People repulsed by Mormon Church's strict new rules against homosexual members, LDS scholar says

The Mormon Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah-- the largest LDS temple in the world with a floor area of 253,015 square feet.Reuters

The Mormon Church has implemented new rules that have antagonised not just gay activists but also church members of various political backgrounds.

The new rules, issued just last week, require that children living with gay parents cannot be baptised until they are 18 years old. Even after that, the only way they can be baptised is if they renounce same-sex relationships.

The church's new policy also deems gay marriages a sin that deserves expulsion of the errant members. This is quite a turnaround from the church's recent push to adopt a more tolerant stance regarding LGBT issues, according to The Telegraph.

"The surprising impact has been the amount of people who are confused and troubled and disturbed and, frankly, repulsed," said Mormon scholar Patrick Mason, who is also the associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California and Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies. "And these aren't just progressives and LGBT advocates. They are saying: 'This doesn't feel right. This doesn't square with me.'"

The thing that upset people the most was the church's targeting of kids, said Mason. Even conservative and orthodox members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), who usually stay clear of LGBT issues, could not help but question their church's new decisions, he added.

Granted, the new policy will only affect a small number of Mormon families, since many same-sex couples with children are not really active in the church, Mason said. However, he said this new policy will greatly impact children who have one gay parent.

The Mormon scholar expressed hopes that his church can revise its new policy and come up with new rules for divorced parents or children with one gay parent.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Eric Hawkins declined to comment on the matter.

Jackie Biskupski, the openly gay mayor-elect of Salt Lake City in Utah, also weighed in on the issue. She actually called for a meeting with Mormon church leaders to discuss their new "peculiar" policies.

Biskupski suspects that the latest decision made by the church would "potentially" draw a negative reaction "to my election" given its timing.

"I'm trying to get in for a meeting now" with LDS officials," she told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I definitely want to meet as soon as possible after November 17 (when the vote is finalised) to talk about direction and issues, policies and different things."

Salt Lake City is the national headquarters of the LDS Church, which boasts of more than 15 million members in more than 29,000 congregations around the world, church sources said.