My last post concerned a member who was excommunicated. I was unfortunately not able to interview the ex-member in question, but now I have. And I have some documentation, too. (Because I’m not overly-anxious to publicize the person’s name, I’ll go with his first initial plus a little more confirmatory information).
Setting the Stage
In 2017, for a variety of reasons, “D” was no longer motivated to attend the LDS church in his area near Cardston, Alberta. Fast forward to early 2021, when he was (unexpectedly) invited to meet with his stake president. In the meeting, the stake president explained that he had received an assignment from Church Headquarters in Utah.
“It was a complaint against me. It originated in Salt Lake City and came down to the Area Authority Seventy in Alberta. And he (the stake president) was following up on it,” “D” explained.
The Initial Meeting
The Stake President refused to disclose the names of those who lodged the official complaint, but was enthusiastic in explaining the accusation against “D”: That “D” and his family had formed a “religious compound” on his Southern Alberta farm. In response, “D” said that another family was living on his property at the time, helping him build some large greenhouses.
The stake president asked “D” if they were participating in prayers and hymn singing. “D” explained that yes, his family had a prayer and hymn every night, and the other family was welcome (not required) to participate. It was not a religious compound; not by a long-shot.
At this point, the stake president reportedly began asking “D” the temple recommend questions. When he was asked, “Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?”, “D” said, “Frankly, no.”
“D” said that he did not believe that Pres. Nelson’s advocacy of the Covid-19 jab and facemask wearing was inspired. He also said that Pres. Nelson (and the church’s) growing friendship with the Pope and the Catholic Church was similarly uninspired. After some discussion, the meeting ended.
“A Membership Council”
In late January 2021, “D” received a letter notifying him of a forthcoming membership council. On February 9, 2021, both he and his wife attended the meeting which was also attended by the three members of the stake presidency. “D” stood his ground, and his wife shared “D’s” beliefs. A few days later, “D” received a letter confirming the removal of his membership. Despite her agreement with “D,” his wife has not had a membership council held on her behalf.
When I spoke with the father and brother of “D” a week ago about his excommunication, I was told it was because he publicly refused to get the Covid-19 “vaccine.” Actually, according to “D,” he said nothing publicly about the church’s advocacy of the jab/masks. It was only after “D” admitted his disbelief re: Pres. Nelson’s “inspiration” in a temple recommend interview did the issue surface. Other than that one point, “D” has reviewed the rest of the preceding post and found no problems with it.
Another surprise (but not) is that the accusations against “D” originated in Salt Lake City. Even though D&C 102:18-19 makes provisions for one’s accusers to participate and speak in a disciplinary council meeting, to this day, “D” has no official word as to the identity of his accusers.
His meeting with the stake presidency did not include any high councilmen; just the three stake presidency members. It is unknown when the provisions of such disciplinary meetings (which are supposed to include high councilmen) were superseded with new scripture per the Law of Common Consent.
He did not repeatedly act in clear and deliberate public opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, or its leaders. As “D” has stated, his beliefs (re: Pres. Nelson) were personal and never publicly shared. They only came to light during his private temple recommend interview.
He never taught, as Church doctrine, what is not Church doctrine.
He was inactive at the time and not interacting with church members. He also did not discuss his private views online. Thus, he never showed a pattern of intentionally working to weaken the faith and activity of Church members.
He never believed in, was involved with nor followed the teachings of apostate sects.
He never formally or informally joined another church.
It seems to me that there are three possible conclusions here:
“D” has not violated the church’s own apostasy criteria, and was therefore unjustly excommunicated per the General Handbook of Instructions.
There is a new, yet undocumented, churchwide criteria for apostasy: Do not sustain the church President or Brethren.
The stake president has introduced his own criteria and is therefore not in harmony with the general leaders of the church (who established the known five apostasy criteria), and is himself operating under his own form of apostasy.
(Additionally, inviting friends into your home to participate in family prayer and hymns may now get you an appointment with the stake president).
In the case of “D”, he could not sustain Pres. Nelson’s “policy” re: Covid-19 injections/face masks, nor its leaders who are continually honoring the Catholic Church and its leaders. So, he was exed.
Or, as I postulated in my previous post (which “D” agrees with as well), “Not taking the jab? You don’t sustain the brethren. Prepare for your excommunication.”
Such a belief no longer imperils just your temple recommend; it is now a prime criteria to nuke your membership and brand you as an apostate.
“I’m still appreciative of the values and morals instilled in me by the church, and still utilize the Book of Mormon on a regular basis,” “D” told me. “I just want to encourage people to walk in the truth. To trust in God, not men.”
A few days ago, I had a telephone conversation with two friends, a father and his adult son. During the conversation, I learned that another adult son of his had been excommunicated by the church.
The stated reason: Because he publicly refused to get the Covid-19 “vaccine.” Because of his decision, he was found in direct contravention with the church’s leaders – specifically, he was not “following the prophet” in getting the jab, so he was exed.
I now do not believe anyone who says we have a choice in taking the jab or not. That getting "vaxed" against Covid-19 is a voluntary thing, without any compulsion or coercion whatsoever. Baloney!
Neither do I believe that self-proclaimed priesthood holders/leaders who “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121:37) are entitled to the companionship of the heavens, the Spirit of the Lord, the priesthood nor its authority.
If such an excommunication can happen in a nice, rural Canadian town, it can happen anywhere.
“Anti-jabbers,” prepare yourselves. You have a target on your back.
Maybe one of these days I’ll blog about another church member who was excommunicated for standing up for the right thing…
In its August 12, 2021 message to the world,  the First Presidency endorsed the "wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" for all "individuals to be vaccinated." This was because (again, according to the First Presidency), "Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective."
Here we are, a little over two months later. It's time to see if those statements - given by purported "prophets, seers and revelators" - still hold true.
"follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders"
For almost the last two years, "medical experts and government leaders" have combined efforts to instill in us the belief that Covid-19 threatens the lives of all of us, infants to seniors. That the best way to prevent and beat back this "virus" is to wear masks, not associate with others and take (multiple times) experimental vaccines which manipulate DNA. All these "solutions" have been officially declared "safe and effective" by presidents  and prophets  alike, then repeated via mainstream media, big tech corporations and national governments.
Yet the actions taken by said "wise and thoughtful medical experts and government leaders" have been anything but wise or thoughtful:
"Medical Experts" have refused medical care for the sick who have not gotten the jab.  Even those who are awaiting organ transplants have been told to take a hike by their doctors because they haven't gotten the jab.  They will likely die because they refused to take an experimental vaccine.
"Government leaders" have openly deceived and lied about the pandemic, the injections and their personal commitment to their own mandates:
This is a "Pandemic of the Unvaccinated": On 7/16/21, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, "There is a message that is crystal clear: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated."  Yet as you'll see below, there appears to be no real correlation between vaccination rates and death rates (in many cases, there is a very interesting correlation between higher vaccination rates and higher death rates).
"We follow the science": On 7/22/21, Pres. Biden said, "I'll respond to the COVID question: 'We follow the science. If you are vaccinated, you are safe."  Yet there has been little science justifying the "vaccines'" safety. For example: COVID-19 injections did not successfully clear animal testing (actually, they started animal tests, but because they kept dying, manufacturers stopped the tests and moved to human trials).  Even with the lack of animal studies, in-depth human studies have not been conducted:
No drug interaction studies.
No single-dose toxicity studies.
No toxicokinetic studies.
No genotoxicity studies.
No carcinogenicity studies.
No studies on pregnant women.
No studies on pre-or post-natal development 
"Wear your mask": Since the beginning of 2021, government leaders have consistently pounded this one message. Yet many have proven themselves hypocrites by not wearing masks (after telling people to do so):
(10/18/21) The Bidens were caught violating DC mask mandate at posh Georgetown restaurant 
(9/20/21) San Francisco Mayor London Breed violated her own mask mandate so she could be free from suffocating, get some clean oxygen, and start "feeling the spirit" at a BLM party 
(9/13/21) Nancy Pelosi: Masks up for Official Ground Zero photos, then drops the mask when she thinks she's off-camera 
(8/30/21) Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren partied maskless at wedding in New Mexico, in defiance of state COVID-19 restrictions. 
(8/21/21) Speaker Nancy Pelosi again at a fundraiser. 
(8/7/21) Barak Obama's birthday party 
(7/30/21) D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser 
(5/21/21) Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot 
(11/18/20) California Gov. Gavin Newsom at party 
(9/2/20) Speaker Nancy Pelosi 
Thoughtful, or just plain thoughtless? You tell me.
The First Presidency said that available vaccines had been proven safe. Yet:
Countries like Denmark, Iceland, India, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. have halted use of some vaccines because of their safety risks. 
A peer-reviewed study showed the AstraZeneca "vaccine" causes "devastating" blood clots.  A European study found that the clot risk to 18-39s from AstraZeneca's jab Is TWICE as high as the Covid death risk. 
Prior to FDA approval, Pfizer's Cominarty had: 
No carcinogenicity tests (Section 13.1).
No genotoxicitty tests (Section 13.1).
No male fertility impairment tests (Section 13.1).
No milk excretion/lactation tests (Section 8.2)
No tests on subjects < 16 years old (Section 8.4)
Pregnancy-related risk profile data is insufficient (Section 8.1)
No information on long-term potential for myocarditis and pericarditis (Section 5.2)
In fact, Pfizer itself said, "Comirnaty may not protect all vaccine recipients" (Section 5.5)
On 9/28/21, it was reported that Johnson & Johnson employees didn't want kids to take their own company's COVID-19 vaccine. 
Moderna's safety profile is no better:
On 10/8/21, Finland halted Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to men aged 30 and below. 
On 10/8/21, Sweden and Denmark halted use of Moderna's vaccine for younger age groups due to side effects. 
On 8/20/21, it was shown that Moderna's vaccine had 2.5 times higher risk of myocarditis over Pfizer's shot. 
A leaked report by a Moderna vendor reported that in a 3-month span, there were approximately 300,000 adverse event reports. 
On 10/6/21, scientists announced that Merck's COVID-19 pill could carry serious safety concerns. 
Parenthetically, masks have been proven harmful in a variety of ways. 
What do you do when a "vaccine" formulation kills all the animals in animal tests? Skip the remaining animal tests and go right to human testing, of course (and even then, just avoid the standard ones run on humans). Tis better to be fast than safe, right?
Finally, answer this: If the injections are so safe, then why is an estimated 30-40% of medical professionals and emergency responders (Fire/Police/EMT) choosing to sacrifice their livelihoods, professional reputations and the financial stability of their families, because they have chosen to not take the jab?
The First Presidency also said that available vaccines had been proven effective. Yet as time has passed and more data has accumulated about the virus and its "vaccines," the unjabbed are looking smarter and smarter with each passing week.
Multiple studies now show that the vaccinated equally catch and spread the virus. In fact, if anything, it's more like a "pandemic of the vaccinated." States like Washington have reported higher death rates from the jabbed than the unjabbed.  Israel reports there are more hospitalizations and infections among the jabbed than the unjabbed. 
Effectiveness has dropped from "100% effective" to 20%.  They are "so highly effective" that booster shots every six months are being seriously considered.  You won't be fully vaxxed until and unless you have all your boosters. 
Florida,  Sweden,  Haiti and Nicaragua never implemented lockdowns (except for vulnerable demographics) and displayed some of the lowest infection rates.
Medical studies from around the world show that natural immunity offers up to 27 times more protection than "vaccines." [36, 37,38]
Alternative treatments like Ivermectin  and Hydroxychloroquine  have reportedly cured people of Covid in days,  thwarting the need for hospitalization - a scenario Covid "vaccines" have never even gotten close to.
The Brethren: "You can always count on them" to "always speak the truth"
We are often reminded that we can confidently trust and follow the Brethren:
"The Church of Jesus Christ has always been led by living prophets and apostles. Though mortal and subject to human imperfection, the Lord's servants are inspired to help us avoid obstacles that are spiritually life threatening and to help us pass safely through mortality to our final, ultimate, heavenly destination . . . While neither perfect nor infallible, these good men and women have been perfectly dedicated to leading the work of the Lord forward as He has directed." 
"Come away from any others. Follow your leaders, who have been duly ordained and have been publicly sustained, and you will not be led astray." 
"I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." 
"You keep your eyes riveted on the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We will not lead you astray. We cannot. Let me tell you why. Every week that I am in town, I attend a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve on the fourth floor of the Salt Lake Temple. If you could see the process by which decision and direction comes from that meeting, you would have a deep sense of confidence and comfort that the will of the Lord is being taught by the leaders of the Church. So keep your eyes riveted on the leadership of the Church. While individuals may falter, the body of general Church leadership will remain steadfast and true. If someone tells you that they have received revelation that the First Presidency and the Twelve have not received, run away from them." 
"In today's world, where 24 hours a day television and radio commentators spew forth conflicting opinions, where marketers compete for everything from your money to your vote, there is one clear, unpolluted, unbiased voice that you can always count on. And that is the voice of the living prophet and the apostles. Their only motive is 'the everlasting welfare of your souls' (2 Nephi 2:30)." 
"…We will not and … cannot lead you astray." 
"I have heard that some people think the Church leaders live in a 'bubble.' What they forget is that we are men and women of experience, and we have lived our lives in so many places and worked with many people from different backgrounds. Our current assignments literally take us around the globe, where we meet the political, religious, business, and humanitarian leaders of the world. Although we have visited [leaders in] the White House in Washington, D.C., and leaders of nations [and religions] throughout the world, we have also visited the most humble [families and people] on earth. … When you thoughtfully consider our lives and ministry, you will most likely agree that we see and experience the world in ways few others do. You will realize that we live less in a 'bubble' than most people." 
"They [apostles] teach and counsel as directed by the Holy Ghost, with no desire other than to speak what is true. Their voices can be trusted. Their voices are clear, unpolluted, unbiased. You can always count on them. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord." 
In fact, we are told the Brethren will always speak the truth:
"It is precisely because we do care deeply about all of God's children that we proclaim His truth. We may not always tell people what they want to hear. Prophets are rarely popular. But we will always teach the truth!" 
"Thus our commission as apostles is to teach nothing but truth. That commission does not give us the authority to modify divine law. For example, let's consider the definition of marriage. In recent years, many countries, including the United States, have legalized same-sex marriage. As members of the Church, we respect the laws of the land and abide by them, including civil marriage. The truth is, however, that in the beginning-in the beginning-marriage was ordained by God! And to this day it is defined by Him as being between a man and a woman. God has not changed His definition of marriage." 
Yet the First Presidency has indeed taught untruths:
The "wise and thoughtful" advice of "medical experts" is predicated upon their belief that Covid "vaccines" are safe and effective, and those who disagree with them - with even life-threatening conditions - may find themselves without any medical care at all.
"Government leaders" lie by saying that it's a "pandemic of the unvaccinated" when it is not, that they "follow the science" when they do not, and in fact are hypocritical in implementing the very mandates they exact upon the governed.
"Available vaccines" lack even the most basic safety data, consistently display consistently significant adverse effects and are even banned in countries because of their poor safety data.
The "vaccines" are also ineffective in that the jabbed are often more contagious and require greater hospitalization than the unjabbed. We're talking about booster shots every six months. Even natural immunity and other substances (which our "thoughtful medical experts and government leaders" have discredited) provide better protection.
Somewhere, there's a disconnect. On one hand, we are told we can trust, and ought to follow, the Brethren, who always tell the truth. But on the other hand, the facts demonstrate that "available vaccines" have NOT "proven to be both safe and effective."
How do we make sense of this seeming contradiction?
Maybe an excerpt from Jeremiah 28: 5-9, 15 may help:
"Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the Lord,
Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.
Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;
The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.
The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.
Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie."
It's times like this that Brother Joseph might say,
"And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God... would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves." 
Right now, I'm reminded of one of my most memorable conference moments of all time.
It was the Sunday Morning Session, April 5, 2021 General Conference. As you can see in the video below (at the 48:28 mark), President Oaks thanked "the Brethren for your great messages." This was after Sister Reyna Aburto had also spoken.
(My bet: It has become so normalized that conference talks are given by men, that it isn't surprising he forgot to include her in his comments).
The Essentiality of Women in the Church
Despite that little mix-up, the Church reportedly needs and values women a great deal. Here is what President M. Russell Ballard said at a BYU Women's Conference on May 1, 2015:
"For years I have spoken about the power of councils with faithful women participating. Your insight and counsel are absolutely essential." 
A month earlier, Pres. Nelson said this in the April 2015 Conference:
"We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!" 
Elder Neil L. Andersen also said this during the October 6, 2013 General Conference Afternoon Session (which, ironically, had no women's voices included):
"Sincerely asking for and listening to the thoughts and concerns voiced by women is vital in life, in marriage, and in building the kingdom of God." 
In the October 1996 Conference, Pres. Hinckley said,
"You sisters do not hold a second place in our Father's plan for the eternal happiness and well being of His children. You are an absolutely essential part of that plan." 
He also stated in the same conference,
"In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise." 
President Spencer W. Kimball said,
"When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner" 
Lastly, he also said,
"… It will be … female exemplars of the Church [who] will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days." 
All that "Essentiality" at Conference
Unfortunately, that "significant force" of women doesn't exist in the upper echelons of the church.
In the 1980s and beginning the 1990s, generally one woman spoke per conference (unless an organization president was released). Around 2002, the number went up to three female speakers. , 
Since 2010, women have typically delivered between 1 and 4 (usually 2) General Conference addresses:
Please check out these pictures. Does anything look a little lop-sided to you?
So, I think the evidence is pretty obvious: On one hand, the church says we need to listen to women. But on the other hand, it consistently invites disproportionately fewer women to speak.
How are we supposed to hear them if they're hardly speaking?
The church wants to continue to be able to say that women are important…without actually showing it.
It says how important women are, but then treat women as some kind of afterthought. Women are so important that the speaking ratio is abysmally male-centric.
Tough Questions…Lame Answers?
Looking at this data above might lead you to ask at least one of the following questions:
"Why do we have to hear from each member of the First Presidency more than once?"
"Why can't the Relief Society Presidency speak every time?"
"Why can't at least one woman from the Primary and Young Women speak every conference?"
"Why do we have to hear from so many of the 12?"
"With over 1/2 the church membership female, why can't we have something closer to equal representation?"
When the Salt Lake Tribune asked about the drought in female conference speakers, Church spokesman Eric Hawkins had no comment, saying only that the governing, three-man First Presidency "assigns the speakers" and "there are no quotas." 
But in November 2019, one person - Katie Rich - wrote and sent a letter to the First Presidency about the conference speakers' gender inequity, and received a (comparatively lengthy) response (you may have to zoom to read these): 
In my opinion, the First Presidency's responses are pathetic, insulting, hurtful and disempowering. They send a message that (1) it's OK to talk out of both sides of your mouth, (2) hypocrisy among leaders is acceptable behavior and (3) women do not have a meaningful place among the church's top leadership (at least during General Conference).
One could say, "Why do you care about the speaker's gender? The Spirit is the real teacher, and its instruction can come through a man or a woman equally." They could also say, "God is no respecter of persons so it doesn't matter to God (nor should it matter to you) if women speak or not." Also, "Why aren't you trusting the Lord/sustaining the Brethren who call people to speak?"
However, by minimizing womens' voices in General Conference,
Women, girls, men and boys are free to increasingly believe that women have little to no worthwhile spiritual development insights (let alone value, intellect and skills) at any level of church government, even the local level.
Fewer female speakers means fewer female quotes in church talks and lessons. Following that lead, the General Authorities, Stake Presidents and Bishops are less compelled to strive for greater parity when selecting teachers, speakers and leaders.
I find it ironic that the First Presidency would say that "As a matter of policy, those who are invited to speak at general conference have been called and given authority to function throughout the entire church."
First, three auxiliaries - Primary, Young Women and Relief Society - have three female presidency members each. That's nine speakers. Each of these auxiliaries have general boards, which are themselves comprised of many more women. Finding a total of 20 female speakers (who have been "given authority to function throughout the entire church") shouldn't be a problem.
Secondly, President Nelson has demonstrated significant enthusiasm for policy changes. If the First Presidency wanted to change General Conference speaker composition, they easily could.
Third, I'm bewildered why a sister might have reason to be precluded from speaking in General Conference just because she's working full-time.
The curtailing of women serving in more church leadership positions is one of the greatest hinderances for growth in the church. How can the church possibly hope to make greater strides with potential female convert baptisms when its disdain for female leadership is readily apparent to the world every six months?
A Lose-Lose Situation
It's clear that the Brethren are conflicted as to what to do. For example: Speaking of sisters, Pres. Ballard said this at a Europe Area Sisters' Meeting on September 9, 2014:
"That you will let your voices be heard, we cannot, we cannot meet our destiny as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in preparing this world for the 2nd coming of the Savior of the world without the support and the faith and the strength of the women of this church. We need you. We need your voices. They need to be heard." [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSWPrzICnlQ ]
He next said:
"Don't talk too much in those [ward or branch] council meetings. Just straighten the brethren out quickly and move the work on."
So, in other words, we need your voices! Now don't talk too much...
(Pres. Ballard has left the door open to shut down any woman who tries to "straighten the brethren out." All they have to do is claim she's talking "too much" and BOOM. Nobody will hear a word she says from then on. Kinda like this YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w).
Thus, if women speak out, they'll be criticized for speaking out of turn (outside their authority in the patriarchal hierarchy). If they don't, they'll be criticized for not speaking up. A perfect set-up for being gaslighted.
As one sister said,
"Our leaders say: Sustain and obey your priesthood leaders.
Our leaders say: Don't steady the ark.
Our leaders say: Don't criticize the brethren, even if they're wrong.
Our leaders say: Sisters, step forward, speak up, we need your inspiration.
Obeying that last directive requires going against a lot of cultural conditioning.
As long as our model is patriarchal, partnership is impossible, and women will continue to choose silence over unsolicited assertiveness." 
"What are the characteristics one would expect to find in a cult?"
Why do we think "cult" is a bad word? The base definition is "a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. " In my opinion, the word isn't necessarily bad; rather, it's the attributes of the group (which are often irrational) which make it good or bad, safe or dangerous.
Once those characteristics and/or attributes are identified, the next question to ask might be, "Is the LDS Church a cult?"
For many decades, many have said that it is.
But in my opinion, much like beauty, cult status may be in the eye of the beholder. After all, no church wants to be categorized as a cult. I mean, that puts them right up there with NXIVM, Heaven's Gate, Branch Davidians, Jonestown, Scientology and more, right?
Regardless, if you're in a cult, the perception is that not only are you whacked, but you're also helping to perpetuate the influence and power of the cult's chief whack-a-doodles as well. That's why there needs to be authoritative, objective criteria to determine if an organization is an actual cult.
Let's see what's out there, what works and what doesn't.
The BITE Model
What are the specific methods cults use to recruit and maintain control over people?
And even beyond Hassan, one difficulty with the BITE Model is that it is supposedly only accepted by a fraction of all psychologists/sociologists of religion. But (1) even though the BITE Model may not be the academic gold standard, it does resonate with a lot of people and (2) BITE is based on research and theory by experts who studied brainwashing in China. So, while "BITE" may not have the credentials, the info it's based on certainly does. A quick Google search will bring up the info needed.
Which leads us to Hassan's book, "Combating Cult Mind Control." It provides a framework for assessing how cult-like an organization is (or isn't). In it, he describes his BITE Model, which categorizes cult-like behavior into four domains:
Behavior Control, Information Control, Thought Control, and Emotional Manipulation and Control.
Here's a video which explains BITE Model basics:
Now let's put this evaluation to practice. Below are the four components of the BITE model. Each point has a checkbox. Feel free to check any boxes you are absolutely positive are applicable to the LDS Church.
[ ] Regulate individual's physical reality
[ ] Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
[ ] When, how and with whom the member has sex
[ ] Control types of clothing and hairstyles
[ ] Regulate diet - food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
[ ] Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
[ ] Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
[ ] Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
[ ] Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
[ ] Permission required for major decisions
[ ] Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
[ ] Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
[ ] Impose rigid rules and regulations
[ ] Punish disobedience by beating, torture, burning, cutting, rape, or tattooing/branding
[ ] Threaten harm to family and friends
[ ] Force individual to rape or be raped
[ ] Encourage and engage in corporal punishment
[ ] Instill dependency and obedience
[ ] Kidnapping
[ ] Beating
[ ] Torture
[ ] Rape
[ ] Separation of Families
[ ] Imprisonment
[ ] Murder
____ / 25
[ ] Deception:
Deliberately withhold information
Distort information to make it more acceptable
Systematically lie to the cult member
[ ] Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, media
Keep members busy so they don't have time to think and investigate
Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
[ ] Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
Ensure that information is not freely accessible
Control information at different levels and missions within group
Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
[ ] Encourage spying on other members
Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
[ ] Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
[ ] Unethical use of confession
Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
Withholding forgiveness or absolution
Manipulation of memory, possible false memories
_____ / 6
[ ] Require members to internalize the group's doctrine as truth
Adopting the group's 'map of reality' as reality
Instill black and white thinking
Decide between good vs. evil
Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
[ ] Change person's name and identity
[ ] Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
[ ] Encourage only 'good and proper' thoughts
[ ] Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
[ ] Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
[ ] Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
[ ] Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
[ ] Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
[ ] Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful
[ ] Instill new "map of reality"
_____ / 11
[ ] Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings - some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
[ ] Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
[ ] Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader's or the group's fault
[ ] Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as:
You are not living up to your potential
Your family is deficient
Your past is suspect
Your affiliations are unwise
Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
[ ] Instill fear, such as fear of:
The outside world
Losing one's salvation
Leaving or being shunned by the group
[ ] Extremes of emotional highs and lows - love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
[ ] Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
[ ] Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader's authority
No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends and family
Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
Threats of harm to ex-member and family
_____ / 8
TOTAL: _____ / 50
Interestingly, there may be times in a member's life when a particular point is relevant, and other times when it's not. For example, if you're serving a mission or attending a church-owned school, then yes, the church will "Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates" and "Control types of clothing and hairstyles." But those points may not be applicable to all members. Some members may find "Control types of clothing and hairstyles" applicable because they wear garments, whereas others don't.
And sometimes, there can be variation within a church. Could a BYU-I student ward be a tighter fit to the BITE model than a Southern California ward? Would a Sandy, UT ward be a better BITE fit than a ward in France? How about any of those wards compared with a mission?
Cult Research & Information Center / The Lalich Model
If Dr. Hassan's resume isn't solid enough for you, you might want to check out Dr. Janja Lalich, Professor Emerita of Sociology at California State University, Chico. As the head of the Cult Research & Information Center. Dr. Lalich is a world-renowned expert in cultic studies, and has the credentials to prove it. You can read more about her here: http://cultresearch.org/about
Dr. Lalich also has a model of sorts, found here. Here is what she says about it:
"Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may be manipulated, exploited, or even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may help you assess a particular group or relationship.
Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is a cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a "cult scale," or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult; this is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool:
[ ] The group displays an excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader, and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
[ ] Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
[ ] Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, or debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
[ ] The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (e.g., members must get permission to date, change jobs, or marry-or leaders prescribe what to wear, where to live, whether to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
[ ] The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and its members (e.g., the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar-or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
[ ] The group has a polarized, us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
[ ] The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders, or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
[ ] The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (e.g., lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
[ ] The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and control members. Often this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
[ ] Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
[ ] The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
[ ] The group is preoccupied with making money.
[ ] Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
[ ] Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
[ ] The most loyal members (the "true believers") feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave-or even consider leaving-the group."
_____ / 15
Objective or Subjective?
In a way, the various cult models could be considered subjective in that somebody had to pick which things did and didn't belong on their list. It's sort of like how depression is diagnosed: People made a list of symptoms - symptoms they saw over and over again. They saw them so often, everybody pretty much agreed on their importance, and the list of symptoms was subsequently included in the DSM. Those who exhibited the symptoms found in the DSM were considered depressed.
Is such criteria arbitrary? One may believe so, but when you see the same characteristics/attributes over and over again in these various models, it must mean something. In this way, the subjective becomes objective.
The c word is offensive to many because it describes an organization that exercises undue/irrational influence on its members. It should be offensive.
I'm not sure how your scoring of these various models went, but in my case, it's perfectly appropriate to use in evaluating today's LDS Church.
After all, if it quacks like a cult and walks like a cult…
I invite you to score the LDS Church in relation to the BITE Model (individual component and total scores) and the Lalich Model.
Feel free to leave your scores in the comments below, as well as any comments you have as you scored the sections.