A video of a Mormon girl revealing to her congregation that she is a Lesbian and still loved by God – before her microphone is turned off by local church leaders – is sparking a new round of discussions about how the religion handles LGBT issues.
Savannah, 13, spoke on May 7 in Eagle Mountain, Utah, about her belief that she is the child of heavenly parents who didn’t make any mistakes when she was created. Her comments came during a once-a-month portion of Mormon Sunday services where members are encouraged to share feelings and beliefs.
“They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay,” she said, wearing a white shirt and red tie. “God loves me just this way.”
Her mother, Heather Kester, said Friday that her daughter was passionate about coming out in church to be a voice and example for other LGBT children who struggle for acceptance within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked that Savannah’s full name be withheld to protect her privacy.
The Mormon religion is one of many conservative faith groups upholding theological opposition to same-sex relationships amid widespread social acceptance and the US Supreme Court’s decision legalising gay marriage. At the same time, the Mormon church is trying to foster an empathetic stance toward LGBT people.
The video, which Kester says was taken by a friend of Savannah who came to support her, has generated buzz after it was circulated online this month and featured in a Mormon LGBT podcast.
While some consider Savannah a hero, other Mormons are upset that it was videotaped and is being circulated by church critics to try and paint the church in an unflattering light.
Judd Law, the lay bishop who leads the congregation south of Salt Lake City, said in a statement distributed by church headquarters that Savannah is a “brave young girl” and that the congregation is making sure she and her family feel loved.
But he called problematic the unauthorised recording and the “disruptive demonstration” by a group of non-Mormon adults who were there.
Law said they exploited the events to politicise worship services and violate church decorum. “We do not politic in our chapels, and exploiting this recording for political purposes is inconsistent with the nature of our worship services,” he said.
Law didn’t address or explain the decision by two of his counsellors to cut the microphone. Law wasn’t at the service that day.