SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Several protesters gathered near Temple Square Sunday afternoon to voice their concerns over recent policy changes within the Church.
The policy change they’re upset over is found in Handbook 1, meant for Church Leaders. The guide states that children on same sex partners aren’t eligible for certain church ordinances and blessings until they meet certain requirements: 1. they must accept and commit to the teachings and doctrines of the Church and disavow the practice of same-sex cohabitation and marriage, and 2. The child being of legal age does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.
The policy which came out on Wednesday was instantly met with criticism on social media. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles appeared in a video put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints calling same sex marriage a sin and defended the policy.
“They would disavow or assent is a better way of saying it, to the doctrines and practices of the Church in regard to same sex marriage. So, they would be saying, as you said, not disavowing their parents, but disavowing the practice,” he said.
The Church has long held that same sex marriage is a sin and say these rules have been around for a long time as they apply to the children of polygamous families as well.
But, critics say it’s discriminatory as they stood outside Temple Square shouting, “gay lives matter,” and “when gay children are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and say the new policy would break up families as it would make children choose between their parents and the Church.
“They have to choose between their parents and the Church and also be different than the other children, I don’t think that’s fair,” said Wendy Bradshaw as she held up a sign reading, “Hate hidden in religious doctrine is still HATE,” on one side, and on the other, “This momma bear is mad! No more LDS bullying.”
As a former member of the Church and lesbian mother of two she feels the Church has gone too far with this policy and is also concerned with bullying of same sex partner children. She says upon hearing the news of the policy change her two daughters would be resigning from the Church.
Another protesters, Jordan Mason, who still takes part in some aspects of the Mormon religion was out voicing his opposition to the policy.
“I wish they would pull back on branding people and isolating people, especially the children that have no say and have no free agency which we’re supposedly, one of our first battles in heaven – biblically – is being able to have free agency. That was our first fight, and they are denying free agency to children.
Supporters of the policy say they want to understand the concerns of the protesters but they in turn need to try to understand how the church handles its business.
“they don’t try to convince people to accept their things, they’re actually doing these things very carefully, they’re doing it with good reasons,” says Mosiah Martinez, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
He says when he first heard the news of the policy change he and a few friends were shocked but they more they thought about it he says the Church is just trying to protect these children.
“We learn in the Gospel that families, it will be contradictory to the Gospel, and that might bring issues to the children…when I was thinking about it it’s actually something wise because they’re protecting their children,” and adds, “to be honest I stand with the decision that has been made and I think it’s gonna bring a lot of issues with the people, but I still think it’s something necessary.”
Even children walking with their parents at Temple Square understand the concern about the policy and provided their voice regarding it.
10 year-old Harper Wilson, a member of the LDS Church said, “The child shouldn’t have to go through this just cause their parents made bad decisions, but then I guess they’d be getting the same opportunities just later in life.”
While his 8 year-old brother Kiesel shares his view, “Their parents, if that’s their decision that they made, I don’t think they [children] should be punished.”
And finally their 12 year-old sister Nevaeh chimed in with her views on the policy saying, “I don’t think it’s right that they don’t give their kids the same opportunities as other kids, because they’re their own person not their parents so I think they should get their own choice.”