Billionaire Mormon quits church over relentless attacks on LGBT+ rights and vows to donate fortune

Jeff, wearing a dark grey shirt, smiling in front of a blue backdrop

Tech billionaire Jeff T Green has resigned his membership of the Mormon church, citing its track record on LGBT+ rights.

Green made his fortune in advertising technology as the CEO and chairman of The Trade Desk. In his letter of resignation on Monday (20 December), he stated that he had not been active within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 10 years. However, he wanted to make an official exit and remove his name from the church’s books. 

“While most members are good people trying to do right, I believe the church is actively and currently doing harm in the world,” he wrote in his letter.

“I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights.”

Eleven family members and a friend also left along with him.

Following his departure, Green also pledged to donate 90 per cent of his wealth, estimated to stand at around $5 billion, to charity. This is to start with a donation of $600,000 to LGBT+ rights group, Equality Utah.

The Mormon church has a long history of anti-LGBT+ stances, including an opposition to same-sex marriage or intimacy.

Almost half of Green’s donation to Equality Utah will be earmarked for students seeking to leave Brigham Young University, his alma matter, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

A well-known Mormon institution, Brigham is notoriously for its ban on “same-sex romantic behaviour”.

In July, more than 1,000 students and protesters gathered in Utah for an unofficial Brigham Pride march, protesting the university’s homophobic stance and it’s U-turn on repealing the policy.

In 2020, the church released a handbook that warned trans people they faced being ousted for embracing their true gender.

While it advised church members to treat transgender people with “sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love”, it continued: “The intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation is biological sex at birth.”

“Church leaders counsel against elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of a person’s birth sex (‘sex reassignment’).

“Leaders advise that taking these actions will be cause for Church membership restrictions.”

Months later, church leaders managed to make the coronavirus pandemic all about their own bigotry.

At its biannual general conference, church elder Jeffrey Holland attempted to give Mormons around the world hope amid lockdown. But when Dallin Oaks of the first presidency, the governing body of the LDS church, spoke, he moved the conversation towards a condemnation of LGBT+ people.

While discussing who would qualify for salvation, Oaks said: “Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women.”

In April this year, Mormon sex therapist, Natasha Helfer, faced excommunication for supporting the LGBT+ community and holding views on porn and masturbation which are grounded in science.

“Inappropriate sexual shame harms people,” said Helfer. “When churches and religious communities reject sexual health, principals supported by decades of research and science, the community suffers, and this has tragic and violent ramifications.”

The church also has a history of bigoted positions regarding women and race. Women cannot be ordained as priests in the church, and until the 1970s, the same was true of Black men.