A Week Late and More Than a Few Dollars Short…

…I am weighing in on the Jeffrey Nielsen debacle. Nielsen, as many of you know, was the BYU professor who wrote an opinion piece in The Salt Lake Tribune about how the Mormon Church’s position on gay marriage was wrong.

In an absolutely SHOCKING move by the LDS Church, Nielsen was fired. Heh. Okay, so it was no surprise, but “job security” at BYU is a little different than it is at, say, The New York Times. Or 97.1 Zht. Or even McDonalds.

At BYU or any other church-owned entity, INCLUDING the Deseret News, if you don’t parrot the party/church line, kiss your job goodbye.

Everybody knows this. While there are still some mysteries in this world–like how the hell Paris Hilton manages to get out of BED every morning, and find her way home, and just what chip the Scientologists implanted in Tom Cruise’s brain to turn him into a Stepford Husband–Nielsen undoubtedly knew this, too.

While people are weighing in on both sides of the issue, and the Mormons get MORE bad publicity (just what they need), I think Nielsen knew what he was doing.

You don’t cross the LDS Church and remain in their ranks. Unless somehow you cross under their RADAR. That doesn’t happen when you are in their employ. Nielsen had to have known, and he took a stand anyway.

And that’s my take. He knew he would get fired. He took a stand. He is making a statement. Kudos to him. I sincerely doubt he was stupid enough to think there would be no repercussions.

But what has been gained by his firing and by his taking a stand? I’d love to hear what you readers have to think.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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9 Responses to A Week Late and More Than a Few Dollars Short…

  1. Cele says:

    I would be interested to see where his next job is. I would imagine that, yes he knew he’d get fired, but he timed his adventure to his benefit. Kudos that he bucked the system, but I would tend to think it would get him the notice of other institutes, especially those of liberal intent.


  2. Lyndsey says:

    As soon as I read Nielson’s article my first thought was “He won’t be at BYU much longer.” And sure enough a few days went by and poof! he was dooced. I think he was quite brave to actually voice his opinion in such a very public way. I did hear today, on another website, that he feels like he might have made a mistake by writing that article. Unfortunately because he has made this half-way retraction, I believe he’s just saying to other faithful Mormons “Keep your opinions to yourself, or else this will happen to you too, or worse!” It’s too bad so many people are silenced because of this way of thinking. Or not thinking really.


  3. Stenar says:

    Just because he knew he would get fired by speaking out doesn’t make it any more right for them to fire him for his article. In their letter, the LDS church asked members to speak out on the issue, not which side to speak out on. They tried being politically correct by not telling the members they should speak out in favor of the amendment, but it was implied. But instead he spoke out against it. He was still doing what they told him to do…speaking out.


  4. azteclady says:

    What makes me sad is the people like Jeffrey Nielsen, and a few others Natalie has highlighted here in the past, who try to bring reason and compasion to the LDS church at large, then get lynched by that same church… and yet, they still belive.

    Those, I think, are the saddest victims, because their faith won’t let them renounce the church–but we can bet our big girl panties that the church will have absolutely no compunction crucifying them. Repeatedly.


  5. Elaine says:

    Whether Nielsen knew that he would be fired for the op-ed piece he wrote or not (I imagine he probably did), I believe he did the right thing by following his conscience. The thing that has been bugging me is that I’ve seen people in other places say that if he hadn’t made a point of the fact that he taught at BYU, then maybe he wouldn’t have been fired. But there is nothing in the body of his piece that identifies him as such. That identification comes only in the identification of the author at the end of the piece, and that was inserted – if the Tribune is run like other newspapers I’ve had experience with – by the paper’s editors. It may well be that Nielsen provided that information to the Trib, but it is likely that they already knew that and it would have been appended to the piece whether or not he had told them.

    While I know that, technically, the First Amendment only applies to governmental entities and that BYU probably has all its legal bases covered in Nielsen’s firing, it just sticks in my craw that the Mormons portray themselves as super-patriots and have been known to call the Constitution a “divine document” (although they’ll probably say now that they “don’t know that we teach that”), they can so blatantly flout the free speech clause even as they insist on their right to believe as they wish, and to put those beliefs into action, under the free exercise clause of that very same amendment. Their actions just reek of hypocracy.

    Not that any of this surprises me in the least.



  6. Natalie says:

    Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t respect the LDS Church stance on gay marriage ONE iota, nor do I respect their interference in a political issue, throwing their money around whenever they see fit. And how the hell a GAY marriage can affect straight people is TOTALLY beyond me.

    The only thing I can see it doing is helping GAY people to not try to fit into a mold that will NEVER fit. When they do that, because they think they must, and that homosexuality is a choice, they most often ultimately end up destroying more than just their own life because they tried to be straight.

    The problem, IMO, is not with homosexuality, but with society.

    Great comments, everybody!


  7. hi.. Just that I believe that Neilsen should NOT have been fired for his opinion. Once again the Mormon church shows its true colors–tyranny.

    Unfortunately, if this goes like others who have crossed the Church, he will probably become a homeless person unable to find employment.


  8. azteclady says:

    Or he will move away from the Mormon reservation and find a kinder–or at least a more varied–world to live in.


  9. Mrs. B says:

    Wanna hear something from the “other” side?

    No – I’m not in favor of Prof. Neilsen being fired – as a BYU alumus (a senior anyway) it was tragic and upsetting. It really makes you wonder about academic freedom and what you are not being taught.

    Stenar makes an awesome point – we were asked to speak out about how we felt. A brilliant point – really, he was honoring what the general authorities has asked of him.

    However, people go to (or send their kids to) BYU for specific reasons, even Non-LDS people know what to expect and the school has an obligation to honor that, no? Prof’s all sign a contract agreeing (in part) not to publically disagree with church doctrine. Technically, he was in breach of contract. If the school let this slip, where do you cut it off? No one is forced to teach at BYU, but if you do, there are pro’s and con’s.

    No one ties us up and forces beliefs down our throats – we are thinking, intellegent, informed adults, entitled to our opinions. If you have contractually agreed not to express said opinion publically, well… I do honor him for his courage. Many people are still trying to find balance on the issue and I think it’s vital to keep discussion open.


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