Thousands reject an LDS Church apostle’s inaugural address at SUU because of his anti-gay remarks

An online petition criticizes Jeffrey R. Holland for being “open” against “LGBTQ+ people”.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland speaks at general conference on Sunday, October 2, 2022. Thousands have signed an online petition opposing his planned appearance at Southern Utah University in April pronounce

Southern Utah University announced Thursday that a Latter-day Saint apostle will be the keynote speaker at its graduation ceremony in April — but within hours, thousands of people had signed an online petition demanding that Jeffrey R. Holland is banned for “openly speaking out against LGBTQ+ individuals.”

The petition criticizes Holland for calling for “‘musket fire’ on the (LGBTQ+) community”. In an August 2021 lecture at Brigham Young University, Holland advised faculty and staff to pick up their intellectual “muskets” to understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its “doctrine of the family and… of marriage as a unity” by a man and a woman.” He also criticized the opening speech of BYU’s 2019 year best, who proclaimed himself a “gay son of God.”

The petition was published after SUU President Mindy Benson announced that she was “delighted” that Holland was announced on March 28.

“His address will inspire our graduates to embrace lifelong learning and give back to their communities as they leave SUU and move on in life,” she said in a press release.

Holland was born and raised in nearby St. George, the publication said. His “southern Utah roots and commitment to education and learning are timely as we wrap up our 125th anniversary year,” she said.

Before becoming an Apostle in 1994, Holland was the ninth President of BYU in Provo.

[Read more: Can a ‘unique’ BYU really be true to its two missions: faith and scholarship?]

But the online petition claims that including Holland in SUU’s inception “would not serve the student body, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community and students who don’t [ascribe] to the religious teachings of the LDS Church.”

As of early Friday, the petition has more than 4,300 signatures. Among the comments on the petition:

• “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I wonder what SUU is really about. No student should feel uncomfortable or disrespected. That’s not okay, we’re better than that.”

• “I deserve to graduate in peace, knowing that my university supports me. They can pocket their Q centers, diversity quotas and pride flags. But until the school itself speaks up for its queer students, that doesn’t mean anything.”

• “If SUU wants students on campus to feel safe on our campus, they must demonstrate that they care about the LGBT+ community, and the most fundamental step in doing so is not asking anyone who despises those people to to speak at YOUR graduation.”

SUU did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

In addition to Holland, Benson and a representative of the class 2023 are to speak at the start. Thousands reject an LDS Church apostle’s inaugural address at SUU because of his anti-gay remarks

Justin Scacco

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