Feminist Movement Gay & Lesbian Movement
Thus, the danger is not from individual gays, lesbians, or feminists, but from the invasions by their movements.672 Perhaps scholars and intellectuals are not included in that categorization because there is not an intellectual “movement,” although scholars and intellectuals increasingly make up the membership of the two “movements.” It is not difficult to see why these three things engender such fear and loathing in the likes of a patriarch like Packer. Susan Estrich and Virginia Kerr, two feminist scholars and intellectuals, demonstrated long ago that homophobia and sexism are closely akin—they are motivated by the same phobia.673 Packer’s choice of the adjective “so-called” before “intellectuals” suggests that for him “true” intellectuals would be those who do not challenge the church and who are not gay, lesbian, or feminist—in other words, Mormon apologists. Such apologists are expected to conduct and report their researches selectively.674
“I have come to believe that it is the tendency for many members of the Church who spend a great deal of time in academic research to begin to judge the Church, its doctrine, organization, and leadership, present and past, by the principles of their own profession. Ofttimes this is done unwittingly, and some of it, perhaps, is not harmful.
“It is an easy thing for a man with extensive academic training to measure the Church using the principles he has been taught in his professional training as his standard. In my mind it ought to be the other way around. A member of the Church ought always, particularly if he is pursuing extensive academic studies, to judge the professions of man against the revealed word of the Lord. Many disciplines are subject to this danger. Over the years I have seen many members of the Church lose their testimonies and yield their faith as the price for academic achievement. Many others have been sorely tested.”675
Resistance to turning and facing the wrong way within the church is a purely ecclesiastical matter. But if the intention is to extend that resistance outside the church to politics, law, and government—as seems to be the case from the larger body of Packer’s work—then one must ask, “Why? Do you fear that the truth alone will not be sufficient to carry the day?” Packer concludes: “There is the need now to be united with everyone facing the same way. Then the sunlight of truth, coming over our shoulders, will mark the path ahead. If we perchance turn the wrong way, we will shade our eyes from that light and we will fail in our ministries.” He refused to have any dialogue with them because we would “lose our bearings and leave that segment of the line to which we are assigned unprotected.” While such militaristic sentiments may pass as appropriate in the neo-Mormon theocracy, they are wholly inappropriate for a modern, liberal, pluralistic democracy.676 The earlier quoted text regarding “no power or influence” is part of a letter that Joseph Smith wrote to the church when he was a prisoner in Liberty, Missouri, in March of 1839. In it he described the political power that had been used against his people as the “very mainspring of all corruption.”677 Mormonism arose in response to what it would define as “the great apostasy”—the “falling away” of the truth church, its doctrines, and its authority following the death of Jesus and the apostles—a centuries-long tradition of “rivet[ing]the creeds of the father, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children.”678 At the beginning of the “restoration of all things” initiated by Joseph Smith, he reported that God told him, when he asked which church he should join—
“that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and…were an abomination in his sight… having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’”679
This is consistent with the Book of Mormon teaching that “there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth”680; that those trapped within such churches are bound down by their creeds and doctrines681; and that the Mormon church is the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.”682 These exclusionary teachings have never been amended or withdrawn. While these may the tenets of an individual church, these are not the values of a modern, pluralistic democracy. The church’s reaction to the decision of the California Supreme Court in May 2008 upholding same-sex marriage683 and its official letter to its California congregations684, are examples of this. The letter of June 29, 2008, stated (emphasis added):
A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.
We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.685
In this letter there is not a hint, nor could there be, that “simply a pragmatic effort to promote the well-being of the Church as an organization”686 was involved. The “Church as an organization” is in no way threatened by anything that has happened in California. What is threatened is (1) the “sacred institution of marriage” (an odd charge coming from a church that once “threatened” that institution by its own practice of polygamy), and (2) the right of a patriarchal “coalition of churches and other organizations” to dictate the meaning of a word—marriage. Any other alleged “threat” or “grievance” is purely theoretical. Furthermore, we have seen that Mormon apostle Russell M. Nelson observed: “Politics and religion will always approach issues from different platforms. Politics is based on negotiation; religion is based on truth and faith. The world of politics is one of compromise. That process can succeed as long as non-negotiable truths and correct principles are honored and upheld.”687 Where, in the church’s entry into California politics, is there the necessary platform of compromise essential to the “world of politics”? We recall the words of Mormon general authority William J. Critchlow, speaking on the subject of changing practices relating to priesthood and women, that “there is nothing we can do about it.”688 This is not the platform of compromise. It will be answered by the faithful that such a process of compromise cannot operate here because marriage is one of those “non-negotiable truths and correct principles” that must be honored and upheld. However, this conclusion cannot follow for at least two reasons. First, the history of Mormon polygamy, and hence the definition of “marriage,” deconstructed and still deconstructs any argument about such truths and principles. Second, even if we refuse the metaphor of the “wall of separation” between church and state, or argue that it is somehow a “one-way wall,” the notion that the compromise and negotiation of the process of politics “can succeed as long as non-negotiable truths and correct principles are honored and upheld” absolutely violates the First Amendment’s command that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It is not the job or prerogative of the government to “honor and uphold” religion’s “non-negotiable truths and correct principles.” It ought not to be the business of religion to try to force the government to do so. If religious truths and principles are truly non-negotiable and correct, the power of faith and the pulpit should be all-sufficient to direct the faithful how to act. But when the church jumps the wall of separation, as it does when it captures marriage within the sanctuary and the temple, it voluntarily gives up its protection from state interference. It also violates its own scriptural and linguistic foundations as well as common sense.
Images of separation abound in the Mormon scriptures, and in each instance they are the separation equally of each thing from the other thing. It is, of course, always two-way. Earlier we saw the Old Testament image of “a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place.”689 Joseph Smith always used the word “separation” in its plain, ordinary meaning. He wrote: “The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, received a fulness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.”690 In his revelation on polygamy, he stated that unless a man and his wives are married according to the “celestial law,” when they die they will always thereafter live “separately and singly.”691 After the assassination in 1844 of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, apostle John Taylor, who later became president of the church, wrote that “In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated.”692 In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of the “great gulf” that will separate the wicked in hell from the righteous in heaven with Abraham,693 and he gave the parable about how, in the great judgment, the shepherd will separate the sheep from the goats.694 Paul asked who or what “shall separate us from the love of Christ?”695 And he repeatedly told the faithful to separate themselves from the wicked.696 In each of these examples, the meaning is absolute: either nothing can create a separation in the first place nor breach a separation that already exists. The image of the “great gulf” is the clearest of all these, for in it Jesus specifically describes its two-way nature: “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed so that they which would pass [a] from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass [b] to us, that would come from thence.”697 During the days of persecution for polygamy, Mormon leaders used this parable, in conjunction with the image of their mountain retreat in Utah, as the very definition of what “separation” is supposed to mean.698 In 1884, Mormon apostle George Q. Cannon said:
“When we came to these valleys we thought we had left the world behind us. We thought that because these mighty mountains, which reared themselves on every hand as an impassable barrier between us and the rest of the world, Babylon was left behind. We thought we could live comparatively pure lives, and that we would be comparatively free from the associations of the world. But such ideas have been dispelled—very rudely dispelled—by that which has occurred. Babylon followed us. We find that these mountains are not sufficient to divide us from the rest of the world; that we must share with the rest of mankind the evils and the blessings that pertain to this mortal condition of existence. We have these circumstances to contend with. We are mixed with the wicked. The tares and the wheat grow together, and will grow until the harvest. This seems to be designed in the providence of our Father. But the time will come when there will be a separation, a final separation of the righteous from the wicked, and that separation will be brought about by the exercise of the Priesthood which God has bestowed.”699
In these words, one feels the sense of violation and disappointment at the realization that the wall, which was supposed to be “an impassable barrier,” turns out to be permeable by Babylon—when things that were supposed to remain fixed on their respective sides of the barrier get “mixed” because the wall is “not sufficient.” One senses the longing for the complete and “final separation” of Babylon from Zion because the sacred and the profane place700 should be separated. Two years later, in 1886, Mormon apostle Lorenzo Snow quoted with derision the prosecuting attorney in the trail that convicted Snow of bigamy and sentenced him to prison. The prosecutor, he said, told the jury to make him an example:
“The eyes of the nation are upon you, and as loyal citizens, from you a verdict of guilty will be expected; and if you heed this appeal, I can assure you, and predict emphatically, if the defendant, Mr. Snow, with a few other Mormon leaders can be secured, it will not be long before a new revelation will follow, calling for a change in the law of patriarchal marriage.”701
Snow reported the words derisively because he, like all other high Mormon leaders, was absolutely confident that God would protect them and that their religious liberty to practice polygamy would be held inviolate:
“We have no occasion for fear or cause for trembling—the purpose of God will be accomplished—what He has recommenced will be consum[m]ated though the combined armies of the earth should rise up and oppose.”702
Yet, ironically, the prosecutor turned out to be more prophetic than the prophet. Only four years after Snow was convicted, church president Wilford Woodruff issued the “Manifesto” officially ending the practice of polygamy703—a “new revelation—in general conference on October 6, 1890. Only two months after that, Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis published their article, “The Right to Privacy,” in the Harvard Law Review, famously calling privacy “the right to be let alone.”704 It was the end-point of nearly a century in which the Mormons had been reiterating their motto: “Mind your own business—and let everybody else do likewise.”705 Brandeis himself later became a justice of the US Supreme Court and there, in language that Mormons could identify with and reminiscent of George Q. Cannon’s lament about being “mixed with the wicked,” expanded upon his own earlier definition of privacy:
“The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”706
This combination of ideas provides a perfect definition of the meaning of “separation” and would have protected the Mormons if given more than lip service in the law, politics, and religion of the day:
“Right To Be Let Alone”
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