Sunday, February 24, 2008

Danzig’s Dissent

A brief detour…

This was in the paper today:

LDS Church disciplines musician

Peter Danzig , A member of the orchestra at temple square, wrote a letter in support of Jeffery Nielsen. Nielsen wrote an editorial expressing his conscience regarding the LDS church’s opposition to marriage for gay couples and was subsequently let go from his job as a BYU professor (I’m honored to say I’ll probably see the man tonight, if history is a guide). Back to Danzig and his wife (from the article):

“Within a week, LDS officials contacted Danzig with concerns about the letter. They suspended him from the orchestra and for the next year, he and, ultimately his wife, defended their loyalty, faith and actions. No amount of persuasion or pleading could convince these ecclesiastical leaders they meant well. Ultimately, the Danzigs moved out of their Levan house and, in December, resigned their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than face excommunication.”

“ Initially, Mary Danzig thought it was all a big misunderstanding. But soon, her own devotion to the church came into question. She, too, felt unwelcome in the orchestra. Her parents wrote letters to church authorities, begging for an audience or at least some understanding. They were unsuccessful. "I felt like my world had come crashing down when Peter told me he might be excommunicated," said Mary Danzig, at the time a member of the Primary Presidency in her ward. "What would happen to my family in the eternities, in our community, in our extended family? I found myself coming completely unglued every Sunday. I spent a great deal of time hiding in the bathroom crying with my little girls."


Sad, and disappointing to be sure.

I can’t help but contrast this with the guy I know in a similar position in the church but higher. He’s one of the wealthier men in the valley and he keeps and supports a wife, children, and a hot young boyfriend (who is also in the LDS church and has a wife and kids). Everyone who knows them knows the situation; they flaunt their affections in front of their wives (don’t care they?), and at the local gym they are all over each other for all to see. They’ve seemingly gone out of their way to make their situation clear and this has been going on for years, but have they ever been disciplined? Has he even been suspended from his position in the church? No, he’s still there, probably because he’s never outright said the words to a church leader (though he has to others), and he’s never said it in an editorial. He’s probably never expressed his conscience when his conscience said the LDS church has, like any other institution, made an occasional error. Heck, he’s probably never even thought the church could be wrong here and is just waiting for God to get rid of his "SSA" in the celestial kingdom, where his family and the family of his lover can just be good friends. I bet he’d even stay in line and stand against marriage for gay couples, and so he stays, but people like Danzig go.

Okay, I got heated :-). I began writing before I cooled down.

People like Nielsen and Danzig are rare in humanity, and they are bound to take bruises and bumps for it. Many people know what’s right, but they second guess, put things off; they don’t want to rock the boat, particularly if it’s the boat in which they float, such as their church. Most people are good cops, and, sure, that’s where I tend to fit too. But the others, like Danzig and Nielsen, these are the people who take the scrapes from clearing the path for change. Ironically, these folks in the church threatening them will likely be the guys who unintentionally encourage the rest of the congregation, those with a twitching conscience, to finally stand up and pave that same path, to eventually follow the full golden rule in equality for families such as mine.

10 comments:

jason said...

hey, here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash, I was making about $900 extra a month...
check it out ..

jason said...

hey, here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash, I was making about $900 extra a month...
check it out ..

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

Scot, it seems jason really wants you to make $900 extra a month!

But seriously, I am really angry right now. I sure hope this outrages other members of the church to such a degree that they start speaking up.

And the fact that the church allows influential, (rich) members to do as they please without much fear of reprisal is absolutely disgusting.

I'm getting closer and closer to resigning myself.

Jér said...

There are so many stories like this. Most of them don't get an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, though.

I hope you read Danzig's personal chronicle of the nightmare he and his family went through. It's just sickening. I'm not Mormon, and I don't really see resigning from the Mormon Church as a tragedy, but it's still awful to read what these people were put through by an institution they had put their trust in.

Scot said...

Craig: Scot, it seems jason really wants you to make $900 extra a month!

If only I didn’t dislike using the word verification so much… Or hey, maybe that’s the pseudonym of the guy I mentioned in the post and he’s offering money to keep my mouth shut :-).

I sure hope this outrages other members of the church to such a degree that they start speaking up.

I have to hope that is the sort of good that can come of it.

Jer: Thank you for the link. Interesting read, for the account and comments.

Foxx said...

One thing we can gather from this example is that you are free to believe what you like, but as soon as you express it in a public forum (especially printed) the LDS Thought Police will come for you and take you to Room 101.

Not to be alarmist, but it's frighteningly similar. I probably just should have said, they don't pay attention to you until you come out publicly "against" them.

Scot said...

"One thing we can gather from this example is that you are free to believe what you like, but as soon as you express it in a public forum..."

Free unless it's that you've a moral duty to speak up ;-). You can have a conscience about these issues; just don't speak up about it if it contradicts the official line.

Again, what I find odd is that I was in the paper contradicting the church and I had to work hard to get my name off the membership roles.

http://utahcog.blogspot.com/2007/03/ex-com.html

Of course, they knew that wouldn't hurt me or my family. I just find the choices of how to treat who in the church quite odd.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

Scot, I just ready your post about how hard it was for you to leave the church. In fact, the way the church acted was illegal. It is legally obligated to release you from membership as soon as any ecclesiastical leader receives your signed intent to leave the church. A lot of people don't realise that, and so the church gets away with a lot.

Free unless it's that you've a
moral duty to speak up ;-). You can have a conscience about these issues; just don't speak up about it if it contradicts the official line.


Unfortunately, there is some scriptural support to expecting that kind of blind (crazy) obedience. I'm sure Abraham was morally opposed to killing his own son, but was willing to do it anyways. I realise that God telling you to do something is different from some letter from the first presidency, but the principle could be construed to be the same.

"Do everything we say (not necessarily what we do though), even if it makes no sense, and you morally object to it. In the end you will be blessed! But don't ask us how, when, or why."

More than anything, the thing that makes me the most angry in all of this is the church's pretence that it is the eternal victim in all of this. It is perfectly clear that they have made, and do make serious, damaging mistakes. Rather than admit that, apologise, and change, they ignore any past indiscretions and pretend they never changed any policies or doctrines. They never talk about how they told gay men to get married and God would fix them. Now they just pretend they always warned against that, they pretend they never said they "knew" that homosexuality was in no way biologically motivated, etc. Yeah, it makes me mad.

Scot said...

Ah, I know that feeling, Craig.

Have you read any Catholic publications? They pretty much do the same with their historical errors; it seems to be a common maneuver in organizations. When you read their writings today it’s all in that lawyer/clergy speak, both firm and non-committal, often leaving some semantic wiggle room knowing, next generation, they may have to deny what the doctrine “always meant” and retell the world what it “always meant.”

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

Have you read any Catholic publications? They pretty much do the same with their historical errors; it seems to be a common maneuver in organizations.

That may be, but it seems to me that organisations who claim to speak to and for God have a higher responsibility to the truth, regardless of its cost.