The three-fold nature of the church: corporate, totalistic, and individual-growth

bwv549

last updat­ed 2016-06-06

Teach­ings and actions of the Church, its lead­ers, and its mem­bers may be cat­e­go­rized into three promi­nent mind­sets: cor­po­rate, total­is­tic, and indi­vid­ual-growth (aka “growth-mind­set”):

Venn diagram of the 3
mindsets: corporate, totalistic, and individual growth

There is cer­tain­ly over­lap and inter­play between these mind­sets, but many of the Church’s teach­ings and actions may be best under­stood as an empha­sis of a par­tic­u­lar mind­set.


Note on sources: Some Church mem­bers are uncom­fort­able read­ing sources crit­i­cal of the LDS Church. I have tried to rely exclu­sive­ly on Church approved sources or rel­a­tive­ly neu­tral sources (e.g., wikipedia or schol­ar­ly research arti­cles), but I have pulled from a few crit­i­cal sources which I view as gen­er­al­ly reli­able (even if they may be biased to some degree). I’ve marked all crit­i­cal sources with a “(Crit­i­cal Source)” tag so that the read­er may avoid these if they choose.


Corporate

The Church has grown into a very large mul­ti-nation­al cor­po­ra­tion, with exten­sive hold­ings and a strong cor­re­la­tion depart­ment. The cor­po­rate mind­set is man­i­fest to some extent in the fol­low­ing inex­haus­tive list:

Mem­bers tend to down­play the exis­tence and rel­e­vance of the cor­po­rate mindset/influence in their lives, while antag­o­nists tend to point out the Church’s cor­po­rate mind­set with great fre­quen­cy. Because Church lead­ers do not typ­i­cal­ly offer detailed infor­ma­tion regard­ing how and why they make deci­sions, it is dif­fi­cult to assess the extent to which cor­po­rate and admin­is­tra­tive con­cerns influ­ence their deci­sions and hence the influ­ence on the life of an every­day mem­ber.

Recent video and doc­u­ment leaks, along with the pub­li­ca­tion of books based on the diaries of Church lead­ers (like Leonard Arring­ton and David O. McK­ay) give some glimpses into the cor­po­rate con­cerns and prac­tices of the Church. These leaks and diaries estab­lish that a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of Church action at the glob­al lev­el is influ­enced by corporate/administrative con­cerns.1

A few oth­er more well-known exam­ples demon­strate poten­tial corporate/administrative con­sid­er­a­tions:

  1. The repeal of the Priesthood/Temple ban for black peo­ple was moti­vat­ed, at least in part, by dif­fi­cul­ty in deter­min­ing Priest­hood eli­gi­bil­i­ty among the Brazil­ian Saints.
  2. Pres­i­dent Benson’s “Flood­ing the Earth with the Book of Mor­mon” talk may have been moti­vat­ed in part by (Crit­i­cal Source) a large sur­plus of copies of the Book of Mor­mon.
  3. The Church stopped pub­licly report­ing its finances to the mem­ber­ship in 1959 after “deficit spend­ing” and “mas­sive invest­ment loss­es” (Dia­logue, 48:1 2015, Samuel Brun­son, The Present, Past, and Future of LDS Finan­cial Trans­paren­cy)

Besides major pol­i­cy deci­sions or cam­paigns, the influ­ence of the cor­po­rate Church is felt to some sig­nif­i­cant extent by mem­bers 1) when­ev­er Church Hand­books dictate/influence local leader/member action, 2) in the admin­is­tra­tion of each pro­gram at the Ward lev­el (e.g., YM/YW), and 3) in the content/focus of each les­son. With­out the cor­po­rate empha­sis on uni­for­mi­ty, it is easy to imag­ine var­i­ous units exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent ward struc­tures and wor­ship ser­vice styles, local pro­gram lead­ers exper­i­ment­ing more broad­ly with alter­na­tive goals and struc­ture (for instance, a YM pro­gram might jet­ti­son Boy Scouts or a YW group adopt Girl Scouts), and Sun­day School and quo­rum teach­ers focus­ing on dif­fer­ent aspects of the Gospel depend­ing on their inter­ests and the needs of the ward and its indi­vid­u­als.

Totalistic

The LDS Church, like most high-demand groups, man­i­fests aspects of a total­is­tic mind­set.2 Total­ism is when a sin­gle enti­ty or ide­ol­o­gy wields absolute con­trol over a group, so total­is­tic groups are those with some ten­den­cy towards total­ism (i.e., man­i­fest­ing a strong, sin­gu­lar pur­pose or ide­ol­o­gy).

Arthur Deik­man out­lined four basic char­ac­ter­is­tics of cults (cults may be viewed as the extreme total­is­tic case), and these seem to be empha­sized by oth­er total­is­tic groups, even if less extreme:

  1. Com­pli­ance with the group
  2. Depend on a leader
  3. Dis­cour­age dis­sent
  4. Deval­ue the out­sider

Total­is­tic behav­iors are endem­ic to human groups and empha­size the com­mu­ni­ty focused innate ethics of loy­al­ty, author­i­ty, and sanc­ti­ty.3 Because most groups man­i­fest total­is­tic behav­ior on some lev­el, it is most use­ful to think about a group’s lev­el of total­ism on a con­tin­uüm rather than whether or not the group should be clas­si­fied as a “cult” or “total­is­tic”.4

Total­is­tic groups are attrac­tive to humans because they offer: 1) the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lead a mean­ing­ful, spir­i­tu­al life; 2) a parental-like author­i­ty fig­ure (in one form or anoth­er); and 3) sib­ling-like rela­tion­ships with­in the group. How­ev­er, they may also cause psy­cho­log­i­cal harm.

Total­is­tic groups tend to social­ize in such a man­ner as to dis­cour­age mem­bers from eval­u­at­ing alter­na­tive world­views. And, vir­tu­al­ly all total­is­tic groups jus­ti­fy what­ev­er lev­el of influ­ence they exert (on one anoth­er or from the top-down) as the appro­pri­ate lev­el of influ­ence giv­en the impor­tance of their mis­sion.5

The total­is­tic mind­set is man­i­fest to some extent in these prin­ci­ples or teach­ings (inex­haus­tive list):

Individual Growth

The indi­vid­ual-growth mind­set is an empha­sis on growth and pro­gres­sion of an indi­vid­ual. These prin­ci­ples are prob­a­bly best rep­re­sent­ed in books by Steven Cov­ey like The Sev­en Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Peo­ple and in prin­ci­ples of flour­ish­ing com­mon­ly used in the pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy lit­er­a­ture (e.g., pos­i­tive emo­tions, engage­ment, pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships, mean­ing, and accom­plish­ment). The core fea­tures of a growth-mind­set approach (writ­ten par­al­lel to the 4 core total­is­tic behav­iors) are:

  1. Indi­vid­ual has intrin­sic worth and poten­tial. Groups:
    • exist to help indi­vid­u­als
    • reflect the val­ues of the indi­vid­u­als
    • seek the input of all mem­bers
    • respect dis­as­so­ci­a­tion from the group
  2. Focus on growth prin­ci­ples
    • Hon­esty
    • Pos­i­tiv­i­ty
    • Sus­tain­abil­i­ty
    • Bal­ance
    • Open­ness
  3. Encour­ages respect­ful crit­i­cism
    • Open, respect­ful dis­sent and crit­i­cism is encour­aged (feed­back is crit­i­cal to growth)
    • Fail­ure is embraced as part of an iter­a­tive process
  4. All indi­vid­u­als have intrin­sic worth regard­less of group affil­i­a­tion
    • Dif­fer­ences are viewed as a strength — dif­fer­ences allow unique con­tri­bu­tions
    • A plu­ral­is­tic society/group can be a strength

Indi­vid­ual-growth prin­ci­ples can result in cohe­sive, well-func­tion­ing groups. This is because in the indi­vid­ual growth-mind­set mod­el 1) group asso­ci­a­tions are pri­mar­i­ly deter­mined by a pri­ori goal align­ment (i.e., when asso­ci­a­tion is unre­strained, indi­vid­u­als will tend to asso­ciate with those with sim­i­lar goals) and 2) the group is free to shift its pri­or­i­ties or goals (or form splin­ter groups) based on the input/influence of the indi­vid­u­als.

Indi­vid­ual growth empha­sizes the liberal/autonomy ethics of care, fair­ness, and lib­er­ty.6

The indi­vid­ual-growth mind­set is man­i­fest in these teachings/practices (inex­haus­tive list):

Analysis

To a sig­nif­i­cant extent, the three LDS Church mind­sets exist in har­mo­ny. The total­is­tic estab­lish­es ulti­mate mean­ing and pur­pose for the group and anchors the group in the author­i­ty of the Brethren, mem­bers are encour­aged to use growth-mind­set prin­ci­ples with­in the total­is­tic sys­tem, and cor­po­rate struc­ture pro­vides a frame­work for deliv­er­ing / admin­is­ter­ing the total­is­tic per­spec­tive and also growth-mind­set oppor­tu­ni­ties and atti­tudes.

Competition for the ultimate good

At times, the total­is­tic and growth mind­sets com­pete for the core of what is taught—especially what is the ulti­mate good of a well-lived life.

As shown in this table of jux­ta­posed exam­ples, total­is­tic thought empha­sizes the cor­rect­ness, good­ness, and per­pet­u­a­tion of the insti­tu­tion or belief sys­tem and an adherent’s align­ment with it at vir­tu­al­ly any cost—the ends jus­ti­fy the means of ensur­ing the exis­tence and flour­ish­ing of the insti­tu­tion or belief sys­tem. The growth mind­set, on the oth­er hand, argues that doing the right thing (typ­i­cal­ly side­step­ping total­is­tic con­cerns) is more impor­tant than pre­serv­ing the good name of the insti­tu­tion, fol­low­ing lead­ers, or even belief in the sys­tem itself—it would be bet­ter for the insti­tu­tion to fail or for a per­son to lose their belief / tes­ti­mo­ny in the Church than to act wrong­ly or fail to live growth prin­ci­ples. For a believ­ing mem­ber, these val­ues can be rec­on­ciled, at least in the­o­ry.7 In prac­tice, ten­sion is often expe­ri­enced by mem­bers on the tough­est issues—issues deal­ing with real or per­ceived exis­ten­tial threats to tes­ti­mo­ny or the insti­tu­tion itself.

As a spe­cif­ic exam­ple of this ten­sion, the Church teach­es that fam­i­ly mem­bers can be togeth­er for­ev­er, but only if fam­i­ly mem­bers receive all LDS ordi­nances and adhere to the Gospel through eter­ni­ty.8 When all fam­i­ly mem­bers are believ­ing mem­bers, this per­spec­tive can be effec­tive at build­ing fam­i­ly cohe­sion. How­ev­er, if a fam­i­ly mem­ber leaves the Church, the fam­i­ly is now faced with sig­nif­i­cant ten­sion: the fam­i­ly can­not all be togeth­er for­ev­er unless the depart­ed one is a mem­ber. Under a total­is­tic mind­set an active mem­ber may then feel com­pelled to shame the depart­ed back into Church activ­i­ty or blame the for­mer mem­ber for break­ing apart the family’s eter­nal unit.9 Or, the for­mer mem­ber may be shunned to some degree because to asso­ciate too close­ly with them pos­es a sub­stan­tial risk to the believ­ing member’s tes­ti­mo­ny and hence spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment (and poten­tial­ly their eter­nal sal­va­tion).10 Para­dox­i­cal­ly, then, the hope of an eter­nal fam­i­ly as viewed through a total­is­tic mind­set may exac­er­bate fam­i­ly prob­lems when a fam­i­ly mem­ber leaves the Church.

(Crit­i­cal Source) Fam­i­lies, Eter­ni­ty, & Col­lat­er­al Dam­age is a video that gives spe­cif­ic exam­ples of the ten­sion the total­is­tic mind­set can gen­er­ate with­in a fam­i­ly when a mem­ber leaves or ques­tions the faith. Admit­ted­ly, the repur­cus­sions can be more severe in more total­is­tic orga­ni­za­tions, but this video is good for point­ing out com­mon threads across a range of some­what diverse total­is­tic mind­sets.

Response to criticism

Per­haps the most inter­est­ing dif­fer­ence between the growth-mind­set and the total­is­tic is in how they respond to crit­i­cism. The growth-mind­set invites and encour­ages crit­i­cism of beliefs (since this feed­back loop is inte­gral to achiev­ing growth), while the total­is­tic mind­set tends to dis­cour­age crit­i­cism of truth claims, actions, or author­i­ty (since this is seen to dimin­ish the pre­em­i­nence of the ide­ol­o­gy). For instance, sci­en­tists will often sug­gest rea­son­able meth­ods or evi­dence that would prove their hypothe­ses false (even going so far as to offer rewards to those who might be able to dis­prove their the­o­ry),11 while more total­is­tic groups tend to dis­cour­age crit­i­cism.12 The growth-mind­set seeks to dis­cov­er and pro­mote truth through a process of inquiry, con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, and inspec­tion, while the total­is­tic mind­set (at least in its most extreme form) seeks to pro­mote the pre­ex­ist­ing truth/mindset of the orga­ni­za­tion and mold truth/evidence to its frame­work.

Moral Foundations Theory

Recent work on Moral Foun­da­tions The­o­ry (MFT) sheds some light on the total­is­tic and indi­vid­ual-growth mind­sets. MFT relat­ed research sug­gests that some humans nat­u­ral­ly tend to place heav­ier empha­sis on the com­mu­ni­ty focused ethics of loy­al­ty, author­i­ty, and sanc­ti­ty (even while still acknowl­edg­ing the ethics of care, fair­ness, and lib­er­ty). These indi­vid­u­als are more like­ly to adopt and per­pet­u­ate a total­is­tic point of view. Indi­vid­u­als who do not empha­size the com­mu­ni­ty morals (vis-à-vis loy­al­ty, author­i­ty, sanc­ti­ty) as much as the lib­er­al/au­ton­o­my-focused morals of care, fair­ness, and lib­er­ty are like­ly to raise objec­tions to the more total­is­tic aspects of the Church. They will res­onate with the indi­vid­ual-growth aspects of the Church (e.g., mod­er­a­tion, love, and self-gov­ern­ment) but when those val­ues come into con­flict with the total­is­tic per­spec­tive these indi­vid­u­als may leave or be forced out of the group.

Indi­vid­u­als who leave the Church—regardless of their motivation—are like­ly to be shunned/pitied in part because they have aban­doned (or are per­ceived to have aban­doned) the group’s core eth­i­cal val­ues: loy­al­ty, sub­mis­sive­ness to author­i­ty, and respect of the sacred. Some­one who leaves may appeal to per­ceived or real psy­cho­log­i­cal harm they may have expe­ri­enced as a mem­ber of the Church (an appeal to care), the need to choose their own path (an appeal to lib­er­ty), or point out hypocrisy with­in the Church (an appeal to fair­ness), but such appeals are like­ly to be ineffectual—from a straight­for­ward total­is­tic per­spec­tive leav­ing vio­lates the loy­al­ty eth­ic, speak­ing against the Church or its lead­ers vio­lates the author­i­ty eth­ic, and turn­ing one’s back on their bap­tismal or tem­ple covenants vio­lates the sanc­ti­ty eth­ic. Hence, mem­bers with strong total­is­tic mind­sets are prob­a­bly more prone to view those who leave with high lev­els of dis­fa­vor (i.e., to view them as moral­ly bereft) and dis­count what­ev­er moral moti­va­tions they claim, and—according to MFT—such a response may be at least some­what innate.13

Cohesion and irrationality

For what­ev­er its defi­cien­cies, the total­is­tic view­point is high­ly use­ful for per­pet­u­at­ing an orga­ni­za­tion and gen­er­at­ing group cohe­sion. Ralph Schöll­ham­mer sum­ma­rized the rel­e­vant research:

Con­trary to the intu­itive belief that ease of par­tic­i­pa­tion is the key fac­tor, it turns out that suc­cess­ful and last­ing emo­tion­al ties are erect­ed if they demand some­thing from poten­tial mem­bers. It is at this point where the con­cept of moral­i­ty and moral ideas comes into play: One of the key sources of mutu­al trust is the adher­ence to spe­cif­ic moral rules – the bind­ing glue for com­mu­ni­ties with­out kin­ship. In a num­ber of stud­ies, Richard Sosis found out that com­mu­ni­ties, which impose strong moral and sacral­ized rules (whether it be in the realm of dress code, diet, or oth­er forms of behav­ior) on its mem­bers last longer and cre­ate stronger loy­al­ties than less rule­bound com­mu­ni­ties. Most inter­est­ing­ly, it was not the con­tent of the rules but their sacred char­ac­ter that made most of the dif­fer­ence. [empha­sis added]

How­ev­er, this com­mit­ment comes at a cost. Speak­ing of these high­ly rule-bound com­mu­ni­ties, Schöll­ham­mer con­tin­ues:

…the bond to one’s com­mu­ni­ty is rather emo­tion­al and there­fore often escapes ratio­nal analy­sis by those who are part of such a com­mu­ni­ty. While this does not mean that rea­son­ing is impos­si­ble, it becomes con­sid­er­ably more dif­fi­cult to con­vince group mem­bers of their poten­tial­ly irra­tional behav­ior, if their iden­ti­ty is tied to this group and its sacral­ized rules. In order to estab­lish last­ing com­mu­ni­ties, mem­bers need to believe in and fol­low cer­tain moral rules despite their seem­ing­ly irra­tional char­ac­ter. Doing so estab­lish­es modes of par­tic­i­pa­tion that char­ac­ter­ize the nature of the group and makes it pos­si­ble for mem­bers to be rec­og­nized as such by oth­ers.

Hence, the total­is­tic mind­set may be use­ful for group per­pet­u­a­tion and cohe­sion, but it also comes at a cost—it is dif­fi­cult to ratio­nal­ly exam­ine group actions from with­in a total­is­tic envi­ron­ment. In addi­tion, while group cohe­sion is high­ly ben­e­fi­cial for mem­bers of the in-group it may make com­mu­ni­ca­tion and bond­ing with those out­side the group (espe­cial­ly those who leave or are excom­mu­ni­cat­ed) dif­fi­cult.

Conclusion

Church teach­ings and action may be viewed through three some­what dis­tinct lens­es:

  1. Cor­po­rate, which empha­sizes man­age­ment and admin­is­tra­tive needs.
  2. Total­is­tic, which empha­sizes belief in the sys­tem, def­er­ence to author­i­ty, and loy­al­ty to the group as high­est ideals.
  3. Indi­vid­ual-growth, which empha­sizes the needs of and con­cern for the indi­vid­ual and pro­motes growth-based prin­ci­ples.

Part of the dis­junct in com­mu­ni­ca­tion between cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers is in how they view these three mind­sets: cur­rent mem­bers tend to empha­size the growth-mind­set in their lives, point to the com­fort­ing aspects of the total­is­tic mind­set, and the enabling cor­po­rate influ­ence. For­mer mem­bers, on the oth­er hand, tend to focus on the ques­tion­able or dam­ag­ing aspects of the total­is­tic mind­set, see the cor­po­rate influ­ence as heavy-hand­ed, and are more prone to acknowl­edge growth-mind­set influ­ences orig­i­nat­ing out­side the Church than those pro­mul­gat­ed from with­in it.

Hope­ful­ly, a clear under­stand­ing of these three emphases will assist mem­bers, non-mem­bers, and for­mer mem­bers to bet­ter under­stand the moti­va­tions, teach­ings, and actions of the Church, facil­i­tate bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion between indi­vid­u­als, and encour­age indi­vid­u­als to intro­spect on their per­son­al val­ues and the poten­tial con­se­quences of empha­siz­ing the var­i­ous mind­sets in their Church mem­ber­ship and asso­ci­a­tions.

Appendix

Recasting

For those who think in total­is­tic terms, it may be con­ve­nient to attempt to cast the growth mind­set with­in a total­is­tic frame­work. As I see it, the great­est author­i­ty in the growth mind­set is that set of prin­ci­ples which encour­age indi­vid­ual growth and pro­mote and main­tain the dig­ni­ty of the indi­vid­ual; loy­al­ty is direct­ed towards the entire human race (and ani­mals to the appro­pri­ate extent); and the sacred is the free-will of the indi­vid­ual, their inher­ent worth, and their growth. Once cast in this light, growth mind­set indi­vid­u­als may be seen as act­ing with­in a spe­cial case of the total­is­tic mind­set; how­ev­er, the need to exert con­trol over the indi­vid­ual is held in check by the growth-mind­set focus itself (i.e., indi­vid­ual growth and the quest for true prin­ci­ples trumps the needs of the group).

Sim­i­lar­ly, the total­is­tic mind­set may be recast in indi­vid­ual growth-mind­set terms (at least to an extent) by con­sid­er­ing the ideology/belief sys­tem the opti­mal growth prin­ci­ple. In this view, opti­mal indi­vid­ual growth is best achieved when the indi­vid­ual aligns them­selves with the ulti­mate ide­o­log­i­cal goals of the group, and feed­back and open­ness in how indi­vid­u­als are fail­ing to align them­selves with the ide­ol­o­gy are crit­i­cal to align­ment.


  1. The acknowl­edge­ment of corporate/administrative con­cerns says noth­ing about the inspi­ra­tion behind these actions. Church lead­ers fre­quent­ly empha­size that they seek inspi­ra­tion over corporate/administrative con­cerns.
  2. The Church is far less total­is­tic than many new reli­gious move­ments (aka “cults”), more mod­er­ate than oth­er well-known high-demand groups (i.e., Jeho­vahs Wit­ness­es or Sci­en­tol­o­gists), but some­what more total­is­tic than most main­stream reli­gious groups. How­ev­er, since groups with the most sweep­ing ide­olo­gies have the great­est ten­den­cy towards total­is­tic behav­ior (Deik­man), it is unsur­pris­ing to find total­is­tic behav­ior in a Church which claims to be “the only True Church” on the Earth.

  3. Total­is­tic behav­ior is like­ly wide­spread because it is ground­ed in the innate moral­is­tic mod­ules of author­i­ty, loy­al­ty, and sanc­ti­ty. See Moral Foun­da­tions The­o­ry: The Prag­mat­ic Valid­i­ty of Moral Plu­ral­ism for a more in-depth review.

  4. To dri­ve home the idea that total­is­tic behav­ior is endem­ic to human groups and present on some lev­el in most groups, Deik­man reminds psy­chother­a­pists that psy­chother­a­py aca­d­e­m­ic soci­eties them­selves man­i­fest all the core total­is­tic behav­iors.

  5. Groups with the most sweep­ing ide­olo­gies have the great­est ten­den­cy towards total­is­tic behav­ior (Deik­man)

  6. See Moral Foun­da­tions The­o­ry: The Prag­mat­ic Valid­i­ty of Moral Plu­ral­ism for a more in-depth review.

  7. If lead­ers of the Church or the Church insti­tu­tion itself is equat­ed pre­cise­ly with God and/or ulti­mate good­ness then we can align the growth-mind­set and total­is­tic mind­sets. For instance, if we argue that a leader only ever asks a sac­ri­fice of a mem­ber that God him­self would want, and the sac­ri­fice will result in opti­mal growth of the mem­ber, then there is no real ten­sion. How­ev­er, mis­takes made by lead­ers and ambi­gu­i­ty as to when lead­ers are actu­al­ly aligned with the will of God (e.g., jus­ti­fi­ca­tions used by lead­ers for the Priest­hood ban which have now been dis­avowed) make it dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile these mind­sets in prac­tice. Anoth­er way the two mind­sets might be rec­on­ciled in the­o­ry is to sug­gest that each is a use­ful approach (sim­i­lar to the log­ic sug­gest­ed by this arti­cle) and that the Holy Spir­it can guide the indi­vid­ual to use the cor­rect approach at any giv­en time. The draw­back of this approach at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is that it may be too optimistic—virtually any action may be jus­ti­fied by an appeal to fol­low­ing the Holy Spir­it, no mat­ter how illog­i­cal or harm­ful.

  8. The strong empha­sis on cre­at­ing a fam­i­ly unit that is all active in the LDS Church and sealed togeth­er is evi­dent in a (sum­ma­rized) state­ment made by Ann Rom­ney (wife of Mitt Rom­ney) in a devo­tion­al to the mid-sin­gle mem­bers:

    what brings the most hap­pi­ness to her life is that her chil­dren are all active mem­bers of the LDS Church and are rais­ing their chil­dren in the faith.

    Such a (total­is­tic) empha­sis may be prob­lem­at­ic to fam­i­ly cohe­sion if one or more fam­i­ly mem­bers were to ever leave the Church. Promis­es that the seal­ing pow­er will ulti­mate­ly save way­ward chil­dren do not, accord­ing to Elder Bed­nar, over­ride a child’s agency.

  9. Var­i­ous con­cerns are rep­re­sent­ed as these fam­i­ly mem­bers dis­cuss the res­ig­na­tion of a gay child. One of the most promi­nent issues in the minds of the mem­bers is the dam­age sus­tained to the eter­nal fam­i­ly unit. Arguably, such an empha­sis in this case gen­er­ates more fam­i­ly strain than it resolves.

  10. Mem­bers are con­stant­ly remind­ed to asso­ciate with those who hold the same stan­dards, and since those who leave are not like­ly to fol­low all the unique teach­ings of the Church and pose an exis­ten­tial threat to a member’s tes­ti­mo­ny, there is pres­sure to only asso­ciate with for­mer mem­bers at a super­fi­cial lev­el: “Think to your­self about any sit­u­a­tion you know in which some­one fol­lowed the wrong kind of friend or group. Think about how often these sit­u­a­tions end­ed in sad­ness, tragedy, or suf­fer­ing.” (The Pres­i­dents of the Church, 19: Make Peer Pres­sure a Pos­i­tive Expe­ri­ence)

  11. The growth-mind­set encour­ages and invites crit­i­cism of ideas. The cre­ators of Moral Foun­da­tions The­o­ry claim that “crit­i­cism is in fact so valu­able that it’s worth pay­ing for” and so offered a $1000 prize to any­one who could “demon­strate the exis­tence of an addi­tion­al foun­da­tion, or show that any of the cur­rent five foun­da­tions should be merged or elim­i­nat­ed.”
    In their pre­sen­ta­tion of the evi­dence for macro-evo­lu­tion, the “talk ori­gins” web­site offers a “poten­tial fal­si­fi­ca­tion” along­side every sec­tion of evi­dence (for exam­ple, see the sec­tion on genet­ic change).
    The James Ran­di Edu­ca­tion­al Foun­da­tion (JREF) offers a $1,000,000 prize to any­one who can demon­strate super­nat­ur­al or para­nor­mal abil­i­ty.

  12. Sanal Edamaruku showed that the water drip­ping from the stat­ue of Jesus at the Church of Our Lady of Velankan­ni was from a clogged sewage pipe. For reveal­ing the source of what oth­er­wise was thought to be a mirac­u­lous event he faces jail time, death threats, and has been forced to flee his home coun­try.
    Elder Dallin H. Oaks defend­ed the need for direct­ing con­struc­tive crit­i­cism towards gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate offi­cials but said that any crit­i­cism of a Church leader “true or not” is “evil speak­ing” and “always neg­a­tive” because it “tends to impair the leader’s influ­ence and use­ful­ness, thus work­ing against the Lord and his cause.” (Feb 1987 Ensign, Dallin H. Oaks, Crit­i­cism)

    For addi­tion­al exam­ples, con­sid­er the respons­es of Church lead­ers to Lowry Nel­son and Stew­art Udall as they made argu­ments to Church lead­ers (and pub­licly in the case of Udall) against the exist­ing Priesthood/Temple ban.

  13. Those who leave may also be moti­vat­ed in part by innate moral mod­ules. How­ev­er, the fact that innate moral mod­ules are like­ly to exist does not exclude the role that ratio­nal process­es may play in mak­ing moral choic­es (innate moral­i­ty is not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive with delib­er­ate ratio­nal moral­i­ty).

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