The year 2012 put the Mormon faith in the national spotlight. Not only was member Mitt Romney the Republican nominee for President of the United States, people all over the country began to ask questions about the Salt Lake City based religion: A religion misunderstood, and considered mysterious and idiosyncratic.
Thanks to careful maneuvering by the Romney campaign, the Church seemed closer to the mainstream. No longer appearing as secretive, non-Christian, or filled with lawbreaking polygamists, nearly fifty percent of voters supported Romney in a tight race. A year ago, no one saw how close Romney would come to unseating President Barack Obama.
But the Church has been making other changes, including gentler stances on immigration, attempts to bridge the gap with the LGBT community, the urging of acceptance of gay Church members, and support for non-discrimination ordinances in Utah municipalities.
Quite a change from the support for California’s Proposition 8 making gay marriage illegal. Though not in favor of legal unions other than between a man and a woman or homosexual activity, the Church has acknowledged homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice.
The Church has backed this position by supporting non-discrimination ordinances in many Utah cities, which don’t allow employers or landlords to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Many localities have adopted ordinances, although the legislature has so far refused to pass a state law.
The Utah Compact, a kinder gentler approach to handling illegal immigration has also been endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Compact, which supports the rule of law also sees the need for families to be kept together, and supports federal immigration legislation. It has the attention of President Obama and members of Congress.
While some consider the Church’s kinder and gentler stance too little too late, others thought the day gay members would not be urged to “cure themselves” through straight marriage, children and therapy would never come. By facing more issues including gun control and the role of women, it could be an opportunity for the Church to grow and change.
So far, the heavily Mormon republican majority in the Utah Legislature has refused to back down on tough immigration laws, has not supported non-discrimination laws, and pushed through marriage is only for a man and a woman. Will these members hear the gentler voice of the Church? Or will we manage to go another year without any real change?
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Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake Tribune