Sitting in Sacrament meeting last Sunday, I was surprised to hear … AGAIN … a letter read by our Bishop promoting the Church’s new movie, “Meet the Mormons.” In this letter, we were strongly encouraged to go see the movie, to bring our non-member friends, and to buy extra tickets even if we didn’t need them so that the theatres would sell out. This would allow the movie to remain in the theatre longer since it would seem like it was in high demand. I was surprised to hear it brought up again this past Sunday because there was a letter read in Sacrament meeting the previous Sunday advertising the same movie. It’s been highly publicized on our ward Relief Society Facebook page and I have also received emails from ward members in leadership positions urging us to go see the movie. Not to mention Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been blanketed with “Meet the Mormons” posts.
I’ve watched the trailer for this movie. It tells the story of six people and is shot on location around the world. The movie goes to great lengths to show the wonderful diversity that is present in our church – diversity in culture, age, family dynamics, and ethnicity. It is beautifully done. Top-notch filming, editing, music and graphics have been used. I’m sure it cost millions to make.
One thing I can say about our Church – when it comes does something, it does it right!
So why am I having hard time with this movie?
I have seen or heard advertisements for this film countless times in the past few weeks. We are being inundated with “Meet the Mormons” hype. So why is it that I have not heard or seen even ONE mention of the Church’s website www.mormonsandgays.org by my local leaders or General Authorities, in the nearly TWO YEARS it has been out? I haven’t heard letters read by my bishop over the pulpit in Sacrament meeting. I haven’t heard letters read in stake conference by my Stake President. I haven’t received any emails from my ward leaders. I haven’t seen it linked to our ward Facebook pages. The ONLY places I see this website mentioned is in private groups on Facebook who are dealing with LGBT issues within the LDS faith. My local leaders know about this website, because we told them about it. They hadn’t heard about it before we brought it to their attention.
I will admit that I am decidedly biased on this topic. I am an active Mormon mother of a 16-year gay old son. In the three years he has been out, it has become my mission to make a place for him in our congregations – both locally and on a larger scale. He keeps the Law of Chastity and is worthy of the Aaronic Priesthood that he holds. But he is not seen as worthy, equal or even welcome.
Do you have any idea what an enormous impact that website could have for the thousands of families like mine if it was promoted even HALF as much as “Meet the Mormons”? My son came out in January 2012. The Church’s website came out in December 2012. We had almost a year of trying to work with our local leaders without the aid and backing of that site. It was most difficult. We got the distinct impression that our leaders saw us as parents trying to get special treatment for our son and asking for things that were inappropriate and would make many uncomfortable. But when the website came out, we finally had the support of a Church-approved resource and three apostles who speak compassionately about our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. This website gave us a leg to stand on when talking with our leaders.
We posted the link to the Mormons & Gays website on our social media, talked about it with family and friends, sent dozens of emails, and wrote articles about it. We got the word out as best we could with our limited reach. But because the “advertising” of the site was coming from me and not the normal channels the Church uses for disseminating information, many questioned its credibility and authenticity as a true Church resource.
Our efforts (and the efforts of MANY others) were sincere, but had little effect. For there to be widespread change in how Mormons view and treat our LGBT members, the message HAS to come from the top. After all, the Church put together this beautiful (and probably costly) website that has some of the most compassionate and inclusive language ever used by our senior leaders to talk about gay people. It is an impressive step forward for our conservative Church and I am so grateful for it.
We have had the opportunity to meet with some of our top leaders, as well as the head of Church Public Affairs. I feel immense gratitude that they were willing to meet with us and listen to us as we shared our story. I felt love and connection from these good men. They wept with us. They buoyed our spirits. They thanked us repeatedly for the work we are doing. In all of the meetings we had with these men, our main message was the importance of this website and how desperately LGBT people and their families needed this to be talked about, promoted, and received by the membership of this Church. We begged, literally begged, them to talk about it when they spoke in General Conference, to write an Ensign article about it, to have a letter read over the pulpit to wards and stakes, to include this website with the list of other church websites on LDS.org., etc.
We are still waiting for that to happen … and the website has been out almost two years.
The Church is brilliant at getting information to its people, quickly if necessary. We have seen how good they are at doing this with the promotion of its movie, “Meet the Mormons.” So WHY, after all the expense and effort to make Mormons & Gays, do they not talk about it??
We have LDS parents STILL kicking their gay kids out of their homes. We have LDS gay teens STILL attempting suicide. And heartbreakingly, many are successful in their attempts. Do not make the mistake of thinking these are rare or isolated cases. I often hear “this don’t happen anymore” or “no one in MY Church would do that.” If you have said (or thought) this, you are wrong. All you are doing is trying to explain away a very uncomfortable truth.
In my opinion, being gay and being Mormon might well be one of the hardest, and least reconcilable, situations one can experience in this life. Can we not do more to help them?? We ALL need to do more – General Authorities, local, stake and regional leaders, and everyday members of this church. ALL of us need to do more. This isn’t about any political push. This isn’t about the “gay agenda”. This is about literally saving lives and keeping families intact. Every last Mormon should be on board with that. Would you care more if it was YOUR child? Then pretend like it is! For me, I don’t have to pretend. This is my reality.
I would LOVE to see our Church use our hard-earned tithing and fast offering dollars to go to a cause that saved lives, instead of just promoting ITSELF like it is doing with “Meet the Mormons”. When up to 60% of any given ward is inactive, perhaps focusing on the 5-10% of LGBT members (and their families) who leave the Church should be a priority. I have seen studies that show statistics as high as 80% of gay youth leave the Church, and in many cases their families follow. As I live in California, I am also aware of the numerous families who have left the Church over Prop 8. Millions of members are struggling with these issues; and they have been largely ignored.
I realize most of this article has focused on LGBT issues within the Church. That is what is foremost on my mind since I have a gay son. But there are also a myriad of other causes and organizations that are FAR more deserving of the millions of dollars the Church spent on a movie to talk about itself. We could be raising awareness and helping to fund groups that run soup kitchens, homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, suicide hotlines, sex trafficking, poverty, spousal and child abuse, addiction recovery, etc. I know we do some of these things from time to time, but if the church has millions of dollars to make a movie that is so, completely unnecessary than it FOR SURE has more money to give towards saving and improving lives.
One organization that is truly saving the lives of LDS members is the Liahona Foundation (http://www.liahonachildren.org). This organization travels around the world, visiting LDS branches, wards and stakes, in an effort to end childhood hunger and starvation among these impoverished people. These faithful Saints pay their tithing, but don’t have enough to feed their families. For only $50 a year, you can feed a child for that whole year! It takes so little to make a difference. Imagine how many children could go to bed with a full tummy with what it cost to make that movie.
I understand that many will read this and think it sounds harsh and bitter. I admit to fighting against those feelings often, and trying to stay positive, centered, and headed in the right direction. But it’s been almost three years that my family has been desperately struggling and begging for help on this issue. (For countless others, it’s been decades longer.) We have been the recipients of some incredibly cruel, heartless and ignorant comments and acts by members of this Church. I feel emotionally and spiritually weary of fighting this never-ending uphill battle.
I truly believe that if the website was more widely known and implemented in our wards through Sacrament meeting talks, lessons and conversations, things would greatly improve for LGBT members, their families and allies. If our congregations were more welcoming and inviting places for LGBT people to come and worship, we wouldn’t be losing so many to inactivity.
If ever there was a group of modern-day lepers, it is our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. They are cast out, seen as unclean, unworthy and unwanted. We NEED to do better. Christ expects more from us. I have felt the love our Heavenly Parents have for their LGBT Children. Some of my most profound spiritual experiences happened while I have been with gay people. They have a wisdom and depth to their soul that I have rarely encountered. They have such deep-rooted faith. Their testimonies have been hard-earned and refined as they journeyed on the road to hell and back many times. They are some of the most spiritual, beautiful people I know and I count them as my closest friends.
We are losing some of our best, brightest and most faithful. If the Church puts money into member retention, the LGBT community might be a good place to start since most of them leave, looking for friendlier skies.
Yep. I am right there with you. I am deleting all the emails I get from my stake leaders because they are all about the Meet the Mormons film and I'm just not feeling it.
If I'm gong to drive 2 hours one way to see a movie (I live in the mission field, far from Utah) this isn't it.
I appreciate the examples you and your husband set for the rest of the church. I can only imagine how lonely the work is but I know Christ is supporting your efforts. He set the perfect example – Love Everyone.
Wendy, I love you forever. Thanks so much for this timely post. It was such a welcomed surprise in my feed today. I’m so proud that it’s here on Rational Faiths!
Interesting story and I thank you for sharing. I’ll give you my take and you can do with it what you will. Meet the Mormons is, as the name suggests, the Church’s effort to make our beliefs and our existence known to the world at large. Sure, people have known about us for a long, long time but it’s usually “aren’t those the guys that have more than one wife?” This is the Church’s undertaking to actually have some control over the perception of how people view us. It’s a film meant for everyone to see. Mormonsandgays, on the other hand, is a website meant for a very specific demographic.
I certainly understand where you’re coming from. For a long time I felt that the Church needed to do a better job of tackling depression and how to interact with other members with depression. Years later it was autism. Then when grandparents started getting it, Alzheimer’s. The problem with that thinking is that I wanted the Church to use it’s resources to help with problems that were most pressing to ME. In the end, I realized that I was being selfish. The Church tries their best to speak of doctrine and principles that are going to be the most helpful to EVERY member. I mean, from where I’m standing you at least got a website for your son. I’ve never gotten even close to that much. But, like I said, eventually I had to make peace with the fact that Church isn’t here to focus on the things that are most important to me and my family alone.
How about we replace “defending the family” against gay marriage we talk about mormonsandgays.org instead? Even that would go a very very long distance. Us mormons only know one thing, because it has been taught over and over and over again, that gay marriage is wrong. Yet no mention of the web site.
I get your point and I think you are missing the point of the post. No one in church is going to speak about depression or Alzheimer’s and suggest that family members that have those problems should be shunned, perceived as evil or “defended against.”
That is what has been happening for generations for our gay members. It is shameful. There is nothing wrong with resisting against false doctrine that teaches hate and separation from the body of Christ.
There is nothing selfish in wanting our church language to be a language of love, no matter what tongue you speak it in.
And now that I think about it, the church should be talking about depression, Alzheimer’s, autism, poverty, illness and every other thing that impacts all humans. If the church isn’t here to address the needs of it’s members I don’t see the point of it’s existence.
“No one in church is going to speak about depression or Alzheimer’s and suggest that family members that have those problems should be shunned, perceived as evil or “defended against.” –THIS is why mormonsandgays.org is so important. And for mark to say that this is a topic that only affects a select few just sows bias and privilege. The plight of gay people in the gospel is created by the actions of the church as a whole. If it isn’t corrected by the actions of the members, the damage it is causing will persist.
I’m sorry, Lori, but saying that someone is “biased and privileged” because they see things differently than you is a total cop-out. It’s the opposite of having a conversation on the subject, which is what I was trying to do. I thought this was an open-minded website, and it remains friendly until someone posts something against the grain. Then the accusations start flying.
Am I biased? Of course I am. Believe it or not, I haven’t lived in a vacuum until today. Are you biased? Yes, of course you are. Everyone is biased; our experiences shape our beliefs and then we see everything through our specific filter. To suggest you are objective on this subject and i am not is dishonest, plain and simple. As for “privileged” you need to be very careful, as you run the risk of using the term so much that it loses all meaning. Seriously, I’ve never heard that term thrown around so much before I started reading this blog. As of right now, you are guaranteed to be called “white and privileged” or just “privileged” if you disagree with someone on Rationl Faiths… Which makes the name of the blog kind of ironic. I haven’t gotten personal or resorted to name calling with you. Try doing the same.
I totally admit that we are all privileged in some way and that is why we have to keep it in check. I have had to change my statements and world view several times as people have pointed out my privilege to myself. It doesn’t feel great and I’m sorry if you feel bombarded by hearing about it.
When you state that mormonsandgays is only meant for a small demographic and that is why it isn’t mainstream teaching, the only thing I could infer from that is that you don’t think that the message applies to EVERYONE equally in mormonism when in reality it absolutely does. I don’t know what to call that other than privilege. I’m sorry you didn’t like the term. I’d happily retract my calling out privilege and bias if it helps people just see and accept that this is a sorely needed message for ALL mormons. And as for my own personal bias: spreading education, love, and acceptance for gay mormons, many of whom are facing suicide–is far more important than making movies for mormons themselves to go see to make them feel better about being normal–because let’s be honest–only mormons are going to see “meet the mormons” and perhaps their neighbors that they rope into seeing it with them with a promise of cookies and dessert afterward.
Also, I didn’t mean to do a “sorry that your feelings are hurt” apology rather than what I meant to say: Sorry if I used the terms too brashly. So Mark, I’m sorry that I used those terms brashly. Seriously though, I was not intending personal offense or to call you out specifically or personally but my intent was to speak to the general thought process of this not being a mormon-wide issue.
As a final thought, dear Mark,
Maybe if the church leadership started talking about ALL real life issues, the journalist Lisa Ling won’t have a reason to do a documentary expose on the crazy high prescription drug abuse in Utah.
I think there might be a correlation between too much stuff denied and ignored from the pulpit and members needing to self-medicate to survive.
@Lori- well, you may very well be right about who is going to see Meet the Mormons. Lol. But it’s the type of movie that could be farther reaching than you think. I lived in the Bible belt for a long time and more than once I was told that we as Mormons need to make a better effort telling other Christians what we believe. Though I highly doubt this film is going to be a deeply doctrinal film, it serves as a gateway for those outside the Church to recognize resources (like the Church’s official websites, etc) that already exist should they want to delve deeper. I’m assuming it’s mostly meant as a sort of “soft intro” missionary opportunity for those interested in the Church. In the end, yes it’s going to be Church members that make up the lions share of tickets bought, though I disagree that anyone is going to go so that they feel more “normal.” Personally, I’ve always embraced the “peculiar people” references and have felt that what makes us different is rather important.
As for the “privilege” thing, I think you’ve misunderstood. The only thing that’s frustrating about it is that it’s simply been turned into a term that posters here use when they encounter someone who disagrees with them. You could call me much worse and I probably wouldn’t care. My point is that it is evidence that someone would rather hurl insults than have a civilized discussion. I dont think that applies to you in this case, but it’s definitely been a cowardly way out of a conversation for many other posters here. But you ARE welcome to think that I’m privileged as much as you want. 🙂
I also think you misunderstood something I said in my first post. I’m not suggesting that straight members of the Church need to ignore mormonsandgays. Similarly, learning about depression isn’t just for those who suffer with the affliction. Likewise, autism, poverty, etc. Posters like living in Zion is suggesting that talking about and meeting the temporal needs of members should be the only thing the Church concerns itself with. Hopefully you can see the folly in that, considering e faith is set up as a pathway for the righteous in this life and, more importantly, the afterlife. The movie is meant to be a way to reach people so that if it’s their choice to join us on the journey, they can. In my mind, that’s the most important thing that the Church does. Eternity is a pretty long time, after all. But besides all that, the Church does make a significant effort to meet the temporal needs of the world– from the poor to the sick to the diseased to the elderly to the mentally handicapped– all things people conveniently forget about. But make a movie to tell our stories or build a mall (without using tithing money) to draw more people to Temple Square, the epicenter of the Church, and people start grabbing their pitchforks. Anyway, I hope this explains my position a little more clearly.
I understand what you’re saying and appreciate the clarification on both sides here. I agree about insulting others as being the absolute WORST way to have a discussion so I wanted to clarify that that was not my intent and I’m glad you aren’t taking it as such. We all have our causes that we champion and we all have a vision of what the church should/could be. I do hope that the other issues you mentioned above can get more attention; I think it would do a world of good.
Great article Wendy. So many problems for LGTB individuals within in the church could be solved if the mormonsandgays website was more widely advertised. It’s a wonderful website.
How I wish your family would have been featured in the Meet the Mormons movie. That is something that I would actually see!
Where is the “Like” button when you need it?
I appreciate your perspective and willingness to share it! In spite of the lack of transparency about finances in the church (and knowing that the church spent $1.5 BILLION on the mall in Salt Lake as part of the $5 BILLION allocated for the Salt Lake upgrade) it’s hard to believe that there aren’t resources available to promote mormonsandgays. Yes, we all have our specific causes and concerns. But if this issue is important enough to be included in conference talks, if it’s a factor in people leaving the church, it seems like more attention could be given to what the church has already attempted to do about it.
God bless you and your efforts to enlarge the tent of Christ-like love in the Church, Wendy. One of my brothers came out after serving a mission and graduating from BYU. When he told me about it, the punch in the gut came not from his candid sharing but when he told me about his “red-necked bishop who made it clear to me that there wasn’t a place in the Church for people like me.” Oh that was a moment.
I love the website. I used several excellent quotes in a Gospel Doctrine lesson once.
Thank you Wendy. I wish that your message would get through, but I fear you are (literally) kicking against the pricks. The elderly leaders of this have no interest in promoting love and equality for LGBTs, they only care about filling the coffers with tithing, and now new source of revenue — ticket receipts.
Thank you, Wendy. Great point. We can all do better. Thanks for your love and your efforts to make this Church a more welcoming place for all of God’s children.
I wasn’t aware members were being told to buy extra tickets so it would stay in theaters longer. That seems counter-productive, though. Like, “Hey everybody! Go buy tickets for a movie to promote your own religion but buy extra so no one but LDS members get to watch it!”
Great article by the way! I’ve been thoroughly frustrated with the lack of promotion that Mormons and Gays gets, let alone bringing it up in a conversation and those that you’re talking with have never heard of the site.
I love this!
"Do not make the mistake of thinking these are rare or isolated cases. I often hear “this don’t happen anymore” or “no one in MY Church would do that.” If you have said (or thought) this, you are wrong. All you are doing is trying to explain away a very uncomfortable truth."
I had this conversation about six months ago with my RS president. She kept saying, "no, no, we don't do that anymore," as though her repeating it to herself would make it not so!
Wendy, I love this post, and your family's dedication to your son and to this cause. I think my favorite quote is "Would you care more if it was YOUR child? Then pretend like it is!" That would go far toward touching hearts, I hope, as we have all promised to "bear one another's burdens that they may be light", love our neighbor as ourself, etc. etc. Here's the thing: being gay is not the burden. It's the way people treat you. And if we all behave as Christians and are loving, and behave as Mormons (those who are) and follow the prophet Joseph Smith's direction to seek learning and truth everywhere, the burden could disappear and joy and the deep spirituality and wisdom you talk about could be celebrated and used for good to bless others. So here I am ranting with you, my sister!
This writer is missing the point. Don’t shop at Home Depot if you insist on multi-color vests vs. that close-minded orange. Don’t remain a part of a church that condemns homosexuality. Go create your own ‘ideal’ religion or shut the flip up. Thanks. Flip. 😉
Wendy, thanks for bringing up the website! For all of you who criticize the church remember the leadership created the website. Also it should be obvious that not everyone in the church has the same view point. I have not heard any letter read about “Meet the Mormons”, and my bishop was the first to share this website with me, it was in a fifth Sunday combined lesson.
So if we want love and tolerance, we must show them. As followers of Christ we must suffer even to the depths of hell. This is a very very hard thing to do.
There is not one of us that can say that we keep the two great commandments. Nor can we say that we are, or that we are willing to suffer as Christ. (Commandment: Take up your cross and follow me)
So show patience towards others in their weakness. Knowing GOD is mindful of us all.
Wendy, I have been following your story and your posts for a year now, and I’m truly amazed at what one person can do for a cause! You have raised my awareness, and I in turn have shared with my husband and close friends your efforts to help the LDS LGBT community. You don’t know me, and I’m sure there are many like me who you have influenced without realizing it. Don’t get discouraged by the naysayers along your path. They are not followers of Christ’s Church if they are being unkind. Your leadership in the LDS LGBT community is needed more than ever with yesterday’s announcement by SCOTUS and Utah’s same sex marriage ban lifted. This is new territory for everyone including the church leaders. They have a lot of praying to do to figure out the future of the Church in this new landscape. I’m sure we will be hearing more from them as revelations come from the Lord. I believe things happen at the time they are meant to happen, which is on the Lord’s schedule. You are out ahead of most people on these issues, but in time, others will start to understand what you’ve been saying a all along.
Meet the Mormons Is a Sci Fi movie ! Just like the life of Emma Smith. Both shows were filmed in Kolob a planet near by Disneyworld ! I am Absolutly sure that Mickey and Minie Mouse Will be part of this show
After reading Wendy’s article, my heart is touched for the compassion and love so many seek for our LGBT brothers and sisters. The title of the article peaked my interest as I am a passionate supporter of the new film, “Meet the Mormons”. I, too, hope for acceptance from all sides in all of this. We all want the same thing – peace, compassion, love and acceptance. There is no ill-will towards those who support the cause of equality, just misunderstanding by others it seems. So much good has already come from conversations that have taken place over these matters. If you truly have a firm faith in God and have made covenants through baptism to show this, you will understand the Church is led by God through his servants who are called to do so. We know that God does not change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have discussions on how to better address our concerns and learn to help each other, in all needed areas of our lives including social and economic needs. (All proceeds from the film to to the American Red Cross, for the record.)
As for this film, the contrasts made and reasoning as to how unnecessary it is and the implied “shame” tactics about how other agendas need more attention, really have little place for something that will ultimately #ShareGoodness about our Savior and the good He has done for people as individuals. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings a deep happiness once we REALLY get who we are, which is children of God. ALL of us, and He knows us, personally and extremely individually. Yes, there are more stories to tell than these first 6 that are featured. Yes, we have a lot of work to do to help each other understand each other. Let’s keep focusing on that. I was touched by the positives of this article, and I am personally willing to listen to this perspective when it is done in love and find it so much more effective than demeaning a project you may have very little experience with. I have seen this film several times and after losing a baby last week, I saw it again, and all I want to do is be a better person…because of “Meet the Mormons” and the good people who surround me with the agenda of LOVE. I know He knows me and loves me. We can make all of this work together, I promise!
We definitely aren’t perfect. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for all of us…all of us imperfect people.
The LDS Church isn't trying to make $ off this film. The reason why they want it to be successful in the theaters is so Netflix will pick up the film. They are looking for world wide distribution.
Mama Dragon, you’ve done it again! Inspiring with kindness and love! I stand with you, your family and all of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in this world. Well done! Xo
I hear you, Wendy! I feel the same thing about how the church addresses the environment and climate change. Which is not at all. If the scriptures teach us to love our neighbor, we should be talking more about that (even if our neighbor is gay!). And if the scriptures say that we are stewards of this earth, then we should practice that.
Don’t lose hope. I had a standing bet with my friends in St George that gay marriage would come to Utah within 10 years. It took 3. I have a similar bet now that the the church will perform temple marriages for same sex couple within 10 years. The church is nothing if not rational. The issue will be tax exemption and church property as it was for polygamy. Say what they will now, the Church has said the exact same things about polygamy and blacks and the priesthood. The louder the denial the closer we are to a breakthrough. LGBT members will not be be judged on their sexual attraction, we will be judged based on how we treated them. I’m still taking wagers (friendly of course) on the ten year temple marriage thing. It’s coming. For sure…
Net proceeds being donated to the Red Cross. But feel free to keep being a hater.