The Mormon apostasies

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2015

mormon templeApostasy is the act of rejecting one’s (former) religious beliefs and denying the teaching of one’s church. It’s not simply a matter of disagreement on issues, doubt about doctrine, or failing to apply specific teachings to one’s life.

A Catholic family can quietly go about utilizing contraception without being apostate. They can march in protest when their local Catholic School fires a gay teacher. They can question whether restriction on priests’ gender is based more in misogyny than in revelation. But if they reject the doctrine that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ provides redemption for sin, then they are denying the central tenet of the Catholic faith and are in apostasy.

Religions and denominations respond to apostasy with a wide array of reaction. Protestant Christians will probably do little more repeatedly tell you that they are praying that you get right with God. In some Muslim sects, they will stone you to death.

Mormons, whose communities are largely built on interconnecting family ties, may find that rejecting their faith comes with a high cost. Being viewed as apostate can leave one with little social or family network to rely on as exclusion from the daily activities of one’s religion is often the same as exclusion from one’s social and family circle.

For many denominations, apostasy is ill defined. Just how far one can go without becoming apostate is a bit nebulous across the vast diversity in religious belief.

But the Mormons make it very simple. And in their latest revision, they list the five things that one can do which are apostasy.

1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.

Okay, that seems pretty standard.

2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

Again, that makes sense.

3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

Yeah, I suppose following apostate teachings makes you apostate.

We’ll skip #4 for a moment.

5. Formally join another Church and advocate its teachings.

Well now this is getting downright boring.

Back to

4. Are in a same-gender marriage.

Wait. What?

Of all the possible things that one could do as a Mormon that flies in the face of church teaching, only one is so grievous as to be specifically and exclusively declared apostasy? And that one thing is gay marriage?

Oh silly Mormons. And you wonder why it is that the world around you thinks that you are a bunch of raging homophobes.

Ben in oakland

November 6th, 2015

I just posted this over at RNS.

Jana, I’m surprised that you’re surprised.

We gay people who have been watching antigay Christians wiggle and squirm in order to use God to justify what cannot be justified by any other means– we know there is really only one sin in the world, or at least only one that requires extra special treatment. Just as we have watched people twist and pervert scripture to make being gay the worst possible sin, the only sin that merits political campaigns to keep “those people” in their place. Just as we have watched your precious church, in their present statement, define five different “states” of apostasy– and guess who is on that list. Just as we have watched the church pat itself on the back for promoting antidiscrimination laws that allow the people most likely to do so to discriminate– small businesses and landlords. Just as are are completely unable to distinguish between the love they profess as ‘christians’ and the hate they disclaim.

Nothing new here.


November 7th, 2015

It gets even better. Children of parents in a same-sex relationship can’t be baptized, receive a blessing, go on a mission, or become a priest in the mormon church. The only way that can happen is if they basically disavow their parents once they reach 18. They must be really betting on kids choosing religion over their parents. Personally, if I was a gay or lesbian mormon I would leave. Frankly I am happy about this as I see it as them hastening their demise. Which, given their involvement in Prop 8, can’t come fast enough.

What is kind of hilarious is that they hate being called a cult and yet they demand children of gay parents do the one of the first things cults demand: cutting yourself off from your family and support. Then when you become part of the church your only support is fellow members which makes it much more difficult to leave.


November 7th, 2015

They want control of your brain and your money. If they can’t have that, they don’t need you.

Regan DuCasse

November 7th, 2015

What irritates me NO end, is that it’s obviously not so easy to just reject or walkaway from the influence of religion in this country.
Essentially because they strongly demand and expect to have power over everyone. And all access to everything.
Most parents, are brought up in a religious community from infancy, and this goes on for generations. You’re EXPECTED to participate in that community, regardless what, who or your needs actually are.
Women, people of color, gays and transgender individuals, have all had little choice in religious associations because of the families they belong to.

So it’s patent denial, and easier for religious people to maintain the fiction that gay people choose to be gay, or can easily choose not to be religious.
Where women and gay people are concerned, it’s religious communities that DO involve themselves in the political arena, and demand to influence laws that can harm the individual lives of women and the LGT.
Discrimination occurs whether a sex life, marriage needs are in evidence. So it’s NEVER been ‘just about behavior’, but ALL things that a gay person MUST have in their lives.
A home, a job, a family.
I just read a comment thread in which someone suggested this was part of the blowback of marriage equality, and SLC electing an openly lesbian mayor.
The LDS has enjoyed tremendous political and social sway in UTAH.

And they try to pretend now, as if this isn’t true. Only after such progress for gay lives.

Part of the anti gay political tactic WAS to find the children of gay people, and have them publicly denounce those parents as incompetent, and unworthy of being parents, let alone married.
How religious communities prioritize their actions, whether within or without their own houses of worship, are woefully and morally bankrupt in so many ways.

None can point to any social good that’s resulted from treating gay people this way.
Nor anyone else rejected before, such as blacks.
And neither blacks or women can hold any high offices within that church. So where THAT policy is concerned, not ENOUGH has changed to make the LDS look any less like the racist, sexist, homophobic institution it’s always been.


November 7th, 2015

I came to the comments to check, and sure enough, Lord Byron didn’t disappoint. The fact that they’ve explicitly stated that being gay and pretending not to be (cue “Turn It Off” from The Book of Mormon the musical) is one of the worst sins isn’t that surprising, but the part about making children shun their same-sex married parents is, well, over the top.

But not to worry, as soon as the bad PR becomes unmanageable (it’ll have to get a good bit worse than it is now, I suspect), God will have a change of mind, just like in 1978 when God decided that black people could be members of the One True Church after all.


November 7th, 2015

Shunning aside, the pure evil of driving a wedge between children and their parents—whoever those parents may be—is unspeakable.

Timothy Kincaid

November 8th, 2015

Soren, so aggregious is the betrayal of a parent that it is one of the ten forbidden acts carved into stone by the finger of God. Or maybe the Mormon Church forgot that story.


November 8th, 2015

Not to get into a theology debate, Timothy, but the Mormon hierarchy could claim that they are just making children follow Luke 14:26.


November 9th, 2015

Lord_Byron, I think Matthew 5:30 could also be applicable here. Since having gay parents is clearly a sin, you should cut them off so you can enter heaven.


November 10th, 2015

I guess there is no reason for me to care about the silliness within the patchwork Mormon religion and their halls. People will suffer because of it, but that’s no worse than the Southern Baptists.

However, equal civil rights are quite important to all of us. Nice to see Obama get on board with us on that issue this morning! (The greatest president of my lifetime—-without a doubt. Oddly, there is not even a close second-place candidate, unless it was Jimmy Carter (despite his international policy failings)….


November 11th, 2015

I just love all the other sins that are implicitly less egregious than getting gay married. Serial murderer and cannibal? NBD.

Richard Rush

November 11th, 2015

So, we have here an expanding organization, built on the foundation of Joseph Smith’s obvious fraud, with its major objectives being the achievement of ever-increasing power and wealth through gaining and maintaining a stranglehold on gullible people who then “voluntarily” hand over vast sums of money, and “willingly” go out on missions around the world to lure in more gullible people. And all of that is to be considered righteous, respectable, and morally virtuous. . . . while gay people in fraud-free loving relationships/marriages are punished by that organization for their abhorrently abominable sinful lives.

Oh, wait, that sounds just like many other religions. But, the fact that the LDS Church is a relatively modern era example of a new religion makes it easy to scrutinize, and then arrive at the obvious conclusion that Joseph Smith’s preposterous tale of the gold plates is a fraud. And without that fraudulent tale, there would be no LDS Church.

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