Mormons divided on LDS apostle's speech on gays
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
Salt Lake Tribune -
Scores of Mormons felt confused and bruised this weekend by LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer's unequivocal condemnation of same-sex marriage and insistence that gays can change their attractions with enough faith.
It wasn't the substance of what Packer said on Sunday during the faith's 180th Semiannual General Conference. No one expected the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to revise the church's stance. The speech prompted thousands of online comments and dozens of blog entries.
What bothered many, they say, was the style of his presentation that left them feeling Packer's views were at odds with the more nuanced and compassionate recent statements by other Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders.
Packer's words "are an anomaly in the parade of statements coming out of the [LDS] church," said Carol Lynn Pearson, a Mormon writer in northern California who has worked to make gays feel welcome in the Utah-based church.
She pointed to interviews and articles by LDS leaders such as apostles Dallin H. Oaks and Jeffrey R. Holland, as well as the church's own pamphlet on same-sex attraction called "God Loveth His Children."
The speech "hurt my heart," she said in a phone interview, "because I receive all the time e-mails from young gay Mormons who feel so diminished and defeated."
Pearson said Packer's approach seemed so different from the style of Elder Marlin Jensen, LDS Church historian and member of the First Quorum of Seventy, who, while on assignment last month, listened and wept with gay and lesbian members in the Bay Area. . .
LDS Church affirms stance on marriage
The LDS Church on Monday reiterated its stance on same-gender marriage, saying the church's "doctrine on the importance of marriage and family and its implications for same-gender marriage are very clear and are based on principles of truth, respect and love for all of God's children."
Earlier Monday, the Human Rights Campaign called President Boyd K. Packer's Sunday General Conference address "inaccurate." The HRC says it is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
The LDS Church's statement went on to say: "We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone."
The LDS Church pointed out that President Packer's address, along with all General Conference talks, can be viewed in their entirety at www.lds.org.
LDS Apostle Says Same-Sex Attraction Can be Overcome
By Joanna Brooks
As has been explored here on RD, Mormonism accords a unique theological priority to marriage as a spiritual rite necessary to salvation. In addition to being theologically orthodox, Packer's message was very much in keeping with the profile he has established in 40 years as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, including a speech to an All-Church Coordinating Council in 1993 declaring gays and lesbians, feminists, and intellectuals "dangers" to the LDS Church.
In the academic discipline of religious studies, there are those who focus on institutional discourses of religion--official church histories, theologies, and declarations--and there are those who study "lived religion," the way the practice of religion feels to those who give their lives to it.
Even as I listened to Elder Packer in the Conference Center and knew his address would be making headlines, what I most wanted to share with Religion Dispatches readers were the "lived religion" images and experiences of 21st century Mormon life in its richness and globalizing diversity. . .
Is there a conflict within the LDS hierarchy over gay marriage?
By Doug Gibson
That's a remarkable statement, an apology for the church's failure to feel empathy for the predicament gay Mormons and others endure on the issue. It's my opinion that Elder Jensen would not have made that public a statement without permission from church leaders. However, the impact of the apology, which received scant attention as it was, is for all intent gone after the forceful statement of senior Apostle Elder Packer. Of course I have no insight into the discussions between general authorities, but I think it's worth suggesting that there is quite a debate over how to approach gay marriage in high-echelon meetings, and Elder Packer's position is winning. . .