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Mormon Church Adjusts Antigay Policy on Kids' Baptism — Barely

Mormon Church Adjusts Antigay Policy on Kids' Baptism — Barely

Mormon Leaders

The church will still deny baptism to most children of same-sex couples.

The Mormon Church announced minor changes to one of its new antigay policies Friday, but it may well not satisfy the many people offended by the church's stand -- hundreds of whom plan to resign their membership Saturday.

The church "tweaked" its new policy on baptism of children of same-sex couples, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Earlier this month the church updated its leadership manual to say children living with parents who are in a same-sex relationship could not be baptized until they turned 18, and then only if they stop living with their parents and take a position opposing such relationships.

"A clarification released Friday by the faith's governing First Presidency said that applies only to children whose 'primary residence' is with a same-sex couple," the Tribune reports. "If a child spends weekends with a parent in a same-sex relationship, for instance, he or she still can receive a naming blessing, be baptized or go on a proselytizing mission like any other Mormon."

Also, a child of same-sex parents who has already been baptized does not have to be excluded from church activities, although decisions about this "should be made by local leaders with their prime consideration being the preparation and best interests of the child," Mormon officials said.

There was no "tweak" to the other new policy -- that entering into a same-sex marriage constitutes apostasy, that is, rejection of church teachings, and is grounds for punishment up to and including dismissal from the faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is formally known, has long opposed same-sex relationship -- saying gays and lesbians could be faithful Mormons if celibate -- but such relationships have not previously been included in its definition of apostasy.

The handbook says these policies "have been approved by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" (the latter is pictured above), the two highest governing bodies of the church.

On the policy regarding children, "the new clarification from the church helps children who are being raised by both gay and heterosexual parents," Troy Williams, executive director of LGBT rights group Equality Utah, told the Tribune. "However, we are disappointed that children born of same-sex parents must still 'disavow' their parents' marriage. This is a hurtful requirement for any child."

As of Friday night, more than 1,000 people had signed up on Facebook to attend a "Mass Resignation From Mormonism Event," to be held Saturday afternoon in a park adjacent to the church's headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City. The event is billed as a gathering for people who wish to resign from the church and anyone who wants to support them, and many of the attendees plan to fill out resignation forms and deliver them to the church.

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