Happy birthday, Policy, you are one year old today. In January I posted "Policy or Revelation?" which outlined the public timeline of the messy initial release of the Policy, along with links to relevant documents. Time for an update on the Policy. Maybe I'll do one every year until it dies.
One year out, it is a little unclear exactly what local leaders are enforcing, whether the original text added to the Handbook (and presumably still there, unchanged) or the narrower and softer form of the Policy spelled out in the November 13, 2015 First Presidency Letter posted at LDS.org. Or maybe local leaders are just following their own conscience or their own inspiration to deal with particular cases, regardless of what they are told in the Handbook or in a First Presidency letter or in counsel given at this or that regional leadership meeting. It's not an easy time to be a bishop.
Just a few days ago, the Church released an updated and revamped Mormon and Gay site. Importantly, the URL for the site is a subdomain of the LDS.org site, so it is clear to anyone who visits the site that it is an official LDS site. That's so any mainstream LDS member or leader who visits the site and reads the encouraging and supportive material at the site won't think "hey, that doesn't sound like what the Church has been saying" and dismiss it as some pro-gay anti-Mormon site. Like this counsel:
The parent of a child who experiences same-sex attraction or identifies as gay should choose to love and embrace that child. As a community of Church members, we should choose to create a welcoming community.Reaction to the redesigned site by the usual online commentators has been quite positive. One might get the impression that the new site is an attempt to walk back the Policy, which has certainly had the opposite effect from creating a "welcoming community" for married gays, unmarried gays, sympathetic relatives of unmarried gays, or just Mormons who think it is wrong to label an entire class of people as apostates and bar their children from membership and ordinances. But the claim that the new site is an attempt to walk back the Policy is never actually made on the new site, and as far as I can tell the Policy is never even mentioned or referenced! How can a comprehensive LDS site about being Mormon and gay not explain, not even reference, the Policy? So again, it is a little unclear what local leaders are actually doing and it is a little unclear what senior LDS leaders are actually thinking. It's still a big mess.
Helpful links: Here is some recent media commentary from the Salt Lake Tribune:
- at Mormon Matters, a fairly positive roundtable discussion of the new website
- at Mormon Matters, a two-part roundtable retrospective on the Policy
- at Radio West and KUER, The Story of the Mormon LGBT Policy
- at Radio West and KUER, The Effect of the Mormon LGBT Policy
And here are some blog posts:
- at BCC, Who Leaked the Policy? giving an insider's timeline of events, plus several other Nov. 5 BCC posts reflecting on the Policy
- at FMH, November 5th ... A Year Later
- an LDS historian's response: "As a believer, I could not conceive of leadership implementing such an odious policy so clearly antithetical to our core principles."
- a letter from Greg Prince giving some perspective on the Policy
Originally posted with comments at Times and Seasons.