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Variety: LDS Musician Confronts His Church’s LGBT Stance in New Sundance Documentary

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Well... it looks like Dan Reynold’s days as a member of the LDS Church are numbered...

I realize most conservative members will adamantly disagree with his conclusions about members driving change, but whether or not you agree with him, Reynold’s seems to be representing a cultural wave that the church will have difficultly holding back as the older generation passes and the younger ranks assume leaderships positions. As many of us have said repeatedly, for the younger generation, attitudes about LGBT acceptance seems to be mirroring interracial acceptance of the current/previous adult generations.

On a movie nerd note: I’m still stunned he got the likes of Hans Zimmer to score his film. Wow!!!

Quote

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Confronts Mormon Church’s LGBTQ Stance in Sundance-Bound Doc ‘Believer’

November 29, 2017 1:21PM PST

  • Andrew Barker
 

Dan Reynolds Believer doc

Live Nation Productions

Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds has been having an eventful week. On Tuesday, his band picked up its fourth career Grammy nomination for Platinum-selling third album, “Evolve.” And today, he’s announcing a Sundance-bound documentary of which he is both an executive producer and subject, “Believer.”

Directed by Don Argott and produced via Live Nation Productions, “Believer” is no typical rock doc. Following up on Imagine Dragons’ August LoveLoud Fest benefit concert in Orem, Utah – which benefited gay rights orgs GLAAD and the Trevor Project, among others – the film takes a broader look at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ treatment of LGBTQ members.

“Mormonism is more than just a religion, it’s my culture, it’s my life, it’s my whole family,” Reynolds tells Variety. “So this is something that’s weighed on my heart and mind for a long time, and I’ve seen how destructive and harmful it is to teach our children that being gay is a sin.”

Reynolds was raised Mormon, and experienced his first taste of what he calls religious “shaming” when he was kicked out of Brigham Young University a week before the start of his freshman year, after admitting to premarital sex with his high school girlfriend. He managed to re-enroll a year later, and completed a mission in Nebraska, but he had another rude awakening in the early days of Imagine Dragons when he met his future wife, fellow musician Aja Volkman, at a concert in Los Angeles. Volkman’s two best friends and roommates were gay, and Reynolds recalls they were “pretty upset” to learn that their friend was dating a Mormon, right after the Church’s leadership had thrown its weight behind California’s anti-gay-marriage law Proposition 8.

“They felt like my wife had married into the antithesis of what they had all been fighting for,” Reynolds remembers. He became more and more outspoken about gay rights within the Church – frequently calling attention to the high teenage suicide rate in Utah – and planned the LoveLoud benefit to be held immediately adjacent to BYU’s homebase of Provo. To his surprise, the Church itself issued a statement endorsing the concert, which he calls “a step,” and gives him hope that institutional change is possible.

“If the leaders aren’t going to change their teachings, then it’s the members who have to say, ‘this doesn’t feel right, and we’re not okay with this,’” he says. “A great thing about Mormonism is that they believe in continuing revelation, that God still talks to the prophets, and so they have had changes in the Church. They don’t practice bigamy anymore, like they did in the early days, because God said ‘okay, times are changing, we need to change.’ In the early days of the Church, black people couldn’t join the priesthood, and God came down and said that has to change.”

With “Believer” set to premiere in Utah at Sundance, Reynolds hopes it will continue to force discussion of gay rights within Mormonism on a larger scale. “LoveLoud reached 20,000 people in Utah, which is really small compared to the number of people who need to be reached. I think the reason the film needs to happen is because I feel like this is a way that nobody can turn their heads away.”

Heather Parry, Live Nation president of production, film and television, notes: “It was an honor to help bring Dan’s personal journey to light in ‘Believer,’ and we couldn’t be prouder to help share his story in such an honest and authentic way.”

Reynolds contributed two original songs to the film, and briefly pondered scoring it himself, but ended up delegating those duties to a considerably more experienced hand, Hans Zimmer.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” Reynolds says of getting Zimmer onboard. “I had considered [scoring] it, but I’ve never scored a film. I don’t know how to do that. But Hans Zimmer certainly does, so I figured I’d shoot for the moon and send him an email. ‘Hey Hans, I know you’re probably busy doing the biggest movies of all time, but I have this little tiny documentary…’ And he watched it, and got in contact with me and he said, ‘I have to do this.’

“I just heard the first rough cut of it today, and it was a magical, surreal experience.”

On a related note:

 

As Utah’s youth suicide rates grows at an alarming pace, state could be doing more to combat the trend, new federal report says

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 · 10 hours ago 
Utah could be doing significantly more — including using programs proven to work — to help prevent youth suicide, which has increased each year nearly four times faster than the national average, a new federal report says.
 
None of the three Utah programs most widely used in schools have received “rigorous evaluation” for their effectiveness in preventing suicide, and all three have a “relatively narrow focus,” the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in its study released Thursday.
 
It recommended increasing access to evidence-based mental health care, using comprehensive and coordinated prevention programs backed by data and working to help youths feel connected to their families, schools and communities.
 
“The existing suicide prevention strategies in Utah could be complemented by other programs, policies, and practices that focus on primary prevention,” the researchers wrote, adding the federal government offers “multiple resources” that Utah could rely on, but doesn’t.
 
Utah’s five-year Suicide Prevention Plan will likely be adjusted based on the CDC’s findings, said Kim Myers, suicide prevention coordinator for the Utah Department of Human Services.
 
“We understand the scope of the problem here,” Myers said at a Thursday news conference in Salt Lake City announcing results of the study.
 
“We are implementing strategies in almost every area outlined in the [CDC’s] recommendations,” she said. “But to really make a dent in this problem, we are going to need to do more of all of it.”
 
As one example to help increase “connectedness,” she suggested creating more places where lesbian and gay youths can meet up and talk.
 
Seeing the rate of youth suicide in Utah continuing to increase, state health officials had asked in January for help from the CDC.

Two months later, a strike team of researchers descended on the state for two weeks to pore through federal and state databases, extract details from law enforcement reports and hospital records, and examine the state’s prevention policies.

The broad themes of what they found, according to their 140-page report released Thursday, confirmed what Utah health officials already knew: The state’s suicide rate among young adults ages 10 to 17 had more than doubled from 2011 to 2015. It had grown at an annual clip nearly four times faster than the national average.

In all, 150 youths died by suicide over the five-year period.

The researchers also unearthed new information about the deaths that may — with additional study — be useful in preventing suicide, including data on self-harming, religion, technology and sexual orientation.

Based on available data, sexual orientation could not be determined for the majority of the 150 youths. But it could for 40 individuals — and six of them were identified as gay or lesbian youths, according to the report.

Michael Staley, suicide research coordinator with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, said that figure should “have lots of caution flags around it,” considering it was such a small sample size.

Still, he said, “it’s the first time anybody has actually put a number” to the number of young gay and lesbian Utahns dying by suicide.

The CDC researchers also determined 59 of the youths were religious, based on church attendance and information from their families. Eighty-one percent of those — or 48 young people — were affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Religious youth were “less likely to consider and attempt suicide compared to less religious youth,” based on data the CDC collected from Utah’s Prevention Needs Assessment.

Staley said the data also raise additional questions he plans to dig into.

“It seems like religion was a protective factor,” he said. “But we don’t know a lot of details about that. It could be a protective factor for those who feel included in their religion — but not for those who don’t. We don’t know that.”

The researchers also explored data on young Utahns who were suffering from mental illness but did not die by suicide. The rate of youths seeking help at emergency rooms across the state due to self-inflicted injuries doubled between 2011 and 2014, the CDC found. So did the rate of young patients who said they had been thinking about suicide.

The three programs most commonly used in Utah schools are Question, Persuade and Refer or QPR, a training program; Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer outreach effort; and Hope for Tomorrow, focused on mental health education.

Mike Friedrichs, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, acknowledged the programs — despite being well-intentioned — were not “science-based.”

He pointed out that Utah’s youth suicide rate had continued to increase in 2016, and preliminary numbers showed 2017 could be another record year.

“I hope we do a more rigorous evaluation, and identify what’s not working,” he said of the state’s prevention programs.

Other findings from the report:

  • Of the youths who died by suicide, 75 percent were between ages 15 and 17, with the median age 15.3. Most were male (77 percent) and white (81 percent).
  • Some 35 percent had been diagnosed with a mental health issue; 84 percent of those had been receiving mental health treatment at the time of their death.
  • The most common methods of suicide were suffocation (46 percent) and firearms (45 percent).

Taryn Aiken Hiatt, regional director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, challenged Utahns to show up and participate in suicide prevention training and awareness efforts.

She encouraged people to “be nosy” and “ask questions” when they see someone is suffering. More access to mental health treatment is needed in the rural parts of Utah, she added.

Hiatt, who said she survived a number of suicide attempts as a teenager, offered hope that Utah’s trends can be reversed.

“Our brains get sick,” Hiatt said. “But here’s the beautiful part: They can also get better.”

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts is asked to call the 24-Hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Utah also has crisis lines statewide.

I’m glad Utah Officals are seeking out help and input, and hope they continue to find and implement effective, proven programs and measures. Anything that can be done to reduce suicides of your youth is welcome, regardless of the demographics they represent/come from.

Edited by Daniel2
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9 minutes ago, Daniel2 said:

 

Well... it looks like Dan Reynold’s days as a member of the LDS Church are numbered...

I realize most conservative members will adamantly disagree with his conclusions about members driving change, but whether or not you agree with him, Reynold’s seems to be representing a cultural wave that the church will have difficultly holding back as the older generation passes and the younger ranks assume leaderships positions. As many of us have said repeatedly, for the younger generation, attitudes about LGBT acceptance seems to be mirroring interracial acceptance of the current/previous adult generations.

 

I was very excited to learn about this the other day.  I’m an Imagine Dragons fan and  even bigger Dan Reynolds fan for all he’s doing, what a great person.  

I don’t agree that his days as a member are numbered.  Unless his disagreements with church leaders start sounding over the top disrespectful, I don’t think they would want the negative publicity they would get through an excommunication.  So he’d have to resign, and so far I haven’t heard him say anything that makes me believe he wants to formally resign.  

Can’t wait to watch the documentary and I love Hans Zimmer too, how cool of a story!  

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I have to agree with Kiwi here that while some attitudes will certainly soften with the calling of new leaders from younger generations, this idea that those who are particularly adamant about bottom-up change are somehow going to be the ones getting called suggests a bit too much that the Church functions like some sort of democracy, which it doesn't. We believe God is at the helm, issuing the calls through His chosen servants, not that people are self-selecting themselves into the leadership.

As for the increasing suicide problem in Utah, I find it interesting that almost no one ever looks at the fact that there is an increasing number of young people the world over (and I don't see Utah as being any different, especially with what we already know about this) who are taking anti-depressant medications. These medicines are known to be problematic due to the fact that they have been shown to be correlated with increased depression and suicidal ideations, as well as often not being effective at bringing about better outcomes. Instead, it seems they have more of a numbing effect that can be detrimental in and of itself and exacerbate the issues. Sources on this: 

Antidepressants and suicidal ideations: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353604/
Hurting more than helping: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35756602
Lack of efficacy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27289172
Trends towards greater amounts of young people going on anti-depressants: http://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(16)00037-7/abstract

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11 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I was very excited to learn about this the other day.  I’m an Imagine Dragons fan and  even bigger Dan Reynolds fan for all he’s doing, what a great person.  

I don’t agree that his days as a member are numbered.  Unless his disagreements with church leaders start sounding over the top disrespectful, I don’t think they would want the negative publicity they would get through an excommunication.  

"They?"

11 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

So he’d have to resign, and so far I haven’t heard him say anything that makes me believe he wants to formally resign.  

I hope he does not resign.  I hope he reconsiders his position relative to the teachings of the Church.  Publicly faulting the Church for teaching and implementing the Law of Chastity is not appropriate.

Thanks,

-Smac

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This is nice.  Being one who is hopeful for change for the better, I'm glad to see this by a prominent member.  It may take way too long for most of us, but I'm guessing changes are coming, on this issue and others.  Of course changes come.  They always have.  Pressure mounts--the Church learns and then caves and pretends it is leading a good movement or something.  

 

 

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11 hours ago, bluebell said:

I was disappointed that he described the church’s position as teaching that “being gay is a sin.”

He lost me there. 

Too bad.  I've found that many members who are gay feel that this is the Church's position.  I realize there are plenty who stay in the Church, remain celibate or try to force heterosexuality.  I find it rather divisive to try and separate it the way the Church does.  I also realize the Church rather enjoys the notion from the NT where this issue is worthy to divide families, though.  

I think this'll all change in time.  It's taking way too long and probably won't change any time soon, though.  Sadly.  

 

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37 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yes.  I think we are well past the time when such mischaracterizations can be chalked up to inadvertence or ignorance.  The Church has been very clear about its teachings on this topic for some years now, as summed up here:

I suspect his mischaracterization was willful.

I previously had admired his efforts in addressing same-sex attraction in an LDS context.  It seemed for a time that he was attempting to build up some good will.  I was proceeding on that basis.  He's pretty much squelched that now.

I hope he has a change of heart.

Thanks,

-Smac

It's probably good to realize that gay members and others who determine the Church as saying gay is sin, don't separate the issue quite like the Church does.  So in that sense, its quite understandable.  It seems those who would say the Church's stance is that gay is a sin, aren't trying to mischaracterize but rather see the Church mischaracterizing the issue--as if there is a difference in it.  It gets complicated when sin includes lustful thoughts, of course.  If you're gay you have lustful thoughts, just as if you are heterosexual.  Each can, of course, try and control them.  But, it really puts gray to the Church's effort to try and clearly demarcate this issue.  

 

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42 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"They?"

They, meaning church leaders.  I don't think church leaders want negative publicity of excommunicating a high profile person like Dan Reynolds.  

43 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I hope he does not resign.  I hope he reconsiders his position relative to the teachings of the Church.  Publicly faulting the Church for teaching and implementing the Law of Chastity is not appropriate.

Thanks,

-Smac

I also hope he doesn't resign as well.  I hope he continues to respectfully work for the benefit of the LGBT community including calling out Church policies and practices and using his platform in a positive way to reduce the harm these things have on good people.  I hope that church leaders will eventually be inspired to receive the light and knowledge that their traditional understanding of the law of chastity was basically flawed when it comes to LGBT individuals.  We need a 1978 kind of moment and leaders open to receiving inspiration on this subject.  

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12 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

It's probably good to realize that gay members and others who determine the Church as saying gay is sin, don't separate the issue quite like the Church does.  So in that sense, its quite understandable.  It seems those who would say the Church's stance is that gay is a sin, aren't trying to mischaracterize but rather see the Church mischaracterizing the issue--as if there is a difference in it.  It gets complicated when sin includes lustful thoughts, of course.  If you're gay you have lustful thoughts, just as if you are heterosexual.  Each can, of course, try and control them.  But, it really puts gray to the Church's effort to try and clearly demarcate this issue.  

 

I agree here.  My understanding as a former TBM is that being gay is a sin...why else would one excommunicate a couple or expel their children from baptism...?  Sure, we love you..but...

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16 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

It's probably good to realize that gay members and others who determine the Church as saying gay is sin, don't separate the issue quite like the Church does.  So in that sense, its quite understandable.  It seems those who would say the Church's stance is that gay is a sin, aren't trying to mischaracterize but rather see the Church mischaracterizing the issue--as if there is a difference in it.  It gets complicated when sin includes lustful thoughts, of course.  If you're gay you have lustful thoughts, just as if you are heterosexual.  Each can, of course, try and control them.  But, it really puts gray to the Church's effort to try and clearly demarcate this issue.  

The Church is trying to say its ok to be gay but only a celibate gay person.  Also, since they have not explained how gay people will exist in the afterlife there are all kinds of theories about what will happen to these people in eternity, whether its changing their sexual identity, or relegating them to some kind of servant status and lower levels of the kingdoms.  

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18 minutes ago, smac97 said:

The Church is also saying it's ok to be unmarried and celibate.

Actually, they have explained.

Not really, the church says you have to get married, and is constantly telling the single people to get married.  That's because the theology says you have to be married to make it into the celestial kingdom.  Being gay is the only legitimate kind of celibacy in mortality, and there is no articulation that I'm aware of for how gay people will live in the next life.  If they have explained this officially, I would love to hear about it, but I can't recall any explanations.  

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12 hours ago, bluebell said:

I was disappointed that he described the church’s position as teaching that “being gay is a sin.”

He lost me there. 

I understand your meaning and agree with it.

However, as is so often the case, definitions are crucial here. If what he means by "being gay" is engaging in homosexual behavior, he is correct.

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57 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

This is nice.  Being one who is hopeful for change for the better, I'm glad to see this by a prominent member.  It may take way too long for most of us, but I'm guessing changes are coming, on this issue and others.  Of course changes come.  They always have.  Pressure mounts--the Church learns and then caves and pretends it is leading a good movement or something.  

 

 

Hence a very good reason for the Church to stop lionizing LDS celebrities.

Regarding cats in the bag, see my signature.

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4 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Not really, the church says you have to get married, and is constantly telling the single people to get married.  That's because the theology says you have to be married to make it into the celestial kingdom.  Being gay is the only legitimate kind of celibacy in mortality, and there is no articulation that I'm aware of for how gay people will live in the next life.  If they have explained this officially, I would love to hear about it, but I can't recall any explanations.  

There are heterosexual people in the Church who wish and hope to be married but, for whatever reason and through no fault of their own, will not have that blessing in mortality. They are under no condemnation. Moreover, they have the promise that the blessing will be granted to them in the hereafter.

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56 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I hope that church leaders will eventually be inspired to receive the light and knowledge that their traditional understanding of the law of chastity was basically flawed when it comes to LGBT individuals.

Are there any other behavioral exceptions to the law of chastity or the LDS doctrine of marriage that need to be reinterpreted?

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21 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I understand your meaning and agree with it.

However, as is so often the case, definitions are crucial here. If what he means by "being gay" is engaging in homosexual behavior, he is correct.

I agree, but if that's what he means it's confusing and also doesn't adequately/accurately engage with the church's teachings on the subject in a way that nonmembers will understand them (regardless of whether or not they agree with them).

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