SALT LAKE CITY -- The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Friday to clarify recent changes in the Church Handbook regarding children in families with same-sex parents.
"The provisions of Handbook 1, Section 16.13 , that restrict priesthood ordinances for minors, apply only to those children whose primary residence is with couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. As always, local leaders may request further guidance in particular instances when they have questions.
When a child living with such a same-gender couple has already been baptized and is actively participating in the Church, provisions of 16.13 do not require that his or her membership activities or priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld. Decisions about any future ordinances for such children should be made by local leaders with their prime consideration being the preparation and best interests of the child.
All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love. They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities. All children may receive priesthood blessings of healing and spiritual guidance."
The handbook changes, revealed last week, say natural or adopted children of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabitating, may not receive a name and a blessing. The child may be baptized and confirmed, ordained or recommended for missionary service if:
"A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived oris living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:
1.The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.
2. The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage."
While the church has come out twice now in defense of their policy, some members are choosing to leave and are turning to Attorney Mark Naugle.
“Once this policy came out, people have said to me this is the last straw, I can`t have my name associated with an organization that does this to children,” said Naugle.
Naugle, an ex-Mormon, says he’s helping hundreds of people from all over the world fill out resignation papers, free of charge. People don’t need an attorney to leave the church, but Naugle says without one, people can wait months for an answer and they don’t want to feel any added pressure from leaders.
“Because they know that when they try to resign they`re going to have to meet with their bishop, they`re going to have their relief society coming over, the visiting teachers, possibly be pulled into church court,” said Naugle.
Naugle plans on helping people at a so called, “Mass Resignation Event” at City Creek Park Saturday at 1 p.m. Some question whether these resignations are actually from current members of the LDS Church in response to the controversial policy. Naugle admits the majority of people from Utah he’s talked to, are inactive.
“Most of the time these people just disagree with the church policies and church doctrine and they just want to move on with their lives,” said Naugle.
It’s important to note that a poll found on the event’s Facebook page shows that about 4% of people who are resigning are active members of the church. Some people argue that calling the event a “mass resignation” may not be completely accurate.
LGBT advocacy group Equality Utah issued the following statement in response to the clarification Friday:
Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said, “The past week has been difficult for both the Mormon and LGBT communities. There has been particular pain amongst families with both LDS and LGBT members. The new clarification from the Church helps children who are being raised by both gay and heterosexual parents. However, we are disappointed that children born of same-sex parents must still ‘disavow’ their parent’s marriage. This is a hurtful requirement for any child. We are grateful for the outpouring of love from many members in the LDS Church who have reached out with compassion toward our community. We have felt your love. We are also grateful to the many open and affirming faith congregations throughout Utah who welcome LGBT families without exception.”
Read the entire statement issued Friday by the LDS Church: