Wednesday, November 11, 2015

request: from an apostate to a believer

me at the philadelphia magic gardens--a beautiful space created by community members in order to strengthen and preserve  their neighborhood.  it worked. 
i am an apostate member of the mormon church, and i have a sincere and humble favor to ask of my believing brothers and sisters.  

1) consider that the policy banning the children of gay marriages or partnerships from membership in the lds church is a policy and not a prophetic revelation, and is therefore subject to the fallability of man (i use the masculine noun advisedly here).  i believe that this policy was an error, that it was not released to the church handbook through the normal channels (i have some inside information on this one from a very credible but unameable first hand source.)

2) consider an interpretation of article of faith 11, one of the most cherished tenets of my own personal ethos, suggesting not only that we as mormons support freedom of religion, but that within our own religion, we should act according to our individual consciences when necessary:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

in my experience, mormons read this article almost exclusively in regards to our belief that individuals should be able to join any religion they like.  consider also: that we claim the privilege of following conscience from within the mormon congregation.  we are duty bound to follow our consciences.  i ask you to make sure you know what your own still small voice is telling you.

3) many times we are warned that "criticizing our leaders" means that we are acting against the church.  consider telling your local leaders, in writing or vocally, that this policy is antithetical to the gospel of jesus christ (in any dispensation). consider that this action would actually strengthen and build up the mormon church--consider that an empowered and proactive membership is desirable to any viable and dynamic organization.

4) consider that this is your (our?) church, in partnership with god.  you pay for it, you run it, you spread it, teach it, preach it, and live it, and you interpret the words of scripture, leaders, and the promptings of the spirit with the full sanction of your founder joseph smith.  if you think that this policy is discriminatory, harmful, damaging, and against your personal belief system, you may be right, and i urge you not to be afraid to say so.  

as a church body, i think we are ready to evolve, to be less scared of internal and also public discussion and dissent.  i urge you not to be afraid to do what you think is right. avoid smoothing over the cognitive dissonance that most christians would find obvious in such a mandate as this new so-called policy.

5)  consider reading and listening to the many stories of heartbreak, terror, shame, isolation, and persecution that your lgbtqia brothers and sisters have experienced in our church, if you haven't already.  if the effects of this policy are purely theoretical to you, do your research. talk to some real live gay people and their families, or read the abundantly available accounts of their stories online.  then check in with your consciences again and do what you know is right. 

i am no longer a practicing mormon, and i am not now, nor have i ever been, a believing mormon.  however, i have been a very active participant in my church community for my entire life, save the past few months.  i have paid tens of thousands of dollars in tithing, and spent tens of thousands of hours in church attendance and service. mormonism is my culture, my ethnicity, and my heritage. my life is as bound to mormonism as it ever was, although i am critical of some of the practices of the institutional church. i am unable to fully support the religion any more because of this kind of hateful and intolerant practice, which i believe to be unworthy of the countless good and worthy brothers and sisters i have met through my religious community.  

i know, because the people i love most in this world are sincere, faithful, and believing mormons, that it doesn't need to be this way, that it can be better.  i personally failed at making it better, and my unbelief has taken away my will to continue much longer in the official church, but i know there are stronger, smarter, and more devoted individuals than me left in the congregations, who, god help us, can fix this mess.  

i have asked mormons for help my whole life when i didn't know where else to turn.  my congregation is where i have always gone when i need something, when i'm desperate and despondent, and i can honestly say that i have always been met with an extended hand.  

so this is my request.