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Sunday 12 October 2008

Mormons and LGBT Issues

Posted in: Features
By Craig Young - 31st August 2007

In New Zealand, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints hasn't been a frontline opponent of LGBT rights. Not so in the United States, however.

Established by Joseph Smith in 1830, the original Latter Day Saints experienced intense persecution when they tried to settle in Missouri and Illinois, where Smith was martyred by a sectarian mob in 1844. The embryonic LDS community settled in the Territory of Utah, which was governed as a virtual theocracy until 1857. Eventually, Washington and Salt Lake City reconciled, when Utah formally abolished heterosexual polygamy in 1890, although as I've noted in previous articles on the subject, stubborn fundamentalist schismatic LDS-oid sects still exist in Canada and the United States, where polygamy and heterosexual paedophilia are practiced in its stygian desert compounds.

The LDS Church still exerts considerable influence over Mormon life through the office of the President of the Church and its Council of Twelve Apostles. While they believe in the divinity of Christ, they part company with evangelical Christians over the accuracy of the historical testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and have a 'third testament' that consists of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of the Great Price. They believe that Christ visited North America, and that there are lost tribes that recorded the visit, and strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage, now and in the afterlife.

The LDS is socially conservative. It opposed the repeal of Prohibition in the early thirties, the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the seventies, and opposes same-sex marriage and physician assisted suicide today.

Insofar as lesbian and gay issues are concerned, the church opposes premarital sex, extramarital sex, and any lesbian or gay sex whatsoever. It sees homosexuality as a 'set of thoughts, feelings and behaviours', not a permanent identity or durable sexual orientation. In the sixties and seventies, the LDS church hierarchy condoned aversion therapy, which led to several gay LDS suicides and resulted in the formation of Affirmation, the largest LDS LGBT group. Many of its membership have joined alternativve LDS communities away from the conservative central authority of the church.

There is a prominent US Mormon Right, represented primarily by "United Families International," a so-called 'family values' organisation, and Professor Lynn Wardle of Brigham Young University, which also has an antigay code of conduct (although it also bans nonmarital heterosexuality). Wardle is a member of the conservative Catholic-dominated Marriage Law Project, and has visited New Zealand in opposition to civil unions and same-sex marriage at the behest of the Maxim Institute.

Even relatively literate Mormons are susceptible to this. Sadly, one of them is Orson Scott Card, an excellent science fiction author and...supporter of the Iraqi War, Patriot Act attacks on civil liberties and human rights within the United States, FoxNews, climate change denial, neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory and intelligent design creationism, thinks we should stay in the closet and opposes same-sex marriage. This has led to considerable ructions amongst LGBT SF fandom.

What about New Zealand Mormonism? It isn't all that prominent. Muldoon Cabinet Minister Ben Couch was a Mormon and social conservative, and the New Zealand Church of the Latter-Day Saints branch opposed ratification of the United Nations Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1983-1984. As well, New Zealand Mormon membership is declining.

Granted, they may be pests when they go door knocking, even if they're shocked to meet a fellow teetotaller who also happens to be a social liberal (!) when they visit me. However, despite the ennui of these visits, they're mostly harmless over here.


Richard and Joan Ostling: Mormon America: The Power and the Promise: San Francisco: HarperSan Franscisco: 1999

United Families International:

Orson Scott Card antigay statements:

Craig Young - 31st August 2007