Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denounce abortion as evil and call on members to challenge prejudice and racism on day one of conference of the church held on Saturday without attendees due to the pandemic.
The faith widely known as the Mormon Church has long opposed abortion, but has approached it sparingly in recent years.
Lawmakers in the Republican legislatures in the United States are considering a series of anti-abortion restrictions this year that they hope will reach the Supreme Court and gain approval from its Conservative majority, overturning the Roe v. Wade of 1973 who established a national abortion right.
Quoting a speech by former church president Gordon B. Hinckley at a 1998 conference, church leader Neil Anderson said abortion is “wrong, austere, real and disgusting” and begged the women to avoid thinking about it.
“Let’s share our deep feelings about the sanctity of life with those who make decisions in society,” Anderson said. “They may not fully appreciate what we believe, but we pray that they understand better why, for us, these decisions go far beyond what a person wants for their own life.”
Anderson, a member of a steering committee called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said church members should step in to help support women if an unforeseen child arrives to allow a child to be born and continue the “journey. in the mortality “of the baby.
He also lamented that fewer children are being born in the world, even in the most prosperous countries.
This trend can be seen in new church statistics released on Saturday which show that the number of new children added to church membership rosters has declined for the sixth year in a row. About 65,500 children were added to church members in 2020 – down 47% from the modern high reached in 2008, according to church figures.
Also on Saturday, Quorum member Gary Stevenson called on church members to welcome people of all faiths and ethnicities following recent attacks on Asians and following a recent ruling on racial justice in the world.
“The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive path to unity and that exclusion leads to division,” Stevenson said. “We have been heartbroken to hear about recent attacks on black people, Asians, Latin Americans or any other group. Prejudice, racial tension or violence should never have a place in our neighborhoods, communities or within the church. “
He also called on young members to end cyberbullying, which can lead to anxiety and depression, and on adults to show “kindness, inclusion and civility.”
Stevenson’s plea marked a continuation of a push in recent years by church leaders to take a more strident tone against racism.
Other church leaders urged members to root out racism and make faith an “oasis of unity” at the church’s last conference in October. Two months later, the church added new language to the faith manual requiring members to eliminate prejudice and racism, adding meaning and permanence to one of the most sensitive topics in the history of the Church. ‘church.
Black men’s faith-passed ban on the lay priesthood, which lasted until 1978, remains a sensitive issue for members and non-members alike. The church disowned the ban in a 2013 essay, saying it was enacted during a time of great racial division that influenced the early teachings of the church, but never issued a formal apology – a sensitive point for some members.
Church leadership diversified a bit in 2018 when it selected the very first person of Latin American and Asian descent to an all-male board of directors. But there are still no black men in the panel. Black members make up a small percentage of church members.
Members of the Utah-based faith, widely known as the Mormon Church, watch speeches at the two-day conference this Easter weekend on televisions, computers and tablets from their homes in worldwide. Church leaders deliver speeches from inside a building at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, where they sit socially distanced and wear masks.
Before the pandemic, the two-day conference would bring about 100,000 people to church headquarters in Salt Lake City to listen to five sessions over two days. The conference was held virtually in April 2020, marking the first time in over 70 years.
Church President Russell M. Nelson, now in his third year as the head of the faith, and several speakers focused on the importance of repentance. Comparing personal growth to the ongoing renovations to the church’s flagship temple in Salt Lake City, Nelson told members to find “the debris you should remove from your life so that you can become more worthy.”
Elder Dieter Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve added: “The purifying gift of repentance enables us to put our sins behind us and become a new creature. Thanks to Jesus Christ, our failures don’t have to define us. They can refine us.
Church members also heard from longtime Quorum member Jeffrey Holland, one of the Faith’s best-known speakers, who lamented a world filled with strife, strife and incivility and launched a passionate advocacy for members to be kinder and to follow what he called “principles of righteousness.”
Holland warned members that compromising these principles leads to broken alliances and broken hearts.
“When the dance is over the Pied Piper still needs to be paid and more often than not the motto is tears and regret,” Holland said.
Joy D. Jones, chair of the “Primary” faith children’s ministry program, urged parents to cherish their children and “never to harm them physically, verbally or emotionally in any way, even when tensions and pressures are high ”.
She called on parents to avoid letting the increasing use of electronic devices get in the way of “loving conversation” and to make eye contact with their children as they teach gospel lessons.
“As children learn and grow, their beliefs will be challenged,” Jones said. “But because they are properly equipped, they can grow in faith, courage, and confidence, even in the midst of strong opposition.”