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Church leadership post for an openly gay Mormon
Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay, hopes his newly assumed Mormon leadership position will increase understanding.
September 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Church leadership post for an openly gay Mormon

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Early on in life, Mitch Mayne knew exactly who he was.

He would race home from school to watch reruns of “Star Trek” and swoon over his crush, Captain Kirk. At 8, after his parents converted, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a faith he embraced. Even after he drifted away from the LDS Church following his parents’ divorce, he came back to Mormonism on his own in his mid-20s.

It is where he feels spiritually at home, irrespective of the fact that, for the past 10 years, he’s been openly gay.

“I’m a man that lives in two worlds that a lot of people don’t think intersect,” Mayne said. “Both sides of myself exist in me. It’s part of my DNA, part of my makeup.”

Actively Mormon and openly gay: It's the sort of combo that might leave people wondering. After all, the LDS Church teaches that homosexuality, specifically if same-sex attractions are acted upon, is a sin. And the church has actively backed measures to ban same-sex marriages.

Now, Mayne finds himself in the spotlight as he embarks on a journey he says “belongs to all of us.” In mid-August he was selected, or called (as Mormons say) by local church officials to serve in an LDS Church leadership position in San Francisco.

Mayne’s appointment may have generated attention, but he’s not the first gay Mormon to assume a leadership role in the church.

In Seattle, Washington, and Oakland, California, gay men have reportedly served in LDS Church leadership roles, Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote in her piece about Mayne in The Salt Lake Tribune. What makes Mayne unique, Stack said, is that he "may be the first local LDS leader to announce his orientation over the pulpit.”

Late last month, from the pulpit, Mayne revealed - to anyone who didn't already know - who he is:

"I am a gay Latter-day Saint.

"I don't want pity. To pity me is to make me a victim. I want understanding. To understand me is to love me as an equal.

"I don't want tolerance. If I am tolerated, I am disliked in some way. I want respect as a fellow striving child of God - an equal in his eyes.

"I don't want acceptance. To accept me is to graciously grant me the favor of your company. To accept me is to marginalize me with the assumption that I am less than you. I am your peer. I am neither above you nor below you."

Mayne shared these words during a farewell address to the Oakland ward he long attended, amid an announcement that he would be leaving because he had been named the executive secretary to the bishop of the Bay Ward. It is a role in which he'll offer administrative help but also take part in shaping congregational work.

“While that’s not a big accomplishment in and of itself,” Mayne said, “it is a remarkable accomplishment for the simple fact that maybe for the first time, a man was called to a priesthood leadership position not in spite of the fact that he is gay, but partly because he is gay.”

For those unfamiliar with LDS Church vernacular, a ward is essentially a congregation or, to use Catholic terminology, a parish. Various wards fall under the auspices of a stake, the rough equivalent of a diocese. In this case, the Bay Ward is one of three wards that make up the San Francisco Stake.

The LDS Church, which entrusts local leaders to determine local callings, does not pay clergy, nor does it send would-be bishops to seminary. So Mayne, like the bishop who called him to serve, is a volunteer who works for the church on top of his full-time corporate communications job.

Don Fletcher, an ophthalmologist, said that when he was called last month to serve as the bishop and leader of the Bay Ward he wanted to make sure every Latter-day Saint in his ward knew they were welcome, including the vast majority who weren't showing up. Of the 950 members on the books, only 150 were appearing in the pews.

Because the Bay Ward serves a geographic area in San Francisco that includes the famously gay, rainbow-flag-waving Castro neighborhood, it stands to reason that a segment of those not attending church are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Among those who have been absent are members who grew up steeped in Mormonism, faithfully served as missionaries and have families still active in the church. For Fletcher, making members of the LGBT community feel comfortable enough to walk through his congregation's doors is personal.

Fletcher has a gay family member with AIDS and says he has seen firsthand how isolating that can be in the Mormon world.

“I love my church and have a lot of faith, but culturally we haven’t done a good job in dealing with people who are gay when they face life challenges,” whether that be coming out, depression or struggles with suicide or illness, Fletcher said. “I wanted to address it in the ward I live in.”

The response in his ward, and from other Mormons he has heard from, has been nothing but positive, "uniformly, no exception," the bishop said. And, he added with a laugh, in the past month he’s broadened his own knowledge – or, rather, his lingo base - learning about “the ‘Moho community,' Mormons who are homosexual. That was a new one to me.”

The LDS Church's top leadership, and by extension many Mormons sitting in pews, heavily supported the campaign behind Proposition 8, the 2008 California initiative to ban same-sex marriage, which is currently tied up in the state’s high court.

Church doctrine says members should avoid sexual relations until marriage, which only can exist between a man and a woman. But the church’s involvement in the Prop 8 battle, and the Mormons who financially fueled the effort, created rifts in wards, spawned protests outside LDS temples and pushed some members, likely already on the churchgoing fence, out the door.

The Oakland First Ward, which Mayne attended for more than a decade, held a series of meetings to help heal those post-Prop 8 wounds. He said he sees his new church position in San Francisco’s Bay Ward as an extension of such bridge-building and a positive evolution from where he once was. The appointment will allow him to do extensive outreach in the LGBT and Mormon communities.

“It’s been hard to be a gay Mormon,” Mayne said. In the course of his life, he said he came out "no less than three times to bishops and stake presidents, and each time I was pushed back into the closet. … This is an opportunity to take my own pain and challenges and make it an opportunity to help. How can I not do that?”

He and Fletcher have already seen dividends from Mayne's calling. On a recent Sunday, Fletcher said he looked out to see seven formerly absent members take their seats in the pews because Mayne is there.

“I talked to a couple that hadn’t been to church in 20 years,” Fletcher said. “I’m not reinventing doctrine. I’m just trying to put in place what Jesus Christ would have us doing. … Even if you’re in a gay relationship and have no interest in living all the commandments, you’re still welcome in church, by all means.”

The development has stirred up discussion far beyond California. In one week, Mayne said, his personal website, which links to a blog in which he writes openly about who he is, received 30,000 views from 67 countries.

“I’m not a lone wolf on this,” he said. “I just happen to be a face of it. … There is a place for everyone at our savior’s table.”

But not everyone is as confident that Mayne’s calling will make a difference.

“I’m conflicted about this,” said Eric Ethington of Salt Lake City, the founder of the LGBT blog PRIDEinUtah.

“On the one hand, I view this as a positive step forward for the church, a church that has a history of extreme persecutions against the LGBT community,” he said. “But on the other hand,  I worry about LGBT people … because the church teaches you that you cannot reach your full potential and have full acceptance in the church unless you marry someone of the opposite sex.”

Ethington was raised in the LDS Church and says he was kicked out of the house when he came out at 17. He later closeted himself and married a woman in an LDS temple, only to divorce a couple of years later after realizing he was kidding himself.

“I can’t share (Mitch’s) optimism, but I share his hope,” he said. “Whether the church is ever going to change its policies, that’s a question for (LDS Church President) Thomas Monson. But one thing I hope the church will do, and maybe Mitch can help with this, is educate local leadership. Some kids are gay. … And that’s OK.”

Ethington pointed out, though, that Mayne, who was in a longtime monogamous relationship until a year ago, was only able to get his church calling because he’s not currently with someone.

“If he falls in love again and wants to be with that man, he won’t be allowed to serve,” he said.

Matt Mosman, a high councilor with the San Francisco Stake, said that if Mayne were to find himself in another romantic relationship, there would be an expectation that he would step down.

But the expectation that Mayne will abstain from premarital sex while in a leadership role, Mosman added, is no different from what would be expected of a single man who is not gay.

“The idea that a gay man who is not currently active in a gay relationship could serve actively in a high-ranking calling – that is a policy in the Mormon church that you could argue has been around since the church’s inception,” said Mosman, who works in corporate development.

For now, Mayne looks forward to his service and to promoting conversations and understanding. He will not, however, commit to a life of celibacy and hopes, “for all my gay brothers and sisters,” that same-sex marriage will someday be an option.

“I’m not saying I have an intent to go out and sin,” he said. “Here’s where I am; I am able and willing to serve. But I don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what the future holds.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Homosexuality • Mormonism • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,700 Responses)
  1. kimsland

    Did you know that Tarzan who lives in the jungle and never set foot in a church is going to be burnt hell?
    I say we put a stop to this crazy god belief.
    Would it help if I spoke in tongues to you? Spit spit Ha Ha Ha

    September 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  2. D-man5005

    I can't understand what is so bad about the LDS religion. Let's assume that the religion is FOR SURE false. Assume. Who really cares if they are believing in something that's totally false. I've never met a Mormon wanting to blow up anybody or who wanted to ruin others lives in the name of their religion. I can't understand what is so bad in their teachings. Right now, as in this year, I would like to see something so terrible that makes the religion something to get rid of. (And if the religion is completely true, well then that's great, but it doesn't change anything about the members actions)

    September 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bazoint

      Mormons, Baptists, Jews, Hindus and Catholics as well as other religions, not just Islamics, have done all those things, often in the name of religion in each case. You might change your tune if you lived in Utah where you are not quite human unless you are a Mormon.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • steve g

      what's so bad about it is perception from that of the human mind.....just like what's wrong with anything involving man. the concept may be perfect and flawless....throw human into it, and it's more than likely f***ed. i personally can state small ties to it as my wife and in-laws are LDS and are quite nice people, some of the people in their ward however are.........well they could be worse.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • D-man5005

      @Bazoint, I've never heard of a Mormon extremist, but I'm willing to listen if you have any examples. Yah, I can agree with you that Utah Mormons (not all but many) aren't exactly the friendliest towards those of other religions. They're not mean in any way, but they could be more open. I'm Mormon and it bugs me too. But still, I haven't received any replies on something that makes the Mormon religion so terrible.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Jason

      Well they specifically aim to keep the law in line with their religious beliefs, for example not wanting gay people to have the right of marriage or strongly restricting the sale of alcohol, etc.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Principle Investigator

      @Jason: Better than saying "Hell with the law. Go get the tar!" If I'm not mistaken, they're the only group who aim to use their personal philosophy to shape the laws of their society.

      September 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Principle Investigator

      Nope, I'm mistaken (or mistypen anyway). They're NOT the only group who aim to use their personal philosophy to shape the laws of their society.

      September 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  3. KC

    In their eyes, a gay Mormon is not a Mormon.

    September 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Mountainword

      This man is a "gay-hating GAY" simply for being part of an organization that oppresses us! To hell with him and all other MOHOs – they're the worst of the worst!

      September 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  4. Frank Cardenas

    Being a gay Mormon is no different than being a gay Catholic or gay Christian Fundamentalist, it is a willingness to allow others to declare you as inferior. Which to me, is self-hatred. I don't care what any religion tells their followers to do; gay or not. Just leave the rest of us to hell alone! Thanks!

    September 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  5. CarrotCakeMan

    Anyone who knows the history of the LDS church knows what this is all about. The Mormons threw out polygamy for Utah to be admitted as a US State and not just a territory. They threw out calling Blacks "not human" in order to avoid having their tax-exempt status revoked. We know Mormons attacked LGBT Americans as well as the Proper Rule Of Law itself when they committed countless criminal acts violating campaign finance laws and are THISCLOSE to having their tax exempt status revoked again. This is just PR to avoid having to pay their fair share of taxes.

    September 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • MikeD

      Mormons consider lying a sin, too.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • James

      Carrot Cake: You're wrong about blacks and the Mormons. From the beginning Joseph Smith baptized blacks in the LDS Church even 30 years before the Civil War. He was also the first white leader of an all white Church to ordain black men to the priesthood. The Book of Mormon declares that "all are alike unto God, black, white, bond, free, ..." The LDS Church never taught that black people were not "human."

      September 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Matt

      James is completely wrong. The LDS Church did not allow blacks to hold the priesthood until the 1970's. That is a widely known fact. Mormons like to claim that blacks were baptized into their church, but that means nothing in mormon terms without the priesthood, which they could not have until the 1970's. Without the priesthood they could not serve in the church, get married in a temple, or basically be mormon, so the "we baptized them" argument is a lie disguised in a meaningless truth. If mormons just old the truth I think people would get over this stuff and look at the good they do, but they are so busy covering up all their evils it just goes on and on. Not committing any new evils would help too... like Prop. 8.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • James

      Mathew:

      Do your homework and check for yourself. Joseph Smith was the first white leader from an all white Church in America to ordain a black man to the priesthood. His name was Elijah Abel. He was later called as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy and remained there til his death in Utah. His sons received the priesthood until the 1930s.

      In the LDS Church a partial ban began in 1848 and lasted until 1978. However, the ban was not a full ban because some black men continued to receive the priesthood until the 1930s.

      Incidentally, there were many black men who were ordained to the priesthood from 1836 til 1848 – the LDS Church was the first Christian Church to ordain black men to the priesthood in America.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  6. Eric

    Working on the Sabbath is clearly forbidden in many Bible passages. Yet not a peep about enforcing this on the entire country from those who seek to impose other verses on the entire country.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Patrick

      I think Jesus clarified it in the New Testament that you just can't work overtime on the Sabbath.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • sfcanative

      You obviously don't live in Utah.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • billywingarten

      I guess they are happy having only one group to demonize.

      I met an obviously gay man. I tried nicely to hint at what he was to him, and he simply mentioned he was from utah.

      BTW he ran a motel and made the most wonderful cookies for the guests.

      And went to bed every night lonley.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  7. Colin

    So, he's going to hell, hey? I love the Christian superst.ition of hell, because it highlights so perfectly the deep inanity of this silly faith.

    Do a bit of simple analysis on it. Approximately one hundred and ten thousand million (110,000,000,000) people have lived on Earth. Given all those who have, over the centuries, been gay, rejected the Christian god, or who have otherwise committed "mortal sins", there must be literally thousands of millions of people burning for all eternity in the cosmic oven of hell set up by their all-loving god. Some must have been burning for thousands of years by now.

    About 100,000 people die every day. There must be a constant stream of thousands of forlorn souls every day into the one way pit of hell their all-merciful god set up and maintains.

    But, far, far worse than sheer overwhelming numbers is the extent of the punishment. There is no way out, no parole, no time off for good behavior. You don’t just burn, you burn for all eternity. Billions of people and thousands of daily new arrivals burning for all eternity!

    No criminal justice system in the history of the Human race, even those established by the most despotic of tyrants, comes close to matching the unfathomable barbarity of their “infinitely benevolent” god. You don’t have to kill, you don’t have to steal, hell, you don’t even have to litter. All you have to do is refuse to believe in the Christian god and it will impose a penalty on you an infinite times worse than the death penalty.

    Hitler murdered six million Jews in his concentration camps, but compared to your god, Hitler was a bleeding-hearted wimp. A goose-stepping girlie-man. The all-caring Christian god not only burns billions more than Hitler, Pol Pot and all other dictators and tyrants added up, he keeps doing so to them for all eternity! I would not wish a bad sunburn on a person simply because they have a different religion to me, let alone fry them for ever.

    It is also odd that the all-loving Christian god is also all-knowing and knows which souls will go to hell before they do. He even knows it before they are born, and yet he still creates them. He is worse than a psychopathic teenager than breeds litter after litter of kittens so he can slowly roast them in ovens.

    It gets a little silly doesn't it. That's the problem when you have to use the same sky fairy to be both the carrot and the stick.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Colin

      You da' man !

      Peace...

      September 25, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Colin

      Hey Peace, how you been man? I have to run. Plane to catch.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Colin

      Been pretty good, brother ! Took about 10 days off for some work projects that needed finishing. Hope to be back on the blogs again a bit more.

      Safe travels, my friend !

      Peace...

      September 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • TheDude

      Wow, you have a lot of hate.
      I know you are basing your comment on catholicism, There is no HELL, read the bible, when the vatican falls people will be liberated from the crap they teach.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • itsjustme

      God's only rule was Love one another as you would love yourself. He also said Follow Me.

      Those were his only 2 "musts."

      The rest of the evil you see was invented by MEN, the same non-divinely inspired ones who wrote the non-divinely inspired Bible and other holy books. Not a higher being: men.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Eric

      I always thought it was also hard to see justice in punishing every human who ever lived for what Eve did.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Shylah

      This has to be one of the greatest things I've ever read. Well-said, Colin.

      One of my favourite bumper stickers reads, "It's your hell – YOU burn in it."

      September 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • elihu202

      Don't atheists ever get tired of making such lame arguments? Joke's on you, Colin. I love seeing atheists more obsessed with hell than religious people are.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • TheDude

      Colin Is an idiot

      lots of facts based on the catholic church, but ask him has he actually read the bible. face to face let us talk.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Principle Investigator

      Your view of a just and merciful god is very twisted. I wouldn't believe in that sort of god either.

      September 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • billywingarten

      Christians, Muslims etc – the religions –

      the promise death isnt death if you cow tow to their beliefs and give them money for their criminal insurance policy.

      the promise of burning to death for ever -t he worst way to die, if you dont lick their butt.

      Why do they always hate someone tp jate? (even orthodox Jews in Israel have called for genocide of gays)

      to distract people from asking the hard questions.

      BTW sorry for this to the real good xtians here, most mainline Christian churches support gays. But the son of god

      thats an old Jewish term for people who were honest in dealing with others. ties in with that Jewish Rebbe of 2000 years ago who "upset the tables of the money lenders at the temple gates.

      Alexander the great was a son of the god thor – pulled out of thors forhead. As usual he was the greatest warrior (mass murderer) of his time

      Osirus was the son of some God in Egyptian MYTHOLOGY.

      good night to all , god bless, equality for our gay friends and nieghbors

      September 26, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • billywingarten

      I missed the point – the promise of life after death and the threat of buring in hell forever – the christian pincers.

      I asked a catholic who seemed shaky about the religion why he still belonged

      He said – "why take a chance"

      September 26, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Alex

      FYI Mormons don't believe that most people will go to hell for eternity. The closest equivalent to hell that we have is spirit prison, which is only temporary. Very few people go to hell for eternity, but the fire and brimstone doesn't actually exist, it is figurative for what damned people will feel.

      People will go to 3 different kingdoms. Those who died without the knowledge of the gospel, they have a possibility of going to even the highest kingdom, that some Mormons will go to. Now it isn't for me to judge, but Mitch Mayne probably won't go to eternal hell.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    http://www.iamanexmormon.com/

    September 25, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Adelbrain

      Rainer,
      Did you go kiss the Pope's ring ?

      September 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • billywingarten

      tks – inew that an ex mormon / recovering mormon group existed but lost contact with the leader in the DC area

      September 26, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  9. Veritas

    @Worse yet is atheism: You have misunderstood life and agnosticism/atheism. It is just as easy or difficult to live a moral life if you are religious as if you are not, it's all personal choices. I guess you may think it is easier if you have a fairy tale rule book to go by, but morality is really just how you relate to other people. A good read about non-religious morality is Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape".

    September 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • kimsland

      Religious people do NOT have good morals.
      The bible has people getting stoned to death
      The Qur'an just wants people dead period.

      The only good christian people are the non religious ones

      September 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Worse Yet Is Atheism

      I understand atheism quite well thank you. It is formally defined as a lack of belief in God(s), although modern atheists like to muddy the waters with their own definitions. No God(s)? No purpose. No point. No good. No bad.

      One inevitably hears the claim that atheists just do good for the sake of doing good. What they fail to realize is the lack of any persuasive reasoning behind such a claim. Absolutely no one does good just for the sake of good whatever that even means, especially consider a religious person's ideas of "good" may not coincide with an atheist's notions of "good". Just keep asking an athest why. Eventually, if they're being honest, they'll say something like "Well, it just makes me feel good." Ah, the infinite and selfless wisdom of reason.

      Of course, an atheist can lie and murder without remorse if they can keep from being caught, after all, where is the sky daddy who will punish them? Just imagine the carnage an atheist leader could cause...oh, wait, we don't have to imagine that as we have plenty of examples from the past century alone.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Not true

      @kimsland

      If you think "Love your neighbor like yourself" and "Love your enemies" aren't good morals, then I'd really cringe to see your list of bad morals

      September 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • kimsland

      Yes, I'm just sad for all those billions of children that aren't jesus lovers in our world (like me) because they all going to be sentenced to be burnt in hell by your god. But I can see how you feel good in that??

      September 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Worse Yet: "No God(s)? No purpose. No point. No good. No bad."

      I find it sad to think that without believing in some imaginary being or force in your life, you have no moral compass. Furthermore, you have no purpose. That is incredibly sad and small-minded.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Not true

      @kimsland

      Did you make the free choice not to believe? Are you writing foul-mouthed things about Jesus, God, and people who believe? And yet you think it is wrong of the God you insult to send you to hell after your own choice? Either you don't believe in God and Hell and are just spewing nonsense, or you are taunting God and will get what you've chosen.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Worse Yet Is Atheism

      You completely missed the point, Aguest9, that atheists have no moral compass, in fact your definition of what is moral differs from that of the next atheist in all likelihood. If you believe you have a moral compass, then point me to your book of overarching morality that everyone accepts. Point me to the reason behind your supposedly "good" acts. The reason this riles atheists up so much is because they know they have no rational reason to be "good", if they can even define "good".

      September 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Worse yet is christianity

      kimsland here, but didn't realize that 'Name' meant write your personal comments?
      Anyway, my point is religion is the WORST EVER POSSIBLE CHOICE, that's my point really.
      Oh and to be truly happy is being atheist, since I am free from your cowardly fears you put onto the weak minded.
      I fully denounce ALL religion and state very publicly that RELIGIOUS BELIEF IS PATHETIC

      September 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Worse Yet Is Atheism

      By the way, Aguest9, tell me exactly what eternal purpose your life serves if you think it has one. Let's say you think it is to help orphans and homeless people. Why? Who knows...let's say it makes you feel good. Well, eventually you'll die. You will cease to exist. Nobody will remember your name. Millions of years will pass, humans will die as the earth is absorbed by the expanding sun. I see so much eternal and lasting purpose in your deeds from an atheistic perspective. NOT.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Not true

      @kimsland

      Are you so much better than religious folk? What good do you do? All I see is your foul-mouthed insults toward peoples' God and their religion. I can guarantee you they don't see that as good but rather as evil. I find it hard to understand why anyone would use their free will to make such a choice to reject and then insult religion and then question why that religion would send them to hell. You might have half an argument if you actually contributed to society in some positive way, but you certainly don't show that any more here than people of religion.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • kimsland

      I see you're very fearful of dieing.
      But you allow animals birds all vegetation and of course aliens (to be discovered) to die since you say they have no souls!

      I don't have this cowardly fear, I say live everyday to its fullest and be happy in yourself and to others, except religion (itself) of which will inevitably die a horrible death. I'll be there laughing at it when it does die. Ha Ha HA

      September 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Worse Yet

      I tutor high school and middle school students in math and science at a local library. I volunteer at the Red Cross and a local hospital. I follow civil law, and pay my taxes to contribute to the common good. I donate to my local fire and ambulance companies, as well as my public library. I don't feel the need to reconcile my definition of what is moral with that of "the next atheist". I have read many books on religion and philosophy, as well as math and science. I do not – nor cannot – allow any ONE book in either my life or my profession to show me "the right way to do things". No registered professional can claim that.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Veritas

      @Worse Yet Is Atheism: I am not sure I understand your standpoint. Unless one deludes oneself into believing in an all seeing omnipotent invisible "skydaddy", one cannot live morally. But if one does submit oneself to these theist beliefs one is then forced to live "morally" in accordance with ancient texts that promote genocide and slavery. You have a very bleak outlook on life, my friend. You can stay free from religious delusions and still live a quite happy and "moral" life; love is part of our evolved minds, and you don't need the carrot/stick of an "afterlife" to live well and love your fellow man.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Veritas

      @Worse Yet Is Atheism: ...and find it quite sad when you say that the only reason religious people are "moral" by giving to charity etc is because they live under the threat of otherwise ending up in a painful "afterlife" called "hell". You are dead wrong about religious vs non-religious giving and helping others; agnostics and atheists are likely just as prone to help others as it is part of human nature to care for those we see in need. Look at for instance Bill Gates who gives billions to good causes and has all but stated that he is a non-religious person.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Worse Yet Is Atheism

      Aguest9, even sources used by professionals must agree on "truth" in order to be useful for everyone. It doesn't do much good if each of your sources says something different, does it? They all present a "truth". That is what religion does for morality. Atheists cannot be moral because they cannot agree on what morality is.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Worse Yet Is Atheism

      Veritas, love may be a part of our evolution, but not as you portray it. Everyone is inherently selfish. This is why atheists claims of doing good for the sake of good eventually boil down to "because it makes ME feel good". Evolutionarily speaking, we love only because it benefits us...you can't deny survival of the fittest. You ask what my point is. It is that atheism is certainly no better than religion. I find it to be much worse.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Worse Yet Is Atheism

      Hey there -Worse Yet...

      " One inevitably hears the claim that atheists just do good for the sake of doing good. What they fail to realize is the lack of any persuasive reasoning behind such a claim. Absolutely no one does good just for the sake of good whatever that even means, especially consider a religious person's ideas of "good" may not coincide with an atheist's notions of "good". Just keep asking an athest why. Eventually, if they're being honest, they'll say something like "Well, it just makes me feel good."

      Interesting discussion point/s you brought up. It is equally true in other contexts. For instance, if you just keep asking a 'believer' "why"...? Eventually, if they're being honest... 'they' will 'also' say... because it makes them "feel good." Sure, you might get because the "Bible tells me so" or "I'm doing Jesus' work" etc... however, once you (keep asking) and get past the 'reasons' and get down to the 'core' of it all, you will ultimately, also get down to... an 'emotion' of some kind. Be it joy, love, etc... A 'positive' emotion or experience of some kind. And, yes, of course there are some that are more motivated by the 'stick' vs. the 'carrot.'

      And, whether one is an atheist, agnostic, or believer of some kind... it will ultimately come down to some variety of thought/emotion.

      When some one, anyone for that matter, does what they consider to be "good" like helping others, it will generally make the one doing the good, and hopefully the one being 'helped' to "feel good" 😀

      And certainly, there is nothing wrong with that, yes...? Nor does it invalidate an atheists' perspective of doing good.

      Looks and sounds like a true 'win-win' to me.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      Of course, an atheist can lie and murder without remorse if they can keep from being caught, after all, where is the sky daddy who will punish them? Just imagine the carnage an atheist leader could cause...oh, wait, we don't have to imagine that as we have plenty of examples from the past century alone.

      September 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Worse Yet

      ***Apologies*** I forgot to 'delete' the end of your posting in mine after I cut/pasted your posting.

      Peace...

      September 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Flash

      @Worse Yet Is Atheism,
      " It doesn't do much good if each of your sources says something different, does it?"

      Hah! Now that's a laugh. Religions pick stuff out of thin air to call "immoral" depending on the sect that you glom onto - like electricity and technology, playing cards, dancing, mowing the lawn on Sunday, not giving 10% (or more) of one's income to the church, must I go on...?

      September 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Worse Yet How shallow that you need the prospect of reward and the threat of punishment to be motivated to live a moral life. There have been works on ethics and morality galore that don't reference any god, and many, many people who don't worship any god lead a moral life. Indeed, in the standard theory of moral development, those who respond only to rewards and punishment are considered less than fully developed morally. God is, if anything, a crutch that is holding people back from full moral development.

      September 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Worse Yet, an engineer looks at an electron as a point charge carrier of a specific voltage that flows through conductors. A physicist looks at that same electron as a lepton, a sub-atomic component of matter that wends its way through a lattice of atoms in states of spin and orbit. They are both looking at the same enti.ty, but are viewing it two different ways. The "truth" you claim is illusory, and is based on different peoples' viewpoints.

      Aguest9, even sources used by professionals must agree on "truth" in order to be useful for everyone. It doesn't do much good if each of your sources says something different, does it? They all present a "truth". That is what religion does for morality. Atheists cannot be moral because they cannot agree on what morality is.

      September 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • AGuest9

      "Atheists cannot be moral because they cannot agree on what morality is."

      Again, you clump everyone together. There is no "Atheism, LLC", like the catholic church that has guidelines, a common dogma, structure and a membership. I doubt that everything I believe is comprised of the same beliefs as Colin or TomTom, or Peace2All or kimsland, or whoever you want to point and say "They're an atheist." I also make it a point to not capitalize the term atheist, because it's not a group to be followed. I also no longer capitalize anything as.sociated with the catholic church, as it is a sham, and doesn't merit that type of honorific. All of the christian traditions flow from the catholic church, and are derivatives of that sham. I feel no need to follow the lies of James and his church, that he and other's based on the sacrificial death of his brother Jesus. So, DON'T preach to me about not being able to know what morality is while you live an existential lie.

      September 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • mishi

      Interesting discussion. So let me get this straight.
      Without the morals instilled by religion, you'd have people burning witches at the stake, right? You'd have not-Protestants and not-Catholics killing one another in Ireland, not-Muslims and not-Christians killing each other in the Sudan? Not-Muslims in Saudi Arabia hanging gays, not-Christians in Jamaica cheering on gay-bashing? Not-Catholics supporting the rise of European fascism? Non-Jews persecuting Palestinians, not-Muslims killing Israelis. Not-Hindus and not-Muslims slaughtering one another in India. You'd have an atheist USA waging a senseless war in Iraq founded on lies, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. And, of course, a bunch of atheists flying planes into the Twin Towers.
      Wow, what an immoral world we would have without the threat of eternal punishment and the bribery of heaven!

      September 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Matt

      Scary that it is believed that one "needs" a "rational" basis to be good. No rational basis needed, a Christian would know this, as Jesus was not saving us from the wrath of God, he was saving us from ourselves.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • tallulah13

      Worse Yet, I have done plenty of things that have ultimately done damage to me, simply because it was the right thing to do. It's called personal integrity. You don't need a god to understand the simple concept of treating others as you would be treated. If you need the supernatural promise of reward and the threat of punishment to be a good person, then you are not a good person at all.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  10. George

    ok so this guy is gay and involved in religion, not news worthy to me

    September 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • With Love for Neighbor.

      you got that right

      September 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Truetuft

      You are welcomed to your opinion George. But there are lots of Mormons out there who might be interested. It's not always about you. If you read the story headline you'd have know this was not an interesting topic for you. I think something else is behind your comment.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  11. everybody's_lame

    Is anyone else tired of having Mormonism shoved down their throats? It’s bad enough that their "message" is clogging YouTube, its worse that they are baptizing me secretly, and it’s a travesty that they have infiltrated my community and are now showing up at my door.

    I'm happy for him to be gay, congrats for being able to be who you are. Why are the rest of us surprised that he is Mormon though? This church adapts with anything and anybody to get numbers. Oh, "word of God this".... that’s not nearly as important as being able to rule a U.S. state and force your beliefs of its inhabitants, lest they be socially and economically exiled.

    If you all fear the coming of Muslimism, you better get equally ready for our home grown batch of false servants, misogynistic homesteads, and face value piety. Because I guarantee you, while you are chatting away about your sinful life with them, they smile and stare at you with tolerance. Behind those eyes are wheels turning.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • kimsland

      I'm scared already
      HA Ha Ha Ha

      Burn jesus burn.
      HA

      September 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Norbert The Antimatter Dragon

      @lame, replace Mormon in your post with any other religion. Same conclusion. Pastafarianism excepted.

      RAmen.

      September 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  12. kimsland

    If you want a free comedy day, go to church its hilarious.
    jesus is in me jesus is in me. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha
    Seriously its funny. Please I need more religious people to post on they believe in what! HA

    September 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Atheists Are Smegheads

      I don't believe in you. Do you still exist? Phooey!

      September 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nobody cares whether you believe in me or not. I certainly don't care. Why should you care what I believe? And why should my belief or yours dictate how someone else lives his or her life? As long as that person is not infringing on your rights, what difference should it make to you? Get over yourselves; being religious doesn't make you special. It doesn't make you better than someone whose beliefs are different. And it doesn't mean that your beliefs should be the law of the land.

      September 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  13. With Love for Neighbor.

    With love for the true Gods Laws in my heart. This brings to mind what Isaiah wrote under inspiration from the Almighty God Jehovah.
    Isaiah 5;20 Woe to those who are saying that good is bad and bad is good, those who are putting darkness for light and light for darkness, those who are putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter
    I feel very sorry for this this church leader.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Patrick

      You really believe the bible is the literal Word of God? It condones slavery(Lev. 25:44), beating slaves(Exodus 21:20), incest(Genesis 19:33-36), r@pe victims being required to marry the r@pist(Deuteronomy 22:28-29), treating women and children as property(Genesis 19:8, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35), requires battered women to remain married to abusive husbands(Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-12), condones jihad type warfare where all children are ki11ed save the virgins who are a 'reward'(Numbers 31:15), and makes no mention at all of child molestation, the worst possible crime.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  14. Flooby

    Religion is for idiots. Tax evading small minded fairy tale believing idiots.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • KC

      I guess anybody who can legally evade taxes isn't too much an idiot!

      September 25, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  15. Colin

    This is one small step for a man, but perhaps one giant leap for the thinking person.

    If one squints their eyes and peers long enough and hard enough, way out to the horizon, over the backs of countless mindless sheep, one can almost make out a future in which the human species has finally cast off its Bronze Age religious dogma and come to accept all $exual persuasions as equal brothers and sisters.

    I expect they will look back on us with disbelief and incredulity at how long it took us to finally see through the obfuscating fog of entrenched religious superst.itions.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • elihu202

      I wonder why the officially-atheist Chinese are more sheeplike than any religious group? If I wanted to render an entire population powerless against totalitarianism I would want them to be atheists who don't believe in anything greater than themselves, who don't experience a spiritual bond with others that could be leveraged against abusive political power.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • AGuest9

      I find it strange how the believers have to turn to China to define what they think being an atheist is. Simultaneously, they hold to this Judeo-Christian myth of America.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  16. Patrick

    Good for him.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  17. McGuffin

    Actively gay and openly Mormon?

    September 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  18. ldean50

    This is propaganda straight (pun intended) out of Mitt Romney campaign headquarters. The Mormon church DOES not promote gays to leadership positions – they excommunicate them! As an openly gay man, he is never allowed in ANY temple (passes from local Bishops are required before anyone can go inside a temple and they WILL not give them out to gay people). This guy is a spin for the Romney campaign.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • joenny

      while in the ward in watertown ny/ utica stake both my bishop and stake president knew I was gay i was called at to be excutive sec, scout leader, stake missionary , most of the members knew i was gay

      September 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Donny

      Do you have any actual evidence to support this claim, or are you the one spouting propaganda?

      September 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Eve

      so glad to see that people are seeing through this smoke screen the mormon church is so desperately trying to put out. This "leadership" position is very back of the mormon bus. If an openly gay mormon was called to be oh say one of the 70, or to the quarm of the 12, or even as their prophet THAT would be news. But this "calling"? it's nothing but a political ploy to try and diffuse their image after their heavy involvement with Prop 8, nothing more nothing less.

      Why didn't this article go into if he holds the priesthood or not. Is he allowed to take the sacrament? is he allowed to pray? can he go to the temp and perform the ceremonies there? These would be important questions to ask for your mormon readership since these are things they would want to know. Is CNN a publication for the people are not?

      September 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Eve

      correction – temple not temp

      September 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • btl_driver

      Eve,
      Some answers to your questions:
      Sacrament yes, can't hold the calling if your not worthy to take the sacrament
      Priesthood, yes, must be at least an elder
      Both of the above are Church policies and not up for discussion by the Bishop and since he was recommended by the Bishop but called by the stake president, or designated individual from the Stake, some additional level of Church leadership knew about it, interviewed Mitch and settled any concerns that someone might have had. Mitch's name was also presented before the congregation so if anyone else had an issue, it would have been resolved or Mitch would not be in the calling he is in.
      Temple attendance, not sure so you'll have to ask his Bishop and Stake President on that one but I would assume he doesn't attend otherwise it would have definitely been mentioned.
      And for all of the grief people give the Mormons, try being divorced in the Catholic church and see how far you get.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Eve

      @btl_driver logically if he's holding the calling then yes he should be able to do all those things. but see we'd still have to ask the bishop all those things to get to the real truth. You clearly believe that he would be given those privileges as the Mormons see them, but i on the other hand have my doubts. If it's so acceptable why have gay mormons been excommunicated in the past? What makes it ok now v not ok in the past? Their god is never changing but he changes? it's 1978 all over again. Sure the actors have changed but the story's the same. When a social prejudice becomes a liability dump it in favor of something that seems progressive to outsiders.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  19. xeno

    There seems to be a lot of people on here spouting religious rhetoric. Isn't it Sunday morning?

    September 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Obviously they believe the computer is an altar.

      I wonder why an omnipotent god would demand that people 'worship' him and 'praise' him. If he created beings, why insist they 'fear' him and 'obey' him? Why create independent beings with free will and then demand they behave in a certain way?

      September 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Donny

      Tom Tom, it's good parenting. You tell your kids they can choose, but you still have the responsibility to raise them to be good people, citizens, etc. You do that by telling them this is how you're expected to behave, this is what's right, this is what's wrong. It's not really that hard to understand.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • AGuest9

      Donny, you just described raising children as an atheist.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Parents don't demand that their children worship them, dufus. Your god isn't a parent. Anything else?

      September 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • mishi

      Donny, most parents don't kill their kids for disobeying them...and if they did, we'd hardly call them "good." Neither do good parents slaughter a whole generation of other people's kids (see Exodus) to protect their own. Yaweh is a tyrannical, abusive (and he said it himself, jealous) Dad...and the whole human sacrifice thing with Sonny Boy only proves how totally twisted his "love" is.

      September 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  20. Bubba10

    He must have a lot of self hate to belong to an organization that does not want him and actively tries to prevent him from having a happy life.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Donny

      Obviously you haven't really read the article. It says the church DOES want him: "Even if you’re in a gay relationship and have no interest in living all the commandments, you’re still welcome in church, by all means.” Wanting him to have a happy life is the very reason they want him there.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Frank Cardenas

      They want his money$$$$ And Donny, how happy can life be if your religion tells you that you can't marry the person you love? Get real!

      September 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.