An anonymous letter was sent around a Sandy community by “neighbors and ward members” saying that rainbow flags planted on front lawns in the neighborhood were “concerning to many of us.”
However, those in the neighborhood say that the letter was likely delivered by one disgruntled person, and doesn’t represent the people in the community at all.
“Hopefully you read the following in the spirit that it is offered. It is not intended to be contentious or to cause bad feelings,” the letter to “neighbors and ward members” of the Autumn Ridge neighborhood begins. It goes on to question the faith of those who asked Project Rainbow to stake flags in their front yards.
“Is choosing to fly the colors of the LGBT community consistent with the covenants you made with God as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day (sic) Saints?” the letter asks. “Can you love and support your neighbor and others without flying a flag that actively promotes a lifestyle that is out of alignment with God’s plan for the family?”
“Are you aware of what the ‘Gay Pride’ flag stands for? Are their values, your values?” the letter continues.
It goes on to say that it is notable that the local bishop and his church counselors did not choose to fly the flags, and are “setting the example that we all should follow.”
The anonymous letter finishes with a veiled threat that a person flying the rainbow flag may not be “temple-worthy.”
Not everyone in the neighborhood agrees.
Jill Welker Loveall is part of what she calls the neighborhood’s flag project. She says that a majority of the people in Autumn Ridge were flying the flag, which probably brought fear to the letter-writer.
“My heart is heavy, not only because of that awful letter but because it has gotten so much attention,” Loveall said to QSaltLake Magazine. “I want people to know that this is a fabulous neighborhood full of allies and lovely people. I wish the attention was focused on the fact that we had 80 flags flying for a week in suburban Sandy.”
Andy Phillips, who first unveiled the letter to Twitter, said his mother wrote a “brilliant response” and that, “The world needs more fearless leaders like my mother that understands the Good Word.”
Cynthia Phillips lives in the neighborhood and flew the rainbow flag and said the original letter was full of “misinformation and self-righteous pretension.”
“First, the Pride Flag is most generally understood to be a symbol of peace and inclusion — and a reminder of the LGBTQAI+ movements that seek to ensure equal rights and nondiscrimination for these often marginalized people,” Phillips stated.
Phillips continues that church leaders have made several public statements, such as LGBTQ people deserve “kindness, compassion, and understanding,” that “God loveth his children,” and that one needn’t “choose between the two identities of ‘Mormon’ and ‘Gay.'”
“It is highly inappropriate for anyone but my Bishop to make a judgment on my temple worthiness or on my position on the covenant path based on whether or not I choose to demonstrate my civil and moral support for the LGBTQA+ community’s right for equal protection of laws and non-discrimination,” Phillips continues.
She went on to invite anyone questioning her religious values and moral agency to “do so in my face.”
Loveall is hopeful the recent controversy doesn’t stall the growth of the number of flags staked in the neighborhood over the years.
“I wish the letter wasn’t the star of the show here, but instead the success of the flag project that has grown over the last three years and always executed with kindness and love. It is my hope that the progress we have made does not get taken over by any aggression,” Loveall said. “I am hoping that love wins this time and that this singular bigot does not get another ounce of attention.”