Anonymous letters were sent to residents in the Autumn Drive neighborhood in Sandy, Utah, expressing concern about dozens of Pride flags flown honoring National Coming Out Day on October 11.
But one mother had a brilliant response to the hateful notice that received massive praise online.
Her son, Andy Phillips, shared screenshots of the letters and said of his mother:
“The world needs more fearless leaders like my mother that understand the Good Word.”
The letter of complaint—which can be seen in the screenshot below—was written on behalf of “concerned” neighbors who accused residents flying the LGBTQ flag of violating the Mormon church’s covenants.
Please read my mother's brilliant response to one of her neighbor’s "concerns" about flying the LGBQA+ flag in her neighborhood – The world needs more fearless leaders like my mother that understand the Good Word @cynthiakimball5 #leadership #love pic.twitter.com/qUNPfTgBrn
— Andy Phillips (@AndyDPhillips) October 16, 2020
The letter stated it was “not intended to be contentious or to cause bad feelings” before expressing disapproval of LGBT flags being flown in the neighborhood.
“Is choosing to fly the colors of the LGBT community consistent with the covenants you made with God as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?”
“Have you considered the message that you are sending to your non-member neighbors? Will a casual observer know or appreciate that you are trying to draw attention to gay teen suicide? Can you love and support your neighbor and others without flying a flag that actively promotes a lifestyle that is out of alignment with God’s plan for the family?”
“Are you aware of what the ‘Gay Pride’ flag stands for? Are their values, your values? If you are unsure about any of these questions, please conduct a prayerful search to obtain your answers.”
The person who sent that letter is exactly the type of person who gives Utah and the church a bad name. Their self-righteousness is embarrassing it needs to stop immediately. Next time, actually listen to general conference talks instead of just watching. Bless your mom Andy!!
— Luke Sneddon (@islandsurf11) October 16, 2020
I PROUDLY have a PRIDE 🌈 sign in my yard and I’m horrified “members” do this type of self righteous “neighborly” “Mormon” thing 😭😭🤯🤯🤬🤬
— Mary Nothum (@NothumMary) October 17, 2020
The letter continued:
“Also ask yourself, do I demonstrate the values of the church and do I honor the covenants that I made to follow the teachings of the church and Christ?”
“Take notice of the ward members who did not agree to have flags placed in their yards, including our Bishop and his Counselors who are setting the example that we all should follow.”
“If you decide that temple attendance is an important part of your worship, and if you decide to receive or renew a temple recommend, try to truthfully answer the following question.”
“Do you support or promote any teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Can you truthfully say that you do not support or promote a contrary doctrine when you fly the colors of an organization that is clearly inconsistent with these practices?”
“These are the observations of concerned neighbors and fellow members who desire to share our point of view.”
“You are blessed with moral agency, and you are obviously free to act in a manner consistent with your agency. Just consider if highlighting your agency in such a public way is how you want to be known or remembered.”
“Sincerely, Your Autumn Ridge neighbors and ward members.”
The letter caught the attention of resident Cynthia K Phillips, who wrote a powerful response to the “cowardly” letter.
“It is highly inappropriate for anyone but my bishop to make a judgment on my temple worthiness or on my position on the covenant path based on whether or not I choose to demonstrate my civic and moral support for the LGBQA+ community’s right for equal protection of laws and non-discrimination,” she wrote.
Phillips challenged the anonymous author to confront her on the issue in person.
“If as a kind and interested neighbor, you wish to invite me to conduct a prayerful search to review my values, my understanding of the teachings, practices, and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the way that I am exercising my moral agency, please do so to my face.”
I need a live feed into the anonymous neighbor’s kitchen as they read this and I need it NOW! Your mother is rad
— Sean O'Connell (@realOCsports) October 16, 2020
“You may be interested to know that my father, the honourable Dale A. Kimball, a federal judge in the District of Utah and a faithful, lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the judge who confirmed the same-sex marriages [are valid in the state].”
“His reasons for doing so were consistent with statute, equal protection of the laws, and non-discrimination.
Cindy Phillips is, and always will be, one of my favorite human beings ever. I’ve seen her stand up for what she believes to be true on many occasions, and have learned something every time. She is a person of passion, intelligence, and integrity. She is a hero.
— Jeff Biesinger (@jandmplus6) October 16, 2020
The response was initially sent to the entire group of approximately 210 people representing 300 families on our neighborhood Facebook page. As the anonymous letter had been sent to most of our neighbors, I felt it necessary to respond to our neighbors as a group.
— Cynthia Phillips (@cynthiakimball5) October 17, 2020
I’m very proud to call @cynthiakimball5 a friend. Our community is blessed to have her in our midst.
— Suzanne Harrison (@VoteSuz) October 16, 2020
How embarrassing that the original letter was sent; how incredible your response. Thanks for your leadership. I’ve practiced before your father—he’s a great judge, and I’m sure he’s having a proud dad moment (which is cool).
— Bryan Benard (@bkbenard) October 16, 2020
Phillips concluded her response with:
“I have always been proud of the way in which my father has refused to legislate from the bench, has exercised fairness and temperance in his judgments, and has always resisted the temptation to impose his own personal moral beliefs on others.”