SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed to various media outlets Thursday that changes had been made to church policy regarding same-sex relationships and the children of parents living in such relationships.
According to parts of the LDS Church’s “Handbook 1,” which is used by church leaders such as bishops and stake presidents, individuals who are involved in a same-sex relationship or marriage are considered to be in a state of apostasy and are subject to potential excommunications.
As well, the children of parents living in same-sex marriages cannot be baptized into the church, ordained to the priesthood or be recommended for missionary service until they are 18. At that point, a stake president or mission president must ask for approval from the First Presidency (the church president and his two counselors) on a case-by-case basis.
Those who are of “legal age” must agree to live the teachings of the church and disavow the practice of same-sex marriage/cohabitation, as well as remove themselves from the home of their same-sex parents.
In response to media inquiries about the new policies, the following statement was given by LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins:
Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the Church in many varied circumstances throughout the world. The Church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages. While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.
The additions to the handbook were posted on a PDF Thursday on the Scribd website, by Mormon blogger John Dehlin, founder of the Mormon Stories Podcast, who was excommunicated from the church earlier this year for “apostasy.”
Dehlin made the policy additions available for view via his Facebook page. In subsequent posts on Dehlin’s page he cited media reports on the policy additions; “Outrageous,” he posted.
Equality Utah’s executive director, Troy Williams, also issued a statement regarding the new policies:
In America all churches have the religious liberty to welcome or exclude whomever they desire. But we know that children of same-sex parents are treasures of infinite worth. In our universe, all God’s children have a place in the choir.
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