Head of Church Public Affairs Addresses Gay Rights, Disciplinary Councils, & Other "Big Questions"

MR says: Michael Otterson, director of the Church's Public Affairs, addressed some controversial topics within the Church and society when he spoke at the FairMormon conference. He also took some time to answer audience questions. See the full transcript here.

In a speech titled “On the Record,” the head of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke Friday, August 7, 2015, about the challenges of managing the Church’s public affairs efforts.

". . . Certain it is that the Brethren have to wrestle with big questions. Let me turn to some of those now, and since I am about halfway through I have time to address perhaps three or four before we break for questions. Since it has become such a big question, I’ll talk a little about the emergence of gay rights and what it has meant for the Church, especially as it relates to religious freedom.

I will also talk a little about dissent and disciplinary councils and the in-depth Church essays now appearing on LDS.org. And I’ll end with an explanation of what principles shape and drive our messaging from Public Affairs. . . .

The answer to these and other difficult questions is found in following Jesus Christ in every circumstance. This is our principal mandate, our prime directive. Our Church bears the Savior’s name. It’s His Church. The teachings are His, and we try to model our lives on what Jesus taught. Our messages from the Church, therefore, must always be crafted with that in mind, and the Church’s actions must always be consistent with what it says. In every decision that we make and every recommendation we take forward, we try to keep that in mind. What would the Savior do? Those associated with FairMormon, in particular, have an obligation to engage with the kind of language with which the Savior would identify and avoid polemical, confrontational tactics. We have identified six simple principles that, rather than defend, assert what we stand for. They are these:

  1. We have faith in God, strive to live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and embrace God’s plan for His children, bringing joy into our lives and the lives of others.
  2. We are strong supporters of the family, defenders of strong, enduring marriages and child bearing, and of raising well-educated children with high moral values.
  3. We value and defend freedom, including freedom of religion, respect individual agency and moral choices, freedom to worship and freedom to share our faith.
  4. We hold and try to live by strong moral values, including personal honesty and trustworthiness, and other Christlike attributes.
  5. We serve others, including those in our own faith and those not of our faith. Charity, or love of our fellow men and women, is a source of joy.
  6. We strive to demonstrate through the redemptive power of the gospel that lives can change for the better. We think of this in terms of faith, repentance and the Atonement."
Lead image from Mormon Newsroom.
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