Episode 84: The Church Handbook of Instructions for Dummies

John Larsen, Zilpha and Mike are Joined by Gale and Eliza to discuss the Church Handbook of Instructions.

Episode 84

73 comments on “Episode 84: The Church Handbook of Instructions for Dummies”

  1. Jason Reply

    Just when I thought you guys have pretty much talked about everything you can in Mormonism, you’ve raised another interesting subject. Great podcast!

    I think most TBMs don’t really want to read the Handbook, even if it were available, because either: 1) they are too busy with their own lives and it just doesn’t seem like a priority and 2) they don’t think that their local leadership will do anything abusive so they don’t feel a need to equip themselves with knowledge.

    That said, so long as the Church does not make the Handbook available to the membership, bishops really need to be trained, directly from HQ, about proper Handbook protocol and procedures. They could easily hold an annual satellite broadcast to bishops and stake presidents about the policies in the manual, changes in policy, etc. Perhaps they already do something like this. I do know that stake presidents meet with area authorities who, in turn, probably have contact with HQ. But this is where the breakdown occurs because personal interpretation and tradition enters the picture, and the rules get violated (e.g. a well-meaning stake president who believes he and his bishops are okay to tell members when they need more kids). That’s why I think direct training from HQ is best. For all I know, maybe they do this already.

    And kudos to Mike! Thanks for joining the podcast, and I really liked your more reasonable approach to towing the TBM line today.

  2. Jason Reply

    Just when I thought you guys have pretty much talked about everything you can in Mormonism, you’ve raised another interesting subject. Great podcast!

    I think most TBMs don’t really want to read the Handbook, even if it were available, because either: 1) they are too busy with their own lives and it just doesn’t seem like a priority and 2) they don’t think that their local leadership will do anything abusive so they don’t feel a need to equip themselves with knowledge.

    That said, so long as the Church does not make the Handbook available to the membership, bishops really need to be trained, directly from HQ, about proper Handbook protocol and procedures. They could easily hold an annual satellite broadcast to bishops and stake presidents about the policies in the manual, changes in policy, etc. Perhaps they already do something like this. I do know that stake presidents meet with area authorities who, in turn, probably have contact with HQ. But this is where the breakdown occurs because personal interpretation and tradition enters the picture, and the rules get violated (e.g. a well-meaning stake president who believes he and his bishops are okay to tell members when they need more kids). That’s why I think direct training from HQ is best. For all I know, maybe they do this already.

    And kudos to Mike! Thanks for joining the podcast, and I really liked your more reasonable approach to towing the TBM line today.

  3. Kris Reply

    Has a new version of the handbook come out? Got a call from my bishop saying that there is new direction that temple worthiness is clearly stated as not a requirement to perform a baptism for your child (which was his position prior).

    • Gale Reply

      Kris, the handbook is published new every 5 years or so on average. In between publications, official letters and policy changes are mailed to Bishops, Stake Presidents, etc. They are instructed to keep these supplemental materials with their copy of the book until the new version is released including them. While I’m not aware of this rule (either way), there may have been a letter about it… or your Bishop learned that he was wrong.

      • Kris Reply

        Thanks for the reply. A quick google search showed that a new version was possibly due soon so I was curious if anyone heard anything specific about this change.

  4. Kris Reply

    Has a new version of the handbook come out? Got a call from my bishop saying that there is new direction that temple worthiness is clearly stated as not a requirement to perform a baptism for your child (which was his position prior).

    • Gale Reply

      Kris, the handbook is published new every 5 years or so on average. In between publications, official letters and policy changes are mailed to Bishops, Stake Presidents, etc. They are instructed to keep these supplemental materials with their copy of the book until the new version is released including them. While I’m not aware of this rule (either way), there may have been a letter about it… or your Bishop learned that he was wrong.

      • Kris Reply

        Thanks for the reply. A quick google search showed that a new version was possibly due soon so I was curious if anyone heard anything specific about this change.

  5. Swearing Elder Reply

    The sports analogy was perfect. (Was that you, Eliza? Even if it wasn’t I’m giving you credit for having the best online name ever.)

    Yeah, most members won’t read it. Most of the common aspects of Mormonism don’t require you to go running to the manual. But just stick it on LDS.org and have it handy for those who do want to know the rules that govern their Mormon lives.

    Or just throw out the CHI and go with the Golden Rule.

  6. Swearing Elder Reply

    The sports analogy was perfect. (Was that you, Eliza? Even if it wasn’t I’m giving you credit for having the best online name ever.)

    Yeah, most members won’t read it. Most of the common aspects of Mormonism don’t require you to go running to the manual. But just stick it on LDS.org and have it handy for those who do want to know the rules that govern their Mormon lives.

    Or just throw out the CHI and go with the Golden Rule.

  7. Patrick Reply

    Funny you should mention vasectomies…I didn’t know that God quasi-officially disapproved of them until after I had mine done. “Whoops…” I thought, “I guess I can’t be an apostle now…”

  8. Patrick Reply

    Funny you should mention vasectomies…I didn’t know that God quasi-officially disapproved of them until after I had mine done. “Whoops…” I thought, “I guess I can’t be an apostle now…”

  9. Dan M. Reply

    On the mission we had to read pages from the “white bible” in our district meeting every week. Perhaps the same thing could be done in Sunday School with the CHoI every Sunday. If not there than it should at least be done in the meeting with the bishop and all the auxiliary leaders every Sunday (the name of which totally escapes me at the moment). Oh, and for a second I thought this was going to be an “everybody team up on Mike” episode, but it turned out great in the end. Keep it up.

  10. Dan M. Reply

    On the mission we had to read pages from the “white bible” in our district meeting every week. Perhaps the same thing could be done in Sunday School with the CHoI every Sunday. If not there than it should at least be done in the meeting with the bishop and all the auxiliary leaders every Sunday (the name of which totally escapes me at the moment). Oh, and for a second I thought this was going to be an “everybody team up on Mike” episode, but it turned out great in the end. Keep it up.

  11. Gale Reply

    The mechanics of the church are fascinating and complicated. I’m just glad that our faithful leaders have something like the CHI to turn to. I would pity their burden all the more if they didn’t have it.

    It was a thrill and an honor being on this episode. My apologies for the periodic static and distortion from me. I had no idea that it had become problematic, as I could hear everyone else just fine.

    Long live John and Zilpha!

  12. Gale Reply

    The mechanics of the church are fascinating and complicated. I’m just glad that our faithful leaders have something like the CHI to turn to. I would pity their burden all the more if they didn’t have it.

    It was a thrill and an honor being on this episode. My apologies for the periodic static and distortion from me. I had no idea that it had become problematic, as I could hear everyone else just fine.

    Long live John and Zilpha!

  13. Mike Tannehill Reply

    I was curious how this one would turn out. I’m glad people like it.

    The handbook was more interesting than I thought it would be. Some interesting stuff in there, and I liked how many scriptures were referenced in it.

  14. Mike Tannehill Reply

    I was curious how this one would turn out. I’m glad people like it.

    The handbook was more interesting than I thought it would be. Some interesting stuff in there, and I liked how many scriptures were referenced in it.

  15. Sam Andy Reply

    I haven’t listened yet, but can tell you that a new CHI (both books) is coming out in November. Gale is right, it is relieving to church leaders to have something that gives them some guidance. Sometimes, however, that depth of detail can be stifling to the Spirit, I think. I’m grateful for bishops who use the CHI wisely. In some circumstances it could be wielded as a club if so desired.

    If I recall correctly, Lavina Anderson gave a great presentation on the CHI over the years at the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium in 2009. I don’t think you can fully appreciate the CHI until you have gotten into the various versions and the “institutional forgetting” that has occurred in the Church, as demonstrated by the magnitude of church government changes over the years. Since old versions of the CHI are promptly destroyed, there isn’t much chance for the average person to track the changes that happen and view the whole thing from a broad historical and sociological perspective. The Church’s position on birth control, for example, has changed significantly over the years. This could be easily documented by reviewing past CHI editions, but the Church doesn’t want that kind of scrutiny from either inside or outside the ranks.

    One thing that interests me is the difference between the mandate regarding discipline in the scriptures and the current, almost exclusive use of the CHI. In D&C 20:80 it states that anyone transgressing or being overtaken in fault “shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.” The role of the scriptures in Church discipline has almost entirely been replaced by the CHI. Sure, scriptures are used in disciplinary councils to provide guidance, counsel and comfort, but the outcome of the court is largely determined by the directions in the CHI, whether it be some sort of probation, disfellowshipment or excommunication.

  16. Sam Andy Reply

    I haven’t listened yet, but can tell you that a new CHI (both books) is coming out in November. Gale is right, it is relieving to church leaders to have something that gives them some guidance. Sometimes, however, that depth of detail can be stifling to the Spirit, I think. I’m grateful for bishops who use the CHI wisely. In some circumstances it could be wielded as a club if so desired.

    If I recall correctly, Lavina Anderson gave a great presentation on the CHI over the years at the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium in 2009. I don’t think you can fully appreciate the CHI until you have gotten into the various versions and the “institutional forgetting” that has occurred in the Church, as demonstrated by the magnitude of church government changes over the years. Since old versions of the CHI are promptly destroyed, there isn’t much chance for the average person to track the changes that happen and view the whole thing from a broad historical and sociological perspective. The Church’s position on birth control, for example, has changed significantly over the years. This could be easily documented by reviewing past CHI editions, but the Church doesn’t want that kind of scrutiny from either inside or outside the ranks.

    One thing that interests me is the difference between the mandate regarding discipline in the scriptures and the current, almost exclusive use of the CHI. In D&C 20:80 it states that anyone transgressing or being overtaken in fault “shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.” The role of the scriptures in Church discipline has almost entirely been replaced by the CHI. Sure, scriptures are used in disciplinary councils to provide guidance, counsel and comfort, but the outcome of the court is largely determined by the directions in the CHI, whether it be some sort of probation, disfellowshipment or excommunication.

  17. Randy S Reply

    As a former High Priest Group Leader I “have” to make one correction. The reason there isn’t a High Priest Quorum President in the ward is not bc the bishop is the presiding high priest but bc the HP quorum is the whole stake and the SP is the president of the HPQ.

    Also, my bishop every PEC and ward council had a CHI message shared. Not sure if this is common but my bi

    • Randy S Reply

      Sorry, didn’t finish my post but my bishop loved the CHI. His favorite phrase was, “It’s not in the handbook” when someone like the RSP would say it’s the priesthood’s responsibility to run a nursery for Enrichment.

  18. Randy S Reply

    As a former High Priest Group Leader I “have” to make one correction. The reason there isn’t a High Priest Quorum President in the ward is not bc the bishop is the presiding high priest but bc the HP quorum is the whole stake and the SP is the president of the HPQ.

    Also, my bishop every PEC and ward council had a CHI message shared. Not sure if this is common but my bi

    • Randy S Reply

      Sorry, didn’t finish my post but my bishop loved the CHI. His favorite phrase was, “It’s not in the handbook” when someone like the RSP would say it’s the priesthood’s responsibility to run a nursery for Enrichment.

  19. Glenn Reply

    Good discussion to all involved. I enjoyed the contributions of Eliza and Gale, and I really really miss talking with Mike. I would love to explore this idea of ordinances in more detail — this idea that the priesthood holder only damns himself by performing ordinances unworthily. I think that Mike is correct in the sense that this is the common popular belief in the church, but it has become over the years so ridiculous to me — like a bunch of antiquated magic-minded superstitious mumbo jumbo.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      I know we have discussed priesthood for dummies. Maybe we could do that in two parts, one on history and one on the various ordinances.

      As far as mumbo jumbo goes, withcraft and similar forms of ritual are satanic imitations. Attention to them dilutes, and can corrupt, proper understanding and respect for the real thing.

      How can we hope to understand our ultimate potential of becoming as the Father if we do not act as Christ did in binding and sealing and caring for our children and our brothers and sisters?

  20. Glenn Reply

    Good discussion to all involved. I enjoyed the contributions of Eliza and Gale, and I really really miss talking with Mike. I would love to explore this idea of ordinances in more detail — this idea that the priesthood holder only damns himself by performing ordinances unworthily. I think that Mike is correct in the sense that this is the common popular belief in the church, but it has become over the years so ridiculous to me — like a bunch of antiquated magic-minded superstitious mumbo jumbo.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      I know we have discussed priesthood for dummies. Maybe we could do that in two parts, one on history and one on the various ordinances.

      As far as mumbo jumbo goes, withcraft and similar forms of ritual are satanic imitations. Attention to them dilutes, and can corrupt, proper understanding and respect for the real thing.

      How can we hope to understand our ultimate potential of becoming as the Father if we do not act as Christ did in binding and sealing and caring for our children and our brothers and sisters?

  21. Tierza Reply

    Really interesting discussion. There are so many weird and random, detailed rules in the church (like the one about which instruments are allowed in Sacrament meeting) and yet so many important areas in which the leaders are left to their own inspiration (like what to do when uses pornography). Perhaps the handbook is private because they don’t want the questioning parts of the church membership to wonder why God cares so much about what music we use to worship him yet doesn’t have one right and effective method of helping ‘sinners’ to repent and change. Guess knowing how to run sacrament meeting or conduct a funeral are more important than knowing all the mysteries of applying the atonement.

  22. Tierza Reply

    Really interesting discussion. There are so many weird and random, detailed rules in the church (like the one about which instruments are allowed in Sacrament meeting) and yet so many important areas in which the leaders are left to their own inspiration (like what to do when uses pornography). Perhaps the handbook is private because they don’t want the questioning parts of the church membership to wonder why God cares so much about what music we use to worship him yet doesn’t have one right and effective method of helping ‘sinners’ to repent and change. Guess knowing how to run sacrament meeting or conduct a funeral are more important than knowing all the mysteries of applying the atonement.

  23. carlos Reply

    interesting discussion, however one thing missing is that chi is considered more of a guide than a strict policy book. we still need to follow the spirit even if prompting’s go against chi. when that happens most that can happen is that one is told by ones leaders that the chi says this and that.

    also although high councilors don’t take a copy home there is copy available in high council room for reference freely.

  24. carlos Reply

    interesting discussion, however one thing missing is that chi is considered more of a guide than a strict policy book. we still need to follow the spirit even if prompting’s go against chi. when that happens most that can happen is that one is told by ones leaders that the chi says this and that.

    also although high councilors don’t take a copy home there is copy available in high council room for reference freely.

  25. carlos Reply

    Abortion: i think u missed the most liberal aspect, ‘if life OR health of the mother is at risk’ then abortion may be needed. doesn’t that include emotional health? like in the case of a typical 15 year old struggling with teen pregnancy, or a date rape etc?

    i think that the problem is that utah gop’ers prefer the evangelical belief on abortion than what our church actually states is the case.

  26. carlos Reply

    Abortion: i think u missed the most liberal aspect, ‘if life OR health of the mother is at risk’ then abortion may be needed. doesn’t that include emotional health? like in the case of a typical 15 year old struggling with teen pregnancy, or a date rape etc?

    i think that the problem is that utah gop’ers prefer the evangelical belief on abortion than what our church actually states is the case.

  27. lump Reply

    The big box with the CHI’s was delivered to our bishop last week. Included were instructions NOT to distribute until after November 1.

  28. lump Reply

    The big box with the CHI’s was delivered to our bishop last week. Included were instructions NOT to distribute until after November 1.

  29. Nonny Reply

    I have always found the CHI fascinating, perhaps because it was a forbidden fruit. When my husband was in leadership I used to sneak his copy to read. (It was securely hidden under the bed – shhh) As a RS presidency we used to have a handbook lesson (from our mini-handbook) taught at each of our presidency meetings. I bet many bishoprics do the same. In fact, studying the handbook made me realize I could no longer support the aims of the RS in a leadership role. Maybe if the CHI was widely available to all, more people would feel the same.

  30. Nonny Reply

    I have always found the CHI fascinating, perhaps because it was a forbidden fruit. When my husband was in leadership I used to sneak his copy to read. (It was securely hidden under the bed – shhh) As a RS presidency we used to have a handbook lesson (from our mini-handbook) taught at each of our presidency meetings. I bet many bishoprics do the same. In fact, studying the handbook made me realize I could no longer support the aims of the RS in a leadership role. Maybe if the CHI was widely available to all, more people would feel the same.

  31. Derrick Clements Reply

    Yeah, going along with John’s great comment about a lack of checks and balances within the Church…in my perspective, the check and balance comes by comparing what our leaders say against the Spirit. Maybe members don’t have enough healthy skepticism on average, but I personally have been raised to believe in my own promptings and Spirit in addition to what my leaders will say. My mom would always drill me on not listening to any adult who was saying something I thought was wrong, even the bishop (or a really nice lady in my ward, I remember arguing with her about that). My mom is super TBM Mormon, too. I feel like, as a practicing member, I can use my own sense when it seems like my leader is doing something they shouldn’t.

    And as far as the abortion stuff goes, I thought it was interesting to hear what the handbook says, because almost all of that policy can be found word for word in True to the Faith (or, like, here. )

    Anyway, really great podcast episode, and series! I really enjoy the Dummy ones.

  32. Derrick Clements Reply

    Yeah, going along with John’s great comment about a lack of checks and balances within the Church…in my perspective, the check and balance comes by comparing what our leaders say against the Spirit. Maybe members don’t have enough healthy skepticism on average, but I personally have been raised to believe in my own promptings and Spirit in addition to what my leaders will say. My mom would always drill me on not listening to any adult who was saying something I thought was wrong, even the bishop (or a really nice lady in my ward, I remember arguing with her about that). My mom is super TBM Mormon, too. I feel like, as a practicing member, I can use my own sense when it seems like my leader is doing something they shouldn’t.

    And as far as the abortion stuff goes, I thought it was interesting to hear what the handbook says, because almost all of that policy can be found word for word in True to the Faith (or, like, here. )

    Anyway, really great podcast episode, and series! I really enjoy the Dummy ones.

  33. Nate Reply

    Ok here’s a puzzle to try to help me with based on the handbook. I told this story in my podcast and Zilpha and I both agreed it didn’t make any sense.

    So in 1995 I was disfellowshiped for being gay, but wasn’t excommunicated because I still wanted to repent.

    Then in 96 I decided to come out of the closet and leave the church, and told them I wanted my name removed.

    I wrote church headquarters and they told me that they couldn’t do that and I had to go through my local stake president.

    My stake president told me that I couldn’t just remove my name, but since I was disfellowshiped and therefore not worthy, they had to have another church court instead (That’s the part we couldn’t believe was a true statement).

    I wrote a letter to be read at the court but did not attend myself, and received a letter later saying that I was excommunicated.

    Did that whole process confrom to the handbook in that time period?

    In addiion, after excommunication I never asked for my name to be removed, so am I considered a member of the church still if I didn’t do that?

    Does this also mean that the church still has it on record that I am gay?

    Sorry for the long questions but that chapter brought up a lot of questions for me about the process that I went through.

    • carlos Reply

      Some things in the chi changed in 98 including name removal, which became an admin process and not discipline one. Before that year though one needed to be excommunicated to be able to leave the church rather than just having the name removed. For your situation, as a disfellowshiped member who didn’t or wouldn’t repent the only option is to excommunicate even before considering the plea to have your name removed. So therefore they process, as you describe it here, was correctly done back then and probably would be the same today seeing that you were disfellowshiped and didn’t repent.
      As for today the church doesn’t consider you a member however nothing is thrown away in church so all excommunicated members still have a record and the dates of the trial are there and that name is listed on the excommunicated lists. This is done so that if one day you do return to church there are records available of what happened and what was said during the trial, and when you were first baptized etc. As for does the church know your gay, yes, if it was said and written down during the first trial then that trial transcript and form is still available on file should it be needed one day in the future. They are scanned and attached to your master membership record in SLC assumning the bishop or stake presidency worked correctly and completed all the necessary forms off course.

  34. Nate Reply

    Ok here’s a puzzle to try to help me with based on the handbook. I told this story in my podcast and Zilpha and I both agreed it didn’t make any sense.

    So in 1995 I was disfellowshiped for being gay, but wasn’t excommunicated because I still wanted to repent.

    Then in 96 I decided to come out of the closet and leave the church, and told them I wanted my name removed.

    I wrote church headquarters and they told me that they couldn’t do that and I had to go through my local stake president.

    My stake president told me that I couldn’t just remove my name, but since I was disfellowshiped and therefore not worthy, they had to have another church court instead (That’s the part we couldn’t believe was a true statement).

    I wrote a letter to be read at the court but did not attend myself, and received a letter later saying that I was excommunicated.

    Did that whole process confrom to the handbook in that time period?

    In addiion, after excommunication I never asked for my name to be removed, so am I considered a member of the church still if I didn’t do that?

    Does this also mean that the church still has it on record that I am gay?

    Sorry for the long questions but that chapter brought up a lot of questions for me about the process that I went through.

    • carlos Reply

      Some things in the chi changed in 98 including name removal, which became an admin process and not discipline one. Before that year though one needed to be excommunicated to be able to leave the church rather than just having the name removed. For your situation, as a disfellowshiped member who didn’t or wouldn’t repent the only option is to excommunicate even before considering the plea to have your name removed. So therefore they process, as you describe it here, was correctly done back then and probably would be the same today seeing that you were disfellowshiped and didn’t repent.
      As for today the church doesn’t consider you a member however nothing is thrown away in church so all excommunicated members still have a record and the dates of the trial are there and that name is listed on the excommunicated lists. This is done so that if one day you do return to church there are records available of what happened and what was said during the trial, and when you were first baptized etc. As for does the church know your gay, yes, if it was said and written down during the first trial then that trial transcript and form is still available on file should it be needed one day in the future. They are scanned and attached to your master membership record in SLC assumning the bishop or stake presidency worked correctly and completed all the necessary forms off course.

  35. Sam Andy Reply

    Nate,

    It’s pretty standard to convene another court if a member approaches a bishop or stake president with either a desire to complete the repentance process and return to full fellowship, or if the leader learns of further/increasing disobedience by the individual. In your case the SP’s statement about “not being worthy” to remove your name, and needing another court to establish your current fellowship status, seems incorrect to me. They had already established through your first court that you were gay, but that you were trying to “repent” of it. Later, when you decided that repentance wasn’t working, and you fully accepted your homosexuality, you should have been free to drop out of the Church if that was your wish. However, your zealous SP, seeing that you couldn’t change, felt it necessary to excommunicate you.

    The whole thing would probably be handled differently today, unless you were determined to be sexually active. This progressive change in policy regarding homosexuality over the last decade or so is very, very frustrating. It seems like a policy is not developed, or a revelation is not received, or a doctrine not established or clarified, until far too many people have suffered great emotional agonies in their lives.

      • Nate Reply

        Ok so in pre-1989 handbook he might have been doing the right thing, he was just a few years behind. But what about still having me down as a gay person in their records, do you think that’s true?

        • Sam Andy Reply

          Nate – I think it’s almost certain that there’s a notation on your official Church record regarding your excommunication and the reason for it.

  36. Sam Andy Reply

    Nate,

    It’s pretty standard to convene another court if a member approaches a bishop or stake president with either a desire to complete the repentance process and return to full fellowship, or if the leader learns of further/increasing disobedience by the individual. In your case the SP’s statement about “not being worthy” to remove your name, and needing another court to establish your current fellowship status, seems incorrect to me. They had already established through your first court that you were gay, but that you were trying to “repent” of it. Later, when you decided that repentance wasn’t working, and you fully accepted your homosexuality, you should have been free to drop out of the Church if that was your wish. However, your zealous SP, seeing that you couldn’t change, felt it necessary to excommunicate you.

    The whole thing would probably be handled differently today, unless you were determined to be sexually active. This progressive change in policy regarding homosexuality over the last decade or so is very, very frustrating. It seems like a policy is not developed, or a revelation is not received, or a doctrine not established or clarified, until far too many people have suffered great emotional agonies in their lives.

      • Nate Reply

        Ok so in pre-1989 handbook he might have been doing the right thing, he was just a few years behind. But what about still having me down as a gay person in their records, do you think that’s true?

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  38. CAM Reply

    Great podcast, great topic. I’m a little more cynical than any of you. I think the church’s reluctance to distribute the chi more generally has to to with legal and financial liability. Bishops and Stake President’s are giving people advice and counsel with the possibility of serious repercussions in their lives. The equivalent clergy in other denominations are usually professionally trained and there are malpractice implications. Bishops and SPs can and do give advice not in accordance with the chi but people don’t commonly know it.

    As far as there being others in the ward who can figure out if bishops or SP are not using the chi correctly, this might be a bias of someone living in the moridor. Also, a former bishop or SP would have to know of the advice. My 19 year old TBM sister and her RM fiance were told by their SP that they couldn’t have a temple recommend for their wedding unless they agreed not to use birth control of any kind. Of course 10 months later they had their 1st baby, my sister dropped out of college, and 26 years later they are still trying to get out of debt. In subsequent years the truth came out and she received appropriate counsel, but that Provo sp should never have been given that much control.

    As far as your confusion about the group encounters, I’m afraid that I’m old enough to remember EST and other self help encounter groups from the late 60s and early 70s. It seems like someone in the church lumped in some rules about “swinging” for good measure.

  39. CAM Reply

    Great podcast, great topic. I’m a little more cynical than any of you. I think the church’s reluctance to distribute the chi more generally has to to with legal and financial liability. Bishops and Stake President’s are giving people advice and counsel with the possibility of serious repercussions in their lives. The equivalent clergy in other denominations are usually professionally trained and there are malpractice implications. Bishops and SPs can and do give advice not in accordance with the chi but people don’t commonly know it.

    As far as there being others in the ward who can figure out if bishops or SP are not using the chi correctly, this might be a bias of someone living in the moridor. Also, a former bishop or SP would have to know of the advice. My 19 year old TBM sister and her RM fiance were told by their SP that they couldn’t have a temple recommend for their wedding unless they agreed not to use birth control of any kind. Of course 10 months later they had their 1st baby, my sister dropped out of college, and 26 years later they are still trying to get out of debt. In subsequent years the truth came out and she received appropriate counsel, but that Provo sp should never have been given that much control.

    As far as your confusion about the group encounters, I’m afraid that I’m old enough to remember EST and other self help encounter groups from the late 60s and early 70s. It seems like someone in the church lumped in some rules about “swinging” for good measure.

  40. Joe Geisner Reply

    I can see no reason why the Church does not have the GHI on the Church owned website. The Community of Christ makes theirs available on their official website:
    http://www.cofchrist.org/onlineresources/administrators/

    I would think having the GHI available to all members would protect members and leaders alike.

    As far as I can tell, the first GHI was 1899. The entire twelve pages deals with tithing.

  41. Mormonster Reply

    I am sure there are scores of horror stories out there of abuse by local leaders. I for one was surprised recently to find out my bishop had ordained my son a priest when I went on vacation without even telling me or asking me for permission. The thing is I attend church regularly but refuse to get a recomend so my bishop refuses to allow me to perform any priesthood ordinances. I don’t know if there is anything in the CHI about that, but I personally feel it is a fathers right to decide who will perform ordinances and I don’t recall it saying in the scriptures that a man must hold a temple recomend to ordain his sons to the priesthood.

    On another occassion my wife and I went to the Bishop and Stake President to report a sexual abuse case. We were told by both that this individual was seeking council and properly repenting and to not judge. We were told to leave it alone. Long story short, this individual went on to molest several other children including mine! The Bishop went on to become the 2nd councilor in the Stake Presidency and served for 10+ years. I could go on, but . . .

  42. mcarp Reply

    Great podcast. You missed one important facet of the CHI. On a regular basis, letters are sent from SLC that modify or override the CHI. Many of them are of the form, “The second paragraph on page XX should read…”

    This is actually a binding change in church policy. Our stake clerk maintains a special copy of the CHI that is marked up with line outs and notes referring to these letters. Then, the letters are kept in a special binder.

    Most bishops, however, aren’t that organized and unless they have a great memory, aren’t going to remember that the second paragraph on page XX has been changed. Nor are these letters (well, most of them) read in sacrament meeting.

    Here’s another irony. When I was on the high council I was assigned as the advisor to a ward in our stake and told by the SP, “These guys need to be trained to follow the CHI.” But, I didn’t have a copy, so how was I supposed to know if they were following it or not.

    It was a shitty job. Even though I didn’t have any intention of correcting the bishop every time he was out of line, they always referred to me as “the stake spy.” On one occasion, the bishop even asked me to leave the office and wait in the hall during one conversation because he didn’t want it to get back to the SP.

    In my opinion, both bishops and SP have too much unsupervised authority and power. Add to that the fact that most bishops call their buddies to be counselors and the SP generally calls bishops who he knows — and knows will obey him — then there is really no checks and balances.

  43. Dr. Dave Reply

    I keep a bootleg PDF copy of the CHI on my iPhone, and have been known to correct ward and stake leaders on the spot. “See p. 37” for instance, with regard to mandating white shirts for sacrament passing. Nope. It only says that white shirts are suggested.

    1 November, new 2010 CHI should be out. Let the torrents begin.

  44. Dr. Dave Reply

    You alluded to this, but missed a big point to be gleaned from the CHI. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS RESIGNING MEMBERSHIP!

    I don’t recall the pages, but if you check the index under restoration of blessings, it is clear that if you decide to rejoin the church after resigning, you don’t redo ordinances like the Endowment. Instead, you just get a magical fingerwave from the First Presidency that moves your name from the bad ledger over to the good. This means that they are indeed keeping all of your original ordinance records.

    • Dr. Dave Reply

      CHI 2006, P. 122, section “Restoration of Blessings.”

      Restoration of Blessings is an actual ordinance, authorization by the First Presidency is required. This section makes it clear that priesthood ordinations and temple endowment do not get done a second time if you rejoin the church after excommunication or name removal.

      There’s no way they would be able to do this unless they actually keep your records when your resign or get ex’ed.

      Hence, there is no such thing as “having your name removed from the records of the church.”

      Welcome to the Hotel California!

  45. Anonymous Reply

    I think it very likely that a large part of what they really have in mind when they say “For the natural man is an enemy to God” is that the more one strives to discover, test and understand the realities of the natural, observable world and the laws that govern it, the less likely one is to give credence to the nonsense that the leaders of organized religion would rather have us believe.

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