Thanks to Chris (a reader/listener) for referring me to this really cool CES policy about what NOT to do as a CES/EFY speaker. My favorite part is here:

“I also have some concerns as I attended these programs. The concerns usually arise because a wonderful speaker desires to communicate well with the youth and inspire and motivate them to live the gospel more fully. Occasionally, speakers use poor judgment in an attempt to keep the young people’s attention and to communicate with them in terms they understand. That manifests itself in numerous ways, some of which have been:

  • To submit lecture topics for Correlation review/approval the words of which are humorous, catchy, or which lack reverence for the sacred gospel topic to be taught.
  • To recite very personal, spiritual experiences which generally should be treated as sacred. (D&C 63:64)
  • To tell stories using real names of others (and sometimes apparently without the approval of the persons).
  • To tell stories using real names of others which teach the principle of repentance but mention the sins/weaknesses of real people. (e.g., one’s addiction and overcoming; one’s anger leading to a confrontation, one’s years of inactivity, etc.)
  • To tell stories which teach the youth about the possibilities of misbehavior or sin which they otherwise would not know about.
  • To present lectures using pictures and music which are overly emotional and overly dramatic and are apparently intended to evoke an unusual emotional feeling from the youth during that hour.
  • To portray himself/herself as one who truly “understands”, even more than their local leaders, the problems which young people encounter.
  • To fill the lecture with the latest slang or “terminology” including some which is not appropriate and is actually harmful such as jokingly referring to a group of young men as “geeks”, etc. It is so easy to cross the line between appropriate humor and humor which draws laughs but strikes at the self-esteem of someone.
  • To present the lecture material as if it represented the truth, the real facts, which other local teachers and leaders were not teaching.
  • To role-play or interview boys and girls or talk to them about dating in such a way as to imply “sexiness” in their looks or behavior.
  • To select the more attractive youth for interviews and role-playing situations and ignore so many others which implies that attractive appearance is an important measure of happiness and success.
  • To mention very unusual dating circumstances (e.g., eating on a street island, packing into the back of a pickup truck, etc.) which are questionably safe. Too many talks on dating seem to dwell on the extreme, unusual types of dating activities and suggest they are the real way to have fun or impress the date.
  • To talk about minor illness, vomiting, bathrooms, in a humorous way most of which is not related to the lecture but is meant to be entertaining to some.
  • To mention inappropriate items (some of the above), shouting into microphones, etc. while speaking in a chapel to youth. We all know the chapel of our meetinghouses is a most sacred physical area which is not treated as if it were just another place for lectures.
  • To convey to the youth that a lecture, conference, youth program is more significant than the programs and events of the Church which occur week after week in the ward and stake. Rather, all we say and convey should strengthen the youth to be more active in the regular programs of the Church and more appreciative of them as a result of our work.”

Personally, I view this as progress for CES. What do you think?


  1. mayan elephant July 29, 2006 at 9:55 am

    am i the only one laughing here?

    i am having flashbacks to my youth and mission.

    “To present lectures using pictures and music which are overly emotional and overly dramatic and are apparently intended to evoke an unusual emotional feeling from the youth during that hour.”

    this one kills me deader than elvis. i am imagining the woman cutting tomatoes in the “together forever” video that i saw a thousand times during over a two-year period.

    or better than that, who remembers “what is real?” that video was a classic. the hot babe bearing her testimony in sacrament meeting was like a pin-up girl in my mission.

    is it any wonder the youth are losing interest in the church, when it is all so canned, controlled and correlated? the diversity is truly lacking.

  2. mayan elephant July 29, 2006 at 10:29 am

    John, how did you skip this little diddy:

    “That teachers in dealing with things religious:
    1. “Clearly set forth or be fully consistent with the principles of the gospel.
    2. ” Be wholly free from any taint of sectarianism and also of all theories and conclusions destructive of faith in the simple truths of the Restored Gospel. Be so framed and written as affirmatively to breed faith, and not to raise doubts. . . . Truth, not error, must be stressed.
    3. “Be so built in form and substance as to lead to definite conclusions that accord with the principles of the Restored Gospel, which conclusions must be expressed and not left to possible deduction by the students. . . . Youth must be taught that truth cannot be blinked or put aside; it must be accepted.
    4. “Be filled with the spirit of deepest reverence. They should give no place for the slightest levity. The discussion of mysteries and doctrines upon which there is not a recognized accepted view should be avoided. The aim should be to present the simple truths of the Restored Gospel in as plain and understandable a way as is possible.” (end quote)

    i realize that is a decades old quote, but it was brought up in a less than decades old memo. truth cannot be blinked? or put aside? it must be accepted? ouch.

    its clear from those commenting here at mormon stories and from your podcasts that “truth” is subjective when it comes to the history of mormonism and mormon doctrine.

    there is much that is put aside by the leaders of the church, no? and why would we ever expect a youth to not blink about such weighty matters.

    there is great irony in this. in another topic here at mormonstories a poster said that i “never had a testimony” and questioned whether i had original thoughts. he hinted that i simply accepted what was told to me, or just relied on others. despite the clear negative tone of such a comment when delivered by a “faithful” ld saint, it is thought provoking.

    i have been deposed in significant lawsuits. i have sat for 10 relentless hours facing questions from lawyers with court reporters and cameras capturing every comment and sneeze. clearly, i never had the same conviction of the some church topics/doctrine that i had on the topics being explored by those lawyers. so, perhaps its true i never had a testimony, after all, i have never really been to kolob, really. so how could i really testify of it. semantics baby. semantics.

    but still. isnt it frightening or concerning that the youth would be told to not blink, just accept it all? isnt it at all alarming that the teachers are a collection of people that subscribe to this philosophy? where are the people that can explore broader topics and encourage youth to adventure into new territory.

    this seems to be more narrowing of the path to me. its the sort of stuff that makes it harder for my family members that remain active to relate to those of us that have found a new and happier path for ourselves.

  3. Paul July 29, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    I think the policy contains ideas that are both progressive and regressive.

    • Don’t tell youth about misbehavior they might not know about
    • Don’t be overly emotional
    • Don’t be emotionally manipulative
    • Don’t portray yourself as more empathetic than the next person
    • Avoid stereotyping and be careful with slang
    • Don’t favor the attractive youth when calling on volunteers

    • Don’t submit humor for Correlation review
    • Sacred = secret
    • Years of inactivity = sin
    • Don’t use real names unless discussing ideal behavior
    • Don’t appear better than the local leaders
    • Don’t teach something the local leaders haven’t taught
    • Avoid potty humor
    • Assumption that we all view the chapel and reverence the same way
    • Don’t have more fun than the regular church programs

  4. John Dehlin July 29, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Paul — to be progressive is to use potty humor? :)

    Help me out w/ that one.

  5. Paul July 30, 2006 at 10:52 am

    One of my favorite memories growing up was a youth conference at a ranch in southern Utah. One day, we went tubing in a river. The YM president collected a pile of dried up cow pies. Then he hid behind one of the river bends and launched an air attack against the youth as we passed by.

    Gross? Sure. But it did more for my testimony than the sappy Janice-Kapp-Perry-esque devotionals we had to attend each night.

    All I’m saying is that I’m in favor of making the atmophere at youth activities less emotional and more pragmatic.

  6. jennifer July 30, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    As a non-mormon, I’m curious how your testimony – from which I understand is one’s personal reason for belief – is increased by having cow pies thrown at you? Thank you, Jennifer

  7. Chris Rusch July 30, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    I think that this is positive because if followed, this attempts to create an environment where people can think and reason. When emotional music and pictures are used, or anything to provoke a strong emotional response, the intellect is compromised and people will pretty much do anything you tell them to. Aldous Huxley wrote about this in his book “The Brave New World Revisited”. I think that they want to create an environment where youth can think and decide for themselves as oposed to acting on raw emotion, or at least this is the direction they are heading, which is a huge improvement over the way EFY classes were taught in the past.

  8. Paul July 30, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    The cow pie incident was fun and spontaneous. It strengthened the bond between me (a teen) and the men and women who served me.

    Being able to connect with positive adult role models increased my personal reason to believe.

    On the other hand, I felt annoyed when subjected to dramatic images and music that were obviously being presented to invoke an emotional response.

    Make sense?

  9. Paul July 30, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Let me see if I can clarify my original intent.

    I didn’t mean to imply that we need more potty humor at church.

    Rather, I was trying to suggest that explicitly banning it may be overbearing with respect to the environment we try to establish for the youth.

  10. Just for Quix August 2, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    Is there any wonder why activity among Mormon kids is on a record decline? Why activity among Christian youths, particularly among mega-Churches is on an increase? Nothing like a regressive, one-size-fits-all policy that treats kids as stupid, ignorant, overly sensitive and unable to discern intent. The spirit must be manifest via a dry, serious and conformist atmosphere. Sure, there are probably some valid abuses worth addressing, but by and large this seems an intent to dampen the entertainment-driven atmosphere of EFY. (Why do they think Mormon youth like to attend this??) That laundry list of “offenses” is just too much for my tastes.

    I don’t get why this is a “really cool” policy. Was that meant in sarcasm?

  11. Alex May 13, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    1) I am not naturally a big fan of the stiff approach to many things which is present in church

    2) “Mormon kids[‘ activity] is on a record decline” vs. an increase in mega-Church [Trinity-]Christian youth activity? Where’s the evidence? I’ve been to my share of Trinity-Christian services. They’ve got a lot of youth, about a tenth of whom have any intention of remaining committed to anything. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

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