November 5th marked one year since the LDS church released its controversial LGBT handbook policy. And a few recent polls have attempted to capture the effects, one year later.
The LGBT Mormon group Affirmation observed the policy anniversary with an online forum last Saturday. The focus of the forum was to share the results from a survey about the impact of the policy on gay families.
“Our focus really was on the affirmation community," says Affirmation president John Gustav-Wrathal.
This survey only reached people with a connection to Affirmation or other LGBT groups. Mostly through Facebook.
"First of all the responses showed significant emotional distress within our community that was a result of our policy," says Gustav-Wrathal. "They also showed a dramatic loss of trust in church leaders.”
The survey says that over 50% of church active survey respondents had strong support for church leaders a year ago. That number has now dropped to 20%. And there were similar dips with questions regarding church activity and emotional health.
But a recent poll conducted by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics paints a different picture. They found that 79% of active Utah Mormons support the policy.
“In general active Mormons were in favor of the policy," says Jana Riess, a senior columnist for Religion News Service.
Riess is in the middle of conducting a nationwide survey of church members called "The Next Mormons." Her findings about the policy match the Tribune poll, but she went a step further and asked her participants a related question.
“The question is just, homosexuality should be accepted by society or homosexuality should be discouraged by society," says Riess.
When Pew asked that question of Mormons in a 2007 survey only 24% said homosexuality should be accepted. And now it's up to 46%.
Which means, acceptance is up. Both for the church policy and homosexuality. Which might seem like a paradox.
But Riess, who has written about her own discomfort with the policy, says the numbers don’t lie.