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LDS Church Apologizes for Past Missteps

From the Deseret News:

In a surprising move, the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today has publically apologized for some of the Utah based church's past missteps.

In a written statement, President Thomas S. Monson, the head of the LDS church mentioned a deep regret for Brigham Young and other leaders' pronouncements about blacks and those with African ancestry. In his words, "These statements are offensive and cannot be taken in any other manner. We renounce what was said as not doctrinal and apologize for any confusion or offense the racist statements or policies may have caused."

The press release also announces a transition so adult women may now be granted the priesthood; the possibility for leadership within the LDS organization. Women and church members have long requested this access, but were rebuffed by traditional and chauvinist policies.

The guidelines given to the lay clergy, the bishops and stake presidents (known as the church handbook of instructions) will be published on the lds.org website. All LDS members will now have access to these guidelines and become aware of previously secret guidelines and policies. LDS weddings will still be held in temples, but anyone who wants to attend those ceremonies will be allowed, without a special recommend.

President Monson references a forthcoming document that will detail the expenses and earnings of the LDS church throughout the world. This document will be made public, so each ward congregation will see where their tithing funds are being spent. Prior to today, this information was not public and even individual members had not been aware of how their donations were being used. President Monson also announces his own retirement, and the recommended retirement of any LDS leader over the age of 65. "For too long, we have allowed people to stay in the leadership when a younger, more diverse population would help the LDS church move into the twenty first century".

The statement reverses the official LDS position opposing same-sex marriage. "We regret our participation in this battle for human rights. As of today, we agree to cease any official sponsorship of anti-gay causes and encourage our members to prayerfully ponder their own participation in such causes."

It appears that as of today, April first, the church will be reviewing its policies towards women and gays, modifying existing teaching materials and pamphlets to vigilantly oppose discrimination based on race, gender, creed or sexual orientation.

The press release mentions that the Book of Mormon will become a spiritual guide instead of historically documented fact. It reads: "We acknowledge that the Book of Mormon was inspired by God, but no evidence has been found that the peoples described in the book were real or in fact ancestors of native americans".

Finally, the statement expresses regret that any historians or members of the LDS church were excommunicated over some of these issues. "These members will be welcomed back into the fold if they so choose. All members should feel free to research and study any all issues and come to their own conclusions without fear of familial, social or spiritual reprocussions".

In a related note, the Utah LDS church has agreed to allow reporters, historians and scholars unrestricted access to all the church archives and documents.

Happy April Fools Day!

Text written by aerin of http://acranberryblog.blogspot.com/