Transgender Mormons

In 2013 a short 15 minute filmed titled ‘TransMormon‘ was released for public viewing. The film is a recounting of the days leading up to a male to female sexual reassignment surgery and ends with a couple of sentences stating she is working with her leaders regarding her membership. Read more »

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Suffer the Children

You gotta love my current home state, Iowa. We have a governor who has been ruling our kingdom on and off since 1983. He is currently working on securing on his 6th term in office. Let’s just say the man is comfortable on his throne. Read more »

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Lessons From A Sunburn

Reprinted from the Ezra and Hadassah book site http://ezraandhadassah.blogspot.com/

 

My brother Rex had more than his share of life’s troubles. He could only read and write on a 3rd grade level and lived his life as an eternal 9 year-old boy. That meant he was thrilled beyond belief when I told him the greatest news ever. Read more »

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I’d Rather Be A Divorced Mormon

I have a client who is contemplating divorce. Well, not really. She would love to leave her dysfunctional, abusive marriage but her church says that marriage is “til death do you part.” Read more »

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I Have the Attention Span of a Gnat

Sorry guys, but I need a break from the intensity of the past couple of weeks. My body and mind can’t live in a wash of stress day after day. Because I might not be the only one needing a new thought, I offer this as a humble distraction:

Kissing. Read more »

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The Case Against 8

Thanks to HBO offering a free week of viewing I was able to watch part of “The Case Against 8” this morning.**

“The Case Against 8″ is a narrowly defined film discussing only the legal side of the Plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 lawsuit that eventually landed in the Supreme Court. Read more »

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Out of the Best Books

This has been a draining time for me. I hate conflict, whether in my home, my church or my country. I hate election seasons because the months (years!) of mud-slinging campaigning just wears me down. I hate mean-spirited people at church because, well, it’s obvious. Rejoicing in other’s pain just doesn’t feel good to me. Read more »

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Imprisoned Trust

It is done.

I’ve kept my emotions, thoughts and feelings close to my chest on this one. I haven’t expressed much but silently supported her. In my own way I’ve prayed. I almost lit a candle last night. I was hoping this time would be different. I hoped the hearts of the MEN would be softened, and I silently wished a woman could be in on the decision making. I think I’ve eaten everything in my cupboards  Read more »

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Mormon “News”-room and Deseret “News” – Just Merge Already

Journalism teachers everywhere, rejoice! Utah’s own Deseret “News” continues to provide you with the gold standard for real-world examples of manipulative reporting. Here is the latest specimen, courtesy of Whitney Evans:
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Kate Kelly’s Defense

Kate Kelly has posted her defense against charges of apostasy here.

In addition to her own letter to her bishop, she also posts a cogent and well written brief written by a friend. It outlines in detail why the charges against her are baseless and why the disciplinary process to which she is being subjected is flawed. I consider both of these required reading for anyone who wishes to discuss this matter intelligently.

Her disciplinary council will take place tomorrow, where she’ll be tried in absentia for apostasy by three men.

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The Boundaries of Conversation

I don’t particularly care for Ordain Women. I say that not to disparage the organization or Kate Kelly, its founder, but to provide some context for what I am about to present, and I admit I come to this topic prejudiced.
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The Argument against Labeling Kate Kelly an Apostate

From recent news, I believe there is reason for hope that John Dehlin’s pending disciplinary council will not bear the fruits that we had at first feared. The case must still be made for Kate Kelly, who (unless things change) will be tried in absentia this Sunday, June 22, 2014 at the Oakton Stake Center in Northern Virginia on charges of apostasy.

The question of whether Kate Kelly has committed apostasy is clear cut. The notion of apostasy is not a slippery one. Merriam-Webster defines apostasy as “the renunciation of a religious faith” and “an abandonment of what one has voluntarily professed : a total desertion or departure (as from one’s principles or party)” (“Apostasy.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged.) The LDS church’s website, lds.org, defines apostasy as “When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel…”

Read more »

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This is News to Me, How About You?

I’ve never heard of this before. Or if I did, I forgot. What do you know about the Strengthen Church Members Committee?

After reading this news article, I am a bit worried.

http://www.kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_11952.shtml

 

 

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Room for All in this Church

Following is a joint statement from Mormon bloggers, podcasters, and online publishers (including me) in support of clemency, mercy, and openness:

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.”

Signed:

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
Arlene Ball, 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

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Sigh… Will This EVER Stop? Girls Camp part two

As a break from a week of emotionality about possible excommunications of high-visibility people, I have a true story that should set your hair on fire.

I just heard how things went at my old stake’s girls camp. I am talking about girls camp last week, in the year 2014.

The girl’s camp theme for the week was “Happily Ever After” complete with t-shirts sporting a Disney type crown. The highlight for girls camp was a program given by stake leaders saying that their goals for life should be on finding a returned missionary, getting married in the temple and viola! Happily Ever After, the t-shirt comes true.

Gag me. That is the message I was given 35 years ago when I was a young woman in church. Did these camp leaders completely miss 2001? That was the year President Hinckley gave the game-changing talk https://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/01/a-prophets-counsel-and-prayer-for-youth

What about telling the girls the truth – There is NO happily ever after? They may not get married. They may get married and regret it every day of their life. They may be happily married and their spouse still has affairs. They may deal with sickness, death and widowhood. Their spouse might develop a mental illness. They might have a car accident that leaves them in a wheelchair. The list of realities goes on and on. The one thing that is guaranteed to not happen is Happily Ever After.

The icing on a week of saccharine-sweet lies, was how all the girls were shamed by an insane dress code.

Before camp, the stake girls camp leaders decided they wanted to emphasis  a dress code. Shorts needed to be to the knee or longer. Fine.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t communicated until after the girls arrived at camp.

The stake leaders went around to all the girls and if their shorts were above their knee, their legs were marked with black Sharpie marker. Then they were presented with a pair sweatpants decorated with beads, bows and writing all over them saying ‘Sweat Pants of Shame’ that they were forced to wear.

Did no one in leadership stop and think about this for one half of a second? Obviously not.

Non-member girls go to camp. Less active girls go to camp.  Girls who out-grow clothes overnight go to camp. Girls who have eating disorders, are freaked out about their appearance, and worry obsessively about being ridiculed, go to camp. Girls like me, who took all the clothes I owned to camp because I only had 3 pairs of shorts, go to camp.

Are we surprised to hear that several of the girls who were marked with Sharpies and forced to wear outlandish Sweat Pants of Shame, vowed they would Never. Go. To. Girls Camp. Ever. Again? You shouldn’t be surprised. That is what happens when you use humiliation as a teaching tool.

I don’t care what a girl is wearing at Girls Camp. It is NEVER ok to use shame with a child of God. Even if a girl shows up dressed as a waitress at Hooters, shame is 100% not ok. Actually, that is the moment a girl needs kind leaders to wrap her in their love, help her get camp appropriate clothes that fit her, and make her feel glad she went to camp.

To say my heart is broken puts it mildly. Like all of you, I am already raw with pain for my sisters and brothers in the gospel who are facing serious challenges in the church. To be told of the mean-spirited behavior that was inflicted upon the sweet girls who just wanted to go to camp and have fun, is pouring salt in my open heart wounds.

I have a message for every parent and adult leader who has dealings with our wonderful youth in the church:

Stop it.
Stop shaming our kids into what you think is appropriate clothes, appropriate behavior, appropriate whatever. If you can’t lead with love and kindness, get the H-E-double hockey sticks away from the children. You don’t deserve to be in a position of authority in Christ’s church.

And quit lying to them. Quit telling girls the only way to happiness is through finding a man. Quit telling them that only returned missionaries are worthy of their time. Quit telling them that once they have a temple marriage, they have arrived at Happily Ever After.

Instead, tell them the truth. The only way to Happily Ever After is through having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything and everyone else will let you down, just like these girls camp leaders did last week.

Boy, did they.

 

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Two, Four, Six, Eight, Do Not Excommunicate: An Open Letter to Mark M. Harrison, Scott M. Wheatley, and Bryan C. King

Dear Bishop Harrison, President Wheatley, and President King:

In the next few weeks you might all find yourselves presiding at disciplinary councils for either Kate Kelly or John Dehlin. Here is my advice to you:

You must not excommunicate them. You do not want to be George Wallace.
Read more »

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Who Are We and Why Are We Here

The news broke today, thanks to massive publicity from The New York Times, The Huffington Post, ABC News, The Deseret News, The Daily Mail in the UK, The San Francisco Chronicle, Reuters, and dozens of other news outlets, that Kate Kelly, the leader of Ordain Women, and John Dehlin are being summoned to appear before LDS church disciplinary councils for apostasy.

Let’s not mince words about how this is sad or unwise or disappointing. Let’s be perfectly clear: This is not OK. What’s more, it’s OK to say so. It’s more than OK. Mormons cannot allow this to go unanswered, because it speaks to who we are as a people. In a world that confronts us daily with palpable evils, disciplining members for making the leadership uncomfortable is the small behavior of a puny people. Is that who we are? I hope not.

LDS leaders discipline people who make them uncomfortable because they value being comfortable more than they fear the backlash from disciplining them. In other words, church leaders discipline difficult Mormons because they believe that other Mormons will tolerate it. But will we tolerate it this time? Again, I hope not, but perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I don’t belong in Mormonism. Perhaps most of the membership does find John and Kate to be objectionable and would find me equally objectionable if I were as well-known. If I were to surmise that this is the case, I’d simply resign. Not out of protest, but because I would not worship in that man’s company who fears his fellowship to worship with me.

Several years ago a Dehlin family friend was in Boston for their baby’s heart surgery. They were alone in a strange city, full of anxiety for their child, and scared for his life — perhaps scared beyond anything they’d ever known. John wanted to reach out and offer comfort from where he lived in Logan, Utah. Since he couldn’t be in Boston personally, he reached into his vast network of Mormon friends, and he did the next best thing. He sent me. I went to the hospital with a care package and a message of love from John.

The Epistle of James calls this pure religion.

Read more »

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Banned Girls Camp Songs

It’s the beginning of the annual season of Mormon girls camp. I enjoyed camp as a girl and I didn’t mind it too much as an adult leader when I got enough sleep. Read more »

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Church Diversity

happy people

The hubby and I have lived a lot of places during our marriage. Before that, we were both raised in nomadic, wandering families who chased jobs, endlessly trying to pull themselves into middle class life. Some years were up, and some were down. Read more »

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Otterson’s Open Letter Quote Source

Recently a few blogs (mainly BCC and M*) published Michael Otterson’s open letter dismissing the claims of women, blog readers, and blog authors.

A question I spent all morning battling was finding the source for the quote he uses. He does not attribute it in his letter, and no links were provided to the source of this quote. Thanks to the fMh Facebook group someone was kind enough to share the source.

Here is the link to the source itself, the comment author goes by ‘Kimberly’:

http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/05/a-proper-church-on-mormon-women-stand-church-pr-and-listening-and-engaging-in-the-body-of-christ/#comment-1259872

Here I copied and pasted the words of the quote Otterson uses, and the original so you can compare side by side.

Otterson:

Please understand that not [all] women who wish to be seen in all their worth are seeking to be ordained to the priesthood…. What I am finding…. is that most of these women have been demeaned and marginalized by one (and usually many more) of the brothers of our faith. They have been told their ideas won’t work. They have been told they are not important. They have been told they are lesser.

Kimberly:

I am saddened, though not surprised, this is a comment from a man. Things are not as black and white in this life as you might believe. It is not take it or leave it in the gospel. The gospel is about levels and degrees. It is about understanding which is built line upon line. Is that not what we’ve all been taught? Then why is it when people want to share views which are different the knee-jerk reaction is to tell them to take a hike?

Please understand that not women who wish to be seen in all their worth are seeking to be ordained to the priesthood. There are many of us who just want to make sure we don’t lose our sisters. It’s a bond that sadly too many of our brothers don’t understand. When one of our sisters has an experience which causes her to lose her faith, her sister grieve with and for her. We feel her pain and want to help her heal.

When you tell her (them) that they should just find another another church what you are really saying is her feelings and thoughts are not valid, therefore we don’t need her. YOU ARE WRONG!

While I personally am not seeking to hold the priesthood, I am happily seeking to understand the reasons why some do have that desire. What I am finding (and please forgive my very simple generalization) is that most of these women have been demeaned and marginalized by one (and usually many more) of the brothers of our faith. They have been told their ideas won’t work. They have been told they are not important. They have been told they are lesser.

These are not my experiences, so it would be easy for me to judge them. I try very hard not to though because I would not want them to use their experiences to judge me. We all just want to be understood and welcomed.

While I believe women’s ordination to the priesthood will not happen, I believe we need to have conversations to UNDERSTAND the reasons behind the desire. I don’t believe that needs to happen with the First Presidency or the entire body of the church. I believe those are individual conversations which need to be had. Because, after all, the pains behind the desires weren’t caused directly by Heavenly Father or the First Presidency. They were (typically) caused by individuals, locally, through their own misunderstanding of doctrine!!

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