Letter on same-sex marriage has Mormons talking, listening

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Panel expert Rachel Heller, in pink scarf, speaks during the Transgender 101 workshop at the 22nd Circling the Wagons conference, a conference designed to build understanding between LGBT Mormons and members of the LDS Church, at Wasatch Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City on February 22, 2014. Photo by Jim McAuley | The Salt Lake Tribune

Panel expert Rachel Heller, in pink scarf, speaks during the Transgender 101 workshop at the 22nd Circling the Wagons conference, a conference designed to build understanding between LGBT Mormons and members of the LDS Church, at Wasatch Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City on February 22, 2014. Photo by Jim McAuley | The Salt Lake Tribune

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An unprecedented letter from top Mormon leaders on how the LDS church should respond to the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling has started a dialog in many local churches.

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  • ben in oakland

    ““With the exception of one lovely woman, every comment and response was a reflection of perceived victimhood, how our religious freedoms are being attacked, and the persecution our church is under. There was almost nothing about Christlike love or compassion for those who are different than us. It was awful.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

    I saw Mary Poppins the other night. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The sound of this letter is certainly quite atrocious. But then, as Mary says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

  • Jonathan Felt

    We won’t be victims unless the courts order us to start marrying same-sex couples on our properties. Such force was applied to our ancestors prior to 1890 when their right to vote and the church’s right own property was taken. When they capitulated on polygamy they were pardoned and they got their property back only after paying back rent. I fear there are activist groups right now who would like nothing more than to put mormons out of business and therefore stop at nothing to achieve their aims. Will religious liberty hold up in this age better than it did in the past? I apologize if my post offends, but is there any way to avoid more bitterness?

  • ben in oakland

    but is there any way to avoid more bitterness?

    Of course. Stop pretending that anyone anywhere in the US has the slightest desire to force unwilling religionists to solemnize our marriages, or that the First amendment will somehow be magically suspended to accommodate gay people, or that you are being persecuted. Stop pretending that gay people want to shut your church down, or that all of Christianity sees gay people the way the Mormon Church does, or that your church bears no responsibility for the campaigns of lies, slanders, fear mongering, and lies directed at gay people, or that something that happened 120 years ago is happening right now.

    I assure you that if the government were to attempt to suspend freedom of religion for gay hating and bible believing Christians, that this 100% gay 100% atheist man would be standing right next to my gay hating biblebelieving fellow citizens to protest and protect your rights.

    Unfortunatley, I doubt the favor will EVER be returned.

  • Doc Anthony

    “The SCOTUS decision is here to stay. So get used to it.”

    Okay, understood, acknowledged, but…

    ***The BIBLE is here to stay as well. So get used to it.***

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    From the article: “The letter …counseled members to “love and treat all people with kindness and civility — even when we disagree.”

    I was denied attendance at my niece’s wedding because she has been indoctrinated into believing she had to be married in an LDS temple, and I am “unworthy” to attend because I’m not a member of her church.

    That sort of shunning is most certainly not “kind,” or “civil,” or lovely.

    It’s hopeless for the LDS Church to tell it’s members to do one thing, and then demand that they do the opposite out of deference to church rules and regulations.

  • Jonathan felt

    Ben…there’s no way you can guarantee any of what you say. I know you must feel frustrated but look please at history. Democracies can vote rights in and vote rights out. I wish you spoke for all activists, but you cannot. In the mean time, we will see how it goes. Perhaps the mormon church will simply stop marrying all together which may be a good enough compromise for all.

  • Has any of that happened in Massachusetts? I am convinced that conservative Christians are happiest when they are miserable – feigning persecution and victimhood.

    There isn’t one gay person in this country who expects (let alone demands) that houses of worship must sanctify same-sex marriages. There is a reason for that. We don’t want you to get the idea that your approval is either sought or required.

  • Mr. Felt:

    We have a constitution that is nearly impossible to amend – by design. Your constitutional rights to free exercise are guaranteed – now and in the future.

  • Jonathan Felt

    I hope you are right, but history says otherwise with the courts as has been demonstrated with recent and past decisions. SCOTUS does what SCOTUS does and no amendment is necessary. Reynolds vs United States (1879) is a good example.

  • ben in oakland

    “Ben…there’s no way you can guarantee any of what you say.” And there is not a shred of any evidence anywhere in the world that contradicts it.

    “Democracies can vote rights in and vote rights out.” Depends.

    “Perhaps the mormon church will simply stop marrying all together which may be a good enough compromise for all.” They might, but not one gay person or organization has ever said so to my knowledge. I certainly don’t want it. I have no interest in managing the Mormon church. I do have an interest in preventing them from managing anyone else’s church, or claiming that their beliefs should have dominion over mine in a court of law.

    As I have said here MANY TIMES: believe whatever oyu want. Keep your religious beliefs, your purely theological concerns, in your home and your church.

    as I also said: if the government were to suspend freedom of religion for gay hating and bible believing Christians, that this 100% gay 100% atheist man would be standing right next to…

  • ben in oakland

    “There is a reason for that. We don’t want you to get the idea that your approval is either sought or required.”

    BINGO!!!!! BINGO!!!!!!

    You win the internet today!

  • ben in oakland

    I don’t agree with the Mormon position here, but they absolutely have that right to keep out anyone they choose. I think it is a crappy rule, designed to keep out the taint of the non-Mormons, but under the first amendment, they have that right.

    as much as I don’t care for the Mormons as a religion, I would absolutely defend their right to be the total ******** they are.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    There are real cases going on right now in the US where people are being fined over $100,000 because they declined to do custom services for same sex wedding receptions. This is not a denial of basic human rights to food and housing, but custom services which involve the talents of individuals who are asked to use their creativity and skills to enhance these events, but have religious beliefs that make it impossible for them to be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about such events. The couples getting married in each instance were able to find alternative suppliers, at no greater cost. They suffered no material harm . The penalties that the states are exacting on these small businesses are totally out of proportion to any actual injury to the couples. Indeed, there is another case now in which the couple found out after the fact that a man who provided a service for their wedding did not want to do it, but did so out of fear of this kind of retaliation, and now they are suing him!

  • ben in oakland

    you, defending your right to be total *************s.

    This commenting system said I had a number of characters left. Apparently, it never learned to count,.

  • ben in oakland

    Well, perhaps those so-called businessmen should understand that the law forbids discrimination for certain classes of people. Then, perhaps they can be smart enough to say, “I’m booked. Why don’t you call so and-so.” There are at least three more ways they could refuse business, but they would rather be self righteous, moralizing busybodies, Or stupid, OR both.

    As a wedding vendor for thirty years, there were all kinds of people whose wedding I did not wish to be involved with. I would have been very, very stupid to tell them why. And were I religious, I would have been even stupider to tell them it was due to my religious beliefs.

  • larry

    Except in those cases, the vendors were not handling special requests but turning customers away purely for being gay. But thank you for trying to put a dishonest spin on the facts in order to cover up what is obviously discrimination in public accommodations.

    Not selling goods and services normally available to the general public due to personal animus against the class of customer is a denial of civil liberties. There is no such thing as well intentioned discriminatory conduct. Either someone acted in a discriminatory manner or not. If they did not, then they can prove they did in court.

    There is absolutely no necessity for “separate but equal” marketplaces.. We did that already. “There is always another vendor” is not an excuse for discriminatory conduct. We don’t need to be publishing guides as to which vendors are discriminatory and which don’t.

  • It was not like SCOTUS did not have legitimate reasons to ban polygamy. There are still tons of rational and secular reasons for doing so. The confusion it causes with binary default rights and obligations of existing marriage laws comes to mind.

    When push comes to shove, religious beliefs will take a backseat to laws of general application when they conflict sharply.

  • Michael Glass

    The Bible might be here to stay, but how we take it is up for grabs. Take the Bible literally and you have to accept a whole raft of horrors, including slavery and the slaughter of “witches.” Fortunately, these days, we pass over those passages and ignore them.

  • Be Brave

    Mormons should worry more about the heresy that IS the LDS organization.

    From whatever it is they call their doctrines and covenants, which has nothing in common with historic Christian reality . . . the inappropriateness of marrying same-gender individuals would get lost in the shuffle. The same heretical shuffle on the planet near a star called Kolob that the Mormon god lives on.

    Calling a Mormon Stake a “church” is only a true definition when defining it as something otherworldly from “The Church,” established by Christ Jesus. Mormonism may not like the gay agenda, but their errors are just as bad as the MCC. Joseph Smith is not a prophet and his religious invention is not part of the “Way, the Truth and the Life.”

  • Be Brave

    Marriage to Jesus and preached as such by Jesus, is man and woman/husband and wife. As well as by every other voice in the New Testament.

    To stay.

    Get used to it or not.

  • Be Brave

    Is that a Freudian slip Ben?

    Why not say they are heretics? More accurate for sure. Mormons are, actually, exceptionally nice people. But so are the voodoo practioners I know.

  • Fran


    So is that how what Mary Poppins said (starting with an “s”) is spelled? I always wondered if my spelling was correct! LOL

  • Warren

    What about gay Christians? You certainly don’t speak for them.

  • Stan in Davis County

    I’m sorry that you didn’t get to attend an LDS temple wedding. I missed my son’s wedding too, because I don’t have a temple recommend. I served a mission, was married in the temple myself, and have not live up to the standards necessary to attend the temple. I believe in the sanctity of the promises that we make with our Father in Heaven when we’re in the temple, and chose not to conveniently repent just to attend a wedding. You weren’t barred from attending anything more that the sealing ceremony – anyone can attend the festivities associated with a wedding ( hopefully your niece invited you to her reception)- but the sealing (a priesthood ordinance) is reserved for those members in good standing. Since this discussion exists in the Same-sex marriage forum – I’ll state simply that I’ll not be accepting of the same-sex crowd choosing to use the term Marriage in their unions. I believe in the Man and Woman definition; but, support the SCOTUS on following Mark 12:17.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Stan wrote: “You weren’t barred from attending anything more that the sealing ceremony…”

    My niece’s bishop told her that if she got married before she was “sealed’ she would be punished by having to wait a year for the “sealing.” This coercion by her bishop and the church is the reason she choose to be married and sealed simultaneously in the temple.

    Stan wrote: “…standards necessary to attend the temple.”

    My niece explained those “standards.” She showed me the list of questions — roughly half of which deal with paying homage to Mormon leaders, giving them money, and attending church. The ethical/moral “requirements” for entering the temple are lower than those expected of common politicians.

    The church’s prohibitions with temple rites look like a thinly veiled attempt at using family relationships as leverage in keeping members in line.

    And that is *not* kind *or* civil.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    “The Bible is here to stay as well. So get used to it.”

    Nobody (and I really mean *nobody*) believes everything in the Bible.

    Mormons still get divorced (Luke 16:18), still wear clothing of mixed materials (Deuteronomy 22:11), Mormon women wear pants (Deuteronomy 22:5), Mormons don’t kill their children for being sassy (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and they definitely do not give all their money to the poor (Matthew 19:21).

    The list goes on and on and on. The Bible is a book of convenience for every believer. It may be “here to stay” but only in the loosest sense.

  • This is a prime example of a persecution complex. The Mormon Church created an “in-group vs. out-group” dynamic in which they (the in-group) proudly differ from the larger society, and when (surprise, surprise) the larger society in fact does differ from them, they complain that THEY are being persecuted when the rest of us, on grounds of morality and fairness, reject the in-group’s discrimination of loving human beings.

  • Pr Chris

    Jonathan: As a Lutheran pastor, this situation affects every denomination in the country, not just Mormons. Some denominations will respond: Never in my church. Others, especially those which are reconciling in Christ parishes and denominations will welcome LGBTQ people and will be happy to conduct their weddings. It will vary depending on the theology of the denomination (and there is also variety among members of other religions, too.) The Mormon church is no different. I personally am comfortable with the requirements I may be given. When a couple is married by a religious official or minister, it is as a state functionary that the marriage license is signed. If some denomination doesn’t want to participate at all, send ALL your members to be married by the civil authorities, and then conduct a religious sealing service of whatever type you want. It is just if you want to conduct marriages recognized by the state that you have any connection with the court.

    Pr chris

  • Pr Chris

    Except that in the US being married means those whose unions are testified to the State. When anyone is married by a clergy member, that clergy must sign the marriage license as an officer of the state, not as a member of the clergy. [Some states allow all clergy automatically, other states clergy must register as official state reps.] The simple solution is for all couples to be legally married in a civil ceremony by the county officials who issue licenses, and then allow religious groups to conduct whatever ceremonies they want, with no implications for LEGAL marriage. Thus a Mormon couple would be legally married by the county clerk or his/her designee, and then can be sealed in the Temple to be a Mormon in good standing. The same would be true for Catholics, Lutherans, and everyone else. Religious groups would define their own ceremonies for themselves.

    PR Chris

  • ben in oakland

    Most of the word is spelled out in the song.

  • ben in oakland

    Because I don’t believe that there is such a thing as heresy. But then, I’m an atheist, not a literalist.

  • ben in oakland

    Do you really mean to $ay that Mormoni$m and LD$ belief$ are really about the dollar$ going though the churche$? Quelle$ $urpri$e$.

  • ben in oakland

    This is not just the Mormons. It is every so called Christian and every fundamentalist religionist that believe that they are god’s BFFF’s, that they are the One True Church, the keepers of the flame of holiness, and the BPOE*– and I’m not referring to the elks.

    *best people on earth

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    My comments really don’t have anything to do with legalities, Ben. I agree that Mormons are not legally required to be “kind” or “civil.”

    I’m simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the LDS Church telling their members to be “kind” and “civil” when the LDS Church establishes and enforces rules that require members to act unkindly and without civility (as in the case of excluding family members from weddings).

  • Shawnie5

    Sigh…Acts 15, Debbie. Go read it.

  • Dan Marshall Woolley

    I just wanted to thank everyone for expressing such an array of opinions … I found every comment profound, sincere and most of all compelling. I feel extremely blessed to live in a nation of such diversity. I wish you all could have come to the meeting I attended where this letter was read … I would have enjoyed hearing you verbally expound your thoughts beyond the short comments you have written. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I have gay friends, my children have gay friends and my children play with the children of gay couples. So this is a sensitive topic for me. I came away from the meeting appreciating the fact that the church has a clear proclamation on the family and clear position on same-sex marriage … and that neither takes anything away from the relationship I or my children enjoy and will continue to enjoy with our gay friends.

  • Robert C

    I think a big reason that the LDS church is willing to show compassion and introspection on this issue is because they have been victimized by prejudice and bigotry, and know how it feels. The same people who like to scream Leviticus at gay people and tell how us we should all be killed are the same ones labeling the LDS a “cult” because it does not agree with their narrow, stifling Bible-worship. I have enormous respect for the LDS church and their values.

  • Ted

    Bible-cultists fearing “persecution” should grow up and show some humility. Thanks to your bigotry, LGBT people have been beaten, robbed, evicted, fired, and killed for 1,000 years, and still are in many places (Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia).

    Your whining over SCOTUS following the 14th amendment’s requirement of equal protection is a bit ridiculous.

  • Ted

    I love how Bible-cultists are suddenly disowning the Hebrew Bible now that they’re actually having to read it, in full, and discovering it really does say things like how rape is okay, so long as you pay her Dad later.

  • Ted

    That’s right Debbie. Acts 15 says you get to pick and choose what to believe from the Bible so long as you hate the homos. Or something like that. Whatever it takes to get a congregation riled up and feeling persecuted enough to fill the basket, is just fine with evangelicals.