‘Religious liberty’ has never meant the right of a majority religion (or religions) to impose religious practices or religious rules on non-adherents. In America, we can be sure that Catholics can’t make birth control illegal, even though they are the largest religion. We can be sure that if Muslims become a dominant religion in any community, they still can’t require all women to cover their heads or impose Sharia law. We can be sure that if Amish are a majority in some community, they can’t impose their lifestyle on non-Amish living there.
To many individuals, phrases like “strengthening and preserving the family” or “defending the family,” sound like a commonsense invocation of concern about the well-being of one of the fundamental building blocks of society. Of course we should strengthen, preserve and defend the family. However, to most gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people, and to their families and loved ones, such phrases often sound menacing and demoralizing. We are accustomed to hearing people describe the very existence of LGBT people as a threat to the family.
There are a variety of ways that folks are responding to these situations. Some are skipping lessons that have a potential to open up hurtful class discussions. Some are attending Church and finding positive ways to participate in such discussions.
One mom of a gay son has responded by writing a letter to her Sunday School teacher, urging him to take into account the effect that negative comments about homosexuality would have on her son and her family.
A year after getting divorced and not attending church, I auditioned for and got a role in the production of the San Francisco Broadway Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and was invited by my LDS ward to return and present a musical fireside on a Sunday evening. As I prepared the songs I realized there was one particular piece that stood out in my mind as being far more personal than I’d previously realized. The song is called “Unusual Way” from the musical “Nine” in which I had the opportunity of playing the lead in a local production. Every word and every line, every phrase seems to echo my exact emotion and feeling about my sojourn through Mormonism.
I am recently returned to church activity, and at times I’ve wondered whether there is a place for me among Affirmation’s brilliant collection of voices, lives, and experiences. Over the course of the Millennials Retreat, I felt a powerful new sense of belonging. Affirmation is for me, too.
Why LGBT Mormons, families and friends are marching in Pride this year! “It is a way of reaching people on the outskirts, if you will, and letting them know that as disciples of Christ, we would welcome them with open arms, just as He would. Indeed that is what this activism is about. I have seen it give young gay Mormons the will to go on, to stay alive. This is why I march.”
Members often see themselves and others as belonging to one of two tribes: The Liahonas or the Iron Rodders. Liahonas are led primarily by the Spirit, whereas the Iron Rodders are guided by the commandments. None of us are strictly one or the other, but a mixture of both with, hopefully, the wisdom to use them properly and in the right combination. Both are important. That is why we are counseled to both pray and study the scriptures regularly.
He said he wished that every single one of us were members of his stake; that he wished every member of the Church had the quality of testimonies he had heard shared among us; that we had had to work and struggle against opposition and doubt to come to a deeper understanding of the Gospel, and find our place in it, and he wished for every member of his stake to work at claiming their faith as authentically as we had.
Participants came with open hearts, right from the beginning sharing the most vulnerable elements of their journeys and their lives: their hopes, their pain and their questions, their skepticism and their faith. Read more here about the conferences held in South America this past month.