The problem with Passing the Heavenly Gift has not been its accuracy. The issue raised in the notice I received from the stake president does not say the book is false, contains errors or makes mistakes in history. Rather, it “contains content which must be withdrawn.” That is not an indictment of the book’s accuracy. It is considered subversive by those who want to control history to perpetuate a view of events that do not follow the pattern described by the Book of Mormon prophets, Joseph Smith’s prophecies, and Christ’s description of the conduct of the latter-day gentiles to whom the Book of Mormon would be given.
The first demand is that I cease publication; a task that would involve violation of agreements between me and others. To compensate me for that potential liability and permit me to violate the agreement, I was offered money to cease publication. Offering money to help me violate agreements is not a satisfactory course of conduct. Therefore, I declined; but not before asking those with whom I have contracts if I could be let out of the publishing agreement.
The second demand is that I tell blog readers that the book “contains content that needs to be withdrawn.” I will say this: The church believes very much the content of the book needs to be withdrawn. They think this because the book brings to light the babylonian methods church leadership uses to make rapid and dramatic changes. We are not now the same church restored by Joseph Smith. Passing the Heavenly Gift shows how that happened. There are social, political and legal forces pulling on the church which the leadership intends to accommodate. They’ve already made a step in that direction with the renewed support for the Boy Scouts of America.
The church introduced a web page on same sex attraction. Two of the twelve contributed to the page. One of them asserted that same sex attraction is not a sin, but only acting on the impulse would be. This is an interesting accommodation which contradicts the Lord’s statement that “whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery in his heart.” Or, adds to it: “but if you burn in lust for the same sex that isn’t adultery in your heart.”
The church advocated, and obtained from the Salt Lake City Council, an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in housing and employment. This ordinance was considered a great breakthrough by the gay community in Utah. The Utah Legislature has been influenced by the church to consider a statewide ban on discrimination against homosexuals in housing and employment.
In saying this I’m only focusing on the trends within the church. Nothing else. The trend is toward open acceptance of socially progressive mormonism. This is the product of social, political and legal pressure.
This accounts for the difference between the reaction of the church to socially progressive Mormons (who are tolerated) and me. Those who advocate for the place the church has already decided to go are not a threat to their plans. What I write can create a good deal of difficultly in arriving there.
The issue is therefore how the church is to accomplish these changes in its doctrine and teaching. To get from one position to another without destroying the believers is a challenge that can only be accomplished by having a foundation which includes the absolute confidence that the church leadership cannot be led astray. Church leadership inerrancy is necessary.
The church needs not only to “teach for doctrine the commandments of men,” the church must be able to teach AS doctrine the commandments of men. Meaning that the church must have those aboard who will do, believe and accept whatever the leaders tell the members. Unquestionably. Unhesitatingly.
When I pointed out to the stake president in one meeting that there are dozens, even hundreds of readers whose faith was restored and whose activity in the church was renewed or resumed from reading Passing the Heavenly Gift the stake president had no response. After he received further “training,” he asked me “what makes you think the church wants that kind of member?” I understood that to mean that once someone has read the book and come to realize what changes and how changes have come to our church, they are disinclined to continue sleepwalking along with the herd. They understand that all is not well, and view with some healthy skepticism many losses we’ve suffered in the restoration since Joseph’s death. Such people will be difficult to bring along with the current social, political and legal trends if they base their view on scripture and history, as I advocate.
Therefore, to make what concessions I can, I will state for all you blog readers: Passing the Heavenly Gift contains content that will make your appreciation and acceptance of the efforts of the institution now and in the future to bend its teachings to conform to social, political and legal trends much more difficult to achieve. You will be happier if you don’t read the book. You will be more inclined to sleepwalk along with what is progressively distant from the original restoration. You will not detect that these changes mark the downfall predicted in the prophecies of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants. While I cannot withdraw the content, you should not read it if it will upset your worldview.
Which then leads to the final demand: I never intended to speak or promote Passing the Heavenly Gift. The stake president knows that. I don’t promote books. Don’t do book signings, have never advertised any book I’ve written and don’t make appearances to push sales. Never have and never will. The upcoming tour has nothing to do with that, or any other book. Well, it has to do with the scriptures and promoting them. But since the church publishes them and Deseret Book profits from their sales, I’m actually promoting Deseret Book, owned by Deseret Management Corporation, owned by The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which consists of one person, the senior member of the twelve. Therefore, I am promoting the interests of the church president. But not my own.
The letter demands I do three things: Breach a contract (I won’t do). Tell you that the “content needs to be withdrawn.” Not promote the book in the upcoming tour. To the extent that I can, I’m complying.
I’m not sure if that meets the requirement for “repentance” in this current predicament, but that’s what I can do. If the church wants to make me another offer, then let the stake president know and I’m sure he’ll pass it along. Given how little time remains I thought I’d skip the middleman and put this up here because you guys downtown read this blog (as we can tell from the blogmeter).
Finally, I want to be clear I am not addressing homosexuality in this post. I am merely using the subject to make an illustration. I need to add that the advocates of socially progressive Mormonism have been far more tolerate of my views than the church has. They (social progressives) are willing to be tolerant precisely because they’ve had their own view so marginalized in the past. For their kindness toward me I am appreciative. Disagreement does not require warfare, and sometimes makes for very healthy and interesting conversation between those holding different views. We all need to push beyond rhetoric into the substance of the disagreements. Once we do that we can find the ability to love one another even as we disagree.