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NeedleinA

Liberals in the Church

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Great talk given by Pres. Harold B. Lee entitled "The Iron Rod". Here is a video of part of that talk.
 

An excerpt:

Quote

Dr. John A. Widtsoe,...
“The self-called liberal [in the Church] is usually one who has broken with the fundamental principles or guiding philosophy of the group to which he belongs. … He claims membership in an organization but does not believe in its basic concepts; and sets out to reform it by changing its foundations... “It is well to beware of people who go about proclaiming that they are or their churches are liberal. The probabilities are that the structure of their faith is built on sand and will not withstand the storms of truth.” (“Evidences and Reconciliations,” Improvement Era, vol. 44 [1941], p. 609.)

 

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Guest Scott
35 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

Dr. John A. Widtsoe,...
“The self-called liberal [in the Church] is usually one who has broken with the fundamental principles or guiding philosophy of the group to which he belongs. … He claims membership in an organization but does not believe in its basic concepts; and sets out to reform it by changing its foundations... “It is well to beware of people who go about proclaiming that they are or their churches are liberal. The probabilities are that the structure of their faith is built on sand and will not withstand the storms of truth.” (“Evidences and Reconciliations,” Improvement Era, vol. 44 [1941], p. 609.)

Here is much of the rest of Widtstoe's essay (exact cut and paste):

The word liberal, correctly used, has a noble meaning. The true liberal hates slavery of every kind. He battles for human freedom. He wants liberty in thought and action. He is tolerant, free from bigotry, and generous in all his deeds. He places truth above all else and hungers for full truth. He welcomes all new improvements and calls for more -- the telegraph, electric light, telephone, printing press, typewriter, railroad, airship, radio. He insists that every new invention must be used for human welfare, with full respect to civil and moral law. In short the liberal seeks to make better the day in which he lives, and he becomes therefore a crusader for the betterment of the human race.     

Such a liberal, to accomplish his purpose, holds fast, without the least concession, to the convictions of his soul. He is anchored to the rock of truth, as he may see it. He never wavers from the basic, underlying principles of the cause, whether of church or state, to which he is committed. All the world knows how and where he stands.     

His liberalism lies in his constant attempt to make the underlying unchanging principles of the cause he represents serve the changing conditions of the day. He may differ with the superficial conventions of the past, but not with its established truths. He may refuse to continue the church architecture of the past but will insist that the ancient truths of the gospel be taught in every building dedicated to worship. He may be forever seeking, under changing conditions, to make the doctrine of human brotherhood more effective in behalf of the needy. He is a believer who seeks to use his beliefs in every concern of his life.     

Unfortunately, the word liberal is not always properly used. It has been used, or misused, for so many purposes that its original meaning has largely vanished. Word-juggling, making a good word cover a doubtful or an ugly cause, is an age-old pastime. Words are too often used as shields to hide or disguise truth. Many men are inclined to hide their true motives behind a word.   

It is folly to speak of a liberal religion, if that religion claims that it rests upon unchanging truth. Neither can one be a liberal in religion except in the application of the underlying doctrine to human needs. It would be as preposterous as speaking of a liberal science, since science rests upon truthful observations of nature. It is only in the use of scientific discoveries that the word liberal may be used. One either accepts or rejects truth. There is no middle course.     Under the true definition of liberalism, the Church of Jesus Christ is preeminently liberal.

Entire essay (as well as several others):

https://www.cumorah.com/etexts/evidencesreconciliations.txt

Context:

There was a group at the time referring to themselves (or being referred by such by others) as the liberal Mormons.   Before that, even at BYU there were some professors who were teaching that the First Vision and even the atonement of Christ were figurative, but never physically happened.   They were excommunicated and there was a controversy in the Church as well as arguements for and against things like evolution, etc.

The so called liberal mormons wanted to change the Church and to believed it to be a good way of life, but didn't believe that things like the First Vision were literal.

The so called fundamentalist mormons were the opposite and believed that the Church couldn't change and they wanted to continue to uphold the practices that were no longer approved by Church leaders.

Both were diciplined and/or excommunicated.

Edited by Scott

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Another excerpt:

Quote

Wouldn’t it be a great thing if all who are well schooled in secular learning could hold fast to the “iron rod,” or the word of God, which could lead them, through faith, to an understanding, rather than to have them stray away into strange paths of man-made theories and be plunged into the murky waters of disbelief and apostasy?

I heard one of our own eminent scientists say something to the effect that he believed more professors have taken themselves out of the Church by their trying to philosophize or intellectualize the fall of Adam and the subsequent atonement of the Savior.

 

 

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Guest Scott
15 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

Another excerpt:

I heard one of our own eminent scientists say something to the effect that he believed more professors have taken themselves out of the Church by their trying to philosophize or intellectualize the fall of Adam and the subsequent atonement of the Savior.

Yes, that's what I was referring to in the second sentence of the  "Context" part of my post:

Before that, even at
 BYU there were some professors who were teaching that the First Vision and even the atonement of Christ were figurative, but never physically happened.  
 

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I was eight years old when President Lee gave this address. I don't remember it from that time, but I have studied it many times since. I was also aware of how words of the time were used, and became more aware as I grew up. The word "liberal" had much the same type of political connotation in American society of 1971 as it has today. When President Lee quoted Elder Widtsoe about "liberal Mormons", it's obvious to me that he was speaking in reference to those of his own day, in 1971, using the term as it was used politically.

Throughout my life, I have found this to be almost unerringly true. I suspect it has to do with the absolutism that infects all American political liberal thought today, that their opinions are The Opinions and no others are worthy of consideration. This sort of implicit pridefulness inevitably leads to ruin. However that may be, those BYU students who proudly proclaimed themselves "liberal" in the 1980s while I was a student there eventually either left the Church or rather dramatically shifted their sociopolitical preferences. Since leaving BYU, I have seen time and again the close relationship between Saints who call themselves "liberal Mormons" and Saints who fall away from the gospel. There certainly are exceptions; I have a brother-in-law who considers himself a liberal Democrat (though I'm not convinced he really is) but who is solidly converted to the Church and the gospel it proclaims. So it's possible. But in my (non-statistician) judgment, the correlation is far too high for this to be mere coincidence.

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I'm probably going to end up kicking up a hornet's nest here, and starting a fight I don't have the will power to finish. But this is an issue that strikes very close to home. 

Let's get some of the basics out up front.  I am what pretty much everyone would consider a "liberal in the Church." I vote liberal politically, and a number of my personal beliefs with respect to our religion fall outside of the orthodox views. I have multiple friends that share many of these views that have left the Church. I also have multiple friends who share my views that have remained in the Church. 

The Personal Experiences (skip if you don't want to read the novel)

The most succinct thing I can say about being a liberal in the Church is that the risk of social ostracism is very high. And the vast majority of my friends who have left the Church have done so more because of the social ostracism than because of a failing testimony.

Perhaps the most keen example of this is a friend of mine who joined the Church as an adult convert while attending MIT. I name-drop the school primarily to give a perspective of this being a person who was intelligent, motivated, and capable. It's important to note that as an adult convert, many of her political opinions and preferences were fairly established before she joined the Church. She met and married her husband while in college, and they went to Utah for his medical residency. While in Utah, she was on the receiving end of a lot of subtle and some not-so-subtle reminders of "the role of women at home." Some people even outright asked her what was the point in her getting her Master's degree. She wasn't going to use it once she had kids anyway (spoiler, she wasn't able to have kids, not that it should matter). In fairness, I suspect the people perpetuating this nonsense were the minority, but it was enough to make participation at church uncomfortable. After about 15 years and a few moves, they ended up settling in New England. Her Relief Society presidency took it upon themselves to cure her of all of her liberal political beliefs.  Their approach: asking her to teach lessons on "the evils of abortion," and "the evils of same sex marriage." They were overt in their intentions that if she would just prepare a lesson on the subject, she would start to see things the Correct Way (TM). She eventually stopped going to church because she was tired of being a target and a pet project.

So let me make this clear: It is a real challenge to attend Church and be spiritually fed when you're wondering when the next attack is going to come.

 

From my own experience, I have been exceptionally lucky. Coming off of a mission and entering college, I was about as straight laced and orthodox as a person can be. Believe it or not, at the time, I would have been considered a biblical literalist. My course of studies led me to start questioning some of the assumptions behind my beliefs. I had incredibly supportive family and bishops that encouraged me to explore and study these questions.  They discussed issues with me. And while they were free with their own opinions--that often differed from the ones I was developing--they never told me that I couldn't disagree with them. 

I was also very lucky to be called into semi-prominent positions of service early on. But that can be a crap shoot for liberal Mormons. In the first ward I attended after finishing college, there was no scout troop. I chose to volunteer with a community based troop because I wanted to do something valuable with all the free time I had come into (I had been studying 12-14 hours a day for months leading up to my thesis defense). About two months later, the bishop of that ward asked me to comment on a plan he was devising to have the young men of three wards in the area meet once a month as a troop, once a month as patrols (in separate buildings) and then the other two weeks would be non-scout oriented activities. I suspect he was trying to ease into calling me to help run the program. Instead, I excoriated his idea, and said if he was going to run a scout troop, he should commit to it. But running half a program wasn't going to be of any benefit to anyone. He hardly ever spoke to me after that (but that vision of a scout program never developed). 

A few months later, he was released. The new bishop chose to retain the same two counselors who had been privy to my review of the scout troop idea.  Apparently, those two had more appreciation for my willingness to offer criticism and honest feedback, and soon after I was called to be the ward clerk. And honestly, that calling as clerk is probably the reason I have been able to remain comfortable in the Church and be as liberal as I am. Because whatever bizzarro, unorthodox, or out-of-the-mainstream ideas I was spitting on any given day, I always had implicit status of "worthy" because I was in that inner leadership circle. I missed church about once a month to go lead scout activities. Any chance I could get to Church, I would, but it usually meant I showed up in grungy -- sometimes smelly -- camping clothes. And while I knew there were people that questioned whether I was keeping the Sabbath holy, no one ever questioned the strength of my testimony or worthiness because I held a semi-prominent position. That's an absurd conclusion, and I won't defend it. But nonetheless, I was challenged less for my unorthodox beliefs because of the leadership position I held.

That changed soon after I was released as the clerk in that ward. The sequence of events occurred as such.  First, I asked to be released so that my spouse could continue to serve as Young Women president after our second child was born. We just couldn't handle both being on the ward council at the time. A few months later, Brother X moved into the ward. And then a few months later, Brother X became Bishop X. Bishop X had no history with me, and was a very different kind of bishop than the one I had clerked for.  At one point, I made a statement about gender discrepant language in the temple ceremonies, trying to illustrate and explain to people why that bothers some people in the Church. I got called in to meet with the bishop where he threatened to take my temple recommend away for violating my covenants to not reveal what happens in the temple. I had to argue with him that nothing I had said violated any sort of covenant, and if he'd be more comfortable understanding why I believed that, perhaps we should go to the temple and have a discussion about it in a setting that he was comfortable discussing it. He didn't accept the invitation. He also didn't pull my temple recommend, but I was very clearly on the outs with him. For the rest of the time he was bishop, Church was hard, because there were regular instances where my commitment to my faith was challenged because of the things I believed. It wasn't just me, either. Most of the liberal leaning members, especially women, would describe discomfort with Church activities because there were consistent swipes at the illegitimacy of liberal beliefs.

One of the more amusing stories from that time frame was during the run up to the 2012 election. The ward ran a listserv for members to e-mail play date invitations, or list furniture they were selling/throwing out. One day, an e-mail came across asking for support for a Romney campaign something-or-other. I sent an e-mail to the bishopric expressing my discomfort with political activities taking place over a listserv for the ward. The response was pretty dismissive. They didn't see any problem with it. So I promptly sent an e-mail out over the listserv asking if anyone was interested in purchasing a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker. I'd place the order and pay the shipping, and so anyone that wanted one just needed to pay for the sticker. Almost immediately, a notice was put out that political discussions were not appropriate on the listserv.

Antagonizing the bishop like that probably didn't help my cause, but it was totally worth it.  Blessedly, Bishop X wasn't bishop very long. 18 months and then took a job overseas. Although I didn't hold any prominent callings under the new bishop, he was a lot more accepting of divergent viewpoints himself, and it started to be much more comfortable to be at church again.

When I moved to my current ward, a little more than five years ago, I was almost immediately called to be a clerk. I've also taught Gospel Principles and Institute in that time. And again, being in that semi-prominent position has come with the side benefit that very few people question my commitment to my faith, regardless of how crazy any of the things I say are. Again, I've been blessed with great bishops (I'm on my third in this ward) and a good stake president. I've had at least two sets of missionaries complain about some of the things I've taught in Institute*. The bishops and stake president have always been backed me up and said that me offering challenging questions or alternate interpretations isn't a problem if I'm trying to genuinely help the students explore their faith and develop a familiarity with receiving their own revelation.

But here's that catch.  While it has been great the past five years, I get really anxious when a new bishop is being called. Even though I've had bishops that are supportive, I can name a few men in the ward that, if they were to become bishop, would probably make church very uncomfortable for me. Being an election year, we're currently dealing with heightened political feelings, and there have been some instances of members saying "you can't be a member in good standing and support abortion." When you get those kinds of statements coming from people in leadership positions.

And here's the thing: it's completely unnecessary.

* every Institute class I taught started with a disclaimer that I am very much exploring the content, and ideas I spout off on any given night may or may not be good ideas. And anything that I believe today may be something I don't believe five years from now. I've always tried to encourage the ability to safely explore and learn over dictating what I perceive to be true. For the most, it seems to have worked, as my students never seemed to be uncomfortable saying "I disagree with you."

I Guess This is My Thesis (yeah yeah, it should be near the top)

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is apolitical (probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). The teachings of the Church should likewise be apolitical. Repent of your sins and come unto Christ. There is extremely wide latitude for political and social disagreement within that spectrum. There is extremely wise latitude for disagreement in how we interpret scripture and the guidance from our prophets. I do not consider homogeneity and conformity of thought a virtue in the Church (also probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). Unity and disagreement are not mutually exclusive. 

And so I try (and sometimes fail) to respect opinions and ideas from members that I disagree with.  More often than not, I want them to feel comfortable saying what the believe, and if possible, why they believe it. I have things to learn from them, and we are a better community when we understand and accept each other, regardless of the things we disagree or agree on.

Regarding Liberals Attempting to Change the Church

I believe firmly that there is room for questioning some of the things we purport to believe. I even more firmly believe that there is room to question some of our practices. But I also believe that those questions should follow a process of study, discussion, and prayer. I would be considered a liberal mormon, because I support the idea of allowing women to hold priesthood. But I don't support that idea because "EQUALITY." I honestly just can't see any reason they don't other than "because we never have." I know there are other arguments, but I don't find them compelling (and I'm not willing to discuss it in this thread**). Importantly though, I have reached this position after years of careful consideration. Changes to the church should not be made simply to fit the popular social issues of the time. So even as a liberal mormon, I hold that conservative approach.

But that doesn't mean the Church can't or shouldn't change. It can and it should. And it will. Sometimes in ways that I favor, and sometimes in ways that I don't.

** I've spent too much time on this subject as it is, and if I don't get two weeks of work done before the end of next week, I won't be able to go to Scout Camp.

Regarding Conservatives Attempting to Change the Church

This is one that we should be wary of as well. As I mentioned before, taking stances like "No one can be a member in good standing and support abortion" is an attempt to change the Church into a homogeneous thought pool. The message that comes across is "Repent or get out." Those kinds of attitudes need to be rooted out in the Church.

It's Genuinely Harder to Be Liberal in the Church That it is to be Conservative

I'm just going to state this as fact. In the 20th century, Mormon culture took a hard conservative turn that intermingled with political conservatism. As political tensions increase, the fact that there are more conservatives in the Church will inherently make it more hostile to liberals in the Church. 

As far as doctrinal conservatism vs doctrinal liberalism, conservatives will typically be more hostile to liberals than liberals will be to conservatives. I'm excluding from this discussion elitist jerks that are convinced that if you don't agree with them, then you're a blithering idiot. But we have to understand that doctrinal liberalism is an existential threat to doctrinal conservatism.  For example, if you are a biblical literalist, evolution is a direct route to atheism.  On the other hand, doctrinal conservatism is merely an annoyance to doctrinal liberalism. Those facing an existential threat will always react more aggressively.

As Liberals Gain More Influence in the Church, They Must Wield Their Influence Responsibly

And this is hard to do. We often want to call into leadership people who agree with us, or who are like minded. But we cannot afford to do that. It would be a tragedy of incomprehensible magnitude for liberals to wield their influence to turn ostracism onto conservatives in the way we have felt it. Church is a place to be uplifted. 

And I struggle with this one. A lot.  There are an unspecified number of individuals in my ward that are very conservative. And when we consider leadership openings, I regularly find myself advocating against calling them. I've often had to take several days to try and sort out if my advocacy is legitimate or born out of my own biases. I've been lucky so far in that any time one of these individuals has come up as a possibility, the bishopric is generally unanimous in choosing not to call them. But I still feel great discomfort at the possibility that I may be excluding people in the way that I felt excluded in times past.

 

I've definitely lost track of where I was going with all of this. But let me just close by saying that we need to be very careful pitting "liberal" vs. "conservative." We cannot afford to allow ourselves to become opponents. We are on the same team and need to learn to work as a team.

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I appreciate your remarks @MarginOfError and it is unfortunate when members allow anything but love to influence their relationship with fellow members. I would though suggest an alternate view of the relationship between our political views and our religious views. You seem to imply that political views should be allowed to dictate our approach to things of a religious nature. I believe our religious views should dictate our political views. I am conservative politically not because I just happen to believe those principles but because my beliefs in the teachings of the Church lead me to hold politically conservative views. I'm not saying you can't be a liberal in some things and not be a good member or that you have to draw the same conclusions as me but rather we need to be very careful about what is influencing what in that relationship. Whatever the Lord dictates must always be allowed to hold the overriding influence in everything else, political or otherwise. Now there will always be different ways in how we interpret certain religious principles should be applied in the public or political arena and that's okay because at the core we are founded on correct principles. But we must give the revealed word of the Lord preeminence in everything else. Problems with our relationship with the Church will always arise when that stops being the case.

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1 hour ago, MarginOfError said:

I've definitely lost track of where I was going with all of this. But let me just close by saying that we need to be very careful pitting "liberal" vs. "conservative." We cannot afford to allow ourselves to become opponents. We are on the same team and need to learn to work as a team.

I think if someone is too liberal or conservative, the Church discipline process will address it ecclesiastically. So will the government, through law enforcement. In the meantime members need to treat each other well and be intelligently involved in the public square, where they also treat their fellow children of God charitably.

The "same team" is the Church on one hand and citizens of the community/state/nation on the other. The Lord helps us bridge these two until they can become perfectly coordinated (Millennial Zion).

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10 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Great talk given by Pres. Harold B. Lee entitled "The Iron Rod". Here is a video of part of that talk.

These days "progressive" is in vogue. The world uses politics, and the Church uses revelation to influence people. Sometimes political terms are used to describe or seek that which comes by revelation.

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47 minutes ago, laronius said:

You seem to imply that political views should be allowed to dictate our approach to things of a religious nature. I believe our religious views should dictate our political views. I am conservative politically not because I just happen to believe those principles but because my beliefs in the teachings of the Church lead me to hold politically conservative views.

I am reminded of Senator Harry Reid's (I know, I know, "dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow" -- Mushu) speech at BYU where he recounted that he was frequently asked how he could be both a Mormon and a Democrat, to which he would respond, "I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon." While I would agree in a general sense that, yes, one's religion can and should one's politics, we need to be careful that we don't assume that our religion will influence everyone to adopt the same politics. Some will be Republicans because they are Mormons, and others will be Democrats because they are Mormons, and it seems to me that both outcomes should be acceptable within the Church.

Beyond that, I would just echo what MarginOfError said. It seems harder to be "liberal" and be active in the Church than to be "conservative" and be active in the Church.

Edited by MrShorty

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2 hours ago, MarginOfError said:

I'm probably going to end up kicking up a hornet's nest here, and starting a fight I don't have the will power to finish. But this is an issue that strikes very close to home. 

I read what you wrote, but I'm just going to quote this first sentence because the rest is, I think, irrelevant to my response below.

Liberal is a word.  It is not a political word, just a descriptor.  You can use Liberal in politics - such as "I am passionate about limited government which makes me a liberal" and you can use Liberal in cooking "Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt".  Liberal means individual belief holds higher value than the authority.  So liberal in politics basically means holding individual value higher than government imposed traditions.  Liberal use of salt means - don't worry about what the recipe says - put as much as you like.

I am politically a liberal.  In my opinion, this is the proper way to be in government.... UNTIL the US Constitution was invented.  The founding fathers of the US Constitution are liberal.  Why do I say that?  Well.. very simply because they liberated themselves from the traditions of monarchy and enshrined such liberal philosophy into the US Constitution - enshrining limits on government to maximize individual liberty.  The US Constitution, therefore, is the encapsulation of liberal philosophy.  And because of that, being liberal against the US Constitution becomes the total opposite of being liberal against governments anywhere else in the world.

So, when applying liberal to the Church, it is freeing the individual from the bounds of Church doctrine.  In my opinion, this is not the proper way to be in God's kingdom... it will only be proper if one believes that the Church is not God's Church nor led by God's prophets.  This is what President Lee is talking about.  He is not talking about being liberal against Utah culture or being liberal against Stake policies.  He is talking about being liberal against God's laws as taught by God's prophets.  If the LDS Church is not led by God's prophets, then being liberal against Church teachings can be an individual pushing Church leaders to go closer to God.  But this is not the case - we believe that we are led by God's prophets with God's authority.

And this is why words such as Liberal and Feminism and even Anti-Fascist becomes meaningless in its context - because, Feminism has become the opposite of what the descriptor of the word means... Liberalism (in the USA) has become the opposite of what the descriptor of the word means... Anti-Fascist has become the opposite of what the descriptor of the word means.... and this is why the first lesson I taught my children when they graduated from "dada, mama" talk is to teach them that Words Are Important.

In summary, you can be both a Philippine Law liberal and a God's Law conservative at the exact same time and it means the exact same core values.

Edited by anatess2

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55 minutes ago, laronius said:

You seem to imply that political views should be allowed to dictate our approach to things of a religious nature. I believe our religious views should dictate our political views.

I'm sorry I left you with the impression. It's actually quite the opposite.  and like Mr. Shorty, I'm political liberalness is heavily informed by my religious beliefs.

Which is kind of my point.

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38 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

I am reminded of Senator Harry Reid's (I know, I know, "dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow" -- Mushu) speech at BYU where he recounted that he was frequently asked how he could be both a Mormon and a Democrat, to which he would respond, "I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon." While I would agree in a general sense that, yes, one's religion can and should one's politics, we need to be careful that we don't assume that our religion will influence everyone to adopt the same politics. Some will be Republicans because they are Mormons, and others will be Democrats because they are Mormons, and it seems to me that both outcomes should be acceptable within the Church.

Beyond that, I would just echo what MarginOfError said. It seems harder to be "liberal" and be active in the Church than to be "conservative" and be active in the Church.

I kind of thought that's what I said. Perhaps I should have been more clear. 

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55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

I'm probably going to end up kicking up a hornet's nest here, and starting a fight I don't have the will power to finish. But this is an issue that strikes very close to home. 

MOE, I often find your posts to be very thoughtful and thought-provoking.  And this is one of the best.

Much of it is stuff I agree with.  Surprisingly little is stuff I disagree with.  And some things that I really haven't given much thought to before.  I realize you're busy (as you stated) so I don't mind if you don't reply to my response.  But I figured I'd go ahead and share my thoughts with the forum (of which you are an important part).

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

The most succinct thing I can say about being a liberal in the Church is that the risk of social ostracism is very high. And the vast majority of my friends who have left the Church have done so more because of the social ostracism than because of a failing testimony.

I can understand this mindset.  But the reality I see behind anyone leaving the Church is that we leave because we believe our own mindset, or comfort, or... whatever... is more important than renewing our covenants with the Lord.  Perhaps it is because we've simply forgotten how important covenants are.  Perhaps we don't even think about it.   But that is exactly the problem.  If we are so focused on 

  • being ostracized
  • having beliefs criticized
  • disagreeing with leadership
  • 1000 other reasons

that we neglect the one indispensable purpose of church attendance -- renewing our covenants -- then that is the real underlying motivation for leaving.  All these things (as valid as they may be) are merely convenient excuses when compared to the importance of the sacrament.  I say this from my own experience (I left the Church for a time) as well as every other person I've personally witnessed leaving the Church.  Yes, they have their reasons.  And from every earthly, temporal, mortal measure, they are very valid and understandable reasons.  And as fallible humans, I can't blame them.  But covenants are more important than that.

The fact is that if you genuinely don't have a testimony, that is a different story.  But in my experience, it is the very small minority that has that as a genuine underlying cause to leave.  That's what they state quite often.  But those whom I've been around as I witnessed their descent... they were blind to all that led up to it.  They only saw the final step, not all the dominoes that led up to it.

It is actually quite honest of these friends of yours to be able to admit that it was because of other causes.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

 "the evils of abortion," and "the evils of same sex marriage."

Keep this in mind when I comment below.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

...they never told me that I couldn't disagree with them. 

I've never had anyone tell me that I couldn't disagree with them.  If they have, I ignored them anyway.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Instead, I excoriated his idea, and said if he was going to run a scout troop, he should commit to it. But running half a program wasn't going to be of any benefit to anyone. He hardly ever spoke to me after that (but that vision of a scout program never developed). 

I have had several experiences like this myself.  And life went on for all of us.  I don't know why this needs to be dwelt on.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

That's an absurd conclusion, and I won't defend it. But nonetheless, I was challenged less for my unorthodox beliefs because of the leadership position I held.

If that is an absurd conclusion, is it possible that your perception (of said conclusion) was flawed?  Perhaps some or many of these people saw you as we see you:  A very liberal and somewhat heterodox Saint that is still thoughtful and faithful about how he approaches doctrine and beliefs.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

He didn't accept the invitation. He also didn't pull my temple recommend,

The second sentence there is the important part.  But it seems that you're still holding the first sentence as being the more important.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

but I was very clearly on the outs with him. For the rest of the time he was bishop, Church was hard, because there were regular instances where my commitment to my faith was challenged because of the things I believed.

It wasn't just me, either. Most of the liberal leaning members, especially women, would describe discomfort with Church activities because there were consistent swipes at the illegitimacy of liberal beliefs.

I'm a conservative who regularly works with one of the very few very liberal fabrication companies in Houston.  I know that if I were to ever talk about politics, they'd probably cancel my contract and never call me again.

A liberal in the church may be challenged and met with suspicion but you're not kicked out because of your positions.

The fact is that when your contribution to the conversation is that we should have abortion on demand and gay couples should marry in the temple, you shouldn't be surprised if you're lumped in with exactly the types of people that SHOULD be met with suspicion.  The primary reason you're not treated that way on this forum (for the most part) is that we've had enough discussions that we have gotten to know you and see/feel your faith.  While we still disagree with you politically (and we will still debate) we know your faith makes you our brother in the gospel.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

One of the more amusing stories from that time frame was during the run up to the 2012 election. The ward ran a listserv for members to e-mail play date invitations, or list furniture they were selling/throwing out. One day, an e-mail came across asking for support for a Romney campaign something-or-other. I sent an e-mail to the bishopric expressing my discomfort with political activities taking place over a listserv for the ward. The response was pretty dismissive. They didn't see any problem with it. So I promptly sent an e-mail out over the listserv asking if anyone was interested in purchasing a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker. I'd place the order and pay the shipping, and so anyone that wanted one just needed to pay for the sticker. Almost immediately, a notice was put out that political discussions were not appropriate on the listserv.

Yup.  That was simple hypocrisy.  The bishop should not have allowed that for ANY non-official Church business.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Antagonizing the bishop like that probably didn't help my cause, but it was totally worth it. 

The level of schaddenfreude displayed here is showing you're doing a lot of the same things you're complaining about.  I've always admired that fact that you tend to be consistent in your positions and you often admit when you have facts shown where you are wrong.  

Perhaps you could take a moment and realize that you're doing a lot of the same things to others that you're complaining about yourself?  Yes, yes, payback and all that.  Sauce for the goose.  I understand that.  And I don't begrudge you that.  

But if you're looking for the solution to this never-ending battle, consider a different strategy.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Blessedly, Bishop X wasn't bishop very long. 18 months and then took a job overseas. Although I didn't hold any prominent callings under the new bishop, he was a lot more accepting of divergent viewpoints himself, and it started to be much more comfortable to be at church again.

In a way, that bishop actually did you a favor that you did not take advantage of.  Church is supposed to be very welcoming to those who are "lambs" in the gospel.  But as we mature into "sheep" we need to be a little uncomfortable.  We need to look in the mirror a lot more and ask,"Is it I, Lord?"  

I'm not justifying the bishop's behavior.  One does not applaud Satan for simply playing his role as the opposition to God (opposition in all things).  I'm saying that you can't really change others.  You can only change yourself.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

I've had at least two sets of missionaries complain about some of the things I've taught in Institute*. The bishops and stake president have always been backed me up and said that me offering challenging questions or alternate interpretations isn't a problem if I'm trying to genuinely help the students explore their faith and develop a familiarity with receiving their own revelation.

That "if" is very important.  If you have statistics on this, I'd really appreciate it, but absent that, I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts (strawberry filled, please) that the vast majority of "liberal Mormons" are not as conscientious as you.  They ARE out to change the Church in their own image, not the Lord's.  

You just don't realize how rare you are.  And why do you think that is?  Because where you are is on a razor's edge.  You, yourself, described yourself as having one foot in and one foo tout.  At some point, you will have to choose.  I hope and pray that it will be on the Lord's side.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Being an election year, we're currently dealing with heightened political feelings,

You recognize this.  So, all the more reason to simply remind everyone that the Church is supposed to be politically neutral.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

and there have been some instances of members saying "you can't be a member in good standing and...

There is a surprisingly short list of correct completions of this sentence.  And abortion is one foot in and one foot out.  It is not surprising that many people would think it fully qualifies.  The sad part is that I get the impression that you don't even see it as one foot in.

Remember the quote above about "the evils of abortion... gay marriage"? Both abortion and gay marriage are very evil.  Yes, abortion can be necessary sometimes (as outlined in Church guidelines).  But so is war or killing someone in self-defense.  Is anyone going to applaud war?  Should we celebrate war?  Should we celebrate having to kill anyone -- even in self-defense?  I know some do.  But the fact is that these are very bad things that were necessary because the alternative was so much worse.

That doesn't mean we need to make it easy to do for everyone at any time. 

As for gay marriage.  IT IS EVIL!  And that is one thing that will never change.  No ifs ands or buts.  This is the one thing that I 100% disagree with you on in this entire post.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

I Guess This is My Thesis (yeah yeah, it should be near the top)

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is apolitical (probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). The teachings of the Church should likewise be apolitical.

I agree, but would use different wording.  It is politically neutral, not "apolitical".  So, why are you so free with declaring political views at church?  Why not simply remind everyone that church is supposed to be politically neutral?  That should shut up most conversations about politics.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Repent of your sins and come unto Christ. There is extremely wide latitude for political and social disagreement within that spectrum. There is extremely wise latitude for disagreement in how we interpret scripture and the guidance from our prophets. I do not consider homogeneity and conformity of thought a virtue in the Church (also probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). Unity and disagreement are not mutually exclusive. 

100% agree.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Regarding Liberals Attempting to Change the Church

I believe firmly that there is room for questioning some of the things we purport to believe. I even more firmly believe that there is room to question some of our practices. But I also believe that those questions should follow a process of study, discussion, and prayer.

That's a very important "But".  Of course we always question things.  That is how we know we're not a mindless cult.  But there is a difference between "questioning" and "starting from a point of suspicion".  That is where most people fail the test.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

I would be considered a liberal mormon, because I support the idea of allowing women to hold priesthood. But I don't support that idea because "EQUALITY." I honestly just can't see any reason they don't other than "because we never have."

I'm not too far from your position.  I don't "support" it.  I'm agnostic to it.  Because I'm agnostic to it, I just figure if it happens it happens.  Until then, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Do you see it as broken?

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Changes to the church should not be made simply to fit the popular social issues of the time. So even as a liberal mormon, I hold that conservative approach.

Good.  And conversely, I don't see any reason to adhere to conservative positions because of social pressure if the Church changes to liberal positions.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

But that doesn't mean the Church can't or shouldn't change. It can and it should. And it will. Sometimes in ways that I favor, and sometimes in ways that I don't.

I don't see how anyone could disagree with such a broad statement.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Regarding Conservatives Attempting to Change the Church

This is one that we should be wary of as well. As I mentioned before, taking stances like "No one can be a member in good standing and support abortion" is an attempt to change the Church into a homogeneous thought pool. The message that comes across is "Repent or get out." Those kinds of attitudes need to be rooted out in the Church.

Well, I don't agree with the characterization of that statement.  I think it just comes from misinterpretation of the actual words of guidance we've been given.  As for the "homogeneous thought pool",  depending on the definition, this could be good or bad.  We are, after all, supposed to be "one".

The message turning into "repent or get out"... again characterization vs definition.  Are we not all supposed to be constantly repenting?  And if we refuse to repent, are we not going to be cut off from the Lord?  It may only sound like that because the receiver hears it as coming from a human rather than the Lord.  It is akin to Laman and Lemuel saying "it is a hard thing (Lehi) required" of them.  But it was not Lehi.  It was a commandment of the Lord.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

It's Genuinely Harder to Be Liberal in the Church That it is to be Conservative

Yes, I'd agree.  But I see it as coming from your attempts to sit on a razor's edge.  You see it as coming from persecution for your beliefs.  Agree to disagree.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

I'm just going to state this as fact. In the 20th century, Mormon culture took a hard conservative turn that intermingled with political conservatism. As political tensions increase, the fact that there are more conservatives in the Church will inherently make it more hostile to liberals in the Church. 

Is it that Mormon culture took that turn?  Or is it that political liberalism took a hard turn to go away from God? 

  • How many liberal sources say they want to eliminate God from our public lives?  Not just "separation of Church and State" but outright get rid of religion.  (if you say that "only conseratives say that" I'll give you a list like I did with the "all whites are racist".
  • Abortion is a great evil.  But liberalism came away from the perfectly reasonable conditional abortion position (which was quite liberal when the Church adopted that position) to abortion on demand.  Did the Church change?  Or did liberalism change?
  • Gay marriage is simply a perversion of God-given procreative powers.  There is not amount of political neutrality that is going to soften that simple fact.
  • Liberals want to get rid of the Constitution.  And the Church sees it as divinely inspired.

These are all positions that the Church has been pretty consistent on.  But pop culture, not Church culture, has changed over the years.  Strange that political liberals changed with their politics rather than staying consistent with the Church.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

As far as doctrinal conservatism vs doctrinal liberalism, conservatives will typically be more hostile to liberals than liberals will be to conservatives. I'm excluding from this discussion elitist jerks that are convinced that if you don't agree with them, then you're a blithering idiot. But we have to understand that doctrinal liberalism is an existential threat to doctrinal conservatism.  For example, if you are a biblical literalist, evolution is a direct route to atheism.  On the other hand, doctrinal conservatism is merely an annoyance to doctrinal liberalism. Those facing an existential threat will always react more aggressively.

One reason doctrinal liberalism is more highly discouraged than doctrinal conservatism is that true religion, by its very nature, will be conservative.  Religion is supposed to be immovable as the world changes around it.  God is an unchanging god.  Therefore, the changes from religion should either be 

  • clearly necessary with overwhelming acceptance due to changing society, technology, information, blah blah blah -- or pandemic lockdowns. :) 
  • Direct Revelation from God that it is time to change something.

Most of the things that doctrinal liberals advocate do NOT abide by either of these criteria.  The great majority of the time, it is because people just think they know better than the Apostles do.   Meanwhile conservatives at least have the security that they are abiding by what they see in scriptures and what we hear from living Oracles.  Even if conservatives are wrong, they at least have that security that they can have a clear conscience before God at judgment day.

A doctrinal liberal, OTOH, if right, no problem.  If wrong, they can only say "I thought I knew better than your chosen Apostles." 

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

As Liberals Gain More Influence in the Church, They Must Wield Their Influence Responsibly

As much as I appreciate liberals as conscientious as you are, such is a rare find.  My personal experience has been that most liberals simply think they know better than the Apostles.  End of story.

Thus,  I hope that you don't gain more influence.  But it may already be too late.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

And this is hard to do. We often want to call into leadership people who agree with us, or who are like minded. But we cannot afford to do that. It would be a tragedy of incomprehensible magnitude for liberals to wield their influence to turn ostracism onto conservatives in the way we have felt it. Church is a place to be uplifted. 

While hypocrisy is a very human failing, the primary difference between political liberals vs conservatives is the level of group think.  This is to the point that if a black man doesn't vote Democrat, you're not really black.  And a white woman is accepted as a black woman just because she wholly buys into the mentality.  

Yet, the variety of thought among conservatives is very broad in comparison.  I could also give you a list.  But the very fact that cancel culture is almost 100% a liberal creation should tell you that it is largely one-sided.

55 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

And I struggle with this one. A lot.  There are an unspecified number of individuals in my ward that are very conservative. And when we consider leadership openings, I regularly find myself advocating against calling them. I've often had to take several days to try and sort out if my advocacy is legitimate or born out of my own biases. I've been lucky so far in that any time one of these individuals has come up as a possibility, the bishopric is generally unanimous in choosing not to call them. But I still feel great discomfort at the possibility that I may be excluding people in the way that I felt excluded in times past.

I have read all the background you have offered.  And I get it.  But just looking at statements like this over and over again keeps bringing back to center stage how much mental energy you have spent on judging people in the Church based on politics rather than faith.  Isn't that exactly what you're accusing them of?

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29 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

I'm sorry I left you with the impression. It's actually quite the opposite.  and like Mr. Shorty, I'm political liberalness is heavily informed by my religious beliefs.

Which is kind of my point.

I wonder if we should start a thread that could specifically explore how our differing political views spring from a similar religious view. That would be an interesting discussion.

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2 hours ago, MarginOfError said:

The ward ran a listserv for members to e-mail play date invitations, or list furniture they were selling/throwing out. One day, an e-mail came across asking for support for a Romney campaign something-or-other. I sent an e-mail to the bishopric expressing my discomfort with political activities taking place over a listserv for the ward. The response was pretty dismissive. They didn't see any problem with it. So I promptly sent an e-mail out over the listserv asking if anyone was interested in purchasing a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker. I'd place the order and pay the shipping, and so anyone that wanted one just needed to pay for the sticker. Almost immediately, a notice was put out that political discussions were not appropriate on the listserv.

MOE, you rock.  I suppose folks might see this as needlessly divisive (or whatever), but I treasure relevant little stick-poking moments like this.  It's not like you got up and bore your testimony on the subject to a captive audience (I know several folks who do such things).

My irreligious crusty old WWII vet dad was a master of such things, even though he barely had a high school education.  He came to Utah because the heat would supposedly be good for his health, and spent the rest of his life surrounded by Mormons.  His idea of a good way to meet new LDS folks was to shake their hand and say "I'm Jesus Christ, you know".  Their reaction told him a lot about whether he would give a crap about them or not.  Uptight or angry folks were quickly dismissed, folks who would smile, laugh, and be friendly, or even fire back (basically, respond with love unfeigned), they could be friends.    One of his closest friends was an LDS German immigrant who had been a member of the Hitler youth.  They discovered that my dad had taken his town, and although they never met until in Salt Lake, they both remembered the event clearly.  And they spent 30 years re-fighting the scene in friendly banter.   ("I remember the day well, I was standing there with a flower for our liberators."   "Oh BS.  If you'd had a grenade, you'd have thrown it, you devious SOB.")

Life got much easier for me once I matured into the following realizations:
- I figured out what I believed.
- I had learned why I believed it.
- I came to understand that awkward/negative/dismissive/even hostile responses to me and my beliefs, said more about the person making the responses, than it said about me.

With that last one under my belt, I'm able to love just about anyone, regardless of how wrong/hypocritical/annoying/pushy/etc someone else is being.  Even a group of someone elses.

Anyway, my idea of fun is to wander into a forum or page of a predominant opinion that allows/welcomes arguing, and start declaring transparent contrary truths.  Should someone like you ever come to my ward, I'd go out of my way to make you feel as comfortable as some of my most Christlike/charitable opponents in those forums have tried to make me feel.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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9 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

His idea of a good way to meet new LDS folks was to shake their hand and say "I'm Jesus Christ, you know".  Their reaction told him a lot about whether he would give a crap about them or not. 

I had someone do that to me once.

I let out a short mocking laugh and raised my eyebrows and said,"No, actually.  I didn't know that.  You don't look anything like him."

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4 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

- I came to understand that awkward/negative/dismissive/even hostile responses to me and my beliefs, said more about the person making the responses, than it said about me.

With that last one under my belt, I'm able to love just about anyone, regardless of how wrong/hypocritical/annoying/pushy/etc someone else is being.  Even a group of someone elses.

I'm quoting just this because everything else you stated was great, except this one - it's not as great.

I loved Blaire White's twitter post (that is not LDS-wording approved so I'm not gonna link it) that basically says (paraphrased), "I think a lot of folks assume they are mocked for their beliefs when in reality they are just unlikeable".

It is never a good thing to be so prideful to think that you're so good that the awkward/negative/dismissive/hostile people are so bad.  It is always best to use these criticisms to check yourself and either accept the criticism as valid or dismiss them as invalid without needing to disparage their character.  You can't really love anyone while disparaging them.

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Fun thing to know, up until the 80s, Members were NOT primarily Republicans in the United States.  In the 1940s most members were actually Democrats.  Outside the United States, almost no one is a Republican.  In some nations, the beliefs of the Church are considered liberal beliefs.

It is interesting how people interpret the terms today and what was said in talks.  At times I think they believe the Church is only meant for Utah, and in extenuating circumstances perhaps the rest of the United States.  For some reason they do not view the Church as a World Wide organization, and thus in many instances I see them mistake their political beliefs or affiliations as the beliefs of the Church itself.

I suppose, if they had their way, they would excommunicate everyone outside of the United States (getting rid of over half the members of the church) and then about 1/4 of those who live in the United States.  Good way to shrink the church down.

It is interesting the different interpretations of the same talk depending on whether you live in the Mormon Corridor (extending from Arizona to Idaho), whether you live in the United States in  General, whether you live in Europe or Australia and Japan and Korea, whether you live in South America, or whether you live in the rest of the world.  It seems that each has a different interpretation of certain talks. 

Personally, I do not feel President Lee was condemning most of the church at the time he gave this talk (as inferred by some in this thread).  In fact, his demeanor indicates he was not.  HE WAS, in many ways, giving warning to those who were trying to change the church with certain liberal ideas (religiously speaking) that were attacking the church at the time.

Some of these ideas...of interest...and which could SCANDALIZE us today...and makes you wonder concerning our current changes...

Things he was warning against which the liberal Member was pushing...

Women having more prominent positions in the Church and priesthood.  (women as witnesses...a LONG standing issue which was pushed...and is an issue this talk was pushing back against is one example).  Women saying prayers in certain meetings in the church, Women being able to tell priesthood holders what to do and perhaps even hold the priesthood.  Women's rights in the Church.

More equality in the Temple.  Women not having to make certain promises in a certain way or having to do certain things.  Woman and the priesthood again.  Certain lowering of standards (for example, priests being able to baptize for the dead rather than having to hold a higher priesthood office, and in pursuit of the entire woman's rights thing, woman as well being witnesses and even doing ordinances as priests or priesthood holders).

Recognition of differences in Church history and doctrine (for example, it has been pushed for many decades [before I was even a member] about Joseph using a Seer Stone instead of the Urim and Thummim.  This idea was continually refuted by apostles and prophets, but there was a push within the church to say this rather than the dialogue at the time along with other pushes by liberal members.  In addition there were other things that were being pushed for change, some of which have not happened such as the decanonization of certain D&C scriptures, decanonization of the Book of Mormon or the Pearl of Great Price...etc).

Blacks to hold the priesthood and no longer be barred from being Priesthood holders (yes, this was an issue.  At the time, it was considered DOCTRINE that Blacks could not hold the priesthood and we actually knew why, but I won't go into it here.  There was no mistake or blame of racist opinions of the past or any other such things, and to say or indicate that the doctrine was because of racist attitudes in the past was heresy and could get one excommunicated).

Many more items.  I point out the above because of the IRONY of what the Liberal Mormons that were being talked about were pushing, and comparing to what we are teaching today (and even by those who consider themselves "conservative" Mormons today rather than Liberal Mormons of the past).

It's not necessarily political affiliation, but more of liberal or conservative or standard thoughts in relation to the church and how religiously politically active one was towards the church and it's activities.

There was a certain political element, but it was normally not focused on whether one was inclined towards Democrat or Republican party ideals, but more on the worldwide stage of Liberal vs. Conservative thought, especially in relation to Marxism (which was a VERY REAL and SERIOUS threat to us back then, with many pushing for the ideals of Marxist Soviet and Chinese opinions in the world) and the ensuing atheism and anti-religious strife it brought with it.

Edit - To elaborate on Political matters which were pushed more in the Marxist way which also differentiates us from yesteryear and would be seen with skeptical eyes of what is going on today....the breakdown of the family unit where women work outside the home.  The acceptance of homosexuality and certain rights (and to be honest, Gay Marriage was FAR more extreme than anything that even occurred to people's thoughts, it was far more mild in relation to these things being pushed), and other such items could politically be seen as something the church was warning against.  The Democrats at the time, or at least MANY Of them were actually on the same page as everyone else as far as feeling Marriage was a sanctified and holy ordinance or blessing, and religion was a major thing among Republicans and Democrats at the time.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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Guest MormonGator
2 minutes ago, Vort said:

...am I missing something here?...

No. Even "outside the states" generally speaking, religious people are more conservative politically. Yes, it's a generality, but it's still generally correct. 

Edited by MormonGator

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12 minutes ago, Vort said:

...am I missing something here?...

My statements were more in general...but if we want to refer directly to what you said in this thread...

Quote

I was eight years old when President Lee gave this address. I don't remember it from that time, but I have studied it many times since. I was also aware of how words of the time were used, and became more aware as I grew up. The word "liberal" had much the same type of political connotation in American society of 1971 as it has today. When President Lee quoted Elder Widtsoe about "liberal Mormons", it's obvious to me that he was speaking in reference to those of his own day, in 1971, using the term as it was used politically.

Do you think Lee was just the a leader of the American society of 1971, or do you think as a General Authority he would be talking to the World?

Ideas I discussed were NOT things simply being pushed by Americans (though undoubtedly, Americans, especially those in Utah were some of the most visible ones pushing for these changes).  He may have been talking directly to some of those in the US, but I think he was cognizant that when General Authorities speak, in many times it is to a Worldwide Church, rather than a Utah or simply American Church.

Edit: For context, there were some very strong voices in the Church at the time (And many have remained and we have SEEN many of the changes advocated for actually occur in our modern church, some of the things Lee was pushing back at in this talk have NOW occurred in our church...) pushing for some changes within the church.  These were unacceptable.  These would be the Liberals who were calling for changes, not of the accord from the Prophet, but of their own accord from the people.  I explained some of the ideas above which, though would have gotten them possibly excommunicated at their time, will not get many excommunicated today.  The church, up through the 20th century normally took a very STONG stance against those pushing for many of these more "liberal" changes within the church, with the exception of Blacks and the Priesthood which (in my opinion) could be seen more as a fulfillment of prophecy, rather than a change in and of itself.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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25 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

No. Even "outside the states" generally speaking, religious people are more conservative politically. Yes, it's a generality, but it's still generally correct. 

He wasn't talking "conservative", but "Republican". It seems to me pretty obvious that outside the US, no one is Republican.

Edited by Vort

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4 hours ago, anatess2 said:

It is always best to use these criticisms to check yourself and either accept the criticism as valid or dismiss them as invalid without needing to disparage their character.  You can't really love anyone while disparaging them.

Yep - facing and evaluating a criticism is good to do every now and then, just to make sure your beliefs can stand up to them.   

 

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