Eighth Annual Mass Resignation Event

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Today, November 5, 2017 is the anniversary of the infamous LDS Church policy regarding gay parents and their children.  I was asked to speak at this event.  Here are the words I shared.

A Lesson that Haunts Me

Einstein, a genius adult, said this:  “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”

Rulon, a mentally handicapped child taught me this:  “If I don’t dissent, I consent.”

In 1968, I entered my high school years.  I was proud to a Layton Lancer.   Like most kids, I was a bit intimidated.  Nervous and super excited.  Those high school years were very good years.

However, one HUGE regret has dogged me all the years since.   The path of action that I’ve chosen, has been molded by a long lingering shame from that one incident.

After 50 years, it still brings tears to my eyes.

It occurred during my 9th grade gym class…in the locker room.  My locker was located in the same row as Rulon’s.  At least, I’ll call him Rulon here.  There are very few individuals in this world who ALWAYS have a smile lighting up their face.  I don’t recall ever seeing Rulon without his amazing smile brightly beaming.

Rulon was “retarded.”

Today, that’s not a proper way to refer to the mentally disadvantaged.  That’s just the word we used back then.  All of his classes were special education, except for gym.  Kids will be kids.  Boys will be boys. And that means constant teasing.   Rulon was a convenient and frequent target.  A victim of pure innocence.  But, somehow his smile remained immutable.

Then, one day……Oh why did that day have to happen?  It happened, just a few lockers away.  Two of my friends were teasing, then taunting, then harassing the innocently smiling boy.  They threw him up against the locker wall. I can still hear the dull thudding clank of his body against the metal. My friends roughed him up.  The evergreen smile disappeared.  Confused and distraught, he couldn’t understand what he had done to deserve such a beating.  A beating……..by friends……..among friends……..witnessed by friends.

As for me, and several others.  No…I’ll just focus on what I did.  I sat there and watched. Uncomfortable and frozen.  Repulsed, and passive.

When Rulon’s whipping was finished, he slumped.  Gazed at the floor.  Forlorn and smileless. I sat there.  Then I turned away.  Then I left.

I raised no objection.  I offered no dissent.  I stayed silent and watched.  An innocent happy soul was harmed.  After the damage was done, couldn’t I have apologized?  Couldn’t I have reached out with words of comfort and love?  I had four high school years to do it.  I didn’t.

My high school career came and went.  Once in a while, I would see Rulon in the halls. I don’t recall any conversations after that fateful day.  This pure and radiant boy was never the same.  That gym class had changed him.  Skittish.  Jumpy.  Confidence and trust in friends were tarnished and tattered.

Many times, I’ve thought of my locker room failure.  I’d like to personally tell him I’m sorry.  But that chance is long gone.  The boy with the ceaseless shining smile is no more.  He died young….decades ago.

Today, I realize that I was complicit with my silence. By not standing for my friend, I gave my consent. By not speaking for my friend, I offered my consent. By just staring at my friend, I granted my consent.

The meek and lowly Rulon was among the “least of these,” of whom Jesus taught us to be mindful.  Failing one of the least, has taught me a mighty lesson. If I don’t dissent…I’m giving my consent.

Today, Rulon, I WOULD stand up For you

Of course, I was a child back in 9th grade.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I’m a man, fully grown.  No more will I consent with my silence.  That only gives harm its license.  Nope.  This time I’ll think & take action.  I will not live out my remaining years in disgrace.

DISSENT, my friend Rulon, I DISSENT.

And how do I dissent?  Let me recount the ways.

#1)  For 2 years, I met with my bishop and stake president many times for hours and hours. Not to discuss truth claims.  Rather, to explore how we could help those on the margins.  These are very good men. Ultimately, they decided to take no action.  It simply isn’t in their power to make any changes.

#2)  Nov 5, 2015, I was angered and hurt by a policy that was privately perpetrated on me and the entire church. I was done.  For the first time in 45 years, I went shopping for boxers.   My garments came off.  That night my poor wife was shattered and scared to death.  The specter of divorce raised its ugly head.  My wife and family are more important than my underwear or differences in belief.  I redonned my garments.  Stayed in the church.   And went about healing family relationships.

#3)  For the past couple of years, I’ve written my damn heart out: on my blog, on social media, and on my public Facebook page.  As a result of being open and honest, I’ve lost business and many friends.

#4)  For the last 1 ½ years, I have exercised my right and obligation to participate in the law of common consent. I voted opposed at every voting conference.  On the ward level, on the stake level, and during general conference.  In April of this year, I voted opposed in the Conference Center.  There were 3 of us who stood and shouted ‘OPPOSED.’   I DISSENT, my friend Rulon, I DISSENT.

I wish everyone in the church would express their disapproval through a vote of Common Consent.  Most members can’t do it for several valid reasons.  Those that do vote are mostly doing it with their feet.

Many of you have left the church.  Many will resign today.  I honor, respect and understand your path.  Actually, I can totally empathize.  I’ve experienced the gut-wrench, the excruciating pain and the soul crushing loneliness of a faith transition.  I consider you my friends no matter what your beliefs are.  When I talk to people, whether TBM, atheist, or anywhere in between, it turns out that our core beliefs are almost identical.

Now, #5.  I’d like to ask each of you to do something.   Sign a petition.  There is a dreadful practice in my church.  It’s widespread.  Yet not widely noticed.  It should be.

Men in authority are taking our children behind closed doors, all alone, often without the knowledge or permission of the parents and asking them explicit sexual questions.  “Do you masturbate?”  This, to children as young as 11 years old.

“Do you masturbate?”  This, all alone, behind closed doors.

This, happened to my children…without my knowledge….until 14 years after the fact.  That is outrageous.  I’m outraged.  Shouldn’t everybody be outraged?

Today, in Mormon churches all across the country, little girls and little boys, are being shamed in bishops offices.  Untold damage is being done to these kids.  The harm will last for years.  Sometimes for decades.  Some of our children will consider suicide.  Some will attempt it.  Some will succeed.

I OBJECT.  Rulon, I OBJECT.

I will not sit in silent shame as our children are shamefully thrown up against a wall of lockers and pummeled with sexual questions.  All reasonable people know this is dead wrong.

So, there’s my request.  Dissent with me.  Whether a member or not, we have a vested interest in protecting all children.  Especially our own children.

Sign the petition.

I love you my friends.

To my lifelong regret, my friend Rulon, is no longer here to love.  For him, I Dissent!!!

Other Resources

Link to the Petition to stop Mormon Masturbation Interviews.  Click HERE.

Testimonials of masturbation interviews.  Click HERE.

Testimonials of interviews about orgasm and sexual positions.  Click HERE.

Is masturbation a sin?  Click HERE.

How to talk to your kids about masturbation.  Click HERE.

Invitation to Vote Opposed–Together

voting-opposedOn September 30th, the semi-annual voting session of General Conference will be held.  Since April 2016, I have voted opposed in six different conferences at the general, stake and ward levels.

The first few experiences were daunting.  Three times it was just me lifting my lonely hand.  Twice there were 2 of us bucking the trend.  At April’s General Conference, three of us called out our opposing votes in the presence of 21,000 others who compliantly raised their sustaining hands .  Fortunately, it no longer gives me pause to obey Christ’s gorgeous Law of Common Consent.

This General Conference, I plan to vote publicly.  Not in the privacy of my home.  Not in a chapel, where almost no one goes to watch these days.  And, not in the conference center.  I requested tickets.  None were granted.  Rather, I will be voting in plain sight….on Facebook Live.

I invite you to join me.  Not necessarily in voting opposed, as I will be.  But, in voting period.  You can participate in 3 ways:

  1. Live at my office.  Address:  8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  The conference starts at 3:00pm CT.  Feel free to come at 2:00 and we will have a delightful little Talkeria beforehand.
  2.  Join Facebook live on my FB page.  I plan to start broadcasting at 3:00pm when the conference begins.  When the sustainings are conducted, simply record your vote in the comments section.
  3. Add your name to the Common Consent Register–A Record of Those Who Disapprove.  Click HERE for the link.  This has been live for 12 months.  There are now 442 members who have openly cast their vote of disapproval.

Why I’m Voting in Disapproval

  • I have chosen to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Not an easy task.  I love His mandate of Common Consent.  By baptismal and temple covenant, I feel obligated to make the endeavor of following the Law of God.  That includes obeying the Law of Consent.
  • I have chosen to follow the example of Jesus Christ.  Definitely not an easy task.  A hallmark of His ministry was open and blunt expression of His opinion to the leaders of the religious institution of His time.  By the way, Jesus was the founder of this very institution.  As part of the restitution of the gospel, the Lord provided an orderly method for our opinions to be openly given to the leaders of His religious institution in our day.  He called it common consent.
  • I care about the church.  I want it to be better.  There is great wisdom to be found among the rank and file membership.  God knows what He is doing.  He has ordained the procedure by which the leadership is to regularly tap into the safety and insight of those who have been baptized.

My Points of Disapproval

Of course, I don’t oppose the church, the apostles or the prophet.  Rather, I disapprove of various policies and major decisions that have never been presented as the Law of Common Consent dictates.  I use the word disapprove as that’s the phrasing which Jesus used in the revelation found in D&C 124:144.

  1. Disregard for the Law of Common Consent.  This is a law from God, plainly taught in our scriptures, doctrine and pronouncements by prophets and apostles.  Currently, our top leadership is disobeying this commandment.  And they are leading the entire church to follow that same disobedience.
  2. The November 2015 LGBT policy.  If a gay couple gets married, a church court is mandatory.  Yet, forcible rape, sexual abuse, and deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities do not automatically trigger church discipline.  What kind of a message does that send?  Forcible rape…maybe discipline is due.  Legal and lawful gay marriage…you’re out here.
  3. Children of gay couples are excluded from the most important blessings of the church.  Children!!!  No baptism.  No priesthood.  No youth leadership.  No youth temple trips.  NO HOLY GHOST.
  4. Twelve month waiting penalty if marriages don’t take place in the temple.  This penalty only applies in the U.S. and a few other countries.  As a result, much hurt and heartbreak happen as parents suffer the humiliation of being excluded from their children’s  weddings.  In most of the world, marriages are held outside of the temple, allowing all to celebrate this great event.  Then the sealing takes place a few days later in the temple.
  5. The teaching/doctrine that the prophet can’t lead us astray.  I view this as one of the worst and most dangerous elements of our church culture.
  6. Interviews with children, alone, behind closed doors, with an untrained older man about masturbation & other sexual matters without the explicit knowledge and consent of the parents.
  7. Nondisclosure of financial dealings.  Our finances were open for members’ scrutiny until the 1950’s.
  8. Meddling in politics without presenting the issues for a vote of approval.
  9. Keeping secret the policy manuals provided to bishops, stake presidents and seventies.  How can we be expected to approve our own policies if they are hidden from us?  Why is the church governed with secret statutes unavailable to its membership?
  10. Keeping secret the ordinance of the Second Anointing and the fact that it is taking place today in our temples.  What is this ordinance?  How does one qualify for it?  Why is it not open to all?  What does this ordinance mean for those receiving it?
  11. Use of the wording: Sustain or Oppose during the sustaining process.  The words of Christ should be used: Approve or disapprove.

All my best wishes to everyone who votes in this conference.  Whether you vote in approval or disapproval, I completely support your right and privilege as a member of the church.  Your opinions are important and valid.  Jesus is counting on us to express them honestly and openly.

Additional Resources

Common Consent Scriptures & Doctrine, click HERE.

Do We Love Jesus Enough?  click HERE.

Take Responsibility for Destroying the LDS Church, click HERE.

The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.

An Apostle Speaks Up for Common Consent, click HERE.

Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove, click, HERE.

A Mormon Stories Podcast about Common Consent, click HERE.

Hurricane Harvey–Father Denied Access to Missionary Son

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I am so disappointed in the church.  The leaders say obedience is the first law of heaven.  Then they openly disobey and lead the members to follow them in disobedience.  Bible and Book of Mormon history is playing out all over again in these latter-days.

As a big part of the restoration, Christ detailed important commandments for the governance of the church.  Perhaps the most plain and prominant is the Law of Common Consent.  Scriptural, doctrinal and prophetic descriptions can be found HERE.

A Slap in the Face of a Hurricane

Today, I became aware of a situation in my home town of Houston, Texas.  It involves a father, John O’Conner, and his full time missionary son.

Friday night, around 10pm, the massive hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast.  With all its Category 4 fury.  Dire predictions of catastrophic damage have been a constant drumbeat all over the news.  The National Weather Service has bombarded our cell phones with incessant tornado and flash flood warnings.  This situation can be scarey…even to hurricane veterans.  Especially, when Catetory 4 and tornado are in the same sentence as the word hurricane.

Twelve hours before landfall, this dad contacted the mission president, asking for his son’s phone number.  To me, the ensuing email thread is disturbing.  As you’ll see, it was highly distressing to the dad.  You can read through it HERE.

I don’t know exactly why John wanted so badly to contact his son.  I can only spectulate.  But, it shouldn’t matter.  This is the head of the family.  Aren’t we a family church?  At least, we used to be.

Just so you know, Mr. O’Conner gave his consent to have this email exchange published.  Here is what he had to say:

I’m for complete transparency.  Please share. My goal at this point is to expose the policy as a dangerous one that isolates parents from their children during stressful and dangerous times. The policy is at fault and needs discussion. The MP’s insistence on it at this time is inappropriate, stress-inducing, and incredibly inconsiderate and irresponsible.

I agree with John.  Transparency in the church it terribly lacking and desperately needed.   I also want to commend this dad for being willing to stand up for his family and for other families that will be affected by this policy in the future.  A good father and a courageous man.

Elder Holland

In last April’s General Conference, Elder Holland gave a beautiful & impassioned plea for “each one of us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir (the church).”  And then this caveat:  “In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments.”

So, if we don’t honor His commandments is there no place for us in the choir?  Let that sink in.  Most everybody is dishonoring Jesus Christ’s sacred law of consent.  Maybe it’s time to make a decision.  You either want no part of common consent and you ought to leave.  Or you are ready to take on the right and obligation that the restored gospel places squarely on your shoulders and you start to vote.

John O’Conner found himself facing a troubling policy that has NEVER seen the light of common consent.  PUT….IT….UP….FOR….A….VOTE.  Something like this, “It is proposed that at times of catastophic disaster, parents are to have no contact whatsoever with their children on missions.”  Really?  Who is going to vote for a policy like that?

This dreadful policy doesn’t have John’s consent.  It doesn’t have my consent.  It doesn’t have anybody’s formal consent as mandated by Jesus Christ.

There Is a Green Hill Far Away

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An Old Song

When I was a kid, primary was not on Sunday.  It was held every Wednesday, right after school.  I’d walk from E.M. Whitesides Elementary.  Pass Elm Street, where my house was.  Then enter the ward building.  It was literally in my backyard.  About a 20 minute walk, if I didn’t diddle-daddle.

I loved our primary songs.  Today’s modern songs have left those of my childhood in the dustbin of history.  That’s sad.

One Wednesday afternoon, the primary chorister introduced us to a new song.  Thinking of it now brings sweet tears to my eyes.  For several weeks, we practiced and practiced until we all knew it by heart.  At the time, I didn’t really understand the meaning of its words.  I knew it meant something beautiful.  Even if I didn’t fully comprehend the content, the music itself spoke reverence and awe to my soul.

Finally, I am an adult.  Now, both the lyrics and the melody resonate with eloquence. Here are the gorgeous words from this primary song of my youth.

  • There is a green hill far away,
  • Without a city wall,
  • Where the dear Lord was crucified,
  • Who died to save us all.
  • We may not know, we cannot tell,
  • What pains he had to bear,
  • But we believe it was for us
  • He hung and suffered there.
  • There was no other good enough
  • To pay the price of sin.
  • He only could unlock the gate
  • Of heav’n and let us in.
  • Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved!
  • And we must love him too,
  • And trust in his redeeming blood,
  • And try his works to do.

A gorgeous song, with a gorgeous message.  Beauty intense enough to trickle tears into my eyes.

A New Song

Over the past couple of years, I have learned another song of beauty.  It’s not taught by primary choristers or priesthood instructors.  Nope.  Today, it’s only being taught by Jesus Christ.  Prominently and proudly proclaimed in the scriptures of the restoration.  Seemingly hidden in plain sight.

It’s a gorgeous song, with a gorgeous message.  Beauty intense enough to trickle tears into my eyes.  Both the lyrics and the melody resonate with eloquence.

Of course, I’m speaking of the song of redeeming consent.  Jesus called it common consent.  It pierces me to the core that God himself values my opinion.  He esteems my thoughts so much that he asks me to openly express them several times every year.  He has empowered me…..and you.  I’m just a lowly person-of-the-pews.  But, He is counting on me to sing the song of common consent as he has so kindly mandated me to do.

Carol Lynn–I Love You

Carol Lynn Pearson

I am pumped at what I recently heard this gem of a human being just say in public.  It felt like she was talking directly to me, while staring me squarely in the eyes.  Her words were shared in a Mormon Stories podcast.  I’ve linked it HERE.  Her majestic words start around the 26:35 mark.

A question about humility was posed.  Her response surprised and delighted me.

“Humility should be blended with power.  I really believe that if more of us kind of kept our humility in one hand and in the other hand we developed some power and belief that we not only have the right, but we have the obligation of participating in a powerful way and speaking out and raising our hands and standing up.  And rising and objecting or affirming.  Or doing whatever we feel to do.  To blend our innate humility with some power that may be foreign to Mormondom.”

To me, Carol Lynn is verbalizing Christ’s gorgeous Law of Common Consent.  The Savior empowered each one of us with the right and obligation to speak out, raise our hands and stand up.  This is His church.  He wants it governed according to His mandate.

The sidelines have been my companions for the past few months.  I’m ready to once again exercise my right and obligation and get back into the game.  I love the church enough not to leave it alone.

Thank…You…Carol…Lynn…Pearson!

Punished for Voting Opposed

PunishmentThis is a Message to My Kids

If you ever choose to vote in disapproval and are threatened with punishment, I have your backs and so does Jesus!!!

Today, friends of mine voted opposed in their ward conference.  The immediate response from the bishop was, “I guess I’ll be needing your temple recommends.”

That’s an open threat of punishment.  Stripping them of their rights to participate in the highest order of our church ordinances.  Denying them the blessings of temple service.

This makes me very, very angry.

Obedience is the First Law of Heaven?

Jesus never said that.  His first law is gentle, gorgeous and magnificent:  Love thy neighbor as thyself.

However, obedience is constantly drummed into church messaging.  OK.  If obedience is at the top of the list, why threaten and punish this couple for their obedience?  For expressing their honest opinion in the manner that Christ has ordained?  They are obeying the law of consent.  Jesus himself made this a prominent commandment of the restoration.

But…the church is disobeying its own law of governance.  And then…threatening those who chose to obey.  What irony!  What hypocrisy!

Yeah…I’m Angry

So, should sustainings be announced with the following threat?

“Any opposed by the same sign. And if you give that same sign at this time, you will be punished. Your temple recommend will be confiscated, you will be denied access to the temple, banned from its privileges and blessings, and you will be treated as a pariah in our midst.”

This makes me so angry. It’s throwing Christ’s law right back into His face. Why don’t we just open the scriptures to D&C 28:13 and spit on it. Then D&C 26:2, spit on it. Then D&C 124:144, spit on it. Then D&C 121:39, spit on it twice, rip it out, burn it and fling the ashes to the wind.

Something is Very Rotten In Denmark

Sorry, Denmark.  Blame it on Shakespeare.  Something is rotten in the church administration.

To Church Leaders

  1. Resist unrighteous dominion.  The scriptures warn us that this will be an always-present temptation for you.  Common Consent is meant to help control it.  Our obedience to this law is meant to help and support you.
  2. Don’t make threats when we follow Jesus.

 

If It Gets Any Traction, You’ll be Excommunicated

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 Faith Crisis

Last year, a month prior to October 2016 General Conference, I was interviewed for a Mormon Stories episode.  Of course, John Dehlin was the host.  I knew him when he was a young Lad in Houston.  Back then, his father was my business partner.  Thirty years ago, I lost track of him.

We reconnected  quite by accident.  My unexpected and gut-wrenching faith journey was about to begin.  That small boy, now become a tall man, would soon help me in an important quest.

My faith crisis led me out of the church.  Then to Jesus.  Then back to the church in an effort to keep my covenants and…..to stand up for those who are being marginalized and hurt within the Savior’s own earthly kingdom.

All this ultimately brought me to a vital doctrinal discovery…the Law of Common Consent.  A gorgeous commandement given by Jesus through the prophet Joseph Smith.  The Lord ordained this mechanism to help keep His church on track and to correct errors along the way.  But, it’s a concept that hasn’t been taught in classes or from the pulpit for years.

How to share it?  How to get the word out?  Friends pointed me to John Dehlin and his Mormon Stories Podcast.  We talked off and on for months.  I was nervous.  Friends and family continued to leave the church.  I became aware of more and more harm being done by policies never approved by the vote of the church. My apprehension eventually evaporated.  We scheduled the interview.

John Gives A Warning

Months in advance of the recording, I had asked John, “What are the risks of doing this podcast?”

His response, “If common consent gets any traction, you will be excommunicated.

I have more trust in the church than that.  Common Consent is the law of God.  I believe Jesus has our backs when we don’t turn our backs on Him.  Actually, I believe that Jesus always has our backs, no matter what.

Here’s the Mormon Stories interview.  Thanks to my friend, John Dehlin.

To see comments on Episode 649, click HERE.

Other Resources

Common Consent Scriptures & Doctrine, click HERE.
Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove, click, HERE.
Email notifications that can be sent to Bishops and Stake Presidents, click HERE.
Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
If I Don’t Dissent…I Consent, click HERE.