Thank you for your feedback. I have finalized the report and sent it to my stake president. I am pleased to report that he has agreed to send it on to General Authorities. The original text of the post is below for historical purposes, but the final version, incorporating feedback I received from Exponent readers and others, is available at http://bit.ly/LDSpolicy2.
Scripture teaches that agency is God’s gift and plan for His children. (Moses 4:3) Honor agency by eliminating policies that authorize priesthood leaders “to exercise control or dominion or compulsion.” (D&C 121:37) Church policy authorizes local church leaders to punish members for not following their counsel, treating counsel from a local lay leader as a type of commandment instead of a type of advice and subjecting members to undefined, capricious criteria. Punishments may be administered informally without safeguards to stop local priesthood leaders from using punishment to coerce compliance with unreasonable demands. Some local priesthood leaders use temple recommend questions to justify denying temple recommends to members for disagreeing with the local leader’s social and political opinions and historical interpretations or for failing to shun loved ones that the local leader does not approve of. However, no justification is needed; church policy permits local priesthood leaders to confiscate temple recommends without justification, even if members can honestly answer temple recommend questions correctly.
The power of local leaders to use family weddings as coercion opportunities is exacerbated by the policy penalizing couples in the United States of America and a few other countries of the world for marrying outside of the temple by prohibiting them from being sealed in the temple for at least a year following their wedding ceremony.
Revise temple ceremony scripts to eliminate implications that women may exercise less agency than men.
Christ rebuked the Pharisees for their misplaced focus on rules governing details of Jewish life, yet Church policy also governs intimate details of members’ lives, such as the underwear they wear in their own yards and homes and the people with whom they carpool. (Mark 7, Matthew 12) Fewer rules and greater privacy would help members “claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of [their] own conscience.” (Article of Faith 11)
“The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord.” (Handbook 2: 21.4.4) Eliminate policies that contradict this assertion by inserting local priesthood leaders into private family planning decisions or strongly discouraging certain reproductive options. Replace such policies with statements like the following: “The Church neither forbids nor encourages the course of action. Members are encouraged to make this a matter of personal prayer.”
This post is a section of my draft policy analysis, a Values-based Approach to Woman-friendly Policy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have completed as much policy research as I can alone and now I am asking for feedback from the Mormon community before I finalize and submit the report. All draft sections will become available at the following links when they are posted:
|The Golden Rule|
|Protecting the Vulnerable|
Access all posts here.