Monday, October 4, 2010

Protesting Packer's comments

LGBT Community to Protest Packer's Speech
HRC to Mormon Apostle: Your Statements Are Inaccurate and Dangerous

This certainly isn't the first time that people have protested LDS statements or actions around homosexuality. (I participated in one myself some years back when I lived in Salt Lake, joining other mostly silent protesters standing outside Temple Square during General Conference.) But with the caveat that what I'm about to say reflects perceptions that need to be corroborated by research, the rapidly organized protests in response to Packer's General Conference address strike me as representing something new in the history of the Mormon politics of homosexuality. For one thing, I can't think of a situation where people organized so quickly in response to a specific address. For another, I can't recall off the top of my head a time when a national organization like the HRC weighed in on a LDS sermon.

Here's an adaptation of a familiar parable (D&C 101:81-84; cf. Luke 18:1-5) that reflects, at the moment, my feeling about these protests:

There was in a certain city a small group of self-selected, middle-aged to elderly religious leaders who were highly confident that they understood God's will regarding same-sex relationships. They were men who feared only God and had no regard for the contrary opinions of mere mortals.

There was in that same city a number of people—some gay or lesbian, some straight—who were dismayed by what they saw as the insensitivity and prejudice of the religious leaders' pronouncements.

At first they wrote private letters to the religious leaders, courteously and deferentially worded, expressing their dismay and sharing personal stories of pain and heartache that they hoped might move the leaders to empathy.

Then they began to voice their heartache and dismay more publicly at quiet events such as vigils—still avoiding anything that might be construed as an attack on the religious leaders.

Then they wrote petitions calling for reconciliation and healing, and delivered them to church headquarters, carrying carnations and singing hymns about loving one another. The religious leaders didn't read the petitions, of course, but they sent public relations officers to meet the petitioners at the door, smiling politely for the news cameras.

Then the petitioners organized loud, angry protests outside church headquarters and enlisted the help of national LGBT organizations to publicly criticize the religious leaders' statements.

The most stubbornly pious of the religious leaders still didn't give a fig about critics. But some of their colleagues began to murmur, "Doctrine is doctrine; but all this bad p.r. is getting wearisome." And they began to think that it might be a good idea to back off the subject for a while.


AHLDuke said...

Besides the repellent substance of BKP's ideas, one thing that this weekend's conference brought home for me is how genuinely and thoroughly uncomfortable LDS leaders are living in a pluralistic democracy.

As for BKP, no homosexual couple marrying or raising kids, or some kid wanking to porn, or spouse cheating on his or her partner, could ever damage the LDS church the way that BKP is doing right now. He is poisoning the well for a generation. Those Mormons among us who do care about gays and lesbians have no credibility because of statements like this. And so we will never be able to reach out, not only to homosexuals, but to other people of more open minds who genuinely care about them.

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