not in Primary anymore

silence on the torture report: don’t talk to me about coffee and sex

On December 5th 2014- just last week- the LDS Church released a statement about a principled approach to health care coverage for Utahns. Health care is important; while I think the statement was frustratingly vague and reads like a couple grandpas absentmindedly smiling and nodding at lawmakers, I appreciate the thought.

But since commenting on current issues in the United States is on the table, how about also weighing in on….any other pressing issue? Ever since the Senate Intelligence Committee released a scathing report yesterday about the widespread torture U.S. officials have ordered in recent years, I’ve been absorbed with two main thoughts: 1) Horror at the atrocities my government has committed in my name, and 2) The silence of my religious leaders on this phenomenally disturbing issue.

I don’t expect the church to make a statement on every headline- but I shouldn’t have to spell out the gravity of this situation. And even if the church didn’t comment within 24 hours about such an enormously devastating announcement, it could get involved with groups like the National Religious Coalition Against Torture– a force from which the church is noticably absent. Or is it really so controversial to be against torture?

How about commenting on the murder of black folks at the hands of police, an issue that is finally getting some of the mainstream spotlight it deserves? How about issuing a statement about the epidemic of rape on college campuses, with The Lord’s University’s reported cases being the highest in Utah?  How about the fact that it was a Mormon who wrote one of the torture memos?

Or looking globally- how about the repression across so many countries in which individuals’ right to freedom of expression is being quashed by dictatorial governments? Or the impact of climate change on so many communities who are largely ignored by the rest of the world but are arguably suffering the most environmental change? Or the scourge of human trafficking that daily transports slaves from country to country? Or the 43 missing students from Iguala, Mexico and the horrific culture of impunity, state and gang violence, and corruption that their forced disappearances demonstrate?

If you, whatever church leader/PR team combo is behind these official statements, are willing to comment on some specific policies- if you really care about families and individuals and truly pray for the “highest aspirations of success”- I repeat the call of many before me. Where is your commentary on some of these most pressing moral issues of our time? When will you go beyond occasional conference talks and funneling limited sums in humanitarian aid to actually being an unabashed force from top to bottom, with leaders boldly speaking out and church members encouraged to engage locally? Where is that request of local leadership not for us to donate to passing homophobic legislation but for us to donate to anti-poverty organizations or women’s shelters?

I’m tired of being told that the leaders of the church are too busy with pressing international concerns to talk about the feminist issues I try to call attention to when you somehow found the time to publish a press statement about Utah’s healthcare debate and are silent on these devastating global events.

I live and work in Washington D.C. One of my roommates told me the other day that me being Mormon is as absurd to her as if I was an alien sitting there in the living room. I don’t think you realize how much this attitude will only continue to increase among people of my generation and beyond so long as the church’s moral compass is more concerned with coffee and sex than with war, rape, torture, poverty.

I’m angry. I’m tired of straining my ears and refreshing mormonnewsroom.org in the hopes that you’ll say something, anything about any of these issues.

Below I am republishing (with permission) an excellent blog post that makes the case for why we need some serious prophetic leadership on these issues. You can find the original post here on Feminist Mormon Housewives. I want to shout it from the rooftops.

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Don’t Talk to Me About Coffee and Sex

“Last week, as I was listening to news headlines on the radio, my heart stopped for a few seconds.

Five Afghan children. Caught in the crossfire between US forces and Taliban militants. Dead.

Ten seconds on a news broadcast on a Tuesday morning.

Not infrequently, I take a fast from the news. This kind of awful, evil, ugly can really start to pile up on you at times.

Thousands killed in an earthquake.

Millions displaced by civil war.

Countless, beautiful young people gunned down in city streets.

It’s big and omni-present, and sometimes it’s too much. A friend of mine captured well how I feel:

The human heart was never built to handle global suffering.

Now, if ever, is a time when we need truly prophetic voices. Global suffering is before our eyes every day. We’re facing the kind of depravity and suffering that calls for a prophet standing on a city wall, withstanding stones and arrows to deliver the message of redemption. We need Isaiah, condemning the powerful for oppressing their workers. We need the warnings of Mormon, who saw that inequality, materialism, and greed would spell doom for the Kingdom of God.

Across the pulpit at General Conference; in the pages of the Ensign; in the SLC-approved Sunday School curriculum–we hear a lot about good and evil, right and wrong. This discourse addresses such weighty matters as:

  • coffee
  • sleeve length
  • inappropriate entertainment
  • and miles upon miles of words about who you can and cannot have sex with

There is no talk of sexual violence. The causes of global poverty. Wage theft. Hate crimes.

The United States, birthplace of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is resorting to torture in its quest to build empire. Torture.

Our prophets’ response?

Radio silence.

We are supposed to have God’s true and living prophet to help our human hearts navigate global suffering.

Prophets like Jeremiah, whose song of Lamentations for a fallen city applies just as tragically to Baghdad today as it did to Jerusalem then.

Prophets like Esther, who risked her own life to save her people from obliteration.

Prophets like Abinadi, who warned his people that their love of riches and bloodshed and sexual violence would spell their destruction.

Prophets like the Messiah, who went down into oppression and suffering, so that he could spread light and peace and healing.

Instead we have a mall.

Our leaders obsess over modesty, and gender roles, and doing their utmost to keep those gays from loving each other. They’ll spend millions of dollars keeping the wrong kind of couple from marriage, but never find space in all their preaching about sex to mention the word rape.

It is so hard to find my place in this church when the chief concerns are so empty and insignificant.

What good are prophetic voices that maintain total silence on the most pressing moral matters of our time?

Moses might have told the children of Israel who to sleep with or what to wear.

But first, he led his people out of slavery.

That’s the kind of prophetic leadership our world is dying for today.”

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79 Responses to “silence on the torture report: don’t talk to me about coffee and sex”

    • Windowonyourheart

      It sounds more like you want a community organizer than a prophet. There have always been people who think they know more than the living Prophets. If you don’t pray the anger out of your heart, you will share their fate. The answer is love, not criticism.

      Reply
      • Kim

        Thou Shalt Not Judge! It is so amazing that you can see the future! I agree the answer is LOVE and you should take note of your own advice.

      • charles10

        Oh, you mean like Jesus, perhaps, who spoke and acted upon several social issues of his day? Hmmm…

    • Paul R. Hurst

      The issues and their causes/solutions are much more complicated and multi-faceted than this post makes them out to be. Hint: It is hard to tell who the bad guys are, and for each problem there are seemingly opposing (but viable) strategies for solving it. The position of the church on such complicated issues should be what Joseph Smith once said. “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves”.

      Reply
    • Emma

      Thank you for caring about the suffering of others, understanding Christ’s teachings and writing so well about it! I too want to be surrounded by a community of people that spends more time standing up for the poor and oppressed than discussing the ills of different beverages.

      It’s been sad to me to learn how many of those involved in torture were Mormon (including my former Bishop, a lawyer, who justified terrorism). For the full depressing list see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/10/1350885/-Torture-s-new-acronym-may-be-LDS#.

      It makes me question the values I was raised with. Am I so involved in my own little family, trying to follow “the letter of the law” and focusing on getting my family on time to meetings that I wouldn’t even notice real evil? Am I actually contributing to the pain of others or am I activitely spreading peace as Christ would have? Why are there so few stories of Saints in Germany helping Jews?

      Are we the modern day Pharisees?

      Reply
  1. kerryhales

    Very interesting writing and cuts to the core of what is wrong with Mormonism. I’m so glad I escaped the cult.

    Reply
  2. howdy

    Anyone who cannot see the dilemma that exists in this post is blinded by their tremendous bias. These writings are filled with the progressive trapdoor – “I can criticize anyone I want, but I will not be personally accountable to solving the problem I state lest I CHANGE everyone else around me” – you see, this mentality is in fact the root cause of the problem. Rather than complain, just go do something useful to solve these issues. Dedicate your life to it, as many do – at least, those who are committed to doing something, rather than just writing a rant on the web (and believing that this actually causes a dent in the masses is an interesting matter unto itself), especially when next month, you will have to move on to some other topic to stay relevant and get more web hits. I suppose the truth is in the pudding – if you really believe this, you will write next about joining the peace corps or red cross to better the world around you…leaving the comforts of home to actually do something. Yes, you might argue that a voice is very important, but example is more powerful, right? Secondly, there is another major dilemma in this post – the feminist movement in the church really does represent a minority of the opinions in the church, even though you might believe it is not…therein lies an interesting issue…it is one of prioritization. So, perhaps this post about your individual issues with the church have also contributed to the church not addressing those very important issues…for instance, while you may say equal rights is the greatest issue that we face to unlock all the mysteries of life…well, that it is your opinion but it is a biased opinion and it dilutes the ability of the organization to address all the other issues you have posted…and by the way, of course, I am concerned with those issues (including equality, which is extremely important to me), just as the leaders of the church must be…your writing makes it sound like these people don’t care at all about these issues. But therein lies the final distinction, they are actually ministering to people to solve the issues they are preaching about – so I would suggest that if you care so much about these issues – go and do likewise. But what do I know – after all, I disagree with you so I must be blind. On a positive note, you are a great writer.

    Reply
    • me

      You don’t know what she is doing/ has done yo help with these issues. She could dedicate her life to changing the world, this still does not excuse the leadership for bring silent on issues that matter to so many members. Members who need comfort and their questions answered, are left eith nothing. No direction.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        It is not the prophet or any church leader’s responsibility to comfort or to answer our questions. It is the leaders’ responsibility to teach and testify of Christ. Who provides every individual THE way to receive exactly those things you’re crying out for.

        John 14:15-27

        “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

        16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

        17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

        18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

        19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

        20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

        21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

        22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

        23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

        24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

        25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

        26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

        27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

        The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to overcome all things.

      • Anonymous

        While that may be true that we don’t know what the author has done to help, one can see that said author is looking for someone to think for them. The church provides guidance and helps us return to our Heavenly Father. They don’t think for us. We are taught correct principles and left to govern ourselves. Form your own opinions, make your own choices, act of your own accord. Obviously the author has her own opinion on feminism but also has a HUGE chip on her shoulder. Maybe she ought to try to look past her bias on that first.

    • Anonymous

      howdy, I think you are approaching this post with a lot of false assumptions. First, you assume that the author of this piece just writes on the web about these issues rather than working to fix these issues in real life. I know Hannah personally. She DOES dedicate her life to solving these issues. Many feminists do. Most of the feminists I know, myself included, volunteer at DV shelters and rape crisis hotlines, donate extensively to the homeless and disadvantaged, and become social workers and other professionals who work tirelessly to fight these problems. If you search this blog and other Mormon feminist blogs and websites, you will find many posts about volunteer and other opportunities to help the disadvantaged. And all of this misses the main point: the leaders of the LDS church are appointed to speak for God. Mormons believe we are part of Christ’s church. Why should I have to lead these folks by example while they claim such moral high ground? Church lessons would have me believe that who marries whom and the length of women’s hemlines are the most pressing moral issues of our day. I am frustrated when I see what Mormons can do when their leaders set their minds to it, i.e. stopping the passage of the ERA and passing prop 8, yet they don’t utilize that energy to solve issues that actually matter, i.e. anything mentioned in this article. And claiming that leaders would address these issues if bloggers on the Internet would just stop talking about them is a terrible argument and was recently addressed in this Rational Faiths article: http://rationalfaiths.com/christ-leading-petty-church/ But I agree with you that Hannah is an excellent writer.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      “(and believing that this actually causes a dent in the masses is an interesting matter unto itself)”

      Yeah, that printing press didn’t do shit!

      Reply
    • charles10

      Your lengthy apologist defense of your do-nothing leaders keep them fat and happy in their free homes, warm automobiles, fancy malls and perpetually flying in first and business class. Way to shoot the messenger. Stay classy.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Charles, the leaders have had to purchase their own homes, most of which are regular old homes. They fly in first class and special jets mostly because John Huntsman Sr. has donated planes to them. And they revitalized a very dead downtown area. You are still going to hate them, but at least gripe about the right things.

  3. rockwaterman1

    Outstanding, Hannah! I’ve shared this post on Facebook, and encourage others to do the same.

    Reply
  4. anonymous

    While I totally agree that we need more prophetic voices in the world today, one thought I had about the ones mentioned in the post was that they mostly did not come from the hierarchy of the church. Most prophets come from outside and warn us on the inside. It is up to us to listen and hear. Thank you for your thoughts….

    Reply
  5. David Ballard

    You are obviously not looking for the things you say are absent from what the church leaders say about evil in the world, and focusing like a laser on the things they preach that rub you the wrong way. I frequently hear in general conference and in weekly church lessons and talks that we need to take care of the poor and give a generous fast offering. The church’s institutional efforts to fight poverty /unemployment are huge! I am surrounded at church by constant admonitions to keep the law of chastity, and our young men repeat every week the mantra “give proper respect to women”. Those who heed this counsel surely will not rape or abuse women. Those who heed the ubiquitous commandment to love one another, and listen to all of the times we are told to get involved in our community to serve others and be “anxiously engaged” in doing good will surely push the world in the right direction with their efforts. I noticed you didn’t mention the church’s recent public statement on illegal immigration in the United States. Look it up and see what they said about that. The church has contributed in a meaningful way to the isdues you have addressed, you have just overlooked it. And yes, the church does hit us hard with the word of wisdom and the law of chastity, especially in our youth, which you have recently experienced if you are a young mormon femminist. Developing strength in these matters is most effectively accomplished in our youth. It seems that you are overlooking the ways that our imperfect church does support your worldview and bristling against the things that you don’t like. If you keep ignoring the good the church does in the world and encourages it members to do, and harp on your disagreements with them, the outcome of your struggle to find your place in the church seems inevitable.

    Reply
      • Anonymous

        Sarcasm? David did not say all is well in Zion. He was saying that the Leaders are not only against all evil, but they have taught us to avoid all forms of it, including root issues regarding the topics that were addressed in the article.

        Here’s my take. I disagree with the anger and the point she makes that the prophets need to do more of something. Obvious evil is in every headline. We have been taught what to do personally not to be a part of it. Our leaders teach us what we need to hear–a need to correct ourselves and what to do to clear evil from our own souls. This is hard doctrine for the offended or those who look to find offense. It is important to look to who we can be and how we can love God and serve one another with love. That is the gospel and that is what we are taught. Yes, they have taught against sexual perversion and even what not to eat or drink. Evidently we still need to hear these things. With regard to others, we have been taught to heal the sick and administer to the needy to be involved politically and socially. We are taught that evil seeks to reign and to take our freedom away. We are taught to follow Christ. Did he talk about war, rape, torture, and poverty.

        David was pointing out that there are those who are conspiring to divide us and that those people were the authors of topics. Topics that are framed in such a way to ensnare the servants of God. To me such talking points are hollow and meant to take our eye off what matters. They will change tomorrow. The truth, endlessly spoken by our leaders, never changes. It is spoken with love not anger. It is rare that church leaders address the topics of the day. When they do we are thankful, but our leaders keep us focused on what matters eternally. They teach us to rely on the Savior, to be washed clean of evil. They teach us to rely on the Holy Ghost for wisdom in our own affairs. They teach us to be accountable to God, and to encourage (not force) others to be accountable to God. Today God’s servants, the Prophets, teach us.

        I hear her call for the kind of prophet that brings judgment to a fallen people. I believe that prophet will come when the Lord sees fit. My guess is his day is not far away, but in the meantime I will not criticize the prophets nor counsel them what God wants them to say right now. I will support them, honor them, and try to do what they say.

        Criticizing the Prophets is never a way to be prepared with oil in our lamps. Learning what they say and doing it is.

        David, did I hear you? I hope I wasn’t putting words in your mouth.

      • David Ballard

        2 Nephi 28:20. Something about raging against that which is good. We can both quote scriptures that back up our point of view. I didn’t say all is well in Zion. The primary premise of this article is that church leaders have been silent on certain subjects. I disagreed with that premise by pointing out examples. That’s all.

      • David Ballard

        Yes anonymous, you very eloquently captured the spirit of what I was trying to say, and probably said it better.

    • Eras

      Wow, Hannah, truly great post. Helpful to me as I am at times too forgetful of rotten stuff that goes on in the world and what I oughta do to help.

      So, David Ballard, it sounds like you think Hannah is pulling out stuff she dislikes (coffee, dressing modesty standards) to take issue w/ compared w war, poverty, abuse, etc. So I don’t drink coffee, and I wear my garments, but I still think poverty, non-abuse and Christ-like social justice should be mentioned 1,000 times more in GC than WoW or dress. What I think Hannah is saying is there’s real, hard stuff going on, and the church has legit power, it needs to use that power to agitate the way prophets have for millennia for Christ’s core teachings. When we get WoW and bikinis and a bishop is legitimizing CIA torture, it’s an indication we’ve missed the forest for the trees and we need to repent. Hannah, great post, thanks, I’m in DC too, let me buy you a cup of hot chocolate this Christmas season!

      Reply
      • Locke

        Given this conversation, I was curious as to what was said last general conference. I compiled my findings below (only had time to look at the general sessions). There are a few passing references to things like coffee and a few passing references to things like abuse. The references about abuse, poverty, etc. seem more common and go in greater depth than the references to coffee, modesty (which I could not find though I was skimming), etc.

        Of course, you can argue that there are indirect references on either side (i.e. mentioning love indirectly references war, or mentioning obedience indirectly references modesty).

        My ultimate conclusion, however, is this: Church leaders this general conference did not focus on any of the things that the author says they focus on (i.e. dress standards), nor did they focus much on things the author wished they focused on (i.e. torture). Instead, they focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, they seem to be fulling their mission as special witnesses of Jesus Christ.

        Here were my findings:

        The Reason for Our Hope – Testimony, Jesus Christ, the Atonement, Healing from Abuse

        Which Way Do You Face – Loving God more than Man, Courage, Sustaining the Prophet

        The Sacrament—A Renewal for the Soul – Sacrament, Jesus Christ

        Rescue in Unity – Effectively Organization to Help Others, Discovering those in Spiritual Need

        Free Forever, to Act for Themselves – Taking Personal Responsibility, the Atonement, God’s Nature, Justice, Jesus Christ, Moral Relativism, Agency

        Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth – Testimony, Faith, Truth, Scripture Study, Prayer, Understanding the Spirit

        Loving Others and Living With Differences – Jesus Christ, Love & Peace, Obedience, (Same-sex Marriage, Pornography), Drug Abuse, Freedom of Religion, (Sexual exploitation, Violence, Terrorism), (Cohabitation)

        Joseph Smith – Joseph Smith, the Restoration, Testimony

        Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children – Parenting, Caring for the Elderly Charity, Prayer, Technology

        Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence – Self-doubt, Atonement, Repentance, Personal Responsibility, Healthy Living, Obedience, Forgiveness

        Yes, Lord, I Will Follow Thee – Jesus Christ, Word of Wisdom (including coffee), Missionary Work

        Are We Not All Beggars? – Jesus Christ, Caring for the Poor, Privilege

        Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families – Jesus Christ, Family, Motherhood/Fatherhood, Parenting

        Continuing Revelation – Revelation, Keeping the Sabbath, Giving Relief to Disaster Victims, Holy Ghost

        Sustaining the Prophets – Sustaining the Prophet, Obedience, Church Organization

        Live according to the Words of the Prophets – Sustaining the Prophet, Obedience, Scriptures

        Eternal Life—to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ, Holy Ghost, God’s Nature, Testimony

        The Sacrament and the Atonement – Sacrament, Atonement, Jesus Christ, Resurrection, Repentance

        Ponder the Path of Thy Feet – Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ

    • Heidi

      I completely agree with David. The church does an enormous amount of good. They are quickly on the scene of every disaster world wide. They are better prepared to assist than almost every agency, government or private. They do preach against the things you talked about but not in the same terms. Is it necessary to speak about every newsfeed item coming down the pike or can you preach about love, repentance, obligation, commandments that include warnings against most of what you talked about, the atonement, strengthening families, and so forth. All of the issues you talked about are addressed in this way. It is against the church’s best interest to be reactionary where news in concerned. We know the evil in the world will increase. We have been taught about that and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Is it really necessary to say we shouldn’t rape or murder when we are already taught about sexual sins and hello, don’t we know murder is bad? You are really off the mark and I hope for your sake that you reexamine your position or you should find another church. I don’t know of another church where leaders are as good and kind and work as hard as ours do. You complain that they do so little to to solve the problems of the world. That is completely untrue. Just because their efforts are not propagandized, you think they do so little? Think again. I’ve seen some of those efforts for myself. I am ashamed that you call yourself a Mormon. You do a great disservice to those of us who are faithful and doing our best to lives lives that are worthy to be called Saints. We try each day to change to world for the better. Wake up and notice.

      Reply
    • mlgearheart

      There was no reply option for Locke’s comment, so I’m using the next closest one.

      I think it’s a great idea to look at conference talks to assess whether the prophets are living up to their callings, since general conference is very thoughtfully planned by the Church and we can assume that the talks, on the whole, represent well their feelings on what topics are important.

      However, I think it’s also important to keep in perspective that general conference is nowhere near the sum total of instruction that we get from the Church. There is also YM, YW, Relief Society, Gospel Doctrine, Gospel Principles, youth Sunday School, Primary, which we know because of Correlation were all built on a structure and a script that exactly represent the prophets’ position(s), or they would not be approved. And every single one of those classes is taught about 52 times a year. (People may deviate from/add to those manuals, but what is in the manuals is the material that the prophets give us to work with when planning those lessons, you know? So obviously they take care in creating them.)

      Additionally, I think gospel instruction, while relevant to both your argument and Hannah’s, is sidestepping something really important. Hannah specifically refers to the Church’s newsroom statements, which the Church publishes with the explicit intent to make clear their moral position on certain issues. And who chooses the issues? The Church. Based on what? Which ones they think are important to comment on.

      We believe that is within their bounds as prophets, correct? To make public, global assertions about what is true and moral, and what is needed in the world today? I agree with Hannah that in general, the issues they’ve chosen to back with their institutional weight do not include many that are the most pressing to the health, safety, and dignity of humanity, while they do include ones that actively work against that.

      Reply
      • Sara C

        The youth lessons (SS, YM, YW) are online – have a look at them. As a raging feminist who was YW president both before and after the introduction of the Come Follow Me curriculum, I can tell you that the vast majority of lessons are about doctrinal basics and discussions about being a good Christian. Discussions about the newsroom are one thing, but let’s not muddy them by misrepresenting what “the manuals” are saying to drown out the Q12’s conference messaging.

      • Locke

        I agree that gospel instruction is less relevant to Hannah’s point about newsroom statements. Sunday curriculum is prepared months or years in advance and many of the topics mentioned started trending just recently (i.e. CIA torture).

        Is it within their bounds as prophets to make assertions on these topics?

        Yes, of course. But it seems that Hannah (and she can correct me if I am wrong) and others are asking for more than mere press statements. Hannah mentions a need for the Church to join coalitions, give financial backing to these issues, and encourage members to do the same. If Church leaders made statements without doing more, Hannah and others would likely accuse it of not putting its money where its mouth is.

        Obviously, I have no idea why the Church has chosen not to back all these issues. But two things come to mind:

        First, the Church has a very specific mission and limited resources to achieve that mission. There is a lot of good we can do in this world. But only the Church has the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Only the Church has the Priesthood of God. Only the Church can provide the saving ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation. The more good causes the Church involves itself in, the less resources that will be available for this unique mission that only the Church can fulfill.

        Second, making moral statements about these issues is easy (i.e. rape), but deciding on a way to solve them (something that Hannah and others are asking for by demanding they “comment on some specific policies”) is complex and controversial (i.e. climate change). Our leaders are prophets, apostles, and special witnesses of Jesus Christ; not policy-makers, governors, and social activists. They spend their time testifying and preaching of Jesus Christ and His gospel; not evaluating and deciding on best police practices, the perfect tax rate, or international diplomacy policy.

      • natkelly

        Of course the church cannot solve the problem of rape in the world.

        But you know what? They could tell their members “don’t rape.”

        In 22 years as a devout member gobbling up every word from our leaders that I could, I never once heard that message.

      • Locke

        It is somewhat ironic. Many here have complained that church leaders have “gotten it wrong” on doctrine and God’s will (i.e. same-sex marriage or ordaining women). But now they expect and demand that church leaders “get it right” on things like the best policy for solving global climate change.

  6. Meili Tark

    I may be off-base here since I don’t know you personally, but I have to agree with some of the earlier comments. Complaining about the weaknesses in people who you have no power over, not even the power of persuasion, is going to change nothing.

    You are right, we do need a prophet standing on the wall to warn us. Where is that prophet? You will never find him as long as your focus is on distant leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you think of them.

    Be the prophet. Be the person who has so much faith in the Lord you could stand up on the wall while people throw their arrows at you. Find your place with the Lord since the church has left you hanging. Begin in your own home. Then as you learn to be Christlike there, the Lord will lead you to know how you can help others.

    Reply
    • M

      “Be the prophet. Be the person who has so much faith in the Lord you could stand up on the wall while people throw their arrows at you. Find your place with the Lord since the church has left you hanging.”

      … That’s exactly what this post does.

      Reply
  7. Franz Potter

    Outstanding post! Keep up the great work here and ignore those who simply (and condescendingly) argue with you.

    Reply
  8. Kevin S. Van Horn

    “How about issuing a statement about the epidemic of rape on college campuses…”

    I doubt the sincerity of feminists when they say they are concerned about rape because they focus solely on the less than 1/3 of rapes in the U.S. that occur outside of the prison system. 2/3 of the rapes in the U.S. occur in the prisons, and nobody gives a damn — because the majority of the victims are men. In fact, the U.S. has the distinction of being the only country in the world in which more men suffer rape than women, due to our high incarceration rate and the extremely high rate of prison rape.

    http://theweek.com/article/index/273258/the-rape-culture-that-everyone-ignores

    Reply
  9. Anon

    I’m may totally be off based here…but it sounds like you are saying the Lord didn’t pick the right prophet?

    I only come to this conclusion because you repeat our prophet needs to do this and our prophet needs to do that. He’s not as good as the BOM or Bible prophet.

    Are you suggesting we get a new prophet? Has he done anything right?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      by the way, this was meant to come off as a joke, but upon rereading it, it just looks like some crazy jerk wrote this.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      This was meant as a joke, but when I reread the comment, it just looks like some crazy jerk wrote it.

      Reply
  10. Sara C

    Am I missing something? Who’s talking so much about “coffee, sleeve length,
    inappropriate entertainment, and miles upon miles of words about who you can and cannot have sex” with in General Conference and SS curricula? It’s bait-clicky and sensational.

    I think craving commentary on feminist issues is one thing, but I agree with Locke – take a look at conference talks and lesson manuals before suggesting that they’re loaded with benign lifestyle regulation that’s drowning out potential statements on these social issues.

    Can we crave these statements without resenting what we’ve got? It’s not a zero-sum game, and I worry that arguments presented this way suggest to those that are satisfied with how things are that we need to subtract from the things they love and feel comfortable with in order to accomplish our wishes.

    You’re tired of straining your ears, I’m tired of hearing that our leaders are “obsess over modesty, and gender roles, and doing their utmost to keep those gays from loving each other” when 98% of what I hear from my leaders is about Christian principles (Though you have got a point about the gays, but I live somewhere where gay marriage has been legal for 20 yrs, so we didn’t get a lot of this…) and the 2% creates an othering fracture.

    I guess my biggest issue is that this sort of approach isn’t collaborative. I think we can progress so much faster by taking the Improv “Yes, and…” approach instead of “People like them vs. People like Me.” Maybe this is maudlin and naive, but I think there’s room to crave commentary on social issues that are important to me as a feminist as an addition to what’s currently going on, (and which (importantly) meets the needs of a lot of people who aren’t like me.)

    Reply
    • charles10

      This is a reply to your and Locke’s December 11, 2014 post: it appears that the Brethren have been giving talks in GC on things that are already being taught every week in SM & SS. Indeed, where is comforting word of God on global issues surrounding LDS worldwide? Where is the talk that speaks out on socials ills and concerns? “Love one another” is preaching to the choir; where, indeed, does the church stand on war in the Middle East?
      There is a reason church leaders of old instituted the “sin” of criticizing church leaders, and that reason is now generously demonstrated by this excellent blog post.

      Reply
      • Mike H.

        That leaves us in a bind on some issues. Pres. Hinckley said to a Black Minister (Cecil Wilson?) that the Church *had* done racist things in the past. So, was that criticizing past Church leaders there? Also, the recent Essays from the Church on Joseph Smith’s wives & the Priest Ban of Blacks does not put some Church leaders in a good light.

  11. Robert

    The Mormon church can’t, or won’t, comment on the torture program because several of the program’s central architects and defenders were LDS church members in good standing. Jay Bybee, who graduated from J. Reuben Clark Law school, was an important player in creating the legal defense for torture. Bruce Jessen designed the program and acted as an interrogator (he was called “sadistic” by another CIA official). AFTER this occurred, the LDS church called Jessen as a bishop. So if they were to comment on this program, they’d have to answer some very awkward questions.

    Reply
  12. Corey

    That ageism though. “Absent minded grandpas,” juxtaposed not-so-subtly to the site name (YOUNG Mormon feminists), screams “behold our moral authority, for we are young, we are new, you are old, out of style, and senile!” For someone obviously very concerned about injustice, this seems rather oblivious.

    Reply
    • charles10

      Strain at gnats and swallow camels. Shoot the messenger. I could go on, but this seems rather obvious in your post. I’m tempted to say how typical of the brainwashed, however I won’t. Indeed, why does the church insist on keeping the elderly hostage to their positions when they should be resting? E. T. Benson had one foot in the grave but they propped him up anyway and used him as a puppet. T. S. Monson shows signs of failing mental acuity, same thing, he’s propped up to keep appearances. Screams “desperate to prove our point!”

      Reply
      • Corey

        You don’t find her comment (“like a couple of grandpa’s absentmindedly smiling at lawmakers”) distasteful?

        “how typical of the brainwashed, however I wont.” … ah, it must be nice to have the moral high ground!

    • charles10

      Outrage at “like a couple absent-minded grandpas” — again straining at gnats and swallowing camels; missing forest for trees. How many articles reference “tired moms”, “mindless teenagers”, “bossy bitch” to drive home points? Your comments never once reference the issues at hand.

      Reply
  13. BRYanLamm

    When I feel frustrated with the world around me and I feel the need to condemn others, I try to remember what the Savior said in Matthew 7:1-5:
    “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” When I am frustrated with the way things are or not happening, I think of principles taught in the story of Uzzah and how it is important to remember to check myself. I recently read a quote that was insightful for me to remember “[i]t is a little dangerous for us to go out of our own sphere and try unauthoritatively to direct the efforts of [another]. You remember the case of Uzzah who stretched forth his hand to steady the ark. [1 Chron. 13:7–10.] He seemed justified when the oxen stumbled in putting forth his hand to steady that symbol of the covenant. We today think his punishment was very severe. Be that as it may, the incident conveys a lesson of life. Let us look around us and see how quickly [those] who attempt unauthoritatively to steady the ark die spiritually. Their souls become embittered, their minds distorted, their judgment faulty, and their spirit depressed. Such is the pitiable condition of [those] who, neglecting their own responsibilities, spend their time in finding fault with others.” I am guilty of “steadying the ark” just as much as the next person and have found this quote to serve as a helpful reminder be aware of the consequences of my tendencies. I know that I need to follow the example of the Savior better in my life and condemning others is the antithesis of becoming more like him.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Jesus didn’t condemn those whom many people saw as the “sinners,” but he did condemn the Pharisees and Saducees over and over again.

      Reply
  14. Anon

    It’s really clear to me that torture, rape, racism and oppression are solidly viewed as horrifying issues that aren’t controversial to most every LDS person I associate with. Not sure that stating the obvious in a political fray and power structure that is prophesied to be dysfunctional until “the end” is going to be what solves these problems. But I do really crave more local church leadership taking stands and talking more about more opportunities for people to take stands and get involved in accessible ways.

    Reply
  15. Mike H.

    I also have to ad the caveat that havoc has wrecked on my family for several generations by Adultery, so, Yes, I think Leaders should comment on sex I do believe even that has some limits, like, it’s rumored that one GA was claiming to have never had sex, except for procreation, something counter to comments by Joseph F. Smith & others that sexuality has other functions.

    I do understand that there was a statement by the 12 & First Presidency in the 19th Century, about having too much wealth concentrated in the hands of just a few in the US of that time. Shortly after that, a financial crash followed.

    Yes, I’m pleased about the Fast in 1984 by the Church to help those in Africa. I know some members felt that hunger was the result of those people choosing “bad” governments, so, calling for the Fast seems counter to that.

    On the other hand, contrast the Civil Rights issue deaths in the US versus what we did hear from Salt Lake. We were assured by at least one GA that communists were behind most of the Civil Rights movement. Oops! Declassified files from the FBI & KGB show that some in the Church were drinking the J. Edgar Hoover koolaid there! In particular, I think of the 4 black girls killed by the bomb at a Birmingham AL church in 1963. Yet, if that had been an LDS Chapel with members killed, it would be in SS lessons & Seminary manuals.

    I also appreciated Pres. Hinckley’s comments in GC about those involved in the Rwanda genocide being faced with tribulation at the Day of Judgement.

    So, some has been said on social justice issues in the past. But, I’m dismayed it seems to happen only every decade or 2.

    Reply
  16. New Iconoclast

    What do you mean, the Church isn’t involved? Both the guy who wrote the torture guidelines and the lawyer who rationalized the legality of them are LDS.

    OTOH, I’m sure they dress modestly.

    Reply
  17. worldwide

    As a member for the church from a different country, I wonder what the church has to say about how we choose our healthcare or how we should date in my culture since the church is not an American church but a worldwide church. Releasing a statement like that bothers me so much. It should’ve come from a local level not a check statement on the newsroom. But I guess the church is more interested in the US especially Utah…

    Reply
  18. Ryan Willis

    I generally agree that we should hear more from church leaders regarding present day atrocities. We need the lord’s guidance about today’s issues. That said, for those who know and understand the doctrine, wouldn’t the church’s responses to most of these headlines be pretty predictable? I’m not holding my breath for the church to convene a press conference just to tap the mic a couple times before calmly stating, “Just in case you guys were wondering, we do not condone torture, racism, police brutality or abusing the earth. No questions, thank you.” I also think, though, that they do not answer because they cannot. Their job is to approach the Lord about today’s issues, and while their personal wisdom gained over years in His service is helpful and important, it isn’t their will we want made known, it’s His will. When was the last time any of you received answers to prayer exactly when you wanted them?

    We can fault the leaders of the church for many things. They are just men and, if history is any indication, they are as capable of bigotry and malice as the rest of us. Hell, Moses basically told God to send someone else. David tried to get a guy killed so he could bang his wife. And if we’re taking things literally here, Elisha fed 42 kids to two bears. Our modern prophets are as susceptible to weakness of character as we are. But I believe the Lord uses the tools available to him, pun intended. If it is the Lord’s will we want known, we will often have to wade through human problems to get to it. Welcome to Earth.

    We should be a force for good and change in this world. We should continue to communicate with our leaders, to serve in what capacities we are given and not abandon what we know is a a tremendous group of organized, largely capable human beings. Don’t give up the fight, but remember we are ultimately crying unto the Lord, who works for our good, individually and collectively, in his own time. Demanding a statement from the brethren before they understand the will of the Lord is akin to asking Fox News to speculate on the crime, ethnicity and party affiliation of “that dude police just arrested at the 7-11.” I’d much rather they just not report on it until they have the details.

    Reply
    • qzed

      If it’s so obvious that the LDS church is against torture, why, when they had the opportunity a few years ago to sign a statement condemning torture, along with many other churches, did they decline? Why did they call one of the chief architects of the CIA’s torture program (someone who participated in interrogations himself, and who another CIA agent called “sadistic”) to be a bishop, several years after his participation in the torture program?

      Reply
      • Locke

        qzed:

        You really believe it is not obvious the Church is against torture? Either you are being purposefully misleading or just really lazy in your research. The Church declined to sign the interfaith statement. But accompanied that action with its own statement that it “condemns inhumane treatment of any person under any circumstances” and that “[t]he church has not taken a position on any proposed legislative or administrative actions regarding torture.”

        This goes to prove the point that others have already made: Why insist that the Church make statements on topics it has addressed many many times before and where its moral stance is clear?

      • Ryan Willis

        As to why they did not sign a particular statement, I have no idea. Nor do I think it’s necessary as I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that torture is a no-no. Asking why they would call a man to the bishopric despite being called a sadist by a coworker, well, I would assume it was because no one in the congregation raised their hand to declare him a sadist when he was called. An entire ward full of people would have had the opportunity, so if he was a well known jerk, maybe someone should have said something.

        Here is where you ask, “Well they are supposed to be called by revelation.” Sure, that’s the ideal scenario. Someone prays and prays and hopes they receive inspiration to make the right choice. Maybe he was called as a bishop to give him an opportunity to stop being a sadistic asshole. Or maybe the person who made the call just thought he would be a good fit, and no one came back from the future to tell him not to, so how bad a decision could it really be?

        There are many questions like this. Why does Mary Beth Sweetland (of PETA) use bovine insulin? Why did the school hire that teacher who was a child molester? How could we have elected a president who committed crimes and tried to destroy evidence (Nixon… or all of them)? Do the answers invalidate any other good work performed by PETA or the school or every other public servant in this nation? I think not. People seem to take the opposite standpoint with religion.

      • Anonymous

        Who was it that wanted them to stand with them? I ask not knowing. Was it a militant group? A group trying to set them up to bad exposure? I don’t know. There needs to be more info

  19. DC

    What do you want them to say about any of these topics? Why? The gospel contains everything we need to know to avoid these worldly issues. It’s up to the people of the world to follow or not. The first presidency is not some kind of political talk show group making comments on every social problem or concern. They do what God wants them to do. And hey, I’ve still found that following the commandments to be the best approach. Control what you can control and learn to let the rest not bother you.

    Reply
  20. Nathaniel

    Wow…..what a bunch of sheep. Organized religion is perhaps the greatest plight in our world. Love….happiness….and equality no matter race, sexual orentation, etc…… Religion was needed in the dark ages to explain unknows…..it is needed now for the weak to have an “answer” just accept the fact that we decompose and are plant food years down the road.
    Peace love and no religion 😃

    Reply
    • Locke

      “Love….happiness….and equality no matter race, sexual orientation,” but not religion. Those guys don’t count, right? Just a “bunch of sheep” stuck in the “dark ages” and who are “weak.” We can make all the bigoted and demeaning statements we want about them. They don’t deserve any equality.

      That was the point you were trying to make, right Nathaniel?

      Reply
  21. Nathaniel

    Close to the point but not exactly…..everyone is free to worship and believe in whatever they feel is right. This is my view poiint and i stand by it whole heartedly. Having a higher power whatever it/he/she is doesn’t matter….or having none at all. The point is why is so much wasted on nothing(not talking faith/your particular religion or anything of the sort).talking the millions spent to force view points and laws onto others. Talking about millions slaughtered in the name of religion, talking about the head being turned away from those in need only to stuff ones self full of food. I do have a sour taste in my mouth over religion in general……centuries of death and murder of our fellow man both directly and in directly. Now i love you all and i love the freedom to preach and live how we choose…..but i choose to just love and dont really care for the preeching..

    Reply
  22. Paul R. Hurst

    Regarding police murdering black folks, didn’t both Grand Juries find the policemen innocent? Regarding the allegations of torture, are we sure it was torture? If there are no physical effects immediately after it is over, is it torture? Regarding what goes on outside the circle of influence of the church, what difference does it make if the church makes statements about it?

    Reply
    • Locke

      Yes, this is yet another problem with Hannah’s demand for 24 hour press releases. What happens when the facts change? At first, it appeared that Michael Brown was innocently gunned down. Now we know that he was a violent criminal who robbed a store and then attempted to kill a police officer (though I disagree with Eric Garner’s killer not being indicted). Acting within 24 hours on all the major headlines puts the Church in the middle of the political fray without all the facts.

      Church leaders teach principles we apply them. Why? Because application of those principles is nuanced, complex, and for many decisions depends on the facts of the situation. Members constantly ask for specific answers for their specific problems and questions. And general authorities have to constantly explain that they are only teaching general principles. If members want guidance on their specific issues, they need to counsel with their local church leaders, family, and God.

      Reply
  23. Paul R. Hurst

    Certainly torture is bad. But I would think killing people is worse if the torture doesn’t leave physical damage. Overall, lots of bad stuff happens in war. There are international laws that define what you can and cannot do during war. The enhanced interrogation techniques were determined to be in compliance with international law, just as killing enemy combatants and other atrocities are in compliance. President Hinckley did make a statement about war a few years ago. Basically, it is justified under certain conditions.

    Reply
  24. Nathaniel

    Just because someone does not agree with something doesnt mean it can not be interesting to them. knowing why our culture/society is the way it is has a lot to do with religion. And no i’m not saying this is a good thing by any stretch.

    Reply

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