Zelophehad’s Daughters

What One Thing Would You Change About the Church?

Posted by ZD

If you could change one thing about the church, what would you change, and why?

No, you don’t have the power to change the church. But there’s value in making your voice heard anyway: to you, to others who share your issues but think they’re aberrant, and maybe even, eventually, to people in leadership positions:

Latter-day Saints for Change

No issue is too small or too large. We’re looking for letters from ordinary people: active members, inactive members, former members—even never-members, if they’re so inclined. We want the threshold for participation to be low; you’re welcome to include identifying information or not. Your letter needn’t be eloquent or well researched, just thoughtful and sincere. It can be a single paragraph or a memoir.

Our goal is to collect a significant body of letters and group them by topic so they can be easily searched. So far we’re at a grand total of two. And we don’t believe that’s because there are only two outliers out there who feel there’s something in the church that’s worth rethinking.

Some of you are wondering why we have the gall to suggest God’s one and living church change some—any—of its policies. If your view is that the church is unwaveringly inspired in all of its particulars, from the top echelons to the local leadership, this website is not for you; do us both a favor and don’t click on the link. You have nothing to fear from us malcontents: if God has a firm grip on the helm, rest assured it won’t be possible for a ragtag team of disgruntled souls to capsize the boat.

On the other hand, like me, you may be convinced religion is a human enterprise that, at its best, touches the divine. But since the leaders don’t give a hoot what we in the peanut gallery think, why bother throwing away a half-hour composing a letter?

It’s easy to participate in a culture of learned helplessness; in fact, the church encourages this approach. But if no one, inside or out, ever articulates any concerns, the church will have no motivation to reevaluate how its policies affect people. Seven long decades separated the Seneca Falls convention from the ratification of women’s suffrage. Most nineteenth-century suffragists threw their energy behind a project they never saw bear fruit in their lifetimes, but their actions paved the way for privileges that American women now take for granted. Even when change happens on a glacial scale, there’s value in adding your voice to the chorus of those whose hopes for the church exceed their experiences in it. At the very least, it’s therapeutic to articulate your concerns and find likeminded souls.

15 Responses to “What One Thing Would You Change About the Church?”

  1. 1.

    (Hi, grammar fascists! No, it’s not permissible to capitalize a preposition in a title; I’m just feeling rebellious this morning.)

  2. 2.

    I would create a social space for nonbelievers/partial believers/doubters. I have never forgotten how confused I was when I first learned that one can be a good Jew or a good Muslim and an atheist; it seemed baffling that it would be acceptable in those traditions for one’s heart and beliefs to waver. The idea that what matters is one’s actions and observance of tradition sounded impracticable to me because I assumed that an unbeliever wouldn’t bother with traditions. Now I think that, on the contrary, faith will wax and wane and sometimes die altogether, but most people have a deep love of community and family that they will do a lot to hold on to. If we were more accepting of the doubters and unbelievers, and placed fewer requirements on how people think, I believe that we would have a larger, happier, and less contentious community.

  3. 3.

    galdralag,

    Please send that in to the blog! You can email your submission to ldsforchange at gmail dot com.

    “It’s easy to participate in a culture of learned helplessness”

    This is the key for me. Even if nothing ever comes of it, I like knowing that I didn’t stand by because I was afraid that it wouldn’t help, or nothing will change. Maybe nothing will change, but it won’t be because we didn’t stand up and try to make a difference.

  4. 4.

    Sure, thanks Enna. Will do.

  5. 5.

    ” But if no one, inside or out, ever articulates any concerns, the church will have no motivation to reevaluate how its policies affect people.”

    I agree with this, but isn’t that how things are today?

    I was a new member when my ward RS president casually mentioned that she had written the stake presidency about some issue–perhaps how having sacrament last would be better for families. She explained this very principle.

    So I do make such suggestions all the time. but I am more comfortable going directly to the church itself rather than through any other organization.

    Yes, we are not supposed to write letters to SLC, but we regularly get visits at stake and regional conferences, and there are opportunities then to ask questions and raise issues.

  6. 6.

    Scouting divorce!

  7. 7.

    Anita, send a letter (or even a quick message) to ldsforchange at gmail dot com!!

    Naismith, we’d love your support if you want to send a letter in regarding some of your suggestions. We’d like a balanced representation of voices!

  8. 8.

    I would teach people how to seek change within the cooperative hierarchy that is the LDS Church.

    Too often I run into people who are oppositional, assume that the other side is stupid, hypocritical and lacking in logic or good sense, and can be readily called to heel with a trite recitation. Or a not so trite recitation.

    Who miss the point when looking at how the entire change to Blacks and the priesthood came about.

    How to articulate a thought, how to communicate a thought and how to be heard. Those would make great lessons.

  9. 9.

    “If you could change one thing about the church, what would you change, and why?”

    Less concern about the number of members, and more concern about helping those with faith to grow it to the point of worthiness to believe in and experience Miracles. That means make it easier to ex-communicate or allow people to leave the Church. The purpose of the Church is to purify souls, not proliferate or “form a community” for the sake of having a community.

    Stop sending children to do grown up work. I know the scriptures about how we should become like little children or how children will lead, but it doesn’t have to be so literal. The Bible and the early LDS Church didn’t send only young people hardly out of high school to teach the world. Those who were mature in the gospel and often in life were sent out. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard financially and cause its own problems in the modern world. I think it would make more faithful converts who would then have real access to someone as a real world example who can answer questions that young missionaries never had to grapple with. Then the Church can focus on the young getting an education and starting a family earlier in their life.

  10. 10.

    3 hour Blocks- way too much. No time for real service.
    Organizational meetings. Way to many! No time to do real service
    Cleaning the buildings- Pay for someone please!- this is not service, its abuse! No time for real service.
    A community that is insular and not open to much else.
    Stop the lies- You did get involved with prop 8 and the AZ prop. And you did spend church resources on them even if you don’t admit to it. I was there!
    Stop the lies about church history. Lessons would be so much better. We might actually build a stronger testimony- Sink or swim.
    Temple sessions way to long. Less time for more names or other service. I’m sure the dead don’t need to watch the movie! They just need the ordinances. And it is secret!
    Please stop the “position worship”. It starts especially at the top but goes right on down to the ward level. Salvation is individual and not dependant on the calling. But evidently Mormon importance is.
    Please put pictures of the savior in the chapels. Remember, that’s why were there.
    Quit pretending everything an apostle or seventy says is gospel truth to the church members. but then tell the world they are simply opinions which these apostles or 70’s are entitled to.
    Temple recommend interviews where absolutes are the only choice. When we are perfect then maybe. But if the place wasn’t secret we could probably do away with interview all together.
    Stop spending tithing to advertise the church. “ I’m a Mormon” is great if our church were really as cool, hip, easy going and accepting as those commercials make it out to be.
    Get rid of Moroni statue on the temple’s. I can’t imagine why Mormons get accused of worshiping many things except the Savior?

  11. 11.

    I would love to see at least one talk in General Conference, preferably given by the prophet, that clears up all of the myths and urban legends and speculation in the church. Something like:

    “Good morning. My talk today is on evolution. Simply put, the church has no position on it. If you choose to believe or not believe in it, you are no better than anyone else. My talk is also on the priesthood ban on blacks prior to 1978. The ban was a racist policy. Please don’t speculate on anyone’s worthiness. My talk is also on playing cards. No, they are not Satanic. My talk is also on signs of the last days. Please stop making this about Obama. Like him or hate him, but don’t make this a church-thing.”

    And so on.

  12. 12.

    I would change the institutionalism of home teaching. Strong families with a father in the home don’t need a monthly visit to satisfy the bishop’s eyes. He sees them in church and they may even be his counselor or scoutmaster.

    Instead, treat home teaching as an outreach. Don’t have the presidency just assign all families by inspiration (or desperation), but counsel as a quorum, ask for volunteers to visit the widows or the fatherless. Get rid of the monthly scorecard. Use a quarterly quorum meeting to counsel together and make necessary assignments and then use a quorum meeting at the end of the quarter to return and report. Don’t visit active families with active fathers in the home- save that effort for those who can really benefit. If an active quorum member does need some help at home he can ask for it in the quorum meeting.

    Someone may say that such a strategic, surgical approach to home teaching doesn’t allow the Church to accurately determine a percentage due to the quarterly list changing based on the immediate needs of the ward. Also, not everyone in the Church would be visited and figure into the quarterly percentages. Exactly my point. It changes from a guilty obligation to sincere service with only God keeping record.

  13. 13.

    I love the Church and it’s organization. I love the meetings being on one day instead of spread out all week. I love home teaching and visiting teaching. I’d love to have the calling of cleaning the church. I would not change one single thing about the Temple ceremony.

    What would I change?
    I’d reinstate the old way we used to do homemaking meetings. I really miss homemaking night.

    Second, , I’d make meetings 100% FRAGRANCE FREE!
    I come out each week with a migraine that lasts for days! It has completely kept me out of church in some wards.

    Just take a shower, put on deodorant, and call it good, folks. Don’t make my eyes burn with your latest perfume or aftershave!

  14. 14.

    I would not change one single thing about the Temple ceremony.

    Why so progressive? If it were up to me, we’d at least bring back the nudity, the Adamic, the blood oaths, and the oath against the nation. (Oh—and the old-style garments, of course: ankle to wrist to neck, with strings to fasten them.)

  15. 15.

    Just a reminder, we’d love for you to submit your suggestions to the LDSforChange blog by emailing ldsforchange at gmail dot com.

    Thanks!

Leave a Reply