Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Deep Is Your Love?

I was surprised to learn recently that the Mormon led Boy Scouts of America Boy Scout troops have allowed gay members for some time. There it was in a leading article in the Salt Lake Tribune entitled “Boy Scouts may mirror Mormon policy and let in gays”.

Peggy Fletcher Stack, the author of the article, alludes to the fact that there are openly gay Mormon scout leaders in the following quote:

“The faith allows chaste gays to hold "callings," or positions in its organizations, when chosen by local Mormon leaders, and its written guidelines do not exclude Scouting.” – Peggy Fletcher Stack Salt Lake Tribune 28 January 2013

Peggy is famous on this blog for regularly clearing up tenants of the LDS faith. She made it clear that, despite the previous words of the LDS prophets, caffeine is not implicated in the Mormon “Word of Wisdom”. In August the LDS church even published an article in which it embedded the statement that it was not making statements about caffeine. Unfortunately, instead of following up the statement with direct guidance on Frapacinos and coffee ice cream, they retracted it by deleting the statement form the article on their website.

Leveraging the commandment that “Thou Shalt Have No Mulligans Before Me” the LDS world exploded with their new-found stimulant freedom. By “exploded” in this context I mean such events like some students at BYU began a petition to stock some caffeinated beverages in at least one of the soda machines on the over 34,000 student campus. I don’t know if any of the radicalism from this “caffeine spring” has taken hold.

The idea that the church now allows, or in LDS speak “has always allowed but nobody asked”, caffeine has taken root. The following mention of this radical firestorm of controversy from the annual roundup of top Utah faith stories makes the removal of the caffeine statement of the church completely non-existent.

“Even the oft-debated "caffeine question" bubbled up, to the extent that the Utah-based church released a statement reaffirming that the famous Mormon "Word of Wisdom" — no alcohol, tobacco, coffee or tea — is silent about the stimulant. LDS leaders didn’t say caffeine is healthy, but they left no doubt that there is nothing in the religion’s health code forbidding members from downing a Dew, pounding a Pepsi or chomping on chocolate.” -- David Noyce “Utah’s top 2012 faith stories” Salt Lake Tribune 10 January 2013

Though David is clear about Mountain Dew (a Pepsi product), Pepsi, and Chocolate (already available on BYU), he is not clear on iced espresso sin.

Some of you may think that the caffeine thing is trivial. It is, and trivial problems require trivial solutions. Unfortunately it appears as if the only church authorities who will talk about this are Salt Lake Tribune journalists. Some people will recognize the divine authority of the Salt Lake Tribune where other may not. Some of the people in both camps will be bishops who will approve or disapprove temple recommends based on their interpretation of the “Word of Wisdom”. Adherence to the WoW is question 11 on the temple recommend quiz.

This means that some people will be denied access to the rituals needed to assure the comfort of their eternal souls for conduct that has no affect on others.

Of course it is a bit fraudulent for me to deride the LDS church for treating this threat to the eternal soul as non-existent when I think that eternal souls themselves are non-existent.

Peggy does quote authorities other than herself in her analysis of the BSA following the LDS church lead on inclusion of gays. She extensively quotes Gay-Mormon filmmaker Kendal Wilcox who states:

"If this goes through, local wards will be free to continue to include LGBT Scout leaders and youth in the program.” – Kendal Wilcox January 2013

This suggests to me that Mormons can include any LGBT person in any scout group whenever they want to; in fact it does a tad more than “suggest” this.

If the Mormons allow lesbians into their Boy Scout troops does this mean they will someday allow heterosexual girls into them as well?

Kendal Wilcox was the executive producer of BYUtv who was most famous for getting fired shortly after beginning work on a documentary about Mormons and Gays called “Far Between”. He has been described as an “Emmy Award Winning” or “Emmy Award Nominated” filmmaker, but the biggest award I could actually track down was a possible bronze Telly award for the documentary “Road to Zion: Travels in Church History ‘Hawaii’”…. I’ve never seen it either.

Kendal was fired from the church controlled, owned, and operated BYUtv in November of 2011 after (according to Kendal) he faced: "an increasingly hostile work environment over the last several months with which I refused to continue to engage."

Kendal also states that homophobia at BYU was not a problem. He relates that BYU personnel treated his coming out with: “love and respect and open-heartedness." And then they apparently made his life miserable and fired him.

You cannot wade too far out into the waters of LDS misdirection and obfuscation because the shore drops away rapidly. Still, every once in a while, while floating over it in the sparse published snippets, I wonder how deep the bottom really is.

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