11 October 2010

Packer & The Saints vs. Brigham Young

Boyd Packer's speech during the recent LDS General Conference stirred up worldwide controversy over his insinuations that being gay was a choice, his statements that homosexuality (and therefore gay people) was/were intrinsically unnatural and immoral, that God would never "do such a thing" to any of His children, etc. Packer said nothing he hasn't been saying for the last 30+ years as part of building his reputation as one of Mormondom's most vocal opponents of The Gay. He just reiterated it more forcefully, and with spectacularly bad timing as the LDS Church is spending millions to repair its post-Prop 8 image with the "I'm a Mormon" TV ad campaign and in the wake of a cluster of suicides by gay teens bullied beyond endurance.

Others have criticized the substance of what he said, the post-Conference amendments to his text, the implications of removing his reference to the LDS Proclamation on the Family as "revelation." I won't re-hash any of that here.

Instead, I've been struck by statements from Packer's defenders and what they say about real-time attitudes toward The Gay within the LDS Church.

Officially, the Church says we love and welcome them as long as they follow the same standards of morality and chastity that straight people do (nevermind that the result of doing that is to take away all hope of any happiness from those gay Mormons who choose to comply).

But statements from the rank & file in response to non-Mormon criticism of Packer are far more telling and far more honest an indication of what the truly believing actual Mormon In Your Neighborhood probably thinks about the whole gay issue and how their Church is dealing with it.

So I now present you with a series of quotes pulled verbatim from a Facebook Group called "I Support Boyd K. Packer." I'll go very light on my own commentary here, preferring to let these faithful Mormons who support Boyd Packer's remarks speak for themselves. I'll not discuss the doctrinal and scientific errors in their statements, though I assure you there are plenty (some of which the LDS Church itself has repudiated). I'll ask only that you consider whether, knowing what Packer said and insinuated, these statements would honestly, genuinely make any gay person feel truly loved and accepted within the LDS Church.

"This is a testament to all the followers of Christ of what a wicked world we live in. Nobody reads the bible anymore, it has been cast aside for things of not [sic]. I am so grateful we have Leaders like President Packer to voice MY opinions. I will forever and always follow the things that are said to us by Gods Holy Prophets."

"Not only did he clearly stand for the truth, he gave hope to the hopeless. Many feel like they can't change, like they're born that way to stay. NOT SO! The atonement can help us all. A man of God just promised it." I believe the Church has already stated that homosexuality is not something that the atonement of Jesus Christ needs to or should be expected to fix.

"I'm not understanding why anyone who is part of our church is arguing with this man, the apostles and prophets are called of god and speak only words through the spirit and through revelation. we sustain these men when they are called and should do so throughout there [sic] calling."

"Vicious ideologues make benign and loving people offenders for a word. We cannot countenance this. Mormons' very religious freedom is at stake. Don't be silenced by bullies." Side note: the "bullies" are Packer's critics, not the Packers of the world.

"Why is freedom of speech such a double standard? I'm so proud to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!"

To a brave soul who posted a link to the Facebook page for Affirmation, an advocacy group supporting gay and lesbian Mormons, two commenters wrote: "why are you on here?!?" and "I agree wy [sic]". Keep in mind the "why is freedom of speech such a double standard" question just above.

"Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

"I support Elder Packer. Through him, Heavenly Father provided a message of love and hope for ALL of His children." Marlin Jensen, senior member of the LDS Seventy, has publicly acknowledged that the Church does ask its gay members to give up all hope of companionship, intimacy and happiness in this life.

"No need to apologize for the Truth! We all know that Christ himself was criticized and eventually killed for the Truth. No apologies required!"

"I can't help that [sic] feel those who are fighting against the church and the talk that was given is because they do not know God as we know God."

"Always remember- the wicked taketh the truth to be hard. President Packer, thank you for the words of strength."
So anyone who disagrees with Packer is wicked.

"Homosexuality is unnatural and where would the world be without procreation to carry on human kind. I support President Packer and know we must follow the prophet to be safe in these troublesome times. It does, indeed, seem that there is a persecution of religion and those that choose to follow God's commandments."
And who was it that worked for two decades to prevent marriage equality and revoke those rights where they'd already been recognized?

"The truth hurts and that's why everyone is so bent out of shape over his speech...God's law is God's law and it will never change, regardless of whether we ruffle a few feathers of those that believe otherwise."

"Just looking at the mechanics of men and women we know homosexuality was not what God intended. We can love those people that haven chosen this "lifestyle" but denounce the behavior. I wish people understand the difference. Homosexuality is a choice not the way God intended."
Man doesn't have wings so we mustn't fly in airplanes either.

"You are one of my prophets, seers and revelators called by the voice of Heavenly Father. I know God lives, therefore, I know you speak what he would have you speak. I thank you and I love you, President Packer!"

"Bro. Packer, please hang in there and DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR PRINCIPLES! if the LDS Church will stand firm against Pink fascism, then God will bless & protect us."
Pink fascism.

"President Packer is a prophet, he hears the voice of the Lord. He wouldn't have been permitted to say what he did if it was wrong, morally or otherwise."

In response to this last comment and the others like it, I need only quote past LDS leaders:

Brigham Young: "I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually."

Again, Brigham Young: "Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another's sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold sceptres of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course."

George Q. Cannon, Counselor to three Church Presidents, expressed it thus: "Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone."

Pink fascism. Threats to religious liberty. They don't know God like we know God. They are wicked and they should be killed. And those who do know God will just fall into lock step and march to Boyd Packer's drum, unquestioningly. This is how the world outside Mormonism sees the LDS Church loving and caring for gay people. This is why the Church's claims of welcome and inclusion ring hollow.

I don't think I need to say any more.


Cambo said...

This is a facebook message I got from a complete stranger in response to my commenting "Elder Packer can say whatever bigoted things he wants, and we don't have any right to say he can't" on someone's profile. The stranger said to me:

"Read your comment about Elder Packer. You need to look up definition of bigot and he does not fit it my young "brother". It is your right to express your opinion, but calling someone names because they stand against immorality is tough shit for you! Homosexuality is immoral and wrong! Don't like my comments? Tough shit...
You wanna respond back go ahead but this conversation is one sided boy, and you are on the losing end.
Let me know if you ever want to change the only things standing between us: Space and opportunity!
Have a nice...GAY...life! And leave the rest of us alone who don't agree with your sinful lifestyle. Oh, and the picture of you....well, it sucks!"

The picture he is referencing is a photo of me and my boyfriend standing next to each other. Not hugging, not kissing, just standing next to each other..
I replied:

"I appreciate your thoughtful and in no way childish comments. You are a pillar of Christlike love, and I look forward to you looking down on me in hell from your palace in the Celestial kingdom. Have a lovely straight day."

BLB said...

I support Packer...coz he takes off the façade the Church Ministry of Truth, I mean PR Department has worked so hard to build since Prop 8. I at least want to know who's on my side and who ain't. Enough of this "We love and respect you as our brothers and sisters" bullshizzle.

El Genio said...

The whole thing just hit CNN.

The one good thing about this situation is the conversation and the uproar it has caused. 5 years ago a talk like this would never have been news, but after prop 8 people aren't going to let the church get away with this crazy stuff anymore.

They can keep charting their present course, but it comes at the price of being known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Saints Against Gay People.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Bigotry reveals itself.

Jér said...

These Facebook comments remind me of nothing less than the attitudes and comments of Mormon church members in the 60s and 70s. Many of them were deeply racist, and used the hate speech they heard over the pulpit to justify their own prejudices. When the 1978 "revelation" was released, it didn't suddenly change anyone's heart. They'd been fed racism and bigotry for far too long to give it up right away. That's what the church is doing right now in regards to gays—they're bolstering the bigotry of their base through their official actions while "speaking out" in mealy-mouthed, two-faced press releases decrying bigotry. They can't have it both ways, but I'm betting it'll be a while before they admit it.