Uncorrelated Mormons: Put your Money Where Your Mouth is.

By: Andrew S
May 7, 2011

Mormon Stories

In recognizing that politics is a topic filled with too much strife and vitriol (and yet many of our permas continue to prod that hornet’s nest), I’ve decided to choose a different topic with which to incense people: the issue of new order, or liberal, or heterodox, or non-traditional, or unorthodox, or most recently monikered, uncorrelated Mormonism.

While this world certainly doesn’t “reside” in any one place, I would be remiss not to mention John Dehlin’s role in reaching out to the “uncorrelated Mormon.” Mormon Stories, the new Mormon Matters Podcast, StayLDS…these are just some of the areas of his self-defined missiological calling to “the one” (who turns out to be quite more than “one,” at least anecdotally.)

…Shall I say that John has done more, save Matt Stone and Trey Parker only, for the recontextualization of Mormonism in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it? Or would that be too irreverent?

Well, certainly, reports of John’s exit are greatly exaggerated. Yet, John is in a precarious situation, as you can read about here.

Many people — on both sides of the Mormon belief spectrum — have an uncanny distrust or suspicion or cynicism about John. It’s absolutely amazing to me that both sides can claim him as one of them (both a believer *and* as a nonbeliever) while at the same time furiously rejecting him (as a nonbelieving wolf in sheep’s clothing or as insincere to his knowledge of the church’s history and doctrine.) If there is one thing you can say for him, he is a paradigmatic enigma. He’s absolutely fascinating, no doubt.

…but let’s not talk so much about John. Let’s instead talk about this group of people about whom he is so concerned: the uncorrelated, or nontraditional, or unorthodox Mormon.

I think that many of us here at W&T can sympathize with this group of people, maybe because many of us fit this category or are very familiar with people who do. Maybe a non-negligible portion of us have issues with the way church is run, or with particular doctrines espoused by the church now or that have been espoused by the church in the past (notwithstanding the progress the church has made since.) Maybe we can’t say with a straight face that we “believe” at all. Or maybe we struggle to recontextualize what it means to believe — whether we redefine the content of that belief (from literal to metaphorical?) or the actual act we consecrate as belief (from knowing to hoping).

And yet, as strongly as we can identify our points of otherness, of divergence, of uncorrelatedness, we just as strongly identify our points of Mormonness. It is our cultural identity; it informs our behavior; it encompasses our circle of friends and family.

So, we have reason to cling to it in some way or fashion. It’s our heritage as much as it is the church’s, right? Or we have family and friends that we love too much to let our beliefs come between us.

Or whatever our particular situation may be.

So…I can respect — to an extent — John’s service to and with uncorrelated Mormons. I can respect to an extent the process of recontextualizing, of reclaiming one’s Mormonism, even at immense unpopularity. I can understand why John has plenty of fans who believe that it is very much to the church’s loss if disciplinary action is taken against him.

…but…I still remain somewhat unclear. Confused.

tithing slipI want to see uncorrelated Mormons put their money where their mouths are.

I would love to see a big, open tent Mormonism. But I feel that perhaps this is naive.

Literally because of money (and time).

Suppose that the church “approves” of having uncorrelated Mormon supplementary groups in addition to the church. As something to augment, not to replace. If church doctrines remain the same, if church history remains the same, then what will this mean? Will the uncorrelated Mormons support the leaders and their revelations? Will the uncorrelated Mormons pay tithes to an institution with goals for using the tithes that they disagree?

And if they don’t or won’t, then why should the church support these groups? Why should they give them any recognition?

While the uncorrelated Mormon position currently stinks, I don’t see how from the church’s perspective it is all that beneficial to support them.

I mean, sure, from a perspective of human compassion it makes sense…but from a perspective of supporting particular truth claims and of supporting particular values, it doesn’t make as much sense.

In a way, I like — and even empathize with — many of the comments on John Dehlin’s latest Mormon Stories thread. For example, this one from J Seth Anderson:

I’m a 4th generation Utah Mormon. I’m a seminary graduate and returned missionary. I officially had my name removed after Prop 8, although I will forever be a Cultural Mormon. That fact took me years to understand. I do not believe the Church is what it claims to be. I am a blissfully happy non-theist.

Since leaving the Church I’ve been a devout student of Mormon history and doctrine than I ever was before. (Studying the Book of Mormon over a cup of coffee is one of my greatest pleasures.) Mormon Stories has helped me embrace my Mormonism, even though I am now not officially a Mormon. History matters to me, objective facts matter, open and honest discussion matter. My intelligence and understanding grow when I listen to Mormon Stories. Exploring ALL aspects of Church history and doctrine have helped me define me and my culture and more importantly have helped me understand what I can do to ease suffering in the world.

In many ways, I feel similarly. I suppose I haven’t had my name removed, and I don’t study the Book of Mormon over cups of coffee (but only because I quite frankly still can’t understand how people drink any of the stuff counseled against in the Word of Wisdom…I am only half-joking when I suspect that maybe what the church got right was the wisdom that one should not drink disgusting things :) )…but I can definitely identify with being an even more devout student of Mormon history and doctrine than I ever was before (maybe because I redirected my time spent in boring meetings?).

…At the same time, maybe I put words in J Seth’s mouth, but I don’t see him rejoining the church, tithing 10% of his income to the church, or preaching the truth claims of the church about God or about what kinds of families are more divinely sanctioned than others to strangers. I see the church as having counter-intuitively made many people Mormon, but not made them believers.

I really want to know, any wandering Uncorrelated Mormons…what do you think? Am I completely off here? And how?

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81 Responses to Uncorrelated Mormons: Put your Money Where Your Mouth is.

  1. Chino Blanco on May 7, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing fine. The biggest pitfall imho (echoing Val Edwards from a UVU panel a few years back) is to give the institution more credit than it’s due. The church, like many of us, is muddling along. The only thing that sets us apart is that we enjoy negotiating the terms of our belief/unbelief in contradistinction to an institution that necessarily views that activity as marginal.

    Once those institutional concerns have been put in perspective, the reality is that we’re all writing for a liminal audience (except when we’re not, but the term for that portion of the readership is “regulars” … the folks who argue tooth and nail to defend their POV regardless of institutional moves and are mostly here to enjoy the banter).

    My sense (and I think you agree here) is that John has a big challenge ahead if his intent is to service a community under the uncorrelated Mormon moniker. It’s kind of like building a club house when you’re a kid … it’s fun for a while, but eventually, everybody moves on. The good news (for John) is that the demographics at the moment are highly favorable and he’s assured a steady stream of doubting/exiting Mormons looking for a comfy place to share stories and all-too-eager to comment on how nifty the clubhouse feels. Good for John. Good for them. It’s all good. To be honest, John has done a great job building a safe place where lots of folks enjoy hanging out. Kudos.

    That said, the reality is that bit-by-bit, we’re dismantling the influence of the LDS church in our lives, in our families, in the intermountain west and the country. If there was anything the folks in SLC could do about it, you know folks like me would already be opining here as ex’d members. That I’m not goes back to Val’s initial advice to not give the institution more credit than it’s due. It is what it is and it’s mostly being left behind.

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  2. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    Chino,

    I have absolutely NO problem with negotiating the terms of belief/unbelief in contradistinction to the institution (precisely because the institution views that activity as marginal.)

    I just feel that in the end, by the metrics about which the institution does care (activity…tithes…willingness to obey commandments), movements like “stay LDS” don’t necessarily help people to stay LDS in *that* sense. And I think I’m ok with that. I think you’re ok with that. Less tithes means less to go toward (insert project of the church that one or both of us will find horribly immoral.) But I don’t think the church should be ok with that.

    You’re absolutely right about John’s challenge (but then again, you predicted my agreement), but I don’t think the challenge is for John, necessarily. After all, John can serve the steady stream of doubting/exiting Mormons as long as he wants, but what if he wants to move on? Then he can do that when’s he’s ready. (And this is what we see at a micro level with bloggers in Outer Blogness…they write for as long as they want, and then when they are done, they are done. But there are always new faces coming in…)

    Really, this goes into what I was asking: the church’s position. If more people eventually “move on” in John’s system than they would otherwise, then why would the church support that?

    (I guess I can see what you mean by giving the institution more credit than it’s due. I would probably rephrase this as, “Notwithstanding that the institution doesn’t have this much influence and power, can we still step into their shoes with what *we* know and anticipate their response?”)

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  3. Will on May 7, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    “Shall I say that John has done more, save Matt Stone and Trey Parker only, for the recontextualization of Mormonism in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it?”

    Considering lucifer has not live on the earth (at least as a mortal), I would agree he is at the top when it comes to korihors.

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  4. Mike S on May 7, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    For the reasons mentioned above, I don’t know if we will ever see formally organized groups of people who are “Mormon” but perhaps “not-LDS”. But, at the same time, I think that virtual organizations are perhaps functioning in that role to a limited extent.

    Many people seem to still feel a connection with some of the more profound aspects of the Church – eternal families, eternal progression, continued revelation, etc. Unfortunately, the Church has defined what it means to be fully “LDS” by picking out some arbitrary bits and pieces, some of which have a truly doctrinal basis, but many of which don’t.

    Additionally, I think the Church’s “head-in-the-sand” approach to historical issues is damaging. Just as an example, last week’s Primary lesson was on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. The lesson went through how he got the plates, how he used the Urim and Thummin to look at the characters on the plates and translated them into English, etc. So this is the “official” way we are teaching our kids. When they get older and read accounts of how things really happened (ie. JS didn’t really look at the plates at all but they were always covered), it starts to plant seeds of doubt – and ironically this affects people the most who have been in the Church a LONG time and always taught one way.

    In the past, people who agreed with some of the fundamental issues of the Church, but didn’t like many things in the implementation, thought they were in the minority and generally remained silent. Now, with these various virtual communities, they find that they are far from alone.

    The Church’s response will affect the Church MORE than the individuals. If the Church comes up with a way to truly accept people of varying levels of acceptance of these things, as an institution, it will continue to enjoy the benefit of their time, talents, resources, etc. If the Church gets more hardline and makes it more “our way or the highway”, there are going to be quite a few who formally leave.

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  5. Mike S on May 7, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Will:

    I’m just curious – have you actually READ any of the personal stories posted by the hundreds of people who emphasize with this. If not, I’d encourage you to follow a few of the links near the top of the post on various sites (MM, Mormon Stories, FMH, etc).

    This is certainly NOT something John is “causing”, but there are A LOT of people personally affected by this. So to compare John with Lucifer or Korihor is a bit of hyperbole.

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  6. Brian on May 7, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    John is too well-known. The church will not touch him. The PR vision in SLC is to create at least the appearance of a big tent. Having become inactive after 40 years of activity I have found members to have an interest in Brian the active Mormon and no interest in Brian the person. John’s podcast mentioned an 18% worldwide activity rate according to the leader he met with. With all of the information available on the Internet now, the church has no choice but to welcome those left of center. If it doesn’t, it will become irrelevant.

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  7. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    re 4 and 5,

    Mike S,

    I don’t really disagree with what you have to say (especially for comment 5, although I guess it’s…good? that Will comments on more than political posts?), but I think I’m approaching it from a bit of a different angle.

    If the church becomes more hardline, then there will be quite a few who formally leave.

    BUT

    haven’t most of these people already informally left?

    What I mean to say is, to the extent that they attend or follow certain commandments (like paying tithing, etc.,), it is because of factors independent of the church itself. (Like: keeping things together with the family.) To the extent that these factors are influenced by the church, it is actually to the church’s advantage to be hardline (e.g., it SUCKS to have your family renounce you if you make clear your nonbelief or nontraditional belief, but this situation exists in part because the church is hardline on its truth claims.)

    In this way…what I’m supposing is that although from a perspective of pure compassion it would be great to accept people of varying levels of acceptance of its truth claims, history, etc., from the church’s perspective it doesn’t make a lot of sense. They have already lost many of these people’s tithing, and they aren’t necessarily going to get it back (even if they admit that they have made mistakes, that there are rough spots in the history, etc., these things don’t seem like they would encourage nontraditional, uncorrelated or disaffected Mormons to start paying). They have already lost people’s willingness to preach the truth claims, and they aren’t going to get it back (if one believes the church has some good things, but maybe it’s not for everyone, and maybe it’s not literally true…then does one have an incentive to go on a mission?)

    So, to say lots of people will leave if the church becomes more hardline seems inconsequential, because many of the people in question have already informally left.

    That is why I am asking: am I wrong here? If the church were more accepting of alternative views, would uncorrelated/new order/disaffected Mormons continue to pay or start to pay tithing? Would they preach and evangelize for the church? Etc.?

    re 6:

    Brian,

    I know that the church wants to create at least the appearance of a big tent, but they also want people who believe in their truth claims (or, rather, who are at least will to act for the truth claims — which is why I believe things like tithing, willingness to take callings, willingness to preach are important metrics). It would be VERY easy for the church to say, “Well, the world is just too wicked, so that is why we seem to be irrelevant.”

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  8. Chino Blanco on May 7, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Mike S’s Primary story is disheartening (or annoyingly predictable, depending on the POV). What’s the point of so much LDS triumphalism, exceptionalism, PR, Deseret News, KSL, BYU, SVU, MTC, yadda, yadda, if the folks in charge can’t even be bothered to update the teaching materials?

    One of the dynamics that I suspect is going on with quite a few of us is that we feel we could potentially be helping the church to address any number of issues … but they never ask. I hit the wall as an AP in Brazil after working as an interpreter for the Area presidency. There was simply no mechanism available for suggesting how we might do better at retaining the members under our stewardship. Lord knows, I tried. And, yeah, I know I’m an outlier. 99% of the mishies just wanted to complete their two years in honorable fashion without bothering about outcomes.

    At the end of the day, there’s the meritocracy that folks like us are comfortable with in the workaday academic or professional world, and then there’s church. And maybe I’m all alone on this, but I’m totally mystified (and yes, offended) by the lack of interest the church has displayed in my abilities.

    And yes, there’s a point here. For anyone who’s listened in on John’s podcasts, what voices do you hear? I hear a lot of folks who sound just like me. I mean, folks from the same social class. We might have some skin in the Mormon game, but we’re also used to running the game, calling the shots, in our other pursuits. And we excel at networking. We’re not plebes. So unless you’re gonna utilize us, we’re gone anyways.

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  9. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    re 8,

    Chino,

    So would you say that had the church been (or were the church to become) more upfront about its history, past doctrines, etc., etc., and had they also (or if they were to) reached out to you for your ideas and abilities, that you would put those abilities to use for the church?

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  10. Mike S on May 7, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Andrew S: You ask am I wrong here? If the church were more accepting of alternative views, would uncorrelated/new order/disaffected Mormons continue to pay or start to pay tithing? Would they preach and evangelize for the church? Etc.?

    Yes and no.

    I think there is a certain subset of people who are probably disenchanted enough with organized religion in general and the LDS Church in specific that it probably doesn’t matter what was changed. They are likely never going to do any of those things.

    However, there are a few subsets where I think changes WOULD make a difference:

    1) Converts: The conversion rate is clearly and objectively decreasing as discussed in the post on general conference statistics. Some of this is likely due to investigators seeing things online that don’t necessarily jive with what the missionaries tell them. But I think a lot of it is due to members NOT being missionaries. There are a lot of crazy non-doctrinal things that being a “good Mormon” implies, which I’m talking about in another post. I am much less inclined to talk to my neighbors about the Good News of the gospel when there is so much baggage they would have to accept were they to convert. So I just plain don’t talk to them about it. Changing some of these policies would make me much more inclined to help out in the missionary efforts.

    2. Young adults: This is an age group that is trying to find themselves, religiously, professionally, personally, etc. They are charting a course for the rest of their lives. While activity rates tend to drift downward in this demographic, it trends back up in many cases as people settle down and want to find a religious “home” in which to raise their children.

    And, as many people have pointed out, this is becoming a lost generation in the Church. The Church can rejigger YSA wards and stakes all they want, or talk about dating patterns in groups or whatever, but if the policies of the Church are distasteful enough to this group, they’re not coming back. But, if the Church were to make some real changes and make this group feel welcome, they (and their children, etc) would be much more likely to be contributing members for the rest of their lives.

    3. Average NOM/ucorrelated/etc: Many of these people have significant ties to the Church. Chino’s comment (#8) is a perfect example. There are MANY people who have A LOT to offer the Church. But they are naturally only going to spend the time and resources somewhere they feel appreciated. If they are marginalized, etc., they may hang in for a time, but the Church loses – big time.

    Look at the amount of time and effort and resources people spend all over the place talking about these issues. Imagine if there was a forum actually within the Church where these same talents could be utilized. It would be a tremendous force for good. But it isn’t happening.

    —-

    So, while there will always be people for whom NOTHING the Church does will be good enough, I do think there is a large contingent where policy changes WILL make a difference. Plotting different membership trends for the previously mentioned post, it truly is a very small difference as to whether the Church experiences growth in the next 20 years or whether it stagnates. Unfortunately, if they keep their current policies and trends, stagnation is where we are going to be (at least the mainstream LDS Church).

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  11. Mike S on May 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Oops. Forgot a closing after “statistics” above. Could you edit it? Thanks.

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  12. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    re 11, Got it, Mike.

    re 10

    1) It seems that your response to this question involves changing of present and future policies. I have two questions to push back: what about past issues? (Or, are you taking a position similar to Jeff from his post yesterday where these shouldn’t really count against the church?) Secondly, what if the church doesn’t change certain policies. After all, allowing for alternative views doesn’t mean that the church will cater to those views. Would you say, “You can be a good Mormon and support this…but you’ll have to deal with the fact that the church still opposes it and many people in the church oppose it as well”?

    2)See before. Everything seems dependent on the church changing more policies than just how “rigid” they are with respect to the truth claims.

    Consider: why change its focus on traditional values when it *does* have a base of members who believe in that and who do pay tithing/actively magnify their callings/go on missions? Is the benefit of *maybe* keeping some of the questioning/uncertain youth as great (or greater than) as the base of traditional, orthodox believers?

    3) I am ultimately most surprised by this point (especially from Chino), but I guess I can see it conceptually.

    I guess, my misstep was in assuming that more people care about the facts and truth claims. In this case, the church either will or will not live up to these claims (and nothing else the church can do will make up for that.) But if these don’t matter as much, then that opens up more possibilities.

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  13. [...] So, at Wheat and Tares, I’m calling on uncorrelated Mormons to talk about what it would look like for them to put thei…. [...]

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  14. Peter on May 7, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    By what I have read above, I do not consider myself an uncorrelated Mormon. I joined the church in 1974 at age 24.

    I totally believe in the gospel as it is presented by the Mormon church. My struggle is not with doctrine but with some other kinds of hard to explain things. I do not like cultural Mormonism. I do not like funeral potatoes and told my wife that I do not want them at my funeral. There are other less visible things that bother me such as well meaning leaders with bad leadership skills that help me to feel that the church is controlling.

    If I look at just the gospel of Christ which includes the teachings of the scriptures and counsel from prophets, while looking beyond the weaknesses of men, I do not feel controlled or that the church is oppressive. I have no problem paying tithing out of faith in God.

    Out of necessity, the church has a structure and set rules. I do not know how the church could exist without them. But I have to be on guard and not let the earthly church drag me away from my gospel embrace.

    I just wonder if the feelings I have are reasons why people become disenchanted with the church.

    There are those who stay Mormon but do not embrace the commandments of God. It is fine if all you want is to stay involved with Mormon culture, but if it is salvation that is desired, it won’t be found through being an uncorrelated Mormon.

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  15. Tim on May 7, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    I have a bit of a different take.

    I think these local communities serve as a replacement for the LDS church’s own Fast and Testimony meeting. I think this is setting up a path for a new Mormon sect. The requirements that there has to be a meeting room that seats at least 100 people and the people in attendance have to be willing to pay to be there instantly puts the meeting in the “shape” of a Sunday ward meeting.

    Eventually at one of these meetings someone who hasn’t been to an LDS service in quite some time is going to ask for a priesthood blessing. It won’t be too long after that in which someone says “Sister Brooks, would you like to perform the blessing?” And not too long after that, someone is going to ask that Heavenly Mother fulfill the request.

    I think the minute people start offering the LDS priesthood to women you can expect excommunication from the “mainline” LDS church to start happening. That’s the line that can’t be crossed.

    All of this intellectualized stuff will be tolerated but looked down upon, but start messing with the churches ordinances and practices and it’s over.

    (sorry for posting in to places, I just discovered this would have been a better location for my comment)

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  16. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    re 15,

    Tim,

    Charismatic guy with a sizeable following of people marginalized in their larger community trying to start a community to “supplement” and “augment” the experience in that larger community? Who tries to provide people a way to reclaim and recontextualize their identity in that larger community? I mean…I’m not a doctor, but I think I’ve seen the end of this movie before.

    Err, I mean: It’s absurd. The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.

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  17. Badger on May 7, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    It seems to me that the Community of Christ has many of the traits mentioned in the post and comments. Are there very many who leave the LDS church and join the CoC? I hear very little to suggest there are, but I may not be looking in the right places. Perhaps FireTag or another CoC participant here can say more about it.

    Certainly there are many who leave the LDS church without ever considering the CoC as an option. I think this must tell us something about what it is that uncorrelated Mormons are looking for, and what they are not, but I don’t think I’m well enough informed to reach any specific conclusions.

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  18. DavidC on May 7, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Will:

    “Considering lucifer has not live on the earth (at least as a mortal), I would agree he is at the top when it comes to korihors.”

    That might be the most jacka$$ed comment I’ve read in a LONG time, especially coming out of your mouth. Pull your head out of the sand, get off your soap box and actually listen to the man before piping off some inanely stupid comment.

    “Will the uncorrelated Mormons support the leaders and their revelations?

    What revelations? We have had all of, what, one whole revelation in the past 100 years? We call that apostasy with any religion not named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hyphenated to satisfy trademark obligations).

    Count me in as one who would pay a whole LOT more attention to the Church if it actually started receiving revelations again.

    “Will the uncorrelated Mormons pay tithes to an institution with goals for using the tithes that they disagree?

    And if they don’t or won’t, then why should the church support these groups? Why should they give them any recognition?

    While the uncorrelated Mormon position currently stinks, I don’t see how from the church’s perspective it is all that beneficial to support them.”

    Beneficial? I can’t help but make the connection that you’re saying that which isn’t financially beneficial to the Church ™ shouldn’t be explored or enabled. Since when was the church merely a financial vehicle for receiving and spending tithing receipts and anything that didn’t help that financial vehicle was deemed unworthy or unfit for the kingdom?

    Maybe that’s why so many former jobs for the LDS corp have turned into volunteer missions… the bottom line is of the utmost importance these days.

    Why in the world should we really care about tithing receipts? Does anyone else have a problem with even putting your name on the tithing slip (Matt 6:1-4), thereby noting for the VIPs of the church (or anyone, for that matter) just how much you’re giving?

    Notably, LDS scriptures (specifically the BOM) is largely silent on tithing. To us, though, it’s probably the top – the defining – commandment. Follow the money, stupid. If you give money, you’re righteous. If you don’t give money, you’re unworthy. That’s it.

    As for me, I’d much rather pay “tithing” to support the poor and need rather than build another $3 billion mall, or buy another for-profit ranch, or renovate/rebuild another hotel in Hawaii I’ll neither use NOR get a discount for helping build with my tithing monies or whatever the pet project du jour is. Until we start understanding the law of tithing, I have no hope that the LDS church will do anything other than what it’s now doing with my tithing funds.

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  19. DavidC on May 7, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Here’s another question, related to what Chino stated above when he said:

    “At the end of the day, there’s the meritocracy that folks like us are comfortable with in the workaday academic or professional world, and then there’s church. And maybe I’m all alone on this, but I’m totally mystified (and yes, offended) by the lack of interest the church has displayed in my abilities.

    And yes, there’s a point here. For anyone who’s listened in on John’s podcasts, what voices do you hear? I hear a lot of folks who sound just like me. I mean, folks from the same social class. We might have some skin in the Mormon game, but we’re also used to running the game, calling the shots, in our other pursuits. And we excel at networking. We’re not plebes. So unless you’re gonna utilize us, we’re gone anyways.”

    I’ve happened to have experienced ~4 wards in the past 6+ years. In each ward, almost without fail, there’s a certain stereotypical person who gets callings and rises the corporate LDS ladder of callings. That’s not to say the stereotype doesn’t fit all the time, because certain exceptions undoubtedly occur, but the vast majority of all callings go to those who are (a) financially better off, (b) dress like successful businessmen/women and (c) look the part of a financially successful person (attire, hair styles, clothing fashions, etc). Many of these people are great individuals – thoughtful, pleasant and generally nice people.

    However, if you pit this stereotypical person with a non-stereoptypical person, the non-stereotypical person will almost unfailingly get passed over in favor of the stereotype. Attitude wise, these individuals are largely the same… some just dress and groom themselves differently. Speaking mostly of males, the only people I’ve seen get callings where their opinions have any value/weight in the church are those who fit the stereotype to a ‘T’, with very rare exceptions.

    Now, callings are what they are, but I’d be foolish not to say that certain ones don’t hold more sway than others and have more of an influence on local attitudes. And, as the stereotypes move up the ladder, the attitude remains largely the same.

    I’m not sure if this happens elsewhere, but I’ve seen the trend nearly everywhere I’ve lived in the past 6-7 years. So, to tie this into Chino’s point, it appears there’s a certain “voice” that gets heard while many other voices just get ignored and/or never given the light of day…

    Could be wrong, though…

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  20. Jeff Spector on May 7, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    “Or, are you taking a position similar to Jeff from his post yesterday where these shouldn’t really count against the church?)’

    I never said they should not “count” against the Church. My only point was that bringing up the past at every opportunity does not address what is here and now. they folks who consistently bring up the past do not want to the church to progress beyond that point and have to drag it back there.

    The fact is things are better in some areas. Not perfect, but better. it is only fair to acknowledge that rather than hearkening back top the past.

    It is the same as reminding someone who has repented not to forget at one time they did something wrong and to verbalize it. Never letting the person get past the sin even if they have been forgiven.

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  21. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    re 17

    Badger,

    I would also be very interested in hearing from FireTag about it (or perhaps from John Hamer, who actually did something like that…but he generally posts at By Common Consent these days.)

    Anyway, one thing I would guess is that for people in this situation, the Community of Christ seems too far removed from the Mormonism that the people in question have grown up with. And even if one could get past that, the fact would be that one would still be effectively abandoning one’s family to make a jump to the CofChrist. I get the sense that uncorrelated Mormon are trying to avoid that experience.

    re 18,

    DavidC,

    One thing I would reiterate is that I’m trying to step into the shoes of “the church” (if it may be represented as a person with shoes.) And so, whether I agree or disagree, I can’t help but feel that the church *has* cared about financial metrics for a while.

    So, let’s take that understanding of the church. Let’s go further and position you along side it. Why should the church seek to support your view as a valid alternative, when you are so opposed to the church’s direction?

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  22. Andrew S on May 7, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    re 20,

    Jeff,

    No disagreement to that point.

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  23. FireTag on May 7, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    In response to Badger and Andrew, with a reference to Chino:

    As some might see from some of my archived posts here at W&T, I’m actually more comfortable in the “borderlands” between the Community of Christ and the LDS. But there are several different communities (at least) within those borderlands that might serve as homes for those who feel they do not belong in the LDS but still think of themselves as Mormon.

    If one wants Restoration-flavored liberal Protestantism, the CofChrist is certainly worth studying.

    There is also, in many places, a “Restoration Branch” movement that largely is based on the RLDS/CofChrist tradition as it existed 50 years ago; i.e., it believes IT, not the LDS, is the one and only true church. (It is easier to get THERE starting from CofChrist theology than from uncorrelated Mormonism). Because there is little more than a confederation of branches in this movement, there is no correlation of beliefs among them, but few are not socially conservative.

    I would also note that I’ll talk about an entirely different option that may be of more utility to self starter types like Chino in my post for next Saturday after some exposure to the beginning of a book by John Dominic Crossan, one of the leaders of the “Jesus Seminar” movement.

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  24. FireTag on May 7, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    To more specifically answer Badger’s question about LDS -> CofChrist migration: the CofChrist only baptizes about 800 people in the entire US and Canada per year, so there isn’t much of any kind of migration into the CofChrist.

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  25. Geoff-A on May 8, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    John 19 My experience is that in the last 30 years those chosen for leadership positions are those who don’t say anything but yes i agree, how high did you want me to jump?

    We had an example last year where the Bishops wife then daughter taught the Gospel doctrine class and when ever anyone disagreed with their absolute obedience line the Bishop would give a talk the following sunday correcting them. He spoke six weeks in a row. It got to be quite funny- but not edifying or uplifting or spiritual.
    This kind of thing to me is a symptom of the problem.

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  26. DavidC on May 8, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    “One thing I would reiterate is that I’m trying to step into the shoes of “the church” (if it may be represented as a person with shoes.) And so, whether I agree or disagree, I can’t help but feel that the church *has* cared about financial metrics for a while.

    So, let’s take that understanding of the church. Let’s go further and position you along side it. Why should the church seek to support your view as a valid alternative, when you are so opposed to the church’s direction?”

    Because the church is not (nor was it) founded with financial benefits as a main consideration. The church should be about bringing people to Christ – nothing more, nothing less. Today, as Richard Scott stated some 15 years ago, we teach people to come to Church at the expense of coming to Christ. To suggest that the church should only be interested in the financially beneficial propositions would be to take the vantage point of a corporation… and, even if the Church is a corporation, I’d still argue that’s not the purpose of a church.

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  27. [...] to talk about how conflicted we are about our complicated relationships with Mormonism! What about those “uncorrelated” Mormons? And when it comes to “uncorrelated Mormons” vs. the mishies, I’d put my [...]

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  28. Badger on May 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    FireTag, thanks for your replies to my comments and others. I hadn’t known about the Restoration Branch movement, although it probably should have occurred to me at least as a possibility before now.

    I still wonder why it is that the CoC’s “Restoration-flavored liberal protestantism” (great description, btw) doesn’t attract more LDS on the way out. I’ve heard it said that ex-Mormons tend to either have no religious affiliation at all, or to belong to more conservative Protestant churches. Assuming that is true, neither option is consistent with the fairly common desire Andrew summarized, for an open-tent Mormonism. Now you have apparently confirmed my suspicion that few are taking advantage of what seems like a ready-made open tent.

    So, there seems to be a discrepancy between words and actions, as Andrew pointed out. Are there really many who want “uncorrelated Mormonism”? I can see how the answer could be yes, but with a catch-22 or chicken-and-egg situation that the community aspects cannot be, or have not been, reproduced without the “correlated” members. This assumes that the community aspects are at least as important as the religious, which seems plausible.

    On the other hand, maybe the desire for uncorrelated Mormonism is for many not all that deeply felt, but arises as a transitional stage for those headed for no religious affiliation.

    I’ve also heard it suggested that a bad experience in the LDS church is so traumatic (for lack of a better word) that it’s hard to get over distrust of organized religion.

    All of these seem at least somewhat plausible to me (and they are not mutually exclusive), but at the end I still don’t have much insight into the status of uncorrelated Mormonism.

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  29. FireTag on May 8, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Badger:

    If I may borrow an analogy from the space program, once one achieves “escape velocity” from the LDS, it takes a pretty finely-directed trajectory to be captured by “Restoration-flavored liberal Protestantism”. Or by the Restoration branch movement for that matter.

    The escape velocity probably requires you to give up the truth claim of “one and only true church” in the first place; if you still believe that, where can you go?

    Is there a different “one and only true church”? Well then maybe a Restoration branch is good for you, but probably not if giving up the truth claims also included issues with political or social conservatism.

    If you do believe there is more than one true church, or decide that the LDS was not true, why stop at Restoration-flavored liberal Protestantism and not continue into mainstream Protestantism or become Catholic?

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  30. Andrew S on May 8, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    re 26:

    DavidC,

    I’m not saying I disagree with you. BUT we are where we currently are. The church is in the current place it is. And it’s looking mighty corporatist.

    re 28,

    Badger,

    This is often a complaint about the uncorrelated Mormon enterprise — e.g., it’s a transition stage for those headed elsewhere. (Then again, this is often an issue with other aspects of disaffected Mormondom. Many people see a lot of people posting angry things on blogs and forums, and think, “Wow, exMormons are angry people.” But in actuality, many people do move on…it’s just there are always new faces who are going through the same pain points.)

    Anyway, this is a bit of a diversion.

    One of the issues is that uncorrelated Mormons are in a precarious situation…many are in such a position where they have pressures to stay within the LDS church (e.g., family, friends). In this case, going to a different “Restoration-flavored liberal protestant” denomination simply doesn’t cut the mustard. In this way, I would say don’t underestimate the point you raised that community aspects may be at least as important as the religious. If this is true, then to the extent that other restoration-based denominations still have very different communities, we should expect that they aren’t that appealing even to people who agree with them theologically.

    Next, Ex-Mormons aren’t a good proxy for uncorrelated Mormons…the two groups (while already being internally different — they aren’t monolithic) have vastly different motivations and inclinations. So, while of course ex-mos aren’t all of one mind an neither are uncorrelated Mormons, I can say there are a lot of Ex-Mos who just don’t get why someone who stay LDS when they know the things an uncorrelated Mormon generally knows.

    Anyway, if I have to speak for myself in trying to summarizing all of this, it would be to say something like this. No offense to the CofChrist, but it is really foreign to me. I don’t understand much about it. It seems like the religious equivalent of my distant cousins who I don’t talk to, don’t visit when I see my relatives, and would be quite suspicious to hear anything from out of the blue.

    So, my interaction with Mormonism is primed through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and my affiliation or disaffiliation is related to how THIS church, and not any others in the Community of Christ, carries itself or reacts to certain things.

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  31. hawkgrrrl on May 8, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    “Today, as Richard Scott stated some 15 years ago, we teach people to come to Church at the expense of coming to Christ.” I think it is true for some that coming unto the church is an incredibly poor subsititute for coming unto Christ, and unfortunately, they seem to have been called to the correlation committee. Here’s a radical suggestion: no action is needed to allow for uncorrelated Mormons if you cut the 2nd and 3rd hour of the meeting block. That’s where most of the offensive, outdated, mindless, and poorly written material exists.

    The problem with that suggestion is that Mormonism cranks out some awesome kids, either despite or because of this bad teaching material.

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  32. Badger on May 8, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Andrew, you make a good point about relying too much on ex-Mormons in my comments about uncorrelated Mormons. I think there’s some continuity between the two groups, so the exes are informative, but as you say there are parts of the uncorrelated spectrum they don’t reach.

    I tend to agree that the Church doesn’t see much benefit to supporting overt uncorrelated groups among the members. This is borne out by the suspicion toward Sunstone and Dialogue, for example. I’m tempted to say there is support for sub-organizations that enforce a stricter correlated orthodoxy (e.g., BYU). However, I don’t think a group like FARMS can be described as correlated. Support for present-day authority above all else seems to cover a multitude of speculations.

    So for greater support of uncorrelated views, I tend the only real prospects are outside the Church in the foreseeable future. If you’re suggesting that outlook may be too pessimistic, I’d agree that you could be right. It’s just that the cupboard is bare as far as my imagination goes.

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  33. DavidC on May 8, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    “I think it is true for some that coming unto the church is an incredibly poor subsititute for coming unto Christ, and unfortunately, they seem to have been called to the correlation committee. Here’s a radical suggestion: no action is needed to allow for uncorrelated Mormons if you cut the 2nd and 3rd hour of the meeting block. That’s where most of the offensive, outdated, mindless, and poorly written material exists.”

    It’s not that it’s a poor substitute, it’s that it shouldn’t even be a substitute. Church should always be about coming unto Christ, but programs + organizational discussions are given WAY more play than discussions on Christ.

    The church is in the current place it is. And it’s looking mighty corporatist.

    It’s not “looking” mighty corporatist – it is corporatist. That being said, I differ in how you employ the word “church.” For me, the word “church” has been hijacked to mean whatever comes from SLC/the COB/the CHI/Official directives/the building you attend on Sunday. It’s the big, monolithic entity that hovers above all and over all.

    I, however, feel that “church” is exactly as D&C 10:67-69 states. Nothing more, nothing less. Any other definition is simply and inherently misguided.

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  34. Andrew S on May 8, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    re 31:

    hawkgrrrl,

    I am intrigued. What is most awesome about Mormon kids that can be sourced to the 2nd and 3rd hour?

    (I mean, that is 2/3 of a church meeting, but there are other meetings/activities, and definitely other ways to promulgate LDS values.)

    re 32,

    Badger,

    Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel pessimistic as well…

    re 33,

    DavidC,

    dang, I was about to ask you if you read that post…I read it just an hour or so ago…

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  35. DavidC on May 8, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    Support for present-day authority above all else seems to cover a multitude of speculations.

    Our SP taught EQ today. During the lesson he discussed Laman/Lemuel/Nephi and being “favored of the Lord.” In discussing what “murmuring” meant he went so far as to say that every word you hear from every Priesthood leader is “as if the Lord spoke to you Himself” and if you don’t follow it with exactness, you’re murmuring and no longer “favored.” That’s an unfortunate view, IMO.

    “dang, I was about to ask you if you read that post…I read it just an hour or so ago…”

    Do you agree with his interpretation(s)?

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  36. hawkgrrrl on May 8, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Andrew S – I can’t source the awesomeness of LDS kids, as I indicated. I don’t know whether it’s because of really bad lesson content or despite it. Perhaps the really bad lessons give them confidence and simplicity through a righteousness “check-list” mentality.

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  37. Andrew S on May 8, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    re 35:

    DavidC,

    I think it’s nice. It would be preferable. I’m generally in favor of getting rid of the intermediaries/institutions and going straight to people.

    But since I don’t believe anyway, I can’t really make a judgment call about what a church (or even “the” church) should be.

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  38. Will on May 8, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Mike,

    I’ve choked down enough of his agenda to smell an apostate. The Savior was a social reformer. He fulfilled the Law of Moses. However, he is the Savior. He was the author of the Law of Moses and has the Authority to change it. As he said, ‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” He is the authority.
    John Dehlin has no authority to set policy for the church. He is a social crusader without authority. For example, he promotes on his power point presentation:

    Developing racial sympathies
    Developing feminist sympathies
    Developing LGBTQ (gay) feelings or sympathies
    Developing liberal political sympathies
    Extensive exposure to non-Mormons

    He fights against the policies of the Church Leaders. Thus he fights against the Lord. In my judgment he is an apostate. Lucifer fell, not so much because he disagreed, but because he fought the Authority of our Father. God is in charge. He sets the agenda. He communicates that agenda to his Prophet, not John Dehlin.

    David C.

    Call me a Jackass. Probably true at times.

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  39. Andrew S on May 8, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    re 38,

    Will,

    …Developing racial sympathies…

    He fights against the policies of the Church Leaders.

    Do I even want to know?

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  40. DavidC on May 8, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    “He fights against the policies of the Church Leaders. Thus he fights against the Lord. In my judgment he is an apostate. Lucifer fell, not so much because he disagreed, but because he fought the Authority of our Father. God is in charge. He sets the agenda. He communicates that agenda to his Prophet, not John Dehlin.

    David C.

    Call me a Jackass. Probably true at times.”

    I called the comment a “jacka$$ed one,” not you. Don’t conflate the two unnecessarily.

    John – from my reading of the situation – is not “fighting” against anyone. He is advocating a different position, certainly, but to label it as fighting is to merely try and control the situation and discussion.

    Likewise, don’t conflate church leaders as being one-and-the-same with the Lord. To do so takes the name of the Lord in vain, much like the SP who presumes that every word every priesthood leader states is the same as the Lord’s.

    Since when can the Lord not communicate with anyone not filling the role of President of the High Priesthood? Would we now presume to dictate who the Lord can and cannot speak to? Are you saying that the changes JD is seeking are not in line with what God wants?

    “…Many have noted the strong tendency of Latter-day Saints to avoid making waves. They seem strangely touchy on controversial issues. This begets an extreme lack of candor among the saints, which in turn is supported by a new doctrine according to which we have a Prophet at our head who relieves us of all responsibility for seeking knowledge beyond a certain point, making decisions or taking action on our own. From this it follows that one must never question a manual or Lesson Book, even though it may swarm with errors and evasions. But obedience, the first step in enlightenment, is not the last. (“Endowment History,” June 1986, unpublished manuscript, p. 74-75. )”

    Andrew S:

    I couldn’t care less if you qualify yourself as either a believer or non-believer – it’s a cop-out to place the decision making on that duality. IMO, that’s a false duality you occasionally employ to avoid venturing [further] into a discussion.

    That being said, your original statement in that comment summarizes nicely how I feel:

    “I think it’s nice. It would be preferable. I’m generally in favor of getting rid of the intermediaries/institutions and going straight to people.”

    Sort of like Jeremiah 31:31-34…

    Or, we can take the contemporary LDS definition [summarized nicely by Will] that we need intermediaries to The Mediator.

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  41. joe bob on May 8, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    I really liked the last line of Will’s comment #38. The rest of it, not so much.

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  42. FireTag on May 8, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Andrew: Re 30

    You probably are in a better position than I to appreciate the importance of Mormon community to those on the way out than I am, but maybe I’m in a better position to appreciate the importance of truth to those who remain believers in God, but lose their faith in the LDS church.

    At the very least, there are enough of the latter to dominate CofChrist baptismal rates. So maybe it has more to do with geographical separation. If community is important, you actually have to be in a place where there is a CofChrist congregation large enough to function as a ward. I actually haven’t had a home congregation large enough to have its own church building since 1973.

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  43. Andrew S on May 8, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    re 40:

    DavidC,

    I couldn’t care less if you qualify yourself as either a believer or non-believer – it’s a cop-out to place the decision making on that duality. IMO, that’s a false duality you occasionally employ to avoid venturing [further] into a discussion.

    I like this. But to push back, what I would say is, a lot of the post is wrapped around pretty scripture-laden ideas. (Even you appeal to scriptures from Jeremiah, too.) To this extent, I would say that the duality isn’t necessarily all that false, and that perhaps there should be reason to recuse oneself from further discussion.

    Maybe the reason I agree is because this is actually an apostate idea and so apostates find it appealing? That wouldn’t be great for you. ;)

    re 42:

    FireTag,

    I feel like here, things become really hairy. If one loses faith in the LDS church (but not in God), then as people have mentioned, why CofChrist over any other liberal protestant denomination? Then again, maybe I just don’t get the nuances of god-belief.

    It seems to me that one of the things that would normally go with faith in the LDS church is the belief in the need for a restoration.

    I certainly think geography could have a lot to do with it as well.

    anyway…now I’m really intrigued about what would happen if the CofChrist got an influx of uncorrelated Mormons. Would a large enough migration be able to “take over” and make a dent on how the CofChrist operates? Hmm…

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  44. Eustace on May 8, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    Will:

    I might recommend this reading.

    As for John’s supposed list (and I haven’t seen his .ppt presentation), I really don’t see how any of those things are that bad at first blush… the Church(tm) could certainly do worse things.

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  45. MoHoHawaii on May 9, 2011 at 3:16 AM

    Interesting discussion.

    A nephew of mine in his late twenties recently “came out” as an unorthodox Mormon. He had struggled for a long time and kept up appearances, wanting to do what he was taught and not wanting to disappoint his orthodox LDS parents with whom he has subsequently had some very difficult conversations. What troubled my nephew was not lack of belief or unwillingness to obey; instead, it was a nagging feeling that there were some issues that his sense of integrity would not let him sweep under the rug any longer. Among these were the Church’s treatment of gays (he has had a number of gay friends, first and BYU and then later in graduate school, not to mention me, his uncle), women’s issues and the Church’s less-than-straightforward approach to its own history. Not an unusual list. Where does a person like my nephew go? Is leaving the Church his only option? Is the Church willing to throw away his many talents for the sake of “purity”? We’re talking about a believer, not an irredeemable skeptic like me. I think the uncorrelated Mormon community might be able to provide the support and fellowship that would keep my nephew in the Church. Why would the Church fight that? Where’s the benefit in taking a hard line on this?

    In fact, the Church is fighting its liberal wing (beware colloquia!). There are some very recognizable organizational dynamics at work here, and as a result the Church is not headed in the direction of organizational health and vitality right now. The fact that it’s hemorrhaging its young is a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored.

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  46. Hi, Kolob on May 9, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    In my observation, a very common sense among uncorrelated members is a feeling of betrayal over being lied to over the church’s claims, doctrine, and history. Add on poor treatment by other members or authority figures, disagreements with politics/culture for some, and you can see where this goes. A cascading effect of recognizing the church as a corporation first and foremost is almost inevitable. In my personal experience, my faith in revelation, prophecy, and priesthood authority has been destroyed, and under no forseeable circumstances am I going to try to rebuild it. I’ve spent too many years of mental and emotional gymnastics trying to keep it afloat, and it brought me nothing but depression and anxiety. Not only do I have little trust in organized religion at this point, I feel little inclination, if any, to believe in Jesus and/or God. I was raised in the “one true gospel”, for which all of these concepts were inseparable. Granted, I could align with another church, but I am neither very motivated or under any real assumption that I should.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I am under the assumption that while the Community of Christ is much more liberal and democratic in its doctrine and practices, it holds on-going prophecy and priesthood authority as doctrinal. I can’t speak for all uncorrelated mormons, but I would rather go to a mainline protestant church if I wanted to maintain identification with a Christian community of some sort, this being the case. I would be willing to bet that others feel similarly. I have seen some NOMs/exmos, as least online, align with CofC. The reality is that uncorrelated folks actually cover a wide range of experiences and beliefs.

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  47. jmb275 on May 9, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    I’m really intrigued by this discussion, though I didn’t have time to read ALL the comments (read most of them). I think Chino makes some good point.

    My initial response is something like “hey, wait, I pay my tithing.” I probably fall in the uncorrelated Mormon box, but I still hold a temple recommend. So I guess my money IS where my mouth is. Mike S also puts his money where his mouth is. At StayLDS I think most people pay tithing in one form or another.

    Nevertheless, I agree with you that I think it is naive to expect the church to cater at all to uncorrelated Mormons. But I don’t think this has anything to do with money. I think it has everything to do with group dynamics and unity. Our power to move large numbers of people is unparalleled except by governments. That power doesn’t come for free. It comes because Mormonism almost perfectly walks the line between cost (not necessarily monetary) prohibitive membership, and strictness. The result? A perfectly balanced strict church that people seem to want to join. I recommend reading this

    If the church concedes to uncorrelated Mormons it erodes it’s ability to move, organize, and rally people and establish a strong sense of community within. It’s a paradox that is both awesome and maddening.

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  48. The Other Clark on May 9, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    Very interesting post and comments. At the heart of the issue seems to be “Does the Church have a ‘suggestion box’?” “Is there such a thing as constructive criticism when it comes to Church policy?”

    As one commented noted as an AP on his mission, the answer is “NO.” So the square pegs either chafe at being shoved into a round hole, or leave in search of a niche that fits better.

    Elder Wirthlin understood that the Lord made us different because He loves variety. The other GA’s? Umm… not so much.

    And for the record, I prefer NOM to “uncorrolated.” To me, “uncorrolated” is a TBM like my dad who believes in the doctrines of the church before corrolation (literal gathering of Israel, growing a large garden, books of remembrance, Zelph, and so forth)

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  49. FireTag on May 9, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Hi, Kolob:

    The Community of Christ upholds the principle of ongoing revelation (we’re up to Section 164 now) and priesthood authority, but no longer claims EXCLUSIVE authority to either. Nor does it extend priesthood to all worthy males, nor deny it to worthy females.

    We certainly continue to move toward mainstream Protestantism, so I can see your point of why you’d “cut out the middleman”.

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  50. FireTag on May 9, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Andrew:

    There is an interesting dynamic emerging of an alliance between CofChrist conservatives in North America and converts from the third world in opposition to changing definitions of marriage. (That will be THE BIG ISSUE to be addressed in the special 2012 US conference.)

    As suggested here:

    http://saintsherald.com/2011/02/03/mapping-the-community-of-christ-terrain-of-identities/

    the church seems to be moving from a 1-D left-right split, with the third world siding with the left on economic justice / poverty issues, to a more-complex 2-D split where the break-down is on social issues and the importance of the 19th Century heritage.

    That may produce an opening for uncorrelated Mormons to have a larger impact in producing a North American church that is more liberal than the LDS, but still recognizably Restorationist.

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  51. FireTag on May 9, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    “It seems to me that one of the things that would normally go with faith in the LDS church is the belief in the need for a restoration.”

    I agree, but I intend to talk in my post Saturday about the Restoration being a restoration to the gospel of Christ, not to an organizational structure. /end of shameless self promotion, :D

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  52. Andrew S on May 9, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    re 45:

    MoHoHawaii,

    I guess one thing from my discussion here (and from my outreach to several of the message boards) is that I’ve been skewed toward the disaffected/nonbelieving Mormon in trying to visualize the uncorrelated Mormon, but there are really QUITE a few reasons why someone might consider themselves uncorrelated, even when they believe in the fundamental truth claims of the church.

    But then I wonder if the church will see that diversity or if they, like me, will assume that these are people who are effectively on the way out.

    re 47,

    jmb275,

    Sorry, my bias continues to show~. I guess if I learned anything, it’s that I’m just not an uncorrelated Mormon at all. I put my money where my mouth is, but it’s just a disaffected mouth. I have read Iannaccone and agree.

    re 48,

    The Other Clark,

    Interesting, what I have found is that there are people who like the term uncorrelated but not NOM…for about the same reason you mention. On my personal blog, I had one commenter suggest that correlation is making the church into a more “socialist institution”.

    re 50:

    FireTag,

    I have actually read a bit about that dynamic. It’s pretty interesting.

    re 51:

    When you get to writing that post, then why not just link directly to it. (Assuming anyone’s still commenting to this post by Saturday) :D

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  53. Homer on May 9, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Re: 49

    I just read this account of someone who was just baptized into the CofChrist… from a LDS background. Interesting story…

    Re: 52

    Iannaccone?

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  54. jmb275 on May 9, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Re Homer-
    Iannacone is a researcher studying the economic (not necessarily monetary) costs of membership in churches and the effects thereof. I believe he’s now at George Mason University. I put a link to a very good article he wrote in comment #47.

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  55. Will on May 9, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Andrew S.

    ‘Developing racial sympathies……do I even what to know?’

    The assumption, or implication, with all of that nonsense is that the church leaders (12 and 1st presidency) are racist, homophobe, sexists, which is blatantly false. They are good, decent and honorable men trying to fulfill their roles as Apostles and Prophets.

    David C.

    #40. God, by his own word, calls Apostles and Prophets to lead his Church. In reference to these leaders (specifically noted in Conference as the 12 and 1st presidency), he said in the D&C 1:38 “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”

    Uncorrelated is just synonym for apostate.

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  56. DavidC on May 9, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Will:

    You might want to read that entire verse (D&C 1:38) to avoid taking meanings that aren’t intended:

    “This past Sunday I had some amazing inspiration. I was sitting in Sunday school when my wife came to the door ans signaled me to come out. Apparently my 19 month old daughter had played in the toilet water. So I needed to take her home and change her. So I did, and on the way back to church she fell asleep. We pulled into the church parking lot and I had some time to sit and read the scriptures. I wanted to find out who the servants are that are mentioned in D&C 1:38. So I read it:

    38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

    It was then, in a sudden flash of insight, that I realized I had been interpreting the verse incorrectly. This verse is usually the one referenced by members of the Church™ to show that whenever a leader of the Church™ speaks it is the same as if the Lord himself was speaking. If you’re a member of the Church™ I’m sure you’ve heard the catchphrase, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

    But I realized that this is not what this verse is talking about at all. To better understand what this verse means lets read it again but this time we’ll leave off a portion(don’t worry we’ll put it back).

    38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants…

    Before, I would read the last part, beginning with “whether,” as a completely separate statement. But now I realize this is one statement. What this is saying is that the Lord’s words will be fulfilled either by his own voice or the voice of his servants. It doesn’t matter if it is the Lord’s voice or the voice of the servants doing the fulfilling, “…it is the same.” This verse is not saying that whatever is spoken during general conference or at a fireside is the Lord’s voice. It is not saying that any new policies or procedures that are instituted, automatically have the Lord’s approval. No, what it is saying is that when the Lord’s words are to be fulfilled it doesn’t matter if it is the Lord’s voice or His servants’ voices that are doing the fulfilling.

    What this means to me is that we need to take even greater care to ensure that what the leaders of the Church™ speak today is in line with God’s Words. Just because a leader speaks does not automatically mean it is the same as what the Lord would have said. That idea is not scripturally founded. We need to study the scriptures so we will know what is of God, what is of men, and what is of the devil.”

    Re: Apostate

    “Uncorrelated is just synonym for apostate.”

    LOL.

    Or, in other words, anyone not meeting your standard of “correlated” is an apostate.

    Welcome, dear brother, to the Rameumptom… where you can proclaim your specialness while labeling all who might disagree with anything an apostate. Congratulations on your chosenness.

    “anyway, this is going too long and maybe should be initiated by another post, but I am less and less interested in someone telling me they have some nugget of truth or truths or that they have the nicest or “truest” car or church but rather tell and show me if you are a sheep or goat as described in Matthew 25—do you have compassion for the least or not? Do you serve the least and give them voice or do you simply have an “us v. them” mentality on everything–do you simply use, as CS Lewis expressed so well, your “church” and its image for self aggrandizement and to constantly reinforce your “chosenness” over all creation—being chosen you see all things and people subjugated to “your” ends/desires as is manifest in wars of aggression because you see “god on your side” to despising/grinding the face of those in your own community—the very, very least whether it is illegal immigrants (our version of Samaritans); Muslims; non-mormons; and even those who have the misfortune of same sex attraction.

    Church can be used for good or for evil–just as a car can. I can drive my car to do much good or I can plow down the street honking my horn for all to get out the way, blaring my music and gloating in my shiny, new vastly superior car and running over anyone that gets in my way—all the time indifferent to my environment and all on the side of the road. Like you I see and sense much of the later at least in the mormon corridor where I live. this web site exists as a push back to what I perceive as a large, boisterous majority here that endorse wars of aggression, despise the poor in a myriad of ways, grind the face of the poor, uninsured (try getting medical help without insurance); condemn illegal aliens, and any that are “others.” Then proclaim loudly “we are true” and have “truth.” Whatever that means.

    IMO no church is eternal and it morphs all the time as it should (the BOM demonstrates that well) –the only thing that is eternal is our intelligences/souls and relationships—that’s it—. Something is “true” only to extent it moves us toward being more like Jesus of Nazareth who embodies the perfect prototype. Mormonism has many truths/elements that speak to us to be stewards and emulate christ, but it also can and is used as a platform much like those who Lehi saw in a great and spacious building “pointing a finger of scorn” to the suffering “losers” such as those that are victims of disasters, illegal immigrants, poor, etc. etc. …..the City Creek mall (billions to create an edifice for the well connected and pretty people) being like the COB literally dwarfing the temple grounds. So we chose how to use and interpret our “mormonism” and our “church.” How we interpret it and use it IMO determines whether it is “true” or rather good. The jury is still out and even in doubt (see 3 Nephi 16 and Mormon 8 warnings to us).”

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  57. The Other Clark on May 9, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    Will-

    I suspect I’m much more conservative and orthodox than most other members of this blog, and have found myself agreeing with comments you make in support of Orthodoxy. That said, this one:

    “Uncorrelated is just synonym for apostate.”

    does nothing to further the discussion, and is a great example of the kind of attitude that is pushing those who are struggling right out of the church.

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  58. The Other Clark on May 9, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    Having a different opinion than the “authorized” view is no crime (um, no sin). A quick perusal of the Journal of Discourses reveals that prophets and apostles hold (and have held)differing opinions on many, many issues. So don’t assume that all those that aren’t mindless clones parroting the party line are apostate.

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  59. Mike S on May 9, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    #56 Will (and others):

    By nature of where I live and what I do, I agree with your statement that They are good, decent and honorable men trying to fulfill their roles as Apostles and Prophets. I know members of the various quorums and have seen them as patients. And they are good men trying to do what they think is right.

    That being said, I do think that BY TODAY’S STANDARDS, many previous statement of previous apostles and prophets CAN be seen as racist, sexist and homophobic – which is what various people have pointed out. These men were products of their times and generations and said things commonly said by other people around them. Prophets and apostles HAVE said that blacks were an inferior race, or that taking an additional wife meant about as much as buying a new house, or that we would send missionaries to the men living on the moon, or that we would never send a man to the moon, or whatever.

    There statements are NOT because God is sexist or racist or homophobic, but it is simply because they are also men, just like you and me. And despite your strict interpretation of D&C 1:38, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”, this does NOT mean that EVERYTHING they say is true.

    I had a whole post on trying to determine religious truth, and it’s not a very easy thing to do. An insistence that EVERYTHING any Church leader says is ALWAYS correct, however, is counter-productive.

    You may say it is “apostate” to have this attitude, but if you disagree with this concept, how else do you personally reconcile things like Joseph Fielding Smith’s statement that:

    “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.”

    That is certainly an emphatic statement made by an apostle. There is no room for different interpretations. But we landed on the moon in my lifetime. So there are two alternatives: 1) Prophets and apostles are sometimes wrong, despite D&C 1:38, or else 2) NASA faked the moon landings and the piece of moon rock I touched a few weeks ago in Washington DC was a fraud.

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  60. Will on May 10, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Doc,

    “this does NOT mean that EVERYTHING they say is true.”

    I never said that. I understand they have their personal opinions, which are expressed in personal communication. However, when they speak as Apostles and Prophets they are speaking the word of the lord. There is a universal agreement among them on certain issues that reflects the will of the Lord at the time it was implemented – e.g. Blacks and the Priesthood, The Proclamation of the Family and Prop 8 are good examples.

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  61. Benjamin Hansen on May 10, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    #60,

    Did we ever land on the moon (insert conspiracy music here)…….. :)

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  62. Gomes on May 10, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    Will:

    I take this comment you said:

    “I understand they have their personal opinions, which are expressed in personal communication. However, when they speak as Apostles and Prophets they are speaking the word of the lord.”

    I take that to mean that whenever they speak in an “official” capacity – meaning at GC, or devotionals, or conferences or in published articles – to be the “word of the Lord.” That’s the interpretation I get when I read that.

    However, I’d ask for your feedback on these comments from other leaders who were asking for more lenience than you’re willing to grant them (i.e. they were apostles/prophets and didn’t ascribe everything they said in an “official” capacity to be, automatically, “the word of the Lord”):

    Comment 1:

    “It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write” (Stand Ye in Holy Places, 162).”

    Comment 2:

    “My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them…. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. (Joseph Fielding Smith (as President of the Church), Doctrines of Salvation, 3:203)

    And, there’s this:

    “Joseph Fielding McConkie (son of Bruce R. McConkie) once said that to claim that anything taught in general conference is official doctrine “makes the place where something is said rather than what is said the standard of truth. Nor is something doctrine simply because it was said by someone who holds a particular office or position. Truth is not an office or a position to which one is ordained” (Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, 213-214).”

    So, do you disagree with these (and many other similar comments) in spite of what they say, or do we grant the leaders the right to be wrong even when they are talking in an “official” capacity? Is “truth” an office to which one is appointed when you are called as an apostle/prophet?

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  63. Gomes on May 10, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    Oops… forgot to close a few blockquotes. My apologies…

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  64. The Other Clark on May 10, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    And how do we know there’s complete unity among the brethren? They go to great lengths to project that image, but much evidence indicates that’s just a facade.
    e.g.
    The decision to end polygamy in the 1890′s-1900s was strongly opposed by many (even a majority) of apostles. The decision to allow Reed Smoot to run for senate was similarly devisive. More recently in the 1960′s, the decision to continue the priesthood ban created mixed feelings among the 12.

    So there’s no reason to assume that Prop 8 or other issues were unanimous behind closed doors.

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  65. Heber13 on May 10, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    I enjoyed reading all the posts.

    Frankly, I think it is a bit too much on the labels. There has always been variation in faith and application of it. There always will be. As soon as you call me an uncorrelated mormon, I’ll find the arguments why I don’t exactly fit that bill, just as I defend myself to family who think I’m apostate.

    Part of my faith journey is accepting there are shades of gray, moreso than I ever thought about a lot more than I ever realized. Now that I accept that, why start drawing lines in the shades of gray?

    I’m putting my money where my belief is right now. I don’t see that will change. Its just who I am.

    But to take it back to the original post…best line:
    “what the church got right was the wisdom that one should not drink disgusting things”

    …nice! This is why Word of Wisdom is not a big deal to me.

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  66. Chino Blanco on May 11, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    Speaking of labels, apparently HQ has just issued a recall of all the Middle Way Mormon bumper stickers that were sent out recently.

    It’s too long a long story for comments here, so here’s a link: http://www.staylds.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2456

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  67. Gomes on May 12, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    Chino:

    Interesting story… strange witchhunt that appears to be.

    In that story, I find it unfortunate how families turn on each other. This is largely an American phenomenon, as other cultures have much stronger familial bonds which simply don’t bend to a church organization… but here in the U.S., where it counts for most of us, I find it incredibly unfortunate that family members would turn another family member in to an appointment with the SP AND never first (or at all) address those concerns in person. Baffling. Certainly paints the allegiance line fairly brightly.

    Will:

    Your silence on the above question is deafening, then again this seems to be a regular thing for you: hit and run commentaries. You come, state something, then run away and never reply to questions directed at you.

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  68. Chino Blanco on May 12, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    Hey, thanks for checking it out, Gomes. Here’s another witch hunt thread, but in this one, the hunters leave comments:

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2011/05/the-nom-end-game/

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  69. Andrew S on May 12, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    re 67:

    CB,

    I started reading that topic in its earlier post days. It was REALLY depressing. I really wonder if there’s going to be something big that happens this year relating to all of this.

    re 69,

    …and I commented early on to the T&S thread, but I had to unsubscribe from the comments, because I was getting an email notification to my phone every few minutes. When I went back to the thread, I was disturbed with what I found. I am glad that my family members aren’t like many of the commenters there.

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  70. Gomes on May 12, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Chino:

    I didn’t follow the Donner Party highlight reel, but my only thought while reading that post (Times&Seasons) was this:

    What sort of church do I belong to?

    Seriously, even in what you termed a “My point was that this thread makes whatever else other people are doing look good by comparison.” and, if that’s good, I’m confused. Sure, it was mostly civil, but the amount of hard line, judgmental comments where everyone and their dogs knew with a certainty what was happening, and what should happen, was a bit surprising.

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  71. Chino Blanco on May 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    This is me extending my penchant for dropping outside links:

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2011/05/church-discipline-in-the-internet-age/

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see much call for getting depressed over any of this, Andrew. Your folks sound like good people. My own parents used to take the unfortunate approach with us kids that Gomes noted as typical for American Mormons, but they’ve since made it clear that our family comes first come hell or whatever high dudgeon Mormon leaders work themselves into.

    Anyways, as much as Dave Banack has annoyed me in the past, I thought his latest post was an admirable attempt at fairly describing the landscape and making some modest prescriptions. And he has to do all that with Lakoff on our side. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be the guy defending my position using archaic terminology like “disciplinary council” and “apostasy” and “central committee” …

    For example, he kicks off his post with “Sometimes technology changes everything…”

    Maybe, but the thing is, language *always* changes everything … and the language at his disposal is clunky and off-putting and it’s not his fault. The past doesn’t become a foreign country overnight. That the only language most Mormons have available to describe their current predicament is firmly rooted in the past is not a problem that we’re going to be able to solve in comments here or elsewhere any time soon.

    I noticed that your objection, Andrew, seems to be that “why would the institution care” about what’s happening outside its immediate purview … I’d humbly suggest that it ought to care if it has any interest in maintaining the ability to transmit trans-generational values in a language that can be readily understood. Otherwise, it’s going to becoming something studied rather than lived.

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  72. Andrew S on May 12, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    re 72,

    CB,

    As is sometimes the case, I find myself not-quite-able to follow your allusion-rich comments (which has led to some learning and unintended humor all around).

    Anyway,

    I guess my feelings are…I’d rather it if NO family took such an approach. But more importantly, I’d rather it if no family ever felt like such an approach would be appropriate or helpful.

    With respect to your last part, I guess I would wonder why the institution care about what’s happening outside its immediate purview (with respect to language) when the trans-generational values are wrapped up in the language that would need to be changed.

    In other words, for as much as we can talk about the outdated language of “disciplinary councils,” “apostasy,” “central committee,” and even, maybe, “same sex attraction,” etc., this metaphor is essential to standing apart from the “world”. If they try to change their metaphor to something that could be readily understood, then their position would not seem appealing in those terms.

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  73. [...] For me, the idea of the first disaffection made sense. It made sense in a way that, for a long time, I considered it to be the only disaffection. It was easy to believe that most people who disaffect and disassociate from the church do so because, one way or another, they have come to disbelieve that the church is true5. With this assumption, I have expressed skepticism about “New Order Mormons” and “uncorrelated Mormons” who still hold fast to Mormon identity while believing differently about many truth claims of the church. That is why I asked uncorrelated Mormons in a previous post to put their money where their mouths are. [...]

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  74. [...] Uncorrelated Mormons: Put your Money Where Your Mouth is. [...]

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  75. UncorrelatedMo on November 20, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    Based on my familiarity with the sub-group, I’d say that the majority of Uncorrelated Mormons have NOT left the church. Many do not wish to support the church with tithing as long as their own integrity does not match that of the institutional church’s, but I think the church is the group that will have to shift on this issue. There is an increasing amount of Mormons who feel a separation from the church on matter of doctrine, history, or social agenda (about 70%, of Mormons worldwide) and if the institutional church wishes to continue being funded, they will listen to the concerns of those in their congregations. It’s not as though the Uncorrelated Mormoon camp is specifically advocating for anything outside of LDS doctrine. Most of us would just like to see deeper thought, sufficient clarification, and more transparency. All of that said, I personally pay tithing. My money is firmly where my mouth is.

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  76. Andrew S on November 20, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    So, do you think that if the church offered deeper thought, sufficient clarification, and more transparency, that this would lead to enough uncorrelated Mormons who currently do not support the church with tithing to start paying tithing?

    Do you think that the church can do that without alienating some/many of the currently active, tithe-paying members or without disrupting its efforts to convert others?

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  77. [...] think the church has too much motivation to try this out, because it doesn’t know where uncorrelated Mormons put their money. Rate this: (Dis)seminate this!EmailFacebookStumbleUponRedditTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to [...]

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  78. [...] …and I can see Bruce’s judgment that efforts to try to replace literal belief with substitutes are unlikely to succeed, because the literal belief was the magic, not all the other things surrounding it. And furthermore, all of those other things (the things that “cultural Mormons” end up cherishing or clinging to) would not exist but for literal believers to perpetuate these things through literal belief. When I talk about correlation creating a cultural Mormonism (whether that is right or not), even I must be aware that correlation is perpetuated because there are people who literally believe in the value of those correlated concepts, because they believe literally that they will have impact on human lives now and in the eternities. To the extent that cultural Mormons do not have this urgency to spreading these ideas to the entire world, they aren’t putting their money the same place a literal believer would. [...]

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  79. [...] will help to give readers an understanding of how the uncorrelated or questioning Mormon feels while living in a family or culture of correlated [...]

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  80. scott on June 15, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    As an uncorrelated mormon, you CAN reasonably put your money where your mouth is unless you have a dishonest bishop. As fast offrings, you can specify exactly where you want your money to go to, like young women campouts if they request it. I hear them saying they want it.

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