Title

"He Just Wanted Me To Do What Was Best for Me": Latter-Day Saint Clergy's Counsel to Sexual and Gender Minorities and its Impact

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Religions

Volume

13

Issue

6

Publisher

MDPI AG

Publication Date

5-29-2022

First Page

492

Last Page

492

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to understand counsel given to sexual and gender minority individuals by clergy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (CJCLDS), the impact of that counsel, and individuals’ perceptions of meetings with clergy. Twenty-five current and former members of the CJCLDS who identify as sexual and gender minorities (SGM) participated in 30–60 min semi-structured interviews focused on their interactions with clergy in the CJCLDS. Participants reported receiving various forms of counsel, including encouragement to adhere to church doctrine, counsel focused on self-acceptance, messages that clergy would support congregants’ agency and self-determination, counsel focused on increasing faith, and no answers. Participants reported a variety of perceptions of meetings with clergy including wishing clergy were more educated on the experiences of SGMs, hurtful experiences, expectations of mistreatment, recognition that clergy are doing their best, and gratitude for clergy. Interactions with clergy had long-lasting and far-reaching consequences including loss of trust in religious leaders, restriction of church membership, disengagement from faith, engagement with faith, nuanced or lost beliefs, and impacts on mental health. Results suggest that Latter-day Saints clergy working with SGM individuals may be experienced as most effective when they provide safe and supportive spaces for congregants to share their experiences, use approaches that focus on self-determination and agency, seek education/training from CJCLDS-specific LGBTQ+ organizations, and recognize that many SGM congregants approach interactions with clergy with trepidation and fears of mistreatment

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