Compare & Contrast...

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
Minyan Man
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Compare & Contrast...

Post by Minyan Man »

There are a number of serious issues facing our country for which the church doesn't speak about, address or even consider important.
My purpose isn't to discuss individual issues or positions. My only thoughts are: why doesn't the church or leadership seem to have a position?
Or, if they do, they don't communicate it well.

Most recently is the SCOTUS decision about abortion.
The 2nd has to do with Gun Control or Gun Violence.

There are articles or declarations written on the 1st issue but nothing that I'm aware of dealing with the 2nd. I'm sure there are more topics
that could be included. Yet, we hear a lot about not drinking coffee, tea, alcohol or using drugs recreationally.

I'm sure that we don't want to alienate the membership into camps depending how they believe.
If JS or BY lived today, would they be as quiet about these topics or other problems that this age is facing?
I am getting sooo tired of hearing politicians saying after another school shooting, "Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of ..."
(Yada Yada Yada)

It just seems that there is a real need for moral authority & leadership. And, I can't believe I'm saying this, the church needs to take a stronger
stand on some of these issues.

NOTE: if this is too sensitive a topic, delete it.
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nibbler
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by nibbler »

Minyan Man wrote: 25 Jun 2022, 21:07I'm sure that we don't want to alienate the membership into camps depending how they believe.
I think this is it exactly. The main political issues in the USA right now are deeply divisive and church membership is not immune. Tea and coffee aren't seen as divisive by church membership, it's a safe topic to to take hard stands on. Relevant and pressing issues are more divisive and I believe leadership lacks courage to take a stand because this go-round there are more ultra-conservatives that need to be reigned in than usual. That's probably new territory for leadership. Perhaps they lack the experience calling ultra-conservatives to repentance. Perhaps they are afraid of what would happen if they did.

As a church we've successfully run off most ultra-liberals and it's easy to take a stand against a group that's not present and by virtue of not being present, not responsible for the majority of the upkeep of the kingdom. Meaning the church wouldn't take as much of a hit to their operations if they lost them.
Minyan Man wrote: 25 Jun 2022, 21:07 There are articles or declarations written on the 1st issue but nothing that I'm aware of dealing with the 2nd.
Back in about August 2019 the church did implement a more restrictive policy on firearms in church.

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/26/75455734 ... icy-change

The policy on weapons in church went from "inappropriate" to "prohibited."

Although it doesn't feel it, I think this age of leadership attempting to appease both sides still represents progress for the church. In the recent past things felt more one-sided. At least now we get the one sentence on it being bad to try to overthrow a duly elected government, even if it is immediately followed by a few paragraphs on how bad it is to destroy property when civil liberties are being eroded.

Perhaps the subject of another thread but I think one of the issues facing the modern church is that it teaches authoritarianism more than it teaches charity. I couldn't tell you how many times I've heard the focus on obeying the prophet in recent years. I haven't heard too many lessons on charity. We have a membership groomed to follow authority figures, however worthy or unworthy of being followed. Meanwhile empathy is almost considered sin.
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Roy
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by Roy »

If my memory serves, the last time that the church became involved in public issues it was to oppose same sex-marriage becoming legal in California, Nevada, and other states. That was horrible.

I do like that the church supported non-discrimination laws in Utah for housing. That was nice.

One thing to consider is that the church has more members outside of the US than inside. I think the church leadership should avoid the perception that they give inordinate focus and time to US political issues.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Minyan Man
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by Minyan Man »

Compare & Contrast part that I'm referring to deals with the following:

As a nation, we have currently approximately 15 states that have made abortion illegal to protect the unborn.
Within these same states, we have many that have capital punishment. The emphasis is on punishment & the destruction of human life.

IMO, when a nation like ours has moral conflicts that dominate & divide us this severely, the church should step in to clarify our
moral responsibilities as a nation. "What would Jesus do?" That's the question that keeps coming back to me.

I would never advocate one position or another on this forum but for me, it is clear that our vote is more important than ever.
And the church has a responsibility to teach a moral path & warn the nation of its responsibilities on all the issues that
seem to be dividing us.
AmyJ
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by AmyJ »

Minyan Man wrote: 27 Jun 2022, 21:20 IMO, when a nation like ours has moral conflicts that dominate & divide us this severely, the church should step in to clarify our
moral responsibilities as a nation. "What would Jesus do?" That's the question that keeps coming back to me.
I can see that. I think it would be comforting, and also be a sign that church teachings are relevant and have weight here.

Here are reasons I don't champion that/see them doing it.
A) The vaccine thing demonstrated that "not being obedient in following a prophet" was not just a more liberal thing. I don't think that vast numbers of members went and got vaccinated because the prophet advised to and also showed his vaccination process to the people. A takeaway was that the prophet's statements and actions really didn't move the people.

B1) Focus on Gun Control - and a lot of members who generally lean right are up in arms (pun intended in a tongue-in-cheek-way).
B2) Focus on the Family - Some of these lean left, but most of them are nonpartisan.
  • There would have to a revolution of changes in where money gets spent and what callings look like.
  • I don't think that their cause was helped by ousting Heavenly Mother from the recent dialogues.
  • Again, with the relevance deal - robust programs that actually compete with BSA, Girl Scouts, and sports.
  • Support for family members at every stage of life (which is not easy with 5-6 generations living with their own needs).
  • Support for the volunteer leadership (more then the non-profit leaderships receive) to bring back/revitalize those leaders.


C) People are leaving/scaling back on investing in the high demand religion because there are a variety of places to spend time/build community that compete for the attention of the members and/or the demands are just unsustainable or not compensated for enough.

D) I think the biggest problem with "clarifying moral responsibilities as a nation" coming from the church - is that then gives the church the authority to prioritize the morals of the members. Our church is very black-and-white in it's thinking, and focuses on maintaining concrete separations (gender roles being a good example). Most of these issues pit values our church teaches against each other and/or are very blurry and overlapping - and we don't go to church to pick up critical thinking and decision-making. And some faith transitions are sparked and/or sustained by taking up moral questions and not liking the answers the church supplied.

E) "What Would Jesus Do" driving these conversations is likely to have as many distinct answers as there are individuals who ask the question. "What would Jesus Do" drove some of the "Masculinity Christianity" teachings in our history - as well as some of the peace movements and social justice movements.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by DarkJedi »

But I think that's part of the pitfall for the church and for any church. The church teaches political neutrality and tells us we should each vote our consciences. It's certainly not beneath the church to tell us what our consciences are because they more or less do it in most Sunday School and priesthood/RS/youth lessons (while also telling us we must have our own testimonies). I agree with the earlier comment about the church recognizing that more and more there is a wide diversity of beliefs in the church. You're probably not going to hear it in testimony meeting, but there are both pro-choice and pro-life (and everything in between, it's not necessarily all that black and white) church members. I think the church learned a big lesson about alienating the membership with Proposition 8 (gay marriage in California). I think it was expected that people outside the church might take exception to the church's stance, I think they were surprised at the pushback from inside the church, and agree with what others have said - they church doesn't want to divide us into us and them camps. I think the COVID19 vaccines are another example of somewhat unexpected pushback from within the church. We might be divided along those lines in some cases, but the church isn't responsible for that. Such us and them divisions fueled by churches have caused great rifts within the Methodist and Episcopal churches.

Specifically in the United States there is also the concern about preaching politics in churches relative to tax exempt status. I know it does happen in other churches, and I have heard stories about it in our church but never directly experienced it. But the church is extra careful (hence the annual letter) because they fear such government sanctions (imagine the taxes we'd have to pay).

From my personal point of view, I always disliked it when the church only commented on issues when they affected Utah.

And apparently the church did make some subtle move regarding the recent Supreme Court decision, according to this news article: https://www.deseret.com/faith/2022/6/24 ... us-liberty
Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints updated a webpage on the topic of abortion.
The updated page on the church’s Newsroom website says that as the process unfolds in each state, it is appropriate for church members to join efforts to protect life.
“The church’s position on this matter remains unchanged,” the webpage now says. “As states work to enact laws related to abortion, church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.”
(Response typed at the same time as Amy.)
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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Arrakeen
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by Arrakeen »

Minyan Man wrote: 25 Jun 2022, 21:07
It just seems that there is a real need for moral authority & leadership. And, I can't believe I'm saying this, the church needs to take a stronger
stand on some of these issues.
US politics aside, I have often thought this regarding the church's presence in other countries whenever I see news the church of new temples or countries opening up to missionaries. Many countries where the church has a presence have authoritarian governments, human rights abuses, civil wars, or other things of great moral impact.

Where is the line that divides politics and morality? Does the church have a responsibility to call out morally reprehensible actions done by governments around the world? What happens if they do? We probably wouldn't be able to have missionaries or temples in certain countries if the church leadership directly criticized those governments, and members may even face severe persecution as a result.

But to me it makes prophets seem quite weak. Where are the scriptural prophets who went up against kings and emperors, even if it got themselves and their followers killed? Even church leaders in the early days stood up to the government on the issue of polygamy for a while (though I personally think they were wrong). Instead in the modern church we have vague public statements that tiptoe around the real issues to avoid offending anyone.

And I don't even mean controversial issues like many of the political topics in the US. Even when things like genocide and war are happening around the world, the church often fails to condemn those responsible.

One thing that continually bothers me about church leadership is how they will claim a moral responsibility to speak out about gay marriage or abortion, but then be silent or at best offer weak statements about topics like genocides against the Uyghurs and Rohingya or the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. I kind of understand why they don't speak out more about those issues, but it still bothers me to see leaders who claim to be prophets like Moses be so powerless to call out even such blatantly evil actions.
Minyan Man
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by Minyan Man »

When we were growing up, one of the first lessons we learned was: "always play well with others".
As an adult there were times when I had to interview people for open positions. One of the main considerations I
had was: "will this person fit within the personal dynamics of our department?" Or, in other words, will they play
well together?

In today's environment, I don't expect the church leadership to act as Abinadi in the BOM & cry repentance to the people.
I do expect them to remind the church membership, US government leadership & the citizens in general, to not only
play well with each other but to talk. Respect opposing viewpoints. avoid arguing, if you reject proposals from the other
side you have a responsibility to come up with a better plan.

At the very least, I expect the church to take the moral high ground & remind members, church leaders, government leaders, etc.
to work together & solve problems. Or move over & let someone else try.
Roy
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by Roy »

In the past, I have complained about the church not seeming to do enough to reach into the communities and make a difference.

On the issues that you have described about being willing to compromise, build coalitions, and seek win-win solutions, I think the church organization has made improvements.
Minyan Man wrote: 28 Jun 2022, 18:47 I do expect them to remind the church membership, US government leadership & the citizens in general, to not only
play well with each other but to talk. Respect opposing viewpoints. avoid arguing, if you reject proposals from the other
side you have a responsibility to come up with a better plan.

At the very least, I expect the church to take the moral high ground & remind members, church leaders, government leaders, etc.
to work together & solve problems. Or move over & let someone else try.
I do not see this as a central focus of the church but we have seen enough in this direction that I feel positive. I seem to recall the phrase that "we can disagree without being disagreeable" used. I have also appreciated the examples set by LDS Senators Harry Reid (D) and Mitt Romney (R).

I also appreciate that the church has made strong efforts to tamp down on some of the harder more extremist groups in our own midst. Polygamists, anti-government types, end of the word preppers, have all been strongly discouraged over the last 50 or so years. Considering our origins, these are huge steps at moderation indeed.

Our society is becoming more and more polarized. I'm sure it is hard for the church (and all churches) the navigate these new waters.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
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InquiringMind
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Re: Compare & Contrast...

Post by InquiringMind »

Arrakeen wrote: 28 Jun 2022, 15:04 Where is the line that divides politics and morality? Does the church have a responsibility to call out morally reprehensible actions done by governments around the world? What happens if they do?
In case you haven't noticed, people sharply disagree about what's moral. Everyone agrees that we should do what's good, but we very much disagree about what "good" is. At this point in US politics it seems that we have two completely separate and competing moral systems, represented by the Left and the Right. They are two very different systems of morality with different values and different goals. I don't see this as a sustainable situation, with two very different visions about what the US is supposed to be. We can't survive very long with two strongly conflicting national narratives.

The decline of Christianity as the primary religion in the US has created a void of meaning and purpose, and many people have sought to fill that void of meaning and purpose with politics. Political parties and political ideologies have come to replace churches and religious beliefs as a place for people to find belonging and a sense of meaning and purpose in life. And who can blame them? The consequences of political decisions seem immediate and critically important, while concerns about the afterlife seem far away....if there is an afterlife. God doesn't always answer prayers, but laws and politics affect you directly.

It does seem to make some sense from a nonreligious point of view. We got rid of our silly supernatural religious beliefs, so now we can turn our attention to what really matters, which is building a better world here and now. Except that we can't agree on what "better" is. We can't agree on what's good and what's moral, so we're having a lot of trouble (from a secular point of view) building a better world without religion.

I actually think that's why religion is important. Religion helps us think about a world beyond this one, which makes politics less urgent and less immediate. If this life is all we get, then yeah, politics is the most important thing - and I think that's a bad situation because we can't agree on what's moral, and we're going to end up fighting constantly. Thinking about the afterlife makes politics less all-important: maybe your candidate lost the election, but you'll still get your reward in heaven, so no big deal, right?
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