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LDS Church Response to HRC

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and several other organizations are delivering more than 100,000 petitions to the LDS Church today in response to the comments made by Boyd K. Packer at General Conference Sunday morning.

Following are some large excerpts from the LDS statement. The full statement may be read here.

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.

This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help. Our parents, our young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness towards those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment – to love one another….

Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in his condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

This is an opportunity for LDS members and local leaders to examine how they speak about GLBT members and non-members alike. Not just how they speak about them in public, but how they speak about them in their homes, at their dinner tables, and in Sunday classes. What can church members do to align their words and actions with Christ’s commandment to love one another?

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

This is an opportunity to examine and create some concrete steps, programs and goals which will create empathy and understanding of the struggles of GLBT members and their families as they try to remain within the church.

This is also an opportunity to remind members who thought otherwise that it is not only possible, but likely, that GLB members are participating in full fellowship within church communities, including temple worship; that being gay does not lead automatically to temple recommend removal.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position, and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgement of our shared human dignity. We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.

We are all humans. We need to be treated as such, and we need to treat one another with the same dignity and respect we want for ourselves.

What opportunities do you see as a result of this response?

Filed in Help & Support - LDS,mormons,prop 8,Uncategorized | 14 responses so far

14 Responses to “LDS Church Response to HRC”

  1. 1fiona64on 12 Oct 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I guess I seen an opportunity to talk about how the church’s words have indeed hurt its members.

    Like I said in another post, it’s time for bullies to look inside themselves and see why they feel that their behavior is “righteous.”

  2. 2Joshuaon 12 Oct 2010 at 5:39 pm

    “Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church.”

    This was my favorite part! Too often, people who aren’t gay Mormons want to characterize as miserable, suffering and depressed people. You don’t hear about people who are well and happy. I applaud the church for working to correct that damaging stereotype.

  3. 3Dave Hoenon 13 Oct 2010 at 1:16 pm

    This statement from the Church says:

    “Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings . . . can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples . . . ”

    I suspect that those who have identified themselves to their Bishop as one of these, if male would not be given a position to work with boys or young men and if female would not be given a position to work with girls or young women.

    In this case it would be prudent and correct to deny them these positions. Because as we know from the Catholic Church, those who take a vow to abstain from all sexual expression (including masturbation) are at great danger in finally sexually expressing themselves in detrimental ways.

    LGBT people who are allowed to develop their sexual behaviors without judgement or fear will most likely be well adjusted and will not be predators. But the Church’s position does not allow an LGBT person to develop without judgement or fear and when temptation comes along (as it always does) he/she may “transgress” in inappropriate and illegal ways. Note that I used the word “may”. Most will decide it is all b.s. and will finally come to their senses and leave before that point.

    That’s why I completely disagree with the Church’s present policy that makes LGBT people separate, not equal, and “conditionally loved”. It will never work and with this policy in place, the best advice is to leave. (If the truth be known, I suspect the Church would prefer that LGBT people just leave. They would rather the continual loss of 8% of their members than to admit to their entire membership that their whole premise is screwed up to begin with.)

    Dave Hoen

  4. 4Joshuaon 14 Oct 2010 at 6:55 am

    I don’t see how you can read this and think the church wants us to leave. I think you just want to say negative things about the church no matter what and you really don’t care about what they say or think. Most people I talk to about my attractions and very loving, considerate and understanding. They may not know a lot about SSA, but they know that it is no sin. That is because the leadership of the church have consistently taught that.

    The LDS Church teaches that we need to overcome the natural man. That is a central doctrine. That applies equally to gay as well as to straight people.

    I fully believe in agency. You can chose to follow God’s commandments or not. I respect your choice. Please respect ours.

    Laura once said let’s stop comparing whose relationships are better than whose. I fully respect your choice to not live my lifestyle, but please don’t attack it.

  5. 5fiona64on 14 Oct 2010 at 7:08 am

    Dave Hoen wrote: That’s why I completely disagree with the Church’s present policy that makes LGBT people separate, not equal, and “conditionally loved”.

    You know, until you put it in these words, it hadn’t occurred to me yet. “Conditionally loved” is a perfect way to put it.

    “As long as you’re the best little boy/little girl in the world, and don’t do anything wrong, we might just let you play in our yard. But don’t look over there, at the other yard, where people are allowed to be themselves. That’s bad. Only look at this yard … and remember to be the best little boy/little girl in the world. If you look over there, you are no longer the best little boy/little girl in the world, and we won’t love you anymore.”

    This does not seem like loving, Christ-centered behavior to me …

  6. 6Sherion 14 Oct 2010 at 2:31 pm

    “This is an opportunity for LDS members and local leaders to examine how they speak about GLBT members and non-members alike. Not just how they speak about them in public, but how they speak about them in their homes, at their dinner tables, and in Sunday classes. What can church members do to align their words and actions with Christ’s commandment to love one another?”

    Perhaps “actions” is the operative word here, Laura. What millions of people “DO” at the ballot box is worth millions of words to someone stuggling because of who they are.

  7. 7Lauraon 14 Oct 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I wonder if church members react differently to gay men in different situations. For instance, a young gay man married to a woman might receive a different kind of welcome than a single gay man who was great with teenage boys. Or, perhaps, a gay teenager on a Scouting trip with a bunch of leaders who don’t do anything to stop anti-gay jokes or comments (or, even worse, share anti-gay stories themselves) in an effort to promote male-bonding/boys-will-be-boys experiences?

    I also wonder whether members in Fresno, California or Moscow, Idaho, or Snowflake, Arizona would welcome openly gay members in different ways than people in San Francisco or Oakland or Boston.

    Joshua is in a rare (if not unique) situation, in that he identifies as a gay man married to a straight woman (in a mixed-orientation marriage) in the San Francisco Bay Area. He came out to his Young Single Adult ward a couple of years ago, and the YSA’s in Silicon Valley were (not surprisingly) very kind and accepting of him. He’s been able to order his life in a way Elder Packer would likely approve of quite highly – by overcoming some very tough hurdles, relying on the atonement of Christ, and beginning on a journey which appears from the outside to be the same as the majority of young Mormons. It is nice to have this kind of minority report represented here, as it opens our eyes and ears to voices we don’t often hear.

    Hopefully as we all share our stories and experiences, we can open one another’s eyes and ears long enough to try to see, hear and begin to understand the pain and challenges we are experiencing as we negotiate issues surrounding Mormonism and gay rights. It would be a shame to be so firmly engrossed in our own individual, unique stories that we don’t take the time to recognize the value of others’ personal narratives and openly express love and compassion for those who must live different lives – especially if choosing a different path is necessary for them to preserve peace, sanity or life itself.

    It would be great if all young gay men could come out to their wards and be accepted with open arms (or even just feel like they’ve been accepted with open arms) like Joshua was. At this point in time, I’m afraid there are many, many young gay men and women who are unable to do that, and it takes all of us working together to make the road ahead smoother for those young (and old) people.

  8. 8fiona64on 14 Oct 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I think what I find most disturbing about Joshua’s story is something I have said before: the disingenuous way in which he assumes that because he has done something, that it’s possible (or probable) for everyone.

    I rather imagine that there are many young gay and lesbian people who could no more fathom “managing to develop an attraction” to a person of the opposite sex than I could to another woman. I think that it is pretty wrong-headed of the church to tell them that this is a definite possibility, let alone a probability. It is, in fact, extraordinarily unlikely.

    What is much more likely is just what Laura and others have brought up: ostracism, even from one’s own family members (a disproportionately large number of homeless youth are GLBT (20-40 percent nationwide) — and 50 percent of the homeless youth in Utah are GLBT Mormons), and the kind of patronizing, conditional love that Dave Hoen talks about.

    This is just so antithetical to Jesus’ teachings of “loving your neighbor as yourself” that I lack the words to adequately describe it.

  9. 9fiona64on 14 Oct 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Joshua wrote: Most people I talk to about my attractions and very loving, considerate and understanding.

    Of course they are, Joshua, because you married a woman and are very much wrapped up in your identity as the Evergreen poster boy. You are the one to whom they point and say “See? Look! Brother Johanson chose not to be gay anymore. He married a woman.”

    I wonder how “loving, considerate and understanding” those same people would be if you had chosen to be with a man (as you claim you are primarily attracted to men even to this day). Somehow I doubt you would get the same kindly reception. :-(

  10. 10DavidKCMOon 14 Nov 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Imagine this scenario:

    A young homosexual meets with a member of whatever church’s priest or clergy and says, ” I’m so scared by what my religion says about homosexuality. It says I’m not good enough to marry the person I love because I’m gay. Why does the church tell the world I don’t deserve the same rights as my friends and family members? It makes me so depressed that these influences degrade me so that I feel the only way out of feeling like this is to end my life to stop the pain and misery”

    To all : what would you say?

  11. 11Lauraon 15 Nov 2010 at 12:05 am

    Asking why a church does something is not always the most useful question, because the answer is going to be “Because that’s what God says we should be doing things.” However, there are plenty of other ways to react, and we’ve discussed several of them here at this site.

    First, if someone is seriously considering suicide, that person needs help and there are folks standing by 24/7 to help GLBT people. They are here, at the Trevor Project. 1-866-4-U TREVOR.

    Now, if somebody wants to know why LDS leaders, in particular, might be saying the things they do about homosexuality, a lesson in the historical treatment of Mormon gays and lesbians might be in order. Studying history also helps to put into perspective the “baby steps” that are being made – while they seem small to some, they are major risk-taking events and changes of heart for others.

    If somebody is feeling particularly bullied by anyone – including a religious person – it might be worth reviewing some ways to respond to and stand up against bullies. Nobody should have to put up with put downs of any sort.

    Finally, if somebody is just asking why God would create non-heterosexual beings, we’ve talked about that here, too.

    In the end, every single person has a path straight from God which requires no detour through a clergyperson, no filter of others’ eyes and experiences. And, in the end, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. It matters what YOU think of you. Other people can only tear you down if you give them power to do so. There are lots of people willing to build you up and give you strength – spend time with them and walk away from those who would degrade you.

  12. 12fiona64on 15 Nov 2010 at 9:47 am

    @DavidKCMO: I would say the following.

    “There are many accepting, welcoming and affirming churches. Walk away from the bigotry and into the arms of kindness.”

    As Laura points out, there is no need to remain where one is degraded.

  13. 13Bryanon 07 May 2012 at 7:48 pm

    For clarity I believe everyone would benefit from hearing the policy directly from the church. Please go to this link: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-mormon-responds-to-human-rights-campaign-petition-same-sex-attraction

  14. 14Lauraon 07 May 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Apparently Bryan didn’t notice the link in the original post that goes straight to the source as well.

    But that’s okay, it’s probably kind of hard to miss right there at the end of the second paragraph:

    Following are some large excerpts from the LDS statement. The full statement may be read here.