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Op Ed by Founders of "Sit With Me Sunday" / Resigning Church Membership


rockpond

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Sherri Park has written an op-ed in the SLT apologizing, sadly, for her work to help gay members come to church.  She also announces that she and her husband are resigning.

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/3261600-155/op-ed-sorry-lgbt-friends-for-lds

Quote from the article:

"We feel a need to apologize to all the people we invited to join us at church. Many gay former members of the church questioned our honesty when we first started down this path. They suspected us of being shills for the church. Actually, we were ordinary church members trying to read the decaffeinated tea leaves along with everyone else.

"What we thought was progress was just sleight of hand as practiced by the church department of public relations. Our eyes have been opened, and we are starting down a different path. We are resigning from the LDS Church and plan to become more involved with secular groups such as Mama Dragons and the homeless youth shelter."

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3 minutes ago, bluebell said:

If a person's church membership is conditional on the church accepting ssm, then I guess it's right for them to leave. 

 

I'm not aware of that being part of Sherri's POV.  Are you?  It certainly wasn't referenced in the letter I cited.

 

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31 minutes ago, Mystery Meat said:

I think it is very strongly implied in the quote you provided.

I don't see the implication, there is nothing in the quote that speaks to gay marriage.  Sherri and her husband started the Sit With Me Sunday program which has no tie to SSM, it's only about making homosexual church members feel that they have a friend and a safe space at church.

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1 minute ago, bluebell said:

She said-"What we thought was progress was just sleight of hand as practiced by the church department of public relations."  What progress was she talking about, that was suddenly obvious it wasn't going to happen when the policy came out, other than moving towards acceptance of SSM?

I'm not sure how else to interpret her words.

Church is still just as welcoming of gays as it was before the policy came out, so what changed concerning the people she was inviting to sit with them, that caused her to decide the church wasn't true any longer?  

Your perspective is interesting in that you seem to see a lot in her words that I don't.

First, consider that the progress she refers to might be greater love, acceptance, understanding, and compassion toward LGBT individuals.  Not acceptance of SSM.

Second, she didn't say that she decided the "church wasn't true".

I disagree that the church is just as welcoming now as it was before they published the policy.  The policy specifically targets gay couples who were accepting enough of the church that they wanted to retain membership and allow their kids to be members -- and it takes away that opportunity.  That's not really a welcoming gesture.

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32 minutes ago, bluebell said:

That kind of progress is still very possible though, so if that's the kind of progress she is talking about, why has she left?

If you believed that the church was Christ's church on the earth and contained His gospel (i.e., it was 'true') then why would you resign from it?

I think any church that says "we realize that our doctrine is not compatible with your family, and even though we actively seek to convert everyone to the gospel of Christ, we respect your family enough not to cause contention or hard feelings by trying to proselyte your children and instead welcome them to join once they are adults." to be very welcoming and kind.

And you feel this policy avoids causing contention and hard feelings?  I don't.

As for your first two questions... they are great questions.  Did you read the entirety of the op-ed?  I would deduce that she has given up on the church making that kind of progress.  I'm not sure if she feels that the church is currently "Christ's church".  And even if she feels that the LDS church contains the Lord's gospel, she may not feel that she has to remain a member to have access to the gospel.  There's a lot of nuance in these subjects to consider.

 

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15 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think it tries to cause the least amount of contention and hard feelings as possible in a very difficult situation.  

No policy exists or will ever exist that causes no conflict or hard feelings.  We humans are just not built that way.  If there is a way to be offended at something, no matter how sincere the effort or how small the offense, we will find it and blog or Facebook about it. :) 

I agree there is a lot of nuance on the issues.  However, i think my conclusions were reasonable, based on what she wrote (which is all i have to go on).  

I have read the entire article, and it did not give me a very good impression of her.  Her conclusions were at the worst, dishonest, and at best, misguided.  For example, she states "Our church leaders removed the ability of local leaders to deal with this issue humanely and told them to excommunicate those gay members in legal marriages and to shun their children."  That's flat out not true.  Elder Christofferson specifically said that excommunication was not mandatory, and that such children can still attend church and receive blessings for health and comfort (the opposite of shunning).   

As i said before, it's logical that she and her husband would leave.  

 

If we're making reasonable conclusions, than it is also reasonable to see a policy that prohibits children of gay parents from receiving saving ordinances until they are adults, move out, and disavow their parents' relationship as "shunning".  That is a reasonable conclusion that many have made.

But I don't want to delve too much back into the policy lest we get merged into that monstrosity of a thread on the policy. :)

As for Sherri Park being dishonest, I have to disagree with you.  You might not like the way she sees it but she isn't being dishonest.  By classifying a same sex marriage as apostasy, the handbook doesn't leave much wiggle room for leaders.  Quoting that section of the handbook:  "Priesthood leaders must take disciplinary action against apostates to protect Church members."  They "must take disciplinary action".  Do you see a bishop or stake president reading that and feeling that they have room to avoid excommunicating a member in a gay marriage?

 

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13 minutes ago, Russell C McGregor said:

The "sleight of hand" accusation (and make no mistake, it's an accusation) is based upon self-generated expectations, and not upon anything the leaders of the Church did or did not do.

...

So what's your view, Rockpond? Did the brethren practice some "sleight of hand?"

No, I disagree with that comment by Sherri.  I don't consider it "sleight of hand".  I think they are doing their very best to make policy for an area where we clearly need further light and knowledge.

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11 minutes ago, rockpond said:

If we're making reasonable conclusions, than it is also reasonable to see a policy that prohibits children of gay parents from receiving saving ordinances until they are adults, move out, and disavow their parents' relationship as "shunning".  That is a reasonable conclusion that many have made.

The definition of 'shun' is to avoid, ignore, or reject.  It's not reasonable to say that asking someone to wait until they are adults to get baptized, to not live in an environment that doesn't support their beliefs, and to agree with the doctrines of the church they are joining is being avoided, ignored, or rejected.

It's also not reasonable to say that someone who is welcome at church and is welcome to church blessings is being avoided, ignored, or rejected by the church. :pardon:

 

Quote

As for Sherri Park being dishonest, I have to disagree with you.  You might not like the way she sees it but she isn't being dishonest.  By classifying a same sex marriage as apostasy, the handbook doesn't leave much wiggle room for leaders.  Quoting that section of the handbook:  "Priesthood leaders must take disciplinary action against apostates to protect Church members."  They "must take disciplinary action".  Do you see a bishop or stake president reading that and feeling that they have room to avoid excommunicating a member in a gay marriage?

Since Elder Christofferson specifically said that taking disciplinary action does not mandate excommunication, local leaders would be pretty confused not to realize they have room to avoid it.

I'm pretty sure that the handbook says something similar about endowed members who commit adultery, but i personally know of a couple situations where the spouse was not excommunicated.  The handbook didn't force the leaders'  hand in that situation.  I don't see why it would it for someone in a SSM.

 

Edited by bluebell
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46 minutes ago, bluebell said:

The definition of 'shun' is to avoid, ignore, or reject.  It's not reasonable to say that asking someone to wait until they are adults to get baptized, to not live in an environment that doesn't support their beliefs, and to agree with the doctrines of the church they are joining is being avoided, ignored, or rejected.

It's also not reasonable to say that someone who is welcome at church and is welcome to church blessings is being avoided, ignored, or rejected by the church. :pardon:

 

Since Elder Christofferson specifically said that taking disciplinary action does not mandate excommunication, local leaders would be pretty confused not to realize they have room to avoid it.

I'm pretty sure that the handbook says something similar about endowed members who commit adultery, but i personally know of a couple situations where the spouse was not excommunicated.  The handbook didn't force the leaders'  hand in that situation.  I don't see why it would it for someone in a SSM.

 

Your understanding of the handbook policies is incorrect.  Adultery is part of section 6.7.2 which states that a disciplinary council is not mandatory.  Apostasy is part of 6.7.3 which requires a disciplinary council.  Elder Christofferson's statement is not part of the handbook which will be referenced by leaders when enacting discipline.  His statement, already gone from the church's homepage will become lost in the archives of LDS.org.  Handbook takes precedence over a Mormon Newsroom interview by Brother Otterson. 

As for the 8 year old who has been taught for years that she needs to be baptized at the age of accountability, looking forward to that day, only to enter the Bishop's office and have him tell her that she cannot follow Jesus into the waters of baptism for at least a decade because of who her parents are... I will continue to argue that it is reasonable to expect that she would feel rejected by that.  

That Sherri Park's descriptions don't match yours doesn't make them misguided or dishonest.  

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30 minutes ago, rockpond said:

That Sherri Park's descriptions don't match yours doesn't make them misguided or dishonest.  

I agree.

When they don't match the generally understood definition of the term, that makes them misguided or dishonest.

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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

I agree.

When they don't match the generally understood definition of the term, that makes them misguided or dishonest.

Good.  Because I'm confident I've shown she matched the generally understood definition of the terms. 

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8 hours ago, rockpond said:

If we're making reasonable conclusions, than it is also reasonable to see a policy that prohibits children of gay parents from receiving saving ordinances until they are adults, move out, and disavow their parents' relationship as "shunning".  That is a reasonable conclusion that many have made.

But I don't want to delve too much back into the policy lest we get merged into that monstrosity of a thread on the policy. :)

As for Sherri Park being dishonest, I have to disagree with you.  You might not like the way she sees it but she isn't being dishonest.  By classifying a same sex marriage as apostasy, the handbook doesn't leave much wiggle room for leaders.  Quoting that section of the handbook:  "Priesthood leaders must take disciplinary action against apostates to protect Church members."  They "must take disciplinary action".  Do you see a bishop or stake president reading that and feeling that they have room to avoid excommunicating a member in a gay marriage?

 

I thought you had experience in bishopric. Did every disciplinary council end in excommunication? I may not have much experience in them myself, but I know the few I know about have had alternate outcomes.

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9 hours ago, bluebell said:

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that if you asked a group of people "If I invite you to church and encourage you to participate in receiving certain blessings for healing and comfort with me, but don't allow you to participate in everything that goes on, are you being shunned?" they would laugh and say no. 

Especially if any of them were a part of a culture or religion that *actually* shuns peole

We will just have to agree to disagree on this because it's obvious neither of us is going to concede to the other. 

Of course your statement isn't providing the full story, let's write it together and get both sides:

"If I invite you to church, but call your parents apostates; if I encourage you to participate in receiving certain blessings for healing and comfort, but deny you the critical, saving ordinances given to children of straight parents; if I don't allow you to participate in everything that goes on; if our leaders say that it is likely not appropriate for you to "be in Primary or other organizations"; if I tell you that they only way you can enter into full fellowship with us is to move out of your home and disavow your own parents' relationship; have you been shunned?"

 

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6 hours ago, Avatar4321 said:

I thought you had experience in bishopric. Did every disciplinary council end in excommunication? I may not have much experience in them myself, but I know the few I know about have had alternate outcomes.

Yes, and of course every disciplinary council does not end in excommunication.  But most of the definitions of apostasy leave room for some judgement.  Being in a gay marriage is really a binary situation.  Either one is or one isn't.  I supposed transgender individuals are the exception.

Upon reading the handbook section, do you feel a Bishop, who wants to follow the handbook, has any room to avoid excommunicating an apostate?

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18 hours ago, rockpond said:
25 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Yes, and of course every disciplinary council does not end in excommunication.  But most of the definitions of apostasy leave room for some judgement.  Being in a gay marriage is really a binary situation.  Either one is or one isn't.  I supposed transgender individuals are the exception.

Upon reading the handbook section, do you feel a Bishop, who wants to follow the handbook, has any room to avoid excommunicating an apostate?

 

I don't agree with your assumption that following the handbook is the end all and be all of leadership.  I am taught by the D&C and the handbook itself to follow the Spirit first and foremost.  As long as I am doing that I am confident that my leaders will support my every decision.  

You seem to think and believe that the handbook is the sole arbiter in disciplinary courts.  Where does the Spirit fit into that type of construct?

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20 hours ago, Mystery Meat said:

I think it is very strongly implied in the quote you provided.

You mean "assumed".

There is a significant difference between expecting and needing the church to be a safe place for all people to worship and the expectation that the church should change to accept SSM in the temple. SSM in society is a legal right so there's not much use arguing about that, but conflating these other two issues is a mistake that is commonly made.

 

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53 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

You mean "assumed".

There is a significant difference between expecting and needing the church to be a safe place for all people to worship and the expectation that the church should change to accept SSM in the temple. SSM in society is a legal right so there's not much use arguing about that, but conflating these other two issues is a mistake that is commonly made.

 

okay, so could you tell me how the church can make Sunday worship more welcoming while still condemning the sinful practice of ssm and homosexuality? I would like to understand what you think that would look like.

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