Cake
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    • I don't know as much about Catholics or Jews, but the impression I get is many of them describe themselves as occasional, whereas Mormons tend to be one or the other — either in or out.

      I can only speak to my personal experience as an ex-Catholic. I think Catholicism was best described by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch when he referred to it as “a cafeteria plan religion.” We’d see some families in church twice a year at Christmas and Easter. There were people who went to weekday mass every evening. There were Sunday mass regulars who practice pre-marital sex, use condoms and believe homosexuality is not a mortal sin.

      Growing up in that wide range of believers in the Church, it was a bit of a shock when I went to college and experienced the black and white orthodoxy of other religions during interfaith bible studies.

      I think it’s easier to stay in the Catholic Church because of that prevalence of people who don’t follow all of the Vatican’s edicts but still consider themselves Catholics.

      I believe outside the US, there are countries where Catholics are predominantly more devout. It opens up the question of whether an American would ever become pope. It’s only been 40 years since the first non-Italian Pope was elected.

      I suspect the exodus of Catholics after the priest scandals has caused a concentration of the more devout. But its been over a decade since I left for good, so I lack intel on what a typical congregation is like today.

    • This is such a relief to me. I’ve been sick about this policy since it was discovered.

      I think @lidja posted stats to the effect that half of active church members supported the policy but few ex members did. I feel that it drove a wedge between former and current members, so hopefully now we can move on with less of that tension.

    • This is big news here in SLC. In fact NPR interviewed a local reporter about it on the national broadcast this afternoon. He said the initial reaction among local members is relief just as you have described. Others are even more angry, though, as it appears the leaders are citing modern revelation as the reason for the change in policy, and have declined to apologize or to acknowledge that a mistake was made.

      The change in policy means that children will be permitted to be baptized, but the church still regards homosexual unions (sexual relationships) as apostate and sinful, even though the church will not label homosexuals per se with those terms.

    • I just wanted to keep the children out of it. It seems like almost no matter which side you’re on about same-sex marriage, not punishing children who had nothing to do with it is a good thing.

    • I totally agree. I think that’s why the “revelation” focused on those innocent children. Weird that Heavenly Father didn’t straighten that out sooner—maybe the priesthood leaders just weren’t listening for FOUR YEARS?!?

    • While I'm very happy for the children and trying to keep them as my focus, I can't help feeling a little sorry for myself because I'm weak.

      The thing is my wife and I had decades-long close church friendships and when the policy towards children came out, I thought it was important to be honest with friends who asked us about it. We said the policy gave us great sorrow.

      It seemed so surreal to say the same things I had taught as Bishop, that the children are innocent, but after the policy change to lose credibility among some of our closest church friends. I don't know what happens now. Will they want to talk about it in this new light or have our friendships been strained forever?

    • IMHO, this is a fundamental question that only they can answer. It cuts to the heart of how they chose between personal comfort and personal integrity—and it gets the the very essence of how they understand the concept of obedience.

      If they feel *threatened* by things outside the church or concepts that stretch or confront the gospel, then they will chose to sacrifice the relationship rather than dwell in an uncomfortable space that continually challenges their beliefs. (Members of my own family have chosen this path. They risk developing a sense of self-righteousness and arrogance that may eventually come back to haunt them, but it is not my place to point that out or make that judgement.)

      If, on the other hand, they value the relationship and are willing to suspend judgement and allow the space for individuality and alternate perspectives, the friendship can flourish for both parties. (My Mom is one who conducts herself this way. She is clear in her beliefs, but she does not feel ithreatened by disbelief. It is also amazing that she doesn’t fall into that trap of covering up a tendency to condemn non-believers with a false sense of compassion: “Oh, if they would only accept my truth their lives would be so much better.”)

      Perhaps she has lived such a long, full life that she has learned not to judge, not to condemn, but just to love. And is that not exactly what the Savior taught? I think He called it the first and second commandments...

    • This is why I love science. You can dissent, explain why you come to a different conclusion about something, and if your view is the one that survives, you get a medal. It seems like with some issues like this among some people, even if you turn out to be right you are wrong.

    • ...and this is why some people are angry that church leaders have not apologized or admitted they made a mistake but instead they are announcing a new revelation. (Is that throwing God under the bus?)

    • This is what I loved about Gordon B. Hinckley. He was willing to take tough questions from the press and give what I thought was a fair answer: "the leaders at that time...but look, we've moved past it."

      When the church was writing the essays, someone came over to my house to read drafts to me to see what I thought. I was very unhappy with the one on blacks and the priesthood because it felt like we were blaming the Lord for changing his mind. I pointed out that I admired the way President Hinckley answered the question. I heard it wasn't me who convinced them to change it, but to their credit they changed it.

      I was and remain very unhappy with the one on plural marriage and did everything I knew how to change it, but failed. Oh well, at least something was written about it and I hold out hope for certain changes in the future.

    • If there’s one lesson to learn from Riess’ book, it’s that there are as many different understandings of the gospel as there are people in the world.

      People have to work these things out for themselves no matter how things are “written up.”

      You have acted in good faith according to what you believe. That is integrity. You are not so arrogant to think everyone must believe as you do. You are pained at the thought of losing friendships. You wish the best for others. It seems to me you are doing your best, living what you believe and yet not condemning others who have alternative perspectives. Humility.

      Integrity and humility. Not a bad combination.

    • there are as many different understandings of the gospel as there are people

      I would have thought there are a few foundational things upon which we can all agree in the church — the innocence of children and the infallibility of the prophet.

      In this case it seemed to me the two were in conflict and it felt like church members were split (Jana's data seems to confirm). I got interested in understanding both points of view. My sample size is small, but here it is: I talked to 9 members who supported the policy and 6 who didn't. The 9 who did were all current or former leaders, 3 of them in ward or stake relief society presidencies. The 6 who didn't were a mix of primary teachers, a choir leader, and a librarian.

      Some of the ones who didn't feared that their standing with the Bishop would be damaged because they had trouble answering the question about supporting their leaders even though they loved and admired them. They just couldn't get comfortable with this policy.