Pity poor Randy Botts, the BYU professor who has been the center of a maelstrom since his Washington Post interview last week. The sad thing about his embarrassing remarks is that Botts wasn’t saying anything that hasn’t been said by Mormon leaders and members for many decades.
Mormon Church policies change, but usually without official explanation—leaving members struggling to fill the cognitive gaps on their own: “Someday plural marriage will be re-instituted.” President Hinckley didn’t really mean it when he said he didn’t know much about man progressing to godhood.”
Normally, this isn’t a huge problem. Mormons are accustomed to hearing inanities uttered over the pulpit. We know the bishopric’s need to find sacrament meeting speakers often leads to scraping the bottom of the barrel. We can discount dreams related by members who believe they’ve been warned to buy a motor home, fill it with food storage, and prepare to head for the hills before the great and terrible day of the Lord.
The real problem is the scrutiny the Church is receiving during Romney’s run for the presidential nomination. The downside to this national attention occurs when reporters find and interview members willing to express commonly-held, but embarrassing notions of Church policy and doctrine.
Church leadership could deal with the situation with an official, “My bad” on reiterated policies and doctrines. But, that’s not likely considering the popular motto, “The Church changes, but the gospel never does.” More likely, 50 North Temple will issue a directive to Church employees ordering them to phone-block numbers from national media.