Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Mormon Pioneer Spirit: One of…Inclusion?

President Oaks was the keynote speaker for SUPer DUPer Day on Monday, July 19, an annual celebration at This Is the Place Heritage Park for the families of the Sons of Utah Pioneers and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. [1]  

His talk emphasized the need for us modern-day saints to identify the eternal principles the pioneers applied for our benefit, and then apply those principles to the challenges of our own day.

When I think of the pioneers, I contemplate concepts such as strenuously hard work, dedication, conservative family values and a deep, abiding faith in the Lord.

I'm sure Pres. Oaks would agree with those aforementioned concepts. In fact, he would add one to the list as well:


That's right - "the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups." [2]  

Pres. Oaks told the Church News after the event that "We live in a time when inclusion is needed - in political relations, in cultural relations, in legal relations - and it's not forthcoming in our society. As a Church and as a culture, we need to lead out in demonstrating inclusion, not dissent, diversity, diversion or opposition."

I couldn't agree more with Pres. Oaks. I'm not sure how he's defining "our society," but assuming it's the church's society, then yes, I believe the church does have some work to do in closing the gap between itself and those who are excluded and/or marginalized.

Who might comprise these groups?

Women? Yes. I recently reviewed the speaker-by-gender counts for the most recent five General Conferences. Here is what I found:

General Conference Speakers 

April 2021: 28 men, 1 woman (3.5%)

October 2020: 26 men, 2 women (7.6%)

April 2020: 30 men, 4 women (13.3%)

October 2019: 26 men, 2 women (7.6%)

April 2019: 23 men, 2 women (8.6%)

Total: 133 men, 11 women (8.2%)

Blacks? Yes. In July 2019, a church news release said that "Over the past 18 months, the First Presidency has made its partnership with the NAACP a high priority." [3]  So, how is that high priority doing in the two years since that news release?

Not good. The Church recently purchased a hotel in Maui for $148 million [4] and bought the Easterday ranch properties in eastern Washington for $209 million [5]  -- over a third of a billion dollars in (known) real estate acquisitions within a month. (There has been no announcement yet as to how these acquisitions further the church's four-fold mission). [6]  These combined amounts dwarf (by a factor of 37) the $9.25 million in donations the church is making to the NAACP/UNCF (over a three year period). [7]  The facts make it crystal clear: the church places a higher value on land acquisition than it does helping out human beings who have been historically marginalized.

Gays? Members still cannot be baptized if their parents are gay and married, and the member-child refuses to discredit their parents' lifestyle. 

The less fortunate? Yes. In his address, Pres. Oaks noted the Church's 3,600 humanitarian projects ministering to people in 160 countries during 2020. As of March 26, 2021, Latter-day Saint Charities and its affiliates had provided over $2.5 billion worth of assistance in 199 countries and territories since 1985. [8]  Assuming the church still has somewhere north of $100 billion in liquid assets, that would mean that the church is not even close to donating what it requires its members (10%) in tithing.

The unmasked/unvaccinated? Yes. I have documented here and here how the church, especially local church leaders, are not only excluding unvaccinated members from enjoying full participation in the church, but also painting them as unfaithful members and uncaring Christians. Also, within the last few weeks, prospective BYU-Hawaii freshman Olivia Sandor was rejected admission to the school because she has a condition which makes getting the jab extremely dangerous. Despite a team of medical practitioners submitting a medical exemption for her, BYU administration rejected her exemption - not once, but twice. Please, Pres. Oaks, describe how these actions are indicative of the "inclusion" you spoke about. [9]


Do "We live in a time when inclusion is needed"? It appears so.

Does that "Church and as a culture" "need to lead out in demonstrating inclusion, not dissent, diversity, diversion or opposition"? Definitely.

I look forward to Pres. Oaks "leading out" on the issue of inclusion (with respect to the groups I named) as soon as possible.

Otherwise, the church has another word to deal with besides "inclusion":

"Hypocrisy." [10]  



1 comment:

aredesuyo said...

Guess who's on the board of trustees of BYU? Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. Now that this girl has gone public with her protest, according to the handbook, she could be tried for "apostasy."