Vigil At Mesa, AZ Temple Tonight
November 28th, 2008
I wish I had found out about this earlier:
When Mormons light their massive and colorful Christmas displays tonight on the Mesa Arizona Temple grounds, thousands of candles may burn across the street in a vigil in Pioneer Park.
Vigil organizers call it a demonstration of solidarity for gays and lesbians seeking full civil rights. They say their vigil was precipitated by Mormons’ staunch opposition to same-sex marriage with passage of amendments to constitutions in Arizona, California and Florida in the Nov. 4 general election.
“We are not going to march. It is not a protest. We will have our candles,” said an organizer, Robert Parker, an outspoken gay Mormon from Mesa. Parker hopes to get 5,000 people to assemble in the park “to stand in solidarity with gay Mormons who are stuck in the closet and need to know that we are working to help secure their civil rights.”
Mormons in Arizona contributed at a minimum 40% — some say as much as 80% — of the $8 million raised to pass Prop 102 in Arizona. Prominent Mormons were also at the head of the official “Yes” campaign in support of Prop 102. But for all of that, Don Evans, spokesman for LDS church in Arizona, continues to express surprise at being “singled out”
This constitutional amendment was supported by the Catholic Church, which is far and away the largest church in Arizona, and it was also supported by the various evangelical congregations.” All of those churches consistently opposed same-sex marriages, but “our church has taken the lion’s share of the protest,” Evans said.
The LDS church has taken a lion’s share of the protest because the church took on a lion’s share of the work — running the campaigns as well as using LDS tithing rolls as a fundraising tool among church members. Evangelicals and Catholics, while supportive of the amendments, did not take nearly as prominent a role as the LDS church chose to take.
And when anyone chooses to insert themselves in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, they can expect to experience the political consequences and criticisms of their actions, be they a political party, James Dobson, Swift Boat Veterans, or the Mormon church.
And if any other group had gone in as deeply and as enthusiastically into this political fight as the Mormon church has, they’d be fair game for protests. We could just as easily be targeting General Motors if GM had played the role that the LDS leadership did. But GM didn’t put their reputations on the line and fight to strip people of rights that they already enjoyed. The LDS church did.
And they did it with Big Mormon Money and Big Mormon Organization. In Arizona’s example, they out-spent anti-102 forces by nearly 12-1. They are also under investigation in California for making unreported in-kind donations — providing for free the sort of services that campaigns typically have to pay for. The LDS Church provided free phone-banking, satellite broadcasts, travel, a web site, commercials, and so forth — all of which are reportable under California and Arizona law.
So because of all that, the LDS leaders are now political figures just like anyone else who organizes and executes a political campaign. And because they chose to exercise their rights to do that — and as citizens and under current IRS regulations, it is their right to do so — they are now subject to the same scrutiny and criticisms as any other political figures or organizations.
They have given up their right to be “puzzled” and pretend that they are just another church. They’re not. They are now political activists just like the rest of us. Welcome to our world.
LDS Church Can’t Hide Behind A Temple