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This is a debate that many theologians have had throughout the years since the Restoration of the Church, but is a conversation that the Court of Appeals is warning Arizona judges to stay away from.
In 1999, Kathleen and Shawn Ball were married and had two children. However in 2017 the couple divorced. Part of the parenting-plan that the court provided, each parent may take the children to any church of place of worship while he or she has custody. Both parents agreed that the children "may be instructed in the Christian faith." Key word: CHRISTIAN.
A year later however, Shawn Ball converted and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and began bringing his children to meetings. When Kathleen found out, she sought legal intervention claiming that the LDS Church was not CHRISTIAN and that this violated their parenting-plan that was created by the court.
According to Tucson.com, this is what happened:
During the hearing, a youth ministry leader testified the LDS church is not Christian. Based on that, Mandell sided with the mother, ruling “that Mormonism does not fall within the confines of Christian faith,” and forbidding the father from taking the children to LDS services.
Appellate Judge Paul McMurdie said that ruling was wrong on two fronts. He pointed out that the parenting agreement said either parent could take the children to whatever place of worship that parent chose. So there was no violation.
But the bigger legal problem, McMurdie wrote, was Mandell’s decision to even consider the issue of the status of the Mormon church.
“The Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, preclude civil courts from inquiring into ecclesiastical matters."
Essential what this means is that the courts should stay out of the business of theological controversy and the happenings of a church. McMurdie said the question Mandell sought to answer about the status of the LDS church and whether it falls under the umbrella of Christianity clearly falls into the category of prohibited court conduct. It is not appropriate for a court to decide or assess how someone identifies as "christian" or what qualifies one to use that term.
So, are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints christian Absolutely! According to the official Church website:
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians. They worship God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. When asked what the Latter-day Saints believe, Joseph Smith put Christ at the center: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.” The modern-day Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reaffirmed that testimony when they proclaimed, “Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. … His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!
Michael Lee McKee
Jan 12, 2021
The First Amendment does not concern itself with Christianity or the lack thereof. In fact, Atheism is equally protected.
Valerie Huffman Osborn
Jan 08, 2021
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are Christians. How ? The name of the church tells you so. Being an LDS writer/Author has given me a special prospective on this. I was brought up in the Methodist church and I had a hard time accepting their beliefs. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Church that I saw things so clearly. I presently has lost my publisher ( the owner died ) and the family decided to dissolve the company. I am looking forward a publisher to take me on and handle my books if this would be possible could you let me know?? Thank you , Valerie Huffman Osborn
Jan 08, 2021
Of course The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christian. The very name the church bears is the name of our Saviour. Ye shall know them by their fruits as the Bible says and any open minded and unbiased research and study would show that The Latter Day Saints are some of the most Christlike people in their service to their communities and huge number of Active members have given generously of their time and talents in the service and relief of their fellowman and communities at large.
Jan 08, 2021
That was a very interesting article that you posted, thank you for sharing!