Mormon Church is the Anne Hathaway of Religions

Derek Westra

In my opinion, my Church suffers from a condition called “Anne Hathaway Syndrome.” Among other symptoms is this defining characteristic: Despite doing many great, wonderful and award-worthy works— almost everyone hates you, and wants to see you fail or stop trying.

While I am joking with the comparison, in a way I feel Anne’s pain. The good works of an organization and people that I revere and sustain are very often ignored and mocked, as critics search and reach to find fault with LDS Church doctrine, policy, operations and leadership.

Recently, a policy change about how the Church treats children of same-sex couples was leaked and disseminated online before Church leaders were able to provide proper context. Many members of the Church were initially confused (and many disappointed) to learn that the Church would not permit children of same-sex couples to be baptized members until they are 18 years old.

With that information alone, many took to social media, forums and blogs to express frustration and anger with what appeared to many to be a 180 degree turn from the Church’s Article of Faith #2: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”

Personally, I understand the frustration, confusion and anger. Initially I was confused and saddened by what seemed counter Church-culture. However, one mistake I have learned again and again in my life is that when I act on information, having only heard one side, I always regret it. There are always two (or more) perspectives, and I would encourage everyone to weigh the rationale and reasoning of Church leaders (when it comes out from official sources) along with the many critical voices.

The Church has a long-held (very similar) policy for children of polygamist couples. One reason that has been suggested for this is that the Church hopes to protect children from being at the center of an inherent conflict of what is being taught in their household and what is being taught in their Church. Personally, I see this as a sign of respect for all parents and their pivotal role as caregivers.

The Church also requires additional permissions for ordinances chosen by adult members who were raised in Muslim households. I believe these policies are intended to serve as a protection to those children. Choosing to make sacred covenants to become a member of the LDS Church is no small thing. While it may seem prejudice to some, I truly believe the Church leaders making these decisions have the children’s best interest at heart.

I don’t blame anyone for being angry or for expressing their frustration. I just ask that critics give adequate attention to both sides before jumping to criticism.

I believe the symptoms of the syndrome I described earlier are familiar to people like Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson, who are placed in an unenviable position to try to interpret the best way to administer the Savior’s teachings to families and individuals (with unique and changing circumstances). The Savior himself was criticized, mocked, and eventually killed for preaching the unpopular.

I believe Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love all people. I believe prophets and apostles speak for Heavenly Father and do their best to navigate the sensitivities and challenges of our day. The manner in which they try to care for and protect families will always be a source of controversy. Let us not forget that it was for Jesus too.

Derek Westra

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