The LDS church is embroiled in a PR disaster. Mormon historian Jan Shipps calls it the perfect storm. Some events are not of its doing - such as the Mitt Romney run for the presidency, or the FLDS fiasco which some, erroneously, associate with Mormon's. Other events are a direct result of its overt actions - such as involvement in getting proposition 8 passed. But, all of the events in the past year are conspiring together to form the perfect storm.
Now, we've always had our enemies - people who protest whenever we open a new temple or at general conference. But, it's always been fringe elements who are doing the protesting - people that few take seriously. The difference now is that mainstream society is starting sit up and notice that something doesn't quite seem right. There is the old adage "where there's smoke, there's fire" - and right now there is lots of smoke. And, the LDS church is doing an abysmal job at putting out the fire.
As an organization, the LDS church is very private - disseminating information very carefully and succinctly. It is also very image conscious. These characteristics have worked very well for the LDS church over the years - until now. People are asking lots of uncomfortable questions - questions which are going unanswered; and, our image is being dragged through the mud. The very traits which have worked so well for us are now working against us.
We can handle fringe elements telling us we're evil. We can handle other churches telling us that we're not Christian. We can weather these storms quite easily - we've been doing it since Joseph Smith's time, it's ingrained into our culture.
But now, as a result of events over the past year or so, we're faced with the perfect storm. While we fancy ourselves as being mainstream - more and more, with our fundamentalist views, the world is relegating us to the fringe elements of society. Where we were once admired as being pro-family - we are now only viewed as being pro-[certain kinds of families].
Our doctrine, teachings, and culture are being carefully scrutinized in ways we're not accustomed to. And, it's becoming more and more difficult to defend our policies that just seem petty and silly - such as boys can't wear earrings and God only likes white shirts.
Even members from within are beginning to sit up and question some of our practices and policies - wondering if we are truly being Christ-like in our treatment of certain members of society.
Can the LDS church weather out this perfect storm? Or are we at the cusp of a new era in Mormonism? To survive, are we going to have to rethink what we're doing and where we're going? Have we reached a point where the old ways just won't work anymore?
I won't claim to be smart enough to know the answer. But, I believe this perfect storm is not going to dissipate any time soon. And, I find myself wondering, and fearing, how many of our brothers and sisters are we going to lose before we admit to ourselves that we need to chart a new course?
Lost by Abelard EnigmaToday, we lost another brother
He did not abandon us
But we abandoned him
And, with his departure
A part of each of us goes with him
We all become somewhat less than what we were
Because no one reached out to embrace him
To accept him for who he is
Instead, he was ignored along with others like him
Pretending that he and his soul mates don't exist
Forcing him, and others, to hide their true selves
Living in constant fear that their secrets will be discovered
Is it any wonder that we lost yet another brother?
How many more will be lost
Before we realize that these losses diminishes each of us?
How much more can we be diminished before we too are lost?