What Would Jesus Do? He would mount a church-wide campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Thomas S. Monson, president and so-called prophet of the Mormon Church, wrote a letter in 2008 encouraging California Mormons to donate money and vote in favor of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. This was back when the Church was supposed to remain politically neutral.
Monson’s letter has been read repeatedly in Mormon churches, and opponents of the forthcoming initiative have credited LDS members with giving the Yes on 8 camp an edge in donations and volunteers.
Late last night, it was announced that Monson passed away of natural causes at the age of 90, leaving a vacancy at the top of the Church hierarchy. Instead of talking about his complete legacy, including how Monson helped ban gay marriage (at least temporarily), violating his own Church’s pledge of political neutrality, the leadership is casting him as a hero who “followed Jesus.”
President Monson, who has served as president of the Church since February 2008, leaves behind a legacy of service and good works. A successor is not expected to be formally chosen by the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until after President Monson’s funeral.
To the more than 16 million members of the Church around the world, President Monson was an example of one who followed Jesus Christ.
“He loved the cultures of the world, and deeply respected them. And particularly the faith of the people,” said President Henry B. Eyring, who served as first counselor in the First Presidency.
“He oversaw some major changes in the Church including the lowering of the age in which young Mormons are eligible to serve as missionaries and the infamous revelation from 2015 which banned the participation of the children of gay people in church until they turn 18 and disavow their parents’ same sex marriage.”
John Dehlin, another critic of the LDS Church who hosts the Mormon Stories Podcast, had some positive things to say. Monson inspired him when he was a young man, Dehlin said, and he was “clearly committed and dutiful to his faith/church.”
But Dehlin also told us Monson presided over “the largest wave of disaffection/apostasy that the LDS church has experienced since the 1830s.”
“He presided over the spiritually violent excommunication of dozens of questioning/doubting conservative, progressive, and post-Mormons (including my own), He implemented disastrous and sometimes deadly LGBT policies (Prop 8 and Nov 2015 policy). Unfortunately, in this regard he and his follow apostles have blood on their hands (I say this regretfully).
I don’t take any delight in Monson’s death. After all, the Church will undoubtedly continue his anti-LGBTQ agenda with whomever is appointed as its next president. That said, after a notable person’s death, it’s important not to sugarcoat their legacy by ignoring the awful things they did. They must be remembered for the good and the bad, not simply as people who followed Jesus in everything they did, as if that makes up for any bad decisions they made during their lives. Otherwise we’ll end up making the same mistakes again and again.
(Screenshot via YouTube)