A speaker uses his ward pulpit to divorce himself from the LDS Church.---
Give Todd Whitaker credit for bravery. In an LDS Church service earlier this month, he used the testimony meeting as a way to express his disappointment about his church's involvement in keeping equality for gay couples at bay. He also used it as his final testimony, as he was escorted out of the ward house after he, it seems, revoked his membership in the church.
The speech is delivered very calmly, and is especially impressive (from a public speaking perspective) after the bishop cuts Todd's microphone, since he just barrels through to the end. It is also well-written, concise, and does not mince words. Extra credit for Todd's calm demeanor the entire time, up through the escorted exit. He does what every good speech should: he keeps the focus on the message, not the messenger.
The obvious criticism is that this was staged, which it was in the sense that he prepared the testimony and had at least two people recording it from the first. But the reaction of the bishop, who tries to stop him halfway through, to the dead silence (babies excepted) of the other ward members, could not be staged. Really, this could have gone many ways, most of them ugly and ridiculous, and if it were truly staged, that is exactly what would have happened.
Comments on the blogs and on YouTube are a heady debate about the appropriateness of this statement in a church setting. It's a valid question, but one which I don't think the LDS Church and its members have a right to ask after the Prop 8 involvement.
Quite frankly, Mormons asked for this, from Thomas Monson to Susie Homemaker and Joe Bishop. When they entered the fray of what is a political debate, not a religious debate, they relinquished the right to cry sanctuary. They used their ward houses, their church pulpits, their books of hymns and gospels, to cram gay couples back into a cage they do not belong. Their religion became a political weapon, and for somebody to turn it on its head and strike back with that same weapon is not inappropriate. It is fitting, and probably not the last time it will happen.
Oh, and anyone who thinks that the gay marriage debate is religious? Wrong. Despite the lies told by Prop 8 supporters, nothing would preclude the LDS Church or Catholic Church or any other church from refusing to religious recognize gay marriage. They could still keep the homosexuals out of their heavens. They just couldn't prevent them from having the same legal rights as other gay couples during their lives.
On a final aside, I also think that this testimony and the many, many comments supporting his position by people claiming to be active Mormons or, because of Prop 8, former Mormons speaks to the validity of this story, which the LDS Church bitch-slapped.
So, big props to Mr. Whitaker, if only for the bravery to stand by his convictions. For a Q&A with Todd, visit the Main Street Plaza blog. And, here's the video: