Mormons and Non-Mormons Gather for candlelight vigil of LDS Church's New Policy
(KUTV)It was a quiet gathering of about 200 people Sunday night at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City. Mormons and Non-Mormons alike gathered to show support in what organizers billed as a candlelight vigil.
"We stand with you. No matter who you are, and no matter where your spiritual path leads you," Kathy Carlston from Affirmation told the crowd, "We stand in solidarity with all those children, individuals and families being pushed away. We mourn with those being harmed by this policy."
It was Thursday when the LDS church's online handbook changed to reflect a new policy restricting children who live with a parent in a same gender relationship from being named or blessed and added to the records and in being baptized until a number of requirements are met, including being at least 18.
It's a policy church leaders say was made in an effort to protect children.
"I'm disappointed," Rick Gardner told 2News at the gathering, "I thought the church was making progress toward the LGBT community and I think this has set us back."
Gardner said he remembers not understanding the church's stance withholding priesthood from blacks in the faith, "They've made great steps in that direction, fortunately, and I'm hoping they will with this, too."
"These policies are not of Christ. They are not inspired or revelatory," Matt Chambers told the crowd. He said at the age of 53, after being married nearly 30 years and holding numerous leadership positions in the church, he came out. He said he knows how hard the journey can be and knows how many others will need extra support in the wake of the LDS church's policy change.
"You know I've loved the church for many years and it has brought me great joy," Holly Crosby from the group Mama Dragons told the group, "but if I had to choose between my church and my son, I pick my son."
"God loves all his little children," young Steel Larson told 2News Sunday.
His mother Breanna Larson, who is Mormon, said after taking her sons to church earlier in the day she felt the need to take them to the candlelight protest, "I want to show them the world of tolerance and love. We stand together and support each other."
She says it took her a while to process the news of the policy change in the church, but has now come to terms with it and stands strong with her belief to be LDS, "It doesn't change my faith in Jesus, and it doesn't change my faith in the human experience and that we can move forward on both sides."
"There's a certain amount of poetry with us standing out in the cold tonight, because many of us feel that's where we are standing," one protestor told the crowd, "but I think we need to know and look around and see that we are not alone, no matter how cold we feel or alone we may feel."
Rees Davidson says this new policy caused him to withdraw his membership from the church, "It's been an emotional time."
His candle had gone out while speaking to 2News and Davidson said it seemed, sadly, fitting, "I was looking at the flickering flame as it was dying and I just thought it's a tragic symbol of my faith."
Although he said at the Sunday night gathering, he found comfort and hope.
Organizers handed out information on various resources available to those who may be suicidal in the wake of the change.
Suicide Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860