Elder Marlin K. JensenReligion Dispatches offers a riveting report of a recent meeting in Oakland in which a leading Mormon authority offered an apology for the pain caused by the LDS Church’s activism on California’s Propisition 8. To an emotional gathering of “LGBT Mormons and their allies,” Elder Marlin K. Jensen reportedly said:

“To the full extent of my capacity, I say that I am sorry … I know that many very good people have been deeply hurt, and I know that the Lord expects better of us.”

I’m on record as saying that we should measure the public virtue of religious traditions not merely by the positions they take, but by the way they treat those with whom they agree and disagree along the way. It is, sadly, rare to witness religious authorities open up to this kind of human and seemingly searching encounter on an issue in which they have staked a theological and political claim. I say, “Bravo.”

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Maybe The Catholic Church Could Learn Something From This .... Recently, the National Catholic Reporter ran a piece by Nicole Spoleto on the shameful efforts by the USCCB (United States Catholic Conference) and the Knights of Columbus to promote (i.e. lobby) anti-gay legislation. After abusing children, denying ordination to women, and demonizing gay men and women as inherently "disordered", some members of the Church hierarchy are actively pursuing a right wing agenda by using Church funds to enforce their ideas of doctrinal correctness and silence progressive theologians (most notably the recent denunciation of Professor William Lawler's book on sexuality). Lawler is a Professor emeritus at Creighton University. Anyway; thank you Mr. Jensen for speaking truth to power. Now; can you possibly alert the Vatican to your idea of Christian fellowship?
Rick Folker

Being a Mormon myself and being hurt by members of my faith because of my beliefs against the church regarding prop 8. I am also very pleased with this!

Hello Laura. You said that you have been hurt by members of your faith. May I gently dispute that statement?

I am a former Mormon -- still on the Church rolls, but no longer believing or active.

I used to believe that the Church was true, but individual members were flawed. This frame of mind allowed me to excuse all sorts of beliefs, statements, and actions of the institution. With time I came to believe the exact opposite was the case -- That the individual members were actually pretty good people, but the Church itself was to blame.

These are people who, for the most part, are extremely generous of heart, who will bring you dinner in the time of tragedy, or who are naturally loving and accepting. Mormons are not naturally prejudice against blacks or gays. They don't believe that women should be treated as second class citizens. The institution teaches them these things. When they act within the context of the group or the institutional Church, things can get very bizarre and even ugly.

I submit that if these good people felt free to follow their own hearts and the inner light of their own consciences, rather than the expressed doctrine of the Church or what they perceive to be the expectations of the group, then they would not behave the way they do.

So I think that it was not the members of your faith that hurt you, rather it was in fact the the Church itself -- or your faith as you frame it -- that is not true and causes otherwise good people to behave viciously. Let's be clear and honest. The opposition to prop 8 was not some grassroots fringe movement of crazies against which the Church stepped forward to play a moderating role. Rather it was a top-down movement that was deliberate, planned, and orchestrated by the Church itself. The Church encouraged otherwise kind, tolerant, and loving people to behave in ways that were at best cowardly or borish and at worst hateful and hurtful.

Honestly, in this instance, which was it? Was it the Church that was true and good while the people were flawed or was it a flawed and error-prone Church that led otherwise good people to do bad things that they might not have done otherwise?

If I follow your drift, the members of the Mormon Church are naturally good but are corrupted by the institution. Is it possible that the institution has something to do with the goodness of its members?

The institution should not be credited for the fact that many of its members are good people. Most *people* are good people. 
One thing the church does very well is make members feel like all goodness in them is attributable to their membership in the church, ie. I'm so thankful to the Book of Mormon for teaching me how to love my family; thankful that I'm a member of the Lord's true church for keeping me out of jail; because of Joseph Smith I know not to steal; I'm so thankful for this beautiful Autumn day and I know the Church is true, amen, etc..... The institution should not take credit for these good things; these things exist with or without the church...sometimes in spite of it.

I submit that if these good people felt free to follow their own hearts and the inner light of their own consciences, rather than the expressed doctrine of the Church or what they perceive to be the expectations of the group, then they would not behave the way they do.

After leaving the Mormon Church, I also came to this conclusion about the LDS church and other human institutions.  I think MOST people are naturally more loving, tolerant, and good to each other when NOT influenced by church institutions, extreme nationalism, over-the-top sports insanity, and other arenas of competition. On television the other day, I even watched a grown man beat another man because of his belief that FORD was better than CHEVY!    We would have NO wars against other countries if not for governmental policies and actions against so called "enemies".  We would have no ginned-up animosity toward other cities and rival schools and colleges without sports insanity. In the same way, after leaving the church, I found NO JUSTIFICATION for hating anyone or expressing intolerance toward other human beings.  Institutions cause mob mentality.  All human beings do better when they restrain themselves from being caught up in this sort of "sanctioned" mob rule.  We humans are better than this!!  I say we each need to take an active stand against ANY institution which causes us to ignore our better angels.   

Just wanted to say that the church is comprised of its members. If the administration (the powers that be) makes a horrible decision on whatever matter that could be hurtful to any group of people, it's the members of said church that are carrying forth and putting into action that very decision. The church is only as good, kind, benevolent and nonjudgmental as its people are. One cannot be separated from the other. Therefore, if "good" people are bowing to the mentality of their leaders and choosing not to follow their own consciences, those "good" people are the ones who are perpetrating bigotry and unkindness. Those "good" people ARE the church. There is no separation.

As I recall, the person many religions purport to follow made no limitations on what his followers must do or be, other than that they love one another. He took a lot of flac for some of his associations, which others thought he shouldn't allow. We need to be more accepting of others, especially those who differ from us.

Yes, I agree with some of the previous comments, that the church itself, meaning the administration, is to blame and should apologize for the support of a narrow-minded and damaging position. However, let us not overlook that one man, Marlin Jensen, has had the courage to speak out and address this grievous wrong. Hail, Hail, Elder Jensen!

Some may be mistaking what Elder Jensen apologized for. He apologized for the pain caused by unspecified Church (or member) actions relating to its policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The article at the link is clear that he didn't apologize for the policies themselves. Mormon leaders have stressed that members must be loving and accepting of gays. There's no reason to suppose Jensen was acting in a way other Church leaders would disapprove of.

It's as difficult for liberals to understand conservatives and their views as vice versa. Dismissing the LDS (or Catholic) position on this as narrow and closed-minded without understanding and acknowledging the reasons for their views doesn't advance anything. Indeed, it seems contrary the virtues of open-mindedness and liberality that are being invoked.

I understand your position, and respectfully, I on one hand applaud the Mormons leaders for apologizing, However, the point I would like to make is that an apology for something so hurtful, and the size and magnitude of their bigotry, it "is too little, too late". I look at it as a clear admission of guilt, shame, and yes something they as a church needs to seriously reconsider. I did not hear them saying anything about a reconsideration of their views against homosexuals. I believe the apology came only after they got caught of attempting to change public policy and the law of the land of CA, which is in the USA totally unacceptable. We believe and value of the separation of Church and State, - the Mormons violated that to the upmost. In this case, justice isn't an apology, justice would be the arrest and jail time of Mormon leaders, that would be a starting place. Rev. Dana Daniell

I appreciate you pov..and can only agree with the assessment you make on the position the LDS takes, but in the Christian world, you seem to be asking for vengeful punishment. Justice would be served by their making amends actively to right their changed pov ... and become accountable through repentance. Sorry is always superficial when real changes are not made. Why not publicly call on them to support by donation, a dollar amount equal to their spending, only this time give it to groups who are compassionate to GLBT challenges and lets see if they can face up to placing their spiritually tithed income where they say they have made a sincerely regrettable mistakes. And while we're on that tack, perhaps we should call on the Pope and the Catholic Faith to do so too. Punishment is social and political, repentance and determined change is a spiritual response...

Like many others, Elder Marlin Jensen believes that an apology is required for the harm the church's positions or members have caused gay and lesbian folk, but I would point out that an apology is only half of what is required for forgiveness. True change requires not only forgiveness from those one has harmed, but also an act of redemption on the part of the one or one's who have caused the harm, an act that shows and expresses earnestness to change. Forgiveness is not offered if an act of redemption is not tied to the request for forgiveness.

In our society it has become easy to apologize for things. We see it on the television and read it in the newspapers all the time. "So-and-so" apologizes for the harm that has been caused. There isn't much recognition that the Bible requires an act of redemption BEFORE the forgiveness can be offered. Jesus redeemed us with his death, which we take to mean that God could then forgive us and we stood in a new relationship to God.

All too often we see the apology without the act of redemption. What act of redemption is Elder Jensen making? What act of redemption is his church making? Without that act of redemption, I find it difficult, especially after 6 teen suicides this last two weeks, to believe that forgiveness is called for or sought after! The church poured massive amounts of money in a campaign filled with lies and innuendo. What act of redemption will they make for that?

It appears to me to be simply an apology for the hurt caused by the campaign, NOT by the campaign itself, nor the official Mormon stance on homosexuality.

Akin to the executioner apologizing to the prisoner for any pain he causes during his execution.

Until conservative religious people stop condemning homosexuality as perverted personal sexual choice rather, and accept it is as a normal fact in human existence that does nothing to threaten their life or freedom, then they will always be living in the dark ages.

There is a fundamental flaw in the perspective of those here berating the LDS (Mormon) Church and its position on Prop 8—that the Church was being cruel, bigoted and mean-spirited in its support of Prop 8, thereby persecuting GLBT people. In fact, the Church’s position was to affirm marriage between a man and a woman and support the children they bear. This is only a rejection of gay marriage by extension. There is an important difference in the nuance. The Church was primarily fighting FOR something, only secondarily against its opposite. And it was responding to the initial attack, which was on the time-proven form of marriage. It was never the intent of the Church institutionally or its members collectively to harm anyone. On the contrary: Our whole hope is to share with God’s children His truth that they may thereby be free—from sin, guilt, ignorance, and pain. God’s plan for His children is loving and kind, and centers on healthy families, the incubator of human progress and joy. To yield this view to political pressure is to renege on our mission to bless humanity. And LDS members were simply using their constitutional and democratic rights to express themselves and pursue their goals.

It saddens me that people hope to encourage—or even force—the LDS Church to change its stance on same-sex marriage. It never will. It can’t. It’s doctrine, not policy. To change its position would be to renounce its very purpose, destroy its very spiritual fabric. The hope of LDS people is to live peaceably with those who disagree with our views. Our stance on marriage will not change, but we hope harsh attitudes and actions—on both sides—will.

prop H8(hate) defends nothing, it actually discriminates and creates a second class citizen. if you wish to defend marriage, why not outlaw divorce? i'm just saying...
and regarding LDS doctrine, it HAS changed, (and will continue to change) ie: 1)they now allow black men to enter the priesthood 2) they stopped plural marriage. maybe when the "saints" have a "change" of heart will the sealed doctrine of the BOM be revealed. don't be so opposed to change, remember your religion says some 2/3 of book of mormon remains secret because the world is not yet ready to receive such truths, so you still have a lot to learn, a lot of change is coming your way so why not perfect your faith in the Lord instead of making secret combination to oppress your fellow man? lds church teaches lucifer tries to limit man's agency, and in bankrolling prop 8 such as they did, the mormons are busy doing the devils work! for shame!

@ Max/blood:

Actually, your misperceptions/misrepresentation of LDS doctrine is part of what perpetuates the animosity between the two sides, preventing us from reaching common ground. Of course there will be disagreements, but when you refuse to even accept my point of view (Max) and lash out with vitriol (blood), you make it impossible for you to even see me as a person with whom to work on this issue, to say nothing of offending me intellectually and personally.

The reason same-sex marriage will tear at the spiritual fabric of LDS doctrine is that the center of that doctrine for humans is eternal families. Gay couples cannot generate children, thereby making themselves an inherently limited family, rather than perpetual families, as LDS doctrine teaches. Yes, there have been many changes to LDS policies and practices over time--and there will continue to be--but not to doctrine; that's why I made the distinction. Discontinuing polygamy and blacks holding the priesthood are examples of policy changes, not doctrinal changes.

Finally, there are two ways to alleviate "heaviness": one is to drop the weight, the other is to grow stronger. No religious practices or policies are heavy if you simply allow people to do whatever they want to do. But that's never been the focus of true Christianity. Rather, the Savior sought to lift people up past their weaknesses with both His teachings and His atonement. Better to make people stronger, rather than acquiesce to their innate weakness. That's the whole point of having a savior.

With all due respect, I, as a former active member of the LDS (Mormon) church must correct one of your statements regarding policy changes versus doctrinal changes. Discontinuing polygamy and black men being given the ability to hold the priesthood were absolutely NOT policy changes. They were direct changes to Mormon doctrine and those doctrinal changes were made due to political pressure. The change in polygamy was made for the purpose of allowing Utah to become a state (among a few other details such as relieving male members from being arrested and jailed) and the change in allowing the priesthood to be bestowed upon those of a "dark" race was made in the 1970's amid harsh public criticism for the bigotry that was being perpetrated within the church.

The idea that the Mormon church has never made any doctrinal changes is absolutely false. Along with that, I must take issue with one other statement you have made (not that these are the only two statements I take issue with, but for the sake of brevity I'm limiting myself). You say that "Gay couples cannot generate children, thereby making themselves an inherently limited family, rather than perpetual families..."  I must ask if you've never seen a pregnant lesbian or a biological child of a gay man?  If you haven't, you should acquaint yourself more broadly with the abilities of gay men and women being capable of producing their own children.  At this point, I'm betting that your reply would be that the children of gay couples are not and cannot be the biological children of both partners and therefore cannot be considered "perpetual" families. The only problem with that logic is that it also stamps out the many families that have been sealed for eternity in a Mormon temple via the adoption process.

Your logic on that point would certainly be impossible to accept by the many thousands of LDS families that were created by the adoption of children by couples who were unable to biologically conceive their own.  Painting the concept of same-sex marriage with this broad brushstroke is not only completely wrong, it's also horribly unkind and hurtful to say the least.

Accepting gay marriage would not destroy the church's spiritual fabric, instead it would allow the church to develop a new spirituality. It might also lift a kind of heaviness that permeates church culture. Marriage for the LDS Church was once between a man and many women (and the LDS church continues to believe that this is the case in the afterlife). When the church abandoned the practice of polygamy, it didn't lose its way spiritually, it found a new spiritual life, one that reflected the material, social and ethical advances of the time. Now many religions are struggling with a radically changed social sphere that is the result of material, social, political and spiritual change. I don't think the world is going to become less complex, and I suspect many religions will slowly over time adapted to this new terrain.

Elder Jensen, who had been taking notes constantly, arose and through
his tears said, “I know that never in my life will I experience an hour
quite like this one.” He said he had heard very clearly the pain that
had been expressed and that “to the full extent of my capacity I say
that I am sorry.” (note in the above quote those three little dots decontextualized this apology, so I offer the complete quote as I found it as reported by 
by Carol Lynn Pearson September 2010 @b3acb5053b12fc95cb8b3376cfae8aa1:disqus  http://blog.affirmation.org/20...

There was never a statement suggesting that Elder Jensen felt the
Church’s support of Proposition 8 was an error or that he was
apologizing for that event. He said, “I have heard the calls for change
in our church’s policy on this subject. I have read Carol Lynn
Pearson’s books and wept as I read them. I don’t think the evolution of
our policies will go as far as many would like. Rather I think the
evolution will be one of better understanding. I believe our concept of
marriage is part of the bedrock of our doctrine and will not change. I
believe our policy will continue to be that gay members of the Church
must remain celibate. However, I want you to know that as a result of
being with you this morning, my aversion to homophobia has grown. I
know that many very good people have been deeply hurt, and I know that
the Lord expects better of us.”