Amendment 3 debate deeper than legal questions

Amendment 3 debate deeper than legal questions

(Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Larisa Mazuchelli may be like a lot of other Millennials: not much into religion herself, and not in agreement with her family's when it comes to same sex marriage.

Some of Mazuchelli's friends are gay.

"Most of them cannot talk about what they feel, right inside church," she said.

Mazuchelli, who's from Brazil, was born Catholic — one of three religions described by respondents in a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute as unfriendly toward gay people.

"I feel sorry for those who want to go to church, but they cannot fully express their love," she said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Evangelical Christian churches also share the same perception. They're among five groups who filed court briefs in defense of Amendment 3.

During this weekend's LDS General Conference, Elder Neal L. Andersen underscored the church's stand, that it's about basic doctrine, and preserving what he called an ideal setting for families.

"While many governments and well meaning individuals have re-defined marriage, the Lord has not," Elder Andersen said.

While many governments and well meaning individuals have re- defined marriage, the Lord has not.

–Elder Neal L. Andersen

Reverend Greg Johnson, an Evangelical minister who formed the effort, Standing Together, supports Amendment 3. But he also sees a change, especially among young Evangelicals.

"They're far more open to it, far more tolerant of it, and somewhat bothered when the institution of the church in a very black and white way just says it's wrong, and we have to dismiss it," he said.

However, he does not dismiss the need for a new approach: to educate and always to welcome.

"I think when it comes to being a place that is open and welcoming, there should be no place like the body of Christ to opening its arm to anyone."

But how far are those arms open? The Public Religion Research Institute poll claims 70 percent of Millennials believe religious groups are alienating, especially young people, by their approach. But even that has changed, with growing number of churches embracing gay members and families.

"We have a feeling as if things have always been the way they are ... and that they are the way that we remember them being, whether that be in the 1950s or the 1960s of the 1940s. But that's not the case," Bishop Scott Hayashi, who is over the Salt Lake City's Episcopal Diocese. "Cultures have evolved over a period of time. I don't see the culture circling down the drain. I see the culture trying to make a shift."

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