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Cover Story

The Rainbow Bridge Page all

A band of Mormons rally to keep gays from leaving the fold

By Carolyn Campbell
Posted // August 8,2012 -

Martha Arndt had no idea whether she would be booed or simply given a stone-cold reception when she decided to march with the group Mormons Building Bridges in the June 2012 Pride Parade. The former LDS Primary president and Relief Society counselor was nervous as she dressed in her Sunday best, grabbed her scripture bag and headed out with a friend to drive from Logan to Salt Lake City.

Arndt is not your average “don’t make waves” Mormon. For example, she doesn’t fall in line with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ opposition to same-sex marriage. “I’d like to see the church recognize gay marriage as being a legitimate marriage,” she says. “But I would also like to see [LGBT people] take it to the point of obeying the LDS law of chastity, where the policy of no sex before marriage would apply to gay relationships, as well.”

Arndt likens her desire to see her church accept same-sex marriage to that of wanting an employer to change its policy on an issue. You may not be completely happy with either your church or your boss, but “you do a cost-benefit analysis and decide that the benefits are greater than the deficits.” She’d like to see politics removed from marriage, and for all nations to allow “any two mentally capable adults who were not coerced” to marry. She sees the church as taking “small steps” but acknowledges “allowing gay people to be sealed in the temple might be a bigger step than many Mormons could accept right now.”

Arndt has no relatives or friends who are openly gay. But, as an active Mormon, she wants LGBT folks to know that LDS Church members support them. “They don’t need to conform in order for us to love and accept them,” she says.

But while many in the LGBT community say such love and acceptance are long overdue, some wonder if it can be enough. The LDS Church’s doctrinal position is clear. An official statement on the church’s website reads: “Any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman.”

Such an unflinching position can strain family relationships. A May 22, 2012, article in LDS Living Magazine (which is a division of Deseret Book but is not an official church publication) titled “Relating to Your Son or Daughter Experiencing Same-gender Attraction: Advice to Parents” by M. Catherine Thomas illustrates the mental torment some Mormon parents live with. “At some point, parents are faced with situations in which they wonder what boundary lines might be appropriate because their love for their child versus their sense of right and wrong can create conflict in their minds. Such situations might include whether to attend a marriage or commitment ceremony, or what role a potential partner might play within the family.”

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Thomas’ article refers to a 2006 interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. In the interview, transcribed on MormonNewsroom.org, Oaks was asked if parents should allow LGBT children to bring their partners home for the holidays. “I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position,’ ” Oaks said. “Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that.”

Oaks went on to say, “I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy houseguest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your ‘partnership.’ ”

The church says it’s OK for its members to experience same-sex attractions as long as the feelings are not acted upon. Thus, you can be openly gay and a temple-endowed Mormon—just don’t plan on getting married or having sex with a same-sex partner the rest of your earthly life.

Oaks compared the prospect of being gay and unable to marry with that of being physically disabled: “The circumstance of being currently unable to marry, while tragic, is not unique. … life is full of physical infirmities that some might see as discriminations—total paralysis or serious mental impairment being two that are relevant to marriage,” he said.

It’s not just the church elders imposing their views on same-sex marriage. Church members themselves consider homosexuality socially unacceptable. According to a fall 2011 Pew Research Center, only 25 percent of Mormons surveyed said homosexuality should be accepted by society while 65 percent believed it should be discouraged.

So, what can a group of dressed-up-for-Sunday Mormons marching in a Pride Parade really hope to accomplish? It could amount to a complete disconnect if they raise the hopes and expectations of disfellowshipped LDS members, lulling them into thinking that the church will one day soon alter its position on homosexuality. And yet, judging by the outpouring of Utah Pride tears and embraces, the mild-mannered dissent/show of support expressed by the 300-strong Mormons Building Bridges group marching the parade’s six blocks in downtown Salt Lake City turned out to be a striking statement.

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“Mom, I Really Can’t Do This”

When Erika Munson formulated her idea for Mormons Building Bridges, she mainly wanted to encourage gay members of the church to stick around. “There hasn’t been a way for Mormons to reach out to gay people. We haven’t known how to do it,” says Munson, a Harvard graduate, English teacher and mother of five who lives in Sandy. “When kids figure out that they are gay, they stop coming to church and disappear. They say, ‘I had to decide between my sexual identity and my church.’ It is the saddest thing. Straight, active Mormons often don’t realize how unhappy they are to leave.”

Two events in Munson’s life had brought her to this place: “As my kids have grown up and reached the age of 16 or 17, they sensed a disconnect of the unconditional love of Jesus that they learned about in church with an unwillingness to show that love to LGBT people.”

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When her bishop planned to schedule an interview for her 18-year-old son to become an elder—a priesthood office in the church—“he looked at me and said, ‘Mom, I really can’t do this.’ He mentioned a teacher at his school who heads the gay-straight alliance, saying, ‘This guy is one of the most spiritual people I know. How could there not be a place in the church for him?’”

In another instance, Munson was visiting California during her daughter’s freshman year at University of California Los Angeles. “Everyone was talking about Proposition 8. The whole Relief Society meeting was about organizing for Proposition 8,” she recalls. “My daughter was really saddened by that and hasn’t gone back to church.”

Munson says that her commitment to LGBT people “stems from my faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ who preached not to judge and to love unconditionally, particularly those who may be marginalized by society.”

Two weeks before the parade, she met with local gay activist Troy Williams. “Erika Munson said something so different that I had been waiting for a Mormon to tell me for years,” Williams says. “She said, ‘I love you for who you are, not in spite of who you are.’ ” She mentioned her unprecedented idea of having Mormons march in the Utah Pride Parade. Williams thought, “This is one different kind of Mormon.”

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“Mormonism Created Me”

Williams is also a different kind of Mormon, albeit now an ex-Mormon. A radio producer at KRCL, writer and “queer thinker,” Williams has participated in numerous protests against the LDS Church. A returned LDS missionary, he says, “If it weren’t for Joseph Smith and his golden plates, I wouldn’t be here. Mormonism created me.”

His religion left an indelible mark on him: “The most beautiful thing about Mormonism is that it cultivates a deep sense of belonging and community,” he says. “I was lost for years without that.”

Williams became inactive in the church about year after his mission. More recently, he met his boyfriend at one of the kiss-ins on Temple Square in 2009, sparked after a gay couple was detained by LDS Church security and later the police for kissing on the Main Street plaza.

“I was a keynote speaker who was standing in the crowd,” Williams says, recalling how he and his boyfriend met. “I needed someone to kiss, and I found the cutest guy there and grabbed him and kissed him. He has been my boyfriend for three years.”

While he has found happiness in a relationship, he struggles to remain close with his parents. “This whole gay thing has caused such a wedge in my relationship with my father. We talk regularly but are not close. He knows nothing about my life. We have a very shallow, superficial relationship, and he doesn’t know how to process the fact that he has a gay son. I don’t want other kids to feel ostracized from their parents like I have been.”

The activist’s anger with Utah politics and the state’s dominant religion is quick to bubble to the surface. “We can’t gloss over the fact that the Mormon church has been aggressively anti-gay for decades,” Williams says. “There was shock therapy at BYU, counseling gay men to get married—which is abusive to both the man and the woman—and political campaigns all across the country in which they aggressively attacked the gay community.

“The divide has been so volatile,” Williams says. “After Prop 8, 3,000 people surrounded the Temple. And it isn’t just the church—it’s the Legislature. People like [former West Jordan Republican Sen.] Chris Buttars and [Eagle Forum president] Gayle Ruzicka have been attacking gay people for years, using their religion as a motivation and excuse.”

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People Are Ready for This

“To truly heal the divide, we all agreed that we needed to march together. It was a wonderful convergence,” says Williams of his meeting with Munson. “But we knew there would be people on both sides who would question the appropriateness of their parade presence. There could be reprisals at wards and stakes.”

“[Mormons Building Bridges] chose to march on their own,” says Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, the sponsor of the annual festival and parade. Coincidentally, someone on the other side of the rainbow was making a wish for a group like Munson’s. Dustin Lance Black, the award-winning screenwriter of the movie Milk and a former Mormon, was invited to be the parade’s grand marshal. He phoned Larabee asking if there could possibly be any Mormons to march with him at the front of the parade. Larabee says she replied: “I’ve got some!”

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Munson had purchased a slot for her group that was about 80 entries back in the parade. Larabee moved them up front, right behind Black, who, as grand marshal, would ride in the first parade car. “We realized there might be a little pushback around [the Mormons being first],” Larabee says. “But what I saw on the parade route was tears.”

Larabee reflected on the many judgmental comments spoken about LGBT folks by political and religious leaders over the years. “You can be an adult and hear these things and attribute them to the fear and ignorance of the people who are saying that,” Larabee says. “Young people who don’t have enough life experience to acknowledge that will think ‘I’m bad, and I’m wrong.’

“I’ve heard stories of rejection and have seen the cost of that rejection from the Mormon faith. Once I decided [the Mormons] should march at the front, I never wavered once. … When I saw the size of that contingent, I started to cry. So did Lance Black.”

Black says it was a brave thing that Mormons Building Bridges did. “Seeing the Mormons march at the front of the Pride Parade was like a physical, visual and emotional manifestation of all of the work that the Mormon church and LGBT community have done over the last three years. Now, when I go all over the country talking about how it is possible and what it would look like, we have images for the first time, and it looks very loving.”

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Munson hoped three things might happen at the parade: She wanted other active Mormons to see them marching in church clothes, carrying signs containing lines from scripture and hymns. “I thought they might think, ‘Maybe I can be a friend to a gay person who is not coming to church anymore,’ or, ‘Maybe I can make church a welcoming place.’ ”

Second, she wanted the gay non-Mormon community “to see that those people who come streaming out of the conference center want to say, ‘We love you, and we are not as narrow-minded as you thought.’ ”

And third, she wanted to reach out to Mormon youth, “because that is where we have the suicide rate. A lot of those kids are gay LDS kids, and they think that God doesn’t love them, and their parents think they have to kick them out of the house.”

Munson told her bishop about her plan. “I expected him to be kind of uncomfortable; he’s kind of a straitlaced guy. But he said, ‘I think this is wonderful.’” She put the idea out to friends on her e-mail list, asking if anyone wanted to march. “The response was huge. I ended up with 300.”

Mormons Building Bridges also marched in the Boise, Idaho, Pride Parade two weeks later.

“What was surprising was we were there to show love for the gay community, and we felt so much love back,” Munson says. “People are ready for this now—on both sides.”

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Rattling the Temple Gates

Williams says that many were suspicious of their softer stance and efforts to interact. “I was suspicious, too, but you have to take the risk, if the potential is that we can heal this community. It’s worth taking the risk. Even though Erika [Munson] might be mocked in her ward, and I might be mocked in the gay community for acquiescing to the church, do we want to be peacemakers and create a safe society?” Williams asks. “On the path we are walking, there is going to be backpedaling and wild turns and bumps in the road. ... A horrific statement could put us back a few steps, but you do not stop moving forward. You have to keep going.”

Harsher critics included university professor and self-professed atheist Gregory A. Clark. He wrote in a guest column in City Weekly that Mormons Building Bridges offered gays only pale emotional support. “But let’s not kid ourselves in overanxious gratitude for the least bit of acceptance,” he wrote. “In reality, many of the MBB’s faithful fall right in line with the church’s positions on homosexuality, gay rights and same-sex marriage.” In other words, the position that such behavior is sinful and an abomination, meriting (in biblical times) the death penalty.

Clark particularly took issue with the MBB’s skirting of marriage equality.

But Williams says the stakes are too important not to try to work together. “When you look at [the LDS Church’s] political muscle, you know that we have to work for change; otherwise, they will just bulldoze over the rights of gay Americans—especially with young people growing up with the idea that the love in their hearts is an aberration and an abomination. They go to extreme measures of suicide, self-loathing and self-punishment. That is what we cannot tolerate. Mormons and gays have to work together to change that.”

Should the church launch another Prop 8-style political campaign against the gay community, however, Williams vows he will again protest against the church. “I will rattle those temple gates,” he says.

Meanwhile, the LDS Church, when asked to comment, declined to answer City Weekly’s questions in response to Mormons Building Bridges. Instead, LDS Church spokesman Cody Craynor referred us to links on the Mormon Newsroom site that spoke to the importance of being kind, the fact that the church supports nondiscrimination regulations in housing and employment in Salt Lake City, the importance of celibacy if one has same-sex attractions, and the Mormon ethic of civility.

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Not Easily Washed Off

The visibility of Mormons on LGBT issues speaks to the depth of the Mormon identity, says Dan Wotherspoon, 2001-08 editor of Sunstone magazine and current host of the Mormon Matters podcast, a weekly panel discussion on contemporary issues in Mormonism.

Wotherspoon views Mormonism almost like an ethnicity. Just as the Jewish identity runs deeper than its beliefs, Mormonism is not something that easily “washes off.” He asks, “How else can one explain the depth of feeling that causes many Latter-day Saints to stand up and try to be witnesses within the church for the truths they’ve come to feel in their hearts about the [LGBT] identity (it not being a sin or something chosen)—even if their standing against the tide causes friction with family, friends and fellow ward members?”

He notes that when tensions arise in other religious traditions, members might seek a new congregation that better fits their theological or political leanings. “But just as most of us, when we are at odds with our family on something, don’t usually abandon our … family,” Wotherspoon says, “many church members care enough about their fellow community members, their ‘people,’ to stick around and be voices that call for more compassion and more thinking.”

Further, Wotherspoon feels that LDS doctrines are not nearly as “settled” as some think they are. The church’s own Articles of Faith contain a claim that there are many “great and important things” yet to be revealed. Wotherspoon isn’t sure that Mormon activists will bring about a theological shift on the LGBT front, but you never know. “Perhaps it will turn out … they are much like those church members who, for decades before the 1978 revelation, stood for re-examination of the priesthood and temple ban for black church members.”

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Changing Attitudes

The Mormons Building Bridges Facebook page now has 2,000 members. “We have assembled a core group who is now working together and sharing the labor,” Munson says. They’re using their Facebook group page to support each other (gay and straight), as well as share strategies and successes with starting conversations in individual wards. They’re also gathering personal stories on the page.

Mormons Building Bridges will support the Pink Dot Event in Liberty Park on Oct. 13. The original Pink Dot Event took place four years ago in Singapore, where it is a crime to be gay. Pride’s Larabee says it involved “a brave group of straight people,” everyone wearing pink and forming a circle. “When we saw the video that was produced, we knew that we had to do this event in Utah,” she says.

Laura Compton, webmaster of the marriage-equality group Mormons for Marriage, has been a straight ally for 25 years. She sees Mormons Building Bridges as encouraging LDS people to talk more and understand this issue. “People are having the courage to step out and be public, and it makes a difference. If your home teacher has a bumper sticker on the car that says ‘I am a Mormon Building Bridges’ and you do, too, then you know that there is somebody that you feel safe to talk to. As people connect on the Internet, they are able to talk in ways that they couldn’t talk when they were feeling like they were the only person in the ward who is gay.”

Compton feels that the church is following the same pathway as society in general, in that homosexuality has moved from being “a crime to a disease to a challenge to part of who you are.” Compton adds that, today, the official statement is “we don’t know why people are gay.”

A recent survey from the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy from Brigham Young University indicates that while the majority of Utah voters oppose gay marriage, attitudes toward some legal recognition of same-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the past eight years. The poll found that while 72 percent of Utah voters oppose gay marriage, 71 percent now favor some form of legal recognition. The number of Utah voters opposed to legal recognition of same-sex relationships continues to drop each year, from 54 percent in 2004 to 29 percent in 2012.

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Feeling Safe

Munson says her children were pleased with the march. Her daughter has a photo of the group on her refrigerator in Los Angeles. “They proudly e-mailed their friends about it. My son called me on march day, just as we finished, and was just so surprised and happy at the huge number of people who chose to march. He continues to find his spiritual practice outside the LDS Church,” she says.

“My children inspired me to consider making a safe place for LGBT people in my church, but my work in Mormons Building Bridges has never been about ‘bringing back’ those of my children that have chosen a different path.”

The night before the parade, Munson’s youngest daughter who lives at home was hanging out with neighbor kids. When they said, ‘See you in church tomorrow,’ she replied, ‘I won’t be at church. I’m marching in the Pride Parade.’ ”

Munson recalls an LDS neighbor said, “‘What? I thought we hated gay people. I don’t hate gay people, but I thought we were supposed to.’ ”

Her daughter replied that she loved LGBT people and wanted to show it.

Just like the discussion that took place between her daughter and her friends, Munson would like to see individuals in wards talking about this issue. Along with seeing gay kids feeling safe and supported by their families, Munson would like to see gay people “feeling welcomed in our congregations and feeling safe in our pews.”

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 25,2013 at 22:49

Gay or not. Why should the gay community tell what Mormons should do or believe? Just except the fact that if u choose to act in a way that is not accepted by the mormon folks they may not want you o be part of their club! Get over it and move on. Or, just open your own church. Why should we change when u don't want to? Not everyone will accept the life style you decide to have. That's life, get over it. And why in the hell can't you people talk about something else for Gods sake! Don't you people have other interests besides being Gay? Most straights folks never get married anyways what's the fuss about it. Go read a book or something.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // August 11,2012 at 11:44

All of this ceases to be a conflict when we realize that, in reality, the gay identity is based on a fiction. As someone who experienced what some would call "same sex attraction" I am absolutely convinced that experiencing a sexual response in the presence of a same-sex stimulus does not have to result in the logical jump of infering a specific identity (self-imposing the label of "gay"). In reality, so called "gays, lesbians, etc. " are no different from everyone else. To be gay is to accept an idea, belief, or philosophy. Virtually everyone is capable of being sexually aroused in the presence of non-traditional stimuli. LGBT-identified people do not represent a discretely different type of person, and therefore, already have all the same rights every body else enjoys.

 

Posted // August 11,2012 at 18:40 - And therefore, when the Mormon God changes His mind yet again about marriage (as He has several times already, not only for polygamy but also interracial marriage), and He decrees that marriage is between one man and another man, or between one woman and another woman, then Stew will claim: "In reality, the heterosexual identity is based on a fiction. To be heterosexual is to accept an idea, belief, or philosophy. 'Heterosexual'-identified people do not represent a discretely different type of person from gays, and therefore, already have all the same rights every gay person enjoys, even though heterosexuals can't marry someone of the opposite sex. " I await the day!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // August 9,2012 at 22:32

Sure, Ms. Munson claims that she "loves" gays, just as she preaches that her God loves all His children unconditionally.   Then again, her loving God demanded that gays be killed (Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1: 24-32); and her church promotes these same biblical passages as Mormon "basic beliefs".

"Love," as in Leviticus: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination:  they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. "

And, "love," as in Romans 1, of the New Testament:  "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly…Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death. "

I state unambiguously, unequivocally, that the Mormon God is wrong, not only now, but then.  

Munson won't.   As a faithful Mormon, she can't.   She is beholden and inferior to the bigoted God she worships, who is never, ever wrong.   (Even though He changes His mind a lot. )

MBM mouth-meister Kendall Wilcox took it one step further, explicitly stating that the Leviticus death command was "possibly" right, back then.   Yes, you did, Kendall.   Yes, you did.   No matter how much you now try to deny it.   But, hey, no problem:  You're welcome to pop onto the CW comment boards again, and share your testimony.   Deny your God.   Say it loud, and say it proud:  "The Mormon God was wrong, not only now, but then. "

And then there's MBM's ever-amazing, full-of-love Sister Stephanie Lauritzen, who, when it comes to Leviticus, explicitly stated, "I don't think God was wrong. "

So, yeah, Munson "loves" gays.   And "God is love," and Heavenly Father "loves all His children unconditionally. "  So long as "love" means demanding that your gay children be killed.

Feel the love!  With love like that, who needs hate?

But there are many for whom this lovefest doesn't suffice.    Count me among them.

Because, despite its declarations to love thy neighbor, MBB still faithfully supports the Church in its deliberate discrimination against gays in both employment and marriage.   In Mormon practice as well as preaching, gay lovers aren't even good enough to pick up Mormon gym trash; and they certainly shouldn’t be allowed the basic human right to marry one other.  

In the end, those are the basic beliefs that the Mormon Church itself practices as well as preaches, and the basic beliefs to which MBB is faithful.

Sorry, Mormons: Marriage is a civil right, not just a religious ceremony.   Within broad limits, you can practice your bigotry in your church.   But you can't use your ridiculous theology as grounds to deny gays a marriage license and its associated civil benefits, any more than you can use it to deny gays a driver's license, or (now-a-days, at least), deny whites and blacks the right to marry, as you did till 1963.

Religious bigotry is still bigotry.   Even if you call it "love. "

----
For a follow-up to my original CW guest op-ed, see "Deceptions, Devils, and Delusions: Mormons Building Bridges, 2": UtahfreethinkersDOTcom/deceptions-devils-and-delusions-mormons-building-bridges-2/  (Replace the "DOT"; CW doesn't allow live links. )

 

Posted // August 13,2012 at 20:50 - Katzpur. Frankly, I don't give a damn whether our conversation is "civil" or not. But if you want to have a conversation that's meaningful, you need to stop spouting counterfactual inanities. And, frankly, your self-righteous proclamations of tolerance are empty when you willfully support, financially as well as conceptually, an organization that denies gays employment rights, marriage rights, and other civil liberties%u2014and attempts to make government do so, too. I don't need "love" from you or your Church. I need your Church to stop actively denying people their civil rights. Bigoted is, as bigoted does. You say that my "tirade against Mormonism is every bit as ugly and unjust as any LDS bigotry I've seen expressed against the LGBT community. " Seriously? And you expect to retain any credibility whatsoever? The Mormon Church cites Leviticus as a basic belief. Neither I nor any credible LGBT organization or publication demands that Mormons or heterosexual lovers be put to death. You claim that you are "100% supportive of the rights of any two consenting adults to do whatever suits their fancy in the privacy of their own bedrooms. " Nonsense. Not if you're a faithful Mormon. Your church demands otherwise. Again, it's a Mormon self-described "basic belief", preached by Mormon Prophet, Seer, and Revealator Gordon B. Hinckley, that not only is gay love morally wrong for gays, but also that YOU "cannot stand idle if they ['so-called gays and lesbians'] try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families. %u201D That's the Church YOU support, financially as well as conceptually. And to return to your nonsensical claim, neither I nor any credible LGBT organization is preventing Mormons or heterosexuals from marrying one another, or works to enact such policy into law. But, go ahead, show us your real tolerance. Declare your religion false and bigoted. Share your testimony, where Brother French would not. I, Katzpur, do hereby share my testimony before my LORD and God, before my Bishop, before all in my Ward, before all the world, that: * The Mormon Church explicitly cites Leviticus and Romans as its "basic beliefs" regarding homosexuality. (Gee, just like Mississippi GOP state Rep. Andy Gipson%u2014Google it. ) These Mormon basic beliefs were, and are, morally repulsive, then as well as now. The claim that Heavenly Father "loves all His children unconditionally" is meaningless claptrap in light of what He actually does, demands, and decrees. Any being that commands that gay lovers be killed is unworthy of worship. * God's drowning of nearly every living being on earth, and His targeted slaughter of innocent first-borns, are morally reprehensible. Any being who commits such wholesale genocide is unworthy of worship. * God's decree that women be raped for the sins of their menfolk is reprehensible. Such a being is unworthy of worship. * The Mormon church's ban on blacks serving in the priesthood was racist and bigoted, then just as much as it would be now. The Mormon claim that this ban was God's will is utter nonsense. * I, Katzpur, reject Mormonism's anti-gay discrimination and "basic beliefs" on homosexuality as inappropriate bigotry. I declare the Mormon Prophet, Revelator, and Seer Gordon B. Hinkley a bigot for promoting these views and demanding compliance from Mormons. Oh, and one more thing, Katzpur. So long as you're sharing your testimony. . . Have the integrity to share your real name.

 

Posted // August 13,2012 at 19:06 - You know, Greg, I'd like to be able to have a civil conversation with you on this subject. I just don't know that it's even a possibility. You say that "religious bigotry is still bigotry," and I agree. I would just take it a step further and say that your tirade against Mormonism is every bit as ugly and unjust as any LDS bigotry I've seen expressed against the LGBT community. You have no problem painting all LDS people with the same very wide brush, even those who seem to have absolutely no negative feelings whatsoever towards gays and lesbians. I didn't march in the parade because I didn't actually find out about the LDS group who was marching until I read about them in the news the day after the parade. Had I known about them, I would have joined them. I agree with you that marriage is a civil right and not just a religious ceremony. Regardless of what my religion (and countless other religions) teach about same-sex intimacy, I am 100% supportive of the rights of any two consenting adults to do whatever suits their fancy in the privacy of their own bedrooms. I may personally believe that same-sex intimacy is wrong, but I recognize that not everyone shares my values and religious beliefs. If I am right and God really does see homosexual sex as sinful, I am more than happy to leave the punishment up to him. I don't believe it's my responsibility to impose my beliefs on other people, at least not when their behavior is not the slightest bit harmful to me. If a gay couple were to move in next door to me (actually, right across the street would be great, as I'd dearly love to see the heterosexual couple living there now move away), it would have absolutely no bearing on my life if they were to have the same civil rights as my husband and I do. When we as adult citizens of a free country start to think that we have the right to deny law-abiding adults certain civil rights based on behaviors that we see are morally wrong, we are overstepping the bounds I believe God has set for us. When I was a small child, I once heard my dad comment that you can't legislate morality. I didn't have the foggiest notion of what he meant, but I do now, and he was right -- almost. Actually, we can and frequently do legislate morality. That doesn't mean we should.

 

Posted // August 11,2012 at 18:44 - ^ Hey Brother French, Stop spouting apologetic nonsense. No reasonable, honest person can accurately claim that Leviticus intends only a "spiritual" death for gays. And history shows that, in practice, that's not the way the passage has been interpreted. No reasonable, honest person can correctly claim that God's damning diatribe against gays in Romans constitutes "love. " So, Brother French: Bow down before your Almighty God. Verify that you are His humble servant. Your God demanded in Leviticus that gay lovers shall surely be put to death; that their blood shall be upon them. So share your testimony: Declare that your God's command was righteous at least then, if not now. Your Mormon God drowned nearly every living being on earth. Are there two kinds of drowning, spiritual and physical? Of course not. So, share your testimony: Was your God right to drown innocent babies? Your Mormon God willfully struck down all the Egyptian first-borns, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle, till there was not a house without someone dead. Can you seriously claim that the cattle firstborn suffered only a "spiritual" death via a "spiritual" plague? Nonsense. Share your testimony: Was your God right in His wholesale slaughter of the innocent once again? Your Mormon God decreed that women be raped for the sins of her menfolk. Are there two types of rape? Nonsense. Share your testimony: Is your God's rape decree good? Your Mormon God decreed that women will eat the fruit of their womb as punishment. Are there two types of baby eating? Nonsense. Share your testimony: Is God's decree to cannibalize one's babies good? Your Mormon God, the Heavenly Father who loves all his children unconditionally, commanded that if "thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods", then "thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. " Are there really two types of stoning people to death? Nonsense. So, share your testimony, Brother French: Sayeth thou that your God's command that you kill your children and wife and siblings was righteous. Remember, He's watching you! You can hide from me, but not Him! Praise the Lord!

 

Posted // August 10,2012 at 09:31 - Greg There are two types of death. There is physical death, and spiritual death. Spiritual death is defined as being cut off from the presence of God. To tell which type of death is being referred to in the scriptures we have to consider the context, and know of the laws of the land at the time the scripture was written. As a consequence of our sins we cut ourselves off spiritually from God's presence. The worse the sin the faster we lose the spirit, and the more likely we are to become spiritually dead. Most people who commit serious sins quit going to church, and to one degree or another they begin to deny that there is a God. The good news is the Lord provides a way back if they have the courage and determination to repent and take those steps.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // August 9,2012 at 21:02

Mikee,

Are you intimating that we Mormon's are racists?  If so, here is my answer -The vast majority of all anti-Mormon statements can be traced back to the early and mid 1800’s where they were fabricated by hate filled murderers, and those who love to make a lie. Thus, they persecuted the Mormons even unto death with their carefully crafted words.

Mormons have never have been, and never will be racists, and don't believe anyone who tells you differently. Here's why:

1.   The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never forbidden blacks from joining the Church, or forced them into separate congregations.

2.   In 1833 Joseph Smith received a revelation from Jesus Christ that said "Therefore it is not right that one man should be in bondage to another. " See Doctrine and Covenants Section 101:7

3.   In 1838 the Mormons were expelled from the slave state of Missouri under threat of extermination (Executive Order 44 issued by Gov. Boggs). You might ask why did Boggs issue this order?  Well in this case one of the main reasons was that the anti-Mormons were complaining that the Mormons had invited “free negroes and mulattos” to join them in Missouri.   That complaint sounds like those people were of the same mindset as the KKK doesn't it?

4.   Then, in 1844 Joseph Smith ran for President with a plan to free all slaves by 1850. His plan was for the federal government to purchase them, and set them free. He was murdered four months later. That sounds like what happened to Martin Luther King.

5.   Like so many Mormons, I also had three ancestors who died as a result of that persecution, and other family members who almost lost their lives as well. So you see, Mormons have always been the black man's friend.

6.   To all of these things I would add my testimony that during my 45 years as an adult in the Church (1967 to present) I have never seen anything but brotherly love extended to our African American members and black visitors in any of the various ward congregations I have lived in. And, I have moved around a lot.

7.   Furthermore, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that every man, woman, and child on this earth is literally a child of God.   That means we are all brothers and sisters, and any black person who has ever met with our missionaries or attended our church services can testify to you that they were treated with brotherly Love and kindness.   8.   Now, our detractors will tell you that the Church did not ordain those of black African decent to the ministry from 1830's until 1978. That is basically correct. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that he should refrain from doing so. Then, in June of 1978 God gave a revelation to the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball that the time had finally come when all worthy men in the Church should be given the Priesthood.   So, the question arises, why did the Lord wait so long to give that revelation?   

9.   First, let me say that the Lord has never given his reasons for this delay. However, it is my "personal opinion" that if blacks had been called and ordained to the Priesthood, and later become leaders within the Church, then every Mormon both black and white would have been lynched or shot instead of being forced to leave the state of Missouri under threat of extermination.

Not only that, but we have sent our missionaries throughout the United States and around the globe from the very beginning of the Church to the present day. With that in mind, note that by 1860 the KKK came into existence with a vengence. Now imagine the persecution, beatings, lynching's, etc. , that they would have carried out against mixed Mormon congregations led by black priesthood holders prior to the Civil Rights movement. So you see, our not ordaining blacks of African descent prior to 1978 had absolutely nothing to do with Mormons being racists.   In fact, according to my way of thinking, it was exactly the opposite.

10.   The persecution of our Church and its members took on a new form when the main body of our Church membership moved beyond the reach of the rapists and the hate filled murderers of the 1800's. Since that time, we have mainly been persecuted by anti-Mormon publications which are built upon misinformation, out of context quotes and private interpretations of our doctrines by non-members, atheists, excommunicated members and former members who have left the Church after being sucked into the circle of hate.

Just read the postings in this thread and you will get an idea of what I am talking about. Notice how we Mormons are only posting to defend our faith while others attack us. That's when you will start to understand what's really going on in the media today.

11. Last of all, the detractors of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will point to past views and opinions which were expressed by leaders of our Church as to why the Lord didn't want us to ordain those of black African descent. Of course, the truth is they didn't really know, because the Lord had never revealed his reasons. The Apostle Bruce R. McConkie was present in June of 1978 when the Lord finally gave the revelation instructing the Church to ordain all worthy men to the Priesthood. The revelation was received by the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, and confirmed by revelation to all of the Apostles at the same time by the power of the Holy Ghost. Elder McConkie of the Twelve later wrote the following:

"Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whosoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelli­gence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don't matter any more. It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any parti­cles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the gentiles. "

In other words, the gospel was at one time only preached to the Jews. Then, after the crucifixion of Christ, the time came when Peter received the revelation that it was time for it to be preached to the gentiles. That's the way it was with us. At first we were instructed not to ordain those of Black African descent, but on the first day of June 1978 the Lord said the time for doing so had arrived. That revelation was received 34 years ago, and we have been ordaining all worthy male members to the Priesthood ever since.

 

Posted // August 12,2012 at 21:57 - Brother French, While I agree with much of what you have said, I believe you are wrong on one particular point. You said, "Now, our detractors will tell you that the Church did not ordain those of black African decent to the ministry from 1830's until 1978. That is basically correct. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that he should refrain from doing so. " If the Lord revealed this to Joseph Smith, why do we have no record of it? Nowhere in the Doctrine and Covenants does Joseph describe such a revelation. Furthermore, he personally ordained at least one Black man to the priesthood. Several others held the priesthood in the early days of the Church. Wouldn't you think that on such an important issue, we would have an actual record of the revelation -- if, in fact, there had ever been a revelation? While I agree with you that "in June of 1978 God [did give] a revelation to the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball that the time had finally come when all worthy men in the Church should be given the Priesthood," we as members of the Church need to stop pretending that it was God who instituted the ban in the first place. It wasn't. It was Brigham Young. As to why he did so, we can merely guess. I'm not suggesting that any of us sit in judgment of Brigham Young, either. That's God's job, not ours. The fact, however remains that we have no record of any revelation prohibiting Black men from holding the priesthood. On the other hand, the Doctrine & Covenants is replete with passages that would clearly imply that this never should have been the case. From among well over a dozen passages, here are just a few examples: D&C D&C 38:26 "For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou closed in rags and sit thou there %u2013 and looketh upon his sons and saith %u2018I am just%u2019?" D&C 88:122 "Appoint among yourselves a teachers, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. " D&C 51:9 "And let every man deal honestly, and be alike among this people, and receive alike, that ye may be one, even as I have commanded you. " D&C 4:3,5 "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are acalled to the work. . . And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. " D&C 36:4-5 "And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men %u2013 That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun. , embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations. . . " In 1954, long before the ban was lifted, President David O. McKay stated: %u201CThere is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this Church that the Negroes are under a divine curse. There is no doctrine in the Church of any kind pertaining to the Negro. %u2018We believe%u2019 that we have a scriptural precedent for withholding the Priesthood from the Negro. It is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice someday will be changed. And that%u2019s all there is to it. %u201D In 1988, ten years after the ban was lifted, Dallin H. Oaks remarked that those who attempted to come up with reasons for policies like the priesthood ban, were "spectacularly wrong. " He went on to say, "I%u2019m referring to reasons given by General Authorities and elaborated upon by others. " Men -- fallible men -- make mistakes from time to time, and the sooner we acknowledge that even God's chosen servants occasionally let their own prejudices influence their decisions, the better.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // August 9,2012 at 12:55

" Oaks was asked if parents should allow  children to bring their black partners home for the holidays. “I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position,’ ” Oaks said. “Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. ”

Oaks went on to say, “I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy houseguest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your ‘partnership. ’ ”

 

 

Fixed that for ya, Oaks.

 

Posted // August 11,2012 at 17:38 - Reality check, Brother French. %u2022 Under the control of the Mormon theocrats, Utah was a SLAVE territory, one of the last bastions of slavery in the American West. Mormon seer, prophet, and revelator Brigham Young declared that slavery was ordained by God. Utah stayed a slave territory till Mormons were forced to relinquish that status by the US Government. %u2022 Under the control of the Mormon theocrats, Utah prohibited interracial marriage from 1888 till 1963. The Mormon prophet Brigham Young decreed: "If the White man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain [blacks], the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. " %u2022 The Mormon Church explicitly excluded blacks from the priesthood and the highest heaven till 1978. Like you, the Mormon Church STILL considers that racist ban to have been appropriate. No surprise there: God may change His mind, but He never makes mistakes. %u2022 The Church%u2019s very own First Presidency declared the priesthood ban to be %u201Ca direct commandment from the Lord,%u201D as Brigham Young had originally preached. %u2022 The Pearl of Great Price, a Mormon scripture, states explicitly that %u201Ca blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people. %u201D The Mormon Church was, and is, racist. And so are you. ----- See utahfreethinkersDOTcom/religion-racism-and-revisionism-2/ (replace the "DOT"; CW doesn't allow live links)

 

 
 
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