Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Response To The Mormon Newsroom: Why Lie?

Well, as a blogger who sometimes writes about Mormon stuff I picked a terrible day to drive from from California to Utah. While Facebook has exploded with opinions on the church's decision initiate disciplinary action against Mormon activists and lightning rods Kate Kelly and John Dehlin, here I am in the hellhole of central Utah trying to keep up on a 1x data connection (regular readers might remember that I once rolled an SUV in this part of the state--don't worry, my wife is driving this leg. Also, to any residents of central Utah, I sincerely apologize that you have to live in this hellhole).

That should explain the dearth of gifs or funny images on this post, and for now I'll let other bloggers compose more detailed thoughts on the merits of church discipline. Right now I only wanted to address a secondary point: The Church newsroom just issued a short statement which, regarding actions like this, reads in part,  "...In these rare cases, local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled. Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters."

So...I guess we're meant to understand from this that two separate bishops or stake presidents, without any instructions from church leadership, just happened to deliver notices to two of the church's most public unorthodox activists at practically the same time.

Maybe that's true--I'm open to being corrected here--but that smells like a rat. Assuming that this wasn't just some cosmic coincidence, a serendipitous outpouring of divine justice, my only question is, why lie?

Why place the responsibility entirely on local leaders? Why, in other words, insult our intelligence? Even if you happen to think that excommunication for the miscreants is a swell idea, where's the advantage in pretending the hierarchy was uninvolved? I don't think faithful members would be bothered to know that high church leadership might intervene to purge ne'er-do-wells from time to time. Based on what I'm seeing on Facebook they're actually celebrating the fact. We already know that the same thing happened during the September Six excommunications. Why pretend otherwise now?

No, really, this isn't a rhetorical question. I truly do not understand. Is it some kind of deniability thing? Is it an honest mistake? Is the newsroom *gasp* freelancing?

Again, I could be totally wrong. If it turns out that two zealous church leaders just happened to discipline two controversial members completely independently of each other at exactly the same time, then I happily retract all my questions. Well, actually I have a few other questions, but that's for another post...

But in the mean time, assuming, as any reasonable person might, that this was a coordinated action at some level, I can only ask again, in sincerity: Why lie?


  1. The word on the street is that Alan Rock Waterman got one, too. Two at once might be a coincidence, but three?

  2. The more I reflect on this, the more it makes me angry. There is no way that all three were coincidentally within 36 hours of each other. The release isn't bending the truth, it's straight up lying.

  3. Lying for the Lord, playing to the base. A wise person once told me an LDS leader can steal your socks without touching your shoes!

  4. I think that discipline was initiated a while ago wrt Kate. This process may not be quite as tightly coordinated as assumed. Also, the church's statement is correct. They were contacted by local leaders, and only local leaders will be handing down the decisions.
    Do I think that there is some broad coordination, ie. the high-ups have said to look closely at high profile public agitators? Yes. Is there tight coordination of whom to discipline? No.

    1. I am not particularly comforted that "well, it's technically true" might be considered a legitimate fallback defense for an institution that claims access to capital-T Truth.

  5. If it was just off-script local leaders, then I'm sure the church hierarchy will step in to put a stop to it really fast, right? ....right?

    Reminds me of Cari "There is no demand for caffeine soda on BYU campus" Jenkins. It's appalling to me that they think they can lie like this. And it's insulting not only to our intelligence but to our daily efforts at personal honesty to have our church's PR spokespeople lie.

  6. Understandable sentiment. Unto the pure all things are pure: but liars cannot afford to trust anything...