Mormon sex therapist ousted from faith for critiques

Mormon sex therapist ousted from faith for critiques

SALT LAKE CITY — A sex therapist in Utah who has publicly challenged her faith’s policies on sexuality has been kicked out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following a disciplinary hearing.

Natasha Helfer received a letter Wednesday from a regional church official explaining the reasons for her removal from the Salt Lake City-based church, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Helfer was disciplined by church leaders in Kansas, where she lived before moving to Utah in 2019.

“After carefully and prayerfully considering this matter,” the letter states, “it was the decision of the council to withdraw your church membership in response to conduct contrary to the law and order of the church.”

Helfer shared the letter on Facebook. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said that, based on the letter, regional church leaders’ decision was not related to her private practice as a therapist.

“As the letter shared by Ms. Helfer indicates, the decision of the local leaders was based on her public, repeated opposition to the church, church leaders and the doctrine of the church, including our doctrine on the nature of the family and on moral issues,” Hawkins said in a statement.

Helfer has been outspoken on sexual issues and supports same-sex marriage, counsels that masturbation is not a sin and says pornography should not be treated as an addiction. She had said that she hoped to remain in the church.

The story was originally reported by The Washington Post.

Helfer told the Tribune that she was asked to leave her disciplinary hearing before it began on Sunday because she refused to turn off her phone, which contained her notes.

“It is common for participants to be asked to turn off technology (including cellphones) or leave it outside the room, as was the case with this council,” Hawksins said. “All but one of the participants complied with that request and had brought their statements in writing.”

Church members are taught not to have sex before marriage, engage in passionate kissing, touch another person’s private parts or arouse “emotions in your own body” that are supposed to be reserved for marriage. Homosexual relations also are forbidden even if a person is married or in a relationship.

Helfer did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.

Her ouster means she’ll be leaving a religion she’s been a member of since she was 5 years old.

While not a lifelong ban, the withdrawal of a person’s membership by church leaders amounts to the harshest punishment available for a member of the faith. These ousters used to be called excommunication before the faith changed the terminology last year to “withdrawal of church membership.”

People in this category can’t go inside temples where members are married and other ordinances such as baptisms for dead relatives are performed.

Sam Young, a man who led a campaign criticizing the church’s practice of allowing one-on-one interviews of youth by lay leaders that sometimes included sexual questions, was kicked out of the church in 2018. Kate Kelly, founder of a group pushing for women to be allowed in the religion’s lay clergy, was excommunicated in 2014.

The Associated Press

Religion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Jewish group disturbed by reports of Hitler Youth flags in Alberta towns

RCMP spoke to the property owner, who refused to remove the flag

ALERT seized drugs and a variety of guns from a home in Lacombe on May 5 after an investigation. (Photo courtesy of ALERT)
ALERT seizes guns and drugs in Lacombe

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team arrested three people in Lacombe earlier… Continue reading

(Contributed)
Temporary trail closure at Three Mile Bend

Trail closed into the weekend

(Contributed)
Red Deer youth missing

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Blame and responsibility have recently been at the centre of debate in Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after the team defeated the Dallas Stars during an NHL hockey game Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Analysis: McDavid NHL’s MVP front-runner in condensed season

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid has 100-plus point season

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save as Maple Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie (78) and Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (73) look for the rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The Leafs and the Canadiens will meet in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years when the 2020-21 NHL post-season gets underway.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Singer Celine Dion performs during her first World Tour show called Courage Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Starting on Nov. 5, Dion will play 10 dates at the Resorts World Las Vegas theatre

An Empire Day/Victoria Day gathering of school children on Ross Street by the Cenotaph in the 1920s. On the right hand side, are members of the Red Deer Citizens Band (forerunner of the Red Deer Royals). (Photo via Red Deer Archives)
Victoria Day event helped after war

One hundred years ago, on May 24, 1921, a major community event… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer: Independence is a one-way gate

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland declared in 2014 that the referendum… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Most Read