Children of same-sex couples are not allowed to be baptized as members of the Mormon Church in a revised handbook policy.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released new rules on Thursday in their updated handbook. Children from the households of same-sex couples cannot be baptized or blessed until they turn 18 contingent on moving out of the homes of their parents and denying all same-sex unions and relationships. They have to be approved by the top leadership of the church.
Moreover, Mormons in any kind of same-sex cohabitation are now considered apostates. They have to undergo disciplinary hearings that may end up in excommunication, a much more severe approach than the one taken by the church in the past. The church, which for long has unconditionally opposed same-sex marriage, has taken its stance further.
Kids of same-sex couples can't join the Mormon Church unless they move out of their parents’ homes and disavow all same-sex relationships.
— UberFacts (@UberFacts) November 8, 2015
However, since the Supreme Court verdict in June that legalized same-sex marriage, the church has been more supportive of the laws that prohibit discrimination against homosexuals in housing and employment. According to David Campbell, a political science professor at the Notre Dame University, the church is responding in its own way to the changing societal mores. He said that they were trying to hold the line on their doctrinal rigor.
The spokesman for the church, Eric Hawkins said that while the church respects the differences of others, it cannot condone or perform same-sex marriages. Jana Reiss, a religious news columnist expressed shock that children born to rapists, murderers and unmarried people can be blessed and baptized, but not children from the households of same-sex couples.
Angry people took to Facebook, saying Mormon leaders should take note from Pope Francis, who famously said earlier this year that no one should be denied baptism if they seek it. Regardless of their parent’s sexuality, if a child will be raised Catholic, they should not be refused the opportunity to be baptized.
Although Mormons are the least accepting of same-sex relations as compared to the other churches, a recent study showed wider acceptance. Affirmation, a gay rights organization for Mormon families has received countless emails from its members who have been shocked by this new policy. They were put in an impossible position: either give up your life, or be excluded.
The church has actively lobbied against legalizing same-sex marriage, but has supported the laws against discrimination. Earlier this year, the church helped pass a bill that banned discrimination against members of the LGBT community in employment and housing. However, they are excluded from religious institutions that do not approve of same-sex relationships.
The convening of a disciplinary council for members in a same-sex marriage makes their stand very clear, as such hearings are usually reserved for murderers, rapists and other serious transgressions. John Dehlin, an activist and advocate for gay rights, who was excommunicated from the church said that this move is final and leaves no room for a change in attitudes over time.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared in a video interview published Friday reaffirming the Church’s stance.
Protesting in Salt Lake City, Dennis Potter, a professor, thinks the policy singles out children of same-sex couples but doesn’t put any sanctions on children of a single parent who engages in sex outside of marriage. “It doesn’t apply to children [of parents] who commit any other type of sin, with the sole exception of the sin of polygamy.”
The organizer of the protest, Greg Lucero, made a point to ask the public not to judge all Mormons by the actions of its leaders, as there are plenty of Mormons who stand with the LGBTQ and black community, two groups who have faced oppression by LDS leaders.