The religion that is widely known as the Mormon church has long opposed abortion, but it has rarely spoken in recent years.
The Republican-led legislatures in the US are considering a number of anti-abortion measures this year which they hope will reach the Supreme Court and gain the approval of the majority, reversing Roe v. Wade of 1973 established the national right to abortion.
Commenting on a speech by former church president Gordon B. Hinckley at a 1998 conference, church leader Neil Andersen said abortion was “bad, illegal and true and disgusting” and urged women to avoid that.
“Let’s share our deepest feelings about the sanctity of life with those who make decisions in society,” Andersen said. “They may not fully appreciate what we believe, but we pray that they fully understand why, for us, these decisions go beyond what a person really wants in life.”
Andersen, a member of the governing body of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said church members should step in and help women if an unborn child came to allow the baby to be born and to continue the “death” journey of the child.
He also lamented that fewer children are being born all over the world, even in the wealthiest nations.
The trend is reflected in new church figures released on Saturday which show that the number of new children added to church membership has dropped for the sixth consecutive year. About 65,500 children were added to the church by 2020 – a 47% drop from the current peak in 2008, church figures show.
And on Saturday, Forum member Gary Stevenson urged church members to welcome people of all faiths and races on the heels of the recent Asian attacks and to follow the latest census of racial justice around the world.
“The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a good way towards clay, and that exclusion leads to separation,” Stevenson said. “We are saddened to hear of the recent attacks on blacks, Asians, Latinos, or any other group. Discrimination, racism, or violence should never have a place in our neighborhood, community, or church.”
He also urged new members to stop cyber bullying, which could lead to anxiety and depression, and for older people to model “kindness, inclusion and good behavior.”
Stevenson’s appeal marked the continued struggle in recent years with church leaders to deliver a strong voice against apartheid.
Church leaders have called on members to end discrimination and to make the faith “a place of unity” at the church’s final conference in October. Two months later, the church added a new religious textbook to its call for an end to racism and xenophobia, adding to the significance and permanence of one of the most important topics in church history.
The previous religious ban on Black men in the priesthood, which lasted until 1978, remains a serious problem for members and non-members alike. The church objected to the 2013 ban on the ban, saying it was carried out during apartheid that affected the church’s original teachings, but did not issue a formal apology – a bitter blow to some members.
The church leadership has grown exponentially in 2018 with the election of the first Latin American and Asian man from the all-male panel. But still there are no Black men on the panel. Black members make up a small percentage of church membership.
Utah-based religious members, popularly known as the Mormon church, watched the talks during a two-day Easter weekend on television, computers, and tablets in their homes around the world. Church leaders gave talks inside the church building in Salt Lake City, where they sat away from the community and wore masks.
Holland warned members that lowering those standards leads to broken agreements and broken hearts.
“Once the dance is over, the investigator has to be paid regularly and often the money is tears and remorse,” Holland said.
Joy D. Jones, president of the “Primary Children’s Faith” program, urged parents to respect their children and “never injure themselves physically, verbally or emotionally in any way, even if conflicts and pressures are intense.”
He urged parents to avoid allowing the increasing use of technology to get in the way of “caring conversations” and to look into their children’s eyes as they teach gospel lessons.
“As children learn and develop, their beliefs will be challenged,” says Jones. “But well-equipped, they can grow in faith, courage, and confidence, even in the face of fierce opposition.”