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“A SPIRITUAL HOME” FORUM 2019

BUILDING BRIDGES FOR SEXUAL AND GENDER MINORITIES IN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

In an address in 2017, President M. Russell Ballard identified the importance of LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints having “a spiritual home” in the LDS Church. This annual forum brings together academic, ecclesiastical, and community voices in a way that broadens what is too often an entrenched debate around the experience of sexual and gender minorities and the LDS Church. Without minimizing the conflict or offering simplistic solutions, this annual forum invites all participants to dig deep into new ways of thinking about the issue.

The following are videos and transcripts from the 2019 forum.


STERLING M. MCMURRIN LECTURE ON RELIGION AND CULTURE:
TAYLOR PETREY: “PROBLEMS AND POSSIBILITIES: MORMONISM, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY” 

TRANSCRIPT (VIDEO COMING SOON)

⁖ Professor Petrey presented a formal analysis of LDS doctrine on gender and sexuality, its expression in Mormon culture, and a synthesis of the two in the LDS vision of eternal relationships.  In his exploration of Mormonism’s unique sacralization of marriage and family, he interrogated the exclusivity of Mormon notions of eternal gender roles and heterosexual pairing. 


WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS (VIDEO COMING SOON)

KENDALL WILCOX – Conducting

DR. PAUL REEVE – Mormon Studies Initiative, University of Utah

ERIKA MUNSONTRANSCRIPT


“CUSTODIANS OF DOCTRINE AND THE WORK OF EMPATHY”

(VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT COMING SOON)

An increasing number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are challenged by what they see as an inherent conflict between the doctrines of their church that result in exclusion of some LGBTQ+ people and the commandment to love all of God’s children. Dr. Philip Barlow explored this realm by analyzing the myriad factors that contribute to this sense of conflict; the theology, doctrine, church history and culture as well as the very human experiences of love, family resilience, Christlike compassion and empathy. Dr. Barlow did not attempt to reconcile or “fix” the conflict but rather maped it out in a way that sincerely reflects members’ experience. He also provided a historical view of how the LDS Church has responded to this tension over the decades. 

DR. PHILIP BARLOW is the associate director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. Having previously served as the Leonard Arrington Chair of Mormon History & Culture at Utah State University, his teaching engages religion and human suffering, religion and the concept of “time,” American religious history, and Joseph Smith’s Restoration. He has also served as president of the Mormon History Association.


PANEL RESPONSE

Dr. Robert Rees moderated a panel in response to the keynote address. Each panelist gave 8 minutes of prepared remarks responding to the keynote. The moderator followed up with prepared questions to interrogate their responses.

SUNNY SMART  – TRANSCRIPT(VIDEO COMING SOON)

JOHN GUSTAV-WRATHALL – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

JODIE PALMER TRANSCRIPT(VIDEO COMING SOON)

SAMANTHA RICHARDSON – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

MODERATORDR. ROBERT REES – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)


“TRAFFICKING IN LGBTQ+ MORMON STORIES”

⁖ Personal stories of LGBTQ+ members of the LDS Church are frequently trafficked and traded in order to bolster or debunk different life journeys, to condemn or validate personal choices, or to score doctrinal or political points. Even in stories about our own experiences, do we treat ourselves as objects rather than subjects? Do we commodify ourselves? Do we create avatars of ourselves rather than accurate reflections of our whole selves? Panelists engaged in a moderated discussion about how the LDS and LGBTQ+ communities traffic in these stories – for good and ill. As both storytellers and story-producers, panelists dug deep and were vulnerable in offering genuine and insightful answers to the myriad ethical questions that must be considered in sharing and curating LGBTQ+ stories.

Each panelist gave prepared remarks after which the moderator interrogated their remarks with prepared follow up questions and moderates 15-minutes of audience Q&A.

KEVIN RANDALL – TRANSCRIPT(VIDEO COMING SOON)

TOM CHRISTOFFERSON – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

EMMETT MICHAEL CLAREN TRANSCRIPT(VIDEO COMING SOON)

JENN LEE SMITH – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

MODERATORBLAIRE OSTLER is a philosopher specialized in queer studies, and is a leading voice at the intersection of queer, Mormon, and transhumanist thought. She is an author publishing her first book, “Queer Mormon Theology: An Introduction.” She is a board member of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the Christian Transhumanist Association, and Sunstone.


“CREATING INCLUSION AND OVERCOMING BIAS: HOW STEREOTYPING WORKS AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT”

(VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT COMING SOON)

DR. WILLIAM COX is an Assistant Scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Psychology of the College of Letters and Science. His work focuses on understanding and undermining the broad reach of narrow thinking. Specifically, he studies cultural, social, cognitive, and neural mechanisms that perpetuate stereotypes and prejudice, and leverages basic science about those mechanisms to develop and refine interventions to reduce the expression of stereotyping and prejudice. William was raised in the LDS Church and identifies as gay and is in a committed relationship with a man.


“QUEER RELIGIOUS TRAUMA AND POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH”

VIDEO

LGBTQ+ Mormons experience distress, trauma, and suicidal ideation at disproportionately higher rates than their LDS Church member cohort. This reality has featured prominently in headlines for several years. Dr. Brian Simmons presented his recent research exploring the relationships between religious orientations, orthodoxy, spiritual trauma, and PTSD in LGBTQ+ Mormons and ex-Mormons. Dr. Michael Staley presented a snapshot of his ongoing work in the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office attempting to understand suicidality rates in Utah – particularly within the LGBTQ+ population. Based on his decades of research and counseling practice focusing on resolving sexual, religious, and social conflicts Dr. Lee Beckstead presented a road map for how queer religious people, distressed by their experiences in faith communities, can experience post-traumatic growth.

Each panelist gave prepared remarks after which the moderator interrogated their remarks with prepared follow up questions and then moderated 15-minutes of audience Q&A.

DR. BRIAN SIMMONS TRANSCRIPTSLIDES(VIDEO COMING SOON)

DR. MICHAEL STALEYTRANSCRIPT – (VIDEO COMING SOON)

DR. LEE BECKSTEAD SLIDES – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

MODERATOR: DR. LISA HANSEN TRANSCRIPT (VIDEO COMING SOON)


“A CASE FOR QUEER INCLUSION AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”

VIDEO

In the aftermath of U.S. marriage equality, dominant political and legal rhetoric tends to pit religious liberty against LGBTQ+ rights. In this context, the LDS Church has been a prominent voice advocating for greater religious liberty protections. Mormon legislators have sponsored versions of a “religious freedom restoration act” across the country. But what if religion, sexuality, and gender identity were not seen as being at odds and instead LGBTQ+ equality were pursued on the basis of religious liberty? A growing number of mainstream faiths affirm same-sex couples’ relationships, including solemnizing their marriages. Diverse faith groups and religious observers also affirm LGBTQ+ persons’ place in civic life and agree that faith-based organizations not only should not discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals when those organizations enter the civil sphere but they should in fact defend LGBTQ+ rights as an expression of religious freedom and liberty. This panel of adjudicators, litigators and legal scholars explored the potential impact of legal and legislative efforts to protect LGBTQ+ rights on religious liberty grounds. 

Each panelist gave prepared remarks after which the moderator interrogated their remarks with prepared follow up questions and then moderated 15-minutes of audience Q&A.

CHRISTINE DURHAM – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

SHANNON MINTER – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

ALEXANDER DUSHKU – (TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO COMING SOON)

MODERATORBEN COOK is an associate professor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School and director of the Center for Conflict Resolution. He is a Utah court-qualified mediator, having received his training and taught negotiation through the Harvard Mediation Program at the Harvard Negotiation Institute.


LAURA SKAGGS DULIN: “WHAT MAKES AN LGBTQ+ HEART BEAT? A RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT NELSON’S BYU DEVOTIONAL”

TRANSCRIPTVIDEO