Not So Perfect

If you haven’t paid a visit to Cognitive Dissenter lately, you ought to. This post eviscerates the notion that The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM is perfect, despite the traditional saying that “the Church is perfect, even if the people aren’t.” It’s a damning collection of information. It would take quite a bit of Kool-Aid to overlook it all and not simply be taking the piss when you deny it.

But let’s say all of that factual information doesn’t matter. Let’s simply examine the structure of the church to see whether or not it is perfect, despite the failings of its people:

If the Church is perfect even though the people are not, then the Church ought to be structured in a way to have checks and balances on human imperfection.

The organisation that makes the rules is the same organisation that investigates violations of the rules. Conflict of interest much? You couldn’t run a government or a charity that way. If human imperfection is inevitable, then why doesn’t LDS, Inc. have a clear and public method of reporting abuses, addressing dysfunction, and exposing malfeasance on the part of volunteers and paid staff?

If the Church is perfect even though the people are not, then why don’t leaders have to go through a repentance process when they wrong a member under their guidance?

Have you ever received horrible counsel from a bishop? Stake president? Oh, you too then? Did anybody ever apologise? I’m not talking about publicity stunts like paedophile priests washing feet. I mean a simple, clear, heartfelt apology as part of a repentance process when an all-too-human Mormon ecclesiastical leader harms a parishioner intentionally or unintentionally. Have you ever heard of that happening? Me neither. Are you aware of any policy requiring this in the Church Handbook of Instructions, or even informally? Me neither.

A church that is allegedly perfect would have to deliberately look out for ways to compensate for the mistakes and abuses of men given substantial amounts of power over other people. These failsafes simply don’t exist in the LDS Church, and when someone is hurt, they are usually ignored or shrugged off as collateral damage. A perfect church would recognise in advance that it would have to do a good deal of repenting on a regular basis.

Mormons, please stop repeating this bloody nonsense that the Church is perfect. You’re only enabling the systematic devaluing of people who have experienced abuse and driving more members away from you. Sorry if I spilt your Kool-Aid there, but perhaps it’s time for you to consider a more grown-up beverage anyway.

11 thoughts on “Not So Perfect

  1. Good points. It seems that a perfect system could find a way to compensate for all of the imperfections, but instead, they just play pretend, and say shit like, “The church is perfect, the people aren’t.”

    I’d like to write this on my own blog, but I’m not quite ready… In my mind, the people are just following the crazy teachings of a crazy church… The people would be absolutely perfect if they didn’t try to be members of a crazy cult.

  2. What you advocate will never happen. Because it’s fatal to one of the church’s non-negotiable claims of legimacy: revelation and inspiration to leaders from lowly bishop all the way up to president & prophet. One does not apologize for revelation. So a mechanism for leaders to repent of bad advice would assume the possibility that sometimes they aren’t inspired and haven’t received revelation. The church will never officially admit that, even if it’s true.

  3. Bullseye, Molly.
    Once upon a time, before the Internet, the Morg kept its members in line with fear, threats, carrots for the penises-bearing members, shame and humiliation for those without the requisite genital equipment…
    Today we have a number of strong voices (Molly is a sterling example) willing to speak out against the abuse and Kool-aid mentality that keeps the ga’s iron grip on so many, some that are too young to be able to leave. And that keeps them in harm’s way.
    I hope this post gets read by and acted upon by those being abused, or maybe a parent debating whether they should leave the church.
    As a victim of this twisted logic (the Church is perfect…) I know firsthand of the damage that it causes.
    How much more collateral damage will occur?
    Keep turning on the light now and again, Molly- it’s the only way to target the cockroaches.

  4. Nicely done. But Kool-Aid is the essence of faith. You don’t seriously practice any religion as a mature, thinking adult, without a voluntary suspension of disbelief. A lot of people desperately WANT to believe.

  5. Wow. What St.ain’t said. This post is a bullseye. To me it was the arrow that went through the arrow that was already in the bullseye. Such excellent logic. The lack of checks and balances is the big red flag, isn’t it?

    Thank you!

  6. Wow . . . The flaws you just pointed out could apply to so many other religious institutions too. (The Catholic Church comes to mind.)

    Organized religion needs to enter the 21st century and enact some measure of justice and accountability for its leaders, or these problems will continue.

  7. I really appreciate your take on this important topic, Molly. Your insights are absolutely spot-on. As I mentioned in my response to your comment, I would love to see other bloggers take on this topic because I think everyone’s approach adds something unique, a different and important and necessary insight.

    I say let’s start a movement to hold this “perfect” church accountable for its blatant and ugly imperfections. Maybe we can even help a few TBMs stop believing that their church is perfect and they aren’t. They would be much healthier for it.

  8. I also heard that the gospel is true/perfect but the people aren’t. I think that also opens up a can of worms. What exactly is the gospel they are talking about? The good news of Mormonism???? I think we can strike that one down pretty fast. Maybe that includes Mormon doctrine??? That changes daily? Or is just minor flecks of history? That one analogy of the gospel doesn’t work either. Great post!

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  11. Great points! The mishies who had been visiting me kept telling me that the gospel is perfect even if its writers weren’t, so if I find something faulty with the book of Mormon I should give the benefit of a doubt that the fault(s) came from the author, but the message is still perfect. The twisty logic is so circularly entangled I don’t even know where to begin unraveling it. 😛 And when I asked them how am I supposed to tell which part of the BoM is fine and which is faulty due to its author, the mishies just fell back on the ‘pray about it’ thingy. It drives me absolutely batty! 😦

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