Those Darn Liberals Are @ It Again!

By: hawkgrrrl
May 15, 2012

Recently, Professor Ralph Hancock wrote a critique of Joanna Brooks’ memoir Book of Mormon Girl and specifically a criticism of what he termed “Mormonism Lite,” which is equated with a liberal set of political ideals.  In his latest missive, Prof. Hancock calls out Wheat & Tares along with ByCommonConsent and Times & Seasons:

In particular, I frankly challenge faithful LDS bloggers at what I had taken on the whole to be faithful LDS blogs (Times & Seasons, By Common Consent, Wheat & Tares, for example) to distinguish themselves — if they wish, that is — from voices on their sites that seem to reject out of hand any attempt (such as mine) to limit the absorption of LDS belief into what I will call “lifestyle liberalism” or “extreme tolerance.” I have to say I had hoped for more substantive discussion from such sites; but my recent experience suggests that, although surely not all principals on these blogs are fully committed lifestyle liberals, they are not at all inclined (or equipped?) to risk the wrath of the “hard left” among their associates and readers.

Lest we get too full of ourselves, he quickly adds:

I thank the appreciative readers who have posted at Meridian and particularly the brave readers who dared share a bit of my infamy by posting comments favorable or at least respectful of my arguments at the more, shall we say intellectually ambitious sites such as Times and Seasons or By Common Consent

So, we’re neither brave nor intellectually ambitious (by exclusion).  We are stupid cowards.  (Unlike the smart cowards at BCC and Times & Seasons.)

Well, I have been giving a lot of thought to this matter actually.  Not to Prof. Hancock specifically, nor (obviously) my stupidity and cowardice*, but reading his OP today triggered my ruminations about why people leave the church.  I happen to know a lot of liberals who have left the church in the last few years, some who have stayed but felt very conflicted, and others who stay in name only.  For many of them Prop 8 was an impetus to their disenchantment with the church.  Others left for a variety of reasons, often stemming from interactions with family members or people in their wards.  Was Pres. Packer in fact correct when he said the enemies of the church were homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals (or as I like to say gay people, women, and smart people)? Does that mean that the church’s friends are bigots, sexists and dumb people?  Not a very promising prospect. I still feel quite strongly, as did Jesus, that he who is not against us is for us.  And the apostate liberals I know turned the other cheek plenty before leaving.  And frankly, they don’t feel antagonistic toward the church on the whole, just toward specific actions and attitudes they see as harmful.  Liberals care a lot about harm, and they define it more . . . well, liberally . . . than conservatives do.

I’ve been reading Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind, and in his discussion of the five moral foundations he talks about the data that shows that for those who are most liberal leaning, they score very high for only 2 of them (care/harm, fairness/equality), but not high for the remaining 3 (loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degredation).  Conservatives tend to score equally for all of them.  A sixth foundation was added:  liberty/oppression, and both groups dislike oppression but feel oppressed by very different things.  Tea Partiers for example consider government intervention oppressive (“Don’t tread on me”) while liberals sometimes consider American government’s actions to be oppressive to other nations.  For those who score very high on the care/harm front, they sometimes see people as victims who don’t see themselves as victims.  When it comes to fairness, liberals (according to Haidt who is one and has studied tens of thousands of survey results) are universalist and tend to desire equality of outcomes, while conservatives are more protective of the health of their in-group than the world at large.

Both groups care about fairness but see different people as “free riders” and “cheaters”: liberals see those with power as the most dangerous (due to their low authority & loyalty foundations and extra-high care foundation) but conservatives see those who receive more from the system than they contribute to the system as the “cheaters” (different definition of fairness and liberty).  This is the fundamental disconnect between the Occupy movement (people who characterize Wall Street and corporations as free riders and cheaters) and conservative response to the movement (people who characterize welfare recipients and those who want more government involvement to regulate and provide benefits as taking from those who have earned it and redistributing to those who contribute less).  Part of this is because conservatives have faith in free markets to correctly assess and reward individual contribution whereas liberals view the free market as too easily “gamed” by the powerful – incorrectly rewarding individual contribution.  Perhaps both criticisms have some validity.

The key is that both groups (liberals & conservatives) are acting on their strongly held convictions.  They are both acting in good faith.  But they really do espouse different values.  I grew up in a ward where many of our leaders were very strongly left-leaning.  Can you be a liberal Democrat and be a “good” Mormon?  In my experience, yes you can.

One point that is valid, though, is that because of these differences in moral foundations, liberals will sometimes be seen as subversive, disloyal, too accepting of outsiders (and apostates and other dangerous influences), and also quixotically trying to rescue victims (or educate people why they are victims even when they don’t think they are).  And attempts to squelch their voice will be considered oppressive, especially when the source is someone with more power – and obviously, that includes Ralph Hancock.  (I do wonder if Gladys Knight could have written this critique with more success – hard to imagine her doing so, though).

The problem the church faces, IMO, is that we as a church can’t be intolerant of liberals or define them out of the fold.  Conservatives are secure enough; you couldn’t have a church without those additional three moral foundations (authority, loyalty, and purity) – those are the things that make the church an enduring structure.  But we do need to (also) listen to those who are more attuned (even hyper-sensitive) to care issues and who define equality differently and more broadly.  We might find some common ground in the process.  As Stephen Hopkins said:  “I’ve never heard of an idea so dangerous that it couldn’t be discussed.”

We should all listen better when we hear an alternate viewpoint.  Conservatives should listen when liberals talk about equality and charity – and clearly many of our leaders do.  Liberals should listen when conservatives talk about the value of traditions that bind the group (while still respecting individual expression), giving heed to authority (without turning off your own personal revelation or mind), having high standards for membership (while refraining from oppression).

Discussion points:

  • Are we chasing liberals out of the church by being too insensitive to their values of caring for outsiders and desiring equality for all before God?  Or are liberals going to leave anyway because they are suspicious of authority, are critical, and want to break group taboos with no consequences?
  • Do conservatives have things to learn from liberal values?  Do liberals have things to learn from conservative values?  How can this happen with the current uncivil discourse that has become the norm?
  • Are conservatives just getting more vocal because their party is not currently in power?
  • Is this an issue of political values or orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy?  Can the two be distinguished?  Does either lead to apostasy more than the other?
  • Will liberals stay in a church when they view the other members as bigoted, sexist and oppressive if they have had spiritual confirmation of the church’s truthfulness?  Or is it just a matter of time before the social discomfort of the values disconnect becomes too great to bear?
  • How can we find common ground and keep politics out of our church experience?  Is that a pipe dream since political views are so closely linked to personal moral codes?

Discuss.

*I should clarify that I find it amusing to think of us all as stupid cowards.  He does state he would like to engage in a real discussion of his ideas, despite the tone. Likewise with the BKP quote juxtaposition – I just think it’s valuable to examine the language and claims people make.  Sometimes what they are implying and not saying is as instructive as what they are saying.

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51 Responses to Those Darn Liberals Are @ It Again!

  1. Will on May 15, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Hawk,

    As I have always said, I am a supporter of socializing medicine, as long as liberalism is the first mental disorder to be treated. Until we treat this illness, we will continue to have unsustainable debt along with the entitlements that got us there.

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  2. Howard on May 15, 2012 at 4:51 AM

    Liberals create drama and play psychological games or manipulate to the extent they define themselves and others as victims. Conservatives do this as well to the extent they perceive themselves and their values under attack. (see Karpman Drama Triangle) So both sides are in competition for victim hood. Conservatives exclude, they want church to be a slowly changing club of their own. But if we want to become more Godlike both view points are immature and wrong. Is God a victim? Does God exclude based on politics or philosophy? Did Jesus cling to the cling to the status quo? The church is stuck in an Old Testament sin avoidance paradigm ignoring New Testament teachings that go well beyond this and only clarifying or adding mundane teachings since Joseph died. The church is also stuck in a 50s corporate organization model of top down management, clearly nothing like Jesus’ mingling style. So while conservatives cling to the status quo, secular enlightenment continues. The secular civil rights movement left the church and it’s prophets well behind and it’s doing the same today with women and gays. The church like all churches pretends to broker our relationship with deity, yet if we are to become Godlike we must cultivate our own relationship with God. Follow the Spirit NOT “follow the prophet” he’s just an inspired man. Where does this lead? Church growth continues to slow and retention of new members is embarrassingly low. Can retraction be very far away?

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  3. Stephen Marsh on May 15, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    And, are liberals chasing conservatives out of venues the liberals dominate?

    Recently read some poor soul over at FMH who wondered if she could be an FMH if she was not for GLTB rights and in favor of gay marriage. The comments were interesting, and reflect well vis a vis this essay.

    As for Hancock, all he needs to do in order to engage people at W&T is actually visit, post at this blog and our individual blogs and become a part of the community.

    Not that hard, though making demands (without linking back to us) does seem easier.

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  4. hawkgrrrl on May 15, 2012 at 6:02 AM

    Will, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

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  5. Douglas on May 15, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    The short answer is that your politics have nothing to do with your testimony. We American members tend to filter the politics through our perspective. Now that slightly less than half the worldwide membership (but not necessarily less than half the ACTIVE membership) are Americans, the rest of the Church must at times roll their eyes or inwardly chuckle at why we debate it at all.
    Plus, regardless of what political stripe we self-identify, there are still about as many political variations as there are members. To some on this blog, I might appear as “reactionary” or “old school”. Mostly that has to do with what subjects have been posted and which I’ve responded to with whatever degree of passion or stridency. Other in my ward, particularly in my HP group, have heard enough of my Libertarian leanings to consider me the ward “hippie” (there’s a quaint term for ya).
    The best answer I could give would be to “judge”, if you consider yourself as being in a position to do so in righteousness, by how one lives the Gospel, not what political view he/she advocates.
    I tend to agree with Ann Coulter or Michael Savage (there go Archie Bunker leaning back in his beat up chair, sayin’, “Aw Geez, he’s agreein’ wit’ the Joo again..”) about liberalism being a mental disorder. Yet to me, many conservatives have a big-Government “disorder”, or are too War-Hawkisk (or in many cases, Chickenhawkish), or too readily toe the line that Israel (the nation, not necessarily the Jewish people) draw for the US. So who’s right? From my perspective, I am, yet to implement everything as I see fit would make this country the US of Doug, not the US of A. Better the current state of turmoil than my vision of order, since if my views were so darned perfect then I suppose that the masses would have rolled out the red carpet, built up the golden throne and carrier me aloft on their shoulders to assume my rightful reign. I’m still waitin’….

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  6. Will on May 15, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Hawk,

    My Mom is dead, but she would agree with me.

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  7. hawkgrrrl on May 15, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    Will, after his research, Haidt would not likely advocate giving liberals a blank check, but he would give them a microphone to talk about minorities, the poor, immigrants, women, and others who are less powerful in society. There are groups that sometimes are disadvantaged and liberals are better at pointing it out than are conservatives. We should respect the unique contributions to society that people make: liberals in advocacy for others, and conservatives in creating enduring societies that reward based on contribution.

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  8. Paul on May 15, 2012 at 6:55 AM

    #5 Doug: Amen. That we Americans so closely link religious belief and political position is not representative of the global church, nor the gospel, nor the government that Christ will one day establish.

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  9. Troth Everyman on May 15, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    I like how you describe Liberals leaving the church as a moral choice, driven by moral values. If one see’s the church as being hypocritical (i.e. espousing New Testament love on the one hand while acting bigoted, sexist, and oppressive on the other) it is no wonder that liberals might choose to leave. To often liberals are demonized for leaving the church and personal sin is implied as the only possible reason. When in reality the choice to leave the church may be a moral desire to be more Christlike and leave hypocritical institutions behind.

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  10. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 15, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=6280#comments for an example.

    Too often liberals impute hypocrisy to every disagreement and moral superiority to every position they take and every act of apostasy.

    That does poison the dialog. Just as much as the inverse which is attributing silliness as the source of every intellectualized trend.

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  11. Paul on May 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    Richard Beck’s book Unclean traces much of this same themes about liberal’s and conservatives and addresses that there are issues where the two are not ever going to agree or even be able to understand each other. The high points of that book are traceable through this blog post and have direct relevance to the discussion:

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2006/04/spiritual-pollution-sociomoral-disgust.html

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  12. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 15, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    Wondering when I will see Hancock engaging in social norms and being a part of the community he expects to be engaged with him.

    Anyone have an idea of when he will fulfill his end of the social compact implicit in the bloggernacle?

    Last I knew, poly sci at Harvard still taught the basics of implicit and explicit social compacts. He seems bright enough to not have failed to learn those. If anyone who knows him has an idea, I would appreciate details.

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  13. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 15, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Thanks Paul. That link was well added to this discussion.

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  14. Jon on May 15, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    Liberals care a lot about harm, and they define it more . . . well, liberally . . . than conservatives do.

    Libertarians care a lot about harm and, well, define it more liberally than liberals do.

    Both groups care about fairness but see different people as “free riders” and “cheaters”: liberals see those with power as the most dangerous [except when their own favorite party, the democrats, are in office] (due to their low authority & loyalty foundations and extra-high care foundation) but conservatives see those who receive more from the system than they contribute to the system as the “cheaters” (different definition of fairness and liberty).

    Libertarians see those with power as the most dangerous, that is, the monopoly of violence, called the government. Libertarians believe that all should be treated equally under the law of the land (i.e., natural law) and that no flesh should be held up higher than the other as liberals and conservatives do.

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  15. Bonnie on May 15, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    While I stridently resist letting Ralph Hancock (interesting and nice person that he may be) or anyone else in the reactivity game drive the discussion, I am a huge fan of the very salient points of the OP. We need this tension. We need it very badly. I am never going to see well enough to ignore the way others see. Defining His church by a limited set of principles must be something that pains God. As Elder Holland recently stated: “Surely the thing God likes most about being God is being merciful.”

    Howard – I like your points that both sides are stuck in victim mode, yet I disagree that the church leadership is stuck in corporate mode and brokering our relationship with Christ (I think middle management is, but not the executive team as evidenced by the consistent push for more than a decade to localize leadership and to democratize a relationship with God by encouraging constant personal revelation.)

    One of the most damaging attitudes while creating an environment of revelation is criticism and a lack of humility and unwillingness to sacrifice. I’ll wax preachy here for a moment and remind that Christ encouraged us to have sore cheeks rather than be tripped up by attitudes and behaviors that interfered with our ability to receive personal revelation. While we’re talking about balance, a balance between humility and our own attitudes (“the Lord alone will be exalted in that day”) is also intellectually ambitious.

    Back to Hawk’s question about the tone of the discourse, I think liberals have a responsibility to stay and not take their ball and go home. The church is predominantly conservative – how can there be a critical mass of liberals who are reasonable people worth listening to if the reasonable ones leave (assuming that it’s the reasonable ones leaving)? I think the teachings of the Savior are quite salient on this issue: if we do a bit of turning the other cheek, a bit of humbly listening to the Lord (and are therefore in the habit of listening to other people), a lot of pondering and searching (interesting how many spiritual traits we’re encouraged to develop are transferable to our relationships with one another), the discourse gradually becomes more open.

    Behavior does precede power, which is why we learn to obey before we learn. Okay, Howard, go for it.

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  16. Bonnie on May 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Stephen, I so agree with your points about what we say poisoning the dialogue. Every time we point at someone else and ridicule their position rather than engaging in a conversation about it, we add poison to the communal water supply.

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  17. Jon on May 15, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    I should have added:

    but conservatives see those who receive more from the system than they contribute to the system as the “cheaters” [Unless it comes to government schools, police, military, etc.] (different definition of fairness and liberty).

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  18. hawkgrrrl on May 15, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Jon – as you point out, liberals may exempt viewing their dominance in political office as “dangerous power”; instead, they turn both barrels at corporations and consider government as the Robin Hood of the economy, robbing from the rich corporations to give money to the poor disenfranchised. There was a book title that I saw years ago that gave me pause: “If Democrats Were in Charge, They’d Be Republicans.” There is an element of truth to that – liberals fight for the underdogs. When underdogs are in power, they cease to be underdogs.

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  19. Troth Everyman on May 15, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    #11 Paul,

    Very much appreciated the link. Particularly liked how he juxtaposes a desire for “Holiness” and “Relationship”:

    “Growing up in my small church in Erie, PA, I often heard that, as Christians, we were to “hate the sin but love the sinner.” As a catchy aphorism, the formulation isn’t bad. It nicely captures two treasured Christian commitments: Holiness and love. But as we observe Christendom, it seems that this formulation frequently fails us. That is, it seems to be very, very hard to balance a fierce commitment to holiness with a call to radically love a broken world. Churches that emphasize maintaining “holiness” seem culturally marginalized, fearful of the world and often despising the people participating in the larger culture. Some of these churches can seem downright hateful. By contrast, “relationship-oriented” churches seem soft on sin, tempering the ethical message of the gospel to “connect” or “reach” a variety of populations. And each church “type” seems suspicious or judgmental of the other.”

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  20. ji on May 15, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Perhaps part of the problem is that so many people want to change other people.

    Paul had it right back in the old days — let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, and let no man put a stumbling block in front of his neighbor — and let us each serve our God as best as we can. There is no need for argument.

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  21. Jon on May 15, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    As to answer the questions in the OP. Yes, we can all learn from each other. But it must be noted, neither conservatives nor liberals base their ideas on logic and reason and that is probably why they choose hate.

    Psychologically people are damaged at a young age either through family, church, school, etc. And so they have their minds damaged and that makes it hard for people to leave belief in search of truth. You may think I’m crazy for saying this, but there have been studies done on the subject. See the “Bomb in the Brain” series here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbiq2-ukfhM

    So, really, true change, with logic and reason, is affected with our children:

    Love becomes a way of life,
    When there’s love at home;
    Sweet, insistent end to strife,
    When there’s love at home;
    Glad submission each one’s gift,
    Willing pledge to love and lift,

    Healing balm for every rift,
    When there’s love at home.

    Love at home, love at home;
    Healing balm for every rift,
    When there’s love at home.
    Anger cools and pressures cease,
    When there’s love at home;
    Children learn to live in peace,
    When there’s love at home;
    Courage to reach out in grace,
    Meet a stranger face to face,
    Find a reconciling place,
    When there’s love at home.

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  22. Jon on May 15, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    @hawkgrrrl,

    Which is illustrated by the health care reform, with many of the changes made by and in favor of the corporations.

    It is interesting to not also, that the corporations wouldn’t exist without government regulation to begin with, and it is questionable if such large companies could even exist in a free market. It is well known that government is the one that gives virtual monopolies to companies, this is the history of government as illustrated very well in Murray Rothbard’s “Conceived in Liberty” series.

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  23. Howard on May 15, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    Behavior does precede power, which is why we learn to obey before we learn.

    Well said Bonnie,
    this gets close to my point! Yes much to the church’s credit we’re encouraged to seek personal revelation but beginning in primary we’re indoctrinated to “follow the prophet” with little mention of how to receive the Spirit or hear him. Further we’re encouraged not to share our revelations and we are indoctrinated to believe that our revelation is stewardship limited, which it mostly isn’t and we are indoctrinated to believe that the Spirit is easily offended when he isn’t or will flee easily which he doesn’t. This is part of the church pretending to broker our relationship with the divine and it comes from the top. If the church isn’t going to lead us in spiritual enlightenment then they need to get out of the way and let members do it for themselves. Right now they are impeding spiritual growth at the top. There are many outside the church who are more spiritually advanced than the Mormon faithful.

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  24. Bonnie on May 15, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    I’ve never been told to follow the prophet before my own heart. “Let the Holy Spirit Guide” was taught one year right alongside “Follow the Prophet” in Primary and there are a LOT more messages from the 1P and Q12 about seeking the spirit individually than about walking blindly. I really don’t see how this is coming from the top – I need some example. I have no quibble with your assertion that there are many outside the church who are more spiritually advanced than the Mormon faithful, but I also think there are many Mormon faithful who are more spiritually advanced than the “take their balls and go home” crowd. Neither of us is creating rocket science here. The key, to me, is that humility and a refusal to caricaturize those who think differently will be the first step to a real conversation.

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  25. Howard on May 15, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Economics of the liberal conservative divide is based on greed and perceived scarcity it’s squabbling about how to divide the pie. Socialism is dead, long live capitalism the greatest economic system in the world!!! But let’s put this in perspective, capitalism is the greatest only because it is efficiently greed based and people are selfish and greedy. We talk about equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome but it is neither, these are just argument sound bites. As Mormons we are told to put of the natural man. The saints once lived United Order as an implementation of the Law of Consecration and this looks a lot more like socialism than capitalism. Today I know some Mother Teresa types who have overcome greed, selfishness and fear giving to others while they have little, simply because there is a clear need. I know others who have so much money they realize they and their children and grandchildren will probably never need it all so they give not because they have they have overcome their immature feelings but because philanthropy is fun and they see the dire need of others. Imaging delivering meals on wheels in a Bentley! I also know those in the middle who give because their heart is open and they realize they probably won’t need it even though they’re not really sure about that. It’s unfortunate when these issues become conflated with orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy because it could be easily argued that The Law of Consecration should be the orthodox way.

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  26. Martin on May 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Hawk, I quit reading comments after the first couple, but I gotta say I really like this post. Well done.

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  27. Becca on May 15, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    “Was Pres. Packer in fact correct when he said the enemies of the church were homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals (or as I like to say gay people, women, and smart people)?”

    This statement, along with a blatant lack of sources backing up such a statement, is one reason I think Bro. Hancock may have such disregard for this blog (and others). There is a lot of this going on – and I like what Bonnie said, referring to a similar “perceived teaching” of the Church: “I really don’t see how this is coming from the top”

    But all that aside, I wanted to comment about the liberal vs conservative discussion.

    RE your first question – I was taught growing up that no one can make you do anything (which is a gospel principle, but was taught in a kind of secular way by my somewhat cynical father). So, I will say anyone who leaves the Church who isn’t excommunicated does so of their own free will and choice. That’s God’s way. Whether or not they feel COMFORTABLE in the Church is a different question, but also one largely dependent on their own perspectives and attitudes. They can make a choice to be uncomfortable, and they can make a choice to leave. It’s their choice. Everyone has that choice. Anyone who tries to make their choice someone else’s “fault” is just making excuses because they don’t REALLY want to be active in the Church (that’s how I see it).

    I hate labels. Even “liberal” and “conservative”. I have mentioned this several times before in other forums. The only important thing is that we are a disciple of Christ and try to live the way He would have us live. And the only real way to do that is to follow the Spirit. *shrug* I really see it as that simple.

    “Will liberals stay in a church when they view the other members as bigoted, sexist and oppressive if they have had spiritual confirmation of the church’s truthfulness?” Nope. And not because of the “bigots/sexists/oppressors” Those people won’t stay in the Church because they are judgmental (unless they are working on NOT being so judgmental).

    The people who stay in the Church are the ones who look at the people around them in their wards, and the ones who look at the General Authorities and say, “My, look at that Child of God. He probably has a lot of struggles in his life, just like me. They aren’t doing it right all the time, but hey, neither am I. Isn’t it great that we can be around each other and learn from each other and feel the Spirit together so that we can BOTH make it back to Heavenly Father? Isn’t is awesome that she gets to make her own mistakes and learn from them, while I am making my own mistakes and learning from them? Isn’t the gospel AMAZING? Isn’t the atonement such a wonderful gift that I can use in MY life, just as this other person can use it in her life?”

    People with THAT attitude are the ones who stay in the Church. And THAT is what the Church teaches – charity, mercy, compassion, NON-judgment.

    I have known of conservatives who have left the Church because they felt that the Church isn’t strict enough (i.e. temple presidents/sealers who leave the Church because they see someone come into the temple and they KNOW what that person has done, etc, and so they think their bishop was wrong to give them a temple recommend, etc. Or they think that we let sinners back in too easily. Or we don’t excommunicate people enough… etc etc). It’s not just liberals.

    It’s judgmental people who can’t just LET IT GO.

    President Uchtdorf’s talk was an excellent sermon on this exact thing, and timely, given the recent antagonism between members of the Church (especially in the political arena).

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  28. Howard on May 15, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Becca,
    Sooo Bro. Hancock having such disregard for this blog would or would not be an example of the tolerance you espouse?

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  29. Bonnie on May 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Oh, for crying out loud. Who cares what someone thinks of the blog. It’s just a blog. We are supposed to be debating something important – openmindedness in the way we deal with one another and a willingness to search our own motivations, as the OP suggests, to understand WHY we think the way we do and WHY others think the way they do. (Did I tell you, Hawk, how much I like the OP, because I do.) 1993 was a tough, learning year for church leadership and many outspoken members as well. I think all of us can admit that the diaglogue has changed since then. We need to move on. Go follow Hawk’s link above or just go to yourmorals.org and take the survey. What happens if we do a little self-exploration and then come back and communicate about our attitudes based on where we fit with the rest of society. It probably makes sense that we are where we are, and we’re probably supposed to find some way to “stand where we are and lift where we stand.” Humility (which expects that ours is not the only right position) is probably a good place to start. Okay. I’m busy taking surveys now.

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  30. Mark N. on May 15, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    “… he who is not against us is for us.”

    Unless I’m mistaken, the (authors of the) scriptures want to have it both ways on this viewpoint.

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  31. Glass Ceiling on May 15, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    States’ rights is really our only hope. But good luck obtaining it without rebellion.

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  32. Stan Bealw on May 15, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    There are a number of similarities that I see in Ralph Hancock’s post and a few of the reponses to Hawkgrrrl’s with some very different individuals that I have known or read about.

    If you haven’t read Alex Pareene’s screed against the Church, “The Book of Mitt,” in the May 6, Salon magazine, please do so. It is as if he is a doppelganger to Hancock, but on opposite sides. The only difference I see is that one is more snide and the other is more ham fisted. I must admit,though, I do not know if Hancock can match the look of self satisfied con-descension that Pareene seems to have in his photo.

    As a former Berkeley radical of the 1960′s (FSM, Civil Rights Marcher and Anti-War activist), I got to meet to meet a lot of militant people, from Bakuninist to Maoist and from “Fair Play for Cuba” to CPUSA. They seem to have had one thing in common, an intense belief they were right and the bourgeoisie were dupes of the ruling class.

    The arch conservatives and Mormon Libertarians often match the former zeal of the militant 60′s left. The only thing that was missing when some of these people shouted down Mitt Romney’s son the other day was a picture of them waving aloft a a small yellow copy of the sayings of Ron Paul.

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  33. Becca on May 15, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Howard,
    I was not necessarily saying that his disregard was tolerance or intolerance, I guess I was mostly pointing out that when an idea, philosophy or quotation is attributed to someone it is usually good practice in writing to provide some source for the attribution. I was also not necessarily agreeing with Bro. Hancock’s ultimate assessment of this blog, or the others. Due to the situation in which Bro Hancock was speaking of various blogs I would definitely not say that his comments are some great display of tolerance (especially given his tendency to have a criticizing tone).

    But Bro. Hancock is just like the rest of us (including myself) – making mistakes, screwing up, saying the wrong thing, judging people, acting in selfish ways, being self-righteous, etc etc.

    As far as the conversation about open mindedness, and learning about ourselves and our motives, I think that it IS important to think about our own motives and attitudes, and the origins of such. However, when analyzing the motives and attitudes of others I think it is better to err on the side of charity, rather than possibly assigning motives that we would not like assigned to ourselves. I have a long way to go with this very concept, but I am trying to see people (especially people I disagree with) and their motives in a better light – a more forgiving light. It is definitely hard to do.

    We should make sure in our quest for open-mindedness that we are not overly critical of those who we perceive to be close minded. If we are not open minded toward those we perceive to be close minded, doesn’t that just make us close minded?

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  34. lucy on May 15, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    This new way of being Mormon is not necessarily equated with liberalism, but is profoundly and sometimes imperceptibly influenced by it.

    “Was Pres. Packer in fact correct when he said the enemies of the church were homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals (or as I like to say gay people, women, and smart people)?”

    The proud who are rich and the proud who are learned usually have the most difficulty following the prophet and the apostles, whether on the left or the right. Besides, not all homosexuals are gay, few women are feminists, and very few intellectuals are smart.

    “Does that mean that the church’s friends are bigots, sexists and dumb people?”

    Those who are not homosexual are called heterosexual. Those who are not feminists are regular women and men, and those who do not deem themselves intellectuals are frequently more intelligent than those who claim the title for themselves.

    “Liberals care a lot about harm, and they define it more . . . well, liberally . . . than conservatives do.”

    Liberals can be very liberal with liberals, it is true. Conservatives are not always as conservative about their conservatism as they should be, nor as liberal toward liberals as they should be, but they, like liberals, can also be very liberal toward both liberals as well as conservatives.

    “And attempts to squelch their voice will be considered oppressive, especially when the source is someone with more power – and obviously, that includes Ralph Hancock. (I do wonder if Gladys Knight could have written this critique with more success – hard to imagine her doing so, though).”

    Whose voice is being squelched? Since when does either Hancock or Gladys Knight have more power than Joanna Brooks or any of us?

    “Conservatives should listen when liberals talk about equality and charity”

    And both liberals and conservatives should emulate those who actually practice charity.

    “Are we chasing liberals out of the church by being too insensitive to their values of caring for outsiders and desiring equality for all before God?”

    No. Both liberals and conservatives are free to come and go as they please.

    “Or are liberals going to leave anyway because they are suspicious of authority, are critical, and want to break group taboos with no consequences?”

    I hope not, but that’s up to them. Besides, there are plenty of conservatives that are suspicious of authority, critical, and want to break up taboos.

    “Do conservatives have things to learn from liberal values? Do liberals have things to learn from conservative values? How can this happen with the current uncivil discourse that has become the norm?”

    What do you suggest?

    “Are conservatives just getting more vocal because their party is not currently in power?”

    Is there a conservative party? How do you define “conservative”?

    “Is this an issue of political values or orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy? Can the two be distinguished? Does either lead to apostasy more than the other?”

    Pride leads to apostasy.

    “Will liberals stay in a church when they view the other members as bigoted, sexist and oppressive if they have had spiritual confirmation of the church’s truthfulness?”

    I hope so.

    “Or is it just a matter of time before the social discomfort of the values disconnect becomes too great to bear?”

    I hope not.

    “How can we find common ground and keep politics out of our church experience?”

    We can find common ground by looking for it, but why should we keep politics out of our church experience?

    “Is that a pipe dream”

    What do you think?

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  35. Jon on May 15, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    @Stan Bealw,

    I can’t really say what the other think but I can tell you what I do. I don’t know what incidence you are talking about since I don’t follow politics closely (I’ve finally woken up and realize it doesn’t make a hoot of difference). As for myself I don’t even follow what Ron Paul says or writes too much either. Paul is a great fighter and freer of minds akin to Jefferson, but there are many other better writers and talkers out their that don’t much care about politics who convey the same message of freedom and liberty.

    Yes, I would say many of us are fairly zealous. Just as I would hope many of the abolitionists for the slaves were, today the abolitionists are the voluntaryists, so of course we will be outspoken and try and change the minds of others so we can become free not only in spirit but in body.

    People that I know that are truly voluntarists in mind have no desire for war nor violent conflict.

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  36. Becca on May 15, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    @ lucy #34. Wow. Why did I even open my mouth? She said it all right there, and 100 times better than I did.

    Amen.

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  37. FireTag on May 15, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    I appreciate the expanded discussion of Haidt’s work in the OP. I do think it is important to appreciate that God and/or evolution have decided we needed different degrees of sensitivity to various moral foundations to protect us — like antibodies. MY moral foundations tell me the most dangerous threat is someone who doesn’t trigger ANY antibody because he/she appears as EITHER a liberal or conservative while being neither. The wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak.

    Let us be sure our open mindedness doesn’t lead us into blindness in either direction (the well meaning conservative warns the well meaning liberal. :D )

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  38. [...] and tradition. See, even though Mia appears to us as the successful black woman who has avoided the trappings of liberalism (get like her!), her heritage as a Haitian American, while seeming to have to have some of the [...]

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  39. Stephen Marsh on May 15, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    I was fascinated by Firetag’s link which describes the impact of African members on debates of this type:

    http://spectator.org/archives/2012/05/14/united-methodists-transition-f

    Made me think.

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  40. tired of bickering on May 15, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Nice Will, I just wonder if we should start fighting fire with fire. Why don’t we start the slogan that “Conservatism is a mental disorder” and keep driving the point until we make conservatives sick of hearing that tired old line? Michael Savage is afflicted with the worst mental disorder of constant polemic attacks. I used to like him, but he just wears on me now. (Same with Ann Coulter.)

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  41. FireTag on May 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Tired:

    “Why don’t we start the slogan that ‘Conservatism is a mental disorder’ and keep driving the point until we make conservatives sick of hearing that tired old line?”

    Well, because you’d already be late to the patent office. I posted a shorter discussion about the moral foundations in Haidt’s work a few weeks ago here on W&T under the title “Is Karma Fair?”

    Haidt points out that often the worldviews of conservatives are so foreign to progressives that progressives have no explanation for conservative thought other than evil, stupidity, or insanity. Although such default explanations are not at all unknown among conservatives, Haidt also had data showing that conservatives and moderates were far more accurate in describing how progressives would describe their own thoughts than in how progressives would describe how conservatives would describe conservative thought.

    The same inability to accurately perceive how others would react showed up in the proceedings which were the subject of the link in #39 above.

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  42. hawkgrrrl on May 16, 2012 at 4:25 AM

    Lucy – Pres Benson cautioned against all forms of pride, not just the learned and wealthy. He also pointed out the pridefulness of the have nots. People can feel their poverty is noble or their ignorance indicates they are not worldly. These forms of pride are equally insidious. It’s the pride and not personal circumstances that cause the rift.

    Which homosexuals are not gay? While I think it’s true that not all women are feminists, yet God is no respecter of persons. Wanting gay people to have rights and women to be treated equally and given more choice is not against the church. Packer’s politics were behind his statement, a statement that made people like Joanna Brooks (as she says in her memoir) and people like me question why the church has little empathy for the disenfranchised. At the time it is how I felt. I didn’t see women dismissed or disregarded regularly at church at the time, although I’ve seen it more since then. Did Packer’s statement declare open season on liberals? Some may have taken it that way. I am not a liberal, but I do care more about the harm foundation than it would seem Pres Packer did at the time he made that statement.

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  43. YvonneS on May 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    I’ve had been reading most of the links to find out what all the fuss is about. I hope it is all right for me to comment here. I want to respond the the following assertion: “Will liberals stay in a church when they view the other members as bigoted, sexist and oppressive if they have had spiritual confirmation of the church’s truthfulness?” Nope. And not because of the “bigots/sexists/oppressors” Those people won’t stay in the Church because they are judgmental (unless they are working on NOT being so judgmental).

    Fist off all people are judgmental. Secondly some people will stay and some people will continue to be uncomfortable. It depends on how uncomfortable they are and how often that discomfort crosses out of their zone of indifference. If there are enough remembered personal spiritual experiences to sustain them in times of discouragement and despair they will be able to endure until something changes. The answer to that question is personal to each individual.

    Finally I fundamentally disagree with the way liberals are characterized here and in just about every link that I have followed as I have read through this post and the comments.

    Liberal is not a dirty word. There is a whole spectrum of belief between the two extremes that dominate almost every discussion on the topic. Hancock and his supporters are on one end and, what I am reading here represents the other end and all the rest of us swing back and forth in between agreeing with some things and disagreeing with others. It would nice if things were as simple as everyone wants it to be.

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  44. FireTag on May 16, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    YvonneS:

    Your comments are, OF COURSE, welcome here.

    We try to have a diversity of opinion by having bloggers who balance each other out. Some posts will tend toward one side of the spectrum; others will tend toward the other side.

    We’re “Wheat and Tares”; no one is expected to always agree which is the wheat and which is the tare.

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  45. Douglas on May 16, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    HawkChick, don’t let Elder Packer get you riled up. I doubt that he wants to exclude anyone that hasn’t already excluded oneself by either indulgence in sin or espousing false doctrines. He still gives the essential message that the other Eleven Apostles and the First Presidency give, which is to come unto Christ. My impression is that gays and liberals have overly focused on Elder Packer, who is too old and understandably cranky to care about public opinion.
    It’s more in dealing with local leaders that we can have serious problems. It took a good lady friend of mine nearly a year that she’d left her lesbian lifestyle behind before he’d sign off on a temple recommend, in spite of her keeping the law of Chastity for several years prior to her baptism and in two years as a member. All because he felt that if someone had a gay/lesbian inclination that it no different than practicing it. He’d call it “inspiration”, I call it close-mindedness.

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  46. lucy on May 16, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    #42 “Pres Benson cautioned against all forms of pride, not just the learned and wealthy.”

    True. “Cautioned” may be too weak a word though, because he warned, “Beware of pride.”
    This warning is to all, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, liberal and conservative. Pres. Benson did point out though, like the prophet Jacob, that although we are all afflicted with pride, the rich and the learned have a particularly difficult time with it. It is the easiest vice to see in others and the hardest to see in ourselves.

    “He also pointed out the pridefulness of the have nots.”

    agreed.

    “People can feel their poverty is noble”

    True, or that they are entitled to other peoples’ hard-earned wages.

    “or their ignorance indicates they are not worldly.”

    True. Although it often seems to me that they are working towards it, liberals do not have a monopoly on pride or ignorance.

    “Which homosexuals are not gay?”

    By this I meant only to expose the false dichotomy of homosexual vs. bigot, feminist vs. sexist, and intellectual vs. dumb. Not all people who struggle with same gender attraction or homosexuality are practicing gays, and disagreement does not make one a bigot. If you disagree with feminism that does not make you sexist. If you are not an intellectual, it does not mean your dumb.

    “Did Packer’s statement declare open season on liberals?”

    No.

    #45 “Finally I fundamentally disagree with the way liberals are characterized here and in just about every link that I have followed as I have read through this post and the comments.”

    Yes. I also disagree with most characterizations of both liberal and conservative ideologies.

    “Liberal is not a dirty word. There is a whole spectrum of belief between the two extremes that dominate almost every discussion on the topic.”

    While I agree that liberal is not a dirty word (nor is conservative for that matter), it is possible to be critical of both liberalism and conservatism.

    “Hancock and his supporters are on one end and, what I am reading here represents the other end”

    And you and I are the objective observers?

    #42 “At the time it is how I felt.”

    I’m sorry you felt that way.

    #45 “My impression is that gays and liberals have overly focused on Elder Packer, who is too old and understandably cranky to care about public opinion.”

    If general authorities didn’t care about public opinion they would stop preaching repentance. They care enough to invite all to come unto Christ through repentance and faith in Christ, even if it means enduring the backlash of those who are offended by the truth.

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  47. Will on May 16, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Tired of bickering,

    That’s fine, fight fire with fire; the problem with that label for conservatives is that it just won’t stick. The reason my comment has 36 overall reactions, mostly against, it because it strikes a cord and has an element of truth to it; while, the same comment aimed at conservatives would be generally ignored.

    The fact is liberalism equals fantasy, while conservatism equates to reality. Thinking you can provide cradle to grave entitlements is a fantasy (along with being bad math); while, balancing a budget is reality. The Keynesian economic model is a fantasy; while, living within your means is reality. Continuing to spend money you don’t have with no plan to pay for it is wishful thinking; whereas, realizing you need to change is reality. The concept that everyone is actually equal, or can be, is a fantasy; while, understanding we all follow a natural bell curve in almost every category (earning potential, weight, height, intelligence, etc..) with most clustered in the middle is a reality. Believing you can solve the debt crisis by increasing taxes on the top one percent when their total overall income is only 240 Billion compared to a deficit of 1.6 Trillion is a fantasy (along with bad math); while, understanding we need to make massive cuts to balance the budget is reality. Believing a fat man dressed in red suit delivers presents to billions of people in one night is a fantasy; realizing it is done by the parents is a reality. On the last example, it is fine if the person that believes this is under the age of 8; but any adult that believes this is most likely considered mentally ill.

    The bottom line is reality is the cure for fantasy – a necessary part of the cycle of pride. This is why this economy has moved the general populace to the right. I really loved the recent interview Will Smith had with a French journalist. Smith was fine and dandy supporting the higher taxes on the rich, until he understood the European socialists in France want to tax the rich at 75%. The look on his face when the light went on in his head was priceless. Reality is a great cure.

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  48. N. on May 16, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    intellectuals (or as I like to say … smart people)

    You might want to change your gloss to “people who are enamored by their own self-perceived smartness.”

    From what I’ve seen, all the intellectuals that have become antagonistic (“enemies”) to the church or those who are greater in their own mind than deserved.

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  49. alice on May 16, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Will-

    It isn’t “bickering” when you come out of the gate denouncing people with sincerely held views as suffering from mental illness.

    For all your religiosity I would have thought you could find a little more Christ-like compassion however sure you are that you are right.

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  50. tired of bickering on May 16, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Will, once again your caricature liberals and show your own mental illness. Good luck with that.

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  51. Bradley on May 16, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Being “right” is no excuse for being divisive. Christ said several times “Those who are not against us are with us”.

    Neither party actually represents the people. They both speak populism but vote corporatism. When the feet of iron and clay crumble, I’ll say “Good Riddance”.

    Persecution only strengthens the testimony, so I don’t think liberals will be chased out. The Church speaks for God, political parties speak for talking monkeys. Most people can tell the difference.

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