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The Gospel of Inclusivity and Nothingness

Last week I engaged in a libertarian-esque discussion about geopolitical borders. In the midst of it, I came across a post by Kristine A titled The Rexburg Response to #PantsToChurch that rather fit into the concept of the necessity for distinction of groups.

The Gospel of Inclusivity and Nothingness

To be clear, I don’t care much at all what people wear to church (or anywhere else). I also quite agree with Kristine’s final thought: 

I don’t want wearing pants to church to be a statement, I want it to just be a reasonable option when I’m choosing a “Sunday Best” outfit to wear on Sabbath morning. In fact I often feel more dressy, comfortable, and modest in my pants. I also feel like I’m helping others know there’s not just one way to be a Mormon woman.

Even though I’ve never worn pants to church—and don’t intend to push the practice by doing so—I think a move in that direction (and to abolish white shirts!) would be beneficial. It’s not the pants bit that seems problematic. Rather, it is the constant drumbeat for “inclusion” and “tolerance” that is nonsensical to me. In the preceding paragraph, she wrote:

I’ve never once have seen a person’s faith shaken by someone wearing pants or by an LGBT person participating in a congregation. Yet our inability to create and maintain an inclusive faith community, despite Elder Uchtdorf’s best efforts, cause nonmembers not to join and cause current members to leave the flock. Isn’t it about time to admit the biggest stumbling block to people’s participation in our faith is our lack of inclusivity (ahem, #lgbtpolicy)?

For this post I won’t address the assertion about what might shake one’s faith. My focus is on the implication that Uchtdorf (or anyone in church leadership) is (are) making a solidified effort to “maintain an inclusive faith community.” Is this the general perception? I don’t think he (they) are doing so or ever will.

The very word member is the key here. A member is a part, element, component of something. Thus there is a defined something these members belong to. And the very definition of that something will always be exclusionary—or it will be meaningless.

The more inclusive you are, the less membership means. If you’re a member of a truly inclusive group, you’re a member of nothing—or everything. You’re already a member of every single inclusive group on the planet, whether you want to be or not. Rejoice!

I once argued that it’s stupid to claim that the priesthood should be gender exclusive because that exclusion makes it more special to men. (While I know that keeping women out does make it more special to some men, the kind of men who get their motivation from the exclusion are probably not the best men to be given that privilege. Hence, dumb.) I still hold that to be true, but that does not mean I am advocating for an inclusive priesthood. I’m advocating for a priesthood of all worthy members without gender discrimination, because I believe God is both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother—thus both having the power of God. (This is confirmed in the temple ceremony.) But there is still a worthiness exclusion and I see that as not only meaningful, but wise and important.

The church—like any group—has particular rules of engagement. Belonging is defined by what the members believe and do, not just by what they want to claim membership in. I want to be an elite athlete, a respected scriptorian, and a Broadway star. To date, no one has granted me membership in any of those groups. Hateful bigots.

In most cases, the church is inclusive in the sense that anyone can be a member in good standing if they follow the rules in place. But it’s not all inclusive and it makes no sense to make that demand.

In order to be inclusive in the way most people mean, the church would be required to welcome people—as members in good standing with full rights and privileges and acceptance and respect and status—no matter what they believe and no matter what they do—and no matter how/if they conform to the church’s standards. Which makes the church nothing at all.

Why would we need any church to achieve that inclusive end? Why not just form The Group of the Living Human Race and say, “Hey, all breathing homo sapiens, you belong!” Mission accomplished.

Then people hate on you for excluding dead folks, so you get rid of the breathing requirement.

Then people call you bigoted for excluding aliens, so the human race thing is removed.

Then members of PETA (members???) start blogging about how you are excluding animals and some other warriors of justice castigate you for excluding vegetables and inanimate objects, adding how hateful and awful you are. So that requirement is out, too.

Now you have The Collective of All Things Everywhere. No practice. No policy. No dogma. No doctrine. Only inclusivity and tolerance and love! Characteristics which are, sadly, all exclusive.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Dave K December 14, 2015, 2:51 pm

    If you think of things as a Venn diagram circle, “inclusivity” and “exclusivity” are not specific locations as directions. Those calling for inclusivity are not (necessarily) trying to obliterate the line. They’re just wanting a bigger bubble. In fact, quite often someone who wants more inclusivity for one issue turns out to want less inclusivity on another.

    So where should the line be? In my experience, most people approach this question the same way they approach their kid’s baseball team; namely, the team should field the best 8 players + their own kid. 🙂 In other words, we all want the line draw as tightly as possible so long as we, and all the people we care about, are found inside the line.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2015, 3:00 pm

    Exactly, Dave K. Spot on.

    The entire “tolerance” and “inclusivity” movement is nonsense.
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  • Charity December 14, 2015, 3:18 pm

    I’ve been trying to explain this to people for about ten years. I finally have a way to do it. JUST LINK TO THIS POST. Thank you.

  • Katie December 14, 2015, 3:42 pm

    “I don’t believe God is both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother—thus both having the power of God. (This is confirmed in the temple ceremony.)”

    Can you explain that? You don’t believe this, and the temple confirms it?

  • Dave K December 14, 2015, 3:49 pm

    Frankly, I’m not sure there is “movement” so much as there are many people who want their particular issue to be addressed and included. A few examples:
    * Some people want same-sex couples to be include in the definition of marriage.
    * Some people want their sincere opposition to SSM to be included withing the sphere of publically-acceptable beliefs.
    * Some LDS members want pants, blue shirts, sleeveless dresses, multi-earings, etc. to be included within socially-acceptable dress.
    * The LDS church wants its beliefs to be included within the sphere called “Christianity.”
    * Some BYU students want caffeinated sodas to be included in the list of beverages sold on campus.
    * LDS revelations regarding the work for the dead came because Joseph desired for his deceased brother Alvin to be included in the plan of salvation.

    Obviously, I could go on. My point is simply that you shouldn’t judge something solely based on which direction it would move the bubble. There are times to be more inclusive. And times to be less. Christ certainly showed both examples during his lifetime. But generally speaking (to paragraph King Jr.) his arch tended towards inclusion.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2015, 3:55 pm

    Katie, ah, I started that out as a counter-negative and then only changed part of the sentence. Thanks for the heads up. It is now corrected:

    I’m advocating for a priesthood of all worthy members without gender discrimination, because I believe God is both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother—thus both having the power of God. (This is confirmed in the temple ceremony.)

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  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2015, 4:01 pm

    Dave K, I agree with your bullet points, but I definitely see a “tolerance” and “inclusion” movement that has not existed in my lifetime. Not just in the church, by any means. But I think the general progressive notions spill over into the progressive church membership. And by that I don’t mean that I’ve never seen a push and pull over specific ideology or values. That has always existed. I’ve never seen the exaltation of “tolerance” or “inclusivity” as values on there own, independent of what was being tolerated or included.

    Thus, I disagree that there are “times to be inclusive” because that is meaningless on it’s own. It’s only meaningful if we describe what we are including and, thereby (of course!), excluding in the process. And somehow the fact that when one area increases a corresponding area decreases is usually completely overlooked.
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  • Oregonian December 14, 2015, 4:05 pm

    just saying that i love this to bits.

  • Kreem December 14, 2015, 4:26 pm

    I saw the discussion on facebook but didn’t want to comment there. The argument against you sounds like this:

    **Hey, I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t feel good to me. I’m not going to tell you why. But you’re wrong.**

    It goes back to that post you wrote on T&S about guilt. They feel good if they say they are INCLUSIVE even if they really aren’t. Telling them they aren’t makes them feel bad, so you are wrong.

  • Andrew S. December 14, 2015, 9:36 pm

    I think that the argument for inclusivity is really just stating something similar to what you’ve already implied — a redefinition of the lines of exclusivity along perceived “more relevant” lines.

    Like, you say:

    I still hold that to be true, but that does not mean I am advocating for an inclusive priesthood. I’m advocating for a priesthood of all worthy members without gender discrimination, because I believe God is both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother—thus both having the power of God. (This is confirmed in the temple ceremony.) But there is still a worthiness exclusion and I see that as not only meaningful, but wise and important.

    I mean, your position is basically that the current exclusiveness policy (which includes certain chromosomes and/or bodily anatomy along with certain worthiness requirements) should be changed in favor of different criteria (namely, drop the chromosomal/body parts requirement but keep the worthiness requirements.) In some ways, since your advocacy is for *less* of a restriction, that means it would be more inclusive. But this greater inclusivity doesn’t mean “anything goes”.

    Also, i found your “The Group of the Living Human Race” thing funny, given the LDS church’s theological beliefs regarding what can be done for the dead.
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2015, 9:52 pm

    Andrew S., you seem to misunderstand.

    I think that the argument for inclusivity is really just stating something similar to what you’ve already implied

    I’m not arguing for inclusivity. I’m arguing against it. In fact, I’m arguing that the argument for inclusivity is illogical. Given that, it’s hard for me to respond to the rest of your comment, since you seem to be basing it on a false premise.

    Again, I don’t mind if someone makes a specific argument, such as: “I think we should exclude children under 10 from baptism because X” or “I think we should include men in the compassionate service loop.” But advocating (or pretending to advocate) some pretend general inclusiveness is just…well…dumb.
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  • Andrew S. December 14, 2015, 9:56 pm

    Right, I get that you’re nominally arguing against inclusivity. But I’m pointing out how your paragraph on priesthood undermines that point. Even when you say “that does not mean I am advocating for an inclusive priesthood”, if your worthiness exclusion alone is more inclusive than a worthiness exclusion + gender exclusion, then that means arguing to drop the gender exclusion is advocating for inclusivity.

    A worthiness exclusion + gender exclusion is more inclusive than a worthiness exclusion + gender exclusion + race exclusion, and so on.

    It’s not maximally inclusive, yes, but I would say that is a strawman of what the “inclusivity advocates” are arguing for.
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  • Marsha December 14, 2015, 10:00 pm

    Kristine A. wasn’t arguing that we should accept non-members as members. She was saying everyone should feel welcome at church. And rightly so. Maintaining exclusivity based on superficial criteria like what one wears is not a gospel principle.

  • IdRatherNotSay December 14, 2015, 10:35 pm

    Hahahaha I love this.

    It reminds me that my Costco membership just expired and I need to renew it. Those horrible bigots won’t let me shop in their store until I pay them $55. How dare they!!??

  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2015, 11:18 pm

    Andrew S., again I think you’re missing the point. My argument about priesthood supports the point about specific inclusion/exclusion which, of course, happens every day about all sorts of things. (Opportunity cost and all, it cannot possibly be avoided.) But specific inclusviness/exclusivity isn’t remotely the same as claiming some fundamental value of being inclusive and that is what happens on a regular basis.

    We are regularly, daily, ad nauseum, told we must be inclusive, tolerant, respectful, etc., without any context of what we are supposed to include, tolerate, or respect.

    It’s much like the claim that diversity is a virtue outside of the context of what kinds of diversity we are talking about. For example, lots of people claim they want to live in a “diverse community.” Yet, I’ve never seen any of them advocate for a good dose of rapists and pedophiles be included in their neighborhood demographic. So…they aren’t really advocating for some general kind of diversity—even though they usually fail to specify what kind of diversity they are actually seeking. In this case it’s usually cultural, economic, or age diversity.

    A worthiness exclusion + gender exclusion is more inclusive than a worthiness exclusion + gender exclusion + race exclusion, and so on.

    But not really. When you include something you exclude something else. When you include women in the priesthood, you exclude an all-male priesthood. This always happens and, like I said, we have to recognize and account for what is being excluded. And there’s the rub, when inclusivity advocates are told they are being exclusive it is an affront to their (erroneously) claimed value.

    It’s not maximally inclusive, yes, but I would say that is a strawman of what the “inclusivity advocates” are arguing for.

    Given that I think you are misrepresenting my position (creating a straw man from which you can claim a straw man :)) there’s not much to say here. Suffice it to say that inclusivity and tolerance advocates almost always demand a very nebulous, general inclusivity and tolerance. They claim that inclusivity and tolerance are good—even though they are actually very specific in the things they include and tolerate.
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  • Andrew S. December 14, 2015, 11:33 pm

    We are regularly, daily, ad nauseum, told we must be inclusive, tolerant, respectful, etc., without any context of what we are supposed to include, tolerate, or respect.

    I don’t think that’s true in the slightest. In my experience, inclusiveness, tolerance, respectfulness etc., are tied to very specific things, ideas, classes, traits, etc., This can be implicit (although I think it is very frequently explicit or easily understood from context), but it’s still there.

    And I don’t really think we are in disagreement here. From your comment, I see that even you recognize this. As you say:

    It’s much like the claim that diversity is a virtue outside of the context of what kinds of diversity we are talking about. For example, lots of people claim they want to live in a “diverse community.” Yet, I’ve never seen any of them advocate for a good dose of rapists and pedophiles be included in their neighborhood demographic. So…they aren’t really advocating for some general kind of diversity—even though they usually fail to specify what kind of diversity they are actually seeking. In this case it’s usually cultural, economic, or age diversity.

    You know what they mean by diversity: “cultural, economic, or age diversity.” (I think race is also a big one, of course.) You know what they don’t mean by diversity. Everyone’s clear on this. So to speak about diversity in terms of “a good dose of rapists and pedophiles” is just a strawman.

    Since you know, they know, I know, we all know that when someone advocates for “diversity” they implicitly place limitations on that (but different [and in many cases, fewer] limitations than the status quo…in the same way your advocating for priesthood places different [and specifically in this case, fewer] limitations than the status quo), then why talk about the strawman as if you’re actually addressing anyone’s actual position?

    I don’t think I’m missing your point, and I don’t think I’m misrepresenting your position, but ultimately, this is your blog, so I will bow out if you think that even this comment is misrepresentative. But from my POV, I think that I fully understand that your advocacy of a more inclusive priesthood still places exclusions on that priesthood. But to me, I fully understand and agree that inclusion includes exclusions elsewhere and that this happens every day about all sorts of things, so I don’t see why one would talk about inclusiveness without boundaries when it’s not really clear that anyone is advocating for that either implicitly or explicitly.
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 14, 2015, 11:42 pm

    Marsha, first, you’ll note that the quote I am focusing on was not about dress, but her statement that Uchtdorf is putting his “best efforts” to “create and maintain an inclusive faith community.”

    But to your statement, “she was saying that everyone should feel welcome at church.” Why should they “feel welcome” and what does that entail? How do we make sure that everyone feels welcome? Do we have to make sure the unwelcoming also feel welcome? What about the hateful and bigoted? Should we invite Westboro church parishioners to bring their “God hates fags” signs and “welcome” them with open arms? What about the local pedophile who follows girls home from the bus stop while leering at them?

    You’ve already placed an exclusivity clause in your welcome statement. You want to welcome those who only have superficial issues, but what about those who have serious issues? And, apparently, the prophet and apostles aren’t allowed to dictate what those are, so who is? You?
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 15, 2015, 12:04 am

    Andrew S.:

    I don’t think that’s true in the slightest. In my experience, inclusiveness, tolerance, respectfulness etc., are tied to very specific things, ideas, classes, traits, etc.

    I’ll tell you what. I will start collecting the things I run across that make general claims about inclusiveness and tolerance and I’ll write a whole post about them. 🙂 Of course, I do think the claims really are for specific things, but those things are rarely acknowledged explicitly and people give themselves all sorts of warm fuzzies because they think they are “inclusive” and “tolerant,” when they aren’t. They are just inclusive and tolerant of things they choose to be inclusive and tolerant about. The point.

    Let’s start here, from this post:

    • Using best efforst to “create and maintain an inclusive faith community.”
    • “Everyone should feel welcome at church.”

    You know what they mean by diversity: “cultural, economic, or age diversity.” (I think race is also a big one, of course.) You know what they don’t mean by diversity. Everyone’s clear on this. So to speak about diversity in terms of “a good dose of rapists and pedophiles” is just a strawman.

    No, I don’t know what they mean. And neither do you. You can only guess what they mean unless they specify. Lots of people do not want age diversity, but want cultural diversity. Others want racial, but not economic, etc. (They move to “good neighborhoods” for “good schools,” etc.) They always mean something, but they don’t say what it is and, yet, the post it under a general banner of “diversity”—which is meaningless on its own. Which is the point of the post. No one really wants inclusivity and tolerance and yet they claim it all the time.

    As for racial diversity, I think it’s mostly stupid. It’s color. COLOR. Who cares? As a ginger, I have never, ever, EVER heard anyone say, “We need to hire more redheads” or “I can’t move here because there aren’t enough redheads.” Even though we are 2% of the population. Where is the cry for hair color diversity? Why is it only skin color diversity that gets attention! Wah!

    Personally, I think cultural diversity can be valuable (and can also be difficult). That is sometimes indicated by skin color (and hair color, hello Irish friends), but not always.

    And, no, you don’t have to bow out. Your input is welcome whether I agree or not, even if I’m not an advocate of general inclusion and diversity. 🙂 I happen to like your kind.
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  • Andrew S. December 15, 2015, 1:23 am

    Let’s start here, from this post:

    Using best efforst to “create and maintain an inclusive faith community.”
    “Everyone should feel welcome at church.”

    In the very same post, Kristine writes:

    As for being a stumbling block: ever since I began having questions about the church and the gospel, the things I see people mostly leaving the church for are (1) the church history mess left by our past leaders and (2) the way marginalized people are treated because they aren’t conforming with orthodoxy. Whether this second group are people of color, LGBTQ+, feminists, or just people with questions; the unchristian, unwelcoming, unloving treatment these people receive have often led them to judge the Church by it’s fruits (how it’s members treat them).

    and later on:

    Yet our inability to create and maintain an inclusive faith community, despite Elder Uchtdorf’s best efforts, cause nonmembers not to join and cause current members to leave the flock. Isn’t it about time to admit the biggest stumbling block to people’s participation in our faith is our lack of inclusivity (ahem, #lgbtpolicy)?

    This to me is an example of *explicit* targeting. I would say as well that this message would not be inconsistent with, say, a message that the church preaches repentance, or expects people to change/grow/improve. One could easily say, “We’re more likely to get people to repent *if we can get them in the door first*”.

    I recognize there is room for disagreement on that point, but disagreement doesn’t imply one position is meaningless or not really what someone wants.

    They always mean something, but they don’t say what it is and, yet, the post it under a general banner of “diversity”—which is meaningless on its own. Which is the point of the post. No one really wants inclusivity and tolerance and yet they claim it all the time.

    I would say it’s not true that “no one really wants inclusivity and tolerance” even when their definitions of these have contexts and limitations. The context informs the meaning and is essential to understanding what it is that people “really want”. If we are talking about expanding priesthood to women, it makes sense to talk about that as an inclusive policy (w/r/t the status quo) because we understand that even if there will still be limitations (e.g., exclusion by worthiness), this change would overall decrease the total amount of restrictions or exclusions to priesthood. It should be understood here that “inclusivity” implies a re-evaluation of certain criteria that were deemed appropriate bases for exclusion in the past, but which now we believe to be inappropriate.

    As for racial diversity, I think it’s mostly stupid. It’s color. COLOR. Who cares?

    I think this highlights my point about context. “Diversity” implies “race” so often (and so reliably) because of *the history of the United States*. And it’s not just history, but ongoing events. It’s not just the country in general, but Mormonism in specific! A lot of people care because it’s been one of the axes for determining who gets rights and who doesn’t; who is property and who is human. This is true about color and race in a way that has not historically or presently been (as) true for, say, redhaired folks, or even about culture. (Notwithstanding that there are definitely grievances here, too, and there’s also definitely a history with Irish folk — although I think they have been pretty successfully adopted into American whiteness by now.)
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  • Karma December 15, 2015, 3:12 am

    Let’s face it. Andrew feels better when he thinks he’s inclusive and tolerant. Don’t make him think logically about it because it will make him feel bad and that is a fate worse than death.

  • Karma December 15, 2015, 3:27 am

    Khristine wrote something on her blog that well, here, “(I didn’t participate the first year, back then I never would have even said the f-word)”

    What the ef?

  • Hedgehog December 15, 2015, 6:47 am

    Karma, f for feminist.

  • Karma December 15, 2015, 4:45 pm

    Hedgehog, I don’t think most people think that means feminist! Glad to know she’s not proudly promoting her sophisticated move into dropping f-bombs. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith December 15, 2015, 4:51 pm

    I’ll respond later, but seriously? You just copied about 40% of my post on your own post? Dude. You know “fair use” is 10%, right? Phhhtt.
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  • CamBendy December 15, 2015, 7:42 pm

    Andrew copied a huge chunk of your post for another post? Bad form for sure. Maybe he’s a new blogger and doesn’t know better?

  • Alison Moore Smith December 15, 2015, 8:15 pm

    Andrew S.:

    In the very same post, Kristine writes:

    As for being a stumbling block: ever since I began having questions about the church and the gospel, the things I see people mostly leaving the church for are (1) the church history mess left by our past leaders and (2) the way marginalized people are treated because they aren’t conforming with orthodoxy. Whether this second group are people of color, LGBTQ+, feminists, or just people with questions; the unchristian, unwelcoming, unloving treatment these people receive have often led them to judge the Church by it’s fruits (how it’s members treat them).

    and later on:

    Yet our inability to create and maintain an inclusive faith community, despite Elder Uchtdorf’s best efforts, cause nonmembers not to join and cause current members to leave the flock. Isn’t it about time to admit the biggest stumbling block to people’s participation in our faith is our lack of inclusivity (ahem, #lgbtpolicy)?

    This to me is an example of *explicit* targeting.

    Andrew, I can’t figure out what you think the “explicit targeting” of inclusivity is, based on this comment, particularly with regard to how Kristine attributes Uchtdorf’s best efforts at inclusion.

    I would say as well that this message would not be inconsistent with, say, a message that the church preaches repentance, or expects people to change/grow/improve. One could easily say, “We’re more likely to get people to repent *if we can get them in the door first*”.

    So…pretend that we condone things we are later going to tell people are apostasy? I actually used to see pickets signs in Florida that accused Mormons of that very thing, lying about what we believe until we hook them and real them in.

    I would say it’s not true that “no one really wants inclusivity and tolerance” even when their definitions of these have contexts and limitations. The context informs the meaning and is essential to understanding what it is that people “really want”.

    I can’t decipher what you mean. “Even when”? As I’ve said repeatedly, I think lots of people (obviously) want specific inclusivity and tolerance, but they use an erroneous general banner to describe it. They almost universally use “inclusivity” and “tolerance” as positive terms, when they aren’t inherently so.

    If we are talking about expanding priesthood to women, it makes sense to talk about that as an inclusive policy (w/r/t the status quo) because we understand that even if there will still be limitations (e.g., exclusion by worthiness)

    If we say we want an inclusive priesthood and don’t specify we want a gender-inclusive one, we are being unnecessarily obtuse.

    A lot of people care because it’s been one of the axes for determining who gets rights and who doesn’t; who is property and who is human.

    Look, Andrew S., I’m a woman. Black men could vote before any women. Black men have been ordained since 1978 and women still are not. I’m not unaware of discrimination. But if I pound the drum claiming that race shouldn’t matter among people and that gender usually shouldn’t matter, I am going to walk my talk now, not just someday down the road when everything is perfect and fair and magical. So, I have never (and I’m old, so it’s someone more meaningful than for those who are younger) supported quotas for women or laws that required a particular outcome based on gender. I don’t want preference or demands based on gender because I don’t think it should be a determiner (in most cases). Even if that means some people don’t pick me.

    This is true about color and race in a way that has not historically or presently been (as) true for, say, redhaired folks, or even about culture.

    Or perhaps you just haven’t noticed it because it didn’t impact you?
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 15, 2015, 8:16 pm

    I dunno, CamBendy. I haven’t had this problem much in 13 years of blogging, from old timers or newbies.
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  • Justice II December 15, 2015, 8:34 pm

    ***Isn’t it about time to admit the biggest stumbling block to people’s participation in our faith is our lack of inclusivity (ahem, #lgbtpolicy)?***

    The biggest stumbling block to participation by people who don’t like what the church stands for are the things the church stands for. Isn’t very group like that? The biggest stumbling block to me being an NBA player is that I can’t play basketball the way they want me to. Sucks to be me. I hope Kristine and Andrew will fix this injustice for me.

  • Andrew S. December 15, 2015, 8:35 pm

    Andrew, I can’t figure out what you think the “explicit targeting” of inclusivity is, based on this comment, particularly with regard to how Kristine attributes Uchtdorf’s best efforts at inclusion.

    When Kristine is talking about inclusion, she specifically relates that to the context of LGBTQ+, feminists, and those who doubt. It’s not just implicit. It’s explicit. Uchtdorf is particularly popular with those who doubt as being seen as one of the GAs who tends to make the most inclusive commentary.

    So…pretend that we condone things we are later going to tell people are apostasy? I actually used to see pickets signs in Florida that accused Mormons of that very thing, lying about what we believe until we hook them and real them in.

    I think the argument here is that Mormons do NOT establish apostasy for most sins. The church doesn’t HAVE to take that approach. Everyone is a sinner, but we don’t therefore say that everyone needs to get out.

    I can’t decipher what you mean. “Even when”? As I’ve said repeatedly, I think lots of people (obviously) want specific inclusivity and tolerance, but they use an erroneous general banner to describe it. They almost universally use “inclusivity” and “tolerance” as positive terms, when they aren’t inherently so.

    I think that inclusivity and tolerance are obviously context-specific terms, so they aren’t using “an erroneous general banner to describe it.”

    I mean, that is probably the crux of the disagreement here, frankly.

    If we say we want an inclusive priesthood and don’t specify we want a gender-inclusive one, we are being unnecessarily obtuse.

    But that’s the thing — people *do* make that specification. Hence, it is Ordain *Women*. It is contextually clear when an OW supporter says they want an inclusive priesthood that it’s the gender exclusion they are aiming against, not worthiness, not age, etc.,

    This is true about color and race in a way that has not historically or presently been (as) true for, say, redhaired folks, or even about culture.

    Or perhaps you just haven’t noticed it because it didn’t impact you?

    Let me check out that post…

    With all the Obama fever and racial talk going on today, I want to be sure you understand that I’m not saying the treatment I got for being in the hair minotiry was as bad as being part of a racial minority.

    I don’t see how that is incompatible with what I stated (see the emphasis I have added to my original quotation [hopefully the nested blockquotes worked].)
    Andrew S. recently posted…Opposing families in defense of The FamilyMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 15, 2015, 8:38 pm

    Haha. Ain’t that the truth. The biggest stumbling block to participation is that people who don’t attend don’t like something the church includes or excludes—or some vast combination of those things. If the church included/excluded exactly what they wanted in the exact proportions they were desired, they’d probably be there. 🙂 But, alas…
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 15, 2015, 9:04 pm

    When Kristine is talking about inclusion, she specifically relates that to the context of LGBTQ+, feminists, and those who doubt. It’s not just implicit. It’s explicit. Uchtdorf is particularly popular with those who doubt as being seen as one of the GAs who tends to make the most inclusive commentary.

    Sure, she mentions those things in the post, she also mentions history (are we supposed to create a more inclusive history?), the general non-orthodox (get rid of orthodoxy (the point)), etc., but she does so in the context of pants and with Uchtdorf as the model. Are you saying she thinks that Uchtdorf—the same guy in the first presidency of the church that just came out with the #LGBTQRSTpolicy—is trying to include people in, say, SSMs?

    I think the argument here is that Mormons do NOT establish apostasy for most sins. The church doesn’t HAVE to take that approach.

    If your point is that the new policy means that the church has specifically declared a particular sin to be more serious or problematic than others, of course I agree. But how do you know they didn’t “have to take that approach”? The assumption tends to be that this shouldn’t be a big deal, it shouldn’t be sanctioned, it’s just a bunch of old homophobes making it hard for people. There are other possible interpretations.

    Everyone is a sinner, but we don’t therefore say that everyone needs to get out.

    And there it is! No, we don’t say everyone must get out because everyone sins. Rather we have specific sins—specific exclusivity that has been deemed problematic enough—that defines membership! Which is, in fact, how all groups are formed. The church, the NBA, your family, your blog…everything. So, yes, the church has determined a measure for membership.

    I think that inclusivity and tolerance are obviously context-specific terms, so they aren’t using “an erroneous general banner to describe it.

    We already went round with that one, so why don’t you wait on my upcoming post where I just give you a slew of examples. Easy pickings. 🙂 The biggest problem is that when people don’t clearly specify the inclusivity they are really demanding, the meme gets picked up by all sorts of people who spread the general demand further.

    But that’s the thing — people *do* make that specification. Hence, it is Ordain *Women*.

    Andrew, you gave an example that was not specific and I responded to it. You can’t change the non-specific example to a specific one and claim debate victory. 🙂 Obviously Ordain Women is specific, but I never claimed that group wasn’t. Again, I will post with the comments at another time.

    I don’t see how that is incompatible with what I stated (see the emphasis I have added to my original quotation.

    Your “as” is a parenthetical, implying that you don’t think it really has been an issue, you just leave open the idea that it might be. Given that I grew up in a place with few other minorities, it’s probable (given human nature) that the treatment I received was on par with what some racial minorities received in some places (given that, well, freckled gingers are a racial minority).
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  • Andrew S. December 15, 2015, 9:33 pm

    Are you saying she thinks that Uchtdorf—the same guy in the first presidency of the church that just came out with the #LGBTQRSTpolicy—is trying to include people in, say, SSMs?

    Without speaking for Kristine specifically in this instance, I think it’s a very common view to say that different members of the FP or Q12 have different stances on different issues, and that the presentation of a solid front does not necessarily mean that every person involved shared the same position. And yes, it is a pretty common view to believe that if anyone was opposed to such a policy, Uchtdorf would probably be one. This may be incorrect — we don’t have all the data into all the inner workings, but I think it is a non-negligible perception.

    If your point is that the new policy means that the church has specifically declared a particular sin to be more serious or problematic than others, of course I agree. But how do you know they didn’t “have to take that approach”

    Agency implies that there are other possibilities. They aren’t forced to make any given policy approach.

    And there it is! No, we don’t say everyone must get out because everyone sins. Rather we have specific sins—specific exclusivity that has been deemed problematic enough—that defines membership! Which is, in fact, how all groups are formed. The church, the NBA, your family, your blog…everything. So, yes, the church has determined a measure for membership.

    But before the LGBT policy, the church already *had* a measure for membership. It already *had* meaning. So, to claim that the church need not be more exclusive in these domains (or that it could be exclusive in other domains/it could deem other domains to be “problematic enough”, or even that it could take an alternative approach even to domains considered problematic enough) is not to claim that the church would be meaningless.

    We already went round with that one, so why don’t you wait on my upcoming post where I just give you a slew of examples. Easy pickings.

    Since you started with Kristine’s post and I was easily able to point out *explicit* context, I have a suspicion there will still be some disagreement on your slew of other examples.

    Your “as” is a parenthetical, implying that you don’t think it really has been an issue, you just leave open the idea that it might be. Given that I grew up in a place with few other minorities, it’s probable (given human nature) that the treatment I received was on par with what some racial minorities received in some places (given that, well, freckled gingers are a racial minority).

    Given the severity of issues I presented for race, I really don’t think anything in your post suggests that freckled gingers have had those issues. The parenthetical “as” not only opens the possibility for those same severe issues, but it opens up the awareness for less severe issues while maintaining that the main point of the sentence is on the severe issues.
    Andrew S. recently posted…Opposing families in defense of The FamilyMy Profile

  • Joan Ray December 15, 2015, 9:34 pm

    I came here from a Face book link. I’m really glad to read this because it spells out what has bothered me for months now. I was with a group of women at a park day and one said, “That’s why I’m not religious. Religions are so exclusive.” This was from a woman who belongs to a golf club, puts her kids in private schools, lives in a gated community, and is in an elite doubles tennis league. I really wanted to scream, but I just sat there.

    Like Allison said here, maybe she meant exclusive about something, but all she said was exclusive. She never said what she didn’t like about “religions.”

    I think this is a real liberal disease!

  • Margo December 15, 2015, 9:40 pm

    To me the important point is that tolerance and inclusion are ASSUMED to be good and then are used as clubs to beat up anyone who doesn’t want to tolerate or include the person or behavior being discussed.

    Andrew, you think we should trick people into coming so that then we can coerce them to repent? Wow wow wow. Post that on your blog and smoke it.

  • Andrew S. December 15, 2015, 9:50 pm

    Margo,

    Nah, I’m mostly presenting possibilities for interpretations here. My personal view is that while I am sad for feminists, LGBT folks, etc., in Mormonism, the writing is kinda on the wall for these groups. Things could have been different (and could be different), but they probably won’t be, and I recognize that activism and slacktivism are probably not going to change any of that. Alison and I probably agree more on where the church is and where it’s going than a lot of the comments imply.

    I see the glimpses of the dreams of a Mormonism that has something to offer for everyone — even if it’s not the white-and-delightsome, husband-and-wife-and-2.5-kids-and-white-picket-fence heteronormative ideal. I recognize that those dreams are not the reality and unlikely to become the reality.

    Notwithstanding that, I see the glimpses of a Mormonism that has a very strict and uncompromising view for everyone as well — yes, the white-and-delightsome, husband-and-wife (etc.,) view…but is more compassionate and patient, full of grace and charity in advocating this view even for those wretched people who continue not to get it.

    I recognize that even that glimpse is just a phantasm.
    Andrew S. recently posted…Opposing families in defense of The FamilyMy Profile

  • Sharon Aaron December 16, 2015, 12:28 pm

    I appreciate this blog a lot because I deal with these attitudes on a nearly daily basis. Trying to explain the difference between some capital T Tolerance and how we can be tolerant of specific difference (especially the ones that are do not effect others as much) is a constant struggle with my clients, who seem to think that EVERYTHING should be tolerated because only bigots don’t TOLERATE. They have been brainwashed by liberal thought and arguments (public schools are the worst perpetrators!) and can’t even reason through their own behavior. They just parrot what they’ve heard. TOLERATE – ACCEPT – COEXIST! They are so blinded they can’t see who they are not tolerating, accepting, and coexisting with.

    I’m shocked at Andrew’s insistence that inclusivity and tolerance aren’t strongly promoted as positive traits in their own right. I want to ask what rock he’s been hiding under, but that would probably be intolerant.

  • Margo December 16, 2015, 12:28 pm

    Andrew,
    __Nah, I’m mostly presenting possibilities for interpretations here. __

    That makes no sense. You said that we should get people in the door so we can get them to repent and that was in the context of inclusivity. Own your words.

    The writing is on the wall meaning that the church won’t change to “include” their behaviors? (I’m a feminist if you want to know and so I don’t know what you’re insinuating for feminists.) Why don’t they change their behaviors to align with the church?

  • Andrew S. December 16, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Margo,

    I actually wrote:

    I would say as well that this message would not be inconsistent with, say, a message that the church preaches repentance, or expects people to change/grow/improve. One could easily say, “We’re more likely to get people to repent *if we can get them in the door first*”.

    I recognize there is room for disagreement on that point, but disagreement doesn’t imply one position is meaningless or not really what someone wants.

    But I would say that that first line about change/growth/improvement is a lot broader. For example, I believe that the LDS church could be a champion of strong families regardless of heterosexual or homosexual — it could be an advocate for commitment and monogamy, rather than writing off LGBT couples and demanding celibacy. That would also be consistent with the message quoted, and would also be inclusive.

    The writing is on the wall meaning that the church won’t change to “include” their behaviors? (I’m a feminist if you want to know and so I don’t know what you’re insinuating for feminists.) Why don’t they change their behaviors to align with the church?

    Yeah, the church is not going to be feminist-friendly in the same way it won’t be LGBT-friendly.
    Andrew S. recently posted…Opposing families in defense of The FamilyMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 29, 2015, 12:24 pm

    I think that inclusivity and tolerance are obviously context-specific terms, so they aren’t using “an erroneous general banner to describe it.”

    I mean, that is probably the crux of the disagreement here, frankly.

    Just to let you know, Andrew S., I completed the response to your position that inclusivity and tolerance are “obviously context-specific.” If they were, it would be easy to discuss the actual merits of the particular inclusivity and tolerance being addressed. As it stands, anything not in compliance with a general sweeping tolerance can, and is, used to shut down conversation with ad hominem.

    Here it is:

    Tolerance is Not a Virtue
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