Sadly, he did confirm my understanding that families may be damaged by church discipline regarding association with those who leave. Therefore there will always be some very hurt people around who are willing to talk to the kind of media who, in order to damage a President, will be happy paint it as a typical religious cult.
A couple of things: Families may be damaged, but that’s really up to them. I have a gay sibling who regularly and openly attacks (I use that word with caution, but really it’s the only accurate description… “criticize” wouldn’t do it justice) it. I’m not saying he doesn’t have legitimate beefs, but he would be an ideal example of a person who the LDS has interest in isolating/shunning/whatever. No one in my family has ever been asked to disavow or shun or do anything negative to him. It’s just not an issue. That being said, I know members who act differently in the same situation. It’s just a call that the families make, perhaps with a cultural pressure to avoid discussion about it by disengaging with the “problem” individual.
I totally agree that Mormonism will probably always have to deal with the cult thing. It may not feel fair, but there’s a lot to deal with. It’s a highly hierarchical church and it’s strict about lots of things people find wacky (coffee, tea, pretty much anything having to do with sex, etc). It has non-public aspects. It has a ton of controversial events that it has to answer for anytime someone searches for “polygamy” or “Mountain Meadows” or any number of things.
This election, it will just come down to whether Americans decide they want an alleged closet muslim (who regularly attended a controversial church?) or a crazy cult leader (who desperately wants to be seen as “one of the guys”) as the president.
I can accept all that.
Perhaps the LDS will in time come to relax about those things which cause it problems and are not really important to its message.
For example, I saw on You Tube a TV program, Q&A, from Australia last week, in which the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, a notorious conservative, was questioned with Richard Dawkins, on his personal religious beliefs.
He conceded among other things that I don’t remember that:
I am not a fan of Pell, mostly because of his recalcitrant attitude to women and paedophiles in the church, and I expected Richard Dawkins to wipe the floor with him intellectually. But he didn’t, although the professor won the debate on reason in my view. While Pell had to stick to the core catholic doctrine ( he failed to convince on transubstantiation) he made these concessions which I think most catholics would regard as enormous. These are not by any means new ideas to progressive Catholics, but it was really something to hear them coming from Pell.
I think this is an example of a church adapting to modern realities, without giving up its principles. The alternative would be to be consigned to oblivion.
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