The same day Brigham Young University announced the creation of a “Membership office “ to combat “prejudice of all kinds, including those based on race … and sexual orientation,” Latter-day Saint Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland highly criticized faculty and students that challenge the teachings of the faith on same-sex marriage.
He also wondered why a BYU promotion major would choose his early 2019 address to turn out to be gay.
At Monday’s annual college conference for faculty and staff at the Provo School’s Marriott Center, Holland cited a recent letter he received, which said, “Some faculty do not support doctrines and policies of the church and choose to criticize them publicly â.
BYU faculty and staff should use their intellectual “muskets” to defend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, especially “the doctrine of the family and … of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, âthe apostle says, but some choose to aim forâ friendly fire â- and from time to time the church, its leaders and some of our colleagues in the college community have taken such shooting on this campus. And sometimes it’s not friendly – hurting students and parents of students who don’t know what so many flags and recent parades mean on this issue. “
Holland referred to the time that a student “commander[ed] a graduation podium intended to represent anyone graduating to announce their personal sexual orientation.
âWhat could the beginning mean or not mean if we push individual license above institutional dignity for very long? ” He asked. âDo we just end up with more divisions in our culture than we already have? And we already have too many everywhere.
Matt Easton, the gay promotion major, was surprised and disappointed by Holland’s mention of his action.
“I’m proud of what I did two years ago,” he replied on Monday, “and I stand by what I said.”
His speech, including the mention of his sexual orientation, was approved by his dean two weeks in advance, Easton said from his home in Berkeley, Calif., Where he is about to begin his graduate studies. âI wasn’t trying to make the platform or ‘requisition’ the event. I was inspired by my personal experiences because they shaped my time at BYU – authenticity is not the same as âpushing the agendaâ.
His intention was not to divide his listeners “but to empower people like me,” he said. “I hope BYU continues to be a place where LGBTQ students can feel safe and respected.”
“Have the will to stay alone”
If maintaining the faith-based policy on LGBTQ members – that it’s not a sin to have same-sex attraction, but to act on it is – costs the school a few “professional associations and certifications, âHolland said,â so be it â.
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The church-owned school “must be willing to stand on its own, if necessary,” he said, “being a university without equal in its role primarily as an undergraduate educational institution that is unequivocally faithful to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process. “
No one wants to “come to this,” said Holland, who was BYU chairman from 1980 to 1989, “but, if it does, we will pursue our own destiny.”
To be clear, “do not allow me to go any further before unequivocally declaring my love and that of my brothers for those who live with this challenge of the same sex and so much complexity that goes with it”, he said. declared. âToo often the world has been mean, in many cases crushing cruelty, to our brothers and sisters. Like many of you, we spent hours with them, and cried, prayed and cried again in an effort to offer love and hope while keeping the gospel strong and obedience to the commandments evident in each individual life. .
Despite this, Holland urged his listeners to “be careful that love and empathy are not interpreted as apologies and pleas, or that orthodoxy and loyalty to principle are not interpreted as wickedness or disloyalty to people “.
Earlier in the session, BYU Chairman Kevin Worthen said the new membership office will be headed by “an official vice president who will be a member of the presidential board.” Its creation follows a detailed report by the BYU Committee on Race, Fairness and Membership released in February.
The 64-page report exposed widespread and significant concerns about the mistreatment of minority students who attend the Faith’s flagship campus.
“These experiences have left many people disillusioned, heartbroken and struggling,” according to the report. âThe university’s current systems are inadequate to coordinate services for students seeking help with race-related challenges. “
“A disastrous message”
Holland’s remarks sparked hundreds of responses Monday on social media.
“This is a disastrous message to send to a college faculty,” wrote on Facebook Michael Austin, BYU alumnus and executive vice president of academic affairs at Evansville University, an Indiana Methodist school. âThis is the exact opposite of the academic inquiry standards under which most universities operate. “
The canons that “govern scholarly activity and research state that research should be conducted without bias and the results published, whether or not they confirm a particular hypothesis or doctrine,” Austin wrote. âWhat this conference seems to be saying is that academic research should start with the desired conclusion in mind and come to that conclusion or be dismissed. It is not scholarship; it is propaganda.
It appears that the leaders of the Utah-based faith want to “have it both ways.” They want to be seen as a world class university, by university standards. They want the academic honors that come with professors doing world-class research, âhe wrote. âBut they want to attack these standards as worldly and apostate. There is nothing wrong with a church having a think tank with a doctorate. researchers paid to defend its positions. But that’s not how universities work.
Some have argued that Holland’s post seemed to echo the concerns of some conservative Latter-day Saints who fear BYU is becoming “too liberal.”
Daniel Ellsworth, business consultant in Charlottesville, Va., A BYU alumnus and one of the organizers of the Radical Orthodoxy movement in the church, sees the church school as “ground zero” for what worries them with the Mormon Liberals – that they have adopted such an allegiance to the LGBTQ movement, for example, that it is “the lens through which they see the church and not the other way around.”
There is “a wave of teachers” being hired who “truly regard the restored gospel as their secondary allegiance,” Ellsworth told the Salt Lake Tribune in March.
And this phenomenon, he said, is a problem for a school that is trying to educate while building faith.
“Embodies the Best of Mormonism”
Jacob Newman, another BYU graduate, who lives with her husband in Millcreek, said it was too late to cut support for LGBTQ students and teachers.
âMy freshman classroom in 2008 was full of gays. Like, I’m shocked even thinking about how many gay men we had in our department, âsaid Newman, who earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in the school. âAnd while I was studying BYU, it was deeply traumatic, but there were so many positives. Many of my closest friends viewed homophobia as antithetical to Mormon teachings. And I think most current BYU faculty, students, and staff agree.
What sets the institution apart is not homophobia, transphobia or any other ‘ism’, âNewman said. âBYU sets itself apart because of its emphasis on bringing religious insight to secular learning. I still cherish the spiritual experiences I have had on campus, including the professors who shared a sincere love for people other than us (each other) and suffering people around the world. BYU embodied the best of Mormonism.
Holland “is beating a drum that is out of step with current BYU attitudes,” he said. âBYU Gen Z folks are scratching their heads, ‘Why is this a problem? And professors and staff say to themselves, “The church is out of touch with the realities of BYU.” “
Newman heard a lot of this kind of talk at BYU, he said, “yet things are only getting better.”