Mormons to allow baptisms for children of gay parents, repealing 2015 rule

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday repealed rules unveiled in 2015 that banned baptisms for children of gay parents and made gay marriage a sin worthy of expulsion. (Source: Thomas S Monson/Facebook/MGN Online)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday repealed rules unveiled in 2015 that banned baptisms for children of gay parents and made gay marriage a sin worthy of expulsion.

The surprise announcement by the faith widely known as the Mormon church reverses rules that triggered widespread condemnations from LGBTQ members and their allies and marked a jarring shift from the religion's push to carve out a more compassionate stance on LGBTQ issues.

The rules banned baptisms for children living with gay parents until they turn 18, disavowed same-sex relationships and received approval from global church leaders.

With the change, children of gay parents can now be baptized as long as their parents approve the baptisms and acknowledge that the children will be taught church doctrine, the church said in a statement from its highest leadership group called the First Presidency.

A group that represents members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with gay and lesbian children says the repeal of 2015 baptism rules is a good first step. But she says pain caused by the policy banning the baptism for kids of gay parents still lingers.

Lisa Dame with the Mama Dragons organization said Thursday the original 2015 rule banning the baptisms sent waves of heartache through LGBTQ members of the church and their families.

She says the reversal is an answer to prayers but that full healing will take time and noted that the church did not issue a formal apology for the 2015 policy.

The church's doctrinal opposition to same-sex marriage and sexual relations has not changed.

Dame is a heterosexual Mormon. She has five children, including a 33-year-old daughter who is a lesbian.

The faith said in a statement that it is not changing its doctrinal opposition to gay marriage and still considers same-sex relationships to be a "serious transgression."

But people in same-sex relationships will no longer be considered "apostates" who must be kicked out of the religion, the statement said.

"The very positive policies announced this morning should help affected families," the leaders said in the statement. "In addition, our members' efforts to show more understanding, compassion and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of goodwill."

The change marks the biggest move yet by church President Russell M. Nelson, who has made a flurry of changes to how the church functions since taking over the faith in January 2018.

Troy Williams with the LGBT-advocacy group Equality Utah called the announcement a big step forward.

“Clearly this is a great development for the church,” he said. “I think this will go a long way toward healing Latter-day Saint families that have LGBT members.”

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.



 
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