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Nancy Pelosi, abortion and the sacrament
The Catholic archbishop of San Francisco has barred House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion over the California Democrat’s public support of abortion rights.
That begs a question: Could, or should, a Latter-day Saint bishop do the same if one of his congregants, perhaps an elected leader, adopts a vocal stance on the volatile issue that runs contrary to church teachings?
The faith’s lay leaders can, of course, forbid members from taking the sacrament (as Latter-day Saints call it) for disciplinary purposes. But doing so for taking a public position on abortion, it seems, would be a stretch.
For starters, the church’s policy, as enumerated in the General Handbook, already allows for “possible exceptions” that would permit abortions.
More to the point, the faith’s statement on political neutrality acknowledges that elected Latter-day Saints may, at times, stand on opposite sides from their religion.
“Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated church position,” the statement reads. “While the church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.”
On other hot-button issues — including same-sex marriage — apostle D. Todd Christofferson has said that members have “a variety of different opinions, beliefs and positions on these issues.”
A member’s standing in the church “doesn’t really become a problem unless someone is out attacking the church and its leaders,” he said, “if that’s a deliberate and persistent effort and trying to get others to follow them, trying to draw others away, trying to pull people, if you will, out of the church or away from its teachings and doctrines.”
Even so, warned Wheat & Tares blogger Dave B., “there is nothing to prevent an activist and conservative LDS bishop from taking disciplinary action against an LDS elected official who is a member of the bishop’s congregation based on public statements about abortion, despite the limited scope of the LDS abortion policy and the previous tacit hands-off policy of the church.”
This week’s podcast: ‘Soft swinging’ and LDS sexuality
A woman who has been part of the Mormon MomTok network recently told her millions of followers that she was getting divorced. The reason? She said she and her husband had participated in what she called “soft swinging.”
Though unverified, the video went viral and has been reported widely — and salaciously — on social media. Many questions remain about the story, but whether true or not, it does shine a light on the church and its teachings about sexuality in marriage.
On this week’s show, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, a licensed therapist in Chicago who specializes in working with Latter-day Saint couples on sexuality and relationship issues, discusses those issues and more.
What church leaders should be addressing but aren’t
Top Latter-day Saint leaders face a lot of issues in overseeing a global faith of 16.8 million members. They have to weigh doctrines (think the plan of salvation), policies (such as the 2015 LGBTQ policy and its 2019 reversal) and practices (like the two-hour Sunday meeting block).
Needless to say, not all the challenges will be met. Apostle Jeffrey Holland acknowledged as much in the latest General Conference.
“If some are not resolved to the satisfaction of everyone,” he said, “perhaps they constitute part of the cross Jesus said we would have to take up in order to follow him.”
But some important issues need to be confronted, argues Ziff, the pen name for a writer at the Zelophehad’s Daughters website. Here are questions the blogger believes should be top of mind for Latter-day Saint leaders:
• How the church could be more welcoming to single people. Two apostles mentioned in the April 2021 conference that they make up the majority of the membership, “but is there any doctrinal innovation, or even any church program, or even any rhetorical shift to try to help single people feel more welcome?” Ziff asks. “Not that I’ve seen.”
• How the church could be more welcoming to LGBTQ people. “[General authorities] spend a lot of energy talking about the threat of LGBT people, with little to no clear awareness that these folks are actually part of the church,” the blogger writes. “...Heck, they pretty much seem unaware of even the existence of anyone other than maybe gay men.”
• How women could have a voice in church governance. Leaders undertook “some tinkering around the edges. … They’ve also changed some rhetoric to tell women that everything they do in the church is under priesthood authority, so it’s kinda sorta priesthood-adjacent, and therefore very important,” Ziff states. “...The top leadership … remains male-only. … And we still have the self-contradictory lines in the [family proclamation] about husbands presiding, but husbands and wives being ‘equal partners.’”
• How to clear up women’s value in the afterlife. Apostle Dale Renlund affirmed the faith’s official essay confirming Heavenly Mother’s existence but then warned against speculation about her. “Saying something concrete about Heavenly Mother,” the blogger suggests, “would be an easy way for [general authorities] to make clear that women won’t be eternally subservient to men.”
Ziff wonders if these “pressing” concerns would be more readily addressed if the faith’s top brass were more diverse.
“It needs to include women, and people who have had different life experiences (no more business executives for a while, please),” the writer says, “and a greater racial diversity, and greater age diversity (maybe 72 would be a good retirement age) and people from different economic circumstances.”
From The Tribune
• We visited the United Arab Emirates, where the church built its first meetinghouse in the Middle East and where its first temple in the Muslim-dominated region soon will rise as well.
Read the story.
• In last week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, a Latter-day Saint scholar posed an intriguing question. If President Russell M. Nelson got up in General Conference and directed members to put away their guns, what would happen? Would some members embrace and heed the message? Would others ignore and hate it?
• Gunfire erupted at or near the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center on Wednesday. No one was hurt.
Read the story.
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