives.”
- “I deserve to graduate in peace knowing I am supported by my university. They can plug their Q Centers, diversity quotas, and pride flags. But until the school itself stands up for their queer students, it means nothing.”
Exposing students to controversial ideas is one thing, but throwing disenfranchised students under the bus is another.
- What is the university’s obligation to protect students vs. to expose them to controversial ideas?
- Does inviting someone to speak at the university imply endorsement? (It sure as hell does at BYU).
- Should Elder Holland be cancelled from speaking at SUU’s commencement given the outcry?
So correct my math if necessary. So 20 percent of the students are solidly nonmember. That’s 2600 students. Let’s say they all signed the petition (not likely, it was probably erratically signed depending on who was offered it on which day).
That’s still 3100 LDS students that signed. Will our leaders hear this message? The message is that the youth of the church support LGBTQ people. All my kids did even back when my hubby and I didn’t get it yet. I don’t think there’s any going back for the church. We will lose most of our youth if we continue in the path we are on. Will they really study and pray on this issue? Or will they be sure they are right while the youth of the church leave because the leaders can’t see what is Christ like.
I love Elder Holland. I wish he had thought more carefully before he said what he did. But if it helps our leaders to pray more about this it would be worth it.
I think they should drop the invitation and let the students send their message. Or let him come and I expect a message will be delivered either way
5,700 SUU students signed? I seriously doubt that. I don’t like cancel culture tactics regardless of the speaker’s message. These are adult students, not kids. And LGBTQ students can process a variety of messages and still not shatter like glass. In fact, most universities are some of the safest places to hear and process various perspectives. It’s what university students should be doing.
My guess is Holland likely has at least one grandchild graduating this year at SUU. I know when Boyd K. Packer spoke at BYU at my commencement, it was because he had a grandchild in the graduating class.
lws329: I’m with you–wouldn’t it be great if this message was actually received and understood? They continue to double down on their worst impulses, and they are going to lose everyone of conscience under age 50, and everyone, full stop, under age 35. I don’t think I agree with the conservative commentator who said that it’s still “mainstream” to be against gay marriage and gay rights. As Americans we believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We can’t put up barriers to pursuit of happiness based on sexual orientation or identity or race and still expect those people to pay taxes and put up with mistreatment. It’s wrong. The “religious freedom” argument is overreach. They might get away with this on their own turf which they can rule like authoritarians, but it’s not going to fly where they don’t run things.
He should never have been invited in the first place and the invitation should be rescinded. I am livid about this and frankly embarrassed for my state and SUU — what a dumbass move. I hope that if the invitation is not rescinded there are more people protesting outside of commencement than there are attending.
(1) What makes Holland a compelling speaker at a secular university commencement ceremony? What has he accomplished in his life apart from being a religious leader? I guess he was President of BYU, which is semi-interesting, but he’s been a full-time religious leader since 1989. Yawn. Outside of Mormondom he is a nobody. I would be totally pissed if I were a nonmormon student attending SUU, even *without* the musket fire speech. It would make me feel like an outsider in my own state & university – a reminder that remember, Utah is for Mormons! Honestly, I think that even setting aside the BYU remarks, that’s a really boring and stupid choice. There are tons of other business, community, political, scientific, literary, you name it people in the world to choose from.
(2) Holland’s remarks at BYU were disgusting, and he didn’t apologize. Ever. I don’t think we should cancel people who make mistakes and apologize. I am not sure I feel the same way about people who refuse to acknowledge harm they’ve done. Why give them a forum? It’s not about protecting students from harmful ideas. I doubt anyone is afraid he’ll say similar things at the commencement. But why give credibility or legitimacy to someone who has said, very recently, truly horrific things about a segment of the student body?
(3) I absolutely do think that inviting someone to speak at a *commencement* is essentially an endorsement saying “We as a university think this person is inspiring and worth emulating.” Does it mean every speaker has to be perfect? No. But I do think they need to be mindful that commencement is a celebration for ALL their students and maybe not invite someone who very recently gave a hate speech about a chunk of your student body – oh, and who is also representing a Church that is currently destroying academic / religious freedom & going on a witch hunt at its own educational institutions.
(4) I agree that there is a problem in refusing to expose people to controversial ideas, but as I mentioned in (2), I don’t think that’s what this is about. I wouldn’t compare this to inviting a controversial judge to speak in a law school event (one of the things that’s been making headlines lately, and where I do think people are a bit overreacting if they don’t want to listen to people who have different legal opinions.). I also think it would be really different if he came to speak to a class or at some other event on campus that people could choose whether or not to attend or where there was a concrete reason for him to speak (like if he were speaking about theology or … whatever the hell else he knows or has done that’s useful to the general population). Inviting him to a major campus-wide event — commencement, about as important an event as it gets — is not appropriate.
So yeah. I don’t think we should endlessly punish people for stuff they did a long time ago. I don’t think we should endlessly punish people for stuff they’ve apologized for. I don’t think we should refuse to listen to ideas that are different from ours. Those are the kinds of “cancel culture” things I don’t like. But I just don’t think this is an example of cancel culture. It’s an example of – don’t invite someone who has very recently and with zero remorse expressed violence and hatred towards a chunk of your student body to one of the most significant events of their college experience.
So here’s the problem–the youth aren’t the ones donating money to SUU. Their voices are moot. Holland’s musket-fire talk at BYU was done in response to complaints the brethren received from donors (Holland mentioned those complaints in his talk). There’s no way SUU is going to alienate it’s conservative Southern Utah donor base by removing Holland as a commencement speaker. Money talks when it comes to universities because they cannot operate based on state & tuition funds alone.
(this is also an example of – who was in the room when this decision was made? Was there a queer person? A parent of a queer person? This seems like such an unforced error if there were more diversity among decisionmakers who could have flagged this as a major potential problem before it became one.)
@Mary Ann – that’s a good point. In which case the prudent course would have been to never put themselves in the position to have to uninvite him by never inviting him in the first place.
I just want to say I am tired of things being about donors and money. Money is more important apparently than treating those who are different in a Christ like way. It’s more important than protecting their lives from violence and their hearts from exclusion.It’s more important than making the church an institution our youth can stand to be associated with. The money will be cold comfort because the future is coming and the youth will gone their way.
Matty Easton posted an absolutely SCORCHING hot take on Twitter. Maybe they should invite him to speak, instead.
I’m against the cancel culture generally. But not in this case. Let’s me qualify:
I think it would be wrong to cancel him just because he’s LDS, even if only 1% of the student body of SUU was LDS.
I think it is right to cancel a graduation speaker if that speaker spoke at another graduation previously and offended in large part the LGBT Q community. He disqualified himself at a BYU graduation for speaking at a SUU graduation.
I believe that Holland or any other Church leader should probably not be allowed to speak at a graduation ceremony at any public college or university. We don’t even need to consider the musket talk, or anything else he has said. The Church is openly discriminating against LGBTQ individuals through its policies/doctrines. Graduation ceremonies are supposed to be celebrations for the entire student body, including LGBTQ individuals. Inviting a Mormon Church leader to speak at graduation is not going to be comfortable for many LGBTQ students, so until the Church “sees the light” on LGBTQ issues, Church leaders shouldn’t be speaking at graduation.
I do think that there should be room for open, academic discussion about just about any topic, however unpopular, on a college campus. This would include open discussion people on all sides of LGBTQ issues. Generally speaking, I really hate when I see speakers “cancelled” on college campuses for sharing their viewpoints, however unpopular they may be. I think colleges should feel free to invite LDS Church leaders/representatives to speak at colleges in various forums on a variety of topics, including Church views on LGBTQ individuals. If an LGBTQ individual doesn’t want to hear the Church viewpoint, then they can just choose not to attend that forum. However, graduation ceremonies are supposed to be for the entire student body, so they are not the right venue for speakers whose viewpoints deeply hurt or offend a significant portion of the student body. Therefore, because of the Church’s current policies towards LGBTQ individuals, no public university should invite an LDS Church leader to speak at a graduation ceremony.
As a comparison, what public university would have invited an LDS Church leader–regardless of what that particular person had say about race issues–to speak at their graduation ceremony in 1977? Maybe SUU would have done this back in 1977, but I doubt any institution outside of Utah would do this because the Church’s position on race was simply not acceptable in 1977. Now ask yourself what public university outside of Utah would ever invite an LDS Church leader to speak at their graduation today? SUU apparently did choose to do this in 2023, but I don’t think any institution outside of Utah would ever consider doing this because the Church’s position on LGBTQ issues has become simply acceptable for too many people in 2023.
Oh thanks for the tip Joni!
This is also hilarious:
I think several things are going on here, both at SUU and in our contemporary culture.
1) There is media that speaks very loudly to and at captive audiences. Only a select few and the other influentials they choose get ahold of the mikes to use it. The rest of the population is limited to Letters to the Editor, forums and blogs, etc.
2) Commencement is — or should be — not a rote annual event but a recognition of the work that a class has done to be able to move on, or commence, the real work of their lives. Does anyone ask them who they’d like to hear from? And when someone like Holland who’s harsh and dictatorial position on things that are phenomena of nature are well known already, should we expect he will have appropriate advice for the challenges those graduates will be facing in a rapidly changing world or that he intends, once again, to try to force his perspective on them?
3) When freedom of speech is an issue isn’t there a commensurate right to listen or reject a message? But what avenue is there for graduates to express their response to messages that we can well predict will evoke strong reactions? They could, of course, not attend. Not attend the only graduation that’s available to them. …while Holland will have any number of occasions to continue his screeds against vulnerable populations.
Essentially, I think it comes down to a very unequal opportunity to speak freely.
Got some news folks, as a 30+ year constitutional attorney I know what I’m talking about. “Hate speech” IS ABSOLUTELY PROTECTED SPEECH!! Other than calling for the violent overthrow of our government, or specifically threatening bodily harm or yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when there’s no fire for the sole purpose of causing panic or intentionally stating or publishing falsehoods against non- public private people, you have the First Amendment right to say or write anything you want including what may be deemed hate speech. On the flip side, a school certainly has the right to not invite someone to speak on campus whose views are unpopular to the student body. But, let’s be clear, the person espousing hate speech DOES have the constitutional right to expose such. Hate speech, LEGALLY, is free speech.
If I were Holland and knew of this petition, I’d recuse myself from speaking. What would be my motivation, otherwise?
@Marksmyname–One possible motivation for Holland accepting the invitation in the face of controversy might be to go there and say some inspiring words that avoids controversial Church topics so that the Church might be able to say something like, “Yes, you may not like our positions on LGBTQ issues, but besides that we’re a really normal and great group of people. Can you please think more about Holland’s inspiring graduation speech than you think about the Church’s LGBTQ positions?”
@dmtm, can you point to the comment where someone makes the claim that Holland’s speech was or is or could be “unconstitutional”? I certainly don’t see it so I am not sure who you are sharing your news with.
Can you imagine what would happen at the U if they invited Holland? Even though there are many LDS alumni from the U, I think the protests would be heard on the moon. That’s probably the more appropriate hypothetical example to follow.
Holland will never back out because that is tantamount to admitting wrong doing, which LDS leaders don’t do. SUU administration wont back down because, like others have said, they value Holland’s participation. One recourse the students have is to boycott graduation and hold massive protests right outside. I mean how embarrassing for the school and for Holland if the ceremony were half empty. Or maybe rent another facility and invite an alternate and legitimate speaker.
@toad I’m reminded of when BYU had Cheney speak at commencement. I was at byu at the time and it was quite the spectacle.
I’m too tired at the moment to do a compare / contrast, but my gut hates the Holland thing more than I hated the Cheney thing. At least Cheney was a figure of national importance. Although I think it was still really misguided and embarrassing for the school.
Wow, I hadn’t heard this story. Amazing so many students signed the petition. I think an important component of free speech is the freedom to petition and protest. And that includes petitioning not to host a speaker at a university, protesting (peaceably) his presence there, and not hearing what he has to say. People should be able to enjoy the freedom to tell someone to shut their mouth and get lost, to call for their firing if they don’t like what they have to say. That said, they should also have the freedom to criticize those who cal for someone’s firing.
On the question of the university’s responsibility to feature different voices? To some extent. But mostly not really. Should the university feel obligated to feature anti-vaxxers and QAnon supporters? These are, after all, popular theories, certainly more popular than Mormonism. The university’s utmost important mission is to teach critical thinking, evidence, and the large body of knowledge reached at through critical thinking and to teach students how to slice through conspiracy theories and woo thinking. Invite speakers who educate and share deep knowledge, not controversial purveyors of woo.
On cancelling Holland? Yes by all means. This isn’t a violation of free speech. The government is not censoring him. Academic freedom in the US has reached all time highs, that is until recently. But the main threats to academic freedom are coming from the right-wing, in particular with state governments cracking down on the teaching of Critical Race Theory.
Lastly, I know many on the right just full of self assuredness that they have the left cornered on matters of free speech and that they are the true believers in real free speech. Hardly. The left has always been and continues to be leaps and bounds more on the side of free speech than the right. Censoriousness, meaning leveraging the government to infringe on speech, is still hugely in vogue on the right. Consider how Trump, while he was president tried to crack down on Jimmy Kimmel because he told jokes he didn’t like. Consider how the right is leveraging the government to crack down on private expressions of transgenderism. DeSantis has used his power as governor to crack down on all kinds of speech.
When Elder Holland employed the “musket fire” imagery he was speaking to the BYU faculty and staff about their obligation to protect the church’s teachings on marriage and family. I know the OP is asking a larger question than the one I’m addressing. Even so, I thought I’d try to balance the “musket fire” narrative with how conservatives–like myself–frame his words. I don’t interpret his words as meaning that we should love of our LGBTQ friends any less–in fact if you listen to the whole talk it should be evident that he’s asking for more compassion on they’re behalf. Even so, the church has a right to defend its basic doctrines–and BYU as a church owned school is expected to uphold those teachings rather than being at odds with them.
I am aware the church has done positive things for LGBTQ people. But if they want members to be compassionate, they should say so clearly in conferences, identifying their expectations clearly and specifically. That would do a great deal towards helping members treat them with compassion.
Members actually have been encouraged to snub and avoid their own children. If they want us to be compassionate, don’t just say it to leadership or put it in a fine type letter, say it clearly and repeatedly on conferences. It would be a beginning to making church a safe place
Complete outsider here, but…
David Duke is famous for being a racist, and (considering his erstwhle political career an outgrowth of this) absolutely nothing else. Anybody who invites him to speak, does so because they want to hear from a white nationalist.
J.R. Holland is famous for (looks it up) being a Mormon leader (considering his BYU presidency an outgrowth of that). Is it appropriate to invite religious leaders to speak at secular graduations? Or does it depend on the religious leader? (I bet the Dalai Lama would get a different reception.) Or on whether the religion in question is anti-gay, as most of the big ones are? (So no Bishop Tutu.) Or whether the particular speaker was known as a conservative or liberal voice within that religion? (Hans Kung yes, Mother Teresa no.) What if somebody is noteworthy for something else, but is known to hold reactionary views on certain subjects (like Mel Gibson or J.K. Rowling )? Here the focus is on offended LGBT students, but what if it were conservatives offended by a gay or transgender speaker? Who gets to decide which ideology will prevail? Is it all just a popularity contest, or a shouting match?
Speaker committees have to consider who they *can* get, and whether they will appeal to both students and parents / alumni. (Robin Williams delighted graduates at one of the Florida universities, but offended parents with his “Mr. Happy”: routine.) The question of whether to go with a celebrity, or a scholar or civic leader looms large.
Utah was settled by Polygamist Mormons who left the boundaries of the United States in order to practice their religion without legal consequences. Polygamist Fundamentalist Mormons continue to have a significant presence in southern Utah. That religious movement’s actions remain outside of the laws of our government. Having a known FLDS leader speak at a SUU commencement would have been considered unacceptable in todays political climate. Such a speaker would have been seen as representing a religion of gender toxicity and financial manipulations. Such a choice would not have been seen as inclusive nor representing the pursuit of religious faith, liberty or personal fulfillment. Historical roots to the region would not be enough for such a speaker to be acceptable..
The mainstream LDS church has also chosen to separate itself from the current laws of our government and this younger generation’s expected societal norms.
As a people, the US populace has decided that any sort of discrimination on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation is wrong. Our laws reflect that stance. Businesses are expected to be equal opportunity employers.
While churches are able to make their own rules and abide by different standards, when a religious community swings too far from the current societal norms, there is pushback.
The LDS church is just beginning to realize that they have swung too far.
Everyone has contributed some great things to consider.
Random question- Are commencement speakers compensated? How much $$ would Jeffrey Holland receive?
I’m heartbroken for the graduates. The graduation ceremony is supposed to be about them. I can’t understand what the University could have been thinking. This isn’t a win for the Church either or for Elder Holland.
I am both a faithful Latter-day Saint with a temple recommend and a college professor who has attended two graduations per year for more than twenty years. I have long admired Elder Holland and I still have warm feelings toward him, despite his recent missteps. But graduation speakers are held to different, much higher standards than ordinary guest lecturers who come to give a talk sponsored by some campus group or other. All graduating students and their families want to be in attendance at an event that is centered on their own achievements, and commencement speakers have to be able to inspire and even represent the entire campus community. Such speakers are generally chosen with great care. They may be religious or political figures, but they have to have espoused values that are generally in line with the institutional priorities of the university and the sensibilities of students. This issue is entirely separate from arguments about “cancelling” controversial speakers (who usually relish the acrimony) at elite universities.
In this particular case, SUU has really stepped in it. They can’t back down for fear of alienating their LDS constituents (students, parents, alumni, donors, and Utah politicians), but if they go through with it, there will be protests–which will bring negative publicity to both the Church and to SUU. Outsiders will line the streets leading into campus holding up signs and jeering. Graduating students will stand and turn their backs on Holland. Faculty may protest at well. Commencement is going to be ugly and divisive. Which is a shame, because everyone deserves a happy, celebratory graduation. It’s a significant milestone in the lives of young people who have worked hard for four or more years to achieve something worthwhile. The only real solution would be for Elder Holland himself to graciously back out. He could say that as an apostle, as a former university president, as someone who cares deeply about education, he does not want his own controversies to overshadow the main event on April 28th. Two years ago, he gave a talk at BYU that was, in part, foolishly articulated. We are about to see if he has learned anything since then.
As an SUU graduate, I have many conflicted feelings about this.
I attended during the late eighties- early nineties. At that time, if you wanted your diploma right after graduation, you had to participate in the graduation ceremonies. If for whatever reason you didn’t, you had to wait six months to have the diploma mailed to you. I wanted to skip out on the long speeches. There was no controversy about it then. I felt like the ceremony was the last dull hoop to go through. I sat through it and survived. If the same situation exists now, that sitting through a boring ceremony gets you your diploma faster, then I feel like the students should definitely have a say about whom to invite to speak.
Mindy Benson was a year or two behind me at SUU. Not a mean bone in her body and always looking out for people from what I could see. I haven’t kept in touch with her so I don’t know what her true feelings are about LGBTQ issues. She was active LDS as a student and if she still is, probably feels like Elder Holland is an acceptable choice for a speaker. It would be interesting to ask her how she will navigate protests if such choices continue.
Elder Holland used to be my favorite General Conference speaker until the whole “musket” thing came out. My daughter and I appreciated his talks about mental illness. Mental illness is common in my family and we felt that he “got us”. We also have queer tendencies and if Holland couldn’t say that he supported the queer community because of his church position, we hoped that he would at least have a little compassion for the fact that LGBTQ youth have higher rates of depression and suicide attempts. When the musket speech came out, the thought he might be a sort of ally was shattered.
I realized there is still an institutional ” circle the wagons” or persecution hang-up going on, and until the church lets go of the Extermination Proclamation, anyone different from them is a threat. Sad really. One more reason we need this generation of leaders to pass away so that the church can heal from perceived trauma and tap into the love Christ had for the downtrodden.
hawkgrrl, I have to point out that the petition is a Change.org online petition that ANYONE can sign regardless of connection to SUU and can do so multiple times by changing the listed name and email address. I would caution anyone trying to make conclusions about the views of SUU students based on the petition. It is just as, and probably more, likely that many of the respondents are simply those who are motivated to keep Holland from speaking and who have no SUU connection.
Nice fact check Not a Couger
Elisa said it best “what a dumbass move” by SUU. It’s like if they invited Roger Clarke from Ensign Peak to speak about ethics and honesty.
I have nothing much to say other than I have some extended family who have made big donations to SUU and BYU – they are quite old and lacking nuance but I’m sure they will be invited to sit in the front row for Holland’s speech.
I will never be fully engaged in the Church again – three hours to the north I have seen too much pain in our ward with many families negotiating the Church and LGBTQ situations.
Not A Cougar beat me to her point. I’ve “signed” several change.org petitions over the years, and rarely have I been directly associated with the target org. Such onnoine petitions are rarely representative of the targeted institution.
I mean, c’mon, think about it SUU is in rural Southern Utah! Hardly a paragon of progressivism. I suspect most students are fully in line with Holland’s musket fire talk, but rather than muskets they perfer AK-47s.
There will be a small protest, but most students will be excited to hear from a Q12.
Similar to Elisa and others, I would be more sympathetic if Elder Holland had apologized for using a violent metaphor in today’s mass-shooting climate. He did not. Hell, even Brad Wilcox offered an apology. Queer students should feel safe to attend their own graduation and now that’s not possible.
The online community (and our own contrarian) like to make the argument that musket fire isn’t actual violence. In the words of Patrick Mason “This is a community and many individuals who have been victims of real violence…so to use the language of violence, even if it’s metaphoric, in connection with this message about the LGBTQ community…was inartful at the very least. The language we use matters.”
I tire of the right always claiming that the left are overly-sensitive snowflakes. Lest the right forget, I was at BYU in 2004 when then-UVSC now-UVU invited Michael Moore to speak on campus. The Orem community response was visceral in their anger. In order to save face, the school also invited Sean Hannity to speak to counter-balance Moore’s message. And unlike the SUU situation, this was just a campus speaker and not a convocation speaker, in which the disgruntled could simply choose not to attend. The right is no less sensitive than the left.
Lastly, I concur that the change.org petition is for anyone. I proudly signed it yesterday.
Let’s not forget that Elder Holland represents an organization that also:
1. Opposes equal rights for women (the church still speaks out every time the Equal Rights Amendment is brought up for a vote).
2. Teaches that men are the heads of their families and are to preside in their homes. (And “presiding” is now part of a man’s wedding covenant.)
3. Teaches that men are to preside in every general church meeting (even in meetings of women, such as General Relief Society Meetings)
4. Allows women to preside only in local meetings attended by females and male children who have not yet received the male-only priesthood.
5. Allows only males to preside over temples, missions, local congregations, and church-owned schools.
6. Oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage in any countries.
7. Officially opposes polygamy, but still teach, condones and approves of eternal polygamy.
My point being that opposing Elders Holland as a commencement speaker on the grounds of his and the church’s stance on LGBTQ issues is only one reason among many.
This is an interesting exercise in studying the free speech/invited speaker question, and I appreciate the OP for raising it.
I do think the invitation was an ill-considered move on SUU’s part, both because of the LDS tie-in (which implies that Utah is INDEED a Mormon-dominated state), and because of Elder Holland’s truly reprehensible speech two years ago. He needs to be made fully aware, and reminded publicly whenever possible, of the toxic fallout from that speech.
I am fairly sure that the speech invitation will not be rescinded; that the speech will go on as planned, and that the “rebellion” will be soon forgotten. However, I still believe that mounting the petition effort was necessary, simply to remind Elder Holland of the consequences of his previous words.
Mattman, you make your point, but just a fact check: in primary the primary president presides over the primary teachers. Almost all our teachers are men that hold the priesthood. Rarely do we get a visit from the bishopric, but ultimately all the primary presidency’s decisions can be vetoed by the bishopric.
Jack, when Holland talked of musket fire he clearly signaled a warning shot to academic at BYU that they’ll be axed if they voice support for LGBTQs. He was in essence signaling the church’s intent to crack down even more on academic freedom at BYU. Now BYU should have the freedom to crack down on whom it pleases. It is a private university. But it should lose accreditation for its denial of academic freedom to university professors. The university has long been depriving professors of such freedom and at the same enjoying the benefits of national accreditation. The musket fire speech should be deemed the last straw. Note Dame is Catholic-owned but allied academic freedom. BYU should go down the path of Notre Dame.
8. Teaches that the racist temple and priesthood ban came from God and has never apologized for it.
9. Recently found to have violated federal securities laws.
10. Supports an organization with close ties to Putin / Russian nationalism and that not only opposes gay marriage but opposes the decriminalization of homosexuality in countries where queer people can still be killed for being queer.
I have a grandchild who is graduating this year from SUU who is planning on attending this ceremony. My husband and I have been debating at our age our physical abilities to make the 700 mile trip. Now that Elder Holland is the selected speaker, it tips the scales. We won’t go. It could be a real brouhaha . Surely, if he speaks at SUU, the attendance among family members may be reduced.
I am sad about this. As a former believing Mormon, Elder Holland was one of my favorite speakers in General Conference. . I loved his enthusiasm, his delivery, and clarity of his messages. He was good at exegesis. I have wondered if the decision to have him speak to the BYU faculty was in part due to this skill set. (Also his history with BYU.) I keep wondering how much bad press the church needs to receive in order to make the changes necessary for its survival.
That said, I am going to look up where to sign the petition,
@jack, please don’t defend the musket talk. That’s not the point of this post.
Whether you like it or not, a ton of people were hurt and offended at that talk. You may not agree with that, but you’ve also covenanted to mourn with those that mourn—whether or not you think their mourning is rational.
So the question isn’t “was his BYU talk that bad” but is rather “should a religious figure who recently gave a speech that many, many people were wounded by (even if I personally wasn’t) speak at the graduation ceremony of many of the people who were in fact wounded (even if I don’t understand why they were.”)
But really. If you want to revisit the debate over the musket talk itself, go do that on the posts that actually addressed *that issue*. There are dozens. Don’t distract from this particular post and this particular issue, and honestly, don’t bring up a really hurtful topic for many people here especially when it’s outside scope.
There is no question that Holland will still speak despite the groundswell of negative public opinion. After all, Mormons love martyrs and Jeff fits the profile. There will be zero apologies and no attempts to reconcile.
JRH is yet another example of a Mormon GA who, at 82, has outlived his value and relevance to society at large. Like DHO (who is 90), Holland has evolved into a pathetic state of divisiveness and arrogance. The GA playbook is simple yet effective: cherry pick scriptures, play to the base and stand your ground. Another great argument for GA term limits.
And we act surprised when the recent Pew Research Poll reports Mormons have the least favorable balance of opinion among American religious groups? (https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2023/03/15/americans-feel-more-positive-than-negative-about-jews-mainline-protestants-catholics/)
I don’t think the university will rescind or that Holland will apologize and cancel.
I could see a scenario in which to save face and play the victim card the Church says that due to concerns about Holland’s safety at the event he is withdrawing.
Yes, Elder Holland did say (in the same talk) that BYU would be willing to lose its accreditation in order to protect the church’s teachings on marriage and family–though he believed (or at least hoped) that such a course of action would not be necessary any time soon. That acknowledgement should speak volumes as to how important these teachings are to the church. And a professor who teaches at BYU must be willing to protect them with the same level of commitment that they would protect the doctrine of the resurrection.
Sorry, Elisa. I posted my response to John W before I saw your comment. I won’t be offended if you delete my comment (and this one too).
I have mixed feelings. I am certainly against cancelling speakers who have been invited to express their views because some people would be offended by them. However, Elder Holland has not been invited to express views on LGBT, but to give a commencement address, which is considered an honor. In this case the question is whether the University should be honoring such a person. I would think a secular university should not be honoring a religious figure unless it was someone who had done a lot for the world in general, such as the Dahlai Lama or Bishop Tutu. Elder Holland hasn’t reached that category yet. If this were a Church school it would be more appropriate.
@gordon, that’s a helpful distinction. I was trying to put my finger on why I have no issue with someone like Desmond Tutu (who spoke at my university) and Holland and you’re exactly right. As much as Mormons may disagree, Holland has done nothing interesting for the larger world.
The Obergefell v. Hodges supreme court decision was decided in 2015 by 5 to 4 majority. Nearly 8 years later it has become a rallying point for many, particularly the rising generation, to muscle-out anything that gets in the way of the LGBTQ juggernaut. Old school think is on notice, there is a new-think now. Get woke or else.
It appears, that any moral values, ideals, standards, philosophy prior to Obergefell v. Hodges had better change, adapt, or be crushed. All religions, scripture, family concepts, workplace norms, political parties & philosophies, entertainment, educational institutions, medical ideologies, legal presentient, etc. are old school and are targets.
Essentially, anything Christian is the enemy of the new-think in the United States.
Currently, some of rising generation of the LDS church are joining with the new-think. The SUU invitation to Elder Holland is a point of interest to see just how far along new-think is for LDS youth.
Choices need to be made. That is what this 2nd Estate is all about. Moses said: “Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me.”
@hawkgrrrl, I’m glad you jumped on this topic and was hoping someone would post a blog in response to the Trib’s story covering this event. I’ll answer your first questions directly and add my own editorial in conclusion.
It is imperative universities obligate themselves to exposing their students to ideas, including those that challenge the conventional wisdom, are widely accepted views, and quality as radical notions. This includes what we might label as “controversial ideas.” But also imperative is that universities employ the right methods when doing so. It’s about embracing pluralism and applying the taught skills of critical analysis. It’s about applying foundational principles of education combined with what we might call the Socratic method. It’s about understanding and applying core enlightenment principles like John Stuart Mills’ marketplace of ideas, of rigorous, open debate. The problem, as I see it, is too often cancel controversies center on speakers who monologue, who bomb drop ideas and run off stage. And its about students who shout down those they don’t like instead of methodically deconstructing their ideas. There must be engagement, Q&A, moderators, unfiltered and free debate and tenaciously pursued hard discussions. The responsibility falls on both speaker and students as interlocuters to play their roles well. This method transcends the ideas expressed because it is how ideas are vetted and elevated and further explored or cast out and expelled as dross. Sadly, it is this discipline that lacks in many of our institutions, and certainly culturally America has lost itself in an ocean of destructive and weak politics that work to subvert these principles. I know the American media landscape has made outrageous assertions the attention-getting kings, but I still believe these enlightenment principles work, and universities must remain the protectors of these principles. SUU’s president needs to find some courage and better commit herself to these principles.
The problem here is Holland will be given a platform where none of those enlightenment principles are present. He will be introduced as an authority and will monologue. He can be sanctimonious, narcissistic, self-serving and even bigoted in his remarks if he so chooses, even as he cloaks his words in his elegant prose-style manner of speaking. The problem is there will be no opportunity for anyone to directly engage him. (As the LDS professor above in the comments pointed out, this is why he shouldn’t be the graduation speaker precisely because of the controversy and offense he has committed.) There can be no direct response to Holland’s speech except through protest. When these are the circumstances, particularly at a secular university, then protest must be employed to force the mechanics of the marketplace of ideas. I applaud the petition and I hope it garners 20,000+ signatures (I just looked at it is approaching 12,000). I hope the organizers print and deliver them to the COB in a press covered event. I hope students and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community show up in force at SUU and protest peacefully. I hope students, faculty and adult supporters stand and turn their backs in silence while Holland speaks as a means of protest. I hope SUU’s campus is flooded with rainbow flags. I wish SUU would display courage and invite Matt Easton to speak at the same ceremony.
These protest activities avoid the distraction of “cancel” and engage the event in a truly American way that will further throw a spotlight on Holland’s disgusting anti-LGBTQ comments and positions.
And if there are those out there who think the petition organizers and others are engaging in cancel culture, I’ll argue it was Holland who engaged in blatant acts of cancel culture when he gave his musket fire talk. We can’t forget that in addition to his violent imagery, he said words that bore explicit intent to silence the gay community at BYU. (Later policies put faculty at risk of losing their jobs if they speak out or possibly even provide support to LGBTQ students.) Holland spoke reflectively of seeing his beloved “white” Y on the mountain as he drove by on I-15 growing up (a passive aggressive reference to it having been sullied by those who lit it up in rainbow colors). He decried the displays on campus of flags and symbols that call attention to the queer community. Not long after, BYU implemented draconian policies against protesting on campus that are so iron-fisted they are reminiscent of eastern communist county block laws–and that is not hyperbole. The church handbook was amended to include a prohibition on talking about sexual orientation in any context at church–a direct attack on the LGBTQ community to again silence their voices. And Oaks has made it clear when it comes to discussion challenging these issues: The church has no room for what Oaks labeled as those who may be so-called loyal oppositionists. The church has routinely excommunicated members who speak out against it in loud and persuasive ways. Holland told us who he really is when he called out Matt Easton by name for giving a dean approved talk, which was the most disgusting abuse of religious authority imaginable. He was no apostle of Christ on that day.
Herein lies the paradox of Holland speaking at SUU, a secular university–he stands in opposition to fundamental principles of American pluralism and the exploration of ideas we have espoused in our country since it’s founding. Holland is the cancel culture problem, not the students who organized the petition to challenge him as their graduation speaker.
Here is a link to a change.org petition to have Jeffrey Holland removed as speaker. I signed yesterday and the total was over 6200. Today it’s over 11,000. Please sign.
This link will take you to the group of petitions that include a few that have very low signatures to keep him as speaker. 😆
Jack, you keep framing this in a way that suggests that it is possible to love LGBTQ people while at the same time excluding, condemning, and belittling them. It is not. Statements of love accompanied by actions of hate are worse than hollow. They are rancid.
So when you say “ I don’t interpret his words as meaning that we should love of our LGBTQ friends any less,” I am utterly baffled as to how you could, in fact, love them less than you do.
As for Elder Holland’s speech, I would dearly love to see on-the-ground student protests on the day of the speech, or at least sparse attendance. Everything about it is wrong.
@bigsky, bravo. That is such a good explanation of what cancel culture really is and what pluralism should look like.
I couldn’t agree more with BigSky. Also, while I’m personally aware that SUU is in a very conservative part of the state, it is not a Church-run school. It is, completely unlike BYU, committed to Title IX protections and DEI. The Utah Shakespeare Festival which is associated with SUU is very much a queer-affirming organization, determined to eliminate racial inequality and to promote opportunities for women. This was a huge misstep for the school to make.
Not a Cougar: Yes, I am aware of that, which is why I was so careful in how I worded the ratio of signatures to the number of students. I also included a comment from the petition that was clearly written by a member of faculty who wasn’t in the student body number. It’s still a noteworthy marker against the size of the school. It looks likely that the petition will outnumber the student body by tomorrow.
I will only add that Holland’s recent comments were even more specifically inappropriate because he took aim at BYU’s own valedictorian for self-identifying as gay in his remarks, which as Elisa rightly points out, has apparently become new church policy: you can’t refer to any non-cishetero sexual orientation or identity at Church, even parenthetically, or you’re in hot water. So while I’d love to see evidence that the Church is finally realizing that they’ve gone WAY too far, I don’t believe that they see it at all. Their retrenchment continues.
I see some safety for families of LGBTQ if we can plan on no one saying negative things at church. However, silencing people is totally unhealthy and ineffective. But it has been true on many issues for a long time.
I appreciate having opportunities to discuss elsewhere. Thank you wheat and tares
@Sasso in terms of what commencement speakers are paid, here is some information from a few public universities. https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-commencement-speaker-costs-20160520-story.html
But my institution, a “Southern Ivy”, probably typically pays about $100K and a small regional public university with a tiny endowment like SUU probably pays <$25K.
Inviting someone to speak at commencement is absolutely an endorsement of a person (or at least their accomplishments.) You are essentially saying to your graduating students and their families, "This is someone whose words we think are important for you to hear and to think about as you commence your post graduation life." So free speech arguments don't come into play. The commencement speech is an institution's attempt to find an external speaker who articulates the university's vision of excellence and achievement.
So the choice of Jeffrey Holland speaks volumes about what the university's Board of Trust and top leadership value. And SUU's LGBTQ community is right to question how a university that says it values it's queer community can invite a speaker who has absolutely advocated against their place in the world and the organization he leads. And academics should question why a university would invite someone who has advocated against academic freedom should be chosen to speak. I think what the university actually values is made clear in the choices they make.
Thinking about this brings up another question for me. What makes a good commencement speaker and a good speech? I have sat through my fair share and most often I come away wishing I had my time back. Every university handles things a bit differently. At my institution, the chancellor gives the official speech at commencement, while the invited speaker speaks the evening before. I haven't gone to too many of the-day-of -commencement speeches because our last chancellor was really a very boring speaker. We have a new chancellor now, and I have to attend since a student of mine is graduating, so I am hoping for something a least a bit more worthwhile.
But what makes a meaningful commencement talk ?
In the past ten years the only graduation talk that has really moved me was Daveed Diggs baccalaureate speech at Brown University when my son was graduating. It was funny, it was personal, it was frequently rapped. What made it especially great was that Daveed could directly reflect on his own Brown experience, and what it was like to go at 33 from obscurity to fame just a few years before. His speech was the kind of reflection I look for in a commencement ceremony type speech. But those are so very rare.
And I can't see Jeff Holland having much to say that would truly be meaningful to young graduates. Be afraid of change? Treat others who are not like you as dangerous? See the world through a narrow lens? Not what I'm looking for in a commencement speaker.
I am curious who y'all have found meaningful as commencement/baccalaureate speakers? Who could be that for SUU?
Some really great points made on here already, so the only thing I’d like to add is that while I think this was overall a very thoughtful article, the idea that “hate speech” is not protected speech is absolutely not true. Please check out this article for more info:
The key takeaway:
Contrary to a common misconception, most expression one might identify as “hate speech” is protected by the First Amendment and cannot lawfully be censored, punished, or unduly burdened by the government — including public colleges and universities.
Contrary to another common misconception, however, the First Amendment’s protection is not absolute. The Supreme Court has identified narrow exceptions to the First Amendment, including but not limited to speech that constitutes unlawful incitement, true threats, intimidation, or discriminatory harassment.
It almost feels like a political statement to invite Holland after his infamous BYU speech TBH.
I think Canadian Dude hits the nail on the head. SUU is located in a deep red area of Utah, which is already a deep red state. Salt Lake County is half blue and half red. Salt Lake City is much more blue and Summit county, where Park City is located is more blue. But Cedar City is no doubt very red. The student body of SUU, however, seems to be more liberal especially on LGBTQ rights issues. And the invitation of Jeffrey Holland seems like a gesture on the part of undoubtedly Mormon conservative SUU administration to sort of stick it to the students.
I doubt that anyone is trying to stick it to the students. The invitation to Holland is an insular decision about fundraising. The new president of SUU has spent her entire career at SUU. Her experience is not as an academic, but as a fundraiser. The powers that be probably thought it was a slam dunk, considering Holland’s origins in southern Utah, his experience as a university president, and his prominence in the LDS community. It looked like an easy way to appeal to the donor base. Nobody at SUU paused to wonder whether this decision might have implications outside the alumni-relations bubble, and now it has backfired. This controversy is not helpful to any of SUU’s institutional goals.
Jared, Jared, Jared
LGBTQ juggernaut, really? Did you read what you wrote? “All religions, scripture, family concepts, workplace norms”,,, blah, blah, blah,,, “are targets”…”Essentially, anything Christian is the enemy…”
Humm, the President, the vast majority of the Supreme Court, Senate, House of Representatives, Governors are Christians. 63% of the US is Christian. I have met members of this “LGBTQ juggernaut”, some of whom are actual Christian ministers intent on following the teachings of Jesus.
I myself don’t have much use for religion. Too many sound like Torquemada, and I prefer to avoid bonfires as well as muskets, and associate with actual moral people.
I am imaging the Grand Inquisitor being invited to give commencement address and wondering what the heretics in the audience feel? Or is that rhetoric too over the top, eh?
Apart from the gender polemics, does anyone here think Holland will stop for a minute and ask himself if appearing at the commencement will make things better or worse? Or will he simply be intent on prevailing?
alice: As we used to say at American Express, leaders have a problem with “sniffing their own fragrance.” It’s very hard for them to see themselves–or smell themselves–objectively.
@huffkw, do you have credible sources for your bizzarro-world version of global history? Because those are pretty wild claims.
@ben r, no one is saying that SUU doesn’t have a constitutional right to invite Holland or that Holland doesn’t have a constitutional right to speech. They are just saying that as a matter of good judgment SUU shouldn’t invite him and Holland shouldn’t speak.
Just for the record, threats to society and marriages has been the red herring thrown around by the religious right since discussion of full marriage equality began. Meanwhile, MA which was first to legalize it in 2003 and where only 33% of the population are affiliated with a religion has consistently been among the states with the lowest divorce rates for the 20 years it took the rest of the country to catch up. They also rank in the lowest third for violent crime.
I don’t see that the fear of gay Americans and their right to have families of their own has done much to unsettle society. At least folks there don’t feel it necessary to be arming themselves with muskets to harass their fellow citizens.
Many comments only serve to validate our family’s decision to discontinue attending church when my oldest 2 kids came out. Thank you for that. It has been an agonizing decision all around, but you show convincingly that we did the right thing.
Does anyone at COB, or SUU, understand PR? In the case of the Church, someone didn’t foresee that this might be a problem? Or did Elder Holland accept this without consulting anyone? I’m tired of the constant barrage of bad PR.
What’s the point of the missionary program if the GAs and BYUs can’t get their act togethe?
Interesting. When I was an SUU grad, President Monson spoke at my 2009 commencement (the talk was 100% secular). We did have a few protesters, but I don’t remember this type of reaction then, and that was fresh off Prop 8. I realize a lot has changed in fifteen years.
I can’t help but feel an implication of the post and many of the comments is the underestimation of the SUU student body. I’d give SUU students a little more credit. I’d concede it’s arguably the most conservative school in the state, but man, the place managed to expose me to a ton of ideas and perspectives, many of which I didn’t agree with. Most of the students I came into contact with didn’t have scholarships. Their parents weren’t paying for their schooling. They realized formal education was only one aspect of their existence, albeit an important one. Most had part or full time jobs putting them through school while also taking advantage of the outdoor bastion that southern Utah is. They had a practicality about them that I feel students from other universities often lack, and were thinking on their own long before any professor attempted to tell them how to think. Didn’t really matter what your political leanings were. And yet, students there also regularly win national competitions against much larger schools, the news of which might occasionally make the tenth page of the Tribune (always a small pet peeve of mine).
I think most of us welcomed Monson. What would we have done if someone we found far more morally objectionable spoke to us? We probably would have just taken what good we could out of it and discarded the rest. One commencement speech wasn’t going to ruin our college experience or define who we were.
I would expect no less from the current student body, but again, a lot has changed in fifteen years.
Comparing Utah and Massachusetts on marriage, divorce, violent crime, and religiosity
M D V R
Utah 23.1, 9.3, 260.7, 53
Mass.15.6, 7.5, 308.8 , 21
So Massachusetts has a slightly lower divorce rate, but a much lower marriage rate.
It has a noticeably higher violent crime rate, and a very noticeably lower religiosity rate
This seems to put Utah better on every point. I’m going to say that the sociology confirms my intuition.
Looks like I got canceled. We can’t have multiple views on this site, apparently.
“The Obergefell v. Hodges supreme court decision was decided in 2015 by 5 to 4 majority. Nearly 8 years later it has become a rallying point for many, particularly the rising generation, to muscle-out anything that gets in the way of the LGBTQ juggernaut. Old school think is on notice, there is a new-think now. Get woke or else.”
I just have to comment on this piece of conservative victimhood on full display. Jared, no one is telling you that you have to marry someone of the same gender. No one is telling you that you have to accept same-sex marriage as moral.
Also, get woke, or else what? Last I checked, anti-wokism, “wokism” mostly being an ill-defined boogeyman of the right, is alive and kicking. Did you know that we had between 2017 and 2021 a president who thrived on criticizing “wokism,” political correctness, and cancel culture? This very president, although losing his reelection campaign in spite of getting more votes than any presidential candidate in history except for his opponent, went on to become the leading voice of one of the major parties of the US and continues to energize devotion to anti-wokism. I would say that anti-wokism is one of the biggest movements in the US and it is hugely successful. If wokism went away, the saddest people would be the right. How could they garner attention? Who could they claim to be victimizing them? Conservatives love to feel like victims. They love to cry wolf. And that seems to be all they do now. What policies do they support? What solutions do they propose to solve the many challenges facing the US? Nothing. They’re obsessed with wokeness and routinely portray it as the biggest problem facing the US. But they can’t even define what it is. They can’t even tell us exactly how this phenomenon is damaging the US.
My question to you is why you hate LGBTQs so much. What did they ever do to you? You sound like a low-life homophobe who undoubtedly contributes to an environment of oppression that makes LGBTQs want to kill themselves. Go f yourself, fake victim crybaby loser.
Just a reminder: it is possible to criticize a culture and, at the same time, love the individuals who are a part of it.
SUU should have invited Elder Uchtdorf instead. He is still a good speaker even though he has been muzzled for his “big tent” approach as well as for admitting that Church leaders sometimes make mistakes. And he has some good stories about growing up in war-torn Germany and of course his aviation career. He has some educational credentials too.
Jack, we understand that. For example, many of us disagree with Church culture and yet we love pople in the Church. What you seem to be implying, however, is basically: what I belief (contrary to evidence) about what will make gay people the most happy trumps their desire (and right) to being treated with basic decency and (though you might argue this isn’t a right) a righteous desire for a shared relationship, companionship, and intimacy that can only come through marriage.
That’s what hides behind your comment. Your beliefs trump theirs even to the point of legislation. Even when there’s no demonstrable harm by allowing them to practice their beliefs., but there is when you’re allowed to legislate theirs. We’ve come a very long way from the Articles of Faith.
Also, we’ve heard all your prevericating and justification for the idea that your beliefs trumps theirs. But at least acknowledge that’s what it is without appealing to some idea of your understanding of God that negates and dismiises their understanding of God.
“Just a reminder: it is possible to criticize a culture and, at the same time, love the individuals who are a part of it.” And so rarely happens.
What does that even mean anyway? I hate Norway, but love Norwegians? I hate that tribe in the Amazon, but love the individuals, even if they are in the way of resource extraction? It is one thing, as a member of that culture to critically examine your culture(and how it sits in relationship to other cultures) and another, to summarily dismiss members of your culture or other cultures based on non-reality based reasons.
I’m just some boring white person, with a dull job. I sit on the couch with my dear sweet wife and watch insipid television shows, while eating processed food. Yet people who look like me, want to outlaw me. Must be the processed food.
As for students at Southern Utah University, isn’t that in Utah? (I may have driven by) So it’s defective is some mysterious way. But I love the individuals.
I’m in a “cancel culture” mood. Let’s cancel the OT. We could keep Ecclesiastes, Job, Proverbs, etc. as examples of good literature, but most of the other books can be consigned to the history books. While we’re at it, the PoGP needs to disappear. The DC needs to be severely edited and the BoM needs a lower profile. The NT is where it’s at.
As has been mentioned, there are all kinds of slavery besides the variety practiced in the American South. There are child labor shops, sweatshops, sexual exploitation, high-demand religions, etc. and let’s not forget the Robber Barons.
Well done hawkgirrl, and 75+ commenters. I’m perennially late to the discussion, didn’t read all the comments, but somehow opened the page right at BigSky’s observations, and that one set the bar high. Thanks for putting in the effort.
Despite my own journey of becoming more aware of realities I used to be ignorant about (always a good thing), aka “woke,” I have a soft spot for Bro Holland. I can’t feel the vitriol to condemn him; I just wish he was allowed to retire in peace and not be propped up as the spokesperson, who has now become a political target. It’s not fair, but he has a massive support system. It’s also grossly unfair for LGBTQ folks to be a political football, with a much more tenuous support system. Knowing what I do about the consequences of this bigotry against them, I’m on board for that support system. We don’t need any more of those consequences that come about in a society where such bigotry is the norm. And there’s nothing bad about becoming woke, except perhaps sitting with your own uncomfortable feelings— until you get familiar with it and figure out what to do about it. Whenever someone launches a screed against being woke, I think “woke = compassion” or charity, or the pure love of Christ. I still believe in that.
So go read BigSky’s comment for the rest of what I think. And sorry Holland, but the LGBTQ folks of southern Utah get my charity when it conflicts with what I would extend to you.
Brian and Suzanne Neilsen,
My comment was a response to John W’s rather harsh reply to Jared. I think it’s possible for Jared to hold his personal views about western culture without hating the individuals who subscribe to those elements (of said culture) that he disagrees with.
I’m sure many folks here don’t care for the MAGA culture — and some may even despise it — but that’s not to say that they necessarily hate the individuals who subscribe to it.
Brian: “Also, we’ve heard all your prevaricating and justification for the idea that your beliefs trumps theirs. But at least acknowledge that’s what it is without appealing to some idea of your understanding of God that negates and dismisses their understanding of God.”
Come now, Brian. All of us are informed by something or other–whether it’s religion, politics, or the Great Pumpkin. I cannot separate my beliefs and values from my faith. Do we expect people to disengage completely from the training they’ve received from the academy in order to form their own opinions?
I’m going to ignore your “F yourself” concluding thought and be civil to you and attempt to answer your question.
You asked: My question to you is why you hate LGBTQs so much.
I wrote a few thoughts about how I see the politics of LGBTQ movement. I never inferred or said that I hate LGBTQ. I don’t. Before I retired I ran a large business dealing with many thousands of customers. Among them were LGBTQ. I got along with all of them. I appreciated how they paid on time and were always kind in my many interactions with them.
What I don’t like is the strident political discourse that has been part of the LGBTQ movement. Especially when it used to attack the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, its leaders, teachings and values.
Case in point. The current news surrounding Elder Holland’s invitation to speak at SUU in Cedar City, Utah.
There are many other areas besides religion that have been confronted by the litigious LGBTQ crowd that fly in the face of common. sense.
Case in point: Women’s sport
Case in point: Power Lifting
Case in point: Drag Shows for children
I’m sure there are many supporters of the LGBTQ movement that are cool towards some the lawsuits and downright hostile attitudes that have become part of the movement. I hope common sense and kindness will emerge on all sides.
So please, don’t accurse people of hate when hate isn’t part of the argument being made.
So you’re saying people should be compelled to live by your beliefs, Jack? That’s exactly the attitude that has Holland it hot water. And yes, people should be able to form their own opinions. I mean, I can’t even believe the level of inanity in your comments.
Of course, people should be able to form their own opinions. The real question is: would you have formed the opinions you presently have without being informed by your training at the university? If not, then isn’t only fair that I can be informed by my religion? No one forms their opinions in a vacuum.
That said, the fact that I believe that the church has got it right doesn’t mean that I’m forcing anyone to live by its teachings. I’m not going to beat down your door in order to force my worldview upon you. But even so, because I believe the teachings of the church to be inspired–I would be a moral coward if I didn’t try to get the word out so that others could at least have a chance to think about them.
Jack, you clearly don’t understand the discussion here. Elder Holland, in public, shamed a gay BYU student. Did you know that? Do you care? This is why people don’t want him to speak. The Church had lobbied to legally impose religious their religious against gay people, when that belief actively hurts gay people. You know this, but you think it doesn’t matter because believe trumps fact. For you and the Church, it’s okay for the Church to impose this belief. That goes directly against the Articles of Faith. Do you know that? Do you care? This is more that ‘getting the word’ out. It’s about religious and governmental force upon others who don’t hold the same religious belief. That you won’t directly engage these points prove you more coward than you care admit.
Yikes, grammar. Sometimes when the buttons get pushed, it’s difficult to stop the steam.
There are two qualifiers that I need to make clear. First, this last bit of conversation springs my defense of Jared rather my thoughts on the OP. And second, while I could say a whole lot about Elder Holland’s “musket fire” talk Elisa has asked me not to. I will say this much though: the church has every right to enter the political arena in order to make its voice heard on moral issues.
The problem, Jack, is that when it does it discredits itself.
And the reaction to that is what’s facing Holland now.
Alice, I agree that it discredits itself in the eyes of some people–but not to everyone. There are a lot of folks who support the church’s position on moral issues. But that’s par for the course in the world of politics.
hawkgrrrl- every time I have commented in over three years it goes to moderation. Prior to that it never happened. Would you mind checking if I am in blocked list?
Would it help if I changed my name, email address, etc.?
Some commenters here want to define a higher standard specifically for graduation speakers. It’s a nice idea, and I agree with all of the reasoning for it, but in practice it doesn’t work out that way most of the time, so I’m a bit ambivalent about it all. When you have money, power, or fame, people assume you have something interesting to say, but that frequently turns out not to be true. A dude with a lot of money bought BYU a new engineering building a while back, got the college named after himself, and got himself invited to speak at my graduation. It was an incoherent, rambling, and incredibly dull 20-30 minutes. If you want to know his name, you can find it easily enough, but I refuse to use his name here or in conjunction with the college of engineering. It’s still just the college of engineering to me. Should graduation be a celebration with the best possible speakers? Sure. But mine wasn’t and other people have sat through a lot of mediocre (or worse) graduation speakers. Sometimes that’s part of the experience.
As far as what Elder Holland is likely to say at graduation, I think we can assume he understands he’s speaking at a state university and that the speech he gives there may be a different sort of speech than at BYU. I wouldn’t expect him to say anything harmful to the LGBTQ community. He knows there would be a massive backlash if he expressed anything like that. The objection here is largely based on his past remarks made in a less public forum that were subsequently published by the church. There have been plenty of similar controversies when a public figure’s private views are revealed and found to be disagreeable to some people. I believe the bar should be pretty high for what warrants cancellation and this doesn’t come close. If there were a reasonable expectation that his purpose in coming to speak was to say hurtful things to LGBTQ students, I think that would be another matter.
So, I support what is the likely outcome: Elder Holland will speak at the graduation. But I also support any attempts to publicly protest at the graduation speech. He should be made to feel how his past words have affected people. I believe the top leadership of the church live in a bit of an insular world where they don’t always fully understand how their actions and words have affected people. There’s no better way to help them feel that than inviting them to speak at a state university, outside the bubble of church headquarters and the BYU campuses, where free speech rights of protestors are going to be more strongly protected.
@quentin, I’m obviously less ambivalent about him being invited in the first place – but I agree with you that I look forward to him being in an arena where he isn’t treated with the kind of deference he’s used to, and where perhaps the full measure of people’s responses to his previous remarks (and the church he represents) may be on display in ways he’s usually insulated from.
I feel the same way about judges. I don’t know that I think it’s appropriate for law students to shout down judges in the middle of a speech, but I am all for protest and criticism. Judges are appointed for life and they tend to become disconnected with the fact that their legal rulings impact flesh-and-blood human beings. They are typically treated with extreme deference at public events. So I’m quite pleased for them to experience some blowback from decisions they make / write.
After reading your reply to John W, I’m inclined to think he was way more civil to you than you deserved. Just wondering what all those gay people you know really think of you, and what a “nice” guy you are. But to quote Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods, “Nice is different than good”
You remind me of people gleefully(or indifferently) running people over, while saying please and thank you. And when those run over protest, you dismiss the pain as strident. I want you to consider, whether you hate them or not, those who have the tire tracks on their backs.
Stop harming people.
I don’t know much about you other than what you wrote above. You can quote from children’s literature, I like to quote from the Savior and His prophets.
“When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Look in the mirror Dude. STOP causing harm
I signed the change.org petition and received this email today:
I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to sign this petition. As of right now, we are making changes! President Mindy Benson has opened up opportunities to speak on this issue and a student voice forum has been approved. I urge you for your continued support through this endeavor, please share this petition with ANY of those who you know can support.
Wow. What a concept to be at a university where your voice will be heard. Even if the university president chooses to allow Holland to speak, this seems positive that she has heard the community and wants to understand. The BYU’s should be taking notes.
I’ve been very surprised and very disappointed by Jeffrey Holland. Many years ago he spoke in our east coast stake— I can’t remember exactly if it was a regional adult conference meeting or what. But he talked about his inactive dad who had little to do with the church and didn’t follow the word of wisdom. One day the bishop visited Jeffrey Holland’s dad to ask him if he would be willing to teach his son’s Sunday School class—knowing full well he wasn’t conforming to the WoW etc
It was the beginning of his dad’s reactivation.
I presumed from this personal experience Holland would be more a big tent leader, rather than the more condemning and judgmental type.
The extreme rigidity, judgmentalism, authoritarianism has been very destructive to individuals (and the church) who might otherwise have found a religious home. Are we repeating the mistakes of the Pharisees?
1) Holland doesn’t represent SUU’s mission or role.
Holland, as BYU president, upheld that institution’s Aristotelian ideals regarding the predestined and privileged nature of its select LDS student body.
BYU commencements- and Tuesday lectures stoke students’ egos by reminding them that *they* are the ruling class, the elect and chosen ones, the future of the church, its leaders, the golden representatives to both the world and to their wards/stakes.
That eliteness runs against the values and mission of SUU. I’m willing to bet that a good number of the student body received a BYU rejection letter.
SUU should have chosen a speaker whose life’s example crushed Aristotle’s snobbish values. SUU should have chosen someone who wasn’t a Harvard of Yale man, someone who became a leader coming through the ranks of a state school. If we’ve learned anything from the COVID era, it’s that world runs on the backs of essential workers – that in times of greatest adversity- heroes emerge from all sectors- not just from the elite ruling class. SUU should be proudly asserting its role and importance -not conceding to a model wherein they, despite all work and study, are destined to defer to others.
2) The academic discourse argument (that viewpoints should be considered regardless of one’s agreement) applies to lectures, colloquiums, etc., and is markedly less relevant at commencement- where the institution’s values should be represented. Similarly, statues of confederate war heroes do not belong on a literal pedestal in the honorific centers of parks and town squares. Should they be forgotten or censored? No- but relegated to places of education and study, not upheld as the community’s representatives/values.
Jared, there are people in the Jim Crow south who claimed to have gotten along just fine with their black neighbors and to have had no hatred against them as long as they accepted their lot, as long they didn’t rise in protest to demand equality and freedom, as long as they didn’t complain about having to use colored bathrooms and be able to walk outside at night. This kind of Jim Crow white was still racist. That is exactly how you view the LGBTQ community. I’m good with you as long as you don’t demand that my religion treat you with respect and as long as you don’t call out the obvious homophobia of my culture and religion. You’re still a homophobe. That goes for Jack too. You still hate them, even if it is in a more indirect way. Your fearmongering over Drag Queen story time is a testament to such. These were trans-women and gay men dressed up in women’s clothing reading stories to pre-school kids. Ok. Did this harm the kids? No. Would I take my 4-year-old to such a show? Yes. Would I feel that I or my child was threatened? No. This simply doesn’t conform to your cultural biases. And I thought you guys were all about freedom. Hardly. You only want the freedom to impose your hate and oppressive cultural strictures on other people. So hey, maybe you’re not punching trans people in the face, but what you say is horrifically transphobic and homophobic nonetheless, and no doubt contributes to an environment of hate that makes an already vulnerable population even more prone to suicide. So I stand by my “go f yourself” to you and invite you to do it multiple times over.
“You’re still a homophobe. That goes for Jack too.”
I like to think that my sociopolitical views stem from what I’m for rather than what I’m against. I don’t know if I’m doing that perfectly–but even so, because I’m for the church’s teachings on chastity and marriage & family doesn’t mean that I hate LGBTQ people. I certainly don’t hate the gay folks among my extended family and friends–in fact I love them to pieces. But however that may be–I’m willing to bear the title of “bigot” if that’s what comes with the territory so to speak. I cannot deny the inspired counsel that flows through the living oracles of the church.
@Jack, I lightly edited your last comment so that it reflects what I suspect you would have written in 1977 (if W&T had existed then)…
“I like to think that my sociopolitical views stem from what I’m for rather than what I’m against. I don’t know if I’m doing that perfectly–but even so, because I’m for the church’s teachings on race and priesthood & temple worthiness doesn’t mean that I hate black people. I certainly don’t hate the black folks among my extended family and friends–in fact I love them to pieces. But however that may be–I’m willing to bear the title of “bigot” if that’s what comes with the territory so to speak. I cannot deny the inspired counsel that flows through the living oracles of the church.”
I understand the point you’re trying to make. And I think that I may very well have written the same thing in those days–or something close to it. Even so, the two situations are not identical (in my mind). It was understood that at some point our black brothers and sisters would receive all of the blessings of the priesthood. And so, in the case of the ban, the question was really a matter of when more than anything else. But with regard to the church’s teachings on chastity and marriage–there has never been a promise of forthcoming change to those foundational doctrines. In fact, the church solidified its commitment to those teachings when all fifteen apostles unitedly issued the proclamation on the family.
And so, as it relates to both of my responses being similar: they are both grounded in loyalty to what I believe to be inspired counsel in spite of the differences between the two scenarios–the former having to do mostly with timing and the latter having to do with foundational doctrine that does not change with time and circumstance.
Jack, I really appreciate your willingness to think about your personal stands on revelation in regards to marginalized communities like people with racial and sexual differences. I would like to engage in good faith for you to consider some additional information, just for the pondering.
You state the two situations are different and that the LGBTQ question stands on a permanent theological foundation whereas the racial question was intended to end.
I acknowledge, based on a traditional understanding of what was taught in church to us as children (I suspect we are roughly in the same generation) your comments make perfect sense. However they no longer square with current doctrine as acknowledged by the current prophet and Q15. I would challenge you to read the Gospel Topics Essay in your Gospel Library app entitled Race and the Priesthood. Then take the time to do a little research on the topic. Read the speeches Brigham Young made promoting slavery in Utah. Read the church’s1949 Proclamation to the world on the Negro that explains that Negros were denied the priesthood because of their lack of valiance in the preexistence. Reread the gospel topics essay and you will find this proclamation is listed as a theory advanced by leaders that is no longer believed today. Nice that it was never canonized.
The Proclamation of the Family has never been canonized either. It was put together specifically to give the church standing so they could sue Hawaii when it passed the first same sex marriage law. So this uncanonized proclamation, that could be forgotten as easily as the 1949 proclamation, is the sand on which you stand. You may find after a careful reading that the proclamation does not address the salvation of LGBTQ people. Since today to be saved a person must be sealed to a person of the opposite sex in the temple, LGBTQ people still wait for further revelation to clarify the issues. Church leaders no longer think they can change whether a person is LGBTQ or not. They no longer encourage them to marry someone of the opposite sex anyway. With the acceptance of the reality of inborn traits, it’s hard to understand how LGBTQ folks are automatically sinful at birth and unworthy of salvation, and how that could fit in a gospel for all people.
So is the foundation in the bible? An indepth study would say there’s no clear proof of that. New Testament studies indicate Paul was preaching against men having sex with boys when he referred to homosexuality. There were no homosexual couples as equal life partners in that day. The Old Testament is even more problematic for establishing that homosexuality is wrong. If you follow every word of the Old Testament touching a menstruas woman will make you unclean. Plus you won’t be able to get your slaves from Canada or Mexico as they are neighboring countries. You wouldn’t be able to eat shrimp. The list goes on bringing us back to an uncannonized proclamation that agrees with trans folks that they could have a gender before birth (no matter what the body may express at birth) and doesn’t address gay marriage at all.
It merely sets up heterosexual marriage as the standard with man in hierarchy presiding over the woman. It has wonderful advice on repenting and treating each other well. But I still think the best hope is waiting on further information as we can expect according to Article of Faith 9
A nice history of what the church has said on this topic, as well as what science is exploring can be found on episode 54 of therapist and member Valerie Hamaker’s podcast Latter day Struggles
@Jack, Deseret Book recently published a book, “Let’s Talk about Race and Priesthood” by U of U historian and faithful Mormon Paul Reeve. It was actually Deseret Book–the Church-owned book publisher–that approached Reeve to write this book as part of their “Let’s Talk About…” series of books on difficult Church topics. I’m sure that you are aware that Deseret Book doesn’t publish things without at least some level of Church endorsement.
In the book, Reeve completely dismantles the timing argument that you seem to be clinging to for the racial priesthood/temple ban. A few key points:
1. Priesthood ordinations and temple ordinances were performed by black members in Joseph Smith’s days. There are multiple Church documents explicitly allowing this to happen (among other things, there’s a Church document written by a Church leader that says that black people are allowed to perform temple ordinances in one of the early temples during Joseph Smith’s time). Joseph Smith’s revelations in the D&C explicitly states over and over that the restored gospel is to be preached to all races throughout the world, and now is the time to do it (not waiting for God’s timing for the blacks).
2. It was Brigham Young that enacted the priesthood and temple ban, and he gave an explicit reason for it, and it wasn’t for the reason you gave: “It wasn’t time yet”. The reason Brigham gave was actually due to the curse of Cain, an explanation that the Church has now explicitly rejected. Let me state this as clearly as possible for you. Brigham Young, the “oracle” for which you claim “flows” infallible “inspired counsel” enacted the priesthood and temple ban, and the reason he gave was the curse of Cain, which the current prophet now says was wrong. Here is a clear and unmistakable case where a prophet of the Lord made an enormous mistake. Prophets are, indeed, sometimes fallible in ways that unnecessarily deeply hurt thousands and thousands of people.
I highly recommend you read Reeve’s well-written book. You can get a good taste by just listening to this 30 minute interview of Reeve by the Salt Lake Tribune: https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2023/03/01/mormon-land-black-priesthood-ban/. Reeve completely rejects and systematically dismantles the idea that we “don’t know” the reason for the temple/priesthood ban or that the priesthood/temple ban could only be lifted in “God’s time”. With Joseph Smith, there was no priesthood/temple ban–blacks were ordained and performed ordinances in the temple. We know exactly why Brigham Young enacted the ban which is something the Church now completely disavows. It was simply a huge mistake made by God’s prophet. There really is no wiggle room for any other explanation.
I doubt you will, but if you can at least open your mind to the possibility that the racist temple/priesthood ban was a mistake made by God’s prophet and reiterated and solidified by later prophets, first presidencies, and apostles for over a century (which were also huge mistakes made by God’s oracles), then sit with that idea for awhile and open your mind to the possibility that the Q15, acting as a united body, may have been mistaken when they signed and released the Family Proclamation, which, if true, is again causing harm to thousands and thousands of people.
Would you really want a Church leader from a Church that won’t accept any of “your kind” speaking at your college graduation ceremony? How do you think the SUU LGBTQ students and their friends and family feel about having Holland speak?
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Iws379.
I acknowledge that there are a lot of messy details surrounding the impetus and timing of these documents. Even so, what’s at bottom (IMO) is whether or not the words spoken by the apostles — especially when all fifteen are united — are the mind and will of the Lord. I certainly believe that the words in OD2 are his mind and will–and I feel the same about the proclamation on the family. The latter may not have been canonized–but it has been referenced frequently by the leaders of the church in conference and in other venues. If it were derived from a talk given by an apostle it might be easier to shelve in the face of so much social change. But the fact that it is endorsed by all fifteen apostles and sent forth as a proclamation to the world makes it very difficult to put aside–at least for me.
That said, of course I must acknowledge that more revelation will be forthcoming–and I look forward to it! Even so, I don’t imagine that certain foundational elements of the gospel are likely to change. My sense is that the document “The Living Christ” will require little (if any) alteration in the years to come. Though I admit that there’s a possibility–however tiny–that the doctrine of redemption through Christ could be radically altered–I think the probability of such a change is vanishingly small.
Of course that’s not to say that more will not be revealed on the subject. I suspect that what we know vis-a-vis redemption is only the tip of the iceberg. Even so, that’s not to say that the first four principles of the gospel will no longer be relevant–they will always be essential. So too with the design of male and female and their ultimate potential as partners in unlocking the mystery and power of godliness. While (again) I must acknowledge the possibility of radical change to the fundamental design of the Lord’s program for his children–I’m doubtful that we’ll see any alteration of the church’s teachings on marriage, family, and chastity that places the doctrine outside the framework of lawful marriage between a biological man and woman.
Talking to Jack about LGBT issues will get you nowhere. He, like the Church, has no answers for them. He, like the Church, has decided that using the force of government to prevent them from marrying is for the ‘best’ of his gay brothers and sisters. He, like the Church, will not be persuaded by anything other than the voice of God on the matter, which they will never hear, because they believe it’s already set in stone (again, this is despite the fact that they have no answers, no sure hope for them). Jack, like the Church, does not understand Church history and will not confront it. Jack, like the Church, will not apologize for the hurt LGBT people suffer from their hands, because Jack, like the Church, puts authority over people and religious fable over fact, and, although both are completely happy to let God work many things out in the eternities (like people sealed to multiples spouses, etc), they believe this one thing (approving of their unions here) just can’t be worked out in the eternities. For both Jack and the Church, it’s worth all the suffering LGBT people suffer.
Jack, like the Church, will argue that he loves LGBT people. Jack, like the Church, believes that marriage is primarily and fundamentally about procreation. That if procreation is not possible here or in the eternities, then marriage should not be approved. Jack, like the Church, don’t realize that the Proclamation does not exclude homosexual marriage–that because it says that ‘A’ is approved, it must mean that nothing else is or ever will be. Jack, like the Church, does not believe in logical reasoning on the issue. Jack, like the Church, will acknowledge they don’t know everything and that though we are told to make choices and decisions on our own and not be commanded in all, they do not believe in doing so on this matter. They believe these things because, to be honest, gay people being intimate scares the hell out of them.
Jack, like the Church, are judge by the current sentiments of the time. Jack, like the Church will be judged by history. Jack, like the Church, will cause many people to leave the Church because of his recalcitrance. Jack, like the Church, will believe that God approves of such actions. Jack, like the Church, is a dull boy when it comes to talking about the issues. Jack, like the Church, are happy to be called dull boys on this issues.
Jack, like the Church, does not believe that the Spirit could tell anyone that the Church’s current practices toward LGBT people are wrong. Jack, like the Church, are wrong on this issue.
And thus, finally, Jack, like the Church, deserve the opprobrium they reserve for their proud, illogical, and fear-driven stances.
Feel free to take it away Jack. But we’ve already discussed these things many times over. You don’t and won’t believe anything beyond what you are told on the matter. Not told by anyone who is LGBT, mind you. Of course not that. Those voice are irrelevant on the matter, despite them being the voice that have most at stake in the matter.
Synthetic mice embryos can be grown in a lab. No sperm or egg needed. The idea is eventually for people to grow replacement organs. And the obvious, a new age of family planning. I have know idea what the antiabortion crowd think, but a brave new world is coming.
I could ask if Human clones should have human rights, but consider this instead–Suppose a religion deems only blood type O positive get to go to heaven. Should that religion be allowed to deny civil rights to other blood types. Oh you’re A negative, yep you can be fired. O negative, not renting to you. Can only O positive get civilly married? Can you see how harmful, how effing demoralizing and stigmatizing it is to be less than human. And no matter how much you may love people with other blood types, you are harming them.
mountainclimber479, both you and Iws329 have offered very well thought out replies–I appreciate it. I haven’t read Reeve’s book yet. But if it’s as good as Nash’s book on polygamy then it must be excellent.
Even so, I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking on this subject over the years–and if the two points you raise are truly indicative of Reeve’s take on the ban then I think he’s got it wrong–at least in part. There are two problems in Reeves approach (or at least in the way you’ve presented them): First, an overreliance on what Joseph did or didn’t do can turn fundamentalist rather quickly. And second, There Deity doesn’t seem to appear anywhere in his argument.
With regard to the first problem: Latter-day Saints believe that the voice of living prophets trumps that of dead prophets–and aren’t we glad that President Kimball’s revelation trumped Brigham Young’s implementation of the ban. But by the same token we should be willing to five Brigham Young the benefit of the doubt with regard to trumping Joseph Smith’s initial trajectory on the issue.
As to the second problem: yes the church has denounced the folklore employed to justify the ban (for which I’m very glad) but that mean (IMO) that Brigham Young could not have been inspired to implement it. Of course, I don’t whether he was or wasn’t–that remains a mystery to me. And I think it’s a stretch for Reeve’s (or anyone) to say he knows that Brigham was not inspired–if indeed that’s his position.
That said, my own sense — after musing upon this subject for decades — is that what really underscored the ban and the timing of its lifting, and so forth, is the problem of managing the Kingdom in a racist culture–racist by our current cultural standards that is. There may be more to it than that basic idea–I don’t know. But at least from where I stand–as I look back on the history of the West what comes into full view is the literal impossibility of building an integrated society. Because that’s what giving our black brothers and sisters the blessings of the priesthood would have led to–IMO. It just wasn’t doable in those days. Not only were the saints unprepared for integration–the entire world wasn’t ready for that kind of assimilation and cooperation. It wouldn’t be until after WWII that the world would begin broaden it’s views on race enough to consider the possibility of integration.
And so, on the one hand I believe that–yes–the ban was rooted in racism. But on the other, the matter of timing had everything to do with the lifting of the ban–though perhaps not for the reasons that were given early on. I liken the issue of timing (vis-a-vis the ban) to the establishment of the church in 1830. Would the church have survived had it been establish at an earlier time? My best guess is no. But even so, it seems perfectly plausible (to me) that the Lord brought the church out of the wilderness at the particular time and place of his choosing–knowing full well that the saints — and the world at large — would need extra time to prepare for full racial integration.
You are both right and wrong. I do follow the church’s course on most issues–you’re right about that. But you’ve the church altogether wrong, brother.
Don’t blame it on the Lord. It’s extremely insulting to black members of the church to insinuate that God was behind the ban. If you want to understand this follow Sistas in Zion, or listen to the Beyond the Block podcasts. Learn how it feels to be a black member of the church.
Other churches in the same time frame welcomed black members to their priesthood and congregations and survived. Besides, we adopted polygamy, which is even more controversial than including black people, and survived. I don’t think church survival is a good argument for exclusion of blacks. Remember, it was just the priesthood. Women and children were denied the sealing ordinances.
“…but a brave new world is coming.”
Yes–and that’s why it’s imperative that we follow the counsel of living prophets. “For now we see through a glass darkly…”
Seeing Jack’s responses, it’s almost like I’m a prophet!
@Jack, I appreciate your dialog. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that we have a more clear-cut example of prophetic fallibility in Church history (the POX would be another great one, though), so if you can’t see prophetic fallibility here, then I guess you’re not going to see it anywhere. I do highly recommend you read Reeve’s book. It’s really hard not to see how things actually unfolded–based on Church leaders statements and Church documents–when Reeve goes through the history in detail.
By the way, I’m not sure that you are aware of it, but it seems like you’ve sort of acknowledged prophetic fallibility because you acknowledge that Brigham Young used the curse of Cain argument, and you also acknowledge that this “folklore” argument was wrong. You seem to be saying that Brigham was inspired to implement the ban, but he got the reasons for the ban wrong. If you can read Brigham’s racist rant to the Utah legislature and believe that he was inspired to say those words, then I guess that’s your right, but I just can’t find God in Brigham’s racist words.
Joseph allowing blacks to hold the priesthood and participate in the temple hardly seems “fundamentalist” to me. Why on earth would God allow blacks to be ordained and enter the temple in the early years of the Church, then take it away during Brigham’s time, and then bring it back again later? We know that this change was very hurtful to many blacks in Brigham’s Utah days. Why would God do this to them?
As to the lack of deity in my argument, well, yeah, I guess I don’t believe for one second that deity was involved when Brigham went off on his racist rant for the reasons for the ban. I highly doubt that the Church would argue that Brigham was inspired when he uttered his words, as you claim he was. God really wasn’t present with Brigham at that moment at all. Brigham got it wrong all on his own, and God let him (and many subsequent prophets and apostles) do it and apparently chose not to intervene. This history lesson is highly instructional for the Church’s LGBTQ situation today. Perhaps God let the Q15 sign and release the Family Proclamation even though He knew it was a huge mistake. When it comes to His Church and His prophets, God doesn’t seem to be a micromanager. He allows the Q15 to make big mistakes which causes great suffering to the body of the Church.
In 1963, Pres. Kimball, while an apostle, said, “The doctrine or policy [the priesthood/temple ban] has not varied in my memory. I know it could. I know the Lord could change his policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error which brought about the deprivation.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_people_and_Mormon_priesthood#:~:text=Referring%20to%20the%20priesthood%20ban,which%20brought%20about%20the%20deprivation.%22) Pres. Kimball, the prophet who ended the ban had thought for years that the ban was a “possible error” that required “forgiveness” from the Lord. If a prophet can conceive of having a previous prophet make an error that requires forgiveness, can you allow for this possibility yourself?
I find the argument that Brigham’s Church in Utah couldn’t integrate highly unconvincing. Blacks had participated in a mostly white Church in Joseph’s days. Besides, the northern states had all kinds of free black people living in them when Brigham Young instituted the ban. The whites and blacks in the north managed to live together pretty well.
Sorry, but I find your arguments for the priesthood/temple ban utterly unconvincing. Read Reeve’s book (it’s not that long), and let’s talk again.
I’m not blaming the Lord. He might’ve started the church in 1978 if he wanted to. But he knew what would be best for all involved vis-a-vis the order and sequence of getting the ball rolling. We should rather be grateful that he’s willing to work with us even when we’re weak creatures who hardly know anything at all about the way things really are–or ought to be.
I believe the commitments that Latter-day Saints make — especially in the temple — would’ve called the them to live at a deeper level of integration than merely worshipping together on Sundays. And that’s the kind of community that we don’t see anywhere before WWII. We don’t see blacks and whites living in the same neighborhoods and intermarrying and working together at the same level of pay and position. And my sense is–if the development of that sort of community had been possible in those days we would see it some where in our history. But it isn’t there–That is, not on a scale that at least has the appearance of a full fledged community.
@Jack, it really is blaming God even though you don’t want it to be. You are essentially saying that God started the Church, allowed blacks to fully participate at first, then pulled the rug out from under them awhile after the Church arrived in Utah and used the now-disavowed curse of Cain argument as justification, and then finally reinstated them into full fellowship in 1978 in the face of immense internal and external pressure. When I look at that mess of history and ask myself whether it was God or Brigham (and his successors), I see the actions of men. Apparently, you see God. Except, I now recall that you are unable to really separate God from His Church/Church leaders. They are essentially one and the same to you. You believe in a micromanager God who doesn’t allow His prophets to make big mistakes despite all historical evidence to the contrary.
My last comment is a response to Iws329.
I’m open to the idea that Brigham Young may have concocted the whole thing on his own. But what I can’t do is say that I know for certain that that is the case. And until I do know for certain — if anyone can really know such a thing — I’m inclined to give BY the benefit of the doubt with regard to the ban itself–irrespective of his justifications for it.
Re: blacks and whites living together in the north. I agree that there was more accommodation in the north than in the south. Even so, I doubt that they were living in the same culdesac and having neighborhood barbeques together.
I have to wonder — and I don’t mean to be impertinent — but it seems to me that most of the folks who frequent this blog would have a lot to say–in the negative–about our racist history. And yet, I’ve noticed that when I bring up this subject — the idea of integration being central to the reason for the ban — the same folks come up with examples from our past to show that integration was doable. And on top of that–the saints no longer seem to be just regular folks doing their best according to what they know. The somehow become these superhuman saints with the strength to weather any storm brought on by an attempt to build an integrated society.
Now I don’t mean to speak ill of the saints. I dare say that had they been given the charge to build such a society they would’ve done their darnedest to carry it off–at least those who’d have chosen to remain. But even so, the long and short of is (IMHO) if the problem of integration was *not* the primary reason (or even one of the reasons) for the ban–I don’t think that dismissal can be built upon the premise that full integration was possible in those days. There must be another reason that we’re not privy to.
There was a reason for the ban. It happened because leaders, even prophetic leaders who have done inspired things, are human beings that make mistakes. They have agency like anyone else. Jonah was a prophet, but he failed to obey God. After he obeyed God and brought the Ninevites to repentance he still had a bad attitude towards them. Moses failed God and wasn’t allowed to cross the river Jordan. Peter denied the Christ.
So do you always have the spirit and make perfect choices? Well the truth is your bishop has days he gets it wrong too. So does your stake president, and the regional representative, and all the general authorities and Q15. President Nelson said we don’t have an infallibility doctrine in his first press conference, referring to himself and Joseph Smith.
They are all people, often inspired, sometimes in error. The reality is, when it comes down to it, we don’t believe any leader is/was infallible except Jesus Christ.That includes Brigham Young.
This is what President Nelson believes.
“Jack, it really is blaming God even though you don’t want it to be.”
I guess we’re at an impasse. I’m blaming *us* — and I see the Lord working with us the best he can. It’s a typical pattern. The Lord has had to work with people in their weakness all throughout history. Even so, in every dispensation his prophets sought to establish of Zion and have rarely succeeded. And I suppose that had the saints been prepared to establish Zion in the early days of the church then there would have been no cultural barriers to integration. They would have been safe within the boundaries of Zion like the people of Enoch.
One more thing–I think it’s important to note the OD2 rreads like a fulfillment of prophecy. I know that some folks attribute that to the fact leaders of the church had been saying that for a long time. But I think think there’s more to it. I think right from the get-go Brigham Young and then all the prophets who followed him were correct in their understanding that the blacks would one day receive all of the blessings of the priesthood. And here’s a great example of a doctrinal island of truth being surrounded by so much water of assumptions. They were right about the fact of the ban being lifted one day–but wrong about precisely when (and perhaps how) it would happen.
Jack, I apologize about the podcast links with no explanation. The first is Latter day Struggles by therapist Sister Hamaker which includes some of the church history of dealing with LGBTQ issues and science. The second is Beyond the Block, a podcast by Brother Jones and Brother Knowles, a black man and a gay man. All are faithful active members of the church that study history, and the scriptures and share their experiences and expertise. I really enjoy them. They help me keep my faith flexible. I hope you give them a shot Jack.
I believe that the apostles make mistakes–they’re not infallible. And as I said earlier–I’m open to the idea the BY might’ve been wrong. But I don’t think there’s anyway to really prove that he was in fact wrong — speaking of the implementation of the ban itself and not the folkloric explanations for it — especially when it persisted for so long. It’s difficult for me to attribute it to nothing more than the fallibility of the Lord’s servants. There’s something else in the mix–and according to my little bit of hindsight that ingredient is made manifest by the timing of OD2. And it’s this — now brace yourself — not only did the saints have to become prepared to receive our black brothers and sisters into full fellowship–the *entire* population had to do the same. And that’s why (IMO) OD2 follows on the heels of the Civil Rights movement. I know that this may be a hard pill for some folks to swallow–but that’s the way I see it. And furthermore I would suggest that the timing is evidence of the Lord’s graciousness. It’s as if he waited for the first sign of willingness on the part of his children to integrated–and swifter than a jackrabbit he ends the restriction.
I’ve been challenged many times on this blog to look beyond my orthodoxy and try to see things in a new way. Now I’m challenging you, my friends, to try to see it my way–even if all you can do is give it glance.
P.S. Iws329: though we rarely agree I appreciate your well though out and measured responses. You’ll surely enter the Kingdom before I do.
“I believe that the apostles make mistakes–they’re not infallible.” I’ve seen you write that a few times, but you don’t seem to really mean it. You seem to believe that apostles might err in choosing a tie that doesn’t match their suit jacket very well, but you seem incapable of acknowledging that they can make a a big mistake like the race/priesthood ban. Accepting the fallibility of Church leaders is pretty meaningless, unless you accept that they can actually make big mistakes.
“It’s difficult for me to attribute [the temple/priesthood ban] to nothing more than the fallibility of the Lord’s servants.” Yes, I agree it is extremely difficult for you to do that. I advise you to try harder. Read Reeve’s book. Yes, he cannot tell you 100% for certain whether Brigham was inspired or not (again, it’s extremely hard to find Brigham’s words on this topic inspiring), but when you go through the detailed history bit by bit, it’s super hard not to see that the ban started with an uninspired (on this issue) Brigham and was continued by subsequent uninspired (on this issue) Church leaders.
“Now I’m challenging you, my friends, to try to see it my way–even if all you can do is give it glance.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve heard your explanation (the Church had to wait until the civil rights movement in the US to end the temple/priesthood ban) many times in the past. In fact, I actually entertained this idea decades ago when I didn’t think that God would allow Church leaders to screw up this badly with the temple priesthood ban. Not many people (here or anywhere else) seem to put much weight into this theory because there are so many obvious arguments against it, many any of which have already been mentioned above. Why did God initially allow blacks to hold the priesthood/participate in temple ordinances and then take it away? Your theory falls apart when you understand that blacks did initially have these privileges. It’s also already been mentioned that there were integrated Churches in the US at that time. Why couldn’t that happen in Utah? Orson Pratt publicly opposed Brigham Young’s racist policies–the Q15 were not in agreement on this issue (unanimous Q15 support seems to be important to you). One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that the Church, in 1978, was very late to end the racist ban. 1978 was hardly the “first sign of willingness on the part of his children to integrate”. That’s just a few of the arguments against your theory.
“And that’s why (IMO) OD2 follows on the heels of the Civil Rights movement.” The OD2 follows on the heels of the Civil Rights movement because there was massive internal and external pressure applied to Church leaders to make a change. Without such pressure, I highly doubt the OD2 would have happened in 1978.
I don’t know when, but I am convinced that the Church will change to become significantly more accepting of LGBTQ individuals. If and when that happens, your statements here about the Church’s LGBTQ stance are going to look as wrong (and bigoted–you said it yourself) as your statements on the priesthood/temple ban (that you openly acknowledge you likely would have made) would have looked in 1977.
“…you seem incapable of acknowledging that they can make a a big mistake like the race/priesthood ban.”
I accept the possibility they might make big mistakes. But I err on the side of giving them the benefit of the doubt.
“…the ban started with an uninspired (on this issue) Brigham and was continued by subsequent uninspired (on this issue) Church leaders.”
I don’t believe that ten consecutive presidents of the church were all so dreadfully wrong.
“Your theory falls apart when you understand that blacks did initially have these privileges.”
I certainly could be wrong–and it wouldn’t be the first time. But even so, we have to figure the enormous change of circumstances that followed Joseph’s death–plus the growing tensions between the North and the South and the impending war.
“It’s also already been mentioned that there were integrated Churches in the US at that time.”
Yes, but in my humble opinion the covenants that Latter-day Saints make — particularly those in the temple — would have impelled them toward a deeper more unified kind of integration–a real integrated community. And while many of the saints would’ve given their all to make it happen–I think the net outcome of their efforts would have been nil because of overwhelming negative influences from within as well as without.
“1978 was hardly the ‘first sign of willingness on the part of his children to integrate'”
I should have been more clear. I was speaking of everything that led up to the Civil Rights movement after WWII. That was the *collective* sign of willingness to which the Lord responded swiftly.
“The OD2 follows on the heels of the Civil Rights movement because there was massive internal and external pressure applied to Church leaders to make a change.”
I agree that there were pressures. But we have to remember that, no matter how the situation may have looked from a distance, President Kimball was prepared to take “no” for an answer. And so, IMO, there were other factors involved in the apostles receiving that marvelous revelation than just being driven to their knees by external pressure. The timing was right for the world at large as well as the church.
“I don’t know when, but I am convinced that the Church will change to become significantly more accepting of LGBTQ individuals.”
I believe that the rising generation of members will find ways to better matriculate our LGBTQ friends into the community of the saints–at least that’s my hope. But I don’t think there will be a change in the fundamental doctrine regarding the law of chastity and marriage & family. It might be reworded or reframed but not altered in any way that will depart from the New and Everlasting Covenant as set forth in the temple.
I appreciate the conversation. Thanks for your patience.
“Seeing Jack’s responses, it’s almost like I’m a prophet!”
Now, Brian, don’t resist those nagging wisps of inspiration to call me as your first counsellor. 🙂
Looking back at some of my comments I see that there are tons of mistakes–some paragraphs are almost unreadable. Thanks to all for your patience.
“I accept the possibility they might make big mistakes. But I err on the side of giving them the benefit of the doubt.” That is a distinction without a difference. You are just saying that Church leaders might make big mistakes, but you are going to operate as if they are infallible anyway. What’s the point of acknowledging fallibility if you’re going to ignore any possible big mistakes?
“I don’t believe that ten consecutive presidents of the church were all so dreadfully wrong.” This is a total contradiction to your previous statement–just a few lines up in your response–that you believe that Church leaders can make big mistakes. If one Church leader can be wrong, then ten consecutive Church leaders can be wrong. Most of those Church leaders didn’t experience a lot of pressure to change, so it’s easy to see why they just followed previous, but wrong, precedent.
I firmly believe that the Church is dead wrong on LGBTQ doctrine/policy. The Church rarely makes significant changes for the better in doctrine/policy without significant pressure. That is why my heart is gladdened to see the activism against Holland’s graduation speech at SUU. With increasing pressure, and I pray daily that such pressure continues to mount, history has shown that the positive change will come. It’s only a matter of time.
I believe it’s possible that my children might make some big mistakes. But nevertheless I err on the side of giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I don’t think that’s a distinction without a difference if it’s understood that I choose to err in that direction until I have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my child has in fact made a big mistake. Sorry if that premise wasn’t more clear. I assumed that it would go without saying.
“This is a total contradiction to your previous statement […] that you believe that Church leaders can make big mistakes.”
Yes I believe that it’s possible for apostles to make big mistakes. But ten prophets making the same big mistake consecutively for a period of 100+ years would be a catastrophe, IMO.
That said, I suppose it’s possible that ten professors — one after the other — could teach the same incorrect scientific theory over the course of a hundred years. But then again, if we use a more extreme analogy like ten pilots taking off consecutively from the same runway–and all of them making the same fatal mistake and crashing and burning…
You can probably see where I’m going with this. If the mistake is as bad as some folks believe it is then the likelihood of ten prophets making that same mistake one after the other for 100+ years becomes rather small, IMO.
Jack, meet catastrophe, i.e., a church based on direct revelation has been exposed and members are fleeing in droves. Good thing they got lots o’ money.
@Jack, I really do think it is a distinction without a difference in practice. The reason is that you don’t seem very willing to recognize big mistakes made by prophets. Strong historical evidence, personal thoughts/inspiration, etc. are not good enough for you. The only evidence of a mistake that you would accept is the word of a prophet. However, our prophets, at least so far, are loathe to admit to making a big mistake. Therefore, while you may claim to believe that prophets are capable of making big mistakes, there never exists any evidence that you will accept as proof of a mistake, so you effectively treat prophets as infallible.
The analogy with your children doesn’t work well because you will likely accept all kinds of evidence to prove that your children had made a mistake. You don’t completely take your children at their word if there is other convincing contradictory evidence. Unlike your children, you take the words of the Q15 to be infallible unless they confess to making an error (which they almost never do) even when there is an abundance of evidence that an error was likely made.
Indeed, ten prophets making the same big mistake for 100+ years sadly and truly *was* a catastrophe. That’s why so many black members would feel a great sense of healing if the Church could muster the courage to apologize for this man-made catastrophe. I believe that this has not happened because the Q15 believes that such an acknowledgment of prophetic fault would destroy the faith of many members who, like you, essentially believe that God will not allow a prophet, much less 10 consecutive prophets, to make such a big mistake. Instead, we’re stuck with lousy apologetics (“God’s timing”, “the Church had to wait for the civil rights movement”, “we don’t know the reason, but God must have had a good reason”, etc.) to try to make some sense of what was, in reality, as the historical record clearly shows, a really bad screw up by Brigham Young. Most of his successors didn’t feel a lot of pressure to alter course, so it just wasn’t a priority for them, but once the pressure came, the Church finally partially repented of its sin by removing the ban. However, we all learned in Primary that true repentance requires the offering of a sincere apology to those that we’ve wronged. Unfortunately, the Church so far hasn’t found the humility to do that.
During the period from Brigham Young until 1978, Black members and their families endured catastrophic consequences that the comfortable majority didn’t even see, much less experience.
The same can be said for women who’ve experienced catastrophe from ill-conceived church doctrine and policy, much of which has been quietly changed in the past decade or so. Though too late for those contending with the wreckage.
And the same problems apply to those members and their families with challenging LGBTQ+ circumstances, but until it bites the Brethren in the form of painfully embarrassing publicity many times in succession, they won’t feel the compassion necessary to seek inspiration for change. Unfortunately, such change, if it ever happens, will come too late for the beautiful, suicidal children in the past, and those yet to come. There’s your catastrophe, in real time. Please no more word salad cobbling together excuses why the authorized representatives of Christ on this earth will not succor His lambs.
That’s the heart of the matter with Ballard’s invitation to speak at SUU commencement.
“The reason is that you don’t seem very willing to recognize big mistakes made by prophets.”
I believe Joseph Smith made a big mistake when he let Martin Harris take the manuscript.
“The analogy with your children doesn’t work well because you will likely accept all kinds of evidence to prove that your children had made a mistake.”
It’s the other way around. My children are all adults–and I would feel no compunction at defending them out of pure bias until I had enough evidence to be convinced otherwise.
“Indeed, ten prophets making the same big mistake for 100+ years sadly and truly *was* a catastrophe.”
The difficulty is–when we’re talking about prophets we can’t really know how big a mistake they’ve made without knowing the mind and will of God on the matter. And insofar as I can tell there’s no way to nail that down for certain with respect to his particular issue.
“Most of [BY’s] successors didn’t feel a lot of pressure to alter course, so it just wasn’t a priority for them…”
A couple of things come to mind: first, an argument can be made (according to my dim lights) that if they didn’t feel any urgency to make a change–that might have been a sign that, not only the church, but the culture at large was not prepared to seriously consider integration at that point. And second, I don’t think every major revelation comes at a point crisis–yes there is a pattern of many revelations coming at times of great stress. But we mustn’t assume that the *only* reason that OD2 came when it did was because of external social pressures. Enoch was walking down the road whistling Dixie when he was called to be the Lord’s mouthpiece. The brother of Jared was fishing for crawdads when the Lord descended in a cloud and spoke to him for three hours. You see, in both Enoch’s and the brother of Jared’s cases it was *timing* that was the primary impetus for receiving their respective revelations when they did.
I agree that the rise in suicidality is a catastrophe. But I must tell you in all honesty that I am on the verge of getting really angry. Out of the 40,000+ people who took their own lives last year 30,000 of them were white males–most of whom were middle aged cisgendered men. Now I don’t want to beat you over the head personally with those statistics. So I throw my rhetorical question out to the universe: what are we willing to do to mitigate such a catastrophe? Are we willing to perhaps tap the brakes a little on societal change? Are we willing to acknowledge that it’s OK for men to be manly? How serious are we about thwarting the epidemic of suicide in the U.S.?
OK back to your regularly scheduled program at W&T.
Jack: the defense (that Oaks also favors) that it’s God who’s the bigot and not prophets just doesn’t work for me. Sure, if you take the Bible as the word of God, you can definitely see God being a bigot, OR you can see that the Bible was written by humans who were bigoted and see that prophets are more likely to be the ones who have human prejudices.
Please get back on topic, though. This is about SUU inviting Holland to speak and the backlash thereof.
Sorry for getting off topic, Angela C.
And sorry to you, MDearest, for my little tantrum.
Please forgive me for responding to your comment before I get back on topic.
We are the bigots–not God. He was not going to force the world (including the church) to *not* be bigots–especially at a time when we didn’t even know that we were bigots. That kind of transformation (on a global scale) requires generations of cleansing by degrees.
Jack, this comment about God not forcing the church to not be bigots makes no sense. God never has used force. We always have our agency. What you are saying that is problematic is the idea that God would defer to the needs of white people to not be encouraged to accept black people into their midst in the temple. So God would prioritize white people’s needs for freedom to continue bigotry without church supported guilt, first, over the black people’s needs to receive saving ordinances? This doesn’t match the character of my Heavenly Parents or their son Jesus Christ as I understand it.
We are talking about the Christ that stood up to the Pharisees in the current church establishment to help the marginalized, namely hated tax collector’s, prostitutes, Samaritan’s, lepers, sick, lame and disenfranchised people. His parables prioritize lost sheep and coins, the workers that came last, and do not focus on putting the 99 ahead of the one.
Indeed, I think it would have been better for the white members of the church, to be encouraged more to fully accept the black members.
I do not hesitate to say that Brigham Young did wrong on this issue. He called black men no better than an ass and said mixed race couples and their children should have their throats slit to perform a blood atonement. There good public records of this
Jack, picture that white people were formally slaves of Asian people and that we are precluded from receiving ordinances God gave first to Asian people. Is it God’s fault for not encouraging asian people to accept us by also offering us the ordinances? Imagine how your statements come across to black people. Do they teach God’s love for everyone? They do not. Current prophets do not make or defend such statements and they have asked people like us to stop making such statements. They have said they don’t know. You don’t know either. They have disavowed their former statements about this issue. There is no need to defend them.
Angela C., I’m stuck in my own rabbit hole.
Iws329: “So God would prioritize white people’s needs for freedom to continue bigotry without church supported guilt, first, over the black people’s needs to receive saving ordinances?”
It’s not about the needs of white people. It’s about navigating a ubiquitous racist culture. In my opinion there were real dangers involved for blacks as well as whites.
“We are talking about the Christ that stood up to the Pharisees in the current church establishment to help the marginalized, namely hated tax collector’s, prostitutes, Samaritan’s, lepers, sick, lame and disenfranchised people.”
I agree–he set an example for all to follow. But even so, he did not abolish slavery. Why is that? It certainly wasn’t because he approved of it.
“Indeed, I think it would have been better for the white members of the church, to be encouraged more to fully accept the black members.”
I agree–and eventually that is what happened. It may not have happened quick enough for us moderns–but it did happen nonetheless. Even so, as I’ve said elsewhere, it was a problem that involved the entire country–not just the church. Building a real honest to goodness integrated community would have been a death sentence, IMHO.
“Jack, picture that white people were formally slaves of Asian people and that we are precluded from receiving ordinances God gave first to Asian people.”
I understand what you’re saying here–and I agree with your sentiment. Even so, imagine that we’re in China back in the day — and remember that China might very well have the bloodiest history on earth — and the majority of folks there, while they may be somewhat accommodating to the whites, are against any kind of racial integration. And now imagine that the Chinese saints make all of the blessings of the temple available to the whites. What do you believe, given enough time, would be the inevitable out come of making those blessings available to the whites under those circumstances? I can tell you what I believe: they would have begun to integrate–and as a result they would have been overwhelmed by forces both from within and without.
“Imagine how your statements come across to black people.”
I do need to be more sensitive. Even so, I’m trying to establish the fact that the reason for the ban has everything to do with racism. The whole problem stems from the false ideologies of the past. Except that, instead of viewing God as an idle witness–I believe that he was involved in a way that would ultimately lead us to become less racist–at least to the degree that we could begin to integrate as a people–both in and out of the church.
“Current prophets do not make or defend such statements and they have asked people like us to stop making such statements.”
Yes, they’ve disavowed the explanations for the ban that were put forth before it was lifted. And, yes, I know that my explanations could be wrong as well. Even so, it’s difficult for me not to respond to people who claim that the whole misfortune is due to the mistakes of ten consecutive prophets–as if that were a known quantity. IMO, that’s not any less an explanation than any other ideas that have been put forth to solve the puzzle.
Yesterday was long and busy, but I spent some time ruminating about suicide statistics and looked at some dot-gov data sources, and Jack is correct that middle-age men lead the numbers. I also learned that compiling and interpreting such statistics is complex. The lag time is greater than other death statistics, and the margins for error are different as well, and complications in comparing numbers with controls abound along with many caveats. I couldn’t possibly quote “reliable” numbers past 2021, but I will quote this list from SAMHSA.gov of US populations “at greatest risk for different reasons.” This list is introduced with the qualifying statement that thoughts of suicide can touch any person anywhere, and each of the items have links for differentiated information.
Adults over age 45, especially men
American Indians (esp. men)
Alaska Natives (esp young men)
Youth and Young Adults
First, I never had any impression of Jack having a tantrum regarding this. Being angry is one of the appropriate responses to elevated risk of suicide, among any and all groups or individuals.
Second, the elevated risk among older men deserves our attention and should absolutely be addressed. Without further specific study, I don’t know if “tapping the brakes on societal change” is what’s needed, but clearly something needs to change for these men at risk.
Third, our topic in this thread is the elevated risk for LGBTQ groups and how Ballard’s commencement invitation plays to that, but I look at all of those groups listed with a sinking heart. And especially the ones that apply to me and mine.
I very rarely agree with Jack, but on this point his response is legit. I’ll post the link to my source below, for those who want to do a deeper dive.
This is the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) link.
This is a link of recent vital statistics about rates and demographics compiled by learned statisticians that educated me a little and made my head spin a lot. For nerds & geeks.
Click to access vsrr024.pdf
Thank you MDearest. Our times are difficult for everyone. Older men are at particular risk, I believe because they have been taught and expected to hold their emotions in…. until they blow.
This results in a lack of intimate relationships, because we can’t be close without being real and communicating our real emotions. It results in many emotional problems, including anger and irritation as symptoms of depression.
A word for this for further study is alexthymia. Alexthymia means you have pushed your emotions so far down you can’t even identify them. People may be struggling with this more with the use of cell phones.
Jack, Congratulations on showing conceptually that God is a hypocrite by completely disregarding His own counsel to “do what is right and let the consequence follow” in favor of excluding an entire subset of His children from exaltation simply due to the color of their skin because the rest of His children were racist assholes.
It is dangerous (and easy), for one to say what right is, and to tell another that he or she didn’t do the right thing here or there. Sometimes that’s true, and maybe a lot of time that’s true. But there are some other things to consider. For example, when do I tell my neighbor about the tiny mote in his eye when I have a beam in my own? Sometimes we have to worry about what is right for ourselves, and not worry about what is (or was) right for someone else.
–Did Abraham do wrong those couple of times when he failed to identify his true relationship with Sarah? One can say that he lied, but it doesn’t appear that God faulted Abraham (because he told him, after all).
–Did Peter do wrong when he denied knowing Christ thrice before the cock crew twice? Although Peter wept bitterly, I don’t think that it was his place to join Jesus on trial.
–Did Nephi commit murder when he killed Laban? I would have convicted Nephi had I been on his jury, but I’m fairly sure that his action won’t be held against him at the last day.
–Jesus could have stayed and taught more, but when warned that Herod sought his life he departed from Galilee. Should he have stayed and faced arrest?
What I do question is the Primary song that Andrew cited, and the assumption that the words come from God: “Do what is right; let the consequence follow.” There is a lot of wisdom there, but I take it as instruction to me as an individual, and it is not a measure by which I should measure another. Maybe sometimes what is right for one person is different from what is right for another person. Maybe one person should respond to ugliness with kindness, but maybe sometimes another may legitimately respond to ugliness with a stern rebuke. Maybe it is wrong to break the law and to lie to Government officials when they ask me if I’m hiding any Jews in my attic, when in fact I am hiding the Franck family in Amsterdam–but maybe it is also right to hide the family and to lie about it. No, please don’t call me a relativist who sees no standard of right or wrong. The challenge comes in the application of the general standard to an individual circumstance, or what some people call casuistry. Casuistry, or the study of general laws to individual cases, gets a bad rap, and it can easily be abused, and yet it is necessary. Jesus Himself practiced it, did he not? Think about the Syro-Phœnician woman, whom he had told that he would not heal her child, and He told her why. She then explained a different way to look at her situation, and He changed His mind in her one case. Maybe the best person to measure me is me, and the best person to measure you is you, especially if we’re trying to live right, and especially if, as Pres. Nelson teaches, each of us can get revelation for ourselves. Maybe judges in Israel can measure me, but I don’t think that I should be measuring my neighbor, and I don’t want him or her measuring me against some standard.
What should people have done in the past? What should church leaders have done in particular situations? What should you do, dear reader, in any situation where you find yourself? I don’t know. I can only try to do what is right in my situation, and I pray for wisdom and strength both for myself and for others.
Georgis: My use of the primary song words, and the assumption that the words come from God, was simply a device to point out the silliness of Jack’s reasoning, and to subtly troll how that phrase is usually used by members only when convenient to their perspective. I thought the absurdity of using it the way I did would be enough to communicate that I do not think of it as a hard and fast dictate from God that applies in all circumstances. I guess I was wrong about that.
Your reasoning carried to its logical conclusion would preclude us from making any judgments at all about institutions that affect us and our neighbors (as in, love thy neighbor as thyself). It’s not wrong to call out bigotry where it is clearly manifested, whether that be when Holland uses a violent metaphor to encourage further exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals from the church, or when BY and those that followed him enact and perpetuate policies that exclude Black people from exaltation. To throw your hands up and say, “we just don’t know,” “they must have had their reasons,” “God apparently was okay with it in some respect” is an inexcusable moral abdication.
That being said, from a practical standpoint you are right that everyone has their own perspective and makes decisions based on their circumstances and lived experiences – most people probably think their decisions are right based on their own perspective. That does not alleviate us from the responsibility of convicting Nephi for murder because his self-serving account of what happened with Laban (~40 years after the fact) says God told him to do it. If for no other reason than to do our duty to protect and serve “the least of these,” judgments have to be made, and stands need to be taken. The lengths some people will go to rationalize bigotry of humans as somehow directly or indirectly the will of God (I’m looking at you Jack), should be offensive to every true disciple of Christ – and yeah, I guess I’ll pass judgment where needed to serve the least of these.
Andrew, thanks. I understand what you were saying about Jack’s comments and the point you were making. Very fair, and I didn’t want to jumo on you, and I apologize. I think that God has given the church to men to manage, and those men can sometimes make mistakes. That doesn’t mean that the church is being led astray, but sometimes course corrections are necessary.
Jack mentioned the unaniminity among BY’s successors in office as a reason to support the priesthood ban. I understand that argument, and am very sympathetic, but I am not persuaded. Unanimity can be a good thing when it causes people to work together to reach a solution, but when one member becomes rigid and will not be persuaded, then he possesses an absolute veto. That is usually not good.
I wonder about unanimity in the 15 today. I have no idea how they work and deliberate except what they tell us. Wendy N. has said, and has been quoted in LDS print as saying, that her husband was basically frustrated when in the 12, but now that he is president he can make progress on his initiatives. What is Sister Nelson teaching, even if inadvertently? If her husband was right but frustrated when in the 12, what does this say about his colleagues? She could be interpreted as suggesting that the junior has now become senior, and from a position of power he can see his plans put into place. I want to believe that my leaders work among themselves from positions of gentleness and persuasion, and not from some concept of power, but her words give me pause. In an operating room, the lead surgeon gives orders and brooks no discussion about procedure. He commands and expects complete obedience from the lesser doctors and certainly from the nurses and technicians. That leadership model might make good sense in a surgical operating room, but is it the best model when unanimity is a necessary precursor to revelation? I confess to having no inside connection to anyone or anything. I trust that they have nothing but love for each other, and that is comforting.
Georgis, No apology necessary.
I don’t want to stray too far from the OP topic so I’ll try to make this part brief: I agree with your last comment, but if the history of interpersonal relations between individuals in the Q12 and 1stP is any indication, then there are conflicts, and the more tenured the member the more influence they usually have. I’m no expert but, as an example, I’ve read some about the conflicting positions and competing influence that existed between ETB and Hugh B. Brown when ETB was yet to be president and was going half-cocked on Bircherism and its intertwined anti-civil rights, racist/global cabal conspiracy theories. At one point Brown went so far as to explicitly state that one can be a socialist and still be a good church member. The very fact that such a statement is still anathema to a majority of members of the church today is itself evidence that ETB won that fight. Sure he kept his mouth shut about the crazy stuff when he was eventually president of the church, but by then the damage was done and no other leader did much at all to course correct, and now 60% of us are voting for the personification of taking God’s name in vain.
There are lots of examples of competing agendas and opinions, most of them probably are more amicable than not, but “nothing but love” is likely overstating it I think. I hear rumors that some in high leadership take issue with the path the church is on with respect to LGBTQ+ issues, but who is it? Obviously not Holland. As for the backlash he’s getting at SUU, I understand why people are concerned that cancelling his speech just because of his position on LGBTQ+ issues would work to limit a free exchange of ideas, even when an idea is unpopular, but it is more than just a run-of-the-mill speech that anyone can attend if they want to; it is a speech at a commencement ceremony. It is an event that people go to in order to mark a huge milestone in their lives, and there is no equivalent alternative available for them to attend. If you are LGBTQ+ then you are being forced to either opt out of participating in that important milestone or to go and participate with a keynote speaker who proactively admonishes other educators to advocate for ideas that negatively target and characterize you and your identity, who teaches people that your Creator will not allow you back into His presence if you have the audacity to fulfill the measure of your creation. If people were upset and gathering signatures because Holland was just coming as a speaker at an event that was optional for students and faculty, then I would agree that the response he’s getting now would be less warranted, but that is not the case. He is being forced upon people he has harmed.
Sorry if I’m repeating what other commenters already said. I didn’t read all the comments.
MDearest and Aws329,
Thank you, for your thoughtful (and meticulous) responses. I very much appreciate your compassion and understanding towards those (like me) who suffer from constant suicidal ideation–whether they be LGBTQ or middle aged men.
I understand your concern for not wanting to put God on the wrong side of this very sensitive issue–especially when it seems to put him in the position of imposing an awkward double standard on the church. Even so, in matters of timing things can look a little skiwampus for our lowly vantage down in the trenches–even to the point of seeming morally objectionable. I’m sure some folks (in Christ’s time) were very disappointed in the Savior when he made no effort to deliver the Jews from Roman rule. Even for us today who have a better understanding of who he really was (is) might ask ourselves why he didn’t revolutionize the entire world when he was here. As the Lord of the universe he certainly had the power to do so–in fact he could do it at this very moment if he thought it were the right thing to do. Even so, that fact of the matter is that he will revolutionize the world — and IMO he’s already begun that process — in a way that accords with his own wisdom–and that he includes the matter of timing.
That said, what I’m suggesting vis-a-vis the ban is that the Lord (for his own purposes) chose to get the building of the Kingdom underway before his children were prepared to do all things according to his will. He commanded them to establish Zion–but we see that they simply weren’t spiritually mature enough to pull it off. And it goes without saying that the world around them would have nothing to do with it. So to with an integrated society, IMO. If the saints had been able to establish Zion–at that time–then there may have been a place of safety wherein an integrated community may have thrived–because of both a greater collective transformation on the part of the saints themselves and Zion being a place of safety from the negative forces of the world.
So yeah, by our modern standards we were — and unfortunately still are to some degree — “racist a[**]holes.” Even so, we’re doing better these days vis-a-vis integration–and I look forward to the day when all of the children of Adam and Eve will live together in peace. Fun bit of trivia: my white daughter is dating a black Congolese member of the church.
I don’t have much to add to your comments–except to say that appreciate your deep insights. Thank you.
Jack, your example about establishing Zion goes against your argument in the following way: God told his followers to do X (Zion) even though they couldn’t do it, but he couldn’t them to do Y (stop being racist) even though they couldn’t do it. See that?
Also, liberating the Jews from Roman rule is not equivalent to asking followers not to own slaves. See that?
Also, clearly you understand why Jesus didn’t couldn’t have revolutionized everything when he was here according to our own understanding of the plan of salvation. Again, not an argument. See that?
So we’re left with another empty comment full of irrational logic and faulty conclusions. We aren’t stupid, Jack. We aren’t buying what you’re selling.
In July 2007 I started coming online to see what church members were discussing. I started at By Common Consent. I wanted to find discussions where “things of the Spirit” were being discussed. I hoped to find others who were experiencing manifestations of the Spirit: dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit.
To my surprise what I found was the opposite. Instead of discussions about things of the Spirit I found discussions criticizing church leaders, church policy, church history, and so forth. When I tried to discuss things of the Spirit I was marginalized.
I started my own blog at Mormon Archipelago. It lasted for several years and then one day was removed without anyone saying a thing. I had steady traffic to my site, and still do at http://www.ldsaliveinchrist.com.
I participated at Wheat & Tares for years and then the welcome mat was pulled and since then whenever I post it goes to moderation. Fortunately, hawkgrrrl usually approves comments I make. I hope she will continue and maybe make it so my comments don’t go to moderation
Now to the point of my comment after giving a brief history of my experience in the Bloggernacle.
I anticipate that Heavenly Father is going to continue to withdraw His Spirit from America because the church restored through the prophet Joseph Smith has been rejected for the most part. In recent years, the rejection appears to be increasing. That shouldn’t be a surprise, the Savior said this would happen (3 Nephi 16:10).
What is more troubling is that so many church members, particularly the rising generation, are now turning against the church in favor of the things of the world. The hoopla at SUU over Elder Holland’s invitation is an example.
The Book of Mormon makes it clear what happens—judgments:
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 29:27)
So far, LDS prophets have not made a clarion call about what is coming. But I expect they will at some point. I feel before long none of us will be able to enjoy the things we take for granted nowadays. We will be surrounded by difficulties that are hard to imagine now. I am not looking forward to what is coming.
Well, I don’t want to keep beating the bleached dried bones of a dead horse–but since Brian is my favorite sparring partner I can’t resist posting at least one more comment.
First let me ask you a theoretical question: what if the early saints had tried to build an integrated community and failed? What would the aftermath of that look like? Well, we don’t really know–it could be anything between a cordial separation of sorts to an absolutely horrific ceremony of lynchings.
Now a less theoretical question: if such a community were possible to construct in those days wouldn’t there be evidence of it somewhere in our history? And if so–where and when did it happen? Some folks have suggested that in certain places in the north black and whites worshipped together at church–and I’m sure that’s true albeit it exceptionally rare. Even so, the kind of integration that temple covenants require goes beyond singing and praying together on Sundays. They require the saints to be a tight nit community which inevitably leads to full integration of all people who pertain to that community.
Now the reason I spoke of our failure to establish Zion is because (IMO) such a community was the only place where full integration would have been possible in those days. And if I’m right — and I know that’s a big “if” — then it follows logically that without the protection that Zion would afford full integration among the saints would have to wait. And so we have to be careful not to assume that because the Lord required one sacrifice among the saints that he should’ve required another. Sometimes things follow sequentially. And moreover, sometimes there are limitations to what we can do because of circumstances that are beyond our control. A child might learn how to walk and run–but how will she learn to ride a bike when she lives in conditions that prevent her from getting her hands on one?
“Also, liberating the Jews from Roman rule is not equivalent to asking followers not to own slaves.”
Maybe not. But by the same token we may ask why didn’t he forbid slavery.
“Clearly you understand why Jesus couldn’t have revolutionized everything when he was here according to our own understanding of the plan of salvation.”
I think so–I don’t know if I’ve got it right. The Gods rarely tell us why they do what they do. Even so, what I was trying to convey is the notion that–it is for those very reasons (the ones I think you’re hinting at) that he didn’t revolutionize the world when he restored the church–at least not to the degree that integration would’ve been possible from the get go.
A number of commenters to this post (including myself) seemed to object to Holland being invited to speak at SUU’s graduation. There is a chance that SUU will uninvite Holland to speak, and Holland himself may choose to back out of speaking. Let’s assume for the moment that Holland does speak at the SUU graduation ceremony. What would be the appropriate way(s) for students who disagree with Holland being selected as the graduation speaker to make their feelings known? Some possibilities:
1. Do nothing. Attend graduation the graduation ceremony just as they would if any other speaker had been chosen. The message was sent loud enough in the days leading up to graduation (there’s already been a lot of press coverage, SUU’s president held listening sessions which apparently turned into an all-day event where students for and against Holland’s invitation let their mind be known, etc.)
2. Hold some sort of peaceful demonstrations before and/or after the graduation ceremony.
3. Silently stand and turn their backs to Elder Holland while he is speaking.
4. Walk out of the graduation ceremony when Elder Holland begins to speak.
Those are the only things that I can think of that I could possibly swallow (but there may be other, better possibilities I haven’t thought of). Vocal outbursts or interruptions while Holland is speaking is going too far in my mind (and I certainly don’t condone any type of protest involving violence or property damage).
I certainly wouldn’t want to see anything like what happened to Kyle Duncan when he spoke at Stanford Law School a few weeks ago (https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/trump-appointed-judge-wants-stanford-apologize-disrupted-speech-2023-03-11/). Duncan is a Trump-appointed judge who has, among other things, taken positions against LGBTQ issues. His situation is quite different in my mind since he was invited to speak at a an event hosted by Stanford’s conservative Federalist Society. Given his controversial positions, he definitely shouldn’t have been invited to speak at Stanford’s graduation ceremony (and I’m sure he won’t be invited to do so anytime soon). However, I feel like he should have been allowed to give his prepared presentation without interruption and without students walking out or turning their backs, much less the harsh treatment he did receive (my understanding is that he wasn’t really able to give his presentation at all). Peaceful protests on campus before or after the presentation, sure, but Duncan was invited to speak at a particular event, no one was forced to attend, so I think he should have been allowed to come to a university campus and give his prepared remarks in peace. Pointed, but polite, questions would be appropriate afterwards, but they should probably be related to his presentation, not other areas that people disagree with him about. Universities are places where there should be a free exchange of ideas, even ideas that one finds disagreeable or distasteful.
Holland’s situation is different since he was invited to speak to the entire campus at what is supposed to be a celebration of 4 years of academic achievement. That’s where I feel like Equality Utah got it wrong when they voiced their support for allowing Holland to speak at the SUU graduation–they failed to make a distinction between speaking at a campus-wide graduation celebration and other types of forums held on college campuses. If Holland were invited to speak in a forum similar to the one that Duncan was invited to, I’d fully support it, and I’d expect students to be very respectful in that forum. However, we’re talking about a graduation ceremony for all students. LGBTQ students and their family members and allies are rightfully upset that Holland, whose main claim to fame is as an LDS Church leader, was invited to be the speaker given his recent anti-LGBTQ “musket talk” and just the fact that he is the face of a church that doesn’t allow people “like them” to participate. Additionally, Church history shows that it pretty much only makes needed positive changes when enough pressure is applied, so I feel like the SUU invitation is an opportunity to apply such pressure. The question is, what is the appropriate way to do so?
I certainly think that holding peaceful demonstrations before/after the graduation ceremony are appropriate. I’m less sure about students walking out or turning their backs to the speaker, but I have to say that I personally would lean towards doing one of those two things. If done quietly, it shouldn’t interrupt the graduation ceremony too much, and those that want to hear Holland’s remarks can still sit and listen to them. If enough students do this, then it seems likely that there will be more negative press coverage directed at the Church, which I view as a positive outcome (the Church certainly does react to negative press).
Of course, Holland is a talented speaker, and I’m sure he’s well aware of the controversy around his speaking invitation. He will choose his words carefully, and could very likely offer a message of reconciliation which would make students who chose to turn their backs look bad (in some people’s eyes, but such words would ring hollow to me given the plight of LGBTQ individuals in the Church). That being the case, perhaps quietly walking out prior to Holland’s remarks would be superior to turning their backs.
Jared: I think we disagree on the fundamental assessment of who is turning away from whom. I have hope and faith when I see the rising generation refusing to engage in homophobia, sexism, racism and authoritarianism. When I see the Church, OTOH, embracing those things (even if they are making slight progress and getting slightly better over time), I can’t blame the young people whose values are untainted by a lifetime of thinking less of the marginalized or heaping difficulties on them for being different. When the Church says that you can set aside the commandment to love your neighbor if it conflicts with how they define loving God (supporting their homophobic or transphobic policies, specifically), that’s contradicting what the Savior actually taught. At least that’s what I see happening.
Again, what is “the world” in this scenario? I think it’s embracing the authoritarianism and culture wars that the political right is waging on marginalized groups. Mixing politics with religion is bad enough when members do it, but much worse when it’s top down. I do think Church leaders are trying to do better, even Oaks whose policies and ideas are very damaging, but the generation gap and being surrounded by hand-selected yes men makes it very difficult for them to progress at a pace that will be acceptable to us and our children. They also have a pathological need to refuse to admit mistakes. It just exacerbates the problem. I imagine that behind closed doors the discussions are pretty fraught. But our here in the real world, we have to live with some incredibly damaging decisions that some people can’t live with, and many others aren’t interested in living with. If the Church’s values and parenting skills are worse than your own, what is the point of it? What are they offering?
Back to the topic of the post, SUU is NOT a church school. For the SUU president to invite a Church leader to speak at graduation, one who is on record as being so anti-LGBTQ that he will stand against academic freedom, accreditation, the dignity of students, and the rights of faculty to live according to their own conscience, is a big “eff you” to every student who is not LDS and who is LGBTQ, at the moment when their achievement is being celebrated. It sounds like Mindy Benson has at least gotten that message. We will never know what Holland thought about it. Maybe he sees himself as the aggrieved party, misunderstood, standing up for what’s right against a rising tide of secularism (as you seem to think–history will prove otherwise), or maybe he has misgivings about what’s happening at BYU but he’s not in the position to change it, and he’s willing to carry water for those who are, biding his time until he gets to be in charge.
Thank you for taking my comment out of moderation and for your thoughtful response to my comment. I hope a way can be found to make sure my comments don’t go to moderation.
There are many ways to respond to your thoughts on church leaders engaging in homophobia, sexism, racism and authoritarianism. My response is based on examples from the lives of families I know well. Both of these families are uber-LDS. The first family I’ve known since the 1970’s. The father worked for the Church Education System and retired after forty plus years. The second family I’ve known since the mid 1980’s. The father is a businessman and has been a Bishop, in a Stake Presidency, and many other callings.
Both families are large. One family with 12 children, the other with 6. One child from each family is gay. One child married same sex the other elected to change sex via drugs and surgery.
I’ve watched closely how these families have dealt with their children’s needs. I’ve also been in a position to know something about how their other children and ward members have reacted.
I’ve observed such things as shock, frustration, prayer, fasting, repentance, study, and counseling. Each family adapted, and embraced their children and supported them in their decisions. None of the family members expressed any measure of homophobia. Their gay children are living successful lives.
Angela C: Labeling church leaders as engaging in homophobia is way off the mark. I’m puzzled you would use that word to describe how you feel about the Q15. Elder Christofferson’s brother is gay. There may be other among Q15 who have loved ones who are gay, so the Q15 have at least one voice that is like my example families and can speak from experience.
The Q15 are dedicated to following Christ using the Standard Works. The Standard Works are revealed scripture—the words of God. The Proclamation on the Family is derived from scripture. It clearly states how the Q15 and followers of Christ should understand sexuality.
Decisions need to be made by church members about the LGBTQ movement. They can be like my example families and be true followers of Christ sustaining the Q15 and at the same time supporting their gay family members. Or they can go in a different direction and become one of the many varieties of LDS-Dissenters.
My example families paid the price to know the LDS Church was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. So, when the challenges of life visited them, they had experiences with the Spirit to support their faith. Those church members without meaningful experiences with the Spirit dwindle in faith.
During President Nelson’s call as prophet the Q15 have made many changes to combat the challenges of our day and age. Unexpectedly, the Q15 has de-emphasized church and emphasized the need for members to acquire personal revelation. It seems too many church members have been more active in the church than in the gospel. The result has been fragile testimonies.
The bottom line for me is church members can support both the Q15 and the LGBTQ movement.
Jared, here’s an example that completely refutes what you are arguing. Elder Gong’s son is gay. He and his partner were eating with Elder Gong and Elder Gong told his son to post about them eating together so that people wouldn’t get the wrong message. I mean, that doesn’t sound like the standard works at all. Remember all those times people were compiling out Jesus eating people they didn’t approve of.
Jared, I agree that a person can support both the Q15 and the LGBTQ movement. However, I too have exposure to members trying to cope. The coming out of a child often begins a very uncomfortable faith crisis. And what it means to be supportive varies. Sometimes when parents are trying to both love their children and follow the literalism the church uses in addressing the scriptures, really the church wins out, particularly when members are trying to love God first and people second as directed by brother Oaks. This is very harmful to everyone.
For example, I have a friend whose child has come out as trans. My friend is grieving over the loss of the perfect family the church promised her if she did FHE regularly and prayed and read her scriptures etc. The church basically says trans people are perverts, sinful and lost to their family in the eternities, in how my friend understands it. My friend has stayed home with her kids as directed by the church, and homeschooled specifically to protect her children from becoming LGBTQ. She has dedicated her whole life to this. Because of this her home was a hostile place for her daughter. She came out to my friend, dead last of every one she told, & only when leaving home. The daughter struggled emotionally in this home and hated being at church. It certainly didn’t help her mental health.
My friend is going to counseling. She is in horrible emotional pain. She’s so angry with medical professionals that provide trans care, her comments on the subject rage with partisan hate. She believes they take advantage of and ruin the health of vulnerable mentally ill people. She considers this true of her daughter. She is committed to not adding to her daughter’s “delusion” by calling her “they” or “he” as her adult child requested. She has given up on having more than a distant relationship with her child. She can hardly stand to speak with friends whose children have come out to them, if the friend is supportive of their own child. She believes offering full support beyond politeness to an LGBTQ person is wrong. Why shouldn’t she believe this? She is a brittle literal thinker and always follows the authority of the Q15. She can’t stand to even listen to church history or theological discussions that vary from the approved traditional narrative of the Q15. She is in horrible pain and grieving because of what the church has taught her to think about LGBTQ.
I have another friend that is a more flexible thinker. She knows prophets are fallible, including those that wrote the scriptures. She went through a faith transition years before her child came out as trans. She still loves the church, but considers it mostly inspired rather than 100 percent true. She is very spiritual and has a deep connection with God. She has her priorities clear. Her relationship with her child comes in front of her relationship with the church. Her child came out to her first because they trusted her. Her child feels safe and comfortable in their home, but doesn’t attend church.The mother is adjusting to her new reality well because she is a mature flexible thinker who doesn’t take the scriptures literally and feels free to study hermeneutics provided outside the church. These hermeneutics are more supportive of LGBTQ people than a literal reading. But they can’t be found at Deseret book and so those who follow leaders closely can never benefit.
This issue is causing endless pain for members of the church. Please don’t minimize this. The Q15 could do so much to help the many brittle literal thinkers among us become more flexible and mature in their thinking. Instead they encourage people to look to them for the answer to every question. They encourage us to seek personal revelation, but really only to confirm what they teach. This usually makes church an unsafe place for LGBTQ people, and these teachings can also make their homes unsafe. It can contribute to mental illness in every member of the family. For many people the only solution is to leave the church. It’s the rare person who can deal with the conflicts and cognitive dissonance of supporting both the Q15 and the LGBTQ movement.
Brian, I think I get your point. But please forgive me for snorting with laughter over Jesus eating people 😂🤣😂