Mormon Machine Cranking Up Against Illinois Civil Unions Bill
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.
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:
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)
Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago)
Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago)
Rep. William D. Burns (D-Chicago)
Rep. Michael P. McAuliffe (R-Chicago)
Rep. Al Riley (D-Matteson)
Rep. Dave Winters (R-Rockford)
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.
I have more about that here.