Mormon Blogs – What’s OK?

John Dehlin Mormon 68 Comments

What should be acceptable for a blog to be considered a “Mormon” blog?  All Mormon content?  Only that which is respectful to the church (not anti)?  Is hate speech allowed, and if so, how is it defined?  How would you decide something should not be considered a “Mormon” blog?

The aggregator Mormon Blogs recently quit linking to a political blog called The Spirit of the Law.  Another blog, Legally-Bankrupt, also asked to be removed as a result of this decision.  This has caused a flurry of posts about the merits of the sites in question.  See for yourself:

The Spirit of the Law (original questionable post):  Can you be a temple recommend holder and support Obama?

Legally Bankrupt:  Goodbye to mormonblogs

The Spirit of the Law:  Dear MormonBlogs Directory Site

 So, a few questions this raises:

  • What constitutes a Mormon blog?  Anything that talks about Mormonism?  Everything that’s not anti-Mormon?  Anything written by a Mormon?
  • When does a Mormon blog cross the line?  When it makes Mormons look bad?  When it becomes anti-Mormon?  When it misrepresents Mormon belief?  Or is everything fair game?
  • What Mormon blogs make you uncomfortable as a Mormon?  I’m not referring to those you don’t choose to read here, but are there some that you dislike because of the way they reflect on you as someone affiliated with Mormons (or blogging)?

Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 68

  1. Sorry in advance for the length of the response.

    It seems to me that provocative questions about the nature of belief generally and what are the implications of Mormon beliefs are appropriate topics to discuss on a Mormon blog (a blog run by anyone who has an interest in Mormonism — I wouldn’t exclude Bridget Jack Meyers, for example, simply because she is not Mormon). That includes the intersection of politics and Mormonism, surely two 3rd rail topics we encounter in the real world. Certainly, asking the question regarding whether one can be an Obama supporter and qualify for a temple recommend is fairly provocative, but ultimately, an academic exercise since I don’t see “For whom was your vote for President in 2008?” doesn’t seem a likely addition to TR questions. I personally think you could have a conversation of this type and still be considered a “Mormon blog.” I would not have removed the blog in question from my blogroll, in other words.

    A blogroll is a blogroll, and I guess one can admit or banish whomever one chooses based on whatever criteria, but I am sympathetic to the argument that there is more tolerance for deviation to the left side of the political spectrum than deviation to the right — at least in a certain area of the bloggernacle. Perhaps this is due to the fact that many Mormons do lean to the right, making the voices from the left seem thoughtful, valuable, more provocative, and more apt to generate discussion. This is not always the case, but due to the political leanings of some of the big players in the blogosphere, I think there is something of a blind spot for the double standard. Those who take TBM-type positions on issues are then, in fact, more guilty of lack of nuance than actually expressing a perversion of Mormon belief.

    And no, I have yet to come across a blog written by or contributed to by those who consider themselves faithful members who make me uncomfortable. Most people reading blogs are not idiots, and know that almost by definition, blogs are an expression of personal opinion and thought. Often I won’t agree with their position, but so what? I don’t agree with a lot of people on a lot of things. I’m used to it by now.

  2. I complained about The Spirit of the Law to mormonblogs yesterday. I didn’t feel like it was something that should be trumpeted as representative of Mormon belief or thought because it only vaguely addresses the gospel and almost all posts are anti-Obama.

    We’re carrying a discussion about it at http://zionlist.com/r/politics/comments/x/the_spirit_of_the_law_are_you_guys_seeing_this/ , where I explained the motivations a bit deeper, if you’re interested. There is also a little bit of discussion on the original post at http://thespiritofthelaw.blogspot.com/2009/11/can-you-be-temple-recommend-holder-and.html .

    I would like to know about this flurry of related posts, though, too.

  3. I am in agreement with Jana. I seldom post to blogs but do enjoy reading them but I have to admit that I find the actions of removing them a bit out of the line. I have read so many blogs liked to Mormon blogs that where way more offensive then the ones you listed and yet they remain. Why is that? It would seem to me that some one is trying to sensor what is and is not appropriate, a position I didn’t elect that person to. Like Jana said though, your roll, your call.

    What I find as much more offensive to the whole blog thing is when people clearly have multiple user names that they post under. The anonymity that the internet gives people is a bit strange, they start thinking they can do and say things they really wouldn’t have he guts to do in person. In some cases they have so many different personas that all share the same point of view and have the same actions it’s comical. I guess it would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic that they just couldn’t come out and say what they mean and mean what they say and then be ok with others not liking their opinion.

  4. I guess my earlier comment was deleted because it was considered spam or something because it linked to other discussions on the issue.

    Anyway, I am the person that complained about The Spirit of the Law. I felt it was inappropriate for an aggregator that claimed to trumpet Mormon causes, beliefs, and perspectives because it represented a mode of thought antithetical to our religion.

  5. I think the blog should get to stay since a post about TR questions is clearly Mormon-esque. In any case, the post is simply silly. The author indicates initially that

    To me, it is near impossible to not associate with groups that are not in complete accord with the church. One could even say that the Church working in conjunction with or “associating” with other faith’s could be a violation of this. I prefer to go after intent when it comes to temple interviews. And the side of the question that goes to intent is the part where it asks if we agree with the groups or individuals that are opposed to the teachings of the church.

    and then promptly proceeds to ignore his own injunction by elaborating a straw-man argument as to why he thinks those who “support” Obama shouldn’t qualify for a TR. Then he says:

    For this writer, I feel that there is ample evidence that agreement with Barack Obama or the democratic party on these issues is a direct and clear violation of the temple recommend worthiness interview. I see no accord with supporting and sustaining the church, promising to keep the commandments that uphold the principles of chastity in marriage between a man and a woman as well as the sanctity of life, and do so without hypocrisy in supporting Barack Obama.

    The whole piece wreaks of the classical straw-man argument. I don’t think most people, who have a choice of two candidates (pathetic as it is), and chooses one over the other, will agree with everything that candidate represents.

    To refute, we might simply ask: is it possible to support Barack Obama as President of the U.S. and not agree with his stance on abortion and homosexuality? Since the answer to this is obviously yes, I don’t see how we can give the author any credibility on the issue.

    And in that vein, I think we’re just making a mountain out of a molehill by even acknowledging the post at all!

  6. Re cookiecaper:
    Please post the links, as it is relevant to the discussion. Just be sure to only post 2 links in your comment. Otherwise, yes, the spam filter will catch it.

    Please elaborate on your point of view.

  7. Hmm, I have mixed feelings. I would feel a bit strange saying “you are not a Mormon blog,” because I’m not sure I have that authority. I haven’t copyrighted the term “Mormon” nor am I worthy to mete it out to others. Nor am I fully comfortable with ostracizing one blog because its opinions are unpopular.

    On the other hand, there does need to be a line drawn somewhere. Blatantly racist, sexist, violent, or libelous stuff should be divorced from the body of the Bloggernacle.

  8. It seems very odd to me to have people that accept gay marriage and gay sex to blog on this website. When the LDS people allow sin in their midst, then they cease to be a peculiar people and are just like everyone else.

  9. As the author of the post I would be remiss if I did not rebut jmb275. Clearly taking anyone out of context would make the argument to be a “straw man” argument. In the title of the post, a question was hypothesized for the sake of discussion. The rest of the post was spent trying to lay out the arguments that have been used by others to make that deduction. My conclusion was that the judgment call of temple worthiness is a very personal matter between the individual, God and their presiding authorities. In the end it was not a matter of Barack Obama or the democratic party as much as it was on the issues of abortion and homosexuality. In my opinion on these issues there is little room for debate.

    Your neglect to emphasize the key wording of “on these issues” is inflammatory towards my position. The initial question of the blog was answered by stating that agreement on these issues is where there is violation – not in affiliation alone. It is not uncommon for writers to pose a question (that might seem ridiculous to some), and then come up with a conclusion or answer that either supports or disagrees with the initial question. In this case, my posting disagrees with the question as posed. In essence the argument shifts from supporting to supporting Barack Obama as some kind of violation to the TR interview, to the issues of abortion and homosexual standings, issues that Obama has supported, as the issue at hand. So when you stated, “is it possible to support Barack Obama as President of the U.S. and not agree with his stance on abortion and homosexuality?” Of course you can and that was my point in the article. Of course somehow that point gets glassed over by those who think that this was a guilt simply by association claim or that this was a backhanded endorsement of the republican party. Neither points were my intended conclusion. In fact it was to separate the attack on the man and shift it to the principles that are social doctrines of the church.

  10. I agree with Jana that removing the blog was probably overreaching. Perhaps it’s time Mormon Blogs got a more objective moderator.

    James – straw man argument doesn’t necessarily refer to taking comments out of context (ad hominem attack? Can the lawyers clarify the terms?). Straw man means you create a fake opponent and knock him down.

  11. I don’t think it’s overreaching. It’s inflammatory and not really relevant to the gospel — most of the posts I saw used the gospel as a platform to lambast Obama, and otherwise there is very little religious discussion. It purveys exclusionary thought processes and blatant nationalism. It insults faithful Latter-day Saints everywhere, even those who agree with it, because it uses such an inappropriate method of emotional blackmail, implying that anyone who doesn’t wholeheartedly endorse or support Republicans, or anyone who tangentially agrees with or supports any individual whose beliefs are not exactly in line, is unworthy of the blessings of the Lord.

    It is a disservice and promotes groupthink and primordial intellectual avenues. This is already too prevalent among Latter-day Saints generally, it doesn’t need reinforcement.

    Just as we wouldn’t support a blog that consistently misquoted the Book of Mormon to teach or promote Trinitarianism, homosexuality, or other evils, we shouldn’t support a blog that consistently twists the Church’s teachings and policies to illustrate anyone who doesn’t follow Hannity or Limbaugh as an unworthy member.

  12. I found the post offensive and it made me, as a Democrat, feel alienated that a member of my religion would ask such a thing. I guess it confirmed to me what I always have suspected members of my church think. Still, I don’t like the idea of banning such posts. I think it reflects a largely held belief in the Church. Banning it won’t make it go away. Such posts do little to help missionary effort as it just perpetuates the image of Mormons as far right and intolerant. With an image like that, we will have some success proselyting the far right, but we will alienate a lot of others. Is the Church looking for ideological purity? As a non-LDS client of mine said to me last week, “If Satan was a Republican, Utah would vote for him.”

  13. Our individual views on homosexuality and abortion are very relevant to the gospel-and they are relevant to the TR interview. How can you dismiss these issues?

    If Obama is guilty of violating or acting in a way that stands against gospel principles, why are we not allowed to talk about it? I support God and his church over Obama. How did the post insult latter day saints everywhere? It offended you that is clear, but what offense was given (as opposed to what was taken)? Did I misquote someone? If so, Where?

    You lump the article into categories that are unfair. I did not misquote anyone including Barack Obama and I have yet to hear an argument that a person who agrees with homosexuality and the practice of abortion IS worthy of the temple? These are supremely moral issues where the church has made clear their stand and the consequences for agreement with them. If I have misquoted any of the parties involved, where was it? Disagree if you chose, but I have not misquoted anyone. For the record I don’t watch Hannity or Limbaugh. I don’t have cable.

  14. Cliff Eley, please read comment #9 here and see if that response is of any value in putting some of your negative feelings on the post to rest as that was not my intention. I have stated (and probably overstated) my opinion enough here. Thank you MM Blog for the space.

  15. Re James:
    From wikipedia:
    1. topic A is under discussion. In your post this would be

    So in the case of Obama, how would supporting his presidency stand up in a temple recommend interview?

    2. topic B is introduced under guise of being equivalent to topic A. In your post this would be supporting abortion, and homosexual marriage based on the fact that Obama supports them.

    3. A participant (usually the one who introduced B) attacks B as if it were A: In your post this would be your unwarranted conclusion that supporting Obama means one supports abortion and homosexual marriage and hence cannot adequately answer question #7 of the TR interview.

    Again from your post:

    For this writer, I feel that there is ample evidence that agreement with Barack Obama or the democratic party on these issues is a direct and clear violation of the temple recommend worthiness interview.

    Here you are clear that you’re only talking about these issues. But then you say in the very next sentence:

    I see no accord with supporting and sustaining the church, promising to keep the commandments that uphold the principles of chastity in marriage between a man and a woman as well as the sanctity of life, and do so without hypocrisy in supporting Barack Obama.

    So which is it? It feels like you want to speak out of both sides of your mouth. You want to be bold without offending but you end up offending as is testified by several commenters here.

    Nevertheless, I am not in support of removing your blog from the aggregator. The admin was hasty for doing such. So I’m on your side, I just disagree with your post.

  16. jmb – It would do well to consider the history of this post since a great number of people who have held issue with this blog posting were not those who have a history with the blog. On a previous comment to a previous posting, GreatWhiteHope (a regular contributor) made the following comment in reference to Obama: “He in fact did and does support infanticide and partial birth abortions. Let’s not beat around the bush here – So yes, I am saying that if you support him for president I do not understand how you in good conscience can attend the temple knowing full well that you contributed to the election of a president who supports legislation which destroys life and has no qualms about it.”

    I was interested in the idea of how supporting Barack Obama had any bearing on temple worthiness. So I considered the arguments and chose to answer the question if blanket Obama support was TR issue. As I went through the material and the arguments that were presented I felt that it is not support of Obama or the Democrats but (as you have quoted) “For this writer, I feel that there is ample evidence that agreement with Barack Obama or the democratic party on these issues is a direct and clear violation of the temple recommend worthiness interview.” (emphasis with “on these issues”, not on the party affiliation itself). The second quote was missing that modifier and I have corrected the mistake as it does appear to be misleading. The purpose of the post was to rebut the opening statement statement that blanket endorsement of Obama as a violation of temple worthiness is a ridiculous conclusion. However, alignment with the issues of abortion in the same way Obama does is wrong. And for that I make no apologies. Again, sorry for taking more space on this blog. The contention over the post was greater than I had ever intended.

  17. In the original posting jmb, I follow up that statement with “One can be a democrat and not be in accord with these principles of the party.” Leaving that out is a little unfair I think.

  18. “Such posts do little to help missionary effort as it just perpetuates the image of Mormons as far right and intolerant.” I totally agree with this statement. OTOH, perhaps posts like that will be a vehicle to opening alternate dialogue – disagreement with the intolerance. Many commenters seemed to feel the post was completely out of line.

  19. Hawkgrrrl,

    I am not sure I follow you. How is being apposed to abortion intolerance? James has repeated over and over again here that the idea is not so much about Obama though he takes the figure head of the argument as he is the current representative of the Democrat party, but with the act of abortion and gay marriage and our support of politicians that support such stands. As Mormons our beliefs are always going to set us apart from the world and that’s a good thing. I don’t feel we need to apologies or hide the fact that we don’t agree with these practices.

    However maybe I’m not reading enough into peoples arguments and they actually are OK with these practices and seek to bring the church around to seeing things their way. Again for all the left leaning people out there who will read this, I’m not advocating any political party but rather the principle of abortion.

    As I have read some of the posts in response to James’s original post I cant help but feel that some of the up roar may be because he has hit the nail right on the head and people are being convicted in their own hearts for making a bad choice in voting for Obama. And before anyone says anything, no I didn’t vote for the republican, I swear on a stack of bibles. Why else would people get so bent out of shape over this? I read all kinds of things I think put the church in a bad light but trust in the Lord that honest seekers of truth will always find their way to him.

  20. “How is being apposed [sic] to abortion intolerance?”

    I’ll take a stab at this one. The question you are really asking is this: “How could judging self-identified faithful Mormons who do not oppose abortion be considered intolerance?” And I’ll tell you that it most certainly is intolerant in that you seem to refuse to allow room in the Church for people who do not think the way you do. With this mindset, you seek to exclude from your idea of the true and pure fold of Saints, and this is the very definition of religious intolerance. From what I’ve read from yours and James Numark’s comments, your assertions about members’ temple worthiness who support President Obama and the Democratic Pary’s platform are a misinterpretation of the ethics of abortion or homosexuality as delineated by the LDS Church, and grossly intolerant. If the Lord is truly in charge of the LDS Church, how did he let a Democrat like President Faust get into such an influential position of authority? Was he “convicted in [his] own heart” when he may have voted for Pres. Clinton or any other Democratic candidate? Come on.

    You have every right to oppose abortion. But the second one takes that point of view and tries to suggest that others cannot be part of your faith circle because they don’t see things the way you do, you become a religious bigot who aspires to demagoguery.

  21. Interesting discussion. The question seems to come up relatively regularly.

    I think that the idea of a Mormon blog is flexible enough that different people may have different definitions. Okay for one aggregator or site may not be for another.

    On the particular issue, if it were my own aggregator, I wouldn’t think that the Obama / TR post was so egregious as to merit delinking. But aggregators are a lot of work, and I think that the folks at mormonblogs generally do a good job, even if I would disagree with some of their assessments on the margins.

  22. After reading James post, it is apparent that he views 2 issues of supreme importance when evaluating a president: abortion, and gay rights. When I choose a president, these are not the only 2 criteria I use. George Bush apparently fit these 2 criteria well for James, but does that mean Bush was a good president? The dictator of Romania (Ceaucesceau) was against abortion and gay rights too, but I hope James wouldn’t vote for him. Surely there are other issues to consider, and limiting our view to these 2 issues surely is walking through the world with huge blinders on. I suppose that a Mormon could look at Bush’s pro-war stance and find anyone who supports the Bush wars as unworthy of a temple recommend too, but I don’t think James worries about these small potatoes.

    So, to answer the questions in the post:

    What constitutes a Mormon blog? This is hard to define. Borrowing from another definition, “I know it when I see it.”

    Anything that talks about Mormonism? in general, yes

    Everything that’s not anti-Mormon? sure. I think critical views are welcome in the bloggernacle, but not openly hostile websites.

    Anything written by a Mormon? in general, yes

    When does a Mormon blog cross the line? open racism, bad language, and hostility

    When it makes Mormons look bad? It depends on the definition of bad. Both anti and pro-mormon websites that promote racism, bad language, and hostility cross the line.

    When it becomes anti-Mormon? When it misrepresents Mormon belief? Or is everything fair game? any website that promotes extremes, whether pro or anti crosses the line.

    What Mormon blogs make you uncomfortable as a Mormon?

    Extremist websites bother me of all stripes–the subject matter doesn’t matter. Extremist voices drive me away, no matter what they are advocating.

    Now, I pretty much disagree with James narrow definition of temple worthiness based on Obama. Should his blog be banned? No. Does it make Mormons look bad? yes.

    I won’t be adding James to my blogroll, but I don’t attract the political crowd anyway. (My Mitt Romney post last year was a complete dud.) As I understand it, mormonblogs is there to show a spectrum of belief. I don’t think James crossed any lines, though his views are very judgmental. I guess I’m more tolerant of his extremist views because my in-laws here in Utah county tend to view Obama the same way he does.

    We each have our hot-button issues. I over-reacted to Dexter/Scottie’s comments a while back. I guess the admin at Mormonblogs probably over-reacted on this issue. We’re all human.

  23. I would like The Spirit Of The Law to come back. I find James’ views to be offensive, but he does really believe what he posts. There were times I was a little heated with James but he was able to stand on what he feels is right. As long as he does not state anything about the taking of one’s life for having a different view, I say let him have a voice. Please bring him back.

  24. James,

    “I have yet to hear an argument that a person who agrees with homosexuality and the practice of abortion IS worthy of the temple”

    Ever heard of Harry Reid? I’m pretty sure he supports Obama, gay marriage, abortion, was invited to speak at BYU, and holds a temple recommend. I’m not a political junkie, so please correct me if I’m wrong here.

    I know lots of people who think he should not have a temple recommend, and John Kerry shouldn’t be served communion either. But alas, the church has a long standing policy of political neutrality that you seem to be forgetting. Enforcing temple recommends per your policy seems against church policy too.

  25. What SteveS said. Intolerance is presuming oneself worthy or capable of judging someone else’s eligibility for a TR.

    What if I don’t believe homosexuality is categorically wrong? Should I be denied entrance to the temple?

  26. Or what if, although I personally believe abortion is wrong, I believe the best public policy is to allow abortions to some extent?

    The definition of being open minded relates not to what one’s beliefs are; it relates to how one responds to someone whose beliefs differ.

  27. Whether you get a TR or not holding more open views is going to depend a great deal on your bishop and whether he is more or less tolerant. Some bishops are much more understanding and tolerant than others so I can’t help but think this plays a significant role.

  28. The TR question arose as a means to discover members who were advocating polygamist beliefs. It is vague enough to be interpreted in other ways such as abortion or homosexuality. However, I don’t believe anyone has been denied a TR simply because they believe in gay marriage or abortion. Abortion is legal, so belief isn’t a problem, because we believe in obeying the law. Participating in an abortion is a problem, and will deny someone a TR (or worse). If I read James article correctly, he did seem to indicate that Obama’s position was close to the church’s position, though I wonder if James thinks the church made a good move in the recent legislation it supported for gays. I suspect James was ok with discrimination against gays, though I am not completely sure of his position.

  29. Jen, as far as I understand, the recommend questions are to be asked exactly as written and so an interviewee could hold pretty unorthodox views and still easily qualify to the yes or no format.

  30. When I read James’ post I read it as an attack on the TR Question.

    James has since made his position clear, but I believe James’ post highlights that adjustments to TR Questions should be changed.

    I believe in freedom of speech, and that also includes articles I find offensive, racist or prejudice. However I believe a blogroll has a right to include or exclude whatever it deems appropriate.

  31. I tend to agree with these previous comments:”I am sympathetic to the argument that there is more tolerance for deviation to the left side of the political spectrum than deviation to the right.” “I have read so many blogs liked to Mormon blogs that where way more offensive then the ones you listed and yet they remain. Why is that?” “It seems very odd to me to have people that accept gay marriage and gay sex to blog on this website.”

    I’d never really surfed around Mormon Blogs. The other day I was on my kid’s laptop looking at my own blog and clicked on the Mormon Blogs link. Net Nanny blocked me from opening the site. Reason: “Illegal Activity”.As administrator, I overrode the block and poked around Mormon Blogs briefly and started wondering wheter or not I really wanted my blog listed on the site.

    The first thing that caught my eye was an article titled: Masterbation is a natural act. The blog leads off: “If you really want to help your readers who struggle with the guilt they feel over masturbation, tell them that they need feel no more guilty about it than they do about breathing.

    “Masturbation is as natural an act as is breathing.

    “It is no more wicked then breathing.”

    I marveled that Mormon Blogs even featured a section titled “Sexuality”.

    I think there is a place for a Mormon Blogroll that doesn’t require “gospel” content. I think the Mormon Blogs owners have every right to list who they want to. However, if the Spirit of the Law remains unlisted while blogs with content like The Mormon Therapist remain listed, it will say something about the administrators and I will request to be delisted.

  32. SteveS,

    Hold on there partner, read all my posts and see if at any time I agree with James’s position……I’ll give you a few minutes to do that if you want. Did you get through them all? OK so you will see that at no point do I say a persons stand on abortion should be considered when they go in for a temple recommend (in fact at one point I call his argument silly) that is clearly a matter for them and their direct priesthood leader and not ground I care to walk on because I know my place. Your whole argument with me is therefore a non-point. What I read here is that you are transferring experiences you may have had in the past with actual intolerant members of the church onto a person who at no point used the term “true fold of saints” requiring an orthodox or approved position on a political candidate or party. Clearly there are politicians on the left and right who’s positions are in opposition to those of God and the church as a whole.

    The real question I think is would all these left leaning members who are upset with James’s post had been so upset if the post flipped it around and said something along the lines of “does a members support of the war in Iraq and Bush call into question their membership worthiness because God hates killing?” My point is switch the hot button issue to something left leaning members of the church don’t like about Republicans and would people be so up in arms? I think most people missed the point and jumped right to their insecurity for having either A) voted for Obama, or B) their position on abortion. Again let me be real clear, I’m not saying either is good or bad but rather pointing out that the reactions from others in wanting “offensive blogs” black listed is potently hypocritical and definitely the actual intolerant act. As I’ve learned very often what others accuse people of is the very thing that they actually are…..in this case intolerant of apposing views.

  33. in response to 33, yes your moniker is dangerously close to offensive, and you have crossed the line of good taste, which is why I deleted your offensive comments. it’s funny to me you weighed in on the mike smith suspension. your moniker would have gotten you suspended from his tv station. it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know your comments border on poor taste and offensive language every time you comment .

  34. supporting Obama means one supports abortion and homosexual marriage

    Except, of course, President Obama is currently taking heat for not supporting SSM.

    It is one thing to engage in political discourse, argument and rational thinking, another to draw conclusions from points that are well acknowledged to lack the sort of support that a congruence with reality requires.

    Just FYI.

  35. I think an LDS blog crosses the line when it openly questions the worthiness of members who do not believe the same political ideology as the writer. Clearly this is evident in many of the postings at Spirit of the Law and I find this absolutely offensive. The bloggers, who do have a right to be heard, often respond to those who disagree with with taunts and demeaning statements. They are told they are either deceived by the devil (Obama) or are just plain stupid. This sort of bullying, let’s call it by the proper name, not only weakens their arguments, but it reflects poorly on the gospel they proudly proclaim. Mixing religion and politics is fine and can be done so well, but questioning the worthiness of other members based on their vote is intolerable.

  36. Jen, as far as I understand, the recommend questions are to be asked exactly as written and so an interviewee could hold pretty unorthodox views and still easily qualify to the yes or no format.

    Is there something “official” to substantiate this? My sense is that the questions are (un)fortunately left vague to allow for more individual interpretation.

  37. I see no Vagueness in the TR Q’s, if wiggle room was intended it would be mentioned i.e the question regarding church activity (do you strive). if wiggle room was intended for other questions it would be added.

    the question is clear “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    I see no vagueness in this question, do you support or affiliate with anyone including groups or individuals who’s teachings oppose those of the Church.

    you have two choices in this matter, to lie and say (no) or disclose your views which are contrary to Church teachings to your Bishop, in which he will say “it’s o.k this question is more to do with Masonry & Polygamy anyway.”

    Please Highlight vagueness in these q’s

  38. **** The Temple Question is carefully worded to cover every possible option, it sounds quite legal to me, there is no room of doubt in my mind that this question would have covered the Civil Rights Movement, and any affiliation to Communism.

  39. I’m surprised that folks are ignoring the direct words of the First Presidency on political neutrality.

    The First Presidency letter stated in 2006 and 2007 that “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties.” (The Democratic party platform has not changed significantly in the past year.)

    Was the First Presidency lying?

  40. My point is switch the hot button issue to something left leaning members of the church don’t like about Republicans and would people be so up in arms?

    I think we have to be careful here. I take issue with this because, while I didn’t like James’ post, I wouldn’t have liked it in the other direction either. It is not a safe assumption that those who aren’t Democrat are Republican. I would have been upset with it if it violated my political ideology no matter which party was being attacked.

    But having said this, I don’t see why political party has anything to do with this argument. As James himself pointed out, he was not attacking Dems.

  41. MGalt (#36): Having read your only other comment (#21) on this thread, I’m at a loss to “read all [your] posts” to discern your position further. I went back to James’ post on The Spirit of the Law blog, and found no comments from you that broached the topic of abortion, homosexuality, or Pres. Obama. I was commenting on the rhetorical question you asked Hawkgrrrl, not whether blogs should be censored. I’m not a fan of censorship; I feel that people can usually tell when others are making buffoons of themselves quite easily, and that many intelligent people out there are not going to take my comments, or the comments of any other individual LDS blogger to represent the mind and will of the Church, all its members, or God for that matter. I think we both agree on this.

    Also, at no point did I suggest that you were advocating that bishops and stake presidents ask about a person’s stance on abortion in a TR interview. But your question, “How is being apposed [sic] to abortion intolerance?”, followed by your comments “As Mormons our beliefs are always going to set us apart from the world and that’s a good thing. I don’t feel we need to apologies or hide the fact that we don’t agree with these practices” communicate to me an intolerance for members of the Church who do not see eye-to-eye with you on “these practices”. As I mentioned previously, I’m not sure your ideas about abortion and homosexuality are in line with official Church policy, because from your comments it sounds like you believe that the Church never supports abortion and doesn’t believe homosexuals should have the same rights and privileges as others.

    As for your comment “The real question I think is would all these left leaning members who are upset with James’s post had been so upset if the post flipped it around…” I think you may find that only a small proportion of the so-called “left-leaning members” who would take the bait. I cannot recall a single blog post from that time period that suggested that those who supported or voted for Pres. Bush were unworthy of a temple recommend because he started a preemptive war against a sovereign nation. The issue here is not about political ideology, republican or democrat. People are bent out of shape because James’ position represents a fine example of religious intolerance that no one on either side of issues such as abortion or homosexuality can conscionably support. It is the effort to exclude minority opinions to promote an artificial consensus that puts off most people, not their hearts being convicted, or the unmasking of their own political intolerances. If those that cry out against such attitudes are intolerant of anything, it is an intolerance for intolerance. And that is something I think we all should strive for. Just to be clear, I respect the right of a person to hold whatever stance they will on a given issue, but as soon as they start to try to segregate a community using that stance as a yardstick for virtue or privilege within the community, they have crossed the lines into intolerance.

  42. Greg.Hardy – just to clarify about that masturbation post that was on Mormon Therapist’s site – her site does have a “do you want to proceed to view my content” button before you enter. Also, she did not agree with the stance of the person whose letter she answered – Mormon Therapist has a very faithful perspective. I think it’s hard to find fault with her reasoned and rational approach to these anonymous questions from Mormons who are struggling with a variety of issues. She is thoroughly professional and faithful. Mormon Blogs has had a “sexuality” tagged section for a long time – I’ve never seen it not to have one. I think that Mormons need a place to deal with issues of sexuality. Chastity is a major deal to us (we are one of the last religions to be making a major stand on it). Plus, we have such a post-marriage anything-goes stance that people have a tough time going zero to sixty. So I do think those topics are valuable, especially when handled by someone who is a professional (like Mormon Therapist).

  43. Please Highlight vagueness in these q’s

    “Do you live the Law of Chastity?”

    I know some bishops will not give single adults a TR if they french kiss. This is particularly difficult in situations where someone is getting the interview to be married soon and it involves postponing the wedding (or being married outside the temple). It’s complicated even more if the bishop of the person s/he is marrying does not interpret this question the same way.

  44. Mr. Q&A – “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” I’m surprised you feel this question is clear. The church itself affiliates with groups whose teachings are contrary or oppose those of the church. Some of that is through inter-faith causes. For example, we join hands with the Catholic church on an issue like abortion or opposing gay marriage, but their teachings are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church on other facets (as well as their zero tolerance stance on abortion). Some of that is through programs that have a common interest (e.g. Evergreen – shudder), but whose ideologies diverge; many of these groups engage in practices that we don’t condone. By this definition, neither the church nor any of its members should ever join or work with any group outside the church because our values and ideologies will differ. Of course that’s not a correct interpretation of the question – because it would be completely unworkable if it were.

    MH is correct that the question was added to weed out those who affiliated with polygamous breakaway sects and were attempting to gain access to the temple despite belonging to those splinter factions. I asked the intent of the question when I first went through the temple because I immediately saw the difficulty of a broad interpretation. That is what I was told as well. Leaving the question deliberately vague for all this time is either a mistake that should be corrected or is working as intended because most people only ally with groups that meet their own definition of Mormonism. IOW, they don’t always see the ideological split between groups like Evergreen and the LDS church or between the ERA and the LDS church.

  45. FWIW, the Spirit of the Law post’s assumptions are fatly wrong.

    1. Obama does not support SSM; the only GLBT issue on which the Church has taken a stand is SSM. One can completely agree with Obama with respect to the full extension of other GLBT legal rights, and not be in “opposition” to a teaching or position of the Church.

    2. While the Church is opposed to abortion (with limited exceptions) it has not officially taken a position on abortion legislation (including partial birth abortion or whether and when abortion should be legal or illegal). One can completely agree with Obama with respect to the legality of abortion, and not be in opposition to a teaching or position of the Church (because there is no teaching or position on whether abortion should be illegal).

  46. David H, you have read the article wrong because I stated that Obama and the church are similar on this issue to the point that Obmaa doesn’t find it morally wrong while the church does. However, I make it clear that on this point there is no real opposition to the church. Read the post again before stating that my assumptions are wrong. Your assumptions of my assumptions are wrong.

  47. Since we are all DIFFERENT, DIFFERENT things will be hot-button issues to DIFFERENT people. For example, my hot-button issue is not allowing people to have their say on Mormon blogs. Of course, I may be more comfortable with the expression of anger than a lot of you. I don’t feel anger reflects badly on the Church.

    I have seen the trend of extremely liberal Mormon blog posts being more acceptable than extremely conservative ones. Or at least they are taken more seriously and not ridiculed as much. I don’t agree with the post (blog) in question, but I wouldn’t have banned it. As Geoff said, though, the owner gets to decide what is acceptable and what is not. So there you have it.

  48. I know some bishops will not give single adults a TR if they french kiss.

    Seriously? O_o Wow, I would’ve been blocked from my mission, then later from getting married in the temple. I haven’t ever heard of that happening for french kissing.

  49. “I know some bishops will not give single adults a TR if they french kiss.” Maybe if they do so during the interview . . .

  50. “David H, you have read the article wrong because I stated that Obama and the church are similar on this issue to the point that Obmaa doesn’t find it morally wrong while the church does. However, I make it clear that on this point there is no real opposition to the church. Read the post again before stating that my assumptions are wrong. Your assumptions of my assumptions are wrong.”

    James, let me ask you two questions.

    1. Is a member of the Church who believes that abortion be legal (as Obama does) in opposition to a teaching or position of the Church?

    2. Is a member of the Church who believes (as Obama does) that the GLBT community should have all legal rights as others, with the exception of SSM, in opposition to a teaching or position of the Church?

    If the answers are no, then please explain how a Church members who agrees with Obama regarding GLBT rights and abortion is in disagreement with the Church?

  51. Hawkgrrrl, no need to defend the faithfulness of this blogger or that blogger, I never questioned it. You stated earlier that you think the blog at quetion shouldn’t have been removed, so we are in agreement. My issue is with what administrators/moderators find appropriate to list or delist. In their defense, I don’t “hang out” here and have no idea how often they delist bloggers and what for. But a quick look around hinted of double standard…

  52. Greg.Handy – I was talking about the blog you were referring to, Mormon Therapist, not the one linked above. I mostly just wanted to clarify that the blogger (Mormon Therapist) didn’t write what you quoted – she is a professional therapist who receives anonymous notes from members and publishes the note along with a response. Her response is her writing. She did not agree with the person who made the remarks that masturbation is as natural as breathing.

  53. I was surprised when this response appeared in a discussion on “A Resurrection of Reaganism?” on our blog:

    “December 03, 2009
    Anonymous said…

    The Spirit of the Law is no longer allowed on the Mormon Blog. Are you afraid you are next? Molly did show a picture of Brother Reid with middle fingers, and you do believe that he is not a true Mormon. It seems that you are right on the line for what James did by saying Obama supporters are not worthy to hold a temple recommend.”

    I was even more surprised when I discovered (from this response) that “The Spirit of the Law” was delisted. We share a common political viewpoint, and I have, in fact, found the blog controversial, which is another reason it appealed to me. Living in the real world dictates that we live with controversial and varying topics, political views, religious views, etc. It doesn’t mean that we agree with them. We can choose to walk away and not participate, which is apparently what mormonblogs did.

    FWIW, all of us have a certain level of intolerance for differing viewpoints.

    To address #2, the complainee’s comment:”I didn’t feel like it was something that should be trumpeted as representative of Mormon belief or thought because it only vaguely addresses the gospel and almost all posts are anti-Obama.” Our blog is ENTIRELY anti-Obama. We question his every move and will continue to do so. Some of our posts NEVER address the Gospel. This doesn’t make me less Mormon, less faithful, less valiant. It makes me conservative.

    It was a mistake to remove the blog. We vote bring it back. We conservatives make good liberal blog fodder during a liberal administration. It’s a healthy opposition.

    I don’t think we should go down without a fight. Let me know if we’re delisted and need not have any hard feelings.

  54. I have to admit, when I read the blog I was shocked. Do I think the interpretation is wrong…yes. Do I support Obama, yep, and I still have a temple recommend. The fact that it was delisted does show a double standard. But I guess you always have to be mindful of your audience. Though I disagree with what was said, I did think it made for a great read because the argument doesn’t lead to name calling or other distasteful behavior, but again, the interpretation is off in my mind, but by no means should it be ignored. But then again, they are now getting more hits because of it.

  55. Cookiecaper #13

    “It’s inflammatory and not really relevant to the gospel” Dude, its a [profanity] blog, it aint the gospel!

    Yes it was very pro republican but isn’t about 60% of mormondom pro-republican? Plus they had a comments section there where you could go and complain.

    If you thought that was bad you should see what some people will do here in mormonmatters to those of us who consider homosexuality a sin!

    I dread the day when church HQ gets to censor what is said or written in these bloggs. Let us suffer that in the millennium or CK -for now just let it be free, open and fair exchange of ideas by people in the church or in someway related to it (as former, relatives are members etc) As for the aggregator, well he should resign and go back to seminary!

  56. #14 Cliff “If Satan was a Republican, Utah would vote for him.”

    Well said. And Utah did support that war criminal George W Bush at higher percentages than any other state. The war criminal who invaded a sovereign nation and caused the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, many more so that Saddam H ever did.

    So yes they would vote for Satan (Rep -U) and they’d probably justify it by saying: Its about the Leadership, since Satan has already lead a third of God’s children while Obama has never lead any!! But doesn’t the book of mormon talk about something like this happening?

    Anyway, I’m ranting now, so I’d better stop!

  57. Hawkgrl. Tracking. As you said, “she publishes the note..” i.e. the content on the blog is posted by the blogger, making her alone responsible for what appears on her blog. And as you also pointed out, her blog features (rightfully) an adult content warning. Net Nanny blocked me from Mormon Blogs for something other than the therapist blog. Don’t know what the specific “illegal activity” was. Don’t care. I’m only commenting on an apparent double standard regarding content of “Mormon” blogs. I could have selected other examples to make my point…

  58. GH – For that example to be relevant, the site SotL would have had to be banned for content inappropriate to minors (the purpose of Net Nanny). Nowhere does it state or imply that was the reason. Clearly the mods at Mormon Blogs don’t object to blogs on the same grounds as your software. Why would they? There was a double standard if the site was banned, but other sites guilty of the same thing (based on the same reason) were not banned. If you have examples of that, please share.

    I simply feel obligated to defend a site like Mormon Therapist that is doing so much important work, not just writing blowhard opinion pieces. I’ve also deemed the decision to boot SotL an overreach that lacked objectivity (#11), so I’m not really arguing about the merit of the decision; I just don’t see how you’ve demonstrated that a double standard was applied.

  59. Hawkgrrrl #51 I respect you position and agree that there is just cause to change that question. I’m of the opinion that the question is direct and all encompassing, but perhaps one that individuals can’t live up to, like “be ye perfect”, Perhaps I misunderstand the definition of vague.

    Smallaxe #50 “Do you live the Law of Chastity?”
    I don’t see this question as being vague, perhaps what’s required is a clear explanation of what chastity is beforehand.

    I agree there seems to be a lean to the “LEFT” in lenience, however it strikes me that those on the “RIGHT” propagate such an intolerant tone that the battle line is already drawn.

  60. Question:

    On Legally Bankrupt, Angela posted this comment – ‘I can appreciate that your post was personal opinion, and that my disagreement may have been a knee-jerk reaction.’ I applaud your honest response, Angela. In light of this assessment, why not bring The Spirit of the Law back and redeem us all?

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