Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Does Bro M have a temple recommend?

I love Mitch Mayne and I don’t even know the dude. I don’t know his most recent status, but I do know that he was functioning as an executive secretary for his LDS ward. And he is openly gay.

(Won’t it be nice when one's sexuality isn't listed in the first sentence used to describe someone. I’ll be happy when the fact that he is openly gay is way down further on the list, just under "losing his hair" but before "avid colorful sock collector".)

I have been reading about him for some time, and he is a Facebook friend, so I hear a lot from him. He often gives advise on all things Mormon and gay -- and rightly so. He is directly in the middle of everything. There are questions I myself would like to ask the man and I have been around as long as he has.
This is not Bro Mayne,
but this guy does collect socks.

Brother Mayne recently wrote an essay on his being asked whether or not he held a temple recommend. Just writing that last sentence makes me take a deep breath. I understand his concern.

He said this in his essay, "Suddenly I felt like I was sitting on the witness stand being questioned by a prosecuting attorney—like everything I’d said before would either be invalidated or accepted based on how I answered this one question. Because really, what she was asking me was, 'Do you have any value?'"

I would add this, if it is allowed -- "Do you have any value to me, for my purpose". Usually the purpose people ask is to use Mitch as a reference for other Mormons who have family/friends in the GLBT community. 

"Are you sanctioned by the church?"  
"Is what you are saying concerning homosexuality in line with what is being taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."  
"Do you represent Mormon beliefs?"

Once upon a time I myself was in a similar situation. I had achieved notoriety in my profession that allowed me to schedule firesides that were well-attended by Mormons of most ages who listened to LDS music. When the stake young men’s president or other authority contacted me to schedule, I was often asked if I had a current temple recommend.

Frankly it pissed me off -- if I may be so crass. Bro Mayne is much more eloquent. My thought process at the time was this: 

These people came to me, searched me out, somehow Sherlock-ed my cellphone number because I was a Mormon performer to ask me to come to their stake or region, sometimes hundreds of miles away, to give a musical fireside (which I did voluntarily without any monetary incentive, often paying for musicians out of pocket) – and then you require me to prove that I am a faithful Latter-day Saint?

Well, yes. That is exactly what they were asking. Looking back on the three of four years I was a draw, I see that the question was not necessarily out of line.

Bothersome, yes.
Annoying, oh-yeah.
More than a little not-very P.C., invasive and quite possibly rude? You got it.

Someone wanted/required information from me that is theoretically available, but this person hadn't put in any of the effort required to access that information about another human. It’s like asking to read someone’s journal -- possibly not an issue if you know the person and have invested time with the person -- but laughable if you don’t or haven't.

Um. No. You can’t read my journal. My journal is personal and I barely know you. 

Brother Mayne referred to this in his essay as as a shortcut.

There were several months when I answered these people that my recommend status was none of their concern. I think I was a little bit nicer about it than that -- something along the lines of ”I do not speak of my temple recommend with those outside my family and circle of friends.” Some scheduled me anyway. Some did not.

I quit being so upset about it when I realized that these people were bringing me in to speak to members of the church their family, friends and neighbors -- many of them young and impressionable or old and impressionable to be uplifted, to tell them that I was a Mormon and that I was successful (somewhat at that time) in what I did, and that they could be, too.

So what was I so concerned about? After all, confirming the standards of the church was part of my message. I had been through hell and made it through. I wanted to tell everyone within the sound of my voice that I believed in the atonement with all of my heart.  I was being asked to perform for people who wanted to see an active, card carrying LDS for inspiration. 

So, I decided that I would answer the question -- though I did draw the line at presenting my card at the door, or sending a copy of it in the mail.

If I were a young men’s president today, I might want to ask the same question. However, rather than asking about someone’s temple recommend, I might ask if they upheld the prophet and the teachings of the church (unless they were clearly not LDS -- at which point I would explain what I was looking to see if my invited guest was comfortable with our standards. 

I would also go with my gut. Is this person what is needed for the group of people that I am in charge of?

Times have changed a bit. Standards have been clearly presented and precisely drawn. There is far less fence sitting than there used to be. As the fences have become sharp and quite pointy. There are decisions to be made.

There is a time when we have a legitimate need to know where people stand on the Gospel and gospel issues.  There is also a need for kindness, sensitivity and spirit. 

No more shortcuts.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Letter from a dragon mama

I don't get a lot of religious information form the Huffington Post, but I do get interesting tidbits about Mormons and Gays and the perception of both.

Today the HP published a letter from a Mormon Mom who is "taking a stand for all the gay kids in our church".  I encourage you to read it.  I can't say that I agree to all of her opinions of the Plan of Salvation -- but I can say that any error she makes is in favor of her child and others like him, so more power to her... and them.  Us.

Here are a few excerpts:

"... If I had previously entertained any doubt that sexual preference was a choice, those doubts were completely erased as I held my sobbing teenager that night in the kitchen, as he chanted over and over, "I just want to be normal, go on a mission, get married, like everyone else." And all I could think of was, "What kid in their right mind would choose ridicule over acceptance, would choose to be a pariah in his own religious community?" I received a firm conviction that night as I held him in my arms, that this was my beloved child and that our family would rally around him and support him, and we have."

I want her on my side
"...He is learning to discard the shame and self-loathing that his religious doctrine and culture imposed upon him all those years. I am hoping that he can finally see himself as I know God sees him."

"...Here in my community people have been incredible supportive, including a fabulously affirming bishop and an incredibly well-educated and enlightened stake presidency, but the doctrine remains the same. And young gay Mormons are dying to get to heaven where they hope life won't be so cruel."
"... They will not become straight in the next life...*  I will fight for love and acceptance. For compassion and Christ-like understanding for these valiant souls from their fellow saints and the community at large."

"Perhaps then families like mine will not feel torn between a church they love and a child they would give their life for..."

* I contemplated just not quoting this sentence.  I don't agree.  My own experience has told me otherwise. I would like to speak on this at another time, but feel free to comment and I will include your thoughts in the next posting. Even with a difference in a piece of doctrine I applaud, support and promote what she stands for.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

News from the gay married Mormon guy

Here is a headline for you:

“Mormon Tabernacle Choir, LDS Church and Governor Herbert Support WCF’s Hate-a-Palooza”  

What a great headline!  Got me to click onto their sight in a hurry. Salacious headline writing is a talent.

The Deseret News, on the other hand, writes:

“The World Congress of Families will be held in Salt Lake City Oct. 27-30, marking the first time that the international family-focused gathering has taken place in the United States.

Organizers expect around 2,000 scholars, religious leaders, policymakers, world leaders, European royalty and interested members of the public from around the world to gather for the event, which is being heralded as a way to celebrate and strengthen the "natural family."

"Natural family" means children growing up with their biological, married parents, according to Allan C. Carlson, co-founder and international secretary of the World Congress of Families. He said the congress arose from research that showed children do best when they grow up in such families, and that it became, for him, "a moral imperative to advance and promote such households."

Cities from around the world bid for the event, which has previously been held in Prague, Mexico City, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Madrid and Sydney." 

That is a brief description the red side that has me turning a little red myself. However, there is more -- which I generally do not expect from the DN:

On Tuesday, Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, goes and releases a statement saying that while he protects the rights of others to free speech, he believes the World Congress of Families' stated goals "do not reflect the values of the city". 

Good for him, I say -- suddenly not looking all that impartial.

The World Congress of Families claims to be an organization founded on principles taken directly from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  It is a good read, so click on their link. It includes the thought that that adult men and women have the "right to marry and found a family," that parents have rights to choose their children's education, and that "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state".  

I don't think they are making the distinction between  a same sex marriage and an opposite sex marriage, but that all,  both men and women, have the right to marry.

Here is news from the blog of the HRC:

“Today Human Rights Campaign strongly condemned the decision by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their support and possible participation in the upcoming World Congress of Families (WCF) conference in Salt Lake City later this year.

Conference Executive Directer Janice Shaw Crouse announced that the LDS Church will have an official representative attend their three-day gathering this October, and that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform for the conference attendees. Crouse was joined by Pamela Atkinson, an adviser to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who attended and spoke positively about the group on his behalf.

Deseret News: The gathering is "child-centric and human-rights based” and incorporates ideals of “inclusion, acceptance and equality for all." …The newly formed All Families Coalition intends to counter the group with a message of its own, saying that just because an organization calls itself pro-family doesn't make it so.

HRC Blog: The World Congress of Families is one of the most dangerous groups in America, dedicated to promoting and coordinating the exportation of anti-LGBT bigotry, ideology, and legislation abroad. HRC’s scathing report on the group, Exposed: The World Congress of Families, makes clear that the organization is laser-focused on promoting policies and legislation that puts LGBT people and their families at incredible risk.

Fox News (Fair and Balanced?) While national LGBT rights organizations have blasted the World Congress of Families, Utah-based gay rights groups said they were planning to ignore the October event.

“There is nothing to be gained by protests and angry marches,” said Mark Lawrence, the director of the group Restore Our Humanity. “That gets us nowhere. We’re far more focused on just getting our message out.”

"Restore Our Humanity (which backed the lawsuit that led to same-sex marriage in Utah) joined Equality Utah and other groups to announce the “All Families Coalition,” which hold a counter-event to spotlight those who don’t fall under a “traditional” definition of family — including single parents and same-sex families."

So, there is the news.  I for one am hoping that there is a Mormon with clout that gets invited as the key-note speaker and comes out for supporting families and children of all kinds.  There is not even a change of doctrine involved in promoting loving our neighbors.