A leader of the Mormon church has insisted that its new anti-gay policies are ‘God’s will’

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, revealed harsh new policies in its updated guidebooks late last year.

The new rules state that gay people who marry are ‘apostates’ – meaning they are viewed as having abandoned the Church.

The Church also affirmed that all children living with same-sex parents or guardians will be barred from being baptised or becoming Church members for the entirety of their childhood, and until they “disavow” their parents’ relationship.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, who heads church leadership body the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke to the Salt Lake Tribune about that decision.

He said: “Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation.

“It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to [Mormon President Thomas S] Monson.

“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively.

“And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord’s will.”

After the rule change, protesters staged a mass resignation from the Mormon Church at its HQ in Salt Lake City, while others filed their own paperwork to leave the Church privately.

In total, over 1500 members of the Church have resigned over the issue so far. The number is a small fraction of the Church’s claimed 15 million global worshippers – but the impact has been felt strongly in Salt Lake City.