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Mormonism and Church discipline/Strengthening Church Members Committee
The "Strengthening Church Members Committee"
Question: What is the Strengthening Church Members Committee?
The SCMC was originally created as a "clipping service"
The Strengthening Church Members Committee has been described as a "clipping service" which kept track of public statements by Church members who openly criticized the Church in the media. Some have accused the committee of hunting down and exposing historians and intellectuals in order to subject them to Church discipline.
Although a "clipping service" probably made sense back in 1985, in the internet-rich world of the present, it seems somewhat anachronistic. Anyone with Internet access can likely find any information more quickly than it could have been "clipped" from newspapers in 1985.
The following is from the Church News, August 22, 1992 off-site
First Presidency statement cites scriptural mandate for Church committee
Generally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not respond to criticism levied against its work. But in light of extensive publicity recently given to false accusations of so-called secret Church committees and files, the First Presidency has issued the following statement:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in 1830 following the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith in upstate New York. This sacred event heralded the onset of the promised `restitution of all things.' Many instructions were subsequently given to the Prophet including Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants:" `And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them. . . .
" `And also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal injuries. . . .
" `And also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out.
" `And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits; and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat;
" `And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published. . . . (Verses 1-5.)'
"Leaders and members of the Church strive to implement commandments of the Lord including this direction received in 1839. Because the Church has a non-professional clergy, its stake presidents and bishops have varied backgrounds and training. In order to assist their members who have questions, these local leaders often request information from General Authorities of the Church.
"The Strengthening Church Members Committee was appointed by the First Presidency to help fulfill this need and to comply with the cited section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This committee serves as a resource to priesthood leaders throughout the world who may desire assistance on a wide variety of topics. It is a General Authority committee, currently comprised of Elder James E. Faust and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They work through established priesthood channels, and neither impose nor direct Church disciplinary action.
"Members who have questions concerning Church doctrine, policies, or procedures have been counseled to discuss those concerns confidentially with their local leaders. These leaders are deeply aware of their obligation to counsel members wisely in the spirit of love, in order to strengthen their faith in the Lord and in His great latter-day work."
- The First Presidency
Question: Does the Strengthening Church Members Committee still exist?
The Committee apparently still exists
The Committee apparently still exists, as noted in the Jeffery R. Holland BBC interview in March 2012. We do not know what function the committee performs, if any.
John Sweeney: What is the Strengthening Church Members Committee?
Elder Holland: The Strengthening Church Members Committee was born some years ago to protect against predatory practices of polygamists.
Sweeney: I asked what it is, not was
Holland: That is what it is…
Sweeney: So it does still exist?
Holland: It does still exist...it does still exist…
Sweeney: And it....looks at....it’s there to defend the church against polygamists?
Holland: Principally, that is still its principal task.
Sweeney: So what is its subsidiary task?
Holland: I just....suppose to....to be protective generally, just to watch and to care for any insidious influence. But for all intents and purposes, that’s all that I know about it....is that it’s primarily there to guard against polygamy. That would be the substantial part of the work. I’m not on that committee so I don’t know much about it.