The Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) held their Worldwide Conference this last week. On Wednesday I spoke at the Harry S. Truman Library to a group of them in Independence. The talk was recorded and available through this link:
There is a growing gulf between some rank-and-file members of the Community of Christ and their central leadership. Their leaders are pursuing a more tolerant, inclusive and permissive form for their faith. They ordain women, including to their highest offices, openly accept homosexual relations, de-emphasize the Book of Mormon, and have greatly reduced their regard for Joseph Smith Jr.
The results of their changing attitude is reflected in attendance at the Old Stone Church. That building was built during Joseph Smith III’s presidency. Just a couple decades ago that church was home to two branches that met there every Sunday. Both Sunday services were attended by approximately 700 people. Today there is only one service each Sunday, and it is attended by approximately 140 people.
Religion has value to people who want to learn how to improve their lives, increase their connection to heaven, and feel the inner sanctity that comes from increasing light and truth. When religion tolerates darkness, allows foolish and destructive behavior without correction, and neglects light and truth, it loses its value and consequently any appeal. When religion is just another outlet for worldliness and wickedness, it has lost its savor and is good for nothing but to be trodden under foot. (NC 3 Ne. 5:20)
Wickedness never was and never will be happiness. (NC Alma 19:10) When religion fails to produce happiness by denouncing wickedness, it fails. People lose interest. The Community of Christ is not the only denomination seeing their attendance erode because of the drift away from light and truth.