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The LDS Church Quietly Doubles Down On A Controversial Gay Policy

Picture of a tall white building against blue sky.
Lee Hale
The LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has quietly doubled down on a controversial policy toward gay members by including it in a recently updated manual for missionaries.


Commonly referred to as the “November Policy,” the guidelines were released on Nov. 5, 2015, just months after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. The policy labeled same-sex couples “apostates” and disqualified their children from being baptized without special permission.


Addison Jenkins, a student at Brigham Young University and an openly gay Mormon, said the 2015 policy was a watershed moment for the church’s gay members. Up until then, gay Mormons seemed to have a little more flexibility in matters of faith and sexuality.


Jenkins said that changed with the new guidelines, which sent a clear message: no more gray area. Or, as he puts it, “If you want to be gay and Mormon, okay, but you have to be Mormon. And you can’t really be gay.”


Jenkins said the rollout of the November Policy felt odd. It was initially leaked online and contained grammatical errors. The Church eventually confirmed the policy in an official statement. But even then, Jenkins said, he hoped it wasn’t permanent.


“A lot of people thought, ‘It’s kind of clear that they didn’t think this through,’ that they kind of messed it up. You know, people make mistakes,” he said.


Flash forward to June of this year when the LDS Churchincluded the November Policy in its most recent version of Preach My Gospel. This is a guide distributed to every Mormon missionary, nearly 70,000 worldwide.

Credit Screenshot:
The updated section from "Preach My Gospel."


Jenkins, who served a mission to Madagascar, describes Preach My Gospel as “everything a missionary needs to know to teach someone and baptize them into the LDS Church.”


The LDS Church did not return a request for comment on the latest addition.


For Jenkins, it looks like the Church is now cementing the November Policy in place, which is frustrating to him. On one hand, he sees the LDS Church taking steps toward LGBT inclusivity in some of its messaging. But when it comes to the policy, what’s on the books, he said it can feel like there isn’t really a place for him.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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