LDS Handbook Adds Warning against Prejudice and Misinformation, Revises Entries on Sex Abuse, Conversion Therapy, Stillborn Babies and More
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
Salt Lake Tribune
December 18, 2020
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled new wording Friday for the faithful on a host of social issues — from sexual abuse to conversion therapy, cremation to stillborn babies, counseling to HIV infection.
The Utah-based faith also added two significant sections to its “General Handbook” — one decrying “prejudice,” building on recent speeches against it by church leaders, and the other on “seeking information from reliable sources.”
The part on prejudice begins with the declaration that all “people are children of God” and quotes the Book of Mormon, the faith’s founding scripture, which says, “All are alike,” unto the Almighty.
Prejudice is “not consistent with the revealed word of God,” the passage states. “Favor or disfavor with God depends on devotion to him and his commandments, not on the color of a person’s skin or other attributes.”
It then repeats the call that church President Russell M. Nelson issued at October’s General Conference “to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice toward any group or individual” and “to lead out in promoting respect for all.”
The handbook urges Latter-day Saints to reject prejudice “of any kind. This includes prejudice based on race, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, gender, age, disability, socioeconomic status, religious belief or nonbelief, and sexual orientation.”
The section on misinformation warns members about sources that “are unreliable and do not edify,” or even “seek to promote anger, contention, fear, or baseless conspiracy theories.”
It advises members to stick with “only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information,” and avoid those that are “speculative or founded on rumor.”
Throughout the handbook, references to “birth sex” were changed to “biological sex at birth.”
This reflects statements about transgender members made by Dallin H. Oak, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, last year at the faith’s fall General Conference.