Just in time for Pride Month, a General Authority emeritus has published an article in The Church News declaiming the social safety nets because governments must ensure wickedness never was happiness.
Well, not in so many words, but it has all the unloving, racist, outdated implications you’d expect. Tad Callister says that same-sex marriage is a full-frontal attack on families; social programs are self-defeating. Such polices embrace “worldly solutions that nurture rather than nullify existing issues of immorality.” And he singles out “colonists” as valuing strong families, specifically “English, Scotch-Irish, Dutch, French, German and so on.” (Is he trolling people? Is it satire? I think not.)
As someone who left the Church decades ago, I see reasons to hope. Why? People are pushing back. I pasted the article’s url into Twitter and tallied the first 20 tweets that came up: 11 con, 9 pro. If I simply search Twitter for “Callister” (which enriches for those who don’t want to promote the article), all con. My favorite? “don’t understand how someone who believes in the same scriptures as me could write this,” from @znoyce. That’s certainly not the adulation someone like Callister might expect.
Most criticism seems to be coming from active members. A vanguard of faithful LDS millennials is openly hoping that the Church will change to become more accepting of LGBQT+ and denounce its racist past.
It’s a painful place to be; read this cri du coeur:
The most powerful Church authorities are not holding themselves accountable for hurting queer children, for abandoning our vulnerable, destroying their families or for discrimination, as when black parents couldn’t baptize their own children. So why would individual members?
Standing against hate within the Church is this increasingly visible army of compassionate faithful. They see beyond a binary choice of leaving or complying. They are calling for the Church to change. They are speaking aloud the pain the Church and its members cause, and it’s inspiring. (I’m not sure the Church is worthy of their love or heartbreak, but that’s not my call.)
Efforts to change the Church from within aren’t new; nor are stories about the pain the Church has caused. I remember 1990s Sunstone articles calling on women to have the Priesthood. Carol Lynn Pearson was a best-selling author in the 1980s. I admit, I haven’t paid much attention since the pre-Twitter days of Prop 8, when the Church battled marriage equality in California.
But the energy now feels more vibrant. In March, BYU students lit up the Y in rainbow! I see young people being told that they don’t belong, standing up and saying that they do. I see Twitter tags like BYU GAY SAYS BLACK LIVES MATTER (@BYUhasLGBTs), and it comforts my soul in a way I didn’t realize I needed.
I have no desire to rejoin this faith—I no longer believe in its literal truth. But efforts of the compassionate faithful hearten me. (That said, I hope compassionate LDS realize that they can lead happy, productive, worthwhile lives outside the Church if it stops being the right place for them.)
Somehow, their righteous efforts make my own separation less painful, and I want to say thank you.
PS: Another silver lining? I’ve found more cool people to follow on Twitter.