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By Five Solas
Got back home last Sunday after 8 days in London, England, celebrating my 10-year wedding anniversary with my wife. Our three kiddos stayed at home with her parents—which was awfully generous of them. (Other guys may complain about their in-laws, but not I.) It was a great trip, perfect walking weather, peak tourist season not yet started.
We stayed at The Grosvenor adjacent to Victoria Station, which meant we had pretty near the whole city within ~ 30 minutes via the Underground (and Buckingham Palace within a six minute walk). And I’ll share one small observation with the board for any discussion:
Aberrant theology notwithstanding, the Jehovah’s Witnesses work pretty dang hard.
A number of times we saw them working the street. And unlike Seattle where they will occasionally occupy a corner & smile gently at passers-by—here they seemed to be anxiously engaged with the vast diversity of humanity that occupies greater London. Yes, we saw a lot of old churches and even a new one that could have been an Acts 29 plant. But in all our time, we never once saw any LDS missionaries.
Recently there was a thread about religious persecution in contemporary Russia. And this has hit the JW’s hard—because they’ve worked vigorously to establish themselves after the fall of the Soviet Union and have built quite a presence (~100K active worshipers in Russia). But on that same thread, we couldn’t even figure out how many LDS stakes there are today in Russia (somewhere between zero and three). Some other stats were tossed about along with an LDS “Locator” app which, among other things, pointed the user to what could have been a boarded-up McDonald's. After nearly three decades since the fall, LDS here don’t know or seem to care (but a few certainly enjoyed discussing/debating political aspects of Russia). It’s a stunning contrast to all the fevered speculation when I was growing up (70’s – 80’s) about the missionary/membership opportunity for the LDS Church if Communism were to fall.
I realize it’s all anecdotal, and with a life-expectancy assumption of 110 for lost members, we can expect the LDS Church to continue to claim modest membership growth into the foreseeable future (loosing track of people makes *much* better numbers than knowing who actually dies or quits).
The question I have is this: Have we entered a period of retreat and retrenchment for the LDS Church where the focus will shift more to Utah and adjacent states (plus perhaps a few parts of the “third world” where record keeping and independent verification of membership will conveniently not be possible). Even at the national level, we appear to see an example of retrenchment with BYU’s divorce from USAF ROTC. And on the front page we have a thread about whether “slowing growth” makes any difference to the LDS Church and its adherents. And again, the LDS here don’t seem terribly interested or concerned.
What do you think? Has Mormonism peaked? Any will LDS really care if it has?
Your tired family grieving
And you think they're sad because you're leaving
But did you see Jealousy in the eyes
Of the ones who had to stay behind?
--The Smiths "London"
By Five Solas
Thinking about BYU losing the US Air Force ROTC program it has hosted, almost since the inception of the Air Force (as a separate service from the USAAC). Although some will play down the move to UVU – I think this could prove a watershed moment for BYU and for LDS.
For over half a century the Air Force played by the rules of the LDS authored “Honor Code” at BYU and found officers willing to work within its constraints. In return, BYU supplied thousands of competent officers.
And whatever the exact equation of costs vs. benefits for Air Force officer recruitment/training, one thing is certain: The LDS Church and its flagship university aren’t as valuable as they used to be. They used to be worth accommodating--and now they're not. LDS influence stands diminished.
A couple years ago, Daniel C. Peterson wrote an article that was perhaps prescient—
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, it was easy to assume that American society respected Latter-day Saints. We might be out on the theological fringe, regarded as a bit quirky, but American civic religion was at least theoretically pretty much on our side. For example, Americans seemed to honor ideals of faithful, heterosexual marriage, with fathers taking the lead and mothers caring for children. Society was, in other words, largely in sync with, and supportive of, fundamental, practical Mormon values. In fact, Mormons seemed quintessentially American — which, in the postwar era of the Pax Americana, benefited our church not only in the United States but in Europe and Japan.
Today, though, Mormonism and Western society seem to be parting ways in crucial respects.
What do folks think? Is the Air Force ROTC departure from BYU related to a broader trend Peterson wrote about in 2015?
This looks to be a huge step forward and I applaud BYU for it. It will be interesting to see what exactly an amnesty clause looks like.
I'm very proud of BYU today. The advisory committee worked quickly to make their recommendations and BYU has accepted all 23 recommendations though some of them will be phased in gradually. Among the immediate changes will be that survivors of sexual assault who report to the Title IX office will receive amnesty for other violations of the honor code that occurred near the time of the assault. This will encourage more victims to step forward and report their assaults which will in turn help BYU get rid of the perpetrators and provide greater security on campus and among its students. This is great news.
By phaedrus ut
I came across something recently and I think it's interesting in light of the current criticisms of BYU's desire to join the Big 12. Because of the ban on black members going beyond baptism in their church membership I had heard about some of the historical controversies. I knew about the Wyoming 14, the protests from UTEP, and Stanfords suspension of competition with BYU but I hadn't read about the protests at University of Washington and the church's public response. I just recently read The BSU takes on BYU and the UW Athletics Program, 1970. From the article:
The interesting part of the article for me was that on March 31, 1970 BYU took out a full page ad in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Ernest Wilkinson wrote in rebuttal.
Which reads strangely similar to the statement from BYU spokesperson yesterday
There are some other interesting points in the article. Quoting Brigham Young as a defender of the rights of "the negroes", saying there were no blacks living within a 35 mile radius of the university, confirming that the ban on those of black African lineage has been "confirmed by each Prophet of the Church". But one of my favorite quotes is