The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced on Thursday that it was dropping a horrific anti-gay policy it implemented in 2015 which labeled gay church members as “apostates” and banning the children of same-sex parents from receiving blessings and baptism until the age of 18. Thousands left the church in 2015 after the new policy was announced.
In a message from President the LDS Church from its General Conference Leadership Session, President Dallin Oaks said that “effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make.”
“Previously, our Handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy,” the message continued. “While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way.”
The message concluded: “The very positive policies announced this morning should help affected families. In addition, our members’ efforts to show more understanding, compassion and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of goodwill. We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today. We are optimistic that a majority of people — whatever their beliefs and orientations — long for better understanding and less contentious communications. That is surely our desire, and we seek the help of our members and others to attain it.”