Microphone cut after Mormon girl reveals she’s gay at church

This undated photo provided by Heather Kester, shows Savannah, whose mother requested only her first name be used and who is a young Mormon girl that told her congregation during a Sunday service she is a lesbian before her microphone was turned off by local church leaders. Savannah's emotional speech is sparking a new round of discussions about how the conservative religion handles LGBT issues, location of photo unspecified, circa 2017 | Photo courtesy of Heather Kester via AP, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A video of a young Mormon girl revealing to her congregation that she is lesbian and still loved by God — before her microphone is turned off by local church leaders — is sparking a new round of discussions about how the religion handles LGBT issues.

Savannah, 13, spoke on May 7 in Eagle Mountain about her belief that she is the child of heavenly parents who didn’t make any mistakes when she was created. Her comments came during a once-a-month portion of Mormon Sunday services where members are encouraged to share feelings and beliefs.

“They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay,” she said, wearing a white shirt and red tie. “God loves me just this way.”

Her mother, Heather Kester, said Friday that her daughter was passionate about coming out in church to be a voice and example for other LGBT children who struggle for acceptance within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked that Savannah’s full name be withheld to protect her privacy.

This undated photo provided by Heather Kester, shows Savannah, whose mother requested only her first name be used and who is a young Mormon girl that told her congregation during a Sunday service she is a lesbian before her microphone was turned off by local church leaders. Savannah’s emotional speech is sparking a new round of discussions about how the conservative religion handles LGBT issues, Location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Heather Kester via AP, St. George News

The Mormon religion is one of many conservative faith groups upholding theological opposition to same-sex relationships amid widespread social acceptance and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage. At the same time, the Mormon church is trying to foster an empathetic stance toward LGBT people.

The video, which Kester says was taken by a friend of Savannah who came to support her, has generated buzz after it was circulated online this month and featured in a Mormon LGBT podcast.

While some consider Savannah a hero, other Mormons are upset that it was videotaped and is being circulated by church critics to try and paint the church in an unflattering light.

Judd Law, the lay bishop who leads the congregation south of Salt Lake City, said in a statement distributed by church headquarters that Savannah is a “brave young girl” and that the congregation is making sure she and her family feel loved.

But he called problematic the unauthorized recording and the “disruptive demonstration” by a group of non-Mormon adults who were there.

Law said they exploited the events to politicize worship services and violate church decorum.

“We do not politic in our chapels, and exploiting this recording for political purposes is inconsistent with the nature of our worship services,” he said.

Law didn’t address or explain the decision by two of his counselors to cut the microphone. Law wasn’t at the service that day.

Savannah read from written notes from the pulpit. Kester said she is not Mormon, but her husband is and Savannah has been raised in the religion.

“I do not choose to be this way and this is not a fad,” Savannah told the congregation on May 7. “I cannot make someone else gay. … I believe that God wants us to treat each other with kindness, even if people are different, especially if they are different.”

Her microphone was muted after about two minutes — shortly after she said she’s not a “horrible sinner” and that she someday hopes to have a partner, get married and have a family. She turned around to listen to something a man in a suit told her and then was walked down from the pulpit.

Kester said her daughter came and cried in her lap. She told her she was beautiful and that God loved her, Kester said.

“I was devastated for her,” said Kester, adding: “I was angry at how that was handled.”

After the Utah-based Mormon church received backlash in 2008 for helping lead the fight for California’s Proposition 8 constitutional ban on gay marriage, religious leaders spent several years carefully developing a more empathetic LGBT tone. That was interrupted in 2015 when the church adopted new rules banning children living with gay parents from being baptized until age 18.

In October, church leaders updated a website created in 2012 to let members know that, that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness and may never go away. But the church reminded members that having gay sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that will not change.

Scott Gordon, president of FairMormon, a volunteer organization that supports the church, wrote a blog defending the church against a rash of criticism over the incident.

Gordon said it would have been OK for Savannah to come out as gay during testimony, but that she crossed the line when she mischaracterized church teachings by saying God would want her to have a partner and get married.

While you can believe almost anything you want to believe, you can’t preach it from the pulpit,” Gordon said.

Britt Jones, a bisexual Mormon who runs a podcast called “I like to look for Rainbows” that featured Savannah’s story, said the leaders should have allowed Savannah to finish.

“Queer issues don’t get talked about in the church enough,” said Jones, who is married to a woman and has children. “It was really brave and really admirable, particularly for somebody that young, that she not only wanted to talk about it herself but be a voice for others suffering in silence.”

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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46 Comments

  • Lastdays June 24, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    The only reason someone would video another person in a preplanned event is to promote their agenda and hope their video goes viral.
    Nothing spontaneous about choosing to video in a Sacrament Mtng. Who does that anyways?
    Now they have a video of someone turning off the microphone, oh my gosh, which only helps these girls (and Mom probably) prove that the LDS church is evil.
    What a world we live in where people go to great lengths to stir the pot.

  • theone June 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve got my bag of popcorn at the ready in order to rummage through all the bigoted comments sure to come.
    And go……….

    • cindybanks91 June 25, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Really, here is one that is simply common sense. My daughter was a total tomboy until the age of fifteen, her hormones kicked in and all of sudden she was a pretty young woman. Today she is a beautiful, successful business woman, with three children, two grandchildren and one on the way. We need to stop promoting any kind of sexual proclivity to children and let them grow into full maturity before making public comments about their sexuality. Anyone promoting sexuality with children is doing all of us a disservice. And what do you do when the young lady decides she really is a young. Utter foolishness by her mother.

      • theone June 26, 2017 at 9:28 am

        Let me begin with, Holy crap are you the perfect example of head in the sand or what!!! Tomboy and lesbian are not even in the same room as to sexual orientation. Also, if you weren’t thinking about your sexual identity at age 12 or sooner, then you are the one who is different than the rest. This was far from any kind of promotion for sexual proclivity, you’re just a person who thinks the teachings of your religion are right for all of us.
        Now for the reality of when maturity happens. Oh yeah, it’s different for everybody including you and the obvious display of immaturity you displayed on a subject you choose to regress on.

        You’re the fool here and I suggest you keep your narrow minded self away from children while they grow and mature.

  • debbie June 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Why r Christians and religious groups being discriminated against by the light society? They do not cannot even be safe in their chapels. I don’t understand? Does this girl have a lgbt LDS Church to give “talks ” in? If the religion does not adhere to lgbt theology, then the child is not LDS. Either u r LDS or u r not. So she didn’t need to do this.

    • desertgirl June 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

      I agree with you Debbie. Personally, I do not belong to or promote any specific religious group or organized religion. That being said I do believe if you don’t agree with a church doctrine you don’t have to be a member; move on. We have the freedom in this country to worship as we please or not at all. It is obvious this child’s mother or parents were making personal points and garnering attention and sympathy.

  • debbie June 24, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    *lgbt not “light society”

  • DRT June 24, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    The thing that I find the most sad about this situation, is that this little girl really has no idea whether she is gay, or not. Now I know a whole bunch of folks are likely going to come on here screaming that I don’t know what I’m talking about. They are wrong.
    This child is 13 years old. It is not at all unusual for a child of this age, girl or boy, to be experimenting with sex. Nor is it unusual for a child of this age to be experimenting with sex with both sexes. Nor is it unusual for a child of this age, to be unduly influenced by adults who are pushing the child in one direction, or another.
    At 13, this child does not have the life experience to know what she is. She is still searching for that answer.
    Now it may well be, that she does in fact become a lesbian. And that is fine, as long as it is SHE that decides that, and not some role model that she is trying to follow.
    It is much more likely that she will find, as she matures, that she is not a lesbian. That she actually does like hetero-sex. Or perhaps even bi-sex. But at 13, there is no way that her future is firmly set.

    • 417-PC June 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      YES!! Excellent post, Thank You!

    • comments June 24, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      There was an issue of national geographic a few months back about “transgender children”. Very easy to find and I’m sure it’s online. Ooh found it http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/editors-note-gender/ . Anyways I found out some info about this child on the cover, I think I just came upon it online somewhat randomly. From what I found out about the parents of this child I think they coached him from a very young age to become a transsexual. Bottom line I think they should be beheaded. I still have a remainder of that NG subscription and I don’t read them, I simply put them in a stack. Never will I subscribe to NG again. Probably the zionists got their claws into it when it changed ownership recently.

      OK, got way off track. Bottom line, I agree with drt here. At 13 with hormones going nuts just entering puberty kids don’t have a frickin clue. And strong zionist cultural influences are actually pushing children to pursue homosexuality. How many little girls listen to katy perry? Here’s a bit of her lyrics:

      “I kissed a girl and I liked it
      The taste of her cherry chap stick
      I kissed a girl just to try it
      I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
      It felt so wrong
      It felt so right
      Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
      I kissed a girl and I liked it
      I liked it”

      Sorry but with these degenerate cultural influences kids don’t even know what they are anymore.

      • comments June 24, 2017 at 11:37 pm

        geeze, i didn’t even realize how old that song is. I must be gettin’ old. I’m sure there’s endless new music out there with degenerate content. You guys get the point 😉

    • stg-anon June 25, 2017 at 1:13 am

      The irony of members of a church founded by a guy who blackmailed a 14 year girl into becoming his 26th wife ranting about 13 year olds not being old enough to understand their sexuality is astounding.

      • Sedona June 25, 2017 at 9:06 am

        Yeeoww!!!
        Superb comment.
        Don’t even talk to a mormon about sexuality, especially when their founders were the worst examples of not treating women and men equally. Can you say FLDS ??

      • r2d2 June 25, 2017 at 9:32 am

        stg-anon Ya and the and the Catholics believed in killing heretics and witches. So what!

        • anybody home June 25, 2017 at 10:44 pm

          See now, there’s no logic in your response. It’s just a tit for tat knee jerk response. You sound like a six-year-old.

    • desertgirl June 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

      That was my first thought. This child is too young to know yet what her preferences and feeling will be once her brain has fully developed; being 13 she has a few years to go

      • anybody home June 25, 2017 at 10:47 pm

        Not. I have a gay adult daughter who was in the closet for almost 30 years, married, two great kids (my grandsons). When she finally came out, she told me she had known since she was about five years old. I believe her. Neither you nor anyone else can read another’s mind or heart. When my daughter came out and told me her story, all I could think was how happy and grateful I was that she was out of the prison she’d lived in for so long.

        Educate yourself.

    • cindybanks91 June 25, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      I agree completely.

    • 5050 August 29, 2017 at 7:47 am

      At 8 years she’s old enough to know that the church is true and enter a spiritual contract with the church…

  • NoNonsense June 24, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I honestly think this is a perfect time for the church to really double down on the whole “gay” thing. Sure she is a well spoken nice kid. But they should never shrik the fact she is destined to live in the Telestial kingdom for all time, away from her heavenly father and family. It’s God’s will that if you don’t live by the parts of the Bible the church decides to follow, you shall fall.

    Man, who could honestly believe that and not feel gross. I need a shower.

  • voice of reason June 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I am a little torn on this. I applaud the young women for her bravery and the Church has a long way to go to get consistent in their statements regarding the LGBTQ community.
    On the other hand, recording during sacrament meeting is a big no in my book and there is nothing I hate more than people going up and reading their “testimony” from notes. It was clearly meant to be a political statement and that is unacceptable in my opinion.

    • comments June 25, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Well, your opinion is actually worth less than nothing, but here I agree with u 😉

  • ladybugavenger June 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    God loves you but He doesn’t love your sexual performance. God doesn’t love sin. But he loves you little girl.

  • ladybugavenger June 24, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Correction. Preference not performance. You all know these smart phones are dumb sometimes. 🙂

  • ladybugavenger June 24, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    God didn’t love my drunkardness, adultery, deception, betrayal but he loved me enough to let me go so far down and have so much pain and suffering that I got on my knees and cried out to Jesus. And I changed my ways and was saved from my self destruction. He loves you too baby girl.

    • comments June 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      wow LB. I hope Jesus has led you to clean up your ways…

      • ladybugavenger June 25, 2017 at 4:13 pm

        Along time ago my friend 🙂 we all have things to clean up, mine were just more obvious, perhaps? I pity the people who think they’ve committed no sin.

        • comments June 25, 2017 at 6:21 pm

          We all sinners, LB. That’s what irritates me so much about religion. There’s almost no way to be religious and not be a hypocrite. I never met anyone who wasn’t flawed in one way or another and everyone has plenty they’ve done. That’s what bothers me so much about mormons and other religions is they put on a show as if they’re perfect, yet they have so many issues and misdeeds. It’s all about appearances, LB. I put in a lot more actual effort than I do at just keeping an image. You got to be genuine, ya know?

          • ladybugavenger June 25, 2017 at 7:10 pm

            Amen to that

  • comments June 24, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    I’ll tell ya, I can respect a big ol’ butch man-hating bull-dyke lesbian, because for the most part they know what they are and they know they hate men; most of the time what you see is what you get. What I can’t stand is these “bisexual lesbians” that flip back and forth and can’t even decide if they’re gay or straight; I think they’re just degenerates. I hope this one knows she’s a full-on dedicated lesbian and isn’t gonna be flipping back and forth. I’ve also noticed in my days here on earth that transsexuals and homosexuals seem to have more mental issues than average. The point is: if you’re a homosexual you shouldn’t be trying to be a part of the mormon LDS organization. You are not wanted there, period. And lesb couples should not be raising children and neither should gays. Children need a mother and father, not 2 gay men or 2 lesbians. And these big bull-dykes that try to act like men and look like men I can tell u they aint that tough. Put them is a high pressure situation and they’ll fold up and cry just like any normal women. The point is they want to be men but they’re not even close.

    😉

  • dogmatic June 24, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    This is beyond weird, how can a parent support a 13 year old girl that has determined her sexual orientation at that age? I can’t help but feel that the poor girl has been couched. So sad

  • dogmatic June 24, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    I think that the church leaders that shut off the microphone intentions where honorable and was intended to protect the 13 year old. I am suspicious of the child’s guardian.

  • dogmatic June 24, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    BRADY McCOMB, Associated Press
    Smear a 13 year old, to young to make a mature decision on her own. Shameful reporting.
    Brady is a scum bag.

    • desertgirl June 25, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Oh, dogmatic, the parents or mother obviously wanted attention and to create this situation. They got it. Also, shame on her family for using this girl; she is far too young to know what she is going to be or want. Fact is her brain has not finished developing.

  • think4urself June 24, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    No matter how ‘tolerant’ or ‘accepting’ the LDS church professes to be, what happened to this girl speaks volumes of pure truth. They can profess acceptance until kingdom come but there is no acceptance when it comes to gay humans, Mormon or not.
    My only hope is that members see this, really see it. Think about it, don’t let the church think for you, and what it really means…wash your hands of the non sense and leave like I did. I’ve never been happier since freeing myself from the LDS culture and its conditioned and sad way of thinking about life and my fellow human beings.

    • r2d2 June 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Just because a few people don’t have jobs or anything to do but lobby for gay rights doesn’t make it right. Majority rule is the way it suppose to be. They can break away and start their own church, like the Protestants and Lutherans did.

    • desertgirl June 25, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Sounds like leaving is what you should have done and it would seem the family in this article should as well. I left a church I belonged to for years (not LDS). I don’t expect the church to change for me; how arrogant people are who expect everyone else to succumb to one’s personal ideas and beliefs.

      • comments June 25, 2017 at 11:54 am

        She may well be a blossoming young dyke, and that’s fine, but I agree, this was likely just a staged social media stunt, and not put together by this girl herself.

  • commonsense June 25, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Liberals will use a 13 year old child and a sacred testimony meeting to promote their anti conservative agenda. Shame on you. This constitutes child abuse.

    • comments June 25, 2017 at 11:55 am

      oh my word! I find myself actually agreeing with u here. wow 😉

      • comments June 25, 2017 at 11:58 am

        *somewhat agreeing. I’m not a fan of the homosexual/transsexual agendas.

  • Craig June 25, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I am not Mormon nor can I speak for their church beliefs. However, the article seems to suggest that since the Supreme Court legalized hazard marriage and a lot of people agree, the the church is somehow out of step.

    Perhaps a lot of people and the Court are out of step, not the Bible.

  • concerned dad June 25, 2017 at 9:01 am

    I feel sorry for this poor girl. One day she can move away and live the life she feels is right for her. Christianity needs to die, along with all it’s outdated beliefs. Even if Jesus was real, nobody follows what he taught in your books, that all people are his children and deserve to be treated equally. For a cult that follows a man who was excepting of everyone you sure do not act like it. Progress can not be stopped and if people love someone of the same sex then so be it. People get so butt hurt about gay people, but has any of them hurt you in anyway. Everyone who follows blindly the teachings of the LDS church is going to be really be pissed when they finally learn it was all a scam just to control people and make money. To get back on topic I wish the little girl all the success in life and if you somehow read this, just member the LDS church is only a small fraction of the world population. The world supports you even if a small insignificant cult doesn’t.

  • Mike P. June 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Yeah, I’ll just have a beer.

  • heathen June 26, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Note to Savannah: You are brave and beautiful, I admire your courage. Count your blessings – you are lucky to have a supportive mother.

  • dragonfly61 June 26, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Wow, you guys don’t get it. The LDS religion has it’s rights to it’s beliefs just like any other religion. I don’t hate Baptists just because the Westborro Baptist Church decides to crash funerals of soldiers who are gay/lesbian. The LDS religion doesn’t hold up signs saying “God Hates Gays” or “Gays Are Going to HELL” and other such posters. Does that mean that ALL Baptists are like that? Or just because a handful of leaders… from ANY RELIGION… commits sexual crimes against children, does that mean that ALL the members of all religions are pedophiles? NO! That is totally self absorbed, self serving, self righteous thinking on the LGBT and their supporters. Insinuating or assuming that LDS members hate LGBT, is nothing more than a pity party to get everyone to look like the LGBT are the victims… when actually, the LGBT are the bullies because all true Christian religions don’t condone LGBT lifestyle. AND, to all you finger pointing, anti-Christian (LDS, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, and others)… LGBT and supporters, just remember this… when you point your imperfect finger at others who are imperfect… which is EVERYONE… you have three fingers pointing back at you. You either believe in God and support his teachings, commandments, and will… or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. Funny thing is, MOST, not all, LGBT say they are Christian and don’t want others to judge them because of their lifestyle choices… they need to practice what they preach. Like the saying goes… “Don’t Judge Me Because I Sin Different Than You” also applies to the LGBT and their supporters. I am proud to say that I am LDS. I love EVERYONE… it’s the things people DO and SAY, that I don’t like or condone!!! Lets stop all this finger pointing, playing victim, bullying someone cause they don’t share the same beliefs, lifestyles, etc. If we spent more time loving and less time judging… there wouldn’t be so dang much hate and persecution in the world. God and Christ have said numerous times in the BIBLE “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”! In Matthew 5: 43-45 (King James version), we read: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.” “But I say unto you, LOVE your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” THIS APPLIES TO ALL GOD’S CHILDREN!!! God didn’t give us commandments, ordinances, etc… for us to pick and choose which ones we want to obey. AND, if we expect to be forgiven, we have to forgive… EVERYONE!!! Satan loves all this hate and contention that is going on in the world… in fact, he worships it. And by doing those things, we are worshiping Satan, not GOD! To sum it all up… STOP JUDGING ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE ALL OF US SIN DIFFERENTLY! NOBODY IS PERFECT… SAVE IT BE GOD AND CHRIST!!! STOP THE BULLYING!!!

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