Monday, July 27, 2015

Mormons React to the BSA Allowing Gay Leaders (or, Idolatry in the 21st Century)

An unedited sample of comments on the Mormon Newsroom's Facebook link to the church's statement on the Boy Scouts' decision to allow openly gay leaders:
"I will as well support the decisions of my Church Leadres." 
"I support the Church" 
"I will agree with whatever decision the church decides.I am a latter day Saint and I love my church and it's leaders" 
"Follow the prophet, that's what I'm going to do!!"
"Stay with the church teachings" 
"Thank full for prophets and other inspired men who lead with honor and authority!" 
"As a member of the Church, I will support their decision" 
"Thankful that the Church is reevaluating what has become a thorn in our side. Have confidence that whatever they decide will be done correctly." 
"I support what the church decides to do" 
"Out leaders will do what's right, for this reason I am so thankful for inspired leaders who do not decided from Truth and right with love and dignity shown to all"
"The right decision will be made by the church, as always!" 
"I love the BSA. But I will stand by whatever decision is made by church HQ. Follow the Prophet."
 "I follow the prophet. Whatever he says, goes. The Lord will not allow His prophet to lead us astray." 
"It's really not up for public debate. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. The president of the church is God's mouthpiece on earth. The apostles and seventies are likewise called of God. That should be the end of debate for any true believer."
"This is upsetting on all counts. There is only one thing to do, follow the council of the prophet"
"I look forward to supporting the program, whatever the prophet decides is best."
"Our prayers are with the Church leadership at this time. In them we have faith that Gods plan will be made manifest...... Whatever that might be." 
"I'm an Eagle Scout and am saddened by this. I guess morally straight don't mean anything. Whatever the Leaders of our church say. I will follow." 
"As members of our Lord's church we sustain our Leaders. The Prophet is The Lord's mouthpiece. Those that want to participate in BSA outside of Church will do so, just as members have who don't feel that their Ward troops move fast enough for their sons. I've seen this in my own Wards over the years. Families choose Sports over BSA as well. Ultimately we make a covenant to sustain our Leaders at Baptism when we take upon us Christ's name. We choose Better or Best."
"I am an Eagle Scout and have been Scoutmaster and Cub Leader. I support what the Brethren decide"

These kinds of comments are only partially indicative of the larger discussion, but their frequency struck me tonight. In isolation, most of them aren't so bad: they're nothing you wouldn't hear over the pulpit any given week without controversy. I think most Mormons probably wouldn't see any problems with this kind of deference to church leadership.

Yet aggregating comments like this fills me with a sense of heaviness. The veneration of The Church as an institution, and of its leaders, is something I simply can't connect with. I don't even mean to criticize the people who feel this way, it's just alien to how I approach my religion, for better or worse. Does this cherry-picked sample of social media comments on one post say anything about the state of the church or its membership today? Err...maybe? My headline indicates some of my feelings, but I honestly just don't know.

What I can say, to borrow an old seminary lesson, is that the Newsroom statement feels like a rock in my metaphorical backpack. The comments above are just tiny, tiny pebbles. Right now, a lot of American Mormons on social media are talking about the Newsroom statement; some for it, some against. But I can't stop thinking about how heavy the pebbles are.