Bouncing about everywhere, from my sacred to questions about refugees, but today we’re going to get into a bit of familiar ground for everyone. I’m sure a few people have seen it already, but Halstead’s decided that it isn’t just his coreligionists he wants to go after, it’s Mormons too!
The Mormon Church Leaders Still Don’t Get It
A couple of weeks ago, the news of a change to the Mormon (LDS) Church’s policy regarding LGBT members and their children was leaked to the press. According to the new policy, children living a household with same-sex parents can no longer be baptized until they are 18. (Mormon children are typically baptized at the age of eight.) Once they reach the age of 18, if they wish to join the Church, the children must “disavow” their parents’ same-sex relationship and leave their parents’ household.
So I will admit I don’t know much about Mormon’s and what they believe beyond them being a sect of Christianity, some of them practice polygamy, and one of my co-workers is both Mormon and Gay. Which I will admit has been rather fascinating as it allows me to look into a lesser known religion so different from my own.
Frankly, as an outsider, this whole “baptizing at 18” thing makes some sense to me. Person’s an adult, they can consent to every other form of contract out there, so why not do that for religious ones. Frankly, if I had any kids I might take this view on them patroning with a deity.
And given their position on children having to separate from their parents under this ruling, it does again make sense to switch baptism from age 8 to 18. But let us be honest, the thing pissing Halstead off here is not that Christians are denying their children the ability to swear their souls to Christ.
The broad wording of the new policy spurred speculation regarding how it would be interpreted. For example, as the policy is worded, a child who is living with one heterosexual Mormon parent might be excluded from baptism if custody is shared with a homosexual parent. In fact, one young girl’s baptism, scheduled for the weekend after the new policy was leaked, was reportedly cancelled because her gay father shares joint custody of her. Similarly, a boy or girl who is anticipating leaving on a mission soon might be barred from serving if their parents divorce and one of their parents comes out as gay or lesbian in the interim.
And…can we just take a moment to look at how brilliant this is?
Given that there have been many recorded custody battles and legal battles over a child doing something religious at the aid of one parent and the objections of another, I cannot fault the Mormons in setting it up this way. This way they, and the child, need not face a protracted legal battle over trying to join in the Mormon faith against the wishes of a most likely militantly atheistic gay parent. Actually, this makes some sense legally with insisting the kid be 18 to begin with. No legal battles by angry parents against their religious children or those kid’s churches.
And yes, it does suck that these kids, most likely true believers, are made to suffer the loss of activities, rights, and baptism, but really it is hard to blame the Mormons from taking this overly protective route given how the “gay lobby” has so massively destroyed Christian opposition against them.
But again, I don’t think it’s the Mormon Church’s attempt to protect itself or its young believers that’s angering Halstead.
Last week, the First Presidency (the Mormon Prophet and his two Counsellors) of the Mormon church issued a clarification of the policy. According to the “clarification,” the policy only applies to those children “whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship.” Also, children living with such a same-gender couple who have already been baptized and are actively participating in the Church are exempted from the policy. But the inadequacy of this “clarification” in the minds of some was evident when approximately 1,500 people resigned en masse from the Mormon church the next day.
Well, there wasn’t going to be a win in this situation. The problem with testudo is that you lock down defensively rather than strike out and fight. I’m not sure how big a 1500 resignation of members is in relation to church population. Still, wouldn’t call it insignificant.
On the other hand…this really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone.
Yeah, fun fact, Mormons still have living Prophets. I’m not sure if it fills the same function as God-Spouses in Paganism, but it is interesting to see a Christian Sect that holds open an active line to their God. I think the closest might be the Catholics, but I think the Pope is suppose to be a more “infallible font of knowledge” rather than an actual direct line to God. Could be wrong though.
While the “clarification” leaves a great deal to be desired, it does make three things clear:
1. The Mormon church leadership still intends to impose a burden on children of homosexual couples which is not imposed on children of heterosexual couples.
Any question about the primary impact of the policy has been laid to rest. The children of LGBT couples must wait to they are 18 to receive sacraments which are routinely extended to eight year old children in the Mormon church. Once they reach the age of 18, they may then petition the highest authority of the Mormon church for baptism, but only if they are no longer living in the household of their co-habitating/married LGBT parents, and only if they “disavow” the same-gender cohabitation and/or marriage of their parents. This is something that is not required of any other children in the Mormon church. Children of unmarried heterosexual couples who are cohabitating are not barred from baptism. And no other prospective members are required to disavow the relationships of LGBT family members before being baptized.
It remains unclear whether the children LGBT couples will be able to receive the communion (which Mormons call the “sacrament”) on Sundays in spite of not having been baptized with their peers. (Adults must first be baptized in the Mormon church in order to take the communion.)
Here we start to glimpse some of Halstead’s problem with what the Mormon church has done.
Now, is this a burden upon the Mormon children of LGBT parents? Yes, absolutely. It is indeed, perhaps, an unfair burden to ask these young people vs their fellows who have Heterosexual parents. To be denied the sacraments of their religion, denied the full practices and connections of their faith? It is a burden, one I and nearly every Pagan out there can relate to as we are very often denied the full practices of our faiths as they were long ago. Requiring that they be legal adults, willing and able to leave behind their GLBT parents, disavowing them, these are hard things to ask of a young adult, regardless of reason.
But Halstead is treating this as an act of villainy by the Mormon church. An act of homophobic bigotry. Me? I’m not so sure about that. It isn’t saying “they can never have these things” it is merely saying “while they are minors in their family’s households, they may not have these things.” And given the inflexibility in the views of many GLBT peoples towards the views of Christianity about homosexuality and transgenderism, I can hardly blame any religious organization their defensive actions at this point.
The children suffer, but is the suffering the fault of Mormon Churches or of a GLBT community who will shut down florists, pizza shops, photographers, and even government officials for refusing to violate their moral beliefs. Given the way the verdict was handed out by the Supreme Court, it is the very real legal concern of many churches that they could be labeled as organized hate groups and shut down for their forbidding of homosexuality within their religious practices, the only surprise I have in regard to the Mormon church is that they beat everyone to this.
I don’t feel we’ve gotten to the full reason for Haltead’s displeasure here. For a man who considers rituals little more than emotionally satisfying theater to deal with one’s guilt, I doubt he’s all that angry about young adults being denied theistic fulfillment.
But we’ll get there…
We’ll continue in Part 2