My friend and fellow SHAFTer Jack was recently interviewed for the “I am an ex-Mormon” video series. In his interview, he discusses his experiences as a bisexual woman in the LDS Church and his life now as a transgender individual.
Jack, you’re an incredibly courageous person. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! I regret not having gotten to know you better while at USU.
The topic of pornography permeates a lot of my conversations with friends, but I have largely avoided the topic here because its relevance to atheism and secular humanism is pretty tenuous. I could contrive some connection, but I won’t bother, so please pardon the digression. I just feel compelled to write about pornography because it’s an important issue that merits sober discussion, but rarely gets one. Well that, and you’re supposed to write about what you know. Ha ha.
Many of us were raised in a conservative religious environment wherein pornography was demonized. My parents were more permissive than most Mormon parents, but I was still taught by church leaders and peers that pornography was a grievous sin and serious evil.
When I left the LDS Church, I was forced to re-evaluate my moral philosophy. Mormonism was mistaken about god—why not morality as well? In my estimation, the church got some things right (family, charity, love) and others wrong (R-rated movies, coffee, homosexuality). My take on pornography, however, is decidedly more nuanced.
It’s important to acknowledge at the outset that pornography is not a monolith, and is instead very diverse. I’ll be speaking about it in generalities, so don’t read my comments as a defense/critique of all porn. And just as porn is diverse, so too are its viewers, one third of whom are women.*
Not long ago, Ted Haggard was arguably the most powerful evangelical Christian pastor in the United States. His megachurch, the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, boasted a membership a 14,000. Haggard was also president of the 30 million-member Nation Association of Evangelicals. This influence won him the ear of President Bush, with whom he spoke on the phone every Monday.
In late 2006, Ted Haggard’s world came crashing down. Mike Jones, a male prostitute, alleged that Haggard paid him for sex and drugs. Haggard confessed to some of the allegations, and was forced to resign from the church that he founded. More than that, his church exiled him from the entire state of Colorado. How very Christian.
For the next two years, Haggard was periodically homeless and unemployed. He and his family moved in and out of hotels, and stayed with strangers who were willing to taken them into their homes. To support his family, he applied to be an online representative for Phoenix University, hung up thousands of door-hangers, and worked as a traveling insurance salesman. He also went back to college for the first time in 30 years to study psychology.
On Thursday, September 23rd, BYU biology professor Dr. William Bradshaw will discuss the significant role that genetics plays in homosexuality. He will also argue that homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be changed.
It will be an interesting lecture, and I’m thrilled that BYU is hosting it. Here is the event info:
When: September 23rd @ 7:00 PM
Where: Thomas S. Martin building (MARB), rm. 445
(Search “MARB” in the BYU campus map and you’ll find it.)
Dr. Bradshaw gave a similar lecture back in 2004. Read this Daily Universearticle (originally entitled “Professor gives scientific evidence of homosexuality”, but changed to “Professor claims scientific evidence of homosexuality”) about his 2004 lecture if you want a preview of Thursday’s presentation.
For those in Logan: SHAFT will have a presentation of its own this Thursday. At 6:00 PM in Old Main 201, SHAFT officer Chris Gardner will discuss ancient creation myths and how they evolved into modern day religions.
On Saturday, Evergreen International held its annual conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. Evergreen is a non-profit organization that ‘helps’ LGBT Mormon youth “diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior.” Each year, a general authority of the LDS Church gives the keynote address at the conference.
Elder Bruce C. Hafen spoke at Evergreen last year. His address was widely regarded as a step backward for the LDS Church on homosexuality. You can read his address here. This year, Bishop Keith B. McMullin delivered the keynote address. Details from The Salt Lake Tribune:
An LDS general authority on Saturday comforted Mormons who are attracted to people of the same sex but want to live by the church’s chastity rules, which bar sexual acts outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
“Each of us has problems,” said Bishop Keith B. McMullin, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Together, we shall overcome them.”
On Saturday, McMullin said people with same-sex attraction should not call themselves “gay” or “lesbian.” He offered advice to LDS ecclesiastical leaders in the audience of about 200 people.
“If someone seeking your help says to you, ‘I am a homosexual,’ or, ‘I am lesbian,’ or, ‘I am gay,’ correct this miscasting,” McMullin said. “Heavenly Father does not speak of his children this way and neither should we. It is simply not true. To speak this way seeds a doubt and deceit about who we really are.”
He said every individual is a “son or daughter” of God. Jesus Christ, McMullin said, has the power to lift the “burden” of every “man and woman, boy and girl.”