The LDS Church & homosexuality
Church statements: Year 2000 to 2007
Previous church statements are described in a separate essay
Church statements and positions on homosexuality (2000 to 2007):
2000: In advance of the annual General Conference
in Salt Lake City, UT, some Mormon parents asked the LDS Church to
review a group of 20 to 30 year-old pamphlets which they feel condemn
their children as "latter-day lepers." Four
brochures mentioned are: "To Young Men Only," "To The
One," "Letter to a Friend," and "For
the Strength of Youth."
According David Hardy, a Salt Lake City attorney and former LDS
bishop, the pamphlets "engenders fear and loathing"
toward gays and lesbians. They also convince "parents to
condemn and turn against their gay children, destroying real families,
and drive our gay children to self-loathing, despair and suicide."
He noted that the "To Young Men Only" pamphlet
described, without condemnation, a gay bashing incident. Hardy
commented that it is "inflammatory, insensitive and troubling."
Gary and Milie Watts of Provo, UT said that "these
pamphlets... characterize our children and other gay and lesbian youth
as selfish, perverted, abominable and under the control of Lucifer."
Former LDS Church President Spencer Kimball has written that "it
were better that such a man [a homosexual] were never born."
Another tract places homosexuality as a perversion on par with the crimes of rape
and incest. The "To The One" pamphlet describes it as
"unnatural," "abnormal" and "an
The parents told reporters,
"We ask the church leadership to
specifically address these pamphlets...and either endorse them
and everything they say as current, correct and official, or cease
their publication and distribution and instruct local church leaders
to throw them away." 1
The LDS church issued a statement saying:
"These are individuals who
are children of God. We love them; we respect them. This church is a
church of inclusion, not exclusion, and we welcome them and want them to
be a part of the church." 2
2001: A new revision to pamphlet sponsored by the
First Presidency and titled
"For the Strength of Youth:
Fulfilling Our Duty to God" says
"Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find your-self
struggling with same-gender attraction, seek counsel from your parents
and bishop. They will help you."
"People inquire about our position on those who consider
themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them
as sons and daughters of God."
There were a number of letters to the editor in response to this article. Three were:
||From K. Lamonte John of Burke, VA.: |
"As a former LDS bishop I can tell you I have met church members who
have succeeded in reparation therapy. Of course, they have not rid
themselves of same-sex attraction but have learned to not act on those
feelings. While the church holds fast to its belief that same-sex
attraction is not in accordance with moral behavior, just as premarital
or extramarital sex is not condoned, the position of the church is to
counsel these members from a perspective of love and concern, not
condemnation. I agree that church leaders have made harsh remarks about
homosexuality in the past, but I also believe that Gordon B. Hinckley
has spoken more supportively of those with same-sex attraction than any
other church president. His comments may not satisfy gay rights
activists, but they have turned the corner on the ignorant positions of
||From Brad R. Torgersen of Seattle, WA: |
|"As a Latter Day Saints Church member, I think I can speak for a lot
of middle-of-the-road Mormons when I say that I am tired of the bashing.
If the Olympics had been held in Riyadh or Kabul or Medina, would The
Nation gratify us with an anti-Islamic expos‚ on how badly gays are
mistreated by Muslims? I am a proud member of a new generation of LDS
people born in the seventies and raised in the eighties who have no
problem at all meshing our devout faith with the realities of the world
around us. I have gay friends; my wife and I have been to gay weddings;
we love and support these people as just that: people. The fact that our
religion says homosexuality is wrong in no way impacts our ability to be
friends with, or even to love, people who choose this lifestyle. And we
are happy and content in our religion, strict as it may seem to some on
the outside. The fact of the matter is, we didn't decide that
homosexuality is wrong, God did. What's perhaps most galling is that the
LDS Church is a unique minority in America. I thought 'The Nation' would
rush to take up the defense of any minority, especially one so
misunderstood as the Mormon faith. I thought wrong." (Typo
||Jay Bell, Salt Lake City, UT:
"As a gay Mormon, I grew up with the 'love,' 'respect' and 'inclusion'
the Mormon Church says it practices. Some people do practice this toward
gay members, but most don't. Growing up, I couldn't, and I still can't,
take a same-sex date to a congregational social activity – especially a
dance. That's a bad example for the youth. I know of teens who have
tried this and have been threatened with excommunication."
"I researched what current Mormon material says
about homosexuality. The result shocked me; there are eighty-eight
pieces of homophobic material readily available for church members.
Here's an example, from a manual for 13-to-18-year-olds:
transgression of homosexuality is either rapidly growing or tolerance is
giving it wider publicity. ... The Lord condemns and forbids this
practice. ... God made me that way, some say, as they rationalize and
excuse themselves. ... This is blasphemy. Is man not made in the image of God,
and does he think God to be ‘that way'?" "
three pieces encouraging self respect for gays."
"The Mormon Church has no official support groups
for its gay members and will only refer gays to groups or individuals
who practice reparation therapy. Anyone who doesn't fit its mold is
doctrinally or socially ostracized. This is a sad commentary on a people
who were once excluded from the national social fabric for practicing a
unique form of marriage."
2002: Harold Brown,
the church's official spokesman on homosexuality discussed the possibility of a third revelation from God: He noted that God had revealed to the LDS Church on two occasions the need for a sudden change of church policy: The first was in 1890 when he instructed the Church to outlaw polygamy. The second was in 1978 when he instructed the Church to stop prohibiting ordination to the Mormon priesthood for African Americans.
Brown said that no amount of press
coverage or activism is going to influence God to change the rules about
homosexuality. He said:
"Being black is not a sin. ... Being immoral is." 5
That is a surprising comment, because in the past, the Church had taught that African Americans were given dark skins by God as punishment for sins that they had committed before being born on Earth. So "being black" had been viewed by the church as a direct result of sinful behavior.
2007-APR-17: Brigham Young University revised policy on sexuality:
Brigham Young University (BYU)
in Provo, UT is owned and operated by the LDS Church. According to
Wikipedia, 98% of the students at BYU are Mormons. 3
The Princeton Review has stated:
"BYU is consistently ranked one of the most unfriendly campuses for LGBT students in the United States."
Soulforce, a gay-positive advocacy organization, sponsored a
two-month Equality Ride. The "riders" are 50 young adults who
are visiting Christian college and university campuses across the U.S., in
an attempt to address the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (LGBT) students.
They were forbidden to talk to the BYU administration. According to
Soulforce, on 2007-MAR-22:
"Mormon Equality Rider Kourt Osborn, and his mother, Karel Allen,
were arrested for trespassing on the BYU campus as they attempted to
deliver a list of community concerns regarding university policies and
the campus climate for LGBT students. Equality Riders and Utah community
members marched around the perimeter of the campus for six hours to
dramatize the oppressive silence that surrounds LGBT students at BYU."
Will Carson, Policy and Strategy Coordinator for Equality Utah,
stated in a letter to Soulforce:
"As a result of your visit, several students contacted the
administration of BYU to ask about the University's Honor Code. Because
of those questions and concerns, BYU has changed the code in significant
The BYU's previous code stated that:
"any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not
sexual in nature" as violations of the honor code."
The new code states that:
"Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather
than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the
university community all whose behavior meets university standards. ...
One's stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the
Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest
a strict commitment to the law of chastity. ... homosexual behavior or
advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor
Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between
members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give
expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to
influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting
homosexual relations as being morally acceptable."
Carson's letter continued.
"BYU's policy can now be summarized as 'Do ask, do tell, don't do.'
This is an important step in the path toward equal rights because it is
only through dialogue that we can eliminate fear and achieve a fair and
just Utah. Thank you for helping to open the door a bit further."
Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender
students still have no freedom of speech to advocate for equal treatment;
they cannot freely dialog with others; they are prohibited from even holding
hands in public. However, as Haven Herrin, Co-director of the
westbound bus, said:
"The energy around this issue and the pressure provided by our
presence were certainly a factor in changing this policy from being the
worst in the nation to being on par with most other anti-gay schools."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- AANEWS for 2000-OCT-7.
Katherine Rosman, "Mormon Family Values," The Nation, 2002-FEB-25, Page 3. Online at:
"Brigham Young University." Wikipedia, as modified at 2007-MAR-26, at:
Brandon Kneefel, "Brigham Young University Revises Policy on Sexuality; Discriminatory Policy Revisited After
Soulforce Equality Riders Visit," SoulForce, 2007-APR-17, at:
Brenda Loews, "EIDOS Newsletter," Fall/Winter 2002-2003, at: http://www.eidos.org/
Copyright © 2000 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2014-JAN-01
Author: B.A. Robinson