Will "Mormons Building Bridges" meet the same fate as "Mormons for E.R.A"?

In the 70s, the Mormon church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment, and excommunicated one of the leaders of “Mormons for E.R.A.,” a group dedicated to promoting the ERA both among Mormons and as a face of dissent to the outside world.

Here’s an article about that in the NY Times.

In early June, about 300 Mormons marched in a Gay Pride parade in SLC, calling themselves “Mormons Building Bridges.” While as far as I know they haven’t done anything else, is the sort of reaction the Church had to the ERA dissenters at all likely, or even politically possible now? Or has the passage of time (and Prop 8, which caused some backlash for the Church) made this politically inconceivable?

I don’t know if I hope that is an underhanded dirty trick by Obama people, or that I hope it isn’t. OK, I’ve decided, hope it isn’t.

I wonder if the E.R.A. will ever make a comeback?

Why would it be “politically inconceivable”? The hardliners of any religion believe what they believe, and their attitudes aren’t affected by any kind of backlash.

Oh, yes they are. Backlash is why the LDS Church allows blacks to be priests now. It is also why they renounced polygamy.

The church mostly tolerates people merely having, and even actively pursuing, contrary political beliefs. There’s lots of progressive Mormons in SLC who push non-discrimination ordinances and such and are largely ignored by the church. It’s when they end up directly criticizing and directly opposing the LDS leadership that they bring the hammer down. That’s what happened with the ERA group woman-- she didn’t just support the ERA, but actively spoke out against the church’s support of it. She ostensibly wasn’t excommunicated for supporting the ERA per se, but for denying that the President/Prophet had really received a revelation from God commanding church members to oppose it.

I do think the church is a little more politically-savy these days. For example, they’ve toned down the notion of the President actually receiving direct divine instructions regarding particular political issues, which means that simply holding a contrary political viewpoint is no longer heresy on its face. In the infamous Prop 8 letter, the President merely said that Prop 8 was contrary to church teachings and that church members should oppose it, not that there was a divine revelation commanding it. Doing things that way gives a little more leeway for the church to tolerate different political opinions as it tries to be more cosmopolitan and appear less authoritarian

So it seems to me that there’s a lot of room for this new group to work without coming into direct opposition to the LDS leadership. Again, in the Prop 8 case the church tolerated individual Mormons opposing it, but only started threatening excommunication with Mormons who were speaking out against the church leadership itself. I do suspect that after the fallout from Prop 8, the church will try to be even more subtle about opposing gay rights in the future, which will make it easier for pro-gay Mormons to operate without coming into direct conflict.

Are there any black priests in the LDS?

Yes, probably tens of thousands; Being a “priest” in the Mormon Church is something that literally millions of Mormon young men are “called to” at age 16.

In fact, I suppose that if you are a 16 year old kid who attends LDS church with any regularity, you will be anointed a “priest” automatically after you turn 16, unless there is some reason you decline the “calling”.

To put it lightly, the term priest is very, very different for Mormons than it is for other religions…

But of course the Mormons never actually said their previous actions were wrong. Just that they were no longer necessary. According to modern LDS doctrine, before 1978 it was a sin for blacks enter the priesthood. And before 1900 or whenever it was, plural marriage was perfectly good. In theory, both decisions could be reversed tomorrow, and there would be no hypocrisy.

That’s some mighty fine fact checking there, Lou.

Actually, “1900 or whenever” is pretty accurate. On paper, plural marriage was discontinued in 1890. In practice, it was continued among the top leadership until 1910-ish.

Personally, I rather like the idea of a God that changes His mind. I see a number of improvements I would like to suggest.

I don’t know that the church has really toned down the prophet’s authority. Because nobody refers to the president of the church as The President. About every third lesson is a “follow the prophet” theme, and there are several hymns that are sung along those same lines. In fact, I believe there is a hymn called “Follow the Prophet.” The president of the church is most certainly considered a prophet of god, and his advisors are also respected as having a direct line of communication straight to the Diety Himself.

I also can’t say I agree with you on the tolerance of pro-gay Mormons either. A few years back, there was a mormon kid who had a great moneymaking idea: He recruited a dozen or so really hot returned missionaries and had them pose for beefcake pics (mostly clothed, but some with shirts off) and sold calendars. (It was smokin’ hot, btw.) He was a senior at BYU at the time. He was excommunicated for the calendar, which triggered BYU to deny his degree. He fought The Man, but I think ended up having to transfer to University of Utah to take a couple classes so he could finish his degree and graduate from somewhere. BYU requires its students to sign an agreement stating that, if they lose their ecclesiastical endorsement (that is, their bishop at BYU verifies they’ve been going to church and are worthy members), then they can be expelled and denied graduation. IIRC, this happened in 2009.

I’m not saying they’ve toned down the doctrine that the Prophet/President is the direct line to the big guy, but the edicts that have come down have been a little more crafty. Back with the ERA, the edict was literally “The Lord thy God commands you to oppose this exact piece of legislation” whereas with Prop 8 it was just “This piece of legislation is contrary to church doctrine (as previously revealed by TLTG)”. It’s a subtle difference, but it allows for a lot more leeway in tolerating a little bit of dissent.

Of course, I suppose if we believe that particular doctrine, it’s God that’s using slightly more diplomatic/vague language, not the LDS leadership. :slight_smile:

Well, again, it was the fighting The Man (which in Mormon doctrine is literally The Man), not the calender itself that got him in trouble. I don’t think they’ve toned down their anti-gay positions one bit, but I think they’ve realized that high-profile conflicts over gay rights are not helping their attempts to appear mainstream and less authoritarian. They’re still going to go after people who disobey their direct orders (like “quit publishing that beefcake calendar”) but I think persecuting people simply for espousing tolerance for gays (not actually being gay, mind you) doesn’t really fit with the image they’re trying to project right now and so they’re going to try to avoid situations where that has to happen.

No, the way Dogzilla tells the story, he got in trouble before he fought back.

Well, my understanding of the issue is that they told him to knock it off and didn’t excommunicate him or expel him from BYU until he refused to (he’s still making the them, BTW, as well as a “Hot Mormon Mammas” version). It’s not like there was some sort of pre-existing prohibition on (very mildly) risque calendars and the mere act of publishing hawt missionary abs warranted an excommunication. It’s that the church leadership didn’t like the “message” of the calendar and told him to quit making the things and then punished him for disobedience, not the simple act of publishing the calendars.

In this particular instance, they thought the calendars were making them look worse than punishing the guy did. It’s the same idea with this Mormons for Building Bridges organization-- the LDS leadership hates the gays as much as anyone, but if putting their foot down and having to crack down on the group is going to cause more damage to their greater goal of appearing to be a reasonable mainstream group, they’re not going to do it.

Didn’t the Pope do the same thing, becoming less and less likely to speak infallibly (I forget the official term)?

Ex cathedra?