LDS policy reversal

Mary Okkema, News co-editor

Oak park resident Holly Schuetz, a gay former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, will never forget Nov. 5, 2015. She was lying in bed looking at emails and scrolling through Facebook when she first heard the news. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced a new policy that would consider same-sex relationships “apostasy” and bar the children of same-sex couples from being baptised into the church until they reached adulthood.

“I was flabbergasted and devastated,” Schuetz said. “I didn’t sleep that night and the following week was hard. My mind was muddled with ‘Why’?  I felt the LDS church was marginalizing us which wasn’t fair.  And I felt they were punishing the children for their parents’ choice. At the time, I felt the church was progressing to where there was love and more compassion for the LDS Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer community and then when the policy was implemented into the handbook, I felt it went backward.”

The Church announced the reversal of the policy on April 3, 2019 because the leaders are trying to “reduce the hate and contention so common today,” Apostle Dallin H. Oaks said.

“I was working out of town when I heard the news and remember feeling a little emotional,” Bishop of the Westchester congregation Jonathan Moss said. “I was so happy for my good friends that were affected by this policy. I was happy for what seemed to me to be an increase of compassion, understanding and love. But, I couldn’t help but feel some sadness due to the adverse effects this policy had on people that I care deeply about.”

The policy was originally instituted with the intention of “protecting the children,” Moss said. It took away church memberships from same-sex couples, while also not allowing their children to be blessed or baptized until 18 with the permission of church leaders. In order to be baptized, the children had to renounce their parents’ marriage and move out of the house.

“We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different,” Apostle D.

Todd Christofferson said in a statement after the 2015 policy was introduced.

The institution of  policy caused a lot of controversy within the church. According to CNN, around 1,500 people left the church because they disagreed with the policy.

One of them was Schuetz, who left in May 2017.

“I felt I was hanging by a thread and remained like that til 2017,” Schuetz said. “I left the LDS church as I felt I couldn’t handle it anymore. The word ‘apostate’ is a harsh word. I had to leave for my mental health.”

Now with the reversal, LGBTQ parents can request that their child be blessed by a member of the priesthood, and later baptized at the age of 8.

Although homosexual relationships will still be considered a sin, same-sex couples will not be excommunicated from the church.

“Since the reversal of the policy, I have very mixed feelings,” Schuetz said. “First, I feel it was a good step in the [right] direction. [However], I don’t feel it is enough because of the damage it caused.”

There were over 30 suicides within two months after the Nov 5. policy, according to Schuetz.

“[This] angers and saddens me,” Scuetz said. “I don’t understand why it was implemented in the first place. They should have thought this through before implementing the policy how it would impact families, the LGBTQ community.  With the policy reversal, I am cautious because I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s’ another ‘whiplash’ from the LDS church.”