The money shot:
Rock Waterman, a retired innkeeper in California, writes a blog called Pure Mormonism, which attracts Mormons so orthodox that they believe their church is not sufficiently adhering to its own doctrines.
Last month [May 2014], Mr. Waterman posted a combative challenge addressed to one of the Mormon Church’s top leaders: "Stop making up your own rules and try preaching the Gospel of Christ for a change." [Ed. Note: This phrase appears in the post entitled "Vengeance And The Latter-Day Saint", under the paragraph heading "Mea Culpa"
Two days later, he said, he was summoned to a meeting with his bishop and told to either stop blogging or resign his church membership. If he did not resign he would face excommunication, he said the bishop told him, on orders from another official higher up — one of the church’s leaders known as an Area Seventy.
At the end of the article, the Times says Brother Waterman refuses to resign and is willing to face discipline, quoting him as saying "I’m not trying to get the church to change...I’m trying to get the church to abide by its doctrine".
In response to accusations that the LDS Church is trying to suppress free speech online, the Times recorded these statements by Michael Otterson, managing director of the church’s public affairs office, who appears to be concerned when LDS bloggers use discussion to recruit others for campaigns to change church doctrine or structure.
“There is no coordinated effort to tell local leaders to keep their members from blogging or discussing their questions online. On the contrary, church leaders have encouraged civil online dialogue and recognize that today it’s just part of how the world works.”
“When it goes so far as creating organized groups, staging public events to further a cause and creating literature for members to share in their local congregations, the church has to protect the integrity of its doctrine as well as other members from being misled.”
According to the Times, Rock Waterman is trying to get the church to abide by its doctrine. But is this always so? Perhaps in some cases, although he seems overly fond of hitting the Reset button back to Joseph Smith. But current LDS doctrine holds that consumption of beer is contrary to the Word of Wisdom. Nevertheless, in this post, Waterman suggests that D&C Section 89 verse 17 endorses beer because barely is O.K. for mild drinks.
What Waterman seems to disregard is that subsequent Church presidents have given updated instructions on the Word of Wisdom. And beer is not on the list of approved substances, even though it is not exactly a "mortal sin". The windows of heaven didn't suddenly slam shut when Joseph Smith was martyred; they remained open for all of his successors. The LDS Church continues to operate on the principle of continuous inspiration and revelation. This means the Brethren are free to issue new instruction AT ANY TIME. Not all new instruction rises to the level of requiring an Official Declaration in the Doctrine & Covenants.
Waterman also takes strong issue with LDS investment in the City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City, although it accomplished two beneficial purposes. First, the mall rehabbed a dangerously seedy neighborhood near Temple Square. And second, income from the mall can help sustain the Church through any downturn in tithing revenues. The fact that no new temples have been announced during the last two conferences implies that the LDS Church has not been completely untouched by the economic problems plaguing the rest of the country and much of the world.
On the other hand, Rock Waterman does bring up some worthwhile points. In this post, he urges young people to resist pressure to skip civil marriage and immediately get married in the temple. This becomes of greater import if many of their potential wedding guests wouldn't be able to witness the ceremony because they don't qualify for temple admittance. Quite frankly, it can be a humiliating experience for someone to have to sit downstairs like an outcast while the lovebirds are upstairs exchanging vows in the Celestial Room. And this doesn't happen in Europe, because only civil marriages are officially recognized. Consequently, European Saints are allowed to get the temple marriage performed on the same day after the civil marriage is performed, while in the United States Saints who get a civil marriage first must wait a year before getting a temple marriage. There is absolutely, positively no logical reason for this dichotomy, and Waterman is correct in questioning it.
Rock Waterman also publishes a strong defense of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, alluding to anthropological similarities between the cultures of the Hopewell Indians and the Middle East. Waterman tends to favor the Heartland Theory rather than the Mesoamerican Theory, but we have been given no official revelation nailing down the precise locations of the Book of Mormon civilizations, so debate is still permissible.
Rock Waterman publishes a lot of material on Pure Mormonism with which I disagree, some of it strongly. Yet I see no evidence that Waterman has crossed the bright line into apostasy. Kate Kelly crossed the line when she showed up for tickets to the General Priesthood Meeting after being told she would not get tickets; this constituted open rebellion against the Brethren. I see no evidence of open rebellion against the Brethren on Waterman's blog, although he does reprove with considerable "sharpness" from time to time.