On Monday Aug 23, the President of BYU announced an “office of belonging” to “combat prejudice of any kind.” Sexual orientation was specifically mentioned.
That same day, Jeffrey Holland, former president of BYU and member of the Quorum of the Twelve, denounced “flag-waving” and “parade-holding” around “this same-sex challenge.”
He warned that there are “consequences” when BYU faculty aren’t sufficiently supportive of Church leaders. Someone might lose their faith!
What about the consequence of people who have taken their lives? Utah ranks consistently among the top ten states for suicide risk, with LGBTQ+ people at particular risk. There’s even a Utah-specific plan to reduce suicide.
But let’s consider the consequences that Holland seems to care about. One of the biggest steps in losing my faith was realizing the Church taught the wrong things about same-gender love. (This was even before the Family Proclamation.) More people left as the Church fought against marriage-equality, the Knight Initiative, California’s Proposition 8. And then there was the Exclusion Policy in 2015 (later rescinded, at least officially) which required that anyone entering into a same-sex marriage be excommunicated and also barred their children from blessings and baptism.
Holland went out of his way to attack a BYU valedictorian who came out from the podium in 2019 (with the college’s approval). That angle is summarized well on this Facebook post from Latter Gay Stories.
Soon enough, Holland makes clear that what really matters to him is not supporting vulnerable people in pain but demonstrating loyalty to the leaders of the Church. “I have focused on this same-sex topic this morning more than I would have liked, I pray you will see it as emblematic of a lot of issues.”
Holland also makes a spectacular attempt at gaslighting: “Too often the world has been unkind, in many instances crushingly cruel, to these our brothers and sisters.”
I could not stop myself from thinking how much more accurate that statement would be were “the world” replaced with “the Church.”