12-year-old Mormon girl comes out as gay to congregation, leaves - CBS46 News

12-year-old Mormon girl comes out as gay to congregation, leaves stage in tears

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A 12-year-old girl from Utah is now at the center of a nationwide religious debate after a recorded video of her coming out as gay to her congregation went viral. A 12-year-old girl from Utah is now at the center of a nationwide religious debate after a recorded video of her coming out as gay to her congregation went viral.
Savannah said she decided earlier this year to come out to her church, and that she had already come out to her parents in the summer of 2016. Savannah said she decided earlier this year to come out to her church, and that she had already come out to her parents in the summer of 2016.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (CBS46) -

A 12-year-old girl from Utah is now at the center of a nationwide religious debate after a recorded video of her coming out as gay to her congregation went viral.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), also called the Mormon Church, is the most heavily Republican-leaning religious group in the United States.

It has generally held conservative views on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, race and female pastors. (The United Church of Christ, for instance, has always been its political antithesis.)

The Mormon Church, similar to the also traditionally conservative Southern Baptist Church and Roman Catholic Church, in the past decade has been witnessing a widening schism within its congregations due to these issues. (Here's a nationwide survey on political preferences within religious organizations.)

In 12-year-old Savannah's case, her speech wasn't well received by all members of the congregation, as the leaders turned off her microphone mid-speech and asked her to take her seat.

(Toward the end of the video, Savannah recites the remainder of her speech while displaying her hand written notes.)

It hasn't been historically uncommon for American religious organizations to soften—or even completely reverse—their stances on controversial issues to align their beliefs with the changing political and social climates.

The Southern Baptist Church seceded from the Northern Baptist Church in the 1840s to oppose the abolitionist movement in support of slavery, but since then it's had its first black president in 2012, and earlier this year at their annual meeting, they made a resolution on "The Condemnation of the Alt-Right Movement and the Roots of White Supremacy."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has also undergone a number of core doctrinal revisions down the years, most notably reversing their perspectives on blacks and women since Joseph Smith published his original "Book of Mormon" in Palmyra, Virginia in the year 1830.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for younger members just like Savannah, has been using internet resources recently to address these topics directly.

Websites such as Mormon.org and LDS.org often post blog articles, and they have also utilized advertising space on social media—such as YouTube—to reach younger audiences.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ) pages on their official websites usually receive the most traffic:

Should I come out?

For some people, keeping feelings of same-sex attraction private can result in shame or a negative internal dialogue. Sharing those feelings with a trusted confidant can be liberating and healing ... If you decide to share your experiences of feeling same-sex attraction or to openly identify as gay, you should be supported and treated with kindness and respect, both at home and in church. We all need to be patient with each other as we figure things out.

As Church members, we all have a responsibility to create a supportive and loving environment for all our brothers and sisters. Such a support network makes it much easier to live the gospel and to seek the Spirit while navigating any aspect of mortality.

Savannah said she decided earlier this year to come out to her church, and that she had already come out to her parents in the summer of 2016.

Story written by CBS46 Digital Content Producer Chris Price.

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