We gather here today to mourn the passing of Big Tent Mormonism. It lived a short life, but a life with much impact on the lives of the saints who needed it the most. Big Tent Mormonism was born on that October morning in 2013 when Dieter F. Uchtdorf stood at the grand pulpit in the midst of the Conference Center and proclaimed, without a single airplane analogy, that there is room for you. That despite your doubts, despite your lack of faith, and despite yours and other's imperfections, there is room for you in this church.
Well, that lasted long.
Big Tent Mormonism was pronounced dead last week with the announcement that John Dehlin of Mormon Stories, and Kate Kelly of Ordain Women both received notice that they would be facing a church disciplinary court and face possible excommunication. By now I probably don't have to tell you why this is happening, but in case you have Comcast and your internet has been out for a while you can read about it here, here, here, and here.
What I do want to tell you is that John Dehlin and Kate Kelly have both been inspirational to me in my ongoing faith journey. And that their example of asking hard questions and still embracing Mormonism in their own way has been key to my own struggles with church history and doctrine.
But to me their impending church disciplinary hearings, and as everyone is speculating their eventual excommunications, have only shown me that the idea that we can stand together as Mormons with a wide spectrum of faith has come to an end.
However, the idea of Big Tent Mormonism doesn't have to die, despite the fear and sorrow that these potential excommunications have caused. Big Tent Mormonism can continue in our homes, where different ideas can be discussed with love and understanding. It can continue in our quorum and auxiliary meetings where teachers and leaders can allow for the discussion of doubts and troubling issues. It can continue in the offices of Bishops where empathy, understanding and true charity is extended, and not simply referenced as kind words in a disciplinary form letter.
Big Tent Mormonism can continue if we, the members, allow it to. I hope we do. I hope the tent continues to expand and can help heal the wounds that are left. Let's give Big Tent Mormonism some CPR.
Kyle works in Democratic politics, yet somehow his bishop still lets him participate in church activities. He hails from Washington DC, but is embarking on a year of living in Salt Lake City and being a stay-at-home dad, while his amazing wife brings home the bacon. Actual bacon. No, seriously, she works across the street from a grocery store. It's delicious. Kyle's Mormon street cred comes from the fact that he is the youngest of seven children and is only five years older than his niece. Twitter: @KJinSLC.
Image credit: Scott Heffernan (used with permission).