A speech given on November 6th, 2011 at the Circling The Wagons conference by Kevin Kloosterman, the bishop of the Sycamore Ward in the Rockville Illinois Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in which he denounced the way gays are treated and perceived by the LDS Church as an atrocity, generated considerable heat on both sides of the rhetorical aisle, primarily because of provocative reporting by the Salt Lake Tribune. Some more traditional-minded Mormons wanted Kloosterman released from his calling, and one even called for his excommunication.
However, as I previously pointed out, a written transcript of Kloosterman's address published by Mormon Stories editor John Dehlin indicated that Kloosterman was not advocating a change in Church doctrine about homosexuality, and was not attacking the Church leadership. We also have a video of Bishop Kloosterman's address, so you can decide for yourself:
Enter Joanna Brooks, who interviewed Bishop Kloosterman to determine just what his intentions were. Here's the key excerpt from that interview, replete with Brooks' question:
Brooks: When you used the word “atrocity” to describe the world’s history of mistreatment of LGBT people — that’s a very strong word, and the way the Salt Lake Tribune reported it makes it sound like you were criticizing the Church and its leaders. Was that your goal?
Kloosterman: No. The way the Tribune reports it takes my words out of context. I was not criticizing the Church. In fact, I felt and feel like we needed to support the leadership of the Church in their movements forward with our gay brothers and sisters. I did use strong words and strong imagery. Trying to convey the pain I’ve felt realizing what gay and lesbian people have gone through, I quoted a scripture in Zechariah [Zechariah 13:6] where someone — who Mormons interpret as Christ—comes and shows wounds, and he says, “I was wounded in the house of my friends.” I used that imagery to characterize the scars of gay and lesbian people. I know it’s strong imagery. I just feel really mournful about what they have been through. All of these realizations are very new to me, and it’s still quite raw. I was trying to convey that I’ve felt a small sliver of what gay and lesbian people have gone through, and I’ve found strength and peace in the Savior.
Later in the interview, Kloosterman proclaims that he loves the Church and does NOT want the Church put in a bad light. While he believes there’s things we as individual members need to do differently, nothing in his remarks should be construed as anything other than an expression of love for his Church and its members. Still, I wouldn't have used the word "atrocity" myself; I suggest that survivors of various outbreaks of genocide during the 20th century, to include the highly-publicized Nazi holocaust as well as the less-publicized Turkish holocaust against the Armenians, the virtually-ignored Communist holocausts in the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia, and the 9-11 attack on the United States would be better qualified to use the term "atrocity".
There you have it. There can be no doubt that Bishop Kloosterman was not steadying the ark or speaking evil of the Lord's anointed. There is no justification to either try him for his membership or to release him from his calling. Undoubtedly, he'll be interviewed by his stake president, but I predict a positive outcome.
And finally, the Salt Lake Tribune manned up and took responsibility for its misleading headline after Mollie Ziegler took them to task on GetReligion.org in a post entitled "The Straight Story on Gay Mormons". In response, Tribune Managing Editor Terry Orme posted a comment stating that the Tribune ran a correction in Tuesday's edition clarifying that Bishop Kloosterman was not challenging LDS Church leaders or official church positions.
Good enough for me.