Today’s LDS blog rankings


In between helping Carol put up Christmas decorations, I compiled the Alexa rankings of the LDS blogs I follow. Although it is by no means comprehensive, it helps me understand where my blog ranks among solo LDS bloggers. This does not include group blogs which I define as any LDS-themed blog that has two or more contributors. Click on the image for a hot-link page.

I was surprised to find what I thought was a relatively new blog at the top of the list. How in the world did Believe all things get to the top of the list with less than four months of activity? It is one of the best looking sites I have seen and has wonderful content, but still… I was also curious how the group blogs ranked, so I ran the same Alexa numbers there. No surprises, really:

I am aware that this group blog listing is not comprehensive. If you are interested in adding your LDS-themed group blog to the list, just let me know. And while I’m at it, I decided to compile rankings for LDS-themed websites that are not blogs. Of course it can in no way be considered complete. These are just the ones I visit regularly. Click on image for hot-links.

Here are the links to the three lists so you can add them to wherever you keep your favorite links. I’ll probably update them every few months. They’ll change a lot in the next few weeks as I add to them. Please feel free to send me links to your blogs. If you are interested in getting more traffic, refer to this essay I wrote back in May: How to promote your LDS blog.

1. Alexa rankings of LDS solo blogs
2. Alexa rankings of LDS group blogs
3. Alexa rankings of LDS websites

Will ye also go away?


After Jesus taught the sermon on the bread of life, some of his disciples said that he had taught difficult things. He asked if his teachings offended them and then added a few more things that clearly proclaimed that he was the Son of God. The response was immediate and very telling about why some people followed him.

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

I am the bread of life

I have often wondered how the Savior felt to see the multitude leave him just after he had miraculously fed them and had shown forth such mighty miracles. Today, we read the sermon on the bread of life and perhaps do not see what it contained that was so difficult for the people to understand. Of course he is the Son of God.

But for some, what he taught was blasphemous and bordered on insanity. How could this man, whom they clearly knew as the carpenter, the son of Joseph and Mary, claim to have come down from heaven? And then when they called him on it, to claim that he would ascend to heaven to take his place with God once again?

He could not deny it

When Joseph Smith first told of his visit in the sacred grove from the Father and the Son to a local minister, he was amazed at the response. What he shared was looked upon as blasphemy, and from the devil. It was not orthodox and did not meet with their expectations of a religious experience – revelation did not exist!

And yet, he knew that what had happened to him was real. He could not deny it. He never wavered from his claim and spent his life in bearing testimony of what he had seen and heard. How relieved he must have felt when others joined him in bearing witness of visions and visits from celestial beings – Oliver and Sidney.

We can know for ourselves

Joseph was the recipient of knowledge that put him in a unique class. At one point in time, there was nobody else on the earth who knew what he did – that the heavens were open and that man can receive visions and visits from celestial beings. Of course some looked upon him as a crackpot, eccentric and unusual.

Over time, Joseph’s visions have been accepted by a large number of people, none of whom were there at the time he received them. Nonetheless, we who accept them also know for ourselves that they took place, through the simple process of revelation, as the result of inquiry in prayer. It is as if we had been there ourselves.

When counsel is hard

Today, we have been given added direction and counsel from living prophets that goes beyond what Joseph Smith revealed and is intended for our day. Just as some in the Savior’s day turned and followed him no more, some in our day have turned away from the Lord’s church because of direction that has seemed hard to follow.

In Joseph’s day, there were some who turned against him after he revealed doctrines that were hard to accept, plural marriage being the prime example. How it must have hurt him to see good friends become bitter enemies when all he was trying to do was that which the Lord told him had to be as part of the restoration.

Testimonies are tested

In our day, a letter from the First Presidency turned into a trial of faith for some who were already on the fringes and do not understand or accept doctrine that most in the LDS church and the Christian world in general accept as being the standard of moral behavior – that marriage ordained of God is between a man and a woman.

Some have turned away and have decided that what they once felt and knew to be the true church of Jesus Christ could no longer possibly be true if the leaders of the church could ask us to do something so hard – to uphold morality in our society. It makes me wonder at the depth of their revelatory experiences with the Holy Ghost.

Knowledge from the spirit

We are counseled to seek knowledge by study and also by faith. Eventually, if we are faithful, we are going to come to the point in our lives through continued gospel study where we can feel relatively comfortable that we have mastered the basics of our religion. At that point, some things can only be taught by the spirit.

This is an area where we must be very careful because we can have revealed to us things that are not commonly or openly taught in the standard curriculum of the church. I want to be clear if we are receiving our knowledge from the right spirit then what we learn will always square with what prophets have taught in the past.

Signs of the times

I am confident that most of us agree that we live in the last days. The signs of the times are unmistakable. I am convinced, and have written several essays to this point, that we are on the verge of seeing prophesied cataclysmic and catastrophic events fulfilled in the very near future. The topic comes up more often these days.

Isn’t it reasonable to expect that the Lord would be willing to reveal to those who diligently inquire, just exactly how these events are going to transpire? It does not require that one be a General Authority to have the Lord reveal knowledge of the signs of the times that will be fulfilled with the approach of the Second Coming.

Summary and conclusion

We live in difficult times. These are also times of testing. Yet, the Lord is willing to reveal to us what we need to know to pass the tests and to be prepared for the future. This is not the time to turn away from the Lord because of the difficulty of the test but a time to turn to Him in study and prayer so we can be more faithful.

We do not have to walk alone. Our tests are not the same as those required of the Savior or of Joseph Smith. They were considered to be unorthodox and eccentric because of their unique knowledge. We can have that same knowledge if we but study it out and ask for it. That knowledge can keep us in safely in the Lord’s fold.

What type of blogger are you?


I ran across a new blog analyzing tool over at the Typealyzer. I am an INTP – Thinker. I know, I’m shocked too. Unfortunately, INTP‘s can also be dull and boring. Carol, on the other hand is an ESFP – the performer. Her analysis (below mine) is much more interesting. That’s why I married her. We complement each other.

Hat tip: Clark Goble at Mormon Metaphysics

Tim’s analysis:

“The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

“They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.”

Carol’s analysis:

“The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don’t like to plan ahead – they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

“The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation – qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.”

Image of brain activity for ESFP type:

Antagonism makes good Mormon news


Some have claimed that all the attention the LDS Church has been receiving lately is a PR fiasco. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has become a PR bonanza. As an LDS blogger, I can write just about anything that mentions Proposition 8 or same-sex marriage and can guarantee a doubling of my web traffic for that essay. That comes in real handy to get my message across.

Six months ago, my web traffic was flat. I have seen a huge increase in the last sixty days. A review of Google Analytics for Latter-Day Commentary reveals that the most popular pages are my essays on marriage and sexuality, which are listed on the sidebar. Most visitors stay to read more than the original essay that they searched on, so my blog is gaining exposure because of it.

An Army of Davids

The message I am trying to get across is that the LDS Church is not a cult, that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that we take a strong stand on moral and social issues that face the world today. Of course I get lots of readers who disagree and say so in their comments. That’s OK. If they can read a message from me or from an Army of Davids like me, then I am happy with that.

I am just one of thousands of new LDS Bloggers springing up in response to the leaders of our church who have asked us to get more involved in the electronic dialog going on all around us. If you are one of those new, small LDS Bloggers, you may not think that it makes a difference to write good essays about the church, our beliefs or practices, but I can assure you that it does.

Change in the New Media

I’m sure you are aware that the rules of public persuasion have changed over the last few years. The old media – newspapers and broadcast television news – are slowly dying. They know that they must transform themselves to be more like the successful online news outlets of today. Who would have thought ten years ago that Matt Drudge could change the way we get news?

When an apostle encourages us over and over to get involved in sharing our message online, there must be something he knows that, if we follow his counsel, will make a difference in the world. I am convinced that we are still at the beginning stages of this new media revolution. We have the tools and potential to take the gospel to all the world through member blogging.

Unto the ends of the earth

It is highly probable that the antagonism towards the LDS church and the members will only get worse over the next few years. Our golden days in the sunshine of favorable media coverage are probably over. They seemed to climax with the 2002 Winter Olympics and have been flat or going downhill ever since with the FLDS raid in Texas, the Romney campaign and now Prop 8.

The difficult issue for LDS member blogging, as I see it, is the fact that we are so provincial. Besides the obvious language barrier, we write about stuff that mainly seems to concern us here in the Western United States. That’s mainly because that’s where most LDS member bloggers are located. I wonder if our readers outside of the United States tire of our local bickering.

Join LDS member blogging

I have written previously about ldsblogs.com, but it deserves another mention. If you are not computer savvy or not comfortable with the idea of building and creating your own blog using Blogger or WordPress, then by all means, go see how easy it is to start your own blog on the tool created by the MoreGood Foundation. LDS.net and ldsblogs.com are great places to start.

If you get involved in online communities just to add a sane voice to the wild and crazy claims made by those who don’t know, I recommend that you create your own blog. The first thing I want to do when I read a comment on a blog or forum is to know more about the individual who wrote it. That’s why most forums allow you to link back to your own blog. It’s a good idea.

Antagonism better than apathy

I would much rather see the kind of traffic I have been getting over the last sixty days than what I was getting for most of the previous six months. I don’t feel the quality of my essays changed, but I did write more content that was geared towards the national dialog. In other words, when I saw an article that seemed misinformed, I wrote my own and linked to it. The traffic went up.

Sure, I got visits from people who completely disagreed with what I believe and presented, and they were not hesitant to let me know, sometimes in a manner that was meant to hurt. In fact, because of our blogging activities, Carol and I both received threats and attacks in an attempt to get us in trouble with our employers. So far, we have been able to deal with it successfully.

Summary and conclusion

Blogging for me is an attempt to share the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been a bit of an eye-opener lately as I have come to see the results. Even emphasizing the most basic and fundamental of our beliefs has now become a risky activity. I am grateful that Blogger so far does not seem to be subject to the kind of attacks that happened to Meridian Magazine.

I stand by my assertion that all this antagonism towards the church and the members has and will continue to result in good publicity for the work of the Lord. I would rather face a world of antagonistic readers than the apathy that so permeates our society when it comes to learning about the fruits of true religion. We have so much to offer the world if they only knew about it.

LDS Bloggers making a difference


There are now many more LDS bloggers who are actively expressing positive and interesting things about their faith and the LDS Church. This is a huge increase from this time last year. If we have learned anything in the last few years, it is that we are still not understood by the majority of the world. We need more LDS bloggers, actively writing and sharing our message.

I mentioned Seth Adam Smith last week, but once again, I am blown away by this talented LDS Blogger who creates videos that portray depth and meaning through beautiful music and imagery. Today’s video is on the Anasazi Foundation. It is about leaving things behind and moving forward. It is a sublime message. I recommend Seth’s work and look forward to more.

Bloggers who report LDS news

I wish I could tell you who does Mormon-Chronicles or what is the purpose of the blog, but it has consistently provided a source of LDS news articles that you won’t find in Mormon Times or other pro-LDS sources. Go through the archives. You may be surprised at some of the stories there. I know I missed a lot of them and I think I’m a pretty good LDS news junkie.

Are gays taking over Salt Lake City? Chris Bigelow seems to think so in his recent essay, More Prophesying about Salt Lake City. He references Newt Gingrich‘s recent article on Gay Fascism. That seems to go right along with what Brian Fitzpatrick had to say in Crouching fascism, hidden media. You can read more about this viewpoint in the Salt Lake weekly. Interesting stuff.

Positive LDS news in blogs

Another recent favorite for me is Beetle Blogger. She just started a few months ago but has already built up a regular following of readers and commenters. I believe we’ll be seeing a lot more good stuff on the Beetle Blog for a long time to come. Article VI blog continues to provide great coverage of the issues of religion in the political arena. Good stuff and well worth reading.

Although Guy Murray’s Messenger and Advocate has been around for years, I found his coverage of the proposition 8 campaign extremely insightful. If you are a regular reader of the Bloggernacle then you are probably familiar with his work. If not, check out his blog and join the discussion there. Ditto for Connor Boyack at Connor’s Conundrums. Lots of great essays there.

Plugs for some of my favorite sites

I’ve always enjoyed Rough Stone Rolling. The man knows how to write headlines. Today’s offering is “Mormon Times, Vampires and Underwear.” Another favorite blogger that started about when I did is Mormon Soprano. I think she is under-read and deserves more serious attention to essays like this: “A Rebuttal To: “Mormonism LEGALLY Declared Not Christian.”

For great discussion on doctrine that applies to spirituality, testimony and every-day living, check out Jared’s blog, LDS Alive in Christ. Sometimes it’s only me and Jared going back and forth but I have found that we think alike on so many things related to spiritual experiences. Another under-read blog is Richman Ramblings. Larry is the CEO of Evergreen International.

You are probably already familiar with Clean Cut out of San Antonio, Texas. His essays are always worth the time to read. He also gets good participation in comments. Of course, there is Bryce’s Temple Study blog. Sometimes he will get dozens of comments on an essay, other times, nary a peep, but they are all worth reading. I always learn new things about the temple there.

LDS group blogs vs. solo blogs

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned any LDS group blogs. I confess that I stopped visiting them just about the time I started my own solo blog. I’ll still occasionally visit Steve Evans‘ group at By Common Consent or John Dehlin‘s Mormon Matters, but for the most part, I no longer spend much time on the group blogs. And what happened to Times and Seasons?

I have found that many of the essays and many of the commenters at the LDS group blogs just don’t think like I do. I confess that I am fairly conservative and tend to interpret the world around me though the lens of a lifetime of activity in and study of the doctrines of the LDS Church. So many of the essays on group blogs just seem to have a worldly liberal approach.

I know, it’s good to have multiple viewpoints of important political and social trends, but so many times when I try to engage in dialog on those group blogs, I find little support and much arguing about what I think are standard orthodox positions on doctrine and policy. I have great respect for fellow solo blogger Papa D, who has great talent in navigating the LDS group blog waters.

Summary and conclusion

The last few weeks have been difficult in the Blogosphere as there have been so many negative articles and essays about the aftermath of Proposition 8. Is it just me, or does it seem like the national media coverage of this has been very slanted towards the civil rights side of the issue? I read so little about the moral side. That message isn’t heard except in many of our LDS blogs.

Like Elder Ballard has said many times, we need to be the ones telling our story and defining what it is that we believe. I am grateful that Proposition 8 passed, just as I was when we worked so hard on Proposition 22. But the resultant national dialog has been, quite frankly, a world of difference compared to what it was eight years ago when we went through this same battle.

I remain convinced that more LDS people need to join the online dialog. We are just getting started. There is much work to be done. Just visit some of the blogs of those who opposed proposition 8 and read what they have written about us. They do not understand us and they have said so. Let’s give them more material, well written, well presented and shared widely.

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Update: Thanks to Dave Banack at Dave’s Mormon Inquiry on Beliefnet for linking to this essay. You may also be interested in reviewing my recent listing of the top ranked LDS blogs according to Alexa ratings. It breaks out solo blogs, group blogs and popular LDS websites.

The secular church


If you haven’t visited Seth Adam Smith, I encourage you to do so. I was introduced to his blog by Larry Richman a while back. Seth puts together videos that are simply amazing – so current and applicable. Check out this video he did with a 1978 BYU address from Neal A. Maxwell interspersed with stills of the protests at the Los Angeles temple. Talk about a prophet who was inspired and saw the events of our day! Thank you Seth.

And its numbers were few


One of the things that has often intrigued me as I have grown up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how relatively few in number we are. I am not referring to the thirteen million on the rolls of the church but to those who regularly attend the temple and Saturday sessions of Stake Conference.

When I sit on the stand of Stake Conference and look out at the congregation, I think of the many members of the stake who could and should be there but are not. The scripture that comes to mind is found in 1 Nephi 14:12. It invokes a feeling that I imagine Nephi must have experienced as he recorded his vision of our day.

Nephi sees our day

“I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of wickedness and abominations…the saints of God, were upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions were small, because of wickedness.” I wonder if Nephi felt sadness as he recorded this. But then I am encouraged with the next verse:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”

We all can know for ourselves

I sit on the stand in Stake Conference not because I am in a priesthood leadership position but because Carol and I like to sing in the choir. They are the best seats. It allows me to see the reactions of the people as the spirit moves upon them during the songs and the addresses by those who speak under the influence of the spirit.

I keep thinking to myself that anybody can know for themselves that the LDS Church is the kingdom of God on the earth. We all have an equal opportunity to gain a personal witness of the spirit that what is taught in this church is the most important knowledge we can gain in this life. And yet, so few understand this.

The unconverted resign

Several web sites that oppose the work of the Lord have made a big deal out of the facts that so many are resigning from the church over Proposition 8. Even if you stretch the number to include all that wrote letters on Andrew Callahan’s Signing for Something, 500 people is a very small number, who had mostly already left.

Of course every soul is precious and it is concerning that they feel the need to resign in a public way, but in most cases, these were people who stopped coming to church a long time ago. They are just formalizing something that they had effectively already done in their minds – gave up their commitment to the church.

Opposition in all things

This last week has been tough as I have watched and read the accounts of those who have lost their jobs or have been otherwise attacked for having supported the proposition to preserve the definition of marriage here in California. We were also the recipient of one of those attacks. Gratefully, it did not turn into a loss of a job.

So many in our stake have been targeted and are on the published blacklists of those who now seek in hate to punish us. Our Stake President spoke about the opposition we have been witnessing, especially in connection with the temple. Fellow blogger S. Faux wrote an especially insightful essay on why this is so.

Proposition 8 exit polls

The Proposition 8 exit polls revealed some very interesting things that I already suspected. 82 percent of those who voted yes attend church at least once a week. 82% considered themselves Republicans. In addition, it was mostly those who were older – at least over 30 – who voted yes. Older Republican conservatives…

So the exit polls on this proposition revealed that religion or faith had a large part in the way people voted on this issue. I don’t think there’s any surprise there. That explains why there was such a dramatic polarization in the dialog leading up to this vote. It was basically the religious against the irreligious with little in common.

The dialog going forward

In connection with this point about dealing with opposition our Stake President quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith in section 123, verse 16: “You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.” Hmmm…

He then taught us that workways means not to go directly against the wind and not to run the opposite with the wind, but to keep the ship at about a 90 degree angle from the point of the wind. So it does no good to go head to head with those who do not have the background of faith or a belief that it is God who defined marriage.

Prophets forewarned us

As only a Stake President could do, we were reminded of the importance of being prepared for what we see happening all about us in the economic chaos that is now becoming more evident. It was seven years ago last month that President Hinckley mentioned in General Conference about the seven years of plenty. Hmmm…

Connor Boyack has an intriguing essay over on Connor’s Conundrums about why the coming depression will be worse than what was experienced in the 1930’s. I wrote that his outlook painted a bleak and glum picture of what he sees happening. It is worth the read, including the many links to articles that support his viewpoint.

Catastrophes yet to come

While some of the points I have made may seem unconnected or unrelated, they are all receiving wide attention on the Internet blogs and forums lately. Several of the speakers in our Stake Conference mentioned that these are the signs of the times of the last days. It is becoming more and more obvious to the converted.

While the faithful and believing are small in numbers compared to the rest of the world, I remain convinced that coming catastrophic events will soften the hearts of the people and turn them to the Lord. Economic chaos is not the only kind of catastrophe that we will experience. We need to be familiar with the prophecies.

Summary and conclusion

For some reason, Saturday night always brings more hits on my essays about the signs of the times of the last days, especially Joel 2:31. It is encouraging that people are beginning to wake up and take seriously the idea that there may be something to all this talk about catastrophes and other coming events before the coming of the Lord.

In spite of the obvious increase of concern over the economic threats that face us, we can have peace as we look to the Lord, to the scriptures and to our priesthood leaders to help us understand the significance of these events. We will continue to invite the world to join with us in preparing for the approaching return of the Lord.

Mormons are brainwashed – lying for the Lord


Kalvin, a fairly regular visitor to my blog, recently wrote, “You have no rational defense of your religion. It’s clear you’ve been brainwashed, just like every little kid who’s told to bear testimony until they have a testimony.” As this is a common accusation that is much repeated on various Internet forums where Mormonism is discussed, it is worthy of consideration and response.

I suspect that the source of this claim of brainwashing is from an address by President Boyd K. Packer to new Mission Presidents back in June of 1982 as they prepared to lead their missions and help their missionaries be effective and productive. As is common in any mission, or at least it was in mine, there are always some missionaries who are still solidifying their testimonies.

President Packer’s remarks are found in the January 1983 Ensign article, The Candle of the Lord. He relates, “It is not unusual to have a missionary say, ‘How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would that not be dishonest?’ Oh, if I could teach you this one principle:

“A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!”

He continues, “Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. ‘The spirit of man,’ is as the scripture says, indeed ‘is the candle of the Lord.’ (Prov. 20:27.)

“It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase!

“The skeptic will say that to bear testimony when you may not know you possess one is to condition yourself; that the response is manufactured. Well, one thing for sure, the skeptic will never know, for he will not meet the requirement of faith, humility, and obedience to qualify him for the visitation of the Spirit.” And that, of course, is the key to testimony – the Spirit of God.

Bear testimony to receive testimony

A testimony is one of the hardest things to define. For some, it will never seem to be rational. “Can you not see that that is where testimony is hidden, protected perfectly from the insincere, from the intellectual, from the mere experimenter, the arrogant, the faithless, the proud? It will not come to them. Bear testimony of the things that you hope are true, as an act of faith.

“It is something of an experiment, akin to the experiment that the prophet Alma proposed to his followers. We begin with faith—not with a perfect knowledge of things. That sermon in the thirty-second chapter of Alma is one of the greatest messages in holy writ, for it is addressed to the beginner, to the novice, to the humble seeker. And it holds a key to a witness of the truth.

“The Spirit and testimony of Christ will come to you for the most part when, and remain with you only if, you share it. In that process is the very essence of the gospel. Is not this a perfect demonstration of Christianity? You cannot find it, nor keep it.” Many years of experience with this principle have taught me that this is true. My testimony is strengthened only as I share it.

Lying for the Lord

For some reason, apostates are appalled at this process of bearing testimony of things that you hope are true. They call it “Lying for the Lord”. I think this misconception comes from our use of the word testimony in the church in a manner that is different from how it is used in society and especially in a court of law. In a legal testimony, you only state facts as you know them.

That is not how we define the word testimony in the church. From the glossary on Mormon.org, we read that a testimony is “Knowledge, received by revelation from the Holy Ghost, of the divinity of the Savior and of gospel truths. Members regularly take the opportunity to share individual testimonies for the purpose of strengthening one another.” It is an awesome thing.

I can always tell when something is really important by how viciously it is attacked in writings of the apostates. Satan knows that testimony is the key to conversion and the key to faithfulness. If he can cast doubt on testimonies, especially in the area of how they are received, then he can make inroads in defeating that soul. Yes, the method of receiving a testimony can be illogical.

A rational defense

I’m not sure if I don’t disagree with Kalvin. I’m not sure that I can make a rational defense of my religion or of my testimony. There are so many parts of it that are not logical. No matter how hard I try to explain the logic behind my reasoning, someone will always be able to shoot holes in my logic. So why try? I know some will disagree with this, but to me, faith is not logical.

That doesn’t mean that faith, religion and testimony are not desirable. They are, at least to me. I love my faith. I appreciate my religion and am eternally grateful for my testimony. They mean the world to me. It’s just that I can’t always explain them to others in such a way that they are as desirable to them as they are to me. You see, my testimony is not transferable even when shared.

In the words of President Packer, I have tasted salt, spiritually speaking, and cannot explain to you adequately enough that you will understand unless you too have tasted spiritual salt as well. Many who read this will understand. Others will not. It is not something that can be explained by any rational method. The only way that you will get it is if you do as President Packer taught.

Summary and conclusion

I can appreciate that to some, the idea of teaching and bearing testimony of something that you do not completely yet know to be true can be illogical and bearing false witness. In the course of my church service, I have done as President Packer counseled many times. I studied something out and then taught it, not knowing for certain that it was true. That changed as soon as I did.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been fed by the spirit of the Lord as I stood and taught the truths of the restoration, not yet having a perfect testimony of their reality. In fact, most of what we teach cannot be proven from first-hand knowledge. I wasn’t there when Joseph said he was visited by the Father and the Son, nor was I there when Joseph said he was visited by angels.

Nonetheless, I can and do bear witness of the reality of these events just as surely as if I had been there. How can I do that? Because as I have done so, I have received knowledge into my soul directly through the Holy Ghost, bearing witness to me that what I was teaching was true. That is not brainwashing. That is spirit washing and to me, it is one of the most desirable of all things.

The fight for marriage gets ugly


A surreal feeling came over me as I watched the live helicopter shots. Facing east, the beautiful angel Moroni was lit by golden spotlights in the night sky. Beyond that the US and California flags fluttered lightly in the warm California breeze, also lit, always flying. How many times I have walked past that flagpole to and from the front door of the Los Angeles temple. Tonight, it was closed.

In the background of the shot was a crowd of angry people, climbing on the fence of the outer perimeter of the temple, waving flags and shouting slogans in front of the news cameras. Why were they so upset and what were they doing in front of the Temple? There were hundreds of them and they had just marched from West Hollywood, trying up traffic for many miles around.

Two days ago, the people of the state of California voted, for the second time in eight years, to affirm that marriage shall only be between a man and a woman. The contest was long and hard fought on both sides. It was also the most expensive political campaign ever fought outside of someone running for office. Immediately, the opposition filed three lawsuits protesting the win.

Taking it to the streets

One of the angry protestors was now in front of the camera, being interviewed, or rather, spewing out angry words. “We’re here in front of the Mormon temple because the Mormons have taken away our right to marry. They bought this election and took away our civil rights. We’re not going to stand for it. The people will rise up in revolt. Justice will prevail. Stop the hate!”

She continued, “Their leader, Thomas S. Monson, sent a letter to all the Mormon congregations in California, directing them to send in their money and to do everything in their power to take away our right to marry. He can’t do that. This is a free country. This is an inalienable right. We’re going to march on every temple until the Mormons understand that they can’t do this.”

One protester carried a sign reading, “You have two wives. I want one husband.” As they had marched earlier down Santa Monica Boulevard, they chanted, “Mormons hate. Gays are great. No on 8. Stop the hate.” The rainbow banner, symbol of Gay pride, waved wildly. Some of the marchers jumped on top of cars, some were arrested. Some passer-bys threw eggs at the crowd.

Blog comments from unhappy gays

These people are not happy. They have been leaving comments on several of my blog essays dealing with the issue claiming that the General Authorities are liars when they claim that they do not oppose civil unions. They say the church paid millions for deceptive ads in support of proposition 8. They promise that we are just starting to see bad press that will only get worse.

“Get ready,” wrote one visitor. “We’re going after your MONEY. Starting with the University named after a polygamist.” He continued, “Seriously, we’ll be contacting every company recruiting there to ensure that they aren’t recruiting at BYU specifically to exclude Gay people.” Other visitors left the same comments, almost word for word. Did they plan a concerted attack?

Another wrote, “California is full of Gay ex-Mormons with universally hideous stories of their upbringing. Electroshock torture is one. Prop 8, a Mormon Amendment designed to abuse Gays, is simply a continuation of hatred of Gays by Mormons. Don’t whine as you get about 2 percent of the hatred you’ve spewed back at us. When Gays enjoy full civil rights, then we can talk.”

The civil dialog is gone

I have written at least a dozen essays on the subject of same-sex marriage over the last few months. It is my little contribution to the ongoing dialog about this difficult and emotional subject. Other than writing in my blog, I didn’t do much to promote proposition 8. Oh sure, I walked the precincts once and sent some money into the Yes on 8 campaign, but that’s about it.

It was my hope that by presenting essays that I believed were well thought out and by engaging others in intelligent and civil dialog, I could perhaps persuade a few people to understand our point of view. No matter how many times I wrote that we do not hate and that we are not out to take away civil rights, those who left comments refuted my claims and called me naïve or worse.

I suspect that my essays did little good other than to infuriate those who are opposed to the firm position of the church on this issue. No matter how many times I tried to make the point that we are blessed when we follow the prophet, I was told that I was blindly obedient to old men who are bigoted and racist. Since when did gays become a race? Oh, they were referring to blacks.

Equality is now redefined

One of my fellow bloggers, Dan from Arizona, where proposition 102 also won, reminded me of this quote from President Packer, “Some work through political, social, and legal channels to redefine morality and marriage into something unrestrained, unnatural, and forbidden. But they never can change the design which has governed human life and happiness from the beginning.”

“We do not set the standards, but we are commanded to teach them and maintain them. The standard remains abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield.” He then talks about three abused words, tolerance, diversity and choice.

Well, there’s a new word that Elder Packer needs to add to his list: equality. To me, marriage is not a right, it is a privilege, defined and granted by God but recognized by society. It is a reward and a distinction to qualify for and be married. In our society, we recognize and reward marriage as being only between a man and a woman. But that’s not equality, we are now being told.

Summary and conclusion

As I watched the protesters being interviewed, I was struck by how angry they looked and how contorted their faces became as they shouted. They were through being nice, they said. You are now going to see the people rise up in revolt, they claimed. The time for talking and dialog is over and they are going to take what they want. The talk all seemed so full of hate and anger.

Many of my fellow bloggers have noted that the anger and hate seems to be coming from those who lost their battle. I am not the only one being visited by these people who leave comments claiming that we are now their enemies because we hurt them by taking away their rights. I am sorry that they feel this way but I wish they would not single out the Mormons in this matter.

We are not the only ones who fought to preserve the traditional definition of marriage. We are not the ones who began the initiative and we are not the only ones who contributed money to the campaign. The people have voted. The majority expressed their opinion and made their views known. If we accept the rule of law, marriage in California is only between a man and a woman.

Photo credit: ABC7 Los Angeles

Additional links:

1. KSL story and video
2. AP News – thousands protest
3. LA Times – includes video
4. KABC – LA – Video of protests
5. Get Religion – the evolving story
6. Photo essay at TJ Sullivan
7. Video links at Connor’s blog
8. Meridian – In the face of hatred

It’s not bigotry – it’s a moral issue


Apostles and prophets don’t need me to defend them. But I want to explore how I feel when I read others describe them as racist bigots. Those are two very hateful terms, yet they seem to be used freely these days in the ongoing dialog about the First Presidency letter of 29 June 2008.

In my simple mind, I define a racist to be someone who feels, believes or acts as if being born into a particular race provides an individual with inherent superiority over others not of that race. Racial discrimination is the act of denying basic rights to individuals based solely on their race.

A bigot, of course, is defined as a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own. A bigot is also defined as one who regards or treats the members of a group – racial, ethnic or any other kind of group or class – with hatred and intolerance.

Proposition 8 is a moral issue

Some in the dialog about the letter of June 29th have defined the current opposition to same-sex marriage as bigotry. They have further argued that Prop 8 support is very similar to the policy of the church that excluded blacks from participating in the priesthood prior to the 1978 revelation.

While I have not yet written my own essay about the blacks and the priesthood, I have tried to make it clear that these two issues are not related. The exclusion of blacks from the priesthood was based on a policy. Our stand against same-sex marriage is based on morality, not policy.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a religious obligation to raise its voice on issues that affect the moral fabric of society such as same sex marriage. To quote Lee Benson of the Deseret News, “Every third-grader knows that. It’s what churches do.” It’s a moral issue.

It is not bigotry – we do not hate

I don’t know why some have backed away from facing this issue head-on. Sure, Proposition 8 is about restoring or making clear the definition of marriage as originally intended, but let’s face it – we are involved as a church because we believe that homosexual behavior is wrong and a sin.

I believe that it’s way too late to attempt to persuade anyone reading this essay why we should support the First Presidency in what they have asked us to do here in California. Most members made up their mind long ago and have been participating to ensure the passage of the initiative.

I just want to be clear that this is not bigotry. There is no hatred involved. We are simply trying to defend what the Lord put into place long ago. I have written previously about the definition of tolerance. The Lord does not condone homosexual behavior. Tolerance does not mean condone.

Same-sex marriage is not a right

Some have commented on previous essays I have written on this subject by claiming that by supporting proposition 8, we are trying to take away the right to marry. I don’t see marriage as a right. To me, it is a privilege granted first by God and then recognized by society through laws.

True, the Supreme Court of the State of California in effect granted this right by overturning the law that the people voted into place in 2000 with Proposition 22. The vote on proposition 8 will ensure that it is the voice of the people that grant this right, not through a judicial review process.

As I have commented to others on this blog while dialoging about the subject, this vote will give us a clear indication how the people of the State of California really feel about homosexuality. If proposition 8 fails then it will be clear that the majority of society embraces same-sex marriage.

Honor and sustain the First Presidency

I hope that no matter what the outcome of the vote that we will be very careful about the way we write about the Lord’s anointed. Calling apostles and prophets bigots is just not something that a faithful member of the church would want to do, especially if we have covenanted not to do so.

These are men who epitomize the pure and unselfish love of the Savior to me. I was so very impressed with the recent conference address of Elder Robert D. Hales on Christian courage. We do not retaliate. We do not give in to hatred. We see opportunity in the midst of opposition.

The Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.

Summary and conclusion

I know some who read this will disagree with what I have written. You may feel strongly that I am denying what you see as black and white. As one visitor wrote on a previous essay, “I don’t care what you call it. To me it is hate when you try to take away my rights. That’s bigotry.”

Try to see the bigger picture. We are a society of millions of people who see homosexuality and same-sex marriage in varying degrees of acceptance. Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a society in which we agree to be governed by laws and by a constitution that we have all voted on?

I honor and sustain the First Presidency as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. I appreciate their courage in speaking out on this issue. I am so amazed at the results from one single letter. Their example in restraint is amazing when they are called evil for encouraging that which is good.

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Note: For the story on the picture, visit Messenger and Advocate

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