I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Harry Reid, Mormons & Abortion

The March 20, 2010 article in the American Thinker entitled, "Taxpayer-Funded Abortion on Demand, Courtesy of a Catholic and a Mormon makes a better case for condemning Nancy Pelosi than Harry Reid but Harry Reid still deserves scrutiny.

Only the most obedient of Mormons are given "temple recommends." These recommends allow faithful members access to the Church's sacred temple ceremonies. Harry Reid, despite his vocal and public support for legislation that provides federal funds for abortion, is known to have such a "temple recommend."

There are important caveats in the difference between official Catholic and Mormon positions on abortion. Mormons do not consider ALL abortions outright murder. A Mormon who believes abortion should be legal but does nothing about it is different than a Mormon who believes abortion should be legal and enacts legislation to make it so. It is a simple case of belief versus action.

The healthcare bill is an omnibus bill that does many things. Each individual lawmaker cannot be held religiously liable for every provision of the bill. However, Harry Reid is vocal in his support of abortion legislation.

If Reid were subjected to disciplinary action in the past, present or future it is unlikely that anyone would know unless he chose to make it public. Perhaps Reid's involvement comes under the "circumstances warrant" clause. We will probably never know.

From what reliable evidence I have accessed on Harry Reid, he seems to operate on the fringe of Mormonism, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Compartmentalization and Mormons

In a prior posting, I talked a little bit about how we Mormons compartmentalize. I want to address that more here.

Since there is no paid clergy and all local leadership positions are held by volunteers, these people have other jobs and identities in the community. Therefore, we tend to make distinctions on what basis we are interacting with them.

For example, when I worked as a professor, my local church leader (Branch President and later Bishop) of my congregation was a fellow professor who worked down the hall. I was also close friends with his wife, children and with him. I was constantly a visitor at his house. I adopted his children as my nieces and nephews. I'll call him John Smith to avoid identifying him directly.

When I was at work I referred to him as Dr. Smith or Professor Smith. When I was at church I referred to him as President Smith or Bishop Smith. When I was a visitor at his home I referred to him as John. If I needed to discuss something with him as a church leader I would phone his house and ask for President/Bishop Smith. This also alerted the children as to what kind of phone call it was. They recognized my voice of course but reacted to my call accordingly -- as official and confidential. These careful delineations are characteristic of Mormons and something we do almost without thinking about it.

I do not allow anyone to use my title of "Dr." or "Professor" at church or at a church function. My title is always "Sister Cook."

Different norms govern our behavior when we are operating in our various capacities. For example, any individual serving in a leadership capacity would be careful not to invoke church title or church authority when engaging in the political realm. Encouraging someone to vote for a particular candidate should never be done when acting in an official church capacity.

There seems to be an assumption that if a local church leader endorses a candidate then that will automatically benefit a candidate. This is not always true. Usually, it backfires badly, even if the endorser is operating in a personal capacity.

For example, in Utah in 1992, our stake president, on his own personal stationary, NOT in his stake president capacity endorsed Joe Cannon for Senate and encouraged us to vote for Cannon via a flyer delivered to our door. I was enraged. Just because he did not invoke his church position, we all knew he was the stake president and I thought he crossed the line. Many others did too. The contest between Cannon and Bennett was a close one. Knowledgeable political analysts in the area thought the letter pushed people to vote for Bennett instead. I agree with that analysis. It played into my decision making in voting for Bennettt. Senator Bob Bennett is still in office and recently announced his bid for reelection.
I do not believe that there is any way the stake president could have endorsed Bennett without crossing a line of what we consider to be appropriate versus inappropriate. Perhaps if the stake president's name had appeared in a list of endorsers without his stake president title it would have been viewed as benign. But, Mormons are very attuned to these things and it is difficult to say.

The Church gives leaders guidelines on what they should and should not do in their personal and official capacity, but cultural mores are strong as well. These mores are in line with Church guidelines but probably a lot stronger and stricter especially in Mormon culture.

(Note: I do not like Senator Bennett and wish there had been a better alternative then and now.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Glenn Beck -- I wish he would stop talking . . .

I started this blog with a posting on Glenn Beck. My feelings on him haven't changed much except that my opinion of him gets lower every time he opens his mouth. As a conservative Republican, 7th generation Utah Mormon with a Ph.D. in government (Public Administration) I am horrified by his statements and beliefs.

I'll make a prediction. Mormons with his political views eventually kick themselves out of the Church. I do not see how he can stay in it for long if he retains the views I have recently heard him express. I would like to be the first to say, "Sayonara Glenn."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society."

My favorite quote from General Conference comes from D. Todd Christofferson's Sunday afternoon address:

The societies in which many of us live have for more than a generation failed to foster moral discipline. They have taught that truth is relative and that everyone decides for himself or herself what is right. Concepts such as sin and wrong have been condemned as “value judgments.” As the Lord describes it, “Every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god” (D&C 1:16).
As a consequence, self-discipline has eroded and societies are left to try to maintain order and civility by compulsion. The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments. One columnist observed that “gentlemanly behavior [for example, once] protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior. . . . 
“Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.”2
In most of the world, we have been experiencing an extended and devastating economic recession. It was brought on by multiple causes, but one of the major causes was widespread dishonest and unethical conduct, particularly in the U.S. housing and financial markets. Reactions have focused on enacting more and stronger regulation. Perhaps that may dissuade some from unprincipled conduct, but others will simply get more creative in their circumvention.3 There could never be enough rules so finely crafted as to anticipate and cover every situation, and even if there were, enforcement would be impossibly expensive and burdensome. This approach leads to diminished freedom for everyone. In the memorable phrase of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, “We would not accept the yoke of Christ; so now we must tremble at the yoke of Caesar.”4
In the end, it is only an internal moral compass in each individual that can effectively deal with the root causes as well as the symptoms of societal decay. Societies will struggle in vain to establish the common good until sin is denounced as sin and moral discipline takes its place in the pantheon of civic virtues.5