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Nancy Pelosi, abortion and the sacrament
The Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco has banned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion because of the California Democrat’s public support for abortion rights.
This raises a question: Could or should a Latter-day Saint bishop do the same if one of his congregants, perhaps an elected leader, takes a vocal stance on the volatile issue that goes against teachings of the Church?
Lay leaders of the faith can, of course, prohibit members from partaking of the sacrament (as Latter-day Saints call it) for disciplinary purposes. But doing so to take a public stance on abortion, it seems, would be overkill.
For starters, church policy, as listed in the General Manual, already allows for “possible exceptions” that would allow abortions.
Specifically, the declaration of faith on political neutrality recognizes that elected Latter-day Saints may sometimes stand in opposition to their religion.
“Elect who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and do not necessarily agree with one another or even with a publicly stated position of the church,” the statement read. “While the church may communicate its views to them, as to any other elected official, it recognizes that such elected officials must always make their own choices based on their best judgment and taking into account the constituencies for which they were elected.”
On other burning issues – including same-sex marriage – Apostle D. Todd Christofferson said members had “a variety of different opinions, beliefs and positions on these issues.”
A member’s position in the church “doesn’t really become an issue unless someone attacks the church and its leaders,” he said, “if it’s a deliberate effort and persistent and trying to get others to follow him, trying to draw others away, trying to pull people, if you will, out of the church or away from his teachings and doctrines.
Even so, warned Wheat & Tares blogger Dave B., “There is nothing to prevent an activist and conservative Church bishop from taking disciplinary action against an elected Church official who is a member of the congregation of the bishop on the basis of public pronouncements on abortion, despite the limited scope of the LDS abortion policy and the church’s previous tacit hands-off policy.
This Week’s Podcast: ‘Soft Swinging’ and LDS Sexuality
A woman who was part of the Mormon MomTok network recently announced to her millions of followers that she was going to divorce. The reason? She said she and her husband participated in what she called “soft swinging.”
Although unverified, the video went viral and was widely reported – and salaciously – on social media. Many questions remain about the story, but whether it is true or not, it sheds light on the church and its teachings on sexuality in marriage.
On this week’s show, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, a licensed therapist in Chicago who specializes in working with Latter-day Saint couples on sexuality and relationship issues, discusses these issues and more.
What Church Leaders Should Address But Don’t
Top Latter-day Saint leaders face many challenges overseeing a worldwide faith of 16.8 million members. They must weigh doctrines (think the plan of salvation), policies (like the 2015 LGBTQ policy and its 2019 reversal), and practices (like the two-hour Sunday meeting block).
Needless to say, not all challenges will be met. Apostle Jeffrey Holland recognized this at the last General Conference.
“If some are not resolved to everyone’s satisfaction,” he said, “perhaps they are part of the cross that Jesus said we must take up to follow him.”
But some important issues need to be addressed, argues Ziff, the pseudonym of a writer on the Daughters of Zelophehad website. Here are questions that the blogger says should be a priority for Latter-day Saint leaders:
• How the church could be more welcoming to singles. Two apostles mentioned at the April 2021 conference that they make up the majority of the membership, “but is there a doctrinal innovation, or even a church program, or even a rhetorical change to try to help singles feel more welcome?” asks Ziff. “Not that I saw.”
• How the church could be more LGBTQ-friendly. “[General authorities] spend a lot of energy talking about the threat of LGBT people, with little or no clear awareness that these people are actually part of the church,” the blogger writes. “…Damn, they seem pretty much unaware of even the existence of anyone other than maybe gay men.”
• How women could have a voice in church governance. The leaders undertook “some tinkering around the edges. … They also changed some rhetoric to tell women that everything they do in the church is under the authority of the priesthood, so it’s kind of adjacent to the priesthood, and so very important,” says Ziff. “…Top management…remains exclusively male. …And we still have the conflicting lines in the [family proclamation] about husbands presiding, but husbands and wives being “equal partners”.
• How to clarify the value of women in the afterlife. Apostle Dale Renlund upheld the official test of faith confirming the existence of the Heavenly Mother, but then cautioned against speculation about her. “Saying something concrete about Heavenly Mother,” suggests the blogger, “would be an easy way to [general authorities] to clarify that women will not be eternally submissive to men.
Ziff wonders if these “pressing” concerns would be more easily addressed if the higher ranks of the faith were more diverse.
“It needs to include women and people who have had different life experiences (more business leaders for a while, please),” the writer says, “and more racial diversity and more age diversity (maybe 72 would be a good retirement age) and people from different economic situations.
From the Grandstand
• We visited the United Arab Emirates, where the church has built its first church in the Middle East and where its first temple in the Muslim-dominated region will soon also rise.
Read the story.
• In last week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, a Latter-day Saint scholar posed an intriguing question. Whether President Russell M. Nelson stood up in General Conference and ordered members to lay down their weapons, what would happen? Would some members accept and heed the message? Would others ignore him and hate him?
Read the story. Listen to the podcast.
• Gunfire broke out at or near the Hill Cumorah Visitor Center on Wednesday. No one was hurt.
Read it story.
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