TWIN FALLS — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints repealed a policy on Thursday that deemed same-sex couples apostates and banned baptisms for their children.
Now, children of gay parents can be baptized and blessed into the church with their parent’s approval, the church said Thursday morning at a leadership training session. According to the release, President Dallin H. Oaks said the changes will be effective immediately.
The announcement was a surprise to local leaders, but it is a step toward being more inclusive, said Ray Parrish, the church’s regional director of public affairs. This decision gives the church less contention with the LGBTQ community while sticking to its doctrine, he said.
“The church is always looking for ways to be sympathetic with the LGBTQ community,” Parrish said. “We want to be as inclusive as possible without contradicting our beliefs.”
Mama Dragons, a group of women members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who support their LGBTQ children, issued a statement on their Facebook page in response to the news.
“We are intimately aware of the pain this policy has caused and the lives that have been lost, due in part, to this policy,” Mama Dragons said in their post. “While we hope the elimination of this policy will be beneficial for many going forward and lead to a church that is eventually more inclusive, we continue to sit with those individuals who are most affected by the adoption and enforcement of this policy.”
Mama Dragons Board Chair Jen Blair, of Twin Falls, said that there have been lots of emotion and conversation within the organization today. The church’s decision to retract the policy established in November 2015 gives local leaders the power declare someone an apostate or not, which can have benefits or consequences depending on where you live, she said. Meanwhile, people still wonder what the purpose was of the policy, which was in place for three and a half years, she said.
“As an individual I always want people to stop and listen to the people who are hurting most,” Blair said. “We recognize that people reading the Times-News in Twin Falls can’t change the church, it’s a huge organization. The people have been hurt by this are acutely aware of this. They need someone who can listen to them.”