The Mormon Church has a new website to clarify its position on "same-sex attraction" and to reach out to all of its members, including gays and lesbians, "with love and understanding."
The launching of mormonsandgays.org follows persistent criticism of Mormon involvement in California's ballot measure banning gay marriage, NPR's Howard Berkes reports. Berkes tells our Newscast Desk that scrutiny continued through Mitt Romney's campaign for president.
In a press release, Church spokesman Michael Purdy says the site was produced over the course of two years "and puts the entire issue in context." The site includes a number of videos from church leaders and members who share personal experiences.
"The faith still steadfastly opposes gay marriage but urges compassion and understanding, and encourages gay Mormons to remain in the faith. Church leader Dallin Oaks says on the website it's no sin to have inclinations. He says the sin is in yielding to temptations."
The church doctrine "has not changed and is not changing," Oaks says in a video. But, he continues, "what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same-gender attraction."
Oaks, Slate points out, "does not say that Mormon doctrine will not change." Slate continues:
"On one level, this is simply good Mormonism: The LDS Church believes in continual revelation through a living prophet, so no apostle can declare with certainty that something will never change.
"And the new website, which is hardly a celebration of gay pride, is also a savvy bit of public relations: Brad Kramer, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan who studies contemporary Mormonism (and who is Mormon himself), called the site 'an example of the curious space where PR and doctrinal shift intersect and subtly cooperate.' "
Gay rights activists met with some LDS officials in May in Salt Lake City, and Equality Ride co-director Jason Conner told The Salt Lake Tribune at the time that the church would try to use "more inclusive language."