Metro Weekly

Utah billionaire severs ties with Mormon church, accuses it of “actively” harming LGBTQ rights

mormon church, lgbtq, billionaire
The LDS temple in Salt Lake City – Photo: Jon Mallard, via Wikimedia.

A Utah billionaire, who pledged last month to give away at least 90% of his wealth, has formally severed ties with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, criticizing the Mormon church for hoarding its wealth and for its poor record on LGBTQ and racial justice issues.

In a 900-word letter sent to LDS President Russell Nelson, Jeff T. Green blasted the Mormon church, saying that while he believed most Mormons were “good people trying to do right,” he believed church leadership is “actively and currently doing harm in the world,” according to The Daily Beast.

“The church leadership is not honest about its history, its finances, and its advocacy,” Green, a former missionary and graduate of Brigham Young University worth an estimated $4.9 billion, said in a statement. “I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights.”

Green, a 44-year-old divorced father of three who is CEO and chairman of the advertising tech firm The Trade Desk, noted that he is departing the church, along with 11 family members and a friend.

His letter, which Green said marked his official withdrawal from the church, clarified that he informally stopped practicing Mormonism and attending services more than a decade ago.

“Although I have deep love for many Mormons and gratitude for many things that have come into my life through Mormonism, I have not considered myself a member for many years, and I’d like to make clear to you and others that I am not a member,” Green wrote.

Jeff T. Green, Mormon, Utah, LGBTQ
Jeff T. Green slammed Mormon leaders in his letter — Photo: Twitter

But regardless of his current status, he criticized the church for hoarding “more than $100 billion in assets” and urged it to do “more to help the world and its members.” He noted that Mormons, “often poor,” give to the LDS Church “expecting the blessings of heaven,” but believes that the church “has exploited its members and their need for hope to build temples, build shopping malls, and cattle ranches… rather than alleviating human suffering in or out of the church.”

Green also said he would be donating $600,000 to the LGBTQ rights organization Equality Utah, telling The Salt Lake Tribune that almost half the money would go to a scholarship fund for students in Utah, including those who “may need or want to leave” Brigham Young University, which is sponsored by the church.

Related: Mormon professor apologizes after calling gay student an anti-Christ

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BYU has a checkered past when it comes to LGBTQ issues. From 1959 to the mid-1990s, the school allegedly ran “aversion therapy” programs intended to “cure” homosexuality, including electric shock therapy and nausea-inducing drugs while showing people same-sex images — a charge that former BYU President Dallin Oaks refutes.

In 1962, the school officially banned gay students from attending, and in the 1970s, the school’s security chief planted listening devices, fake gay ads in local paper and surveilled local gay bars to try and out gay students in order to expel them.

Last year, the school revised its student honor code to remove a clause prohibiting “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” But just two weeks later, Kevin Utt, the director of the Honor Code Office, clarified that the code still prohibits “any same-sex romantic behavior.”

In March, numerous students organized an unofficial BYU Pride March, despite the school’s prohibition on same-sex relations. The organizers remained anonymous so administrators couldn’t retaliate against them.

“At BYU, we still live with residual institutionalized homophobia that successfully turns us against each other,” a post on the BYU Pride Instagram account said. “It is now our turn to unite as one family in making BYU a welcoming place for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious standing.”

That same month, students lit up BYU’s sign in rainbow colors to show support for LGBTQ equality, but administrators denounced the display and clarified that same-sex behavior is “incompatible” with the school’s policies.

See also:

Senegal lawmakers want to double jail time for LGBTQ people and imprison equality advocates

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