We face a difficult and pivotal moment in Mormonism as LDS leaders and church members wrestle more openly with complicated aspects of our faith, its doctrine, and its history—often in spaces afforded by the Internet. In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS “Bloggernacle” and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions.
May we all remember, as scripture teaches, the intricate intertwining of mercy and justice. May we all follow the admonition to seek understanding before judgment, even as we address matters that can be difficult to talk about.
Scripture and tradition teach us that excommunication is one way of maintaining the boundaries of a religious community. But we believe that excommunication is not the best way to address conflict over doctrine, policy, or tradition. We ask our leaders to consider other ways of maintaining boundaries, strengthening Church members, and encouraging them to grow spiritually within Mormonism’s large and embracing community without the fear and despair the threat of excommunication sows not only in those threatened but in their families, friends, and those who share similar concerns about LDS Church doctrine or history—even those who do so silently. We are deeply encouraged by the recent news about the prospect of de-escalation in at least one of the current cases and pray for positive steps towards reconciliation.
The issues in Mormon doctrine, history, and practice highlighted by those facing church discipline are much larger than any one individual. It is not only unavoidable that these issues will continue to be discussed; such discussion is good for the health of our religious community and faithful to the truth-seeking spirit of the Latter-day Saint Restoration. As bloggers, podcasters, and passionate contributors to good, healthy online discussion, we affirm our commitment to continue speaking openly and publicly, and encouraging others to do so as well. We will continue to use online spaces to grow in knowledge and faith, to attempt to present and see many sides of each issue, and to reach out to those expressing pain, heartache, and loneliness. It is our experience that these conversations can bear good fruit as Latter-day Saints mourn with those who mourn and reflect on, deepen, and renew their faith.
We are grateful for our membership in this Church and for the unique opportunities the Internet has provided us to share our Mormon experiences, questions, and hopes. We pray that a spirit of clemency will guide the words and actions of everyone—especially those who bear the heavy responsibility of ecclesiastical discipline of Church members—and that the words of President Uchtdorf will hold sway: “Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.”
Dan Wotherspoon, Mormon Matters podcast Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood blog (Religion News Service)
Natasha Helfer Parker, The Mormon Therapist blog
Paul Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
Michael Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
Mark Crego, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
Lisa Butterworth, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Joanna Brooks, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Gina Colvin, KiwiMormon blog
Lindsay Park, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Jared Anderson, Mormon Sunday School podcast
Daniel Parkinson, No More Strangers blog
Bill McGee, Sunstone
Mary Ellen Robertson, Sunstone
Stephen Carter, Sunstone Michael Stevens, Sunstone
Chelsea Shields Strayer, LDS WAVE
Tresa Edmunds, LDS WAVE
Chelsea Robarge Fife, Mormon Feminist Cooperative
Kalani Tonga Tukaufu, Feminist Mormon Housewives
David Landrith, Mormon Mentality
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Mormon Matters podcast
Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Rational Faiths blog
Spencer Lake, Clean Cut blog
Brittany Morin-Mezzadri, TheLadyMo blog
Katie Langston, Feminist Mormon Housewives blog
Hannah Wheelwright, Young Mormon Feminists blog
Erin Moore, Young Mormon Feminists blog
Kimberly Lewis, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Nikki Hunter, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Nancy Ross, Nickel on the ‘Nacle blog
Mark Brown, The Mormon Hub (Facebook)
Alicia Jones, LDS Left (Facebook)
Elise Villescaz, LDS Left (Facebook)
Emily Summerhays, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Mindy Farmer, The Inquisitive Mom blog
Jeff Krey, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
Lori Burkman, Rational Faiths blog
Laura Compton, Mormons for Marriage Alison Moore Smith, Mormon Momma blog
Heather Olsen Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
Brent Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
Ed Snow, Doves and Serpents blog
Erin Hill, Doves and Serpents blog
Meghan Raynes, Exponent blog
Aimee Hickman, Exponent blog Rachel Hunt, Exponent blog
Liz Johnson, Exponent blog
Libby Potter Boss, Exponent blog
Heather Moore-Farley, Exponent blog
April Young Bennett, Exponent blog
Deborah Farmer Kris, Exponent blog
Jessica Oberan Steed, Exponent blog
Carolyn Kline, Exponent blog
April Carlson, Exponent blog
Sariah Anne Kell, Exponent blog
Chelsea Sue, Exponent blog
Emily Clyde Curtis, Exponent blog
Emily Updegraff, Exponent blog
Dayna Patterson, Doves and Serpents blog
Cheryl Bruno, Worlds Without End blog
Katie Evans, Zelophehad’s Daughters blog
Mike Cannon, Zelophehad’s Daughters blog Kristy Benton, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Lori LeVar Pierce, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Rebecca Reid Linford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Paula Goodfellow, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Cheryl McGuire, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Kay Gaisford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Lorlalie Pallotta, All Are Alike Unto God blog Wendy Reynolds, All Are Alike Unto God blog
This is a difficult and pivotal moment. Thanks for posting this, Cheryl.
Straight is the gate and narrow is the way to Eternal Life. Few there are that find it. In other words, there is not room for ALL in the Church. Its a Faith and a voluntary association. The two are not made for inclusion unless you are the quasi-religious Universalist Church.
On February 7, 2014, we wrote the Mormon Open Letter addressed to Thomas S. Monson. The church had already started publishing essays in the Gospel Topics section of LDS.org. These essays introduced and attempted to explain some of the troubling historical events and doctrinal issues (e.g. translation of the Book of Mormon, Blacks and the Priesthood, multiple versions of the First Vision, etc) that have troubled so many of us.
We wanted to create a forum where both former and active Latter-day Saints could ask the church for still more transparency. In our letter, we applauded church leaders for the publication of the essays and asked the church to become even more candid and forthcoming in several key areas. We expressed our concern over the impact of the church’s negative rhetoric when discussing those who have questions about doctrine and history. We were also disturbed by the harm the church’s profound lack of transparency and openness inflicted on individuals, families, and relationships.
Our concerns have only increased since then!
We are currently seeing numerous people called in and threatened with discipline ranging from being released from callings, having their temple recommends taken away, or even excommunication. Some of these stories have become very public. Many remain private, as the culture surrounding this situation is often laden with guilt and shame. The message is being sent that if you publicly discuss, blog, or write about your doubts and concerns, you are contradicting and disobeying church leaders and doctrine.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bequeaths to us a legacy of thoughtful engagement with the world. It is precisely because they recognize and value that legacy that so many Latter-day Saints, active or otherwise, now insist on participating in difficult but necessary conversations about problems in the church.
People of great integrity and honesty are being told to shut their mouths, to acquiesce, to accept the status quo—not merely as the way things are, but as the way God wants them. They are being told that it’s not acceptable to discuss aspects of the church that cause pain, harm, and confusion. It’s not acceptable to ask for more transparency and historically accurate information. It’s not acceptable to question current religious policies even when accurate historical information demonstrates the legitimacy of the questions and concerns.
The world is watching. How the church deals with this crisis will greatly affect future conversations in and about the church. Greater repression and intolerance will harm, not help, missionary efforts and the ability of Latter-day Saints to work with others outside the church.
We, the authors of the Mormon Open Letter, reach out again to ask people to read what we’ve written. To consider whether this is something they can support. To consider whether it’s not only right but crucial to publicly ask the church for actions that we feel will make the church, individuals and families healthier. Our hope is the church will take proactive steps demonstrating openness and compassion, in order to mend the rift that is widening.
We also ask for the support of those (many of whom are in the news for being brought into church councils) who have engaged for years in these difficult but necessary conversations not merely about the church’s past, but about its future. We request that as members discuss the current climate in the church, they also discuss this letter. Please share it with the media. In forums where these topics come up, please link to the MormonOpenLetter. There is power in numbers and in raising our voices together. Please join us in our respectful request that the church help both members and non-members understand the church, its history, its mission, and its course for the future.
Please sign. Please join us, along with more than 3,400 other people—including hundreds of bishops, stake presidents, Elders quorum presidents, Relief Society presidents, Young Women’s and Young Men’s presidents Primary presidents, teachers from every auxiliary in the church, and thousands of returned missionaries—who have already signed, with love and hope for all that we might move toward greater shared understanding and compassion.
Melanie Dawn Hall, Nathan Hesson, Melisa Oviatt Hesson, Matthew Hildebrand, Steve Holbrook, D William Johnson, Alison Udall and Holly Welker
While I do not doubt many signing this have the best of intentions, I am familiar with disciplinary councils and I assure you leaders do not take it lightly and prayer is sought. If there is a petition to be made, make it to the Lord, for it is to him the leaders will look, not to an open letter on the Internet.
I have never seen or felt that any voice or viewpoint was silenced when privately held. It is important when we feel decisions are wrong to express these feelings to our leaders privately. It is a different matter to gather a following and attempt change through worldly mechanisms. Such is steadying the ark and the leaders are under obligation to act in such cases to protect others from being led astray.
I am also saddened by those who have been excommunicated, but I do not know their circumstances and I do not trust anyone does since the church will not discuss the details of this private matter. If the people feel they have been wronged they should appeal. If they honestly feel their conscience is that out of line with the church teachings that they cannot abide within the guidelines set by thier leaders for thier public comments, then I am afraid they should seek another path in life. The church does have room for all who repent and come onto Christ but it must also ensure that doctrine taught is in harmony and the innocent are protected.