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In this episode former LDS Bishop Bill Reel returns to Mormon Stories to discuss his falling out with the LDS apologetic group FAIR (including his conflict with apologist Brian Hales), and his faithful dissent from the LDS Church over its recent policy regarding “Same-Gender Relationships.”
Bill Reel is the host of Mormon Discussion podcast.
My former wife was a part of FAIR with the likes of Daniel Peterson and Michael Ash. What an arrogant bunch of condescending heartless folks. They’ve positioned themselves as being smarter than everyone including all of the leadership of the Church. Anyone who disagrees with the Church is only doing it because they want to sin and their only response is the study and pray more seeking for their version of divine answers. Seven and a half billion people who don’t believe this and this group thinks they’re right.
If it wasn’t already, the die is now cast on Bill Reel’s eventual expulsion from the church. In my observation, to remain in good standing one must either (a) follow the living prophet, or (b) keep it to themselves if they don’t. Bill Reel is doing neither.
Despite my non belief in the church, I don’t make this observation with joy, but with a tinge of sadness because I know Mr. Reel wants the best for the church and wants to be a part of it. I think very highly of him and have appeared on his podcast. But the church does not want the best of him. Rather, I believe that they will do what they have done throughout their history, and protect the sheep by casting out the goats. If Mr. Reel publicly won’t follow the living prophet, he’s a goat. And appearing on a popular podcast of a cast-out goat himself (Delhin) will tell Mr. Reel’s local leaders all they need to know to perform their solemn duty and lovingly kick him out of the church.
Very good interview. I enjoyed it. Thanks to you both for the time you put into it.
Does anyone know where I can find the essay Bill wrote on the LGBT policy? Thanks email@example.com
Occam’s razor would suggest (to me anyway) that the LDS church’s new policy is just simply a knee-jerk reaction to losing the SSM legal battle. There is nothing deeper to it. It’s simply vindictive.
Interesting interview. I’m in St George, would love to sit down and talk sometime.
Let’s do it message me on facebook or email me!!!!!
Does it really matter what these folks do publically or privately? If you ask them legitimate questions (which they can’t answer in a straightforward way) they use the age old LDS method…discredit the person…assassinate their character. The Church can’t withstand any scrutiny. Like it matters about what George Albert Smith had for breakfast. So what if was true if it doesn’t show up in their behavior in terms of kindness and caring. Who wants to be involved with all the secrecy and half truths.
Hey Bill, at one point you were talking about your conversation with Brian Hales and said “I’ll be happy if listeners want my side of the conversation, I’m happy to share it. I wouldn’t share his” [Brian Hales]. Would you be willing to post it here in the comments, or have John add a link , or post it on your podcast site? If you do, then, to be fair one of you should also mention this to Brian so that he can have the opportunity to respond as well. Thanks!
I’m fairly certain that Brian Hales is well aware of Bill’s remarks made on this podcast and can jump into this discussion if he’d like. As posted by Dave K below, subsequent to this podcast, FAIR posted something that can only be interpreted as a response to Bill’s remarks on this podcast (see here: https://blog.fairmormon.org/2015/12/01/fairmormons-content-and-update-policy/ ).
So while I’m fairly certain Brian Hales is aware of this discussion, I won’t hold my breath that he’ll engage here. As I think John correctly pointed out, Hales, Peterson, et. al. don’t thrive in environments where they can’t control the dialogue.
This was a great interview. Bill, I’m so impressed with your thoughtful, sincere, and humble approach to difficult issues in the church. Thank you for being so courageous and honest, and for speaking out against this awful new policy.
Hi Bill, for what it is worth, the idea of a prophet or his wife getting deceived by an angel is well known from antiquity. I recall that Adam and Eve get deceived several times in the pseudepigraphic Book of Adam and Eve. In the same work the patriarch Jared (father of Enoch) is also deceived by Satan who disguised himself as an angel. I very much liked the interview. Those around, principally my wife, cannot understand why I can’t view things as just being simple in the Pres. Uchdorf way. I’m trying to hold things together, having a belief in the authority of the brethren, however I feel like what John said is valid in a way-that there is a tipping point where what the leaders say does not add up. Why so much obfuscation?
If the church kicks out Bill, I’m out.
It will be very interesting to see what occurs.
It was very hard to see John get the boot, but I could swallow that given that I do feel John was pushing some buttons and wouldn’t stop (not that the buttons were inappropriate to push).
I felt that the leadership was rude to totally ignore the request from Kate and OW (you know the saying, “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference”). But on that I can’t say I totally agreed with the “get into the priesthood session” efforts as that was generating bad press on the outside.
But with Bill, he has twice kept me from walking away from the church. The first time was his podcasts. The second time I was having a real issue with the top leaders actions. He spent an hour on the phone with me basically explaining how to be forgiving of differences I may have with Q12&1stPres. If they give him the boot for just saying some policy doesn’t feel like it is from God, that will also be the last straw for me as I will feel that the church leadership is showing it’s true colors (which apparently are whatever the opposite of a rainbow).
I also feel like in my ward and a few wards around me I have some that are hanging on that I have been helping. I fear a few more domino’s will fall if I do. But in the end I must do what is right.
Big hug Bill.
Good Interview. Always nice to hear Bill’s voice.
It should be noted that following the posting of this interview FAIR issued a notice about its policy for content and updating content: https://blog.fairmormon.org/2015/12/01/fairmormons-content-and-update-policy/ Seems clear to me that this is directed at Bill (and possibly this MS interview). The FAIR notice was written by John Lynch, who Bill references in the interview.
Unfortunately, the FAIR notice goes beyond simply stating the group’s policy and attempts to paint Bill as being driven by self-interest and a hostile agenda. The reality (as shown in the interview) is that Bill simply believes differently from FAIR as to whether acknowledging hard issues is in the best interest of members. Parties can disagree. But Bill’s view is at least as sincere as FAIR’s.
If something has to be in the Canon to be official, like Adam-God, what does that say about the doctrine that God the Father is an exalted man. That is based on a Joseph Smith sermon known as the King Follett address, but has never been accepted as a revelation and canonized in the D&C. There are simply too many LDS prophets & apostles that claim their opinions are revelations.
Good podcast. I was listening for Bill to talk about how he handled SSA and other things in interviews and counseling as bishop. Did I miss that part?
that was in my first interview with John back in July 2012 – https://mormonstories.org/mormon-bishop-bill-reel/
I sat next to Bill at Sunstone last summer and chatted briefly. I didn’t know then what a perceptive giant he is! Thanks especially for the 14 concerns about the new policy that mirrored eloquently my deeply felt and troubled thoughts. Great interview both of you!
Bill is articulate and open minded. These two attributes are not productive in Mormonism, and the moment Bill’s perspective is viewed as advocating a position he’s in trouble. Right now there is nothing more dangerous to Mormon orthodoxy than open minded men and women. When those individuals can express their thoughts with precision, and those thoughts are contrary to Mormon leaders, they become a threat.
Remember TBM brothers and sisters that you can think anything you want, you just can’t talk about it. In any matter where general authorities have taken a position you have only one choice–follow or keep your damn mouth shut.
How long can good people like Bill stand the heat? Bill, they are turning up the fire brother, it may only feel luck warm, but it is about to burn your spiritual life beyond recognition! People like Brian Hales are celebrated in the highest circles of Mormon power. When the Mormon church provides no more value it’s time to bug out.
PS – It’s going to be tougher to get out in St. George than it would have been in Ohio…
While my extended family was very Mormon when I was a kid, my immediate family was mostly inactive from early childhood, so, for all practical purposes, I am an outsider with no skin in this game. And I should make it clear that, while I have a lot of respect and even admiration for Community of Christ, I am not a member of CoC and certainly don’t speak for them, only of my perception of them.
That being said, from the outside looking in, it appears that, given the history of the Mormon church, there is perhaps only one navigable path from the Church’s past through the present into a bright Christ-oriented future and that is the path that Community of Christ has already gone down. It was a very difficult path that involved decades of collective soul searching and unprecedentedly courageous leadership, but there may not be another way. Maybe Community of Christ IS the Restoration, the restoration of the church of the Jesus who said, “. . . suffer the little children to come unto me . . .” and uttered the beatitudes. Maybe the Restoration is far simpler than anyone thought.
As an “insider looking out” I couldn’t agree more with you. Admitting you have been wrong, either on a personal or institutional level, requires a great degree of humility. Maybe it’s harder for an institution, but after listening to the Steve Veazey interview, it’s clear CoC was able to get to that point. It would sure help me and a lot of other members to get stronger signals from the institutional church that it is also doing some soul searching.
What if the Church’s new hardline LGBT policy became the millstone from the “suffer the little children” story?
Breaking news: large delivery of mill stones has been made to the COB!
Oh how we need folks like you, Bill—quietly, cheerfully fearless, devoted to Jesus Christ and the truth, wherever that road leads. Your charity towards your former associates is an important example to me. If the recent purge that included John is any indication, there is precious little room in the institutional vision of the body of Christ for troublemakers like you.
Your experience of learning that someone had altered your transcript brings to mind the case of someone in the Magisterium rewriting Elder Ronald Poleman’s October 1984 Conference address to print in the Ensign then having him retape it with added audio cough track. Where the original talk is one of the most important public descriptions of how the Church is not the same as the gospel of Jesus Christ, the bowdlerized talk and new video tape says exactly the opposite. Rock Waterman does a nice job telling the tale. https://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/02/best-conference-talk-you-never-read_13.html
i see a pattern
I remember very clearly in 1984 I had to work and had missed conference. I asked a close friend if any talks stood out. He mentioned Elder Poleman’s talk. When the Ensign conference issue came out, I eagerly read Elder Poleman’s talk–but it didn’t resemble the summary my friend had shared. When I pointed out to my friend his description didn’t match the talk, he said, dismayed, “I know–it (Ensign version) isn’t the same talk!”
Nothing surprises me anymore. Though some people express optimism about the church changing–I am not optimistic. I don’t think the church leadership thinks there was anything wrong with the despicable and shameful Prop 8 campaign which relied on untruths/lies, fear and demonization of LGBT people as political tools.
I think pride, lack of humility is a huge problem in the church.
Thanks Brother Reel for sharing your testimony and experience on this Pod Cast. It really helped me and the things I am dealing with. I hope so much he retains his membership, however, if he is cast aside I believe he will take his integrity and the integrity the Church borrowed from him where ever he goes. We lose many things as we get distance between us and the Church but our integrity is ours and it goes with us.
Thanks again Brother Reel
That is so true Launa. Neither can Mr. Reel be stripped of his personal relationship with God and the eternities, for that too constitutes personal property.
One thing that stood out to me in the first few minutes: some people from the church, not leaders or anything, are going around to build faith right? like the givens, now bill and probably others. My question is: what do the brethren do? They should be the ones going around and build faith, or at least first quorum of the seventy. Why are they staying away from this and have pawns do their jobs. I’m aware of the rescue fireside in idaho with holland I think but that’s it. They don’t want to get their hands dirty? Is it too dangerous for them? or maybe is it because they know these firesides are often a 2-way discussion and they don’t like that. They only do monologues, them telling us what to do. they’re good at that.
Agree that the brethren should be on the front lies of this and not asking others to carry water for them. Elder Uchtdorf saying “doubt your doubts” doesn’t cut it. Or referring people to FAIR to help resolve their doubts while explicitly saying that FAIR does not necessarily represent the views of the Church. And so you’re right, it’s up to the Bushman and Givens duos to get their hands dirty. Since you mentioned the Idaho rescue which took place earlier this year, I believe it was Elder Oaks who spoke with Church historian Richard Turley. And when asked about what that fireside was about, the Church’s response was something like the two of them had a free day and so shot up to Idaho on a Saturday and did this impromptu presentation. Right – I love it when I have to give impromptu fireside and a prepared PowerPoint presentation magically appears ready for me to go.
Interestingly, the church dissolved a stake in Boise in the last few weeks…
I really enjoyed this interview. I thought Bill’s comments were smart, level-headed, and fair for his beliefs. I am sending your article about the new church policy to all my TBM friends who are having a difficult time processing it. It was nice to listen to a TBM instead of everyone who has the same ideas. People like Bill are the hope for the church.
Bill, congratulations. I admire your integrity. Thank you for always recognizing that these issues are legitimate while finding answers to stay in the faith. Good for you. I left the church but support your endeavors.
I was very impressed with this podcast especially the points made about the Church’s new policy towards same sex marriage and children living with a parent in a SSM. I, like Bill, have expressed my concerns to my local church leaders and as feed back to the Church on the Church website. I am glad there are other active LDS members willing to stay in the Church and express disapproval about these new policies. My concerns include those raised by Bill and also the following: a) requiring a test that an 18 year old disavow their parent’s same sex marriage is a test not required of any other member of the church to join the church nor (at this time) to be considered worthy in the Church and thus is unfair. b) The argument that it follows a closely held policy (which until now I had never heard of) that children living in polygamist families have to disavow their parent’s polygamist marriage is very messy as well. First the polygamist policy may guard against a significant problem that polygamist families frequently want their children to be part of the LDS church while secretly maintaining fundamentalist teachings to bring LDS members into the fundamentalist fold. Second, it is a bit hypocritical to truly have such a person disavow the principle of polygamist eternal marriage as the LDS Church still holds that doctrine and in fact an apostle currently is sealed to two women one living and one dead. (Actually eternal polyandry which is allowed under current LDS policy is in my opinion a selling point for LDS doctrine as if there is an eternal world, it is moral to allow loving relationships to continue rather than requiring a person to choose which committed partner they will retain a relationship with and which or all such relationships must end). So requiring a child of polygamous parents to disavow a portion of a canonized and not withdrawn doctrine beyond their commitment to not marry more than one living spouse is inconsistent. c) the policy does not affirm reasons sexual transgressions are hurtful or problematic (sinful) i.e. promiscuity being disrespectful of human needs for commitment and responsibility for the other. Because the policy makes same sex marriage more directly punished that all forms of inconsiderate promiscuous sexual relationships and even nonconsensual sexual crimes. d) I hold great faith in the last canonized direct text of a revelation received by an LDS prophet that directly addresses the covenants and commandments related to the continuation of intimate human relationships in the eternities, namely D&C 132:66 “And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present, Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen” So I submit that God promises to reveal more and I await that revelation. From my belief system God will affirm same sex marriage and reveal the plan of salvation for individuals with a variety of issues, orientations, and affirmations related to gender that are not distinctly provided for in the current plan of salvation for cis-gendered heterosexuals. Theologically with the policy change allowing women to be sealed to more than one man in eternity, the LDS Church is not far from allowing an affirming eternal polyamorous relationships. With one revelation, which could come tomorrow, the next moral development in human respectful treatment could become LDS doctrine and no LDS scripture or doctrine or policy excludes this possibility.
I applaud Bill Reel’s and other’s efforts to affirm that there is a path to remain a part of the Church and to express concern and disagreement with Church policies like this one. In my view a mature look at any religion, philosophy, or scientific theory has room for “messiness” for few if any religious doctrines, philosophies, or scientific theory’s withstand intense scrutiny if we hold the principle proponent’s every articulated belief or statement to be beyond reproof or revision or application over time. On the margins, nothing, not even logic itself is pristine and devoid of messiness to those who truly delve. If this is so, why do we have to have crisis of faith and to reject the great good we can find in LDS culture and theology, or in evolutionary theory, or in general relativity when we encounter the messiness of historical issues, missing links, or singularities? It is harder for those with black and white thinking when they encounter incongruities in their cognitive schema. Some say the divine conjunction “AND” is implicit in paradox found at the foundation of many journeys of reason is the simplicity beyond complexity that transcends and inspires. Those who’s apple carts are easily upset ride on the assumption of “OR” requiring the rejection of one for the other.
I am staying understanding that I still can contribute and help by publicly and privately giving compassion to those who morn and I await God to fulfill the promise made in Section 132:66.
The behavior of the folks at FAIR described here feels like a level of drama that I haven’t experienced since Jr. High school. The emotional maturity of this bunch communicates volumes yet, childlike behavior is a rewarded character trait of the indoctrination process so it must seem natural for them. They are playing into the stereotypes attributed to believers however, i.e., passive aggressiveness, shunning, marginalizing people’s experiences, shooting the messenger. These stereotypes come from somewhere. Thanks for the peek under the hood John, they have done an outstanding job confirming my belief that the church is not true. Truth will ultimately prevail!
I agree. It seems so UTTERLY childish and narrow minded, for a group religious group titled “Fair” to go back and re-write its history like Bill describes…Its just plain weird.
Bill, I agree with your conclusion that all apologetics ultimately must make a “deal with the devil” so to speak, when then choose to darken their minds and only look at the permitted side of church history… This is no way to approach an authentic life and pursue truth and knowledge…and they soon bear the fruits of binding their minds to these foolish claims.
. NO wonder these apologetics end up bitter, power hungry, and basically…dark. they loose the ability to think critically because they don’t honor the principle of free inquiry.
Anyway awesome interview. I’m going back ant listening to your other stuff this week. Best regards.
Great interview. Very informative and open minded. I have been out for about 2 years, but I really enjoyed Bill’s energy and wanted to hear more.
However, you lost me when you started talking about 132 and how to set that section aside. It is so obviously confirmation bias with a interpretative lean. But hey, it may work for some people.
Still enjoyable though. Keep up the good work!
Bill. I thank you for your input especially your bullet points as to why the new “policy” does not square with some fundamental tenants of Mormonism. I knew before listening to this podcast that I didn’t like the new policy, but could not put my finger on just why, other than having a general feeling that the policy is horrifically discriminatory. But then, any religious institution has the right to be discriminatory. So your well reasoned points, demonstrating as they did, theological incompatibilities with basic Mormon doctrines were very helpful to me. I also have seen the “messy” part of church history and doctrine, but for me “messy” issues have been far too many and too much to set aside as inconsequential or subservient to a retention of faith.
John. The church is not just about “authority” it’s much more centered on the connected principle of “obedience”. If Bill continues on his present course, regardless of his stated “testimony”, he very likely will find himself subjected to church discipline. I suppose it to be over the top to say this, but from my experience if they do choose to discipline him they will be doing him a favor because the disciplinary process will further open his eyes to the real nature of modern “power tower” Mormonism.
I think if we are going to leave the church it should be through our own faith journey and prompting from the Holy Ghost rather than tying our fate and spirituality of that of Bill Reel’s.
That said, I too have tied my faith journey very closely to that of Bill’s, and this policy saddens me more to what is happening to Bill that the Gay community itself. Which I don’t see to many being affected by the policy in the first place.
Bill has opened my eyes to things, that I always considered internally but didn’t have the strength nor the intelligence to articulate publicly. I grieve with him, it pains me.
I don’t know what I’m going to say this fast and testimony Sunday, probably nothing at all, but I think I should talk to my Bishop & Stake President about this policy. I hope the Church does the right thing and gets rid of it.
In the last 30 days I have come to this simple and conclusion… The LDS church no longer represents my values. Forget about historical inaccuracies. Never mind the doctrinal challenges. Book of Mormon issues? Don’t care. Polygamy? Disgusting, but don’t care.
Mormonism simply doesn’t represent my values. Not on family. Not on LGBT acceptance. Not on the value of truth and the freedom of choice. Not on basic Christian teachings. I simply no longer believe that what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or anyone in between all the way to Thomas Monson is more important than what was attributed to Jesus Christ.
No more need to debate all of these issues. It’s interesting to hear Bill try and make a case for an angel to be a certain type of entity, but again, when the organization doesn’t represent your values why bother any longer.
Next time someone asks me why I no longer seem committed to “the gospel” I have a simple response… “The Mormon Church no longer represents my values.”
While I disagree with you slightly because I think there is some benefit to confronting the historicity issues, polygamy problems, etc., what you say about the Church no longer representing your values really resonates with me. Lately, as I’ve struggled with my faith, I’ve concluded that for something to be true it must also be truthful.
Doubting Thomas…this is called integrity..and you have it.
Let’s say for a moment that Christ is THE way the truth and the life – I’m not sure that your hypothetical response is going to hold much weight. If a Muslim or Jew or Hindu or Buddhist said, the LDS church doesn’t represent my values, does that matter? I think at some point the purpose of church is to bend our ways to what is “Right”. If we are looking for a church to appease our belief system, we might as well not bother at all. You already have your church.
Remember that Church/Religion is what we make of it… the Church has dual ownership, part of it belonging to Christ the other to the Latter-day Saints. We all have a responsibility of helping it align with the mission of Christ.
Just before I resigned I told my Bishop after being a member for 60 years and more that I just had no common cause with them anymore. It wasn’t doctrinal, though I had serious doctrinal questions. It wasn’t historical or about the historical basis for the Book or Mormon or the Book of Abraham, though I had serious issues with those. My decision to resign was when I finally realized that I had no continuing moral basis to belong to a church that remained silent on gun issues in the face of the slaughter going on, while publicly worrying about same sex marriage and the viability of Utah’s the so called curtain laws. Silent about what might be done to control the ongoing slaughter of innocents including children, but going public with their worry that a child might see an alcoholic drink being poured in a restaurant. But then gun lovers are far more likely to be tithe payers than same sex parent or drinkers.
Bill Looks like you have a beautiful family. I am sure they are grateful they have a husband and father who has the courage to speak his truth as he understands it.
Reason and faith should be able to live compatibly except when faith is required without any reason allowed. I found the comment from the man in the back of your Sunday School class to be either sarcastic or the sad and tragic requirement of people who want to remain LDS. Complete compliance. Like an oppresive dictatorship. The exact opposite of what LDS theology teaches. Or maybe used to teach Hard to keep up with the latest interpretation of the “restored gospel” Hmmmm Notice a pattern? Manuvering the maze is an art in itself I wish you the very best in retaining what you love about the Gospel and being true to your integrity.
In earlier episodes (583, 586-587) I was impressed by the critical comments of this policy offered by John’s liberal- and ex-Mormon panel. However, I found Bill’s relentless list of criticisms (1 hour, 7 minutes) – based as it was on an orthodox perspective – jaw-dropping.
I was left imagining Bill sitting before 15 members of a stake disciplinary counsel, with his list in front of them. Some were blushing with eyes averted. The rest were staring at him stone-faced, having become a coterie of cruel men, made so by belief in a cruel god, as Thomas Paine described.
Trouble is, from what I’ve heard, disc councils aren’t there to hear you out. You might as well play air guitar in the nude. They are only there to protect the church. The verdict is already concluded before it begins.
Perhaps the moment is not far off when those blushing few with eyes averted will look up, and then stand up for what is humane, motivated by moral and theological reasoning as carefully constructed as Bill’s – rather than being so constricted by myopic institutional expediencies.
Today I received my letter from the LDS Church confirming my recent resignation. I am very sad, but I feel I had to leave. And I say in total honesty that if more leaders of the Church were like Bill Reel, I’d still be a member.
Thank you, Bill. I admire you greatly and seek to surround myself with people just like you. Wishing you the best.
Sad for you too… if you feel prompted to come back, please do.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully passed the torch of someone going through every tortured rationalization on to Bill. And, boy oh boy Bill is taking it to places you never did. I think he holds great promise to lead another wave of those buried really deep in the church slowly out into the light. : )
Thanks for a fun interview gentlemen.
Thanks Bill, I think Fair lost there best thinker. I’m still in the church but I can’t make myself read anything written by Fair. I’ve had a painful last year and a half reading church history. I’m in no shape or form a historian but the times I went to Fair to find answers, I immediately felt like they were talking in circles instead of acknowledging the problems . I’ve stopped bringing the problems up at church because it causes contention in classes.ive found a lot of my answers already. I don’t think truth needs defending. Truth only needs to be exposed not hidden. Even if it’s hard to hear or understand.
“I don’t think the truth needs defending.” You are right Paul…
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
Churchill is also known to have said: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
The problem of course is that it seems we are always in war time…
Bill, I was amazed to hear you mention Sarnia! I’m originally from Sarnia and my parents still live there. My Dad is the ward clerk and wonders how on earth he didn’t hear that someone from FAIR was coming to hold a fireside. Who was it for? When were you there? Why Sarnia? This was all news to us.
Apologists are called apologists for cogent reasons. The known cultural aspects aside, it is important to clear through the “gas lighting”, as John mentions, of the Mormon faith and begin dealing directly with the sheer falsity of all this arrogant, unfounded, supernatural, and dogmatic religious bullshit. Let reason and critical thinking prevail.
The idea that Mormon prophets can be deceived and lead the church astray goes all the way back to Joseph Smith. Remember the failed revelation on selling the Book of Mormon copyrights? Some revelations are from God, and some from the Devil? The problem with the entire Mormon theology is that no one has the authority to validate Smith’s revelations. No one can say whether he has received a revelation from God or from the Devil.
The entire Mormon restoration narrative is based on the problematic idea that the early Christian church was deceived wholesale after the death of the first apostles. If God allowed that to happen, then how do we know that he is not allowing wholesale deception to happen right now in the LDS Church? Because Wilford Woodruff said so?
Well, how do we know he was not deceived himself when he claimed that? Who judges and validates him?
In the end, it is what anyone thinks is true that must be true. There is no such thing as objective truth anymore. Truth is whatever anyone believes it to be. Every Mormon becomes his own judge. So one can be a conscientious Mormon following the LDS prophets, and one can be a conscientious Mormon doing the opposite thing.
This is Mormonism when taken to its logical conclusion.
https://josephsmithspolygamy.org/like-a-ships-captain-complaining-about-the-waves-of-the-sea/ — Apparently Brian’s response.
So Brian has himself convinced that Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy, polyandry and adultery are the concerns of a few rather than the many? I hate to disillusion Mr. Hales, as if that were even a remote possibility, but those waves that keep battering the ship of fools over which he imagines himself Captain are waves of truth. Pay no attention to that hole in the keel brother Hales, tis simply the truth pouring in. It’s a bit of a tragic comedy really.
Interesting discussion to be sure. I’m a member of FairMormon as a modest podcaster and I have worked with Bill on several occasions while he was part of our group. I can see from both sides of the isle Bill’s concerns on how FairMormon deals with those who have questions with different approaches. I would say from personal experience that the group has no desire to “invalidate” the questioner or to protect the Church at all costs while trying to defend the indefensible. These are at best colorful characterizations and at worst blunt lies. I would hope that this type of rhetoric was hyperbole for the podcast format and not meant to be taken literal.
Bill’s “style” was seen as being to different from what the leadership wanted. Not bad or good just different. The bounds of what was considered appropriate put Bill and FairMormon at loggerheads because when strong personalities are involved in any endeavor conflicts arise. Again not right or wrong just different. I still consider him a friend who uses his talents to allow those with doubts to be heard and have their concerns addressed in a caring manner.
Official policy. For all practical purposes official policy is official doctrine. You come out in opposition to any official position of the Church and you could be considered in a state of apostasy. The Church has drawn a line in the sand of this issue of children of same sex couples. Perhaps the line is moveable.
Ned, I appreciate your balance. Is it true that FairMormon members have labeled me a “Dehlinite” in their closed group? Is it also true or not that many of “FairMormon’s” Membership has made comments that I am an apostate and that some hope I would be severed from the fold?
Is official policy also official doctrine? Was the official policy on the Blacks an official Mormon doctrine of the 1950s? Or was it a mistaken, man-made theory?
And FAIR removed all evidence of Bill having ever existed within your group because . . . .?!?!? Hardly the act of a group confident in their own narrative Ned.
I’d like to comment on your claim, “… [FAIR] has no desire to … protect the Church at all costs …”
I’m sure this is literally accurate. But do FAIR members act on a desire to determine what their work costs the Church? Do they seek to find out if the information and arguments they archive actually produces a net benefit in terms of members remaining fully and happily committed to the church?
Consider the forces that might blind FAIR members to such costs. Good intentions can be conflated with good work. Positive outcomes register more easily than negative ones. Motivated reasoning can spin affirming theories about both. Also, FAIR members’ positive perceptions of their own apologetic arguments can be distorted by their peculiar need to intellectually support their faith, even to the point to giving what’s merely possible the feeling of being probable.
It would be tragic if FAIR members were to ultimately discover they caused more disharmony, confusion, anxiety, and disaffection than the opposite – especially if they end up on the side of truth.
It seems that even the possibility of miscalculating such costs should give a FAIR member pause and consider turning back to a simpler faith centered on community worship and service, letting these basic works alone testify of their commitment to Christ, rather than getting intellectually entangled in all these issues.
Brian Hales wrote three wordy volumes defending Joseph Smith’s polygamy. Yet, after all that work, he is stumped with a big question: Why did God command JS to practice plural marriage? He could not answer that himself.
The main problem with Hale’s work is that no one validates it. He is his own authority. There is nothing in his writings to indicate that he is willing to have his work judged by competent authority, and to receive correction if necessary.
The same spirit of unwillingness to be judged by authority is also present in Joseph Smith. The whole story of Mormon polygamy from start to finish is a story of rebellion against authority and the existing social order. And Hales’ work has done nothing but defend that rebellion. Did God really command polygamy? His work does not answer that question. This is simply assumed. He has no way of telling whether the revelation is from God or the Devil.
Yet in the lead up to the revelation on polygamy, JS himself tells us that his thoughts were preoccupied with how God justified the Old Testament patriarchs to practice it. In his ponderings, he never mentions the New Testament at all. This is a glaring omission. It’s as if Jesus never existed, and Jesus had a lot to say about the subject of marriage in the Gospels alone. If we add Paul’s teachings on marriage in his epistles, we have more than enough on our hands. Somehow, JS conveniently ignored those later teachings in favor of the Old Testament. Why? He never explains; and neither does Brian Hales.
Because Mormon polygamy totally ignored the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the New Testament, we can confidently say that it was not commanded by God at all. And the fruits of Mormon polygamy is not only messy, it is objectively evil. That is further proof that it is not of God. And that is the inconvenient truth that Hales will never accept.
Great post, I’m in complete agreement, I believe you hit the nail on the head.
great job as usual, John, great episode.
however, I have to disagree strongly with your lumping the Givens and Bushman in with Ashe, Peterson, Midgley and their ilk.
I attended the Givens/Bushman event in Provo a couple of years ago. They spend the WHOLE day listening to people express their doubts, vent, and even shout a little. They modeled decorum, understanding, and yes empathy. Givens did the same one your excellent interview with him years ago, when you said ‘it’s killing me! Does it you?!’ and he responded in kind, saying that indeed it was very hard on him.
I agree, I think they do try to tackle the tough questions.
Bill – Loved the podcast. What do you think about Elder Christofferson statement about the policy when he said in his interview, “this is about love and especially the love of the Savior and how He wants people to be helped and fed and lifted, and that’s the whole motivation that underlies our effort.” Do you think the brethren believe this policy to be Christ’s will?
Great podcast Bill. This is couched as only a policy change, but what do you think about Elder Christofferson’s statement during his interview: “And this is about family; this is about love and especially the love of the Savior and how He wants people to be helped and fed and lifted, and that’s the whole motivation that underlies our effort.” Do the brethren feel this is Christ’s will?
I find all explanations to miss the boat and here is why. The policy is said to be out of a love and desire to protect children, specifically from confusion.
yet the policy only affects a child who is at church and active anyway. so he gets that confusing message whether there is a policy or not, so please show me how he is protected? and less confused… and in fact not enjoying the same blessings as his peers and siblings and cousins seems to be even more confusing right?….. unless of course they are hoping the policy deters these families from even coming to church at which point it works but opening a whole other can of worms
This newest policy is an ecclesiastical maneuver to protect the institution of the LDS Church. The central theme of the church going into the 21st century is that the traditional family model is central to Heavenly Father’s Plan. It also appears that the brethren’s main objective is preserving morality amongst the members. When you compare Prophet President Steve Veasey’s most recent revelation to this policy in the Handbook I, it is clear which one is more Christ-like. When one studies the New Testament carefully, it becomes most evident that Christ throughout his ministry was less concerned about doctrine, dogma, and dictatorship than he was about healing, hearts, and humility. I am terribly concerned that the brethren, who are obviously good and faithful men, are more geared towards safe-guarding their doctrine than they are towards safe-guarding their people. This is exactly what Christ condemned in the Pharicees. I cannot imagine Christ saying to an eight year old little boy, whose best friend has invited him to join the scouting program and who consequently wants to join the church, “No, come back when you’re eighteen, and if you disavow your gay dads’ marriage, I might consider letting you in.” It is so unbelievably inconceivable to me that Jesus would do that to an innocent. Christ wants to heal our brokenness and bring us to a place where we are all One, just as his Father and he are One. Honestly, I think Christ was less concerned with sin and much more concerned with motive. Where is our heart? How much do we love one another? Do we wish to create peace or hatred? Are we willing to dine with thieves, harlots, and tax collectors? This podcast with Bill Reel made everything clear for me. I have had a so-called stupor of thought concerning the direction the brethren have been moving in for a few years now, and this episode really aligned everything. The Church’s history is messy because messy decisions have been made along the way, including this newest policy. This is going to create a big mess, the likes of which I fear will take years to untangle. It ultimately will be the church’s undoing! They have set themselves up to have to admit that they are not the One True Church. You cannot have a doctrine still on your books that professes to promote plural marriage in connection with celestial marriage as D&C 132 does, and run like hell from your messy history, and further still, profess that homosexuality when acted upon is a moral sin stealthy enough to exclude you from the Church of Christ and it’s saving ordinances. That is blatant hypocrisy! More and more people like John Dehlin and Bill Reel are going to continue to come forward and take the leaders to task. It’s time to clean up the mess and heal our history. Only then can we truly fulfill the mission of the Church and become One with our Christ.
Hi Jon, l really enjoyed this interview with bill, we need much more openness and honesty within the church, l’d really love to hear more podcasts with desire for open honesty toward the historical events of the early church, thanks for all positivity in these respects.
Bill is unique as an advocate in that he seems to be honestly searching for truth, wherever it leads. There are few “middle way” folks left and I’m glad he is holding on. So many people engage the LDS church mostly as a cultural institution because they’re not theologically converted to Christ as their savior. This is true for people who are both hard core orthodox Mormons and hard core orthodox post Mormons. Bill’s core faith in Christ shows through and makes him worth listening to, at least for me. Thanks for sharing and I hope he’s able to find a happy medium between authenticity and the level of conformity required by his leaders for full fellowship.
Bishop Reel is a smart man. Even though I may not buy his defenses of the church, he is open, empathetic, and backs up his reasoning. I have to respect that. I wish more church member, including my family, could be more like him.
Loved this podcast. I wish Bill Reeves luck on his journey especially when/if he gets called in for to a disciplinary council, and as a result gets EXCOMMUNICATED!!! That would be a bad day for the believers who want to stay in.
The Church must not care about those people who have and will yet be taking their lives as a result of the policy change!!!!
So many Mormon apologists just can’t see the forest for the trees. I couldn’t for the longest time. The longer you are out of the church, the more clarity you get, and the more ridiculous it seems. If only people realized that if they read the church’s own Gospel Topics Essays, then took some time away from church to examine Mormonism under a critical lens, they would see it for what it actually is.
Many Mormons seem to only see things in black and white, which is generally not the best way to go through life; however, when Mormon “prophets” have said that the church is either true or it’s a fraud, this is most-certainly a time where things are black and white, and the truth is that the Mormon church is indeed a complete and utter fraud.
The only option for apologists is to attempt to divide and conquer each issue (while dismissing any and all legitimate evidence for completely illegitimate reasons) in order to prevent themselves and others from seeing the big picture or all of the issues at once. This is why I feel the FAIRMormon website does more harm than “good” (from a Mormon perspective), because it has most of the issues in one place. If someone were to just peruse the site, and wasn’t just looking for an answer to any one question in particular, they would likely begin to see the mountain of problems with Mormonism, which would leave them attempting to carefully place a truth-filled asteroid on their “shelf”! That’s why things like the CES Letter and LetterForMyWife are so powerful. They have most of the major issues in one place and they lead any reasonable person to the conclusion that the church is simply not true.
What an ugly stain on humanity Mormonism is leaving. Thankfully, the internet, technology, and people like Bill are here to move things along in the right direction. I don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime, but I hope maybe my kids can see Mormonism’s demise in theirs. The writing is on the wall. It’s a shame so many lives have been, and will continue to be, ruined until then.
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