Can “Big Tent” Mormonism Really Work?

It’s been suggested that “Big Tent” Mormonism is a good thing.  That the Church is stronger if its members have a diversity of doctrinal and political opinions.  However, recent events have brought this idea into serious question.

The Church today is heavily bifurcated.  On the extreme right, are the Bundyites, Snufferites, and alt-right.  On the intellectual left, are people like the Givens and Bushmans.  For all intents and purposes, these two extreme are NOT compatible.  They both belong to different churches.

On the right, Denver Snuffer has been excommunicated.  But many of his followers are still members of the Church.  Some believe the Church is in apostasy, and they back this up with personal revelation.

As far as I know, Cliven Bundy is still a member of the Mormon Church, even though he has lead an armed insurrection against the Federal government.  He defends his fight using Mormon scriptures and his justification is outlined in “The Book of Nay.”

Even more problematic is Ayla Stewart, who attempts to fuse Mormon beliefs and scriptures with an alt-right, racist agenda.

Many conservative Mormons are biblical literalists which frequently leads to anti-science beliefs:  anti-evolution, anti-vaxxing, anti-global warming, etc.  And they backup their conservative religious and political views by pointing out that most of the P3 and Q12 are Republicans, and by quoting Joseph Fielding Smith and Ezra Taft Benson.  They are also buttressed by past teachings of CES  and BYU religion staff.

The BYU religion department has made overtures to the the Christian right.  This initiative concerns many liberal members; they are uncomfortable with many aspects of Evangelicalism.

On the left, feminist Kate Kelly has been excommunicated.  While most of her followers are still in the Church, many sympathizers feel uncomfortable with the Church’s all male leadership.

And many have accused Terryl and Fiona Givens, of defining their own liberal version of Mormonism, a brand some accuse of deviating from the official message.  In their new book The Christ Who Heals, the Givens argue  that if Mormons want to find a religious strand with a familiar spirit, they shouldn’t look to Catholics or Evangelicals but rather to Eastern Christianity.

Progressive Mormons tend to be centrist Republicans or Democrats.  They believe that science and religion are compatible.  And that the LBGTQ community needs to have equal rights.

They do not believe in a literal Old Testament (certainly not a literal Book of Genesis).  And some are starting to question the veracity of The Book of Mormon.  Wondering if it is inspired fiction.

It is obvious that the Bundys and the Givens are clearly in different churches.  Yet both fly the same banner.  I would like to see Mormon Church leaders start to move all members toward a greater acceptance of science.  This will bring both conservative and liberal Mormons closer together, and into a more compatible tent.  For most educated young Mormons, biblical literalism does not work.  And for this reason, many have and will continue to leave the Church.

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