John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

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mackay11
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John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by mackay11 » 07 Apr 2014, 23:47

From John Dehlin on Facebook:
A friend of mine has spent some time speaking with LDS General Authorities about liberal and/or disaffected LDS church members...and this is what he's communicated to me about how they (many of the brethren) currently see folks like me/us. I share this just for your information/edification:

"....[some GAs] have divided the church [membership] up into thirds based on their engagement with historicity issues with the church. The first group hasn't heard of anything and doesn't have the inclination to even probe. The second has heard of some stuff through family/relatives but doesn't really study or know much about it and doesn't care to. The third group is the group who actually cares about the church's truth claims and wants to have their issues discussed/addressed. Anyway, the gist of the discussion is that the church leadership has discovered--to their delight--that this third group is actually the smallest. They've further accepted that this third group is irredeemable and the church would be better off without them."

Not sure if this is true...but it seems feasible...given my experiences and direct interactions over the past few years.

It. Feels. Like. They. Really. Don't. Want. Us.

I could be wrong, but this is how it feels to me....at least right now.

Elder Jensen told me directly once that the church had concluded that most of those who study the history in depth and lose their testimonies never come back to traditional belief/orthodoxy. That's what I believe is meant by "irredeemable." I believe that as a body, the brethren want to see us: 1) paying tithing, 2) fulfilling callings, 3) being active, 4) going to the temple, etc. And when "irredeemable" is used, I believe that it is being used in that context.

So if we're not doing those things, I believe that organizationally....as administrators...we are likely not of much interest to them (at least programatically). Theoretically I am sure that they love and care about everyone...but from a practical/business standpoint....I am starting to believe that they have decided that we are expendable or not worth making much effort towards. I really do believe that organizationally, they value protecting the 99 over going after the one. Their actions tell me this.

To be honest, if I led an organization, I would feel the same way. I'm not saying they are bad/evil/careless people...only that they have likely made a pragmatic business decision that folks like us aren't worth the effort. To me, their words at General Conference (with the exception of Dieter F Uchtdorf), the way they react to Ordain Women, the way the speak about and fight against the rights of LGBT individuals....all make this abundantly clear.

In my view, the very positive changes they have made (e.g., Joseph Smith Papers project, giving women more visibility, mormonsandgays.org, etc.) are to protect the 99...not to reach out to the 1. I'm making assumptions here...but sometimes we have to do that when there isn't more data. From the messages they send during general conference....and from the treatment I've experienced over the past year at the local level.....this seems likely true to me. It's at least the only way I can explain what I see (though I'm open to new perspectives and/or data).

It seems like they only want us if we defer to their authority -- which is highly suspect right now, given their behavior towards those who are in need..

I respect you, of course, if you see things differently. And if you have more data, I'd love you to share it with me.
Am interested in your take on this.

2013 would suggest otherwise:

- "Help thou mine unbelief" (Holland)
- "Join with us" (Uchtdorf)
- LDS.org essays
- Josephsmithpapersproject gaining prominence (an article on there mentions polyandry)
- People like Dehlin, Brooks, OW movement not getting hauled into church courts (as they would have in the 1990s)

But... do you see it otherwise?

The conference last weekend had some good "non-LDS/Christian" talks, but little for the doubters (that I noticed). The essays have slowed down and some of the latest are not addressing history any more. Is there a change? Or is this just paranoia?

John, like many of us, seems like an emotional yoyo. When he was getting a lot of attention from 70s, stake president and (what sounded like) an audience with a member of the 12 there was positive attitude. Is this a statement of "I don't feel like they care about ME any more," rather than "they don't care about people who doubt in general any more?"

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mackay11
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by mackay11 » 07 Apr 2014, 23:52

From Brad Kramer in the comments:
I do not think this is an accurate representation of anything remotely like a GA consensus, or even a common view of Church leaders.
When asked for a source he replied:
Just multiple conversations with GAs and with smart people who work closely with them. This is the kind of claim one needs data to substantiate, rather than to refute.
He also says:
The allegation strikes me as utterly implausible on its face, totally out of step with virtually every encounter I've had with a church leader, including church leaders who believe that intellectual critics of the Church are way out of line. I find the notion that most church leaders actually believe that the Church would be better off without that third group frankly preposterous.
Brad is a blogger on BCC:

http://bycommonconsent.com/author/bradkramer/

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by hawkgrrrl » 07 Apr 2014, 23:55

John sounds depressed in that status update. And I agree with Brad that there is no lock-step on this issue.

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DarkJedi
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Apr 2014, 03:17

I don't do Facebook (too addictive for me). Was this a recent post?
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by nibbler » 08 Apr 2014, 04:57

I can only speak to my experience and my experience is that the leaders care a great deal. They may not understand how to interface with a doubter, but they do care. For me it's not so much that they don't want to leave the 99 to rescue the one, it's more a matter of them not knowing how to reach out to the one. If a leader spends enough time with no fruit from their labors they may decide that the effort is best spent elsewhere but the reality may be that they just need to change what they are doing.

I think a lot of it actually does go back to Uchtdorf's comments, some leaders still view a doubter as someone that's spiritually lazy or someone that's caught up in sin. Just like in the SS lessons about heavenly father, it's difficult to know and love someone if you do not understand their nature. The lost sheep already feels like the black sheep and many rescue efforts do little more than to reinforce that sentiment.

I feel like doubters have to hide in the church lest they be treated as second class citizens in the kingdom... and that can be something very real or that can be pure perception, either way the result is the same.

I've mentioned this before, I feel strongly about it, I'd love to see a special program at the stake level. Classes for doubters taught by doubters that have found a reason to stay LDS. The problem is that no one would want to come forward, not to teach it, not to attend; there's simply too much stigma attached to being a doubter in the church. Still I think it would be nice to reach out to the doubter with people that can truly empathize with them, a fellow doubter.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
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DarkJedi
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Apr 2014, 05:16

nibbler wrote:I can only speak to my experience and my experience is that the leaders care a great deal. They may not understand how to interface with a doubter, but they do care. For me it's not so much that they don't want to leave the 99 to rescue the one, it's more a matter of them not knowing how to reach out to the one. If a leader spends enough time with no fruit from their labors they may decide that the effort is best spent elsewhere but the reality may be that they just need to change what they are doing.

I think a lot of it actually does go back to Uchtdorf's comments, some leaders still view a doubter as someone that's spiritually lazy or someone that's caught up in sin. Just like in the SS lessons about heavenly father, it's difficult to know and love someone if you do not understand their nature. The lost sheep already feels like the black sheep and many rescue efforts do little more than to reinforce that sentiment.

I feel like doubters have to hide in the church lest they be treated as second class citizens in the kingdom... and that can be something very real or that can be pure perception, either way the result is the same.

I've mentioned this before, I feel strongly about it, I'd love to see a special program at the stake level. Classes for doubters taught by doubters that have found a reason to stay LDS. The problem is that no one would want to come forward, not to teach it, not to attend; there's simply too much stigma attached to being a doubter in the church. Still I think it would be nice to reach out to the doubter with people that can truly empathize with them, a fellow doubter.
I agree with everything you said Nibbler. I would add that in dealing with doubters/questioners and just less actives in general, some of us resist contact making it even more difficult to reach out. So, even if a leader knew what to do sometimes it's just not feasable - and it's also hard to know which ones might be receptive and which ones aren't. All of us have some fear of rejection and most of us try to avoid conflict with others - the leadership at all levels are really between a rock and a hard place most of the time in this respect.

I like your idea of a class, but agree that many doubters would not show out of fear of being discovered and/or being persecuted. The technology exists to be able to do this online as stakes or even have a meeting with online attenders who could remain anonymous. I believe the church's addicition recovery program operates that way in some areas. Meanwhile, there's always us!
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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Reflexzero
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by Reflexzero » 08 Apr 2014, 05:17

Pitting anecdotal stories of "Some GA's" vs "..multiple conversations with GA's and smart people.." isn't productive. While it is possible that 1/3 has been abandoned, observable trends in executive orders of the church indicate it will throw enormous resources at lost causes. On the other hand, there hasn't been a demonstration of clear and direct (JSPP and Apologetics is not clear and direct) efforts to solve the historical problems.

For example we get letters from executive on who and how to marry on church property, or if primary kids should share testimonies in sacrament meeting. We haven't had a booklet or letter down to the local level on "how to deal with mild apostates and other lukewarm members."

We must wait for more concrete and testable evidence from either side of this argument, rather than anecdotes.
nibbler wrote:
I've mentioned this before, I feel strongly about it, I'd love to see a special program at the stake level. Classes for doubters taught by doubters that have found a reason to stay LDS. The problem is that no one would want to come forward, not to teach it, not to attend; there's simply too much stigma attached to being a doubter in the church. Still I think it would be nice to reach out to the doubter with people that can truly empathize with them, a fellow doubter.
This would be nice, but would hinge on local leaders being willing to gather doubters together. In my experience, which is local only, they don't want doubters to talk to anyone else. Plus they wouldn't have anything new under the sun, to say.

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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by SamBee » 08 Apr 2014, 09:57

There's a plethora of attitude out there. There's practically a hundred GAs, a lot of scope.

The church has a lot to lose from disaffection.

Lots of baptisms doesn't cut it, if they leave soon. A single member can drag an entire family out.

You can see it in terms of tithing or membership or whatever.

The church IS doing stuff about history, it IS trying new approaches (Mormon.org is a good example) etc...

What they don't want are troublemakers, I think. If someone is disruptive, then there's an issue.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
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mom3
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by mom3 » 08 Apr 2014, 11:08

I wouldn't be surprised to find that John Dehlin is bi-polar. He seems to swing volatility and dramatically. Over the years I become less and less convinced about his point of view. Some years he's crying and saying "They love us." Elder So and So cried. Then we get posts like this.

If I look at life - even in my own family I have vascilating feelings and responses to people I love. I imagine everyone does, including GA's. Depending on a certain week, if I am overloaded with one topic or set of experiences my view point gets swayed, my emotions tired and become dismissive.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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SilentDawning
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Re: John Dehlin on GA's attitude towards doubting Mormons

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Apr 2014, 16:42

I felt slightly depressed when I read what John wrote. Is it true? That they see us kind of like the 3rd that was cast out? I don't think so, programmatically, as when I was HPGL they always were after me to chase after the inactive people. I eventually developed an attitude they were irretreivable since after visiting over 100 homes, they only people who came back were the ones who decided to on their own, and independent of any reactivation efforts we made.

I believed that we need to have good programs in place so when people to return to church, they have a positive experience.

However, I do believe the church in general (its members in general) are after short term results. They want to report at a meeting they talked to someone and "challenged" them to be active, addressed a concern, got someone out, or just plain did something to help someone less active. They are so busy they don't have time to invest in long-term relationships unless they truly click with someone.

So, while I think the GA's do in fact care about us, the culture puts us on the back burner since rarely does anyone see activity or improvement in their metrics when they go after people who have testimony or other commitment issues.
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