On Thursday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added new guidelines to its church policy outlining the treatment of same-sex couples and their children. According to the Washington Post, the Mormon Church will no longer baptize children living in same-sex households and will now consider those in same-sex marriages “apostates.”
In a statement to the Post, church spokesperson Eric Hawkins said:
“Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the church in many varied circumstances throughout the world. The church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages. While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”
Prior to Thursday’s decision, the Church treated LGTBQ members as in need of “discipline,” a standard word for religious organizations who acknowledge that a member is participating in sin and in need of correction. The shift, however, to treating those in same-sex marriage as “apostates” is seismic. It essentially means that same-sex couples could be excommunicated from the Mormon Church.
In addition to classifying same-sex couples as “apostates,” the church’s new policy bars children of those couples—either adopted or biological—from being baptized, confirmed, ordained and participating in mission service without the permission of church leaders. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
“To get that permission, the policy states that a request must be made through a mission president or a regional church leader, and only after two requirements are met. Those requirements are that a child is committed to living church doctrine and ‘specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage,’ is 18 ‘and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.’”
Most Mormon children are baptized at the age of eight (which the church marks as the age of understanding right from wrong) and, according to the faith, the rite is an essential component of salvation. The church’s new policies essentially bar both same-sex couples and their children from the Mormon community as well as entrance into heaven.
Dehlin points out that the new policy puts same-sex marriage “on par with murder, rape, sexual abuse, spouse abuse.” But, as Dehlin notes, children of murders and rapist can still be baptized. “This is crazy even by Mormon standards,” he wrote.
Image via AP.