I am an emotional person. In fact, I sometimes allow my emotions to control me, and that often leads me in the wrong direction, leaving me with regrets great and small. One emotion I keep to myself in most company (close family the only exceptions) is sadness. While I cry, and I have cried often, it is not something I allow myself to do in public. I am not ashamed of it; I just don’t do it often outside of the privacy of my own home. A few days ago, while driving down the interstate, a Neon Trees song started to play on the radio. It led me through a flash of thoughts that settled on Tyler Glenn’s sexuality. In light of recent news headlines revolving around the LDS Church, I could not stop the tears that quickly followed.
If you are a Mormon, you have probably heard about the recent actions taken against Kate Kelly, founder of OrdainWomen.org and John Dehlin, founder of MormonStories.org. Even if you are not a Mormon but follow news outlets closely, you have likely heard something about this action. For clarification I will offer a brief synopsis. Kate Kelly’s organization offers the following explanation as their mission:
“Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormons to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”
John Dehlin’s “crimes” include podcasts and writings in which he has openly expressed doubts about certain Church teachings. Also, he presents himself as a strong LGBTQ ally, fully supporting the rights of these people and their full acceptance into and participation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Last week, news outlets reported (and Kate and John confirmed) that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin had received letters from local ecclesiastical leaders inviting each to a “Court of Love.” This is essentially a euphemism for “Church Disciplinary Council.” Regardless of the reasons claimed for this action (or what the “real” reasons are) a lot of people see it as the persecution of faithful, kind, loving church members with sincere questions.
When we consider the following headlines, it is not hard to imagine the general public perception: “Two Activists in Mormon Church Threatened With Excommunication” (New York Times), “Two prominent Mormon activists threatened with excommunication” (Reuters), “Excommunication With a Smile: Mormon Activists Face Kangaroo Courts” (The Daily Beast), “Mormon Activists Who Pushed For Acceptance Of Women, Gays Threatened With Excommunication” (BuzzFeed), etc. People can question the credibility of some of these websites and some of their sources, sure, but the bottom line is that these are the stories people are reading, Mormons and non-Mormons. Pretty much everyone believes that the Church has threatened Kate and John with excommunication for seeking for more acceptance of others and more equality in the church.
I am not writing this article to make any judgment on the matter but to share the prominent observation in my mind and in my heart, even the thought that brought tears to my eyes as I listened to Tyler Glenn belt it out on the radio. Considering public perception, within and without the Church, about what Kate and John have done, should both Kate Kelly and John Dehlin receive severe punishment up to and including excommunication, what does an openly gay Mormon, like Tyler Glenn, who loves the Church, do then? Take a moment and consider the consequences. This is why I cried.