Tuesday, March 25, 2014

David Archuleta And Tyler Glenn: A Study In Mormon Contrasts

During the week beginning March 23rd, 2014, two entertainers who identify as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became newsworthy. David Archuleta, who became a pop icon after rising to fame back in 2007 during season seven of American Idol, returned from a successful two-year mission for the LDS Church, while Tyler Glenn, publicly disclosed his same-sex orientation.

Archuleta served a two-year mission from an undisclosed district in Chile. Because of his public persona, it was considered prudent not to disclose the precise location in Chile where he served. Of course, the LDS Church offered Archuleta the opportunity to share his vocal talents while on mission service; while still at the Missionary Training Center, he performed in a missionary choir for general conference. He subsequently also performed during two Christmas productions that were held on the Santiago Chile Temple grounds. But this does not mean he received preferential treatment during his mission; he was held to the same behavioral standards as all other missionaries.

Although he has his own dedicated website, Archuleta personally announces his return in this video:


In contrast, Tyler Glenn, a member of the Neon Trees band, became newsworthy by publicly disclosing his same-sex attraction. Rolling Stone continues to release more information incrementally. Glenn first sensed he was different at the age of 8, but chose to struggle against it and was active in the Church. He even fulfilled a full-time mission in Hastings, Nebraska; along with his assigned companion, he was responsible for the baptism of 17 investigators during his mission service. Glenn even pursued a romantic relationship with a woman, but she ultimately broke it off, being quoted as saying "I love you, but you'll never love me the way I need to be loved". Initially, Glenn was crushed, but ultimately decided it was a relief, because he didn't want to "be that guy that gets married and lives the double life". When Glenn first came out to his mother in October 2013, she initially thought he was joking, but ultimately decided that it wouldn't change anything. In the final analysis, Tyler Glenn decided that living a closeted life was choking his spirit and threatening his sanity.

On page 2 of the Rolling Stone article, Tyler Glenn hints that he is not active in the Church, singling out a fellow band member, Elaine, as being actively LDS. But he not only continues to identify as Mormon, but is supportive of the Church. In response to gay propaganda portraying the LDS Church as "anti-gay", Glenn says "I don't know what the rumors are, but we're not taught that 'homos are going to hell' on Sunday in church. Mostly it's just about Christ and his teachings." He says the only time he ever really felt at odds with the Church was during the Prop 8 campaign in California. Additional reaction by Glenn is documented in this E! Online article.

Tyler Glenn does not explicitly disclose whether or not he's currently in a full relationship with another gay man. And that's his business unless he chooses to make it public; his "worthiness" is strictly an issue between him and his priesthood chain of command. But like the rest of the band, Tyler Glenn is Word of Wisdom-compliant; the entire band adopted the WoW as their standard because so many other bands have had troubles with alcohol and drugs.

The LDS Church is big enough for both David Archuleta and Tyler Glenn.

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