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Pro-Prop 8 LDS Leaders: “The Work Depends On Us”

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2008

Amid continuing reports of heavy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ involvement in anti-marriage campaigns in California, and Arizona, a Wiki website has released a document which provides further evidence that the nuts and bolts of the Prop 8 campaign in California is almost exclusively an LDS-driven effort.

The brief document, which was on document posted on Wikileaks earlier this week, appears to be brief notes for a meeting of LDS officials working to defeat California’s Prop 8. According to the document:

The brethren emphasized that there wasn’t much participation from non-LDS people. The work depends on us.

The document goes on to describe their strategy for placing yard signs — a strategy which experienced a serious hickup when LDS campaign leaders decided to outsource their signs to China. Those signs were due last Monday, but now won’t be expected for another couple of weeks.

According to the leaked document, the next phase in the campaign is the “Persuasion Phase”, which appears to include phone-banking:

We need about 20 people per zip code to call the “mushy middle” people. That will take about 5 hours per person. There will be two surges, one the end of Sept. or early Oct. and the other at the end of Oct. to the first of Nov.

The plan also describes poll monitoring to ensure their members show up to vote, and a voter registration drive using ward lists maintained by individual LDS churches.

The poster at Wikileaks describes the document as a handout to a small group of local LDS church leaders. It was emailed to at least two other people that the poster was aware of. The poster also notes that “producing the document publicly online could result in ecclesiastical punishment for the publisher.”

When marriage amendment battles started appearing in California and Arizona, it was assumed that evangelical churches would be carrying the load. While many of those churches continue to support these so-called “marriage amendments,” the real surprise has been the extent to which one single denomination has placed so much of its resources and financial muscle — as well as the direct involvement of that denomination’s leadership and organizational structure —  to impose its theological positions on the state.

As I said before, this should concern everyone who cherishes religious liberty in this country.

Comments

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Michigan-Matt
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

Jim, I gotta point out as someone who has actually fought FMA-like efforts in Michigan, your continued reporting on the influence of LDS cohorts isn’t helping to defeat the propositions… nor is the time spent here by true gay activists working to defeat the measures in CA, AZ and FL. Other blogs like BoyfromTroy or GayPatriot know that what matters is action, direct political action, and wooing the middle voters. All this backroom intrigue can be explored (not exposed) later… in a post-mortem.

You have a great point to make in revealing who is funding the various propositions and that might -might- help motivate gays to get out and vote… but using a wikileak document of questionable origin and credibility only makes our side look less credible, less authentic. You’ve made your point, it’s time to move on and have some impact.

We’ve got terrific reasons going why the ballot questions in AZ, CA and FL should be defeated… we need to stay focused on the reasons that will motivate voters to stay with us… not raise question our tactics.

Trust me, having been through this political battle once and getting armed to go back in again in Michigan, staying credible and authentic is worth far more to our cause than promoting questionable documents meant to excite or inflame the more radical elements on our own side. They should be solidly with us already. We got them. Time to get the middle spectrum voters who respect credibility and authenticity.

JMHO and based on the bittersweet experience of losing one of these ballots already… we’ve got 11; we don’t need 3 more.

Ryan Kerian
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

Too bad for them that their silly signs and their futile efforts are for naught. In yet another recent poll, 55% of likely voters are against Prop. 8, only 41% are in favor, with 4% undecided. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/09/25/BAMV134E8L.DTL

Keep supporting the No on 8 cause so that we can send them a strong message this November.

Priya Lynn
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

Matt, you lost the battle in Michigan, you should ponder why that happened rather than assuming you can tell anyone “what’s worth more to the cause”.

Ben in Oakland
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

I am pretty sure i know why it happened– lots of nice liberal feel good stuff and no showing gay people. It’s what they did against Prop 22 in 2000, and are doing here again.

Ben in Oakland
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

sent to oakland tribune today:

Dear Editor:

I don’t find it surprising that the majority of the money and effort behind Prop. 8 comes from a coalition of Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox Jewish, and Mormon groups (Tribune 9/25/08). They’ve always made their disapproval crystal clear. Although they disagree on the very nature of God and his message to the world– and history is writ large in the blood and suffering caused by those disagreements– the one thing they can agree on is that surely, gay people deserve neither the freedom to marry their life partners nor the equality before the law promised by our Constitution.

Should they lose the election, I wonder if that means that God does not share either their disapproval of gay people and same-sex marriage, or their political and social agendas?

Many religious groups– Episcopalians, Reformed Jews, United Church of Christ, and MCC, to name just a few– and many individuals, both gay and straight, religious and not, oppose Prop. 8, supporting full civil and religious marriage equality for gay people. They don’t want a few conservative denominations restricting their beliefs and telling them what to do.

A vote for Prop. 8 is a vote against their freedom of religion.

Steve Krotz
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

I think Matt misses the point. The more people become aware of the fact that a specific religious institution is basically (and almost single-handedly) bankrolling the Yes On 8 and Yes On 102 initiatives in CA and AZ, the more it opens up the issue of a church using its formidable resources to force its own religious doctrine on the overall general public.

This kind of revelation could easily have an impact on the “middle American” voter who doesn’t want to be told what to do by a church. Contrary to what many people think, I firmly believe that most people in this country don’t want public laws and policies dictated by religious zealots. Our form of government is not the Taliban and, hopefully, it never will be.

It is vitally important that we expose this kind of involvement whenever and wherever we find it.

So, of course, I totally support what Jim is doing. I also do much of the same with my own blog. Exposure to the light of day is one of the strongest weapons we have in our arsenal and I, for one, have no intention of not using it.

Michigan-Matt
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

Steve, I hope your assessment is correct but I think you’re in error when you say “I firmly believe that most people in this country don’t want public laws and policies dictated by religious zealots.”

I watched our community here try to spin the involvement of fundamentalist Christian churches and church groups into some kind of anti-American theme… it didn’t work. It just helped focus the fundamentalist efforts and, given that Kerry carried Michigan in 2004, a greater majority of Michigan Democrat voters were very comfortable with allowing religious groups to impose their vision on public policy.

My point isn’t to disallow the role of motivating gay voters to the phone centers and polls, my point is that we can turn off an entire segment of voters with our usual political activist approach… instead of getting inside their (the voters) heads and hearts and appealing to that moral conscience striving to correct injustice. No, I don’t mean LDSers; I mean average voters.

We don’t get there by complaining that a cult is running the show. American voters have long tolerated a wide mixture of religious groups being active in public policy. And the media doesn’t care much beyond an article or two… it won’t sway editorial boards over to our side, that’s for sure.

Thanks for the civil response.

Michigan-Matt
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

Priya Lynn suggests: “Matt, you lost the battle in Michigan, you should ponder why that happened rather than assuming you can tell anyone “what’s worth more to the cause”.

It happened because moderate, well-informed, progressive gays weren’t in charge of the battle to thwart the 2004 ballot initiative, Priya Lynn. It was mostly mainline gay advocacy groups who were more intent on electing Kerry-Edwards than on focusing on what matter to our community.

If we had been in control, we wouldn’t have lost. We ran a very expensive, costly parallel campaign that was hamstrung by well-meaning but badly advised mainline gay advocacy groups who unwisely sought to portray the proponents as religious fundamentalist extremists. Yes, we heard a lot about the “American Taliban” from those mainline gay groups and it crippled us from winning over any moderate voters.

Michigan’s mainline gay advocacy group effort was very similar to what happened in 10 other states at that time and all 11 states, gays were losers… at least to those of us interested in marriage equality.

But even worse, in my book, they poisoned the well so harshly that it’s going to be a very difficult task to erase the damage done by those mainline gay activist groups. We needed voters; we didn’t need to feel vindicated or validated at the end of the day.

Priya Lynn
September 25th, 2008 | LINK

That’s a nice fantasy matt.

cd
September 26th, 2008 | LINK

“Jim, I gotta point out as someone who has actually fought FMA-like efforts in Michigan, your continued reporting on the influence of LDS cohorts isn’t helping to defeat the propositions… nor is the time spent here by true gay activists working to defeat the measures in CA, AZ and FL. Other blogs like BoyfromTroy or GayPatriot know that what matters is action, direct political action, and wooing the middle voters. All this backroom intrigue can be explored (not exposed) later… in a post-mortem.”

All that is true, but you assume that this is being documented for purely immediate purposes.

Very rarely can much be done about the overall inclinations of an electorate in a short span of time. There is a separate value of documenting the LDS effort in recording just what the argument and politics was finally about, what the root of the opposition is/was.

I don’t want to assert something glorious about myself, but I wrote a couple of times, a few months ago, that the LDS is uniquely invested and involved in suppressing gay rights and gay marriage legalization in California. The LDS has a unique and central gender element in their dogma, a dogma which is essential to the social teachings and key to the social appeal of their group. If/when their internal belief in that dogma diminishes, I believe (and by indications, they suspect something similar) they can’t hold together or attract much in the way of new adherents.

In historical perspective I think Proposition 8 is an outright clash between a major Christian Right religious group and a social liberalization it disagrees with. For the first time in the Culture War a major Christian Right group may have to pay a real long term price in power for its longstanding effort to impose injustices on others. I don’t think it will be the last- other Christian Right groups will fight their Stalingrads on immigration/race and lose, and others will meet their Waterloos on abortion rights in the next 10 years or so.

Tavdy
September 26th, 2008 | LINK

“We don’t get there by complaining that a cult is running the show. American voters have long tolerated a wide mixture of religious groups being active in public policy.” – Michigan Matt

While that may be true, I suspect it is also true that Americans, like Europeans, have a deep-rooted distrust of religious organisations that try to impose their beliefs on others.

I think what Ben wrote is the best tack to be taken in this particular section of the debate:

” Many religious groups– Episcopalians, Reformed Jews, United Church of Christ, and MCC, to name just a few– and many individuals, both gay and straight, religious and not, oppose Prop. 8, supporting full civil and religious marriage equality for gay people. They don’t want a few conservative denominations restricting their beliefs and telling them what to do.

A vote for Prop. 8 is a vote against their freedom of religion.” – Ben in Oakland

David Caster
September 26th, 2008 | LINK

September 26th, 2008 | LINK
Egregious political activism from the pulpit, no matter what denomination, should be rewarded in the same way: loss of tax exempt status. Direct advancement of a political position by the LDS in a manner that essentially demands of its adherents specific performance at the polls in order to remain in good standing should be sufficient to cause loss of tax exempt status for the Church. This is now provable in court and the appropriate law enforcement should take place immediately.

Responsible authorities need to stop looking the other way as church leaders of whatever denomination break the law. Pull the LDS tax exempt status, and we can say good-bye to excessive meddling of religion in our system.

johnson
September 27th, 2008 | LINK

Just Say NO to the LDS Theocracy. Ever been to Utah, seen it’s politics and crazy liquor laws? Don’t let them try to make California into another Utah.

Ben in Oakland
September 27th, 2008 | LINK

thanks. always nice to know SOMEONE reads what i have to say. :)

Steve Krotz
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

First – I have to thank Ben in Oakland for sending that letter to the Oakland Tribune. That’s exactly the kind of actions we need the most.

I also agree with Tavdy. That is one of the best ways to respond. I also believe that “Americans, like Europeans, have a deep-rooted distrust of religious organizations that try to impose their beliefs on others.” That’s why we must continue to use our blogs (and all other means) to help expose those who would use their church to dictate public policies.

CD is also right on the mark. I wrote several articles that zeroed in on the serious divisions that this tactic is already causing within the churches themselves.

When the LDS church sent out their infamous letter instructing that it be read from all of their California pulpits telling their followers to donate their money and time to defeat Prop 8, I wrote to my congressman to suggest an investigation of the tax exempt status of these institutions.

Happily, the need for this may have been preempted by the Sunday, Sept. 28th actions intentionally taken by 30 right wing clergy across the country. All of them preached politics from their pulpits in a challenge to the IRS policies prohibiting those kind of actions. They hope to see their case ultimately end up before the Supreme Court believing that this particular court would find in their favor. I think this is a critical misjudgment on their part and will, hopefully, cost them dearly. The article I wrote about their actions was on Sept. 30th and is in my archives.

With the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision this morning legalizing gay marriage along with all the other simmering situations, this is going to be one hell of an election year!

Eddie89
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, one heck of an election year indeed!

We will have a Democrat President with Democrat majorities in the Congress and Senate. And I’m not even a Democrat! But, that’s how the tide will roll in!

And same-gender marriage in three States: California, Massachusetts and Connecticut!

With California, Arizona and Florida voters defeating Prop. 8, Prop. 102 and Amendment 2, respectively.


California – Vote “NO” on Prop. 8!
Arizona – Vote “NO” on Prop. 102! AGAIN!
Florida – Vote “NO” on Amendment 2!

Scott Porter
October 13th, 2008 | LINK

Stop spreading misinformation regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints jeopardizing its tax-exempt status because of its involvement in the Yes on 8 campaign. The IRS regulations that prohibit political activity by 501(c)(3) organizations (like churches) apply to supporting or opposing a specific candidate. The regulations do not apply to support for or against propositions such as Prop 8. The regulation that does apply in that situation only kicks in when its lobbying activities (as measured by time, effort, expenditures and other relevant factors) constitute more than an “insubstantial” part of its total activities during a particular year.

See http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=281#q5 and following questions.

Steve Krotz
October 26th, 2008 | LINK

Scott Porter – In case you haven’t heard yet, the LDS contributions in money alone now total over 77% of all monies donated to the CA and AZ anti-gay marriage initiatives. (for substantiation see my Oct. 23 posting at http://desertspeak.blogspot.com/2008/10/mormons-turn-propositions-8-102-into.html.)

Those donations along with the dollar value of the substantial amount of man hours donated by Mormon Church members in CA and AZ, as well as the Utah phone banks that, until a few days ago, were calling across state lines to CA & AZ voters, certainly constitute far more than an “insubstantial part of its total activities during a particular year” for the Mormon Churches in CA and AZ in 2008.

I stand by my assertions.

Timothy Kincaid
October 26th, 2008 | LINK

Steve,

Scott Porter is correct as to the application of tax law. The contributions are from members, not from the church itself.

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