Archive for September, 2008

Sep 30 2008

Andrew Callahan – Letter to my Stake President – Apology, Thoughts & Questions

Dear President Sleight,

I hope you were able to spend a pleasant Friday evening with your family since you did not have to travel to Kearney to deal with what must be a rather unpleasant part of your responsibilities. As you know, you and I have only met once, and that was a brief meeting last month. I want to assure you that I wish you no ill will, and am truly sorry for any discomfort you feel in having to deal with me and this situation that we are both in.

As I indicated to you in my e-mail of last Thursday, I am not clear on what conduct you believe I have participated in that was “unbecoming a member of the church” or how you reach the conclusion that I “have been in apostasy.” I would appreciate some more information about those things so that I may prepare a proper response for the disciplinary council.

Because I have asked you to explain yourself, I think it only fair that I explain myself. Inasmuch as I have had a little fun at the expense of stake presidents, mission presidents, temple presidents, and area seventies, I want to offer my sincere apology to any I may have made feel uncomfortable in any way with my letters of late July and early August. As I explained in my two-part YouTube video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeJtp0OEWRo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw70YMKCpYY ) those letters were designed essentially as a publicity stunt, and it met with success beyond my wildest dreams. I hope there are no lingering hard feelings over this stunt of mine. I hope that it is clear that while there are certainly leaders and members all throughout the church who disagree with the First Presidency’s stance on Proposition 8, there was no serious attempt to organize people into secret combinations, using code words, tokens, secret handshakes and other such nonsense.

I have now had a few days to contemplate what to write to you. There are many, many things I wish to both say to you and to ask you, but in the interest of brevity I will keep it to just a few.

First, it seems that the church’s current position is in direct opposition to the eleventh and twelfth Articles of Faith, and verses in D&C 134. The right of civil marriage exists in California for gays and lesbians, as clearly stated by the California Supreme Court. Regarding the Twelfth Article of Faith, the church’s efforts are clearly not to obey, honor and sustain the law as it now exists, but to overturn that law. Further, many other religions currently have the spiritual and religious right to solemnize marriages for gay or lesbian couples and our church is seeking to deny them these spiritual and religious rights. Our Eleventh Article of Faith and D&C 134 both clearly state that we don’t feel we should interfere with the spiritual or religious rights of others, and D&C 134:9 specifically states we feel it is inappropriate to mingle religious influence with civil government where that fosters one religious viewpoint, but proscribes spiritual privileges and individual civil rights of others. I know that we claim the right speak boldly about our own moral convictions, but D&C 134:4 clearly limits the exercise of our religion where it “infringes upon the rights and liberties of others.” Marriage is a “right” in this country (as clearly stated in Loving v. Virginia in 1967) and that right is recognized by the United Nations’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the United States is a signatory. It seems clear to me that the church is attempting to force its own moral standard upon others, and in so doing, depriving them of religious and spiritual privileges and civil rights. I am opposed to such action, as are many other church members.

Second, the hymn “Do What Is Right” (Hymns #237) resonates with me, and I am willing to “Do what is right, and let the consequences follow.” I also take great comfort in knowing that President Thomas S. Monson agrees with this sentiment, for he said in the April General Conference:

You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience. . . . (“Examples of Righteousness” – Priesthood Session, April 2008)

The disguise that the church is attempting to foist upon others is that there will be some damage to society if gays are allowed to marry. The disguise is that this bigotry and intolerance come from God. The disguise is that this bigotry is not bigotry at all, but unconditional love. The disguise is that this bigotry seeks the common good, rather than to continue the Mormon-centric and paternalistic false traditions of our Mormon, Christian and Abrahamic fathers.

Most of my friends for the last twenty years have been members of the church. Even as those friends now urge me to either join with them in their intolerance or stand silent while they attempt to deprive others of their rights and privileges, I will stand up and try to stop them, even if I must stand alone.

There are many more things I could say, President, but I will close with these questions for you to contemplate, and hopefully answer as your time and energy permits.

When gay marriages began to be performed in Massachusetts and later California, did it cause you to want to leave your wife? Did it cause you to become gay or want to become gay? Did it cause your you or your wife to abandon or want to abandon your children? Did it cause you to fall into a life of debauchery and sin? Did it cause you to change your life in any way for the worse? If none of these things happened to you, was that because you are superior to others, or because there is no real harm to come from gay marriage? If you didn’t experience these terrible things and I didn’t, and President Monson didn’t, and I can find no one else who did, then what harm is there to the family? Please, tell me what catastrophes or terrible outcomes await us if gay marriages continue as opposed to if they are stopped? Would not the precedent of a religious minority able to codify its own morality offer a greater risk to Mormonism and to society than gay marriage? Is going down the slippery slope of taking rights away from minorities really a good idea?

I look forward to hearing from you, and I wish you and your family well.

Sincerely,

Andrew D. Callahan

No responses yet

Sep 28 2008

Jim Jensen, Glencoe, Alabama – A Yes vote for Prop 8 is a vote towards an LDS theocracy

I was raised in the LDS Church. I served in numerous callings. My last calling was in 2001. I had spent 43 years of my life as a faithful Mormon. I was serving as the 2nd counselor in the bishopric when all my doubts and questions came crashing in on me. I realized that there truly was no inspiration in the LDS Church. The bad advice given by the leadership ruined people’s lives and destroyed families.

I grew up in the church and I had questions all my life. A big one was why doesn’t the Church love unconditionally. Anyone who was not LDS was considered a “gentile” and this was said in a derogatory way. They were different and somehow less than us. Oh we were told to love them but it was clear that if you were not a member in good standing, you were not equal. Many “good” LDS would not allow their children to play with “gentile” children.

I was taught that someday the world would be a theocracy and it would be headed by the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So it came as no surprise to me when the LDS leadership told its members to do all they could to take away the rights of those who are “different”.

You only have to look at the history of the LDS Church to see a pattern of forcing their religious views on those who do not share them. Joseph Smith wanted to be president and clearly stated that he would declare himself king and make America a theocracy if he was elected. Brigham Young ruled the Utah territory as a theocracy. Even today, businessmen in Utah know it is easier to do business if you are LDS.

The LDS Church has clearly involved itself in politics by telling its members how to vote on this issue from the pulpit. This is wrong. However, because they are careful to not endorse a candidate, they won’t lose their tax exempt status.

Don’t be fooled. Win or lose this political battle, this will not be the last issue we face. They will continue to fight for things that will limit the rights of those they deem as sinners.

We need to fight this. Do not let a small group of old, bigoted men, tell loving people how they should live, love or marry.

Proposition 8 as stated will eliminate the RIGHT of same sex couples to marry.

I support Gay Marriage and say NO to LDS theocratic rule and Proposition 8.

No responses yet

Sep 28 2008

Hastings man’s activism may result in excommunication

An article in the Hastings Tribune about Andrew Callahan’s possible excommunication for opposing Proposition 8.

http://signingforsomething.org/HastTribstory.pdf

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Sep 28 2008

Nebraska man’s LDS disciplinary hearing delayed

ABC-4 news in SLC reports that Andrew Callahan’s disciplinary council has been delayed by LDS Church officials until sometime in November.

http://www.abc4.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=ef6f223e-335a-466b-8ad7-401c19c4f2d8

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Sep 27 2008

Amy Cox, Payson, Utah – The Church’s Stance Mocks Our Belief In Free Agency

Several years ago, I became certified in an alternative Christ-centered emotional release therapy, and have since that time been given the opportunity to spent hundreds of hours inside the minds and hearts of many LDS members. Some time ago, I had a woman seek out my help, as she had actually been turned away by her LDS counselor because she was gay, and they had been unsuccessful in making any lasting progress to help her overcome her “same sex attraction”. I agreed to help, and as is usual in my work, I went into it with an open mind and no judgment. I will forever be grateful for what this good woman taught me as she shared her pain and struggles. This faithful member of the Church has served a mission and tried to do all that she can to follow the counsel of her priesthood leaders. As I listened to her relate her experiences with these leaders, for which she was faithfully looking to for spiritual guidance, I became absolutely appalled at the abusive treatment that she was receiving in the name of God’s love. Their repeated promises given by the power of the priesthood, that if she would just prove faithful enough and abstain from acting on any of her natural inclinations, she would be blessed to overcome this “trial of her faith” and be able to marry a man and raise a family, have not been fulfilled. As a result of this priesthood counsel which follows the teachings of the Church, her psyche has been severely damaged, and she has become more and more depressed with each failed effort. She was led to believe that what she was doing was not accepted as enough, that God’s love was conditional and He was withholding blessing her with her righteous desires because of her unworthiness. She trusted and believed, but even when she transgressed with something not related to her sexual orientation, and common to many members which I know for a fact still maintain a recommend, hers was denied and threats were given of further discipline. She has been threatened with excommunication if she so much as even speaks to a woman she once was in love with and was literally ripped away from without having any opportunity to end the relationship in a way that would give her closure—even being forced by her LDS friends and family to get rid of or burn any possessions or gifts related to that “sinful” relationship. This woman to my knowledge is still clinging to the Church and trying to remain faithful to its teachings, even though it assures her a life of despair.

Needing to gain more wisdom and understanding, and realizing that there was no enlightenment found within the Church on this matter to my view, I began to research. I read the findings of reputable, well educated and experienced psychologists, and began to immerse myself in listening to the personal stories and experiences of those who were gay and mistreated because of the ignorance and bigotry of those around them. Unfortunately, this sort of judgment is perpetuated by the Church in many ways including the leadership’s decision to take an active political stand in supporting Proposition 8. Our gay brothers and sisters should have the freedom to find happiness in their lives, and I do not believe in a God who would condemn them to a life of misery and expect them to live with no hope of having the kind of fulfilling intimate love they may desire and are unable to have in any way other than accepting who they are. Nor do I believe in a God who would dole out punishment by taking away their basic rights and privileges, including marriage if they so choose. At one time this Church actually taught that our brothers and sisters with darker skin were cursed and had been less valiant in the pre-existence. The teachings even went so far as the prophet Brigham Young stating that those who would mix seed with these people should be killed. It was also taught in the scriptures that their skins would become “white and delightsome” when they turned from their sinful ways, but I’ve yet to see that happen. Now thankfully, we distance ourselves from this bigotry and receive people of all races in full membership. These persecutions and teachings were false—the persecution and teachings regarding homosexuality are equally false, and the Church’s attempts to claim that homosexuality can be cured is as ridiculous as the possibility of a black man’s skin turning white.

With my feelings being expressed on the mistreatment of homosexuals in this Church, I now wish to relate the events that led me to take a stand in this matter by writing this letter, when it has not been in my nature to publicly speak out as I am now.

My husband, a wonderful man who cherishes his family and honors his priesthood, is currently serving as 1st counselor to our bishop. As a member of the bishopric he attends Stake Bishopric Council each month. Last week as my husband arrived, our Stake President (whose own brother is gay) referred to a letter signed by the First Presidency which stated the church’s position on Proposition 8. It was passed out to each bishop with instruction that if they hear of any member of their wards opposing the Church’s stance, they are to be reported to him. Our Stake President went on to state how there were people in our area who were collecting money to oppose the Proposition, and this was unacceptable. So apparently it’s okay for bishops to put collection boxes outside their offices and Stake Presidents to start web sites to collect donations to support Proposition 8, but those who oppose have no right to do the same? I do not understand how the Brethren can justify taking such an active stance in government when it violates our own doctrine to not “mingle religious influence with civil government” (D&C 134:9). What sickens me the most is that the Church would use its power to not only influence members to vote for something that would take away the basic rights of those who most of which are not even affiliated with the Church nor believe as we do, but that in doing so they are now also infringing upon the rights of their own members by enforcing their stance on us with threats to those who in good conscience, do not approve. I am one of these latter members who is willing to take the risk of speaking out on something that mocks the Church’s claim of belief in free agency, and in doing so, may very well put my own membership in jeopardy.

No responses yet

Sep 26 2008

Brecken Chinn Swartz, Greenbelt, MD – “Wearing the Pants”

I believe the Church’s opposition of same-sex marriage has nothing to do with intimacy, love, or marriage. It’s about Power.

The Church hierarchy is a masculine system that relies on hierarchy — someone being “over” someone else, much like in the military or corporate America. No matter how benign the intent, social relations are founded on a command-and-control paradigm. One person’s “revelation” trumps that of another.

In the Church, this form of revelatory power has always been mapped to gender. We are organized in “priesthood families” wherein the priesthood means manhood.

Having a partnership wherein both parties “wear the pants” (or the skirts) in the family requires a new paradigm of social relations. To make decisions, the “priesthood card” is no longer relevant. The leadership of the Church is fundamentally afraid of giving away the “wearing of the pants” because this new paradigm would require new levels of openness and humility in relating to each other and making decisions.

Christ’s teachings were not about how to build and sustain an organization. He spent his ministry reaching out to the disenfranchised, empowering the powerless.

It is His example that I choose to follow.

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Sep 26 2008

Jennifer Lindy Talley, Cleveland, Ohio – Secular Politics

My parents raised me in the LDS church. I was baptized at 8 years old. My only brother completed a 2 year mission for the church and married in the temple. I find that most people in the LDS church are good, moral, responsible, and family oriented folks. This is why I was so disturbed to learn that for the second time in history the LDS church leadership has decided to involve the church in politics, and tried to dictate to its members how to vote and how to spend their money and time. For the second time in history the LDS church is encouraging its members to hate, and to try and influence legislation that would reinforce bigotry and impose religious beliefs onto the general populous. For the second time in history the LDS church is going against its own doctrine to keep civil government and religion separate in the name of intolerance. Opposing the Civil Rights Amendment was a mistake. Advocating the amendment to ban equality of marriage for everyone is a mistake.

Support the Family. Support all families. Support equal marriage rights for homosexuals.

I will be spreading this message to every brother and sister in the church that I can reach. I hope that the leadership can pray and look into their hearts and realize that your Heavenly Father loves all of his children and wants you to love them too.

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Sep 26 2008

Andrew Kinloch, Invercargill NZ – Why only America???

So here in NZ we have had same sex marriage labelled as a Civil Union for some time. What i don’t understand is why the church wasn’t actively opposed to the passing of legislation to allow same sex marriage in other countries like New Zealand. WHY does the church only care about America???

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Sep 25 2008

Timothy Werner, Maumelle, AR – God or Gays? Why do we have to choose?

Even at a young age I was a firm believer in everything America stood for. Freedom, equality, justice and tolerance. When I learned recently that the church was openly asking people to support a constitutional amendment, I was shocked. When I further discovered that the proposed amendment would limit the rights of a group of Americans simply because of the people they love? I was disappointed, disillusioned and extremely angry.

Many people use the excuse that the church is interfering in this because it is a moral issue and they need to get involved to protect society. However, they fail to realize that homosexuals have been around for a very long time and society is still here. How well it is doing is a point of contention, but the fact remains, it exists. What they also fail to realize is that legalizing gay marriage will NOT change their personal lives. The only thing that will change is that heterosexual married couples will be on equal terms with homosexual married couples. The world will not sink into a fiery pit and descend to hell, chaos will not reign in the streets. Life, for a majority of Americans will continue on, unchanged. You can continue worshipping whoever, or whatever you believe in. Legalizing gay marriage will not change that. It is not an either/or situation. You can be tolerant and give all people the respect they deserve AND give your God respect as well. They are not mutually exclusive.

The Declaration of Independence states that every American has the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. That means that no person or organization should have the ability to infringe on that right.

There is another U.S. document that relates to this. It’s called the Constitution of the United States of America. It is THE supreme law of the land. In it, it calls for churches to not interfere with the matters of government and for government to not interfere with the matters of the church. I, personally, have no problem with people standing up for what they believe in. The problem I have is when people attempt to limit what people can and cannot do because their religion says so, especially when what they are protesting has no effect on them. I have an even bigger problem when an entire church ORDERS their congregation to discriminate like this. It is absolutely, unequivocally and 100% UNCONSTITUTIONAL to tell a group of people they cannot do something simply because of who they love.

This brings me to my conclusion. Why can’t people like the same gender? Is it any different than someone liking a blonde over a brunette, or an overweight person over a skinny person? It’s all about your personal preference. If you want to have a relationship with a consenting adult male, do it. If you want to have a relationship with a consenting adult female, do it. No one should be able to control who you have a relationship with and thankfully they can’t. However, apparently they can control who you marry. If you love someone and they are a legal, consenting adult you should be able to marry them regardless of whether you are gay, straight, fat, skinny, tall, short, blonde or brunette. Love has no shape, it’s just a feeling and if you love someone and you want to express your love to them by marrying them, until death do you part, then do it! It’s your life, live it how you want.

Gay marriage bans are unconstitutional, discriminatory, hurtful and intolerant and they need to be done away with once and for all for the betterment of society and the betterment of the human race.

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Sep 25 2008

Bill Green, Holladay Utah – Please Stop the Madness!

Dear Leaders of the LDS Church:
This letter in sent by me and does not represent the official stance of my congregation. I am a native born Utahan and neighbor who’s family were Mormon pioneers on both sides of the family tree. I am not LDS, but rather a member of the United Church of Christ. Through yours and our interfaith outreach we have enjoyed many wonderful encounters, and there have been times when we have had to “agree to disagree” on certain views and teachings. I have watched as the issue of gay and lesbian rights has caused turmoil in your church in the past several years. I have chosen to simply watch from a distance as your children have wept. I can no longer remain mute. Yes, my church, Holladay United Church of Christ, is an open an affirming congregation, and we do support the rights of all people, including gay marriage, and we acknowledge God’s unconditional love for all of God’s children. So, my views are through that lens. But I speak to you today from a more fundamental place. I have spent much time with members of Gamafites, and held the hands of gay and lesbian former members of the LDS church, and I have had the profound joy of playing music with Peter and Mary Danzig. I have wiped the eyes of your children, oh Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are causing profound, needless pain. I appeal to you in the name of Jesus, our common teacher, to stop your persecution of his children. You may not understand that they are perfectly created the way that they are, but even if there was something wrong with them, it does not justify the unloving way that you have treated these precious children. Just as with the rights of the black man, you are on the wrong side of history. I hope that we can continue to coexist in fellowship in spite of our theological differences, but I for one cannot give tacit approval to your horrible treatment of your members. I call on you to immediately stop persecuting those that were created with a different sexual orientation than the accepted standard heterosexual one. I demand that you stop excommunicating your members that stand in solidarity with those that you would persecute. And I insist that you stop your activities to influence laws that would spread persecution beyond the doors of your churches. I know that I speak to you with the authority of Jesus the Christ and the teacher upon we have built our churches. I pray for the day when we can be reconciled and God will embrace us again together in fellowship.
In the service of Jesus the Christ,
Bill Green

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