"Salt Lake Temple, Utah" by Entheta / CC BY 2.5

Did the 2015 Mormon LGBT exclusion policy drive a mass exodus out of the Church?

May 29, 2019

By Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll

In April, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reversed an unpopular 2015 policy aimed at curbing the participation of LGBT church members and their children (see here for more background). Since the reversal, children of same-sex couples are once again eligible for baptism, and their parents are not subject to automatic disciplinary councils just for being in a same-sex relationship.

During the three and a half years the policy was in place, it was controversial—resulting not only in outside criticism but in internal dissent. Media coverage emphasized that the policy alone was responsible for causing thousands of people to leave the faith. In the Next Mormons Survey, though, we did not see dramatic evidence that the “LGBT exclusion policy” by itself resulted in widespread disaffection.

For starters, as has been reported previously, American Latter-day Saints were generally positive about the 2015 exclusion policy. Close to a year after its implementation, the NMS found that 71% of Mormons in the United States were either somewhat or strongly in agreement with the first half of the policy, which defined “same-sex marriage as apostasy and automatically trigger[ed] a disciplinary council.” Support for the second half of the exclusion policy, which denied baptisms and baby blessings for children of same-sex couples, was somewhat lower but still in majority territory.

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