For those who have been reading my blog, it will come as no surprise that I am not a real political person. Sure, I have political opinions, but I care more about ideas than about political parties.
Why? Because while political parties disagree over policy and ideology, in practice they use the same tools to accomplish their desires. Therefore, the end result will not be distinguishable regardless of who's in charge because the means they employ are the same. They can argue between cremation vs. burial: but at the end of the day we're still arguing over the same corpse.
Personally, I do not believe our problems will be solved through political processes. I do not think government will be the means to bring about Zion.
We must search elsewhere for solutions as the world marches toward Cumorah.
Destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe; therefore I desire that this people might not be destroyed.
Is Cancel Culture a Sign of "Ripening?"
I wonder if one of the "signs of the times" is the increased hostility in our civil discourse, which has recently taken a turn for the worse. We hear a lot about "cancel culture" these days.
Can common consent co-exist with cancel culture?
The idea of cancel culture is, as I understand it, that if someone (whether alive or dead) has (1) said, (2) supported, or (3) done anything that is offensive to modern sensibilities, regardless of how long ago it occurred, then that person is "fair game" to be targeted to lose their job, their place at the table, their voice . . . they become anathema.
But where does all this hostility come from? What is the cause of this societal shunning?
At that day the devil shall rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger.
(2 Nephi 28:20)
Is it at all shocking that in a day when the love of mankind grows cold, we are witnessing the fulfilment of Nephi's prophecy?
And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.
(2 Nephi 27:32)
Common consent relies upon love and persuasion to bring unity.
But where is the love in cancel culture?
Common consent listens and seeks to understand others' viewpoints, drawing strength from diversity.
But where is the tolerance in cancel culture?
Common consent relies upon mercy and forgiveness because we are all imperfect.
But where is the chance to repent in cancel culture?
Common consent respects the innate human dignity of all people.
But where is the dignity in cancelling people?
Fascism by Another Name
What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.
(Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)
Is cancel culture just another mask worn by Fascism?
According to Wikipedia, Fascism is a form of authoritarianism characterized by:
 dictatorial power;  forcible suppression of opposition; and  strong regimentation of society.
On the other hand, as the Disciple Mormon taught:
It was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
There was no law against a man’s belief.
(Alma 30:7, 11)
The underlying problem is when we try to silence dissent and to suppress the expression of others' beliefs.
When You Wish Upon a Star
Here are some examples of "cancel culture" in just the past couple of weeks:
1. School district "cancelling" Dr. Seuss for "racial undertones."
6.Elder George P. Lee of the Seventy was excommunicated for discussing racism in the LDS hierarchy and for his advocacy of Native Americans. He voiced his concerns to the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency, which I have excerpted here:
Dear Brethren, after consulting with the Lord and with him guiding my thoughts and hand, may I please speak with you in the spirit of love via this letter, I hope and pray that you will listen with your heart and with the spirit.
Brethren, I feel a deep compassion for you and a grave concern for you...for the following reasons:
You are trying to discredit or downplay the role of Lamanites in these last days and downplay their role and importance in the building of the New Jerusalem.
Pride, arrogance and unrighteous dominion and control which encourages priesthood abuse, induces fear and produces forced obedience.
Love of power, status, position which creates a sense of worship for those in control and power.
Love of Money. You told me not to talk about poor nor pray for them. The well-to-do seem to get all the important assignments and callings...while neglecting the poor who need our help the most.
I have heard one or more of you declare that you can change anything Jesus has said or taught.
I thought some of you were my friends but I guess not because when the going got tough for me you ran from me and would have nothing to do with me, to protect your own position and selfish interests.
Why do you continue to ridicule me for my spiritual gifts?... You have spiritual gifts too but you don't see me ridiculing you for your special talents and gifts.
We need to be one. If we are not we are not worthy to be his disciples. We need to get our act together before the spirit of the Lord is grieved and before the Lord says amen to our priesthood and authority as he did the Nephites.
("The Lee Letters," Sunstone Magazine, August 1989, accessed at https://sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/072.pdf)
For these beliefs, Elder Lee was excommunicated on September 1, 1989.
Cancelling Scholars Since 1993 7. Lavina Fielding Anderson was one of the "September Six" excommunicated in 1993 after publishing an article in Dialogue Magazine that exposed the abusive practices of the "Strengthening Church Members Committee."
Lavina is one of the kindest people I know, having helped me years ago edit a project I was working on. She recently published an amazing account of her experiences, Mercy Without End: Toward a More Inclusive Church (2020).
Lavina's article, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership," published in 1993, is a must-read for anyone who desires to understand the tension between authority and conscience, obedience and love (see, link, below).
In her article, she states that "the pattern of ecclesiastical intervention, directiveness, and oppression has intensified."
I would add my opinion that, since the time her article was written almost 30 years ago, things have improved somewhat for members thanks to the internet and online social networks, but the institutional response to these trends has only proven her point.
14 August 1992.
Peggy Fletcher Stack's Salt Lake Tribune article reporting the First Presidency statement begins: "Mormon Church leaders say they have a scriptural mandate to keep secret files on outspoken members." Ross Peterson is quoted as saying that the statement "is 'stretching the scriptural justification. Comparing Sunstone and Dialogue folks to people who were shooting Mormons in 1839 Missouri is unfair.'"
He described his own "grill[ing]" by his area presidency who "continually drew photocopied items out of a file and asked him about things he had written decades ago. The file was sitting on the churchmen's desk, but Mr. Peterson was not allowed to see its contents."
"Files are a strange carryover from a paranoia that resembles McCarthyism," says Peterson.
The article also cites unnamed "LDS Church employees" who tell the Tribune that William O. Nelson "shares President Benson's John Birch Society politics" and that "the church has kept files on outspoken members for decades. In the late 1970s a church librarian, Tom Truitt, told researchers in the LDS historical department that he was 'on a special assignment from the brethren' to read all LDS historical articles, underline 'objectionable parts' and send them on to the 'brethren.' His clipping system was influential in having the one-volume history of the LDS church, Story of the Latter-day Saints, removed from the shelves at Deseret Book stores and dropped from the reading list at LDS institutes."
Linda Newell points out, "It's one thing to know who your enemies are. But it's quite another thing to label as an enemy church members who love the church, who work in the church, who pay their tithing, who go to the temple, and who only want to help the church."
16 September 1992.
Elders James E. Faust and Russell M. Nelson, in response to my August letter requesting to see my file, respond that they regard the files not "as secret but confidential." My second letter acknowledges the distinction and again requests to see it. As of mid-January 1993, there has been no response.
I am dismayed when the organization that teaches me to honor the truth and to act with integrity seems to violate those very principles in its behavior.
I am bewildered and grieved when my church talks honorably from one script and acts ignobly from another. Some of the incidents I have mentioned make me cry out with James: "My brethren, these things ought not so to be" (James 3:10).
(Lavina Fielding Anderson, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology," Dialogue, Spring 1993, accessed at https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V26N01_23.pdf)
For these beliefs, Lavina Fielding Anderson was excommunicated in September 1993.
"A-posta-sy" al dente
So what's the big deal? Shouldn't we be able to kick critics to the curb? After all, isn't it our moral duty to defend the Church?
Well, nuking our critics is NOT defending the Church ― it is seriously injuring the Church when we deny the fundamental freedoms Christ pledged with His blood, including:
* Integrity of belief * Unity from love * Authentic expression * Sanctity of conscience
Notice that Elder Lee and Lavina Fielding Smith were excommunicated for expressing their sincere beliefs. Since when did that become a "sin?" Since when did we label people expressing their honest feelings as "apostates?"
Who Sustains Who?
Pretend something like this happened:
A member of the bishopric calls us to serve as the Cub Scout Den Leader. We go to the Primary President and share our vision for the cub scout program, and all of the fun activities we are planning.
She says, 'Oh, you can't do that.'
We ask 'why not?' and she says she will talk to the bishop to see what he thinks [this is the equivalent of "let-me-talk-to-my-manager and see if I can swing this sweet deal for you . . . oh, sorry, he says this is the last model in stock."]
The Primary President never gets back to us for several weeks. Finally, we call her. "Oh, I forgot. I'll ask him." She texts us back, "The bishopric said you can't do that."
Primary President: "It is not in the budget and we've never done it before."
"Okay," we say, "Well, actually we do have it in the Cub Scout budget, so that's not a problem. Why does it matter if we've never done it before?"
"You can't do it, sorry."
We respond: "But I was called to this calling. The bishop chose meto help these boys. I have prayed and fasted and felt the Holy Ghost inspire me with these ideas. Why won't you sustain me in my calling?"
Primary President: "You have to sustain our decision because we were called to be the leaders, not you, which means God wants us to be in charge and call the shots. We have the final word. You are supposed to echo what we say, and do what we tell you to do. If you can't do your calling as instructed, then we'll release you."
Cancelling Prophets Since 1981
8. Eugene England, an English professor at Brigham Young University, drew the ire of Elder Bruce R. McConkie for his paper called, "The Perfection and Progression of God: Two Spheres of Existence and Two Modes of Discourse."
Well, Elder McConkie wrote a letter to Brother England, and what a letter it was! Here are some excerpts from Elder McConkie's response to Eugene England, dated February 19, 1981 (see, link below).
Bruce R. McConkie Letter excerpts:
Now may I say something for your guidance and enlightenment. If what I am about to say should be taken out of context and published in Dialogue or elsewhere, it would give an entirely erroneous impression and would not properly present the facts.
Nonetheless, as Joseph Smith so pointedly taught, a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such. Prophets are men and they make mistakes. Sometimes they err in doctrine. . . . Sometimes a prophet gives personal views which are not endorsed and approved by the Lord.
Yes, President [Brigham] Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This, however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel. . . . What [Brigham Young] did is not a pattern for any of us. If we choose to believe and teach the false portions of his doctrines, we are making an election that will damn us.
Wise gospel students do not build their philosophies of life on quotations of individuals, even though those quotations come from presidents of the Church.
It is not your province to set in order the Church or to determine what its doctrines shall be. . . . This means, among other things, that it is my province to teach to the Church what the doctrine is. It is your province to echo what I say or to remain silent. You do not have a divine commission to correct me or any of the Brethren. . . . If I lead the Church astray, that is my responsibility.
If [the heads of the Church] err then be silent on the point and leave the event in the hands of the Lord.
Perhaps I should tell you what one of the very astute and alert General Authorities said to me when I chanced to mention to him the subject of your letter to me. He said: "Oh dear, haven't we rescued him enough times already?"
(Bruce R. McConkie to Eugene England, accessed at http://www.eugeneengland.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/BRM-to-EE-Feb-80-Combined.pdf)
Well, I guess it is safe to say that Elder McConkie wasn't a big fan of common consent.
And viola! Eugene England was effectively "cancelled" for his beliefs.
Shall We Go On?
Incredibly, the fight for freedom of belief is ongoing in the Church (whatever happened to Article of Faith 11? Did I miss the Press Release saying we had repealed it?).
Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!
Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.
Isn't it alarming that the Church cancels people for expressing their sincere beliefs?
So we're not talking about people who have sinned; these are regular bloggers, podcasters, scholars . . . just normal members of the Church . . . like Rock Waterman, Paul Toscano, Rob Smith, Randy Bott, John Dehlin . . . and on and on and on and on.
So next time you hear about "cancel culture," remember, we've been perfecting cancel culture as part of our religion for a long time.