SALT LAKE CITY — Concerned by what a spokesman said are inaccurate news headlines, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed Wednesday that it opposes conversion therapy.

Marty Stephens, the faith’s director of government and community relations, did a round of phone interviews with journalists on Wednesday to clarify the faith’s position on a proposed rule that would ban conversion therapy in Utah.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes conversion therapy, and our therapists do not practice it,” he said.

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That message has been lost in some news headlines and stories about the church’s concerns with the proposed rule being considered by the Utah Department of Professional Licensing. The church will oppose the rule unless it protects therapists who are parents, grandparents or religious leaders from losing their licenses for giving spiritual, religiously based counsel.

Currently, the rule does not include those protections. Language that would provide those protections was included in a failed House bill in the most recent full Utah Legislative session. For that reason, the church did not oppose the bill.

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Stephens said the church would support the proposed rule if it simply added the language from HB399 as introduced in the Utah Legislature in February.

He said the church has consistently denounced conversion therapy and has not changed its position.

“Back in 2016 we had a statement on this where we said the church denounces any therapy that subjects an individual to abusive practices,” Stephens said. “When House Bill 399 this year was at the Legislature, we issued this statement: ‘The church denounces any therapy, including conversion and reparative therapies, that subjects an individual to abusive practices, not only in Utah but throughout the world.’”

Conversion therapy, an attempt to change one’s gender identity or sexual orientation, has been discredited by major medical associations.

Last week, when the church through its Family Services department filed comments on the proposed rule with the Utah Department of Professional Licensing, it again denounced conversion therapy and said, “Those including youth, who seek therapies that constitute sexual orientation change efforts will not receive them from Family Service counselors.”

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Stephens expressed frustration that some news outlets equated the church’s opposition to the proposed lack of protections in the rule for people of faith as support for conversion therapy.

“It has been concerning that a number of stories have been written that do not accurately reflect the church’s position that we are opposed to conversion therapy, and our therapists do not practice it,” he said.

The church is worried the rule does not include protections that had been part of HB399 for parents and grandparents who are licensed therapists. Stephens said there is concern that if they counseled their children or grandchildren differently than the rule directs, they could lose their licenses to practice.

He said the same is true of a therapist serving as a Latter-day Saint bishop. HB399 specifically said a licensed therapist acting in a pastoral or religious capacity would not lose state licensing for providing spiritual guidance.

“They would be threatened with license revocation if they even talked about spiritual ways to cope with life’s challenges,” he said.

HB399 excluded from the definition of conversion therapy discussions between a therapist and a client about the client’s moral or religious beliefs or practices. That protection does not exist in the proposed DOPL rule.

“So if a client comes in and says, ‘I identify with this religion and I want to try and have my treatment reflect that,’ ‘I want to abstain from premarital sex’ or ‘I want to abstain from extramarital sex, because that’s part of my religious beliefs,’ under HB399 counselors could counsel to that,” Stephens said. “Under the rule, they cannot.”

The church attached the relevant parts of HB399 to its 13-page Family Services letter of comments to DOPL.

Stephens anticipated some will say the church is raising consequences that are unlikely to happen.

“If that’s the case,” he said, “put the exception in the rule so it is clear, because the way it’s drafted they could. And there’s no reason that those protections shouldn’t be in there, if they really don’t intend to do that, because the way it’s drafted they could.”

Conversion therapy is now banned in 18 states.

After the conversion therapy ban died in the Legislature, Utah Gov. Herbert issued a directive to DOPL to create the proposed rule, which can go into effect without legislative oversight or approval. Last week, Herbert told the Deseret News he was glad to see the church comment on the new rule, saying it needed robust discussion.

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DOPL’s process for considering the rule includes public comment. It received nearly 2,500 comments, including the Family Services comments the church filed before the comment period ended last week.

A decision on whether to adopt the rule could come next week or take up to four months, DOPL spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton told the Associated Press.

The Utah Legislature convenes again in January.

Stephens said the church either would like the protections added to the rule or have the process return to the Legislature, where it would lobby for them.

“We don’t really care whether the rule is fixed or whether it goes to the legislature as long as we get good public policy,” he said.