Reconcile the Members of the Body of Christ

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Mormon denomination, has raised charges of apostasy against two prominent Mormons: Kate Kelly of Ordain Women, and John Dehlin of Mormon Stories. Although the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) is not affiliated with any of these organizations, most MTA members are also members of the LDS Church, and some MTA members have strong differing opinions about the recent events.

The MTA affirms the authority of the LDS Church to discipline LDS Church members within the constraints of local laws. It also recognizes the legitimacy of the institutionalized process by which the LDS Church resolves such conflicts, and does not wish to interfere.

All MTA members support a moral vision expressed in the Transhumanist Declaration and the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. The Affirmation states: “We seek the spiritual and physical exaltation of individuals and their anatomies, as well as communities and their environments, according to their wills, desires and laws, to the extent they are not oppressive.” The Declaration states that policymaking within governments and other institutions “ought to be guided by responsible and inclusive moral vision, taking seriously both opportunities and risks, respecting autonomy and individual rights, and showing solidarity with and concern for the interests and dignity of all people …” and that we must “… consider our moral responsibilities towards generations that will exist in the future.”

Emerging technology is connecting us with each other in ways and to extents that are unprecedented in human history. More of us, more often, encounter minds and bodies that differ from our own. Such experiences seem likely to become increasingly pronounced going forward, presenting many social challenges even more serious than those we now face.

While there is more than one way of managing social challenges, Mormonism is nothing if not committed to the way of reconciliation and atonement, as exemplified and invited by Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 17-20). With Jesus, we would trust in, change toward, and fully immerse our bodies and minds in the role of Christ: consoling, healing, and raising each other together (Romans 8: 16-18). With Jesus, we would ask others not only to show love for us, but also to express their will so that we might know how to love them (John 14: 13-15).

The apostle Paul described the Church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). As a body consists of parts with many different functions, so the Church consists of members with many different gifts. As a body needs all of its parts, so the Church needs all of its members. When part of a body suffers, the whole body suffers with it, working to console and heal the whole. So it should be among members of the Church, working to reconcile with each other as one Body of Christ.

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, echoed Jesus and Paul when commenting on the fundamentals of our religion: “The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may. … If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way. Do you believe in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation which He revealed? So do I. Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst; and they will do it before the millennium can be ushered in and Christ takes possession of His kingdom” (History of the Church 5: 499).

Recent events present a crucial opportunity, both for the LDS Church and for Mormons who dissent from mainstream views, to reinforce precedent for reconciliation and atonement. The MTA encourages all involved in or affected by these events to think of and pray for each other, and to avoid actions that would harm each other, weaken families and friendships, or further polarize or homogenize our religion. Compassion, genuinely informed by and concerned for each other’s interests, is our best way forward.

This is an official statement of the Mormon Transhumanist Association on Wednesday 18 June 2014 in accordance with Article IV Section 9 of its Constitution by unanimous vote of its Board of Directors:

Carl Youngblood
Chris Bradford
Don Bradley
Dorothy Deasy
James Carroll
Joseph West
Karl Hale
Lincoln Cannon
Nathan Hadfield

Association Leadership Changes

The Mormon Transhumanist Association has selected new leadership.

Voting members of the Association have elected Chris Bradford, Joseph West and Nathan Hadfield to serve as Directors from 2014 to 2017. They will join Carl Youngblood, Don Bradley, Dorothy Deasy, James Carroll, Karl Hale and Lincoln Cannon on the Association Board of Directors.

The newly composed Board of Directors has appointed Carl Youngblood as Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Dorothy Deasy as Secretary, and Nathan Hadfield as Chief Information Officer.

The Association thanks Chris Bradford for his service as Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Brad Carmack for his service as Director and Secretary, and Carl Youngblood for his service as Chief Information Officer.

Sponsoring Recording of "Atheists & Mormons: Exposing Myths, Dispelling Stereotypes"

The Mormon Transhumanist Association is sponsoring the recording of a panel discussion on "Atheists & Mormons: Exposing Myths, Dispelling Stereotypes", a free public event in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium at the Salt Lake City Public Library on Wednesday 16 April at 7pm. Subsequently, the recording will be available to the public for free on the association's YouTube channel.

The panel discussion has been organized by the American Atheists and will be moderated by Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah. Panelists will address public perceptions of atheists and Mormons, tackle common stereotypes of both groups, dispel myths, and answer audience questions.

The panel will consist of renowned leaders in public perception of atheists and Mormons. Dr. J. B. Haws, author of "The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception", and Dr. Richard Holzapfel, prolific author and expert on Latter-Day Saints church history, will represent Mormon beliefs. Both Haws and Holzapfel are professors at Brigham Young University. The atheist panelists will be American Atheists President David Silverman and Joanne Hanks, author of "'It’s Not About the Sex' My Ass: Confessions of an Ex-Mormon Ex-Polygamist Ex-Wife". A book-signing with Professor Haws and Ms. Hanks will follow the Q&A at the close of the panel discussion.

"We are challenging how atheists and religious people think of each other," said Silverman. "It’s true that many atheist Utahns are ex-Mormons, but many atheists have very little direct experience with Mormons. And many Mormons have very little real-world experience with or knowledge of atheists and how atheism approaches questions of morals, meaning, happiness, and much more. We want to fix that because a better understanding of where we’re all coming from is needed to share political and social space. We’re happy to hear that both sides want to close that gap and are willing to take part in doing so, and we invite the people of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front to join us."

The panel is a “warm-up” event for the American Atheists National Convention, which is kicking off the next day (17 April) at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. Anyone attending the panel or booksigning will also be able to register for convention tickets. The four-day convention runs from Thursday 17 April to Sunday 20 April at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. For more details about the convention, visit http://www.atheists.org/convention2014.

The main branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library is located at 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. The phone number is (801) 524-8200. The event is in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium (capacity 300) and the speakers will be available from 6pm to 6:45pm for press interviews. The event runs from 7pm to 8pm and a book-signing will follow until 9pm.

The Mormon Transhumanist Association and the American Atheists are not affiliated and no endorsements are implied.

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