"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense."
It seems that I am not the only person having fun arguing with religious people on Facebook. A friend of mine, who has also left Mormonism, recently posted his thoughts on the current debacle between the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the fallout of which has devout Mormons squirming.
For years the BSA has been wrestling with its policies which discriminate against gays. Some revisions came down the pike a year or so ago, thus allowing openly gays kids to participate in the program without being kicked out. This caused a bit of a stir among Mormons at the time, but now, apparently, they are claiming that they were in support of this revision all along. I have some gay ex-Mormon friends who might challenge this claim...
At any rate, the question now is whether or not openly gay men can be leaders in the organization. In typical religious fashion--standing in opposition to facts and reason--Mormons are upset that the BSA has recently reversed their outdated discriminatory policy, which will allow gay men to be scout leaders.
Their objection, which they hold to be doctrinal, and therefore, a form of religious liberty, is that it is inappropriate for gay men to be leaders of youth groups. Apparently Mormons still think that gays try to "recruit" teens and that homosexuality is closely linked to pedophilia--both of these misconceptions are dispelled by science.
As my friend points out, Mormons have no problem with straight men overseeing Girl's Camp (the lesser-funded female version of Scout Camp). Nor do they object that these same men ask male and female teens--behind closed doors--intimate questions about their sex lives. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Although I have huge problems with religious-based bigotry, I do agree that the Mormon Church has the right to exclude gays from their organization (for the same reasons that the KKK can refuse to allow black people in their group). Unfortunately for Mormons, however, the BSA is not justified in their discrimination since they are a multicultural organization which receives government kickbacks, and financial stipends.
For instance, the BSA is allowed free access to hundreds of military personnel and millions of dollars of equipment--paid for with tax dollars--for their annual national jamboree. Also, many of the Boy Scout facilities and camps are on government-owned property and the BSA is charged a lowly $1 a year for rent.
These are major perks which other youth programs and nonprofits are not afforded by the government. This kind of support is the reason so many people are calling for a revision in the BSA's discriminatory policies. The Mormon Church is free to discriminate, but the government is not.
In response to all the hubbaballoo, the Mormon Church has issued a statement that, should the BSA go through with this change (allowing gay Scout leaders), then the Church will withdraw from the BSA and start their own scouting program. This will be a major blow to the BSA since the Mormon Church is their single largest supporter (approximately 25-30% of all scout troops are Mormon-run). This has been one major reason why the BSA has been so reluctant to change their policy.
The magnitude of the Mormon-BSA relationship is precisely what the Mormon Church relies upon when making the threat to withdraw from the BSA. Mormons are known for many things (some less favorable than others), one of which is sticking with their principles. They are also known for managing money well.
Should the Mormon Church withdraw all support and sever all ties with the BSA (a relationship about 100 years old, by the way), then whatever scouting substitute the Church devises will NOT receive the same government support as the BSA. This means that Mormons will spend significantly more money to run their scouting program.
It is because of this unavoidable monetary spike that I think the Mormon Church is bluffing. I think they will not pull the trigger on their threats of disassociation. I think they are trying to create a power play to strong-arm the BSA. Should the BSA go through with their policy change, I strongly doubt the Mormon Church will make good on their promise to withdraw--the financial stakes are too high. But, only time will tell.
In the post my ex-Mormon friend wrote on his Facebook page he mentioned that he had left the Church. And from out of the woodwork crawled some of his devout Mormon friends, hellbent on defending Mormonism and, if possible, saving my friend in the process.
One Mormon devotee wrote an especially pretentious and closed-minded response to my friend, [N]:
"I know that somewhere deep down inside of you, [N], that you remember why you "used" to believe. I know that you remember feelings and promptings that you had, I remember perfectly hearing you talk about them. I remember listening to you testify of the very things that you try to tear down with logic. I know that you know, however buried that may be by emotions, pain, or whatever else it could be that God does exist. The bottom line is something convinced you that there was a God and that everything you taught as a missionary was true. You had a testimony and still do. If you choose to bury those memories than that is fine. But just as you desire to point out your opinion so do I. I cannot deny the very real feelings that I have had in my life. The confirmations that there is a God and he loves us. No matter what information someone provides. I will always know. I love you [N], and I hope that you know that I always have your best interest in mind."
I have never heard a more condescending, presumptive, or closed-minded testimony. Not only does this person claim to "know" that there is a god and that my unbelieving friend likewise "knows" this, but this person states that "No matter what information someone provides," he will always know that god exists.
This is the definition of closed-minded. But in Mormon culture this phrasing is seen as admirably strong conviction. Too bad he doesn't support his claim that his super strong feelings are indicative of god. Too bad no one ever has.
Another Mormon friend of my friend wrote a rather wordy response, so I won't post it here. In his word-salad, he made an interesting point I have not heard in a while. He related the struggle for gay rights to the 1978 change which allowed black Mormons to attain the priesthood.
He said that a possible reason why blacks were not allowed to have the priesthood before 1978 is because members were not yet ready for such a drastic change. To him this is more plausible than the common criticism that the Church only made the change because of societal pressures, as they seem to have done on the issue of polygamy (polygamy was endorsed by the Church for decades; it was not until the Mormons sought to make Utah a state that they abolished the practice; also, the US government threatened to confiscate millions of dollars of Mormon assets should they continue polygamy, much like they currently threaten Fundamentalist Mormons who still practice polygamy).
The idea that Mormons were "not ready" to allow blacks to have the priesthood before 1978 does not speak favorably of Mormons at the time. The civil rights movement picked up a lot of steam in the 50s and 60s. What does it say about Mormons if they were behind the times by over a decade? Now that gay marriage is legal, how long will it take for the Church to catch up and once again claim moral superiority and exclusive access to divine revelation and prophecy?
Aron Ra was right; god moves in mysterious and delirious ways...
Coheed and Cambria performing Supreme Court Justice Scalia's "dissent" on gay marriage: