The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints wants us all to know that it opposes the ban on conversion therapy for minors.
Utah is currently in the midst of debates and fights over the possible banning of conversion therapy. Despite all health and medical associations agreeing that there is no validity to the statement that conversion therapy helps to pray (or torture) the gay away, there are still plenty of conservative Christians fighting for the practice. And now, it seems the Mormon Church has announced its stance among that crowd.
According to St George News, the church has released a statement saying that the proposed rule against Utah psychologists performing the practice on minors would fail to safeguard religious beliefs. They also say that the rule doesn’t account for “important realities of gender identity in the development of children.”
42-year-old Justin Utley, a former Mormon who went through conversion therapy by the church years ago, says this statement was disheartening.
“It’s a fear tactic, and it’s a control tactic,” said Utley, who attempted suicide after his therapy, told St. George News. “They have once again interjected themselves in a discussion that they have no business being involved in. This is about mental health, it’s not about getting an exemption for mistreating people.”
This statement by the church is a tough blow to the fight against conversion therapy in the state. Two-thirds of the state’s residents and almost every state lawmaker are recorded as members of the church. While it’s unknown how much the statement will affect the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing’s decision on the rule, things aren’t looking good.
The rule was initially created at the request of Republican Governor Gary Herbert (who also helped push the Hate Crime Law in Utah). Herbert initially asked for a set of rules to mimick an earlier bill that died in the Legislature. In that prior case, the church did not take a stance on the issue. But now that the Mormon church has announced it’s opposition, things could get tricky for banning conversion therapy for minors in the state of Utah.