The PR boilerplate from the Mormon church is you can be gay and still be a member in good standing, provided you are celibate. But…no…
Drew Call, 32, a returned missionary who is gay, was a supervisor in the church’s printing department until March 7. At a February private meeting with his Salt Lake City stake president—who declined to be interviewed—Call says he was asked to abandon his gay friends as a condition for renewal of his temple recommend. Surprised and fearing people may not believe him, Call surreptitiously made an audio recording of the follow-up meeting in March so there could be no doubt about what happened.
…The recording makes clear that Call’s association with gay people was the problem.
Call is gay, but celibate as the church (sic) requires. His sexuality wasn’t the issue here…it was his gay friends.
On the recording, the stake president expresses concerns that Call recently had taken his daughters to “gay bingo,” a monthly charitable fundraiser hosted by the Utah Pride Center and the drag/comedy troupe Utah Cyber Sluts. “I think it’s inappropriate to take children, and I really think it’s inappropriate for you to go, myself, to this gay bingo,” the stake president says on the recording. Later, the stake president says of the gay community, “They are conducting themselves in a manner that is definitely in opposition to teaching and practices of the gospel. I’ve talked to you about this, about your association with [gay people]. Last time you left here, you were willing to give up your four, or so, individuals.” Call responded that he’d thought about it, but wasn’t willing to give up his gay friends after all.
To receive or maintain a temple recommend, Mormons must answer certain standardized questions. The stake president says on the recording that the question Call could not answer honestly asks, “do you support, affiliate with or agree with any group or individuals whose teaching or practices are contrary to or opposed to those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” The stake president goes on to say that that question applies to Call’s gay friends “because of the moral decay that is going in the world and that’s part of it. The church opposes the relationship between a man and a man and a woman and a woman, and you’re associating with those individuals. I don’t know how to get around that.”
“So what are you going to do?” Call asked.
“You’re going to have to look for a job,” the stake president replied.
Read this carefully. The prohibition against having gay friends, as outlined by this “stake president”, is unconditional. Clearly it applies to Everyone. Mormon or not, gay or straight, it matters not. Anyone can be fired from LDS employment simply for having gay friends.
This is how serious this organization is behind the scenes about its anti-gay kulturkampf. It’s not just a matter of Insular Cult Administration 101, which says you mercilessly punish those who shake hands with people on the other side of the barbed wire fence because once they get the slightest taste of the world outside the compound next thing you know they’re out of there. Beyond that aspect of it there is this: when the scapegoat becomes human, persecuting them becomes immoral.
There’s the bottomless fear. Not of the moral decay of the world, but that the world begins to see, clearly, sickeningly, the moral decay within. That can never come to pass. The people must never be allowed to reach out to the scapegoat, the hated other, for once they do the scapegoat becomes human, and then the questions start. Oh my god…what have we been doing to these people all this time…? So much pain we’ve inflicted on so many for so long…and for what? For what?
Today the subjects in the LDS pews fear the judgement of their leaders. But the reality is the leaders are much more afraid of the judgment of the pews, and that day is coming.