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. Descarado

    Oh my!!!! An "outcry!" Shouldn't CNN be calling Harry Reid on this one???? Or would that be just a little too inconvenient for CNN's agenda?

    October 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  2. Allen

    I really wish Mormons would stop calling themselves Christians. According to Mormon doctrine, Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism) found a tribe of christ-worshipping indians who gave him new Commandments. Later on, he was given a whole new set of Commandments and now we have the Book of Mormon.

    All Christians secs have one holy book, the Bible. Mormon's also have the book of Mormon. Hence, its not the same religion. Same god sure, but then again Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same god. Still doesn't make them all "Christians." Muslims believe in the word of the Qur'an, Christians the Bible, Jews the Torah. Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon, and use the Bible almost a reference book.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • chainsaw

      Try to take the time to understand religions before you comment on them. The term Christian refers to a general belief that Christ is the savior, thus a person holding that belief is a Christian. Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, etc, hold this belief and so are generally called Christians. Some Christian faiths feels they are more Christian than others but that is a different issue. Jewish people may or may not believe Jesus existed as a person or as a teacher but they do not accept him as the Savior or Messiah and are thus not Christian. Muslims generally accept Jesus as a teacher, but again not the Savior so they too are not Christians. All of them believe in a single God and that is the God of Abraham. Not saying the religions are justified or correct in their beliefs but at least take the time to understand the basics before commenting.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Monson

      Just so you know, Judaism and Christianity worship the same God, but Islam and Christianity do not. That's a big topic and just a footnote, they worship a different God.

      October 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • Kira

      Allen, you are misinformed about the origins of the Mormon church, as well as it's regard for the Bible. There was no tribe of Christ-worshiping indians who gave Joseph Smith commandments- that is so far off it's laughable. Before you act like you are informed, you should do a little research. Mormons absolutely believe the Bible to be scripture- from God. We just also believe the Book of Mormon to be scripture from God. Most Christians have 2 books: The Old Testament, and the New Testament. Mormons also believe in The Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as Another Testament (Book of Mormon). The Bible is far more than a "reference" to us. To us, the Book of Mormon and Bible are companion scripture, both intended to help us learn more about Christ, his teachings, and his love for all people.

      October 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  3. McJesus

    Don't even try to face-off against a Mormon(tm). They are protected by MAGICAL UNDERWEAR! It creates an invisible force-field which protects them from heathens, evil, and blaster fire (laser guns).

    October 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • James

      I think you statement hit the idiots on the head ! Thank-you

      October 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  4. stacey

    I have a Mormon friend who went to church one Sunday. During the announcements at the end of the service, the church leaders reminded everyone to vote yes on Prop 8. One of the church members yelled out, "GAYS ARE GONNA BURN!" and the entire congregation began clapping. This is the type of hatred these Mormon leaders are creating. It is beyond dangerous.

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

      How false is this statement, because clapping is not allowed in any Mormon ceremony! Pure Lies... Either you are a liar or your friend is!

      October 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • stacey

      You sound angry, kind of like the guy who made the outburst....just sayin

      October 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm |

      Absolute LIE! They are not a htaeful bunch, outburst do NOT happen, and applauding in church is not considered reverent. I too am calling you a liar. Thanks for the inciteful disinformation.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • Gary (Member) Newman


      I dought this, I have been a member for over 40 years and have never seen such a thing. They do remind people to vote but not what to vote for. The bishop in charge of this ward would not be in good standing if he allowed this to happen. I find this very hard to believe. I have never seen such a thing. There was a letter written from the first Presidency when prop 8 was out but it told no one how to vote. I believe this to be a complete falsehood.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  5. Concerned

    Whoever responds via these comments and also calls themselves a Christian should be REMINDED that the Bible states very clearly in Leviticus 20:13, Deuteronomy 22:5, Romans 1:25-26, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-7.1that gay behaviour is "detestable", "an abomination", "unaturatual", and "immoral", respectively. Is there anything not clear about that?

    We Christians hate the sin but NOT the person.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • js007

      Really, so banning gay people from getting married is just hating the sin (even though being gay is not a sin, and they did not "choose" to be gay)? It doesn't affect them personally? Leviticus was written by a bunch of old dinosaurs just like Packer back when people thought the Earth was 6000 years old. I suppose you also want to murder people for committing adultery just like they do in Iran?

      October 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • Randolph Carter

      The bible is fiction, dumba$$. Have a nice day!

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

      My message was for Christians, and unfortunately non-Christians simply wont "get it". However, to answer your question, no, I do not wnat anyone to get hurt, die or go to hell. This is what being a Christian is all about, and this is why we say "no – ew won't support your cause" to people who practice and condone sinnful behaviour.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  6. Mike

    Boyd packer's comments must be kept in perspective: he is an 86 year old with a warped, stale and un-Christ-like view of the world. Who cares what he thinks. He's a sad, broken man.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • chad

      I'd encourage you to look a little into President Packer's life. You will quickly realize the error in your comments. This man has dedicated thousands and thousands of unpaid hours giving whole-hearted service to others. DECADES OF SERVICE. Other old men are out playing golf. He is traveling around the world giving to others.

      Come on man, you gotta have a heart. I CHALLENGE you to look into his life. I DARE YOU.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • Human Being

      He is a good man who has spent his life in the service of others. I get that you think that his years of life experience and wisdom might threaten your life choices but he has lived a good life and I do think he has earned the right to say the things he feels he needs to say. Just like you have the right to not listen and belittle him for one comment in a 15 minute talk. I would caution you not to dis a person for one moment without taking into account the entire picture. It might be a shame if people did that to you.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Mike D.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has dealt with the full spectrum of criticism, persecution, misconstrued interpretations, uninformed nonsense, and a host of other challenges during its 180 year history, and it fully expects that such will continue and get worse as time goes on. The Church has continued to grow in large part because of the good it does in the world (it's humanitarian effort across the globe is unparalleled), and because those who hold a conviction of its truth have arrived at that conclusion on their own. However, the purpose of the religion and its doctrine is not to change with the times in order to placate the critics who think everyone should agree with them. The Church respects the right of all people to choose to live their lives as they please. That is a fundamental, God-given right. However, that right to choose doesn't mean that any choice a person makes is right. We believe there is a divne and eternal purpose for families, which includes marriage between a man and woman, and rearing children according to the doctrines and principles revealed by God to His prophets. The choice to live a gay lifestyle is inconsistent with this doctrine. It doesn't mean that we persecute individuals or groups who choose otherwise. However, the purpose of the Church is to state the doctrine. The BGLT community has been pushing to change societal norms by requiring all people to accept their lifestyle choice as normal. The Church can only respond by reaffirming its basic doctrines. I have no problem with individuals choosing to be gay or lesbian, and I can treat them with respect, but I cannot accept their choice as right. That's the way it is.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • js007

      @ Mike D: Science says that being gay is NOT a choice – this is the whole problem. Pretending that these people have chosen to be gay makes it easier to demonize them but you are just lying to yourself. Of course, Mormons apparently don't care about science; just believing whatever pleases you is so much easier.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      @js007: Show me please even ONE instance where the leaders of the LDS chruch have "demonized" someone for being gay. Keep looking, you wont find it. They have repeatedly re-iterated their love for those who are living this lifestyle. They have every right to say that it is wrong, but they haven't "demonized" anyone. Please get your facts straight before posting nonsense.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • Mike D.

      Many claims have been made in the name of Science (almost as many as religion!), but I suspect a debate on this subject could go on forever and never be resolved. I don't disagree that some people will demonize other because of their beliefs, and that is unfortunate and unacceptable. I can only speak for myself. I don't demonize or hate anyone who chooses to be gay or lesbian, but I cannot accept that choice as right. You have to realize that there is a difference between hating the person or group, and disagreeing with their choices.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Nick

      The LDS church is a cult. It was founded by an attention hungry, lying polygamist. An angel told Joseph Smith where to find some gold tablets under a rock and only he could transcribe them. What a crock of BS.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Mike D.

      You're mixing fact with fiction. Yes, Joseph Smith was a polygamist, and yes he was visited by an angel and given a charge to translate the gold plates. And that was just the beginning. The church founded by Joseph Smith has continued to grow and flourish, and bless the lives of literally millions of people. The evidence of this stands on its own. The accusations of cult behavior and other nonsense are really quite pathetic in comparison. The church will continue to grow, to do good in this world, and to be a beacon of light for those who yearn to comprehend mankind's true purpose and potential.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  8. Phil

    Once you free yourself from the constraints of orginazed religion, you no longer care what those people think.

    Sure what the old guy said was dumb, but the fact that a gay man actually cared about what he said is dumb too.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Mike D.

      The day we stop caring about anything is the day all things lose purpose and meaning. Sorry, but I choose to care, and to stand up for the things I care about, while being respectful of others and the things they care about. Religion extends the purpose of this life beyond this life, which is why these issues are so important.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  9. Sher

    This old man's time has come and gone. We are witnessing the last days of discrimination against gays. That is why it is becoming so angry and overwraught because these narrow minded, ego driven folks know they have lost their hold on Americans. As Americans we need to keep God out of this discussion. Those religions that can't handle the fact that someone is gay need to keep it to themselves, keep it within their religious group, don't make everyone else follow their rules. As a society we really need to get past this so we can get to our real issues of 2010.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • Human Being

      In EVERY instance when it has been put to a vote, gay marriage has been defeated. I'm sorry but this man's time is now. You are trying to push your views on me and force me to accept things I don't agree with. Isn't that what you are railing against this man for? Let the church believe what they want and let the people have what they want. But that makes it so you can't have what you want, so you keep going until you get what you want, regardless of the moral majority.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  10. Jerry

    Science has proven conclusively that gays are BORN gay! If you would like to learn about it all you have to do is read up on the Human Genome Project which was completed years ago. The research found the "gay" gene which is transfered to offspring via your genes. This article shows the complete ignorance of the Mormon church and its lack of education in the sciences. Education is the the key to obliterate bigotry.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • Mike

      You have no idea what you are talking about. Please come with facts if you are going to talk about science. What you have said is absolutely not true. There has been no 'gay gene" found by science. If there had this story would never have happened. Get it together.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  11. Gary (Member) Newman

    I am a member, and believe President Packer’s words to be true. I don't understand why people only think freedom of speech works one way. As long as you agree with me you are ok. When Ethington said, “There are consequences for hate speech". What does he mean to threaten? President Parker did not threaten anyone. Nor did he hate anyone. He merely stated what he believes to be true. If you don’t like what he says don’t listen. What is the problem? Does everyone have to conform to someone else’s ideas? Does the whole world have to think the same way? Its seems that most of these people claim an open mind as long as you agree with them if you don’t agree with them you are a hate monger. Why can’t we disagree with this live style, why can’t we as a church speak our minds! President Packer did nothing wrong, it’s that simple.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • Flagguy

      How ironic, you say that there's a double standard in regards to freedom of speech, and that people should respect his views without speaking out. Not your exact words, but your intent is clear here. Yes, he has the right to say what he wants, when he wants. People have the right to protest that he said it.

      Every right has a responsibility attached. Some feel that his responsibility was to temper his inflammatory words. Others feel it was his responsibility to speak what they feel is the truth. He has to realize that his remarks would cause an uproar, which he obviously did as he changed his words in the transcripts, and accept that people will speak out against him.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Gary (Member) Newman


      Did you listen to him say these things? He is a very old man, he is not yelling, not trying to make anyone feel anything. He is stating what he believes to be fact. The purpose of General Conference is for the church to speak out on any topic that it chooses. If you looked you would see talks on being a good person, reading your scriptures, being prepared for bad time, and many other topics. There is a totally of 5 sessions which most people attend. Two hours each that is almost 8 to 9 hours of talks. To take one or two lines from all that and have this kind of problem with is absurd. This is one small talk not directed at anyone except members. Blown-up by the media and others to make more of it then it once was. It’s still a mole hill no matter how you look at it. If you are offended by his words it may not be the sender with the problem. He is enlightening the ground that some people choose to stand on. Now rip my words apart again, which is what I think people are enjoying here.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • Brandon

      Gary, I totally agree that people choose to react and are not forced to watch or listen to these types of things, except that there are peple who are. I believe people should have free speech, but I hope you would agree that the mind of a child is fragile, or else we wouldn't fight so intensely to protect it from undesirable images and speech, there are going to be children whos lives aret forever changed from this one conference, some might even die because of it. I believe these conferences are good because of the community and general good feeling they create, but they do have an effect, and sometimes that effect is not always good.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  12. Susan

    why should we walk on eggshells about what we believe? Suicide is a choice that people have made. Those deaths are not the responsibility of someone else because of comments they made. Stop penalizing people for using their right to free speech. Suicide is a sad thing but was still their personal choice!

    October 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • Nick

      You are a dumb b**ch, plain and simple.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Supermom

      Why would you say such a mean and hurtful thing? She was not advocating suicide just stating that it was a personal (yet hopefully preventable) choice. Why do you jump right to hateful name calling?

      October 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • Postal

      How would anyone know that such an act was in response to a speech given somewhere? Does that mean that for every suicide out there we have to dig through the media to find out what "triggered" it? It's a sad thing. I have had friends and neighbors go through that act, and it was not something that came up "spur of the moment" or because of something "somebody said." It was a long, drawn out process that took a lot of time and a lot of hurt and frustration.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  13. JohninTampa

    Mr. Packer, Why WOULD God, if there is a God, do anything in particular to anyone? There is absolutely no limit to the range of things that happen to people–including some are gay by nature–so the real question is–if God exists at all–is God involved at all? If God IS doing all these things then God is at least as much evil as good, and we are as well off without as with.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • L in Seattle

      Everyone in the world has challenges and difficulties to face. Would you ever learn anything or be able to appreciate the good things if nothing bad ever happened or you never had to face a single challenge? Would you have learned anything in school if your parents had written all your papers, done all your homework, and taken all your tests for you?

      God is not trying to mess up your life, or be mean, or spoil your good time or bring you down. It's a part of life to learn how to deal with those difficulties, and He will help you get through them if you ask.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • Postal

      God never claims to run your life or control your life. He simply states that he will help you through your life. Life is imperfect. It is mortal. It is subject to disease, injury, and imperfection because of its mortal condition. He simply gives us guidelines (laws and rules) that we should follow in order to take us down a path that He has prepared. He gives everyone a choice, and explains what the outcome of choosing one way or another may be. He holds each person accountable up to their ability to follow what He says. In the end, only He knows our physical, mental, emotional, and other weaknesses and strengths, and we will be judged according to how we behave – our efforts – in the end. In other words, Jesus said "come follow me" and "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Actually, in Matthew 5:48 he gave us the commandment "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Hmmm...pretty big commandment. Do we fail if we don't live up to that commandment? No. If we TRY to live up to it, and TRY to follow his counsel then a way has been provided to make up the difference. He also commanded his Apostles and followers to go out and teach people about it. The fact that people don't listen at times, or people don't like what they said (and even killed some of them over it) didn't mean that what they said was wrong. Only that some people found offense in it.
      If you don't believe in Jesus or God, then none of this should matter to you, since nobody is obligated to "follow" that counsel in the first place. But we are asked to make choices, and the choices we are asked to make aren't necessarily based on "public opinion."

      October 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  14. Berealorbegone

    I think those who said that this clown used free speach and stood for what he believed are foolong themselves. Why would he have edited his spoken comments when they were posted. That strange cult, claiming to be a church would be funny, if it were not so powerful and rich. If someone today claims to be talking to god with visions, they get put in a padded room with a nice coat with straps on it. That cult has stood for hate and ignorance for its entire existance. Just because a bunch of old fools say they talk to God (crazy people say this!) doesnt mean they know anything at all about Gods will. I hope that cult collapses under the weight of there own hate. Jesus would be livid about the hate filled rhetoric that this cult and actuall churches use regularly about those they disagree with. He was all about compassion, understanding, and above all LOVE! Get a grip zealots, this country was founded on FREEDOM, and though it has been slow, we have been systematicaly advancing past bigotry and hate filled beliefs

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

      Oh...that's easy. You see, even when we say things that we feel, other people can really twist them and distort them way out of context. When that happens, people may feel the need to restate it to clear up the context that people sought so hard to twist and distort.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  15. ivory67

    Only God knows if people are born gay or not... but we do control whether or not we act on it. People are born with all sorts of sinful tendencies. Try self-control.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      So you believe your god would want gay people to live a life unloved and alone? what a nasty piece of work he is.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Supermom

      Cedar Rapids,
      Why do you think that they would live unloved and alone? I have many Gay and Lesbian friends (some who do not act upon their tendencies and others who do) and they are neither unloved or alone. God loves us all enough to let us make our own choice – both good and bad. He sent his Son to die for us so that we might be able, through His sacrifice, to repent and overcome the bad choices and learn. No one is ever alone that has faith and friends.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  16. cj

    It has been interesting reading the comments. I am a Mormon, and I would like to simply say that I have gay and lesbian friends, and I love them, and I celebrate the fact that they have agency to choose. Just because I don't support that lifestyle, doesn't mean I don't love and support their life. It's cool that we all can believe what we want. President Packer's speech was given with the intent to help those who are looking for answers. If you don't believe he is an Apostle, then that's ok, just smile and move on. But there are millions of people who learn and take this council. The gay community that I know laughs about people throwing a fit over one man's council. Sticks and stones I guess.

    I think it is so funny that people still think Mormons practice polygamy! Ahhhh comedic relief. Yep, there are a ton of radicals who claim to be a "reorganized Mormon", and do live in the mountains, churning butter, and marrying like crazy! Nonetheless,....different group. Long story short! Believe what you want, let others believe what they want! If you don't like what someone is saying....just move along and love.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Something to think about

      I agree!! But the funnier thing about people bringing up polygamy is they also bring it up in a negative light! And althought I don't agree with it... don't polygamists have just as much right as gay people to be consenting adult and living the life style they want. I think it is very funny for gay people to bash polygamists so funny.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • chad

      HAHAHAH!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT REPLY!!! This is probably the funniest part of the whole thing! People, who claim to try and FIGHT AND PROTECT MARITAL RIGHTS....yet they rip on people who want to marry more than one person. Even though Mormons don't do this....I'm surprised how many in the gay community use Polygamy as a POINT OF ARGUMENT! haha! How hypocritical.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Burstbubble

      In your scriptures it says something along the lines of .......that grievous wolfs shall enter in among the flock dresses as sheep" ..... my question is when are you going to step in? It was a warning about the church getting infested by bad people. Jesus taught about love and compassion. When is the church going to stop the shame basing stuff they do?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Ron

    I feel sorry for those of you who do not believe in God. What a dark, meaningless, depressing feeling to think that when you die, that is it. This Earth is not the end. You'd know it if you prayed ONe time and asked for truth. I dare you.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Maybe


      Many (if not most) non-believers were at one time believers and prayed lots and lots - no one is out there... sorry.

      It's a shame that reality depresses you, and I suppose that if your myth and fantasy gets you through the night, it's okay; but just don't preach that it is Truth and that dire consequences ensue for those who disbelieve it.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'What a dark, meaningless, depressing feeling to think that when you die, that is it'
      meh, it is what it is, nothing we can do to change that. I am sorry that you need a fairy tale to help you cope with the fear of death though.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Kevin

      Nothing you said bothers me. I was dead before I was alive, and in dying I will once again be as I was. Atheism is difficult to grasp because the mind has no way of knowing of a state without itself.

      Once you clear the philosophical hurdles you'll probably think the same. Or you'll die before you get there. Either way, you're doomed to the same eternity as I and the rest of all living things are subject to.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • LDSRevelations

      Don't believe everything you hear in General Conference there, buddy. Just because people do not believe as you do does not mean that there existence is dark and meaningless. It is also a false notion that all non-believers are selfish and 'morally' depraved. There are good people with fulfilling lives in and out religion— and vice versa.

      I'll pass on your dare... this time. I was raised LDS, seminary, served a mission, temple marriage, callings etc. and I've already taken "the dare"— only to eventually learn the real history and roots Mormonism. Surprise. It's completely different religion than the pablum that it has evolved into— and clearly feelings are not a good way to determine the truth claims of Mormonism. The actual evidence will trump them every time.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Ron Hicks

      Don’t – Is us nonbelievers who feel sorry for the blatant ignorance of people like you and your needs for a belief in fairy tales and imaginary friends – Now that’s a sad ass existence right there if ever I saw one...

      October 13, 2010 at 1:09 am |
    • Alienative


      So you KNOW that no one is out there... oh, well, that settles it, thank you for going "out there" and checking that for us. Moron!

      October 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  18. Bob

    I personally believe that the Seventh-Day Adventist Church is a cult too. They've got a "modern day" prophet, the movement they came out of predicted the exact date of the return of Christ (that didn't work out), and the whole thing is run like a business – a dirty one. As a Christian, I'm tired of these churches – whether it be LDS, SDA or otherwise – posing as legitimate Christian denominations. They are CULTS!

    October 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  19. Burstbubble

    Boyd K. Packer's speech/ " talk" was reprinted and edited, to simply clarify his intent". What a load of bs. It sounds like a bunch of wiggle room to me. They, the leaders, have moved into the dark and the members aren't holding them accountable.
    This is not teaching love. The is teaching fear and shame. I would pretty much say that is the devil's work. Shame on the Mormon church!!

    October 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  20. Friend of a Mormon

    Hey, one of the few major religions founded by channeling. I have a friend who is a converted to Mormon. She is severely mentally ill. The last month has been one of paranoid and psychotic phone calls from her. Although she has medical care, she has been relying on the church ladies for shelter. They have taken her meds away telling her to pray for salvation instead. They've played upon her paranoia and her illness. I watch what I say, or they'll take her phone away too. Mormonism, at least what I've seen in the last month, is populated by oppressive nut cases. If I had lots of money, I'd go to Texas and rescue her. But I don't, so I can't...the most I can do, ironically is pray for her well being.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Mark in California

      Took away her meds and told her to pray for salvation instead"? LIAR! Mormons do NOT subsitute prayer for medicine. I think that's the J. Witnesses your looking to bash. Get your facts straight before you make up stories! LOL!

      October 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Mike

      You should not be putting this on CNN you should be calling the police. I am a Mormon, and that is abuse. Call them soon.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • Midwest Girl

      JW's dont avoid medical care in favor of praying for Gods cure...not sure but I think your referring to Christian Scientists. They are the ones who believe in praying for health over medical care.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • mnmcv1

      Mark in California- I think you are confused as well- Jehovah's Witnesses do not encourage praying for "salvation" over medicine. You must be thinking of Christian Science. You should practice what you preach and check your facts before you start bashing others...

      October 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • L in Seattle

      If she's paranoid and psychotic, how do you know she is accurate in what she is telling you? She may be delusional or hallucinating. It's a sad result of some forms of mental illness. If you can't travel there yourself, call Social Services in Texas and ask them to check on her.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
    • Midwest Girl

      All religions will have their own belief systems. When it becomes a problem is when they use their influence to try to impose their beliefs upon others through political or governmental means...the very thing the founders of this country fought against. If your going to beleive in the Bible, even Jesus himself avoided the political groups of his time calling Gods kingdom "no part of this world. Religion in involved in politics and commercialism, was also called the "Great Harlot" in the book of Revelation, was prophesied to be destroyed.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
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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.