Policies and Announcements
December 1999

“Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Dec. 1999, 70–71

Policies and Announcements

Self-Awareness Groups

The First Presidency sent the following letter, dated 21 June 1999, to priesthood leaders in the United States and Canada:

We again remind Church members to be cautious in seeking help from groups that purport to increase self-awareness, raise self-esteem, or enhance individual agency. Some such groups falsely claim or imply Church endorsement. Some charge exorbitant fees or encourage long-term commitments. Some intermingle worldly concepts with gospel principles in ways that can undermine spirituality and faith. We call your attention to guidelines regarding self-awareness groups found in the Church Handbook of Instructions, page 157, and reprinted on the reverse side of this letter [see Self-Awareness Group Guidelines].

There is usually no quick solution to social or emotional difficulties. Those who suffer from such difficulties should exercise great care in choosing appropriate professionals to assist them. As always, members may consult with priesthood leaders for guidance in identifying sources of help that are fully consistent with gospel principles.

Ward and branch councils should consider carefully whether members in their units are being drawn into such groups. If so, the bishop or branch president should take necessary steps to acquaint these members with the foregoing principles and enclosed guidelines. Where appropriate, the guidelines may be published in ward/branch bulletins. Bishops and branch presidents should use them in counseling members as they deem advisable.

Self-Awareness Group Guidelines

Church members should not participate in groups that:

  1. Challenge religious and moral values or advocate unwarranted confrontation with spouse or family members as a means of reaching one’s potential.

  2. Imitate sacred rites or ceremonies.

  3. Foster physical contact among participants.

  4. Meet late into the evening or in the early-morning hours.

  5. Encourage open confession or disclosure of personal information normally discussed only in confidential settings.

  6. Cause a husband and wife to be paired with other partners.

Religious Liberty Protection Act

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Religious Liberty Protection Act, the Church issued a formal statement on 16 July:

“Passage of the Religious Liberty Protection Act is an important step in restoring freedom of religion to the protected First Amendment status it enjoyed for over 200 years. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to be part of a broad-based coalition involving many other religions in support of this legislation. We look forward to the U.S. Senate passing this bill in the near future.”

The bill aims to restore legal assurances that U.S. citizens can practice their religious beliefs without undue government interference. For the Church, one of more than 70 religious groups supporting the legislation, the bill would provide protection from zoning decisions restricting construction of meetinghouses and temples and from local restrictions on door-to-door solicitations that could keep missionaries from proselyting.