Befriending a Fake Prostitute
"Will you stop calling me that?" she'd interrupt. "My name is Katie."
"Right, Katie, you should come work at Jenson Online instead. I've worked there since September and I love it so much that I may never leave. You get to see all kinds of interesting books, you get to listen to music the whole time (unless you're driving a forklift, which is awesome in and of itself), they give you food once a week, and they do monthly drawings where you can get gift cards and stuff. I heard they're hiring a bunch of people right now. You should apply and send your resume to email@example.com."
"Okay," she'd say.
But I don't want to be friends with a fake prostitute who doesn't exist. That's where I draw the line. So the dozens of Facebook requests I've received from them in the last month or so have gotten to be pretty dang annoying.
I have accepted requests from people I don't know, with no mutual friends, and I've met some great people that way and that, for example, is how I got invested in Entebbe Alpha & Omega Development Organization Uganda. But I only did so when I was reasonably certain that they were real people. I'm honestly a bit insulted that someone or some computer program thinks I'm stupid enough to believe that dozens of scantily clad women looking for sex live in my city and have all decided to join Facebook this month. Or even one, really. And who says I'm into that sort of thing, anyway? If someone did, they were grossly mistaken. But I did recognize that either the women in the profile pictures were real women, or CG humans have already advanced dramatically since "Rogue One". Where did the pictures come from? I Google Imaged one from a profile named Dakota Donna Merritt and found that it originally came from woman not named Dakota Donna Merrett, on a social media site I'd never heard of. I assume the rest of them are a similar story of theft.
But they'd worn me down by this point. I was tired of clicking "Delete Request" and "Mark as Spam" almost every day, and thought maybe I could try having some fun instead. I was inspired by a woman I recently read about who severely trolled a Nigerian scammer. I accepted Dakota Donna Merrett's request and messaged "her" to see what would happen. Alas, I don't have a hilarious story to share about that because the only thing that happened was that "she" deleted "her" account.
Arguing with a Jackass
Last weekend, Apostle Dale G. Renlund gave a Q&A broadcast to LDS youth throughout Africa. Then the Salt Lake Tribune ran an article about it, and the excerpt they chose as a blurb for the Facebook post was this: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not begin sending missionaries to black Africa until 1978, when the Utah-based faith ended a long-standing ban on ordaining black men and boys to its all-male priesthood and excluding black women from entering its temples." I didn't mind them having this historical information in the article, despite it having literally nothing whatsoever to do with the actual story, but putting it as the blurb when it has literally nothing whatsoever to do with the story was just a pathetic, shameful display of the Tribune's bias that I've come to depend on.
Obviously one can be forgiven for finding this ban disturbing - not just at face value, but even more so for how poorly understood, inconsistently applied, and racistly rationalized it was from the very beginning. I found it so disturbing that I spent years grappling with it. I read and watched everything I could about it, pro-LDS, anti-LDS, source documents whenever possible. I'm confident that there are very few people in the world who have read and watched as much about it as I have, and that the historical overview I compiled in the process is the most extensive and thorough one ever published. I even had that on my resume for a while, but took it off because no one seemed to care. And I know most people have neither the need nor the desire to read that much about it, but for those who do, I've made it super convenient. You're welcome. So it's pretty cute when critics who haven't studied this topic a hundredth as much as I have purport to lecture me on it, telling me things that a. I already know or b. simply aren't true.
In a reply to a comment I referred to the priesthood ban as "a policy that ended nearly 40 years ago", and then a condescending jackass named Brandon Trujillo took it upon himself to educate me. "Christopher Randall Nicholson, policy? Oh my dear child... Policy?" he said. "Try foundational doctrine that will never change and was received by direct revelation to the Prophets and first presidency. See for yourself, the OFFICIAL correspondence between Nelson Lowry and the first presidency. From the archives of Utah State University. So who is lying? The Prophets then, or the Prophets now?"
I didn't want to bother trying to answer his accusation poorly disguised as a question, as I don't accept the assumption loaded into it. But contrary to his assumption, this "dear child" has not only read the correspondence between Nelson Lowry and the First Presidency multiple times but included every word of it in my historical overview. As unpalatable as it is, and I won't downplay that, it doesn't say what he thinks it says. This is a little prideful of me, but I wish I could have seen his face when he realized he had picked the wrong Mormon to patronize. Of course he just dismissed my "little write-up", which I'm sure he didn't actually read that quickly unless he has literally nothing else to do with his time, as having "spewed the same apologists [sic] talking points that all the others before you have" and reiterated his "question" without engaging with anything in it. This is a pretty consistent theme among those who claim to be critical thinkers while their opponents are brainwashed. To use his own words back at him, "Someone in wilful [sic] denial of facts isn't exactly someone I expect to have any meaningful conversation with."
The priesthood ban was ended by a revelation to LDS Church president and prophet Spencer W. Kimball after years of prayer. (A previous president, David O. McKay, also prayed for such a revelation but got a negative response. Nonetheless, he did everything in his power to reduce the ban's scope.) Critics who don't accept the veracity of this revelation insist that the Church just caved to social or political pressure. But unfortunately for them, the facts don't line up with this hypothesis by any stretch of the imagination. Aside from a couple incidents, pressure over this issue evaporated after 1970. Therefore an astonishing number of critics have resorted to parroting the barefaced lie that the federal government was threatening to revoke the LDS Church's tax-exempt status. This time around I saw a less common but equally false variation: that the ACLU was threatening a lawsuit. Of course I don't let such things stand unchallenged when I see it, and of course it does no good because they aren't concerned about truth. Don't tell me to "check my facts" when I call you out for making crap up, Donna Kani. The burden of proof is on you.
Actually, one can deny the veracity of the revelation without appealing to non-existent external factors. It's no secret that the LDS Church was trying to expand into black Africa, especially West Africa where tens of thousands of people had read LDS literature, become converted and started meeting in unofficial congregations while waiting for someone to come baptize them; or that it was about to dedicate a temple in Brazil where an extensive history of race mixing would make it essentially impossible to screen out members with African ancestry. The latter item is one of the things that critics like Paul Savallion wrongly assume I don't know, and the former is one of the things they don't want to know. Of course, internal factors like this raise the question of why the ban wasn't lifted years earlier. Haven't the church leaders always wanted more converts, or tithing payments depending on how cynical you are? Why would they shoot themselves in the foot by not letting that happen? It's almost as if their hands were tied because they sincerely believed they needed a revelation to do so... but nah.
A couple months afterward, non-Mormon scholar of Mormonism Jan Shipps wrote, "Despite the persuasiveness of this interpretation, the June 9 revelation will never be fully understood if it is regarded simply as a pragmatic doctrinal shift ultimately designed to bring Latter-day Saints into congruence with mainstream America. The timing and context, and even the wording of the revelation itself, indicate that the change has not to do with America so much as with the world... Predicting the impact of the June 9 revelation on the growth pattern of the Church would be risky. But the fact that this revelation came in the context of worldwide evangelism rather than domestic politics or American social and cultural circumstances is yet another indication that Mormonism can no longer be regarded as a 19th-century religio-cultural artifact and dismissed as a footnote to the story of American religion. Mormonism is here to stay. Where did it come from? And more important, how and why is it growing at such a rapid pace?"
Some African-American Mormons are very bothered by the priesthood ban while others don't seem to care much at all. African Mormons, who mostly don't share their heritage of racial prejudice from white people within their own countries, by and large don't care much at all - and yes they do know about it, despite the insistence of critics that because they don't have as much internet access they're cut off from the rest of the world and kept in ignorance of "the truth" about Mormonism. It's pretty common knowledge even if the nitty gritty details aren't. The thousands who waited for baptism in the 1960s knew about it somehow - it's almost as if they had other ways of disseminating information - and didn't care. Modern members know because it's mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants (canonized scripture), a Gospel Topics essay that's now required reading for all institute of religion students, and sometimes in church talks and articles. So I don't think they need white people in Utah to feign self-righteous outrage on their behalf over a policy that ended nearly forty years ago.
Oh, what's that, Carol Clayton? Donny Osmond was asked about the priesthood ban in a television interview shortly before it was lifted? I had no idea whatsoever that such a thing ever happened. Which makes me wonder how a YouTube clip of it got embedded in my my historical overview.