Mormon leaders call rare press conference in Salt Lake City
They pledge support for anti-bias laws for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people
Leaders say in return they want the laws to protect the rights of religious groups as well
In at least one big and bruising culture-war battle, the Mormon church wants to call a partial truce.
Convening a rare press conference on Tuesday at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Mormon leaders pledged to support anti-discrimination laws for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as long the laws also protect the rights of religious groups.
In exchange, the Mormon church wants gay rights advocates – and the government – to back off.
“When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser,” said Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
“Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.”
The Mormon church is one of several faiths to complain about religious freedom coming under attack in recent years. Catholic bishops and Southern Baptists have sounded the alarm as well.
Oaks cited several examples on Tuesday, including:
- The mayor of Houston subpoenaing sermon notes last year from pastors who opposed an equal rights ordination. The subpoena was later dropped.
- Public pressure on a Mormon gymnast to step down as an Olympic liaison in 2011 because he had supported California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in 2008.
- In 2014, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign because he had donated money to support the passage of Prop 8.