On the EDge: Bless the children

OPINION — Utah likes to portray an image of being a family-friendly state, with the welfare of its children at the forefront.

The problem with images is that they can be easily distorted, as we are finding out.

During a recent conference about child abuse, it was revealed that Utah ranks eighth in the nation for overall child abuse and first in sex abuse incidents against children.

The state remains at the bottom of the list when it comes to per-pupil funding for education.

Utah’s kids were dealt yet another blow with a policy issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday that proclaims that children living in a same-sex household may not be blessed as babies. They cannot be baptized until they are 18, and, at that time, may only be baptized if they disavow the practice of same-sex cohabitation or marriage, stop living within the household of their same-sex parents and request to join the church. Before they are baptized, they must first receive permission from the church’s First Presidency.

Normally, Mormon children are blessed as infants and baptized at the age of 8, which the church instructs is essential to salvation.

It was also revealed Thursday that the church also now views those in same-sex relationships as being apostates, which affects temple rights and church membership. Until church officials acknowledged the policy change, the matter was handled on a more local level and left to the discretion of local leaders.

We already knew, of course, that the LDS Church has a strong position against same-sex marriage, from official announcements to the amount of time, money and personnel assigned to fight same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

We know the influence the church has had on the Utah Legislature and governor’s office, which fought long and hard – and unsuccessfully, I might add – to influence the United States Supreme Court when it was hearing arguments on same-sex marriage.

Now, the church is trying to flex its muscle by using children of same-sex couples as pawns in what has become more of a political game than moral issue.

And, it is unfair.

We are supposed to support our children, encourage them, teach them to respect and love their parents, something that this latest policy change seems to forget.

We are to embrace all of our children the same without separating one group from another. We are to teach them fairness, honesty, love.

The church policy shift does none of that, instead creating a disparity in how young Mormons are treated, leaving some in a lesser position than others.

Interestingly, the policy change was not issued through the church public affairs office, instead being discovered when an LDS policy handbook was leaked online.

Church officials were slow to respond to questions from the media and general public.

It was, to put it kindly, handled very poorly.

Instead of a general announcement, the policy was sent quietly to local church leaders.

The impact was immediate and far-reaching.

The church has tried to reconcile its decision by comparing those in same-sex relationships in the same category as fundamentalist Mormons who still practice polygamy, which the mainstream church has also disavowed.

Let’s not split hairs here and argue the fact that polygamy and same-sex marriage have nothing in common other than being condemned by the church. Let’s keep this focused on the children, who now have no clue why they are not allowed to participate in baptism and must, to become members, disavow their parents when they reach the age of 18, move out of their family households and ask permission to join the church.

All, of course, in the name of salvation.

Look, if we make exceptions for anybody on this fragile planet, they should come in the way of helping our children grow into healthy minds and bodies. There are enough cruelties in this world without making children feel like outcasts from their church or being forced to turn their backs on the parents who raised them, fed them, clothed them, saw to their needs.

We have enough damaged children roaming the Earth, crippled by the inequities of life, racism, poverty, bigotry and predators of every kind without harming them any more.

But, there will be a lot of lines drawn in the sand by these children someday who will have to make a choice between their parents and a church that shuns those same parents, no matter how supportive, loving, or attentive they may be.

Church apologists, and there are many, have been trying desperately to paint a “nothing’s changed” face on all of this, citing the church’s history of opposing same-sex marriage.

While that is true, it must be pointed out that children were never a part of this equation.

I seriously doubt there is anything that can be done on a legal level because of the protections churches have gained.

They have, from the birth of the nation, been given free rein.

They don’t pay taxes, are not bound by the Constitution or rule of law regarding who may be a church member or what levels of leadership one may attain or be barred from.

They are even given wiggle room to preach from the pulpit, as we have seen in the fight against same-sex marriage and the support – from money to bodies – the church has thrown behind its argument that marriage is the domain of one man and one woman, even though their tax break supposedly precludes them from entering the political arena in any way.

I am saddened by this turn of events.

I always thought the purpose of religion was to spread kindness, to embrace our fellow man and woman despite our differences, to be forgiving, merciful beings.

I was taught to hate the sin but love the sinner and, of course, to do unto others as I would have them do unto me.

I guess that’s off the boards now, and that’s a shame, because if ever there was a time for faith and spirituality, kindness and love, now is that time.

I guess that’s why there is such a vast chasm between faith and religion.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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  • sagemoon November 10, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Right on, Ed, right on. There have been a few mass resignation events held and planned. There is even an attorney who will help people with the paperwork. His story is at http://www.kivitv.com/news/utah-attorney-helping-mormons-resign-from-church

  • NotSoFast November 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I see you ran out of good topics again Ed. Your current article reminds me of the possible gate keeper at the entrance of the community of Sodom in the province of Gomorrah handing out invitations to the various orgy tents in the city to take your family to.
    You have to remember Ed, some human practices are looked down upon by the creator, but not to some humans.
    As an American citizen, it’s your right Ed to yell from your spot on the wall what you think. Just like the Black Lives Matters protesters do, or the Sharia law spokesperson can do. Curious to read your next ‘According to Ed’ article.

    • 42214 November 10, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      The problem Not So Fast is in Utah you’re likely to go to the orgy tent you cite and be served up a Utah child. Is punishing a helpless child being used as a political pawn favored by the creator? I know many Mormons, some “Jack Mo’s” and some devout. A high percentage I’ve talked to are embarrassed and upset by this latest “doctrine of the church”.

      • NotSoFast November 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

        Are we or are we not just talking about what is or what is not Politically Correct here? What I’m hearing from Ed’s explaining the topic is nothing more than pointing the finger. Would he point a similar finger at Muslim beliefs? I don’t think so.
        ‘See, the Mormon church isn’t standing up to what they should be standing up for’. The folks in Sodom of Gomorrah I think were bullied into not taking a stand against the life styles that were thrown at them. Next we’ll hear that not giving up your families protective firearms to the authorities is well, not very Christ like.

        • 42214 November 10, 2015 at 10:03 pm

          It’s only a matter of political correctness because church extremists created this by establishing conservative dogma. Why is same sex marriage even close to a political position. It’s because religion made it that way. The church made this a political issue, not the gay community.

        • GrandmaB November 11, 2015 at 11:05 am

          NotSoFast, I can’t help but be on the edge of my seat in the drama that is Gods awareness. When science determines that homosexuality is truly not a choice, then will God suddenly realize that He has made a mistake? All those kids being bullied, made to feel different and small, will just be another example of the effects of His ignorance. Kind of like when He discovered Blacks were human? And I thought God was omniscient and omnipotent. I guess not!

          Your referral to Sodom and Gomorrah leads me to the idea that you are outraged over Lot’s willingness to give up his daughters to be raped and maimed by the crowd, just to protect two angles (who, by the way, could not protect themselves, and didn’t bother protecting the daughters).

          No, this is just another wonderful example of the incredible stupidity of and religion that is a cult. Believe the Higher Authority no matter what, and if there is any doubt, then you are guilty of doubting the entire religion.

          I feel for you. What a dilemma?

  • Curtis November 10, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I wonder if this is as great a problem as it initially seems. Typically a member is blessed, then baptized into The Church. The child goes to primary, then Sunday School and Sacrament meetings. They are active in MIA and Seminary. A young man enters the Priesthood. Depending where they live many of their friends and classmates will be LDS. All of this indoctrination and positive reinforcement acts powerfully to keep the child acting and thinking in accordance with the dictates of The One True Church.

    A child raised in a same-sex household will not have this experience; they won’t participate in the formal church indoctrination and will probably be shunned by the children and parents of the more righteous members of The Church. They won’t realize they are not walking the one and only path to salvation.

    If the child and its parents wish for a formal church affiliation they can find one that is loving and supporting and does not teach that the parents are evil and in league with the forces of darkness.

    • Rainbow Dash November 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Curtis, I hope that what you have said is meant to be taken as sarcasm.

      If not…
      “what you have said can be summed up as ” Come as you are so long whatever that is fits in to the mold of what we think you should be because if it doesn’t, we won’t accept you”. Right?

      Mormons proclaim to be Christians and a copy of the King James Version is found along side the Book of Mormon in the pew. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines ‘Christian” as:

      noun Chris·tian \ˈkris-chən, ˈkrish-\

      : a person who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ

      Now that Ive said that I would like you to read John 8:1-11.

      8 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

      2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

      3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

      4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

      5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

      6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

      7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

      8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

      9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

      10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

      11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

      In my opinion, those “more righteous” members of the church you mentioned are not only casting the first stone but casting it in the wrong direction. That’s not very “Christian” if you ask me.

      Oh and you’re absolutely right when you say “If the child and its parents wish for a formal church affiliation they can find one that is loving and supporting and does not teach that the parents are evil and in league with the forces of darkness”. It just won’t be with the Mormons, Obviously.

    • kmarie2 November 11, 2015 at 8:13 am

      I bought into that one true church thing most of my life. Yes I guess if you believe you need a church, which God and Christ will accept everyone. All a church is is a group of people, or a building. The gospel of Christ or teaching of any higher power you believe to be loving and helpful has nothing to do with a one true church. That sounds more like crazy jihadists.

      • Curtis November 14, 2015 at 10:21 am

        I generally accept Abraham Lincoln’s belief —

        “When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior’s condensed statement of the substance of both law and Gospel, ‘Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and thy neighbor as thyself’ that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul.”

        “When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.”

  • Voice of Reason 123 November 10, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    woah, this is a very charged article.

  • Brian November 10, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    More intentional misrepresentation. No surprise there. First, they don’t have to “disavow their parents”, they have to disavow homosexuality, which is perfectly logical for those wanting to serve a mission (this is not a requirement to be baptized, only to serve a mission). Second, disciplinary councils mandatory for those in a same-sex relationship, but the outcome of that council is entirely up to local leaders. This isn’t a change as much as it makes explicit a policy that before was just implicit. Third, if people don’t believe the church is led by God, openly oppose it’s core doctrines, and don’t believe or practice it’s most fundamental tenets, why are they trying to stay in the church and change it. There are plenty of churches more than willing to be “tossed about by every wind of doctrine”. Pick one. I don’t go to Starbucks and get angry that they don’t offer pizzas, and I don’t go to Pizza Hut and whine about not being able to get a $10 espresso. The LGBT community, ordain women, etc are barking up the wrong tree, and I think in most cases for the wrong reasons. Why they even want to belong to a church that claims to be led by a prophet at the same time they’re trying to tell that prophet what to do makes zero sense to me. It’s like people that believe Christ was a great person, or even a prophet, but not the son of God. No, a person that claims to be the son of God is either the son of God or a lunatic, nothing in between. Same with the LDS church. It’s either true or it isn’t. I wholeheartedly, unapologetically believe it is. Each person has to come to their own conclusion on that.

    • 42214 November 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      I wholeheartedly, unapologetically believe it is. I think that’s the last thing a jihadist suicide bomber says before they push the button. You’ve got good company.

    • SteveSGU November 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Amen. Ed shouldn’t be opining about everything, just because he works for the news service. He is not an expert about LDS doctrine and made numerous mistakes in this article.

      • kmarie2 November 11, 2015 at 8:08 am

        Such as? I was raised in the church, raised my kids in the church. Some still attend, as do many of my siblings and my mother. I’ve come to understand the folly of it all. This is the last straw.

    • anybody home November 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      If this church were truly led by God, it would be an entirely different church.

  • Rainbow Dash November 10, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    No not “intentional misinformation”, Just the facts without the Joseph Goebbels-like spin.

  • anybody home November 10, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    For a religion that identifies itself as the church of Jesus Christ, it has perpetrated a very un-Jesus Christ-like act. “Let the little children come to me and DO NOT HINDER THEM…”

    Perpetrators of such acts usually go just one step too far and turn the tables on themselves. It seems that the LDS Church may have done just that and induced the mass resignations of those who understand that punishing innocent children who did not make decisions about gay or not gay is a vulgar thing to do. The old white guys who run the Mormon church will answer for this in the end. No amount of rationalizing or justifying will get the Mormons out of this one…a step too far.

    A wonderful column, Ed. Thanks.

  • mesaman November 10, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Freedom of choice in action; you see the author of a biased, distorted opinion, and you hit the return and go on. Really, Ed, are you that close to Alzheimer’s?

    • 42214 November 10, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Mesa, you are a dangerous zealot that is blindly obedient to extremism. If Ed is close to Alzheimers he has an excuse, you don’t.

  • eddantes56 November 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Ed, your criticisms are largely general and speculative. You do not know what goes on at LDS activities and services. First, consistent with LDS tradition, all children that don’t come from “traditional” LDS families will be loved and treated like all of the other children. As a young child and through my teenage years, my parents were inactive members, smokers and drinkers; however, they made sure I made it to Church activities. Never once did I feel different or ostracized or made fun of because I came from an inactive family. I was picked up regularly by members and was not made fun of.
    Secondly, decisions have consequences and same-sex couples have chosen their lifestyle; Elder Christofferson clearly explained that the principle that trumps in this situation is to not create contention between the family and the child.
    Third, no organization can survive if it has no rules or standards. The liberal progressives what anyone with any philosophy to have equal standing in the LDS Church. That is silly; as mentioned by other commenters, if the LDS does not provide what same sex parents are looking for, then find another Church.

    The peanut gallery knows not of what it talks. It would be refreshing to see Ed and his minions of liberal progressives, who claim to be concerned about children, take up the cause of the 1 million + human beings that are aborted every year in the U.S. as a means of contraception; not for any reason other than the convenience of the mother. Now that is sad!

    • kmarie2 November 11, 2015 at 8:04 am

      But they will not be included. They will not be members, will be ostracized.

    • GrandmaB November 11, 2015 at 8:45 am

      First, I have a granddaughter that was trying to attend Young Women’s. One parent is not a member and one is inactive. She got into an altercation with some of the other girls, they lied. The Teachers came to my daughters house and basically told her that they would believe the members before my granddaughter. They lied about something my daughter had done, and the lie was easily laid to rest. They did not change their attitude. My granddaughter will never go back, it is her decision.
      Second, that is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. Your an idiot, and so is the church leaders for extending it.
      Third, fetuses are not human beings. These live children are. You are more concerned for the unborn than the ones that are here!

      I guess this is the reason that Utah has the highest incidence of child sexual abuse. Men running a church that was founded on polygamy.

      This is why the church loses so many members every year. And why their missionary work has increased in underdeveloped countries. Losing money? You

      • eddantes56 November 11, 2015 at 10:39 pm

        Your story is not credible. What was the altercation? according to who? The teachers called your granddaughter a liar? Highly unlikely. I don’t believe you. I don’t know what happened in your youth or adulthood that made you a bitter grandma….that is something you need to work through.

        Fetuses are human; at the 10-20 week development, they move, feel pain, etc, etc. Your non-chalant treatment of these innocent human beings clearly demonstrates your hypocracy.

        Seems like a lib prog who seeks tolerance should not call people an “idiot” You have offended me and I do not feel that I am in a safe place. You shouldn’t treat people that way……

        As far as your generalized stats arguments, it is ridiculous…..assuming those stats are fabricated like the climate change stats, there is absolutely no proof of a causal relationship between the LDS church and sexual abuse. Utah is only approx 60 percent LDS and the carpet baggers from other states have brought the meth, gangs and other degradation to this state.

        As a female, why don’t you found a Church run by women and show the country and the world that real community and spirit of fairness and tolerance exists in your church……….that’s what I thought.

        You are a typical fascist hypocrite. Prepare to live out your life disappointed……if you so choose

        • GrandmaB November 12, 2015 at 12:50 pm

          Oh Eddie, you are letting your stripes show. I don’t care if you believe my story or not. I don’t lie. Not like the Church, and its members do. I am not bitter, but I get angry when people hurt my family. The home teachers, with a teacher from the Young Women’s stood right in my daughters kitchen and made that comment. So, screw you Eddie. I don’t care what you believe. My Granddaughter might have continued, and eventually gotten baptized, except for this betrayal. Another one down the drain. Several of her friends no long are active. And that is why. The hypocrisy and discrimination of the Church. Now it is going to be even worse for some children. You are all bleeding fanatics in a cult.

          And the ability of a 20 week old FETUS to survive on their own, outside the uterus, is very, very limited. Until it can, it is not a human being. Rant all you want about the lies you are told to make you a rabid anti-abortion rights of women. Again, I really don’t care.

          I have to laugh about your blaming all the carpet baggers from other states for the problems you have here. I am familiar with the meth trafficking in St. George, and the child sexual abuse, as a social worker. And believe me, there are as many J. Mormons involved as not. LOL, stick your head in the sand and get your butt kicked. Again, I really don’t care.

          Obviously you have no idea what fascism entails. So, I won’t even bother responding. Oh wait….
          1.an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
          synonyms: authoritarianism · totalitarianism · dictatorship ·
          .(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.

          synonyms: authoritarianism · totalitarianism · dictatorship ·
          despotism · autocracy · Nazism · rightism · nationalism · xenophobia · racism · anti-Semitism · jingoism · isolationism · neofascism · neo-Nazism
          Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press

          You have probably been brainwashed since birth. I can’t really blame you. The constant referral to a “Higher Authority” meaning the Prophet and his Q. of 12; (Christ and the Apostles??); just indicates you are not taught to think for yourselves. All of this for a sex-cult, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and their many, many wives. Neither of whom ever recanted the beliefs. They had to change the territorial laws to be recognized as a State.

          Ed. ellipsis

          • eddantes56 November 12, 2015 at 11:29 pm

            You are wrong on all counts. You don’t even know what the history of Fascism is; try a central authoritarian government. The exact same government you, Obama and your Democrats friends are shoving down the throats of Americans. The Classic Liberal foundation of our country is something you hate and don’t understand. Even so, all of the freedoms and prosperity that you enjoy comes from those white men. That must really roil you.

            It would be nice to see so-called “social workers” go live in the third world and experience life based on the principles Democrats and many Republicans have bred into our culture.

            You didn’t answer my question….why don’t you create a fair and compassionate church. As a woman and granny, you must have a reservoir of wisdom that goes beyond any church. No, you have no ideas…..like the student-led mobs at Yale, and the Univ of Missouri and Ithaca College, you want to burn the existing structure down……..and replace it with what? You have no answer because your liberal prog philosophy is a social and economic dumpster fire…….how do we know…..look at the listing of the U.S. since the mid 1960s…..we are circling the drain……you must be proud.

            Sad and pathetic how some women believe that killing a baby is the proper response to forgetting or intentionally not using contraceptives. And you pontificate on how the innocent are being hurt……disturbing, very disturbing

            The culture war will not end because the divide is too great; we will reconvene in 30 years and see how the our country has divided even further.

            In the end, you exist because of those founding white men and the inspired principles they weaved into our Constitution; while carried out by mortals, it is the best every produced and yes we can improve on it….but not “fundamentally transform” it.

          • sagemoon November 13, 2015 at 9:00 am

            Eddie, you are a deluded nut case. You are the type of male who will never be attractive to a real woman. By the way, I am not a liberal progressive. I am a highly educated woman who can see through your sexist philosophy. Opinions like yours make me sick. I’m glad most men are more enlightened than you are.

          • 42214 November 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm

            Liberal democrats use a ploy against women saying if you’re not pro choice, you are anti woman and part of the war on women. Republican conservatives use the ploy if you’re not religious you can’t be conservative. Well, I think both sides are wrong. I see a lot of assumptions from guys like ed56 and Mesaman that you’re an Obama loving liberal because you don’t agree with his religious family values. Well isn’t that priceless. Why can’t you be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Why can’t you be strict law and order and strong military but not religious. Why can’t you believe that all citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law, not just the good God fearing ones.

  • .... November 11, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Toilet is clogged up again. I gotta call a plumber

  • kmarie2 November 11, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Thank you Ed, you expressed perfectly the truth. I appreciate you putting into words my feelings.

  • GrandmaB November 11, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Ed Kociela, this is one of the best responses I have read. Thank you! I have know about the negative statistics for a long time. Utah has held that place for years. The church has done nothing.

    • Brian November 12, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      You should look into the details without just taking Ed’s word for it (and Ed just regurgitated what he got from KUTV, almost verbatim: http://kutv.com/news/local/utah-has-high-rates-of-child-abuse-sex-abuse-of-children). In the KUTV article it specifically mentioned “Carrie Jensen of Prevent Child Abuse said Utah has tougher laws than other states and may pursue child abuse more vigorously and that might help explain the high rates.“. Naturally Ed left that line out because it doesn’t fit his agenda. The numbers quoted don’t compare the percentage of children who are sexually abused, it compares the number of criminals who are sexual abusers compared to those that aren’t. That is a MASSIVE difference, and harsher laws would have a profound affect on that statistic while actually helping Utah children more than other states, not less.

      • 42214 November 12, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        I’d be interested to know what Utah laws are so much tougher than other states. Wild assertion without facts. I know from practical experience it’s easier to catch fish if there are a lot of fish in the water. Maybe there are more arrests because there are more child abusers in Utah. To say Utah has tougher laws and pursues abusers more aggressively is BS. Nice spin though.

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