Mormon Sin Play Button

When Church Takes Over Your Rights

I have made no secret of my disdain for the Mormon effort to influence the outcome of an election in the state of California by spending millions of dollars to mount a campaign of lies and deceit.  I have never understood why the Mormon church is so aggressively funding this campaign against civil rights, and I had no idea as to the magnitude and scope of their efforts and their financial influence in the election.

Why, exactly, are these people so insistent on forcing people who do not share their religious beliefs to live by their religious beliefs?

What is striking about the numbers is that although Mormons make up less than two percent of California’s population, they made up more than 71 percent of campaign contributions, according to the film. Jeff Flint, a strategist with Protect Marriage, the group that spearheaded the Prop. 8 campaign, told the New York Times that 80 to 90 percent of the early volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts were Mormons. “

[Source: ‘8: The Mormon Proposition’ – Exclusive Clip Reveals Church Coerced Members to Raise Millions For Prop. 8 Campaign (VIDEO).]

I haven’t seen this Sundance Film, but this very excerpt is shocking and disturbing, portraying their church more as a cult of strong armed coercion than a faith practice.

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2 thoughts on “When Church Takes Over Your Rights”

  1. Being Mormon I can assure you that as the LDS church sees it, this is not about civil rights or even about homosexuality, but about preserving the institution of traditional marriage. The LDS church has always supported civil rights for individuals, and ironically the same people who criticize the church for supporting Prop 8 have also heavily criticized it for supporting anti-discrimination measures against homosexual individuals (see http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=764460.)

    People can debate whether the LDS church is right for supporting traditional marriage exclusively, but I don’t think it’s fair to make an argument that this is a campaign against civil rights or a campaign fueled by hate.

    I also don’t think it’s fair to assume the church is coercing anyone – the LDS church did encourage members to support traditional marriage, but has been doing that since the 1995 “Proclamation on the Family,” well before any civic debate on gay marriage surfaced. I am very confident that while the church’s statements specifically encouraging CA members to support Prop 8 may have spurred some members to action who instead would have otherwise just wrung their hands and quietly expressed their opinions within the confines of their own living rooms, it did not “coerce” anyone to volunteer time or money against their will.

    It seems like same sex marriage advocates often cast an unfair amount of responsibility for Prop 8 on Mormons. Even if every single Latter-day Saint in California showed up to vote on Prop 8, they are still only 2% of the population. Regardless of what Mormons contributed to Protect Marriage, they were a minority in actually voting for and passing Prop 8.

    -Jenny Evans

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Thanks for your comment. We obviously see this from very different vantage points. And while I doubt either of us will change the other’s thinking, I offer my thoughts…

      Historically, one of the first steps to dehumanize others is to redefine words that are intimately, inseparably, and deeply linked to the humanity with which they are imbued. By most reliable accounts, the Mormon church spent around $60,000,000 to $70,000,000 to do this very thing. The advertisements funded by your church characterized gay people as objects to be feared, an agenda in search of children, and cast the love of their hearts as anything but human: an organized assault on the institution of marriage. (These ads are well documented on YouTube and other internet outlets. I was shocked when I first saw the dishonest fear mongering they employed!)

      In so doing, from my vantage point, the Mormon church was fomenting dehumanization by misrepresenting, maligning, and mischaracterizing an entire class of people, a minority without a voice, a group without the financial backing to withstand the well financed punishing eye of your church. The way I have always understood marriage, the institution is about the consuming love two consenting adults share that compels them to desire to spend their lives together committed to one another. This is a legal sanction by the state with specific legal and financial entitlements, making it, indeed, a civil right.* To deny consenting, loving adults, regardless of their sexual orientation, this right just because a religious institution doesn’t agree with it falls within my understanding of simply being hateful. I can think of no other way to describe it.

      To say that your religious definition of a word is more important than the love of people is shocking! Words serve the needs of humanity. Humanity does not serve nor is enslaved by the religious definition of words. This was the same argument used to justify slavery.

      As people more eloquent than I have pointed out in this ongoing debate, since the beginning of recorded time, the definition of marriage has changed and will continue to change in the future. Change happens. Organized religion in the south, where I grew up, vehemently apposed the marriage of black people and interracial couples, a hateful racism that, as evidenced by the recent case in Louisiana, is regrettably still alive today.

      To try to argue that the Mormon church is only trying to protect the institution of marriage appears to me to be compellingly hypocritical. I personally feel that the Mormon church could better spend its money dealing with the issues of polygamy and the forced marriage of unwilling young girls to older men as such efforts would be a more pragmatic approach to defending marriage. The church could use its money to fund efforts to reduce the suicide rate of gay Mormon youth. Just let gay people and interracial couples, who are out to neither hurt nor terrify any one, live lives of love in the civil right of marriage. What really is the big deal here?

      As to your comment that the Mormon church didn’t coerce people into giving contributions to fight the civil rights of gay people, I would suggest you take your argument up with the makers of the film. They seem to be flatly stating otherwise and appear to have compelling evidence to support their claim lest your church seek to litigate against them for liable.

      You state that only 2% of the California population is Mormon. I really don’t know. I do know that your church is certainly actively campaigning in my neighborhood to change that statistic, if it is in fact true. We have been visited 3 times, of which I know, by young Mormon missionaries in the past 2 years. No other religious group has visited or called us. This whole evangelism thing really frightens me. And that’s what I see this religious campaign against gay people as: forcing people who do not share your religious values to live by those religious values–a perverse forced evangelism on the unwilling. You are trying to force your religious views on others through the legal structures of the state. I don’t know which I think is worse: your efforts to deny gay people the civil right of marriage or your forcing those who do not share your religious beliefs to enact those beliefs into law because of unfounded fear and hate-fueled discrimination. Both horrify me.

      And I suppose this is one of the more troubling aspects of this whole Mormon campaign against civil rights: Mormons, 2% of the state, funded 71% of the hateful campaign of malignment and misrepresentation and provided between 80 and 90% of the ground swell of troops to instill fear and discrimination into the hearts and minds of the relatively easy-going, laissez faire people of California. This just seems so wrong to me: to be so consumed with a religious agenda to force a cloud of religious views of marriage on the civil right of marriage that a church would lie, coerce, deceive, incite fear, discrimination, and hate. I always, naively I now suppose, thought the church was a vehicle to celebrate and share love and unity. The Mormon church’s efforts reflect anything but love and unity.

      I have blogged before about the church, any church, having a right to a religious sacrament related to but separate from the civil right of marriage to which the church can deny anyone for any reason they choose. It would be completely a religious thing, and if you’re not a member of our little religious club, you can’t have it. But get the church out of politics. I want the church to be further separated from the state, a notion which has historically been a bit foreign to the good people of Utah I suspect–and I say that sincerely. As far as I am concerned, the Mormon church should lose its tax exempt status over this issue as it clearly functioned as a political action committee, not a church.

      Finally, I see that you work as a writer about the Mormon church and am curious: How did you find my blog post? Are you expected to seek out and defend the church on this issue? And if not, what motivated your desire to comment on my post?

      All of my Mormon friends are utterly wonderful people and have expressed differing views about this issue. Even when their personal views differ from their church’s views, they remain deeply committed to their church. I personally find that so bizarre, but because of my respect for them personally have never discussed that with any of them. I personally just couldn’t support a faith practice that hurts people, unintentionally or otherwise.

      At any rate, I see in your profile link that you live in Massachusetts, where since gay marriage was legalized divorce has actually dropped (conclusion: gay marriage helps the institution of marriage?) and are a mother of three. I sincerely hope none of your children grows up to be gay and be denied his/her civil right to marry the person s/he loves because of your church’s intrusion into the rights of the state.

      *I think the Supreme Court of the US settled this issue some time ago. According to the court, marriage is a civil right.

      Tim

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