A Mormon church leader has claimed that he will find out “on judgement day” whether his church’s homophobic policies cause teen suicide.
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, unless they “disavow” their parents’ relationship.
LGBT Mormon support group Mama Dragons claimed last month that 32 young church members had committed suicide since the policy was unveiled.
However, Church Elder Dallin H. Oaks, said he “can’t answer” questions on the issue while appearing on the Mormon Stories podcast.
According to Towleroad, he was asked by an audience member: “Less than a year ago, right here in Washington, DC, my friend killed himself.
“He was Mormon and gay. You’ve gone on record that the church does not give apologies.
“Does religious freedom absolve you from responsibility in the gay Mormon suicide crisis?”
Elder Oaks responded: “I think that’s a question that will be answered on judgment day. I can’t answer that beyond what has already been said.
“I know that those tragic events happen. And it’s not unique simply to the question of sexual preference.
He continued: “There are other cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church – my church – or a government, or somebody else for their taking their own lives, and I think those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth, and I am ready to be accountable to that authority, but I think part of what my responsibility extends to, is trying to teach people to be loving, and civil and sensitive to one another so that people will not feel driven, whatever the policy disagreements, whatever the rules of the church, or the practices of a church, or any other organization, if they are administered with kindness, at the highest level or at the level of the congregation or the ward, they won’t drive people to take those extreme measures; that’s part of my responsibility to teach that. And beyond that, I will be accountable to higher authority for that. That’s the way I look on that.
“Nobody is sadder about a case like that than I am. Maybe that’s a good note to end on.”
Maybe, maybe not.