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Mormon Machine Cranking Up Against Illinois Civil Unions Bill

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2009

Note (March 4): When this was first published yesterday, the post title indicated that this was a BTB “exclusive.” This morning, I’m now seeing other versions of the email on the web with the sender’s name and email included. Since I had originally redacted that name and email, it’s clear that others have independently received copies of the same email. I am therefore restoring the email to its original form with the info included.

Update (March 5): I have re-redacted the sender’s name and email address in response to a request from the sender’s relative.

The Illinois House will begin considering another Civil Unions bill this week. Introduced by Rep. Greg Harris on February 20, HB 2234 has been assigned to the Youth and Family Committee, which will hold a hearing on Thursday. We’ve received word that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has engaged its private communications network to bombard state legislators with phone calls in opposition to the bill.

The Mormon Church maintains a private internet social-networking and website service in lieu of individual churches having their own individual Internet web sites. This allows the church to oversee the information that is made available to members and nonmembers. It also allows the church to maintain private information that is only made available to church members.

Official LDS Stake and Ward Web Site (Click to enlarge)

Official LDS Stake and Ward Web Site (Click to enlarge)

Among the many capabilities the web site has for members who are authorized to log in is the ability to send private email to other church members in the same ward. It also allows a ward bishop to send a blanket email to all members of his ward, and it allows a stake president to send a blanket email to all members of his stake.

But this is key: no individual member can send a blanket email to all members of his ward without it first going through his or her bishop. The same is true at the stake level, where the stake president would have to first authorize the message. So when a church member receives a broadcast message, he or she can be assured that it has the blessing, so to speak, of the bishop or stake president.

In a private email sent out to LDS members of at least one ward in Illinois, church members are being encouraged to call their representative to voice their opposition to the bill, which would provide same-sex couples with recognition and limited protections under Illinois law. But the official LDS-sanctioned email to members is loaded with much of the same misinformation that was present in the campaign against California’s Proposition 8.

A trusted source sent me a copy of that email, authorized by Bishop Chris Church, of the Nauvoo, Illinois 3rd Ward, which was sent out by that web site’s ward administrator:

From: [Redacted]
Date: March 3, 2009 12:27:59 PM CST
Subject: Civil Union bill scheduled for a hearing Thursday – calls needed

This message has been authorized for sending by Bishop Church.

The Civil Union Bill (HB 2234) has been scheduled for a hearing in the Youth and Family Committee this week on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. in Springfield. If the bill is voted out of committee, it becomes eligible for a vote before the full Illinois House of Representatives. This bill will legalize civil unions in the state of Illinois, and will treat such civil unions with the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded within marriage. In other words, civil unions will be different in name only from marriage. As has already been seen in Massachusetts, this will empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise. It will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores; the current push in Massachusetts is to recognize and legalize all transgender rights (An individual in Massachusetts can now change their drivers license to the gender they believe themselves to be, regardless of actual gender, which means that confused men and women are now legally entering one another’s bathrooms and locker rooms. What kind of a safety issue is this for our children?). Furthermore, while the bill legalizes civil unions, it will be used in the courts to show discrimination and will ultimately lead to court mandated same-sex marriages.

To help defeat this bill, please call your state representative and state senator and ask that they support traditional marriage and vote against the civil unions bill. If you are unsure who your legislators are, please see the link at the end of this email.

Also, please take a moment and call the following members of the Youth and Family Committee to encourage them to vote no on this bill. We need 4 votes to keep it from passing out of the committee. And – as always, please pass this on to all who believe in protecting our families and our children. If you are interested in attending the hearing, it will be held on Thursday, March 5th at 9:00 a.m. in Springfield in Room 122B of the Capitol Building (I can give you directions to the Capitol Building if needed).

Members of the Youth and Family Committee:
Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) (Greg Harris is also the sponsor of this bill, but he needs to hear your opposition to this bill)
Chairperson
217-782-3835

Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago)
Vice-Chairperson
217-782-5962

Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago)
Republican Spokesperson
217-782-1653

Rep. William D. Burns (D-Chicago)
217-782-2023

Rep. Michael P. McAuliffe (R-Chicago)
217-782-8182

Rep. Al Riley (D-Matteson)
217-558-1007

Rep. Dave Winters (R-Rockford)
217-782-0455

Directions for identifying your legislators:
You can use the following link to identify your state legislators and their contact information: http://www.elections.il.gov/ DistrictLocator/ SelectSearchType.aspx? NavLink=1 (and enter your 9 digit zip code). If this link doesn’t work, you can use the general link www.ilga.gov and then click on ” legislator lookup” near the bottom of the page, then click on “by zip+4″. Type in your zip code, and you’ll see a list of your legislators. You want your state senator and state representative as they will be the ones voting on the bill.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Sister [Redacted].

I don’t ordinarily have access to internal LDS communications like this. This is a very rare glimpse into how the LDS church is able to crank up its membership for political action. If this message is going out in one ward in Nauvoo, it’s a safe bet that similar messages are going out in other wards and stakes.

Update: Bishop Church has sent another message to his ward this afternoon:

From: Chris Church
Date: March 4, 2009 1:58:47 PM CST
Subject: Church Position on Legislation

Members of the Church may take any action they wish concerning legislation but the Church does not take any position in relation to these issues.

Bishop Church

I have more about that here.

Comments

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Emily K
March 3rd, 2009 | LINK

So? NOW what do we do? We’re powerless against them. Their machine is too big; their followers too lock-step and too willing. We can’t win.

David C.
March 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Their machine is too big; their followers too lock-step and too willing. We can’t win.—Emily K

Oh, yes we can.

We have plenty of cyber-space firepower to blow this effort right into next week if we just use our heads.

Everybody needs to contact all their friends in Illinois and give them a link to this story on BTB. Tell them to forward that link to their gay-supportive friends. Next, get on your favorite gay-friendly blogs and make sure their authors cross post and remark on this story to get the commentary flowing.

All illinois residents should follow the instructions in the LDS e-mail and contact their representatives and tell them to support the Civil Union Bill (HB 2234).

Fight fire with Fire Ladies and Gentlemen. If the LDS church wants to circulate their lies and distortions they are free to do so, but we are free to keep them from doing it with electronic anonymity or impunity.

Andres
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

The LDS is spending money to do this. This is precisely the time to push for causes that deserve it, because opponents’ money is short. Sooner or later, they will realize (like the RIAA did) that spending money to go fight against the inevitable is too hurtful to their pockets. When members contributing 10% of their salary go bankrupt and lose their house like everybody else, we will see if they still think that anti-gay advocacy is the most important thing to prioritize.

Strongly oppose anti-gay advocacy. Even if the LDS “wins”, it should be as expensive as possible to make it a pyrrhic victory.

Regarding the meaning of pyrrhic, Wikipedia provides the following interesting quote.

=======================
Although it is most closely associated with a military battle, the term is used by analogy in fields such as business, politics, law, literature, and sports to describe any similar struggle which is ruinous for the victor. For example, the theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr writing of the need for coercion in the cause of justice warned that: “Moral reason must learn how to make a coercion its ally without running the risk of a Pyrrhic victory in which the ally exploits and negates the triumph”
=======================

godhatesprotesters
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Go to the press. The LDS church hates bad publicity. That’s the one thing that will get them to change.

Andres
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

And by the way…

http://www.sacbee.com/391/story/1666378.html

Andres
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Finally, it should be noted that civil unions have nothing to do with the gender present in driver licenses. Also, it is well known that it is not necessary for an individual to be gay in order to sexually abuse a kid. Those are absolutely ridiculous arguments. Point counterexamples, particularly if they happen in Utah. Hold up the mirror.

Andres
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

See?… no gay civil unions involved…

http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695261701,00.html?pg=1

Andres
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Now I see it better (I think). Turn it against them. Somebody should research this, but I have a feeling that the gay folks that want a civil union are precisely the *least* likely to go abuse others, on a percentage basis, because they want a stable partner in their life. Is that so? Can it be statistically proven? If it is a correct assumption, just point out that stable couples are the least likely source of concern, and tell them to go persecute somebody else — e.g.: all those that consume porn in Utah…

Benjamin
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

I am amazed and excited to see (yet again) another Gay Mormon who has revealed information from inside the Church. They cannot hide this stuff for long because there is always one or two (or more) of us who are within the organization who will expose this crap and put it out for the public to see.

Do you know what is extremely Ironic? The Church that owns property in Nauvoo on down the hill near the Mississippi River is the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This Church which was organized by Joseph Smith, Jr.’s widow Emma and other Smith family members supports gay people. They could be a great resource if people would take the time to contact them.

There is much work to be done in Illinois to educate the masses there in justice, equity and truth. The day will come when the majority of people will look at us as just as “normal” as Apple Pie and Baseball. Keep up the great work and remember it is crucial to educate as often as possible.

Lynn David
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

This reminded me of the time I was on a computer in a LDS ward library [while researching my family history] and stumbled upon their network. Evidently, someone had forgotten to log off. Wasn’t much thinking of any of this at that time.

Equality Illinois – their call for people to attend the committee meeting on the bill or contact those on the committee: http://eqfed.org/equality_illinois/notice-description.tcl?newsletter_id=30969352

a. mcewen
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

It will be crossposted on my site.

Lynn David
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

And Equality Illinois’ petition for the clergy:

http://eqfed.org/campaign/afe_clergy_civilunion

Equality Illinois Main Site:

http://www.equalityillinois.org/

cowboy
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

You all act as if you’re surprised at this. The LDS Church is tech savvy? They know how to use the best social interaction tool in modern times? /sarcasm

Perhaps you have forgotten their strategy in California. It was all via the web and their phone-tree system. I personally know my family has a list to call when there is an emergency or news needs to be disseminated efficiently.

The people with their heads bowed in Church are not praying…they’re TEXTING!

cowboy
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

And now we have the 5-part series on how to deal with the falsehoods and the lies foisted upon the public by our foes.

As David C. says, we need to fight fire with fire. Plus, we need to illuminate the lies. Plus, we need to let the good people in Illinois understand that a Church in Salt Lake City is meddling in their politics.

Seth R.
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Until more facts are known, it’s probably more accurate to say a “local LDS bishop” is opposing Illinois’ civil union bill, not “the LDS Church” at large.

Mormons tend to get stereotyped as lockstep followers under a rigid hierarchy, so people assume that when one Mormon acts, he must be doing so at the express direction of Salt Lake. But this is not really true. Mormons are just as likely to act individually and without approval from the higher-ups as anyone.

Rogue bishops with their own agendas are a constant problem in the LDS Church. Since we never keep a guy in the Bishop position in a local congregation more than a few years, and the new Bishop is always selected from the lay membership of the congregation (with very little official training) it’s just really hit-or-miss who you get in the position. It really does take all kinds.

Some bishops in California last November even downplayed the “Yes on Prop 8″ campaign and refused to let their Sunday services be devoted to campaign issues. Other bishops were extremely active – even issuing church assignments to members for campaign purposes. It really was all over the place. Participation and commitment to “the cause” really was varied.

End point – don’t attribute this to “the LDS Church” as a whole until you know this is more than the actions of one local leader acting on his own initiative.

AJD
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

If we’re going to win this time, we’re going to have to do better than just telling ourselves “We’re gonna win! We’re gonna win! We’re gonna win!” That’s more or less what we did in California, and look at where it got us.

I’m sorry, but I have the feeling that the “equality” group in Illinois will make the same stupid mistakes as the one in California, letting the other side define the terms of the debate and just reacting to lies instead of going on the offensive, in some misguided effort to appear “nice” and “not sink to their level.”

We need to go on the offensive. Instead of just posting these things on gay blogs where you’re pretty much preaching to the choir, write op-eds for local newspapers, and make sure to be really inflammatory and blunt. Don’t be afraid of accusing the LDS church of lying or of saying things that might make people write angry responses that you’re disparaging “people of faith” (i.e. saying anything remotely critical of the religious right and its sympathizers); don’t express any “respect” for their views, and back up what you say with hard evidence (e.g. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate; scientific studies have failed to show that being raised by same-sex couples is detrimental to children’s health, etc.). The thing is, you probably won’t persuade Mormons or religious right people not to oppose the civil unions bill, but you’ll make their efforts to kill it look as genuinely evil as they are. As somebody wrote on another blog, the point is to get the support of people sitting on the fence and WIN, not to take the moral high road and “play fair.”

We’ve been “nice” for too long, and this is why we never get anywhere and why we keep losing while making only tiny, teensy baby steps (“We may have lost in California, but some town with 10,000 people just enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance! Yay! Victory is ours!”) that ultimately mean little or nothing in the grand scheme of things. These people aren’t our friends and they don’t want to be — they mean us harm, and we’re only letting them harm us as long as we delude ourselves into thinking they’re merely misled and misinformed.

Instant Tea » Blog Archive » Mormons and Civil Unions in Illinois
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

[…] to Jim Burroway who blogs at http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com, The Illinois House will begin considering a civil unions bill this week that has been assigned to […]

Brian
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

The obvious question I feel compelled to ask is really rather simple and straightforward. What exactly do the mormons or any religious sect have to gain by interfering in the lives of people they’re never going to meet or have anything to do with?

Whatever happened to that old adage, “live and let live,” has that simple line of reasoning gone the way of the Dodo bird?

I’m sorry but, at 38 years of age, I just cannot fathom how alleged grown men and women can willfully campaign to oppress the rights of other people. I wasn’t aware we were still living in the 1940s or 50s, but these unfortunate individuals sure seem to believe we are. And I, for one, am sick of it! I am dead tired of hearing total strangers tell me who I should be attracted to and which specific “inalienable rights” I’m entitled to. This is supposed to be a FREE country, last time I checked, not a dictatorship.

The fact is, civil unions in Illinois are NOT going to harm anything that’s already been established. Those who feel otherwise are the same exact folks who fought tooth and nail to enact California’s Prop 8. This is precisely why we cannot afford to sit idly by. I agree with everything that’s been said here. We all need to can the “woe is me” attitude, step up our game, and get our voices heard. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t all band together and fight this. If we don’t and the mormon church has its way, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

AJD
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Brian,

Right-wing Christians have a number of things to gain:

* Legitimacy — Anti-gay demagoguery gives them an enemy from whom their followers believe they are receiving divine protection, thus giving them a reason to exist

* Attention — It keeps them in the media spotlight, helping them to attract followers and supporters

* Power — The ability to manipulate politicians, particularly Republicans, gives the religious right influence over the daily lives of others; for some, this is a step toward domination of society

* Comfort — For many, notably Ted Haggard, anti-gay demagoguery is a way to channel repressed homosexual feelings or fear of homosexual feelings

Brian
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Point taken, AJD.

Guess my real frustration stems from realization:

These anti-gay groups, for all their self-righteous proclamations and finger-pointing, have plain and simply forgotten how to be decent and altogether loving human beings.

They like to toss around words like “agenda,” coveniently side-stepping the fact that THEY have been the ones hording one of their very own against us all these many years. Hypocritical, but still very true.

cowboy
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

From a website where Mormons for gay marriage are expressing their views:

The Church has recently counseled that “as Church members decide their own appropriate level of involvement in protecting marriage between a man and a woman, they should approach this issue with respect for others, understanding, honesty and civility.” Elder Cook noted in the Wednesday telecast that there are “good people” who disagree with the Church’s position in this matter.

http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dgbmjj9g_3cppnnzjm

(a telecast: almost all LDS ward/stake houses are connected via a private satellite broadcasting network.)

Ephilei
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Obviously they don’t know anything about how the law applies to trans people in Illinois. We can already change the gender listed on our drivers license. This has had no negative consequences. Zero. It really frustrates me when someone acts like a teacher but needs to do their homework.

You can learn about rights of trans people here in Illinois at our website, genderadvocates.org

David C.
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

So? NOW what do we do? We’re powerless against them. Their machine is too big; their followers too lock-step and too willing. We can’t win. —Emily K

So, Emily, I hope you are feeling better now. it didn’t take long for a lot of pro-gay machinery to kick in after Jim sounded the alarm. This is what it takes, and this is what it will keep taking for the foreseeable future.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. —C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

Rob Lll
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

I concur with AJD, particularly with the emphasis on the dishonesty of the other side. When our adversaries lie (which they do all the time), they need to be called on it loudly and repeatedly.

It’s very important to foster a public perception of them as being fundamentally mendacious and untrustworthy. When that happens, much of the general public will simply stop listening to them.

Fight fire with fire
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Can we also please demonize the Mormons while we’re at it? Every time they tell untruths about us, we should also tell the world about their beliefs, like:
1. jesus and the devil are brothers
2. The Mormons believe their heavenly father was once a mortal on another planet.
3. Mormon men can become gods of other planets in the afterlife.
4. Mormon women can’t.
5. Mormons steal souls by secretly converting people of other religions, including Holocaust victims.

Should the Illinois legislature take political advice from this lot?

Jim Burroway
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Sorry, but no, we can’t demonize Mormons. Not on this web site. Since you may be new around here, please familiarize yourself with our Comments Policy

Besides, people of faith — of any number of faiths — aren’t going away. Making enemies of those people of faith who aren’t against equality is the perfect recipe for failure.

We need to encourage people who currently see us as a threat to instead see us for who we are. But if we act as if we are a threat, then we will only confirm their worst fears.

a. mcewen
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

What you all have done is important and a good first step. You got the story out before anyone else and are now defining it before the opposition has a chance to throw out their standard lies.

I’m in the middle in terms of plans of action. This “fight fire with fire” thing sends out a negative connotation. Let’s be aggressive, non-yielding, and continously on message. Don’t let up for a second and always control the argument.

cowboy
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

This just from the LDS Church:

As is widely known, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of traditional marriage. The Church has not taken a position on any legislation currently being considered by the Illinois State Legislature. The Church did not send an e-mail to its members in regards to House Bill 2234, although a false report to the contrary has been circulated. An e-mail was sent from a local Illinois Church leader to his congregation – one of 129 congregations in the state — who was free to express his own views.”

-Scott Trotter, Church spokesman

Seth R. nailed it.

When Mormons attack: Illinois & Civil Unions — Bligbi
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

[…] ETA:  This is not a joke. Mormons aren’t like other Christians and do not allow individual members to speak as sect representatives unless given permission to do so. This email was authorized by Bishop Church. You can read more about this at Box Turtle Bulletin. […]

Jim Burroway
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

I feel perfectly comfortable with how we reported on this email. I clearly said it was sent by one bishop, and I think I accurately described its scope. While I have a hard time believing that he’s the only one of the 129 bishops in the state to send such a message — based on what we’ve seen in California and Arizona a few short months ago — that is nevertheless only my opinion and so I expressed it.

I also believe that this email was a good illustration of their internal communications system to provide a very convenient and effective means of communication and motivation. Coupled with the famous “phone trees” and the closed-circuit satellite television system linking virtually all the wards that we constantly hear about, I don’t think there’s any other organization in America with anything approaching a comparable capability when it comes to stirring their members into action. Which is why I believe it’s important to remain vigilant to every “squeak” which happens to leak out.

Timothy Kincaid
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

With all due respect to the spokesman who released the disclaimer, this is the same church that announced to the world that they has spent no church funds on Proposition 8, only later to revise their zero estimate by hundreds of thousands of dollars… an estimate that still appears to be WAY understated.

David C.
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

To all the commentators that picked up the phrase “Fight Fire With Fire” as I used it in:

Fight fire with Fire Ladies and Gentlemen. If the LDS church wants to circulate their lies and distortions they are free to do so, but we are free to keep them from doing it with electronic anonymity or impunity.

I meant that solely to refer to a response in kind. We too have a network, a very powerful one, that if used wisely and correctly can begin to turn the tide of public opinion against the disinformation and propaganda of those opposed to Gay Civil Rights.

Jim, you acted prudently to sound the alarm where you saw LDS church-enabled meddling. Any perception by anyone else that there was an overreaction should be set aside. We are dealing with very well funded social sub-networks sponsored and enabled by the LDS church, which has proven itself to be an enemy of Gay Rights. They will smile and claim their right to speak which I do not begrudge them, but when they insist on lying about us we must strike back with hard facts and act as a counterweight to their attempts to influence lawmakers.

Our opponents draw ugly even monstrous caricatures of us, and use those images to polarize and divide otherwise tolerant people. We must no longer allow this to go unchallenged. With experience we will balance our responses against these attacks, reestablish fair debate, and assert our control of the moral highground.

Andres
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

Just remember that Mormons have their rights too. I wouldn’t say it’s ok to “demonize” Mormons just because their leadership takes an indirect political stance against gay people. It would be just as bad as people from other countries demonizing us because e.g.: the things that Bush did. It’s the same thing.

The more they end up realizing gay people are just people like they are, the least likely they will come after gay people. In the mean time, if the leadership does not listen, then I think the effort should cost them as much money as possible regardless of the result.

John Adams
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

At what point does the IRS step into this mess and remove LDS’s tax exempt status for being too closely involved in politics, something I believe to be in violation of that tax exempt status.

To coyly state, as Mr Chris Church does, that this is not the position of the church at large is a specious argument.

Seth R.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“At what point does the IRS step into this mess and remove LDS’s tax exempt status for being too closely involved in politics, something I believe to be in violation of that tax exempt status.”

At the same point it steps in and strips the tax exempt status of half the black Christian congregations in Chicago. Their political activities have ALWAYS been light years more blatant than anything the LDS Church has done.

Elise
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Jim –

I am the original source of the email that was mistakenly forwarded to a single ward in the Nauvoo area. I wrote the email as a private citizen, and I sent it to a group of friends who share my concerns in protecting traditional marriage. My email was forwarded by a friend to Kristy. Kristy called me and asked if she could forward the email to others, and I told her I would be happy to have my email sent on to others who shared these same concerns. In her desire to support principles that she believes in, Kristy mistakenly sent it out to her church congregation. Once the mistake was realized, she and her bishop sent a follow-up email (which you have published). In your zeal to accuse the Mormon church, you have jumped to the wrong conclusions. The overall organizational body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormons) did not write the main content of the email, nor did they encourage that it be sent out to their congregations. This is an isolated incident only.

Just as you have the right to speak out on principles that you believe in, so too do others have the right to speak out — even when it conflicts with your beliefs. That is what democracy is all about. It is unfortunate that our beliefs conflict — I don’t seek arguments or conflicts, but I do stand by what I say in my original email. The David Parker experience in Massachusetts is proof that parental requests will be rejected. Mr. Parker repeatedly asked that the same-sex lifestyle not be taught to his young children in a public school, but his requests were repeatedly rejected. He was ultimately arrested for trespassing when he refused to leave school grounds until he received a promise that his young children would not be taught about lifestyles that conflicted with his beliefs. [Ed: Elise’s version of the story is factually incorrect. See our discussion.] In light of the Goodrich decision, the courts upheld the schools’ rights to determine their curriculum. Thus, once the same-sex lifestyle becomes sanctioned by the state, it does empower the schools to teach our young children these lifestyles. And yes, social mores are being rewritten in Massachusetts as they now turn to assert transgender rights. As a mother, I believe strongly that this lifestyle will not bring joy to my children, and I do not want these ideas taught and normalized to my children. So, while I have compassion for the individuals who are attracted to the same-sex lifestyle, as a mother, I will speak out strongly against the state sanctioning a lifestyle that will deteriorate the moral fabric of our society.

I hope this email provides you with the proper ownership and understanding that you are seeking. If there is more you still want to understand, feel free to ask.

Regards –
Elise

IL Civil Unions Update « Paul Richardson
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

[…] the LDS Church in Illinois isn’t missing a beat, reminding us that if the bill passes, the world will indeed turn into […]

Jason
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Speaking as an active Mormon myself, who is nevertheless sympathetic to and supportive of gay rights, I would add these comments to the discussion:

1) I really don’t think, by and large, that Mormons oppose this sort of thing for any of the reasons that have been suggested. I think there are two reasons: a) they believe deeply that homosexuality is morally wrong, and they also believe that, at least on this issue, the law should reflect that morality; and b) they are genuinely afraid of the effect gay marriage and civil unions will have on their children — as in, it will be harder to teach their children these moral beliefs if homosexuality is mainstreamed and institutionalized alongside heterosexuality. I think this accounts for 90% of the motivation behind their activism. Seriously.

2) Seth is right — this is almost surely a lone act by a single bishop. It is widely held to be inappropriate to use church calling lists or official email channels for business or political purposes unless expressly authorized by the CHURCH (not just some lone bishop of a particular ward). The press release noted above was careful not to chastise the bishop for condoning this email — but I’d be willing to bet that he got an earful from superiors for misusing the official network. It really isn’t a fair assumption — and there are no grounds for it — to think that this is a widespread phenomenon in Illinois.

3) The mobilization in CA was different. It involved gay marriage, which is the real concern of the Church. Believe it or not, despite the tendency of many individuals to conflate the two, the Church has NOT conflated gay marriage with civil unions, and there are many who believe that the Church would not stand in they way — at least, not in any official capacity — of civil unions. Governor Huntsman, in Utah, has recently come out in support of civil unions, and he’s an active Mormon. I highly doubt he would take such a position without conferring with his connections in the Church leadership about whether this was within the scope of “acceptability.” So you really have little to fear regarding a CA-like mobilization in IL. It doesn’t have the force of the Church leadership behind it, and many members are perfectly fine with civil unions.

4) Don’t cast aspersions on Mormons. No need to lower yourselves to that level. Yes, there is a healthy dose of homophobia and gay-bashing among Mormons. Sadly. And yes, our beliefs are unique — though they were misrepresented in the comment above. But you really shouldn’t stoop to demonize Mormons when you’re so busy trying to fight against people who demonize you. You lose the moral high ground.

That’s my two cents.

chrissypoo
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Re: Update: Bishop Church has sent another message to his ward this afternoon:

Someone got caught and now is backtracking. I’m sure phone calls went out to everyone who is active in the ward to ignore this message as they are just doing it because someone got access to their private email system.

Using their internal church websites for political purposes is probably a violation of tax code. Lying and bearing false witness is a definate violation of their religious code. They lied when the mormons said during prop 8 that they have nothing against civil unions.

chrissypoo
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise, when is your church court?

I mean, c’mon, you and Kristy really did a number. Any member who did a similar thing would have had a church court scheduled.

When you said, “In your zeal to accuse the Mormon church, you have jumped to the wrong conclusions,” all I could think about was the zeal you have jumped to the wrong conclusions about gay relationships.

When you said, “Thus, once the same-sex lifestyle becomes sanctioned by the state, it does empower the schools to teach our young children these lifestyles,” I couldn’t help but think that Illinois already has non-discrimination laws on the books so your fear is irrational.

You have simplified the David Parker situation almost as if you were reading talking points from the AFA. There was a lot more going on, and Mr. Parker knows it and continues lie about it.

When you said, “As a mother, I believe strongly that this lifestyle will not bring joy to my children, and I do not want these ideas taught and normalized to my children,” I could only think what parent is so insecure with her parenting skills as to want to change public policy.

Go ask the mormon mothers who gay teenagers put a bullet in their brains, or hung themselves in a closet because of their similar attitude. It appears you are doing this cause you probably are suspect something with one of your kids. Hey, a mother always knows.

When you said, ” will speak out strongly against the state sanctioning a lifestyle that will deteriorate the moral fabric of our society,” I thought, doesn’t bearing false witness, not loving your neighbors and all that other stuff taught in the bible do MORE damage to the moral fabric of society?

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Jason,
I appreciate your summation. I, too, believe that >90% of the motivation is based on fear. But this is irrational fear because gays have not said the Mormons can’t get sealed in their Temples or believe in Eternal Families. Rationalizing these fears through demonizing people who believe differently and promoting falsehoods is not right. It’s not something a Church should condone and sanction. Mormons can defend their morals but they cannot use deceit and irrational fear-mongering to get their way.

Jason you are the voice of reason. I appreciate that.

Like chrissypoo alludes: how can a Mormon think it’s only a “lifestyle” when so many of our gay associates have ended their life because of it.

Timothy Kincaid
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Jason,

Thanks for your input. But one thing you said struck me as unique to Mormon culture.

I highly doubt he would take such a position without conferring with his connections in the Church leadership about whether this was within the scope of “acceptability.”

So then am I to infer that politicians that are Mormon take orders from the church before they take positions on issues? I’ve heard that accusation from non-Mormons but it sounds as though you are confirming it.

If so, that is a very strong argument that all non-Mormons should never vote for a Mormon politician.

Abraham
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“But this is key: no individual member can send a blanket email to all members of his ward without it first going through his or her bishop. The same is true at the stake level, where the stake president would have to first authorize the message. So when a church member receives a broadcast message, he or she can be assured that it has the blessing, so to speak, of the bishop or stake president”

Yes, this is key to your argument, but NO it is not true. It might help to know how the website actually works.

Members of the church can access the website of their own ward and send emails to other members if they have listed their email addresses. I use the website in my ward. I can access a directory, and I could feasibly copy and paste the emails of all those who have listed their emails (and not blocked them). I could then send out an emails to all of those people. People can also choose to not have their email available on the directory.

I can’t send out a mass email that the Bishop then _sanctions_. That’s simply not how the website works. So the article is basically claiming that member of the church sent out a message to other members of the church in his/her neighborhood. It’s quite logical leap to argue much beyond that.

jim
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

You guys have all of this completely backwards.

I’m on one of those mailing lists, and to date I have never received a single email on it. I just checked it seconds ago. The email function on this site is so rarely used that I’m having trouble believing someone actually sent an email with it.. Who would even check it?

Secondly, you are very much overinflating the facts that you have gathered. 1 ward out of thousands of wards and stakes sent out an email to its members (probably around 200 or so on average), this message was approved at a very local level and was sent in an incorrect fashion. When the church sends out official statements on politics it is not in a call to action format, it is in a “Be aware of this and vote your conscience” format.

I understand that this issue is very important to you as a whole as I have read some very angry comments, but you need to understand that this is like saying that 1 Lutheran parish (is parish correct?) is anti-guns, therefore the whole organization is banning guns as we speak. This is definitely sensationalized.

You can take my comments for what its worth, but really, you need to calm down a little bit. As a member in good standing I have a good understanding of what goes on here. You have a skewed interpretation of who and what we are. I personally don’t have a problem with civil unions for the sake of equal rights and all. But I don’t want it called marriage, its an emotional motivation. But there it is.

Jason
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

This article and most of the comments here claim that the email is deceptive and yet the article and most of the comments are even more deceptive. A church (non-mormon) in New Jersey has already lost part of it’s tax exempt status for refusing to allow a lesbian couple perform a commitment ceremony at the church-owned pavilion next to the church. [Ed: Jason’s version of the story is factually incorrect. See our coverage.] I think that is wrong. A group of people (a church) got together and decided what moral values they should live by and the government of New Jersey is forcing them against their values. Their values are not extreme. They are not hurting anyone. This issue was an attack on a church by a lesbian couple and not the other way around.

Many people here think that the mormon church is actively persecuting gays but there is no mention of the possibility that the church and it’s members are just trying to protect themlelves from being forced to allow gay unions/gay marriages to be allowed on their property among other potential consequences. When a bill is favored by one party and fought by another it usually isn’t because of full support one way or the other. I am confident that a bill that is not too one sided or the other could be passed that would agree with the majority on both sides but I am also confident that nothing will make everyone happy.

I don’t want gay marriage taught to my kids at school. I carpool with and sit next to a gay man at work and I consider him a good friend. I don’t agree with his lifestyle but I don’t persecute him for it nor do I want that lifestyle taught to my children at school. Let me teach them about it when I feel it is appropriate.

A bit more logic and a bit less emotion could go along way here and I mean that for both sides.

Russ
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Does one have to read an article like this to know that it’s full of half-truths?

B34NS
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

religious right has no more steam. besides half those hicks are all using win98 still. i hope anon spams the followers of LDS telling them to stop spamming

Headshaker
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I chuckle at all of the implied conspiracy in relation to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (that’s a lowercase D by the way) website. As a member in Illinois, and as someone who regularly utilizes the website structure for Church use, I can assure you that there is nothing conspiratorial about it. The site is used for quick, easy, paperless distribution of information in regards to upcoming activities.

I haven’t received any such email from my bishop.

In other words, take off your tin-foil hats, and relax. The members of the Church don’t constitute a majority of Californian citizens, and they certainly do not constitute a majority of citizens in Illinois. If any opposition to same-sex marriage is successful, it isn’t because of the Mormons, it’s because a majority of the citizens in that state oppose it. Imagine that: a democracy being run by the majority.

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Jason,
Talk with your gay “friend” and ask him how he feels that you don’t like his kind getting married. Then, ask if he is still your friend.

Trevor
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Review Mormon history and you may find they have more in common with the gay movement than you think (ie Extermination Order) and they made it through the ordeal stronger because of it.

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Headshaker,

Get over yourself. If you had listened to your civics teacher you would know this is a Republic and the tyranny of majority cannot extinguish the inalienable rights of any minority. That’s the beauty of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Go read it.

The comment about the capital ‘d’ was just too much.

Timothy Kincaid
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Headshaker

…The members of the Church don’t constitute a majority of Californian citizens…

Quite true. They only constitute about 2% of my state’s population.

However, according to the Yes on 8 Campaign they did consitute 80 to 90% of volunteers. And according to a name by name analysis, over half (maybe as much as 74%) of the financial contributions came from Mormons. That, of course, does not include either the 200K paid by the church itself (though leadership initially denied it) or the documented costs which were not reported but are under review by the Elections Commission.

Sadly, Californians didn’t know that they were voting on the Mormon Marriage Initiative. But don’t worry; they will next time.

LatterGaySaint Blog » Blog Archive » Illinois - Next on the LDS March
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

[…] friend Mike sent me the following LINK to alert us to the next battleground state for equal civil rights: […]

The battle is in Illinois now... - Page 3 - LDS Mormon Forums
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

[…] think people would take the thread in this direction. Was on Digg and ended up finding this link Box Turtle Bulletin Mormon Machine Cranking Up Against Illinois Civil Unions Bill (My filter said this was a Gay site) it has the full e-mail. […]

sawja
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

The Lds church does not intend to overthrow anyone. As this bishop pointed out. It is any mormon members right to vote how they will. But we as members are encouraged to vote for what is right. what is right? well what our forefathers thought was right. remember “In God we Trust”. whats so wrong with the people being united? I dont think we need to call on fire power through the internet to blow apart one particular oraganization. what is wrong with being united? (UNITED States of America). There is no arguement please stop singling out one specific faith because they might of been united in there voting. the voting booths have “blinds” your vote and mine is annonimous why try to point fingers at people saying hey he voted this way. or she voted that way….

Scott P.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

First of all, sawja, the efforts of the LDS Church consigned me and the man I live with to a second class position. So much for us all being created equal, huh?

And second, which god? Most Americans would find the LDS idea of “God” to be extremely foreign to them.

And we’ll stop singling out the LDS faith when you and your church stop your campaign of lies about gay people.

Jason D
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

In God We Trust was added later, it is not a founding principle. It appears nowhere in our founding documents. God is NOWHERE in the Constitution. For all the fanfare about the Founding Fathers being Christians, they managed to draft, in a predominantly Christian country, they managed to create a document that is totally devoid of Christ, the Bible, or God.

If they were Deists, then this makes easy sense. If they were Bible-believing Christians, however, then it is even more clear that they intended this to be a secular nation. I don’t know many Bible-believing Christians who can make it an hour without mentioning their religion, to make it through the blueprint for a country without one single mention was no accident, it was by design.

Wayne from Fullerton
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I think it’s time someone start a movement to take away their tax-free status. They have crossed the line of simply being a religon.

David Miller
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Very interesting and funny comments. I think the gay/lesbian community has more in common with Mormons than they think. In the late 1800’s the Mormons were pushed out of their homes again and again – forced to flee to an empty place where they could build their own society and flourish (or die if they weren’t resourceful). During that time the Mormons instituted polygamy – which brought extreme condemnation and persecution. The US gov’t put them in their place, jailing many married members and forcing a whole group into Mexico where they could practice their religion. This in the context of a land where freedom of relion is a constitutional right. The LDS Church had to recant their beliefs to survive and now excommunicates any member claiming a right to plural marriage. Read the “Family Proclamation” (just type that into google to see) and try to understand that Mormons believe that efforts by the gay community to claim a right to “marriage” appears to be an attempt at weakening a critical building block of society and that if the family unit and structure is weakened, it will result in calamity (like the quote in ghostbusters) of Biblical proportion. Then, remember who the interlopers are – the “right” to freedom from discrimiation due to sexual preference is relatively new – instead of insisting on everything right now, let society have a chance to see the results of a union before claiming a right to marriage. I think if the gay community shows that they can be couples, pair up for life and show true chastity and commitment for each other it won’t be that many decades before they have the wholehearted support of the LDS Church membership.

John
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Without appearing to diss Jim or Timothy, boxturtlebulletin is a relatively small website. I love the content and it is one of my favorite blogs, but I have to doubt that the average Illinois mormon is a regular reader.

Yet, you post about a mormon ward in Illinois spreading more ugly, hate filled emails about gay people in an attempt to deny equal rights to gay citizens in the state of Illinois, and all of sudden we are getting tons of posts from people in the ward, on the email list, familiar with the author, etc, etc to tell us how we have it all wrong.

Clearly there are some other emails out there that are circulating that are directing these mormon propagandists to this site to spread more disinformation.

It wouldn’t take much to use whatever email list is on the “official” server and send out these sort of political emails under a “private” email address to pretend that they are not the official pronouncements of the mormon powers that be. It would also not surprise me if the “private” emails that are now circulating are encouraging mormons to oppose civil unions, while there are public statements of neutrality. The mormon leaders have consistently demonstrated that they have no allegiance to the truth.

It would be really nice if these folks who have never posted before, but suddenly discovered this site to come forward about how they were informed about this. Getting to see the email that directed them to defend mormonism on this site would be so cool (but it’s very unlikely these folks would come clean, since it might be even worse than the original email for the mormons).

Patrick
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“If so, that is a very strong argument that all non-Mormons should never vote for a Mormon politician.” – Timothy.

Perhaps in the interests of the separation of church and state, we should take a vote banning LDS church members from holding public office. It wouldn’t be discriminatory because the individuals could still hold office, provided they give up their chosen lifestyle. And if the majority wills it, then it is completely consistent with democracy.

Somehow I cannot help but think if this bill went to a vote, we’d be hearing about how discriminatory it is by LDS folks and how they are being persecuted. Yet, this is exactly how they are treating others.

Scott P.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

You know, John, you have brought up a very valid point. Just how have these “defenders of the faith” find not only BTB but also 365gay.com. I’ll have to check out the other blogs and see if this wing-nuts are posting there as well.

UtahMormon
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

You clearly don’t understand how the Mormon church operates. A message from a local bishop does not constitute policy or doctrine for the Mormon church. A bishop only acts within his local cogregation. (about 200 people)

You blame the mormons but they are small percentage of voters both in CA and IL. Their outspokenness simply lets others who feel the same way on issues know that they don’t have to be intimidated by pro-gay propagandists.

Scott P.
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

Hey, UtahMormon, I’ll swear I’ve read that same comment on other blogs. You need new material.

Jaynee Doe
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

>This email is no different than a teacher using the school district ListServ to invite other teachers to vote in favor of a bill that would increase school funding.<

Oh, please.

Mormons use these insipid analogies often, especially with outsiders, hoping you’ll believe it. This is because they know the truth looks like fanaticism to outsiders, which, of course, it is.

These apologists who want non-LDS to think these little pecadillios are benign forget to mention that a teacher is not called, personally, by God, to be a spiritual leader over his ward of 200+ people, including the power of discernment (God talks to him and tells him what to do.)

So, no, it is nothing like a teacher sending out an e-mail. When a bishop, the spiritual father of the ward, sends his flock a political e-mail urging members to campaign against a bill, his ward members are going to believe God literally told him to do so.

I used to be a believing member, and can tell you exactly what happened:

Bishop Church literally believes God told him to take up the cause against the evil gays, and so he sent out the e-mail.

And as demonstrated so vapidly by Elise, his members literally believe God told him to take up the cause against the evil gays, and so they will.

In fact, God will also tell many of them that he told the bishop to take up the cause against the evil gays. They will get up in testimony meeting and, with tears in their eyes, tell of how the spirit confirmed their tender bishop’s actions, and will exhort all of the members to hit their knees in prayer to receive the same confirmation. He will be followed by more saying the exact same thing.

The official Church can insist this bishop is acting as a rogue all it wants, but it is not what really goes down in the real wards. The members are taught, from birth onward, that God talks to their bishop and you should always do what your bishop tells you to do. If you don’t, you’re defying God.

The Mormon mind fuck is impenetrable.

Teacher, my ass.

Jaynee

Jacob Carlisle
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

@Jaynee Doe:
I like how you try to backup this distorted view on how the Church operates with ” I used to be a believing member,” Come on, you can claim what you want, but if what you expressed is how you view the calling of Bishop then you were never an educated “believing member”
As far as a “private internet social-networking and website service” it is nothing of this sort. There are a few members of a ward that might be a registered user(have there email address online) and even fewer that have current email address. I know this because I administer my Wards local site and contacting people can be a pain. The Ward web site is a site with events and membership directories.
And addressing this whole Mormon Machine….um its a religion, thats what religions do, they stand together and against what they feel is wrong. What is wrong with that? Why is one person standing up for what they believe such a crime? I would think that anyone that believes in the Bible as being the word of God should be against same sex marriage. If you dont believe me you might want to reread it.

Jim Burroway
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

Re:

“Without appearing to diss Jim or Timothy, boxturtlebulletin is a relatively small website. I love the content and it is one of my favorite blogs, but I have to doubt that the average Illinois mormon is a regular reader.

…Clearly there are some other emails out there that are circulating that are directing these mormon propagandists to this site to spread more disinformation.

No offense taken. We are a relatively small website. We’re roughly in Good-As-You or Bilerico territory, not Towleroad or Pam Spaulding’s. Yesterday was quite a day, traffic-wise. We received more than five times our normal number of visitors. But I don’t think it’s the result of an LDS conspiracy. Much of that is the result of high-profile links from other blogs (i.e. Andrew Sullivan). But the vast majority of the yesterday’s visitors found this via a well-placed link on digg.com. That’s when traffic really exploded.

The traffic will likely continue today, although I think it’ll end up being reduced somewhat when the day is over. But already (8:20 MST) we have already had the readership that we would normally get on a Saturday, normally a significant down-day for BTB’s traffic.

Patrick
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

@ Jacob Carlisle,

The Bible never mentions same-sex marriage positively or negatively. Genesis 2 says that God created animals to see if they would be an appropriate help-mate for Adam. They weren’t. So God created another human. You’ll notice that God didn’t first create “Steve” to see if he would be appropriate and then declare him unfit as well. Did God think we’d be more tempted to marry an animal so God had to make that explicitly a taboo while never mentioning same-sex marriage? Perhaps you need to understand something called cultural context. But then, you probably don’t apply cultural context to the Book of Mormon either – for if you did know about Native American cultures and history, you probably wouldn’t be Mormon.

By the way, care to explain how you found this site?

Elise
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

A connection to this site and the article is embedded in almost every article that is reporting on the incident. That’s how people are finding the site.

Timothy Kincaid
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

I would think that anyone that believes in the Bible as being the word of God should be against same sex marriage. If you dont believe me you might want to reread it.

I have, Jacob.

I even Matthew 12 where Jesus, God incarnate, said that the dead are not married in heaven. And yet your church has found a way to read that section of Scripture and find that marriage is eternal. Because, as you well know, Jacob, different Christian traditions find vastly different messages in that commonly shared book we call the Bible.

And I, along with many bible-believing Christians – including those belonging to Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Friends (Quakers), as well as some Bretheren, American Catholic, Baptist and even a few Pentecostal churches – have found in Scripture an acceptance for God’s gay children. Your church has not.

But surely you aren’t surprised that most of mainstream Christianity reads the Bible differently than the Mormon Church?

John
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

I find it odd how mormons now seem to be trying to downplay the significance of the local bishops. My understanding from mormons is that the local bishop holds a great deal of authority, can assign members tasks that if they refuse will cause them no end of grief, can publicly and privately humiliate members, and also gets to decide who can enter the temple. If your kid is going to get married soon (or there is any other major temple event coming up), one would be under a great deal of pressure not to get on the wrong side of their local bishop, since you would need the bishops blessing to attend.

In Vacaville, the local mormon bishop was going around putting Yes on 8 signs on members lawns without their permission. Later that evening, his wife would call to let the member know that the bishop noticed they didn’t have a lawn sign and took care of it. Mormons my sister knows were not pleased, but didn’t say anything to their bishop, because they didn’t want to end up on his wrong side. It really made her wonder about all these “stolen” Yes on 8 lawn signs the mormons were complaining about.

When listening to mormons and ex-mormons complain about their church, what I have heard since I was a kid centers around issues of conformity and control. Also, as a result of my Prop 8 experience with the mormons, I really don’t believe much of what they say publicly. So, you all will understand when I say that I don’t believe for a moment all this garbage about trying to downplay the significance of local bishops in the lives of mormons.

Jason D
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

“I would think that anyone that believes in the Bible as being the word of God should be against same sex marriage. If you dont believe me you might want to reread it.”

Key word being “think” as in to consider or conclude. Faith is funny like that, two different people can read the same holy book and come to drastically different ideas about it’s meanings and important points. It should not be a surprise to you that Bible-believing people disagree on what the Bible says. There are over a hundred denominations and sects of Christianity today precisely because Bible-believers don’t all agree what the bible says. Somehow, you all figured out how to get along, somehow we didn’t enact different laws for the different denominations.

BA
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

I work in the non-profit field, and it’s my job to know what non-profits can and can’t say. This is a clear violation of IRS regulations for religious 501(c)(3) organizations (like churches).

Churches (and their leaders acting in an official capacity, like we see here) can talk about “issues” till they’re blue in the face (for example, “Gay people are bad, being gay is bad, blah blah blah”), but they can’t say “Call these committee members about this specific bill number.”

The second email saying the church has no official position on the bill doesn’t negate the first email, which is in clear opposition to the bill (translation: lobbying). If this pattern continues, don’t be at all surprised if the church loses its 501(c)(3) status, and has to start paying taxes like the rest of us who lobby.

Scott P.
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

A quick word about Mormons and the “Bible.”

Many of you are quoting the Bible as if the Mormons accept it as the final word of God. They don’t. They accept the Bible “as far as it has been correctly interpreted.”

That’s a very important point.

Mormon theology believes that only a few of the very first books have been correctly interpreted by Joseph Smith using the mystical powers of the Ummin and Thurrim. These are the same stones that Smith used to interpret the Book of Mormon after it’s location had been shown to Smith by the angel Moroni.

Using Biblical passages to argue theological points with Mormons is a loosing battle, because they don’t believe the passages mean what you may believe them to because they have been misinterpreted for millennia.

Timothy Kincaid
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

BA,

Churches most certainly can take a position on specific bills and even allocate a small portion (not “substantial”) of their work to supporting or defeating such bills.

What they cannot do is support or endorse a candidate for office.

Also, BA, I’m perplexed about your statement that the LDS could lose it’s status and “have to pay taxes like the rest of us who lobby”. Lobbying organizations are Not For Profit Organizations and they don’t pay taxes.

The difference is that the contributions to lobbying groups are not deductible from the income of the contributors, as they are to charitable, educational, or religious organizations.

You really may want to consider a refresher course as the advice you are giving your clients seems to be contrary to the tax code.

Richard Rush
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

Maybe it is time to publicize factual information about some LDS beliefs, history, and practices that they might prefer to keep hidden.

And maybe we can start with a discussion about the creepy LDS practice of conducting rituals whereby dead Jews (and others) are converted to Mormonism. The arrogance of this practice is breathtaking. Actually, the arrogance and self-presumption of authority by the LDS Church, in general, is breathtaking.

The LDS Church is a vulnerable religious minority, and thus may be an easy target. But an easy target is not necessarily an illegitimate target. We (gay people) did not seek this battle (unless the LDS Church delusionally construes a quest for equal rights as an attack on their religion). We have a right to defend ourselves using every tactic at our disposal as long as they are legal and have a reasonable likelihood of being effective. If we just hope to find a way to make them like us, we may all go to our graves waiting. The LDS Church is a bully, and need to be treated as such. More than anything they are all about power.

I think the goal in this battle should be to turn public opinion against the LDS Church. Battling directly with the LDS Church is a waste of time and resources. We didn’t lose Prop8 because the Mormons voted against us, we lost because the LDS Church persuaded many others to vote against us. We know that they are very concerned about their public image, and that is where they are vulnerable. I expect they can be made irrelevant long before they will come to like us.
________________________

I sometimes wonder if the LDS crusade against gays is really more about courting favor with the conventional Christian Religion Right (RR). It appears to me that the RR is the group that has been most responsible for anti-Mormon sentiment for many years. The vast network of Christian radio and TV seems dominated by the RR.

Just a few years ago I stumbled onto a TV program on Trinity Broadcasting (you know, that’s the network where the wife of the founder is ubiquitous with her enormous pink hair). The entire program consisted of a group of men discussing the Mormons, referring to them as a cult with absurd beliefs. The discussion was literally and liberally sprinkled with forced laughter as they talked.

So, the idea of the LDS Church forming an alliance (however tenuous) with the RR may not be too far-fetched.
________________________

In these comments, mostly I consciously used the term “LDS Church” (the institution) instead of “Mormons” (the people). I view most of the Mormon people as victims of a Mormon minority who crave power and influence.

People don’t accept a religion because they have been educated, they accept it because they have been indoctrinated.

Todd
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

To David Miller,

Please tell me how you would react to the following statement directed at yourself: “let society have a chance to see the results of a union before claiming a right to marriage. I think if David Miller shows that he can be in a couple, pair up for life and show true chastity and commitment for another it won’t be that many decades before you have the wholehearted support of society to be allowed to marry the person.

Please that is ridiculous. Straight couples certainly have not proven that they can do that with theh option of marriage today, yet you hold same-sex couples to a higher standard to prove to you that they deserve it. I have heard variations of that argument so many times, and the truth is, what you are really saying is “become acceptable to me before I will recognize that you have the same rights as I do. The truth is that many gay couples, without the benefit of marriage or in some cases civil unions have already shown they can maintain, as you put it “be in a couple, pair up for life and show true chastity and commitment”. In some cases for more than a few decades. The truth is you know this and reject it as “well, that is only one or two examples” when in fact there are many who have done this.

We have not held straight couples to that standard, and never will. What you propose is exceedingly rare in the world today with marriage existing for them. What is the percentage of straight couples who maintain a truly chaste and committed relationship? Sadly, the answer is depressingly small. Straight men and women have the right to marry even if you had already shown a complete inability to be faithful or monogamous. They marry for insurance reasons, to get one member a green card, or for any other variety of reasons. Why should I have to prove anything to you or the LDS church before I enjoy the same right?

Tom Darin
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

“Recent L.D.S. church statements in the news in Utah, have indicated that the Mormons allow their bishop to say whatever he wants.”
The Church still stands by traditional marriage. The right thing for the church to do is not allow the church leaders to send out this type of hate. It is a blatant scientifically flawed bigotry filled,stereotyped email to its congregation.The facts are not correct. It is morality based not scientifically proven.

Jaynee Doe
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

>Come on, you can claim what you want, but if what you expressed is how you view the calling of Bishop then you were never an educated “believing member”<

Fine. Tell me where I am wrong about the calling of the bishop.

You know he is supposed to have been called to serve as the bishop based on a higher authority’s literal revelation from god.

You also know he has stewardship over his ward members, including receiving literal inspiration from god instructing him what actions to take with regards to these members.

Your attempt to deny the above is yet another ploy to dismiss the Church’s public image of fanaticism, based on the fact any ecclesiastical actions, including urging its members to actively fight against gay rights, are literally instructions given to them by god.

I have no doubt you already know this, but feel the need to protect the Church’s image, so you downplay these facts.

If you don’t know this, then you are either a convert, or were BIC, but never paid any attention.

Jaynee

Jaynee Doe
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

>And addressing this whole Mormon Machine….um its a religion, thats what religions do, they stand together and against what they feel is wrong. What is wrong with that? Why is one person standing up for what they believe such a crime? <

Thank you for admitting that is exactly what happened, contrary to the many Mormons here who state otherwise.

You know full well that a bishop “standing up” for what he believes, and sending out e-mails about it, crosses the line of his ecclesiastical authority. If you don’t, then you do not understand what the Church teaches about stewardship, god and inspiration.

Additionally, if you are as educated in the Church’s beliefs as you imply, you know it matters not one whit, to his ward’s members that he crossed this line, as they are taught the bishop has authority over them, and are going to believe God inspired him to write that e-mail.

Finally, you know full well they believe that if they defy their bishop, they are defying god himself.

Again, if you don’t know any of the above, then you are either a convert, or was BIC but never paid any attention.

Jaynee

The 50 Spot: Marriage, Civil Union Legislation in the Midwest » Equal Roots
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

[…] 60% to 34%.”  Still, the bill in Illinois won’t go without its detractors, including the Mormon Church, which has started to organize around defeating civil unions in Illinois.  It worked for them in […]

Rob W
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

This is another example of how the LDS Church is violating their tax-exempt status charter. If they are going to play as potiticians then they need to pay taxes just like the rest of us!

Connell O'Donovan
March 10th, 2009 | LINK

Elise wrote:

“In her desire to support principles that she believes in, Kristy mistakenly sent it out to her church congregation. Once the mistake was realized, she and her bishop sent a follow-up email (which you have published).”

This is also factually incorrect. The Nauvoo 3rd Ward email system is set up so that all emails sent out MUST be authorized by the Bishop or higher. And indeed, the email clearly states that Bishop Chris Church authorized the forwarding of the email to his ward.

There was no “mistake” about it. Elise means that once Chris Church and Kristy Combs received hundreds of emails of complaint and lots of media attention, then the follow-up email was sent out.

Connell O’Donovan
Adult Survivor of Mormon Homophobia

Ryan
April 10th, 2009 | LINK

As a mormon and a liberal in favor of gay rights I can tell you that this isn’t the work of church leaders. You can guarantee that if this Bishop Church had received this message from church headquarters he would have stated it, probably repeatedly. There is nothing more motivating for man mormons than to get a message straight from “the brethren”.

In other words, I would say with 95% certainty that this is the work of a single bishop (which is the equivalent of a pastor who oversees one congregation). Which isn’t to say that others aren’t doing the same thing, but absent evidence that they are I don’t think there’s cause for concern.

And another thing, nobody, and I mean nobody reads their ward emails. 80% of church members don’t even know they exist. I have literally never checked this email and I have never talked to anyone who has.

If the church wanted to put their full force behind this they would. As their actions on prop 8 have shown they have no problem announcing their intentions in congregations or press releases. They are not going to act on this issue because the church actually isn’t opposed to civil unions. Or at least the leadership isn’t, though probably most individual members are. Unlike most Christian organizations, the members of the Mormon church tend to be much more militantly conservative than the leadership.

ElizABETH
June 13th, 2009 | LINK

I think its BS that someone posted this email to begin with. But LDS is not the only opposition here in Illinois.

I question doing this because it opens the door to another controversial issue. Adult consenting polygamy.

I have been in groups where some of those in relationships that want to be married bash back at the issue of consenting adults and polygamy.

I am not saying I agree or disagree. What my life choices are is insignificant. There is a part of me that would rather see these dollars spent on poor education, health care and ENDING VIOLENCE. in the US.

Other large religious organizations are more anti-gay than the LDS Church. One target using another thats what pisses me off

cowboy
June 15th, 2009 | LINK

God is not happy with the Mormons:

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=6819386

Was it something we did?

No problem. They have plenty of spares in the warehouses to replace this Angel Moroni.

uberVU - social comments
October 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Digg by globetrecker1: You are making some pretty ignorant and uneducated statements about Mormons….

Dallas Voice - Dallas Voice
June 28th, 2010 | LINK

[…] to Jim Burroway who blogs at http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com, The Illinois House will begin considering a civil unions bill this week that has been assigned to […]

Tod Robbins
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Bishop Church is not the bishop of the Nauvoo 3rd Ward. The current bishop is Bishop Smith. That _should_ raise some eyebrows to the validity of the story.

smoking something | hunnerwoof
March 15th, 2011 | LINK

[…] be offered to same sex couples. In 2009, the LDS church made a push to oppose civil unions in IL. A letter sent via the official church communication system to ward members was even obtained as proo… Don’t let Joshua fool you…the LDS church is not accepting to any form of recognized […]

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