Thursday, October 29, 2015

Provo Mormon Dude Turns One!

       Happy birthday! Just over one year ago, my first ever blog post went online. It’s been a wonderful year. Thank you so much to all of you for your constant support and for making this little Mormon blog a success. In honor of this blog's first birthday, please check out the links below to browse some posts you may have missed, and revisit some reader favorites! 

       Thank you for your constant support! It's been a great year and I can't wait for what the next year will bring. Be sure to check back in a few weeks when a new-and-improved Provo Mormon Dude comes back with brand-new content. See you soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

An LDS Perspective on Religious Freedom at BYU

      "While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the conscience of others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in this case are they answerable." - George Washington1 

       Meet Lydia. Lydia was raised Catholic and, until recently, attended Notre Dame University. While she was in school, Lydia became aware of the LDS church and began taking lessons from the missionaries. After learning the gospel, she decided to be baptized. But when the Notre Dame administration found out, Lydia was promptly expelled. When Lydia asked why she couldn't finish school at Notre Dame, the administration told her that as a Catholic she had made a commitment to her church, and by "distancing herself" from that commitment she could no longer be considered eligible to continue education at Notre Dame. In other words, she was expelled for becoming a Mormon.

       Fortunately, this story isn't true. Notre Dame does not expel its students for their beliefs. Unfortunately, though, while the setting is fictional, Lydia is not. Lydia is real, and she and others like her have indeed been expelled from their university because they changed their faith.2 But it doesn't happen at Notre Dame. It happens at BYU.

       The BYU honor code currently states that "disaffiliation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints automatically results in the withdrawal of [a] student's ecclesiastical endorsement and the loss of good Honor Code standing. Disaffiliation is defined for purposes of this policy as removal of an individual's name from the official records of the Church."3 This means all current BYU students who choose to leave the LDS church are immediately expelled, even if they have done nothing else to violate honor code standards. While non-LDS students may attend BYU and change faiths without negative consequences, former LDS students lose their student jobs, are evicted from their housing, and send hours of college credit down the drain if it doesn't transfer to their next school.All this simply because they changed their faith.

       I am a BYU student and a believing latter-day saint. So let me say upfront that I don't advocate leaving the Church. I don't anticipate doing that myself and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Let me also acknowledge that, being a private school, BYU has every legal right to enforce this policy. It is perfectly legal for the university to hold students to the contracts they signed when they were admitted, and that includes this clause of the honor code. The question isn't whether BYU has the legal right to hold this policy, but whether it is moral and ethical to do so. This isn't a question of whether the Church is true, or whether BYU administrators are good people. It's simply a question of policy, and this is a policy that we as a university should put behind us as soon as possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Be Ye Therefore Perfect?

"Men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips!" 
- Russell M. Nelson1

      I was taught to keep the commandments ever since I was little, but when I was younger there was one commandment that always bothered me. It seemed unfair for God to ask it and impossible for me to do it. It's found in Matthew 5:48 and says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." 

       This verse irritated me a lot. "Be perfect?!" I said. "Hello! I'm a human being! I'd love to be perfect right now, but that's not going to happen. Why are you asking me to do something you know is impossible?" I would try to forget about this verse, but it continued to pop up in seminary and Sunday school classes. Eventually I reached the conclusion that while I couldn't be perfect in this life, I should still try to live perfectly (although it was clearly impossible), and it would somehow help me become perfect in the long run - a "shoot for the moon and land among the stars" kind of thing. I tried that approach for a while, but it was just as frustrating. I would do my best and then feel guilty every time I made a mistake. Finally, an inspired teacher pointed out a footnote to this verse which not only changed my understanding of this verse, but of perfection itself.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Mormon Enquirer

       Every so often I'll check the news and see what's going on in the worldwide church. Sites like Mormon Newsroom and publications like the Mormon Times carry lots of good Mormon news stories, but I have to admit sometimes I'm a little disappointed with the lack of diversity in LDS news. Mormon news sources all seem to provide nothing but straightforward headlines followed by accurate stories. Sometimes I wish we had Mormon news outlets that were a little more...interesting. Straightforward church news is good, but sometimes you want something juicier...something more gutsy...something that would really get people talking. Sure, the Mormon community has lots of nice, informative publications, but you know what it doesn't have a lot of? Cheap, misleading tabloids! So, seeing this gaping hole in our market, I have single-handedly moved to fill this great need (you're welcome). Provo Mormon Dude now brings you the very first issue of The Mormon Enquirer: the Most (un)Trustworthy Source for Mormon News. Here are the week's top stories...