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Former LDS Church official issues apology for his treatment of LGBTQ people

Mormon mental health professional Dr. Allen E. Bergin issued an apology in July for his part in perpetuating anti-LGBTQ teachings in his roles with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also called upon other church members, fellow psychologists, and political leaders to “apologize and compensate” LGBTQ people “who have been afflicted by our treatment of them when they should have been embraced and loved.”

The apology came as a response to a document prepared by the producers of Latter Gay Stories that chronicles the statements of church leaders over the years, including those of Bergin.

Bergin joined the Brigham Young University Department of Psychology in 1972 and served as a bishop, stake president, and member of the General Sunday School Board. Then he served as president of the Society for Psychotherapy Research from 1974–75, and president of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists in 1980.

Church leaders often quoted Bergin as an authority on homosexuality within Mormonism. His research promoted LDS teachings that homosexuality was a compulsion, that it led to bondage and labeled homosexuals as bizarre. He also claimed that the average gay man had between 500–1,000 partners.

In his words:

“As a mental health professional and psychology professor from 1961 until my retirement in 1999, I was among the traditionalists who believed that homosexuality was a disorder and that it could be treated and changed to some degree. I was a professor of some renown at Columbia University and Brigham Young University, and my views have carried influence in some circles.

“I regret being part of a professional, religious, and public culture that marginalized, pathologized, and excluded LGBT persons. As a father of two gay sons and grandfather of a gay grandson, I’ve been given a personal education that has been painful and enlightening.

“To the general public, I say — Stop. Listen. Learn. Love. To myself, my posterity, my colleagues, my fellow church members, and my political leaders, I say — apologize and compensate those of God’s children who have been afflicted by our treatment of them when they should have been embraced and loved. Give them their rightful place in society and in the church so they may be nurtured and progress in their spiritual, social, and professional lives.

“We are all children of the same Heavenly Parents, who I believe love and value all their children, regardless of sexual orientation, and who grants each of us the same opportunity to receive Jesus Christ’s Grace. I will continue my efforts for the rest of my days to receive that Grace for myself and to point others toward His healing and redeeming power.”

Dr. Allen E. Bergin

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