The Mormon Church has decided to back certain gay rights, but with one caveat, if the rights of religious groups are protected too. Church leaders said they would support anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people if gay rights advocates and the government “back off.”
“When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser,” said Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles. “Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.”
Citing several cases of gay advocate pressure on religious people, such as the Houston mayor’s sermons subpoena from mega church leaders, Brendan Eich’s forced resignation as Mozilla CEO, pressure on a Mormon Olympic liaison to step down because he donated to support Prop. 8, Oaks said “it is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals.”
The suggested plan does not change Mormon doctrine, which opposes gay marriage. However, Mormon leaders are attempting to “square competing claims of gay rights and religious liberty,” said Oaks.
Gay advocates, however, believe such a course would continue to allow business owners, doctors, landlords, and others to “discriminate against gays and lesbians as long as they cite a religious reason,” said Human Rights Council Legal Director, Sarah Warbelow.
Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore called the Mormons’ new policy “well-intentioned, but naive… Proposals to balance gay rights and religious freedom inevitably lead to attacks on the latter,” Moore said.
“Mormon leaders have taken an increasingly civil tone towards gays and lesbians in recent years, and gay rights groups cheered the church for endorsing the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow gay scouts in 2013.”
Mormons appear to be joining many mainstream Protestant denominations in supporting anti-bias laws, even if they don’t agree with gay marriage, including Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Quaker churches. Catholics and Southern Baptists, the nation’s two largest denominations, oppose them, though on the local level, at least some Catholic bishops appear to have no problem with anti-discrimination laws if it provides for Catholics to practice their faith without discrimination, repercussions or reprisals, which is nearly the same position as the Mormon stance.
“It is no wonder that violence and crime have spread over the earth, and moral darkness, like the pall of death, shrouds the cities and habitations of men. Satan controls many households, people, and churches. He watches the indications of moral corruption, and introduces his specious temptations, carefully leading men into worse and worse evils, till utter depravity is the result.” Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 2, page 317