In a recent misbegotten rant to young LDS singles in Tempe AZ, Elder Jeffery R. Holland unleashed the following:
Don’t you dare bail. I don’t know whether ‘furious’ is a good apostolic word. But I am. What on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of patty-cake, taffy-pull experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered, as if nothing in our contemporary life mattered, as if this is all just supposed to be “just exactly the way I want it and answer every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that and defy this – and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-Day Saint”?! Well, there’s too much Irish in me for that.”
While I can understand his frustration, the leadership needs to shoulder some of the responsibility and blame for the recent exodus of members.
And in an equally troubling commencement address at BYU, Elder L. Whitney Clark warned graduates:
The faithless often promote themselves as the wise, who can rescue the rest of us from our naivete. . . . We should disconnect immediately and completely from listening to the proselytizing efforts of those who have lost their faith, and instead reconnect promptly with the Holy Spirit.
For a church that has 75,000 missionaries out proselytizing non-members and inactives, the above advise is disingenuous and more than a little paranoid. It is an overreaction to the current exodus of members from the Church. Another overreaction is the BYU’s current policy to immediately expel once Mormon students that leave the Church. Surely, if Mormonism is the “only true church,” it can surely survive defections and friendly discussions.
Instead of advising youth not to leave and warning them against discussions with the “faithless,” perhaps the leadership should give the members much better reasons for staying. Two good reasons that I can think of are:
- The Relief Society’s program to help refugees
- The Church’s recently announced global educational initiative
Helping your global neighbors is an idea that resonates with most Mormons.