I wrote the piece that follows earlier this year in response to the LDS church unveiling a horrific PR campaign seeking a ‘golden mean’ regarding the gay members of the church & the communities in which they reside.
My piece has remained unpublished until now.
Here’s a bit of background:
The LDS church is notorious for its revisionist history. Having had the unfortunate experience of living in Utah, land of green jello salad, polygamy, & a hot spot of misogynistic culture, I’ve witnessed much of their atrocities first hand. Would its members agree with me? No, most would not. For those who do, I doubt an admission would be forthcoming.
Below, you’ll find literature taken from legal filings, as well as the Mormon’s own official website detailing how they’ve re-written their racist history. Why is this important? Because they do so pathologically. Race, women, you name it… the so-called ‘sacred’ texts are not so sacred that a group of 1-12 men can’t get a little ‘creative’ in an attempt to save their image.
For those living under a rock, the Mormons announced they will now ban gay people and their children from the church. As much as I deeply want to claw the eyes out of an LDS blogger who justified this as an act of love, I’ll refrain. As a spiritual person and a true Christian (love thy neighbor… aka don’t be an asshole!) I will not unleash the colloquy I so desperately wish to rain upon his blog.
Instead, I’ve turned to this old piece. In light of the ongoing and disgusting discrimination being perpetuated by a religion for which I have zero respect, I feel the need to draw attention to the fact that this so-called ‘church’ has re-written its own doctrine to suit its agenda multiple times. Okay, perhaps ‘re-written’ is too strong… Let’s go with ‘changes.’ The Book of Mormon has undergone at least 3,913 ‘changes’ at the time of my writing. It may be more, though it is not any less.
As stated, the church has re-written its racist history. It is currently glorifying its own bigotry towards same sex couples. Surely this too will become revisionist history someday… Yet before that happens, those of us who know, those of us who’ve read their words, will remember. Memory is uncomfortable for Mormons because it means accountability. They preach it, but man, they really go out of their way to avoid it.
Good luck avoiding this one. What you’ll find below, written on the 2nd of February, 2015, is fact. It will stand up to any research you wish to throw against it.
Shame me. Disagree with me. Blame me for ‘getting it wrong.’ That’s great. Why? Because then I know I hit a nerve… and maybe, just maybe, if I keep hitting that nerve, poking it until it’s raw and bleeding, the spell of hate will break. Maybe you’ll see what has been right in front of you the entire time: people. Human beings.
Hopefully they’ll treat you with the respect you’ve so shamefully failed to give them.
Park City, Utah
November 06, 2015
Discrimination By Any Other Name: The Myth Of A Golden Mean
February 02, 2015
‘I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.’
—Joseph Smith (via LDS.org)
Written by Joseph Smith around 1827 and published in 1830, millions of copies, written in more than 160 languages, the Book of Mormon continues to be distributed world-wide. The church is not without controversy. Once one peels away the wholesome, all-American packaging and expensive PR efforts, one glaring fact remains the same: the ‘sacred’ doctrines the LDS church cites as its reason—cites as being the right of its flock—to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, has in fact, been re-written.
Chapter summaries were added in 1920. Changes to 1 Nephi 20:1 and Mosiah 21:28 were made, however subtly, in 1964. Come 1981, then-prophet, Bruce McConkie, took an enormous leap further and opted to re-write the Book of Mormon in its entirety.
After years of racial inequality, the all-white men of the church at last prayed and received a ‘revelation’ that black men could now be ordained in to the LDS priesthood in 1978. Black women were not allowed to worship in an LDS temple until that same year. Perhaps the most astonishing part is that these ‘sacred’ texts were changed most recently as 2013. Racial allusions have been toned down in order to accommodate the LDS church’s new, ‘inclusive’ stance regarding people of colour.
While leaders of the church cloak their religion’s history in a stunning armor of ambiguity, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that their most prominent leader, Brigham Young, made on-the-record racist statements to the Utah State legislature. This lends plenty of credence to the fact that former church policies regarding black men and women were not a simple oversight, or, as one LDS scholar states, ‘A matter of error or historical conditioning, rather than the will of God.’
Let us not ignore one plain fact: man has re-written these so-called ‘sacred’ pieces of Mormon doctrine. It was not the work of God or a higher power. Man wielded the pen. Man opted for ink as a weapon of choice in order to execute his own self-serving beliefs. Revisionist history falls apart quickly when held against fact.
On January 27th, 2015, the leaders of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were featured in a New York Times Article titled ‘Mormons Seek Golden Mean Between Gay Rights and Religious Beliefs.’ They state the LDS church is in support of anti-discrimination laws to protect people from being denied jobs or housing based on their sexual orientation. Yet in the same breath, these leaders had the audacity to suggest their followers be afforded the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation (without fear of retribution, no less) simply because they’re compelled by their religious beliefs.
Arguing that a group’s religious rights are being trampled upon by gentile savages is an affront to all who have steadfastly fought for and slowly, yet peacefully helped their friends and family members see their marriages recognized. It’s an affront to all who fought to overturn the heavily LDS-funded Proposition 8. It’s an affront to the hardworking, loving men and women who have found love with a same sex partner and have had to fight tooth and nail to be treated as human beings.
These men and women did not hide behind their religious beliefs, nor did those of us who stood with them united. We did not infringe on the religious freedom of those who disagree with our views on gay and lesbian relationships and/or marriage. We have not asked that they open their church to us. We are not asking that they believe in a different god. We are asking them to live their lives and let us live ours.
Freedom of religion is not a law behind which a flock can hide their bigotry. In the United States, Freedom of Religion ultimately prevents government from establishing any type of national church. The Supreme Court has made it clear that while one is entitled to a belief, how they choose to express said belief may cause the government to intervene.
As the LDS Church found out in the case of Reynolds Vs. the United States, (1878), their constitutional rights were not in violation after the United States government determined that their ‘religious duty’ of plural marriage (aka polygamy) was not a defense to a criminal indictment. Specifically, the Supreme Court ruling reads, ‘Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.’
One may believe in Satanism, but this does not mean the government will not hand down an indictment should said individual(s) sacrifice a child in Satan’s name. One may believe homosexuality is against LDS doctrine, however this does not entitle them to government protection should they choose to refuse service, employment or housing to any individual(s) on the basis of their religion-based disapproval of said individual’s sexual orientation. If one chooses to do so, they can and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Freedom of Religion is not, nor has was it ever intended to be a ‘do-whatever-in-the-name-of-insert-religion-here-and-I’ll-get-out-of-jail-free’ card. Never was it intended to protect individuals or religious institutions that opt to practice their chosen religion in ways that are harmful to individuals of the communities in which they reside. Beliefs are one thing: personal. One’s actions—how a said belief is practiced—are not, nor should they be considered a garment of protection against prosecution.
Man, presumably gifted by God with free will, has the opportunity to offer compassion and love to his fellow man. Love and kindness is not to be limited according to race, gender, or cultural differences. One cannot hide behind religion as an excuse for bigotry and discrimination. After all, man has re-written what one religion claims is the word of God. With this in mind—with the admission that man is fallible—isn’t the logical conclusion that man has, with full knowledge and without remorse of his wrongdoing, continued to propagate an egregious mistake?
Los Angeles, California