Friday, June 27, 2014

John Dehlin Doubles Down on President Monson's Alleged Dementia

On June 16, 2014, John Dehlin went on Doug Fabrizio's program Radio West and was interviewed about his impending Church disciplinary action. In the course of his interview, Dehlin was asked by Fabrizio about a possible "power vacuum" in Church leadership. Dehlin then made the following statement (around the 20 minute mark).
Yeah, I'm cousins with Ezra Taft Benson, and September 1993 when the September Six happened, there was a power vacuum. It's well known that he was not able to lead the Church. He died the year after. And I've had many people, you know I think it's fair for us to ask 'is President Monson doing okay?' I've heard many people report some form of dementia or alzheimer's, and you know the Church is so powerful today, that if it makes a misstep it can wreck havoc in the lives of individual families and in the Church as a whole. So I think as the Church has become a multi-billion dollar global corporation, can it afford to continue to having 80 or even 90 year old men be in charge of the Church, when if their health goes awry it can create a power vacuum. I'm speculating, but given the pattern here I think it's a fair question to ask.
On the day of the announcement of Kate Kelly's excommunication, Dehlin went onto his Facebook page and created a post with a distasteful (and incorrectly spelled) "monsonhasdimentia" hashtag (in addition to an equally unsavory "powervacuum" hashtag) to accompany it.


In response to my determination to hold Dehlin responsible for perpetuating this repugnant hearsay about President Monson's health, one commenter on this blog obligingly accused me of "dig[ging] through deleted facebook messages to find dirt to smear [Dehlin]."

Well, it would seem that Dehlin is up to his usual tricks, and that, as I suspected, his hashtag wasn't some fluke. Here he is just this morning on his own website.
I am also very concerned about the rumors I have heard for many years, from many, many sources that President Thomas S. Monson is currently experiencing dementia.  I absolutely believe that one’s struggles with medical or psychological conditions deserve privacy and sensitivity.  However, given that Thomas S. Monson is a public figure, the LDS church is a global church, a great deal is at stake regarding current events and the church, and given the fact that the LDS church has the capacity to cause incredible benefit or harm to its members — I believe that it is a fair question to ask if there is a current leadership vacuum within the LDS church. . . . Many reporters have asked me over the past few weeks if the present leadership vacuum caused by President Monson’s alleged dementia has created an environment that would allow for the current actions to be taken against myself, Kate Kelly and others — which many believe to be incredibly damaging to the church’s worldwide image.  I believe that these are important questions that merit consideration, given all that is at stake for the LDS church, its members, and for folks like me and Kate Kelly.
Now, maybe it's creepy and stalkerish of me to, like, you know, quote John Dehlin's public statements from his website. I'll let you be the judge of that. In the mean time, let's pick this comment of his apart, shall we?

"I am also very concerned about the rumors I have heard for many years, from many, many sources that President Thomas S. Monson is currently experiencing dementia."

How many years is "many," John? five years? Ten? Twenty? And when do you mean by "currently"? 1990–2014? 2005–2014? 2008–2014? 2013–2014? Specifics, please.

"I am also very concerned about the rumors I have heard for many years, from many, many sources that President Thomas S. Monson is currently experiencing dementia."

You may be concerned about President Monson's health, John, but you're evidently not concerned with perpetuating hearsay. Notice that every single time you have commented on this, you've helpfully withheld who these sources are that your getting this information about President Monson's health from. So, I ask, who are these sources, John? President Monson's doctor? His daughter? One of his councilors in the First Presidency? An apostle? A Seventy? Someone else, maybe? Like, maybe President Monson's secretary's friend's roommate's uncle? Who? If you're going to be taken seriously, you need to give us some indication of who your sources are that are supplying you with this information. Remember when you were on Fabrizio's program a year ago and you made this claim about Daniel C. Peterson's dismissal from the Maxwell Institute?
All I did is I made one General Authority aware of the publication. And he took it upon himself to go to the president of BYU, and to others, and to ask the question: is this the type of thing that the Church should be sponsoring? And I’m very pleased to say that these church leaders, and I understand that there was an apostle involved in the decision, they made the decision not only that that type of apologetics wasn’t welcome in the Church.
Couldn't you at least do us a favor by giving some kind of hint who your sources are? You evidently weren't afraid to reveal that an apostle was, "as [you] underst[ood] it," "involved in the decision" to fire Dan Peterson (even though this claim seems patently absurd and false), so why the sudden shyness now? But if you won't give the public any kind of indication of who your sources are, then you're guilty of nothing more or less than fostering baseless hearsay. Hearsay, I might add, that is being exploited by rabid and merciless anti-Mormons on the Internet that are determined to mock, belittle, degrade, and even drag President Monson to court on bogus charges of fraud.

"I absolutely believe that one’s struggles with medical or psychological conditions deserve privacy and sensitivity."

Okay, great. So why don't you? Why don't you afford President Monson the courtesy of privacy and sensitivity? Assuming he is suffering from poor mental health, why not be sensitive to his privacy? Why do you keep bringing this up? If you suffered from, say, Count Choculitis, and I heard rumors about it, and kept saying things like "John Dehlin deserves privacy and sensitivity," but then turned right around and kept announcing your rumored health problems whenever it was expedient for me and whatever narrative I wanted to push about you and your leadership skills at the helm of Mormon Stories, how might you receive that?

"However, given that Thomas S. Monson is a public figure, the LDS church is a global church, a great deal is at stake regarding current events and the church, and given the fact that the LDS church has the capacity to cause incredible benefit or harm to its members — I believe that it is a fair question to ask if there is a current leadership vacuum within the LDS church."

Ah! There it is. You keep bringing this up because you feel entitled to know what's going on in the highest councils of the Church. But here's another question for you, John. Why do you suspect a power vacuum at all? And why should the rest of the public? All you have offered as evidence for this conspiracy are as-of-yet anonymous "sources" telling you that President Monson has dementia, and from that you're assuming or inferring that there might possibly be some kind of "power vacuum" today because there allegedly was one back during the September Six ordeal, which you allege "result[ed] directly from a leadership vacuum."

More importantly, it seems rather obvious to me that you're not willing to give the Brethren any sort of benefit of the doubt. Why is that? Why is it that as soon as you face disciplinary action, you immediately start making tenuous parallels between an alleged power vacuum in 1993 with another alleged (and wholly unsubstantiated) power vacuum today?

"I believe that it is a fair question to ask if there is a current leadership vacuum within the LDS church."

You're perfectly free to ask this if you'd like, but I again have to ask why you think it needs to be asked at all to begin with? Do you have any other evidence to support this fantasy of yours that there is a power vacuum in the leadership of the Church today? If so, what is it? Are you really basing your entire suspicion of a power vacuum on these rumors of President Monson's health, or something else?

"Many reporters have asked me over the past few weeks if the present leadership vacuum caused by President Monson’s alleged dementia has created an environment that would allow for the current actions to be taken against myself, Kate Kelly and others."

First of all, anyone who was truly concerned with offering President Monson privacy and sensitivity would say to these reporters, "President Monson's health is not something I should publicly comment on, since it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on his health or private life." Even if you did have reliable sources on this, the appropriate thing to say to these reporters would be, "It is not my place to speak about President Monson's private life," and then refer said reporters elsewhere. But instead you've just kept repeating the same hearsay that's being exploited by enemies of the Church and enemies of President Monson. Is that the sensitive thing to do, John?

In the end, with comments like these, John, it's really hard for me not to conclude that the whole point of you bringing this issue up is to say, "If President Monson was in his right mind, he'd agree with me. Because he has dementia, there must be a power vacuum among the Brethren and one or more of them is out to get me, just like they did with the September Six! That's the only possible explanation for why I am being summoned to a disciplinary hearing."

This sort of mentality is just as egregious, I might add, as when you revealed on Trib Talk back on June 12 that while "[you] have respect for the Church leadership" you nevertheless "do not feel like God is behind this at all," or otherwise that "if Jesus lives and exists" he "wouldn't be doing this" because you "don't see this as legitimate in God's eyes at all, if God exists" (35:24–36:02).

To say it more bluntly, John, your comments here and elsewhere reveal this kind of attitude.


Frankly, John, it's nobody' business, least of all yours, what President Monson's health is. The only reason you seem to be making it an issue is because you're assuming the worst in the Brethren. If you had probable cause to be concerned about a conspiracy and a "power vacuum" in the leadership of the Church, then I'd agree that we should be asking these questions. But so far all you have presented is hearsay evidence and tenuous parallels to 1993. 

So here is my challenge to you, John. Provide your ostensibly reliable and trustworthy sources about President Monson's health, thus confirming that your suspicion of a possible "power vacuum" among the Brethren potentially has some merit (although you'll need a lot more evidence to fully establish this additional claim), or stop speaking ill of the Lord's anointed.

[N.B. President Monson's alleged suffering from poor mental health in and of itself doesn't bother or disturb me. It would be very unfortunate if true, and I hope it isn't true, but because I have confidence in the inspiration of the leadership of the Church and don't buy into any claims of a "power vacuum," I would not be worried about the ability of the Church to fulfill its mission if these rumors about President Monson were true. Instead, I am deeply disturbed by Dehlin's selfish motives for bringing up President Monson's alleged health problems and turning them into a public spectacle.] 

8 comments:

  1. I think the only vacuum is in the integrity of John Dehlin's "sources". Sounds to me like John Dehlin wants to fill the power vacuum. We don't need another John C. Bennett.

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  2. Im not really sure why you feel like you need to pick john dehlin apart. He does a good job with his podcasts, and hes an amiable, intelligent guy. In this whole post, all i see is nitpicking. You seem kinda grumpy, and not very christlike. All his guy was doing is repeating what he had heard about monsons health.

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    1. Kalli,

      I am grumpy. I'm grumpy that Dehlin is pushing this whole "Monson has dementia, therefore power vacuum" claim to undermine the Brethren and aggrandize himself in the eyes of his followers. I'm sorry, but he's doing a lot more than simply repeating what he's heard. He's pushing an agenda, an apostate narrative, to draw people away from the Brethren and towards himself.

      As I show in my follow-up post, it is painfully obvious what Dehlin's game is.

      As for the quality of his podcasts, I will simply have to politely say that I disagree with your assessment.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. You're going to feel really stupid one day. I know because I would've been on your side just a few months ago and now I feel really stupid for defending this mumbo jumbo. But the truth will win out. And the truth is we've all been living a delusion. The evidence is there, we just have to be willing to LOOK. Break out of the Matrix Stephen break out of the Truman Show. Don't simply accept the reality with which you've been presented like so many others. Truth should hold up to scrutiny. Mormonism doesn't, so they tell us not to look. What kind of "Godly organization" DISCOURAGES learning, discourages finding truths? You're going to be annoyed right now by this post and think I'm the idiot but one day and one day soon you'll come around because the TRUTH WINS. Always and forever.

      P.s. The Holy Ghost also testified of the truthfulness of Heaven's Gate when the followers prayed and asked God if it was true. Think about that next time you ask God if Mormonism is true (never thinking to ask about any other religions).

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    3. I normally would not have approved such a silly comment. But I want the Internet to compare this comment with my blogging activity and then decide if I'm the kind of guy who doesn't think for himself or who won't face hard issues.

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