As many of you (at least those of my readers who are in Utah), this past weekend was the LDS Church's General Conference. Conference is generally something that doesn't have much effect on me. I avoid trying to drive or eat at restaurants down-town and that's about the extent of my involvement. Like with all things to do with religion, I say to each his own. Live and let live.
This year the speech made by President Boyd K. Packer raised a lot of hackles. I'm friends with a lot of queers and consider myself part of the LGBT community. Not because I am LGB or T (although I have been declared an honorary gay boy for pride) but because I support their cause and believe that gender and sexual orientation shouldn't matter.
The press statement released by the Human Rights Campaign in response to Packer's speech popped up on my facebook several times this morning. I read it, and a few other articles (mentioned below), and then reposted it.
My friend Jeremy posted a reply with a link to this blog post which is, as he put it, "a good response to many of these allegations." I feel like at this point I should tell you that I greatly respect Jeremy's opinions. We don't agree on many issues (mostly involving politics and religion), but that's ok. He is an intelligent person and does his best to be well informed. As do I.
Anyway, you should read both things I linked to up there. Go on. I'll wait. The rest of this post is my response to them so if you don't read them you could probably stop reading now.
Connor Boyack makes some valid points, but his blog tips a little toward hypocrisy. I don't want to get into that. Hypocrisy is almost impossible to avoid in a heated issue like this. Boyack does make some valid points.
The HRC is certainly not an unbiased source, and a lot of their rhetoric is exaggerative in order to make a point and stir people to action. It's also probably true that most people who support HRC and LGBT causes will probably not read any further into the issue. That is a damned shame. People really should be willing to explore multiple sources for information and to look at both sides before they firmly come down on one side or the other. They don't. And that is how we get ignorant and uninformed people on both sides of an issue.
After reading the link Jeremy posted, I followed the link from that blog and listened to Packer's speech. I also read through "The Family: a Proclamation to the World" which plays a significant role in what Packer said. I've also read the article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the article in the Herald Journal and another blog, written by a member of the LDS church. I feel like I'm well informed enough to make an informed statement.
HRC has two, very important points. Packer's words are dangerous and, at times, inaccurate.
Inaccurate because same-sex attraction is not unnatural and it cannot be cured. People cannot help who they are attracted to.
Dangerous because what he said does effect the way the church members consider LGBT people. It is probably most dangerous to members of the LDS church who are gay. It creates a hostile environment for them in exactly the places they most need support. Being gay is hard enough without your community telling you it is unnatural and impure.
Moreover, there are people who will take Packer's words and will twist them to justify the kind of bullying and homophobic behavior that lead to the recent suicides. Yes, I know Packer didn't condone that sort of behavior in anyway. Yes, it's possible to twist anything to justify anything else if we try hard enough. But Packer is a very influential spiritual leader and his speech was pretty clearly anti-homosexual. A person in his position must be extra careful of what seeds he plants in his community. How hard would it have been for him to plant ideas of tolerance and openness? How hard would it be to spread a message of love and acceptance of all our fellow human beings?