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Man Fired from LDS Church For Refusing to Give Up Gay Friends

Drew Call's stake president would not renew temple recommend based on Call's association with gay people.

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // March 22,2011 -

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ official policy is to accept gay people as members of the church so long as they take what is, in essence, a vow of chastity. But one Salt Lake City man, a church employee for more than a decade, is surprised and angered that he lost his temple recommend—a prerequisite for employment in the church—after he refused to give up his gay friends and was fired.

Drew Call, 32, a returned missionary who is gay, was a supervisor in the church’s printing department until March 7 March 4. At a February private meeting with his Salt Lake City stake president—who declined to be interviewed—Call says he was asked to abandon his gay friends as a condition for renewal of his temple recommend. Surprised and fearing people may not believe him, Call surreptitiously made an audio recording of the follow-up meeting in March so there could be no doubt about what happened.

“I want people to know that [the LDS Church] is targeting people unfairly,” Call says. “I do believe they wronged me.”

Hoping to avoid the situation he now faces, Call had been looking for a new job for more than a year anyway. In this tough economy, however, it’s been difficult. The divorced father of two wanted to stay in the church’s good graces long enough that he could resign with dignity and financial security. The recording makes clear that Call’s association with gay people was the problem.

Call served a mission in Massachusetts from 1997 to 1999 and got married at 24 to a high school classmate even though he wasn’t attracted to women. Raised in Layton, he wanted children and felt being gay was evil. “I thought getting married would fix it and this tendency to like men would go away, but it never did,” he says.

He chatted online with gay men occasionally starting in 2008 as his marriage started to fall apart over financial issues and growing distrust. He was too afraid of sexually transmitted infections—and passing them on to his wife—to actually have sex with a man, he says.

In April 2009, he filed for divorce. Unbeknownst to his stake president, he started secretly dating men. In October 2009, he started swimming with QUAC, the Queer Utah Aquatic Club, after meeting a coach at the gym. Still not completely honest even with himself about his homosexuality, he went to a party where he was “warned” the attendees would be mostly gay men. When he arrived, the host asked Call if he is gay or straight. Call said he was gay. “That was the first time I admitted it,” he says.

In April 2010, the already-strained relationship with his parents grew more painful when they were told—not by Call—that he was gay. They were not accepting of it. He felt shunned at church and was still unsure if rumors were spreading about his sexuality or if it was just that he was divorced. His job was in jeopardy because of his small, secret steps toward living openly as a gay man. His only strong allies with whom he could be totally honest during a painful divorce, crisis of faith and job insecurity were his gay friends, many of whom had had similar experiences. “I had no idea how many great people are in the gay community,” he says. “I have better friends than I’ve ever had in my life and I’m happier.”

That made his stake president’s demand that he abandon those friends inconceivable.

On the recording, the stake president expresses concerns that Call recently had taken his daughters to “gay bingo,” a monthly charitable fundraiser hosted by the Utah Pride Center and the drag/comedy troupe Utah Cyber Sluts. “I think it’s inappropriate to take children, and I really think it’s inappropriate for you to go, myself, to this gay bingo,” the stake president says on the recording. Later, the stake president says of the gay community, “They are conducting themselves in a manner that is definitely in opposition to teaching and practices of the gospel. I’ve talked to you about this, about your association with [gay people]. Last time you left here, you were willing to give up your four, or so, individuals.” Call responded that he’d thought about it, but wasn’t willing to give up his gay friends after all.

To receive or maintain a temple recommend, Mormons must answer certain standardized questions. The stake president says on the recording that the question Call could not answer honestly asks, “do you support, affiliate with or agree with any group or individuals whose teaching or practices are contrary to or opposed to those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” The stake president goes on to say that that question applies to Call’s gay friends “because of the moral decay that is going in the world and that’s part of it. The church opposes the relationship between a man and a man and a woman and a woman, and you’re associating with those individuals. I don’t know how to get around that.”

“So what are you going to do?” Call asked.

“You’re going to have to look for a job,” the stake president replied.

In an e-mailed statement, LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said, “All church employees are required to have a current temple recommend. Worthiness to hold a temple recommend is determined between each individual member and his or her local ecclesiastical leaders.”

That’s the problem, says Dave Melson, president of Affirmation, a group for queer Mormons. The Maryland-based president of the national organization complains that LDS Church discipline in regards to homosexuality is inconsistent and often unfair. “You can go to one ward where you can be openly gay and your husband can hold a church calling [but] you go to the next ward over where you can be excommunicated simply for being gay. I’ve seen that literally,” Melson says.

Melson’s group is working with the LDS Church to develop training manuals for ecclesiastical leaders on how to respond to gay issues.

In 2008, the LDS Church supported passage of an employment nondiscrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City that—if it did not contain a religious exemption—would have made Call’s firing illegal. Brandie Balken of Equality Utah said Salt Lake City’s employment nondiscrimination ordinance—now duplicated in 11 Utah municipalities—protects workers from being fired for being gay, being perceived as gay or even just for associating with gay people. Balken said virtually all nondiscrimination laws across the country exempt religious organizations and that Equality Utah has not worked to change that. “The religious exemptions have consistently been in deference to the First Amendment of our Constitution,” she says.

“It came as a big surprise that I couldn’t have gay friends and have a temple recommend,” Call says, stating there’s no explicit rule in LDS doctrine that you can’t associate with gay people. He’s not planning to fight the decision, however. Instead, he’s focusing his energy on finding a new job so that he doesn’t fall too far behind on his child support.

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Posted // May 10,2012 at 15:18

this is silly, of course he was fired, as it said a job within the church requires a temple reccomend. He was not worthy of this because he was dating gay men and being unfaithful to his wife. sure if was doing nothing about being gay but simply had friends who happened to be gay it would be wrong for him to be fired. however he knew the rules, he accepted them, and then broke them. what did he expect? he has to be fair.



Posted // July 29,2011 at 14:05 The cult of Mormonism does not do anything that the other cults of cathoicism and christianity do not also do.
Which is, to say, they persecute law-abiding citizens who do not believe as they believe.
To those of us who choose reality instead of fairy-tale life, the entire lot of these cults represent nothing but lies, immorality, human rights abuses and other attrocities.
A shameful, shameful time in American history, this.


Posted // April 4,2011 at 03:09

Intimacy and intimate connections gay or not

is an act of christian love, tho the sexual

gay practise is not bibilcal, tho no need

to be dammed or loose job over association

with gays, beautifal people untile relegion

messes them up and turns it all ugly.

Agro christians are ugly.

John. Australia.


Posted // March 30,2011 at 14:22

Tell the truth, the whole truth...omission does NOT equal truth. There are a lot of blanks that need to be filled in, which would make this article not as attractive to your readers who wish to blame the LDS church for everything they don't agree with.

Dates are incorrect, relations began long before he said they did, STD was an issue, his gay friendships weren't the issue, but rather the interaction in said friendships, and he had met with previous Bishops/Stake Presidents who knew all this, but showed compassion on he and his family. Being raised in the church, Drew knew the consequences of losing his job long before it actually happened. He made his bed...


Posted // March 30,2011 at 14:33 - "Ex-wife" is indeed his Ex-wife...and she is being very diplomatic with her comments, trying to keep nice. Knowing her, I would have expected her to say a lot more than she did. Those questioning her pain...hmm...let's all just agree to disagree. We're not the judge. That day will come for us all, ready or not. Dishonesty, infidelity, and physical abuse are not God's way, whichever faith/church you follow. God is perfect. His teachings are perfect, we, however, are not.


Posted // March 30,2011 at 14:31 - LDS had the choice to respond. They chose not to. Why don't the LDS people say this out loud and publicly? Why do you - presuming you are one of those personally knowledgeable about the situation - resort to posting anonymously? Fearing that the rest of America will not buy the "I'm Mormon, we're nice" campaign, when they see the true face of LDS as a 24/7 controlling theocracy that goes so far as to tell you with whom you can and can't talk?


Posted // March 30,2011 at 10:41

Sue! Sue! Sue! Sue! Times like this make me wish I was a lawyer and I'd tackle this case for free. This is so abusrd and so obviously wrong it's shocking. Claiming he needs a temple recommend to be able to perform his job is an unreasonable and poorly constructed stretch of the truth.

What a great way for an up and coming civil rights attorney to make a name for him/herself! Given the resources of the LDS church court trials could really go either way, but team up with a good PR company and try it in the press. Everyone needs to hear about this and the LDS churched stopped dead in its tracks for it's specific and focused attack on gay people (and now people with gay friends even). What an evil empire it's showing itself to be.


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