It was one of the odder headlines I’ve seen lately: "Suicide fears, if not actual suicides, rise in wake of Mormon same-sex policy."
Underneath is a narrative of how last fall’s announcement of a revised policy on membership requirements for gay Mormons may have vastly increased Utah suicides.
After seven paragraphs came the whopper: The premise behind the story has no basis in fact. But it sounded true. It may still be true. Lots of observers think it's true.
We've heard this before: Truthiness strikes again. We can debate the facts later.
It’s not the way I would have written such a piece, but it does draw you in. You almost have to read the entire overture up to the clincher paragraph to see how it is done. Here’s how it starts:
The fears were there right from the start -- that the LDS Church's new policy on same-sex couples would make gay Mormons feel more judged, more marginalized, more misunderstood and that more of them would take their own lives.
Since early November -- when the edict labeling gay LDS couples as "apostates" and denying their children baptism until age 18 took hold -- social media sites have been buzzing with tales of loss, depression and death. Therapists have seen an uptick in clients who reported suicidal thoughts. Activists have been bombarded with grief-stricken family members seeking comfort and counsel.
Wendy Williams Montgomery, an Arizona-based Mormon mom with a gay son, says she began receiving email or Facebook messages from bereaved families nearly daily, mourning a loved one's suicide.