1970 - 1979

 

 
 
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1970s

1970

  • 1970 – The church produced Hope for Transgressors,[78] in which apostles Kimball and Mark Petersen offer ideas to leaders about how to effect a "total cure" and "bring the lives of [men with homosexual tendencies] into total normalcy" and "help these people recover" (lesbians are only mentioned once). Ideas include prayer, cutting off contact with homosexual friends, dating women and marriage,[59] and scripture reading. He calls homosexuality a "despicable", "degraded", "dread practice", and a "perversion" that would "doom the world" while labeling the person a "generally lonely and sensitive" "deviate" and "afflicted one". The guide notes that Kimball and Mark Petersen were designated as the church specialists on homosexuality, and that homosexuality is not "totally" the fault of "family conditions" and concludes it "CAN be cured if the battle is well organized and pursued vigorously and continuously" (emphasis in the original).[79]
  • March – The First Presidency under Joseph Fielding Smith sent a letter to stake presidents on March 19 which expressed concern over "the apparent increase in homosexuality and other deviations" and mentioned the 1959 assignment of apostles Kimball and Mark Petersen to help homosexuals.[29][44][59] It was indicated that Kimball and Petersen would "send material and give counsel" as church specialists over "a program designed ... to counsel and direct [homosexuals] back to normalcy and happiness". A follow-up letter to leaders on December 23 asked them to "ask direct questions" about homosexuality when conducting pre-mission interviews.[1]:380
  • April – Victor Brown of the Presiding Bishopric gave an April 1970 General Conference address titled "Wanted: Parents with Courage" in which he states that a "normal" and "healthy" 12- or 13-year-old boy or girl could "develop into a homosexual" if "exposed to pornographic literature" and "abnormalities". He explains that exposure to the material would "crystallize and settle their habits for the rest of their lives", while calling recent media reporting on a same-sex marriage "filth on our newsstands".[80][81]
  • August – Church President Harold Lee taught that the "so-called 'transsexuality' doctrine" was hellish and false since God didn't place female spirits in male bodies and vice versa.[48]:232[82]
  • October – Apostle Hunter asks "what will be the result of universal free love, abortions at will, homosexuality?" in reference to his fears about the future of family, the economy, community, and the "deterioration of morality" in his October 1970 General Conference address "Where, Then, Is Hope?".[83]

1971

  • 1971 – The church published a 34-page letter from Kimball to homosexual men titled New Horizons for Homosexuals. In it Kimball calls homosexuality "a ruinous practice of perversion" that the church "will never condone" that begins with "curiosity" and "an unholy practice" like "an octopus with numerous tentacles to drag [the person] down to [their] tragedy". He states that saying "perverts are ... born 'that way'" is a "base lie" since homosexuality is "curable" and "can be overcome" and "recover[ed]" from. The letter asserts "God made no man a pervert" or "evil" and that "[t]o blame a weakness ... upon God is cowardly." It also calls homosexuality "ugly", "degenerate", "unnatural", "vicious", "base", a "waste of power", a "deep sin", and "an end to the family and ... civilization". The publication advises for the homosexual to recover they must "shun" anyone "associated with the transgression" and pray and read the scriptures.[84]
  • April – In the April 1971 general conference presiding bishopric counselor Victor Brown stated that God created masculine and feminine traits, and if gendered appearance and behavioral traits are ignored, it can lead to the "reprehensible, tragic sin of homosexuality".[85]
  • April – In another conference address apostle Kimball called the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity a damnable heresy, and the voices speaking in favor of churches accepting homosexuals as ugly and loud. He additionally referred to homosexual people as millions of perverts without natural family affection whose practice was spreading like wildfire and changing the world.[86][77]:5
  • December – In the December Ensign Assistant to the Twelve Bernard Brockbank stated that "homosexual acts are inspired by the devil and are grievous sins in the sight of God".[87]

1973

  • 1973 – The church published a guide for bishops and stake presidents titled "Homosexuality: Welfare Services Packet 1", which posited that "homosexual behavior" begins by being "molested" while also stating "not all who are molested become homosexual". It also suggested that homosexuality is caused by "a domineering mother and a passive father" and that "misunderstandings of sexuality among LDS people can contribute to homosexuality." As far as changing the sexual orientation of the person, the packet says that the lesbian "needs to learn feminine behavior", and the gay man "must be introduced to and learn the heterosexual or 'straight' way of life ... and what a manly priesthood leader and father does".[88] The guide was written by BYU psychology professor Allen Bergin and LDS Social Services Personal Welfare director Victor L. Brown Jr. (the son of Presiding Bishop Victor Brown).[88][89]
  • February – An update to church policies was published as a "Statement on Homosexuality" in the Correlation Department's Priesthood Bulletin saying "homosexuality in men and women run counter ... to divine objectives."[90][1]:382
  • July – The July Ensign contained an article by BYU psychology professor Allen Bergin on agency. The article portrays some homosexuals as "psychologically disturbed persons" who are "compulsively driven to frequent and sometimes bizarre acts". He cites two clients with "compulsive or uncontrollable homosexuality" caused by intense fear for the opposite sex, a lack of social skills for normal male-female relationships, and seeking security exclusively from the same sex. Bergin discusses the behaviorist sexual orientation change efforts he used to treat these individuals.[91]
  • August – Four months before his death Church President Lee gave an address in which he warned young men to guard against the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah since homosexuality and adultery were both equally grievous sins second only to murder. He also noted the increasing acceptance of homosexuality.[48]:232[92]
  • October – Presiding bishop Victor Brown gave a conference address in which he called homosexuality a weapon in the battle for Satan's legions to enslave mankind and destroy the family.[93]:299[94]
  • November – A Ensign article stated that the homosexuality in the Canaanite's religions was part of what provoked God to have the Israelites "utterly destroy"[95] the peoples of the region of Canaan.[96]

1974

  • July – The church's July edition of the Ensign magazine published the article "I Have a Question", in which a Mormon medical doctor states that homosexuals have "chosen this way of life" but "can be helped". Dr. Lindsay M. Curtis continues saying that "homosexuals and lesbians seldom are happy people" and their relationships are "unnatural", full of "emotional problems" and "promiscuity", and lacking in "fidelity, trust, or loyalty". Additionally, they try to recruit "others into their practice ... in their tender, impressionable years".[97]
  • July – On July 10 church president Kimball gave a modified version of his "Love vs. Lust" address previously given in 1965. In this version he states that "homosexuality and other forms of perversion are from the lower world". He also calls the use of the word "love" by homosexual persons as a "prostitution" of the term citing homosexual behavior as taking and exploiting.[98]
  • October – Kimball gave his October "God Will Not be Mocked" speech at general conference as the church's president in which he again stated that masturbation leads to homosexuality. He also said "[e]very form of homosexuality is sin. Pornography is one of the approaches to that transgression."[99]
  • November – First presidency member Eldon Tanner stated in the November Ensign that homosexuality was permitted and practiced to such an extent that the world was "truly following the ways of Sodom and Gomorrah".[100]

1975

  • January – The church-operated university BYU began a purge in January to expel homosexual students under the direction of president Oaks.[57]:126 The purge including interrogations of fine arts and drama students and surveillance of Salt Lake City gay bars by BYU security. These activities were noted in the Salt Lake Tribune[101] and the gay newspaper Advocate.[1]:442
  • May – Utah's first gay newspaper Gayzette was published in May[1]:442 by the recently opened Gay Community Service Center, Utah's first gay resource center.[102]
  • May – The First Presidency sent a letter on May 30 to church leaders about the "unfortunate problem of homosexuality" encouraging them to not label people as homosexual because it makes the seem beyond solving to "conquer the habit".[1]:442
  • June – The Ensign published an article by Presiding bishop Victor Brown which addressed parents stating that the "lack of proper affection in the home can result in unnatural behavior in their children such as homosexuality."[103]
  • September – LDS member Sergeant Leonard Matlovich was featured on the September 8 cover of Time magazine with the caption "I Am a Homosexual" for his challenging of the U.S. military ban against gay men and lesbian women.[104] He was subsequently discharged from the military for openly stating his sexual orientation[105] and excommunicated from the Church two months after the article was released.[1]:442[106]
  • October – Then apostle Gordon Hinckley told the story in the October general conference of a "tragic" young man involved in "deviant moral activity" leading him to a bleak future without hope and preventing him from ever having a son. Hinckley described asking the homosexual young man about the influence of the media he consumed and of his male friends "in similar circumstances".[107]
  • October – Robert Blattner of LDS Social Services (which was tasked by the church to treat homosexual members in 1972)[109] gave an address titled "Counseling the Homosexual in a Church Setting" at the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP) annual conference. Blattner served as a special assistant to the LDS Commissioner of Personal Welfare Victor Brown Jr.[110] In the address Blattner states that the causes of homosexuality in men are a "disturbed family background" of an "absent father" and "usually" a "controlling mother" and a "lack of relationship with peers", while for women he only says "we don't have much information". He also says homosexual behavior and alcoholism are similar. He is asked what "the church's feelings are about electric shock ... behavior modification" and answered the church had "never made a statement on it" but that "most people coming to us can be helped by it" in reference to aversion therapy research happening at BYU.[111][112]

1976

  • 1976 – A version of the Church Handbook was released changing the 1968 reading of "homo-sexual acts" being grounds for a church court to "moral transgression" like "homosexuality".[113][114] This change seemed to make Mormons vulnerable to church punishment for having a homosexual orientation alone even without sexual activity.[1]:382
  • 1976 – A 20-year study is published showing that 10% of BYU men and 2% of BYU women indicated having had a "homosexual experience".[1]:442–443 In 1950, 1961, and 1972 BYU Sociology professor Wilford Smith conducted a survey of thousands of Mormon students at several universities including many from the BYU sociology department as part of a larger survey.[115] He found that "the response of Mormons [at BYU] did not differ significantly from the response of Mormons in state universities".[116]
  • October – Apostle Packergave the sermon "To Young Men Only" in the October 2 priesthood session of general conference. The sermon counseled against the "perversion" and "wicked practices" of men "handling one another" and having physical "contact ... in unusual ways". In the sermon, Packer commended a missionary who was upset after he "floored" his assigned male companion in response to unwanted sexual advances, saying "somebody had to do it".[59] He further asserts that it is a "malicious and destructive lie" that "some are born with an attraction to their own kind". The sermon was published as a pamphlet by the church from 1980 to 2016.[117][118]
  • November – President Spencer Kimball stated that homosexuality can begin by viewing "sex- and violence-oriented programs" on network television and that homosexuality (among other sexual behaviors) will "corrode the mind, snuff out self-esteem", and cause unhappiness.[119]

1977

  • April – In the April general conference presiding bishopric member Richard Clarke told a story of a young man who claimed to have "developed into a homosexual" as part of attention-seeking rebellion against his distant father. In the address homosexuality was called a "vitiating disease" and "prison".[120]
  • April – Another mention of homosexuality occurred in the April general conference when church president Spencer Kimball asked "Is this a time to terminate adultery and homosexual and lesbian activities, and return to faith and worthiness?"[121]
  • June – Under the name Affirmation: Gay Mormons United, the first Affirmation group was organized on 11 June in Salt Lake City by Stephan Zakharias (formerly Stephen James Matthew Prince) and a group of other Mormon and former-Mormon gays and lesbians at the conference for the Salt Lake Coalition for Human Rights.[122][123][124] Stephan organized the group in response to the suicides of two BYU friends who had undergone shock aversion therapy on the campus.[125] The original organization struggled to survive until 1978, when Paul Mortensen, inspired by an article on the group in The Advocate formed the Los Angeles chapter, and in 1980 the name was changed to Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons. Through the influence of the Los Angeles chapter, Affirmation groups began appearing in many cities around the US.[126][127]
  • October – Church president Spencer Kimball gave an October conference address titled "The Foundations of Righteousness" in which he spoke out against the "insidious" and "ugly" sins of homosexuality and lesbianism. He called homosexuality a "sin of the ages" that contributed to the downfall of ancient Greece, Rome, and Sodom and Gomorrah.[128]

1978

  • 1978 – The church reissues Spencer Kimball's New Horizons for Homosexuals as a 30-page pamphlet titled A Letter to a Friend.[29]
  • March – Packer delivered a sermon at BYU on March 5 entitled "To the One", which went on to be published by the church as a pamphlet.[129]Packer characterizes homosexual interaction as a perversion and presents the possibility that it had its roots in selfishness and could be cured with "unselfish thoughts, with unselfish acts".[129]:6 He states that the church had not previously talked more about homosexuality because "some matters are best handled very privately"[129]:3 and "we can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them".[129]:19
  • April – Church president Spencer Kimball stated in the April conference that without the restraints of family life and real religion there would be an "avalanche of appetites" leading to an increase in homosexuality.[130]
  • May – San Francisco PBS station KQED funded and aired a 16-minute documentary by Andrew Welch featuring interviews of gay Mormons in Salt Lake City and Provo and BYU psychologists administering the electroshock aversion therapy program to "cure" gay students. It aired on PBS stations in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, and was the subject of controversy in Utah as KUED general manager Robert Reed refused to air it in July 1978.[131][132] Additionally, BYU's KBYU refused to air the documentary after Reverend Bob Waldrop of the Salt Lake Metropolitan Community Church petitioned to have it aired in response to the recent of showing of Packer's "To the One" speech on homosexuality.[133][2]:238–240
  • August – The First Presidency released a statement on August 24 outlining reasons for their opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment including "unnatural consequences" like an "increase in the practice of homosexual and lesbian activities".[134]

1979

  • February – The LDS Welfare Services Department offered a video-recorded, several-day training seminar to LDS Social Services employees on "homosexual therapies".[135]
  • February – Church Seventy Vaughn Featherstone stated that "the homosexual cannot be exalted" since "perversion is perversion", and that condoning homosexuality "is not an act of charity" in an address to BYU.[136]
  • December – "Affirmation: Gay Mormons United" changes its name to "Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons".[137][127]