Elder David A. Bednar of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Thursday that the church supports the civil rights of LGBTQ people and is working to advance legislation that also protects “the freedom of belief that is so dear to us”.
Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church’s second-highest executive body of 16.8 million members, spoke at a headliners luncheon at the National Press Club, the first time in 22 years a leader of the Mormons spoke there.
The statement departs from the Utah-based church‘s successful 2008 effort in California to pass a state constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.
This provision, known as Proposition 8, was approved by voters and then struck down by the courts. In 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a nationwide constitutional right in its Obergefell decision.
Mr. Bednar told the press club audience that his church supports an Arizona bill on a gay rights bill that includes religious freedom protections.
“This year, a bill was introduced in Arizona that would provide similar and even expanded protections for LGBTQ people. And we are working with other states on similar initiatives. Such legislation is the result of positive relationships nurtured over time,” he said.
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Mr Bednar added: ‘You should also know that at the federal level we have worked with our LGBTQ allies to advance legislation of a similar nature.’
A spokesperson for the LDS Church later said the organization did not endorse specific legislation, but rather Mr Bednar set out “guiding principles” on the matter.
At the same time, Mr. Bednar appeared to close the door on the celebration of same-sex unions in church temple ceremonies for marriage and the “sealing” of families as eternal units.
“We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and that the family is central to the Father’s plan for the eternal destiny and happiness of his children,” Bednar said in response to a question. read by Jen Judson. , president of the APN and journalist with Defense News.
While Mr. Bednar’s speech highlighted the roles women play in church leadership, he reiterated that women can be prophets in the lineage of Joseph Smith, the church’s founder, noting the all-male nature of early church leadership.
“We follow the pattern of the old church. We believe that a man should be called of God by prophecy and by the laying on of hands, by those who have authority to preach the gospel and [administer] the ordinances of it, the pattern was once that the apostles were men,” he said.
Mr Bednar said the church had engaged in 3,909 humanitarian projects in 188 countries, and said this “was just part of a $906 million global effort to care for those who needed it.”
He added that “we help refugees and people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine, as well as in 27 other neighboring European countries. The church supports several organizations, including United Nations agencies as well as the Kyiv Red Cross, by providing items such as shelter, bedding, food, hygiene items and baby supplies .
When asked if he had viewed the recent Hulu streaming adaptation of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” a book depicting fundamentalist Mormons who still practice polygamy and are estranged from the official LDS Church, Mr. Bednar first joked with everything the church does, “Who’s got time to watch TV?
More seriously, he said the group has “been mischaracterized since 1830. … I don’t think it’s ever going away. We don’t like that. But we don’t spend all our time trying to answer them. We have a mission to fulfill and we are moving forward to accomplish this mission.