US & Canada

Mormons plan 'mass resignation' over policies for gay people

This Aug. 4, 2015,,file photo, flowers bloom in front of the Salt Lake Temple, at Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. Image copyright AP
Image caption The protest will be held near the Temple Square in Salt Lake City

A group of Mormons have planned a "mass resignation" after leaders changed church policies regarding gay people.

The rules, which were not meant to be made public, say children living with a gay parent cannot be baptised until they are 18 and only when they renounce homosexuality.

The new rules also say members can be expelled from the church if they enter into a gay marriage.

Both liberal and conservative Mormon groups have criticised the changes.

"The surprising impact has been the amount of people who are confused and troubled and disturbed and, frankly, repulsed," Mormon scholar Patrick Mason told Reuters.

"And these aren't just progressives and LGBT advocates. They are saying, 'This doesn't feel right. This doesn't square with me.'"

Image copyright AP
Image caption The church had been pursuing a more welcoming approach towards gay people before the new rules

It is a departure for the church, which recently has softened its approach on gay issues and backed a Utah state law that provided legal protections for gay people.

The new policies appear in an internal church handbook, but the changes were leaked to the public this month.

They appear to be in response to a US Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal nationwide in June.

Church officials defended the change, saying in a statement: "All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love. They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities."

Mr Mason said the backlash had been so great that church officials may be forced to revise the rules.

More than 1,000 people plan to attend the "mass resignation" rally on Saturday at a park across from the church's headquarters in Salt Lake City.

However, it is unclear how many of those people have already left the Mormon church.

Church member Sarah Epperson plans to resign at the rally on Saturday.

"Any church that wants to claim itself as a Christian organisation that uses Jesus Christ the saviour to somehow exclude any group of people is not anything that I want to be a part of," Ms Epperson told the New York Times.

Related Topics

More on this story