My mission president once said (paraphrasing) that there is no more feverish swamp of misinformation an falsehood about the Gospel than in the talks and articles missionaries pass around to each other.  I believed that for a long time, but after the battle over Prop. 8, I now believe that political campaigns dwarf the mission field in their capacity to misinform, deceive, and create circular firing squads in the Church.

Do you find yourself agreeing with any or all of these statements?

1.  My positions and ideas reflect an enlightened and well-considered view of reality, while positions contrary to mine are founded in ignorance and stubborn stupidity.

2.  My views arise from my capacity for compassion; opposing views arise from people’s capacity for cruelty.

3.  I use all available tools for evaluating an issue (logic, intuition, imagination, creativity, inspiration, etc.), while the people I disagree with rely mainly on the predigested propaganda of liars.

4.  LDS people who didn’t support Prop. 8 don’t know what it means to follow the prophet.

5.  The Church would be better off without the kinds of members who dissent on issues like Prop. 8.

6.  The Church’s position on homosexuality is founded on the critical lie that homosexuality is chosen.

7.  Homosexuality is a biological trait, never “chosen,” and is therefore sanctioned by God.

8.  An attitude of obedience and deference to Church leaders is chosen, and has no biological/genetic component.

9.  Gay marriage is the most immediate threat to families.

10. The Church’s position on gay marriage is founded in the same kind of ignorance and prejudice that informed its denial of the Priesthood to people of color.

11.  Every member of the Church is able to articulate the Church’s positions on homosexuality and gay marriage with the extreme level of sensitivity and thoughtfulness those issues require, so every member of the Church should be enlisted to articulate the Church’s views to their fellow citizens.

All of the above statements are unhelpful, misleading, or completely false, and all of them have damaged the Church in one way or another by giving people erroneous views of each other and the Church.

Beginning with statement #4, here are some responses to those statements:

4.  The Church’s statement reads:

…the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.

5.  Luke 10:

54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

6. The Church considers the question of “nature vs. nurture vs. choice” to be only one of many considerations, and not the primary one at all. The Church’s position is based upon the idea that any time we are tempted to do something contrary to God’s will, we can find strength in Christ to either resist temptation or lose the desire for sin altogether.

7. The Church asserts that whether we choose an inclination or not has no bearing on how God views the behaviors that arise from that inclination. Homosexuality is only one of many examples of inclinations we can be “born with” that can lead to behaviors that we are commanded by God to avoid.

8. “Iron rod” and “Liahona” approaches to the Gospel appear to have some biological component.   See here and here.

9. Seriously? Gay marriage is more of a threat to families than our worldwide epidemics of human trafficking, sex slavery, or poverty?

10. The Church’s position on the Priesthood ban appears to have been based on precedent; remarkably, through 1978, no one could say for certain how or why that policy was in place. By contrast, we have a remarkable amount of current official pronouncements from the Church that inform the Church’s policy towards gay marriage. Interestingly, several key members of our Church leadership were involved in the 1978 revelation, so I like to think they are bringing those lessons to this issue.

11. I doubt if even 5% of members of the Church have read and really digested the Church’s most recent treatments of the issue of same-sex attraction.  Even among those who are familiar with these statements, their discussions typically avoid the centrality of Jesus Christ in the Church’s thinking.  This is an issue where the precise content of the message, and competence in delivering it, are critical, and yet the message is being delivered by lay members, many of whom have developed their approach to issues by listening to conservative talk radio.
The Church’s post-election statement contains this line:

We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

I think this illustrates the enormous problem inherent in handing over the Church’s messaging in sensitive and complex issues to the “weak and simple.”