Facing some serious bad press, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has started to change its tune regarding homosexuals: Where the message used to be “Change or go to hell,” now it’s “stay with us.”
At least that’s what Elder D. Todd Christofferson said when he launched a new website aimed at improving relations with LGBT Mormons.
There are other examples of this apaprent thawing: This year, students at Brigham Young recorded an It Gets Better video, and gay and straight Mormons took part in New York Pride in June.
Bryan Horn, musical director for the 15-member group, resigned from the church when he came out. But like many of the singers, he maintains his faith:
“The primary purpose is to create a space where everybody is loved and everybody is welcome — to simply come together, and as Mormon Christians and non-Mormon Christians, to worship Jesus Christ and proclaim our testimonies of Jesus Christ,” Horn says.
One Voice is preparing to perform at Outreach Fireside, a gathering aimed at LGBT Mormons and allies. (It’s unclear but it appears the Fireside in an official LDS-sponsored event.)
Straight ally Catherine Jeppsen, a gender-studies professor at BYU, says she’s glad there’s a place for gays to sing their praises: “I want to do everything I can to show them that there are people in the Mormon church who do love and accept them, and want them to feel welcome.”
But are there, really?
The official LDS view is that having same-sex attractions isn’t a sin, but acting on them is.
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.
Apologists say the same prohibition is placed on heterosexual Mormons before marriage, but since gays and lesbians can’t get married in the faith, the church is asking for a lifetime of celibacy.
Should these choir singers relish the opportunity to share in their faith, or make a clean break from a religion that denies their basic humanity? Because, dress it up however you like, denying someone the ability to love and be loved is doing just that.