Calling for “fairness for all,” top Mormon leaders said Tuesday that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would support certain “reasonable safeguards” for gays and lesbians in housing and employment while pushing for national legislation to protect “vital religious freedoms” for those who object to them.
The announcement, in a rare news conference, stressed that the church was not announcing any change in its doctrine or teachings, only a “balanced approach” to “overcome the sharp divisions and present cultural divide in our nation” over rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and what it called “the erosion” of religious liberty.
“We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values,” the four leaders — three male apostles, called elders, and one influential woman — said at the news conference in Salt Lake City, where the church is headquartered.
“We call on local, state and the federal government to serve all of their people by passing legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation — protections which are not available in many parts of the country,” said Elder Dallin Oaks.
At the same time, the church also wants exemptions from those laws if they conflict with someone’s religious beliefs.
Oaks said attacks on religious freedom were increasing. He cited four examples, including the University of California denying recognition to Christian-student groups, and lawyers in “one of America’s largest cities” subpoenaing sermons and notes of pastors who opposed a gay-rights measure.
SOURCE: Michael Winter