SALT LAKE CITY — When he was 16, David Nielson divulged his attraction to men, knowing it could cost him the two great pillars of his life: his parents and his Mormon faith.
“When you come out, the philosophy here has always been, ‘Say goodbye to your family because they will say goodbye to you,’ ” said the postal worker, 24. “But, I believe—and hope—that the climate is finally changing.”
While the church still teaches that gay sex is a sin and actively opposes gay marriage—which it will do from pulpits across California this Sunday—a first-ever meeting between Mormon officials and members of an advocacy group for non-straight Mormons, might suggest that such acceptance is more than wishful thinking.
Affirmation, which has more than 2,000 gay, lesbian and transgender members worldwide, officially requested the meeting earlier this year, shortly after Thomas Monson became president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Kim Farah, a representative for the church, confirmed the appointment with LDS Family Service Commissioner Fred Riley and Harold Brown of LDS Social Services, but declined to comment further.
Duane Jennings, president of Affirmation’s Salt Lake City chapter, called the conversation “historic.”
“With the new president, it just seemed like an opportunity for a new beginning,” he said.
The group’s leaders don’t expect any doctrine change to come out of the meeting, set for August, but they hope it will be a first step toward mutual understanding and healing.
Over breakfast on a recent Sunday morning, Jennings and Nielson, also an Affirmation activist, cite examples of the church’s intolerance toward homosexuality, including expulsion from church-owned Brigham Young University, where Affirmation was founded in 1977.
The 13 million-member denomination has also had a long history of supporting “pro-family” politics. The official LDS position is that it is permissible to be homosexual as long as one is celibate, the same standard of morality used for unmarried heterosexual members.
Most recently, the church has joined other evangelical congregations to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would recognize only marriages between a man and woman, reversing a recent California Supreme Court decision.
A statement to be read in California churches on Sunday declares Mormon teachings “on this moral issue are unequivocal.”
This informative article is marred by the use of one word: the word ‘other’ in the sentence that includes the phrase, “…the church has joined other evangelical congregations to support…”
The term ‘evangelical‘ refers to those people who adhere to a certain set of Biblical doctrines. While there is diversity amongst evangelicals, these doctrines include what are considered to be the essential teachings of the Christian faith. Change or reject one or more of these teachings, and you are left with something other than Christianity. The latter is the case with the Mormon Church.
The Mormon Church, officially named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has long attempted to brand itself as a Christian Church. However, its unique doctrines and practices clearly separate it from historical, Biblical Christianity. This makes the Mormon Church theologically a cult of Christianity. Hence by claiming that it has joined “other evangelical congregations” the writer has incorrectly described Mormonisms relationship to Christianity.