"The church as an institution is by no means on the brink of reinventing itself as a progressive force. But it is struggling with how much and whether to accommodate liberals, and the result has been substantial internal division."
I think there is a huge rift within Mormonism. On the one hand are the urban Mormons, if I can use that phrase to describe moderate ones who basically accept the church's claims and evolving leadership; and there are the preppers, including everyone from Bundy to Rowe and the Daybell/Vallows.
The church might have prevented this rift from opening if it had nipped the right-wing lunacy in the bud, but how could they do that after Wilkinson and Benson? The truth is the church moved rightward in the late 1950 and early 1960ss and that prevented action until too late. Now the Q15 is running scared of the extremists and doesn't dare excommunicate Bundy and the Daybell/Vallows because that 1) would infuriate the preppers who I think comprise around one-third of the church and 2) highlight to the media the role of Mormonism in those people's crimes.
This is a big problem, possibly existential, and SLC doesn't know what to do. So yeah, they have kicked some people out--Rock Waterman et al--but I think there is an inverse correlation when it comes to the risk of excommunication. If a person is relatively weak in the prepper movement, s/he will be excommunicated. But if the person is prominent and has a big following, they are somewhat immune to church discipline.
I find it amusing to see the prophets and apostles rearranging the deck chairs, unsure what to do about the icebergs.
One thing the article did mention is how Mormonism isn't just a fringe Rocky Mountain west religion anymore and has expanded all over the USA. Most of the Mormons I've met back east know people think it's a cult, more aware of the outside world beyond the Zion Curtain, more non-Mormon social contacts, etc and aren't so pushy about it.
Things Change. If there were a lot more Mormons, I'd say there would be a major schism, but because the numbers are so small compared to the general population, they might be able to get away with some kind of "purge" or crackdown. Only time will tell.
I certainly agree about the more open and balanced Mormons on the East Coast.
I think the rift in the church, however, is more serious than you do. The problem is that papering over the fracture may hold the church together but in the meantime people on both sides of the divide are angry and growing progressively more disillusioned. So there's a cost to maintaining the status quo: the moderates are offended by the preppers and the preppers are offended by the moderates, and if the church doesn't make a decision people on both sides will lose their commitment and wander off.
Apparently I can't see the article w/o subscribing.
I think TSCC is trying to subtly back away from the extreme right. But they don't want to overtly disavow them so much as perhaps treat them like an eccentric uncle. At the same time, they make pretend overtures to the left, or at least are less antagonistic, but they certainly don't want the left in the mix substantively (e.g. "you can come and tithe, but don't think you'll have a voice" ("and if you rock the boat too much, you're gone")).
As always, on the surface they want to be all things to all people, Under the veneer, it's the same old COJCOLDS.
Where I grew up, most of the Ivy League colleges were in my mission. As missions got subdivided, that got reduced to one Ivy, but still, all those schools had a cadre of LDS professors and LDS graduate students. I now realize they were pretty liberal, but that was the time that LDS Inc was in transition, the 1950s. I see 1964, and the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act, and maybe even Title IX and women's sports, as the tipping point.
The Church itself is heavily institutionalist. It is strongly in favor of the ruling power structure because it is now part of the ruling power structure. Mormons are well represented on corporate boards, and in government. They are not excited about the preppers who are expecting/hoping for the collapse of society which they will survive because they live on twelve acres in the country with excellent sight lines for shooting at attackers, and they have their own cow and chickens. I have seen real estate in Northern ID and NW UT advertised as having excellent sight lines. They weren't referring to mountain views.)
As the WaPo article points out, for a long time, right-wing and Mormon were synonymous, and it was the liberals who had to do pretzel logic to stay in LDS Inc. Now it is a segment of the right-wingers who suddenly find themselves having to reconcile their politics (e.g. anti-vaxxing) and their "follow the prophet" dictum. I'm sure they are finding this very uncomfortable.
I think part of Holland's exasperation last month at BYU was that he remembers a time when pretty much all Mormons followed orders, and now it seems nobody is following orders, and he damn well wants that to stop, now!
I am part of that cadre of professors and I ‘left the building’ in my 50’s. It still boggles my mind that most of my Mormon academic colleagues - those I see as friends and who by and large are pretty progressive, seem to carry on in their church callings without pause. All have been in bishoprics and stake presidencies and so like myself have seen how the sausage is made. It is not pretty. Several have LGBT(AQ) kids and, as any good parents would, accept and them for who they are. Yet, at the same time worry about how difficult it is for their kid to navigate all of it as a BYU student. They are all social scientists like myself. Given that the church holds onto them I am not optimistic that the church will see a need to change anytime soon.
I think sight lines are more about 4-legged game. Deer are abundant without natural predators.
I agree that the church is so authoritarian it makes the CCP look like a hippy commune. The organization became so insular and surrounded by yes men that the power became an intoxicant.
Church leadership could fix the church if they knew how. If they had a clue. But of course they don't have any idea of how or why their religion works, like a teenager driving a car without knowing anything about oil changes or tread depth let alone using a wrench. They believe in a literal pretty much everything. The scriptures as a history book, God and Jesus having bodies of flesh and bone, and an actual Jesus coming from the sky.
They could embrace their mythology and call it what it is, but then they wouldn't be special. They let their language stagnate until it no longer described their mythology in a way people could relate to. Correlation made it worse. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.
"the internet changed everything in Mormonism. It was pretty easy to disprove the central tenants of the church with a 5 second search on Google...however it is impossible to convey or explain how difficult it is to leave a faith, especially if you were formerly a true believer. The world suddenly feels upside down. 2+2 suddenly doesn't feel like 4. Friends, family, children, everyone you know - suddenly you look at them differently - you feel like you have lost your place in the world. You fell like you left the Truman Show. I've been out for a decade now, and I am at peace... but the process took years."