I suppose it would have been nice for you to point out what you agree with specifically, Rich. Frankly, I have a hard time with it and if this is typical of Brother Gordon and he lived in my ward I'd probably tend to avoid him (similar to how I avoid FairMormon). A Google search of his name turns up that Brother Gordon is president of FairMormon and a former bishop.
It's probably inevitable here that we talk about the video/testimony itself. If you haven't seen it, Google it. My personal opinion is that she said nothing wrong or "against the church." Brother Gordon's opinion is clearly different from mine. I also don't agree with the actions of the local leadership in turning off the microphone and asking her to sit down.
In his blog (I think that's what it is) Brother Gordon quotes from the handbook and explains what F&TM is supposed to be, I suppose for those readers he thinks may come from outside the church. Along with the handbook quotes and explaining the purpose of fasting he says this:
These testimonies are not speeches or talks. They are not pre-written. They are not a time of advocacy. They are short, extemporaneously expressed, heartfelt feelings about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how we have been strengthened by it.
Could have fooled me. Seriously, I have heard many speeches and talks over the years. I have experienced advocacy (think Family History or temple work for example) countless times. I have witnessed people giving pre-written testimonies, and while I have not done so myself, I have rehearsed before (including my most recent testimony this month). I have also experienced short heartfelt expressions about the gospel. In my own ward, I'm sorry to say, they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. That said, I think this is a red herring. Frankly, who the heck cares if a 12-year-old wrote down her testimony? She's 12 and was doing something that was clearly difficult for her and as it turns out it was difficult for good reason. I honestly cannot imagine the microphone being turned off and the girl (or anyone) being asked to sit down in my ward - and sometimes I think it ought to happen! (but not in this case)
Brother Gordon doesn't cite his sources about how he knows the background info from the mother or that a friend recorded the testimony, I assume he got it from the reddit he mentions in passing. Poor journalism, but it is only a blog. Nevertheless, he's not done with the red herring.
As this girl’s parents know, Fast and Testimony meeting isn’t a place for giving speeches, which is what she did. She had her speech all written out and read it from the pulpit. I wish her parents had talked with her more about appropriate forums and venues. This isn’t about whether a girl is struggling with her sexuality, or about how a Church leader handled it. This is a clear case of hijacking a meeting, promoting false teachings, and exploiting a child’s inexperience to create a media event. Savannah was likely allowed to say much more from the pulpit than an adult would have been allowed to say.
Again, I don't know that it matters to anyone other than Brother Gordon that she wrote out her testimony. Laying blame on the parents is also a red herring. Were it my daughter I would have supported her as well. I believe her remarks were heartfelt and sincere, and I would much rather hear a testimony such as hers - written or not - than the usual kid's testimony "I know the church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, I love my Mommy and Daddy...." Contrary to Brother Gordon's opinion, I think this was exactly about this young woman struggling with her sexuality and reaching out to her tribe for acceptance and support. It is not at all about hijacking or false teachings and I'm not sure what he thinks she said was false. And I don't think she was allowed to say more than an adult would have been allowed to say - in a recent stake conference a counselor in the SP was assigned by the AA
to give a talk about acceptance of gays and told a heartfelt story very similar to those found on Mormonandgay.org.
Even mentioning her sexuality, could be seen as appropriate within a testimony given during Fast and Testimony meeting. Next, in an actual testimony, you would expect something about how some life event, has helped her to grow spiritually. But, Savannah doesn’t do that.
"Savannah doesn't do that." Neither do 95% (or more) of the testimonies I hear each F&TM.
In the middle of her speech she says, “I believe God would tell me if I was wrong.”
Well, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe he did exactly that. We do not believe she is a “horrible sinner” for being who she is, but you will find our teachings on family and relationships clearly stated in the document titled “The Family, a Proclamation to the World.” This is a fundamental belief of our faith. In essence, she is saying that she doesn’t trust the teachings of Jesus Christ given through our prophets today.
OK, follow the prophet, I get that. I also believe in Elder Oaks two lines of communication. And I believe Pres. Uchtdorf (quoted on Moromonandgay.org):
“God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
“He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us”
Also from Mormonandgay.org:
As we seek answers and direction for our personal journey, we can trust God and the power inherent in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world, He also experienced every pain and affliction any human being might experience.
I think Savannah was expressing just such trust.
While talking about the love of God, which we can all agree with, her speech was calling out the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as false. It follows the pattern of a typical exit narrative which reads, I used to believe the Church is true, but now I find joy and happiness outside of Church teachings. I hope you will give up your false beliefs and follow me. Anyone advocating that from the pulpit should be asked to step down, even if they are twelve years old.
Nowhere did I hear Savannah say she was advocating leaving the church or following her. Additionally, she was stating her own beliefs, perfectly acceptable in a testimony or other meeting, she was not calling out the church.
Fortunately Brother Gordon doesn't speak for the church. I suppose there are many who might say the same about me. Unfortunately, Brother Gordon does have an audience of like thinkers.