The Mormon church has launched a new campaign encouraging its members to be more compassionate toward the LGBT community.
On Thursday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched the websitemormonsandgays.com, in which it calls for Mormons of all stripes to "love one another."
As Buzzfeed notes, the new campaign reflects an "evolution from [the church's] past teachings" as it asserts that sexuality is not a personal choice.
An official statement posted on the new website reads:
The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
CNN reports that the website's launch appears to support the belief held by some gay-marriage activists that the LDS church is "toning down its opposition to same-sex marriage."
However, as the Associated Press notes, church leaders still insist that "they aren't changing the Mormon teaching that same-sex relationships are sinful."
Still, church leaders say they hope the new resource will foster a greater "understanding of homosexuality among Mormons and a more civil conversation about the issue."
Church spokesman Michael Purdy told the Deseret News that the site is also part of an effort by the Mormon church “to teach and clarify" thechurch's position on homosexuality.
"There are some aspects of our belief and practice that are simply not well understood," Purdy said. "Too often these types of big, important issues are dealt with in sound bites, and often by individuals who do not have the complete picture of what the church is doing."
Think Progress' Zack Ford had this to say about the new campaign:
[T]hese improvements over blatant ostracization and condemnation could very well save the lives of many young people and help keep families together. However, with this approach, the Mormon Church has essentially only caught up to the “hate the sin, not the sinner” approaches of the Catholic Church and many evangelical Christians, which are still incredibly problematic.
In 2008, Mormons faced "intense criticism" after church authorities offered vocal support and funding for California's Propositon 8, a ballot measure that called for a ban on gay marriage.
The backlash was swift -- and church leaders say they were "stunned" by the negative response. Since then, the Associated Press writes, the church has been actively reaching out to the LGBT community "to heal tensions."
Meanwhile, the American public has seemed to have grown "more sympathetic toward same-sex marriage," Buzzfeed notes. According to USA Today, a Gallup poll published this week revealed that more than half of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Thousands of people protested against the passage of California's Proposition 8 outside the world headquarters of Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on November 7, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The protesters were marching against the Mormon church's support for the ballot measure. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
"While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We 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 reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.
This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help. Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment - to love one another.
As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: 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. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.
Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.
The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.
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." MORE HERE
This new move by the Mormons is in stark contrast to our religious groups here chief among them is the aforementioned JCHS and the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship who spend more time and indeed loads of money on getting infront of persons personal decisions about their bodies and orientation which they only see a "lifestyle"
By the way, their very tag line is blatantly espousing theocracy: "Working for a Jamaican society in which Judeo-Christian values nourish and enrich the social, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health of all citizens."