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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “40 – God Loveth His Children”

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40 – God Loveth His Children


“An LDS pamphlet about same-sex attraction is a step in the right direction but still will be hurtful to gay youths, say local gay activists.

‘The part that’s so difficult for me is that the subject matter is human beings who have a heart and a soul,’ says Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center. ‘If your choice is to toe the line or be cast out of the only thing you know and the thing your parents live for, it can leave you desperate. It’s why we have such a high suicide rate.’

The pamphlet, ‘God Loveth His Children,’ was posted this week on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Web site.  It acknowledges that some people may continue to have same-sex attractions ‘in this life’ and states that ‘no member of the Church should ever be intolerant.’ But the pamphlet emphasizes that acting on same-sex attractions is a sin.” (Elaine Jarvik, “Criticism, praise for LDS pamphlet,” Deseret News, July 28, 2007)


“The LDS Church’s new pamphlet on homosexuality posted this week on the church’s Web site is an improvement on the last three, but doesn’t go far enough in embracing those with same-sex attractions, a longtime advocate for gay Mormons said Friday.…

The LDS Church’s first such pamphlet was published in 1974 and suggested that homosexuality was ‘evil’ and ‘blamed parents for their children’s homosexuality,’ said Watts, a Mormon father who has a gay son and lesbian daughter among his six children.

The 1983 revision de-emphasized the ‘psycho-social causes’ of homosexuality, he said, and the 1992 version eliminated parental blame altogether, pointing to the possibility of biological factors. By not speculating on causes, the new pamphlet shows ‘incremental progress,’ he said.

To Watts, however, the piece’s negatives far outweigh its positives.

It implies that those who are able to change their orientation do so through faith and self-mastery, and are therefore superior to those who don’t.

‘If I’m a gay guy who’s struggled for 10 years to change and can’t, I’m going to ask: what’s wrong with me?’ Watts said.…

Last week, the LDS Church News published several stories of anonymous Mormon men who had life-long homosexual feelings. Though several of them were married to women, the church no longer officially encourages homosexual men to marry women as a way to ‘solve their problem.’

The most recent pamphlet does not recommend that those with same-sex attraction marry, either.…

‘God Loveth His Children,’ recommends that homosexuals continue to be active in the church, contributing money and time.

Watts thinks that is unrealistic, given the fact that up to 90 percent of gay Mormons leave the church.

‘It is because [LDS leaders] are setting up an impossible situation for gays – either be celibate or change,” Watts said. “Until they can figure out a way to sanction a faithful same-sex relationship, the problem will continue.’” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Church revises pamphlet on gays,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 28, 2007)


“At the same time, the pamphlet states that the church does not know what causes same-sex attractions, but that sexual abuse and sexual experimentation in childhood are responsible.…

Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons welcomed what they called a ‘softening’ of the church’s position in God Loveth His Children, which is gentler in its treatment of gays and lesbians than previous publications which often equated gay sex with murder and drug addictions.…” (“LDS Church Releases New Gay Pamphlet,” Q Salt Lake, August 16, 2007, p. 9)


“In its newest document, God Loveth His Children, found on the LDS church website, rather than calling out that homosexuality is an abomination is done in the past, the new rhetoric is ‘our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life,’ implying to me that all will be made heterosexual instantly after one dies. Personally, I think this is scripturally unfounded and just another fallback to rationalize their moral agenda. Interestingly, the article further acknowledges that ‘others may not be free of this challenge in this life.’ In other words, the feelings of homosexuality do not go away in this life. This is an extraordinary change from decades of abusive, hurtful language that has been used to convince many of us that we should change to becoming heterosexual.” (Mike Green, Letter to the Editor, Q Salt Lake, August 16, 2007, p. 12)


“The Mormon church has quietly moved further from defining homosexuality as evil and the result of faulty parenting.

An unheralded new church publication, ‘God Loveth His Children,’ says gay feelings are neither learned nor chosen, and it counsels against rejecting a gay child.…

It repeatedly warns against feelings of guilt: ‘Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction.’

It also says: ‘The Lord’s command to ‘forgive all men’ includes the requirement to forgive yourself.’

Spokesmen for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would not say what led the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency — the two highest governing bodies of the Church — to publish the pamphlet at the end of July.…

A 1974 church pamphlet excoriated homosexuality as evil and castigated parents of gays for having raised their children poorly. By 1992, a new teaching suggested that biological factors could be at work.…

The church still expects gays to remain celibate. If they do, they will find themselves imbued with heterosexual feelings in the hereafter, which is peopled with families including a mother, a father and children, the document says.…

Affirmation, a support organization for gay Mormons, ‘welcomes any change,’ said executive director Olin Thomas. ‘I’ve never before seen forgiveness for youthful indiscretions experienced at a young age.’…

It ‘certainly has kinder language’ than past teachings, said Walnut Creek writer Carol Lynn Pearson, whose seminal work about her late, gay husband, ‘Good-bye, I Love You,’ opened up an emotional conversation within the Mormon community.

She praised the pamphlet’s anonymous authors for spelling out that gay love ‘is much more than lust gone amuck.’

But she strongly criticized the claim that with individual effort, faith and ‘reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement’ has freed some Mormons from homosexuality.

That leaves ‘in despair those who have made the utmost effort without results, whose hands are bloodied from beating against a closed door,’ she said.

She connects two sets of data that to her suggest that gays account for as many as 30 percent of suicides among 15- to 24-year-olds in Utah.” (Rebecca Rosen Lum, “Mormon church changes your is down for a while not you stance on homosexuality,” www.InsideBayArea.com, August 20, 2007)


“Like many gay Mormons, [Lester] Leavitt tried to ignore his sexuality and married a woman. Last year, he was excommunicated after telling church authorities he was attracted to men, even though he was faithful to his wife and wanted to stay married.

Six months later, to Leavitt’s surprise, the church vacated the excommunication. Not long after, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued ‘God Loveth His Children,’ a treatise that said same-sex attractions themselves are not sinful, even though homosexual activity is.…

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said the document isn’t a shift necessarily, but a sign that Mormon leaders are talking a lot more about homosexuality.  That, she said, is ‘a positive step.’…

‘[Leavitt] The church told me, and everyone like me, that this was a social construct, and that if you got married (you would be attracted to women).  I was 44 years old and it hadn’t gone away,’ he said.…”  (Sarah More McCann, ‘Gay Mormons See a Subtle Shift in Church Teaching,” Religion News Service, November 5, 2007)


Jan: He did.  And by the way, Richard and Marlin Jensen did the first version of God Loveth His Children.  

Rich: Yes.  Dean and I had a real fight over it.  Fortunately, Elder Oaks allowed me to read the whole thing before they finished it off.  He said, “Could you give us a brief review?”  I was over there for hours and hours.  I couldn’t leave his home with the document, so I had to do it there.

Greg: Who started God Loveth His Children?

Rich: We had a committee.  In the very beginning we had a committee, through the Presiding Bishopric, to define what homosexuality was, and change it in the handbook.  Eventually it got more into Elder Oaks’s hands, when he started being concerned about this.  He and I had a conversation before his article in 1995.

Greg: Was he formally given the homosexuality portfolio?

Rich: No.

Greg: Back in the 40s, Spencer Kimball and Mark Petersen were.

Rich: That’s right.  But he wasn’t formally given the portfolio.  So he and I had a conversation about that.  He wanted to know what the science said.

Greg: Was this when the committee to produce God Loveth His Children had been formed?

Rich: No, this was in advance of the pamphlet.  All of this stuff happened prior to the pamphlet even beginning to happen.  It wasn’t until that article was written that they started to say, “We need to decide how we are really going to respond to this, and we need to figure out what we can write about it.”  They knew that the stuff Packer had been saying was no longer going to work very well, and they had to come up with something different.…

Rich: These things all tie together.  So somewhere in the 90s, when he was coming up with the article that went into the Ensign, we had these long conversations about the science.  Now, he had done due diligence.  He had read many papers.  I think it was Marv and Geneva Peterson who petitioned him greatly, on behalf of their son, that he said, “I’ve come to terms that I don’t think I understand enough about this, and I need to do some more research on it.”  So that led him to go into more research.  But I would be really curious as to whether there was this legal thing going on in the background that he is not even talking about.

He said, “I’ve gone into this, and I’m going to write this article.  So what needs to be said?”  There were a lot of things that we talked about, relative to that article, where I said, “I just can’t agree with that.  You are the one who has to say all of this, but on the issue of science, you cannot say that there is no biological component to this.  You have to avoid that, because you cannot say that.”  He said, “I know that.  I’ve read enough.  I know that.  What we are going to say is, “We don’t know.”  We’re not going to say, “It probably has features of”—whatever.

Greg: But that’s like saying, “We don’t know why we got the policy on blacks and the priesthood.”  We do know.

Rich: We do.  The point was that he had done due diligence on the science.  He had read a lot.  In our conversations about it I said, “Elder Oaks, you have to understand that both biology and environment do play a role in this.  They always have and they always will.”

Greg: There is not a gay gene.

Rich: There is not a gay gene.  “It’s a heterogeneous population.  Someone is loaded 80% to be gay; someone is loaded 10% to be gay.  If you put an environment around them that is conducive to maintain that tendency, then even the 10% person may wind up fixating on that gender identity at thirteen and fifteen when the sexuality starts to fly in, and before the know it, when they are eighteen, even with the 10%, this has become the path.  So both of them are active, and you have to steer clear there.”  He did that.  This I do respect so much about him, when he said, “When I do these things I think about it and I think about it, because once I’ve said it”—I think he’s talking as a supreme court judge—“it lasts forever.  And I need to say it correctly.”

Greg: That’s equally true for an apostle.

Rich: Yes, I think he understands that.  “So after I’ve said something and someone comes to me and says, ‘What did you mean by that?’ I have no response.  That is what I said, and if I respond to explain what I mean by that, that becomes a new iteration of what I just said.  So I will not explain anything once it has been said.”  So he came up with the word “susceptibilities.”  That word was something he thought about and thought about.  So in that article, it’s “these people have susceptibilities, as other people have susceptibilities to this condition.  But regardless of the susceptibilities of an individual, they have the agency to behave differently in relationship to those susceptibilities.”  That was the point he came to—not that we know how, but an awareness that there is a susceptibility.  I said, “Even if it’s environment, it happens before they turn twelve.  It’s happening in the first five years of their life.”

Greg: And they are not choosing it.

Rich: They are not choosing it.  I said, “Anybody before age eight is innocent before God, so they’re not choosing these things.  They don’t have agency to choose them.”  So he said, “OK, I’m not going to do that.  But I can say that we don’t know.”  And that is clearly stated in here: “We don’t know the answer as to why.”  So they got away from the “why,” but avoided talking about biology.  “Now what we are going to do is also to tell you that you can’t do it.”

The next thing that was so important at that moment was for him to be able to say, “You are not sinning for thoughts and feelings.”  That became a huge jump.  In those years they were trying to put out a pamphlet that was just full of vitriolic information from the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the whole pamphlet started off, “It says in the Old Testament . . . There is no place in the Church for this perverse kind of behavior . . . blah, blah, blah.”  I said, “How many people are you going to sell on the idea that you have a place for them in your church after you have told them that they are a pariah and that they would be better off dead?”  Dean Byrd was behind that stuff.  But you cannot say those things!

I think, fortunately at that time, there was enough conversation with Elder Oaks—I think he had the ability to shift this dialogue—that they jettisoned that particular pamphlet idea and started working anew with this one [God Loveth His Children].  But that was probably five to seven years that it took to reconstitute a pamphlet after they said, “We’re not going to do that.”

Greg: Did they ever publish that prior iteration?

Rich: No, and I’m so glad they never did.  It was really problematic, although there were still a lot of people in the church leadership who believed that.  Certainly Elder [Boyd] Packer believed all of that stuff.…

So the point is that Packer can’t sense that his comments are going to have the devastating effect that they do.  I think the response probably came to him as a surprise.  At that point, I’m sure he was highly offended that he had to change those remarks.

Greg: His October 2010 conference address?

Rich: Yes.  So getting this pamphlet out was extraordinarily difficult because he was saying, “I am the watchman on the tower,” and he had Dean Byrd telling him, “These people are all perverse, and they can choose this.”  

So at least we scrubbed that pamphlet.  This one got started by Elder Oaks, I’m pretty sure, using some internal people.  Lance Wickman was a part of this one.  Every apostle had to read this and agree to it being published.  It took a long time.

(Richard and Jan Ferré, March 1, 2015)

Rich: I don’t know why, but Marlin [Jensen] was there, and I felt like he could hear what I was saying.  The pamphlet was very heavy on Old Testament prophecies, old statements about not sodomizing anybody, don’t do this, don’t do that.  It started out basically saying, “You know you are all sinners, so you’d darn well better repent.  And if you don’t repent, you’re going to Hell.  And oh, by the way, we love you.”

Greg: Was this the one that became God Loveth His Children?

Rich: Yes.  It started there.  There was a lot of conflict over that.  I think this was one of those times were Dean and I were on very opposite pages.  But I had support from Family Services—from Harold Brown—I had support from Dallin, I had support from Russell Ballard, I had support from several of the others to be there.  So we were working on this thing and I just said, “You cannot put this out again.  Everybody can read all they want to about how bad things are, but they are not relevant to the audience you are responding to here.  What you are trying to say is, ‘How can we make you feel that, in spite of our inability to know the cause and our inability to treat it’—I can tell you that you do not have a treatment that is going to save these people.  You cannot keep referring them to bishops and then therapy.  You are displacing your responsibility by saying therapy is going to be the answer, and so you have abandoned the ministry.  You can’t abandon the ministry!  In this situation, you want to reach out to them.”

The Catholics had taken a position, and their position was really one of the best ones stated.  It said, “We don’t know what the cause is, but we’re going to reach out with love.”  I brought that position to the meeting.  “Here is the Catholic position.  Can’t we do something at least as good as this?”

Dean was still on the side of bringing them into therapy.  He was on the side of, “We’ve got to get them fear-based enough and guilty enough so that they will come and do what they need to do to change.”  I’m saying, “That’s not what you need to do.”  Behind the scenes, I’m talking to Elder Oaks and saying, “You cannot do this.”

After about the second draft of this, they disbanded the committee.  I’m sure there was a lot of divisiveness among the Brethren over what they were going to produce, so it was taken out of anybody’s hands who was not directly an authority.  Lance Wickman was on the committee, and Dallin worked with Wickman, and it was all done in-house with people I don’t know.  But fortunately, Dallin had heard, “There is no cause.  Reparative therapy doesn’t work.”  And we had gone over, particularly, the 1995 bit.…

Rich: There is an awareness that they are dealing with two things.  I think his legal mind is saying, “You cannot convict a person on intentions alone.  You can only convict a person in court on the behavior they demonstrate.”  There were two words that he really worked hard on: “unbidden” and “susceptibility.”   “These people have susceptibilities that are unbidden, and so consequently they didn’t choose to feel this way.  They didn’t choose to have these thoughts.  They can choose how they act on them.”  That was the position he took on that paper.  That was quite a move from, “You are a sinner just from the fact that you have announced that you have these kinds of feelings.”  I don’t think Packer has ever moved off of that.  He cannot see a difference.  “You have the sin in you if the thought comes to you, unless it’s expunged in some kind of way.”

Greg: And I think you use the right word.  He cannot.  He is incapable.

Rich: He is incapable of it.  I think he reads Jesus saying, “A man who lusts in his heart” is this way.  Then, David Bednar comes to a train station and sees this lustful picture and decides to turn away.  The reason I bring up Bednar is that we are trying to use this little video clip to help the missionaries going out in the field, where they sometimes will see things.  We convey that to get the thought doesn’t mean you’ve had the sin.  We’re trying to get them to understand this difference.  So Bednar said, “Let me tell you what happens to me.  I’ve seen things, but I don’t act on them.  I see my wife and say, ‘Stand between me at that poster.’”

This concept was critical to our conversation because it says, “I am not going to judge people for thoughts.  I am only going to judge you on the basis of your behavior.”  In that piece, he has marched forward.  It was in God Loveth His Children, it was in that article, and to that extent that was a major way of shifting the Quorum out of constant “You’re a sinner.  You’re a sinner.  You’re a sinner.”  By putting this in—the concept of unbidden and these are susceptibilities that they didn’t choose—“You didn’t choose to feel susceptible to alcohol.”  You can sort of see it in these broader terms.  And he heard families say, “This was the best kid I ever had.  My gay son was the one who was going on a mission.  He never did anything wrong.  He was the best person ever.  It wasn’t until he came home that he found that he had same-sex attraction, but he has never acted on it.”  Well, where did that come from?  So Oaks was hearing all these stories.

When it goes over to Wickman and this other committee, they work on God Loveth His Children for about five years.

Greg: It’s not that long a pamphlet!

Rich: No.  He [Oaks] said—and I think this is an extremely important point—when he tried to do abuse and get a video to talk about incest and sexual abuse, it took him eight years to move that through!  Eight years!  He said, “Things take time here.  They don’t just happen.  You have to get consensus.  You have to get this, you have to get that.”  So behind the scenes, there is a piece of him moving this; while in front of the scenes, some of this seems ridiculous.  But what I do know is that at that point in time, I felt him having compassion.  I felt him being really, seriously interested in knowing the truth, and I never felt that he pushed back and said, “Rich, you’re an idiot!”  He never said this, although he did tell me to shut up.  I can understood why he was saying that, because it was such a controversial issue.  He couldn’t control Dean Byrd.  I’d tell him this stuff, and it just went on.

I told Alan Gundry about this.  I said to him, “The most helpful thing you ever told me was, ‘Don’t go where you’re not invited’”  He knew that in spite of Dean Byrd telling my wife he loved me and would do anything for me, he was trying to destroy me at every turn.  Alan said to me, “If you move forward and you say too much, he will go after you in some way to find something out about you that will discredit you.”

Greg: Let me play Devil’s Advocate here for a minute with Dallin Oaks.  I see a man who comes into this initially convinced, like so many of the others, that this is just a behavior that you choose to get into, and you can choose to get out of it.

Rich: Yes.

Greg: He interacts particularly with you.  He confronts the biology.

Rich: And he interacts with families.

Greg: But he is interacting with you on the science.

Rich: Yes.

Greg: So you are starting to awaken his consciousness to the biological component.  But what I am hearing is even though you may get him to the point of acknowledging that 80% of it is biology, and that at least tempers what he is thinking, he is clinging to the 20% to develop policy.

Rich: No.  He is clinging to the fact that no matter what your temperament, you have a choice.

Greg: I think we’re saying the same thing.  What I am seeing coming from him is, “It doesn’t matter what the biological imprint is.  We are going to force you to act this way even though it is an act of violence to make you do that.”

Rich: Yes.

Greg: I don’t see that he gets that.  I can see how he can legally justify it.

Rich: And your presumption of that being violent is exactly what he would say differently: “It violates you to act on it in spite of the fact you didn’t choose it, because it sets you at odds with God.  Since God”—or somehow this tradition—“has ordained it as such, you violate your best self when you behave in this way.  Regardless of your biology, you can choose in this direction, and celibacy is your solution.  Think how many women in the Church never married, and they have to live with this.  Why can’t you?”

Greg: Yes.

Jan: So when you sent this [the documents] and we started looking at it together I said, “Dallin had been thinking about this for a long time before he and Rich started talking.”  But as you said, Richard started bringing in the science, which was the new factor.

Greg: He was not picking up the science from the families.

Rich: No.

Greg: He may have seen the condition, but he was not connecting that to biology.

Rich: That’s right.  I’m kind of a unique person for the biology, because I am not persuaded by someone who says, “We have found the gay gene.”  And I’m not persuaded by the insanity of psychodynamic theory, which is saying, “It was all learned by parents.”  The crucible of dealing with these people over all these years—and transgender, in particular—when you see these individuals you know there is no way, shape or form they chose this.  Families can be part of it—almost invariably, they had some form of anxiety disorder.  I can’t say this to the American Psychiatric Association, because gays do not want to hear that they have anxiety disorder; but there is an anxiousness and a sensitivity that these children often had, that put them in harm’s way.  They didn’t choose it, but it was still a biological condition that put them at odds with the normal development that we see.

Greg: Do you think their anxiety was hard-wired?  Or was it their natural response to their environment?

Rich: Hard-wired.  Not all, but many of them.  So consequently, their fight-and-flight was more active, and their rough-and-tumble wasn’t there.  I think some of it was hard-wired because of hormones, and I think some of it was hard-wired because of first-trimester challenges that occur to the sexually organizing brain.  You see so much more of that testosterone effect in females.  It’s all hormonal.

Greg: Just a different scenario for the hormones working at a different time of gestation?

Rich: Exactly.  But the deal is you see this sort of issue where we are not going to call it a disorder, but it’s certainly a deviation from what we would normally think the brain is going to do, either to make a female or to make a male.  You don’t get these pieces interacting in the same way that you might have.  But to me it doesn’t make sense to say, “Well therefore, the cause is ordained of God.  That’s why these people are gay.”  Nature creates gay people versus us.  There is probably a gene that tends to mark for this, but it marks for it through hormonal effects, I believe, that are largely occurring in the uterine experience, and not so much when a person is born.  But after you are born, you can be continually affected by how people respond to you because of that experience of how it feels inside.

These are the conversations I’m having with Dallin.  It sort of starts matching a little: “Please read this.  Read this summary.  Read this summary.”  He reads it and he says, “I agree.  I hear what you are saying.  This part of it was so important to me, that susceptibilities have to be acknowledged as unchosen.  And number two, stop judging people for thoughts and feelings.”  He brought that, so we said, “OK, this is where we are.”

Greg: And that is a biggie.

Rich: It’s frankly a biggie.  I don’t think it would have happened in the Quorum, with the way things were going, if Dallin hadn’t stood up for this position of, “We don’t know the cause, and we can’t call it a sin.”  He was behind modifying God Loveth His Children so it could get through the whole Quorum.  But, in some ways it didn’t go far enough because it still speaks mostly to, “You’d better be celibate,” and it speaks mostly to the fact that, “You are too inclined to behave inappropriately.”  So the families were comforted, the Church reads more comfort into it, but it is not a declaration of liberty to a gay person.  They can’t feel as though the Church can let them have these feelings and honor who they are.

Greg: Do you think Dallin has gone as far as he is capable of going?

Rich: I think he can go further.  But the other conversation—bless his heart, he allowed me to go spend some time editing God Loveth His Children.  I kept telling him all these things that were problems, and I think he got most of it.  He said, “I don’t know if I can give this [manuscript] to you, because it’s just too in-house stuff.”  It was like the manuscript and Martin Harris.  “You’ll have to do it in my living room; you cannot take a page of this with you.”

About five hours later he said, “You’re still doing this?”  I said, “Elder Oaks, you don’t understand that when I read these words, I read them as though I’m being in the situation of a gay person listening to this, or the parent of a gay person.  They hear it differently than what you intend.  Since you intend well, let’s have them hear it the way you intend.”  That is what Packer could never do.  Ever.

Greg: Was that an “Ah, hah!” moment for Dallin?

Rich: I think we had been talking about that quite a bit, so I think it was here and there.  I said, “The issue of how the reader hears it is far more important than your thinking that you got it right.  It’s whether they can hear that you got it right.”  He said, “Well, I’m not changing the word ‘susceptibilities.’”  I said, “Dallin, you don’t have to change that word.”  If I had that manuscript, I could show you ten different places where it’s pejorative, or it’s a subtle “you’re not OK.”

Greg: And they filtered most of those out?

Rich: Yes.  They filtered most of it out.

So that comes out, but the Quorum pulls tighter and tighter together.  You can’t talk with them.  Ask Bob Rees how much feedback he got from Jeffrey Holland.  After a certain point, Holland wouldn’t respond to him at all.

Greg: They were closing ranks.

Rich: They closed the ranks.  I think that was somewhere around 2003.  [The pamphlet was issued in 2007.]  “Don’t you talk, Rich.  We’re not talking about it.”  He would never tell me what they were thinking anymore.  He would accept if I handed him stuff, and I handed him volumes of stuff.

Greg: Would he still discuss the science with you?

Rich: He would discuss the science about it, but what I am saying is that he was less solicitous of me coming in to talk about it.  It was me saying, “Can I bring something to you?”

Greg: And he wouldn’t give you context of what was going on?

Rich: No, not what was going on in the Quorum.  It was just, “We’re working on this.  We’re working on this.”  When God Loveth His Children came out he said, “You don’t understand.  This is what it took to get through this.  This is what we got, and it has gotten everybody’s approval.”

Jan: He had a hard time getting approval.

Rich: To me, it was still a seminal event that he got God Loveth His Children, and not the stuff that I saw way before all this, this terrible stuff that was so judgmental about gay people.

Greg: Did you get the sense that when he took it way from you, he took it away from Dean Byrd also?

Rich: Oh, yes.  But that doesn’t mean Dean didn’t have another route into it.  Dean was still giving the Brethren things through the Presiding Bishopric’s Office, through the Seventy who were responding to Packer, all of these lies about what Alan Gundry did.  Alan said, “Dean took all of my files, and he would sometimes use some of my clients to justify his own success.  Or, he would denigrate my files so that they wouldn’t come out.”

Greg: Anything to bolster his own claims.

Rich: Yes.  “My reparative therapy works.”  If he could say, “My reparative therapy works,” then he could justify that change is possible, and they are the ones who wanted to hear that change is possible.  That part always kind of got stuck.  They came to the conclusion, “We don’t know the cause and these are unbidden, but we have enough evidence that people can change unwanted, same-sex attraction.”  Therefore, reparative therapy became another way that they could lean on this.

I don’t entirely know where Dallin was on the reparative therapy issue, but I went over and over again the issue of ministry.  I think he sort of got the ministry bought, but then it was the gay marriage thing.  And once it was the gay marriage thing, everything else shut down.

(Richard Ferré, March 29, 2015)

Schow: It took years to do this document.  Those Apostles were so busy that we would submit something to them, and it might be six months or a year later before we would get some feedback.  Then we would give them another version.  That went on for probably two or three years.  Then they said it was 95% of where they thought it could be, and so they took it to the Twelve, got the approval, and got Marlin Jensen assigned to this committee.  Then, I assume what happened is that Packer asked for Dean Byrd to be on the committee.  Oaks and Holland asked for Rich Ferre to be on the committee.  Fred Riley, who was over Family Services at that time, was also assigned to the committee; and the head of Correlation, whose name I can’t remember, was on it.  Rich will be the one who will lay out the detail on this, if we can get it.

Rich went to several meetings with Marlin Jensen, in which the goal was to meet this assignment from the Twelve to prepare something for families.  This was sometime in the late 90s.  What happened was that apparently the document that we had been working on for several years was submitted by Oaks and Holland; but Dean Byrd, within days, had submitted his own version to Marlin Jensen.  Apparently, Marlin had a whole file with these different things in it.  There were some people at BYU who were pushing the family stuff and demonizing homosexuals, and those kinds of things were also funneled to Marlin through Dean Byrd.  So Dean Byrd’s version of this, which became the first working version—somehow or other he got Marlin to accept it as the first working version for that committee—when that came back and we saw it—Rich brought it to us—the thing started out with five Old Testament scriptures calling homosexuality an abomination.  It was just awful.  The very next thing in the document said that people could be cured, and that all it took was faith and whatever.  It was just full of Dean Byrd’s usual stuff, which was, “It’s not genetic and it can be cured.”  That was Dean Byrd’s line forever.

In the meantime, Dean was writing these long, heavily document articles and butchering the science, which Bill Bradshaw later demonstrated in a review that was published in Dialogue.

Prince: And that review sent Dean ballistic.

Schow: This was going on with Dean on the committee and Rich on the committee, and Marlin as the head.  Their responsibility was to report back to the Twelve.  Apparently those meetings were just Dean putting up one thing, and Rich countering it from the other side.  When this “abomination” version came out, Rich was working with Oaks on it and was supposed to get feedback from us.  We basically said, “If you are going to start out with five Old Testament scriptures calling it an abomination, you’re going to do a lot more harm to these families than good.”  So we went through it and took those out, and took the promise of cure out, and Rich submitted that, with reasons why that should be.  They took most of the scriptures out, but they still didn’t take them all out, and they still promised.  The next version came back from that committee, and we went over it and said, “If you can’t do any better than this, you’d better kill it.”  Elder Oaks determined, as I understand from Rich, that they would kill it, because it was not going to be helpful.

So that was put to rest for a year or two, and then it was assigned to another Apostle, Russell Ballard.  Then Ballard was given the assignment and tried to come up with a version.  As I understand it, Rich was involved there again.  As I understand, he finally gave up.

What eventually happened was that in about 2005, Rich and Gary and the others were all told, “We are going to work with the Lord on this.”…

We have been told that to go in and fight for something like this with the Twelve is a big deal.  Oaks did it in 1995, and then he didn’t do it again until about 2005 or 2006.  As near as I can understand, he came up with this strategy to get Lance Wickman involved with him, and to have Public Affairs ask them all those questions that resulted in that 2005 or 2006 interview that went on the Church website.  That is the first place, I am quite sure, that any authority in the Church ever used the word “orientation.”

Prince: And Oaks opened the door to biology.

Schow: Exactly!  Rich tells me, and I believe, that the group of us had something to do with moving Oaks and Holland and Cook.  They were able, then, to take the science.  My hunch is that Oaks did an end-run on Packer at that point, because he got Lance Wickman, an attorney.  They must have prepared pretty carefully to do that interview.  They did some major things in that interview, which we can talk about at some point.  It was a major blow to Evergreen when they did that interview.  All of the questions in that deal with, “If you are a parent and this is your son, and he is saying he is gay, what are you going to do?  What are you going to say?”  There are all of those questions that they deal with.

Then, a year later, we got God Loveth His Children.  We have been told, through our sources, that the Church Correlation Committee has never had anything that involved more involvement from every Apostle, until they finally got that so it could be published.  Just a few months after God Loveth His Children, we got the article from Elder Holland in the Ensign that kind of introduced God Loveth His Children to the Church.

There is a back story here that we can’t completely know, but there is some idea of what has gone on to bring those changes.

(Ron Schow, March 21, 2013)

Schow: A year later, in July of 2007, we got God Loveth His Children.  That was followed by Holland’s article in the Ensign, in I think October of 2007.

In the Oaks-Wickman interview you had a lot of guidance to families, to parents.  It was basically, I think, what we had worked through with them maybe four or five years before, that had finally been stopped.  That was directed to families.  God Loveth His Children is more directed to the individual, saying to them, “This is what you can do if you choose to stay with the Church.  We acknowledge that these feelings may not go away.”  That was an important admission at that point, which came up both in the Oaks-Wickman interview and in God Loveth His Children, and then again with Holland’s article.  His article was more to introduce the whole church to God Loveth His Children, because it appeared in the Ensign.  So I see those three events as the final culmination of what we had something to do with in our meetings with Oaks and Holland in the decade before that.  Rich has told me the same thing.

(Ron Schow, March 23, 2013)

Schow: The last time I talked to Rich Ferré, he was feeling like he didn’t have quite the access to the Twelve that he did five years ago.  At the time they made this major statement, “God Loveth His Children,” they made a major decision right around 2006 and 2007.  At that point, Rich told me that Dallin Oaks and Jeff Holland said to him, “We are going to go within the Quorum now and have some really serious discussions about this, and we don’t want any outside influence during this period.”  So they wouldn’t let him talk to them for about a year.  The principal people in that were Quentin Cook, Cecil Samuelson, Oaks and Holland.  Those were the people who led that charge against, I think, Boyd Packer.  They all were working together.  I don’t think that Christofferson was very involved at that point.…

The other thing that happened that is part of that 2006-7 era is that “God Loveth His Children” came out in July, and then a couple of months later, I think in October, Jeffrey Holland’s Ensign article appeared.  Those three things were bam-bam-bam.  They were part of a major change that occurred in 2006-7.  We knew that was coming because Rich Ferry had been told by his apostle contacts that they were in the process of doing something and they were not going to talk to him for a while because they wanted God to tell them what to do.

But I think they had decided to go up against Packer at that point, and I don’t know the inside story there.  My hunch is that he fought back and had to give in.

(Ron Schow, January 15, 2015)