Posts Tagged Mormon church
I’ve been thinking back over the many debates that took place here at OneUtah and elsewhere during the fight over California’s Prop 8. An argument I heard over and over from church members supporting Prop 8 was that legal precedents that applied in racial, sex, and religious discrimination cases did not apply for gays, and that gays could not be recognized as a protected class or group. I didn’t follow that arbitrary and twisted logic then and I don’t follow it now.
Today I reread the church’s statement to the Salt Lake City Council, there is no doubt in my mind that the church recognizes those with same-sex attraction as a distinct identifiable group entitled to the same legal protections the rest of society enjoys with regard to housing and employment. And the church specifically names this group rather than using a broad generic “all residents of the city” or something similar that would have been more palatable to the anti-gay crowd.
On the church’s own web site, the headline is “Church Supports Nondiscrimination Ordinances”.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declared its support of nondiscrimination regulations that would extend protection in matters of housing and employment in Salt Lake City to those with same-sex attraction. [snip]
The Church said that while protections in housing and employment were fair and reasonable, the Church also remains “unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.” Otterson also pointed out that this position was “entirely consistent with the Church’s prior position on these matters.”
Otterson added, “I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree — in fact, especially when we disagree.”
I think this is the biggest and most important change in this milestone announcement—that the church does recognize gays as an identifiable group in need of special legal protections. Even though the church stopped short of supporting full and equal rights for gays, this step is extremely important and paves the way for setting of new legal precedents that may eventually break down all barriers to full and equal rights under the law—including marriage.
With their support for Proposition 8 the Mormons have more or less done what someone might do who — in an incredibly dumb moment — decides to call up the local IRS office and start asking the kind of questions that inevitably leads to getting audited.
Frank Schaeffer has an opinion piece on Huffington Post entitled Perspectives on Marriage: Score 1 For Gay America — 0 To The Mormons. I think it would help for Mormons to read this article–with an open mind–just for the purpose of understanding how the rest of the world views them.
I happen to have just been thinking about how Mormons make a big deal about celebrity Mormons (athletes, movie stars, professional singers, etc.), and how they probably do that because it makes them feel more normal and mainstream. But it’s delusional. As Frank says,
It seems that the Mormons have begun to believe their own propaganda when it comes to seeing themselves as “just another” evangelical group. They aren’t.
The evangelicals may be plenty crazy, as they have manifested themselves to be through the late great Religious Right (that is now crashing in flames following the Obama victory), but the Mormons are exponentially crazier when it comes to marriage, and gender roles. [snip]
New religions, where their founders are not shrouded by the merciful mists of time — for instance L. Ron Hubbard of the Scientologists or Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons — seem stranger than the founders of older religions. Maybe that’s unfair, but there it is. That is because the newcomers lived recently enough so that truth claims and character are easier to check out.
Here is just two of many quaint bits of Mormon “teaching” ( this first on race is no longer the official position of the church, but still…)
“And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane [i.e black people] the only way he could get rid of it or have salvation would be to come forward & have his head cut off & spill his blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children.”
(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1852, Brigham Young’s address before the legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah upon slavery)
“Nearly all the great discoveries of man in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet… I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to be a greater age than we do, that they lived generally to near the age of 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants of the sea — to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.”
(Oliver B. Huntington, Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 263-264)
So, okay, enough already of the “seed of Cain,” moon men, on to marriage, California’s Proposition 8 and the Mormons…
As most in this community know, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of crazy Mormon quotes. But Frank’s entire piece is a pretty interesting read as he quotes a church histories who tallies up Joseph Smith’s wives by age and shows that “The teenage representation is the largest, though the twenty-year and thirty-year groups are comparable, which contradicts the Mormon folk-wisdom that sees the beginnings of polygamy was an attempt to care for older, unattached women. These data suggest that sexual attraction was an important part of the motivation for Smith’s polygamy.”
. . . for the Mormons to grandstand on marriage is just nuts, given their history and beliefs.
I don’t care one way or the other whether Mormons ever become mainstream. But I do care when they meddle in the rights of others in order to promote their own agenda. I think this time the widespread attention to Prop. 8 will be a net negative for the church’s purposes. And Mormons will eventually come to understand that, and being the survivors they are, will make adjustments.
KSL tells us that
A group that supports the stand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took on California’s Proposition 8 took out a full-page ad in today’s New York Times.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty placed the ad, which is titled “No Mob Veto.” [snip]
The ad says what began as “demonstrations” against the Church have gotten out of hand. It goes on to say, “Religious wars are wrong; they are also dangerous. Those who fail to condemn or seem to condone that intimidation are at fault as well.” [snip]
The Church says the ad, which is signed by scholars, dignitaries, and religious leaders from a variety of faiths, comes at a time when the right of free expression of people of faith has come under attack.
So who is the Beckett Fund? They have a web site, but good luck finding any actual information about the people behind them. The web site is conspicuously lacking names. I checked out the ad and found exactly thirteen names of “scholars, dignitaries, and religious leaders” (see below) and found the church failed to mention at least one convicted criminal in the person of Watergate Seven scoundrel Chuck Colson (I know I’m going to hear about all the good things he’s done since prison — still.)
Well, we all want to say hurray for our side. But the Becket Fund is just another conservative think tank focused on religious issues that they happen to approve of. They filed an amicus brief supporting Pleasant Grove City in the Supreme Court case involving the small religious group Summum.
This is not to say Beckett’s support is not helpful to the Mormon church, but it’s important to keep in perspective who they are and the scope of their mission. Their NoMobVeto site is under construction but they do have a page soliciting contributions and stating that “All contributions to The Becket Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.” Methinks maybe Beckett sees an opportunity to tap into the millions of dollars church members will surely willingly donate to this cause, especially now that the Mormon church has embraced Beckett.
The Mormon church seems puzzled by negative public reactions to their support for Prop 8 and other anti-gay laws. Their follow-up statements urge love and understanding while failing to understand that their own actions promote hate and discrimination.
Mormons are a powerful voting block and can generally be counted on to get behind the church’s position–whatever it is. Members take literally the call to support the brethren in every word. However, there are some who dare to say the church is wrong on this issue, and they are putting their own membership on the line — even leaving the church as a result.
Lisa Derrick at FireDogLake tells us Mormons Losing Members Over Anti-Gay Campaigns
While the Mormon Church hierarchy was responsible for organizing millions of dollars and thousands of hours of manpower to pass California’s Proposition 8 and Arizona’s Prop 102, the church’s tactics haven’t sat so well with some of its members–including families, members with Mormon heritage going back 150 years, and gay members—who began speaking out in July on the website signingforsomething.org.
Since July almost six hundred LDS Church members have expressed their disapproval and/or resigned. In October a copy of the site’s petition and emails were delivered to the Mormon Church headquarters, but the site is still accepting signatures and letters, since this is an issue that won’t go away.
A visit to the SigningForSomething web site reveals passionate and sincere expressions from members who sadly are leaving their faith. Here’s an example:
This issue has pretty much torn me apart. I have been so saddened by the Church’s involvement with this Proposition. . . . I cannot understand how they would think it even remotely okay to interfere with the civil rights of other citizens.
Of course, with some 8 million members, what’s the big deal about some 600? I think the big deal is that those are only the ones who are willing to state publicly what they feel in their hearts. There are many more who are hurting for their own family and friends who are being discriminated against by the church’s actions, but who are fearful of saying so publicly. It provides such an internal conflict for them as they truly are devoted to their faith, but they also believe the church is wrong on this issue.
As for the church’s puzzlement over its fair exercise of free speech and participation in the process, perhaps I can help them to understand. They hold tremendous power in their ability to organize grassroots activity and to raise huge sums of money. When the church calls, the membership responds en masse. While other churches may hold the same political opinions, no other church has anything close to the Mormon machinery needed to have a real political impact.
Those both inside and outside the church look with dismay at the way the church has wielded its power particularly in California’s Prop 8. It’s not a fair fight and so far Goliath has managed to step on the rights of David. Time will tell whether that power play will win out in the end. With rights at stake, even Goliath can be felled.
Dan Savage Takes On Tony Perkins Over Prop 8
You don’t get to march in the public square, slime people, malign people and demagogue against people and then jump behind a bush and say, no God we’re a church.
The Mormon Church has politicized itself with this movement and — in California to ban same-sex marriage. And it wasn’t just the Mormon Church encouraged its followers. The first prophet of the Mormon Church had a letter read from every temple, every Mormon temple in the land instructing its members as a religious duty to donate time and money to this campaign. You cannot campaign against the vulnerable minority group in this country in the political arena without expecting some sort of response
I leave you with a criminally stupid quote from one of our otherwise brilliant OneUtah authors (we really are an open forum)
“Gay marriage leaves men, women and especially children handicapped in the sort of personal development a truly progressive civilization requires.” – PAUL MERO is president of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank.
Channel 4 reports that a Nebraska man faces possible excommunication from the LDS Church for supporting same sex marriage.
Let the excommunications begin. Every now and then the church sees fit to make a very public example of a few “dissidents” in order to keep the rest of the flock scared lest the same thing happen to them.
Whatever happened to Joseph Smith’s admonition to teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves?
Wrapping up my day with a birthday visit with my daughter, I decided to drive up State Street and see how the protest was going. It was amazing. Traffic was barely creeping along. I could only get as far as North Temple and the police directed me to the east. But I was able to see hundreds of people with signs. I could hear the cheers and the chanting. It was the 60s all over for me. I wanted to be there, but turned away and trapped in traffic, I finally made my way home and decided to write instead.
UPDATE: KSL.com reports that
Though the crowd started out small, police estimate it has grown to somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 people.
This is democracy in action. People have been denied some very basic rights. Many readers here do not agree. Tough. Your religion has no right to dictate what rights other people get.
I’ll repeat what an earlier post here called this: “Devastating” for the Mormon Church. Why? Today’s protests in Salt Lake and in LA yesterday should make that clear. The church will suffer long-term negative public opinion because of its overt actions. And this is just the tip of the ice berg. Californians are angry that money from Utah poured into their state to support this issue. This will not die quietly in California nor here.
Gordon B. Hinckley, the master mind of public relations for the church will be turning over in his grave. Years of heartwarming public service announcements are all undone with one little issue that just will not be quiet.
Postscript: Olbermann says he will have a special comment on Monday on this issue entitled “What’s It To Ya.”
UPDATE 2: Channel 4 reported that some people are calling for boycotting Utah as a tourist destination along with the Sundance Film Festival. Blogs and social network sites are promoting the boycott.