Monday, April 02, 2012 profile rejection #4--or, why I am apparently not a Mormon

It had been a while since my several attempts at creating a profile resulted in rejection (see here, here, and here). However, after an attendee at last week's Mormonism and the Internet conference at Utah Valley University claimed to be one of the profile monitors (and admitted to being one of the several college-student, return-missionary, part-time employees doing the monitoring), I opened up to the possibility that my previous rejections were merely the result of an isolated over-zealous RM and decided to give it another try.

I recognize that my previous attempts may have been a little too preachy and did somewhat attempted to present my understanding of eternal life as THE Church's "doctrine" of eternal life. So this time I decided to write it in a manner that made it clear that while I while my own beliefs did not entirely conform with the established teachings of the Church, that I nevertheless find meaning application in the Church's teachings on eternal life. Or, in other words, even little heterodox me can find meaning and a place in Mormonism. Thus, I rephrased my profile answer to the question "What do Mormons believe about 'eternal life?'" to:
Unlike most Mormons, I don't necessarily believe in a life after death. However our scriptures teach that eternal life is more than living forever, but is something that can and should be achieved now in the present. Eternal life is to live and love others as God does. Too often I think we are confused in thinking that eternal life is something we must wait for, or that it is something that can only be found in another life after this. Rather, it is by following Christ's example and learning to love as He did that we can find ourselves with eternal life in the present.
Well, it still wasn't good enough, and received the generic response:
Doctrinal Concerns - Part of your submission contains Church doctrine that could be misunderstood or may not be correct. Please update and resubmit so your response can be posted on Thank you for the efforts you made in responding to this important question.

While I somewhat expected this response, this denial and the practice behind the denial bother me quite a bit. For a while now I've largely felt that the whole "I'm a Mormon!" campaign on had become a sham. While the whole premise of the site is to say "Here, look at real Mormons!," by moderating the profiles so that only Mormons who follow a prescribed script are allowed, the realness of the profiles and premise becomes fake. It is akin to a biography that purports to present the "real" story of a person--while consciously omitting anything about the person that does not contribute to the narrative that they want to present. While all of the facts presented in the biography may be true, the omissions make the overall narrative false. In this same way, the whole "I'm a Mormon!" campaign is largely undermined by the moderators who get to pick and chose who gets to represent "real" Mormons.

There is something that bothers me even more though. The Church has been heavily promoting the "I'm a Mormon!" campaign and actively encouraging members to submit their own profiles. However, in having these self-described college-student, return-missionary, part-time employees do the monitoring, they are essentially giving these persons the authority to determine who is and isn't a legitimate (or "real") Mormon--a power that most bishops don't even lay claim to. Thus, while a believing member may be deemed worthy to have a calling and temple recommend by their bishop--or even be a bishop himself--that very member may be denied  the right to publicly proclaim "I'm a Mormon!" by a zealous monitor.

This type of monitoring can be very detrimental to members who may struggle with finding a place in the Church. At the conference last week, the monitor in attendance justified the practice using the example of someone who might say that he is a gay parent and a Mormon. The obvious problem with this rationale is that there are, in fact, gay Mormon parents. While it may certainly be difficult to be one in the overtly-conservative Mormon culture, there is nothing institutionally or religiously wrong with being gay+parent+Mormon. Because of the culture (and because of the less-charitable statements by some leaders) it is nevertheless a challenge to be gay+Mormon, and those who manage to maintain both identities generally do so with a struggle of feeling belonged or having a place within the faith. So when one of these members who has met up with these challenges and wants to say, "I'm a Mormon!" this over-zealous monitor--despite the ecclesiastical approval of the member--can tell that person: "No, you're not a Mormon!"


  1. Sorry, Loyd. I share your concerns. As an aside, can you point me to where you describe your reasons for this: "Unlike most Mormons, I don't necessarily believe in a life after death"? It interests me.

  2. Part of what bothers me is the faceless interaction. Your profile is rejected again ostensibly for not being orthodox enough, despite your own open acknowledgment that your view is a personal and meaningful one for you, which is informed by Mormonism. Like you said, you can be an active member, participate in most things, etc. but be rejected by profile monitors, and nameless, faceless ones at that. I realize it would take a massive time-commitment, but it seems to me an actual human interaction would be superior to a form letter rejection. Have you considered contacting someone higher up the chain?

  3. I share in Lincoln's curiosity for that particular statement. I must say, one day I hope you and I could sit down for a good talk cause sometimes statements like this strike me and lead me to wonder what you are thinking...I suppose sometimes that is the point. But this post is very well said.

  4. I share in Lincoln's curiosity about said statement and whole heartedly agree with what you say about eternal life being present. I must say that one day I hope to sit down and have a long conversation about various beliefs and differences of opinion which you and I have because sometimes statements, like the one mentioned here, strike me and often leave me wondering how it is you come to certain conclusions and understandings. However, this post, WELL SAID!

  5. A. Maybe you can start your own campaign called, "I'm a Mormon, too"? B. For what its worth, you are a Mormon in my book. C. The things you point out are deeply troubling, mostly the fact that someone can supposedly be worthy to meet God (i.e., a temple recommend holder), but not worthy to declare that they too are a Mormon. D. My best friend in Boston who was possibly more pagan than Mormon, and definitely more feminist than folks like Ralph Hancock would like to allow, loved taking the sacrament, and as she did so, she would think, "It's my church too." It always meant a lot to me.

  6. I don't think that the campaign is meant to showcase a diversity of belief at all. I think it's meant to show that all sorts of different people can believe Mormon (and by Mormon, I think the campaign means some sort of orthodoxy that is not explicitly defined but, part-time employee RM monitors will know it when they see it) things.

  7. That sucks. Sorry, Loyd. I agree with BHodges about everything he says. I really like how personal you've made your most recent attempt.

    In this most recent version you've made it clear that you're describing your own personal beliefs and not trying to prescribe what all Mormons should or do believe. I think that makes it really surprising to me that they still reject it. Not only because (as you describe really well in your post above) it is silly to filter out people's honest personal beliefs, but also because it seems so atypical of what the project seems to present. There are tons of hetreodox Mormons on that site, so why shouldn't you be allowed? It makes me wonder if you've got stuck with the same moderator that you've been arguing with for the past attempts and now he/she just has it out to get you.

    And I also agree that the faceless and seemingly baseless rejection is worrisome. No concrete rational, no explanation or suggestion, just rejection. Maybe you really should appeal to someone higher up the chain?

  8. Basically the whole thing comes off as personal to me. Like someone knows you and doesn't like you and is keeping you off the site. And I agree that it is unfortunate that some individual moderator with no priesthood or inspiration can exercise that kind of bias.

  9. I found your blog randomly, but have enjoyed having your posts come up in my RSS reader for the last year or two even without any personal interaction. So with that as my introduction, I also, would be interested in an entire post about your beliefs in an afterlife.

  10. If I read that last bit correctly you're saying that someone would not be able to put, "I'm gay,and I'm a Mormon", correct? But it is OK to let seemingly illiterate folks post bio's. That's just great. I'm so proud.

  11. I thought of your posts when I taught an EQ lesson from ch. 7 of the G.A. Smith manual a few weeks ago (I actually didn't even know you'd written a fourth), and I think you should resubmit and throw it in the face of the moderators that they didn't know what the hell they were talking about. GA Smith, and because it's an official correlated manual, agree with you, which means that when the moderator was totally wrong when s/he told you, "You misunderstand Nephi's writings, no one achieves eternal life in morality. We strive to live a celestial life now, but means living a quality of life. That is not the same thing as eternal life." There are passages from the current manual that you should use to explain why the moderator, and not you, has a misunderstanding of scripture. I can't wait to see what response you get now that you can throw current, correlated material right in their faces.

    Anyway. Here are the relevant passages from the manual:

    "Our comprehension of this life is that it is eternal life—that we are living in eternity today as much as we ever will live in eternity."

    "The physical tabernacle lies in the tomb—it is a portion of the earth and goes back to mother earth—but the intelligence that God has placed within it, that which has power to reason and to think, that which has power to sing and to speak, knows no death; it simply passes from this sphere of eternal life, and awaits there the purification of the physical tabernacle, until the time it will be reunited with this tabernacle, which will be glorified, even as the body of our risen Lord was glorified, if we have lived to be worthy of it."

    "I am thankful that there has been revealed to us and made plain in this latter-day that this life is not the end, that this is but a part of eternity, and that if we take advantage of our privileges here, that this is but the stepping stone to greater and more desirable conditions."

    "Eternal life is to us the sum of pre-existence, present existence, and the continuation of life in immortality, holding out to us the power of endless progression and increase."

    "There are sacred volumes of scripture that our Heavenly Father has placed within our reach, teaching us that we live eternally." [note the present tense]

    "I leave my testimony with you that I know that we are living eternal life"


  12. I found you from a link someone posted in Feminist Mormon Housewives and I just wanted to leave a comment to say, "hi! I'm here!" and also express that I'm in the same position. Several family members have aske WHY I don't have a profile and I've just brushed them off. But really, it's because I get that same little message that there are doctrinal issues.... That I haven't conformed and that there's no room for an outspoken and honest woman like me. Le sigh. I've now given up - after repeatedly trying, but refusing to lie about *my* doctrinal beliefs, it's clear that the moderators and I will just never see eye to eye. . . . But maybe I should try again??


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