Mormon Leader Outlines Opposition To Gay Marriage
SALT LAKE CITY -- A Mormon leader is reiterating the church's opposition to gay marriage.
Neil L. Andersen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve said Saturday during the church's biannual general conference that changing definitions of marriage by governments doesn't change the Lord's guidance.
Andersen said God defined marriage as between a man and woman and designed it not just for the personal satisfaction of adults, but to create the ideal setting for children to be nurtured.
The church's message on homosexuality has softened in recent years, but this marks the second consecutive conference in which leaders have talked about their opposition to gay marriage.
Utah's same-sex marriage ban was overturned by a federal judge in December. The state has an appeal pending before a federal appeals court.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
A Mormon church leader encouraged missionaries on Saturday to stay strong amid the inevitable personal abuse they will encounter.
The message from Jeffrey Holland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve came during one of the opening speeches of a two-day general conference underway in Salt Lake City.
Holland called on a record number of young missionaries serving around the world to defend their beliefs no matter how brutal the backlash.
He relayed the story of a young woman who was spit on and had food thrown at her during her mission by a man who didn't want to hear their message. He highlighted the fact that she resisted the urge to retaliate.
"If you haven't already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or even endure some personal abuse," Holland said. "Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part."
The nearly 85,000 missionaries around the world are more than ever before. The spike in missions was triggered by the lowering of the minimum age for missionaries in the fall of 2012. Men can begin serving at 18, instead of 19, and women at 19, instead of 21. That's led to new, younger missionaries joining older ones.
Holland told missionaries that it's worth it to serve and remain faithful despite a world around them where many people are drawn to comfortable gods who demand little of them.
"It is obvious that the bumper sticker query, `What would Jesus do,' will not always bring a popular response," Holland said.
More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend to find out church news and soak up words of guidance and inspiration from the faith's top leaders during five sessions over the weekend.
Thousands more will listen or watch from around the world in 95 languages on television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts. More than half of all 15 million Latter-day Saints live outside of the U.S., church figures show.
The conference is widely followed and analyzed on social media, with many using the Twitter hash tag, "(hash)LDSconf."
Church president Thomas Monson opened the morning session by talking about the progress of temple construction around the world. He said a new one in Gilbert, Ariz., became the 142nd temple and that there will be 172 when construction is completed on all the current projects.
No new temples were announced.
A Mormon's women group pushing the church to allow females in the priesthood plans to demonstrate outside an all-male meeting Saturday, reprising a similar protest from last year.
Leaders with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have asked the group to reconsider or gather in a zone designated for protesters that is off church property. Church leaders have also barred media from going on church property during the demonstration.