The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has clarified its position on LGBT couples and their children, a week after ruling same-sex couples were subject to excommunication and their children could be banned from being baptized.
In a public letter released Friday, the church sought to soften the blow of last week's decree, though stopped short of actually reversing the decision.
Mormon officials clarified that children who have already been baptized won't necessarily be penalized if they live with a same-sex couple, instead leaving that decision to local leaders who are instructed to act in the "best interests of the child."
Children who have a gay parent, but do not live with the parent in their "primary residence," are also exempt.
"We are obligated to act... for the welfare of both adults and children," the letter explains. "Adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council."
NBC reports hundreds of people have formally withdrawn from the Mormon church in protest since last week. Utah lawyer Mark Naugle, who offered his services for free to families needing assistance to do the same, says he's been contacted by 1,700 people.
"All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love," the letter concludes. "They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities. All children may receive priesthood blessings of healing and spiritual guidance."
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