Kate & John: Liberal Tactics and Conservative Bias

by: hawkgrrrl

June 17, 2014

The recent actions against John Dehlin and Kate Kelly have been unsettling for many of us who are familiar with them and their work.  Others feel that the church’s action against them is long overdue, and that they are undermining (or attempting to) the very foundations of our doctrines.  There are people like me who see that the only real similarity between the two cases is the timing and the fact that they are both liberals.

Just to give you my own background, I’m a political independent.  I have voted for both Bush (over Gore) and Obama (over McCain).  The ward I was raised in included many prominent local leaders who were very vocal democrats, although my parents are staunchly Republican.  I was not aware that so many Mormons were Republican until I went to BYU in the mid ’80s, my first exposure to the fact that most Utah Mormons were strongly aligned with the GOP.  That actually came as quite a shock to me since I was used to seeing my vocally liberal leaders working side by side with members of different economic classes and backgrounds, serving in our communities, teaching lessons, and basically doing everything Mormons everywhere do.  My parents were the ones who were on the down-low about their minority political views.

John is a psychologist who advocates for LGBT Mormons.  He is also famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for creating online communities for those who are disaffected, undergoing a faith crisis, or otherwise finding themselves on the fringe.  He himself has undergone a faith crisis and has reported at times his lack of belief in some of the core claims of the church yet his desire to remain involved in Mormonism.  He loves the church although he expresses many doubts about different aspects of Mormon doctrine and history.

Kate is a human rights activist and a lawyer.  She champions women’s rights globally.  She is a faithful, returned missionary who recently bore her testimony in church.  She states she has never had a faith crisis.  She believes in and supports the role of prophets, and has asked that church leaders pray for revelation on the ordination of women.  Her requests for church leaders to meet with the Ordain Women group have been ignored.  Members who object to the actions of Ordain Women primarily do so on the basis of the group’s activism (more on that in a moment), not necessarily disagreeing with them on the merit of their questions about the role of women.

Other things they have in common:  both kept their local leaders abreast of their actions.  Kate informed her bishop of the actions of OW in advance of every event.  John met with his bishop on a weekly basis for the last year until a new one was called.  In both cases, they felt blindsided by the call to a church court because their local bishops had given them no indication that this was imminent.

Who Hates Liberal Tactics?

There have been theories about whether these actions are purely local leadership driven or are driven by top leadership in the church. As the facts emerge, it seems that John’s action was entirely local and perhaps driven by a misunderstanding as local leadership recently changed.  In Kate’s case, a recent leadership meeting in her Virginia stake included an injunction from E. Whitney Clayton of the 70 against Ordain Women.  He is reported to have said that public advocacy of ordination is apostate.  In the immediate wake of this meeting, actions were taken by Kate’s local leaders against her.  Is this turnabout due to E. Clayton’s disdain for liberal tactics like advocacy and publicity?  E. Ballard of the Q12 was present in the meeting; does that mean that these disciplinary actions are being instigated at the highest levels?  If so, why has the church so carefully side-stepped ownership, pointing toward local leaders as the ones who are responsible for disciplinary matters.  Combined with the subsequent message from the LDS Newsroom that having and even expressing questions is acceptable, it’s hard to see just where the line is crossed.  Is this an attack on liberalism?  If so, is it a wide-spread attack with high level support or is it an act of local fealty to what they believe higher ups desire?  Should card carrying Democrats turn in their temple recommends if they want to keep their ACLU cards?

Those who feel John and Kate should be disciplined generally object to their tactics, which are straight out of the liberal playbook:

  • Activism.  Garden variety activism often includes things like petitions, fund raising, protests, letter writing campaigns, or attempting to meet with decision makers.  Activists believe in a cause and they create a strategy to bring their agenda to fruition.  Finding and working with like-minded individuals on the internet is one effective way to harness support toward goals.
  • Press.    The press is a fast way to disseminate information and to bring minority viewpoints to light.  While those who appreciate the status quo consider it wrong to air dirty laundry or to take actions that put church leaders in a bad light, those seeking change would say that leaders’ reactions are what put them in a bad light, and that without scrutiny, those in power have little motivation to self-correct.
  • Advocacy.  Church statements, particularly Bro. Otterson’s recent open letter, seem to indicate that it’s OK to be a victim, but not to advocate for victims.  It’s OK to have a minority viewpoint and to ask questions, but not to advocate solutions or on behalf of groups of people.  Advocacy for minority groups is a bastion of liberal politics.
  • Audience.  Although many in the church agree with John and Kate’s pro-feminism and pro-gay rights stances, when those people come together en masse, they pose a threat.  The bigger the audience, the bigger the fear.  When a group has influence and momentum, a conservative tactic is to take down the leader and hope their supposed “followers” scatter.  However, liberal groups aren’t usually “groupies” under an authority; they are collectives of like-minded individuals with a common cause.  Kate doesn’t have followers; she has colleagues.

Of course, conservatives have their own playbook.  Their causes and tactics simply differ.  Cracking down on dissidents is one.  It’s an action you can take when you are in power.  Other tactics are:  minimizing the threat (implying their numbers are few and their cause is fringe or not mainstream), tone argument (ignoring the content while objecting to the way complaints are voiced), and invigorating the base (creating a defensive patriotic response from within an organization).  The key difference here is that in fighting to preserve the status quo, conservatives are usually on their own turf.  By contrast, the tactics of the left are the tactics of the underdog.

Conflicting Political Ideologies

Those who complain about tone or tactics are usually describing differences in political ideologies.  Likewise those who paint the OW movement as trying to destroy or running counter to doctrine are defending the status quo.  To boil it down in terms of politics, liberals seek what they see as progress, while conservatives see those proposed changes as a loss or regress, a disruption and a risk.  And psychologically, that often coincides with conservatives having a sweeter deal under the status quo, or as a book title I saw once put it:  “If Democrats ran the country, they’d be Republicans.”[1]

So why do conservatives feel liberals are whiny or strident or loud?  And on the flip side, why do liberals feel that conservatives want to “silence” them or ignore their salient points?  Studies done by Jerome Kagan indicate that babies who are bothered by noise, clutter and disruptions (aka “high reactives”) are more likely to vote Republican in later life.  And babies who are curious about the world around them, who don’t mind a messy environment, and who have no negative reaction to noise, (aka “low reactives”) disproportionately vote Democrat later.  It’s possible that to a conservative, with less tolerance for disruption, “tone” is psychologically a more valid argument than it is for a liberal.  And yet, tone arguments are also a way to shut down an opposing view while disregarding its content.

Jonathan Haidt also explored the ways personality drives political affiliation.  He described core differences in personal values between conservatives and liberals. Two values differences were purity and authority.  While conservatives believe in being deferential to authority and established structures, liberals are often suspicious of authority or of the corruption of power; liberals have a heightened sense of fairness, being more mindful of those disenfranchised by existing social structures.  Likewise, liberals are less sensitive to claims of impurity or disorder, things they see as often too rigid and stifling to be sustainable or ideal.[2]  Liberals prize compassion above consequences, whether it’s letting people fail or applying consequences to others; conservatives prefer to believe punishments are often deserved or that those who are punished deserve what happens to them.  As an independent, I tend to think the truth lies in the middle.  Sometimes people are lazy or dishonest.  Sometimes they have bad luck or bad circumstances.

To survive, we all must believe we are good people.  We must justify our actions to ourselves.  This is why it’s important, yet usually overlooked, that both liberals and conservatives are doing what they believe is just, what aligns with their values, and in cases where they believe in and love the Church, they are doing what they think is in the church’s best interests.

The Karpman Drama Triangle

The KDT (Karpman Drama Triangle) describes how individuals see relationships in conflict.  Individuals view a conflict, and define some participants as victims, others as persecutors, and still others as rescuers.  When these roles have been assigned by someone, those cast as persecutors must defend themselves or they may go on the offense and attack those they believe were erroneously cast as rescuers or victims.  Of course, the drama triangle can be psychologically invoked when no intention of harm existed, but the triangle itself creates drama and adversity.  No one, except power mad dictators or serial killers, wants to be cast in the role of persecutor.  Once someone is labelled such, the cycle begins.

In the current situation, women from the MWS (Mormon Women Stand) movement may cast OW women in the role of persecutor, criticizing their beloved church leaders and threatening their way of life or the perceived purpose of their existence.  They may see themselves as rescuing both church leaders and women who like themselves benefit from the current system that idealizes a certain role for women, one that they enjoy.  OW sympathizers may cast church leaders in the role of persecutor, hounding faithful women who feel ignored and dismissed and bullying them into silence; they may see themselves rescuing the disenfranchised and advocating for those who don’t match the church’s ideal.

The only way out of the KDT is to let go of these harmful labels and to listen to people to understand their viewpoint while being willing to let go of the roles we’ve assigned to others.  It’s much harder than it looks.  Usually the first role that has to go is “rescuer” because those who see themselves as rescuing or protecting others need a victim to save and a persecutor to blame.  Their self-image as rescuer is founded on these roles, and feeling like a rescuer is a powerful motive; it’s a boost to the ego and creates a sense of purpose.

We hear the language of the KDT in the following phrases:  “leaving the 99 to rescue the 1,” “women whose views are dismissed,” “support our leaders,” “making angry demands,” “leading people astray,” “setting up a false version of the real thing,” “protecting our religious freedoms,” “the world thinks . . .,” and “they had it coming.”

Power Struggles

Systems in which one party has all the power and the other party is powerless are very controlled environments.  They operate smoothly because the individuals with no control essentially act like zombies, doing what they are told, never criticizing or speaking up, and not being engaged in how things are run.  They come, in time, to rely on the system to provide for their needs in exchange for their freedom of thought, will, and in exchange for not being abused.  Such a system was described in Zimbardo’s prison experiment in which individuals who had been tested to ensure they had no abusive or aggressive tendencies were placed in a simulated environment.  Half the participants were given the role of guard, only given the mandate to keep order.  The other half were given the role of prisoner, completely under the control of the guards.  The experiment was to run two weeks.

After only six days, though, the SPE had to be ended, so quickly did the guards turn sadistic, so extreme was their cruel, degrading, and dehumanizing treatment of their prisoners, and so intense was the prisoners’ emotional distress.  Some prisoners were so psychologically broken that they became like zombies, obeying every whim of their captors without question.

Not all of Zimbardo’s guards were actively engaged in brutalizing the prisoners, but even those who didn’t personally dish out the brutality were complicit in the abuse, if only by looking the other way. (George A. Dunn, Breaking Bad in Neptune: How “Cool Guys” Become Psychopaths)

There are many versions of power differentiation:  wealth, advocacy, connectedness, status, education, access to information, and so forth.  It doesn’t really matter which type of imbalance exists; when it exists, one party has the lion’s share of power, and it is that power that corrupts.

Does power always corrupt?  We all think we are above it, but psychological experiments show that when there is a power imbalance, the powerful mistreat those without power.  One reason for this is a distrust of those without power.  Those with power, like all of us, need to feel that they are good people.  To believe that, the fundamental belief they create is that their power is deserved or on the flip side, that the lack of power of the other people is deserved.  This is one reason that power generally listens to power, not to the powerless.  It’s human nature.

So why do the powerful ever cooperate with the powerless?  Only when they find that there is a strong incentive to do so, such as when their power base or the people over whom they have power will not support them if they mistreat the powerless.  In the Hunger Games trilogy, the threat posed by the tributes is that the citizens revere them and don’t want harm to come to them.  When they see President Snow’s willingness to kill the victors (tributes who won in previous games) there is outrage because it is seen as a great injustice.  Support for Snow begins to crumble from within his own government.  The only way this happens is by creating likable tributes who act selflessly and courageously, martyrs.  And the powerful hate martyrs because it threatens their narrative that they are good people while simultaneously threatening the support group over whom they have power.  They begin to see how fragile their power really is.

Because conservatives view loyalty, patriotism and deference to authority as inherent virtues, they see those who criticize power structures as disloyal or traitorous, apostate.  Liberals view too much deference to authority as a recipe for oppression of minority viewpoints.  Existing structures are simply more oppressive to some individuals within any group.  Conservatives favor a hierarchical structure with elites; liberals favor equality and fairness over privilege and rank.  Again, these are different core values. [3]

The only way to avoid the corruption of power is to create checks and balances.  In the church today, there are checks and balances in the disciplinary process and in our routine church experience.  Local leaders who are rogue may be reined in by higher-ups.  While a court may be convened at the request of higher level leaders, the local leaders generally have discretion to judge the outcome. [4]  It is an unfortunate truth that lower level leaders who aspire to power may let that cloud their judgment.  Hopefully that’s the exception, not the rule.  People have to create the narratives about their own behavior that they can live with.

Versions of Truth

We’ve seen how a liberal bias and a conservative bias can paint a completely different picture of the same events.  How do we get past these political lenses to see the real facts of the case?  Hopefully, meetings between individuals and local leaders will reveal the truth of the situation, resulting in common ground and an outcome in which everyone feels understood.

A gal can dream.


[1] Or as Celeste Kane on the TV show Veronica Mars put it to her billionaire husband:  “Jake, when did we become Republicans?”

[2] In the old Maxwell Smart show, the two warring spy groups were KAOS and CONTROL.  Same basic argument.  We viewers are rooting for CONTROL, but in the case of the Mel Brooks show, CONTROL is also full of bumblers who pratfall their way through capers each week, barely keeping the upper hand on KAOS.

[3] Jesus can be painted into either narrative.  He didn’t love the existing structures he lived in; he found leaders to be hypocritical, corrupt, and frozen in their restrictive rules.  However, he also expected a lot of his followers.  He asked them to give up everything, but he told the parable of the workers who were paid the same wage for one hour as those who had worked the whole day.  That kind of practice can get you a union walkout in the US.  So Jesus isn’t the slam dunk politically that people like to imagine.  Would he have voted for Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan?  Trick question.  He wasn’t a Roman citizen so he didn’t have the right to vote.  He had bigger fish to fry, perhaps why he rounded up a bunch of fisherman.

[4] Or so we are told.

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59 Responses to Kate & John: Liberal Tactics and Conservative Bias

  1. Jeff G on June 17, 2014 at 12:52 AM

    I greatly admire this post and it’s approach to the issue. That said…

    The question isn’t how to drop all lenses and bias in order to see the truth as it is without any framing at all, for that is impossible. Rather, the question is to choose the right way of framing with all the correct biases that God wants us to have. In other words, why would we assume that the Lord’s prophets haven’t been giving us the proper way to frame these issues all along? That, I suggest, is their job.

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  2. John Mansfield on June 17, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    Sometimes passing through an airport, I will walk into a Hudson News outlet to pick up a newspaper and a drink, and I always wonder: Who reads all those business psychology books?

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  3. howard on June 17, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    This is a very good explanation of the two camps hawkgrrrl. A minor addition comes to mind, in Transactional Analysis terms conservatives tend toward Parent contaminated Adult thinking and liberals tend toward Child contaminated Adult thinking which suggests things go well as long as liberals do what conservatives say but conflict arises with ANY other combination (and it did).

    Jeff G wrote: the question is to choose the right way of framing with all the correct biases that God wants us to have. In other words, why would we assume that the Lord’s prophets haven’t been giving us the proper way to frame these issues all along? Well if you mean conservative by “correct bias God wants us to have” you have a HUGE hurtle to get over given Jesus who is offered up as our exemplar was clearly a progressive in life. Do you have a conservative exemplar capable of trumping him? This begs an interesting question; If the church is directed by Jesus Christ (a progressive incarnate) how did the church end up conservative? Did Jesus change his politics postmortem?

    OW made four large tactical framing errors in my view IF their goal was to work within the system. 1) They framed their request in language that *could be* interrupted as an unconditional demand instead of a clear request for TSM’s revelatory services. 2) Tone. I know this is a very sensitive issue to them and I don’t blame them for not having much patience here since women’s tone is expected to be conciliatory and differential within a Patriarchy to always remind everyone of their underclass status, but violating this is counter productive because it is experienced as confrontational and argumentative by those of both genders who enjoy privilege within the system and they happen to be the group who needs to be convinced in order to succeed. If your main goal is female ordination what sense does it make to offend them with tone? 3) They framed their argument in secular language instead of Mormonese and this is off putting and “others” OW from those with privilege. 4) They framed their argument in secular progressive terms instead of the underlying justified reasons that give rise to those secular progressive terms. Conservatives immediately stop listening here! Their political talking points include framing liberalism as a religion and liberals as ideologues just like Muslims (they actually mean radical Islamists but it doesn’t fit their fear based us vs them bias to be so accurate and limiting here) who elevate feelings above their duty to sacrifice for the “greater good” whom they just by chance happen to be a member of because who knows society is a very precarious structure (fear based) and happy liberals are a sure sign things are going to hell in a hand basket (sinners! Parent contaminated Adult thinking).

    On the other hand OW is positioned well for a confrontational attack from without provided they persist. They own the media battle hands down and if they continue proselytizing (6 discussions, etc) from OW female to chapel female to chapel female to chapel female etc given enough time they will without question awaken, enlighten and change the church The church was assembled by proselytizing, the church is NOT what it claims to be, therefore the church can without question be disassembled by simply proselytizing the truth! Q15 faces a significant die off soon, a changing of the guard. The new guard will be yes men and equally conservative but they won’t have to defend their own words (little factories, curable gay-ism, less valiant blacks and all the other rubbish that has flow over their prophetic lips for decades) and they will be younger. There is now precedent for throwing dead prophets under the bus. In the end the church will lose the battle to hold females down just like they lost the ban on blacks issue but I doubt this will lead to ordination any time soon.

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  4. Benjamin on June 17, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    “Rather, the question is to choose the right way of framing with all the correct biases that God wants us to have.”

    I have come to recognize that we tend to ascribe more Divine concern over the biases that guide us than probably exists. I believe that the Lord cares not just about what decisions we make, but also about how we get to the decisions we make.

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  5. howard on June 17, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    Btw, my second paragraph above is the reason the church needs to back away from KK’s excommunication. If they put her outside the church the gloves can come off and the game is on with a fore drawn conclusion assuming OW simply persists! but if she stays in the church they can win concessions to help reduce the church’s embarrassment and smooth the transition to the inevitable. Heads OW wins, tails the church loses. Why? Because holding anyone down, blacks, women or gays is simply wrong just as slavery was.

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  6. Jeff G on June 17, 2014 at 9:17 AM


    It takes a huge leap to project modern political categories onto Jesus’ current frame of mind based on his rejection of Jewish intellectuals 2000 years ago.

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  7. howard on June 17, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Jeff G,
    Indeed! Today it’s hard to tell the pharisees from the prophets, isn’t it?

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  8. Jeff G on June 17, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    That’s right, Howard. Not ordaining women is *just* like endorsing slavery.

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  9. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    John Mansfield: guilty as charged. And I love Hudson News!

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  10. howard on June 17, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Jeff G,
    I didn’t equate ordaining women with slavery, I said holding anyone down is wrong. Slavery is one example of holding people down, an example that is now recognized worldwide to be wrong as evidenced by the laws that have been passed against it. It’s no longer a simple matter of disagreement or of opinion i.e..between the US north and south, it is now universally recognized worldwide as wrong. Is that too progressive for you?

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  11. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    To add to this discussion, rumor has it E. Bednar has recently been making the rounds in leadership conferences in Virginia stating that those who advocate gay rights are apostate as well. tl;dr: It’s open season on liberals. Of course, the caveat is that private thoughts are not policed, only advocacy and speech. No thought police, just speech police. Many local leaders will not be willing to excommunicate people for these matters, unless they share these anti-liberal sentiments. Your local mileage may vary. So just to recap:
    – Being a silent / passive conservative is fine.
    – Being a vocal / active conservative is fine.
    – Being a silent / passive liberal is fine.
    – Being a vocal / active liberal is excommunicable.

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  12. Jeff G on June 17, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    I could very easily imagine some types of vocal conservatism not excommunicable. Strong and public advocation of racial segregation, polygamy, animal sacrifice, etc. would all be more conservative than liberal. In fact, is this pretty much what fundamentalists who get excommunicated are?

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  13. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Jeff G: Good point – you are right. In fact, Rock Waterman’s and Denver Snuffer’s actions are probably in that camp, no? However, Clive Bundy goes scot free, and Glenn Beck can spout whatever nonsense he wants and be fine.

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  14. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 11:05 AM


    I believe most people like to see themselves as taking the reasonable middle view. But you seem to reserve your more pejorative words for conservatives.

    As a conservative, and I’ve just been told how I think and I’m saying to myself, “Really?”
    I’m more interested in consequences? I think people deserve their punishment? I favor privilege and rank over fairness?

    Let me just weigh in by saying that I would like to see people treated fairly, even helped in their hour of need. But we can’t reach into an empty pot and help them with resources that aren’t there. If we try it, eventually there will be, well, consequences, which will hurt us all. They are unavoidable.

    I’m in favor of listening to those who struggle, but not without keeping my eye on the long-term effects and aiming for a solution that is sustainable for us all.

    I was uncomfortable with Ordain Women’s activism on Temple Square. I objected on the grounds that I have grown exhausted with demonstrations in general. Those of us who love Fox News are constantly put down for the incivility of politics today. And this by people who have marched, sat in, carried signs and shouted. Maybe it’s been twenty or thirty years since they marched, but yeah, these things change everything. Like dumping paint thinner into the creek, eventually we create a world we can’t stand to live in.

    I wish for Kate and John the mildest possible outcomes. I love the buzz of ideas coursing through the bloggernacle. I’ve learned a lot from people who think differently than myself. I think we’ve created a powerful community that is already causing changes and strengthening the lonely and the frustrated.

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  15. jpv on June 17, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    “- Being a vocal / active conservative is fine.”

    Tell that to Snuf and Rock Waterman.

    Interesting that it seems the bloggernacle laments the disciplinary councils of the politically liberal but ignore the conservative.

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  16. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    greedy reader: Those are actually Johnathan Haidt’s words, but the funny thing is that I don’t really see them as pejorative; those are things I believe too. Some people DO deserve their punishment. I don’t like the idea of no consequences (although tempered with fairness when circumstances are beyond control or when someone can be rehabilitated). And I’m on record as a sometimes elitist. I do think that some people’s votes should outweigh others. I just happen to be on the wrong side of the constitution on that one.

    Your self-description sounds more moderate than conservative to me. Contrast that with my tea party niece who has stated that Democrats should not be allowed to take the sacrament, or those who believe liberals are thieves, literally taking their hard earned money from them (through taxation) to give it to crack hoes who deserve to die in the gutter because they are unchaste. You don’t sound that conservative to me. It’s a spectrum.

    “I was uncomfortable with Ordain Women’s activism on Temple Square. I objected on the grounds that I have grown exhausted with demonstrations in general.” Me too. “Those of us who love Fox News are constantly put down for the incivility of politics today.” It definitely cuts both ways (although I confess I can’t watch Fox News, but I likewise don’t love HuffPo). “And this by people who have marched, sat in, carried signs and shouted. Maybe it’s been twenty or thirty years since they marched.” Don’t conflate Sonja Johnson with Kate Kelly. Nobody carried signs or shouted, and marching in this case was just walking as a group. The two movements may have been for equality, each in their own way, but they bear little resemblance in tactics.

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  17. howard on June 17, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    greedy reader,
    What are you referring to here? But we can’t reach into an empty pot and help them with resources that aren’t there.

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  18. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 11:26 AM


    I recognize that OW kept it polite. I was still uncomfortable simply that they organized an appearance on Temple Square.

    Sorry about your tea party niece. People like that make great journal material.

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  19. howard on June 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    I’m a republican (surprise!) and I read both Drudge and HuffPo to understand the craziness that goes on on both sides of the aisle but Faux News is just such an over-the-top waste of time unless you’re someone who gets a lot of relief from the catharsis of listening other’s largely fact-less rants. “The world’s going to hell in a hand basket, ain’t it awful?” Is the Fox moneymaker chant and the same chant is a moneymaker for the LDS church, it can be heard in Gospel Doctrine classes all over the world. Never mind that the world is becoming a more peaceful place.

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  20. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 11:36 AM


    I’m referring to fiscal conservatism.

    Or even news events like Hurricane Katrina. Liberal voices blamed Bush’s government for being uncaring. “These folks have no food, no water, no insulin. They’re dying.”

    In my conservative brain, I’m thinking, “Hey, we live in a highly interdependent world. We have systems in place that keep people alive, people who would’ve died decades ago. But these systems have just been severely interrupted. It takes time to figure out the damage, to get supplies to the victims. Please cut down on all the blame here.”

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  21. Jeff G on June 17, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Well here is how the registered democrat, Elder Faust framed the discussion:


    He’s nothing if not direct.

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  22. howard on June 17, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Thanks for explaining greedy reader. What about the church? Do you mind if we build less mall and apartments and save some dying third world people instead?

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  23. howard on June 17, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Care to summarize his talk or your point Jeff G? I don’t have time right now for the whole thing.

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  24. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    No opinion on that, Howard. The church can decide what to do with its money, and I can decide what to do with mine.

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  25. howard on June 17, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    So you’re not your brother’s keeper? Even in time of Hurricane?

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  26. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    I am, with my own money, Howard. I just can’t get worked up over how the church spends its own.

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  27. Jeff G on June 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM


    He basically hits all the talking points for conservatism within the church. Priesthood channels, publishing dissent, no such thing as loyal opposition, etc.

    I think that’s one of the main hang ups here is that our liberal democratic societies and the church are very different organizations with different scopes which are structured in different ways toward different ends, despite their occassional overlap. Within one scope, it seems that we ought to be liberal while in the other we ought to be conservative. If we let our conservatism within one scope leak too much into the other, we are branded as heartless reactionaries. If we let our liberalism within the other scope leaks too much into the other, we are branded as upstart apostates. Furthermore, finding the proper way of balancing the two is anything but easy.

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  28. howard on June 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I donate on my own too both time and money, but few organizations are as well situated to help third world dying as the church who routinely places proselytizing missionaries in almost all countries and is capable of impressive on-the-spot disaster relief. I think they get less church attention because a problem like malnutrition doesn’t easily fit the self sufficiency model of teaching a man to fish. You know, you need an ocean, lake or river or you have to transport them first and then there’s the pesky problem of malnutrition being a multi generational solution, without addressing their need to eat first they can’t seem to remember their fishing lessons very well and some of them get seasick it’s pretty messy and just doesn’t seem to have the same ROI as some of the other things the church is doing.

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  29. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Duly noted, Howard.

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  30. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM
  31. howard on June 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    I think that’s one of the main hang ups here is that our liberal democratic societies and the church are very different organizations with different scopes which are structured in different ways toward different ends, despite their occassional overlap.

    It may surprise you Jeff G but I generally agree with you here. One of the big mistakes liberals make is to frame church issues in liberal-speak, they do it because their understanding of the issues and their vocabulary are both limited. Case in point “equality” It’s both a wonderful concept and impossible to literally attain. Liberals mean it in the engineering type of meaning of getting close enough for practical application while conservatives take the more literal mathematical type of meaning given the plumbing and genetic differences males and females can never be completely equal. The US including it’s courts have adopted more the liberal close enough meaning of equality while the LDS church doesn’t even pretend equality is important at all with regard to the relationship between people and groups of people giving only confused honorable mention to equality in the Family Proc. This is largely because the church’s leadership has become overwhelmingly conservative and conservatives are biased toward protecting the status quo (right or wrong, good or bad)(see ban on blacks for both wrong & bad) so conservative leadership has no interest in inquiring of the Lord on issues of equality or really any other progressive questions. As a result of controlling the top of the church conservatives like you attempt to argue the inequality is *intended by God*! Church progressives would be better to frame their arguments with the basic dynamics that give rise to the liberal-speak. Can any one argue with a straight face that women are not less than men in the church? Were women’s opinions valued from the pulpit on issues affecting the whole church rather than just women and children’s issues at some similar level with that of men’s? They are just now beginning to in token as a result of LDS feminists raising LDS men’s consciousness, without the feminists efforts we would still be back in the 1950s.

    So the reason conservative love their church so much and don’t want it changed it that it is one of the last bastions to harbor bias and prejudice. It amounts to a smoking bar in a city full of non-smoking restaurants. And this is precisely the reason liberals sense of namaste is offended by sitting in the smoky room while prospecting for a occasional gospel nugget or two in three hours of offensive boredom that might even include conservative politics and gender put downs openly and freely being touted from the pulpit as it they were gospel truths! More than once I have choked down my gag reflex and restrained my flight impulse to remain in my seat while listening to this stream of toxic waste.

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  32. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM


    Gag reflex aside, it’s not your call to tell us why conservatives love the church. What are the fears and concerns behind those remarks that you don’t like? I, too, don’t like being told something is doctrine when it’s not. But I’m sure not ready to say, “That person loves bias and prejudice.”

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  33. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    I think your comments on the disconnect between liberal-speak and church-speak are a helpful addition to the discussion.

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  34. howard on June 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    greedy reader
    Welcome to being told what you don’t want to hear, that’s often the liberal LDS church experience! To the liberal conservative bias against _________(fill in yours, there seems to be many) comes off unenlightened and unexamined and they’re tired of having it preached to them as if it were gospel truth! OT maybe but you believe JC spouts this stuff?

    We all come with bias and prejudice some transcend it while others embrace it and stay stuck. The older we are the more we tend to embrace it and this is one of the issues that separate the brethren from the millennials.

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  35. greedy reader on June 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM


    re: “this is one of the issues that separate the brethren from the millennials.”

    I guess one of my fears is that Millennials will reject things they don’t want to hear, some of which will turn out to be doctrine.

    Also, I get that people like yourself are having terrible experiences at church each week. One doesn’t have to hang around the bloggernacle very long to understand that this is why it arose in the first place.

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  36. howard on June 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Well the solution is continuing revelation but the brethren aren’t using it because they don’t know how.

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  37. howard on June 17, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Radio West – Ally Isom, Senior Manager of Public Affairs with the LDS Church presents the church’s position on the excommunication issue.


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  38. hawkgrrrl on June 17, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Greedy reader: “I guess one of my fears is that Millennials will reject things they don’t want to hear, some of which will turn out to be doctrine.” That’s a caution for all of us.

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  39. howard on June 17, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Radio West – Ally Isom has a comforting voice, a difficult job and for the most part was poised but she talked around Doug’s question 3 times “Where does it say in Mormon doctrine that women can’t hold the priesthood” before finally conceding “It doesn’t.” The dodge was soooo LDSspeak.

    A pretty talking head is a poor substitute for a Prophet. Clearly there is a leadership vacuum at the top.

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  40. Tryingtoholdon on June 17, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Hawkgirrl, this is a keeper post! This is a very, very helpful explanation of many things. When you’ve studied the scriptures for decades and grown more and more liberal and inclusive, it’s devastating to hear that what you feel is guided by the spirit to believe is considered apostate and disloyal. I rarely speak up in church. But every week I feel hammered upon in one way or another by the talks, lessons, and comments of those who vilify loving my gay neighbor as myself, or wanting the prophet to seek revelation regarding ordaining women. Very mean and judgmental comments are spoken week in and week out, and done so as gospel truths. Everyone laughs in Gospel Doctrine class at the debasing sarcastic put-down’s of the Lord’s gay children, liberal children, democrat children, and feminist children. Love is definitely not spoken there.I don’t think we can get out of that triangle. And I often wonder why I stay in an organization that is so harsh toward those they feel greater than. Aren’t we supposed to be the lowest and servant of All? If Elder Bednar is saying it’s apostate to speak out in favor of LGBT rights, I wonder when Steve Young and his wife will get their dsciplinary court notices. Am I a hypocrite for believing in gays and women’s rights with all my heart, but being silent? Of course, I am. And Jesus despised hypocrites. For soooo long I’ve felt that my heart belongs to God. But the church would kick me out if they knew what is sheltered there. Is this God’s true church any more? It feels like a Republican-Fox-News church to me. If you’re a true member, you’re supposed to be like those two factions of America……. But what of those who aren’t like that? What becomes of us—be untrue to ourselves? Pretend we’re like them? Smile and be quiet? I’ve done/do all three, and when I go before the Lord, I’ll be ashamed. I honestly have no idea why we call this The Plan of Happiness. I guess it is for them.

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  41. Meg Stout on June 17, 2014 at 10:54 PM


    I enjoyed your detailed analysis of the dynamics of this situation.

    I’m blessed to have someone in my ward who is a Democrat, socially awkward, and possibly suffering from Tourette’s syndrome. In part because we’ve had decades to come to love her and cherish her, we as a congregation have become better able to embrace those who are the various sorts of different among us. At least it is my perception that I live in an unusually wonderful congregation, full of people who are genuinely loving and caring towards all of God’s children.

    I also enjoyed Howard’s comments about the various ways Kate and her organization failed to take the path that would have been cooperative rather than confrontational.

    Ironically, I see many parallels between what is happening with Kate and what happened with John C. Bennett. Not that Kate is involved in promoting illicit intercourse or anything like it. But rather that Joseph wasn’t moving off the dime with regards to plural marriage. Enter John with his complicated internal motivations that eventually erupted into engaging in sexual relations with an impressive list of faithful women, notably Catherine Fuller, whose husband had died at Haun’s Mill, Sarah Pratt, wife of apostle Orson Pratt, and others. It’s pretty clear that the investigation into the sex ring lead to many of the circumstances where Joseph ended up explaining the true doctrine.

    Even if women don’t receive the priesthood until after the resurrection, the fuss Kate has raised has prompted a clarification of the doctrines, which will make it increasingly hard for stupid people to continue being stupid when it comes to how women are treated. However it isn’t clear that Kate had to act as she has to effect this change, any more than it is clear that John Bennett had to corrupt dozens of men and at least as many women in order to force Joseph to teach the doctrine for which he eventually was killed (a doctrine that provides the relief valve allowing all men, women, and children in the world family to be linked by sealing ordinances).

    I think Kate has a chance to de-escalate this thing. I do wish she’d deign to return to Virginia. By abdicating real-time involvement with the council, she gives up any chance of influencing the decision (a decision she’s already claimed to know, reading the Guardian op-ed). Unless she knows up front that she’d lose her cool and make things worse by participating, I don’t have as much respect for the Kate who has fled as I would have for a Kate who returns and engages.

    I understand running for the hills. My excommunicated ancestor who was an apostle did that as well. I understand being appalled at the behavior of the Church leaders and putting that distress in print. Another excommunicated ancestor did that one (the one whose affidavit was published in the Expositor). But as I’ve pointed out, these two ancestors were unable to remain within the Church community and forfeited their ability to influence later events.

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  42. Geoff -Aus on June 18, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    I feel very much as you do tryingtoholdon, I feel greater community with those on the liberal blog sites than I do with those I go to church with.

    I like your analysis hawk.. Would you also agree that a Utah conservative is much more extreme than conservatives in many other parts of the world, and perhaps country.

    So people in Australia, for example, who obediently follow the prophet to the extent that they imitate Utah conservative mormons, are much more out of place, and extreme in the environment in which they live.

    An example surveys say over 85% of people under 40 in Aus, don’t have a problem with gay marriage, but LDS.org.au has had anti gay marriage stuffon its site for most of the last 2 years, and conservatives feel able to include in their Sacrament talks. It is not acceptable to include the other point of view, if you are liberal.

    So the church become an outpost of extreme conservatism. Even so I would say that about 30% of my ward do not fit that description and are quietly seething. I have considered inviting those to meet together to support each other, but I’m pretty sure that would be seen as organising desent, not supporting those who already dissent.

    The only hope I see for the church is that the over 80year old Apostles are removed, either by death, or a retirement age of 80 being introduced. That Uchtdorf, is influential in selection of more non Utah based, and less conservative replacements.
    That before he is too old Uchtdorf is Prophet.

    I am very concerned though that if Uchtdorf, or someone else doesn’t stop these church councils, his credibility will also be damaged. I have been impressed by his talks on inclusiveness, but if he allows this to go through without making it known that he doesn’t approve, then his words become hollow.

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  43. Kristine A on June 18, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    I identify as a centrist (No Labels supporter here) and frequently defend and criticize both sides politically (although I lean Colbert). It seems I’ve found myself in the same place here, becoming increasingly more uncomfortable at Church and wanting to both defend and criticize both sides of this conflict. Again, my best friends are fighting and I love them both deeply. What’s a girl to do?

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  44. howard on June 18, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    I also enjoyed Howard’s comments about the various ways Kate and her organization failed to take the path that would have been cooperative rather than confrontational.

    Just to be clear my “cooperative” 4 points are only cooperative because they defer to the patriarchal system and the conservative LDS majority at the expense of OW members’ core person-hood. In other words in a classic catch-22 in order to be heard on the issue of women’s place in the church they must approach the church indirectly from the outside because they have no standing to bring their case directly from the inside and they must do it respectfully from a less than, three down position! That is from a position that is beneath men and beneath privileged women and beneath the conservative majority. This insulting oxymoronish irony may be the reason they chose to take the course they did.

    This point speaks to a much bigger issue. The uber orothodox assert and TBMs assume via folklore indoctrination and (baseless) “belief” that the brethren direct the church via *direct revelation from God*. As a result what the brethren say trumps all other ideas or concepts inspired or not giving rise to the idea that once LDS leaders have spoken the thinking is done!

    But we know from SWK’s experience with seeking revelation that became OD2 that this is NOT the case. And Hugh B. Brown’s memoirs make it succinctly clear that this is not the case.

    “(An idea) is submitted to the First Presidency and Twelve, thrashed out, discussed and rediscussed until it seems right. Then, kneeling together in a circle in the temple, they seek divine guidance and the president says, ‘I feel to say this is the will of the Lord.’ That becomes a revelation. It is usually not thought necessary to publish or proclaim it as such, but this is the way it happens.”

    So the church is guided by committee discussion and committee decision that is passed by heaven to be rubber stamped via. a brief prayer. This may or may not qualify as inspired but it is clearly NOT direct revelation.

    Allowing the benefit of the doubt, a fact based summary concludes that the church is directed via inspired and well intended arm of flesh. This is a very long way from direct revelation or infallibility and it is a very long way from trumping all other’s inspired concepts and it screams for the inclusion of other ideas. But given the numerical vast majority of conservative brethren more inclusive ideas of loving one another and having tolerance for a greater breadth of belief have little chance of acceptance because those presenting them must do so from a similar less than, one down position that OW are required to take in order to be considered “cooperative”.

    For anyone but the very orthodox and TBMs the church represents a considerable catch-22. The orthodox love this situation and don’t want it changed because it artificially keeps their party in power and they argue (baselessly) that this is the way God wants the only true church to be. But is it? Actually there have been MANY versions of “the only true church”. There’s the the only true church that Joseph created. There’s the the only true church that Brigham created. There’s the only true church that ordained blacks followed by the only true church that insisted blacks couldn’t be ordained for a variety of outrageously preposterous reasons followed by the only true church that ordains blacks and repudiates the outrageously preposterous reasons throwing dead “prophets” under the bus. And I suspect there are many more versions of “the only true church” including today’s correlated church. I bring this up not to argue that the church is false because the church must be both true to some extent and false to some extent. It is the gospel that is true, not the church. The church is simply a delivery system for the gospel and if all of those versions of the church even the contradictory ones somehow delivered the gospel the precise version, the precise form the church takes in doing so CANNOT be that essential, can it? So girls pass the sacrament with boys. This offends God? If God wasn’t offended by LDS “prophets” spouting outrageously preposterous rationalizations from the pulpit for not ordaining blacks I suspect the church will survive girls passing the sacrament from the asiles instead of just passing it down the pews.

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  45. New Iconoclast on June 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Tl,dr; I’m with Kristine A. for the most part.

    Hawk says, in #13, Rock Waterman’s and Denver Snuffer’s actions are probably in that camp, no? However, Clive Bundy goes scot free, and Glenn Beck can spout whatever nonsense he wants and be fine.

    There’s a difference between theological conservatism and temporal/secular political conservatism, as expressed publicly, apparently. Thus Snuff’s “I saw Jesus” or Rock’s “Pay your debts before your tithing” are problems, but Beck’s apocalyptic pronunciations and Bundy’s casual racism (or Harry Reid’s equally blatant lack of integrity) are apparently not actionable.

    As a small-L libertarian, I think a lot of this has to do with power and its uses and abuses. One might call me a strict constructionist on Section 121 as well as the Bill of Rights. My issues with OW have nothing to do with my distaste for protest and everything to do with the subtle misleading impression they’re giving that this is all an innocent request for dialogue and understanding and not a deliberate poking of the bear.

    What gets lost in all of this, unfortunately, is a real dialogue about simple daily cultural issues around gender and tolerance and equality that could be addressed but are not, as confrontational tactics polarize people and make those topics taboo. That does all of us a disservice.

    On another note, perhaps my view is colored by my general “pox on both your houses” position, but it seems to me that characterizing “liberals” and “conservatives” as this post does actually misses the mark; it tends to pick out the worst features of conservatism and the ideal of liberalism, neither of which is necessarily the norm. One need not be a terribly impartial observer to think that modern liberalism is far from interested in fairness or equality, or that modern conservatives really believe in leveling the playing field. From a power standpoint, both “sides” really believe in getting power and using it to stay in power. Thus, an allegedly liberal Presidential candidate can run on a platform in opposition to his predecessor’s main achievements, but then when elected, essentially continue the same policies without a hitch – and have his supporters excuse him.

    The real separation, I think, is between those who think that change needs to come up from the bottom, by changing hearts and minds, and those who think that it needs to be enforced from the top down – either by the imposition of control by the current power or by the substitution of an alternative vision imposed by a different power. Too many of us, due to our experiences in business, school, church, and politics (and families, unfortunately) seem to be unable to grasp an ideal in which we’re not signing on as foot soldiers for one hierarchy or another.

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  46. hawkgrrrl on June 18, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    New Iconoclast: “it tends to pick out the worst features of conservatism and the ideal of liberalism, neither of which is necessarily the norm” They may not be the norm, but they are what leads to liberalism itself being on trial which is ostensibly the point of this post. I don’t think that Kate’s disciplinary council is due to the best conservativism has to offer.

    “Too many of us, due to our experiences in business, school, church, and politics (and families, unfortunately) seem to be unable to grasp an ideal in which we’re not signing on as foot soldiers for one hierarchy or another.” Totally agree.

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  47. howard on June 18, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Kate video interview on Huff Post

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  48. howard on June 18, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Washington Post OpEd
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seemed poised to come to terms with its past. In the Internet era, the Mitt Romney era, it appeared to have embraced an openness and transparency you’d expect from a confident community that had finally come of age. It endured dissent within its ranks—particularly about its policies on homosexuality and the role of women—with a certain equanimity.

    Then last week it cracked down on two of its most visible activists, Kate Kelly of OrdainWomen.org, a human rights attorney and advocate for women’s ordination, and John Dehlin, a well-known LGBT ally and voice for progressive Mormonism with “Mormon Stories.”… Fearing a loss of control in this freewheeling moment, it seems to be retreating into the defensiveness of an earlier era, striking out even at its own. Why is the LDS Church so afraid of dissent?

    Yet if its doctrine appears so hospitable to change, why does the church often seem hostile to it?

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  49. Tryingtoholdon on June 19, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    Meg Stout, appreciate your comment, but respectfully, the John C. Bennett comparison, disclaimer notwithstanding, is yucky.

    I disagree that Kate has run for the hills. Quite the contrary. She moved away, and then her FORMER leaders decided to convene a disciplinary court. They offer no pay for her transportation back. And she’s with an ill relative in Utah while waiting to move again to Kenya. It is very poor judgment and quite rude of her leaders to treat her this way. I believe the fMh guest post from a member of her former ward who describes Bishop Harrison as a wonderful man and a terrific Bishop. Thus, I believe he has been told to do this, and it is all very unfair to Kate. (However, if it were me, you can bet your sweet petunias I’d go back. I would want them to look me in the eye, and I them.) She’s been guided by the spirit, and she’s kept Bishop Harrison in the loop the whole time. As she said, he never once indicated anything was amiss to a degree that a court need be convened. Rather than try her for apostasy, it would seem far more Christlike to have met with her to see if how they (Q15) are interpreting her website and actions are fully accurate. I believe in the old adage that until we break bread together we can’t begin to understand one another. Some say the Brethren don’t have time, but I believe when you are recommending excommunication you better make time, lest there be a terrible injustice done due to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

    So I kinda feel that it is the Brethren who have run for the hills. They could have a Saturday Leader-Listening Day once a year to hear presentations from the Kate’s and John’s of our church. Surely there is time for such a meeting. Then, together—face-to-face, in the same room, they can feel each other’s spirit, along with The Spirit, and all would feel hope and feel heard. A lot of good could come from this. Eyes and hearts would be opened and softened. Council would be shared. Trust would be born. (I wish I could underline that sentence.)This would be another lovely facet of the gospel in action.

    And last, but not least, Joseph’s doctrine of plural marriage and the way he carried it out was truly horrible to the women involved, especially Emma. Which is exactly why we need the Kate’s and John’s— they keep members holding on! So I ask, who are they leading astray? I should think they’d be very grateful for their help.

    I say all these things to you in a respectful spirit. We disagree, but I respect your view very much and hope you can discern no antagonism.

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  50. Brenlee on June 19, 2014 at 7:31 AM

    I would describe myself as conservative but more closely identify with the descriptors used for liberals. It makes me suspect the research on which the descriptors are based.

    I don’t think the actions taken toward ex-communication have anything to do with political ideologies. They are simply the church’s leadership’s best efforts (through imperfect individuals who may or may not be liberals or conservatives and may or may not be inspired) to follow the dictates of their conscience in trying to do what’s right, whether it turns out to be misguided or not. It’s a messy world with difficult problems that defy labeling.

    The whole idea of linking it with conservatism is a reach, IMO.

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  51. Stephen R. Marsh (Ethesis) on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    This has been very interesting. One of the best posts on the topic, and some great comments.

    “It may surprise you Jeff G but I generally agree with you here. One of the big mistakes liberals make is to frame church issues in liberal-speak, they do it because their understanding of the issues and their vocabulary are both limited.”

    While that cuts both ways, using liberal-speak also comes across as an attack and it paints the speaker as self-righteous (as does using the opposing dialect — both dialects are very harsh on dialog as a result).

    Good stuff in this post.

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  52. Stephen R. Marsh (Ethesis) on June 19, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    BTW, speaking of drama cycles, in my experience, no feminist moment is complete until:

    male defenders arrive (often late) and claim to be taking risks to (very moderately) support the feminist points and

    male defenders start mansplaining what is going on to everyone.

    I always find that part of the cycle oddly reassuring.

    But Howard is right (at least in part, he has an annoying habit of being right here and there) that the drama cycle needs to be broken to make progress. It is because of comments and people like Howard that I wrote my post “You are right and I am wrong.”

    And Hawk, as always, is brilliant.

    Good stuff in this post and in the comments. It makes it worth being wrong to be able to learn from what people are saying.

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  53. Richard Redick on June 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Hawkgrrrl, a very excellent, excellent, excellent Op-Ed. I like it so much, I am printing it off to share with my children. I think it will inspire a good conversation about the way I am managing our home/family. I can tell that I have CAUSED much conflict in my home by playing the role of rescuer. That whole explanation you gave about the different roles, and implied dynamics of each role-relationship really opened my eyes up to things at home. Unintended on your part, but, thank you, anyway.

    I do take issue with one of the first commenters (Jeff G.) who – I feel – was way too quick to say something to the effect of “it is OK to dispense with all lenses and filters, except for those that favor or otherwise justify church leaders – especially the Brethren – in everything they do….blah, blah” The words in quotes are mine, and not the Jeff G.’s, but this seems to me to be what he meant. Knowing church history as I do, I could not type what he typed. Why should we assume that what the Brethren have been telling us is wrong? I am not advocating that we assume they have it wrong on any one thing. I am simply advocating that we need not assume that have it right. There have been plenty of examples over the years since 1830 when the wonderful men at the top have gotten it wrong. Go and read church history from credible sources: Not anti-Mormon, and not pro-Mormon. If you do that, I promise you that you will find what I have just told you. It will be from well-researched, objective sources, and you will not be able, at all, to deny it. The Brethren are just as human as you and me. They are the first ones to admit that. For some reason, many Mormons do not want to believe them when they admit this to us…..I don’t think it makes anyone a bad member of the Church to take them at their word.

    Hawkgrrrl, your article is such a breath of fresh air, and, yet, it is not. In recognition of the tactics that seem to be employed – especially right now – it may be that those conservatives in power within the Church are after those who do not walk-n-talk as they do. The goal of leaders in Christ’s church should be to unite the body, and not to carve and divide it up via enmity, and other tactics to maintain power at the expense of peace and virtue.

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  54. Ken on June 19, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    I believe it was Jesus who advocated seperating the wheat from the tares.

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  55. Howard on June 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    I don’t think that was Jesus’ main message.

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  56. hawkgrrrl on June 19, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Ken, he advocated waiting to separate the wheat from the tares until they were grown lest the wheat be pulled up with the tares.

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  57. […] this time, there have been tens, if not hundreds, of blog posts (are you aware all of those links were just from one blog, but the ones in these parentheticals are not?), podcasts (that’s a […]

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  58. Stephen R. Marsh (Ethesis) on June 20, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Reading this gave me a completely new view of this post: http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2014/06/ordain-women-whose-movement-is-it-2/3595/

    Hawk, you really hit something.

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  59. truthwhisperer on June 22, 2014 at 4:44 PM


    “Because conservatives view loyalty, patriotism and deference to authority as inherent virtues, they see those who criticize power structures as disloyal or traitorous, apostate. Liberals view too much deference to authority as a recipe for oppression of minority viewpoints. Existing structures are simply more oppressive to some individuals within any group. Conservatives favor a hierarchical structure with elites; liberals favor equality and fairness over privilege and rank. Again, these are different core values.”

    I wholeheartedly agree that conservatives and progressive liberals hold very different core values. I disagree, however, with your portrayals. As one who has both feet firmly planted in the rich red soil of conservative thought–politically, fiscally, socially, and yes, religiously, I couldn’t help but cringe at your characterizations of my kind. Do I view loyalty as an “inherent virtue”? Yes, if by that you mean loyalty to principle over policy, or to truth over falsehood. No, if what you mean is loyalty to a person, position, or party at the expense of either principle or truth. In my experience, such concepts of absolute loyalty to the party line with religious fervor land squarely in the liberal camp.

    In like manner, the notion of deference to authority as a core conservative value seems equally confusing. For example, Tea Party Conservatives reflect anything but a deference to authority. To the contrary, their movement stands up for the God-given rights of individuals in the face of repression and the excessive reach of government gone wild. The hallmark of true conservatism is respect for individual liberties, unalienable rights, and limitations on power and authority.

    I would posit that the progressive mindset itself is a recipe for oppression of minority viewpoints. Surely you are aware of the historical legacy of discrimination, oppression, and racism perpetrated by liberal Democrats against minorities in this country, no? And on a more current note, how have progressive liberals currently running things “favored equality and fairness over privilege and rank”? From where I sit, it is liberal elites who feign allegience to “fairness and equality” while using their privilege and rank for political gain. None is more adept at this game than our fellow Mormon-in-name-only, Harry Reid.

    And so when it comes to the idea that somehow conservatives in power at the head of the Church, with their conservative, power-hungry mindsets are somehow repressing members’ self expression or minority views, I’m not buying it. To the extent there is a dominant conservative current within the Church, and there surely is, it will advocate for the individual, for eternal principles, and for values which we as Latter-day Saints hold sacred.

    Having served in many Church leadership positions in an ultra-conservative area, I can honestly say I’ve never once seen or been directed to do anything or carry out any disciplinary action against those in my stewardship who were gay, lesbian, feminists, atheists, or anyone else who might be harboring views contrary to the brethren. Nor have I experienced overt prejudice or outward condemnation toward any of those groups. To the contrary, as members and leaders we were always admonished to show an increased amount of love and compassion toward them, and to minister to them without reprisal.

    I can’t speak to what is going on in other parts of the country, but here in Texas I can tell you that the Church is still a very big tent with lots of room for differences of opinion.

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