We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
How does the church approach politics?
The church’s stated position on politics has been murky at best through the years. It has been heavily involved, from the city to state and national levels, despite claiming some sort of peculiar neutrality. On the marriage issue, it was incensed when told by the government that it could not perform polygamous marriages as its doctrines commanded and was forced to renounce polygamy as a practice. Yet it fought against interracial marriage. And it has fought numerous times to block same-sex marriages as well. The hypocrisy is incredible.
The church’s current stance on political “neutrality” is here. If you skip the eighth bullet point, you get the idea that the church is strictly opposed to any political involvement. That one bullet point disabuses the notion entirely and essentially grants the church unlimited involvement into political action by claiming that an issue has moral consequences, subject only to its own interpretation.
Some of the words for that political “neutrality” stance were taken directly from President Hinckley in 1996:
The Church does not endorse any political party or any political candidate, nor does it permit the use of Church buildings and facilities for political purposes.
Of course, Californian members now know how false that is. We sat through numerous meetings in the chapel that were purely political meetings. These meetings were held instead of Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society for many months in our Ward. They were organizational mostly; people were assigned tasks. Bumper stickers and lawn signs were distributed. Members were taught how to participate in phone sweeps. Neighborhoods were divided up for door to door knocking. Suggestions for using social media were traded around. And of course, donations were frequently requested. Clearly, the church was endorsing a political platform and was using its buildings for political purposes.
The church’s stance on homosexuality, in opposition to most scientists as well as people who are actually gay, is that it is a choice: that it can be overcome or cured. On February 25, 2000, a lifelong celibate gay Mormon by the name of Stuart Matis shot himself in the head on the steps of one of our home Ward’s chapel in Los Altos, California. He had struggled his entire life to change his desires and conform to the church’s teachings. He said, “Either one is gay or one is Christian. As I believed that I was a Christian, I believed that I could never be gay….The scary truth of matters is that I would really rather be dead than living outside of the Church.” Stuart took his own life two weeks before the vote on California Proposition 22, the precursor to Proposition 8 and another anti-gay proposition the church endorsed. In 2004, the Utah Department of Health reported that the leading cause of death for males between the ages of 15-44 was suicide. It was declared an epidemic.
Stop for a minute and think about this: do you feel bad for women in extremely restrictive cultures that have to cover their faces, cannot speak in public, are stoned if they are raped, and have far fewer rights than men?
Those are all laws in those countries because of religion. The dominant religion advocates those restrictions. We suspect that every single reader of this blog is opposed to those laws being passed based off religious reasons.
So why is it okay for religiously-based laws to discriminate against gay people here? Because your religion is true and theirs is false? See the problem?
How would you react if the Mormon church attempted to get legislation passed that made drinking coffee and tea illegal in Utah? Or if a law mad all stores, gas stations, and non-emergency commercial businesses close on Sunday?
It’s clear that writing laws based on religious tenets alone is a bad idea. Yet opposition to same-sex marriage is completely based on religion.
It’s very natural
We hear the argument all the time that gay marriage is not “natural” and we’re still confused by it. This video really addresses it better than we possibly could.
Churches will not be forced to perform gay marriages, including temples
The idea that a change in the law will force religions to perform gay marriages in private churches has no historical bearing when and where gay marriages were already legal and is patently ridiculous when studied objectively. Put simply, churches right now can choose who they marry and who they can deny. No religion has ever been forced in modern US history to perform a marriage it opposed for any reason, including race, creed or sexual preference.
That’s why the Mormon church, long after the Civil Rights movement ended, could still legally prevent black people from entering and participating in temple ceremonies including marriage.
For a more in-depth analysis of why the fear-mongering around Prop 8 was completely false, please read BYU Law Professor Morris A. Thurston’s response.
What about the children?!!
First, we firmly reject the notion that someone’s sexual orientation has any bearing on their ability as a parent. Second, Proposition 8 dealt solely with marriage. Any argument made about the Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts is pointless, since there is a more than decade-old law there regarding orientation discrimination that has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. Third, the Mormon church still handles adoptions there and other places without government interference.
Numerous studies have been performed that show same-sex couples are just as competent, if not more competent, in raising and caring for children.
Why is it so scary to people that two gay parents, legally married, could adopt children?
To us, this is rather incidental. Regardless of the doctrine, the Mormon church should not try to pass laws removing civil rights from others based on it. But nonetheless…
- No modern LDS scriptures, aside from a single quote of the Bible copied into the Book of Mormon, address it.
- The Bible is often misunderstood to decry homosexuality as a terrible sin. Another great read here.
- The church is often, in the face of numerous racist, sexist, and simply wrong statements from past church leaders, forced to remind people that the doctrine comes from the Standard Works and revelations from the united First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve.
Note: Some people have claimed that The Family: A Proclamation to the World is actually a revelation. The church did once claim that it was briefly before correcting itself. President Packer stated, “It qualifies according to the definition as a revelation and would do well that members of the church to read and follow it.”, but the church changed that line in the official transcript to “It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow.”
In 1967, Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court had this response to interracial marriage:
“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men … Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State…Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival.”
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has this to say:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
So why, on the basis of misguided moral grounds, did church leaders and members attempt to make such a law? Even worse, they made a change to the State Constitution, a document created for the purpose of protecting civil rights.
Is being gay a choice?
Christian churches, and especially the Mormon church with its doctrine regarding the Pre-existence, are dependent upon this point for preaching that homosexuality is a sin. While the Mormon church sometimes specifies the sin as the physical act of homosexual intimacy rather than the desire itself, it nonetheless encourages through its actions, policies, and doctrine a system of judging and bullying of homosexuals. However, the Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics, every single major mental health institute in the US, and hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have shown that it is based on biology rather than choice or preference.
Just on this site, we have shown numerous examples when a leader of the church has claimed to not receive revelation for the church, has lied, or has been dead wrong about actual claimed revelation. We can see with things like the Word of Wisdom that sometimes the “doctrine” evolves according to who is in charge at the time. So even for someone who believes they are prophets, what they say regarding this flies in the face of science and reason. Gay people suffering through their secret desires don’t have much of a choice. They can’t just flip a switch and decide they’re not gay. You can’t pray the gay away.
If it’s not a choice, if it is in fact biological, then why is it a sin? Because it flies in the face of the “traditional” marriage that people are comfortable with? Frankly, we think it’s bigotry and bullying.
For the very studious, it can’t be explained any better than an objective analysis from an acclaimed Harvard biochemist who is also a faithful LDS man. Dr. William Bradshaw recently retired after a long career of teaching biochemistry at BYU. He served in a Stake Presidency and as a Mission President. Many years ago, his son Brett came out of the closet. Dr. Bradshaw was forced to re-evaluate his views on homosexuality, something he had mostly avoided both professionally and personally. You can watch a spectacular interview with him here. Skip to the fourth video if you want to just see the part about homosexuality.
History of BYU & homosexuality
BYU has a long and torrid history regarding homosexuality, including electro-shock therapy. We recommend reading The Student Review’s article on it.
I’m Christian unless you’re gay…
I can’t recommend highly enough this fantastic blog post. And after you read that, take a gander at these videos:
Less than a month before his suicide, Stuart Matis wrote a letter to his cousin. If you read nothing else on this site, read his letter.