On November 5, 2015 the policy change to LDS Handbook 1 regarding homosexual members became known to the public. Since then, in the US, 34 LDS LGBT young people between the ages of 14 and 20 have committed suicide. The numbers are being tallied by Wendy and Thomas Montgomery, leaders in the Mama Dragons and Dragon Dads support groups for LDS LGBT families. That’s 1 suicide every 60 hours, or every 2 ½ days. That number does not include a count of suicide attempts, nor of suicides by any closeted LGBT young people. Twenty-eight of these suicides occured in Utah, a state that averages 37 youth suicides in a 12 month period. Thirty-four in 84 days is a stunning statistic. It’s horrifying. And gut-wrenching. It is also telling. It tells us we adults are not sucessfully supporting our LGBT youth. Continue reading
Several weeks ago, a Gospel Doctrine teacher stated that “The Church is true, but the members are not.” Judging by the nods of assent, I’d say those sitting with me agreed with her. My natural inclination, as a language person, is to pick apart the word “true” until there’s no meat left on its bone. But I’ll spare you that. I do, however, want to to focus on the underlying assumption of the statement, namely the inference that the Church, as an institution, is better than its people. I’m not sure we really mean that. Continue reading
John Bonner, of Salt Lake City, Utah, has given me permission to publish his open letter of encouragement to his 14-year old self, posted initially on the Mormons Building Bridges Facebook page. I can’t thank John enough, either for the honor of sharing his words with you or for his candor. This is a must-read for all people of faith who seek to follow the admonition of Christ to better love and serve the LGBT community.
Dear 14 year-old me,
I see you there in the pews, head bowed, lines of tears marking divides down hot, embarrassed cheeks and pooling up in blurry smudges on the pages of the hymnal as you let the sacrament pass you by because you believe you’re not worthy. I see you standing alone in front of the basement window in complete darkness and silently mouthing the words, “I’m gay,” for the first time and vowing never to speak those words aloud to anyone. I see you pleading, begging, night after night on calloused knees to have these feelings taken away from you–rooted out of you and destroyed. Continue reading
We’ve had nearly two months of discussion about the recent policy change regarding same-gender, committed couples and their children. The “wheat and tares” analogies are flying, with each side sure it is the wheat and the other, the tares. Just like in politics. That can never be a good thing within a religion. So, for a moment, I’d like to put aside arguments about the policy and talk about our kids. Not our gay kids. Not our straight kids. Not the kids of same-gender couples. Not the kids of traditional Mormon marriages, of mixed orientation marriages, or of divorce. But all of our LDS kids, regardless of orientation or circumstance. Let’s talk about what happens to them in the aftermath of the policy change because what happens to them affects us all. Continue reading
A blog post is circulating, written by Angela Fallentine over at Mormon Women Stand, titled, “Why You Can’t Be Loyally Opposed to the Church.” She argues that, in order to be truly faithful, a Latter-day Saint must accept “fundamental, core doctrines of the gospel; namely that marriage is only between a man and a woman and the law of chastity.” She isolates these two doctrinal points, I would assume, because of the on-going controversy surrounding the recent policy change and subsequent policy clarification that specify formal church discipline must occur for those in same-gender marriages or committed relationships; such discipline manifests as “church courts” and will result in the excommunication of any same-gender committed couples. While the church membership generally understands the difference between policy and doctrine–a lesson learned with the lifting of the priesthood ban–Fallentine seems to be swinging a few decades behind the curve ball. Continue reading
Slob. Slut. Prick. Princess. Tree hugger. Tea Bagger. Feminazi. Fruitcake. Cracker. Coon.
And then, in Mormonism, there is “apostate.”
Derogatory terms are meant to dismiss, demean, and devalue people, to set them aside as Other, or Less Than. Every one of us is guilty of using this or that term in our bad moments. Stupid. Radical. Nerd. Fool. And when we do, a silent, internal script soothes us by whispering, “At least I’m not that.” Continue reading
Yesterday the world became aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will now classify any member who joins in a same-sex marriage as apostate, or as one who has renounced the Church’s teaching that marriage is defined as a male/female relationship. This will have difficult repercussions for LGBT people and their families, especially their children, who will be denied saving ordinances unless the permission of the First Presidency is gained. This is an extremely controversial decision and will bring a great deal of criticism to the formal Church, which had, of late, seemed to be making strides toward inclusion through the support of gay rights initiatives. The Church is large and powerful and will withstand these attacks. As the controversy runs its course, however, there are those who are small and powerless who will feel the words we speak as either daggers to their hearts or balm to their wounds. Continue reading
There it is. The now famous “chocolate” seer stone, that, earlier this month, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought forth from one of its proverbial closets, explaining, via an Ensign article, that Joseph Smith used this stone in the translation of the gold plates. When this stone was dropped on a mostly unsuspecting public, a dust cloud of protest arose because of the disparity between the way the official Church had, to date, portrayed the translation of the Book of Mormon and reality. As the dust settled, it drew attention to the often-ignored path of early American folk magic which carried Joseph Smith toward his religious epiphanies. Some used this opportunity to decry Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon as de facto frauds. Joseph Smith, they argue, believed in folk magic; folk magic isn’t true; therefore, Joseph Smith is not a true prophet of God. Close the book. Walk away. But, for me, it’s not that simple. Continue reading
The October 2015 General Conference brought us many uplifting talks, peppered with a touch of scandal, Mormon-style. Scandal 1: Three White Guys from Utah were tapped as replacement apostles for Three White Guys from Utah. (Canyoubelieveit?) Scandal 2: “Ponderize” becomes the New Priestcraft, thanks to the Durrant family. Three White Guys is certainly discussion-worthy, and I’ll probably get to that, but, oh my holy heck: “ponderize?” I’ve been flipping like a fish out of water since I first heard the “word.” Continue reading