By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Kevin Kloosterman, a former Mormon bishop, said he “came out” last year – just not in the way that many people associate with coming out.
“I came out and basically made a personal apology to (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) folks for really not understanding their issues, not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework,” Kloosterman said in an interview with CNN.
Though not speaking on behalf of the church, the then-bishop stood in front of a crowd of gay and straight Mormons at a November conference on gay and lesbian issues in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered.
Donning a suit and tie, Kloosterman was visibly shaken, struggling to find the right words as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry – deeply, deeply sorry,” Kloosterman told the group in a speech that was captured on video. “The only thing I can say to those of you who have been so patient, and have gone through so much, is for you to watch and look for any small changes with your loved ones, with your wards (Mormon congregations), with your leaders. And encourage them in this repentance process.”
Kloosterman’s apology was just one example of what many Mormons and church watchers see as a recent shift in the Mormon community’s posture toward gays and lesbians, including by the official church itself.
Though the church’s doctrine condemning homosexuality has not changed, and the church remains opposed to same-sex marriage, many say the church is subtly but unmistakably growing friendlier toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including voicing support for some gay rights.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Students at the church-owned Brigham Young University recently posted an “It Gets Better” video about the gay and lesbian community there, while a gay Mormon in San Francisco was selected last year for a church leadership position.
A new conference series on gay and lesbian Mormons – the same one Kloosterman addressed last year – is seeing an uptick in popularity.
Church spokesman Michael Purdy would not comment on whether church members are changing their stance toward gay and lesbian issues but said in an e-mail message: “In the Church, we strive to follow Jesus Christ who showed immense love and compassion towards all of God’s children.”
Purdy wrote, “If members are becoming more loving and Christ-like toward others then this can only be a positive development.”
‘It is definitely getting better’
The Brigham Young students who taped the pro-gay video this month were contributing to a popular video series meant to inspire hope in young people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality identity.
The video featured students telling stories of being gay at Brigham Young, sharing tales of heartache, loss and even suicide.
“It kind of is a very different world to be gay and Mormon because it feels like neither community accepts you completely,” said Bridey Jensen, a fifth-year senior and acting president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction, the group that posted the video.
Explain it to me: What’s Mormonism?
“We put out the message for youth that are going through this, and we want them to know that we were them a few years ago, and it gets better and there is a place for you,” she said.
Though chastity is a requirement at Brigham Young, gay and lesbian students say they are under more scrutiny. The school’s honor code says that “homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates” the code.
But Jensen said reaction to the video, which has been viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube, has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Carri Jenkins, an assistant to Brigham Young's president, told CNN that the production of the video is not a violation of the honor code and that the students will not be punished.
The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”
Jensen said that while gay and lesbian Mormons face a tough road, she sees a shift toward greater acceptance. It is definitely getting better within the church, she said. “They are not so quick to judge. They understand that they don’t understand everything. I am glad I can be a little part of it.”
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
Some scholars of Mormonism, such as Columbia University’s Richard Bushman, said they see the very existence of such a gay rights group at Brigham Young as a step toward greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.
“The last 10 years have been a huge sea change in terms of willingness to accept homosexuals,” Bushman said. “Gay kids are still going to have a tough time in the church, but this level of acceptance and acknowledgment – that is really that last decade I would say.”
Most gay Mormons point to 2008’s push for Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state but has faced legal challenge in the courts, as a low point in the relationship between the church and gay and lesbian community.
Mormons make up 2% of California’s population, but they contributed half of the $40 million war chest used to defend Proposition 8, according to a Time magazine report.
The church’s Proposition 8 activism angered many gay rights groups around the country, with some labeling the church “bigoted,” “homophobic” and “anti-gay.”
But church officials pushed back against the perception that the Proposition 8 backlash has provoked a Mormon softening on gay and lesbian issues.
“Many positive relationships have come from the Church’s experience in supporting traditional marriage in California,” Purdy, the church spokesman, said in an e-mail exchange with CNN.
Purdy draws a distinction between being against same-sex marriage and against equality for gays and lesbians.
He reiterated that the church was “strongly on the record as supporting traditional marriage,” but he said its stance should never be used as justification for violence or unkindness.
“The Church’s doctrine has not changed but we certainly believe you can be Christ-like, loving and civil, while advocating a strongly held moral position such as supporting traditional marriage,” Purdy wrote in an e-mail message.
“We do not believe that strong support of traditional marriage is anti-gay,” he wrote. “We love and cherish our brothers and sisters who experience same gender attraction. They are children of God.”
Church doctrine says that sex outside marriage is a sin and can lead to excommunication. Since gay people cannot be married in the church, any sex for them would be premarital and, therefore, sinful.
“The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear,” the church’s website says. “It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.”
Openly gay and a church leader
Mitch Mayne seems to relish his role as a lightning rod.
Mayne, an openly gay Mormon who blogs about homosexuality and the church, received the calling – a term Mormons use for being invited into a church position – in August.
Mayne is now executive secretary in a San Francisco ward of the church.
“I view myself as gay and being completely whole as being gay,” Mayne said.
Many observers of Mormonism say Mayne’s calling marked a unique moment in church history. Purdy said that Mayne’s appointment is “not unique,” but it’s hard to find precedent for an outspokenly gay executive secretary.
Mayne said he sees his job as building bridges with the gay community in San Francisco and showing them “there are pockets in the Mormon Church where you can be yourself.”
The biggest obstacle toward building those bridges is the threat of excommunication, said Mayne, who told CNN that in some wards just being gay can lead to expulsion from the church.
According to church doctrine, a formal disciplinary council can be called at the request of church leader.
While the leaders of the church mandate councils called for murder, incest or apostasy, it has a long list of reasons to call a disciplinary council.
According to the church’s website, the list of reasons includes “abortion, transsexual operation, attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injuries on others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations. …”
Some wards are observing that guidance while others aren’t, Mayne said.
“Here in the Bay Area ... we are no longer seeking out LGBT members of the church and excommunicating them,” Mayne said. “Our role is to bring people closer to the Savior, so if we are routinely excommunicating people, then we are really not doing our job.”
Mayne said he believes the challenge is to convince church leaders that they don’t ever have to excommunicate gay members.
And he said the Proposition 8 campaign was the “least Christ-like thing we have ever done as a church.”
“Not only did we alienate gays and lesbians, but we alienated their parents, their friends, those who support them – the ripple effect went way beyond the gay community, and I don’t think we were prepared for such a negative fallout,” Mayne said. “I think the church deserved the black eye they received.”
He added, “As a result of that really horrible time, I think we are entering a really good time to be a gay Mormon. It is getting better.”
‘Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off’
When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks, the City Council of Salt Lake City listens. At least the council seemed to in 2009 when it voted on an ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgendered residents in housing and employment.
"The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage,” church spokesman Michael Otterson told the council.
Shortly after the church’s expression, the City Council approved the measure unanimously.
Many gay rights activists said they saw the move as an olive branch after the Proposition 8 debate.
“The tone and the culture is evolving, and the way the LGBT people are being treated is changing. I don’t think the church’s policy has caught up to that change in culture,” said Ross Murray, director of religion, faith and values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “The Mormon church hasn’t gotten nearly as politically involved as they had since 2009.”
Though Murray sees the church lobbying for anti-discrimination laws as a positive step, he said the church’s shift is more about style than substance.
“It is going to take a lot of intentional effort to actually prove they are different,” Murray said. “That burden, because of the really public nature of their support of Prop 8, falls harder on the Mormon church than others.”
Joanna Brooks, a popular Mormon blogger and president of Mormon Stories, a nonprofit group that facilitates conversations on Mormon issues, echoes Murray’s sentiments.
She said she sees the church’s stance as challenging gay Mormons to choose between the religion they most likely grew up with and their desire for romantic companionship.
“Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off,” she said, adding that the church can’t make it that “either you are gay or you are Mormon, or either you support gay rights or you support the church.”
Weep Spud – oh that is soooo funny , the indirect comparison of child molesters to gay people. LOL, you are so humorous. (if you can't tell, i'm being sarcastic)
I'm not comparing them directly. From a scriptural standpoint, I am asking where is the distinction. Notice, no sarcasm...
Weep wasn't being sarcastic, he/she is just stupid.
Oh, name calling? Stupid? If I'm so stupid, answer my question, where is the scriptural line between gays and molesters where one is accepted and the other isn't.
There isn't a scriptural distinction between eating shrimp, child m.olesting, wearing clothes of two fabrics, or being g.ay, Weep. In fact you can find scripture that justifies child .rap.e – see Lot and his daughters. That's the point, an antiquated book of fables written by desert dwelling primitives isn't something we should be basing 21st century law on.
Maybe this will help Weep.
Gay = s.exual orientation
Pedophile = ra.pist
Oh, and just an FYI, who fking cares what distinction the bible makes on it, it is not the law of the land. If it were you likely would have had to stone to death a few disobedient children today. Our laws say r.ape is a violent felony and should be punished severely. Does that clear it up?
hawaii...ur a moron. Im a religious studies major, keep ur mouth shut.
Save the name calling for after you lose the debate
LOL a theology major? What's the matter, was cryptozoology all full up?
Oooooo a religious studies major. Do you think your illogical crap is all of a sudden logical based on your major? Sorry real life doesn't work that way.
Religious conservatives being behind the times and finally catching up? How is that news?
“I came out and basically made a personal apology to (lesbian, gay, bise xual and transgender) folks for really not understanding their issues..."
Issues? So they have problems u needed to understand? Why dont u just ask your GOD, who will say "I dont understand your question... I never told u to treat other humans like dogs"
This is an odd response. Every LGBT person I've ever spoken to talks about the "issues" of being who they are in a society which, for the most part, doesn't accept them as who they are. There is nothing wrong with his use of the word "issues" in that context. It was, in fact, the result of a man working very hard to overcome cultural bias and show compassion.
All of Mitt Romney's sons prefer little boys over girls.
Prayer changes things
as long as the prayers are to the correct god
It certainly does, it makes you feel like you are helping without actually ever doing anything.
It doesn't change how people were born.
Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!!
Prayer isn't meant to be some magical saying that will always cause what you want to happen to actually occur. Prayer can change who you are as a person though. Through prayer one can feel God's peace in their soul, and one can come to an understanding of how they can be a better human being and help other human beings traveling through life.
"Through prayer one can feel God's peace in their soul, and one can come to an understanding of how they can be a better human being and help other human beings traveling through life."
Actually the scientists have proven it is only a chemical reaction in your brain and not a god, you can get the same result by not believing in a god and just meditate.
To which "scientists" are you referring. LOL. Just because a supposed "scientist" says something doesn't mean I'll eat and then choke on their words. You meditate and I'll pray.
This article is full of misrepresentations. Anyone wanting to know what the Church really believes can visist http://mormon.org/
No. Anyone wanting to know what the church really believes should talk to someone that left the church, or was kicked out. I'm sure your website doesn't talk about all of the strange, strange things you do in your temple.
I disagree. I'm a Mormon, and I think this article was reasonably and fairly written. This shows, perhaps, that there is a diversity of opinion on the subject within the church.
I think it was an ok article. But it makes it sound as if this is something new–which I guess it is for those who are not members.
mormon.org is a great website! That is what the church believes. Or just talk to a member of the church. I would not go straight to someone who left the church. They probably have some mean views about a great people and religion.
The article is good in that it shows what the Church has done to support traditional marriage and what the Church for those who are gay. This article, however, incorrectly portrays that these two positions are new. Yawn. Old news. Maybe new for those who aren't members though.
GAY = NO OFFSPRING= FUK IN THE AS. NEXT GENERATION.. IF U R MARRIED. HEY! IS YUR HUSBAND/WIFE FEMALE OR MALE???
The biggest fear the church has is not gays getting married, but being forced to marry gays. On one hand guys rights are violated because they are not allowed to be civilly married, on the other religious freedom is violated if the church is forced to marry them. The Church fears that even if guys are allowed to get civil marriages, that will not be enough. That eventually they will force every church to preform these marriages. It's a catch 22 some times.
That's an irrational fear. The Catholic Church is allowed to discriminate and not marry you if you've been divorced. There is no way the government is going to force what is essentially a private club to change their membership requirements.
Actually that would do nothing to the churches, you don' t have to get married in a church or have the marriage ordained by a minister you can just simply go to court
If Jesus was not God, I would be the biggest atheist in the world. Not only did He die for our sins, he also set an example for us of how we should live.
There is no other "being" that could lay their life down for humanity unless they are PERFECT. Only God is "Perfect"....Therfore, Christ was God incarnate.
JOHN 10:30.... NUFF SAID.
LOL @ Mormons. Where did this retarded sect come from...
Wow you have some pretty epic logic fail there.
Yes, your version of an imaginary friend is clearly superior to theirs, lol.
Are you a Chrstian? If so read James and take note on the problem with calling people retards because of their faith.
John 17, you can't read it and decide that Jesus and his Father are one. This is a horrible argument, contention is of the devil. There are a tone of scriptures in the new testament that support that the Father and the Son are not the same person, and there are a few that say they are one.
It's about time some church does. After all their are a fair number of missionaries who are gay. You can't change genetics.
Personally i think this is an INSULT to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
Yea tolerance is such an insulting concept isn't it.
I'm a Mormon, and I applaud these efforts. This is a tough, complicated issue, but these are steps in the right direction.
Amen brother! No right to speak no behalf of our Church. People don't understand. We don't hate the people. Its a sin just like any other. If there was a law allowing say the legalization of drugs the Church would be against it!
Here's some advice to help you cope with your feelings: get over it. If there is a god, then god doesn't make mistakes.
DUH - it's meant to be insulting to the Mormon Church! Wake up and smell the coffee - oh yea, you're not ALLOWED to drink coffee!!
Just becuase laws might change, that doesn't mean the church's opinions about what is sinful change too.
Like with interracial marriage.
"...Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
– George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay (LDS leaders, mid 20th century)
From the article:
"(Purdy) reiterated that the church was “strongly on the record as supporting traditional marriage,” but he said its stance should never be used as justification for violence or unkindness."
So Prop 8 wasn't an act of unkindness towards gays, seeking equality?
Prop 8 was totally a move to keep gays from having equal rights. Interesting though... With the history of polygamy in the Mormon religion, they should hardly be throwing stones at people that simply want the same rights as others.
Prop 8 was about helping our society not fall off the deep end towards the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Hmmmm....sins of Sodom and Gomorrah....were you there? Were you living at the time these sins allegedly took place? As with any piece of literature, don't believe everything you read. If there is a god, I'm sure he/she is more concerned about disease, hunger, and disasters versus who's getting into bed w/whom. Think about it.
Not surprised! Whatever it takes to get a mormon in the whitehouse... Even going against what you 'believe'.
You missed the point. There are two issues here. 1) The government getting into the definition of marriage, and separate from that 2) discrimination against gays over housing. This article contains no new information for those who know even the slightest about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I'll take a Mormon who understands our nation's values versus a Muslim who wants a socialist-caliphate.
Isn't it so wonderful that the Racist Mormon Church is now so open to Gays. Um, is it because one of their own is running for President and they need the Gay Vote. Maybe if they had a Brain Washed Black running they would be more open to blacks and just maybe they would ask Blacks for forgiveness by their past OF NON ACCEPTANCE & Bias against Blacks
Wake up. You have a racist president in the White House and everyone is getting clued in. He's also a fraud and a phony. Throwing him and his buddies out of Washington will be the best thing to happen here in years. ...and I don't care what color his skin is....
I like how Doc has to point out that he doesn't "care what color his skin is" when that is really all he cares about. Anyone with even half a brain can see you are full of shlt Doc. Try spreading your lie's elsewhere you useless nasal discharge.
Joseph Smith was a prophet, straight straight straight straight straight...then they realized he wasn't selling anymore, now he's gay gay gay gay gay...
Church attendance must be pretty low if they're starting to allow democrats to join..
Mormon or any other type of Christianity, we can all agree on a few things:
Fox NEWS is our only lord and saviour.
The pilgrims died for our sins at the hands of Jews and the Holy native American Empire.
Democrats want to abort the elderly.
The two party system makes absolute perfect sense.
Every American gets to go to heaven because God supports the troops.
Muslims have to sign a pact with the devil to get past the bouncer at the mosque.
DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB!
Coming from a former Mormon everything you have listed here is wrong. Learn your facts before you speak because it makes you look like a fool.
Obviously they don't teach sarcasm or hyperbole in Mormon schools..
"What about child molesters? They are persecuted too. Misunderstood. Hated. Where's your love for them? They get beatings, mistreated, and hated. If gays are to be accepted by religion then where does it say child molesters can't be accepted and loved and embraced? Where is the scriptural line where gays are accepted and child molesters not?"
The fact you wrote this crap proves you don't know anything about this subject. Children can't consent, we've been over and over this with you on this blog troll.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN look at the church they are coddled and hidden from everyone child molesters are known in the church and priests have been the main culprets...
You are missing the point, where is the scriptural distinction between the two?
The LDS cult must be fully exposed very soon. The is a significant chance that we may elect one of these bozos to the presidency and if that happens the mormon church will be in the driver's seat. Romney will be taking direction from the quorum of twelve in Salt Lake City. He's sworn to do so no matter how much they try to deny it. The twelve are the exalted ones who claim to meet in person every now and then with Jesus and Joseph Smith. Romney is beginning to resemble the anti-Christ. Wake up people; before it's too late. Evil is staring you in the face. Recognize it now.
I think I'd fear a conspiracy theorist (say perhaps Bush?) like yourself in office before I would have reservations about a mormon being in office. Lunatic.
...you must be more ignorant than you know, no pun intended! ;-)
As social discomfort rises in the gay, black, hispanic, white, religious and atheist communities America gets more and more divided. We all have problems, we all have struggles, and we know thous that are negative have the hardest time. I ask people to continue to fight for what they believe is right, but do it in a kind and positive ways. This divisiveness has great consequences.
What about child molesters? They are persecuted too. Misunderstood. Hated. Where's your love for them? They get beatings, mistreated, and hated. If gays are to be accepted by religion then where does it say child molesters can't be accepted and loved and embraced? Where is the scriptural line where gays are accepted and child molesters not?
Catholic church accepts lots of molesters, go talk to them.
The fact you wrote this crap proves you don't know anything about this subject. Children can't consent, we've been over and over this with you on this blog troll. `
Too many fundiots like conflating being gay with zoophilia, pedophilia, etc ad nauseum.
What consenting adults do in private is nobody else's business.
As far as I'm aware, the church has always accepted child molesters.
Children cannot consent, mor0n. Gays on the other hand aren't hurting anything except your delicate sensibilities.
So ya'll missed the point. Where is the scriptural line between gays and molesters? Neither inherit God's Kingdom, along with a whole bunch of other behaviors. It's pretty simple guys, comon.
I take it you're referring to the Corinthians list of people who won't inherit the Kingdom.
In the original Greek, the terms used in Corinthian's list of vices that are sometimes translated as "hom-ose.xual" are 'malakoi' and 'ar.senkoitai'.
AR.SENKOTAI – Has been translated as "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV), "se.xual per.verts" (RSV), "sodo.mites" (NKJV, NAB, JB, NRSV), those "who are guilty of hom.ose.xual per.version" (NEB), "men who lie with males" (Lamsa), "behaves like a hom.ose.xual" (CEV), "men who have se.xual relations with other men" (NCV), and "ho.mose.xual offenders" (NIV). The New American Bible (Roman Catholic) translated ar.senokoitai as "practicing hom.ose.xuals". After much protest, the editors agreed to delete this term and replace it with "sodo.mites" in subsequent editions.
'Ar.senokoitai' referred to male prosti.tutes for Paul and Christians until the 4th century.
MALAKOI – Literally means "soft" or "males who are soft". This word has been translated as "ef.feminate" (KJV), "hom.ose.xuals" (NKJV), "corrupt" (Lamsa), "per.verts" (CEV), "catamites" which means call boys (JB), "those who are male prosti.tutes" (NCV), and "male prost.itutes." (NIV, NRSV). Until the Reformation in the 16th century and in Roman Catholicism until the 20th century, malakoi was thought to mean "mas.turb.ators." Only in the 20th century has it been understood as a reference to hom.ose.xuality.
God's condemnation of gays seems to depend on which translation you're reading.
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.