Posts Tagged As: Mormons
May 30th, 2012
What do you do when you believe what your church says about love, but you think they aren’t showing it very well to gay people? If you’re Erika Munson, you just decide to show it yourself. It turns out, she wasn’t alone. (SL Tribune)
“I felt that there must be people like me,” Munson said, “who are committed to the church, who believe in the gospel and want to live Jesus’ word, which is, ‘love one another.’ ”
Munson’s group is not affiliated with the LDS Church or any political party, and though it started just a few weeks ago, it’s been gaining steam through social media. As of Wednesday, the group had more than 900 members on Facebook, and more than 100 had committed to Sunday’s march in downtown Salt Lake City.
(that popping noise was an Apostle’s head)
April 23rd, 2012
This video was premiered at a conference of LGBT-affirming Mormons that took place in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. The video is sponsored by EmpathyFirstInitiative.org and MormonStories.org. The second web site was founded by John Dehlin, who also founded the Mormons for Marriage web site in 2008 to support marriage equality for LGBT Americans.
April 9th, 2012
It’s an “It Gets Better” video, featuring several Brigham Young University students who proclaim “I’m a Mormon” and “I’m gay/lesbian/bisexual.” But as you can see, it was only after a great deal of struggle and shame before they could come to that place of being able to accept themselves.
If you’re a BYU student, you can find out more about the campus gay-straight alliance here.
February 17th, 2012
After the black eye that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints received in the days and months following the passage of Proposition 8, I thought that they would do everything they could to avoid controversy or assume an anti-gay visible presence in the future.
Ever aware of how they have been perceived, the Mormons have for decades worked towards a public image as “good honest friendly neighbor” and suddenly finding themselves known to half the population as “the meanie who takes away rights” left them flailing and in confusion as how to respond. And what with a decent chance of having a Mormon in the White House, I seriously doubted that they would take any stance that could reflect negatively on anyone.
But I may be wrong.
Mormons for Marriage, an organization of faithful who support inclusion of gay people in civil marriage law, are reporting that opponents of the law are meeting with Mormon leadership.
Less than 24 hours after personally filing Referendum 74 with the Washington state attorney general’s office, Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and John Paulton of Focus on the Family met with “Mormon Church Leaders” in Washington. A staffer at the Family Policy Institute initially disclosed the meeting by phone, the meeting was later confirmed directly by Joseph Backholm.
It isn’t known what was requested, promised or denied. However, in California we learned that a request from the Prophet will get Mormon volunteers in the streets, making calls, giving money. Let’s keep an eye on this development.
February 7th, 2012
The LDS Church has responded to the Prop 8 ruling:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today’s decision. California voters have twice determined in a general election that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We have always had that view. [Emphasis mine.]
November 7th, 2011
In the same weekend in which about 70 people attended the annual convention for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in Phoenix which included a very large contingent of people associated with the Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International as well as other LDS church members, about 300 people attended a three-day conference in a Salt Lake City church to discuss the issues surrounding gay Mormons. The conference, held at First Baptist Church, featured author and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson, Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, researcher John Dehlin, filmmaker Kendall Wilcox, Faith in Action’s Jimmy Creech, and gay psychologist Lee Beckstead. The conference was organized by Mormon Stories, which is not affiliated with the LDS church, and was intended to “build bridges between all who identify as Mormon,” at task which Beakstead said he found difficult:
During the Saturday morning session, Dr. Lee Beckstead, a Salt Lake therapist whose research has focused on resolving sexual, social and religious conflicts, said Mormons with same-gender attraction often feel torn apart by individuals urging them to “get off the fence — to be gay or be Mormon,” suggesting that one can’t be both.
Beckstead said either choice is painful.
“You can’t cut off a part of yourself and not do harm — even if you’re doing it to please God, or parents, or family or friends,” he said. While Beckstead said that he personally had a hard time being both gay and Mormon, the same may not be true for others.
“My resolution may not be your resolution,” he said, urging conferencegoers to “keep exploring for yourself what your truth is, what is right for you. That is where you will find your happiness.”
The Salt Lake Tribune (no link, although that may change soon) reports that Kevin Kloosterman, an LDS bishop from Illinois described the treatment of gays by the church as “an atrocity” and personally apologized, although he clarified that he was only speaking for himself and not the church. But he added that “straight members of the church have a lot of repenting to do.”
May 6th, 2011
As we reported, the U.S. Olympic Committee had named Proposition 8 advocate Peter Vidmar as its 2012 chief of mission. He has now resigned that commission. (USA Today)
When the Tribune story broke, reaction was nearly immediate — and almost entirely negative — within the USOC. Aimee Mullins, the former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Games team, said she was “concerned and deeply saddened” about Vidmar’s past actions.
“The Olympic movement is about promoting equity for all,” she said.
In a statement released Friday evening, Vidmar said, “I have dedicated my life to the Olympic movement and the ideals of excellence, friendship and respect. I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family. I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage.”
I wish his personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction, either. I wish they had not distracted him from being a decent human being instead encouraging him to arrogantly thrust his religion, his opinion, his money, and his time into my life in order to harm me and my community.
I have no sympathy for those who are discovering that their innocent little “stand on the issue” which they were willing to make because of the “call of their church” is now being seen as mean-spirited and based in animus. And not just by the “militant homosexual activists”, but by average everyday citizens. My heart doesn’t bleed in the slightest for those who are finding that doing real harm to real people can have real consequences.
March 30th, 2011
ABC News has just released this fascinating report about playwright John Cameron’s experiences with a Mormon-sponsored program in the 1970s to try to cure him of his homosexuality through the use of electric shock therapy. That program, at Brigham Young University, was the basis for a doctoral dissertationby Max Ford McBride. Cameron was a very devout Mormon, and even though he had never acted on his sexual attractions at the time, he was desperate to get rid of his feelings. He saw McBride as his savior:
A mercury-filled tube was placed around the base of the penis and the students were shown alternating slides of men and women in various stages of undress.
When participants responded to images of men with an erection, the closed electric circuit was broken and they received three-second electrical shocks at 10-second intervals. Each session lasted an hour. Participants set their own pain levels.
Cameron said his shame was so deep that he selected the highest level.
“Max (the study’s author) didn’t do it, we did it,” he said. “I was always turning it up to get the most pain because I was desperate.”
This line really jumped out at me:
McBride’s alleged response ended up in Cameron’s play: “No one is a homosexual. Homosexuality doesn’t exist. It’s just a symptom of a deeper problem you are not willing to deal with.”
This line — there is no such thing as a homosexual — remains fundamental dogma of the ex-gay movement to this very day.
Cameron was one of thirteen subjects for McBride’s study. McBride today is a psychologist in Provo, Utah. Cameron wrote a play, “14,” about his experiences. The play, which includes portions of McBride’s dissertation, will be performed at the University of Colorado in Boulder in October. The play debuted at University of Iowa in 2007, and was performed at Kent State University in 2009.
February 25th, 2011
How very infuriating it must be to have anti-gay activists misquote you and claim that you agree with notions that you find abhorrent. But such has become the plight of Francis Collins, onetime director of the Human Genome Project.
In April 2007, A. Dean Byrd, a devout Mormon who was at that time the incoming president of NARTH, wrote an article titled “Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired,” Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head Of The Human Genome Project.“ It claimed:
Estimates of heritability are based upon careful analyses of studies conducted with identical twins. Such studies are important and lead to the conclusion that heredity is important in many of these traits. It is important however, to note that even in such studies with identical twins, that heritability is not to be confused as inevitability.
As Dr. Collins would agree, environment can influence gene expression, and free will determines the response to whatever predispositions might be present.
But Dr. Collins did not agree. Nor was he pleased by the political advocacy of those who misquoted a statement from an appendix to his book and wrote to Ex-Gay Watch to say so:
It troubles me greatly to learn that anything I have written would cause anguish for you or others who are seeking answers to the basis of homosexuality. The words quoted by NARTH all come from the Appendix to my book “The Language of God” (pp. 260-263), but have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the meaning to refer back to the original text.
The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.
Your note indicated that your real interest is in the truth. And this is about all that we really know. No one has yet identified an actual gene that contributes to the hereditary component (the reports about a gene on the X chromosome from the 1990s have not held up), but it is likely that such genes will be found in the next few years.
You would think that having been publicly refuted would be reason enough not to continue to distort the work of others. And, indeed, for people of integrity, it would be so.
But Dean Byrd and his associates have little integrity and no interest in honest portrayals of science. So here they are back again.
In today’s Salt Lake Tribune, members of the Foundation for Attraction Research (an organization founded by Byrd), are trotting out their distortions of Collins’ work to claim that his conclusions were that “homosexuality, like other traits, emerges from some combination of nature and nurture,” and to imply that Collins endorses their reorientation theories.
But they didn’t stop at defaming the character and scholarship of Collins, they also implied that Dr. Robert Spitzer endorsed their views.
Spitzer offers the following: “Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could change their [sic] sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false. Some people can and do change.”
It should also be observed that the type, degree, and potential for change vary with each individual, and many debates about change could be avoided by a more nuanced discussion about it.
Setting aside for the moment the methodology and the documented fraud involved with the effort to fool Dr. Spitzer, it is telling that Byrd’s associates chose to delete what Spitzer actually had to say about the “type, degree, and potential for change.” (NY Times)
But after enduring an avalanche of criticism from peers who said he had given too much credence to the accounts of his subjects, many of whom were leaders of ex-gay ministries, Dr. Spitzer now says many advocates of sexual reorientation have misrepresented his views.
“Although I suspect change occurs, I suspect it’s very rare,” he said. “Is it 1 percent, 2 percent? I don’t think it’s 10 percent.”
But you wouldn’t know that from this Mormon opinion piece.
Because Dennis V. Dahle, John P. Livingstone and M. Gawain Wells set out not to present scientific discovery or empirical evidence of their position, but rather to deceive the public. The observations of Collins and the opinions of Spitzer – had they been portrayed honestly – would have refuted the claims of the Foundation for Attraction Research. So instead Dahle, Livingsone, and Wells followed in the footsteps of Byrd and hijacked the reputations of honorable men to attach them to their dishonorable goals.
Ironically, the premise of their opinion statement was that “true religion and true science, when they are found, are never at odds.” And what an unfair disservice they have done to fellow Mormons.
For if true religion and true science go hand in hand, then it is only a logical conclusion that the religion of con-men Dahle, Livingsone, and Wells surely must be as fraudulent as their “science”.
February 15th, 2011
You may have seen the billboards and the commercials behind the “I’m A Mormon” campaign, designed to try to rehabilitate the image of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints following their massive efforts to strip LGBT Americans of their right to marry in California. Now there’s another grass-roots effort, called “I Am An Ex-Mormon,” which highlights those who have left the church, for a variety of reasons:
I was born in Provo, Utah to Gerald and Carol Lynn Pearson. At the age of eight years old I was baptized an official, 5th generation, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was twelve years old when I learned my dad, whom I adored, was gay; sixteen years old when he died of AIDS in our home; eighteen years old when my mother’s book “Goodbye, I Love You” was published by Random House; twenty five years old when I knowingly married a gay man myself in the Salt Lake City temple; thirty two years old when we divorced; thirty four when I walked away from the Mormon Church; and forty when I officially had my name removed from the church records.
…Early on in my life I became obsessed with obedience to the God that I was introduced to at church – the very same God that hated and condemned my father for being a homosexual and who was, in turn (and for good reason) hated by my dad. …I had to choose which father to obey, which father to love – a choice that broke me in two.
December 22nd, 2010
Grand County, Utah, home to Moab and the Arches National Park, has now passed an ordinance that protects its 9,000 or so residents from sexual orientation and sexual identity discrimination in housing and employment. (SL Tribune)
That means one in four Utahns, living in 10 communities from Moab to Logan, are protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Advocates for the statutes hope that groundswell of support will push the Utah Legislature to protect all Utahns.
With this decision, Equality Utah has reached its goal of ten new municipalities banning discrimination.
Salt Lake County followed Salt Lake City’s lead, and Equality Utah launched an effort, dubbed “Ten in 2010,” to increase the list to 10 by the end of this year. Grand County expedited the ordinances to ensure passage before the new year.
They are hoping to capitalize on the momentum and encourage the state legislature to ban discrimination state wide. As yet, this seems to be more of a grand hope than an achievable goal. However, much depends on the public stances of the Mormon Church, whose support secured the bill in Salt Lake City
December 21st, 2010
In 2008 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) declared war on the gay community. They probably didn’t intend to, and they certainly didn’t want it to be known, but nevertheless that year the Mormon leadership decided that it would throw the church’s weight and political influence into the battle to deny marriage equality in California.
And they won. Proposition 8 passed.
But this success has proven to be a pyrrhic victory, one that threatened to set back much of the church’s public image campaign. Having spent decades on a message that Mormons make good neighbors, suddenly they were painted as haters and destroyers of happiness.
And the church discovered – to what must have been their amazement – that people in California are more suspicious of Mormons than they are of gays. While they may not have favored marriage, they were disturbed at the idea of a California proposition being funded and controlled from Utah by a church that many still see as a cult.
And then the church took a series of missteps in public confrontation with gays. Efforts to paint gay people as deviants that had to be slapped down (how dare they kiss in this Mormon-owned park) only gained sympathy for gay folk in the public eye. And even members revolted when a leader declared that gay people must choose to be gay because Heavenly Father wouldn’t have made them that way.
I’ll admit that it has been amusing to see the panic and meltdown over gay issues since the church’s involvement in Prop 8 was exposed. But it has also been encouraging that there are obviously many in the Mormon Church who have been awakened by the scandal and who are seeking to act admirably.
And some are really seeking peace, a detente, and if not agreement then at least a cease fire. It shows up in some amusing ways. (ABC)
ABC 4 News has learned that the Church invited several prominent gay leaders to its Christmas concert this weekend, including Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black.
Black, a screenwriter, won an Oscar for the movie, “Milk.”
Saturday, at the LDS Church’s Christmas concert, he and a handful of Utah gay activists were VIP guests.
ABC 4 News is also being told that the Church has met previously with both Black and Bastian, one of the founders of WordPerfect.
This, reportedly, to get more information about gay issues.
I’m not ready to forgive the church for the damage they did in my state. It truly was an act of selfish bullying and it will take more than a Christmas concert invitation to a select few before I see this institution as other than a committed enemy of my civil rights and freedom.
But it does give me hope. Maybe the church has learned a lesson.
There is a strong likelihood that there will be a proposition on the 2012 ballot to reverse Proposition 8, and if the Mormon Church doesn’t want to pay for half of the advertising and 80-90% of the volunteers, then our chances are significantly increased.
October 10th, 2010
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, it appears that the Mormon Church is trying to change history. The church’s web site changed the remarks that Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer made to the 180th Semiannual General Conference. The controversial speech he made at the conference and beamed via satellite to churches around the world, has been modified on the LDS web site:
Perhaps the most controversial paragraph in Packer’s text that he read Sunday said, “Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.”
Now the word “temptations” has replaced “tendencies” and the question about God’s motives has been removed entirely.
Spokesperson Scott Trotter said that “President Packer has simply clarified his intent.” Unfortunately, it is unclear how much that “clarification” is being disseminated among the millions around the world who heard his speech. Gary Watts, a former member of the LDS Church member with a lesbian daughter and gay son, isn’t buying it. “They’re trying to edit it and soften it and make it better, but it’s not going to work. [The speech has] gone viral. Everyone knows what he said.”
October 8th, 2010
Boyd Packer is the president and the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). On Sunday, speaking to the 180th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City (which was broadcast around the world), he preached a sermon which was dedicated to anti-gay doctrine and political activism.
Coming on the tail of a series of news reports about anti-gay bullying resulting in child suicide, this shocked and angered those who seek to protect vulnerable children from a culture of contempt. Last night, thousands of protesters surrounded the Mormon Temple in symbolic illustration of the deaths that result from such incautious words.
Public outrage over the comments included demands that the church retract and denounce the sermon. In a most peculiar decision, the church decided instead to sanitize the sermon to make it less obviously objectionable when media came looking for quotes, and released a statement that Packer’s statements were “based on principles of truth, respect and love for all of God’s children.”
I do not fault a religious leader for espousing their religious beliefs, even those which I find to be contrary to everything I think is moral and true. However, as Packer’s talk was laden with terms such as “evil” and “wickedness” and “perversion” and as Packer declared that civil equality for gay couples would lead to the end of civilization, his entire sermon is foul and objectionable.
But amidst the animus and condescension, Boyd did illustrate what I call the Great Conundrum. In May I wrote about this paradox:
For millenia, church teaching has been that God is good and applying his rules leads to happiness. God has said that homosexuality is forbidden and abomination to him. This is evident in Scripture and it is abundantly clear that homosexuality is not to be tolerated. Those who are homosexual are vile and willful sinners who choose to defy God.
However, we currently know the homosexuality is a naturally occurring attribute of a person. One’s attractions are not selected and are based in part on genetics. Other contributors may include other biological or perhaps even social factors, but conscious choice is seldom involved at all and no manner of effort seems effective in changing homosexuality into heterosexuality.
Therefore, God has – through genetics and other factors under the control of his divine hand – created a group of humans which he condemns for being the way He created them. He rejects and punishes them (and endorses the human punishment of them) for the sin of existing, a sin over which they had no free will.
This is not conceivable to modern Christians. This is contrary to how they view the nature of God. And so, Christians are faced with the following options: Either
- The writers of the Scripture got it wrong, or
- Your understanding of Scripture is incorrect, or
- Modern understanding about homosexuality is wrong, or
- God is a bully.
And I discussed the various ways in which a conservative Christian can resolve such a puzzle. Boyd Packer chose what I called “Response 3: Denying evidence.”
Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.
Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church.
Boyd’s logic goes like this: Inborn tendencies come from God. God is good. Homosexuality is bad. Therefore, homosexuality did not come from God and is not inborn. Science, research, personal witness, and any evidence that contradicts this formula must be ignored.
No doubt this conclusions-based logic will continue for some time to satisfy faithful Mormons who are seeking justification for their anti-gay attitudes or activism. It will provide cover for the church’s continuing attack on the civil liberties of gay people.
But in time, denying empirical evidence will only serve to weaken Packer’s influence and image and come to harm his church.
October 8th, 2010
An estimated 4,500 people surrounded the two blocks downtown that make up the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last night to protest a recent anti-gay statement by LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer.
Paker spoke at the Mormon Church’s 180th Semiannual General Conference spoke out against same-sex marriage and called homosexuality “impure and unnatural”:
“There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature,” Boyd K. Packer, president of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said in a strongly worded sermon about the dangers of pornography and same-sex marriage. “A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. Do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?”
Those comments, coming on the heels of at least five suicides in September, drew sharp condemnations inside and outside the church:
Tonight, we are symbolic of all the children who have been killed by messages like Boyd K. Packer’s,” said organizer and Salt Lake City blogger Eric Ethington. “When you hear nothing from [church leaders] but that you are nothing but evil and you need to change the unchangeable nature of yourself, that is only a message kids can take for so long.”
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.