What do we do when a Church policy conflicts with our own sense of morality, our understanding of the gospel and the deepest feelings of our hearts? How do we negotiate the territory between obedience to authority and obedience to our own inner compass?
Friday, October 28, 2016, 7:30-9:30 pm
Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT
Please come in the back door if you arrive late.
In regard to the Church’s policy on LGBT parents and their children, a prominent Latter-day Saint leader said, “It is the first time a Church policy has conflicted with my own sense of morality.” Rumi said there should be no division between what our hearts love and how we act in the world. What do we do when a Church policy conflicts with our own sense of morality, our understanding of the gospel and the deepest feelings of our hearts? How do we negotiate the territory between obedience to authority and obedience to our own inner compass? These and other questions will form the basis of a discussion with Bob Rees on the Church’s LGBT policy.
Berkeley Professor of Mormon Studies; Former Bishop; Former editor of Dialogue; Ally of gays and forever families; Ally of starving LDS children; Ally of mothers with AIDS; Ally of his beloved but imperfect church.
Bob co-authored (with Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University) Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children—hailed by many as the best resource for LDS parents and leaders with LGBT children and young people in their families and congregations. In addition to his writings on LGBT people and the Church, Bob is well known in the LDS community for his explorations of other LDS-related issues, from the Book of Mormon to a broad array of subjects relating to Mormon culture and religion. The former editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Bob continues to make significant contributions to Mormon scholarship in such journals and presses as Dialogue, Sunstone , The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University Press, Signature Books, and other venues.
Bob Rees is currently completing the second volume of Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons, a collection of poetry, a musical on the American Dream, and various articles and essays on Mormon religion and culture. He recently returned from Haiti where he was helping set up a program for malnourished LDS children on behalf of the Liahona Children’s Foundation.
For the past twenty years Bob has been active in humanitarian and interfaith work. Currently he serves on the Advisory Board of S.A.F.E. (Save African Families Enterprise), a non-profit organization providing antiviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women in Zimbabwe. He is a founding member and Vice-President of the Liahona Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides nutrition and education to children in the developing world.
Bob has taught at the University of Wisconsin, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he was also a Fulbright Professor of American Studies (1995-96). Currently he teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and at the University of California, Berkeley. He blogs on LGBT issues at www.nomorestrangers: LGBTMormonForum.
Bob’s views on homosexuality evolved rapidly in the 1980s when he was called as bishop of the Los Angeles Singles Ward. “I could no longer reconcile what I had been taught about homosexuality by my church and culture with my experience with those to whom I had been called to be a spiritual guide and pastor,” Bob later confessed. “What I discovered was that most if not all of these gay and lesbian Mormons had accepted the idea that they were terribly flawed in the eyes of their family, their church, their culture and God, and that unless they could find some way out of the labyrinth in which they found themselves, they had little hope of happiness in this world or the next.” Near the end of his term as bishop, Bob gave a major address in sacrament meeting titled “No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality.” Later published, this was the first in a number of important publications in which Bob challenged the LDS community to treat LGBT people with love and respect, to seek for greater understanding and compassion, and to “turn our hearts with greater love and acceptance toward all those whom we consider strangers.”
Bob is the author or co-author of a number of publications relating to LGBT issues, including “A Failure of Love,” in Michelle Beaver, The Gay-Mormon Decade: Changing a Church from Within (2013); “Forward” to Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones (2007); A Guide for Latter-day Saint Families Dealing with Homosexual Attraction (2002); The Persistence of Same-Sex Attraction in Latter-day Saints Who Undergo Counseling or Change Therapy (2004); “Requiem for a Gay Mormon” (2007); “’In a Dark Time the Eye Begins to See’: Personal Reflections on Homosexuality among the Mormons at the Beginning of a New Millennium,” (Dialogue 33:3 [Fall 2000]) (winner of the Lowell Bennion Award); No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality (1998), trans. Into Spanish by Hugo Olaiz, “El Amor y la Imaginación Cristiana.”
Worthwhile writings by Bob:
Bob’s essays and poetry are mindful and soulful. You will be grateful and enlightened by them.
Below is an iPhone recording of our evening with Bob Rees. Thanks to one of our members for sharing it.