Activists aim to pull tax-exempt status from Mormon church after rash of LGBTQ teen suicides, political influence
The Mormon churches divide over LGBTQ membership has been more damaging to the church then many could even imagine.
With a suicide rate nearly double the national average, activists are calling into question just how damaging the Church’s teachings are and if it violates national laws around tax-exempt status for religions.
Part of that effort includes ”the biggest, loudest and most comprehensive” attack on the church through a series of paid-advertisements spearheaded by anti-conversion therapy activist Fred Karger. In the last month Karger traveled to Salt Lake City to audition current and former Mormons to share their own stories of distaste with the church.
“Somebody has got to fight for these kids,” Karger told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s inexcusable, the damage and suffering the church has caused for so many of these families.”
Karger’s efforts against the LDS church were ignited back in Nov. 2015 when the church, which had seemed to be moving towards LGBTQ acceptance, put out a statement calling LGBTQ Mormons “apostates” and banning their children from baptism until they turned 18.
Since the 2015 policy, an extra spotlight has been shown on teen suicides within the church, often with connections to kids feeling ostracized for being LGBTQ.
Over the summer, after 5 teen suicides were reported with connections to the church, Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn, an openly gay former Mormon, blasted the church for allegedly causing the LGBT members to take their own life.
“I want you to say their names and remember their photos,” Glenn said in a video posted on facebook, fighting back tears. ”[Church President] Russell Nelson and the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is blood of your members of your hands. Please don’t let this be a summer of more gay suicides. Please make a space for your gay members. Please tell them they are OK and they’re made in the image of God and they’re not flawed. Please stop telling them that they are abnormal. Please, please, please, how many more? How many more?”
Karger doesn’t expect his case to get built over night, and he’s set up a website, http://mormontips.com/, to encourage those who have witnessed church improprieties to come forward and self-report.
While the church maintains an a-political public face, Karger and other activists believe they have been working behind the scenes in things like California’s 2008 Prop 8 which put same-sex marriage up to popular vote.
“It has recently come to light that the Mormon Church has led, and financed primarily through its members, nearly all of the anti-gay marriage campaigns throughout the country,” wrote Karger on his new website. “The LDS Church’s involvement goes back to the first gay marriage battle which began in Hawaii in 1995. The Mormon Church often does not report or underreports its massive involvement in these campaigns. The LDS Church and its hierarchy are also heavily involved in federal and state lobbying and participate in many elections across the country.”
Churches and other certain nonprofits are bared from political speech – at the expense of their tax-exempt status – thanks to a 1954 amendment to the tax code filed by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson.
Removing tax-exempt status for a church might seen like a daunting task, but in 2011, the IRS cut the status for about 275,000 organizations after they failed to file the correct paperwork.
There’s “blood on your hands” – activist asks for changes after 5 more LGBT youth suicides in Utah’s largest Church
“There is either no God, or God isn’t speaking to you.”July 8, 2016
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