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On Policy Changes

Last Thursday (5th November 2015) someone leaked the fact that the LDS church were making changes to the Handbook of Instructions 1, he shared it with John Dehlin who then let the world know about it.

In summary, the church has made the following main changes

  • Being in a same-sex relationship is now one of the 5 definitions of apostasy that a disciplinary council is mandatory
  • Any children who have any parent that it in a same-sex relationship will now not be eligible for blessing and naming, baptism, priesthood, mission.

This policy change is so wrong on so many levels, its hard to know where to start, apologies if this is a bit of a ramble.

The one that hits closest to home for me is the children one. In the interview that was released on Friday the rationalle that Mr Christoferson gave for the child related one, was it was protecting the children, they didn’t want to place the burden of mixed messages on children who are in a home with a same-gender couple. Why should a same-gender couple be any worse than being in the home of other things that are not deemed ‘good’ – For example a child could be in the home of a domestic abuser, or someone who is an arms dealer, or a rapist. Yet according to this policy those children would still be eligible for the ordinances while the one who has same-gender parents is not.

My home is what you could call a mixed faith home, while I mostly attend church with my wife and children, I am pretty open (though not often vocal) that I do not believe the truth claims of the church. I have been called anti-mormon by some people, yet my children are OK to be baptised if we wished it.

I am struggling to see what the children need protecting from, I would say there are bunch of other, much worse things that a child should be protecting from over and above a couple that are in a monogamous loving relationship. If you are looking for some worse situations have a look at the list of things that *may* need a disciplinary council (as opposed to the mandatory one for same-sex couples),

I have also been told ‘well its not going to impact many people anyway‘ to that I call bollocks!

First of all, because of the advice that had been historically given to people who came out as gay to their LDS leaders, they were often told to marry into a mixed-gender marriage anyway, with not great results, quoting from that article ‘Between 51 percent and 69 percent of mixed­-orientation Mormon marriages end in divorce, well above the roughly 25 percent of Mormon couples who split up’. There will be quite a decent amount of kids with gay parents in new

Second, you don’t have to be directly affected to be impacted. Speaking for me personally, while I am not directly affected by this I am deeply offended and that impacts me, it further lowers my view of the compassion, and sanity of those leading the church. Like most normal people if you see someone acting like a bully you want to stand up and say STOP! I see this the same way, this policy is hurtful and damaging and the church needs to be called out.

Over the weekend there has been a huge backlash to this, I am not sure the church was expecting that, but I guess thats obvious, as they tried to sneak it out of the back door. And this is my other big concern.

The church used an update to a document only available to LDS leaders to implement this policy, which I think has wide implications. opposed to a statement in last months General Conference. To me this signals cowardice and lack of morals, if you have something that is going to have a huge impact on people, at least have the balls to be up front about it. They only reason the church has had to release newsroom articles and the interview with Christoferson is because they were caught out.

It’s also worth noting that in the past the church has been very protective over Handbook 1, it will be interesting to see if they have the same appetite for a legal wrangle after this PR disaster.

A Spoonfull of Sugar

11 Years ago I came to the realisation that the church is not ‘true’, like most people through the course of studying church materials, facts previously unknown to me caused me to question the claims taught in Sunday School and ones that I taught as a missionary and teacher in the church.

It was a real mind-job, knocked both me and my wife for six. I was angry and wanted to tell everyone what I had found, I wanted the church named, shamed and destroyed.

I have mellowed since then, and learned wisdom.

The church may be wrong in a number of areas, and it’s foundational events may not be what it claims, but what is has created is thousands of communities of people that in the most part (there are always exceptions!) are looking to do the right thing by their fellow humans.

If they are happy in their attendance of the church, and they are not harming others then what right do I have in jumping in and bursting that bubble? That’s not to say that I won’t answer honestly if they ask me about my disbelief but I will do it in a sensitive and caring way, making sure to ask if they really want to hear what I have to say, as it may be uncomfortable for them, and always doing it with concern for them.

Over the years I have seen people on crusades to either ‘get the TBMs to wake up’ or ‘destroy the church’ the problem with that it does have casualties, the first reaction of most people when they see a threat is to put the walls up, and either hunker down or attack back. I think the ‘crusading’ approach is wrong, I am aware that TBM’s are often on crusades to us, but when have 2 wrongs ever made a right? And in fact you will then just re-enforce the belief that anyone who leaves the church is a ‘bad’ person.

The greatest lesson to a TBM is to see someone who no longer believes, not turn into an arsehole, but as an example of a balanced, compassionate human being, all good qualities not inspired by a belief in God, but just being a good person.

I would love to see ex/nom/jack/anti mormons, start changing their stance, to a more compassionate ‘what can I do to help’ one that is not going to burn bridges, and maybe educate our still believing friends.

Deacons don’t wear plaid

I recall an occasion, after my mission, I was attending church in my family ward, being the gung-ho RM as you do, I would help the local missionaries with investigators.

There was one lady who had been attending for a few weeks now, she was timid but active lady probably in her mid-fifties, really nice lady, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but really kind hearted. She used to cycle to the chapel, and lock up her bike on the railings outside, she didn’t have bike specific clothing, or much of a change of clothes, but she wore trousers with byclicle clips round her ankles.

One particular Sunday, it was particularly wet (not surprising in England!) and she was just putting her bike away and one of the older members of the ward came up to her and started to berate her for not wearing the appropriate clothing. She looked sheepish, and being the timid person she was said nothing, but that was the last time we saw her for a few weeks.

At the time I remember doing nothing more than giving the old guy who was giving her the hard time a dirty look, and asking him to calm down, but it stuck with me.

How many times in our church have people been asked to leave because they didn’t have the right clothes, or deacons eager to serve denied the chance because they word a plaid shirt instead of a white one.

Are we really that bothered about what clothes someone wears? I have had this argument several times with lots of people over the years, and people often says it doesn’t matter but it shows respect.


Careful What You Ask For

You know the old cliché, “Careful What You Ask For…You Might Get It” ??

I fear I could be there soon!

For a while I have been feeling a bit bored in my career, I have not really ‘moved up the ladder’ for a few years now, and have been doing the same sort of thing for about 5 years now, I am really looking to broaden my skills and responsibilities so I can find different challenges.

Over the past few months I have been involved in a project where the guy who was leading the team, has not really been pulling his weight, nice enough fella, but just not up to the job, and thus a high profile 20 Million pound project is put at risk. So where the various gap’s have been appearing I have had to step in and get involved in areas that I have not really had much background in, and it has been alright! I have done a decent job, if I say so myself. Of course the bean counters, and jobsworth’s have been squirming in their pants, as I am stepping outside my proscribed role, but I say f&*k em’. The project stakeholders have been happy that I have kept the show on the road, and the project moves forward. And I am learning new skills, so for my next role I can sell myself as a more than just the guy with the screwdriver but the guy with the clipboard, and I will be moving on in my career development (btw- the other guy got asked to leave).

So what’s this got to do with the church I hear you ask…. ?

Recalling a church situation, where someone in a calling had not been pulling their weight, and while 20 Million Pounds is not at risk, you could argue as a believer, that other peoples spiritual development is damaged as someone in a position of responsibility are not doing what they should. This problem was frustrating. I was thinking really they should have be released, but as it was a small unit, and there was not much choice in warm bodies to help, they stayed. I firmly believe (I won’t use the “K” word) that even me, as an openly non-traditional believer could have done a better job. And therein lies today’s gripe…

There is an army of good people out there, who love the church, but are excluded from many things because they are non-traditional believers, but who would dearly love to get involved, hold callings and help out. But the church because of policy and lack of understanding and engagement with these people is missing out on their many talents, and I think the church as a whole is suffering through loss of these peoples skills.

I remember having a conversation with a priesthood leader about people attending while not believing 100% in everything the church teaches, his view is that is not something that he as a leader (and he implied the rest of the leadership) could never condone people attending while not sustaining all the beliefs.  I can see his point, you are either in, or you are out, but I don’t agree, as I don’t think it is reality. Who really believes 100% everything? Everyone will have their pet commandment they ignore, could be eating meat (eat meat sparingly), polygamy, becoming as gods, etc.

That mindset of only condoning 100% believers, leads to ignoring the non-traditional believers for callings. I also think if the church was encourage the use of non-traditional believers in callings, they would benefit massively too, as it would lead to a rich diversity and less insular organisation. Showing that people with a variety of beliefs can get along, and create a positive community for us to participate in, it’s a lesson I certainly would love to teach my kids and would like to see the organisation that has such an influence on their upbringing teach that lesson also.

“Careful What You Ask For…You Might Get It” – Now I have opened my mouth, you just know I am going to get the crappest job in the ward now … Sunday School President!

Hello Kolob

A wise and buxom woman once told me, there is a time and place for everything, and only you will know when that time is.

As an almost lifelong (mum converted when I was 7)  Mormon, who has been through all the milestones and out again, a lot of thoughts, feelings and emotions about this culture that is ‘the church’ can build up. Sometimes they blurt out at the wrong time, sometimes they seep out in a passive aggressive, or even a passive nicey-nicey way.

This time though is different, I want to try and get them out in a clear, articulate way, that I like to think I can as a high flying executive. I think this is my time for sharing my true feelings about the culture I grew up in, and am now raising my own kids in.

Now for a few confessions….

I love attending with my family, I love that I had a great youth (happy memories of the infamous dances of Hyde Park, Wandsworth, Imperial College, Reading, Cheltenham, North meets South, Huddersfield, Granada Studios, Manchester) I love the extended network of people I know and respect, I love how most Mormons (and ex-mormons) in the UK are linked in less than 2 hops,  I love the old church films, I love the good morals it teaches my kids, I love the fascination with American culture (where I found my love of rootbeer and reeces pieces), I even love some of the teachings, and as a semi-outsider it is amusing watching some of the internal ward and stake politics that go-on (there are some funny buggers in the church).

I could talk for hours about our culture, and what good the church can do for people. I have seen people come into the church as people who you wouldn’t give the time of day; but though the service, teaching and leadership opportunities the church has given them, grow into more happy, successful and articulate people.

That all said, I do have a few issues with the church as a religion (and probably organised religion in general), but I am happy to put them to one side, and not focus too much on them, as they are well documented elsewhere, and really I want to just concentrate on the good, funny and curious things about my culture, the one that I identify with mostly … Mormon culture.

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