July 30th, 2007
With about eight million members, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) is among the ten largest denominations in the country. It is also one of the largest funding sources of anti-gay initiatives and a strong lobbyist against fairness and equality for gay citizens.
Some would look at the history of discrimination against Mormons and find it sadly ironic that they would seek to demand conformity on issues of religion and marriage. But sociologists tell us that it is not uncommon for those who face social inequalities to be among the most ardent at upholding inequalities against others.
This week the Mormon Church issued a publication on homosexuality that is, in some ways, an improvement on previous positions but which are far from the welcoming or reconciling traditions adopted by some mainline churches. In synopsis, the LDS church states that same-sex people are welcomed but that such persons should avoid “inappropriate thoughts” or “sinful behavior”. The church also recognized that reorientation is not necessarily to be expected in this life but demands celibacy and a rejection of “flauting homosexual tendencies”.
Some statements of the pamphlet could be taken right out of the writings of any conservative mainstream Christian church:
God has provided the plan of salvation, or plan of happiness, to help you receive the blessings of eternal life. This plan is set forth in the scriptures; men and women cannot rewrite it to accommodate their desires. … Eternity is long, and mortality is short.
Others have concepts that are foreign to those who are not familiar with Mormon theology:
Heaven is organized by families, which require a man and a woman who together exercise their creative powers within the bounds the Lord has set. … Without both a husband and a wife there would be no eternal family and no opportunity to become like Heavenly Father. … As we follow Heavenly Father’s plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children.
The new writings reflect the recognition that regardless of effort many people cannot reorient, but it still states the unsubstantiated (and in my opinion cruel) claim that “many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality”. Not only does this claim appear to be without ready example, but I believe it reinforces the notion that a failure to reorient is as likely to be due to a inadequate individual effort or faith as it is the will of God.
Overall, I find this tract to be more compassionate than some by other conservative denominations. However, it makes assumptions and recommendations that I believe are more likely to result in isolation and misunderstanding than in peaceful resolution: no gay friends, immersion in church activities, avoiding too close of friendships, showing “love and kindness” to church members who are rejecting you. Further, when coupled with such hostile and agressive language as is found elsewhere (e.g. “But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation.”), I don’t see it as any indication that the church will cease to fund its attack on my life.
I cannot forgive the Mormon Church for its multi-million dollar efforts to deny civil equality to non-LDS gay citizens. But this tract did help clarify some of the motivation behind their anti-gay activities and some has given me some compassion for those raised in this church. With a theology that requires heterosexuality and procreation in order to become like God, there is little wonder that so many gay men that I have met who have had a Mormon upbringing are so deeply conflicted about their sexuality.
ADDENDUM: For an interesting discussion from the perspective of LDS members, see here.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.