Thursday

Ward Clamps Down on Testimony Requirements

ALPINE, UT—In an attempt to make sure the bearing of testimonies is “as uplifting and enlightening as possible,” Bishop Gerrald R. Schwartz of the Alpine 34th Ward has created “a few helpful guidelines” for people to use when they want to bear their testimonies.

He calls his idea a “logical result” of the advice that General Authorities have given recently about testimony bearing. After the church gave guidelines about what topics should be discussed when bearing testimonies, such as the truth of the church and the role of Joseph Smith, Bishop Schwartz says, “I began to see how sacred testimony-bearing time really is. I started to realize that I had a crucial duty to make sure that time was used correctly.”

But it was after church officials explained that children should not be encouraged to bear their testimonies that Bishop Schwartz really began to fast and pray about the topic. “When the Brethren began to emphasize that testimonies are not travelogues and that people shouldn’t use that time to tell long personal stories, I began to see that the members in my ward needed some more help,” he explained.

Consequently, he created the following testimony waiver, which members must sign each fast and testimony day if they want to bear their testimonies:

Your Name:
Your Bishop’s Name:
Your Baptism Number:

In order to bear your testimony today, you must conform to the following guidelines:

1. You must be between the ages of 18 and 45. This is because the Brethren have asked that no children bear their testimonies in sacrament meeting, and, frankly, old people tend to ramble.

2. You must be male. Women cry too much.

3. If you are over 25, you must be married. Otherwise, you are a menace to society and a threat to others’ testimonies.

4. You must be appropriately attired in a suit, white shirt, and conservative tie, and you should be wearing your “I Passed the Tie Check!” sticker. These stickers are awarded in the foyer ten minutes before sacrament meeting starts.

5. You must be a native English speaker. Accents detract from the Spirit.

6. You must agree to read the following script when bearing your testimony. Items 6a and 6c are mandatory; item 6b is optional. You must choose only two sentences from 6b, but you may decide in which order to say them.

a. MANDATORY: My dear brothers and sisters, I am glad to stand before you on this [warm, sunny, stormy, windy] day and bear my heartfelt testimony. I know this church is true. [You may also say: I know the LDS Church is true]. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is true. And I know Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet. [You may also say: I know President Hinckley is a prophet.]

b. OPTIONAL (choose two): I have a testimony of prayer. I have a testimony of fasting. I have a testimony of church attendance. I have a testimony of temple attendance. I have a testimony that families are forever. I have a testimony of tithing. I have a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I have a testimony of the Law of Chastity. I have a testimony that R-rated movies are bad. I have a testimony that our church leaders are called of God and that everything they do is righteous. I have a testimony of obedience.

c. MANDATORY: In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I have read and understood the terms as described above. I realize that if I misrepresent myself or vary from the above script, such actions will have severe repercussions on my standing in the church.

Applicant’s Signature:_______________________________________

10 comments:

designated conservative said...

I thought that we weren't supposed to dwell on dead prophets, but rather follow the living one! :)

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jon said...

Isn't anyone alarmed by the misognynistic message this requirement sends? First, it mandates that only men may bear their testimonies. Aren't there any Mormon women out there who care about this? Are you so brainwashed that you cannot see that the Mormon church and doctrine will always see and treat you as second class citizens? Second, it states that no children may bear their testimonies. But, aren't children "allowed" to "choose" for themselves at 8 years old to become a member of the church? Shouldn't a 17 year old possess the ability and right to speak their mind? After all, since you allow an 8 year old to make such a life changing decision, shouldn't that 8 year old, now 9 years older and 17, be allowed to tell their fellow members how they feel? Third, it is flat-out racist and intolerant to deny someone who does not speak perfect English, or who was not born here, to bear their testimony. There is no logical expalanation here. If the Mormons present during a foreigner's testimony cannot understand what he or she is saying, they should do what any intelligent, tolerant, (Christian) person would do: ask them. I'm sure if they are willing to get up in front of a bunch of strange, white American Mormons to say how they believe, they'll be willing to discuss it one-on-one with those who could not understand them. Last, and the thing that bothers me most, is the refusal to let anyone bear a "negative" testimony. Isn't that their 2nd amendment right? Don't they have the right to speak as they wish? And, what is wrong with doubt? If no one ever doubted anything, Black humans would still be considered 3/5 of a human being and they would still be banned from the doors of the Mormon church. In fact, doubt is something of a mainstay in Mormon culture; members of the church are regularly told to not only doubt, but to distrust entireley, anyting that is not Mormon doctrine. Why then, are members prohibited from expressing doubts in church? Wouldn't the bishoprick want to know who among their members does not believe? I just can't see how the members of this congregation would allow such anti-Christian behavior.

Esther said...

Dear Jon,
I hope you will read my comments so that you may understand the information you read on this blog is false. But first, to ensure that my comments are clear, I'd like to mention that "Mormon" is a nickname that the world has given to this church. My church is actually called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Members of this church may more appropriately and accurately be referred to as Latter Day Saints or LDS.
That being said, you're exactly right. Members of this congregation do not allow such anti-Christian behavior. This blog was meant to be comical among the "Mormon" culture, but unfortunately the author(s) did a terrible job. In addition, they didn't bother making any disclaimers or statements that this is not what LDS members believe or practice. This lapse of good judgement has caused concern from yourself and probably others who aren't completely familiar with LDS practices. I apologize that some members of my church are insensitive or perhaps too naive to realize that not everyone will know that they are trying to be funny. I myself was offended, and I am a practicing member who has no problem laughing at the Mormon culture idiosyncrasies. (It's also possible that the author(s) themselves are not members of the LDS church or are not in good standing with the church.)
As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I promise you that this blog does not accurately reflect how our church operates now, in the past, nor in the future. Women are treated with the utmost respect by those who are following the gospel we believe in. Everyone and anyone is welcome and encouraged to bear their testimony regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, ability, religion, or any other factor, so long as they do not attempt to teach principles we believe to be false. If a child can speak, (and sometimes even if they can't) he or she is encouraged to bear their simple but sincere testimony. Elderly people are respected and full of wisdom. Sometimes people are not comfortable speaking English at all, with or without an accent, and I have heard them bear testimony in their native language. The LDS religion, when practiced properly, is a very positive and enlightening gospel.
One thing mentioned in this post stems from a correct recommendation (amazingly), and was probably fuel to write this ridiculous blog to begin with. Church leaders have essentially indicated that long stories and travelogues are not technically considered testimonies. It has been recommended that members save such stories for an occasion when they are asked to prepare and give a talk or lesson. Many members have yet to understand the difference between a testimony and a story (or storimony as I like to call them), so it does happen.
Also, a "negative" testimony in an LDS meeting is not a testimony. A testimony is not meant to question, doubt, bash, or slander. Instead, a testimony is an opportunity to share, with conviction, regarding the principles that a person either knows or believes to be gospel truths. When a person bears their testimony, it not only strengthens their faith, but has the power to build up and strengthen the testimonies of anyone listening with an open heart.

Esther said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Esther said...

Jon,
I guess I have too much to say because I can't fit everything on one comment! :D

The bishopric's role is not to point out who does not believe, but rather to be a shepherd to all members of the ward and help build faith and testimonies. (This is not his only role, but is a role that relates to your concern.) When doubt and uncertainty are involved, it is okay to question things in discussion with someone who can answer the concerns appropriately. If a person has doubts or concerns about gospel principles, they should be discussed privately with missionaries, a member of the bishopric, a teacher, other qualified leader of our church, or perhaps a trusted friend who has the appropriate knowledge to answer their questions. Other ways to handle concerns can be through prayer, fasting, and scripture reading. Sometimes faith will need to be exercised while that person seeks more knowledge and understanding and until they have had the chance to build their own testimony through their experiences.
I'm sorry to be so long winded, but I hope to be a source of understanding for you. If I can answer any other questions for you I am more than happy to do so. Please know that my response comes from my heart and the knowledge and experience I have gained as I practice my faith. I wish you the best of luck.

cristina said...

Hilarious! Spot on.

cristina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keemy Jax said...

Fabulous... I needed a good chuckle. This site is for those of us LDS that can laugh at ourselves. If you can't, then perhaps stick with lds.org

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