Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watchdog site "goes after" the Mormon church?

Michael Park, you may be looking for a change of profession when your editors realize how misinformed and misleading your article on Wikileaks and the Mormon church is.

I'll skip the complaint about implying Scientology and the LDS church belong in the same category, and get straight to the point: your headline implies that Wikileaks, a website dedicated to whistleblowing on corrupt organizations, is going after the LDS church. But the content of your article doesn't support that statement at all! You only say that the Church's General Handbook of Instructions was posted to Wikileaks, and the church has requested it be removed for copyright reasons.

Then you go on to say that the manual isn't available to the public "or women".

Let's set the record straight: (1) Wikileaks is not implicating the church in any corruption by posting the General Handbook on their website, and (2) the handbook is not secret. I'm not aware of any "corruption" ever occurring in the general church leadership (though some of the apostasy in the early church might raise eyebrows). As for the handbook, I had a copy when I served in the bishopric of my last ward, and it's just a book of instructions on how to operate a stake and a ward, e.g. how meetings are to be run, the duties of the different roles and callings, what things the bishop is allowed to counsel people on, etc.

They don't hand out copies to people who aren't in leadership positions, and we were asked not to lend it out to anybody, but anybody could look through it if they asked me. My wife and I often referred to it for clarification on one point or another, and any time someone (including women) had questions about the Church's policies or position I was happy to review it with them.

It contains policies (how the church operates), not church doctrine (official teachings, which are contained in the scriptures and teachings of the prophets and apostles). If the church changes a policy, they can revise and redistribute the books. The church hasn't said why it doesn't publish the books, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say that if they did, it might create confusion as to which policy was most up-to-date after a revision and/or cause people to try to follow the book instead of their bishop. Or it could open the door for people to criticize their leaders for not strictly adhering to the handbook where the Spirit may dictate certain adjustments for their specific situation. Just a guess.

All said, it doesn't sound like Wikileaks is the one going after the LDS church here. But once you catch up, I hope you'll come inside and see what it's all about.

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