Elder Holland, consequences, and cruelty

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 And then there was the Exclusion Policy in 2015 (later rescinded, at least officially) which required that anyone entering into a same-sex marriage be excommunicated and also barred their children from blessings and baptism.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.”


Raised Mormon in the American South. Grateful to have left the Church, grateful for many things it taught me

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7 Responses

  1. Monya Baker says:

    I see some Church members and former Church members doing beautiful things. Mama Dragons comes to mind. (See: https://www.mamadragons.org/parachute) I do not see Church leaders taking any responsibility for tragedies of their own making.
    Holland has had a very long time to think about consequences. He was due to speak at the stake center in Palo Alto, California in 2000 where Stuart Matis, a gay Mormon, shot himself. Matis endured more than a decade of self-hatred, and was tortured by the Church’s activism advocating Proposition 22, which would have kept the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. According to Deseret News, Matis’s suicide note did not mention the measure but did hope that his death would be the “catalyst” for some good. (See: https://www.deseret.com/2000/3/3/19555219/gay-lds-man-leaves-suicide-note-behind) That thoughtful man and gifted writer should be in his 50s today.

  2. Donna Banta says:

    Also Holland went out of his way to attack a BYU valedictorian who came out from the podium in 2019. That angle is summarized well on this Facebook post from Latter Gay Stories: https://www.facebook.com/LatterGayStories/posts/4501206709932508

  3. Donna Banta says:

    In his address, Holland declares: “unequivocally my love and that of my Brethren for those who live with this same-sex challenge and so much complexity that goes with it.”

    How, exactly, is being gay complex or challenging?

  4. Johnny Townsend says:

    The comment from Holland, “I have focused on this same-sex topic this morning more than I would have liked,” sums it up pretty well. “You unpleasant people and your allies are such a bother. I have IMPORTANT things to do.”

  5. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    I do not understand the why. Was Holland required to appease a donor? I would ask the former University president, how did a school with aspirations to be the Harvard of the west, end up the Bob Jones of the Rockies?

  6. Donna Banta says:

    @Suzanne–why indeed! The donor theory is as good a guess as any, I think. BYU had just rolled out its Office of Belonging (nicknamed BOOB on social media, lol). So maybe this was to massage the message for certain VIP’s? It seems Church PR is always trying to keep several plates spinning in the air for its varying audiences: the members, the press, the greater religious community, and mainstream society.

    Spot on comparison to Bob Jones. 🙂

  1. July 23, 2022


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