SALT LAKE CITY – A senior Mormon church leader has modified portions of his general conference speech for the church's online publication after it prompted outcry from gay rights activists.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports the move makes Boyd K. Packer's Oct. 3 speech more closely reflect the faith's view that the cause of same-sex attraction is unknown and that the only sin is acting on those desires.
National gay rights activists have called for Packer to recant statements that homosexuality is unnatural and can be overcome, calling the comments factually inaccurate and dangerous.
LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Packer changed his wording as part of a routine practice after every general conference when speakers are given a chance to make any necessary edits.
"President Packer has simply clarified his intent," Trotter said.
Packer, 86, holds the second-highest leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is next in line for the church's presidency.
In the speech, he said: "Some suppose that they were born pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father."
The Tribune reports that now the word "temptations" has replaced "tendencies" and the question about God's motives has been removed entirely.
Gary Watts, a former member of the LDS church, said he doesn't view the edits as an improvement.
"It leaves it out there like this is a temptation, like this is something one can choose," said Watts, a Provo father of six grown children, including a gay son and a lesbian daughter. "It would be nice to have the church apologize and say they're editing it because they've recognized that it's caused a tremendous amount of hurt and discomfort."
John Lynch, chairman of the board of FAIR — a group of Mormon apologists — applauded Packer's statements about overcoming challenges.
"One would hope that God would not put you in a position where you had no opportunity to align with his standards," Lynch said. "President Packer was extending a hand of hope, (saying) it's not hopeless."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: www.lds.org
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com