October 12th, 2010
10:19 AM ET

Mormon leader's remarks spark outcry on same-sex issues

Editor's Note: Since this post published Tuesday morning, the LDS Church has issued a statement in response to the day's events. Please see some of the comments, and a link to the full statement, at the bottom of this piece.

Twice a year, members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convene for a general conference during which the LDS Church leadership addresses the Mormon faithful.

Broadcast via satellite to millions of Mormons across the globe, and speaking in front of the more than 20,000 LDS Church members who flock to the enormous conference center in Salt Lake City, Utah, the leaders offer insights on doctrine and guidance to church adherents.

One speech at the 180th semiannual conference, held the first weekend of October, ignited a controversy that spawned protests, set off a petition-signing push and led to allegations of cleaned-up records. It sparked battles in the blogosphere and online onslaughts of accusations, frenzied Facebook campaigns and even unconfirmed claims of a suicide. It prompted Utah’s largest newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, to issue a statement to readers this weekend explaining its in-depth coverage and pushed the church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News, to print Sunday a “call for civility.”

The speech in question was that made by LDS Church apostle Boyd K. Packer, 86, the president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles – a governing body in the worldwide church.

In his address on October 3, Packer suggested to Mormons, among other things, that allowing people in same-sex relationships to marry “would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature,” and that any attraction between people of the same sex can – with enough faith – be changed.

Boyd Packer, the president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles

“Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural,” he said. “Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?”

These statements created a swift backlash in Utah and elsewhere. Calling the comments “heartless,” a local gay activist, and former practicing Mormon, organized through online social networking a silent protest around Temple Square, ground zero for the LDS Church.

About 4,500 people, dressed in black, laid their bodies down Thursday night around the Salt Lake City site, said Eric Ethington, of the blog PRIDEinUtah, who spearheaded the effort. Mixed in, he said, were at least 100 active members of the LDS Church.

“While we respect your right to say what you want, we will hold you accountable,” Ethington said, explaining the intended statement. “There are consequences for hate speech.”

The LDS Church said it, too, recognizes people’s rights to say what they believe, but that the intention behind Packer's message has been misconstrued.

“Those familiar with the church’s doctrine on the importance of marriage and family know it is based on principles of respect and love for all of God’s children,” said Kim Farah, LDS Church spokeswoman, in a written statement. “We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone.”

What Packer said wasn’t what shocked Micah Bisson, spokesman for Affirmation, an organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LDS Church members – former and currently active.

“The words he chose to use are no different than those he’s used in the past. The issue is more the timing,” Bisson said. “The timing was absolutely terrible.”

What he was referring to, of course, is the recent rash of publicized suicides by gay teens in the U.S. In the span of three weeks in September, five young gay men killed themselves.

Bisson was reached Friday by phone in San Francisco, California, just hours before a rally and candlelight vigil to increase awareness about LGBT suicides and the need to stop them. He, as well as others including Ethington, said he’d heard a young gay Mormon in Utah killed himself around the time of Packer’s speech. CNN has not been able to confirm this, and the head of the Utah Pride Center said this rumor was news to her.

When the LDS Church first posted the transcript of Packer’s speech, critics went wild – saying the transcript didn’t match his spoken words, that the words were changed to lessen the insult. The phrase about “inborn tendencies” was changed to “inborn temptations” and the rhetorical question about why God would create anyone with such traits was deleted.

On the Monday following LDS Church general conferences, the spokeswoman said, “each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker’s intent. President Packer has simply clarified his intent.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights agency, issued a media release and announced a press conference in Salt Lake City, scheduled for Tuesday. Immediately following the press conference, the HRC spokesman said the organization will hand-deliver about 150,000 signatures on an open letter to Packer.

That letter reads in part:

You have risked further alienating LGBT youth and potentially contributing to suicides of even more vulnerable young people. You’ve told them that their very identities are “impure and unnatural” and you’ve incited the violence and bullying that often drives them to suicide… I hope you will cease putting young people in real peril and acknowledge the scientific truth: sexual orientation cannot be changed, nor should it be.

Again, Farah of the LDS Church emphasized that the church’s stance on marriage and family “is based on respect and love for all of God’s children.”

Backing Packer, close to 15,000 (and growing) young LDS men and women have gone to the Facebook page WE LOVE YOU - President Boyd K. Packer, promising to send him 100,000 letters of support on Saturday. And though critics have weighed in posting messages on the page, there are notes of gratitude, thanking the one who they believe speaks "the will of God."

They offer testimonies showing their faith in him. One woman thanks him for not mincing "words to make them easier to digest by those who would attempt to call evil good and good evil." Another says, "I don't care what people are saying..I loved this man and his talk...ROCK ON PRES.PACKER....I mean..keep being real...We Love You!!!"

But those assembling Tuesday for the press conference are arriving with a different message.

One speaker will be Valerie Larabee, the executive director of the Utah Pride Center, which directly serves Utah’s LGBT community

“We find ourselves often in the position of picking up the pieces when Mormon leaders put out strong messages about gay and lesbian people being immoral,” Larabee said. “It creates divisions in families and is very unsettling to our youth and their youth. We provide a safe and affirming space for people in crisis. They’re OK the way they are.”

The statements by Packer are “disheartening,” she said, in part because there have been recent inroads in building understanding and respect. In November 2009, the LDS Church backed a Salt Lake City anti-discrimination ordinance, protecting the LGBT community in housing and employment matters.

This support came one year after the church’s much-publicized push to pass California’s Proposition 8, a bill that outlawed in that state same-sex marriages - a matter that’s weaving its way through the courts. In the aftermath of this and the protests that took place outside LDS temples, church officials – not on the highest levels – began meeting with members of the LGBT community.

“Through the telling of our stories and the stories of our community, we’re breaking down the stereotypes,” Larabee said. But the conversations are “only scratching the surface, and unfortunately cultural and doctrinal beliefs at higher levels of the church are very strong… We have a lot of work to do.”

[Updated: 4:30 p.m. ET] Michael Otterson, speaking on behalf of the LDS Church, issued a statement after the Human Rights Campaign delivered the petition signatures in Salt Lake City. His words, as seen in this written statement, spoke of the "bitter sting of persecution and marginalization" that Mormons felt in the church's early history and suggested that this makes members "sensitive to the vulnerable in society."

Though the LDS Church does not agree with HRC in many respects, he said that Mormons "join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different - whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reasons."

Otterson also reiterated LDS Church doctrine, saying "any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in his condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel."

He also pointed out that while same-sex attraction is inevitable, those wishing to follow church doctrine can stay faithful:

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other. It's not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

"Obviously, some will disagree with us," he said. "We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position, and not on distortion or selective interpretation."

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Mormonism • Utah

soundoff (1,369 Responses)
  1. karek40

    God does not inflict anyone with defects period. His design was good, when we through our actions negatively effect that design or exceed the design limits then that design fails.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:42 am |
    • MedicalStudent

      1. So god's design is not perfect and can fail? Then god is not perfect.

      2. God created all life according to you, then god created parasites whose sole purpose is to feed off humans

      your god is an idiot or is imaginary pick one.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • Happy Athiest

      LOL, his design doesn't seem so "intelligent" now, does it?

      October 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • Billy Bob

      @Medical Student

      1. That someone can abuse or neglect a design does not mean the design is flawed, no more than it means a car engine is poorly designed because someone fails to maintain it and it locks up.

      2. There are no parasites that have provably no other affect than to feed off humans. The complexity of life seems to evade your limited imagination.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  2. Scott

    I have nothing but love for the LDS church. All you out that diss on the LDS church or any other church ... What would Jesus do?I have nothing but love for anyone that is trying to be a better person and do what i they think is right. Too much hatred in the world and especially here on-line ... we are all on the same team, more love, less hate.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:41 am |

    THE MAN IS STANDING UP FOR TRUTH. These are the last days people. Good and Evil are hard to distinguish anymore. Gays are not bad people, but what they are doing is WRONG. If we were all gay, our race would be extinct. That is proof of why being gay is Wrong. It doesn't work with our bodies, it doesn't work for God and eternal families. GLAD SOMEONE HAS THE GUTS TO SAY IT TO THE WORLD.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • Randolph Carter

      Sorry, man, there is no invisible sky fairy. You're on your own. Religion is for those who can't think for themselves. Have a nice day!

      October 12, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'These are the last days people. '
      ooooh I like these. Ok.
      You think its going to happen during your life time? Think the 'rapture' is going to happen?
      If so then please create a will now leaving your house and all your property to me when you die. If you won't be here then it won't matter will it? And it doesn't matter about the rest of your family because they will go too right? So just create a will leaving everything to me, I mean after all, your faith is strong right?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • LDSRevelations

      @ T Miller-
      Standing up for truth? Just like when BY, J Taylor, WW and other LDS leaders claimed that plural marriage was an eternal commandment which would never be stopped— and people of African descent would not receive the priesthood until the Millennium, right? Boyd K Packer is, just like his predecessors, pushing an outmoded social and theological plan. And like his predecessors, Packer (or those who follow him in the not too distant future) will eventually see the writing on the wall and allow for things that secular society allowed for years before.

      It appears that it is either a Church run by men or the Mormon God has a habit of trailing secular society by 20-50 years. I vote for option 1.

      I wish you and I — TMiller — could talk again in 50 years or so because I suspect things will have changed in the LDS stance on the issue of gay marriage by then. Will you still call Packer's words truth then? How can you tell a divine revelation from from the natural evolution of thought resulting from outward social pressure?

      October 12, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  4. veritas 2

    yes, it should be included in the list as a defect/disease and "treated" accordingly. Human race survival depends on it...

    October 12, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • Randolph Carter

      veritas 2
      "yes, it should be included in the list as a defect/disease and "treated" accordingly. Human race survival depends on it..."
      October 12, 2010 at 11:40 am

      I absolutely agree, someone needs to start working on a Mormonism prevention vaccine but quick. Hhave a nice day!

      October 12, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Sarah

      "human race survival depends on it"....Are you serious? You are actually implying that there are not enough people in the world to continue our species? 6.5 BILLION are not enough? Your argument is hateful, close-minded, and quite simply wrong.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  5. allen

    politicians on the other hand are to be hated and distrusted anytime,especially when they aren`t meddling directly

    October 12, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • Angelo

      Im sorry but listening to this guy is a waste of time. Like so many organized religions in America this guy is so far away from the definition of religion that it is a shame.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  6. Randolph Carter

    Mormon is a kook religion. Have you ever read the nonsense that they believe? Sorry, man the only word to describe Mormons is "kooks." Have a nice day!

    October 12, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • DenverVet

      Thank you!

      October 12, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Ryan

      You only call it "Kooky" because you don't really know/understand what Mormons actually believe. If you mean that it's kooky just because of a lack of tangible proof, then all religions are 'kooky' in that sense. If you're religious, then it shouldn't be that far of a leap to go from believing that a man born 2,000 years ago could walk on water, to believing that a man born 200 years ago could translate scriptures from ancient golden plates, by the power of God. It comes down to faith. Just because it isn't your faith doesn't make it 'kooky.' Calling Mormonism, or any other religion Kooky is more of a reflection on your ignorance.

      If you want to compare what you think you know about Wormonism, to what they actually believe, go to the source:


      October 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Ryan

      You only call it "Kooky" because you don't really know/understand what Mormons actually believe. If you mean that it's kooky just because of a lack of tangible proof, then all religions are 'kooky' in that sense. If you're religious, then it shouldn't be that far of a leap to go from believing that a man born 2,000 years ago could walk on water, to believing that a man born 200 years ago could translate scriptures from ancient golden plates, by the power of God. It comes down to faith. Just because it isn't your faith doesn't make it 'kooky.' Calling Mormonism, or any other religion Kooky is more of a reflection on your ignorance.

      If you want to compare what you think you know about Mormonism, to what they actually believe, go to the source:


      October 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'If you're religious, then it shouldn't be that far of a leap to go from believing that a man born 2,000 years ago could walk on water, to believing that a man born 200 years ago could translate scriptures from ancient golden plates, by the power of God. '
      Which only goes to prove what a load of BS religion is in the first place.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Matt

      I grew up Mormon, and I have to agree that it's pretty kooky.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
  7. Dennis from Philly

    Funny, no comment from the real leader of the Morman faith, Glen Beck!

    October 12, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • GetOverIt

      Hey Dennis from Philly: Morman? I didn't even know Morman was a religion. Thank you for enlightening us. And I believe Glen Beck is a Mormon. But with your intelligence maybe you can give me a different perspective.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  8. David

    Get a life! The old man is right. It is amazing how people squirm when the harsh light of truth is shining on them. People envy
    Mormons' thrift, prosperity, and preparedness. It also exacerbates the situation when it is evident to all that Mormons are for
    the most part staunchly conservative. And, no I am not a Mormon.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • YBP

      You may not be a Mormon, but you seem just as sophisticated and in-the-know. Thanks for enlightening the rest of us.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  9. David Johnson is a biggotted idiot

    You know nothing of christianity yet you try and trash it. That lifestyle is a CHOICE. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that people are born that way, yet you liberal morons want everyone to accept that as fact. It is an abomination in the eyes of the lord (read Leviticus).

    October 12, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • veritas 2

      hey, I love being bigot. What the hell is wrong with being that??? It only bothers the garbage that shouldn't be in in our lifes

      October 12, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • Darwin

      FUNNY how Christians claim to use the BIBLE as their 'Instruction book" but don't actually practice most of what it says. For example, Leviticus 20:13 commands you to KILL THE GAYS: 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death." Maybe people with other genetic diseases like Downs syndrome should also be eliminated? Hmmm, didn't the Nazis persecute gays and the mentally deficient a few years back?

      October 12, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Andy

      die dinosaur die!

      October 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • gutsurfer

      As opposed to all the scientific evidence for Christianity.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • Chris

      Darwin: There are different types of law in the bible... Some of those laws applied to the different tribes of Isreal during those early time periods – judicial laws for the time for the government of Isreal (Leviticus, Deuteronomy...). Others are moral laws (the 10 commandments)... The judicial or government laws don't apply anymore, but the moral laws stay the same. So no, Christianity does NOT support killing gay people or killing disobediant children or the such, however, we're also called to obey God out of love and refrain from sinning, even though we still stumble and fall short of that every single day...

      October 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      There is plenty of scientific evidence that people are born gay. Certainly far more evidence than your make-believe diety that supposedly considers it an abomination actually exists.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Drew

      Until you are gay, you can't possibly know. There was never a deciding day when I thought... "I'll be gay"... it always has been. It is not a choice. It is not a product of environment. It is just who I am. Being born with Downs Syndrome is not normal either, but all the faith in the universe is not going to change that. As far as the rest of the rhetoric on this slam fest... I don't care what he said. I don't consider it hate. I consider it his belief... However, he is wrong. Faith is not going to make me straight. For those of you that have 'had enough'.... Well, when we get equal rights in the eyes of the government, that's when you might see a change. We're not out to change a religion or religious beliefs. Why hasn't anyone banned divorce in order to preserve the integrity of marriage. My partner and I saying til death do us part in front of our friends and our God and getting the same partner benefits that heteros do, is going to hurt no one.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • NoScientificEvidence

      What do you mean.... no scientific evidence. The discussions and studies exist everywhere, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that it's genetic. random link to explanation: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_caus3.htm

      October 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
    • km7734206

      Quoting a thousands of years old interpretation via multiple dozens of likely translations doesn't mean you have a good instruction manual. I mean would you take your VCR/DVD/anything manual and have it translated in 12 unrelated, different languages and then back into English and think you could still get the same message from it?

      The English version of The Bible you're so familiar with has very little commonality with the original message the writer's (the mens with the pens, pardon the pun) intended it to have. You don't shun a woman b/c she's on her period and make her wander outside until she's been 'clean' for a certain amount of time. You don't ritually sacrifice goats before holiday celebrations. Heck you probably even eat meat on Fridays. All things Leviticus bans. Don't preach the convenient while ignoring the rest of YOUR instruction manual.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jake B

      Do you really think someone would CHOOSE to be gay??? With all the hate in the world why would I CHOOSE to be gay??? Do you think I enjoy the fact that I can not kiss my boyfriend in public, or hold hands, or show any kind of affection without being taunted – among other things that might happen. Not saying that everyone shows hate like that...but I bet you are one of those. You know what – I love who I love and I have no control over that. I hope in my lifetime people that share your beliefs will be able to open their eyes. I could go on and on about religion....but I have better things to do.

      October 14, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  10. gayxmormon

    I don't remember what it was and don't care it was amusing of the BS they do in the temple

    October 12, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • Supermom

      Is that true, or do you just have enough respect (or fear) left for the faith that you are not willing to cross lines that cannot be uncrossed?

      October 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • Emma

      I don't have any fear of the church. I had my name removed.....Yay!!

      October 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  11. allen

    I have no use for any religion,My money`s on Darwin.By the same token though I don`t much care for the gays,actually pretty repulsive when they carry on in public.As long as neither bother me though I could care less

    October 12, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • Diana

      Then you're as mis-led as the Mormans and the gays. Some things are true whether you believe them or not.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  12. New Yorker

    Leave the MORONS alone... I mean Mormons.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • David K. Anderson in Sacramento

      Hahahaha! That was a brilliant piece of comedy. I'm sure no one has ever used that one before. Now how about you contribute something meaningful to the conversation?

      That was a "Hate Joke". I'm so offended! Hahahaha.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • austin hoover

      its ok i cant spell either mr new dorker hahahahahha its funny cuz its true

      October 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  13. Jim X

    When "any" man or woman claims to speak for God or claims to know the will of God, that man or woman, knowingly or unknowingly, is a liar. People use their concepts about the "will of God" to justify their own hate and fear of others.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • Yep.

      I have to agree with you, why any sentient being would believe some who says god speaks to them and only them is beyond me. I suppose I answered my own question with the word "sentient", though.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • GetOverIt

      Jim X, and your credentials to speak on the matter are.........??? With that logic, I suppose your thoughts could be considered lies too then, correct?

      October 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      I think the bible would agree with you Jim.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
    • Rich

      How do you know he doesn't walk and talk with God? Just saying.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
    • Kyle

      To "Yep."

      Apparently, you are misinformed. Mormons are some of the only people today that teach that ANYONE can speak with God. Even those who are not members of their faith can receive inspiration and answers from God. It's other religions (the ones that say God does not talk to men today) that claim God will only speak to some people and not others.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
    • Peter Rabbit

      GetOverIt is Jim getting tax exemption status or influencing the small minded millions around the world? Probably not therefore his opinion has no great consequence other than to raise your blood pressure.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
    • Peter Rabbit

      GetOverIt is Jim getting tax exemption status or influencing the small minded millions around the world?

      Probably not therefore his opinion has no great consequence other than to raise your blood pressure.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
    • IceCat12

      To Goodwin

      Wait…WHAT???? Have you ever read the bible???? It book after book, ALL written by men that claim to have spoken with God. I don’t see how the Bible of all things could possible support Jim X’s comment? If you have a problem with God speaking to man it seem you have a problem not with the Mormon Church but with Christianity in general. An I’m not even a Mormon and that just made No since at all.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  14. Kyle

    Here comes the real hate speech (fake, made up, false, rich, bigots, MORmONS, etc). As if Mormons haven't had enough of these already.

    I say it's nice to see a religious leader stand for their beliefs, regardless of what backlash will come. It's too bad that people have to continue using such harmful language to attack those who believe differently than they do.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • IrishJJ

      sounds like you'd be pretty inpressed with hitler, he stood up for what he believed in, and what do you know his message was hate too

      October 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • chainsaw

      Nice jump to the extremes, you could say that Jesus stood up for his beliefs too. That's not to say that Packer is either of these examples, just that your argument is poor.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Chainsaw like to argue!!!

      hahahaha, hate is hate is hate; if a church is going to bring people together we don't need it

      October 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • chainsaw

      Maybe you don't understand what hate means. Hate speech generally means that you are advocating violence due to a belief. It does not mean that anyone that disagrees with you hates you. People will hold different beliefs and disagree on who is more correct, but it does not mean they hate each other. Extremists try and paint any opposing opinion or belief as hateful and in so doing the dilute the meaning of the word.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • YBP

      Intolerance of stupidity is not bigotry. Inolerance of ignorance is not bogotry. Intolerance of religious intolerance is not bigotry. Ignorant, intolerant bogots are not victims.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • YBP

      Intolerance of stupidity is not bigotry. Inolerance of ignorance is not bogotry. Intolerance of religious intolerance is not bigotry. Ignorant, intolerant bigots are not victims.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Cher

      I grew up in the days when blacks couldn't be in the Mormon Church because of their beliefs about us. Under government pressure during the late 1970's they had a new revelation that changed their beliefs so blacks could join but th3 men had the status of women.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • Robert


      Your facts are off. Black Mormons existed before you were even born. Joseph Smith even gave a black Mormon his horse to buy his son's freedom (and contrary to what people believe, Joseph Smith was not a rich man).

      What you remember is when blacks were not given the Priesthood. In the 1970's, that ban was lifted, and black men have full authority in the Church to perform any ordinances that a white man can.

      Women are still held in greater status than any man in the Mormon Church, being the bearers, nurturers, and teachers of the greatest assets we have (children). What would we be without mothers?

      Please look at the source instead of believing what others tell you to believe about Mormons. They have obviously misinformed you for decades.

      October 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • Thomas


      You are correct. Black Mormons have existed essentially since the beginning of the church. What many people (including LDS church members) do not know is that Joseph Smith not only gave his horse to a black man to buy his son's freedom, he also bestowed the Priesthood on more than one black man and was the first person to run for President of the United States on an anti-slavery platform. Joseph Smith was not a racist.
      However, Brigham Young was. As a person who was raised in the church and is over 30, I used to pray about the priesthood ban and ask why it happened to any church leader I came across and could never get a consistent and truthful answer. As an adolescent I cried myself to sleep over it on more than one occasion. It wasn't until I was 30 years old (5 years ago) did I discover the truth about the ban. It was after Brigham had received a letter in the winter of 1847 learning of an interracial marriage of a Black Priesthood holder in a Boston ward and that the family would be making a trip westward that he decided to enforce his personal prejudice both through "church doctrine" and legislation. The priesthood ban effectively stopped white women from marrying black men because the men could no longer get a Temple recommend and thus could not be sealed to their families..
      Here is what eerily similar to this conversation. As Governor of Utah he made it illegal for a black and white couple to consummate their marriage in the state and offered up this gem before the Utah Congress and the Church

      "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty."
      The problem with the Church and its leaders is they fail address blatant prejudices of recent history and pretend they did not happen which allows prejudice to persist. This time they want to get ahead of what happened with the passing of the Civil Rights Bill that forced them to allow Blacks back into the Temple by passing similar legislation as before that denies the equal rights of all people and saying it is "the word of God."
      This is sad because it is otherwise a positive organization that does lots of good.

      October 14, 2010 at 4:22 am |
  15. tomcat3

    The fact that a group has an opinion doesn't necessarily mean they are wrong.
    Their opinion carries as much weight as anyone elses. Good luck finding a religion that agrees with everything you believe in.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • gutsurfer

      No it doesn't. It's not true that their opinion is as legitimate as any. They need to have a good reason for what they believe and they do not.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • IrishJJ

      Their opinion does not carry as much weight as anyone elses, their opinion is based on a fairytale story book....what if i said i base all my opinions on alice in wonderland – would they be valid?

      October 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Happy Athiest

      Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!

      October 12, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • scha

      Every religion has it's theology. Just because it is different from yours does not invalidate it. The conference that was held was not directed to people outside of the faith. While I am sure that they are flattered that so many others were watching, what difference does it make to you if you don't agree with the theology and are not a member anyway?

      October 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
    • Peter Rabbit

      Because scha they are tax exempt and influence elections! Yes it matters what these and those like them say!

      October 12, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • sensitive bunch

      Moral issues are either right or wrong. People have to draw a line in the sandbox and choose a side. Mr. Packer drew is line. Now people are crying. The wicked find the truth to be hard.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  16. jerry


    October 12, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  17. Azezel

    This is nothing more than an attack on a good people. People who do everything they can to do as much as they can for the benefit of our shared nation. His statement was one of compassion. Meant to keep people within the flock so that they may have prosterity to call their names on the last day.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:30 am |
    • Ronnie

      Kim Farah and the moronic mormons are so stupid ! If Farah really believe her statements then allow gays to marry and have afamily then the church wouldn't have a problem with gays.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • FearNoEvil

      How did the mass slaughter in 1857 of the Fancher-Baker emigrant wagon train at Mountain Meadows benefit the rest of the country? HOW? Mormons are a dangerous religious cult that should have had their federal tax exempt status revoked decades ago. Since the LDL banks are flush with donations which are enhanced with tax-exempt status, lets stop the madness that is LDL and really benefit the rest of the country.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • soxphan

      David Koresh was just trying to keep people in his flock too. Mormanism is nothing more than a cult. It's NOT a valid religion. Period. But then again ALL religion is the crutch of the weak minded so whatever.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • Emma

      Why wouldn't the Mormons react the way their did regarding the Mountain Meadows Massacre considering Bogg's Extermination Order written against the Mormons. I am ex-mormon and if you are going to condemn the action of a few people, at least know the situation they were in that triggered the horrific action.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
    • Scott

      @soxphan: Koresh may have been devout in his faith and beliefs (which is not my cup of tea), the truth of what happened at Waco is much different than the Danforth Report indicates it is. Waco was an embarrassing failure for Janet Reno and the FBI veterans who advised her to use force. The whole thing fell apart. The fire was caused by the attacking agents, and 20 adults and children who attempted to flee the fire were shot dead by the assailants. Don't believe everything your government tells you. Remember, this is the same government that just apologized to Guatemala for intentionally infecting people with syphilis.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  18. Bill

    Hate speech? Hate speech? Really? I don't agree with what this guy said, nor do many others, but calling it hate speech is reactionary and self serving of his opponents. It shows just how crazy people can get.

    This guy didn't call for people to be harmed, ostracized, excommunicated, or discriminated against. He said that their orientation was wrong and could be changed with enough faith. Where is the hate in that?

    Put it in perspective and put your soapbox away. Just because you disagree with someone does not make the other person a bigot, racist, liberal, left winger, right wing nut, tea bagger, or Hitler reincarnate.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:29 am |
    • Ben

      Telling people their love is unnatural and needs to be cured is hate speech. Imagine telling a black person to be white.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Tom

      Wow! Thanks for the common sense (which, unfortunately, is way too uncommon these days, as evidenced by the incredibly ignorant comments that some people make).

      October 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • Allison

      Thank you for saying that. He did not call for hate or discrimination. The hoopla is simply about the TIMING of the speech, not what he said. What he said is nothing new for the Mormon church.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm |

      Bill, I am not of the Mormon Faith .... Still, I find your comments to succintly answer well all the idiocies some people will say if they disagree with Mr Parker comments to the Mormon faithful. I did not find it to be hateful or imflamatory. If gays or Lesbians dislike it is their prerrogative. No need for them or anybody else to be insulting to Mr Parker or the Mormon Faith.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • Liberal Take Over


      Or sort of what I said above... =-)

      October 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • Burstbubble

      You don't know what they do behind closed doors do you? Ever see the movie " Latterday"? It is a movie about a gay missionary where........... Well I won't ruin it for you......... the church has a private clinic to us electro shock therapy to get this gay elder to "change". Not many of the church people know about this, but check out the movie it is a great love story.......

      October 12, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • Gingerpeach

      lol behind closed doors? Have you been there? I think not! What you say is just plain stupid. If it's a movie does that make it the truth and the whole truth? If you believe that why don't you look at a movie the Church puts out and see the good in it? Would you believe that?

      October 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • Shawn

      Uh, has anyone that is criticizing this speech even listened to or read it? How in the world can you call that a hate speech? Right on Bill. I listened to it live and it was absolutely a message of love. Unfortunately the reaction is very predictable as there are so many people just biting at the bit to jump on the issue or the bandwagon before truly seeking to understand the true meaning of the message. And burstbubble, much love to ya. I can't tell if your post is sarcastic or not because its that outrageous. Don't know whether to laugh or cry for you, but the fact that anybody can believe that is unreal. Either way, much love to you.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
    • Barkingkitty

      I absolutely agree. It's not hate speech. It's pure and simple ignorance.

      October 14, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  19. Cher

    Or being born left-handed.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:29 am |
    • A pile of dung!

      Ambidextrous gets caught in the middle!

      October 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  20. SandyC

    The Mormons should be commended for taking a stance and sticking by it.
    Too many religions these days change their beliefs to conform to the most current poll. If people don't agree with the beliefs of the church, there is another church down the street they would probably be happy with.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:28 am |
    • Joe

      Umm... mormons DO change their beliefs based on cultural norms. Where have you been??? Polygamy, blacks in the priesthood, caffeine, etc, etc.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • redisgreat

      I don't see many religions changes to fit the times. Maybe some churches and congregations, but not religions.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • pete

      Wasn't polygamy(sp) taken out when they were told they wouldn't get statehood unless they changed?

      October 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • PIH

      Yeah, commend them for not changing their views. Remember when the catholic church the earth was flat. Or, that the earth was the center of the universe. Think of how much better off we would all be if religion would just stick to their guns.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • whiteram

      Mormons have changed their stances on many, many ideological areas, including smoking, drinking caffeinated soft drinks, polygamy, women, blacks, and the list goes on.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • Pat

      The Mormon church has a history of changing doctrine when it's politically convenient for them to do so. Examples: give up plural marriage to get Statehood; okay for blacks to hold the priesthood when the gov't threatens to withhold federal funds because of discrimination; okay for members to drink Coke after the church invests in Coca Cola.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Erik Northmann

      Spoken like the 'true blood' 1,000 year old viking vampire that you are. I am going to have to 'agree' with you...!

      October 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
    • AKI

      I find it ironic that a lot of the people (not all, from what I see) who are calling Mormons a hate group are the ones who are hating Mormons...it's a free country, with free religion, and as long as they don't hurt anybody they can believe what they want to.
      You don't have to respond to every little criticism that may apply to you. Just live your life the way you want to. That's what the pilgrims CAME here for.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • Frank

      As if Vikings were against religion. I don't think human sacrifices to Odin the All-Father are exactly atheistic or secular.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • js

      "change their beliefs to conform to the most current po"???? take a look at when they outlawed polygamy and why. and while your at it how long they continued to practice it after they decided it was a no no! Anyone who does an honest search into the founding of this religion and has common sense can see that this is nothing more than big business disguised as a church, as usual!

      October 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
    • YBP

      How about being happy with no church at all? How about thinking for ourselves? How about a little research? How about Science as a religion?

      October 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • TIna

      You are so right SandyC. I would prefer to go to that other church down the street. At least there, I know I am accepted for who I am and not as a discusting "imoral" exuse for a human being.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      "Too many religions have changed their beliefs"...... Really?! How about "Love one another as I have loved you." ~ John 15:12 from Jesus?! Its not that religions have 'changed' is that MANY of us CHOOSE NOT TO HATE.

      Many posting here that disagreement with Gays is unfairly labeled "hate"..... it is if you hate; it is if you judge and condemn a human being. Jesus tells us over and over in the Gospels "do not judge." Leave judgement up to God!

      October 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Markie

      Name one religion that changes it's beliefs. They all move glacially.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • John

      Or better yet Sandy, lets do away with all organized religion...after all it is the root of hatred and bigotry.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • nuser

      Hitler and Stalin took a stance.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Gabriel

      Not so. The Mormons used to think People of African descent were inferior to Whites and at first would not allow them in their church. They've changed their policy about blacks, polygamy and many other things to bring their church in line with the time. In essence the Mormon church makes things up as they go along. That is what their "Twelve Apostles" is all about.

      The Mormon church is as much a theocracy as any Muslim organization. The Mormons tried hard to make Utah a Theocratic state. It even raised a militia and fought the US Army over it. And guess what, they changed their way after that too.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • Leslie

      Just plain ignorance and predjudice!

      October 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Spike

      God… god, god… god...
      God, god, god… and... God...
      God, say’s, god will, god already has... Might, could and should,
      Has ANYBODY, asked God lately???
      I mean A LOT has changed in the last 2000 years!

      October 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Emma

      Actually Joseph Smith DID allow Black men to have the priesthood, see Elijah Abel. It's just that Brigham Young and others, didn't follow his example. I still am glad I am out of that Church.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
    • Ex-Morman

      LDS changed to become the State of Utah, but their scripture remains the same:

      Quote from "Doctrine and Covenants (D&C – a Mormon holy book): Section 132: 19 " And again, verily I say unto you...[man can become a god, small g not big G], 132:20: Then they shall be gods.. [if you follow my rules of plural marriage] Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them, 132:61: And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood-if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse a second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery"...

      Real nice huh? Current D &C preaches plural marriage and men (not women) get to become a god in the after-life (small g not big G).

      The LDS church of such a flawed doctrine cannot take the moral high-ground. Clean up D & C first.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Muslims also do not change their beliefs to suit the latest polls, cultural norms, etc. Let's commend them!

      October 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
    • John Dockum

      Didn't the mormons just make up their own religion to suit themselves in the beginning anyways? I read that part of history and it's a lot like those Texas ladies in prairie dresses that got their kids taken away from them.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • bobcat1a

      For the first thousand years of its history the Catholic Church had no problem with married priests. Then all of a sudden that became a problem so the church did a 180. Churches change their beliefs all the time just like the LDS has repeatedly.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
    • JustHuman51

      And Kim Jong Il takes a stand as do the Taliban and Al Queda. You wanna tip your hat to them too?

      October 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jason

      If the Mormon Church spent a fraction of the time and money helping victims of Polygamy that they've spent attacking gay people they could really change lives. Its disgusting!

      October 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • Kevin

      The KKK also seems to have a strong stance. They also say that their beliefs are based on Christian tradition. Should they be commended?

      October 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
    • Peter Rabbit

      Are you kidding?

      Mormons and other Corporate Religions need to have their tax exempt status taken away if they are going to continue interfering in laws of the land. Anyway what do they care, they "aren't of this world" anyway and have no stake in the outcome of our political process.

      October 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • lambu

      You are the most ill informed person. Mormon religion right from the days of Joseph Smith has been changing its positions on different subjects. Be it Saints getting messages from God, Polygamy, their treatment of Blacks.

      Have you ever read any News??

      October 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • Teflondc

      Get it right: polygamy was done away with because the federal government passed a law outlawing the practice. The Church will not violate the laws of the land.

      October 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • John

      I sure too, that with enough faith in reality and common sense Mormons can come to realize how silly the beliefs that they have adopted or were born into are, too. Likewise for the the other "faiths".

      October 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • Shawn

      Uh, has anyone that is criticizing this speech even listened to or read it? How in the world can you call that a hate speech? I listened to it live and it was absolutely a message of love. Unfortunately the reaction is very predictable as there are so many people just biting at the bit to jump on the issue or the bandwagon before truly seeking to understand the true meaning of the message.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
    • Matt

      Sounds to me like Church of Jesus Christ is teaching exactly what Jesus Christ taught........... Evil will always fight against good!

      Romans 1:26-29
      26For this cause God agave them up unto bvile caffections: for even their dwomen did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

      27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

      28And even as they did not like to aretain God in their knowledge, God bgave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

      29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, awickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

      30Backbiters, haters of God, bdespiteful, cproud, dboasters, inventors of evil things, edisobedient to parents,

      31Without aunderstanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

      32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • Keith

      Uh, OK. I wasn't aware that the Mormons are still sticking by their stance that polygamy is a moral practice. But I guess they are the ones to consult when it comes to defining what a healthy marriage is! NOT!
      Some old fart running around with a gaggle of women young enough to be his daughters. Yep, Mormons sure know what's what with marriage! Real bastions of morality here!

      October 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • AnAmerican

      Right on. I am still mad at the Catholic Church for folding on the flat earth issue just becuase some "scientists" say it is round. I am looking out my window, and, although I can't see Russia or, I can plainly see, by using common sense, that the earht is flat.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Buenlb

      It is true that the LDS church has changed doctrines in the past when it seemed politically convenient to do so. However if you take an honest look at their history you will also see that they spent a lot of their history refusing to change their believes regardless of pressures. After all, they were driven from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and finally all the way to a desert that many didn't even think was habitable at the time because they refused to change doctrines. Maybe you should consider the possibility that there is some consistency there you are missing.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • knn

      You're all wrong. There is a difference between belief and practice. The church has changed practice but not underlying belief. Blacks were never denied membership. Even when blacks were denied the priesthood, the church taught that all worthy persons can obtain exaltation. When Peter allowed the gospel to be preached to gentiles, you same mockers and scourners would have derided him too.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Susan Neb

      My God loves blacks and whites. He loves Asians, Indians, Africans, and Spanish. My God loves everyone, regardless of the color of their skin. I hardly think that God would frown upop a black man being in the priesthood. My God is not a racist God.

      October 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • sam

      Morman religion is nothing but a cult. Joseph Smith was the biggest con man of the era and Brigham Young was a mass murdering drifter. They believe the Garden of Eden is in Missouri and Joseph Smith had visions which were in reality dreams. I don't believe anything Mormans say. Look up the facts on this religion and you will see it is a CULT!

      October 15, 2010 at 8:41 am |
    • James

      First I don't think a person and/or an organization should be given credit for sticking to their guns when they are promoting intolerance of another group of people. Second the Mormons have changed their views many times. Go back around 40 years ago when they changed their stance toward the black community due to pressure from the civil rights moment and social climate of the time. That also means that the guy speaking who is 86 had no problem being part of a church that for many years discriminated against the black community. Lastly , I do want to live in a free country and believe people can say what they want. Which is why if you want to preach crazy intolerant things you shouldn't be surprised when people call you out for being crazy and intolerant.

      October 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
    • ajuadia

      your are essentially right, while many have highlighted doctrinal change in the church, the one thing that does not change and has not changed and will not change and the guiding principle that we all as Christians should follow is the bible, regardless of how one feels the bible condemns gays, and that's final, liked it hate it, loath it but it remains that.

      This post modernism talk that "we" should all accept change is all BS, human beings have reached this point because of laws, both civil and biblical and otherwise. we cant live with feelings.

      October 18, 2010 at 4:01 am |
    • Gordon McWhorter

      Educate yourself. http://www.ebershoff.com/pdfs/Wife_No_19_Ann_Eliza_Young.pdf

      October 18, 2010 at 5:01 am |
    • Mavent

      Mormons realize that God intended marriage to be between a man and twelve of his 13-year-old cousins.

      October 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
    • Gman

      It seems to me, that one of Christ's major rules was to treat everyone with love and understanding.

      Now, let's talk about the story of "Mountain Meadows" (Google it)

      October 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
    • Neko

      I'm sorry, I'm not "commending" anyone for picking a bigoted stance and sticking to it. I should praise them for remaining bigots longer than most? That's insane.

      October 27, 2010 at 9:19 am |
    • Hass

      @Joe The mormon church was founded around 1830, around 1839 state LAWS made polygamy illegal...not changed due to opinion, but due to law of the land.
      Blacks in the priesthood....the only reason why they weren't allowed wasn't because they couldn't do the job or because the church hated them, it was to protect them from harm. And as soon as the stigma was gone they were allowed into the priesthood.
      Caffeine....gimme a break, really?
      get your facts straight.

      November 9, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Hass

      @gman...mountain meadows massacre was due to a few factors...
      1. The founder of the mormon church had just been murdered along with a few other mormon prophets
      2. The heightened fear due to these murders in the church made the some of the militia perceive that we were at war.
      3. Misguided ranks in the militia at that point were in a way "headhunting"
      4. The Mormon church and its leaders were never found to be responsible for giving any orders whatsoever to massacre those people.

      Get your facts straight, and don't be such an alarmist, the Mormon church isn't some witch hunting party or whatever it is that you are poorly attempting to make them out to be.

      November 9, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • Hass

      @Gordon McWhorter

      Educate yourself sir....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Eliza_Young

      I found the parts about her three failed marriages and her suckering money out of the later 2 the most interesting....a real stand up person that I'm sure spewed nothing but truth out of her mouth at all times! or not so much.

      Get your facts straight. Don't believe everything that you read just because its an old book doesn't mean its fact! lol This woman was bitter...and more than likely was a complete lier just looking to make a buck off the mormon haters of the time!

      November 9, 2010 at 11:18 am |
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About this blog

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.