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1997 Mormon Memo Emerges, Revealing Longstanding Strategy

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2008

An eleven year old internal LDS memo has emerged which proves that the Mormon church has been plotting against same-sex marriage for more than a decade.

The memo, dated March 4, 1997, provides insight into the late LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley’s strategy for opposing same-sex marriage. It describes a meeting in which Hinckley gives the go ahead, but urged caution. According to the memo, “he (President Hinckley) also said the (LDS) Church should be in a coalition and not out front by itself.”

In fact, the LDS church has been way out front in its battles against gays and lesbians, both in California and in Arizona.

The memo was addressed to Elder M. Russell Ballard, who has played a central role in the LDS’s fight in Arizona and California. He appeared on several closed-circuit satellite broadcasts to Mormon churches with specific instructions on the California campaign for Prop 8. In one such broadcast in late October, he reminded the faithful that the central doctrine of Celestial Marriage was propelling the church’s drive to impose its theology on state constitutions:

“We know that it is not without controversy, yet let me be clear that at the heart of this issue is the central doctrine of eternal marriage and it’s place in our Father’s plan,” Ballard said.

Parts of the 1997 memo were first published on the DailyKos web site on November 3. Those portions reveal that the LDS leadership has been strategizing for California even back then.

Update: You can see the entire memo by clicking here (PDF: 260KB/8 pages).



November 12th, 2008 | LINK

It’s 1997, not 1977.

I have never thought that these efforts to ban same-sex marriage had anything to do with “protecting” anything. It’s an incremental approach to achieve the religious right’s ultimate goal: Erase any legal recognition of same-sex relationships and eventually send us back to the closet.

David C.
November 12th, 2008 | LINK

I’d call this a particularly damming piece of evidence.

November 12th, 2008 | LINK

It shows some planning, but not much else. We risk making out these people as more conspiratorial and more intelligent and fore-sighted than they are. After all, they cannot even see the functional difference between “it’s” and “its”. That’s what is truly damning.

November 12th, 2008 | LINK

Okay Mr. T. S. Monson:

This pretty much says it all. You versus us. We homos are the antithesis to their whole plan of salvation, huh?

Well…My Heavenly Father created me this way. I was this way in the Pre-Existence before I was born. I will be this way in the next life.

Your plan of salvation sucks. It’s not inclusive for me and no matter how much you say I should try to “act” differently, I will still be me.

This whole “agenda” belongs to whom, again?

David C.
November 12th, 2008 | LINK

Well, there’s that. Nevertheless, 1997 was long before intense uptake of the “Culture Wars”: they were ahead of the curve in that respect. The ERA died partly or precisely because of Utah’s fear that same sex marriage might be enabled, even enshrined in the US Constitution.

Irrespective of their collective intellect, they succeeded in outsmarting the No on 8 campaign. You could argue that they failed in their attempt to stay behind the shield of other organizations driving the passage of the measure thus indicating some lack of political sophistication. Still, they were able to achieve a long standing goal to eliminate the rights of same sex couples to marry in the 7th or 8th largest economy in the world (California).

Stefano A
November 12th, 2008 | LINK

So, not only was the campaign marked by deliberate deceptiveness but so was the alliance now shown to be a manipulated calculated political maneuver.

However, I fully expect the Catholic Church will simply shrug off the attempt of the LDS church to hide under its robes to let them take the heat, if the RC even gives it any thought.

November 12th, 2008 | LINK

AJD, 1977 would be the year before the then president Spencer W. Kimball had the revelation that black men were not just “clever animals” and could join the priesthood.

Perhaps we should be hoping for a similar revelation about same-sex marriage.

Jason D
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

I see, so what do we have to look forward to next given the history of organized religion?

– A Crusade style slaughter?

– Inquisition style torture?

– Blame, torture, and murder akin to the Salem Witch Trials?

– Operation Rescue style bombings of gay bars, community centers, and churches?

– Burning crosses? Lynchings?

Timothy Kincaid
November 13th, 2008 | LINK


We may be fortunate. We may have to look forward to something comparable to

– Dedication to the preservation of literature and history and even the craft of reading and writing during Dark Ages

– Commitment to feeding, clothing, housing and medical care for the less fortunate

– A place of solice and comfort for those who are in distress

– A voice against slavery and oppression (though they have not been given enough credit, in some counties in CA the campaign against Prop 8 was almost entirely the product of churches committed to equality and social justice)

– Patronage of arts providing great beauty

Yes, religion has its evil history. But without religion, the world would be a much much darker place. As much as I believe in the free market, there are some cultural benefits that are not driven by profit and quite often those exist out of the efforts of organized religion.

November 13th, 2008 | LINK

That’s an interesting point, Elizabeth.

Jason D
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

Tim, I’m sorry, but none of the things you mention make up for, excuse, or diminish the evil done in the name or organized religion.

It’s interesting that you jump from organized to religion to “the free market” as though no other possibilities exist.

So the absense of religion…is capitalism?

Timothy Kincaid
November 13th, 2008 | LINK


It appears that your point is that all organized religion is bad. If that is your argument, I reject it.

David C.
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

Everyone needs to keep in mind that there were a number of religious organizations that worked to defeat Prop 8. Those allies should not be tossed aside indiscriminately. Like most things, we are not dealing with black and white where it comes to faith.

Yes a prominent and powerful religious organization handed us our hats on this one, and yes they did so with allies of the same ilk and a lot of deceit. To condemn all religions for the acts of some would make us into the same kind of hypocrites we accuse that few of being.

It’s unlikely that we will achieve our goals by trying to unseat deeply held beliefs. Instead we should find just as deeply held beliefs that remind the faithful that they have an obligation to love their fellow man, irrespective of everything else.

We’re going to need to capitalize on those supporters we can find in faith communities, not alienate them.

It’s time to take a deep breath and think, not just react out of anger.

November 28th, 2008 | LINK

Did the LDS Church ever deny having a longstanding strategy? Where is the scandal here?

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