Proof of Mormon Church’s Direct Involvment In Prop 8

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2009

The American News Project has prepared a video investigating the the Mormon Church’s lack of disclosure about direct expenditures on Proposition 8. They claim to have only spent a few thousand dollars, but ANP obtained a copy of a telecast in which they promised to perform a number of very expensive services for the Yes on 8 Campaign.

The church is currently under investigation by the California State Fair Elections Commission.


January 15th, 2009

I have a couple of questions.
Wasn’t the vast majority of the millions raised from private donations and not by the LDS Church. The members gave directly to the Pro-Proposition 8 entity/entities. So, whatever they determine the value of the satellite broadcasts, hosting the call-centers, and making videos might be miniscule when looking at the total budget for campaign. And that would play into the part about what is “substantial”?

And I seem to remember I was curious about why a call-center at the BYU campus was suddenly closed down. Aside from the fact the call-center was in Utah and not in California (not illegal?) but the BYU people had to close it down for some inexplicable reason. Plus, the call-center was supposedly only manned by students with a home-state status of California. Why would that matter?

Scott P.

January 15th, 2009

cowboy, you’ve missed the point entirely, or misconstrued it.

The funds, and services, being spoken of are IN ADDITION to what Mormon individuals gave. Is that clear enough for you?

And, even if the call centers were in Timbuktu, if the object was to influence California’s election, it’s ILLEGAL because it’s political activism by a not-for-profit entity. Tax exemption is based on ANY exempt organization not involving itself extensively in a political campaign.

Do you have ANY idea how expensive television is? Even without paying for actors (and many of the people on the website were professionals) production alone can run into hundreds of thousands per minute.

Please, stop being an apologist for the LDS Church leaders.

Emily K

January 15th, 2009

You might be right cowboy.

you know why we’re probly screwed with this whole Mormon mess? It’s that they have a rank-and-file army of millions of followers that are willing to blindly follow the church in everything. It’s CREEPY. It’s like we don’t stand a chance as long as mormons unite behind a cause. They’ll drown us in their wealth and resources. The Majority will rule and they will ruin us all.

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2009


It is not illegal for the church to take action on Proposition 8 as long as it is not “substantial”.

However, it is a violation of state law to not report your in-kind contributions.

Scott P.

January 15th, 2009

cowboy, until “substantial” is defined we can’t really say whether they actually violated the law, but they sure as hell bent it!


January 15th, 2009

You bet it’s creepy, Emily K. and as the video pointed out: there is a lot of money where we can’t get any idea what is happening behind the scenes because they are protected as a private religious organization. [shivers]

I am sure some very expensive top-notch lawyers and accountants are looking over everything. The LDS Church has the funds to hire the best. They probably knew the “substantial” issue would be tested in the courts and they’re willing to pay whatever to keep it in the courts for a long time…as we blithely go on with our lives.

You mean their halos are not on straight?


January 15th, 2009

Oh and, Scott…
You said in other thread:

People think Mormons are all fuzzy and naive, but they’ll cut your (and your mother’s throat) to make a buck.


“When there’s a dirty job to be done, you can’t go wrong with a Mormon.” How very, VERY true.

Would you say the same things about all the Jews?

I’ll be less apologetic about the Mormon Church if you would use less crass generalizations. I was sorry nobody at BTB caught this and gave you an admonishment. Why was it okay to say those kinds of things about all Mormons?


January 16th, 2009

I strongly object to the tone of the ANP’s video.

While the LDS Church is not entitled to an exemption about in-kind donations to a political campaign, as Tim Kincaid noted, the video goes far beyond expecting the Mormon Church to be held to the same standards as any other organization on that point.

The video gets of to a bad start with the chanting of “Separate church and state,” at the very beginning. While this was footage of an actual demonstration, it was the video’s producers choice to begin with it.

To intimate that it is less constitutionally proper for a church to involve itself in a social-legal issue than any other group or organization, is, frankly, nothing but bias against organized religion.

There is also the business about the LDS Church’s status as a tax-exempt non-profit organization, and how many people angry with the Church want its tax exemption revoked by the IRS. The side-bar description of the video states,

the IRS forbids religious organizations from “substantially” lobbying for political legislation. Did the Mormon Church violate this law?

and the video itself spends a good deal of time discussing this issue.

I have to call BS on the whole discussion. The IRS regulations that the video cites are about campaigning for or against a candidate for office, and about lobbying the legislature concerning legislation. (It is the latter matter that raises the undefined issue of ‘substantially.’) Neither of these issues deals with involvement in a campaign for or against a popular referendum.

Furthermore, the IRS regulations are constitutionally suspect.

When the government gives a benefit like tax-exemption it has no business demanding that constitutional privileges and immunities be waived for the receipt of said benefit. Yet that is just what these IRS regulations demand of tax-exempt religious organizations. The right to freedom of speech equal to that held by other organizations, tax-exempt or not, is hindered, as is the the right to “petition the legislature for a redress of grievances.” How these rules pass constitutional scrutiny is beyond me.

To quote one of the commenters at You Tube, blank557, about the free-speech aspect:

Apple Inc. donated $100,000 against Prop 8. How is it ok for a Corporation to spend big bucks on a political issue, but not a non-profit Church ?! What, like Corporations don’t have agendas too?

The people at ANP have no concern for such constitutional questions.

Scott P.

January 16th, 2009

Why not? They’ve made some rather crass generalizations about gays many times over.

Scott P.

January 16th, 2009

cowboy, my last comment was flippant, but I’ll back up what I’ve said.

I’m related to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, my mother’s family were handcart pioneers. I lived in Salt Lake until I was 34 and I never, NEVER had an employer treat me like I was only one step better than a thief except Mormon bosses.

I had to work fast-food at one point in my life. Since I worked hard I soon had plenty of hours, UNTIL a very “good” Mormon became manager, he asked me point blank if I was gay, I said yes, next thing I know I was cut down to less than 15 hours a week. He next hired a bunch of teenaged kids who he knew attended a local ward, big mistake, they proved to be undependable and I got my hours back. The same thing happened to three other employees. He asked personal questions and if he got an answer he didn’t like the employee soon found he/she wasn’t getting enough time in to pay bills.

Another job I had was for a bishop, he cheated me on several checks. I didn’t say anything because I had to have the job.

A third employer was a really nice guy to work for until he started getting religion, next thing I knew he was cut pay, cutting hours, treating all of us like shit (except Mormon employees, of course).

A non-Mormon employer had been recruited from out of state to start a business with promises about how great Mormon employees were. Always willing to work any hours, never demanding raises or safe working conditions. They soon found out that between “family home evenings” and other church activities that their Mormon employees were more difficult to deal with than non-Mormons.

My father used to work as an independant electrical contractor. Whenever a man (who later became a senator) came by to check things out, my father would find things missing, wiring, tools, all of which he had to purchase again.

Now, living in Utah you’ve got to be aware that to a Mormon NOTHING is more important than owning a business. They think of it as a way to prepare themselves for when they have their own worlds to run, and much of their attitude is formed by the idea that those of us who don’t achieve the “celestial” kingdom will be their slaves, so why treat us like people?

And lastly, my sister’s second husband was a “good” Mormon who told her she had to quit smoking, stop wearing clothes he didn’t like, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, all so they could one day marry in a “temple.” Guess what? The bastard was cheating on her, left her with two kids, and THEN did the same crap with his next wife, AND the one after THAT!

So, yes, I always watch my back around Mormons, especially ones from Utah, it’s just common sense.


January 16th, 2009

Jews, no, I wouldn’t say that. If, however, those comments were directed at the Church of Scientology I would say those comments are fairly apt. If a church runs itself that manner, they deserve to be called on it.


January 16th, 2009

Scott, I’d normally bristle when someone paints any group with a broad brush, but I have to say that every member of LDS I’ve met was, as Emily K. said, creepy. Even scarey.

Members of the LDS routinely knock on doors in my neighborhood–and have for years. They’re your best friend. Let’s talk. Come to an event. Until I asked them how they felt about gays and lesbians. Silence. They left. Afterwards, no more friendly visits(in years, thank goodness!). No more brochures left in the door. So…what does that tell me?

Give them a wide berth, and watch them carefully.

From that perspective, I can appreciate your jaundiced view.


January 16th, 2009

Call me crazy, but why did “I’m related to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, my mother’s family were handcart pioneers. I lived in Salt Lake…blah, blah,” sound to me very much like “Some of my best friends are gay.”?


January 16th, 2009

Well, we can see this is devolving into a bash-the-Mormons thread. You believe the characterizations of all Mormons are as if they’re all created by the same genes and all their personalities are all the same. Do you honestly think all Mormons are like that?


Can you make up examples of what all gays are like? Can we say all gays are: _________ <— fill in the blank with any stereotypical characterization we have heard.

Your Mormons neighbors don’t know how to handle you. They just don’t know how. That’s why you haven’t had much interaction. I will admit I have had some strange interactions with some Mormons once they found out I am gay. It’s all the propaganda they are taught about gays. We’re the boogieman. In their minds we are truly the antithesis of everything about their religion.

BUT… when they are confronted with “normal” gays: those gays who live next door, those gays who have a loving partner, those gays who keep their yard the neatest on the block, those gays who commute to work with them, those gays who appreciate a good sporting event, those gays who invite them to a backyard party…

Mormons just don’t know how to handle the conflict in their perception of what homosexual means.

Give them some slack. As much slack as you would like them to give you.

I was going to ask: What Mormon pissed in your decaffeinated coffee? But you have given me some examples for the cause of your hatred towards Mormons. I’m sorry.

I’ve had my share of anti-gay discrimination thrown at me, too. It is the nature of our society. I think we are still living with the vestiges of some very virulent anti-gay attitudes from the 1950s. I’m not sure where it came from. And, I would say, some of those attitudes remain in some provincial Churches today…and mostly in rural areas.

I’m going to live my life as best I can with knowing my enemies are trying to take some of my God-given rights away but I will ultimately have my dignity.

Jim Burroway

January 16th, 2009


Apple pays taxes; churches don’t. Which makes churches more or less subsidized.

If churches were to forgo their tax-exempt status, then the government would have no cause to tell them what they can and cannot do in the political arena. Then, they’d become exactly like Apple and would be free to do whatever they want.

It is perfectly legal for the government to put whatever strings they want on their benefits. If a church doesn’t want that string attached, they can simply not apply for that benefit. In this case, they can pay taxes.

But either way they still have to comply with the law, which includes disclosing all of their contributions to political campaigns. Tax-exempt status or no, no one is exempt from that requirement.

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2009


To follow up on what Jim said, it’s even more than “Apple pays taxes”.

Churches receive money for which the donors get a tax deduction. This money is reduced from the calculation of the taxpayer’s income so a portion of the money is (the amount that would have gone to taxes for this income) is really a contribution from the government.

Scott P.

January 16th, 2009


I don’t hate Mormons. I just don’t trust them UNTIL they prove they can be trusted.


January 16th, 2009

“When the government gives a benefit like tax-exemption it has no business demanding that constitutional privileges and immunities be waived for the receipt of said benefit.”

Churches seem to want to be exempt only in areas that benefit them. They appear to want to eat their cake and have it, too. They must choose tax-exempt or continue to get politically involved. A choice must be made. If not by the church then by the courts. I hate to see vast amounts of money wasted on that, next.

I find it fascinating that churches will brag about spending a few million dollars on good works. While spending tens of millions of dollars on one project that hurts so many. And then they don’t understand receiving any backlash for their actions.

Churches like to refer to sins when justifying their actions. Well… Consider a good person who does all the rights things according to her/his faith. She/he donates time and money to help others. She/he is kind and helpful in all areas of her/his life. But one day she/he murders someone. Does all the good they have done up until then excuse them of the sin of murder?

Regardless of how many wonderful things churches do, the sins of judgment and pride are not forgiven.


January 16th, 2009


I thank you for not getting anything I said.

You claim,

It is perfectly legal for the government to put whatever strings they want on their benefits.

This is my point of contention. The government requiring churches to limit their speech in order to receive a government benefit. (That isn’t just any old string.) It is a generally recognized principle of constitutional application that this unconstitutional.

Imagine, for instance, the government requiring social security recipients to forgo political speech in order to get their checks. No court in this country would permit this. But with churches it’s okay? I don’t think so.

The government can offer the benefit or not offer it. It has no business demanding that people waive constitutionally protected liberties in order to receive them.

Apple pays taxes; churches don’t. Which makes churches more or less subsidized.

Apple pays taxes because it is a profit-making business; Entities that do not exist to earn a profit — like churches and charities — are typically exempted from income taxes by Uncle Sam. The fact that an activity is not taxed does not mean it is being subsidized by the government; it merely means it isn’t taxed.

And I will remind you that church’s are exempted from income taxes to further protect their religious freedom. Gays are doing themselves no favor by insisting that churches should lose a privilege meant to protect religious liberty if these churches refuse to give up their constitutional right to free speech.

But either way they still have to comply with the law, which includes disclosing all of their contributions to political campaigns.

I already agreed with this point. Why do you bring it up again?


January 16th, 2009


I must strongly disagree that a contribution to a church amounts to a contribution from the government simply because that contribution can be a tax deduction.

It is the legislature’s choice as to what does and what does not constitute a proper deduction from taxable income. The individual taxpayer can’t decide that for himself.

And what are you saying about a person’s income anyway? That it really belongs to the government?

Whether the earnings contributed to a church, or any other kind of organization, are taxed or not doesn’t change the fact that the contribution came from the individual (or group) who owned the money in the first place. It’s his money, not the government’s.

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2009


I’ve stated such facts as are consistent with the tax code and current law and you have now declared your opinion.

I think I’ll let it rest. Those who wish to can share your stong objection.


January 16th, 2009

I’m Mormon. I’ve posted a few things in the past, and I check back every so often. This Mormon-bashing stuff…I completely understand the ill will toward the organization and the leadership, but c’mon.

EMILY K — “They have a rank-and-file army of millions of followers that are willing to blindly follow the church in everything. It’s CREEPY.”

I think there’s an element of creepiness to any mass display of like-mindedness. Whether it’s a Nazi rally or a Battlestar Galactica convention. “Blindly follow” I’m not so sure about. Have you ever asked a Mormon why they voted or contributed a certain way? I was firmly on the “No on 8” side, but I never encountered an LDS “Yes” voter who hadn’t thought things through.

SCOTT P — “I’m related to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young…I always watch my back around Mormons, especially ones from Utah, it’s just common sense.”

In my own life, the ratio of snake-in-the-grass Mormons to self-effacing, non-jackass people has been, like, 1 to 200. That’s my experience, it’s highly biased and subjective, and maybe I don’t see the truth because I’m secretly a scumbag myself, and therefore oblivious. It’s totally possible.

But here’s my suspicion: For every Scott P, a former Utahn who hated life among the LDS, there are many more people who have never been back-stabbed by Mormons, and on the contrary, have only had gracious interactions with them. Not fake-gracious, not sarcastic-gracious. Straight-up, Obama-style “we can disagree without being disagreeable” gracious.

By the way, a Utahn distantly related to Brigham Young is about as rarified as a Scotsman with a “Mac” surname. Dude had 60 kids. So you can strike that from the “Special Distinctions” section of your resume, along with “Enjoys pizza.”

My bottom line: Prop 8 was wrong, and many in the LDS Church felt that way and said so. If that spoils the picture of Mormons as homogeneous and creepy, sorry.

Go ahead and make your lists of grievances against individual members of any tribe — the Jew who gave you a bad haircut, the black who stole your watch, the Jehova’s Witness classmate who nixed your third-grade field trip to the blood bank. But that’s a paranoid, swirly-eyed way to live.

Scott P.

January 16th, 2009

Aaron, until you’ve lived out of state you have no idea how bad it is in Utah.

Remember when the mayor of Salt Lake took the city budget in for the First Presidency to approve?

Think any other church in Salt Lake would be allowed to buy a section of a major downtown thoroughfare and make it into part of it’s personal fiefdom, along with an abridgement of constitutional rights?

Remember when the First Presidency called on the legislature to find a way to outlaw homosexual acts after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all sodomy laws?

Are you aware you can no longer share your home with your lover as joint mortgage holders with right of survivorship? Now, in order to leave him/her your house you have to have several legal documents drawn up by a lawyer, with no guarantee that new laws won’t be passed trying to nullify even that?

Remember when Judge David Young (a member of the Quorom of Twelve, I believe) said that a gay murder victim, who was bludgeoned three separate times over a 12 hour period, with the murderer leaving between each attack, only to come back, said the victim was equally at fault for his murder because he “partied” with his killer? That same judge told a woman she couldn’t go back to using her maiden name (even though her husband had beaten her) because “it might confuse her children”? He was FINALLY ousted after he said a 14 year old rape victim had contributed to her rape by dressing the wrong way!

All of this was accomplished without a peep from the Mormon population, not a PEEP!

Live out of Utah for a while in a state that doesn’t despise you and you might not have such a rosy picture of life behind the Zion curtain.

Btw, I only mentioned my connections to underline that my opinions were not formed in a vacuum, but by the people of Utah themselves.

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2009

I think it may be time to remind commenters that we are not anti-Mormon and that continuing in this vein is contrary to our Comments Policy.

We do find the interference of the church in politics to advance their anti-gay agenda to be worthy of criticism and that may be why Ihave been a bit lax in inforcing the policy as well as I think I should have, but at this time I’m going to insist that comments be related to issues rather than all-inclusive attacks on the denomination.


January 20th, 2009


You are confusing organizations with individuals. Our government always has, and always will treat organizations differently from individuals. Simply look at the difference between corporate income tax and personal income tax for verification.


February 15th, 2009

I think it’s important for people to do a little research before going off on these tangents. It is not illegal for non-profits to support political causes. Don’t you realize how many gay organizations are non-profits? Just like churches, they as organizations are able to raise funds and give support to political causes that they feel are important. And many donations and support for the No on 8 campaign came from outside of California, just as it did for the Yes on 8 campaign. Again, this is not illegal. It happens all the time in the political process, and in this case, it happened on both sides.

Just because something is called a church does not mean they cannot participate in the political process. By that argument, you could say that a lot of organizations are “churches” as well, just secular ones. They fall under the same sort of non-profit status.

Do your research. The only thing the law prohibits non-profit churches from doing is using their status as a church to endorse a particular candidate, not a political issue. Regardless of how much money the LDS church gave, they are still within their legal rights, just as GLAAD is within their legal rights to do so. And just as I could donate money to the LDS church (who does not even pay their clergy) and take a tax write-off for it, I could also donate money to GLAAD and take a tax-write off. Both organizations are within their rights to support their causes.

Once again, do the research. Study constitutional law. The separation of church and state does not mean that churches cannot be involved in government or political issues. It means that the government cannot establish a state church and force its citizens to be a part of it.

yeesh. homework, folks. Everyone has the right to raise money, organize, and support political causes.

Scott P.

February 15th, 2009

Yes, Errin, homework, like understanding that non-profits CAN contribute, but not beyond a LIMITED amount. Too much money applied to a political process by a religious organization can call it’s tax-exempt status into question. Do you remember how in the ’04 election one “liberal” Episcopalian church in Pasadena almost lost it’s status because it called the Iraq war immoral. When a church POURS money into a proposition it moves into the realm of advocacy and THAT is not allowed, not and retain it’s tax-exemption. Learn the law yourself before you tell others they are mistaken.

Stefano A

February 15th, 2009

To clarify Scott P’s excellent comment a little further for Errin

Too much money applied to a political process by a religious organization can call it’s tax-exempt status into question.

That also includes secular non-profits. Which is exactly why organizations such as, for example, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are two separate entities. The first (the Foundation) is tax exempt and to which financial contributions are tax deductible. The Action Fund is the political action organization and it’s non-profit status is true but because it is a political action fund financial contributions to it are not tax deductible.

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