The church’s new, somewhat more tolerant approach to LGBT issues may not have been noticed by the general church membership, but some non-members have apparently taken notice. In his Washington Post article “What Mormon Problem? More would vote for a Mormon than and Evangelical” Hunter Schwarz has this to say about the change:
Mormons aren’t on the front lines of the culture wars and have recently taken positions that have a wider, more bipartisan appeal. For same-sex marriage, for instance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported Proposition 8 in California in 2008. But in 2012 it was silent on same-sex marriage ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. In 2013, its response to legalized same-sex marriage in Utah was muted, and last year, it endorsed LGBT non-discrimination legislation. In just a few years, it’s gone from public enemy No. 1 to an ally on selected issues.
The article cites the latest polls indicating that 81% of Americans say they would vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, while only 73% said they would vote for an Evangelical Christian presidential candidate. (74% would vote for a gay or lesbian candidate.)
I still get resistance from church members when I point out that the church has in fact changed tactics on SSM since Proposition 8. Conservatives take the usual General Conference cheerleading as a continued call to arms against gay marriage, and liberals mourn that little has changed.
But for a church whose theology is heavily dependent upon the doctrine of eternal marriage and gender essentialism, I think these small changes are particularly remarkable and I’m thrilled to hear that they have been noted by those outside our church. However, I have yet to hear much discussion of Elder Oak’s October 2014 talk “Loving Others and Living With Differences” which set a new standard on how we should engage with those “who don’t share our covenant obligations.”
Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them”
- Do you see a change in the church’s approach to this issue?
- Has there been a corresponding change in the attitude of the membership?
- Do you agree that more moderate attitudes on social issues have helped Mormons increase their popularity among the electorate?