Bruce C. Hafen

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Bruce C. Hafen
First Quorum of the Seventy
April 6, 1996 (1996-04-06) – October 2, 2010 (2010-10-02)
Called by Gordon B. Hinckley
End reason Designated an emeritus general authority
Emeritus General Authority
October 2, 2010 (2010-10-02)
Called by Thomas S. Monson
Personal details
Born Bruce Clark Hafen
(1940-10-30) October 30, 1940 (age 77)
St. George, Utah, United States

Bruce Clark Hafen (born October 30, 1940, St. George, Utah,) is an American attorney, academic and religious leader. He has been a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) since 1996.


Bruce Clark Hafen was raised in southern Utah. After serving a mission for the LDS Church in Germany, he married Marie Kartchner in 1964. They are the parents of seven children. He received an associate degree from Dixie College, a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University (BYU), and a J.D. from the University of Utah.[1]

After practicing law in Salt Lake City, Utah for four years, he became an assistant to BYU president Dallin H. Oaks. He was on the original faculty of the BYU Law School, founded in 1973. His teaching and research focused on constitutional, education, and family law--particularly the legal rights of children. His professional scholarship was published in such journals as the Harvard Law Review, Harvard International Law Journal]], Michigan Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Brigham Young University Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal, and the American Bar Association Journal. Two of his articles were cited in opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court.[2] One of his central insights about children’s rights was that the legal system “limits children’s [legal] autonomy in the short run in order to maximize their development of actual autonomy in the long run. . . . [To] short-circuit this process by legally granting [autonomy]—rather than actually teaching autonomous capacity--to children ignores the realities of education and child development to the point of abandoning children to a mere illusion of real autonomy."[3]

From 1976 to 1978, Hafen was the director of evaluation and research for the LDS Church's Correlation Department. He then served as president of Ricks College from 1978 to 1985. During this time, he was also president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities (AAPICU) and a Commissioner on the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities—the regional accrediting authority for higher education institutions in the seven Northwestern states.

Hafen was Dean of the BYU Law School from 1985 to 1989. There he helped to create the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS), an international organization for LDS and other lawyers. By 2017, the JRCLS had over 10,000 members in more than 100 chapters, a third of them outside the U.S. He also raised donated funds to establish a series of endowed professorships to support law faculty scholarship. The Law School later created an endowed professorship and an endowed annual lectureship in his name.[citation needed]

From 1989 to 1996, he was the provost at BYU[4] As provost, he worked with the faculty to develop a policy that appropriately blended BYU’s institutional academic freedom as a religious university with the faculty’s individual academic freedom, along with a new policy statement describing “The Aims of a BYU Education.”[citation needed]

Hafen was an LDS Church general authority from 1996 to 2010. His assignments included serving as president of the church's Australia/New Zealand and Europe Central areas. He also served in the presidency of North America Central Area and as an adviser at church headquarters to the Church History, Temple, and Priesthood departments.

He has published several books and numerous articles on religious topics, including the Atonement of Jesus Christ, marriage, faith, Christian discipleship, and dealing with ambiguity. Two of his books won the year’s best book award from Deseret BookThe Broken Heart in 1989 and A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell in 2002.

At an Evergreen International conference in 2009, Hafen urged LDS Church leaders and members to reach out in love to those with unwanted same-gender attraction. In the context of describing the universal fatherhood of God, he said that "Having same-gender attraction is not in your DNA, but being a child of God clearly is in your spiritual DNA." [5] Moreover, “there is . . . no scientific consensus about what causes homosexual tendencies. ‘[N]ature and nurture both play complex roles,’ [But, while] inherited susceptibilities, childhood experiences, and agency all influence a given person’s development, [the] idea that there is a ‘gay gene’ has little scientific support.” Hafen also said that in 1973 the American Psychological Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its official list of disorders “in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists.” The APA took this action by “an open vote in their professional meetings--not because of any change in actual medical findings.” [6] He also wrote that “the empirical research [demonstrates] that a child’s being [raised by] both father and mother is clearly the optimal environment for child rearing.” [7]

On October 2, 2010, Hafen was released from the First Quorum of the Seventy and designated an emeritus general authority.[8] He served as president of the St. George Utah Temple from 2010 to 2013.

Published works[edit]

  • —— (1986). The Believing Heart: Four Essays on Faith. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft. 
  • —— (1989). The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life's Experiences. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. 
  • ——; Hafen, Marie K. (1994). The Belonging Heart: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. 
  • —— (2002). A Disciple's Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. 
  • —— (2005). Covenant Hearts: Marriage and the Joy of Human Love. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. 
  • —— (2008). Broken Hearts: Applying the Atonement to Life's Experiences. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. 
  • ——; Hafen, Marie K. (2015). The Contrite Spirit: How the Temple Helps Us Apply Christ's Atonement. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. 


  1. ^ LDS Church Almanac, 2008 Edition, p. 45
  2. ^ "Biography of Bruce C. Hafen". LDS Church. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  3. ^ Deseret News Oct. 2, 2012
  4. ^ "Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy", Ensign, May 1996.
  5. ^ "Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction". LDS Church. 2009-09-19. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  6. ^ Scott Taylor (October 3, 2010). "Five Mormon Church leaders given emeritus status". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  7. ^ Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts: Why Marriage Matters and How to Make It Last (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 2005), p. 253.
  8. ^ Scott Taylor (October 3, 2010). "Five Mormon Church leaders given emeritus status". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Retrieved 2010-10-03.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Henry B. Eyring
President of Ricks College
Succeeded by
Joe J. Christensen