SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Thursday announced a major shift in its controversial “November Policy,” which barred children of same-sex couples from being baptized and labeled same-sex couples apostates.
The announcement was made on the Church’s Newsroom website.
“At the direction of the First Presidency, President Oaks shared that effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism,” the announcement read.
“A nonmember parent or parents (including LGBT parents) can request that their baby be blessed by a worthy priesthood holder,” it continued.
“Church officials say parents need to understand that congregation members will contact them periodically, and that when the child who has been blessed reaches 8 years of age, a Church member will contact them and propose that the child be baptized.”
“Previously, our Handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy. While the church considers such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline.”
Still, sex outside of marriage (heterosexual or homosexual) will be treated equally, the Church said.
”The very positive policies announced this morning should help affected families. In addition, our members’ efforts to show more understanding, compassion and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of goodwill. We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today. We are optimistic that a majority of people — whatever their beliefs and orientations — long for better understanding and less contentious communications. That is surely our desire, and we seek the help of our members and others to attain it.”
Church officials say these new policies are being sent to priesthood leaders worldwide and will be included in online updates to our Church Handbook for leaders.
The changes do not represent a shift in Church doctrine related to marriage or the commandments of God in regard to chastity and morality, the Church also announced. “The doctrine of the plan of salvation and the importance of chastity will not change. These policy changes come after an extended period of counseling with our brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and after fervent, united prayer to understand the will of the Lord on these matters,” the announcement read.
Read the church’s full statement here.