Monday, November 23, 2015

The SSM Policy Changes, part 3: What Is the Purpose?

I think this is a key point worthy of consideration.  What the hell did the leadership hope to accomplish by this policy change?  I've heard a number of theories and I think some of them are reasonable.  For example, the Church wants to create a clear dividing line, with as little overlap between families of homosexuals and Church membership as possible.  Or the Church is trying to hedge itself against legal battles it sees being prepared.  Or the Church is taking a reactionary stand against the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.  I find these all reasonable, and perhaps some or all have truth to them.

I also think there is another piece to the puzzle.  I think the Church already knows that it is going to buckle in the future on the issue of same-sex marriage, and wants to put up a dog and pony show of faithfulness before the inevitable surrender.

When the Church was facing legislative pressure to drop polygamy, they dug in their heels harder.  This was partially a strategic effort to convince Congress that polygamy was an "essential" part of the practice of the Mormon religion, and therefore protected under the First Amendment.  If Congress could be convinced that polygamy was essential to Mormonism, then the First Amendment would protect the LDS Church and Congress would let Mormons continue the practice unabated. The more heated the friction between Mormons and American government got, the harder the pro-polygamous rhetoric got.

But the Church lost the standoff and President Woodruff ended polygamy (wink wink).  When the Church felt they couldn't fight the government anymore, they just happened to get a "revelation" telling them to drop polygamy so they could be friends with America. This PR document known as Official Declaration 1 was called a "revelation" by early Mormons in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, as they secretly disregarded it and continued polygamy for over a decade after the fact.  If they believed it was a real revelation, they would have stopped immediately in 1890, not later in 1904 when new political pressure required it.

Similarly, as the civil rights movement was in full-swing in America in the '60s and '70s, the Church held to its rhetoric that blacks could not hold the priesthood, even those who had a single drop of African blood in them.  As distaste for this position grew both outside the Church and within, the leadership sought Divine direction as to how to handle the matter.  When Heaven didn't respond to President McKay, President Kimball continued the appeal.  When Heaven didn't respond to President Kimball, he changed tactics.  He instead joined with the other leaders (well, a majority of them) and they determined that they were going to go ahead and flip to allowing the ordination of black men to the priesthood, and if God had anything to say against this change, He would be free to do so.  As Heaven maintained its silence, the brethren took that as an affirmative silence, a "revelation," and made the change under this purported Divine approval.

I anticipate a similar unfolding in regards to same-sex marriage.  The Church is officially digging in its heels against same-sex marriage being accepted within the Church, putting on a big show so the world will know they stood faithfully against gay marriage for so long as God required it of them.

Then, when the legal opposition gets too tough and the membership makes a majority shift to supporting same-sex marriage within the Church (which is a growing trend), the brethren will determine to shift position and allow same-sex marriages to be recognized and performed within the Church, even within temples.  They will grant God an opportunity to cast an opposing vote, and in His silence they will infer approval and claim a "revelation" from God switching the Church's stance.

But having learned from prior events, they have been laying groundwork in the interim that they will then be able to point back at to say "Look, God was laying the groundwork for this for a long time beforehand, preparing the way."  And the membership will eat it up.  The leaders will point to the Church's support webpages for gays, the Church's endorsement of legislation protecting people on grounds of homosexuality, the Church's monetary contributions to gay organizations, the Church's allowance of members to support same-sex marriage (except their parent's), and other such calculated efforts made by the Church to appease the discontent masses.

The groundwork will have been laid, a silent "revelation" will be referenced with no content of said "revelation" ever being quoted, and same-sex marriage will become a part of the LDS Church.  They will be able to claim that they were faithful in God's restriction to heterosexual marriages until the end, because of dog and pony shows like this policy change, and then they will be able to claim faithfulness to the unchanging God's newly changed mind as they embrace His purported shift of position within the Church.  That is my theory of how this policy change fits into the bigger picture.

If that is how it indeed goes down, will anyone in that day see it?

The SSM Policy Changes, part 2: The Defenses

Now that a little time has passed, I’ve had the chance to see what defenses would be put forth to shore up this policy change, and consider them.  Sad to say, all of them buckle under the weight of scripture, and reveal the state of deep darkness that mainstream LDS practitioners have unwittingly spiraled into in their sleep.

Again, I will not be speaking to homosexuality or same-sex marriage themselves in this post.  I will only be addressing the defenses crafted to support and uphold the recent policy changes.

Of course, the position I take in opposition to the policy changes has been disregarded by most LDS membership with such labels as “unthinking,” or “couch philosophers.”  Therefore consider yourself warned, you may be reading the words of an unthinking, lunatic couch philosopher.  I will leave it to you to find and read the defenses of the policy on your own, and evaluate my position against them as you see fit.

Some of what I say may be redundant, but this is due to the nature of trying to address varying points made by defenders of the Church.  A given scriptural principle may be abused, defied and neglected by multiple defenses.  Therefore, such principles may be revisited as they get offended by each defense.


When the policy change was leaked (because it was not publicly shared by the Church, who seek to keep Handbook 1 away from the eyes of not only the world, but all general, non-leader membership of the Church), there was an immediate backlash and uproar.  It was only a few days before the Church sent Elder Christofferson out for a softball interview, in which he could attempt to spin the understanding of the policy change in a way that would appease as many of the masses as possible.  You can watch the interview HERE.

In this interview, Christofferson made statements and took positions around which many church members built their defenses.  As his interview was the first (and so far only) official defense of the policy put forth by the Church, it gets first looks.

Much of what Christofferson had to say is either not relevant to this discussion, or simply did not add up as intended.  For example, discussing the freedom to give anyone a blessing of healing, and the Church's continuing attempts to hold the line against sin while extending a hand of compassion to people, are not directly relevant to the issue.  His assertions that they needed to make the standard concerning same-sex marriage more clear through this policy doesn't actually compute as he implied, because entering a same-sex marriage was already an offense warranting excommunication, the highest punishment the Church offers.  Reclassifying it as "apostasy" doesn't make the line any clearer or stronger, it just repositions it in a practically ineffective way. (However, this reclassification is a sound legal strategy for hedging the interests of the institutional Church against certain types of lawsuits.)

Moving on to what I see as the relevant content of the interview, Christofferson asserted that the policy change "originates from a desire to protect children, in their innocence and in their minority years."

I won't say that they have no desire to protect children, especially in their innocence or minority years.  I'm sure they do.  But as he continues, the things that the Church would protect these children against are, according to the Church's own scriptures and doctrines, tiny matters in comparison to the massive risks the Church is opening these children up to by refusing them ordinances.  And the methods they are using to "protect" them are devilish, not Divine. 

From the eternal perspective–the one that apparently matters to God, if the prophets in scripture have anything to say about it–refusing ordinances of salvation, by withholding baptism and the Holy Ghost, simply to remove a single point of potential contention or difficulty in a youth's tumultuous life, is about as poor a trade as could be made. It is removing protection against tanks to make way for mosquito repellant.  For all the desire to protect children, the policy has a net result that does precisely the opposite.

Christofferson also explained that the naming and blessing of a child triggers the creation of a membership record, home teachers, etc.  This would lead to expectations by the Church for primary and church attendance, and "that is likely not going to be an appropriate thing in the home setting, in the family setting where they're living."

Here, the Church is both playing the odds, and determining for a family what they may or may not deem "appropriate" in their home.  Because they think it "likely" that this situation would be unwanted in the home, they entirely remove it as an option.  The households with same-sex parents no longer have the option to determine whether they want their children to be members, or whether home teachers would be welcome for them, because the Church doesn't think it "likely" that such could occur.  Never mind that it has occurred and does occur.  Never mind that prior to the change, a family could decide for themselves if this situation was inappropriate for their home and the Church would respect that decision.  Now the Church has made a blanket policy, without exceptions, which determines for a certain type of household what gets to be deemed "appropriate" within their walls, on the basis that the Church believes their own evaluation is "likely" correct.

When asked about the policy changes preventing the children of gay parentage from naming and blessing and baptismal ordinances, he shared the following:

"We don't want there to be the conflicts that that would engender.  We don't want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different."

Well, that's not your damn place.  Conflict and disagreement is normal.  The fact is, if the child believes in the gospel as taught by the Church, they will believe it regardless of baptism or membership, so the conflict and disagreement would still exist.  This policy resolves no conflict there.  But if a child wants baptism and has the support of their gay parent(s), and it is the Church who refuses to accept them through this policy, on no other basis than the same-sex relationship of their parents, there probably isn't a better way to offend and confuse and turn away such youth from ever having an interest in joining the ranks of the Church.

"And so with the other ordinances on through baptism and so on.  There's time for that if when a child reaches majority he or she feels like that's what they want.  And they can make an informed and conscious decision about that."

The scriptures of the Church argue that a child is capable of making such an "informed and conscious decision" in this matter at the age of eight, and parents are commanded to see that they have the chance to do so (D&C 68:27).  It is only the Church that sees fit to throw these scriptures to the wind.

"Nothing is lost to them in the end if that's the direction they want to go."

That's a huge assumption.  As noted in my last post, it assumes that the child is alive; that the child hasn't been offended by the policy; that the child hasn't seen the unjust policy as a sign that the leadership of the Church isn't listening to God; that the child hasn't been overtaken by the world, not having had the Holy Ghost as their companion because they were refused baptism; and many more things.  If these assumptions don't pan out, accountability for those lost children will rest, at least in part, upon the shoulders of the leaders who enacted this policy.

"And in the meantime, they're not placed in a position where there will be difficulties, challenges, conflicts that can injure their development in very tender years."

Bullshit.  Have the leaders never been adolescents?  There's essentially nothing but difficulties, challenges and conflicts.  This policy doesn't suddenly put the pubescent into a safe bubble that will float them to adulthood.  However, removing the opportunity to receive the Holy Ghost to help them navigate those incredibly tumultuous years may actually be the best way to "injure their development in very tender years."

"The situation with polygamous families for example, and same-sex marriage couples and families, really has a parallel."

This really is the last parallel you want to be making right now... I'll address the polygamy comparison further down.

"For generations we've had these same kinds of policies that relate to children in polygamous families, that we wouldn't go forward with these ordinances while they're in that circumstance and before they reach their majority."

False.  There have been no age-related provisions concerning baptizing the children of polygamists, only circumstantial restrictions.  Minor children of polygamists can be baptized, minor children of gays cannot.

"And that's the same sort of situation we're dealing with here.  So it's something we have had a history with.  It's a practice that really is analogous, that's been the case over many generations."

Not the same situation, the Church certainly DOES have a history with polygamists' children, but this is not the analogous situation it is made out to be, nor does the comparison make the policy changes look any better.

That gives you the content of the Church's defense which I consider to be relevant to discussing the problems with the policy changes.  You may disagree with what is and is not relevant, in which case feel free to express your opinion in any forum available to you, as I am doing here.


This fits in with Christofferson's statements which I considered to be irrelevant to the discussion, because this defense is a non-sequitur.  This argument in no way leads to the conclusion that the policy change isn’t unjust, or that it doesn’t infringe on agency or offend scripture.  Just because a party says something on the one hand, does not mean they cannot say or do something entirely different and even oppositional on the other.  A person could speak words of compassion for homosexuals, while dragging one behind their truck down a dirt road.  It may seem implausible, but duplicity is definitely a trait which is found among humanity.  Therefore, the notion that because someone does something good for another, they cannot also do evil unto them, is rubbish.

The “expressions” of love and understanding referred to are therefore better classified as lip-service.  Words of compassion are spoken concerning those with same-sex attraction, yet this policy change reflects anything but.  It is understandable that a Church must maintain a position against that behavior which it deems is sinful.  But to carry out restrictive policies against the innocent children of those who engage in the behavior, that reflects nothing resembling compassion, understanding, goodness or righteousness.  They draw near with their lips, but such hearts are far removed from God.


False.  It does in fact punish children, deeply and severely and devilishly.  Unless the Church and the apologists want to adopt a new position wherein baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are non-essential and without value; wherein the ordinance of naming and blessing an infant is without value; wherein our culture no longer recognizes that distinctions between membership and non-membership in an organization have absolutely no value or relevance whatsoever; the Church and its defenders cannot claim the policy is not punishing to the children of gays.

If baptism is considered a saving ordinance, then withholding it is withholding salvation, at the risk of costing it entirely, for we stand in jeopardy every hour (1 Corinthians 15:30).  Explain how that isn’t punishment.

If the gift of the Holy Ghost is considered an essential part of salvation, as well as crucial for navigating this dark and dreary world, then to withhold it is to withhold a precious and essential gift, which may end up costing a person their salvation.  Explain how that isn’t punishment.

So long as the church welcomes the attendance of these banned children, while teaching and professing the necessity and importance and value of these ordinances, that child will only see and hear how those around them are receiving steps toward salvation during their youth, while they can do nothing to qualify to receive the same for themselves in their own youth.  Explain to me how that isn’t punishment.

The eternal has been sold off for that which cankers and corrupts: the interests and popularity of this dark and fallen world.  It will prove to be a poor trade.


How?  This is such a bogus claim, it is difficult to even navigate.  The notion that gets bandied around, with the help of Christofferson, is that because the church’s views conflict with the parent’s relationship, allowing membership or ordinances could cause confusion in the child and conflict in the home, from which they need to be protected.

First of all, conflicting ideas within the home is not a matter within the scope of the Church’s responsibility or frankly even their business.  What home isn’t constantly embroiled with the conflicting ideas of family members?  What youth don’t have disagreements with their parents? Learning to navigate and communicate and tolerate conflicting ideas is necessary to the healthy growth of a person; it teaches us tolerance and love and patience.  It isn’t the Church’s prerogative to step in and try to remove that from a home by compulsory means.

Secondly, the prior standing requirement that parental consent be obtained before baptism already protected the families.  If a gay parent didn’t want their child to be baptized or join the Church, they could withhold consent and be the protectors of their own home, on their own terms, without uninvited intervention.  The Church is now inserting itself into homes in a policing role, preventing these family members from even having the opportunity to make their own choice as to how things would function in their homes.  This is a gross overstep of authority on the Church’s part.  It could be aptly compared to a Jingoist mentality, aggressively preserving its own interests within the sovereign space of others.

For this to protect these families would require that, prior to this policy change, there existed a state of affairs in which the safety or well-being of these families was put at demonstrable risk or actually harmed by those conditions remedied by the policy change.  There would have to be demonstrable risk or harm coming from allowing parents and children to determine for themselves, within their own families, what a child could and could not do.  (War in heaven, anyone?)

So tell me, if the Church compulsively inserting themselves into the home and family dynamics and stripping the parents and children of their agency is how Christ would “remedy” that “dangerous” situation, how exactly would Satan seek to address it?


No, it doesn’t.  The old policy respected the children and their families.  Gay parents and their children were afforded their agency, to determine for themselves how they would act.  A gay parent could choose to support or consent to the baptism of their child, and that choice would be respected.  Or they could choose to withhold their consent, and that choice would be respected.  As a minor, the child could choose baptism and with their parents’ consent, they would receive it.  Or the child could choose not to be baptized, and they would not.  Agency was respected.

Now if both the parents and the child consent to and seek baptism for the child, the Church only serves as an obstruction, negating the agency of the child and their parents.  To infringe upon agency is the opposite of respect.  It is the devil who uses compulsory means to try and accomplish his ends, not Christ.


This is a non-sequitur, the same as the Church’s expressions of love and understanding for those with same-sex attraction.  It is true that the Church has endorsed legislation in Salt Lake City to protect the gay community, and has contributed money to Pride organizations in Utah, and has made other publicly flaunted efforts to paint a complimentary portrait of themselves.

None of those affect the nature and consequences of this policy change.  They are completely unrelated, it is a non-sequitur to claim such actions as evidence that this policy isn’t an affront to the agency of gay parents or their innocent children.


While technically true, this is deviously disingenuous, and only partially applicable.  But yes, you can be a member if you have same-sex attraction and choose not to act upon it.

But the policy change isn't about those who withstand their same-sex attraction, it's about those who choose not to withstand and instead embrace that attraction and enter into a same-sex union, and about any kids that may be under their stewardship, whether natural or adopted.  Asserting this defense is like telling a person who has already gotten a tattoo that they can join your club if they like tattoos but don't get any.

The Church has never condoned or supported same-sex marriage, I don't think anyone has ever had any confusion on that point.  And sure, I guess the Church wants their position to remain clear in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is recognized and protected legally. 

But that now-legal marriage is apparently not considered sinful enough on its own, and needed to be reclassified as “apostasy,” or an entire departure from one's faith.  This means the Church is telling a person who enters a same-sex marriage that they must be excommunicated not only for their same-sex marriage, but because they do not believe in Christ, or the Book of Mormon, or the Restoration (because this is what would actually constitute “apostasy” from Mormonism). There are plenty of gay (and straight) people who would argue that the Church has no business telling them what they can and cannot believe, especially based on a decision which may be unrelated or only related indirectly to certain of their beliefs.

What this defense entirely fails to address is the restrictions on children of those engaged in pursuing their same-sex attraction.  The agency of the children and their parents, pertaining to the salvation of the children, remains abrogated by the Church.


Seeing this assertion by anyone should be a major red flag.  It can only be understood as a person projecting their own imperviousness to a situation onto all the rest of mankind.  The fact of the matter is, this has already hurt people, personally.  There have already been children who had baptism planned and in place, only to be stripped of the opportunity with the policy change, due to having a gay parent.  The parents of these children have been as heartbroken as their children, in seeing a saving ordinance being blockaded for no fault of the child.  This assertion is heartless and cold, from those who are pious like the Jews of old, proclaiming their fealty to their religion as they crucified the One the claimed to worship.


This one is a hilarious defense, in the absolute irony of the fact that those who assert this position have, through this assertion, already conceded the argument they are trying to uphold and defend.

To use the defense that this is policy, not doctrine, is to concede the understanding that doctrine supersedes policy.  This defense would not be used if policy were considered superior to doctrine. As the defense goes, the change is policy, not doctrine, and being the inferior of the two, nobody should be offended by the policy, because the doctrine remains true and intact and superior.

If that is the case, then what is the doctrine which supersedes the policy?  Christ personally declared His doctrine, and said if anyone adds to or takes away from that, and claims it is His doctrine, they are of evil (3 Nephi 11:31-40).  He offered no exceptions or footnotes.  The policy runs contrary to the doctrine. So if it is conceded that doctrine is superior to policy, as is necessarily the case with this defense, then how do they not see that this requires they take a stand against the policy in defense of doctrine?  The cognitive dissonance of the matter is incomprehensible to me.


Sorry, but it does.  I would think this is unmistakably self-evident, but apparently it isn't.

The 2nd Article of Faith states "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression."

Ordinances of salvation are being withheld–because postponement is just presently withholding–from children, which withholding is only ever executed as a punitive measure, and in this case exclusively on the basis that their parents are engaged in sin.  Parents sin, their children consequentially have saving ordinances withheld.  The aspects of the policy affecting the children of gays are in fact diametrically opposed to the 2nd Article of Faith; to claim otherwise is to look at the sun at noonday and call it darkness.


That's only marginally true.

According to the Handbook, all children of polygamists must embrace the teachings of the Church and disavow the polygamous teachings of their parents.  This is the common tie between the new gay-related policy and the standing polygamy-related policy. Then there are several differences, all noteworthy.

Children of polygamists are not in fact denied the naming and blessing.  So on that basis alone, this new policy is shown to in fact be a step above and beyond, not an equivalency to, what the Church does to the children of polygamists.

Another point that is distinctly different is that there is no age requirement placed upon children of polygamists, only upon children of gays, in spite of Christofferson's claim.

Additionally, in regard to children of polygamists, the Handbook expressly states within its requirements for baptism that "Minor [emphasis mine] children are not living in a home where polygamy is being taught or practiced." Because they chose to specify "minor" children, it follows that adult children of polygamists are therefore not forbidden from living in the home of their polygamist parents. That is a privilege denied children of gays.

Also concerning the children of polygamists, the polygamy-based restrictions are only applicable where polygamy is against the law.  From section 16.3.9 of Handbook 1: "Children of parents who have practiced or are practicing plural marriage contrary to the law..." (emphasis mine).  In countries where polygamy is legal, these restrictions the Church is attempting to parallel to the policy change do not even apply.  So that argument can only hope to work among ignorant Church members in America and countries with similar marriage laws.

Beyond the poor paralleling, since when did mankind allow for justifying misdeeds against one group on the basis that they've been allowed against another group?  We rounded up Japanese American citizens and stuffed them into internment camps during World War II.  So that totally means we can do not only the same thing to Syrian Americans today, but spice it up with additional jabs at their children, for example withholding further meals and clothing and hygiene products, and that's cool, right?  That's how it works, right?  Nobody can complain about our treatment of Syrian Americans in this scenario because we did a lesser version of it to Japanese Americans in the past, right?  What bollocks we can be fooled into believing.


Please, just look: 

Additionally, the children of all the attempted murderers, and actual murderers, and rapists, and abusers, and adulterers, and fornicators, and so forth, are not barred from baptism.  But the children of gays are barred, for no other reason than the homosexuality of their parent(s).  For if the homosexuality of their parent(s) wasn’t present, they would not be barred in any way.  This sets same-sex marriage apart from every other sin in a very real way.

So feel free to explain to me how same-sex relationships are not in fact treated as a sin above or at very least apart from all other sins.


Rather than a defense of the policy, this is an attempt to redirect ire pointed at the Church instead toward the gay parents, for costing their children these ordinances by their selfish gayness. Because it is a literal impossibility that the Church leadership got it wrong with this policy.  How absurd a joke have Mormonism and its patrons become?

Perhaps the same-sex relationship of the parent(s) is not ordained of God, or indeed sinful.  Perhaps the church has a right to uphold heterosexual marriage as a requirement for membership, believing it is the only order of marriage ordained by God. Perhaps the Church has a right to excommunicate any who offend this standard by entering into a same-sex marriage.  Perhaps that is all true.

But as a principle, never has it been considered that the best way to address a sin "threatening" the Church is to keep those sinners' children out of the Church until they've already grown up and move out and cut ties.  Never have the scriptures considered children better off without the Holy Ghost because their parents are guilty of a sin.  Never have the prophets considered it better to withhold essential blessings from a child, and to then point an accusatory finger at the parent(s) of that child and say "This is all your fault!"  To introduce such a notion in any Gospel Doctrine class would have been considered laughable, because not a soul would consider your statement to be serious... Until the policy change.

Additionally, this policy is new, and there are those who entered into their same-sex union before the policy was created.  To attack them for thoughtlessly costing their children baptism and church membership through their union–an accusation I've personally seen levied by Mormons–when the policy was not even created at the time of their union, is absurdity to the extreme.  Perhaps you can accuse a person for sinning, but you can't indict people for not considering unimagined, unforeseeable consequences of their sinful behavior landing on their children.  If the Church implements a policy next week that children of people who have shopped on Sunday are going to be barred from baptism and Church membership, will you have foreseen that and never entered a store on Sunday in your life, simply to make sure your kids wouldn't be barred from baptism?

The institution has implemented a policy in diametric opposition to its own scriptures, obstructing salvation, with children as the victims–of all the groups that could have been victimized–and you think it's the kids' parents that are worthy of your ire?

Wake up people. Srsly.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The SSM Policy Changes, part 1: The Changes

I’ve decided to say some things related to the LDS Church’s recent policy change, wherein being in a same-sex marriage is now ruled as a definition of “apostasy,” and the children of any parent involved in a same-sex marriage or similar relationship are denied baptism until at least the age of 18.

I am not discussing same-sex marriage or homosexuality itself in this post, but focusing exclusively on the policy change, its problems, and later the feeble attempts made to defend the policy.


First, I want to look at the portion of the policy change wherein same-sex marriage is now categorized as “apostasy.”  Here is the how the content is presented in the Church Handbook of Instructions, Vol. 1:

As used here, apostasy refers to members who:  
1.  Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.  
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. 
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.  
4.  Are in a same-gender marriage.  
5.  Formally join another church and advocate its teachings.” 

My first note would be that all of these items actually fail to respect the definition of the word “Apostasy,” instead applying some unwritten interpretation of the word which somehow encompasses these now five points. The actual definition of “apostasy,” which is “An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one's faith or religion,” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) is not actually found as grounds for disciplinary action under the charge of “apostasy.”  (I’ve written more about the Church's interpreted definitions of Apostasy HERE.)  If a person is actually guilty of “apostasy” according to its dictionary definition, the Church’s response is generally not disciplinary at all, but rather the apostate becomes a pet project to throw the missionaries and home teachers at, in an effort to reclaim them.

So to actually engage in dictionary-defined “apostasy” is to spark the interest of the Church and become a target of their efforts at reclamation, but to engage in these five other behaviors is to warrant being charged with “apostasy” and summarily excommunicated for it.  Sure, that makes sense.

The second note would be that same-gender marriage was already considered a sin according to Church policy.  To enter into a same-sex marriage warranted discipline and excommunication prior to this policy change, on its own merits.  Therefore it was completely unnecessary to re-categorize it.

Unless, you were to stop looking at it from a spiritual or religious standpoint, and start looking at it from a purely legal, Telestial standpoint.

Rock Waterman addressed this point extremely well, I recommend you read his analysis HERE.  In short, by categorizing same-sex marriage as “apostasy,” the Church is hedging itself against certain inevitable legal battles, wherein parties would attempt to make the Church accept and practice same-sex marriage.  At present, in theory, a church cannot be forced to adopt positions that they consider to represent an “apostasy” (using the proper definition of the word) from their beliefs.  (Disregarding the fact that it has already happened in the past—polygamy anyone?)  So by labeling same-sex marriage as “apostasy,” the Church theoretically protects itself against a certain form of legal attack that could make the Church adopt same-sex marriage.

While that could be what motivated this change, I have another theory as to the motivations for these policy changes, which I will address later.


This is where things have gotten the most heated, the most sticky, the most debated and discussed.  There is a lot to look at.

The policy changes concerning children read as follows:

Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship 
A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.  
A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be  baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows:  
A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:  
1.  The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.  
2.  The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”


Let’s start with the first sentence, prohibiting the infant of a same-sex relationship parent from receiving a name and a blessing.  This is actually a pairing of two things - a naming, and a blessing. Concerning this blessing which the infant cannot receive, the LDS Church freely offers priesthood blessings upon request to even the most vile of sinners.  There are no prohibitions as to who may receive a blessing.  That is, until now.  No effort is made to clarify that the newborn may still receive a blessing, but may not receive a name.  Read the words.  Innocent infants have indeed been made the first target of official denial of a priesthood blessing.

While the Church would not claim that this paired naming and blessing is a “saving ordinance,” it is an ordinance nonetheless.  It is treated as such in Handbook 1 (Section 16.2), which means we place spiritual importance upon it.  The whole idea behind an ordinance is that it is something which God has ordained that we do.  If God ordained for us to name our children, making it an ordinance, then we have an obligation to follow it.  The idea that receiving a name is an important matter in the eyes of God is further strengthened by the temple, wherein part of the higher ordinances include the reception of a new name.

These children are denied this ordinance, not postponed, as it cannot be made up when they are 18. Children conceived and/or born out of wedlock are not prohibited from receiving this ordinance, and neither are the children of murderers, or any other form of sinner.  This has not even been levied against the children of polygamists, which children the Church and its defenders have sought very hard to draw parallels to with this policy (an issue itself, to be addressed).  Yet because of their parents being involved in this one form of sin, which has nothing to do with the baby itself, this ordinance is not postponed but literally denied to innocent infants.

So, what reason could the Church possibly have for denying innocent infants an ordinance?  Certainly not a godly one, but perhaps a legal one, if their only concern is the self-interest of the corporate “Church.”  When an infant is named and blessed, that child becomes a “child of record.”  While technically not a “member” of the Church, not having been baptized yet, a named and blessed baby is placed upon the records of the Church and counted as a member in the annual membership statistics.

As the Church has included within this policy change the postponement (read—denial) of baptism for the children of parents in same-sex relationships, the question comes up of what to do with children of record in that position?  If a child is already found on the membership records of the Church, being a “child of record,” it becomes not only reasonably but perhaps legally difficult to turn around and tell that child that they are going to be denied the rights and privileges of membership, when they are already counted on the records as members.  

By denying any hint of membership to these children of parents involved in a very specific behavior, the Church can mostly hedge itself against this indefensible position.  And if the number of children with gay parents who desire baptism is small enough, then they are a problem that can be swept under the rug and out of the light by both leaders and members, falling through the cracks and disappearing.

There is also the problem that this restriction kicks in even if the child has only one gay parent, and one straight one.  The child may have a fully active, fully worthy LDS parent on one side, raising their child in the gospel, but the sin of the other parent taints the child beyond the Church's willingness to participate or serve in the child's salvation until 18 or older.  They will not grant the ordinances for the sake of the faithful, straight parent.  This faithful parent must also suffer the Church's injustice in watching their child be singled out and punished for the behaviors of the one who was once their spouse or significant other.  

Such treatment of both the faithful parents and their children has already proven so grotesquely offensive that many parents and children recently resigned from the Church in response to the Church's abuse disguised as feigned love and concern.  To speak of love and compassion and understanding on the one hand, and then take the actions entailed with this policy on the other, is to reveal exactly the two-faced nature the Lord observed of the latter-day Gentiles (JS-H 1:19), among whom He established a church through Joseph (D&C 109:60).

So, in short, due to the very specific sin of their parent(s), and in spite of the worthiness of the other parent and/or themselves, an innocent infant is entirely denied one of the ordinances of the gospel, and any hinting of Church membership, until 18 or older.


The remainder of the policy change concerning children of those involved in same-sex relationships consists of denying these children the opportunity to be baptized until they are 18 years old, no longer live with their gay parent(s), and have specifically disavowed gay unions.

To deny a child the privilege of baptism until the age of 18 has some serious problems, assuming one believes and understands the gospel.  Sadly, that tends to be too large an assumption.  But let’s look at what the scriptures say anyway.

The Lord invites and commands all mankind, everywhere, to repent and be baptized (Alma 5:62; Alma 7:14; 3 Nephi 27:20).

If any person repents of their sins–no mention of another's–and seeks baptism, it is to be performed (2 Nephi 31:13; 3 Nephi 11:23).  One would think that is enough, but it apparently is not, so let us continue.

We are explicitly not to be punished for the sins of others, even our own parents (Ezekiel 18:19-20; Article of Faith 2).

None are forbidden from repenting and coming to Christ (2 Nephi 26:28).

Baptism is essential to coming to Christ (2 Nephi 31:10-21; 3 Nephi 11:31-40; 3 Nephi 27:20).  Even the Church teaches this (see “How to Come Unto Christ,” Sept. 1992 Ensign).

Of all those we are not to forbid from coming unto Christ, children are named (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).

We are not to forbid children from coming unto Christ, in part because we ourselves are commanded to “become as a little child,” for such is the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3; 3 Nephi 11:37-38).  The Kingdom of God is apparently not described as being made up of those who are of “legal” age.

In the LDS Church, we are commanded to have our children baptized at the age of 8 (D&C 68:27).  If a child has one LDS parent and one same-sex relationship parent, the faithful LDS parent is rendered incapable of fulfilling the commandment placed upon them, by the institution of the Church.  The Church literally obstructs the keeping of what it itself claims is a commandment.  No man or institution has the right to insert themselves and nullify God’s word in scripture (D&C 1:38), to believe such is absolute folly and to be lost in darkness.

So if you have an 8-year-old child, with supportive and/or consenting parents, who is unsaddled with their own sins, worthily desiring to accept Christ’s invitation for baptism, according to their own scriptural rights to agency (2 Nephi 2:16; D&C 58:28; Moses 6:55-56)—upon which our very existence relies (D&C 93:30-31)—the Church will deny that child baptism, for no other reason than the actions of their parent(s).  That is a clear offense against the agency of both the child and the parents.  To offend the agency of another, especially with claims of it being for their own good, is undeniably Luciferian (Moses 4:1, 3). It is the devil’s doctrine, taught and practiced by his agents.

This additional 10-year waiting period imposed upon 8-year-old children worthy of baptism also fails to take into account a number of matters, when promising that the ordinance is not being “denied,” but merely postponed until they are of legal age. Reasons why a child who desires baptism at 8 may not seek baptism at 18 include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • The child may die. (Relying on rites for the dead to undo this is foolish and based in darkness. It reveals a blindness concerning how rites for the dead work, and fails to note that if the child was worthy, but denied baptism as an unjust measure by an institution seeking to posture against their gay parent(s), then that unjust institution cannot claim valid authority in God’s eyes in performing the rite for the dead child, having offended a Just God and thereby surrendered claims to His authority (D&C 121:36-37).  Reclaiming validity in the performance of the ordinance would require repenting of this injustice.)
  • The child may recognize the unscriptural injustice waged against them, and lose interest in joining themselves to an unjust institution that claims to represent a Just God.
  • The child may take emotional offense to the treatment they or their parents have received at the hand of the Church, and make an emotional decision to turn against the Church, and the gospel.
  • The child may become embroiled in the distractions of teenage life, and having been denied the opportunity of receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost (a matter to be addressed shortly), feels little or no inclination to depart from the Babylonian distractions and seek something higher.
When a person is baptized, they are then to receive the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:12-13; D&C 39:23).  This gift is incredibly powerful, being both sufficient and intended to lead those who receive it to eternal life (2 Nephi 31:17-21 and 32:5), the greatest gift of God (D&C 14:7).  The Church still teaches how crucial this gift is to children as they develop into adults and navigate the difficulties of this world (see “How do I receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?” and “What are the roles of the Holy Ghost?”  These are lessons specifically for the young men and women of the LDS Church).

Now, these policy changes necessitate an entirely different stance on the value of and need for the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  It necessarily shifts the Church’s position to one of this Gift being of minimal value and importance, and arguably even non-essential.  For if it were essential or valuable, it would not be superseded by the legal posturing of the Church against homosexual relationships.  The Church could maintain a stance against homosexual relationships, but acknowledge that the need for the Holy Ghost to guide a person is sufficiently important that a youth who qualifies as repentant of their sins and is seeking to come unto Christ through baptism should absolutely receive the ordinance, so that they might lay hold on this crucial gift.  This was actually closer to the position of the Church prior to the policy change.  To deny worthy youth of this gift for the actions of their parent(s) is to place those youth in an unnecessary degree of eternal jeopardy, according to the Church's own teachings.

Further, the notion of “postponing” a baptism should be offensive to us the same as it is offensive to God, because this postponement arguably procrastinates the day of these children’s repentance, that procrastination being chosen by the Church and imposed upon the children.  We are warned not to procrastinate the day of our repentance, for this is the day of our probation (Alma 13:27; Alma 34:33-35; Helaman 13:38).  In other words, all choices are made only in the present.  IOUs for future choices hold no water, because those IOUs may never be fulfilled.  Therefore it is only the choices we make in the present that matter, each and every present moment. It doesn’t matter if the Church promises baptism later, their present position is to deny a saving ordinance to those who might in all ways qualify to receive it.  When those accountable are brought to stand before God, and asked why they denied worthy and desirous children this saving ordinance, they will learn the hard way that you cannot rationalize with God.


The second restriction placed upon the children with gay parentage is that they can no longer be living with their parents.  This restriction is coupled with the requirement to be 18 or older, the Handbook does not allow for the separation of the two. According to this verbiage—a crucial matter in lawyerly documents like the Handbook—a child may indeed be 18, a full-blown legal adult, and worthy of baptism in every way, but if they still live in the same residence as a parent who is in a gay relationship, whether for practical or economic or other purposes, they will be barred from baptism. They are still considered, in the eyes of the Church, incapable of making the decision to be baptized and handling the consequences of that decision on their own or with their family members. The Church deems that they have the special privilege of making that determination for this legal adult themselves.

The “clarification”

The Church attempted to make a “clarification” shortly after this policy change, which affects the reading of this restriction.  The distinction they seek to make is that this restriction applies to those whose “primary residence” is with their gay parent(s).  This clarification also determined that those who are the children of gay parents but have already been baptized, are grandfathered in and will suffer no further loss or procrastination of any other ordinances.

This doubles down on some of the original problems.  First, trying to clarify that it is only applicable to those whose “primary residence” is with their gay parent(s) doesn’t alter one whit that they are still tyrannically negating the agency of a legal adult to seek ordinances, because the Church believes it has a special privilege in determining what can and cannot be allowed to take place with regard to a household of adults.  It isn't applicable to children under 18 living with gay parents, because their age has already disqualified them in the eyes of the Church.  So this only applies to legal adults who are 18 or older.  Those adults not “privileged” to be living with a straight parent—whether it is because they have no living or present straight parent, or because they are taking care of their gay parent(s) in a state of illness, or due to economic hardship afflicting the parent or the prospective baptizee or both—are simply barred from a saving ordinance, by the Church, due to circumstances that don’t necessarily say anything about their worthiness and deny the agency of the individuals. This is a grievous perversion, an abomination.

Secondly, by grandfathering in those children who have already snuck a baptism in prior to the new policy, it creates a very real class distinction which will certainly lead to further division within the Church.  It will confuse the children on both sides of the issue, because children in their simple wisdom will see that God, not being a respecter of persons, would not allow for one of them to receive ordinances and bar another, when both are equally situated and personally qualified.  This absurdity will certainly instill great doubt into many (as it already has), and drive them from the Church.  Not only the children, but the straight (and gay) parents of those children afflicted by the Church’s cursing upon their children.  


The additional requirement that the children of gay parents must specifically disavow homosexual unions as a prerequisite of baptism and entry to the Church is a double standard that also necessarily negates another official position of the Church.

Apostle Christofferson—a character sitting rather centered in the Church’s same-sex discussion—officially and publicly declared that members of the Church who support same-sex marriage are free to do so publicly (see HERE).  Members are free to openly disagree with the Church on this matter, without any fear of Church discipline of any sort, so long as they don't seek to combat the Church directly.  They will not lose temple recommends or church membership, meaning they remain worthy to not only be members in the LDS Church but to receive the highest privileges offered to members.

So, the official stance of the LDS Church is that you can support the same-sex marriage of your grandpa or grandma, your aunts or your uncles, your sister or brother, your cousin or best friend, and the Church will do nothing.  You are considered worthy of all they have to offer you, and are invited to receive such.

But if you support the same-sex marriage of even one parent, you are only allowed in the Church if you were grandfathered in. Hell, you don't even have to support their same-sex partnership. It simply has to exist, with or without your approval, and you have special restrictions placed on you because of them.  Even if they give you their full consent and support to join the Church, you are simply, plainly unwelcome until 18 or older.  Period.

Saying such people are welcome to attend church and its activities is an insulting slap in the face, not a comforting show of compassion.  Only fools would think this is graciousness on the part of the church.  The church’s primary function is supposed to be saving souls, but if the church refuses to assist you in the salvation of your soul because of gay parentage, hey, they will let you come to church and watch others get their souls saved through the church’s ordinances. That's like telling those afflicted with cancer that you won't treat them, but you will let them visit the cancer ward and watch others receive treatment.

That's dark and perverse, not compassionate and understanding.

Furthermore, this mandate creates a new creed of belief which the Church imposes upon its members and their rights to conscience.  The scriptures do not allow for man to be punished for their beliefs (Alma 30:7, 11; Article of Faith 11), but that evidently doesn’t stop the Church from trying.  They themselves said, through Christofferson’s announcement above, that supporting same-sex relationships is not grounds for church punishment.  But to then specifically require this disavowal, in diametric opposition to the prior stated position, before being willing to allow a person to receive saving ordinances, is for the Church to place itself squarely between a rock and a hard place.  Either they cannot enforce this policy, or they must make themselves—through Christofferson’s official statement—liars, for declaring that holding beliefs opposed to the Church’s in this matter would not be grounds for punishment or discipline, and then doing precisely the opposite.  They cannot be honest and simultaneously uphold this restriction.

Next, I will take a look at the defenses that have been erected since the policy change, in an effort to shore up claims that the change is not evil or perverse.  It will not be exhaustive, but hopefully I address most of the points that people are being fooled into thinking are solid ground to build this shaky policy on.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Conspiracy Can Be Fun and Easy!

Conspiracies are an alluring topic for most people.  We love any new Hollywood heist film, where lovable criminals construct elaborate plans to infiltrate strongholds and steal away their treasures.  We love debating the points of the latest congressional backroom deal we are certain took place.  We love arguing over whether or not the military and government are covering up aliens and cancer cures.  We find them intriguing and fascinating, and the more complex the better.

But this infatuation has led us to think some things about the nature of conspiracies that aren’t necessarily true.  Some of these expectations and conclusions we draw about conspiracies actually damage our ability to reason through things happening around us that actually have conspiratorial elements.  Whether we reject them because the conspiracy is too complex or too simple, the fact remains we willfully blind ourselves to things because they defy our expectations.

The reason I want to address this is because of Joseph Smith.  To those who believe Joseph Smith was a secret polygamist, the notion that perhaps he was not is frequently discarded immediately because it would require “too much conspiracy.”  It would require all this coordinated fabrication of all these different people’s stories, and constant management of the narrative at too large of a scope for it to be humanly possible.  I hope to dismantle that notion, so that if you decide to continue believing Joseph Smith was a polygamist, it is not based on the belief that conspiring to make a monogamist out to be a secret polygamist is too monumental to accomplish.


To set the stage, I would offer a very basic breakdown of three different levels of conspiracy.  They each have distinctly different requirements, abilities, methods and scopes.

First, is the VIP conspiracy.  This is the type of conspiracy that we try to make every conspiracy out to be.  A conclave of super secret people get together and hash out intricately micro-managed plots and fallbacks and escapes and hijinks.  Everyone in the club knows and coordinates all the tiny details together, and nobody outside the club gets to know that a conspiracy exists, they only get to endure the fallout in confusion as it befalls them.  This is Hollywood.  This is what we see (true or not) in congress.

Second is the regulated public conspiracy.  This is the conspiracy where a VIP group gets together and formulates a conspiracy, but requires involvement by a larger group to facilitate it.  This includes things like governmental overthrows, cover-ups or misinformation campaigns, where a few people agree on a plot or narrative, then use a larger group of less-informed acolytes to help them spread or manifest simple, calculated ideas across a greater base.

Finally is the wildfire conspiracy.  All this requires is a single, unifying idea.  That idea can begin with just one or two people, but it spreads like wildfire on its own as those who hear it agree with and perpetuate it.  It’s so deviously simple and requires almost no effort to make it grow and gain acceptance as truth.  This where you find things like character assassination.

One of our biggest problems is that we want all our conspiracies to be as squished up into the first degree as possible, regardless of whether it’s to validate or invalidate them.  We will accept the second degree if we can’t confine it to the first, assuming we can declare we weren’t among the patsy group used to accomplish the VIP group’s aims.  But we don’t give much thought or attention to the existence and danger of wildfire conspiracies.  Perhaps they aren’t intriguing enough, or we think we neuter them by calling them “gossip,” or perhaps they are acknowledged as too uncontrollable and so we just want to avoid considering their existence at all.

Whatever the case, the wildfire conspiracy is highly potent, highly malleable, and incredibly easy to pull off.  It is dangerous and worthy of attention.


We understand the power of a good idea.  We repeat the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, long after civilizations which followed them have since fallen to dust.  A potent, simple idea seems to have a life of its own, perhaps even aspiring to immortality.  

A wildfire conspiratorial idea will fall on all sorts of minds.  Few people will be able to prevent it from spreading outward from themselves, even if they have radically different views on it.

There are those who are already at a point of full agreement when they first hear the idea, whose confirmation bias accepts it without question.  Now infected, they will actively see to its spread.

There are those who are intrigued by the idea, who will spread it through discussion before they choose whether to accept it.  They may reject the idea in the end, but not before perpetuating its life.

There are those who disagree, but fear they may be wrong.  As they speak against it they inadvertently spread it.  But as a bonus, while engaging the internal battle with their fear that the idea is right, their minds puts together pieces on its own which both support and conflict with the idea, sometimes bringing them to switch their stance.

Only when the idea reaches those who disagree based on knowledge or sound understanding do those conspiratorial tendrils hit a dead end.  The idea still invades the people’s minds, but it is promptly stripped of its power and confined in a dormant state.  These people can help others become resilient against the conspiracy, but at the risk of spreading the idea rather than neutering it, depending on the individuals they are trying to vaccinate.


There are all sorts of things that increase the value or appeal of an idea.  Some ideas are contagious because they are clever.  Some because they are poignant.  Some because they speak to our fears, or our desires.  Some speak to our higher selves, and some to our baser selves.  When it comes to ideas which are infectious because they appeal to our natural man, one of the most effective and self-perpetuating forms is “scandal.”

Our prideful natural man wants to believe that all those around us are beneath us, and anytime we can see someone else as doing something we think we are above, we savor it.  We relish it.  “Oh, that celebrity cheated on his wife?  Of course he did, what a dick.  I would never do something so pathetic…”  Scandal slakes our pride, and damn does that feel good.

One of the most astounding things about a scandalous idea though, is that once it has taken hold, even if it is later proven to be slander, the antidotal truth can’t always cure it.  “Oh she wasn’t actually sleeping with the neighbor?  Well, I bet she would if she could.  He probably just didn’t want her…”  Our natural man wants so desperately for insidious scandals to be true, that even when we come to know they aren’t, we can still try to find ways to rationalize letting the scandal live on within ourselves, feeding our pride for ages to come.


For a wildfire conspiracy, there is no need for elaborate planning meetings.  There is no need to establish a VIP group.  If one person can convince one other person to join with them in a single idea, that is enough.  But what if you establish your conspiracy on that core idea, then can’t agree on anything else?  What about conflicting stories and evidences surrounding your shared idea?  Well, it turns out that basically doesn’t matter.  

For one, there are always others who are willing to fill in the holes for you.  Those who come in contact with your idea and agree with it will immediately start putting together pieces themselves, finding the necessary explanations to smooth out the discrepancies.  They will “resolve” some of these for you, without any work on your part.

Another factor is that disagreement on facets of the idea—the more direct the disagreement the better—seems to suggest that the fabricated idea has credibility as a true idea, rather than a phony one.  When two people are seen arguing about the semantics of an idea, it is automatically assumed that the idea itself has merit, and the finer points just haven’t been hashed out or uncovered.  So long as the core idea itself remains intact, its credibility can be greatly strengthened by disharmony surrounding it.


In fact, as time goes on and discrepancies multiply along with conspirators, the amazing reality is that all maintenance of the conspiracy can be performed after the fact.  You don’t have to establish any preventative measures or plans.  You can literally just make up resolving explanations as you go. 

True, every time the conspiracy incurs discrepancy damage, there will be questions about the validity of the conspiracy.  But every time there are questions, you can pull an answer out of your ass, and if it sounds half-reasonable, at least half the questioners will buy it.  And again, the next time there is an issue.  And again.  Because those who already buy it don’t want to let it go.  Shifting one’s position takes too much work and can cause too much heartache from recognizing they’d been duped.  So they will do the heavy lifting of rationalizing your half-ass answer in their own minds, finding further supports to uphold it as truth.  The fact that you have to make 100 rationalizing excuses for the inconsistency in your conspiracy’s unfolding life should be a red flag to a critical thinker, but so long as you make those excuses each and every time, there will be a large portion of the hearers who will buy them.

Then, when you are far enough downstream in the river of the conspiracy, you can begin to take advantage of a new dynamic.  That is that people always tend to view the past through the lens of their understood present.  All the bumpy road of the wildfire conspiracy was handled in its earlier years, and when you get far enough along, things get rather smooth.  The kinks have been worked out, and the 11th edition of the conspiracy is glossy and clean in its presentation.  Sure, there were issues in the past, things got really rocky with the conspiracy, but hey, those matters were all resolved.  And now with the 11th edition, you don’t have to worry about what those problems even were, we’ve got what you need to know packaged up all nicely for you in an easy to read, no need to investigate single narrative.


Let’s put me back in Brother Joseph’s time.  Let’s say that Joseph is a monogamist, but I want him to be a polygamist, for my own reasons.  Maybe because I want to be a polygamist and want to use him for justification.  Maybe because I want to assassinate his character because I don’t like him.  Whatever.  I could use a wildfire conspiracy to make it look like he is, no problem.

All I have to do is tell someone else with a middling opinion of him that I’ve heard he’s a polygamist.  The scandal will be irresistible.  I can then sit back and watch the show begin.

As that person considers my rumor, they will spread it.  Perhaps they begin by just asking others if they’ve heard it.  Well, now they have, thanks to my planted seed.  The rumor will spread quickly, through all the different dynamics discussed above.  Some will buy it outright, some will debate back and forth, some will fear its possibility and unwittingly sell themselves on it, and only a few will know better.  Most people don’t care to think critically, preferring to assume someone else has already done that for them, so they can be led around by the nose easy-peasy.  And the majority, not the entirety, is who I am interested in.

Eventually the rumor will reach Joseph, that is inevitable.  He will surely deny it and call it a lie.  That will put some people back on the fence over the issue.  But I didn’t need to prepare for this, I didn’t need a scheme in place to prevent it.  Now that it’s here and I see exactly how he goes about his denial, I can easily just explain it away.  Oh, Joseph called it a conspiracy?  Well, conspiracy was on his mind because HE’S actually the one in a conspiracy, to engage in polygamy!  Not just any conspiracy, but a VIP conspiracy!  Ooh, now I’ve included a sexy new VIP conspiracy within my original conspiracy!  It’s the Inception of conspiracies!  Con-ception!  Wait, that’s something else… Anyway, this VIP conspiracy is too tasty a scandal for most of those fence-sitters to pass up, they’ll land back on my side.  Joseph’s denial is no match for the power of my rumors.

As the rumor takes hold, there will surely be wrinkles that come along similar to Joseph’s first denial.  He will deny more, try to use “facts” to exonerate himself, second witnesses who can attest to the truthfulness of his presented “facts,” circumstantial evidences, so on and so forth.  I don’t have to worry about these.  For the majority, those things simply can’t hold a candle to the power of my scandalous rumor.  If he presents some evidence to clear his name, all I have to do is fabricate some new detail of his VIP polygamous life and BAM, he’s in the doghouse again.   It’s so damn easy, I just attach basic items like time and place, names involved, and other verifiable bits of worthless information, and everyone will assume the rest is also true and verifiable.

Once it’s clear that Joseph can’t escape the rumor of his polygamist angle, the door is opened for me or anyone else to engage in the practice.  “Joseph did it.”  That’s all the justification you really need.  If the leaders do it, so can you, because we certainly don’t want to make the leaders into a privileged class above the rest of us, right?  So hey, now I’m Scott-free to be a polygamist.

But oh no, Joseph is calling me forward on disciplinary charges for polygamy.  Well, I can play it any number of ways, and still turn it to my benefit.  I can play the penitent card.  This will get Joseph off my case, as he thinks he can forgive me and I will stop.  The schmuck.  That puts me back under the radar for a while, stronger than ever.  Or I could be defiant and use Joseph as justification to his face.  His denials will only mean something to his inner circle, he is already guilty in the court of public opinion.  Then when he casts me out, the public will think me good and honorable, for standing up with honesty and integrity to the secret liar Joseph.  Joseph simply can’t win this one, no matter what he does.  I hold all the cards.

Conflicting stories begin emerging about the polygamy of Joseph and others, about how the doctrine operates, about who is privileged and who is not.  This is no threat to the health of my conspiracy, it in fact bolsters it.  The fact that they all agree that Joseph was a polygamist, but just can’t agree on the details of what it looks like, only cements the idea that he is a polygamist.  People certainly wouldn’t argue about a bullshit rumor as though it were true, would they?  So it must be true.  And every rationalization offered to explain the disharmonies and aberrations and conflicts will be eaten up, over and over again, because everyone wants the scandal to stay alive.

As years go by, my rumor needs very little further maintenance.  The conspiracy continually perpetuates itself, and the polygamist actions of myself and others certainly keep the flames of the rumor mill alive.  I can continually embellish the rumor as I see fit, or not, it doesn’t really matter.  People are doing it on their own now without any help from me.  And then Joseph gives me a gift.

He dies.

Well, now he is completely vulnerable.  There is nothing he can say or do to counter my rumor.  In fact, I have a whole new degree at which I can perpetuate this conspiracy baby of mine.  The wildfire conspiracy will keep itself alive, but now I can tamper with his records to fabricate a new level of evidence to support my conspiracy.  Those who have proven to be the friendliest to my conspiracy can join me in now constructing a full historical narrative about Joseph’s polygamy which will be verified through documentation.  I am now the parent of both a wildfire conspiracy, and a regulated public conspiracy.  This isn’t hard at all.  Just cross out his denials of polygamy, and insert some BS that reveals how he understood and practiced it in secret.  If I keep it simple enough, if I don’t go too far down my own rabbit hole of invention, I can create enough sense of consistency that all the problems with my narrative will fall by the wayside.  Keep it simple, Stupid.

As the documentation spreads, I watch any possibility of my conspiracy dying vanish.  It is here to stay.  Those who come after me will continue building on my legacy, fine-tuning the story, adding their own voices to it, saying whatever they want to say.  New champions may be even more crazy about perpetuating it for themselves than I am.  So long as they stick to the original idea, “Joseph was a polygamist,” my baby, my conspiracy, will never die.  The practice of polygamy may eventually be stamped out, but hey, I got mine, and my rumor is now cemented in history as “fact.”  That’s a damned legacy.  

And holy shit, was that ever easy.