I was struck by an essay I read yesterday on the new policies announced by the Mormon Church about their LGBT members’ and those member’s children. Not only is the act of two men or two women marrying now a cause to be thrown out of the Mormon Church, these ‘sins’ now pass to the children as well. The children of LGBT parents can no longer participate in certain church rituals, such as being “baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary” until they are eighteen years of age and renounce their gay parents’ marriage or co-habitation and commit to the values of the Church.
These acts of the Mormon Church are nothing short of a religious cleansing reminiscent of what takes place in many cults. A staple of many cults is that members are no longer permitted to talk to or associate with family members who do not strongly believe what the cult does. For a wonderful book on cults that talks about this phenomena, see Steven Hassan’s book, Combating Cult Mind Control.
When the Mormons codify a policy where children are kept from Church rituals until they are eighteen, based on their parent’s sexual orientation, and then at eighteen must renounce their parents, this is an outright attempt to cleanse the religion. The Mormons clearly want a pure religion, cleansed of a large portion of God’s children who he chose to make LGBT.
What I find striking is that this policy by the Mormon Church is a cleansing of the Church on a mass scale. The Mormons have 15.4 million members according to Wikipedia. If 10% of Mormons are LGBT, this policy impacts 1.5 million Mormons and their offspring. The reach of this new policy, and the lives damaged, is enormous.
This kind of religious cleansing takes place in so many ultra-religious groups around the world. Hassidim, the ultra-religious sect within the Jewish religion, shun those individuals who do not meet certain community standards. Being LGBT in the Hassidic community has long been a reason to be shunned. We somehow expect this kind of extreme behavior from groups we see as on the fringe or groups that have the ‘ultra’ label. But we do not expect this kind of draconian policy-making on a grand scale from the world’s larger religions.
The Mormons, in my mind, have moved from broader religion to an ultra-religious sect, overnight. They have demonstrated how little tolerance exists in Mormonism for anything seen as different or not fitting into their view of what and who a Mormon should be. And they have taken the wrong side of history and shown that they have become more of a religious cult than many of us understood. Lastly, they have determined to damage and potentially ruin the lives of millions of children who will be affected by this policy.