On the Perils of Using Restaurants and Other Public Venues as Protest Fora

Even if One CAN Protest Where and How One Wishes, That Doesn’t Necessarily Mean One SHOULD Do So

By Ken K. Gourdin

After the proprietor of Lexington, Virginia’s Red Hen Restaurant informed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that she did not wish to serve members of the administration of President Donald J. Trump due to disagreement with the president’s policies, one might be forgiven for wondering whether we live in a topsy-turvy world in which right is left, left is right, up is down, and down is up. (Ironically, Lexington is something of a bastion of blue in an otherwise-heavily-red state.)

On the one hand, at universities—which are supposed to be bastions of free thought and free speech and where the antidote for speech with which one disagrees, rather than preventing anyone from speaking, is . . . more speech—students (along with not a few faculty members) and others demonstrate to hound the people with whom they disagree off of campus.

On the other hand, places where (while they may be public accommodations) are not public fora, private establishments where customers and patrons (whatever customers’ and patrons’ political leanings might be) it might be expected that one might be allowed to enjoy a meal, a movie, a performance, or another event unmolested, have been turned into venues for demonstration and protest when patrons wish to vent frustrations and vocalize disagreement with people with whom they disagree.

Owners or managers of such venues may say, “Of course, by all means, I want people to be able to protest people with whom they disagree, and causes or stances about which they disagree, at my establishment, because I feel the same way about those people, those causes, and those stances, and I feel so strongly about my positions that I don’t care whether it creates an inhospitable environment for any other patron or patrons.”

Okay. As the owner or manager of such a venue, I suppose you have the right to disregard the fact that allowing such things to take place on your premises may create an inhospitable environment for your patrons even if they happen to agree with protesters. Do you still have the right to ban any protests with which you disagree and any protesters with whom you disagree? Yes.

But, notwithstanding the fact that you may permit people to protest on your premises (thereby disturbing your other patrons), if I were you, while people who disagree with what you permit and with what you prohibit still must respect your wishes, I do suspect that many will be less persuaded by any future argument you might make that your premises are a [fill-in-the-blank here: restaurant, theater, et cetera] and not a protest venue.

That’s why restaurants should be primarily for eating; movie theaters should be primarily for watching movies; other performance venues should be primarily for such performances; and so on. Allowing such venues regularly to be used for things other than their primary purpose (such as protests) may portend a slippery slope.

I’ve written in defense of Free Speech and of the First Amendment elsewhere on the Blog. For example, I wouldn’t burn (or otherwise mistreat) a United States flag in protest, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think anybody else should be prohibited from doing so. See the following address: https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/a-perhaps-incongruous-post-on-flag-burning-in-honor-of-flag-day/.

That said, just because no one prevents someone from protesting at a certain time and in a certain place doesn’t mean that the protest is a good idea, particularly not in the current hyper-politicized, hyper-polarized, very heated political and social environment. Civility counts. You’re welcome to disagree with me, all the more so if you do so civilly and substantively, using effective rhetoric and sound logic. Alas, those four characteristics seem to be in short supply in public discourse these days.

In any event, at the very least, perhaps you should consider whether allowing your premises to be turned into a protest venue solves any problems or whether, actually, such an allowance creates an even bigger one: Already, there is more than enough divisiveness, heated rhetoric, demonization, and marginalization in the current sociopolitical climate. Do we really need more of these things?

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UTA v. OKC in NBA Playoffs, Russell Westbrook, and Ricky Rubio

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook Vows to “Put an End to That S***” After the Jazz’s Ricky Rubio’s Triple-Double

By Ken K. Gourdin

Monday night’s game four of the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs best-of-seven series between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was notable for the game’s physical, combative nature, which landed several players, including the Thunder’s marquee player, guard Russell Westbrook, in foul trouble and resulted in several technical fouls being assessed against each team.

In response to another commenter who opined that Westbrook got away with behavior that should have earned him even more fouls (thus disqualifying him when he was called for his sixth foul) or that should have earned him two technicals and automatic ejection, I replied:

The Jazz’ll be fine, Westbrook or no Westbrook. As long as he’s willing to play and it doesn’t endanger his long-term health, I’d rather have Westbrook in the game at 75%, or whatever his level of health or capacity is, than out of the game entirely. Because of questions about Westbrook’s health, skeptics will put an asterisk next to any Jazz accomplishment in this series anyway. I’d rather not give them even more incentive to do that by taking Westbrook out of the game entirely.

“But Ken, why are you so worried about what skeptics think of the Jazz? They’ll never be convinced anyway. Skeptics gonna be skeptical!” Touché! True dat!

Following Jazz guard Ricky Rubio’s performance in game three, in which he became (according to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News) only the third player in the team’s history to record a triple-double in the playoffs, Westbrook said, “I’ma* shut that [expletive] down.” (No word on whether the expletive refers to Rubio or to Rubio’s production.)

*I’m not fluent in Ebonics (perhaps I should by Hooked on Ebonics? “Hooked on Ebonics worked for me!”) but despite the fact that the word “gonna” already is a contraction of two words—“going to”—apparently, “I’ma” is a contraction of three words: “I’m going to.”

In an email to my Dear Old Mom—who, along with my Dear Old Dad, long ago, I converted into a Utah Jazz fan; I’ve been a Jazz fan since before the Jazz deserved any fans—quoting Westbrook’s aforementioned promise—I wrote:

I’ma [I’m gonna] put a stop to that [crap].”

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, following Ricky Rubio’s game three triple double (26 points, 10 assists, and 11 rebounds)

Well, in the immortal words of “Dr. Phil,” [psychologist and television talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw] “How’s that workin’ for ya,” Mr. Westbrook?

Since, to look at him, it appears that his entire body is being held together by athletic pressure tape, it’s pretty obvious that Mr. Westbrook is hurt, but his coach, Billy Donovan, said he’s not aware of any injury issues with Mr. Westbrook. OK, well, if that’s the case, then the Jazz simply are that good defensively. Candidly, the Jazz might have a harder time with Oklahoma City if Mr. Westbrook were healthy, because he is a good player: He’s the first player since 1962 to average a triple-double … double-figures in points, rebounds, and, usually, assists, and the only player ever to do so for consecutive seasons.

The best players might get a few triple-doubles in a season. Michael Jordan, as good as he was, never averaged a triple-double for a season. Kobe Bryant never did it. But if Mr. Westbrook’s assists statistics prove anything, it’s that no one player, no matter how good, is capable of winning games by himself. In announcing a personal vendetta against Ricky Rubio, Mr. Westbrook seems to have forgotten that his team has four other players on the floor at any given time, but if he insists on diverting the focus to himself, I can’t see how such a diversion could do anything but benefit the Jazz.


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Mormon Ordinances for Deceased Ancestors, DNA, and Crime

Interested in Genealogy? Have an Undiscovered, Violent Criminal Past? [Reformed] Criminal, Beware!

By Ken K. Gourdin

At Mormon Dialogue and Discussion, there is a discussion of a link to a story about cops mining genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com in an effort to solve cold cases. See here, (this and all other links last accessed April 17, 2018):


Mormons take seriously Christ’s injunction to Nicodemus that “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), and they (we!) also believe that Paul was referring to an actual ordinance when he wrote, asking the Corinthians, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:29). We believe that baptism, even for the dead, is an earthly ordinance, one reason being purely practical: How, exactly does one baptize a spirit? We believe that these and other ordinances necessary to save our ancestors who passed on without having the opportunity to receive them in this life can be performed by proxy in one of the faith’s temples.

I wrote (asterisked footnotes have been added):

Hmmm … I’m somewhat of two minds about this. This comes with the usual caveats: I am not a lawyer; anyone who is concerned about the privacy implications of such issues as this should contact an attorney who is licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the questions arise. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way [Sigh!]* . . .

If a person voluntarily surrenders something, he usually surrenders a privacy interest in the thing surrendered, as well.** And if a contract I sign says, “We’ll turn this information over to law enforcement if approached with a duly-authorized, properly-issued subpoena, search warrant, or similar instrument,” the government’s public policy interest in investigating crime and in prosecuting criminals probably outweighs my privacy interest. And courts have upheld taking DNA from, say, a discarded cigarette butt or a discarded soda can.

On the other hand, I don’t think a defense attorney who says, “Hey, my client’s DNA profile on Ancestry isn’t just garbage. And besides, he surrendered it for the narrow purpose of connecting with his roots and relatives, not so the government could come pawing through his surrendered data any time it feels the urge” would be laughed out of court, either.**

It’s a brave, new world, folks. Orwellian? You decide!;)

* It might be worth it for me to at least try to get licensed somewhere (longshot though it may be) if for no other reason than that it would mean I would no longer have to deliver that tiresome caveat every damn time I want to opine on anything having even remotely to do with the law.

** Regarding any continuing privacy interest a person may have (or not) in his discarded refuse, see California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988). For the case’s full text, see the following address:


However, the Court did not find the argument Greenwood used—essentially, that, “Hey, I surrendered my garbage simply so it could be picked up and properly disposed of, not so law enforcement could go pawing through it anytime it felt like it”—persuasive, ruling, essentially, that he had surrendered any privacy interest in his refuse by discarding it, and that, therefore, it was fair game for law enforcement.

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LDS Gays’ & Lesbians’ Plight

A Word on the Plight of Gays and Lesbians (and on Singles) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

By Ken K. Gourdin

As I have pointed out in another public forum, one need not be a bigot, nor to want to tear up the United States Constitution, nor to hate anyone, in order to favor traditional marriage—even though such a stance puts its proponents (according to the slim majority that decided Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. _____ (2015)) on the “wrong” side of the law, and/or on the “wrong” side of history.

Whoever (and however many) might disagree, there are reasons good and sound for favoring traditional marriage which have nothing to do with mere bias or bigotry, though many proponents of gay marriage are fond of poisoning the well with airy waves of the hand that only such specious motivations possibly could motivate their opponents.

Yes, absolutely, if one is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons), if one is gay, and yet, if one still believes in the Church’s teachings with respect to chastity and marriage and desires and strives to remain faithful to those teachings and to the other tenets of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, perhaps one has an extraordinarily rock-strewn, thorn-strewn, difficult path to walk here in mortality.

Yes, such a state of affairs is made all the more difficult by the facts that there was a premortal First Act which we mortals cannot remember and that there will be a postmortal Third Act which hasn’t happened yet. No, I don’t know precisely how God is going to untangle the complicated, intertwined, seemingly-hopelessly-entangled mess that characterizes so many human relationships (no matter the sexual orientation of the people involved).

Not only do I not know how such a thing will be done, I cannot, with my limited, finite, mortal perspective, even comprehend that it can be done. But I do have faith—fledgling, and all-too-faltering faith, but faith, nonetheless—that, whatever our lot in the life to come, and whatever we were called to endure in this life, the Omniscient, Omnipotent, All-Loving Lord of the Universe won’t have to tell anyone who was faithful, “I know you were expecting something more, or something better, or at least something . . . different . . . and I know this means that it sucks to be you, but . . . sorry. This is the best I could do.”

Thus, there are those—few though they may be, which makes them all the more courageous—who have determined to not let that which, as yet, they do not know to hold hostage that which they do know when it comes to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. One such person is Tom Christofferson, the brother of Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ. Tom is a faithful Latter-day Saint—who also happens to be gay. See here (this and all other links last accessed January 14, 2018): https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865688689/Gay-brother-of-Mormon-apostle-shares-his-spiritual-journey.html.

I encountered another such person in my cyber-travels whose courage I, accordingly, lauded. Presumably, he posts under his real name, and I did not obtain his permission to share our exchange, so I do not include a link to it herein. A few months ago—but only a few blog posts back, given the frequency with which I have posted lately—I took the so-called “Mormon Therapist” to task for excoriating Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a colleague of Elder Christofferson in the Twelve, for his October, 2017 General Conference address about The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The Proclamation can be found here: https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&old=true

That poster wrote:

This gay man found comfort in the talks given at General Conference. I especially rejoiced in Elder Oaks’ talk reaffirming the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It comforts me, after having gone out into the world to do my own thing, and, thereby, having been crushed by the world, to be in Christ’s Church again and to hear the word of the Lord from His Apostles, upholding the standards the Lord has established, and to hear them do so in such a loving and gentle way. Come unto the Lord. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.

I responded:

You’ll probably deflect my praise, but you, nonetheless, are a brave soul, [name redacted]. I realize they’re not even remotely the same thing, but as a confirmed heterosexual bachelor in the Church of Jesus Christ, who strives to be faithful, I’m not exactly sure, if I don’t have the opportunity to Become One with someone in this life, what God’s beyond-the-veil propositions for remedying that state of affairs will entail, but I do have faith that He, the Omniscient, Omnipotent, All-Loving Lord of the Universe, won’t have to tell any of us, if we’re faithful, “Ohhh, sorry! I know you were expecting something more, or something better, or at least something different, and I realize this means that it sucks to be you, but … this is the best I could do.” And the same is true of you, as well.

He responded:

Thank you, Kenngo1969 [my screen name]. I want to be as close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as I can be, and I want to have the companionship of the Holy Spirit in my life on a consistent basis. Becoming more at one with my God is my present goal. I already have an Eternal Family that I am journeying back to. When I shall see them, I hope to become like them, and in this journey, I am becoming more assured that what God has in store for me is more marvelous and wonderful than I can conceive.

I replied:

May the Lord bless you in your quest, Sir. Indeed, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

While, again, I’m not comparing our respective situations, there are many things I do not know that I wish I did. However, amidst the not-infrequent buffetings of life’s innumerable and seemingly-constant vicissitudes, the one thing of which I am absolutely certain (other uncertainties aside) is that God loves me. And I have determined to do my best to not allow what I do know to be held hostage to what, as yet, I do not know. Even in our short correspondence, I can sense that you feel the same way.

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Controversial Monson Obituary

New York Times Makes Monson “Obituary” a Platform for Grievances of LDS Church Dissidents; Surprising—or Par for the Course? I Say It’s The Latter

By Ken K. Gourdin

Following the recent passing of Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (popularly known as Mormons) and revered by the faithful as a prophet, seer, and revelator, the New York Times published a somewhat-cynical obituary.

The Times’ obituary laments President Monson’s obstinacy in the face of agitation by some (many?) for change in the Church of Jesus Christ regarding such issues as its commitment to chastity before marriage and fidelity afterward, its refusal to redefine marriage from a sacramental union between one man and one woman, and who God will allow to be ordained to His priesthood.

I cannot blame many of my fellow Latter-day Saints for being chagrined by the Times’ obituary. Nevertheless, while it is true that mere proper decorum (rather than any hard-and-fast rule) suggests that perhaps it is best to avoid speaking ill of the dead in an obituary (of all places), Alas!, perhaps expecting the secular (not to mention skeptical) media to observe such decorum is a bridge too far.

Some still cling to passe notions that the news media are bound by such notions as objectivity, fair play, and following the facts wherever they may lead. It’s true that the fact is that yes, there are a fair number of people in the Church of Jesus Christ who agitate for such changes as those I mention in my second paragraph. However, it’s not necessarily a “fact” that only the obstinacy of “Mr. Monson,” as the Times calls him, prevents such changes from taking place. (And yet, there is a small-but-often-vocal contingent even within the Church of Jesus Christ for whom, with the passing of each of its earthly heads, hope seems to sprout anew that perhaps a successor finally will see the light and will implement the agitated-for change(s).)

In the end, however, all the cynical media (as well as the agitators, however vocal they may be) amount to are a few desperately yapping dogs nipping at a heel here or there, as I pointed out in response to notice of the Times’ cynical obituary at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion. Another poster posted a link to the Times’ obituary and seemed to hint at at least mild consternation concerning it. He posted, “Wow. Check out the New York Times so-called obituary of President Monson and then read the comments chastising the paper for writing an article that is ‘less of an obituary and more of a laundry list of LDS Church-related controversies’ to quote a commentator.” The quasi-hit-piece obituary can be found at the following address (this and all other links last accessed January 9, 2018): https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/obituaries/thomas-monson-dies.html?hpw&rref=obituaries&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region.

A petition has been started in an effort to persuade the Times to moderate its coverage of President Monson’s passing: https://www.sltrib.com/religion/local/2018/01/08/change-your-slanted-monson-obituary-tens-of-thousands-of-mormons-urge-the-new-york-times/. Old sayings about aviating porcines and unusual cold snaps in usually-unbearably-hot places come to mind.

I responded at Mormon Dialogue with relative indifference—or at least with a lack of surprise:

Meh. Controversy … especially controversy concerning matters of faith … is the secular media’s stock-in-trade when it comes to reporting on religion: If it cannot find a controversy with which to paint the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (indeed, with which to paint faiths and their adherents in general) in an unflattering light, it will manufacture one. [Or, it might play up a largely-manufactured controversy, giving it much more attention than it actually deserves.] And of course, the secular media cannot countenance the idea that, perhaps, just perhaps, the things it sees as controversial are the way they are in the Church of Jesus Christ because God wants them that way: No, no; that simply won’t do. And so, the buck stops with “Mr. Monson.”

I’m reminded of Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s address from the 154th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (October 1984), “The Caravan Moves On,” available here and last accessed January 3, 2018: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1984/10/the-caravan-moves-on?lang=eng. In the end, all the cynical media are are barking dogs snapping at a heel here and there. At the close of that address, he says this:

“The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

“What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.

“Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.

“Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

“Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!”

Whether I’m disappointed that the Times’ coverage of President Monson’s passing wasn’t more balanced (or whether anyone else is) … or not; whether I’m surprised that the coverage wasn’t more balanced (or whether anyone else is) … or not, the caravan moves on.

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Tie Buddies

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and His “Tie Buddy” 

By Ken K. Gourdin

As most all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (along with many others who follow the Church) are aware, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Church’s second-highest governing quorum (after the First Presidency, composed of President Thomas S. Monson and his two Counselors) passed away during the Church’s 187th Annual General Conference held September 30 and October 1 in Salt Lake City.

When the news was posted at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion, I commented (this and all other links last accessed November 7, 2017:

Condolences to all of Elder Hales’s family, friends, and colleagues on his loss.  I hope they all find comfort in a life well-lived, trials well-borne, and in the promise of a life to come.  I think this is a pretty cool account of how Elder Hales, though he was, no doubt, very busy, didn’t get so busy ad-ministering that he neglected to minister on a more personal, intimate, individual level.  While, undoubtedly, this young man misses Elder Hales, how wonderful to be able to have such fond memories of their friendship to hold onto.


For Salt Lake City’s Deseret News coverage of the friendship between Elder Hales and his (then) young “tie buddy,” see here: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865690734/Elder-Andersen-shares-one-more-example-of-Elder-Hales-kindness-in-Story-of-Tie-Buddies.html.  For coverage of their friendship in LDS Living, see here: http://www.ldsliving.com/The-Beautiful-Reason-Elder-Hales-Always-Wore-the-Same-Tie-for-General-Conference-One-That-Will-Make-You-Love-Him-Even-More/s/86601.

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“The Mormon Therapist” Attacks Elder Oaks, and I Respond

I Respond to Natasha Helfer Parker aka “The Mormon Therapist”

By Ken K. Gourdin

There are those within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who, especially following Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s address to the Church’s recently-concluded General Conference, are absolutely convinced that the Church and its leaders hate gays and lesbians. Bishops (pastors), Stake Presidents (in the Church of Jesus Christ, a stake is a group of congregations similar to a diocese), and other leaders of the Church have the often-unenviable task of ensuring (their love for all of God’s children notwithstanding) that false doctrine, sin, other such things, and the acceptance of these things do not creep into the Church. As part of carrying out that duty, in an effort to protect others, and to ensure the good name of the Church is maintained, occasionally, Bishops and Stake Presidents must take action against the membership status of members of the Church of Jesus Christ, such as excommunication or disfellowshipment. This, among other things, makes them what are sometimes referred to in the Church as Judges in Israel.

In today’s Exceedingly Politically Correct world, the notion of the very existence of such a thing as sin is tres passe. If there’s no sin, there are no sinners; if there are no sinners, there can be no judgment of their sin. As Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Brigham Young University Dan Peterson once put it, too many 21st-century moderns have lost their awe, reverence, and respect for the Divine, coming to think of God, instead, as everyone’s ever-loving, ever-supportive, nonjudgmental Pal. The text of The Family: A Proclamation to the World which was signed by all fifteen members of the governing First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ, which formed the basis of Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s address to the Church’s recently-concluded General Conference, “The Plan and The Proclamation,” can be found at the following address (this and all other links last accessed October 21, 2017): https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&old=true. Elder Oaks’s address can be found here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-plan-and-the-proclamation?lang=eng.

One of those who passed judgment on Elder Oaks is Natasha Helfer Parker, who bills herself as “The Mormon Therapist.” In passing judgment on Elder Oaks, she appealed to an April 2012 General Conference address given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Church’s governing First Presidency. In that address, after listing various ways in which members of the Church of Jesus Christ and others may run afoul of the Christian ethic, President Uchtdorf pronounced the succinct, two-word admonition, “Stop it.” Pressing those words into a cause they were never intended to serve with respect to Elder Oaks’s continuing advocacy of traditional marriage and of the Church’s law of chastity (forbidding intimate physical relations outside of traditional marriage), as Church teaching is that (1) marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God; and (2) sex outside of marriage is wrong, Sister Parker told Elder Oaks, “Stop it.” I responded:

With all due respect to you and to your expertise, Sister Parker, you have ripped President Uctdorf’s admonition from its context in order to use it to further your own agenda. I’m quite confident that there’s no rift among the Brethren with respect to the inspiration underlying “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” nor does such a rift exist regarding the inspired teachings contained in that document. The rift, the discontinuity, you imagine exists between President Uchtdorf’s words from 2012 and Elder Oaks’s words of a couple of weeks ago is one that is solely of your own making (dare I say, of your own imagining).

Indeed, it would seem that you, yourself, have violated President Uchtdorf’s counsel with respect to Elder Oaks’s teachings about the Proclamation. Rather than ripping a mere two words out of President Uchtdorf’s fifteen-minute sermon and pressing them into service of a cause they were never intended to serve, perhaps it would be better if you were to reread President Uchtdorf’s entire sermon and were to ponder how it applies to your misapplication of it to Elder Oaks’s address. It can be found here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-merciful-obtain-mercy?lang=eng. Indeed, with due respect, it would seem that you have violated President Uchtdorf’s teaching contained in the following excerpt when it comes to Elder Oaks’s address:

“When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.”

Under the principle of ejusdem generis, nonspecific language should be interpreted in light of any specific examples which surround it. Thus, if I say, “I’m interested in cows, horses, chickens, and other such things,” interpretation of the clause “other such things” could not reasonably be read to infer that I’m also interested in Buicks simply because the clause is nonspecific. Rather, a more reasonable interpretation is that I might also be interested in goats, because, as an animal … indeed, as an animal that, sometimes, might be found on a farm, just as the other animals I listed often are … a goat is of the same kind or class as the other things I listed, while a Buick is not.

Now let’s take a look at what President Uchtdorf actually was talking about before he uttered those two words you so mercilessly ripped from their context, the text surrounding the two word sermon. He said:

“This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

“Stop it!

“It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children.”

Since, with all due respect, the only one I see here who has passed unrighteous judgment is you, Sister Parker, actually, it is you who needs to take President Uchtdorf’s advice. Yes, judges in Israel (not to mention Apostles of the Lord, Jesus Christ) should judge righteously. Yes, they should condemn sin, but should not condemn sinners. Yes, they should promote love for all of God’s children. But none of those caveats, nor any others similar to them I could name, relieve the Lord’s servants from their responsibility, clearly, unflinchingly, and unapologetically, to proclaim truth.

In reply, apparently, to me (although nothing he wrote, really, responds to anything I wrote), another poster wrote, “I guess Elder Bednar’s statement on February 23, 2016 that, ‘there are no homosexual members of the church’ is an expression of ‘a heart full of love for God and his children’?” (I’m not sure where he’s getting the material in the second set of single quotation marks from, since I never wrote it. Perhaps he’s purporting to quote Elder Bednar further.) Despite the fact that, apparently, he was merely venting his spleen, and I was as good of a target for that as anyone, I replied:

. . . I’m not defined by my sexuality, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or in any other facet of my life (including as a potential spouse, as important as physical intimacy might be to that relationship). If, you are, or if anyone else is, that’s your business (or theirs).

I happen to have a disability, but I’m no more defined by that one characteristic than I am by any other single characteristic I happen to possess. I don’t believe anyone else ought to be (or can be) defined by any single characteristic they happen to possess, either. Even as a gay man in the Church of Jesus Christ, Tom Christofferson refuses to be defined by that single characteristic (no matter how much the world might insist that he should be): See here, last accessed November 4, 2017: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865688689/Gay-brother-of-Mormon-apostle-shares-his-spiritual-journey.html. Courtney and Rachelle refuse to be defined by that single characteristic. See here: http://www.ldsliving.com/Watch-A-Lesbian-Couple-Shares-Why-They-Divorced-to-Join-the-Church-in-Powerful-Video/s/86166/.

Whatever else I am or am not, I am, first and foremost, a Son of God. So is Tom Christofferson. So are you. and I’m grateful God loves us enough to tell us, through His servants, what we need to hear and not necessarily always what we want to hear. “Ken, the truth is that, in fact, you are your sexuality. You are your weaknesses, and you are your sins, and you are whatever ungodly inclinations you might happen to possess” … those things sound suspiciously much less like God’s Truth than like Satan’s lies.

You can believe what you wish. You can believe, as Sister Parker and many others who have contributed to this thread apparently do, that Elder Oaks, in standing firmly and unapologetically for truth, exhibits a calloused disregard for some of God’s children. I disagree. If that’s the message you’ve gotten from Elder Oaks’s address about the Divine Inspiration underlying “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” then, with all due respect, you’re doing it wrong.

Later, I responded to another poster who (essentially, if not in so many words) dismissed the opinions of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles because of their age, a lack of racial disparity in the Quorum, alleged excessive similarity in background and outlook, and so on.  I wrote:

As a counterpoint to your “The-Twelve-are-simply-a-bunch-of-out-of-touch-old-white-Utah-guys” shtick, I’ll offer this, from the inimitable, incomparable Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s address to the 176th Semiannual General Conference, “Prophets in the Land Again” [(October 2006), see here, last accessed November 7, 2017: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/prophets-in-the-land-again?lang=eng.]

“As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings.”

While I did not include this excerpt in my response, I could have included an excerpt from Elder Russell M. Nelson’s address to the 184th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ (October 2014), “Sustaining the Prophets.” See here, last accessed November 7, 2017: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/sustaining-the-prophets?lang=eng.

My dear brothers and sisters, if the Restoration [of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, his successors, and their associates] did anything, it shattered the age-old myth that God had stopped talking to His children. Nothing could be further from the truth. A prophet has stood at the head of God’s Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day. Prophets testify of Jesus Christ—of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry. We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church. . . .

The calling of 15 men to the holy apostleship provides great protection for us as members of the Church. Why? Because decisions of these leaders must be unanimous. Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity? These 15 men have varied educational and professional backgrounds, with differing opinions about many things. Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached! They are committed to see that the Lord’s will truly will be done. The Lord’s Prayer provides the pattern for each of these 15 men when they pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Update, November 22, 2017: Considering Elder Oaks’s Recent Conference Address in Light of Other Things He Has Said and Written About the Topic – I responded still further to “The Mormon Therapist’s” criticism of Elder Oaks when I ran across a blog post at FAIRMormon.org, an LDS apologetics (defense of the faith) site.  I wrote:

Before rushing to judgment about whether Elder Oaks’s recent General Conference address about “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is intended to hurt, to marginalize, and so on, gays and lesbians in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, perhaps one should pause consider that address in light of other things Elder Oaks has written and said on the topic of homosexuality vis-a-vis the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ and the place of gays and lesbians in the Church. See, for example, here (last accessed November 22, 2017):



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