Salt Lake City, UT—The church has generously donated $5 million to support Syrian refugees, and the First Presidency has also encouraged members to assist those fleeing violence throughout the world. At the same time, the church has quietly updated the Handbook, stipulating that humanitarian donations not be used for children of gay refugee couples. In a hastily organized interview, Elder Christofferson explained that the policy will prevent conflicts between gay parents and their children. “What we really want to avoid,” clarified Elder Christofferson, “would be conflicts between children and their same-sex attracted parents who have committed such a grievous sin.” He elaborated that “such children might get the wrong idea about their parent’s relationship if they got food or shelter from the church.” Elder Christofferson was quick to add that “those children who are of age and who denounce their parents’ sinful lifestyles can apply to the First Presidency for aid, thus making this assistance freely available to all and without any detrimental long-term consequences.” Workers from the Red Cross and other agencies were at first perplexed by the stipulations. Many had felt that Mormons were trying to protect the rights of all people, include gay people. Said one worker, “well, we didn’t know what to do with those donations, since some of the kids might have one gay parent and one straight parent.” The worker continued that “we thought maybe (the children) would get half of what they needed, you know, since one parent was not, as Mormons put it, ‘an apostate perpetuating in a terrible, terrible sin.’” Workers tried to get clarification about how the aid should be used, but the further directions were still ambiguous. “Much to everyone’s ones great relief, especially the Mormons, what finally fixed the whole situation,” said a volunteer from Doctors Without Borders, “is that we realized that ISIS hates gays even more than Mormons, so they had pretty much killed most of them before they could even flee Syria.”...

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Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Policy

A few weeks ago, I remember hearing the news about the church’s new policy which targets the children of parents in same sex relationships. Like many, I was overcome with anger and hurt for the families that would be affected. However, I cannot say I was surprised. I have been an LGBT+ advocate for too long, heard too many stories, and felt them all too deeply, to be surprised anymore by news of this nature. Even so, it has been simultaneously painful and empowering to see the response to this issue. On the one hand, I have seen a massive strain on families in the past week, both those with and without LGBT+ members. I have seen loved ones attacking one another and relationships severed as a result. On the other hand, it fills me with hope to see so many LDS members taking a stand against the discriminatory practices of the church. Questioning your beliefs is not easy. Standing up for those beliefs against the majority is even harder. Though it may not be my place to do so, I would like to address individuals on both sides of this issue. I would challenge those who stand against the policy to remember how difficult it was to take that stand. I would also challenge those who stand by the policy to ask the difficult question, “Why?” To be clear, I am not a member of the LDS church, nor have I ever been. Until I met my husband four years ago, I had never even spoken to a Mormon. And to be completely honest, I am not even religious. Though I was raised Evangelical for most of my life, I left the church in my late teens and now identify as agnostic. Regardless, I also do not believe it is my place to judge members of any religion. Religion has done beautiful things for many people, from offering individuals a healthy support network to even saving lives. My goal is not to degrade, but...

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Late Night Thoughts on the LDS Church’s Policy on Gay Parents &Their Children

Nov 29, 15 Late Night Thoughts on the LDS Church’s Policy  on Gay Parents &Their Children

Posted by in Family, Featured, Homosexuality, Policy, Theology

NOTE: For the past several weeks I have considered how best to respond to the LDS Church’s policy changes on gay and lesbian parents and their children. I resisted a quick response because I feel this is a complicated matter that deserves careful, thoughtful consideration. Upon first hearing the news of the policy change, I was both disturbed and distraught. At a time when it seemed the Church was moving in a progressive or at least positive direction on issues relating to its LGBT members, this policy seems a sudden lurch backward and out of harmony with other recent statements and sentiments by Church leaders on LGBT issues. When friends began calling or writing asking my thoughts, I simply said that it didn’t make sense to me spiritually, culturally, socially, politically or, especially, emotionally. It still doesn’t—nor do I expect it will. Nevertheless, I have an impulse to try and respond. I’ve divided my response into sections that might help readers zero in on particular issues, concerns or hopes. Personal Perspective I came of age in a homophobic world, a world in which my family, friends, church leaders, fellow members, teachers and almost everyone I knew saw homosexuality as an evil perversion. “Queer” and “pervert” were common terms used in my home, and I was taught to avoid and fear gay men and even abuse them physically. My friends in Long Beach talked seriously about “rolling some queers down at the Pike” (an arcade). When I saw men showing romantic affection for one another, I was repulsed and even felt my fists tighten in anger. Everything in my culture reinforced such feelings. At BYU I often heard disparaging remarks about students rumored to be gay, and as a young missionary I remember speaking disparagingly behind the backs of missionaries reported to be gay as “sisters.” As a leader of the Honor Society at BYU I was aware of the fact that being homosexual was against the honor code and heard of gays being called...

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An Open Letter to the Office of the First Presidency

Nov 29, 15 An Open Letter to the Office of the First Presidency

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Mormonism

An Open Letter To: The Office of the First Presidency The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints After much prayer, I am writing to implore you to reconsider the Church’s new policy on the treatment of same-gender families and to address this matter more clearly and lovingly and within the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I appreciate your desire to protect the doctrine. These policies do not do so. Many LDS families, including mine, are troubled by the new policy guidelines of the Church regarding the treatment of same-gender families. This policy requires direct and frank responses from the First Presidency so that Church members may make educated decisions for and with our families. Simply directing members to pray and talk with local ecclesiastic leaders are insufficient for this highly charged yet extremely sensitive discussion. Elder Christofferson’s interview, while appreciated, addressed the policy only superficially. The recent communication with additional guidance was inadequate. I have reviewed these matters with my Stake Presidency.  They do not have the answers.  As these are policy matters, only the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles can address them. As the Church has now opened this door, it is time an open and interactive dialogue on matters of sexuality and the role of the Church in this very intimate activity. Many of the troubling matters are noted below. In some cases, these comments are, of necessity, rather blunt: The Church’s policy appears to be a new McCarthyism. The Church position will encourage its members to report each other’s actions to ecclesiastical leaders for unnecessary and harsh disciplinary action. This will be the practical outcome of the Church’s new policy among some of our members who are more concerned with the salvation of their neighbors than their personal salvation. How will the Church handle such “witch” hunts? President Boyd K. Packer stated with respect to the Church’s LGB members, “We do not reject you. … We cannot reject you. … We will not reject...

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Why are you Cozying up to Gay Mormons Now?

Nov 29, 15 Why are you Cozying up to Gay Mormons Now?

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality

A Critique of Recent Posts by Believing Gay Mormons and the Mormons who are Now Using Those Posts as Proof that the Church’s SSM Policy Changes are Helpful In the days following the policy change to Handbook 1 and as a result of my public critique of those changes, I experienced social media ‘silence.’ Only a few family members engaged in (fairly) polite discussions about my frustration with the changes to Handbook 1. Others were not so polite. For example, a former mission companion accused me of being an apostate by quoting the writings of Brigham Young who warned of ‘false teachers’ and ‘false prophets.’ Brigham’s accusations will never hurt me (I have no respect for him). How can I respect a man who ‘lied for the Lord’ and supported Joseph Smith’s marriages to teenage girls and the wives of some of the men he had sent away on missions? One friend expressed her love for me and gave me a Facebook hug ((hugs!)). That made my day since I know that she had likely spent a lot of time contemplating and grappling with the Church’s policy change (perhaps even weeping, I don’t know, but I feel for her and her family since it directly impacts their lives). Suddenly, out of the silence of my friends and family Facebook feeds, I began to see a common trend. My True Blue Mormon [TBM] Facebook friends began sharing blogs and articles written by believing LGBT Mormons or believing children of LGBT relationships intended to show that the Church’s change in policy was legitimate and helpful. Some of these friends were the same who have shown disregard and in some cases, hate and contempt, toward LGBT Mormons (believing or unbelieving) and those that support the fight for gender and LGBT equality in the LDS Church. However, when their purposes were best served, they were more than willing to use the words of those they have marginalized to their advantage. I want to address two problems I see with this trend. First, I want to engage...

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History Repeats Itself, Especially When you Ignore It! – Considering the LDS Church’s Past Racial Restriction Policies in Light of Current LGBT Policies

Nov 29, 15 History Repeats Itself, Especially When you Ignore It! – Considering the LDS Church’s Past Racial Restriction Policies in Light of Current LGBT Policies

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Racism

It has been said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it – the first as tragedy, the second as farce. The current faith crises of sanctions on homosexuals, their families, and other members of the gay community within the LDS faith, is a challenge that rings familiar to those LDS who lived through the faith’s racial restriction policies of the past that endured up until 1978. The scars of the exclusion of those of African descent, still not completely healed, have again been wounded as the ghost of this past has been conjured again with these new, painful policies. There are many striking similarities between how the gay community is being treated as the LDS church enters this new era of segregation wherein recent policies have been enacted to ban blessings, membership and numerous ordinances and opportunities to children of gay parents, in addition to the pre-existing restrictions placed upon those parents. BLACK- Under the past racial restriction policies of the Church that lasted from the presidency of Brigham Young until 1978, blacks of African descent were somewhat welcomed into the Church, but not with open arms. Under the racial restrictions, persons with any black African ancestry could not hold the priesthood and could not participate in most temple ordinances, including the endowment and celestial marriage. The racial restriction policy was applied to black Africans, persons of black African descent, and anyone with mixed race that included any black African ancestry. While the Church had on open membership policy for all races, blacks were the only group subject to these sanctions as leaders of the time claimed this was due to a godly-imposed “curse”, and therefore their hands were tied. Church leaders tried promoting these institutionalized foundations of segregation as creating a “separate but equal” class structure within the Church, however, this was not viewed as being such by those affected. ________________________________________ GAY- Under the current homosexual restriction policies of the Church, those who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual,...

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Faith, Fasting, and Religion

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like all people (perhaps especially Mormons) often miss the mark. We confuse the means with the ends. At very least I often do. I can get so wrapped up in something that I miss the forest for the trees. Here are 3 areas that where I think we can easily go wrong: 1- Faith If we have all faith so that we can move mountains, but we lack charity, we’re nothing. So how do we show true charity? When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. 2- Fasting Many times I have fasted with some specific purpose or blessing in mind. In fact, I was taught that this was how we were supposed to fast. We need to fast for something. But what does that mean? In my experience this has meant that we want to invoke some blessing from God. We want some family member who is sick or going through some trial to get blessings through our fast. What does God say about fasting? Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. So it is not to make our petitions be more effective. It is not to increase the likelihood that God will grant our proposed desire. So why should we fast? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? What does it mean to hide yourself from your own flesh? My take is that we are all family, and as such when we ignore those in need, we are hiding ourselves from our own family. We could also take it to mean that we should take care of our own. For years I assumed that our tithing and fast offerings ensured...

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One in Us

John 17: 21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Unity in Christ is essential to the Gospel message. However, Christian unity as it is understood in the modern ecumenical movement is somewhat of a contradiction of terms. Are we speaking of a unity in belief, practice, or personal piety? For Mormons this term becomes even more ambiguous, as Latter-day Saints tend to believe our church is the “One True Church.” Furthermore, this concept is even more divisive among Mormons, considering some are declared “worthy” for the Temple, while others are not. During my studies overseas with the World Council of Churches in Geneva, I learned that John 17:21 was the key to understanding Christian unity as defined by the modern ecumenical movement; for in this verse is expressed Christ’s “ecumenical imperative,” a calling for unity among believers. However, those outside Mormonism—Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox— are even divided on what this means or how to interpret it. So what does it mean to be “one in Christ”? The seventeenth chapter of John is the great intercessory prayer for church unity. This prayer was offered up by Jesus himself just as he was about to undergo the agonizing ordeal of the Atonement. Perhaps the following verse offers a clue; “that they also may be one in us….that the world may believe….” (emphasis added). The key to unity is found in divine plurality. It is interesting to note that as Jesus is conversing with the Father all throughout chapter seventeen, he makes repeated reference to the essential unity found in divine plurality; verse eleven, “….that they may be one, as we are” and verse twenty-two, “…even as we are one.” (emphasis added) It would seem that Jesus’ repeated use of “we,” along with the reference to “us” in John 17: 21, indicate that he is speaking not only to...

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Eternal Marriage and why I’m no Longer Heterosexual.

I was married a virgin. My wife was too. We both believed it was important because of what we’d been taught about temple marriage and “worthiness” to get married there. The consequences of that decision have gone far beyond the original intent of getting to the temple. For one thing, it precludes us from legitimacy in any discussion about whether or not it’s a good idea to wait until marriage for sex. Those of us who wait can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be sexually active before marriage and vise versa. As a white, straight first world man, there are a lot of people that I can’t relate to, but I can allow them freedom without judgment even if I don’t understand their experience. Another significant consequence for us is an intensification of the commitment we made when we agreed to the covenants we made at our marriage.   We met while she was attending BYU, at a time when I had all but given up hope in ever finding a compatible mate. I was committed to two seemingly incongruous lifestyles: punk rock, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The girls I dated who were faithful Church members, were bewildered and a little nervous about my alternative interests, and the punk rockers I dated were somewhat less than religious. Jennifer was/ is the perfect blend and I was very attracted to her. We started to date when she asked me out, about a year after we first met. We had both been involved in other relationships up to that point so her request was a bit of a surprise. She invited me to a concert, (Peter Murphy) which was three weeks away. We saw each other every day for those three weeks and got engaged the night of the show. We were married in the Seattle Temple three months later. Since then we have been passionate about each other. We have overcome jealousy, fought bitterly, hurt each other (never physically) and healed. We...

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Content warning: This blog post explicitly discusses the porn industry and sexual acts. No euphemisms are used.   For quite some time I’ve been observing discussions amongst the Rational Faiths permabloggers regarding the LDS Church’s approach to pornography.  Usually the critique I’ve seen amongst online Mormons is something along the lines of: “The Church talks about porn so much and brings so much shame to those men who have occasionally seen porn, that they are actually making the problem worse.  For the Church, a one or two-time porn looker is the same as someone who is addicted to porn.  Those are two different creatures.” The discussions I’ve seen amongst the Rational Faiths permabloggers has been different. The conversation, generally led by two women, has been more along the lines of: “Mormonism’s dissuasion of porn is male-centric – that is, it’s consumer-centric. Apart from the occasional mention of how the spouse of the porn consumer is affected, it focuses on how porn affects the consumer – usually men. Absent from the discussion is how porn affects the women who are in the porn industry.” This latter critique was discussed in a June 2015 Rational Faiths blog post by permablogger, Jared: “The real evil of porn is in the objectification and victimization of human beings, primarily women. Pornography is one of the principle drivers of human trafficking and slavery and pornographers are among the chief perpetrators of these crimes.” (click here to read Jared’s post) Rational Faiths has also discussed, quite explicitly, sex trafficking.  In the February 21, 2015 podcast episode, Jerilyn Hassel-Pool and Brian Dillman have a frank and painful discussion with Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground (click here to visit Operation Underground’s website.) Operation Underground is a foundation that rescues children from sex slavery.  (Click here to listen to this important episode.) This critique (of focusing on the porn consumer only) can easily be observed in the following quotes. These quotes came when I searched “pornography” on  I limited my search to General Conference talks: “Young people and...

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